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    Georgia has barred broadcasts by the Russian-language RTVi television channel, a Russian radio station said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia has barred broadcasts by the Russian-language RTVi television channel, a Russian radio station said on Tuesday.

    Ekho Moskvy said that RTVi, which broadcast its programs in Georgia, was banned after it broadcast an interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during which the minister criticized the actions of the Georgian leadership in its recent conflict with Russia over breakaway South Ossetia.

    Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send tanks and thousands of troops to the region. Russia concluded its operation "to force Georgia to accept peace" on August 12.

    Ekho Moskvy editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov described the Georgian authorities' decision to bar television channels and other sources of information as an attempt to "conceal the truth from Georgian citizens".

    "Only authoritarian and totalitarian rulers are afraid of an independent and professional mass media," Venediktov said.

    RTVi had been the sole Russian-language TV channel permitted by Georgian authorities to broadcast in the South Caucasus republic after the start of the armed conflict in breakaway South Ossetia.

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