TBILISI. (Besik Pipiya, head of the RIA Novosti office in Georgia) - Television channels will resume news programs after the state of emergency is lifted at 6 p.m. on Friday.
But Imedi will not be among them - for it the state of emergency will last indefinitely. The Tbilisi city court has arrested its property and cancelled its license.
The reason for this verdict was the live statement by businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili on TV Imedi, which the law-enforcement bodies interpreted as an appeal to overthrow Georgian government. He said: "I will spare no effort and no money, down to my last tetri, to rid the nation from the Saakashvili fascist regime."
In an interview with RIA Novosti, Imedi's Director General Bidzina Baratashvili said he did not understand why the company he headed had become a scapegoat. On November 7, Patarkatsishvili's statement was broadcast by this businessman's press service and published by many media, but only Imedi was taken to task for that.
Law enforcement bodies maintain that they have not been biased to Imedi and have acted in line with the letter and spirit of the law.
1. Imedi quoted Badri Patarkatsishvili.
2. The Prosecutor's Office interpreted his appeal as an attempt at a coup d'etat.
3. The legal case against Imedi was prepared.
4. The court revoked Imedi's broadcasting license.
5. Manuchar Kadzhaya, investigator from the Prosecutor's Office, traveled to another part of the city to deliver the verdict.
6. He could not enter the company's building because of the crowd and failed to present the verdict to Imedi's director general.
7. The investigator requested assistance in order to get into the building and meet with the company's leadership.
8. An armed-to-the-teeth spetsnaz (special forces) unit immediately arrived at the company's headquarters to help the investigator make a recorded delivery of the court's verdict to the director-general.
9. Imedi's director general Bidzina Baratashvili could not be found.
10. The decision was taken to take Imedi off the air by force.
Baratashvili emphasized the fact that a spetsnaz unit arrived at the TV company only one hour and 45 minutes after it quoted Patarkatsishvili. "It is simply impossible to take so many steps during this time," he said.
Investigator Kadzhaya eventually found Imedi's director general and hand-delivered the November 7-dated verdict on November 13. He explained that he had been looking for Batarashvili for six days but could not find him.
"During that time I met with representatives of the European Union, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, and journalists but the Prosecutor's Office could not find him during six days. How come?" queries Baratashvili.
Why has Imedi become a scapegoat? The explanation is simple - it had the highest ratings and was not complimentary to the authorities.
Imedi has appealed against the verdict at a higher court. Commentators believe that the station will stay off the air until January 5, 2008, when the presidential elections in Georgia are over.
Imedi Executive Director and News Corporation representative Lewis Robertson made this comment: "This issue is bigger than Georgia, and I do not think that the government understands that. And if they think that the News Corporation will back down on this and say, 'OK, let us just forget all about it,' they are wrong, because this will happen again in another country, and another country, and another country, and pretty soon you will not have any press at all."
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.