Third Georgian politician found dead in last few days
Saturday, 5 February, 2005,
Georgia state official found dead
A Georgian government official has been found dead in
an apparent suicide, two days after the country's
prime minister died from accidental gas poisoning.
Georgy Khelashvili, 32, who worked for the pardons
commission, was found dead of a gunshot wound in his
home on Friday night, police in Tbilisi said.
PM Zurab Zhvania, 41, was found dead in an apartment
in the capital, poisoned by gas from a faulty heater.
It is not known whether the two deaths are linked.
Mr Khelashvili is thought to have shot himself with a
hunting rifle borrowed from a neighbour.
"He left a note to his family and wrote the sort of
things people write when they commit suicide," police
spokesman Irankly Pirtskhalava said, quoted by Reuters
Police have launched an inquiry into Mr Zhvania's
death, but the government has described it as a tragic
accident - in which a Georgian official, Raul Usupov,
Thousands of people are expected to turn out for Mr
Zhvania's funeral on Sunday.
The authorities say that the two days of mourning are
also being held in honour of three police officers
killed on Tuesday near the breakaway republic of South
Georgia will stand firm, and I hope I will stand firm
because it is firmness that we need the most at
Mr Zhvania was once an ally of ex-President Eduard
But he turned against him and played a prominent role
in the 2003 Rose Revolution that ousted Mr
Giorgi Janashia, the Georgian state prosecutor, said
technical experts reported that an Iranian-made gas
heater in the flat had not been installed properly and
there was no ventilation.
However, Georgian newspapers have questioned whether
the authorities are telling the truth.
"A death or a murder?", asked the pro-opposition
Akhali Taoba, while the centrist Rezonansi newspaper
said the incident "raised many questions".
On Thursday, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
said he was taking charge of the government. He has
seven days to nominate a new prime minister.