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Georgian Officials Probe Alleged Saakashvili Recordings

Mikheil Saakashvili is currently the governor of Ukraine's Odesa region.
Mikheil Saakashvili is currently the governor of Ukraine's Odesa region.

TBILISI -- The Georgian State Security Service (SDSS) says it is looking into leaked wiretapped recordings -- apparently featuring the voice of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili -- as part of an investigation into an alleged "conspiracy to overthrow" the government.

An SDSS spokesman said in the televised statement on October 30 that the service's probe into the tapes was part of the ongoing investigation that was launched on October 24.

The investigation includes alleged conversations Saakashvili had recently with one of the leaders of the United National Movement (ENM) opposition party, Giga Bokeria, and Rustavi 2 television executive Nika Gvaramia amid controversy over the ownership of the channel.

The recordings, in which a voice that appears to be Saakashvili's discusses "defending" the embattled Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV station by erecting barricades, emerged on October 29

The voice calls for "going through the revolutionary scenario" and speaks about the need for "physical confrontation" during which "faces should be smashed."

After the leak, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili condemned Saakashvili and his partners for discussing "plans to organize disorders" in Georgia. In a televised statement on October 30, Garibashvili said that law enforcement agencies would "neutralize and eradicate any possible provocation."

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili told journalists on October 30 that the "interference of a foreign official into Georgia's internal affairs is unacceptable."

Saakashvili, 47, is currently the governor of Ukraine's Odesa region.

Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukani announced on October 30 that procedures had been launched to revoke Saakashvili's Georgian citizenship because he obtained Ukrainian citizenship before being appointed to his current position in Odesa.

Saakashvili placed a video statement on his Facebook account on October 30, saying that the procedure to revoke his Georgian citizenship had been initiated by Russia.

He also accused Georgian authorities of planning to gain control over Rustavi 2 -- Georgia's biggest and arguably most popular television station.

Rustavi 2 has been locked in an ongoing ownership standoff for several weeks after a court froze the broadcaster's assets in August following a move by a businessman close to the ruling Georgian Dream coalition to reclaim control over the channel.

Dozens of Saakashvili's former associates, including a former prime minister, have been arrested on charges such as abuse of power and corruption since the Georgia Dream coalition government took office after defeating Saakashvili's ENM party in parliamentary elections in 2012.

With reporting by