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New Georgian TV Channel, Belarusian Oil Dispute, Putin's Plans

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during an October parliament session in Tbilisi
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during an October parliament session in Tbilisi

Georgian TV Launches 'Provocative' Russian-Language Channel

The Georgian state broadcaster OGT has launched a Russian-language TV channel called “Pervy kavkazsky” (First Georgian). The channel is the initiative of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and reportedly has a budget of $3 million. Alla Dudayeva, the widow of Dzhorkar Dudayev, president of the former breakaway Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, will work as a moderator on the station.

Georgian opposition leader Georgi Khaindrav tells RFE/RL that the project is a provocation. “It will be a serious propaganda argument for the Russian leadership," he says. "There have already been comments from the Kremlin and Duma that the channel will be used for agitation and supporting terrorism, Wahhabism, Muslim extremism and so on.”

[read in Russian]

Oil Dispute Threatens RussiaBelarus Union

In addition to causing global oil prices to rise, the dispute between Moscow and Minsk over customs duties on Russian oil exports via Belarus is straining relations between the two countries.

Economist Lev Margolin tells RFE/RL that although the Russia position is based partly on the policy of further marketization of energy prices, it is also part of an attempt to take control of the Belarusian oil refining sector: “[The dispute] is a consequence of the Russian side’s plans...If you want cheaper least give us half of the Novopolotsk oil refinery and then [Belarus oil company] Naftan will receive cheap oil.”

[read in Russian]

Putin Shows Who’s Boss

RFE/RL’s Andrei Shary speaks with Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, and military analyst Aleksandr Golts about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recently announced plans to develop new offensive weapons.

Golts says that the announcement is “a political game” aimed in part at persuading the U.S. to share information about its revised anti-missile shield plans: “Putin has left no doubt that he is a firm believer in the need for a nuclear deterrent against the United States. He thinks that as soon as the strategic balance is tipped, the Americans will begin to act aggressively, including in the economic sphere.

Golts added that Putin’s announcement was also aimed at demonstrating “who is in charge in Russia.”

[read in Russian / read in English]