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Georgia Threatens Manhunt for Opposition Leader


Georgian authorities are threatening to launch an international manhunt for President Mikhail Saakashvili's top political foe after he appeared on television to accuse the president of corruption.

Prosecutors also said Tuesday they will move to revoke the $6 million bail posted by former Defense Minister Irakly Okruashvili, if he does not return home when summoned.

Okruashvili accused the president last month of plotting to kill a prominent businessman. Charged with extortion and abuse of power, Okruashvili later posted bail and retracted the charge, saying he made it for political gain.

However, in a broadcast from Germany Monday, Okruashvili said he had been forced to withdraw his accusations.

His comments were expected to give new momentum to opposition protests that have drawn tens of thousands of protesters to Tbilisi since Friday.

Witnesses reported several thousand protesters near the parliament building by mid-day Tuesday.

At the height of protests Monday, four opposition activists began a hunger strike demanding Mr. Saakashvili's resignation. The demonstrators want early parliamentary and presidential elections next year and a curb on presidential powers.

Mr. Saakashvili is refusing to make concessions to those he calls "dark forces" manipulated by Russia.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the Georgian leader's comments calling them a farce.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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