Georgian ambassador at time of 2008 war with Russia found dead

TBILISITue Jul 15, 2014 2:24pm EDT

Georgia's ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili arrives at Tbilisi airport July 11, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili

TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia's former ambassador to Russia at the time of the two countries' 2008 war was found shot to death on Tuesday in his car at the Tbilisi apartment block where he lived, the state prosecutor's office said.

It said an investigation had been launched into what may have been a suicide by Erosi Kitsmarishvili, 50, a onetime ally of former president Mikheil Saakashvili who became a critic over his decision to wage war with Georgia's former Soviet master.

Investigators said a gun found next to Kitsmarishvili's body belonged to him, although it remained unclear whether the gunshot that killed him came from that weapon.

Kitsmarishvili was Georgia's ambassador in Moscow when the two countries fought in August 2008.

Kitsmarishvili testified to an investigative commission after the war that Georgia had been the aggressor having mistakenly convinced itself that it U.S. support for fighting Russia, an accusation Saakashvili dismissed as "utter nonsense".

Moscow blamed the U.S.-backed Saakashvili for the war and recognized the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states after the conflict. Saakashvili's United National Movement lost a national election two years ago and his presidential term ended in November last year.

Kitsmarishvili served as a leader of the opposition Georgian Party in 2010-11 and ran for mayor in his native town of Rustavi last month, losing to the candidate from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition.

(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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