14 November 2003


Election Commission cancels accreditation of main independent television station

Incident details

Guram Donadze

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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has expressed concern over the national Election Commission's decision to cancel the accreditation of the country's only truly independent television station, Rustavi 2, and stressed that Georgians needed impartial information during a time of serious political disturbances.

The organisation said it was also worried about pressure exerted on the station by the commission and several political parties in connection with the 2 November 2003 general elections and the subsequent political crisis.

On 13 November, nine of the 12 Election Commission members reportedly voted to cancel Rustavi 2's accreditation because the station broadcast a message from the Kmara student movement. The message called on several commission members to stop falsifying the election results and to think of the public. It concluded with a warning that they would be arrested and jailed if they persisted.

On 6 November, one commission member, Givi Komadhidze, demanded that the station stop airing the message, noting that Kmara was founded by Zurab Zhvania, leader of the opposition Democrats' Union, and said the accompanying images threatened Election Commission members. Komadhidze said he would ask the commission to cancel the station's accreditation if it continued broadcasting the message. Commission Chairperson Nana Devdariani said, however, that the commission had no right to decide what a television station could or could not broadcast.

On 10 November, three political parties - the Renewal Party, the Industrialists' Party and the Labour Party - said Rustavi 2 was responsible for the current political crisis and that they would boycott its journalists.

The same day, Rustavi 2 journalist Guram Donadze was roughed up by Tamaz Giorgadze, a member of the pro-government coalition For a New Georgia, as he was trying to find out who President Edvard Shevardnadze was planning to meet at Tbilisi airport.


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