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Opposition Notes Government’s Weakness, as Officials Decline TV Debates
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Mar.'06 / 22:43

Inga Grigolia, an anchor of a weekly political talk show Reaction aired by the Imedi television, said that representatives from the authorities refused to participate in debates in her program on March 17 to discuss issues related with the Sandro Girgvliani murder case.

She said during the live talk show that the officials declined to participate in the debates after a statement made by Giorgi Arveladze, Chief of the President’s Administration at a news conference on March 17. Arveladze said, “we have already responded [to opponents] regarding all the issues. Now we have our job to do.”

Only the opposition leaders, including MP Davit Gamkrelidze of New Rights party, MP Levan Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party, MP Zviad Dzidziguri of the Conservative Party, Konstantine Gamsakhurdia of Freedom Party and Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia’s Way party, participated in the talk show.

All of them noted that the governmental officials’ refusal to participate in TV debates with them over problematic political issues was a clear demonstration of the authorities’ “weakness.”

The opposition leaders also slammed the authorities, in particular President Saakashvili for trying to undermine opposition’s reputation by accusing them of having links with certain forces in Russia.

President Saakashvili said at a news conference on March 16 that the opposition wants Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili’s resignation, because the authorities “have touched very well-organized oligarchic, including the Russian oligarchic capital.”

“I want to note one, I think, very important issue, which was mentioned [by the President]. They [authorities] made certain references and hints regarding oligarchic interests, or capital. This should be very important for your [referring to the TV talks show host] television… and your television was the first one which reported about this crime and due to which the society learnt about this crime [Imedi TV’s February 12 report indicated that some Interior Ministry’s top officials could have been linked to this murder],” MP Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rights party, said during the talk show.

MP Gamkrelidze was referring to the fact that the Imedi television is owned by Tbilisi-based financial and media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.

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