Georgian Opposition Leader Dies Suddenly in London

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An exiled Georgian opposition leader who led and financed recent efforts to unseat President Mikhail Saakashvili, has been found dead outside London.

An opposition spokesman says 52-year-old media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili died late Tuesday at his suburban London mansion of a suspected heart attack. British police say they have not confirmed the cause of death and are for now treating it as suspicious. Preliminary autopsy results were expected later Wednesday.

Patarkatsishvili fled to Britain late last year, shortly after Georgian officials accused him of plotting to overthrow the government by funding opposition protests in early November broken up by police. The protests led the president to call early elections.

Despite his self-imposed exile, Patarkatsishvili remained on the presidential ballot, winning about seven percent of last month's vote.

In late December, the billionaire businessman said he believed he was the target of an assassination plot.

He told a leading British newspaper he learned of the plot from a secret audio recording in which a Georgian interior ministry official details different methods of killing him.

Weeks later, several Georgian television stations aired a tape showing Patarkatsishvili offering $100 million to an Interior Ministry official in exchange for a ministry pledge not to use police force against protesters. Patarkatsishvili admitted the offer, saying it was an attempt to ensure that Georgian police would not intervene in planned protests against the election.

Source: By VOA News

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