Georgian channel recruits Chechen

Move is part of anti-Russian propaganda

A channel in Georgia that was set up to raise awareness about the country’s struggle with Russia has tapped the widow of a Chechen leader to present one of its shows.

The First Caucasian Channel — which has been running as an Internet-based web — was due to go live on a Georgian public television frequency Monday.

Alla Dudayeva — whose husband Dhzhokhar Dudayev, the first leader of the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, was killed by a Russian guided missile explosion in 1996 — will host a culture program on the channel.

The channel, which will be broadcast in Russian, will be made available to cable and terrestrial networks as part of a Georgian government drive to get its side of the story across in its troubled relations with Russia.

The two countries fought a brief and bitter war in August 2008 over two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The two territories subsequently declared independence with Russian backing, although virtually no other foreign governments have recognized them.

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said Monday that the new channel — which will report mostly on events in Georgia, Russia and the Caucasus — was important for Georgians, who “should not lose” access to Russian-language broadcasts.

Levan Gakheladze, chairman of the board of trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, said the channel — which will be the broadcaster’s third station — would help counter the views of Russian television channels.

“This is a desire to export truth about Georgia,” Gakheladze said.

“We want to report our truth to our target audience, which is very much interested in it.

“We want to tell the truth about what is happening also in Russia — not only in North Caucasus, but also in Moscow.”

The new channel will have an annual budget of around $1.7 million.

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