Georgia to investigate death of TV tycoon

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Georgia's president on Wednesday called for a murder investigation into the shooting of an influential TV tycoon.

Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the founder of the Rustavi 2 channel, was found dead in his car with a bullet in his head Tuesday.

Prosecutors say that hours before he died, Kitsmarishvili obtained a license for the gun that was found in his car. Prosecutors are investigating the case as a suicide and are looking into whether anyone else was involved.

But his family and friends insist Kitsmarishvili wasn't suicidal.

He has been described as one of the crucial players behind the 2003 Rose Revolution that installed pro-Western President Mikhail Saakashvili. Kitsmarishvili, who later served as Georgia's ambassador to Russia, didn't occupy any government posts at the time. But his television channel, arguably the country's most popular, provided Saakashvili with a lot of positive coverage.

Georgia's current president, Giorgi Margvelashvili, on Wednesday called for a speedy investigation, describing the death as a murder.

"This violent murder cannot remain unsolved," the president said.

The tycoon's friend, Bardi Nanetashvili, said he talked to Kitsmarishvili two hours before his death and insisted that he didn't sound like he was about to commit suicide.

"I talked to him and this was an ordinary conversation. He sounded fine," Nanetashvili told the Associated Press. "He was planning to set up a cable network and an NGO."

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