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Imedi TV shut down sensible, safe

M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Thursday, December 27

Imedi TV staff are on strike to protect themselves and the country.

It is a sensible move, and not a surprising one. They are demanding that tycoon founder Badri Patarkatsishvili, suspected of plotting a violent coup for January, sell off his remaining stake in the network to someone without obvious political interest.

Imedi was at risk of being used as a tool and a target, both by Patarkatsishvili and by the government. Its management was confronted with difficult questions. Should they have continued to air Patarkatsishvili’s defenses and justifications? Should they air opposition calls to rally against the government on January 6?

From now until the election, all sides will continue to throw out spins and lies; rather than take on the impossible task of discerning one from the other, Imedi TV is playing safe with its own security, and possibly that of the country.

However, this means that nearly all remaining media outlets are now either self-censored or otherwise under government influence. International observers and allies can no longer sincerely hope for January 5 to mark a truly contested, truly free and fair election for Georgia. Expectations have been lowered, and hope is no longer part of the equation.