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Georgian tycoon says he has evidence of a London assassination plot against him

Georgian tycoon says he has evidence of a London assassination plot against him

A candidate in Georgia's forthcoming presidential election said Wednesday a Georgian official plotted to assassinate him while he was in London.
Badri Patarkatsishvili, a prominent opponent of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, said he obtained a tape recording that captured an official in his country's Interior Ministry asking a Chechen warlord to murder him while he was in the British capital. Patarkatsishvili now spends much of his time in London.
"I believe they want to kill me," Patarkatsishvili told The Associated Press by telephone from Israel. "They understand that I am the only person who has the possibility to be president of Georgia ... and (they) will do anything to remove the problem."
It was not possible to verify his claim, and it was not clear when the alleged plot was due to be carried out. Patarkatsishvili said his representatives passed the tape on to London's Scotland Yard police headquarters, but police said they could not immediately comment on the allegation.
Georgia's deputy prosecutor-general, Nika Gvaramia, said that his office would investigate the allegations, but added that they appeared to be an attempt by Patarkatsishvili to find a reason for not coming to Georgia.
Patarkatsishvili, who is one of several candidates challenging Saakashvili in the Jan. 5 vote, has been dividing his time between Britain and Israel since prosecutors said he was under criminal investigation for plotting to overthrow the government. Even though prosecutors in the ex-Soviet republic said last week they had dropped the case against him, he said he had not yet decided whether to go back to Georgia.
"It's impossible to think today that I might go to Georgia tomorrow because every day they say something different," he said.
Allegations of an official plot to have the billionaire businessman killed have been aired by opposition figures in the past.
In September, former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili accused Saakashvili of trying to encourage him to kill the tycoon in 2005, although he later retracted the charge.
Patarkatsishvili told the AP he is considering throwing his support behind other opposition leaders whom he plans to meet soon to "make a good solution."
He said the only candidates he could support are Levan Gachechiladze and David Gamkrelidze, because they share the same democratic vision as he does.
"For me it's not important that I am president and can sit in a big chair, it's important that Georgia has democracy and the economy can grow," he said.
Saakashvili called the election _ a year earlier than the next presidential vote was scheduled _ to try to retain power after ordering a violent crackdown on opposition demonstrators who were calling for his resignation in November.
Saakashvili was elected by a landslide after leading the 2003 Rose Revolution protests that pushed his predecessor out.
His popularity, fueled by his Western orientation and efforts to restore the ex-Soviet republic's economy and rein in separatist regions, has declined amid criticism that he shows an authoritarian bent.
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Associated Press Writer Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili in Tblisi, Georgia, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-23 13:52 GMT+08:00