Georgian billionaire says will run for president

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TBILISI, Nov 10 (Reuters) Georgian billionaire and opposition financier Badri Patarkatsishvili said today he would run for president in January's election despite being accused of plotting a coup.

Patarkatsishvili is one of the highest profile opposition figures in Georgia, a former Soviet republic that is experiencing one of its worst political crises since a civil war in the early 1990s.

''I have decided to participate in the presidential election,'' Patarkatsishvili said in an e-mailed statement.

''Mr (President Mikhail) Saakashvili's regime has completely discredited itself in the eyes of the Georgian people who will never again entrust it its destiny.'' On Wednesday police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anti-government protesters to drive them off the streets after six days of demonstrations. President Mikhail Saakashvili then imposed a state of emergency and accused Russia of destabilising the country, charges Moscow denies.

Yesterday, the Prosecutor-General's office accused Patarkatsishvili of plotting a coup and sought to question him.

The silver-haired moustachioed Patarkatsishvili is not in Georgia but is funding part of the former Soviet state's opposition movement which accuses Saakashvili of corruption and economic mismanagement.

''My election slogan will be 'Georgia without Saakashvili is Georgia without Terror','' he wrote.

REUTERS SZ BD1737

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