Headlines from Television News:
- “Let us finish our work” will be the election slogan of Mikheil Saakashvili, presidential candidate from the Georgian United National Movement. Sandra Roelofs, Saakashvili’s wife reported the news as part of an interview she recently gave to one of TV stations in Netherlands. Roelofs participated in a talk-show the topic of which was the latest breaking developments in Georgia as well as general pre-election situation in the country.
- Davit Gamkrelidze, presidential candidate from the New Right Party visited Irakli Batiashvili, former Georgian State Security Minister and popular leader of the political movement “Go Forward Georgia” in Avchala Prison this afternoon on the occasion of Human Rights Protection Day. Gamkrelidze pledged that in case he won the presidential elections, all illegal prisoners would be released. Meanwhile, representatives of the youth wing of the New Right Party held a protest action outside the prison. On May 23, Batiashvili was sentenced to 7 years in prison according to the verdict passed down by the Tbilisi City Court. Batiashvili was arrested on July 29, 2006 by Special Operative Department (SOD) of Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and was charged with having committed high treason by providing intellectual support to the traitor Emzar Kvitsiani, former President’s envoy to the Kodori Gorge and leader of the paramilitary group “Monadire” (Hunter). A criminal case was brought against Batiashvili based on an intercepted telephone conversation which he had with Kvitsiani on July 25. According to the conversation, Kvitsiani and Batiashvili discussed possible armed involvement by the Abkhazian side in the Kodori crisis back in July of 2006.
- Members of the United National Council of oppositional forces continue touring about Georgia’s regions. Representatives of the electoral headquarters of Levan Gachechiladze, a presidential candidate of the United National Council, arrived in Gori and Kaspi regions this afternoon. Koba Davitashvili and Teo Tlashadze inquired about problems facing the locals and asked them for support in the upcoming January 5 elections. Meanwhile, Gachechiladze will arrive in Tsageri and Lentekhi regions today. He will hold meetings with the local populations. Gachechiladze plans to organize the pre-election campaign in Ozurgeti, Chokhatauri and Poti as well.
- The Law Department of Georgia’s Labor Party has opened a complaint in the Tbilisi City Court against Mikheil Saakashvili, presidential candidate of the United National Movement Party, who will be standing in the snap presidential elections of January 5, 2008. According to the complaint, Saakashvili violates the law and misuses the support of high-ranking officials by using various building, being on state balance, when leading his pre-election campaign. Labor Party members claim that the population is dissatisfied with the circumstance and that they are frequently reporting regarding this issue by calling to the party’s hot-line. Labor Party representatives also plan to send the copy of the complaint to the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Georgia.
Tbilisi to Host PABSEC Summit
December 10, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) will hold the 30th Plenary Session of its General Assembly on December 10-12 in Tbilisi. Nino Burjanadze, the acting Georgian president, is expected to make a speech in her capacity as president of the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will attend the session, along with other officials.
NBG And Deutsche Bundesbank Develop Cooperation
December 8. 2007; Source: Black Sea Press
Urgen Sterleper, director of the Technical Cooperation Centre at Deutsche Bundesbank, is visiting Tbilisi. As BLACK SEA PRESS was told at the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), the visit aimed at development of cooperation between the Central Banks of Georgia and Germany. Program of cooperation for 2008 was discussed at the meetings at the NBG. Some joint projects are planned to be implemented in the next year. The projects refer to prognosis under the macroeconomic policy and liquidity, financial stability, management of international reserves and risks and introduction of new technologies. Such forms of cooperation as seminars in both Georgia and Germany, training of NBG staffs at Deutsche Bundesbank and technical support to the Georgian party are envisaged under cooperation between the Central Banks of the countries.
HSBC - Two CEOs’ Vision about Georgia
December 10, 2007; Source: The Financial [weekly newspaper]
On December 7 HSBC Georgia and TBC Bank affiliated New Construction Company (NCC) signed a contract on the reconstruction of the bank’s new Head Office. Europe’s largest and the world’s number 3 bank will start operations in Georgia at the historic building located at 15 Rustaveli Ave. between Rustaveli Theatre and the Marriott Tbilisi hotel. The reconstruction works will be finished in four and a half months.
The FINANCIAL interviewed the old and new HSBC CEOs: Steven Bennett and Antony Turner regarding the British financial giant’s plans regarding the Georgian market.
Q. What’s behind HSBC Georgia’s decision to choose NCC for the reconstruction of its Head Office?
Bennett. Whenever HSBC has a project of this size, the bank has to undertake a competitive bid process. HSBC put the bid out to a number of constractors and NCC came out with the most competitive bid. In addition, it is an important part of HSBC’s policy to source as much goods, services and expertise as it can locally in the 83 countries in which we operate. As we arrive in Georgia, we want to support and grow with the Georgian economy and one way we can do that is by awarding contracts to local companies. NCC is a Georgian company and so it we are very pleased to be awarding this important contract to NCC..
Q. The new bank will be called HSBC Georgia. HSBC is one of the best known banks internationally but still, what are its intentions in Georgia in terms of a branding awareness campaign? How much is the budget?
Bennett. We have still got 6 months ahead of us before HSBC Georgia is opened, so there’s no obvious reason to start spending money before we actually run business in the country. The wider advertising campaign and the promotion of the brand will commence at a later date. At that time we’ll be using a number of different channels available to us to make sure everybody understands what HSBC is about.
We will want to prove to everyone that HSBC is the brand to trust, it’s an absolutely reliable bank presented in 83 countries already, all of which are running perfectly and offering banking services to over 130 million people. We will want to let everyone in Georgia know that our bank is all about trust, reliability and integrity.
Standard Bank General Director’s Address Speech
December 10, 2007; Source: The Financial [weekly newspaper]
The FINANCIAL -- “Being aware of the financial situation at Standard Bank I’m convinced that the bank is capable of paying the dues. Moreover there will still be USD 30 million left in the property of the stakeholders,” declares George Kalandarishvili, Standard Bank’s General Director in an address speech issued for Standard Bank staff. “Since November 6, clients of Standard Bank have been under pressure. They were made to seize relations and cooperation with the aforementioned bank, correspondingly some of the clients and organizations closed their accounts. The hierarchy of the officials involved goes as high as the Mayor of Tbilisi, the Minister of Energy of Georgia, authorities of the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office,” says Kalandarishvili. As the company reported 25% of the bank’s deposits were turned into cash. On November 12 National Bank of Georgia asked the bank to give them the list of the top account holders. However NBG’s demand was ignored. On November 24, 2007, NBG Supervisory Commission made the decision to appoint a temporary administration at Standard Bank. As Salford Georgia officials claim, since November 8 employees and people linked to the company have been under pressure from various governmental bodies. Clients of Standard Bank have been under pressure as well. Salford Georgia reports that since November 7, illegal attacks have been continuing on Salford Georgia owned companies which started with the Mtatsminda Park and Imedi TV raids followed by Borjomi and Telenet cases. Members of the government embarked on a systematic campaign to target the assets in Georgia of Mr Badri Patarkatsishvili, a businessman who expressed opposition to the current Administration. Part of that campaign focused on Standard Bank. Salford Georgia is an umbrella management company for the tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s interests and assets in Georgia. Patarkatsishvili recently announced he’s running for Presidency during the January 5 elections. Founded in 2001, Salford Capital Partners Inc. (Salford) is a private equity firm investing primarily in developing markets (mainly former Soviet Union and Central & Eastern Europe).
Salford is 100% employee owned and manages USD 450 million in investment capital, via general and limited partnership structures, on behalf of high net worth individuals and family offices. “I remain optimistic and want to wish you a Merry Christmas in person,” Kalandarishvili concludes in the address speech.
TBC Bank affiliated NCC to Reconstruct Head Office for HSBC Bank Georgia
December 10, 2007; Source: The Financial [weekly newspaper]; Black Sea Press; Sarke Information Agency
The FINANCIAL -- On December 7 HSBC Georgia and TBC Bank affiliated New Construction Company (NCC) signed a contract on the reconstruction of the bank’s new Head Office. Europe’s largest and the world’s number 3 bank will start operations in Georgia at the historic building located at 15 Rustaveli Ave. between Rustaveli Theatre and the Marriott Tbilisi hotel. The reconstruction works will be finished in four and a half months. “NCC is purely a construction company and hence does not operate as a developer. Rich experience in the field enables us to provide the best offers both in design and construction, which is a rare reality in the local market nowadays,” stated Ercan Gunes, NCC General Director. NCC is the only local construction company to have received ISO 9001:2000 in Quality Management. Over 7 months the company cooperated with TUV SUD official representation in Georgia, in charge of audit, control, and quality management certification issues. The company managers claim NCC success is due to the efficient work and joint efforts made by the Georgian and foreign professionals. Since the very first day of its foundation, NCC has been engaged in projects ordered by the Georgian Reconstruction and Development Company (GRDC) and TBC Bank. NCC success stories go as far as: Cinema City in Digomi, TBC Bank branch offices, Addiction Institute, the Green Building, the EBRD Office design, Museum Auditorium and the latest TBC Bank- Saburtalo branch. As for ongoing projects, the list includes: the complex Mukhran Batoni Chataoaux, the TBC Bank Batumi branch and Georgian Glass and Mineral Waters (GGMW) office.
CENTRAL ASIA AND CAUCASUS: GOVERNMENTS RELY ON OLD-STYLE METHODS TO CONTAIN INFLATION
December 10, 2007; Source: EurasiaNet.ORG
Soaring inflation rates across the former Soviet Union are causing food price to spiral upward. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions have cautioned that despite impressive economic growth in CIS member states, the threats to social stability posed by galloping inflation remain strong, and that these dangers should be addressed via stringent fiscal policies. But many governments are resorting to Soviet-style fixes on foodstuffs in the face of consumer concern over rising costs. In many Central Asian and Caucasus states, the inflation rate has hit double digits. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, it reached 20.1 percent during the January-October period in 2007, the National Statistics Committee announced. The figures for Uzbekistan are unreliable; officials claim the country has a 2.9 percent inflation rate, but the IMF believes it will stand at 12.2 percent, according to the Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia. In Kazakhstan, inflation was 13.4 percent for the first 10 months of 2007, according to the State Statistics Agency. The story is similar in the Caucasus. In Georgia, the country’s statistics agency reported inflation at 11.2 percent. It was roughly the same in Azerbaijan -- 11 percent. Governments have worked hard to forestall public concern over the rising cost of everyday items, particularly flour and bread, and have sought to reassure shoppers that goods will remain affordable. Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan rely on wheat imports from Kazakhstan, which has lately found it more lucrative to export surpluses to China and India. Reports from Tajikistan, where inflation is running at 14.9 percent, say the price of a 50 kilogram bag of flour has risen by 20 percent over the last year. The Chairman of the National Bank of Tajikistan, Murodali Alimardonov, recently made public comments aimed at preventing panic buying. “Because of the increase in the prices of flour and wheat, rumors started spreading among people that their prices will continue to increase,” Alimardonov said. “These unfounded rumors caused an unjustified fuss among people. So I state with full responsibility that no shortage of flour and wheat is expected in Tajikistan.” In Uzbekistan, which is scheduled to hold a presidential election on December 23, regional media outlets have reported that the price of flour has skyrocketed in recent months, rising between 10 percent and 37 percent depending on quality. Scattered small-scale protests and panic buying have been reported throughout the region. In Kyrgyzstan, a Food Security Council was established following a spike in bread prices over the summer, when monthly grain imports from Kazakhstan grew too expensive. In October, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev characterized price stabilization measures in the country as “insufficient and inefficient.” He went on to urge officials to improve procurement and distribution operations, and cautioned against “any possible or actual mishandling, or improper distribution of public reserves.” According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, grain prices have increased as a result of ever-increasing demand. “[Grain] supplies are much tighter than in recent years while demand is rising for food, as well as feed and industrial use. Stocks, which were already low at the start of the season, are likely to remain equally low because global cereal production may only be sufficient to meet expected world utilization,” says the latest FAO’s Food Outlook Report. And although cereal production is up slightly in 2007, it is still less than what was produced in 2005. Ali Gurkhan, editor of the latest FAO report, said a “supply shock” coupled with shrinking stockpiles contributed to rising prices this year. He added that changing consumption habits, caused by economic growth in developing countries, had created greater demand for grain, dairy and meat products across the board. Meanwhile, some economists describe the mechanisms used to stabilize prices as “unsophisticated” responses to long-term supply problems. Such responses include the creation of trade barriers. Russia, for instance, has simply frozen food prices and propped up domestic supply with a 10 percent export tariff on wheat and a 30 percent export tariff on barley. Similarly in Azerbaijan -- where the price of a ton of grain now stands at $315, whereas in June it cost $210 -- a VAT on grain imports was scraped in September to keep the price of bread steady.
Burjanadze Tells Russia not to ‘Exploit’ Elections in Georgia
December 10, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge ; Black Sea Press
Nino Burjanadze, the acting president, re-iterated claims on December 10 that Russia had deployed additional forces and military hardware in the Abkhaz conflict zone. She also called on the Russian leadership not “to exploit” the ongoing election process in Georgia. “Such an attempt is really taking place,” Burjanadze said, “but I hope that the Russian authorities do not try to take advantage of the ongoing election process in Georgia.” The Georgian authorities maintain that Russia has increased its military presence in Abkhazia without prior agreement with the Georgian side. Russia insists it is merely rotating troops. Burjanadze also re-iterated a previous Georgian demand, “categorically” demanding that the Russian peacekeeping commander in Abkhazia, Sergey Chaban, be removed from his post. “If the CIS peacekeeping forces have any respect for Georgia, this issue will be immediately resolved,” Burjanadze told reporters. The Council of Defense Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) re-endorsed Chaban’s commission on November 27. It did so despite calls for his removal by Tbilisi.
Security Council Discusses Situation in Abkhazia
December 10, 2007; Source: Black Sea Press; www.civil.ge
The Abkhaz side is placing mines in the Gali district and across the administrative border with the rest of Georgia, Gela Bezhuashvili, the Georgian foreign minister said after the session of the Georgian National Security Council on December 10. He, however, also added: “We are still trying to verify this information. “We will recheck this information with the UN observer s and make an adequate reaction, because it is absolutely inadmissible,” Bezhuashvili told reporters. “People are moving there and the Abkhaz side and Russian peacekeepers will be responsible for each injured person or a victim.” The Georgian authorities also claim that Russia has increased its military presence in Abkhazia “under cover” of rotating peacekeeping troops there. Alexander Lomaia, chief of the National Security Council, said that the current situation in Abkhazia contains a threat of provocation. “We are watching the developments carefully and we hope our neighbor [Russia] will show rationality. We think that it is not in anybody’s interest to fuel up tensions,” Lomaia said. Meanwhile, Abkhaz parliament speaker Nugzar Ashuba, who is currently visiting Moscow, said that no particular tensions were observed in the Abkhaz conflict zone. “You know that Russia periodically rotates its peacekeeping battalions. But our attempts to examine the situation on the border is related to the internal situation in Georgia,” Ashuba told Georgian reporters in Moscow on December 10.
PACE Monitors Lay Out Pre-Election Observations
December 10, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge
Political schism and polarised political debate risk undermining the credibility of the upcoming presidential elections, and its outcome, in the eyes of the Georgian public, a monitoring group from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has warned. The PACE pre-election delegation, led by Hungarian lawmaker Matyas Eörsi, visited Tbilisi on December 5-7. The delegation, also including lawmakers from Albania, Estonia and Azerbaijan, met with the Georgian leadership, some presidential contenders and civil society and mass media representatives. In a statement issued on December 7, the group said that the consolidation of democracy in Georgia was “until recently notable.” The events in November, involving the break up of an anti-government demonstration and the closure of Imedi, have however “seriously damaged this process,” it said. The delegation said that restoring confidence in democratic processes in the run-up to the presidential elections was the joint responsibility of all political forces in Georgia. “The delegation therefore calls upon electoral contestants to stop questioning the credibility of these elections, and its outcome, before they take place, but instead work to resolve any shortcomings found. Genuine democratic elections, and public confidence in them, are in the common interest of all political forces, and indeed of the country itself,” the statement reads. Most opposition politicians have already warned about, what they perceive as, early signs of possible ballot fraud by the authorities. In response, the authorities have been accusing the opposition of “pre-determining” the results of the election, assuming it will be unfair. They have accused the opposition of being more focused on post-election protests than the election itself. The PACE delegation said that democratic elections demand “a level playing field between all electoral contestants.” “And this is an area of concern for the delegation,” it said in the statement. “The alleged use of state resources and active involvement of central and local state officials in all levels of the campaign of the former President raise the spectre of abuse of administrative resources. Even if it is within the limits of the law, the delegation would like to remind the governmental authorities that they have the responsibility to ensure that the public perceives the campaign as fair between all participants.” The delegation also pointed out that there were “too many” allegations of intimidation and pressure. “The law enforcement bodies should repeatedly make it publicly clear that any allegations of violations will be investigated,” it said. The PACE monitors also said it was “undeniable that the current news coverage is dominated by the campaign of the former President,” Mikheil Saakashvili. It also warned that the accuracy of voter lists “continues to be of concern.” The delegation gave a somewhat cautious assessment of the decision to allow additional voter lists on polling day. On the one hand it said the delegation had “some concerns” regarding the practice, but on the other hand it added: “It accepts that they [additional lists] will be used for these elections.” Voter registration on polling day itself was approved by Parliament on November 22 with amendments to the election code. Election watchdog organizations, as well as the opposition, have warned that it will increase the risk of ballot fraud. Opponents fear that the rule will be used for what is popularly known as ‘merry-go-round’ voting, whereby an individual casts several ballots in different polling stations. http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=16528;
Patarkatsishvili and Others Registered
December 10, 2007; Source: Kommersant, Russia
The Central Elections Commission of Georgia registered well-known businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili yesterday as a candidate in the presidential elections set for January 5. Patarkatsishvili presented the CEC with 202,170 signatures in his support. Only 50,000 are required. The CEC was lenient in its application of eligibility rules to Patarkatsishvili and chose not to investigate reports that Patarkatsishvili, who became a Georgian citizen in 2001 and is said to be the wealthiest man in Georgia, has Russian and Israeli citizenship as well, which is illegal in Georgia. He is expected to become Mikheil Saakashvili's main opponent.
Leader of the Hope Party Irina Sarishvili was registered at the same time as Patarkatsishvili. Sarishvili heads the Igor Giorgadze Foundation, named after the former Georgian security minister who is now an internationally fugitive charged with organizing politically-motivated murders and attempting to assassinate former Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze in 1995. On Saturday, the CEC registered Party of the Future candidate Georgy Maisashvili. The newly registered contenders join candidates Mikheil Saakashvili, running for his second term; united opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze, New Right leader Davod Gamkrelidze and Labor leader Shalva Natelashvili. Thus seven out of the 13 declared candidates for president of Georgia have been officially registered. The opposition makes frequent reference to campaign irregularities uncovered by the Human Rights Center in Georgia. Among its accusations against Saakashvili's United National Movement is that it has dead people on its party rolls.
CEC Compiles Voter Lists
December 8, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge; Black Sea Press; Prime News
The Central Election Commission (CEC), having finalised voter lists, on December 8 called on political parties and voters themselves to check the lists. “I call on voters to check to see if they are included on the lists. They can do that either on our website, or through our hotline. They can also do it at the precincts,” Levan Tarkhnishvili, the CEC chairman, said at a news conference. “We are willing to cooperate to further improve the existing lists and to make this process transparent.” There are a total of 3,372,179 registered voters in Georgia, according to the CEC. “There shouldn't even be a single question mark regarding the impartiality of the elections,” Nino Burjanadze, the acting president, told Tarkhnishvili.
Mikheil Saakashvili Leads Among Candidates for Post of President of Georgia – Poll
December 10, 2007; Source: Black Sea Press
Rating of candidate for the post of president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili increased a bit during last days. The next sociological poll carried by the supplement to the newspaper “Rezonansi” “Mteli Kvira” (Whole Week) on December 8-9 testifies to such state of affairs. Respondents were proposed to answer two questions – whether they will go to the elections on January 5 and for whom they will vote. According to results of the poll with participation of 900 respondent, Mikheil Saakashvili got the greatest number of votes – 20,4%. The second place is occupied by candidate from the United opposition Levan Gachechiladze – 16,4%, the second place by candidate from the “New Rights” David Gamkrelidze – 2,8%. The leaders are followed by leader of the laborists Shalva Natelashvili (2,6%), businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili (2,3%), leader of the Party of Future Giya Maisashvili (0,23%) and independent candidate Kartlos Garibashvili (0,2%). But 27 per cent of respondents have not made their choice yet, 13,28 per cent refused to tell whome they would vote for, 7,1 per cent did not want to answer any question. As far as participation in the elections on January 5 is concerned, only 3,6% do not intend to participate in them. While commenting results of the sociological poll politologist Ramaz Sakvarelidze explains increase of the rating of Mikheil Saakashvili by action of his PR campaign and promises given to the population.
Patarkatsishvili’s ‘Dirty Money’ Controversy Continues
December 8, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge
The controversy between the ruling party and the nine-party opposition coalition over business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili's financial role in the election campaign continues. The spat began when nine-party bloc presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze said on December 6 that he wanted Patarkatsishvili, himself a presidential contender, to finance his campaign. The following day, the ruling party responded, saying the bloc had made “a clandestine deal” with Patarkatsishvili, offering him the prime minister’s position in exchange for “dirty money.” The opposition hit back on December 7, recalling the ruling party's willingness to take Patarkatsishvili’s ‘dirty money’ in previous years when the tycoon was on good terms with the authorities. “They claim that the opposition is campaigning on Patarkatsishvili’s ‘dirty’ and ‘bloody money’, so I want to remind the public that ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili himself used to attend opening ceremonies of various facilities reconstructed or built with this [Patarkatsishvili’s] very same money,” Giorgi Khaindrava, an opposition politician affiliated with the nine-party coalition, said. “These facilities include: the Ilia Chavchavadze museum; Mtatsminda amusement park; a park and boulevard in Kobuleti; a memorial to [Georgian medieval poet] Shota Rustaveli in Jerusalem… The list goes on and on.” [The ruling party] now talks about ‘dirty money’, but it forgets the things that were financed by Patarkatsishvili, which it and all of Georgia benefited from. Meanwhile, on December 8 a group of politicians from the coalition returned from London, where they met with Patarkatsishvili. “We have agreed that if Saakashvili tries to rig the elections – and we hope to agree on this with other opposition candidates - that all opposition candidates will stand together to protect our votes,” MP Kakha Kukava from the Conservative Party said upon arriving from London. “We are interested in having free and transparent elections and in coordinating our campaigns,” Davit Usupashvili, the leader of the Republican Party and one of those who met Patarkatsishvili in London, said.
GEORGIA: IMEDI RETURNS TO WORK, BUT FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
December 7, 2007; Source: EurasiaNet. Org
A month to the day the plug was pulled on Georgia’s Imedi broadcasting company, the television network is back. For now, though, the pro-opposition channel’s TV presence amounts to a placeholder featuring a huge company logo superimposed on a tranquil scene of mountains and a river. On December 7, Radio Imedi also resumed operations, broadcasting easy listening and soft jazz music. The images of calm are at sharp variance with a prolonged tussle between the company and government over the station’s ownership structure, as well as allegations of treasonous activity. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. How long the existing truce will last is open to conjecture. Accusations have already begun to fly over a reported meeting in London between Badri Patarkatsishvili, an Imedi stakeholder and a current presidential candidate, and representatives of rival opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze. Gachechiladze has announced that he is seeking the tycoon’s campaign financial support. Members of the ruling United National Movement Party have denounced the initiative as unethical. It is the type of political controversy on which the former Imedi news shows thrived. But upon regaining access to the station’s compound in suburban Tbilisi late on December 6, station executives told Georgian television journalists that the state of equipment is such that they can make no prediction about when broadcasts will resume. Websites for both the television and radio station remain inaccessible. Television staffers were allowed back on the station’s premises after a December 6 court order that unfroze the company’s assets and a December 4 decision by the Georgian National Communications Commission that restored the station’s broadcast license. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The earlier measures had been taken as part of an investigation into whether Patarkatsishvili had used the television station in an attempt to foment political unrest, with the aim of toppling President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Based on a preliminary assessment, according to Imedi Executive Director Bidzina Baratashvili, the station is missing part of its satellite transmission equipment, as well as equipment from the central broadcasting studio, computer processors, several video cameras, plus microphones and earpieces, Public Television reported. A later assessment, however, suggested that broadcasts may be able to resume in time for the January 5 presidential election and referendum. Imedi staff gave tours to rival television news teams on December 7. Both Imedi and Ministry of Interior cameras were used to record conditions inside the television station initially, public television reported. Government officials have indicated that the station will be compensated for material losses, pending an official appraisal. With Imedi’s potential return to the airwaves, further changes could also be in store. Georgian Public Television has announced plans to host twice weekly the country’s first presidential election debates. Details have yet to be released. Meanwhile, gone are the broadcasts of recorded conversations and meetings between opposition leaders and alleged Russian intelligence operatives that were used to support the alleged connection between the Kremlin and Patarkatsishvili. Nor is anyone taking responsibility for producing a controversial documentary aired on Georgian public television and the pro-government Rustavi-2 on November 20, just days after Georgia canceled its state of emergency. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The film, “From November to November” (a reference to the November 2003 Rose Revolution and the November 7, 2007 unrest in Tbilisi), uses a news footage montage to argue that Russia is bent on overthrowing the Saakashvili administration with the help of Patarkatsishvili and other opposition leaders. A diagram is used to chart the alleged relationship between all players. The November 7 crackdown on protestors is portrayed as a chain of events that allegedly began with opposition calls for violence. Protestors are shown attacking police, but footage of police using force against protestors is omitted. In a debate subsequently aired on public television, political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze termed the film an obvious PR move for Saakashvili’s reelection campaign, while another analyst, Giorgi Gachechiladze, argued that the long history of alleged Russian aggression against Georgia made the topic a challenging one for adequate coverage.