Patarkatsishvili withdraws from presidential race

4_1.jpgBusiness tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili said on December 27 that he would pull out from the presidential race.

“Today the opposition leaders actually demanded me andSaakashvili to withdraw from the presidential race. I meet their demand,” he said in a written statement issued by his press office.  “I am ready to stop the election campaign and to appeal the Central Election Commission that I am refusing to run in the elections.”

“I do not find it difficult to make this decision, because I have never put my own interests above the state’s interests. I thank everybody who believed and still believe in me. They will not remain disappointed. I will keep all my promises given to the Georgian people. I have no doubts that Saakashvili’s regime will be defeated.”

Earlier on December 27 Levan Gachechiladze, a presidential candidate backed by the nine-party opposition coalition, said Both Mikheil Saakashvili and Badri Patarkatsishvili are “playing dirty games” in an attempt “to thwart the election and discredit free media outlets.”

And a day earlier, Imedi TV staff and management said the television station was “temporarily suspending” broadcasts in an attempt “to distance ourselves from dirty political games” and in protest against both its owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, and the authorities. Dozen of leading journalists have quit the television station before this announcement.

All these developments came after the Georgian authorities released compromising video and audio tapes implicating Patarkatsishvili and his allies in an alleged coup plot. In the audio tape Patarkatsishvili is offering USD 100 million to an Interior Ministry top level official, Irakli Kodua, in exchange for cooperation, involving “neutralization” of Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili.

“I wanted to pay money to prevent the authorities from firing at my people, while they [the authorities] planned to pay money for killing me,” Patarkatsishvili said in the statement issued on December 27, referring to an earlier audio tape released by him in which alleged interior ministry official discusses with an alleged Chechen warlord Patarkatsishvili’s alleged murder plot.

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