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The Guardian v Novosti on protests in Georgia, 9 November 2007


Paul Rigby
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A quick and straightforward comparison of the respective coverage of The Grauniad and Novosti. One of the two pieces spends more or less its entire length misleading us. The other one introduces us to the George Soros of Tbilisi – and thus doesn’t.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,331209788-103681,00.html

World briefing

Pinning blame on Russia

Simon Tisdall

Friday November 9, 2007

Guardian

It would be easy to buy into Mikhail Saakashvili's claims that Russian agents provoked the crisis in Georgia. Relations between the two are dire. The president's strong pro-American, pro-Nato stance intensely irritates Moscow. Russia routinely exploits separatist and border tensions. A key oil pipeline running from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia undermines Kremlin efforts to monopolise Caspian basin energy supplies.

But leaders of Georgia's recently formed 10-party opposition coalition and this week's street demonstrators do not contest the country's pro-western orientation, which most Georgians, ever wary of Russia, support. They say their focus is domestic: jobs, wealth inequalities, corruption, a weak judicial system, rights abuses, and what is seen as the excitable authoritarianism of Mr Saakashvili himself.

The opposition's slogan, "Georgia without a president", refers to proposals to hold early elections, now rescheduled for January, and to change the constitution, possibly by restoring the monarchy. But it also represents a personal rejection of Mr Saakashvili, whose political hero is Margaret Thatcher. Four years after he helped lead the so-called Rose Revolution and initiated an era of breakneck social and economic change, many Georgians appear discomfited by the upheavals.

Officials had been arguing for days that the demonstrations were a function of a normal, healthy democracy. Then they changed their tune. Perhaps Wednesday's police violence shocked them. In any case, claims of a long-nurtured, Moscow-orchestrated coup plotted by "dark forces" were used to justify the ensuing state of emergency.

No evidence has been produced to back the charge and Russia predictably dismissed it. More important in the short term is whether the Bush administration, which views Georgia as a paradigm of reform in the post-Soviet sphere, accepts the government's claims. If it does, that may open up another dangerous front in the global Washington-Moscow confrontation.

The opposition coalition, the National Council of Unified Public Movement, now has a chance to test its strength against Mr Saakashvili. It was formed after a former minister, Irakli Okruashvili, made allegations of a murder plot and corruption against the president, was arrested, publicly recanted, then left the country in circumstances that are still disputed. The affair underscored concerns about abuse of power and the rule of law.

A coalition manifesto unveiled last month accused the president and his "corrupt team" of "usurping power", said the country's economic situation was "grave" and claimed "political terror reigns". It called for US-style separation of powers, the release of all political prisoners, increased welfare benefits, stronger property rights, and an investigation into the death of a former prime minister in 2005. Undeterred, Mr Saakashvili says that he can win again.

Whether or not Moscow's hand lies behind the current crisis, mutual hostility seems likely to deepen as long as the Mr Saakashvili remains in power and the Kremlin persists with its pressure tactics.

In a little-noticed move last week Georgia withdrew agreement for the continued deployment of Russian CIS "peacekeepers" in separatist-minded Abkhazia province. Moscow has long refused to withdraw its troops and Georgia cannot force them to go. But Tbilisi says they are the main destabilising factor in the conflict zone - and it may yet try. In a small country with big problems, the next bit of bother is never far away.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

http://en.rian.ru/world/20071109/87377366.html

Georgian prosecutors suspect businessman of plotting coup

09/11/2007

TBILISI, November 9 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian Prosecutor General's Office said on Friday it suspects billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, who supports the opposition, of plotting to overthrow the government by force.

"Patarkatsishvili has been recognized as a suspect in participating in a conspiracy against the state, aimed at overthrowing power by forceful means," Nikoloz Gvaramiya said in a TV broadcast.

Georgian state television reported that prosecutors intend to put the businessman, currently in London, on an international wanted list.

Gvaramiya also said criminal proceedings have been launched against Patarkatsishvili, who founded the Imedi independent TV company. The station's broadcasts have been halted by authorities as part of emergency measures imposed by President Mikheil Saakashvili following six days of mass anti-president protests in Tbilisi.

The main state TV channel said investigators were considering Patarkatsishvili's statements at a November 2 rally, as well as a statement distributed by his press service saying he would give all his money to overthrow the leadership.

The tycoon also told Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio station: "I will do my best to free Georgia from this fascist. Until yesterday I believed the government would not dare fight against its nation, but yesterday's developments drastically changed my opinion."

A Georgian opposition leader, David Zurabishvili, ruled out on Friday that the opposition would nominate Patarkatsishvili for president at early elections set for January.

On Wednesday, riot police with shields and batons broke up mass rallies in central Tbilsi, injuring hundreds of protesters. The opposition supporters were demanding President Saakashvili's resignation and early parliamentary elections.

The following day, President Saakashvili said early presidential elections would be held on January 5, 2008. "I am cutting short my presidential term of my own will for a second time, and I am doing it in the full belief that Georgia is a democratic country. I think the people will demonstrate their will on January 5," he said.

He also said a plebiscite on parliamentary elections should be held alongside the presidential elections. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections had previously been scheduled for the fall of 2008.

Georgia's last presidential elections were held on January 4, 2004, with a presidential term of five years.

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A quick and straightforward comparison of the respective coverage of The Grauniad and Novosti. One of the two pieces spends more or less its entire length misleading us. The other one introduces us to the George Soros of Tbilisi – and thus doesn’t.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,331209788-103681,00.html

World briefing

Pinning blame on Russia

Simon Tisdall

Friday November 9, 2007

Guardian

...Whether or not Moscow's hand lies behind the current crisis, mutual hostility seems likely to deepen as long as the Mr Saakashvili remains in power and the Kremlin persists with its pressure tactics...

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Soviet intelligence continues to work miracles in Georgia. The latest sign of its extraordinary powers is manifested in today's edition of the Observer, the sunday stablemate of the Guardian, the CIA's favourite British liberal daily:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/st...2216829,00.html

My week: Peter Goldsmith

The former Attorney General attempts to define British citizenship and stands up for freedom of speech in Georgia - but doesn't get quite enough sleep

…I am writing this in a hotel room in Tbilisi, Georgia, with a national day concert outside and opposition demonstrations planned for Sunday. I am here to assist a major opposition figure vindicate his legal rights to free expression and political participation. The authorities raided the TV station Imedi on 7 November and it has stayed closed since then.

Georgia's independent ombudsman has concluded that 'nothing can justify the actions committed by the representatives of law enforcement authorities for termination of the broadcasting of the TV company Imedi'. And foreign governments are expressing concern that these are not the conditions in which free and fair elections can take place on 5 January.

Before leaving for Georgia on Wednesday night, I gave a lecture in Lincoln's Inn on the role of the Attorney General, with particular reference to the government's consultation on that role, which finishes at the end of the month. The key point is that the accountability of law officers has to be to Parliament and through Parliament to the public. That is why the idea that the law officer should be a civil servant would be so wrong. The report of the Constitutional Affairs Committee was therefore wrong to look to downgrade the figure of the law officer…

Yes, Blair's Attorney General - the man who ruled legal the blatantly illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq - is working for Moscow in destabilising the current ruler of Georgia. I wonder which Russian intel front paid for Goldsmith's jaunt?

Of course, and rather more sanely, it might just be Tisdall's original story was little more than a Foreign Office/MI6 piece of nonsense; and the real drivers of change in puppet in Georgia are our old friends, the CIA and its lapdogs in MI6.

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Yes, Blair's Attorney General - the man who ruled legal the blatantly illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq - is working for Moscow in destabilising the current ruler of Georgia. I wonder which Russian intel front paid for Goldsmith's jaunt?

Of course, and rather more sanely, it might just be Tisdall's original story was little more than a Foreign Office/MI6 piece of nonsense; and the real drivers of change in puppet in Georgia are our old friends, the CIA and its lapdogs in MI6.

This morning's press offered confirmation that Tisdall - and The Guardian - lied in its account of who was seeling to overthrow the current Georgian regime. Tisdall's column should properly be renamed "MI6/CIA Briefing." Who served up this proof? Why, that well known organ of Moscow disinformation, The Guardian. Note, incidentally, the continued role of the legal "beard" of the illegal assault - and mass murder of the inhabitants of - Iraq, Lord Goldsmith:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/st...2232001,00.html

Robert Booth, “Georgian oligarch claims he is assassination target,” The Guardian, Monday, 24 December 2007, p.7

A Surrey-based billionaire who is seeking to become president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia claims he is being targeted in an assassination plot.

Badri Patarkatsishvili, who amassed a £6bn fortune from the privatisation of state industries in Russia in the 1990s, has hired lawyers including Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, after he received taped evidence of an assassin apparently being briefed to kill him.

Methods discussed in the 45-minute audio tape included a plan to murder him in the UK or Israel, where he also has a home, or as he flies in his private plane from Tiblisi, the Georgian capital, to Batumi on the Black Sea. Patarkatsishvili also claimed that six to eight weeks ago a squad of four Georgians came to London, "sent to do something against me".

Lord Goldsmith said yesterday Patarkatsishvili was taking the threat "very seriously". He added: "I am aware that he has given instruction to other advisers that police be informed of the threat. Debevoise & Plimpton has been retained to represent him and the managers for other investments in Georgia in connection with his presidential election campaign, protection of the campaign and the protection of assets in Georgia."

Elections are due on January 5, but Patarkatsishvili has delayed his return to Georgia because he feels unsafe.

He helped finance the "rose revolution" that swept the current president, Mikhail Saakashvili, to power four years ago. Then relations soured. Patarkatsishvili backed opposition protests in Georgia last month in which hundreds were injured and a state of emergency was called.

Police stormed and took off air the Imedi television channel, which was founded by Patarkatsishvili and is managed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Standard Bank, a Georgian commercial bank which is closely linked to the tycoon, has been taken over by state administrators.

Patarkatsishvili has described the current regime as "a dictatorial junta" and said in an interview last month: "My election slogan will be 'Georgia without Saakashvili is Georgia without terror'."

He told the Sunday Times this weekend: "I have 120 bodyguards but I know that's not enough. I don't feel safe anywhere and that is why I'm particularly not going to Georgia."

Patarkatsishvili claimed he heard about the plot to kill him 10 days ago. The taped conversation is thought to be between Uvais Akhmadov, a Chechen warlord, and an official in Georgia's interior ministry.

According to transcripts published in the Sunday Times, the official described Patarkatsishvili as "a political problem" and said Georgia did not want to be seen to be involved in an assassination abroad.

"Because of that I called you. This person is very frequently in London, constantly. In a month he'll spend two weeks there, two weeks in Israel. I've been given a clear order to check whether there is the possibility on your side to help us in this business ...

"We want this person to disappear completely, with his escorts, with everything. So that everyone basically disappears."

A spokesman for the Georgian embassy in London said the alleged plot "sounded like a conspiracy theory most probably designed to boost a presidential candidate's profile".

In answer to my initial challenge, the evidence is now in: Novosti told the truth, the Guardian lied.

Edited by Paul Rigby
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