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It was not necessary. Because it was the [Georgian] television that perfectly served the role. Several times a day it was showing videos of bombed populated areas in Abkhazia. People responsible for the artillery fire correction were also watching TV and giving directions straight from there: "now strike a little bit to the left..." "... Now, move fire line a little bit forward..."
Unlike a donkey, which never fells into the same hole twice, we’ve done so several times already. In August 2008 almost the same thing happened - during the live broadcast one journalist was telling with a happy face about “stupid” Russians, who could not target [bombs] well.
He was standing next to the place were a bomb had exploded, he named the place and announced that Russians shot 300 meters to the right from the target and the bomb exploded on the road. Live broadcasting had not even finished as another explosion occurred: the Russians hit 300 meters to the right...
What was happening on our TV channels from the first minutes of the Lopota special operation is unique and is probably typical only to our poor state. Websites and social networks were loaded with photos, footages and information about the number of troops passing through Lapankuri village on the way to Lopota gorge, approximate number of armed men in each car, what were they armed with, if they carried ammunition or not, how many helicopters were in the air ...
Bidzina Ivanishvili's "Channel Nine" was the quickest and aired the special issue of news programme at almost 4 AM. The impression was that somebody has called and asked [journalists] to provide visual material on the number of armed forces gathered in the gorge. The oligarch just had to wave his hand and the crew of Channel Nine immediately got to Lapankuri and arranged live broadcast from there, even so by telephone.
Of course, no one can ban media from being operative and on the one hand it is even good that "Channel Nine" was very quick, while others, even producers of the pro-government channels, simply slept, but another issue is what was and how it was covered.
Let us only quote journalists, you can watch the full bulletin in attached video material and judge yourself:
Reporter asking a police officer standing at the entrance of Lapankuri:
- What are the forces involved in this operation?
Policeman: address the press office of the ministry [of internal affairs], they will answer your questions.
Journalist: Why should we address the press service, while you are here?
Journalist: - How many kilometers are to the village Lapankuri, please tell us? Or we should ask the press office this too?
Journalist: - Why don’t you let this man go home, why?
Later the journalist switches to live via telephone:
Journalist: So, I see two helicopters in the sky ... in Lapankuri ten military vehicles passed by.
Lapankuri resident: One of the lost boys is my son-in-law and I saw myself he was sitting in the car. They found him...
Journalist: What did he say, where he was, where was he lost?
Anchor of the "Channel Nine’s" special news bulletin Natia Lazashvili on telephone with journalist Gela Mtivlishvili from the Kakheti Information Centre:
Mtivlishvili: These minutes, several military vehicles just passed though the centre of Lapankuri.
Lazashvili: Where do you stand, can you tell me exactly?
Mtivlishvili: In the village centre.
Lazashvili: How do you know that these were military cars? What are the plate numbers?
Mtivlishvili: They passed by fast, I could not see...
Just before Lazashvili asked that "unique" question, someone watching live stream on Facebook joked that Lazashvili would soon ask what were the plate numbers of the cars.
This continued for several days: Journalists tirelessly broadcasted about the number of military vehicles and manpower. Editors were publishing the information with enviable efficiency, to be ahead of competitors.
Luckily, there is about twenty kilometers from the centre of Lapankuri village to the location of the special operation and the road goes through mountainous gorge, otherwise we would have seen live broadcasts from there also.
Finally, information for thought; I will explain in a popular language,
In 1917, the USA adopted amendments to the law, which limited coverage of military operations and its detailed discussions during war. Many journalists have been punished for breaking that law.
Violation of the Espionage Act prescribed a USD10 000 fine and maximum 20 years imprisonment for interfering with the recruiting of troops or the disclosure of information dealing with national defence. Such action by a journalist, in fact, was equal to treason.
According to another law - Sedition Act of 1918 - the press is forbidden to spread aggressive statements (spreading this kind of statements, perhaps, is exclusive only to our journalists) towards the state and its structures. It is prohibited to abuse state symbols, military and naval uniforms. These restrictions apply to any military or anti- criminal operation, containing any confidential details. Like in the US, similar legal regulations exist in England, India, Switzerland, Finland and Germany.
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