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The authorities look for an indulgence2009-02-20 10:05
The Georgian government, which is officially "tightening its belt", suddenly declared its intention to spend money on financing the Patriarchy's television station "Consensus". The cabinet of ministers made this decision at its last session.
As the Georgian radio station Kommersant reports, the Finance Minister Kakha Baindurashvili told journalists that the decision had been taken to set aside 300,000 lari (about $130,000) from the government's reserve fund for the Patriarchy's TV station "Consensus". This sum will be allocated at the leadership's discretion towards whatever needs the money. Incidentally, at the same session the cabinet of ministers also allocated 200,000 lari (about $80,000) from the reserve fund for the construction of the Holy Virgin Nativity Cathedral in the town of Poti.
As a result of the crisis that has also swept up Georgia, even though the president sometimes admits and sometimes refutes its existence, an extremely strict economizing drive has been announced. That is why the allocation of funds to the Patriarchy is surprising. Why such generosity? Is it perhaps connected with an attempt to silence the Georgian media over rumours that the authorities have been harassing the Patriarch himself?
The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II is currently in Germany undergoing treatment. However, a series of Georgian media publications think that the real reason for the head of the Georgian church's departure is that he has had disagreements with Mikheil Saakashvili. The Patriarchy has not confirmed these reports. But the opposition has started to promote the theory of a conflict.
In this regard, members of the Labour party have said that an unprecedented incident occurred just before Christmas: at the entrance to the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, the president's security guards subjected members of the highest Synod in the Georgian Orthodox Church and even the Catholicos-Patriarch himself to a humiliating search. Then the leader of the "Onwards Georgia" party, Temur Shashiashvili, added fuel to the fire. In an interview with the Georgian newspaper Alia, he expressed certainty that the Georgian leadership was to blame for Ilia II's visit to Moscow for the enthronement of the new Russian Patriarch not going ahead. Which had a devastating effect on Ilia II's health.
It's true that the Catholicos-Patriarch's illness surprisingly struck on the same day as the enthronement of the Russian Patriarch Kirill. On that day a congress of Georgians in Russia was being held in Moscow. Ilia II had made no attempt to hide that he would be visiting that as well. Incidentally, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev was also expected to appear there. The Georgian authorities reacted to the Congress of Georgians in Russia like a bull to a red rag. The semi-official media called this event "anti-patriotic". Saakashvili called those who didn't go to Moscow for the Congress "heroes". But the authorities couldn't accuse the head of the Georgian Church of anti-patriotism. The situation was resolved by itself - the Catholicos-Patriarch fell severely ill. Which was a convenient coincidence...