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Who undermines foundations of Georgian society?2009-12-08 16:08
A new scandal is gathering pace in Georgia with the nation's sanctum - Georgian church and Catholicos of All Georgia Ilia II - as protagonists. The opposition claims the authorities have deliberately initiated a defamation campaign against him. Party leaders support each other in their defense of the Patriarch. Are the authorities really at war with the church?
People of Georgia have always been rather religious. Over the past twenty years of crises, wars and disputes the church has been that very saving straw that helps to survive. That's why current developments look even more paradoxical.
Recently Shalva Natelashvili, leader of Georgia's Labor Party came forward with the initiative to introduce criminal liability for insult to religious feelings and slandering the clergy, GHN reports. Natelashvili remarked the Laborists were taking this draft law to the parliament.
"With President Saakashvili as the conductor his employees pursue the dirty campaign against the Georgian church. We take the opportunity we have under the Constitution and introduce the law on administrative and criminal liability for persons that insult religious feelings or slander clergy to the parliament. If the parliament refuses to consider the draft it will be just another confirmation that the authorities are propaganding against religion", - Natelashvili said.
A day before that Nino Burdzhanadze, opposition Democratic Movement - United Georgia leader accused the current authorities of their intention to discredit the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC). "Ilia II is highly reputed and trusted in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili is afraid of that. So the authorities are trying to discredit the Catholicos-Patriarch", - she remarked in an interview with Asaval-Dasavali newspaper (Tbilisi).
What forced the politicians that often have not enough time to think of their souls to support the church instead of proposing opposition programs and slogans? The fact is that in Georgia the GOC and personally Ilia II are facing an unprecedentedly hostile campaign that regularly subsides and flares up anew. Now it's another active phase going on.
Not so long ago employees of Liberty Institute NGO (an interlink between overseas patrons and currently ruling Saakashvili's regime) web-posted videos insulting Ilia II. It aroused public outrage and resulted in a scandal. The opponents to the authorities stated the Liberty Institute's initiative was managed by the country leaders that are mad about the Catholicos's reputation (his trust rating is ten times higher than that of the president).
Representatives of the authorities called these statements absurd pointing out that Saakashvili had repeatedly condemned attacks on Ilia II and called "to take care of his high reputation". Indeed the presidential administration asserts that "recently media have disseminated a number of statements containing insults of Ilia II - the figure that has great merits and respect. In view of this the authorities will resort to all democratic instruments to protect his reputation and prevent abuse of principles of freedom".
The representative of the "institute" Teya Tutberidze, the stirrer-up of the tumult who had posted an insulting parody on the Patriarch in her blog, had to offer public apologies. They sounded inarticulate though. She either tried to defend her "good" name saying that the video had been posted out of her personal convictions - not the money the Liberty Institute generously gets from overseas - or she tried to convince that she had nothing against the religion and orthodoxy.