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Opposition Leaders Slam TV for ‘Bias’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Nov.'07 / 15:44

MP Levan Gachechiladze, a presidential candidate nominated by the nine-party opposition coalition, refused to hold a press conference in the presence of journalists from Rustavi 2 and Mze TV stations on November 21.

“I want you to leave this room because you are biased,” MP Gachechiladze told journalists from Rustavi 2 and Mze TV.

Gachechiladze has said several times previously that he would only agree to an interview with the two TV channels, and the Georgian Public Broadcaster, if it were live and without editing.

Gachechiladze was holding a live Q&A session with a group of Russian journalists from Moscow, organized by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti in its Tbilisi office. Gachechiladze was speaking in Georgian at the news conference, with his remarks being translated into Russian.

“It seems that part of the opposition is still attempting to mount pressure on Rustavi 2 TV,” a Rustavi 2 anchor said on November 21 in response to Gachechiladze’s move.

Meanwhile, other opposition leaders have complained about the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) documentary outlining the official version of events leading up to the November 7 unrest. The Georgian authorities, and the documentary makers, claim that the recent anti-government demonstrations were part of a Russian-backed coup attempt, financed by business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili and incited by Imedi TV, co-owned by Patarkatsishvili.

“This is shameful,” Giorgi Khaindrava, a member of the nine-party opposition coalition, said. Then, addressing journalists from GPB, Mze and Rustavi 2, he said “you are part of Soviet-style propaganda.”

The film, which provides no counter arguments, was also re-aired by both Rustavi 2 and Mze TV on November 20.

Khaindrava was speaking with journalists after opposition leaders from the nine-party coalition met with the U.S. ambassador in Georgia, John Tefft. They said afterwards that they had informed the ambassador of, what they called, ongoing political repression against opponents. They also raised the issue of Imedi TV, which remains off air.

Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the opposition Labor Party, met separately with the U.S. ambassador on November 21. With Natelashvili making an independent bid for the presidency, his party is no longer a member of the opposition coalition. After the meeting, Natelashvili, who was suspected by the General Prosecutor’s Office of having links with Russian intelligence, told journalists that he hadn't been arrested, thanks to the U.S. government and personally to Ambassador Tefft.

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