Media, News

Gate crashing the President’s vineyard

by | Sep 27, 2011

The reason journalist Shalva Ramishvili wanted to get into Mikheil Saakashvili’s vineyard on Sunday was that the president was hosting a number of other TV journalists there.

Georgian TV viewers have become accustomed to these events, which are often broadcast live on several of the national channels, all of which are widely believed to be under the control of the government, though this has proven hard to ascertain.

Investigative reporters revealed that when the president held one of his live broadcasts in a village in the Sachkhere region near South Ossetia, in which he celebrated the completion of a new water supply which would let children swim in a new swimming pool, in fact the water supply had not been completed, and the water flowing from the tap had been brought up to the village in fire trucks only temporarily filling the reservoir.

This report was shown on Maestro TV, which has called into question the truthfulness of a number of Mr Saakashvili’s TV events.

On Sunday the president had gathered journalists at his country estate nead the village Kvareli, 140 km west of Tbilisi, and the occasion was the government’s effort to teach Georgian language to ethnic minorities.

One who wasn’t invited to the event was Shalva Ramishvili from Maestro, and when he tried to gate crash the lush vineyard, local police and state security confiscated his crew’s equipment, and erased their footage. Most of the equipment was later returned, but a microphone was missing, and in the YouTube video featured here, Ramishvili returns to the spot where he was detained in an effort to get his microphone back. Most of the broadcast deals with him trying to walk along the road which goes past the president’s estate, and asking the security to identify themselves and explain the legal basis for refusing him to walk along the road.

According to Kakheti Information Center, a news service based in eastern Georgia, the police investigated the Maestro crew under a section of the law about trespassing, but spokesperson Shota Utiashvili from the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs later said there was no such investigation.



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