Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saakashvili Cuts Short Trip After Big Protest in Tbilisi

APThousands of people demanding that Saakashvili quit Friday in Tbilisi.
TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili returned home over the weekend, interrupting a trip abroad amid tension over the arrest of a former ally who accused him of a murder plot -- allegations Saakashvili called "unpardonable lies."

Saakashvili returned Saturday from New York, where he had been attending the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly -- an apparent change in his plans to travel directly from the United States to Greece for a visit starting Monday.

The return came hours after thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the capital, calling for his resignation.

Georgia was thrown into turmoil after Irakli Okruashvili, a longtime Saakashvili ally who served as his defense minister until late last year, said Tuesday that Saakashvili was corrupt and had encouraged him to kill a prominent businessman.

After his return, Saakashvili angrily denied the claims. "Okruashvili and everybody else knows that all the things he said about me and about the country's leadership are unpardonable lies," he said on television.

Security agents and police officials detained Okruashvili on Thursday at the offices of the new political party he announced earlier in the week. On Friday, prosecutors charged him with extortion, money laundering and abuse of power, and a court early Saturday ordered him held in jail for two months during further investigation.

Okruashvili's allegations fed into criticism by Saakashvili's opponents, who accuse him of authoritarian rule.