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Sunday, 23 October 2016


Democracy with a Georgian accent

2009-03-13 16:10

9/7/9/1979.jpegThe "hawk" of Georgian politics, Irakli Okurashvili, who has now found political asylum in Paris, was in the end unable to address his compatriots with a planned inflammatory speech. It turned out that Channel One's scheduling was blocked off to him. That was the essence of the short statement released by the leadership of the "Public Broadcaster", on which the former defence minister was pinning such great hopes of being shown.


Eka Beselia, the General Secretary of the "Movement for a United Georgia" - which is headed by Irakli Okurashvili - declared back at the end of February that the former minister, who is now in enforced political exile in France, was intending to return home and take an active part in the opposition protest actions. The prospect of the radical politician's return met with a mixed response back in Georgia.

Some experts were predicting that the appearance of the bellicose leader of the "Movement for a United Georgia" would exacerbate the situation on the political stage, while others talked about a secret deal concluded between the exiled Paris politician and the authorities.

Mere mortals, who are accustomed to political shows being accompanied by arrests and legal proceedings, were guessing as to whether Okurashvili would be arrested or not. After all, the authorities had not pulled any punches with other politicians. For example, the former minister for state security, Irakli Batiashvili, ended up behind bars because of a telephone call from the disgraced Kvitsiani, who had incited an insurrection in Svanetia. And the former interior minister Koba Narchemashvili was actually arrested at the funeral of the former president's wife, Nanuli Shevardnadze, which caused an uproar over the young "revolutionaries" failing to respect Caucasian traditions.

So the whole intrigue over Okurashvili's future is still to come. For the time being, he has not only failed to return to Georgia, but has also been banned by the authorities from appearing on television from Paris. Irakli Okurashvili had planned to appear on Channel One, which is now called the "Public Broadcaster", during the "Political Week" presented by the popular journalist Inga Grigolia. But it did not happen.

Furthermore, the channel's leadership issued a special statement. Its main point was that the "Public Broadcaster" considers it a breach of international standards to allow convicted offenders who are wanted by the state to appear on air. Georgia's former security minister Igor Giorgadze, Irakli Okurashvili, the president's former representative in the region of Kvemo Kartli (Eastern Georgia), Levan Mamaladze, were all listed as personae non gratae - and then the channel's leadership modestly went on to add "and others". In actual fact, there are loads of former politicians like these who are unable to set foot in their homeland. "The ‘Public Broadcaster' will not become a propaganda weapon of any political party," emphasized the statement.

At the same time, the "Public Broadcaster" management has also accused Eka Beselia of "pressurizing" the channel. She is indignant: "If Channel One does not allow "convicted" people onto the air, then it's difficult to understand why Inga Grigolia was holding talks with Irakli Okurashvili? The "Public Broadcaster" belongs to society and is meant to give anybody the opportunity to appear on television, including convicted people and especially political refugees. We see it as a diktat by the regime."

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