World Bulletin/News Desk
A Georgian court froze the bank accounts of retired footballer and opposition leader Kakha Kaladze in a money-laundering probe on Friday that opponents foes of President Mikhail Saakhshvili's government say is a campaign of legal harassment.
The football star, who won the Champions League twice with Italy's AC Milan, will stand against the ruling party in October parliamentary polls as part of a newly formed Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Ivanishvili, 56, whose fortune is estimated at $6.4 billion by Forbes magazine, has united and breathed new life into the fractured opposition in the Caucasus state of 4.5 million, angering the government, which still leads opinion polls.
"It's obvious that it's a political persecution," Maya Panjikidze, a spokeswoman for Georgian Dream, said of the latest case to dog the opposition coalition.
"We consider the court's decision as illegal," she said.
Georgia's chief prosecutor's office said in a statement that Kaladze was under suspicion after he received $6 million on his bank account and then withdrawn 1.6 million lari ($97,000) "in a short period of time".
Saakashvili became the West's darling when he rose to power after the bloodless "rose revolution" that toppled Eduard Shevardnadze in 2003. But opponents have since accused him of curbing political freedom and criticise him for leading Georgia into a brief, disastrous war with Russia in August 2008.
In the latest twist in the standoff between Saakashvili's government and his foes, a Georgian court on Friday released assets seized from Ivanishvili after he paid a $49 million fine.
Ivanishvili's Cartu Bank, JSC Cartu Group, and a 21.7-percent share in Progress Bank were seized in June after the billionaire refused to pay a multi-million dollar fine.
At the time, Ivanishvili argued it was illegal to confiscate the assets, saying he had passed all shares in the companies to his son. State authorities, however, said the asset transfer had not been registered with the Georgian National Bank.
Ivanishvili paid the 80-million-lari fine earlier this week, but maintained the penalty was "illegal".
A once-reclusive tycoon, Ivanishvili and his family have come under the state scrutiny in a myriad of cases since he launched a political movement last year.
Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic says other European countries are preparing to recognize Palestine as well
European Union calls on Turkey to ‘respect’ the Greek Cypriot administration’s 'sovereign rights’ in waters which it claims as its territory.
A reporter covering fighting between Myanmar's army and Karen rebels said to have been shot dead after arrest
An explosion rocked an army checkpoint in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula, leaving 20 soldiers dead and 20 wounded, a military source said.
Court extends detentions of three people, while five suspects released
Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since its independence in 1975, also maintained its majority in the 250-seat parliament.
"It is not acceptable, it an appalling way to behave," a visibly angry Cameron told a news conference in Brussels
The child died from birdshot injuries after security forces dispersed a pro-Morsi rally in the Al-Matarya district northwest of capital Cairo
The university, the brainchild of late President Bingu wa Mutharika, will also offer programs in traditional medicine.
Ten men arrested accused of plotting to incite violence but group's leader says they planned protest outside Vietnamese Embassy
Kashmiris say government has failed to provide sufficient aid after September's floods in the divided Himalayan region
Putin shifted blame for the crisis in Ukraine to the West and portrayed Russia as a strong power that would not be forced to beg the West to lift sanctions imposed over the conflict.
The town is significant because it sits on the main route between two of Syria's most populated cities.
Saudi Arabia has been a strong backer of Egyptian coup regime, and the attack appeared to be the first on Saudi property or personnel in Egypt since then.
A team of 21 Uganda police officers will travel to Turkey in November for the training
The DRS decree is Bouteflika's latest measure to weaken the military role in politics