Patarkatsishvili's party to run in parliamentary elections

( Itar-Tass ) - Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili will create a political party in Georgia which will run in the next parliamentary election, members of his election headquarters announced on Tuesday.

The new party will be registered after the presidential election on January 5, they said without specifying the date of the founding congress.

An initiative group has already launched work toward founding the party, five times world chess champion Nonna Gaprindashvili said. The party will be called Georgia' National-Democratic Movement and will be "a right-wing pro-European party, but based on traditions of the Georgian people," said Gaprindashvili, who said she would join it.

According to the founders of the new party, it will run in the next parliamentary election, whose date is yet to be announced.

The Georgian authorities insisted on holding this election in the autumn, while the Opposition demands it be held in the spring.

At the plebiscite on January 5, Georgian voters will answer the question if they agree to the parliamentary election to be held in the spring of 2008. The results of the plebiscite will have no legal force, but are important as a means of reflecting the population's opinion, and therefore should be taken into account by the authorities.

On December 27, Patarkatsishvili stated his "readiness to withdraw his candidacy from Georgia's presidential election."

He will submit his statement on quitting the race to the Central Election Commission on January 4, head of Patarkatsishvili's election headquarters Georgy Zhvania told reporters, who brought Patarkatsishvili's statement to Tbilisi five days ago.

Patartkatsishvili has been abroad since November 3, staying in a number of countries, such as Israel, the USA and Great Britain.

He claimed he was unable to return to Georgia because of "a lack of immunity guarantees." The Georgian authorities said he "could come to Georgia and take part in the election campaign."

Despite his dropping out of the election race, Patarkatsishvili said he would keep his promises to the Georgian people.

Patarkatsishvili, 52, told Imedi radio on December 18 - when he was still a presidential hopeful -- that he would be allocating 337 million U.S. dollars for supporting Georgia's 300,000 unemployed.

He also said he was ready to expend his personal money for buying up the entire harvest of grapes and citrus fruits next year.

"The farmers have no blame on them for the fact that the main market for exports /Russia/ has been blocked," Patarkatsishvili said. "More than that, I'll do must best to open Russian markets for Georgia again and I promise you this won't happen through infringement on our state interests."

Other promises he made public include things like covering from his own finances the cost of 100 kilowatt/hours of electricity, as well as the fees for natural gas and water supplies for all families in Georgia during the first 18 months of his presidency.

The candidates likely to be on the ballots in the January 5 election are are Mikhail Saakashvili, who left the post of president to take part in this election, the united candidate from the National Council of Opposition Parties Levan Gachechiladze /43/, MP David Gamkrelidze /43/ who represents the largest moderate opposition New Right party, Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili /49/, economist Giya Maisashvili and Irina Sarishvili /the last two candidates were nominated by initiative groups/.

Earlier, the State Office of Georgia's Prosecutor General released an audio recording of a meeting that Patarkatsishvili had in London December 23 with the chief of a specialized operative department of the Interior Ministry, Erekle Kodua.

The Prosecutor's Office said that during the conversation Patarkatsishvili had issued an order that Kodua take part in an escalation of the situation January 6, 2008, the next day after the early presidential election, as well as in the arrest of Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.

Patarkatsishvili ostensibly promised Kodua 100 million U.S. dollars for 'an active role in organizing a state coup'.

Patarkatsishvili was quoted as saying he was ready "to pay nice money to Kodua to as to avoid the use of force by the authorities against participants in actions of protest and to avert possible bloodshed."

Georgian authorities said Patarkatsishvili's confession was a sign of his efforts to organize a state coup.

A total of six journalists quit pro-Opposition channel Imedi earlier in the day because of the scandal around Patarkatsishvili.

A statement they issued in connection with their move said they could not stay with Imedi anymore as Patarkatsishvili was the main protagonist of events unfolding in the past few days.

"Working for Imedi at this time is unacceptable, as we think that our freedom as journalists might be used inappropriately, and that is why we are leaving Imedi," the journalists said.

This is not the first loss of personnel for the channel. Popular anchorwoman Inga Grigoliya quit the editorial office a month ago.

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