Shevardnadze eyes Germany as safe haven

Nov. 21, 2003 at 7:53 AM

BADEN BADEN, Germany, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Rumors are swirling in Germany that Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze is buying a luxury escape villa there if the need arises.

The Times of London said reports were circulating the 75-year-old authoritarian president had a Georgian businesswoman negotiating on his behalf for a $13 million hilltop villa in the spa town of Baden Baden.

Thursday, election officials in Georgia announced Shevardnadze's party had officially won a plurality in the Nov. 2 elections, prompting calls for more opposition protest rallies and demonstrations.

International observers found many irregularities in the voting, including finding the names of dead people on electoral lists, while many living Georgians had been excluded. In the town of Rustavi, observers found 20,000 false registrations out of 56,000 people qualified to vote, the newspaper said.

Regardless of the turmoil, Shevardnadze is set to retire in 2005.

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