New allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged against the clergy of the Georgian Orthodox Church. On Tuesday, Dusheti Archbishop Zosime Shioshvili was accused of sexually assaulting a male student at the Tbilisi Theological Academy in the 1980s, when he was rector of the institution. [Read more…]
A high ranking member of the Georgian Orthodox Church has accused the head of the Church, Patriarch Ilia II, and other high ranking church officials of having sexual activity with men, including underage boys. [Read more…]
A high-ranking member of the Georgian Orthodox Church has accused government officials including Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia of attempting to orchestrate the removal of the head of the Church, Patriarch Ilia II.
In an interview with TV Pirveli on 26 October, Archbishop Iakob Iakobishvili claimed the officials had sought his help in removing Ilia II and replacing him with Metropolitan Shio Mujiri.
In November 2017, Ilia II named Mujiri as the incumbent of the patriarchal throne, who will take over the Church in the event the patriarch is incapacitated or dies.
He said the meeting had included then–Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, then–Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and then-State Security Service head Vakhtang Gomelauri. He did not specify the date the alleged meeting took place.
All three have denied the accusations.
In September 2019, Gakharia succeded Kvirikashvili as Prime Minister, appointing Gomelauri as his replacement as Interior Minister.
Iakobishvili, a frequent and outspoken government critic, resigned on Monday as Chorbishop, an advisory role to the Patriarch.
The Church released a statement announcing Iakobishvili’s resignation as he was meeting with top Church officials.
Upon leaving the Patriarchate, the Church’s administrative body, Iakobishvili insisted that the resignation was his decision alone. He added that he would remain the Archbishop of the Bodbe Eparchy, continuing to lead the Church’s eastern Kakheti diocese.
Earlier that day, Iakobishvili apologised to the ‘whole parish and the nation’ for an expletive-ridden interview on Sunday with opposition-leaning TV channel Mtavari Arkhi but insisted he was not retracting his account.
‘A plot to murder Ilia II’
In his interview with TV Pirveli on 26 October, Iakobishvili said he was summoned by Kvirikashvili’s where he, Gomelauri, and Gakharia ‘worked on him’ to support Ilia II’s retirement.
He claimed that the idea came from Georgian businessman Vano Chkhartishvili, who according to Iakobishvili ‘talked about it’ with Georgian Dream Party Chair Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Iakobishvili has been a public critic of the ruling party, especially Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia.
In his media appearances, he has insisted that the real target of a cyanide murder plot — a scandal that shook Georgia in 2017 — was Ilia II. He has said the plot came ‘from the top’ and added on 26 October that it was planned before he met government officials.
He reiterated his claim about a plot against the Patriarch on 26 October and identified Ilia II’s nephew, Metropolitan Dimitri Shiolashvili and ‘Soso’, allegedly the former head of the Patriarch’s security service Soso Okhanashvili, as those who ‘had selected’ priest Giorgi Mamaladze to execute the murder.
‘I will not forgive those people who sought the Patriach’s murder’, Iakobishvili said.
[Read more on OC Media: Poison plot reveals conflicting camps in Georgia’s Orthodox Church]
Denials and demands
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia dismissed the allegations on 26 October as ‘nonsense’, adding that he was ‘shocked’ by them.
‘I have noted on more than one occasion that the Church is a unifying force that [cements] our statehood’, Gakharia told journalists.
During his denial, Gakharia mistakenly said ‘kills’ (klavs) instead of ‘cements’ (kravs), something that many online called a ‘Freudian slip’.
Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri and former Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also denied the allegations.
Parliamentary opposition groups the United National Movement (UNM) and European Georgia both demanded that law enforcement agencies investigate the claims.
Gigi Ugulava, one of the leaders of European Georgia, said the party would like Iakobishvili to appear before parliament to give more details.
Several Georgian media advocacy groups have warned that a proposed defamation law put forward by the president could put freedom of speech in the country at risk. The groups pointed out that there are already legal mechanisms in place against defamation, and that any new restrictions would ‘endanger Georgia’s democratic development’. [Read more…]
Georgia is to withdraw a cannabis cultivation bill after a meeting between senior officials and the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The government also said they would discuss ways to legally limit the Constitutional Court’s rulings on drug policy. [Read more…]
Plans to legalise the production of cannabis for export have been put on hold in Georgia after protests from the Georgian Orthodox Church. The head of the Church, Patriarch Ilia II, spoke out against producing cannabis in Georgia, warning it would spread drug addiction in the country. [Read more…]
A number of leading figures in the government have echoed anti-drug messages from the Patriarch’s annual Christmas epistle. Ilia II, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, stressed the ‘importance of elaborating an anti-drug policy’.
Georgian Patriarch Ilia II has named metropolitan Shio Mujiri as incumbent of the patriarchal throne. Mujiri will take over the Church in the event that Ilia II becomes ill or dies, until a new patriarch is elected. [Read more…]
Leaders of Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party have said that they may consider turning Georgia into a constitutional monarchy, after the head of Georgia’s Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II suggested it during an 18 June sermon. [Read more…]
Queer rights activists successfully marked International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May in Tbilisi, under heavy police presence. Meanwhile, priests and supporters of Georgia’s Orthodox Church took to the city’s central streets to mark ‘Family Purity Day’. The day passed largely without violence. [Read more…]