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Patarkatsishvili Files for Presidential Run

Georgian media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili -- wanted in Russia on fraud charges and accused in his own country of plotting a coup -- applied Monday to run in a presidential election called to defuse tensions in the country. 

Patarkatsishvili, now living abroad, funded opposition protests against President Mikheil Saakashvili this month that were dispersed by police using tear gas and rubber bullets. 

Police also shut down the main opposition television channel, Imedi, which Patarkatsishvili owns. 

"We submitted an official application to the Central Election Commission on behalf of Badri Patarkatsishvili for participation in [the Jan. 5] election," said Valery Gelbakhiani, one of his supporters. 

Saakashvili, who came to power on the back of a wave of popular protest against corruption and poverty in 2003, resigned as Georgia's president on Sunday so that he could run in the elections. His opponents accuse him of corruption and economic mismanagement, accusations he has always rejected. 

The situation in Georgia, which suffered a devastating civil war after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, remains tense. Around 10,000 people demonstrated in Tbilisi on Sunday, demanding that Imedi, which is run by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., be allowed to resume broadcasts. 

Goga Zhvania, a member of Patarkatsishvili's supporters told journalists he was unlikely to stay abroad for long. 

"I think he will come back when he is officially registered as a candidate," Zhvania said. 

The Central Election Commission has already received 11 applications from potential candidates, who now have until Dec. 6 to gather 50,000 signatures in support.


(The Moscow Times 27.xi.07)

 
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