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Russia charges foreign politician with inciting Moscow riots

Givi Targamadze faces charges he met, funded activists who staged demonstrations against President Putin.

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Georgian soldiers hold national flags at a memorial cemetry in Tbilisi on August 8, 2012, as Georgians mark the anniversary of the Ossetian conflict. (Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian authorities on Thursday charged a Georgian politician with inciting anti-government riots, the first foreign person to face prosecution related to widespread demonstrations in Moscow last May.

Givi Targamadze, a long-time ally of Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, is accused of meeting with activists and arranging funding to stage the demonstrations, The Associated Press reported.

Georgia is a former Soviet republic; however, since the breakup of the USSR the two nations have had a strained relationship, culminating in a 2008 military conflict.

After state-controlled NTV aired footage last October it said showed Targamadze meeting with anti-government protesters, Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a case against the foreign lawmaker.

The AP said Russia expects to issue an international arrest warrant for Targamadze soon.

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For his part, Targamadze said the footage is fabricated and denied ever meeting Russian activists, The New York Times reported.

Speaking to reporters from a Georgian news website, Targamadze denied all charges.

“It is clear that this was all prepared in the Investigative Committee and the FSB (former KGB) headquarters,” he said, according to The Times.

“It is sold to the media and then very quickly, at lightning speed, the Investigative Committee reacts.”

The Georgian government said Targamadze was traveling outside the country, but that it couldn’t extradite him to Russia to face charges because it would violate his rights.

Also facing charges are Russians Sergey Udaltsov, Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konsnantin Lebedev, Russia Today reported.

They are accused of organizing riots May 6 that led to violent outbreaks.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/130215/russia-charges-georgia-politician-inciting-moscow-riots