President Saakashvili said on on Sunday that Imedi TV's fake report as if Russian troops advanced to take over Tbilisi with the opposition's help "was maximally close to what may really happen."
Imedi TV, whose fake report caused a widespread outrage in Georgia, apologized for, what it called was "a simulation" of what may happen after the May local elections, but said it aimed at "obstructing Russia's aggressive plans."
Speaking at a meeting with local residents in the Bolnisi district, Saakashvili said that it was "unpleasant what we saw yesterday" and added that the TV station, despite making a brief notice in advance that it was "a simulation", should had ran a warning caption on the screen in the course of the entire report.
"But the major unpleasant thing about the yesterday's report - and I want everyone to realize it well - was that this report is maximally close to reality and maximally close to what may really happen, or to what Georgia's enemy keeps in mind," Saakashvili said.
He said that Georgia's enemy started screening "a real bad movie" for Georgia in August, 2008, "but we stopped this movie."
"Although we know that its director is still writing a script of scenario, which is close to what we saw yesterday," Saakashvili added.
In his speech Saakashvili also mentioned Nino Burjanadze, ex-parliamentary speaker and a leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, who has recently met with Russia's PM Vladimir Putin. Burjanadze and Zurab Nogaideli, ex-PM and leader of Movement for Fair Georgia party, who met separately with PM Putin, were part of the Imedi TV's fake report according to which they were key organizers of unrests in Tbilisi after the local elections, which was then followed by Russian invasion.
"The one, who shakes hand [referring to Burjanadze] with [person, referring to Putin] whose hands are in blood of people of Georgia of any ethnicity, can not have any dignity," Saakashvili said.
"After meeting with these two disgraceful politicians [referring to Burjanadze and Nogaideli], Putin said at one of closed meetings: 'As I was telling you, Georgians can not concentrate long enough on anything except of dancing and singing'. That is the result of all these [meetings with Putin]," he said.
Many opposition parties made separate statements condemning the Imedi TV's fake report, alleging that it was done in prior agreement with the authorities, in particular with President Saakashvili. Imedi TV's head is Giorgi Arveladze, who is a former government member and a long-time ally to President Saakashvili. Senior officials, however, strongly denied the allegation.
Lawmakers from the ruling party made tough-worded statements, condemning Imedi TV’s fake report.
“While the authorities are sparing no efforts to attract foreign investments, for some reasons we hear propaganda that Georgia is under threat of war and that this war is actually inevitable. This kind of propaganda of course harms the country’s interests,” MP Petre Tsiskarishvili, the parliamentary majority leader, said.
“This report is in no way a result of the authorities’ propaganda; those who speak about it are simply trying to gain political scores from this story and on the other hand also trying to harm the authorities. But the authorities are categorically against airing such TV reports and the authorities are sparing no efforts to prevent this kind of scenario,” he said.
“It was irresponsible on the part of the television station’s management and those who prepared this report; it was a huge mistake,” MP Pavle Kublashvili said.
“It was totally unethical and irresponsible; playing with viewers’ feelings is totally unacceptable,” MP Giorgi Gabashvili said.
Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, joined the condemnation of the fake report and said in his Sunday sermon in the Holy Trinity Cathedral and said it was “an insult” of the people. He said human beings should not be subjects for “experiments.”
“We condemn reports of this type,” he said. “I want to request the authorities to pay attention to this; a television station should not be uncontrolled and should not be airing abomination like this.”