Georgia: banned TV station back on air soon

A court in the Georgian capital, Tblisi, has ruled to restore the licence of independent TV channel Imedi. Staff say they'll be back on air within days. Meanwhile, activists have taken to the streets to mark the demonstrations that took place a month ago.

Rallies remembered

In Tblisi activists are remembering last month's demonstrations that led to riots and the seizure of the independent Imedi TV station.

A small group of protestors gathered in Tbilisi on Friday to commemorate the day – one month ago – that peaceful demonstrations were violently dispersed in the Georgian capital.

Surgical masks were handed out on that day by paramedics to protect the protestors from tear-gas used by police.

The Georgian authorities have come in for international criticism for the heavy- handed crackdown, when police also used water cannons, sound weapons and truncheons to break up rallies and to close the independent TV channel Imedi.

Imedi's studios were raided by special forces on November 7. The authorities say the station had been broadcasting calls to overthrow the government.

Court unfreezes Imedi's assets

Earlier this week, a Tbilisi court decided to unfreeze Imedi's assets, and on Friday staff were let back in for the first time in a month.

Macca Anikashvili, an Imedi news anchor, couldn’t hide her delight at being back in work.

“One month on and I'm very happy. I'm sitting here in my studio where I was all day on November 7. I was live for eight hours covering events from here. Now I can't wait to say hello to my viewers from this seat,” Anikashvili said.

Despite being open again, Imedi is not yet back on air. Crucial equipment was destroyed or confiscated during the raid.

Louis Robertson, Imedi Director General, said it will take days for the station to be fully up and running.

“I happened to come in here the night it was all torn up and someone had taken the butt end of a rifle to it and smashed it up. The  room looks nice but there's no audio board or cables hanging there and the rack is totally demolished. So it looks good to the untrained eye, but it's a total loss. We're talking about millions and millions of dollars of loss here,” Robertson said.

Imedi plans to start limited broadcasts as soon as possible, and staff will be working as normal from Saturday.