'State insecurity services' - Georgian clerics comment on the alleged surveillance on the Church
Allegedly leaked files compromising Georgian clerics
The priests and high-ranking hierarchs of the Georgian Orthodox Church commented on the files of the allegedly secret “wiretapping” of the State Security Services of Georgia, which fell into the hands of journalists.
A large number of files, allegedly reports of secret surveillance on the priests of the Georgian Orthodox Church, were at the disposal of the media a few days ago. The authenticity of the materials has not been confirmed at this stage, but they have already caused a great resonance.
The special services in Georgia are monitoring the clergy, their ties with Russia and the criminal world, facts of pedophilia and incest have also been revealed, local media reports.
An attempt to manipulate the elections with the help of the church factor – this is how the head of the press service of the Patriarchate Andriya Jagmaidze assesses the “leaking” of materials.
According to him, the Patriarchate does not have access to these materials. Jagmaidze urges the media to provide these materials whenever possible.
“The details of the alleged illegal wiretapping, illegal transmission and subsequent illegal dissemination of information should be investigated, and when more or less clarity on this matter is achieved, then it will be possible to draw any conclusions or comment”, Jagmaidze said.
Konstantin Chincharauli, one of the closest members of the Patriarch’s entourage and abbot of the Jvari monastery, actually confirms the authenticity of the files, since the published information contained details of his conversation with his brother David Chincharauli. The topic of the conversation touched upon the problems on the territory in the vicinity of the monastery, which the abbot hoped to solve with the help of the speaker of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze.
“The State Security Service is no longer there – it is the State Insercuriy Service. If they listen to everyone, then this is a real danger. The state has become a threat”, the priest said.
The rector of the Transfiguration Church in Vake, Shalva Kekelia, believes that it is terrible when a person is listened to without his permission. However, he adds that it is acceptable for him to be observed in his life:
“The only thing I ask is that they do not overhear me during confessions, because a person trusts his soul to me, and it is very difficult for him to do it when he is listened to. And so, if a person watches my life, this is not unacceptable for me.
I am not afraid that my personal life will become the property of society, just please do not film me in the toilet, in the bedroom, or in the bathroom”.
Former bishop Petre Tsaava, who opposed the Holy Synod, believes that the surveillance of the priests was connected with the upcoming elections:
“Before the elections, I was surprised by the position of several clergymen. I thought about the fact that the authorities are holding them hostage so that they keep silent about this injustice that is happening in Georgia”, Tsaava said.
He believes that the authorities “went completely bankrupt”, especially after the 2020 elections, and lost the confidence of the population, which has led to stronger use of the repressive machine to secure the support of the church.
Metropolitan of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo Vladyka Nikoloz Pachuashvili was also mentioned in the materials. According to the wiretap, he, for a certain payement, provided information about Lugar’s American laboratory in Tbilisi to the Russian special services.
Pachuashvili said that he considers the state to be responsible for what is happening.
“It doesn’t matter what sins and what crimes a person has committed. They will all come up with it, distribute it in such a way that there will be no difference. A person can be told – if you do not cooperate, we will do something bad to you, invent or do something else, it does not matter”, Nikoloz Pachuashvili said.
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On September 13, the media in Georgia announced the receiving of secret files, from which it became known that the state security service was listening and watching the members of the Synod, the patriarch, his assistants, bishops, priests, nuns, as well as active supporters of all of the above.
As it turned out, special services control the movement of the clergy, their bank transfers and personal life. Thousands of files also contain information about the people through whom clergy could have been recruited. The documents contain information about priests who use drugs or are friends with criminals.
The files also say that in the course of operational work, 36 clergymen were found to be of non-traditional sexual orientation, 23 clergymen (including monks) had sexual relations with women, and 21 clergymen who used drugs were identified.