Freedom of speech the Georgian way

In Georgia, a cabinet crisis has broken out. Yesterday, Eduard Shevardnadze accepted the resignation of the state security minister, Vakhtang Kutateladze. The reason for the crisis was the Georgian State Security Ministry’s decision, taken the day before, about carrying out a search in Rustavi-2 TV company’s building.

The decision was motivated by the necessity to check finance documentation concerning to so-called “concealed incomes." Journalists of the company who regarded these actions as an attempt to put pressure upon the TV channel made a noise. The suspicion was well founded, especially taking into account the fact that just a week ago, tax inspectors examination did not uncover any financial violations. Yesterday, a meeting of several thousand in support of the Georgian TV company took place before the building of Georgian parliament. The main demand was either Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze retires all the cabinet or he himself resigns. Shevardnadze denies his implication in the case. Why Shevardnadze agreed to the minister’s resignation is still a secret. This is probably connected with Abkhaz events and with the role of Shevardnadze himself, so in the threshold of long political battles, he cannot afford fighting on two fronts himself. This is why Shevardnadze’s agreement to the minister’s resignation could be explained with his realizing his positions’ weakness. In July, Shevardnadze already came across an indignation wave connected with murder of one of leading journalists, Georgi Sanaya, that caused a serious political crisis. Although there were not any facts confirming the authorities’ implication in the murder, the oppositon in parliament immediately claimed that the president was responsible for the murder. Now, when the authorities’ attempt to put pressure upon the TV company is obvious, Shevardnadze’s statements about his non-participation will not be enough.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

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