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15 Mar, 2010 10:47

ROAR: Georgia’s TV channel “fabricates bad future”

ROAR: Georgia’s TV channel “fabricates bad future”

A fake report of an alleged Russian invasion has provoked panic and protests in Georgia and sharp criticism in the world.

The Georgian Imedi TV channel, has already apologized for broadcasting a fake “special report” on March 13 about a supposed invasion of Russian troops and murder of Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili. The channel said the report was “an imitation and did not correspond to reality.”

Many analysts believe the program played into the hands of the Georgian authorities, and the protests by the country’s opposition prove this. Following the fake report about an alleged Russian invasion the opposition in Georgia wants “to call Saakashvili to account for a war with Russia that did not take place,” Gazeta daily said.

Tbilisi is eager to return South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway republics recognized by Russia as independent states after the August 2008 events in the North Caucasus.

According to the Imedi report, Russian troops “invaded Georgia” after “a terror attack” against South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity. He described the broadcast as “an information provocation of organized by the Georgian side.”

Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh also commented on “the news,” saying that “if anyone wants to show Russia as an aggressor, they will fail. There is no aggression. There is one aggressor in the Caucasus – Georgia headed by Saakashvili,” he was quoted by the media as saying.

“Imedi has staged a scandalous experiment on its own citizens,” Kommersant daily said. The paper writes about “virtual reality” shown by the channel, “unreal trust” put by the people in the report and “real indignation” about the hoax from the Georgian opposition.

“The opposition is certain that the report had been ordered by the authorities, who have decided to prepare the voters for the main political battle of the year for the post of Tbilisi’s mayor,” the daily stressed.

This election that will take place on May 30 is a key event in Georgia’s political life, the daily said. The mayor’s office is considered a good base in the battle for the presidency that Saakshvili will leave in 2013, the paper said.

The opposition parties are ready to fight for the mayor’s office, it added. They have promised to hold primaries and elect a united candidate for mayor to consolidate their forces and increase chances of success.

The report will help the authorities in the end, independent political analyst David Avalishvili told Kommersant. The current hysterics will disappear, but if the opposition will try, as always, to hold protest rallies, many will remember this report because it began by “showing protests against falsifications in the mayoral elections,” he said.

Most Georgians believe that the TV channel was not able to broadcast a fake report without letting the Georgian authorities know, Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said, adding that the channel is headed by Georgy Arveladze, a close ally of Saakashvili.

The fact that Georgia’s law enforcement agencies were calm when many people began to panic after a fake report is another proof that the authorities had been in the know, the daily said.

The broadcast was aimed against the opposition, popular TV anchor Tanar Chikovani told the paper. But the authorities have achieved the opposite result, she said, because “people were shocked two times, first from the report about a new war and tanks shown and when it became clear that it was untrue.” After that, many began “to recall previous TV spectacles staged by the authorities,” she said.

It is likely that the report was prepared to damage the main opposition leader Nino Burdzhanadze, who recently visited Moscow and negotiated with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,” Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said. However, it described the fake report as “too provincial and brutal.”

Saakshvili tried “to find out if the Georgian nation is ready to unite around anti-Russian idea,” believes political analyst Pavel Danilin. But such reports do not unite society, they “rather plunge it into chaos and panic,” he told Actualcomment.ru website. At the same time, it is important that Saaakashvili did not achieve his results, he added.

The Georgian president is frightening its citizens with non-existent threats, political scientist Pavel Svyatenkov told the same source. Saakashvili provokes people from time to time, using television, he said. “It is difficult to believe that a long, provocative program on Imedi, the channel controlled by the government, could appear without its participation,” the analyst added.

“Of course, Russia should condemn Saakashvili’s behavior, because it is another attempt to play on Georgians’ nerves and show Russia as a monster, which should not be tolerated,” the analyst stressed.

“The fake broadcast is another adventurous move made by Saakashvili who again wants to attract the attention of the West,” said Vladimir Khomeriki, president of the Unity of the Russian and Georgian People foundation.

“However, this time the attempt turned against President Saakashvili,” Khomeriki told Trud daily. “The Georgian leader is losing support of even those who approved of his policies, not to mention the Georgian people.”

Georgian officials have promised to consider this case, but the fake report has already become “an international scandal,” Vremya Novostey daily said. The country that was one of the first to react to the unprecedented situation was France, which actively mediated in August 2008 between Moscow and Tbilisi, the paper said.

The situation with the Imedi report “seems to be copied from classical samples of scenarios on psychology of propaganda,” thinks Aleksandr Asmolov, vice president of the Society of Russian Psychologists. The aim of this propaganda is to influence the mass conscience and behavior of people, he added.

In 1938, panic reigned in the United States after a radio broadcast of the show staged on The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, he recalled. “The question is why a channel close to the Georgian authorities is repeating banal scenarios of propaganda?” Asmiolov asked, adding that "no matter how banal the scenario is, it works.”

“We witness how people of Georgia take the imitation for reality, a panic arises, people turn into a crowd, and it is easy to manipulate and rule over a crowd,’ he said. People are first to suffer from such scenarios, and this time it is talented Georgian people, Asmolov stressed.

Sergey Borisov, RT