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Georgian TVs Silent on Int’l Observers Ukrainian Poll Findings
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Jan.'10 / 23:58

• Saakashvili: sending of Georgian observers pre-agreed with Ukraine

While the Georgian television stations have been extensively reporting from Ukraine these days about presidential elections there, they ignored on January 18 to report about initial findings of the OSCE-led international observers on Sunday’s polls.

Elections were of “high quality and showed significant progress over previous elections, meeting most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments,” international observers said.

Rustavi 2 TV only briefly mentioned the international observers with the TV station’s journalist saying in her report from Kiev: “OSCE election observation mission is already expressing its position about violations during the Ukrainian elections.”

The Georgian national television stations’ coverage of the Ukrainian presidential elections was dominated by incidents involving the Georgian TV crews and controversy over non-registered Georgian election observers with TV reports saying that local authorities in Donetsk were creating obstacles to the Georgian observers.

“Those Georgian observers who have already returned from Ukraine say that elections were held with serious violations,” Rustavi 2 TV said.

And a journalist of Georgian public broadcaster’s First Channel reported from Donetsk: “As it was expected, the highest level of fraud was in Donetsk.”

Meanwhile, President Saakashvili said on January 18 that Georgia’s decision to send about 2,000 observers to Ukraine, who were not registered by the Ukrainian Central Election Commission, was “agreed in advance with all the political parties in Ukraine.”

“And we have received consent [from Ukraine] in advance,” he told journalists in Georgia’s ski resort of Bakuriani. “And of course we will again ask them if they want observers or not [for the second round of elections on February 7]. It is up to them to decide.”

“We have sent these observers upon the request of Ukrainians. Absolute majority of the Ukrainian people with whom these [observers] met, wholeheartedly welcomed them,” Saakashvili said.

He denied allegations by Party of Regions, led by frontrunner presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, that Georgia sent “men, built like sportsmen” in order “to destabilize elections”.

“They [the Georgian observers] did not aim at interfering in politics – we have neither desire nor tools to do that. Our goal was to [express] solidarity and provide assistance to Ukraine,” Saakashvili said.

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