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As demonstrations gather steam in Georgia, grenade attack on TV station in Tbilisi

As demonstrations gather steam in Georgia, grenade attack on TV station in Tbilisi
People attend an opposition rally at the Boris Paichadze National stadium in Tbilisi May 26, 2009. Thousands of opposition protesters rallied in a football stadium to mark Georgian Independence Day on Tuesday defying authorities who cancelled a traditional military parade for fear of fresh unrest.

A hand grenade attack was carried out on opposition television station Maestro TV in the early hours of Monday in Tbilisi as the political debate programme “Camera 5” was being broadcast live. The explosion damaged the entrance and blew out windows but caused no injuries, Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

“Any use of such methods to intimidate news media is deplorable and particularly suspect when opposition media are targeted,” Par-s-based said. “Coming at time of acute political tension and on the eve of Georgia’s Independence Day, this kind of incident could tip the political debate into violence. We urge all political players to act with restraint.”

It added, “The authorities must order an appropriate investigation into this attack. Ruling out the possibility of a political motive is premature.”

Maestro TV owner Mamuka Glonti gave a news conference Monday in which he deplored the failure of the police to come to the TV station immediately after the bombing. He said the municipal police took more than an hour to arrive and the criminal investigation department took two hours.

Parliamentary speaker David Bakradze, a supporter of President Mikhail Saakashvili, called the explosion "alarming" in an interview for Rustavi 2 television but insisted it was not related to political developments. The authorities said it would be investigated thoroughly.

Several well-known opposition figures were on the “Camera 5” set when the grenade exploded. They included the programme’s presenter, poet and singer Georgy Gachechiladze, brother of Levan Gachechiladze, one of the leaders of the opposition to President Saakashvili.

The opposition have been staging constant demonstrations in Tbilisi for the past six weeks to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation. Saakashvili was swept to power by the 2003 “Rose Revolution.”

Date posted: May 26, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 226