Influential Georgian clergyman, Archbishop Iakob (Iakobashvili) of Bodbe claimed in a sermon on May 22 that the Government “should not listen to Moscow, Brussels, Washington, or anyone else, it should listen to its people.”
The cleric’s remarks echo recent statements by the ruling Georgian Dream party and Government officials, saying amid growing criticism from the West that Georgia is a sovereign nation that “must be respected.” MORE
In a wider context, the sermon also reflected the GD party’s line that some Ukrainian officials wish for Georgia to join the war against Russia. MORE
“What they ask of us is total foolishness, they are fools,” the Archbishop said, in response to the officials of “different government branches in Ukraine,” without naming anyone specifically.
He claimed that the unnamed Ukrainian officials want to “hire our government, for our government to lease them this land and to turn it into a military range.”
“We will never dance to their tune,” the senior cleric warned.
“If another million people flee Georgia, who are we leaving Georgia to?” the Archbishop remarked, adding “what will I want the billions from abroad for, if they destroy what has already been built?”
“Georga has always had an invading enemy. What is happening in Ukraine [now], has been happening to us our entire history,” the Archbishop added, going on to pin the blame on Moscow for the April 9, 1989 massacre of pro-independence protesters in Tbilisi by Soviet special forces, as well as the civil war, and armed conflicts in the Tskhinvali Region and Abkhazia in the 1990s, and the Russo-Georgian war of 2008.
“Who fights for us? We always fight for ourselves,” he went on, adding also that “we fought for the freedom of others, they should know this well.”
The Ukrainian officials should instead “take care of themselves and their country,” the senior clergyman stressed. Referring to the “heartbreaking” surrender of the Ukrainian forces in the Azovstal siege in Mariupol city, the Archbishop said, “those who fought bravely, could not carry out one breakout and [the officials] handed them as captives.”
In the sermon, the senior cleric also argued that against the backdrop of the alleged calls for war, both the Georgian Dream government and the opposition “should both think for [the good] of the people, instead of trying to trip each other up.”
The Archbishop’s sermon comes as the GD Government has faced criticism from Kyiv as well as Georgian opposition for taking a cautious stance and refusing to join the sanctions against Russia, among others.
Kyiv has on its part recalled its Ambassador from Georgia over the GD Government’s “immoral stance” on sanctions as well as accused Tbilisi on two separate occasions of aiding Russia in evading the sanctions.
The GD leadership has repeatedly claimed that Georgia will not allow sanctions evasion and is in full compliance with the sanctions.
It has instead shot back by claiming that the Georgian opposition, several officials in Kyiv as well as several Georgia watchers from the West, including MEPs, wish to see the country dragged into war.
Earlier in May, in what seemed like a coordinated campaign, pundits closely aligned with the Georgian Dream to dance its public relation messaging pointed accusatory fingers at the U.S. over trying to nudge Georgia toward war.
- GD Denies it Accused U.S. of Nudging Georgia Towards War
- Ukraine Says Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan Aid Russia Evade Sanctions
- Ukraine’s Presidential Advisor, Georgian Officials Trade Accusations
- Georgian Orthodox Church, Clergy on Russia’s Attack on Ukraine