Tension simmering ahead of Georgian poll
Preparations are underway in Georgia ahead of this Saturday's presidential election. While campaigning continues, the opposition claims the media's biased in favour of the government.
The Georgian media's been at the heart of a bitter political tussle in the run-up to the January 5 poll.
Ex-president Saakashvili called the snap election after police clashed with demonstrators in Tbilisi on November 7. Journalists found themselves caught up in the violence.
Following the disturbances, special forces raided and shut down the opposition TV channel Imedi, which the authorities said was airing calls to stage a coup. During the crisis, government representatives had harsh words for the channel's journalists.
The channel subsequently reopened, but less than two months later, the authorities produced evidence implicating Imedi's founder and co-owner, billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, in plotting to overthrow the government in the days following the election.
Dozens of journalists quit the channel and its management decided to take it off the air once again.
This leaves Georgia with three major TV stations remaining on air. The opposition alleges they all show a pro-government bias.
The main opposition candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, has more than once lashed out at journalists from these stations and has even ordered them to leave his press conferences.