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Georgia Must Lift State of Emergency Now, Bryza Tells RFE/RL

(Washington, DC–November 9, 2007) During an exclusive interview today with RFE/RL’s Georgian Service, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza reiterated the U.S. call “for an immediate lifting of the state of emergency and restoration of all media broadcasts. Precisely because we know these are essential steps to ensure that the elections announced by President Saakashvili are free and fair.” Bryza, who is expected in Georgia on Saturday, spoke by phone from Washington.

RFE/RL is one of the media outlets affected by the Georgian government’s declaration yesterday of a state of emergency, as the government’s ban on independent media broadcasts shut down its affiliate partners in Georgia. As an interim step, RFE/RL has secured shortwave and cross-border mediumwave frequencies which it is using to maintain news programming into Georgia. In addition, RFE/RL reconfigured its Georgian-language website, implemented an email alert system and is using cellphone-based SMS alerts to keep its audience in Georgia informed of breaking news.

RFE/RL’s Georgian Service program will be available for the next week from a cross-border mediumwave transmitter broadcasting on frequency 864 from 6:00-7:00PM local time daily, and for the next two weeks on shortwave frequencies 11855 and 15150 from 6:00-7:00PM and 12:00midnight-12:45AM daily. All three hours of daily Georgian Service programming remain available via direct-to-home transmission from the HotBird satellite and on the Internet via the service’s website,