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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Adzharians Accused of Plot to Kill Saakashvili

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian authorities on Friday described an alleged plot directed by high officials of the defiant Adzharia province to assassinate President Mikheil Saakashvili, who accused the Adzharian leader of establishing a "dictatorial regime" and announced a new effort to bring him to heel.

Deputy State Security Minister Gigi Ugulava said four men have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a plot to kill Saakashvili. He said the arrests were made over a nine-day period beginning March 23 and that two other suspects are believed to be in the Adzharian capital Batumi.

Ugulava said the men were working under the direction of Adzharian security minister Soso Gogitidze, his deputy Gogi Kupreishvili and other officials in the province.

At a news conference later, Saakashvili said he has asked Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze to adopt a law setting out the division of powers between the central government and authorities in the autonomous province, which he said would have a broad measure of self-rule but must forfeit what he called Abashidze's "private army" and "personal control" over customs duties.

Abashidze rejected the allegations of an assassination plot. "The absurdity of these statements is completely obvious, and it is not the first time we have heard such things from Tbilisi," he said, Interfax reported.