Badri Patarkatsishvili, a business tycoon whom the Georgian authorities accused of coup plotting, said he was “seriously thinking” about running in the Georgia’s early presidential polls.
"As to me personally, this is the most serious responsibility and I am seriously thinking about it,” Patarkatsishvili told Reuters in written answers from Tel Aviv, Israel on November 9. "I think the opposition understands that now – as never before – unity is essential. Georgian society needs one single candidate from the opposition."
Meanwhile, Davit Zurabishvili, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican Party, said few hours before Patarkatsishvili’s remarks were reported, that his party already had a candidate on mind. He, however, declined to unveil the name.
“The only thing I can say at this point is that this will be a surprise,” Zurabishvili told the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), “and this will be not the one which is thought by the the authorities.”
Badri Patarkatsishvili, who has pledged to fund the opposition’s protest rallies, has been described by the Georgian authorities as the opposition’s leader.
In the interview with Reuters Patarkatsishvili also said he was going to use “all my efforts and all my funds so that outrageous legal violations and terror in our country are ended for ever, so that the principles of democracy can finally be victorious.”
The Georgian General Prosecutor’s Office said on November 9 that Patarkatsishvili was suspected of conspiring to overthrow the government. “All the necessary legal proceedings will be undertaken to summon Patarkatsishvili for interrogation as a suspect,” Nika Gvaramia, the deputy chief prosecutor, said.
Shalva Natelashvili, leader of opposition Labor Party, is currently wanted after the prosecutor’s office charged him with espionage and coup plotting. The authorities claim that some opposition parties under the instructions from the Russian intelligence and with funding from Patarkatsishvili were trying to stage a coup. Officials have also claimed that Imedi TV, co-owned by Patarkatsishvili and New Corporation, was running an information campaign to support the plot. Imedi TV was raided and shut down by the police on November 7.
Patarkatsishvili told the Reuters that allegations about Russian link were “complete rubbish.”
“Saakashvili simply underestimates our people. The search for a foreign enemy is a typical indicator of the slide of a legal regime into dictatorship and authoritarianism,” he said.
MP Davit Gamkrelidze, the opposition New Rights leader, and Gia Maisashvili, leader of the opposition Party of Future have voiced their ambitions to challenge President Saakashvili in early polls, which have been proposed to be held for January 5.