Georgian investigators have charged Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava with misspending state funds and money laundering, in the latest legal case against a close ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Saakashvili and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili have been locked in a growing confrontation since Saakshvili's United National Movement party lost legislative elections to Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition last October.
Ugulava was summoned to the Finance Ministry's investigations service to be formally charged.
He has rejected the charges as "absurd" and part of Ivanishvili's efforts to gain control of the Tbilisi municipality and city council which are still dominated by Saakashvili's party.
Several hundred supporters gathered outside the Finance Ministry on February 23 to express their support for Ugulava.
Ivanishvili and Saakashvili must share power until October, when Saakashvili's second and final term expires.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and civil.ge