“The scenario of this false special issue was written by Saakashvili, because nobody on the channel without his knowledge would have run such a provocation,” Burjanadze told journalists on Saturday.
“The authorities want to keep the population of Georgia panic-stricken to retain their seats. They want to intimidate people by Russia's threat in order to conceal the complete failure of their policies,” she added. The former Parliamentary Speaker also said that “the demonstration of such items is directed not only against the opposition leaders, but is also psychological terror against the population.”
The scandal on Georgian television put the West to confusion too. In particular, the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, John R. Bass expressed his negative attitude to the plot of the Imedi TV Company. “Such reportages do not contribute to the strengthening of security of Georgia. This reportage did not correspond to journalistic standards,” said the U.S. diplomat.
The official representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Imedi channel’s program “a very strange and absolutely inappropriate initiative”. She said that in France one expects the responsibility of all the persons involved to be ascertained. Besides, in Paris one is concerned about the latest manifestations of pressure on the opposition, with which the Georgian authorities take liberties.
It is a reminder that on March 13, Imedi TV sparked panic among the Georgian society, showing on the air a scenario of possible invasion of Russian troops in Georgia. The communication told about the commitment of an act of terrorism in Tskhinvali against the President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity, which resulted in the invasion of Russian troops in Georgia, the evacuation of the present government and the President Mikhail Saakashvili. Then the television company made a false declaration about the bombing of airports and sea ports of Georgia, the death of the president and the establishment by the opposition of the “People's Government” headed by the former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze. According to the video’s authors, such developments are possible, if "the Georgian society is not consolidated against Russia's aggression.”
The fictional plot provoked public outrage. Hundreds of townspeople gathered in Tbilisi in front of the Imedi TV Company, expressing their indignation at the contents of the reportage. The meeting was also attended by representatives of various public organizations, prominent figures of culture of Georgia, as well as leaders of opposition parties.
The President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili reacted ambiguously to the plot of Imedi. Having criticized the channel leadership for the form of presentation, Saakashvili said that he believes the imitation of the news to be unpleasant yet useful. The shown reportage, according to him, would allow to avoid such a scenario in real life.