Churches involved in dispute between Georgia and Russia


Credo.Press, 22 June 2019


Representatives of the opposition political movements of Georgia and their supporters resumed a demonstration of protest in the night of 22 June at the building of the country's parliament in Tbilisi. The current wave of protests was provoked by an attempt of the delegation of the Russian State Duma, led by communist Sergei Gavrilov, to conduct a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy on 20 June in Tbilisi.


As reported by television Rustavi 2, demonstrators demand the removal of the country's minister of internal affairs, Georgy Gakharia, and also the conduct of extraordinary parliamentary elections. Law enforcement personnel converged on the site of the mass events.


Earlier it was learned that during the protest demonstrations in Georgia, more than 300 persons were arrested and about 240 were injured.


According to RT reports, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains that representatives of the Georgian opposition only "exploited" the visit of the Russian delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy as the excuse for disorders. Maria Zakharova, who was appointed official representative of the Russian MID, stated in her typical form that the Georgians violated their centuries-old traditions of hospitality and Vladimir Putin "banned" Russian airline flights to Georgia and ordered to begin an operation for evacuation of Russian citizens and their property from the country.


The head of the synod's Department for Relations of Church and Society and News Media of the Moscow patriarchate, Vladimir Legoida, noted that contradictions in the political life of Georgia have existed for a long time. In this way he tried to remove responsibility for the provocation of disorders from the "Orthodox" members of the Russian parliament.


Nominally, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (RPTsMP) recognizes the jurisdiction of the Georgian patriarchate over the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that are actually controlled by Russia. However parishes on the territory of Abkhazia are effectively administered by the bishop of Maikop of the RPTsMP, who even imposes canonical discipline on Abkhazian clergy who do not wish to submit to the Moscow patriarchate, a correspondent of the Credo.Press portal reports. A new church of the RPTsMP was built in Tskhvinali and the Vladikavkaz diocese of the Moscow patriarchate claims to administer the parishes of this territory. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 June 2019)



Interfax-Religiia, 20 June 2019


Members of the parliamentary fraction "European Georgia" disrupted on Thursday the session of the Inter-Parliamentary Association [sic] of Orthodoxy, which was being held in the Hall of Sessions of the legislative body.


Members of the fraction blockaded the platform and demanded the expulsion from the hall of the Russian delegates led by the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy, Sergei Gavrilov.


"We will not permit the occupiers of our country to be in the Georgian parliament. The session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly can proceed only in the event of the expulsion from the Hall of Sessions of members of the Russian delegation," a deputy of the European Georgia fraction, Elena Khoshtariia, told journalists.


She urged fellow citizens to come to the parliament and express protest against the presence of the Russian deputies in Georgia.


Yesterday in the Palace of State Ceremonies in Tbilisi, a large group of representatives of opposition parties conducted a demonstration against the presence of the Russian deputies in Georgia.


Meanwhile, in a conversation with journalists Gavrilov declared that he is not feeling discomfort because of the protest of the Georgian opposition. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 June 2019)




Novosti-Gruziia, 20 June 2019


In the Georgian parliament, the 26th General Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy was interrupted after the opposition (and then also representatives of the ruling party, Georgian Dream) protested the participation in the forum of a deputy from the Russian State Duma, Sergei Gavrilov.


The session of the 26th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy opened yesterday in Tbilisi with the participation of more than 100 delegates from 25 countries.


Today the session was supposed to be conducted in the Hall of Plenary Sessions of the Georgian parliament. The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Party of Orthodoxy, communist party member Sergei Gavrilov, opened the session, addressing the delegates from the chair of the speaker of parliament.


The arrival of Sergei Gavrilov, along with other members of the parliamentary delegation from Russia yesterday, was protested by activists near the Palace of State Ceremonies. Meanwhile Gavrilov says that this does not cause him discomfort. He said that Georgia is his motherland and his grandfather is buried here, and he is happy to be here. The Russian deputy also denies that he participated in military actions on the territory of Abkhazia during the armed conflict in 1993.


Gavrilov delivered an icon as a gift to one of the organizers of the forum, parliamentary deputy from the Georgian Dream, Zakary Kutsnashvili. In his speech, the Russian member of parliament urged "to unite around Orthodoxy." He noted that there are very many problems in the world and in such a situation it is incorrect to speak from a position of strength and the imposition of sanctions.


Meanwhile, the speech of the Russian deputy from the rostrum of the Georgian parliament evoked a protest of the parliamentary opposition. During a break declared in the forum, several deputies from the European Georgia and National Movement parties entered the Hall of Sessions and mounted the rostrum and declared that they will not permit Gavrilov to continue to lead the session.


Deputies Elena Khoshtariia, Georgy Kandelaki, and Sergo Ratini, from European Georgia, declared that "Russia is an occupier, and therefore the Russian deputy should not sit in the Georgian parliament and conduct a session." Then he was joined by Salome Samadashvili and Tina Bokuchava from the National Movement. They urged conducting today at 19.00 a demonstration of protest in front of the parliament. At that time, Gavrilov himself was not in the Hall of Sessions.


As it turned out, the fact that the Russian deputy occupied the seat of the president of the Georgian parliament also unpleasantly surprised the representatives of the ruling party.


"I do not know what can be harder for me than to see this. I do not know what to say. Every day I have thoughts about turning parliament into a fully constituted state institution. I was simply devastated to see a Russian deputy in the chair of the chairman of the Georgian parliament," the vice-speaker of parliament from the Georgian Dream, Tamara Chugoshvili, wrote on her Facebook page.


The leader of the parliamentary majority of Georgia, Archil Talakvadze, also responded to the incident in parliament. "There is no place for Russian deputies in the Georgian parliament! This conference should be halted immediately, and members of the State Duma should leave the parliament and Georgia," Archil Talakvadze wrote on his Facebook page.


Then the chairman of the Georgian Dream faction, Mamuka Mdinaradze, addressed journalists; he said that because of the situation that has developed, sessions of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy will not continue in the parliament.


Mdinaradze apologized to the session participants and members of foreign delegations for this discomfort. He said that the assembly, presumably, will continue tomorrow in one of the Tbilisi hotels.


Mdinardze said that Gavrilov arbitrarily occupied the spot of the chairman of the Georgian parliament and this action was not agreed with members of the majority.


And finally, the leader of the ruling party Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanashivili, also stated that "he fully shares the sincere anguish of fellow citizens because of the events in the Georgian parliament."


"It is impermissible that in the Georgian parliament a representative of the occupier country lead any forum. As I was told, this was a mistake of protocol, whose political significance, unfortunately, the organizers did not consider. This requires an appropriate response. I have already spoken with the chairman of parliament and expressed my firm position and, of course, my recommendation that the session be immediately ended," Bidzina Ivanashvili said in a statement that was distributed by the party's press center.


Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze also responded to the uproar on a social network. He said that for him "it was difficult to see at the main rostrum of the supreme legislative body of Georgia a deputy from the occupier country."


"This fact damages the idea of our liberty and damages Georgian parliamentarism. I fully share the just protest of Georgian society and I call for the organizers to immediately explain for society the reasons for what is happening and to make a severe response," Bakhtadze wrote on his Facebook page.


The president of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, also made a stern and emotional commentary on her Facebook page. Zarabishvili criticized the policy of strengthening religious ties with a country that "is occupying territory and fights against Christian rules."


"This is the use of religion for achieving political goals. And if it is that, then why are we playing this political game?" the president of Georgia writes. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 June 2019)

Russian original posted on portal Credo.Press, 20 June 2019

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