Georgian Prime Minister 'killed by gas leak'

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The Independent Online

The Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was killed early today by an apparent gas leak, the former Soviet republic's interior minister said.

The Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was killed early today by an apparent gas leak, the former Soviet republic's interior minister said.

Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said that Zhvania had been at a friend's house when the accident occurred.

Security guards broke through a window when they heard no sign of life inside the home several hours after the prime minister arrived, he said.

"It is an accident," said Mr Merabishvili. "We can say that poisoning by gas took place."

A long-time politician born in 1963, Zhvania was part of the opposition to former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and played a role in protests that led to Mr Shevardnadze's departure after allegedly fraudulent elections in November 2003.

President Mikhail Saakashvili, who led the protests, named Zhvania prime minister following his landslide election in January 2004.

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