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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Suffers Blackout of Its Own

TBILISI, Georgia -- All of Georgia was without power Monday, and officials were struggling to determine the cause of the blackout.

Electricity went off at 7 a.m. local time in the entire country of 4.4 million people and was not restored until about 10 p.m.

Periodic blackouts are common, but it was unusual for the whole country to be affected at once.

"We are trying to figure out what's happening," said Medeya Kakhadze, an aide to Fuel and Energy Minister Mamuka Nikolaishvili. "We know only that an emergency shutdown occurred."

The blackout came on Nikolaishvili's first work day as energy minister and followed the recent sale of a 75 percent stake in Telasi by U.S. company AES to Russia's Unified Energy Systems.

Telasi, the electricity utility in the capital Tbilisi, refused to comment.

Tbilisi's subway did not open Monday morning because of the blackout and trolleybuses were also unable to run. As a result, regular buses were overflowing with passengers, many of whom hung onto the doors.

Georgia is heavily dependent on Russia for energy, and many politicians, including Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, had spoken strongly against the acquisition, warning it would give Russia a powerful political lever in dealing with Georgia.

UES head Anatoly Chubais this month sought to reassure Shevardnadze, saying the company had no political goals and Georgia's electricity supplies would be safe.

However, Tbilisi has seen sporadic power supplies for the past week. On Sunday, residents of one city district stormed a dispatch unit and forced workers to turn on the power in their neighborhood.

Meanwhile, natural gas supplies have been cut off in the city for the past two weeks. Officials say the gas lines are being repaired.