CEC Probes Complaint into Cleric’s Politically Charged Sermon

Central Election Commission said it is studying a complaint against a high-ranking cleric of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who has been accused of violating election code by weighing into election campaign with his sermon in the Holy Trinity Cathedral on July 6.

Bishop Jakob, who is one of the three deputies of head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, slammed UNM opposition party and called on the voters to go to second round of local elections on July 12 to “reject” those who, as he put it, “are not repenting for what they have done to the country” when they were in power.

The Georgian election code prohibits election campaigning by religious groups. Several election observer and human rights groups said that bishop Jakob’s statements amounted to election campaigning, which was a violation of the law, and called on the CEC to study the case.

“Like in any other case, here too CEC has launched administrative proceedings in connection to facts described in the [several NGOs joint] statement,” Eka Azarashvili, a spokesperson of CEC, said on July 9.

She said that bishop Jakob has been notified by CEC to submit his position on the complaint in a written from within five days. After that CEC will discuss all the circumstances surrounding the case and take its decision, she added.


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