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Tbilisi Officials Name Street After Bush

September 14, 2005 GMT

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ City officials in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi voted Wednesday to rename a street in honor of President Bush, who was met by enthusiastic crowds here in May but also escaped an apparent attempt on his life.

``George Bush is doing a lot for the development of democracy in the world and is helping Georgia with its democratic transformation. And we are proud that one of Tbilisi’s streets will carry his name,″ said Mayor Gigi Ugulava.

The measure passed 29-12, with opposition lawmakers in the assembly voting against the measure because they said it rewarded Bush for supporting President Mikhail Saakashvili _ both politically and through generous U.S. financial aid.

``No one denies that the United States is helping Georgia a lot. But I believe that we should have named one of Tbilisi’s streets after Thomas Jefferson,″ said the head of the opposition Labor Party, Georgy Gunava.

Saakashvili, who came to power after the 2004 ``Rose Revolution,″ has built close ties with the United States.

Bush’s motorcade had driven down the street, which leads from to the airport to the city and already has a white banner proclaiming the new name: ``President George W. Bush Street″ beside a photo of him smiling and waving.

He hailed the Bush visit as a success, despite an incident in which a man threw a live grenade toward the U.S president as he addressed a huge rally flanked by Saakashvili. The grenade did not explode and no one was injured.

Vladimir Arutyunian, who is in custody and has admitted to the grenade-throwing, was indicted earlier this month by a U.S. grand jury on charges of trying to assassinate the president but will face justice at home.