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Compiled by Etuna Tsotniashvili
Thursday, July 30
Agitation concerning Georgian Public Broadcaster

Rezonansi writes that the new Supervisory Board of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) will contain 15 members. New legislation for this purpose has been prepared by MPs Pavle Kublashvili and Murtaz Zodelava from ruling party and was initiated at a Parliamentary Bureau session.

The Supervisory Board currently contains 9 members. The initiative to increase this number to 15 came from President Saakashvili. “As far as I know the President announced this initiative at the Parliamentary debates. The number of Board members will be increased in order that the opposition can have more representatives on the Board,” Levan Gakheladze, a member of the existing Supervisory Board, has said. He added that one person, Bachuki Bakhtadze, has so far been nominated for the vacant post of Director-General of the station.

Meanwhile Erosi Kitsmarishvili, founder of Rustavi 2 and subsequently Georgia’s Ambassador to Russia, has demanded that the debates between Board members and candidates for Director-General be held live. Kitsmarishvili says he himself is one of the candidates for the vacant position and claims that as the GPB Director-General is democratically elected he will turn the station into a democratic TV channel.

However, Gakheladze has said that the Board has already stated that debates with candidates cannot be held live because during these personal information about the candidates which is not in the public domain may accidentally be released.

Another Russian soldier asks for political asylum

Dimitri Artemev, a Russian soldier who escaped from the Russian-occupied village of Perevi has asked for political asylum, Rezonansi reports. Artemev said he was beaten by officers when he said that Tskhinvali is not part of Russia. The former soldier does not consider himself a traitor to his country, adding that if he had been treated as a human being he would not have escaped.

The former soldier says that some soldiers were supposed to be stationed in Perevi for one week but stayed for three. For the first week they had some food but when it ran out Lieutenants ordered him and other soldiers to catch snakes and frogs. Artemev claims that Russian soldiers in Perevi eat snake and frog soup.

Artemev left his unit on July 2 and asked the Georgian Government to give him political asylum. He says he is not going to return to Russia. Georgian commentators generally say that the Government will satisfy his demand and give him the status of refugee, adding that this action will be part of Georgia’s PR war against Russia.

However military analysts have different opinions on this matter. Giorgi Tavdgiridze thinks that refugee status should be granted to Artemev as conditions in the Russian military are terrible, but Irakli Sesiashvili thinks that in spite of the fact that a person should be granted political asylum when he is being persecuted in his own country Georgia should not satisfy Artemev’s request. Sesiashvili thinks that after granting him asylum more people fleeing military service will come here trying to get the same status and this will make the relationship between Georgia and Russia more difficult.

Other experts say that the Artemev and Glukhov (the first Russian soldier who escaped some month ago) cases will become a precedent for granting political asylum on the grounds of conditions in the Russian Army.