Badri Patarkatsishvili may run for Georgian presidency in January

( Itar-Tass ) - Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili did not rule out that he might run in the upcoming presidential elections in Georgia on January 5, 2008.

In a written interview with Reuters from Tel Aviv, Patarkatsishvili said he would campaign against Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in order to keep Georgia from sliding into "dictatorship".

In his view, by having dispersed a peaceful opposition demonstration in Tbilisi on Wednesday, Saakashvili lost his legitimacy and stopped being a real leader of the Georgian people.

"As for me personally, this is the most serious responsibility and I will think about this seriously," he said, responding to a question whether he would run in the elections.

The Georgian Prosecutor General's Office has accused the businessman of "plotting a coup to overthrow the constitutional bodies of state power."

"All required legal procedures will be complied with," the Prosecutor-General's Office said. Patarkatsishvili has been summoned for questioning.

Patarkatsishvili said Saakashvili was doomed.

In a statement his press-office issued in Tbilisi on Wednesday Patarkatsishvili said "that like millions of Georgian citizens he had faith the authorities will not dare use force against the people."

"I have done my utmost in a bid to find compromises with the authorities. The Opposition has refrained from yielding to any provocations and taken no illegal action. Apparently this is what made the authorities so angry," Patarkatsishvili said.

The businessman believes that Saakashvili has committed several illegal actions against his own people.

"For this reason I am using every resource available in order to rid Georgia of Saakashvili," he said.

The businessman left the country on a foreign tour for business meetings. Ten days ago he said outright he would provide financial assistance for the Georgian opposition.

Patarkatsishvili, 52, announced that he "would provide financial assistance to the National Council (of Opposition Parties) with the purpose of staging civilized protest actions, and preventing a serious political crisis in the country."

"Therefore it's important that both authorities and the Opposition behave in a responsible way and not take actions which would aggravate the situation," he went on to say.

One of the possible reasons than may worsen the situation is "the scanty financial resources of the Opposition," so Patarkatsishvili said he would provide financial aid to the Opposition "in line with the effective law in Georgia," for "a civilized holding of peaceful actions and their normal management."

On October 16, Saakashvili stated that the authorities and people of Georgia would "never let an oligarch or groups of oligarchs rule the country."

"Let them bear in mind that the time when one or several oligarchs could rule the country has long passed," Saakashvili said.

The Georgian authorities have labelled Patarkatsishvili as a "Russian oligarchic force and the mastermind of a conspiracy against Georgia."

Several senior Georgian official shave vowed to prevent the oligarch from rising to power.

A statement by Patarkatsishvili, which was posted in Tbilisi on Tuesday, "contains a direct threat," Givi Targamadze, a co-leader of the ruling United National Movement and Chairman of the Parliament Defence and Security Committee, said. "He says that uncontrollable processes may start in this country if the Georgian government does not stop being stubborn. Patarkatsishvili must remember that he will break his neck if he tries to lock horn [with the government]."

The businessmen called on parliament speaker Nino Burdzhanadze and deputies to "support the will of the people, immediately approve the holding of parliament elections in spring instead of fall 2008, and thus prevent the use of force."

"If the authorities remain stubborn, there may be a clash, and the president and his team will be responsible," he said.

Targamadze put the blame for Tbilisi protests on Patarkatsishvili and urged him to prevent the use of force.

"Patarkatsishvili is the organiser of the opposition rally in Tbilisi, and the organiser is responsible for every protester. Whenever you bring people to a rally, you must stay in control and ensure the rally's compliance with law," he said.

But Patarkatsishvili denied the rally was a coup conspiracy organised by him and former Defence Minister Irakly Okruashvili.

He told journalists at the airport on November upon return from Britain that he probably wouldn't take part in the opposition rally, but that he was "ready to continue the struggle for change of government solely by political means, i.e. elections."

"I'm not planning to go to the rally. Hopefully, it will pass peacefully. I'm ready to do everything for the situation to keep within the framework of the Constitution," Patarkatsishvili said.

In his opinion, "the people of Georgia will prove to everybody their real march towards democratic western values."

"We'll do everything for the struggle towards change of government only by political method; if we don't like it, we'll struggle to win the election. It is these issues I'll busy myself with in Georgia," he stated.

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