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Abkhaz way to God2012-02-01 19:58
The Georgian-Abkhaz conflict has got many aspects, including the issue of ownership of the Orthodox shrines located in the eastern regions of Abkhazia not far from the Georgian border. Any sane historian would say these temples are Byzantine, for they were built in that epoch according to Byzantine tradition. But Ilori and Bedia temples are especially revered by Georgians who worry about their condition. GTimes correspondent visited Ilori temple.
We shall start with the latest news about the disappearance of Iona, or Mamuka Majsuradze, a Georgian priest, in Abkhazia. Two years ago he became priest in one of Tbilisi temples. The story of his life is quite unusual. Before becoming a churchman in Tbilisi he had been banished from Russia on suspicion of espionage in Georgia's favour. In Georgia, they think Mamuka Majsuradze is a double agent. He went to Abkhazia without Patriarch's blessing. As is asserted in Georgia, on crossing the border, priest Iona vanished. He was rumoured to be captured by some criminals who demanded one hundred thousand U.S. dollars for his release. This information was not confirmed later but on Monday, no one in Abkhazia could say where he was and what happened to him.
GTimes asked the first person of the Abkhaz Church priest Vissarion where the Georgian priest might be. "He got arrested for illegal boundary crossing; I am trying to specify his location", - Father Vissarion Apliaa stated. However, it turned out that the priest came to know of the arrest from rumours that were later denied by the law-enforcement authorities. Presently, there is no information about Father Iona, the Abkhaz officials doubting as to whether he ever entered the country.
But let us come back to Ilori temple. Georgia is sounding the alarm because it has been rebuilt "a la Russian" and is going to turn to UNESCO for help.
In fact, "a la Russian" means a la Byzantine. The point of discrepancies is the shape of the dome of Ilori temple. The dome built by Georgians went down with time. When reconstruction started, restorers repaired the old historical shape of the dome, having given it its original appearance. Now the Georgians, resentful about the temple restoration, seem to forget the fact that one day they gave a Georgian look to the church.