The NY Times has an interesting page one story on the republic of Georgia and what it’s like to be a broadcaster there. Georgia is of course held up as the little democracy that could by many on Capitol Hill, but the article shows that the government, headed by president Mikheil Saakashvili, hardly allows freedom of the press.
Last November, riot police armed with machine guns raided the Imedi station there and shut down operations. Imedi had been critical of Saakashvili’s presidency. Things aren’t much better today, reports the Times, and is perhaps even worse.
In its most recent report, Freedom House, a human rights research group based in New York, ranked Georgia, in terms of press freedom, on a level with Colombia and behind Nigeria, Malawi, Indonesia and Ukraine — the last a NATO aspirant, like Georgia.
A 2008 State Department report on Georgia’s democratic progress said that respect for freedom of speech, the press and assembly worsened during the 2007 crisis and that there continued to be reports of “law enforcement officers acting with impunity” and “government pressure on the judiciary.”