Georgian official shrugs off rumors Zhvania’s death plotted

Feb 3 2005


TBILISI, FEBRUARY 3, ARMENPRESS: A senior official of Georgian
president’s staff has shrugged off today a theory circulated by some
local mass media and politicians that prime minister Zurab Zhvania’s
death may have been plotted by his enemies. Guram Absadze, deputy
chief of Saakashvili’s staff, told reporters: “I do not think that
there are people who would have masterminded Zhvania’s death. No one
in Georgia wanted his death. He was a member of the united team with
president Saakashvili.”
Meantime a parliament member Alexander Shalamberidze was quoted by
Georgian news agencies as saying there was a link between a deadly
car explosion near police station in the town of Gori, 60 miles off
Tbilisi, earlier this week that killed three people and Zhvania’s
“My impression is that these two tragic occurrences were not
accidental and were plotted by forces outside Georgia,” he told
Zurab Zhvania , 42, was killed by a gas leak at a friend’s
apartment. Security guards broke through a window early Thursday when
they heard no signs of life inside the apartment several hours after
the prime minister arrived. Zhvania’s host, Zurab Usupov, deputy
governor of Georgia’s Kvemo-Kartli region, also died.
A longtime politician, Zhvania was part of the opposition to
former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and played a prominent
role in protests that led to Shevardnadze’s ouster after allegedly
fraudulent elections in November 2003.
He was named prime minister by Saakashvili following his landslide
election in January 2004. Zhvania was one of the key government
figures trying to negotiate settlements with Georgia’s separatist
Zhvania was born in the capital Tbilisi on Dec. 9, 1963. A
graduate of the biology department at Tbilisi State University, he
led the Green of Georgia party in 1988-93 and served in the
parliament beginning in 1992.
He was elected parliamentary speaker in 1995 and led the United
Democrats opposition party. Zhvania is survived by his wife and three
Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili presented his condolences
on the death of prime minister Zurab Zhvania. “It is very hard for me
to speak today. This is a blow on our country and on me personally,
as for the President and a person. Georgia lost a great patriot, who
devoted his whole life to serving our country,” Saakashvili said at a
special government’s session on February 3.
“I lost the closest friend I had, the most reliable adviser and
the greatest ally. Now, all my thoughts are with Zurab’s wife, his
mother and his children. In these hard times for the country and for
us, I call on everybody to be strong, to stand together and continue
to serve our country, despite any troubles and problems we face,”
Saakashvili said.
Also Russian president Vladimir Putin sent a letter of condolences
to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on the occasion of the
death of Zurab Zhvania.
The OSCE Permanent Council held a minute’s silence on Thursday in
honor of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania after his unexpected
The Chairman of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Janez Lenarcic
of Slovenia, said the Slovenian Chairmanship had learned with great
sadness of the Prime Minister’s death.
“We are deeply shocked by this tragic news,” he said. “Prime
Minister Zhvania was an important figure who played a leading role in
the transformation of Georgia and its development towards greater
democracy and economic reform.”
“He was also pivotal in the quest for a peaceful resolution of the
Georgian-Ossetian conflict, recently leading a constructive dialogue
with all sides.”
Reacting to the announcement of the death of the Georgian Prime
Minister Zurab Zhvania, Parliamentary Assembly President Rene van der
Linden and Secretary General Terry Davis declared that they had lost
a very close friend and expressed their deepest condolences to his
family and to the people of Georgia. ”Georgia has lost its Prime
Minister at a time when his energy, political skill and commitment to
European values would have been of crucial importance,” said Rene
van der Linden.