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Opposition Outrage over ‘TV Silence’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Jan.'08 / 15:37

Levan Gachechiladze (second from left) and his supporters outside the Georgian Public Broadcaster. Photo: InterPressNews

Levan Gachechiladze, the main opposition presidential candidate, has warned that his supporters would go on hunger strike outside the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) starting from January 9, unless more airtime were given to the opposition to convey its position.

“Starting from today, people will gather every day outside the Georgian Public Broadcaster at 2 pm to demand that the Georgian Public Broadcaster, Mze and Rustavi 2 TV give us access to their live broadcasts. The public is in a vacuum. We can not deliver our message to millions of our voters. The three television stations are carrying out direct media terror against the Gachechiladze campaign,” Gachechiladze said outside the GPB, where he held a brief rally.

“From tomorrow, we're starting a hunger strike outside the Georgian Public Broadcaster. We have two demands: first, give us an opportunity to talk to the public and secondly, stop rigging the election; we demand a second round [of elections]. This rally will not end and will be permanent, until our demands are met."

"Now, I want to tell Saakashvili and [acting President Nino] Burjanadze: I will die but I will not stop; you have to kill me to stop me,” he said.

Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party, part of the nine-party opposition coalition, said at a news conference on January 7: “There have been no political debates on Georgian TV since the election, as if nothing has happened in Georgia.”

The OSCE/ODIHR said in its preliminary conclusions that two nationwide private TV channels, Rustavi 2 and Mze, showed “clear support” for incumbent candidate Mikheil Saakashvili and “provided him with substantial prime-time news coverage.”

“Although, the news on public TV was somewhat more balanced in the time allocated to all candidates, the tone of its coverage favoured the former President,” it said.

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