Opposition candidate quits Georgian presidential race?

The Georgian media tycoon and presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili said he is ready to withdraw his candidacy. A blow was dealt to his campaign when he was accused by the government of plotting a coup. Patarkatsishvili left Georgia in 2006 and ha

“To be the president of a country one should have a totally clean reputation, that's why I am pulling out of the presidential election,” Patarkatsishvili stated.

On Tuesday the Georgian authorities released a secretly recorded conversation between Patarkatsishvili and a top interior ministry official. In the tape, Patarkatsishvili appears to offer the official $US 100 MLN to help him stage unrest after the January 5 poll.

The tape has caused outrage in Georgia. The government accused the businessman of fomenting the unrest in Tbilisi on November 7, when police clashed with demonstrators and a TV channel owned by Patarkatsishvili was raided and closed.

Almost two months later, they say they have been proved right.

Following the scandal, other opposition groups hurriedly tried to distance themselves from the tycoon in spite of the fact that only weeks ago they were prepared to accept his donations.

“It is quite obvious a dirty game between Mikhail Saakashvili and Badri Patarkatsishvili is taking place. We demand that both of them stop it and stay within the law. I call on the international community to investigate,” presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze said.

With Patarkatsishvili out of the race, only six contenders remain in the January presidential election.