Explosion Rocks Georgian TV Center

TBILISI (Reuters)–An explosion rocked the state television center in Georgian capital Tbilisi on Wednesday–in what the new government said was an attempt to disrupt elections scheduled to replace the overthrown president.

"There are some forces in Georgia which are interested in bringing panic to this society–but I want to tell our society that we new leaders won’t allow it," Georgia’s interim president–Nino Burdzhanadze–told state television.

"We will be able to hold normal presidential elections in January."

The state security ministry said the explosion had been powerful but that there were no casualties.

State television–which was interviewing the Russian ambassador at the time–continued with its broadcasts and no evacuation of the building was ordered.

"The Television and Radio Corporation was damaged–especially the radio wing. But fortunately–there were no people there," a spokesman’said.

Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze quit last month after opposition supporters massed in Tbilisi saying his allies had won parliamentary elections fraudulently. Georgia is holding new presidential elections on January 4. The reason for the blast was not immediately clear.

"It could not have been a gas cylinder–because at the television station we do not use gas. As for other versions–it is hard for me to say–since there were no calls or threats," said Ednar Giorgobiani–the deputy head of state television.

Russia encouraged Shevardnadze–a former Soviet foreign minister instrumental in ending the Cold War–to step down peacefully but has since been accused by the new leaders of interfering in Georgia’s domestic affairs.

The Russian Ambassador Vladimir Chkhikvishvili said the blast offered further proof that former Soviet Georgia–which is plagued by unemployment–corruption–and poverty had not settled down after the "velvet revolution."

"What has just happened is evidence of the unstable situation that there is in Georgia," he said.

A prominent pro-Shevardnadze politician had her apartment fired upon on Tuesday–but there has been no general breakdown of order in the volatile country–which suffered civil war following the collapse of the Soviet Union.


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