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16 Aug, 2008 10:31

Biased broadcast? Moscow accuses U.S. TV of gagging victims’ stories

Moscow has accused an American TV network of bias after a channel broke off from a live interview with victims of Georgian violence in South Ossetia. A 12 year old girl and her aunt were describing how Russian soldiers saved them from the Georgian attack&

The incident has sparked huge controversy over the issue of media impartiality, with Russian government officials calling it a violation of journalistic ethics.

Amanda Kokoeva, who comes from the San Francisco area, was visiting her relatives in South Ossetia for the summer.

On the night of August 7, she watched in horror as the war broke out. Amanda spent the night in her uncle's basement. The following morning, they fled to North Ossetia and eventually Moscow.

But they would have never made it to safety if it wasn't for the help of Russian troops, Amanda says. And she says that’s a part of her story that the American media has repeatedly left out.

Upon her return to the United States, she and her aunt Laura Tedeeva gave several interviews, including a live appearance on Fox News.

Laura told viewers: “I want you to know who is to blame for this conflict and that’s Mr Saakashvili who started this war and who is an aggressor. 2000 people were killed in one day…”

After a number of tentative attempts to stop her talking, at this moment the presenter more forcefully interrupted her, saying it was time for a commercial break.

“Yeah, I know you don’t want to hear that,” Laura responded.

Laura says she is not pro-Russia. Her mother is Georgian and her father is South Ossetian, but she simply wanted to tell the truth about what her family went through.

She told RT: “I wanted the Americans to know that Russia didn’t start that war.”

Laura says she prays for her family and hopes there will be no more bombing.

Amanda's father is currently in South Ossetia to make sure his relatives are out of harm's way. The family says everyone is fine and they will only leave their homeland if the fighting resumes.

Amanda hopes to see her father again soon. And despite her ordeal in South Ossetia, the 12-year-old girl would like to go back there one day.