TBILISI - Georgia's supreme court yesterday opened the trial of 19 opposition activists sympathetic to Russia who are charged with plotting to overthrow the country's pro-Western leadership.
Most of the defendants are linked to the opposition Justice Party led from exile by Igor Giorgadze, a former national security chief who fled Georgia after being accused of being behind a 1995 bomb attack on then-President Eduard Shevardnadze.
Georgia's leadership has said the Justice Party, which has no seats in parliament and wants to restore close ties with Russia, is financed by Moscow. Georgia accuses the Kremlin of trying to undermine the government.
Officials said the defendants were meeting and talking about organising a coup. There are several well-known opposition politicians among the accused as well as Giorgadze's niece.
Giorgadze said President Mikhail Saakashvili, who swept to power in the 2003 "Rose Revolution", was rounding up activists to suppress opposition.
Saakashvili wants to take Georgia - for two centuries a Russian satellite - into Nato and the European Union. - Reuters