“You were hit already once, and you will be hit again, if you do not stop,” Ioane Gamrekeli, Georgian Orthodox Metropolitan of Kutaisi-Gaenati Eparchy addressed government-critical Mtavari Arkhi TV journalist Irakli Vachiberadze outside revered medieval Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi, western Georgia.
Metropolitan Gamrekeli referred to the incident in May, when Bishop Anton Bulukhia of the Vani and Baghdati Diocese attacked Irakli Vachiberadze of the government-critical Mtavari Arkhi TV. Bishop Anton then initially insulted the reporter by calling all journalists “gremlins” and “energy vampires,” and then hit him in the neck.
Video footage released by Mtavari Arkhi TV shows that angered Gamrekeli’s remarks came as the Metropolitan was heard asking a crowd of journalists to step back, while Vachiberadze tried to ask him a question.
In May, in the aftermath of Vani incident, local civil society organizations condemned an “alarming” tendency of attacks on journalists by Orthodox Church clerics, and called on the Interior Ministry to “immediately investigate” into the cases of persecution against journalists as well as create a “free and safe work environment” for the media.
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