Georgia: Media riled over Russian phone advert

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightAFP
image captionTbilisi wasn't mentioned in the advert, despite providing the backdrop

An advert for a Moscow-based telecoms company, which boasts of its reach across "the whole of Russia", appears to have been filmed entirely in neighbouring Georgia.

The advert, for one of Russia's biggest mobile phone providers, MTS, shows people strutting down picturesque cobbled streets, descending glass staircases, and wandering through underground stations, while singing the praises of their mobile phone reception. But Georgia's Rustavi-2 TV notes that while the locations look remarkably familiar to those who know the country's capital, Tbilisi, the advert makes no mention of the city.

The channel describes the advert as "scandalous", and says it implies that the locations are in Russia, a view echoed by the CTV news website, among others. The famous backdrops used include historic Aghmashenebeli Avenue, the distinctive modern architecture of Peace Bridge, and the House of Justice government building.

Georgia's minister of culture, Mikheil Giorgadze, isn't best pleased with the advert either, saying that commercial filming in Tbilisi requires official approval. "The ministry did not give permission for any kind of filming... and if any views of Tbilisi are presented as if they are in Russia, of course our reaction will be negative," he tells Rustavi-2.

The two countries have shared an often violent history since Georgia regained independence in 1991, and they went to war in 2008 over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

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