Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Patarkatsishvili Dead

Russian media are reporting that Badri Patarkatsishvili has died suddenly in London, and that British police are investigating the incident - though most sources indicate the cause of death as a heart attack. The Georgian's death has been confirmed by Boris Berezovsky.

The BBC has a report here.

From the Guardian:
His death has prompted speculation about whether or not a force more sinister than nature played a part in his heart attack.

In December, Patarkatsishvili claimed he had obtained a 45-minute audiotape recording of an official in the Georgian interior ministry asking a Chechen warlord to murder him while he was in Britain or Israel, where he also had a home. Transcripts were published in the Sunday Times.

"I believe they want to kill me," he said. Patarkatsishvili hired Lord Goldsmith - who said he took the threat "very seriously" - to represent him.

A top Georgian analyst said it was highly unlikely Georgia's government would have murdered Patarkatsishvili, despite the fact he was an outspoken critic of the regime.

The government led by Mikhail Saakashvili did not have the capability to pull off an assassination in Britain, Zaza Gachechiladze, editor in chief of the Georgian Messenger, told the Guardian.

"I don't think he was killed by anybody in Georgia. Technically, we don't have that much possibilities. We don't have a very much sophisticated intelligence service," Gachechiladze said.
And the Telegraph notes that
While the investigation into the death of Mr Patarkatsishvili - a sworn enemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin - remains at an early stage, even speculation that the Russia state could be involved will fan diplomatic flames.
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