Recent developments in the Georgian Orthodox Church have triggered mixed assessments from the ruling party as well as opposition politicians.
Civil Georgia (Civil.ge) offers you a compilation of these assessments.
Ruling party assessments
Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister: “What we saw yesterday is a deliberate attack against the state and the church. Of course, certain groups, which do not want the calm and peaceful development of our country, are trying to harm the country’s future through various methods of provocation. We have already witnessed similar attempts some time ago, when a revolutionary plot was masterminded against the state and the government. It seems that today they have resolved to use destructive actions to incite unrest within the Church. Of course, those actions are inadmissible as we understand the Patriarch of Georgia to be a symbol of the church and a symbol of statehood, [therefore] we will not allow anyone to jeopardize our future and the future of our children through such destructive actions.”
Gia Volski, Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia: “It is easy to identify those who perpetrate attacks against the church, who is radical, who is destructive in [their] expressions or actions … I have always maintained that destabilization is a desire of a specific group of our opponents.”
Mikheil Saakashvili, ex-President of Georgia: “I am watching recent developments in the Georgian church with great pain in my heart and regardless of what anyone says, it is the result of oligarch Ivanishvili’s policy. It was him alone who has trampled down our values, our church, our faith, our state institutions; he turned people against each other and is now inciting strife, robbery and the destruction of Georgia. It is important for him that real heroes do not remain in Georgia; it is important to him that he makes everything dirty; it is important for him to weaken [our] belief.”
Roman Gotsiridze, the United National Movement: “Unfortunately, as a trace of Russia can be detected in the Georgian government’s activities, there is a serious crisis which has precipitated in the Patriarchate, which has the effect of worsening [the existing] crisis in the country. It is necessary to find the way out of this crisis in a timely and civilian manner, for it is to change the government through elections. Moreover, there will be people appearing in the Patriarchate to launch reforms in order for it to embark on a new patriotic path and and to get rid of Russian influence.”
Otar Kakhidze, European Georgia: “Unfortunately, they failed to get rid of Russian influence and the majority of them [clerics] serve as one of the [most] serious representatives of Russia’s soft power. It is alarming and it has a very negative impact on our public.”
Zurab Japaridze, movement Girchi: “So, we have been given the following picture – the Patriarch is old, he faces health problems and in my opinion, what is now occurring within the Patriarchate represents a very banal story. It is a usual struggle for the succession for Patriarch’s chair, or if the Church is divided, with seizure of church property, on the one hand, and dividing political power, on the other. I think, ultimately, that is what we are witnessing now and thus explains why they are throwing mud at each other.”
Mamuka Khazaradze, movement Lelo: “Regrettably, Ivanishvili’s role is felt in the entire process. It’s his style to incite unrest, undermine institutions and leaders from various spheres. But it cannot continue any longer. The church should be an independent body and the state should not interfere in its affairs, like the church should not interfere in politics. Actually, the process of grabbing state institutions is underway and in a lot of public institutions, this process resulted in Ivanishvili’s success. Naturally, he could not have seized the church. So, I see the present government’s serious role in the deplorable situation of today.”
Shalva Natelashvili, Labor Party: “Bishop Petre wanted to strengthen his influence in the Georgian church, with his future target set on the Patriarch’s chair in the future. It is not a crime at all. It depends on one decides to go about in achieving. Bidzina Ivanishvili wants not only to misappropriate everything, but also to impoverish the society, to seize [control of] statehood and to slander reputable people. He resents the high regard with which society holds the church and the Patriarch and therefore has decided to profane its reputation, enlisting Bishops Petre and Iakob for this purpose.”
Davit Usupashvili, Development Movement: “The Georgian Orthodox Church is facing a severe crisis and the dismissal of one of its most senior clerics is not the answer. What is now happening in Georgia is what our main enemy wants most of all. The ongoing events represent another blow against Georgian society, Georgian state and we should understand well who needs it most of all.”
Irma Inashvili, Alliance of Patriots: “It is a dirty defamation against the Patriarch of Georgia, dirty lies and slander… In its time, Saakashvili and Bokeria [editorial note: Giga Bokeria, MP of European Georgia] planted their agents [in the church], including Petre Tsaava… in order to precipitate the [crisis] from within, when it would best serve the purpose. The Holy Synod made a wise decision.”
Nino Burjanadze, United Georgia – Democratic Movement: “It is an absolute disaster. It is a huge blow against the country, the nation, and our spirituality. It is not only a blow only against any one institution or person. It represents a great insult against us and actually, it represents an attempt to bury the nation. The situation in the first place, has been precipitated by the government’s interference in the Patriarchate’s affairs.”