No Reception

Georgia cuts access to the last Russian radio station left standing

The officially anti-Georgian media blitz inside Russia has been well documented, but now it turns out the Georgians have been returning the fire. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported yesterday that, in addition to blocking access to Web addresses ending in .ru, Georgia has been jamming broadcasts of Russian television. Now, the last chip has fallen. New York-based Russian Television International (RTVi) ran afoul of the ostensibly democratic Georgian authorities when it re-broadcast an August 14th interview that liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy had conducted with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In the interview, Lavrov was highly critical of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, saying he was “a provocateur…protecting American interests” who had derailed negotiations about South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s final status. He also suggested that there could be no negotiations with Georgia until Saakashvili stepped down. Yesterday afternoon, the channel was cut off in Georgia.

RTVi, which regularly broadcasts Ekho Moskvy programs, was the last Russian station left in Georgia’s ether. Channels Rossiya, Channel One and NTV have all been blocked since August 9th. It is apparently of vital importance that Georgians blockaded inside their own country, tens of thousands of them hungry and homeless, be protected from “biased reporting and propaganda.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Julia Ioffe is a freelance writer based in New York City.