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11 Aug, 2008 21:27

Russian media suppressed in Georgia

With fighting in South Ossetia continuing, people in Georgia aren't being shown all the pieces of the puzzle. All Russian TV channels have been taken off air across the country and some internet sites have been blocked. Russian journalists have been haras

In 1999, in Belgrade during a different conflict, the United States was a superpower and Serbia a small aggressive nation. The Americans said they were hitting only strategic targets – one of them was Serb national TV.

Today in the Caucasus Russia is the superpower and Georgia is the small nation, but here the Georgian national television works freely, while Russian journalists come under fire.

Many believe it happens under official sanction.

“We should understand that Russian channels are not just channels of an unfriendly state which are engaged in disinformation, but they are TV channels of the state which declared war and is bombing our territories,” said David Bakradze, chairman of the Georgian parliament.

Some Russian internet sites have been blocked – including RT's website which was down for days.

This story comes to you from a backroom of a hotel, and outside on the street state of the art satellite facilities are off limits to RT because the Georgian authorities have forbidden Russian journalists from using them.

Russian journalists are being harassed.

“We were filming in the city centre at the parliament building where refugees from South Ossetia held their meeting. We were cut short by some people who took away our camera and material. The cameraman and the sound engineer were beaten up. The men had camouflaged uniforms on and most likely represented some kind of law enforcement body. We managed to get our camera back but not what we had filmed,” said Channel One Russia TV journalist.

Elena Imedashvili and her brother also provide a service to a Russian news agency, bringing the Georgian perspective to the Russian public.

Today they're worried about tomorrow because they've been forced to stop sending information to Moscow.

“Hopefully this is only temporary. The main internet provider in Georgia blocked our access to the Russian website. We are not thinking about closing permanently because we've always had good co-operation with our Russian partners. We try to provide balance and our readers don't understand whether we're a Georgian or a Russian news agency because we present both sides objectively. Now our readers in Russia are not getting a Georgian perspective of what is happening,” said Elena Imedashvili from ‘News Georgia’.