Georgia ex-President Saakashvili accused of 'coup plot'

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Current Governor of Odessa, ex-Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili at a rally in southern Ukrainian city of Odessa (28 October 2015)Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Mikheil Saakashvili is now the governor of the Ukrainian region of Odessa

Georgia has launched a criminal investigation into the former President, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is accused of a coup plot.

In a leaked phone call between Mr Saakashvili and the head of an opposition TV channel he suggests using a "revolutionary scenario" and makes plans to provoke violent confrontation.

The former leader is already facing several criminal charges in Georgia.

The channel, Rustavi 2, is in a legal dispute over its ownership.

Critics of the government say the dispute is a politically motivated attempt to shut the influential TV station down, reports the BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Tbilisi.

The authorities deny that there is any political interference in the legal dispute. Rustavi 2 is the country's most-watched broadcaster, our correspondent says.

The channel's boss and Mr Saakashvili have both confirmed the authenticity of the leaked phone call, and accuse the Georgian government of illegal wiretapping.

In the recording Mr Saakashvili discussed erecting barricades to ensure a confrontation in which "faces are smashed". That clash would take place outside the TV station, to prevent its takeover.

Supporters of the ex-president - who is now a regional governor in Ukraine - say the charges against him and other former government officials are politically motivated.