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Alleged Security Files: Russian Ties of Georgian Clergy, Patriarchate

The government-critical Formula TV has published several reports on the alleged leaked files of the State Security Service (SSG) that supposedly include details on close ties between the Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarchate and representatives of Russian Orthodox Church and Government.

The files reportedly said that some of the Georgian Orthodox Church clergy believed that Georgian Patriarch Ilia II appointed Metropolitan Shio Mujiri as the Patriarchal Locum Tenens in 2017 in violation of the canonical law, and with pressure from the Russian Church and political elite.

According to the report, the Patriarch made the appointment unilaterally – a surprising move for the members of the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The critical clergymen also suspected that Metropolitan Mujiri’s appointment was in the interests of businessman, now politician, Levan Vasadze, an ultraconservative leader with ties to Russia who is also a friend of Mujiri.

The alleged SSG briefs reportedly include details on Shorena Tetruashvili as well, assistant of the Georgian Patriarch. Supposedly, she was to be dismissed in 1990s but retained the position as per a request from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Another Formula TV report said that Tetruashvili allegedly controls “every ongoing process” at the Patriarchate, and tries to always maintain the Patriarch’s favor. Supposedly, she has been relaying to Russia audio and video recordings of visits by foreign guests to the Patriarchate, and Archpriests Bidzina Gunia and Giorgi Kharazishvili assisted her in the matter.

Archpriest Kharazishvili himself is featured heavily in the files seen by Formula TV. He allegedly has close ties with the Russia-based Orthodox People’s International Fund and businessman and chair of Georgian Union in Russia, Mikheil Khubutia. Reportedly well-versed in Russian politics, Kharazishvili has advised the Patriarchate on Russia-related matters, Formula TV reported.

Kharazishvili and Khubutia reportedly conspired to create cleavages between the clergymen in the Orthodox Church after disliking Georgian Patriarch’s positive statement about the EU. Besides, Khubutia and Kharazishvili have reportedly initiated a phone conversation between Patriarch Ilia II and Grigory Karasin, Russia’s former Deputy Foreign Minister.

Kharazishvili was reportedly recruited as a spy for the Soviet KGB in 1983, and given a codename – Josephina. In one of the supposed KGB operations, Kharazishvili reportedly posed as the heir of Russian author Lilya Brik and met with French designer Yves Saint Laurent.

Another senior clergyman included in the files was Metropolitan Dimitri (Shiolashvili) of Batumi and Lazeti Diocese, the Georgian Patriarch’s nephew, who is reportedly a close friend of Shalva Breus, former Governor of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai. The man allegedly provided finances to the Georgian Metropolitan as well.

Metropolitans Anton (Bulukhia) of Vani and Baghdati Diocese and Grigol (Berbichashvili) of Poti and Khobi Diocese have reportedly served sentences in Russian prison. The former also supposedly sells illegal spirituous beverages at his businesses in Moscow. The authors of the leaked files reportedly speculated that Metropolitan Anton could have been linked with Russian secret services.

According to Formula TV, the files show Russian Orthodox Church’s envoy to Tbilisi Vladimir Alexandrov being tasked by the Moscow Patriarchate to obtain an excerpt from the transcript of a Holy Synod meeting on Ukrainian Autocephaly, while Alexandrov himself proposed to enlist the help of Archbishop Spiridon Abuladze of Skhalta to publicly oppose Ukraine’s cause.

Formula TV reported the files as detailing that several Georgian clergymen, not identified by name, also periodically held meetings in Turkey with Kremlin officials to receive instructions.

Metropolitan Nikoloz (Pachuashvili) of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo and Kars reportedly relayed information about the U.S.-funded Lugar Research Center in Tbilisi, as well as developments inside the United National Movement party and the Georgian Patriarch’s meetings to a Russian citizen, according to media reports.

Thousands of alleged Security Service files disseminated online on September 13, albeit being largely focused on the Orthodox clergy, described conversations of Georgian journalists, civil society, opposition politicians, civil servants and foreign diplomats as well, supposedly gathered through surveillance and wiretapping.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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