Russia charges Georgian official with planning riots in case seen as crackdown on dissent

Russian investigators say they have charged a lawmaker from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in absentia with plotting anti-government riots.

The Investigative Committee spokesman said in a statement Thursday that Givi Targamadze, an ally of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, has been charged with orchestrating anti-government riots carried out by Russian opposition activists.

The case dates back to last May's protest rally in Moscow, which culminated in clashes between protesters and the police. Three Russian left-wing activists have already been charged with being Targamadze's emissaries.

The charges stem from a documentary-style film shown on the Kremlin-friendly NTV channel in October that purports to show Targamadze and the activists discussing the plot on hidden camera. All four men deny ever having met and say the film is a fabrication.