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Opposition protests outside Imedi

By Sopo Datishvili
Monday, November 24
On November 23 some Georgian opposition parties held a short meeting in front of the Imedi TV station. The participants demanded that Imedi be returned to the family of dead tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili and that it reintroduces political debates involving opposition leaders. Levan Gachechiladze, leader of the United Opposition, and Ombudsman Sozar Subari entered the building to start the negotiations with the current owners of the company.

The opposition leaders were intending to blockade the Imedi building but Imedi Director Bidzina Baratashvili told them that on December 15 a new political talk show would be broadcast. The opposition leaders seemed satisfied with this result and left the area.

At the protest Conservative Party member Zviad Dzidziguri made some quite critical comments about the present Georgian Government, as usual. “The regime of this Government will soon be over. In August they made us applaud and celebrate the lost war. Today the people can see what happened and notice more. This is the next fight, to return Imedi to its legal owners, the family of Patarkatsishvili. We don’t want this channel to work on behalf of the opposition, we are demanding its freedom of action, because this is a major principle of democracy,” said Dzidziguri.

Another member of the Conservatives, Kakha Kukava, seemed sure from the beginning that the aim of the protest would be achieved, as the supposed lack of freedom of the Georgian media was an important concern of the international community too. “We express our support for the family of Badri Patarkatsishvili. This protest also has a symbolic meaning, as today is the anniversary of the Rose Revolution. A year ago the special forces raided Imedi. A year on, we still don’t have a free media outlet. This is the real outcome of the Rose Revolution. This is “the new wave of democratic reforms” we were promised,” added Kukava.

The leader of the Georgia’s Way, Salome Zourabichvili, was also among the leaders of the opposition protest, but seemed less radical then her colleagues. She said that the protest was only symbolic and she was simply there to express her support for freedom of speech in the country. “Personally I feel that we shouldn’t wait for particular results of this demonstration. I came here to say that I don’t recognize the decision of our disreputable court, which gave this channel to its present owners. I think that freedom of speech and a free media source are of vital importance for the country, as these are main features of democracy,” Zourabichvili said. She added that in a week she will visit Washington and make the problem of a free media in Georgia the most important message she will deliver there. Zourabichvili was sure that if this obstacle is overcome, it will lead to a lot more important changes being made in the country.

Political Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili was also present at the meeting. He was sure that these one-time demonstrations won’t have any important results, but all results would come after long and difficult endeavours. “Returning Imedi to its legal owners isn’t the demand of one particular opposition party, but of society as a whole. I’m sure soon or later they will manage it,” he said.