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A Georgian tycoon living in Britain fears
A Georgian tycoon living in Britain fears that he may be targeted in an assassination plot being prepared in Georgia, a British newspaper said on Sunday.

Billionaire businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili, who is suspected by Georgian authorities of seeking to instigate a coup during November's protests and who was registered on December 9 as a presidential candidate for early polls in Georgia due on January 5, 2008, said he was alerted to the plot 10 days ago, The Sunday Times said.

The tycoon supported his fears with a covertly recorded audio tape of a conversation said to have taken place between the intended killer and an official from the Georgian interior ministry.

"I was told that about six or eight weeks ago four people from Georgia came to London and stayed with [a Georgian individual] in London. I was told these people had been sent to do something against me," the paper quoted Patarkatsishvili as saying.

Asked about whether the tycoon felt safe in Britain, the tycoon said: "I have 120 bodyguards but I know that's not enough. I don't feel safe anywhere and that is why I'm particularly not going to Georgia."

According to the paper, the Georgian embassy said it could not comment on the allegations without hearing the tape. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the embassy said the alleged plot "sounded like a conspiracy theory which is most probably designed to boost a presidential candidate's profile."

Early presidential elections were announced in Georgia after demonstrators had taken to the streets from November 2-7 demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili over corruption allegations. The protests were eventually put down by riot police, and Saakashvili subsequently announced snap elections for January 5.

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