Sunday, October 11, 2009

The "Georgian Radio-Liberty swindle"

Last week Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty sent an official letter to the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia, in which the radio station proposed to open a representative office in the republic, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba (picture) told Apsnypress. Shamba gave his consent, but set some serios conditions to be met for the free press:

“I stand for the expansion of the freedom of speech; the main thing is that it should have nothing to do with Georgia in any way”.
So the RFE/RL office was reluctantly ok’ed. But what about broadcasting? That's a whole other departement, and a very different head: Namely The head of The Department of Governmental Information and Mass Media of Abkhazia, Christian Bzhania. He is extremely worried about this unheard of proposal of free press broadcasting inside Abkhazia. He strongly objects to the very thought of it, and guarantees this won’t happen on HIS watch:
“An attempt to start Radio Liberty's broadcasting over the territory of Abkhazia will be illegal with all the respective consequences.[..]The worst time, the time of pirated radio-penetration into "enemy's territory" seems to linger behind the editorial office of the radio station.[..] Should it start broadcasting, we’ll take tough measures, including technical ones, up to radio signal suppression. [..] We have such means. Then, all this Georgian-Radio-Liberty swindle will go broke [..]”.

It’s the US, stupid!
To further contribute to rising mr. Bezhania's bloodpressure, one might add that the radio-station is financed partly through US Congress, and is what Hillary Clinton calls a great example of Smart Power. The obvious problem with free press is that it tends to interfere with the political agenda from time to time, and not to forget: also with the official Russian interpretation of the sole concept of free press and freedom of speech. I guess the radiowaves will experience some obstacles on their way to Abkhazian ears.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in short: Their journalists provide uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate. RFE/RL broadcast to 20 countries in 28 languages, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Russia. With over 400 full-time journalists, 750 freelancers, and 19 local bureaus. RFE/RL's mission is to promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. Based on the conviction that the first requirement of democracy is a well informed citizenry, and building on over a half-century of surrogate broadcasting.


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