Georgia told to `restore democracy`

The Council of Europe has urged Georgia to restore normal democracy. It also described the use of force against protesters as 'unacceptable'. Meanwhile, a meeting between officials from Mikhail Saakashvili's government and opposition leaders has ended wi

In Tbilisi, Council of Europe envoy Matyas Eorsi called for the ban on independent news broadcasts to be lifted.
 
“Georgia has to fully respect the freedom of media and to restore normal functioning of all broadcasting media,” he said.
 
At the same time, it's reported that the opposition's concerns about the state of emergency and the lifting of media restrictions have remained unanswered.

Don't dictate to me – warns Saakashvili

Earlier in the day President Mikhail Saakashvili had promised to lift the state of emergency in the country as soon as the political situation stabilises, but he stressed that he won't let anyone dictate when it should be done.

Saakashvili stated that his responsibility is to Georgian history and not to leaders of other countries:

“The state of emergency will definitely be lifted within days, but we won’t let anyone dictate to us when it must be done. As the President of Georgia, I will do it once I am sure that all threats have been thwarted. I speak to our friends and to our enemies: nobody can dictate to me because I don’t respond to leaders of other countries. My responsibility is to Georgian history”.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has expressed strong disapproval of the decision to impose a state of emergency in Georgia. The State Department is urging Tbilisi to lift the restrictions and allow the media to resume their work.

U.S. reaction to political events in Georgia is attracting attention because the leaders of both countries are said be close. 

Click here for some background on Saakashvili's relationship with the U.S.

Press freedom

Russian television channels have resumed broadcasting to Georgia after being off the air for three days.

However, local independent media is still banned from broadcasting under the terms of the state of emergency.

Imedi TV's Chief executive Luis Robertson says the rights of the Georgian people were “trampled down on Wednesday night.” 

Democracy is “about freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the ability to report,” Robertson said.

“Georgia is a democracy – or at least it was until Wednesday night.  And hopefully it will return to a democracy very soon”.

Badri Patarkatsishvili
Badri Patarkatsishvili

Tycoon's shot at presidency

In another development, Georgia's richest businessman, Badri Patarkatsishvili says he will be a candidate in the January 5 presidential election. He says he will campaign under the slogan, 'A Georgia without Saakashvili is a Georgia without terror.'

Billionaire Patarkatsishvili is wanted by the Georgian authorities on suspicion of plotting a coup and is not in the country. 

On Thursday Saakashvili announced there'll be an early vote on January 5. He says he wants a fresh mandate from the Georgian people. The President added that there would be a parallel referendum to let the nation decide on the date of parliamentary elections.

According to election procedure, Saakashvili will have to resign and hand over the presidency to the speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Nino Burdzhanadze, with the presidential election to be held within 45 days.

Will rebel minister return?

Irakly Okruashvili
Irakly Okruashvili

The trial of the former Georgian Defence Minister, Irakly Okruashvili, will begin in a Tbilisi court on November 16. Orkuashvili is now in Germany due to health problems and says he will try to weaken the President's position ahead of the January election.

Okruashvili is accused of money laundering, abuse of power and extortion. He was released on US$ 6-million bail after he retracted statements alleging criminal activity on the part of the Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili.

His lawyer says she is not sure whether he will return from Germany for the trial.

To read the background of the story, please, follow the link.