Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Georgian Opposition Party Claims Police Bugged Offices

TBILISI (Reuters) - Opposition leaders in Georgia have accused police of bugging their offices to undermine a street campaign against President Mikheil Saakashvili, a charge the Interior Ministry denied.

The opposition Conservative Party, one of more than a dozen parties involved in a months-long campaign to oust Saakashvili, said "listening devices" had been found at its Tbilisi premises.

"At a minimum, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili should resign," senior party official Zviad Dzidziguri told a news conference. "He's using all the means he can to put pressure on his political opponents."

Fellow opposition party Georgia's Way said it had also found listening devices at its offices on June 29.

The opposition launched street protests in early April, accusing Saakashvili of monopolizing power and dragging the country into a disastrous war with Russia last August, when Moscow crushed a Georgian assault on the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The Interior Ministry, which often releases to media secretly-filmed video or audio recordings of alleged criminals, said it had launched a criminal probe into the allegations.

It said police had stopped using similar bugs six years ago.


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