Car Bomb Rips Through Georgian Opposition Leader's Car

TBILISI - A leading member of Georgia's main opposition party - former President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) - appears to have been the target of a terrorist attack on Tuesday evening after his car was hit by what most experts believe was a massive car bomb that left five people injured.

According to police reports, UNM lawmaker Givi Targamadze was seated in the front passenger seat of his car when the blast occurred. Targamadze and his driver both escaped injury, but five unidentified passersby were injured and later taken to hospital for treatment

The incident occurred on Collective Farm Square, near the UNM's headquarters on the outskirts of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, local news station Rustavi-2 reported Tuesday night.

"This was not the result of a direct threat against me. It was a far darker act than that...My car runs on petrol, not gas, which means the explosion could only have been caused by a bomb," Targamadze said. 

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili issued a statement via the Government's official Website wherein he called for calm and swift action by law enforcement officials and the State Security Services.

"What happened tonight in Tbilisi is not just an act committed against the State, but a provocation by Georgia’s enemies to sow instability in the country ahead of Saturday's elections. An investigation into this case has already been launched, and necessary measures have been taken to bring the perpetrators to justice...My message to the organizers of this crime, you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Nothing will protect you. And we will once and for all put an end to the practice of endangering people's lives for political gain," Kvirikashvili said in his address to the nation.

The UNM has been quick to point the finger at the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) - a coalition party founded in 2011 by eccentric billionaire oligarch and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. 

Despite having officially retired from politics in 2013, Ivanishvili's 'Grey Cardinal" status in the GD and his close business and personal ties to Russia's oligarchs - many of whom he had known since the 1990s when Ivanishvili made his fortune in Moscow - has made him and his party the bitter political rivals of the staunchly pro-Western United National Movement.

Tuesday's incident comes only days after two men were shot and wounded in the central Georgian city Gori during a campaign rally for the independent candidate and former Saakashvili-era Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili. 

The October 2 shooting in Gori followed a violent clash the day before in western Georgia’s Zugdidi region between supporters of the Georgian Dream and United National Movement that three people injured.

UNM leader and former National Security Council Secretary Giorgi Bokeria accused Georgia's Security Services of being responsible for the attack on Targamadze. Though he provided no evidence, Bokeria said the country's top spy agency acted on behalf of Ivanishvili and certain factions in the GD.

By Natia Liparteliani and Nicholas Waller



04 October 2016 22:20