The leading opposition figures demanded public apologies from Imedi head Georgy Arveladze© REUTERS/ David Mdzinarishvili
The Georgian opposition demanded an official apology from the Imedi TV channel for being portrayed as "traitors" in a bogus news report about a Russian invasion of Georgia.
The Imedi TV channel sparked panic in Georgia with a broadcast that said Russian tanks had invaded the capital and the country's president was dead. The report used footage from the August 2008 conflict with Russia.
"The broadcast humiliated the dignity of certain political forces," four prominent Georgian opposition leaders said in their letter to Imedi and the national media commission.
The leading opposition figures demanded public apologies from Imedi head Georgy Arveladze, his deputy Eka Tsamalashvili and journalists who took part in preparing the program.
Former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli, leader of the For Fair Georgia opposition party, announced a week after the broadcast that he would sue Arveladze and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. The Democratic Movement - United Georgia party, led by ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze, also announced that it would file a lawsuit against Imedi
According to the broadcast, several opposition leaders render assistance to Russia during the invasion, including Nogaideli, Burdzhanadze, Conservative Party leaders Zurab Dzidziguri and Kakha Kukava, leader of Geororgian Peoples Party Koba Davitashvili, lawmaker Levan Gachechiladze and former State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues, Giorgi Khaindrava.
The letter, signed by Dzidziguri, Kukava, Davitashvili and Nogaideli says the broadcast violates the "innocent unless proven guilty" principle of the country's constitution.
"Accusing the opposition of committing actions which threaten the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity is completely against this constitutional norm," the letter says.
In addition, the TV channel violated the country's law on telecommunications, which states that a clear line must be drawn between facts and opinions.
The letter also accuses the broadcaster of violating several provisions of the Georgian Broadcaster's Code of Conduct, including the restrictions on the use of staged footage in news programs and the ban on inciting political tensions in the society.
Georgia's National Media Commission has already ordered Imedi to apologize to the public for the report and examine complaints from all the "victims" - people who had reportedly suffered heart attacks and experienced other health problems over the report.
TBILISI, March 25 (RIA Novosti)
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