Fugitive billionaire set for Georgia presidential polls
( RIA Novosti ) - A fugitive Georgian tycoon, accused of organizing a coup attempt in Georgia, has applied to be registered as a candidate for early presidential elections January 5, election authorities said Monday.
Badri Patarkatsishvili, 52, submitted the documents on the last day of the registration period in Georgia, where early polls were announced earlier this month after demonstrators took to the streets demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili. The protests were subdued by force.
Giorgi Zhvania, a brother of Georgia's late premier and Patarkatsishvili's ally, said, "Badri will return to Georgia if his candidacy is registered."
Apart from Patarkatsishvili, other presidential candidates include Saakashvili, who resigned as president Saturday to start the election campaign, David Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Right opposition party, Shalva Natelashvili, Labor leader, and about a dozen other candidates.
Georgian prosecutors have accused Patarkatsishvili of using his funds and his Imedi television company to organize a coup during the mass street protests November 2-7. The company's office was closed and its license revoked as part of an operation to quash opposition riots.
Several thousand people gathered in Tbilisi Sunday for a new opposition rally, urging people to unite against violence.