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Officials Counter Claims of Destroyed Imedi TV Equipment
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 11 Nov.'07 / 20:17

In an apparent attempt to counter widespread allegations that police had destroyed equipment at Imedi TV a few days ago, the Georgian Interior Ministry issued on November 11 video footage of three European diplomats visiting the TV studios accompanied by ministry officials.

The footage, shot by the Interior Ministry press service and aired by the Georgian Public Broadcaster – the only station allowed to provide news coverage in accordance with the state of emergency – shows the studio with some equipment, including computers and a TV studio camera.

Peter Semneby, the EU special envoy for the South Caucasus; Per Eklund, the head of the European Commission delegation in Tbilisi, and Eric Fournier, the French ambassador in Tbilisi, were shown inspecting the studio.

The airing of the footage seems to have caught the European diplomats by surprise.

“I did not intend in fact to raise the issue of the visit that we all three made to the Imedi premises yesterday, but since there has apparently been video footage shown on the television already, your [referring to a journalist] question is justified,” Peter Semneby said at a news conference in Tbilisi on November 11.

In a carefully worded statement on his impressions of the visit, the EU diplomat said:

“We do not have any technical expertise between us and we were not accompanied by any technical experts. What we did notice is that the premises were clean and orderly, but at the same time there were also clear signs of disorder that had obviously taken place as a result of the interior forces entering the premises.”

Semneby said that no “structural damage” was observed on the premises, but he also added this “does not mean that I exclude that there was such damage to doors and windows and so on during the raid.”

“We did not see any equipment that was destroyed, but as I said, there was some equipment missing and most of the technical equipment had clearly been disconnected,” he said.

News Corporation, which co-owns Imedi TV, said on November 9 that the police raid on the television station had caused severe damage to the station’s equipment, and would mean that the station would remain off the air for at least three months, the Associated Press reported.

Bidzina Baratashvili, Imedi TV's managing director, said on November 11, that photos were available showing the damage by the police.

“Despite this footage, which you have aired, which aims to give the impression that everything was ok there, we have photos which prove that serious damage was caused during the [police] raid. They [the authorities] have been cleaning up the mess in the premises for the last three days,” Baratashvili told the Georgian Public Broadcaster on November 11.

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