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Sunday, 23 October 2016


Georgia ranks with Colombia by freedom of the press

2008-10-20 15:36

Back then the cameras at Georgia's Recently Georgia has been portrayed by its American supporters as a brave little democracy in an unstable region that deserves generous help and NATO membership. Nevertheless, a growing number of critics inside and outside the country argue that Georgia falls well short of the Western democratic standards. Specifically mentioned is the oppression of freedom of the press. The confidence of the United States in Mikhail Saakashvili's strict commitment to the democratic principles was probably first shaken on November 7, 2007, writes with a reference to The New York Times. main opposition TV channel "Imedi" were still rolling when the police armed with assault rifles stormed into the studio. After that the TV screens went black. The reason for


the police raid, which silenced the TV channel, was the government allegation that "Imedi" acted in violation of public order when transmitted the statement of one of its founders Bardi Patarkaztishvili with a promise to overthrow Mikhail Saakashvili's government. Earlier the same day the police fired rubber bullets at the crowd of unarmed anti-government protesters and beaten them with the clubs. Then 9 days of martial law followed. Today, 11 months later the democratic behavior of Georgia is under scrutiny again as the country is on the front line in the confrontation between Russia and the West. Mikhail Saakashvili who studied in the United States has promised to reject the authoritarianism of the past. But Lincoln A. Mitchell, the expert on Georgia at Columbia University, says that

today Saakashvili is a leader of a "semi-authoritarian" state, while also noting it is the most democratic of the former Soviet states in the region. In its most recent report the Freedom House, a human rights research group based in New York, ranked Georgia by freedom of the press on the same level with Colombia and behind Nigeria, Indonesia and the Ukraine. U.S. Department of State noted in its report on the democratic progress in Georgia that the oppression of freedom of speech, the press and assembly worsened during the crises of 2007, and that the reports about "the police brutality" and "the government influence in the courts" are still coming in. Sozar Subari, Georgia's human rights advocate appointed by the Georgian Parliament, accused the government of handpicking loyal managers and appointing them as the directors of the national TV channels. Nino Zuriashvili, Georgian investigative journalist announced that she was publishing on the Internet in order to bypass the censorship. She said that under Saakashvili's government the number of TV broadcasting stations decreased sharply and several political talk-shows were shut down. "The irony of it is that before the Rose revolution there was more freedom of the press," - she said.

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