#39 - JRL 2009-232 - JRL Home
December 20, 2009
Saakashvili Sacks Governor Over Deadly Blast
Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has sacked a regional governor after a mother and her young daughter were apparently accidently killed when workers set off an explosion to raze a Soviet World War II memorial.

Presidential spokeswoman Manana Manjgaladze said Saakashvili cut short his visit to the Copenhagen international climate conference to return to Georgia to convene a government meeting following the deadly blast Saturday in the city of Kutaisi.

The spokeswoman said Saakashvili had decided to sack the Imereti regional governor Mikhail Chogovadze over the incident.

"The president received detailed information existing at the moment about the tragedy which happened during the monument dismantling works in Kutaisi,” Manjgaladze said. “The president hopes the investigation launched by the prosecutor's office will reveal all the details of the tragedy quickly so as to find and punish everybody who is guilty."

Reports said the victims -- a mother and her daughter, seven or eight years old -- were killed when lumps of concrete were thrown by the explosion toward their home. Reports said up to four other people were hospitalized with injuries.

The demolition work was reportedly being carried out by a private company, and investigators were said to be probing possible violations of safety regulations.

The demolition of the monument to make way for a new parliament building had already been condemned by Georgian critics of the government and by Russia, which said the decision was "disrespectful" to Georgians who fought in the Soviet army during World War Two.

The Georgian president has said he wants to move parliament sessions to Kutaisi in a bid to revitalize the industrial city.

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