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Patriarchate Claims ‘Anti-Church Media Campaign’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Sep.'09 / 19:46

The Georgian Orthodox Church said that “incorrect” reports by some Georgian media sources aimed at linking the Church to a preterm release of four convicts into the Sandro Girgvliani murder case was part of “purposeful, anti-Church media campaign.”

On Sunday, the Georgian media sources reported that four men met with head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, who blessed them to spend one year in a monastery; the television stations also showed footage of the four men holding candles in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi.
Although not denying the fact of meeting, the Georgian Orthodox Church’s statement denies the Patriarch giving blessing to the four men, former employees of the Interior Ministry, of spending year in a monastery.

“This misinformation caused concern in the society. We should state that the Georgian Patriarch neither has any links with their preterm release, nor has sent them to any monastery,” the Patriarchate’s statement reads.

Last week the Georgian Orthodox Church criticized a report by Imedi TV about a planned visit of a group of Russian journalists in Georgia organized by Russian-Georgian public council. Two journalists were turned back from the Tbilisi airport after the Georgian authorities barred them from entry on the grounds that they previously paid unauthorized visits to breakaway Abkhazia; one journalists, who was allowed in the country, met with Patriarch Ilia II along with Georgian members of the public council, which is chaired by Malkhaz Gulashvili, president of the Georgian Times media holding.

The Georgian television stations in their reports were saying that journalists, which were barred from entry into the country, were anti-Georgian and pro-Kremlin and Imedi TV report said that the Georgian Church “may be involved in a very dangerous game and use of the Georgian Patriarch’s high authoritativeness by Russia for covering-up its ideological intervention is not ruled out.”

The Church said in a statement on September 4 that the report was an allegation that the Georgian Church was “wittingly or unwittingly was contributing to the interests of foreign countries,” which, it said, “is totally groundless.”

In a response the Imedi television station said that its report “in no way meant to discredit the Georgian Patriarchate.” “We made the major focus on the threats originating from the occupant state – Russia,” Imedi TV said in a statement.

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