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The Week in Brief

Friday, December 28

Billionaire tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili withdrew his bid for presidency after authorities released tapes of him and his campaign chief allegedly detailing a violent coup plot. The scheme involved paying an enormous bribe for an Interior Ministry official, who secretly recorded the tapes, to denounce the January 5 presidential election as rigged and arrest or kill the Interior Minister.

Earlier, Patarkatsishvili told a British newspaper that the Interior Ministry had contracted in 2006 with a Chechen warlord to assassinate him and blame Russia for the deed. He released an audio tape of a seemingly incriminating conversation, allegedly provided by the would-be hitman, to bolster his claim.

Staff and management at Imedi TV, the government-unfriendly network founded by Patarkatsishvili, unilaterally suspended broadcasts until the station’s ownership is sorted out. There is no exact date for when the station, off-air for the second time in as many months, could resume broadcasts; station staff suggested after the New Year.

The OSCE election monitoring mission released its first report, saying Georgia’s election laws are “generally conducive to the conduct of democratic elections, if implemented in good faith,” but raising concerns over allegations of campaign violations and last-minute amendments to election laws.

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II marked 30 years since his accession to the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The country’s most respected figure urged calm and brotherhood in the face of an increasingly tense and uncertain election.