The Georgian leader, Eduard Shevardnadze, was slightly wounded Tuesday when a large car bomb exploded near the parliament building in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.
Shevardnadze was about to sign a new constitution, passed last Thursday by Parliament, for the chaotic nation of Georgia. The constitution will restore the office of the presidency with strong powers, and Shevardnadze, the well-known former foreign minister of the Soviet Union, had made it clear he would run for the job. Elections are scheduled for Nov. 5.
Shevardnadze was taken to the hospital and was shown on television sitting on a chair in his undershirt, looking slightly dazed, with cuts on his face, eyelid and hands.
“It’s clear Shevardnadze’s enemies tried to assassinate the head of our state to stop the signing ceremony,” said his press secretary, Ramaz Sakvarelidze.
Interviewed later on television, Shevardnadze said: “They want to turn Georgia into a country where the mafia rules. But I won’t allow it as long as I’m alive.”
He said the car bombing of his motorcade was “the last act of terrorism in Georgia,” because “the whole people will rise and raze them to the ground.”
Shevardnadze was leaving Parliament Tuesday evening to travel in a motorcade to a signing ceremony of the new constitution when a green Niva, a small four-wheel-drive vehicle, exploded nearby, Georgian television said, presumably by a remote-controlled detonator.
Windows shattered and Shevardnadze, sitting in his car, was hit with flying glass. At least four cars were heavily damaged or destroyed.