Georgia: Who is behind digging up dirt?

Lasha Tughushi, "Liberal Academy of Tbilisi" Foundation (Georgia, Tbilisi)

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Georgian Church has the highest credit of trust among Georgian citizens. That is why the scandal with preparing a plot to overthrow a 86-year-old Patriarch Ilia II sent shockwaves across the entire country. 

Domestic Policy

Church intrigues

The sensational statement made by Archbishop Jacob with accusations that current authorities had attempted to overthrow the head of Georgian Orthodox Church – Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, provoked tensions both inside and outside of the Church. 

The Archbishop said that the meeting where he was “persuaded to overthrow the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church and elect Shio Mujiri” took place in the office of Giorgi Kvirikashvili, when he served as prime minister. The participants of the meeting included the prime minister Kvirikashvili himself, as well as the head of the Georgian Security Service Vakhtang Gomelauri and then-minister of the internal affairs (currently prime minster) Giorgi Gakharia.  

Moreover, the Archbishop pointed out that it was in fact an attempt to kill the Patriarch. The conspiracy involved both government employees and clergymen including the representatives of top church hierarchy, as well as Archbishop Peter. 

Archbishop Jacob also mentioned the name of an influential businessman Vano Chkhartishvili, whose scandalous words were broadcast by Rustavi-2 TV station. Being close to Bidzina Ivanishvili, Vano Chkhartishvili himself told about meeting the head of the administration of the Russian president Sergey Naryshkin, who asked him to overthrow Saakashvili’s government. 

In his address the Archbishop used obscene language. The following day he resigned from both positions he held at the moment – a Chorbishop and the head of the financial and economic council of the Patriarchate. He did apologize for his improper language; however, he did not deny the contents of his statement. 

The authorities unanimously called such accusations voiced by Archbishop Jacob “stupid”. 

Soon after that the mass media were contacted by a convicted former archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze who asked for a meeting. Some journalists as well as several archbishops also got a letter from Mamaladze, who was charged with murder attempt of a high-ranking clergyman in February 2017

Information was leaked to the mass media that allegedly it is Mamaladze who accuses the Church of major sins, including sodomy. The scandal keeps unraveling. It is obvious that the key target is the 86-year-old Patriarch, who has the highest credit of trust in the country, according to all surveys. Archbishop Peter demands to call for a Holy Synod believing the religious law is being violated. The Synod ends with yet another scandal – a controversy between Archbishop Peter and the Patriarch. Peter is forced to leave the premises and is deprived of his position. In his turn, Peter uses obscene language aimed at the hierarchs. 

The society is in general confused, trying to understand who was supposed to win as a result of such a downpour of dirt. Law enforcement authorities did not start any criminal cases as they did not find the proof of a committed crime. No investigation committee was created in the Parliament of the country, while the Patriarchate itself did not make any official statements regarding the issue of an alleged plot.  


Tougher monetary policy 

At the end of October the Monetary Policy Committee of Georgia’s National Bank took a decision to increase the refinance rate by 1 percent to 8,5%. The National Bank started a tougher monetary policy since September in order to neutralize the inflation pressure after the exchange rate went down. 

The head of the government criticized the position of the National Bank. According to Giorgi Ghakharia, such a decision will slow down the country’s economic growth in 6 months. 

“Next year, approximately in six months, it will slow down the economic growth. It is clear that inflation is also a challenge to our economy, and the National Bank has its own mandate, within the frameworks of which it should function. I think that our position as the government of the country is a maximal economic growth”, Gakharia said. 

According to the National Bank, in the third quarter the balance of current operations continues to improve. Ongoing positive trends within the foreign sector, as well as tougher monetary and credit policy should help to stabilize the exchange rate and as a result, will provide for the desired inflation dynamic in the medium-term perspective. 

Foreign Policy

USA supporting Georgia 

US House of Representatives unanimously adopted bipartisan Georgia Support Act. The act had been championed by the Georgia Caucus co-chairs Congressman Gerry Connolly (a Democrat from Virginia) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (a Republican from Illinois).  

The bill provides for special attention to US-Georgia cooperation in defense and security, improving Georgia’s defense capacity, and directs the US Secretary of State to provide a five-year strategy of cooperating with Georgia. 

The bill also involves economy, in particular, urging US Trade Representative to move forward with a bilateral free trade agreement between Georgia and the USA. 

Moreover, the document contains a call on the US administration to take effective measures in order to boost Georgian resilience to Russian propaganda and false information. 

180 days after the bill enters into force the US Secretary of State should provide a report on US-Georgia cooperation based on consultations with the heads of the relevant US bodies. 

Further steps include a draft bill, already adopted by the House of Representatives, being sent to the Senate. After the bill is adopted by the relevant Senate committees and during the Senate’s plenary meeting, it will be then directed to be signed by the US President. And in case it is signed, it will come into legal force as a law.