Georgian propaganda again fixing eyes on the Church15.09.2010 | 19:07
Autumn is traditionally a complicated season for Georgian authorities. The opposition of the republic believes that now the state will do everything to distract the people's attention from actual problems. As has been stated by leader of the party Our Georgia - Free Democrats Irakly Alasania, even the Church might be drawn into the state's manipulations with the public opinion. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed the probable scenario with one of the leaders of Movement for Fair Georgia Petre Mamradze.
The state of affairs in Georgia, which is torn apart by contradictions, has many times affected the clergy. For instance, a year ago, a real scandal broke out in Sakartvelo. It was caused by a number of provocative video records published on the Internet, where a voice resembling that of Patriarch Ilia the Second's was openly mocking at the Church. As it turned out, the records were made with the help of NGO Freedom Institute member Teona Tutberidze.
It wouldn't be that bad but in the opinion of the opposition, the same Freedom Institute brought to power both the ruling United National Movement party and the current President Mikheil Saakashvili. "This is not an NGO; that's a governmental organization, and all the president's steps are designed by the mentioned institution", - stated Secretary General of the Labourites Party Soso Shatberashvili.
A year ago, patriarchate declared that an information campaign was held in Georgia with the purpose of putting distrust in church into the people's minds and destructing the Georgian state foundations. Ultimately, President of the country Mikheil Saakashvili defended Ilia II.
And now the opposition is warning the Church against another danger. According to Irakly Alasania, the country's authorities will try to quench the social protest and will shift the public attention from the urgent and painful issues in several directions, including via manipulating with the topic of the church. The oppositionist is sure that the current regime is also going to devise a mechanism for resisting the Church, which, in fact, will be artificial. It is notable that Alasania's first forecast is gradually coming true: Georgia is stubbornly trying to prove to the Court of Hague and the whole world that Russia has been arranging ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for 20 years already.
Will Mikheil Saakashvili venture to involve the Church into the dirty political game? Answering GeortiaTimes correspondent, Petre Mamradze underlined that the country's authorities are really trying to influence the population using PR methods. "They are controlling three main TV companies disseminating propaganda all over the country, giving information to 90 percent of the population, - the oppositionist said. - The government will continue using its media space. That's the basic leverage to keep the power".
According to Mamradze, within many years, the state has repeatedly tried to use both stick and carrot in respect of the Church. He reminded that in 2008, the government presented expensive jeeps to the highest church officials on the eve of parliamentarian elections. It turned out later on that the jeeps had listening devices installed on them. "Special methods are used in respect to the church officials, while on the other hand, in all these years, Patriarch Ilia II managed to make the Church independent from the state, and neither previous authorities, nor current authorities, nor the opposition was able to involve it in political games", - Mamradze says.
As the oppositionist explains, at the anniversary of Saakashvili's August 2008 military-political adventure, Ilia II stated that there has never been such meaningless war in Georgia. "Just compare his words to the propagandistic statements about Russia's attack and Saakashvili's heroic defense, - he says. - I hope very much that the Church will be capable of resisting these manipulations. I've got no doubts that the patriarch will keep to his principles".
At the same time, Petre Mamradze left out the possibility of the state's further pretensions in respect of the Church. Recollecting the scandalous story with video records, the oppositionist told they were made public after Ilia II said: "The 2008 war should have never happened, and we had every chance to prevent it, and when a captain brings his ships to reefs and shoals, he must get it out of there". However, as one of the leaders of Movement for Fair Georgia underlines, a year ago, the entire range of the Georgian public opinion rose as one to defend the Church, so the authorities understood they had taken the wrong tack and triggered the reaction they had not expected to receive.
By all appearances, the one-year-old scenario is likely to be repeated. The point here is not only the regime's intention to distract the people's attention from the urgent problems but the president's lack of balance.