Georgian tycoon denies election coup plot

Georgians go to the polls in a little over a week to elect a new president. In the latest controversy to overshadow the campaign, the government is accusing a prominent media tycoon and presidential candidate of plotting to sabotage the voting. They say

It is alleged Patarkatsishvili wants to bring Georgians back onto the streets, which led to the snap election in the first place.

Prosecutor General Nika Gavramia says Patarkatsishvili plans to move early, the day after the election.

“A straw man would show the nation sacks of counterfeit ballot-papers and tell them that their government ordered them to slip them into ballot-boxes. This move would result in the escalation of the situation in the country,” Gavramia said. 

Patarkatsishvili has dismissed the claims, saying they are part of campaign to discredit him.

“I appeal to you not to be influenced. The General Prosecution will be making their own films about how someone is planning a coup. But all this is being done to hide their criminal actions connected with my elimination,” he said.

A secretly taped conversation between a top Interior Ministry official and presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili appears to show the latter discussing plans to stage mass unrest after the January 5 poll.

The news comes a day after a video was released showing Patarkatsishvili's campaign manager allegedly outlining the same plot, part of which involves arresting the Interior Minister.

Patarkatsishvili is a billionaire media tycoon. He funded opposition protests in November, which culminated in violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Since then the government has accused the businessman of plotting a coup.