Georgia - Authorities urged not to rule out political motive in grenade attack on TV station

    MONTREAL, May 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns a hand
grenade attack on opposition television station Maestro TV in the early hours
of yesterday 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.
    "Any use of such methods to intimidate news media is deplorable and
particularly suspect when opposition media are targeted," Reporters Without
Borders 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."
    The press freedom organisation 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 yesterday 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."

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)

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