The Media Advocacy Coalition, a press freedoms watchdog, has stated that comments made by the Georgian Orthodox Church’s Head of PR Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze – which partially blamed the media for the attack on the Tskhramukha Nunnery in which a nun was physically assaulted and raped – increase the risk of “attacks on journalists.”
In its 27 November statement, the Coalition emphasized that “unfortunately, recently, the working environment for journalists in Georgia has become extremely dangerous – they are often not given the opportunity to freely perform their professional duties, [while] physical, and verbal attacks are a concomitant part of [of their work].”
In that context, they underscored that it is “alarming that persons and organizations influencing public opinion, including the Patriarchate of Georgia, contribute to creating an even more aggressive environment towards the media with their hostile attitudes and statements.”
They also noted that “such a reference creates confusion among the population, neglecting the real causes and ways to solve it, which is so important today to reduce both violence against women and crimes against the media.”
Media outlets first released reports on the morning of 26 November that unknown individuals had broken into the Tskhramukha nunnery with the aim of robbing it. It later emerged that the two individuals had attacked and raped a nun in the process. The Ministry of Internal Affairs arrested the two individuals in question on the same day, while the Prosecutor’s Office officially charged them on 27 November.
The two defendants have been charged under Articles 137 (3c, 4a), referring to rape committed by more than one person and against the victim with particular cruelty, and 179 (2b, 3b), envisaging aggravated robbery committed by more than one person and by illegal entry into a dwelling place, of the Criminal Code of Georgia. If found guilty, they face a sentence of fifteen to twenty years or life imprisonment.