The First Caucasian – Georgian TV attack on Russia?

Georgian public broadcasting has launched one of its most ambitious projects. The new TV channel claims to give an alternative perspective on world events. But many experts see it as an anti-Russian info campaign.

The First Caucasian TV channel is broadcasting news in the Russian language, but from a Georgian perspective.

Giya Chanturia, general director of Georgian Public Broadcasting, says that there are many things to talk about for the new channel.

“There are many controversial questions we want to address in Georgia, as well as all over the post-Soviet space,” Chanturia said. “We believe people have the right to hear the truth straight from us about Georgia.”

Producers say there was a dire need for a Russian-language channel in the Caucasus.

Zurab Dvalia, general producer at First Caucasian, claims that Russian remains the main language for a great number of people.

“We all came out from the Soviet Union, so we want to tell the truth in this language,” Dvalia told RT.

But it’s the truth with a Georgian twist. Ahead of its launch, First Caucasian made assurances that they will not feature any propaganda, just news about Georgia. But the very first broadcast made it clear that its rhetoric is not much different from that of the Georgian government, except that now it is being voiced in the Russian language.

The channel has already compared Russian President Medvedev to Vladimir Lenin when it comes to choosing a political course, blatantly accused Moscow of preparing for a war with Ukraine over the Crimean peninsula, and featured extensive clips of an interview with President Mikhail Saakashvili saying Russia lacks democratic culture, which his country has already achieved – all within the first half hour of its broadcast.

Former Georgian Ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili says he will avoid watching First Caucasian at all costs. He himself runs an opposition TV channel, and knows the power the media wields firsthand.

“It would’ve been a good idea for the Caucasus region, if it weren’t another propaganda outlet for the Georgian government to voice its viewpoint,” Kitsmarishvili said. “It will not make relations between Russia and Georgia better – quite the contrary, it has a good chance of complicating them further.”

First Caucasian topped off its New Year’s broadcast with an astrological forecast. Bleak predictions of an impending unrest in the Caucuses, ethnic and political conflicts – the future of Russia-Georgia relations look anything but rosy, according to the channel. And while the channel’s management continues to stress that they are focusing on facts, so far there is very little evidence the channel will say anything that hasn’t already been heard from Saakashvili’s government.

Feliks Stanevsky, Russian ambassador to Georgia from 1996 to 2000, also said that it is a clear and blatant attempt to erode the friendship that has grown through the centuries between the Russian and Georgian people.

“It's out-and-out propaganda, no doubt about that,” Stanevsky said. “It's going to be an anti-Russian TV station. The channel's target audience is Russian speakers in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and I do not rule out the possibility it might also be broadcast in southern Russia. I am sure the channel will aim to turn all possible countries against Russia, above all the West and… Ukraine.”