“Conscience corridors” for Georgia Public TV leaders27.04.2009 | 15:01
A tent camp was set up around the Georgia Public TV building. The roads around it are blocked by the picketers. There is a mob at the entrance with no chance to pass it by: only after listening to a heap of reproaches for incomplete presentation of protest actions. All this was taken by Public TV journalists as illegal threats and pressure.
The Georgian opposition organized "a conscience corridor" in front of the Georgia Public TV entrance. Before that one of United Opposition leaders Georgy Khaindrava accused the TV channel "of biased and incomplete presentation" of the protests for the resignation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. "What the First Channel does is mocking people. The regional population live in darkness unaware of what is going on in the capital", - he acknowledged.
The protestors lining in "the conscience corridor" do not blockade the building completely and don't hinder people's in and out. However the tent camp around the building limited road traffic in Kostava Avenue. The police aren't interfering in the situation regulating the traffic on parallel streets. Except for protest locations the capital lives its normal life - shops, schools and cinemas are open, the situation is quiet, - Novosti Gruzia reports.
Levan Gachechiladze, the United Opposition leader called on people to put up with the blocked traffic on the central streets of the city. "This channel is not Vano Merabishvili's pocket TV (head of Interior Ministry). It belongs to the people and must be returned to them. And Levan Kubaneishvili (the TV channel Director General) had better get out of here", - Gachechiladze stated.
The picketers are going to stay till TV people start broadcasting "the cell town" near the parliament objectively. It was stated by one of Conservative Party leaders Zviad Dzidzihuri in his speech at the demonstration near the First Channel building. "Representing "the cell town" in their spots they show only some people answering their calls of nature. Shame on the First Channel! This is how the authorities have revealed the channel's true colors. We will stay here till the channel starts objective broadcasts of the events and the TV funded by people is returned to them", - Dzidziguri emphasized. Poet David Magradze invented a definition matching the Public TV - "broadcaster of lies".
The picketers have already achieved certain results. Four members of Georgia Public Broadcaster's Supervisory Board declared their resignation, Civil.ge reports. According to Irma Sokhadze, who left the Board the people are dissatisfied with this authority's operation and she personally had no arguments to disagree to that.
Meanwhile on Friday the Georgia Public TV staff disseminated the statement that the opposition leaders and supporters were threatening the journalists. "In spite of the pressure on the part of active opposition members the First channel and its journalists will keep conforming to the Broadcasting Code and regulations of Georgia", - it is emphasized in the document.
Besides on Sunday one of the channel hosts, opposition-minded Giya Korkotashvili, was discredited. Georgian Interior Ministry showed a video with three protestors - the journalist among them - approached by two men and a woman. A fight broke out. The newcomers were beaten and according to the Interior Ministry's version the oppositionists took their wallets and documents. Korkotashvili has a different interpretation of the incident: three unknown persons tried to start a fight. A wallet of one of them fell out and Giya picked it up in order to check this person's ID. "We didn't take any money, I have only his ID on me", - Korkotashvili stated. In the meantime the GPB leaders urged the Natsnobi show producers to stand Korkotrashvili off his work as the host for the time of the incident investigation.
On numerous occasions the opposition expressed its dissatisfaction with the GPB pointing at biased presentation of the events inside the country. The appeal for TV channel director Levan Kubaineshvili's resignation is constantly heard at the demonstrations. And the protestors are dissatisfied not only with the First Channel employees. Privately owned Imedi and Rustavi-2 channels contribute little time to the opposition protests. Unhappy with the management policy Imedi journalists are gradually leaving the channel. Diana Trapaidze, the news presenter, was followed by Tea Sichinava, Khronika informational program observer, in protest against censorship.
However the journalists of Rustavi-2, one of the buildings of which unexpectedly collapsed on Sunday morning, are not in a hurry to resign: high salaries make up for twinges of conscience.
Judging by journalist Georgy Kepuladze's statement in his interview with Kvele Siakhle (All News) newspaper they have nothing to complain about. "Georgian TV media are equipped with modern technology with many projects underway. Russia and Ukraine are followed by Georgia on this side of the post-Soviet space", - Kepuladze says. He believes that the government and opposition are trying to take advantage of the media. However he doesn't absolutely think that he represents a biased channel. "We are more attentive to the interests of society. Rustavi-2 editorial staff is doing its best to be impartial".