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Former Georgian Defense Minister Okruashvili Quits Politics


Members of a new Georgian opposition party say the group's leader is quitting politics, following his release from prison after he retracted corruption allegations against President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Members of the Movement for a United Georgia say former Defense Minister Irakly Okruashvili based his decision on concerns about his health.

The announcement came just days after authorities released Okruashvili on about $6 million in bail after charging him with extortion, money laundering and abuse of power.

Police arrested Okruashvili last month after he publicly criticized Mr. Saakashvili and accused him of plotting the murder of a prominent businessman. He withdrew the charges Monday, saying he had made them to reap political gains.

The former defense minister's supporters say he has achieved his main purpose - uniting all opposition parties in Georgia.

Up to 10,000 people protested outside Georgia's parliament last month after Okruashvili was arrested, saying the charges against him were politically motivated.

Okruashvili was Mr. Saakashvili's ally in the 2003 Rose Revolution that propelled Mr. Saakashvili to the presidency. He served in the new government in several posts, becoming defense minister in 2004. He was fired from that post in November.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.