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Georgia's Imedi TV Suspends Broadcasts, Citing Dirty Politics


Georgia's opposition television station Imedi said Wednesday it was temporarily suspending broadcasts to distance itself from what it called "dirty politics" in the run-up to January 5 presidential election.

Station officials said they made the decision after six journalists quit in a protest over its millionaire co-owner Badri Patarkatsishvili's bid for the presidency against former President Mikhail Saakashvili, as well as pressure from the authorities.

They said that, taking into account the extremely tense political situation and Imedi's involvement in the processes, the station is no longer able to continue the coverage in normal format.

Tuesday, television stations broadcast a videotape allegedly showing Patarkatsishvili offering $100 million to Interior Ministry operations chief Irakli Kodua, in exchange for not using police force against opposition protests after elections.

The tape was reportedly recorded during a meeting between the two in London Sunday.

Georgian authorities say Patarkatsishvili and other opposition leaders are planning the protests should the former president win reelection.

Imedi resumed broadcasting two weeks ago, more than a month after authorities shut it down during mass opposition protests.

The government had accused Imedi of encouraging last month's mass protests against the former president, whom opposition activists accused of corruption. Mr. Saahkashvili called shutting down the station a necessary response to what he described as a Russian-engineered coup attempt.

Mr. Saakashvili resigned November 25, as required by law, to run for re-election in the January 5 presidential vote. Parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze is acting president.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.

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