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andrew
13 Mar 10,, 21:32
False TV report causes panic with the public

Published 13 March, 2010, 21:19

If one of your main news channels said your country has been invaded and your president murdered – you would no doubt be extremely scared. In Georgia, that is what has just happened.

On Saturday night Georgian TV channel Imedi aired a false report that caused a shockwave across the country.

According to the “news,” Russia invaded Georgia after a “terror attack” on the president of South Ossetian republic, Eduard Kokoity. The report suggested that Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili and his government had been evacuated.

In several minutes, however, the source “reported” the death of Saakashvili and creation of the People’s government headed by one of the opposition leaders, Nino Burdzhanadze.

The program, that lasted for half an hour, also reported the “terrible bombardment” of the country’s air and seaports and only at the end, Imedi presenters pointed out that this was a “special report about possible development of the events.”

At the beginning of the broadcast there was also warnings that the program showed a sequence of possible events that could only occur "if Georgian society is not brought together against Russia's plans."

Despite the warnings though, the report has caused panic across the country. People began calling each other and the TV studio to find out what was really happening, said RIA Novosti news agency.

Interfax news agency reported the local media outlets saying that many people called ambulances for help. "Multiple instances of heart attacks and fainting have been reported," the source quoted Georgian media.

Moreover, the action of the TV channel has caused a public outrage. Several dozen people, including members of the opposition and clergy, have gathered near the office of Imedi TV channel in Tbilisi to demand apologies for the report, Interfax news agency reported.

“Authorities, and Saakashvili in the first place, must be held responsible in court for the mean report of the channel Imedi which is under their control,” opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze told journalists.

“As far as we came to know, Saakashvili knew about the preparation of the report, which means he does not care about the Georgian people,” added another opposition leader, Zurab Abashidze.

Several hours after the report aired, Imedi apologised for the broadcast. “We apologize for the report, which has caused a major concern for the population,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, according to head of the Russian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, the report is a provocation on the part of the Georgian regime of Mikhail Saakashvili.

“I am sure that today’s provocation was initiated by the ruling regime, by Saakashvili,” Kosachev said in an interview with TV Channel One.

He pointed out that Imedi TV channel, which previously was in opposition to Saakashvili, is now controlled by the current Georgian president.

According to Kosachev, the Georgian authorities are increasing tensions around Russia and South Ossetia as they did before the August war in 2008.

“We will certainly draw the international community’s attention to this provocation,” Kosachev added.

Georgia invaded, Saakashvili dead? False TV report causes panic with the public - RT Top Stories (http://rt.com/Top_News/2010-03-13/georgia-false-report-panic.html)