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Georgian government laying hands on the press?2009-03-12 10:00
Having brought main TV companies under control Saakashvili's government laid hands on the press. The reason why editors of a number of leading newspapers came forward with such a statement is installation of new newsstands in the streets of Tbilisi organized by Tbilisi Mayor's Office.
The newsstands owners that sell the press in Tbilisi were repeatedly oppressed by the city authorities. Two years ago Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava demanded that old newsstands and stalls be removed from the central streets and avenues promising to replace them with the new ones. Following this decision of the authorities it became very difficult to buy newspapers in Tbilisi, especially in the center of the city.
A while later the street traders screwed up their courage and resumed sales.
Meanwhile recently the Mayor's Office first set up new "comfortable" and nice-looking stalls but as the journalists and editors state it was done without announcing tender and committing the project to a formerly unknown Georgian company "White Distribution". Representatives of the press believe the company is covered by Tbilisi Mayor's Office that is why in one of the articles addressed to Mayor Gigi Ugulava he was nicknamed Gigi the Stall Vendor.
"Probably the matter is that we have been constantly repeating: Georgian TV is controlled by the authorities and the press is free. So now they decided to lay hands on the printed media", - Ia Antadze, a journalist, said on Kavkasia TV show "Press-express".
She was supported by Resonansi newspaper editor Lasha Tugushi who stated that with the installation of new stalls hundreds of newspaper sellers and press distribution agency employees would lose their jobs. It is supposed "authorized agents" will be employed to work in the new stalls and they will know very well which newspapers should be sold and which should not.
According to Lasha Tugushi it was Georgian government's first step to lay hands on the press published in Tbilisi as many newspapers and magazines were beyond the control of the authorities and kept publishing articles full of criticism. The next step will be new stalls in the regions where independent press still exists.
"We are not going to give in. We love this city too. But the situation enveloped in certain ideas must stop", - Tugushi remarked.
According to him he met with Chairman of Georgian Parliament David Bakradze, explained the situation to him and got his assurance of assistance.