2017-02-27 10:00:00

Georgian Patriarchate not commenting on firing of patriarch's secretary, head of security detail

Tbilisi, February 27, Interfax - The secretary to the Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia, Deacon Mikheil Botkoveli, has announced his resignation. Meanwhile, the Patriarchate commented neither on this resignation, nor changes in its security detail.

The decision to resign was to do with the protest against the sharp remarks made against Botkoveli by the patriarch's security detail chief Soso Okhànashvili, Botkoveli told journalists in Tbilisi.

"I also quit my post because I am tired of everything that has been happening in the Patriarchate recently," he said.

Botkoveli also told journalists that he hadn't seen Okhànashvili since the patriarch's return to Tbilisi, despite the dozens of important meetings held in the patriarchy over the past few days. The head of security replied by saying he "continues to perform his duties."

"I want to say that deacon Mikheil Botkoveli is lying when he claims that I was not in the Patriarchate. I continue performing my duties, but will soon announce an important decision I made," Okhanashvili said.

Metropolitan Dimitry of Batumi and Lazeti told journalists that, according to his information, the head and all members of the patriarch's security detail were replaced.

"As far as I know, the head of security resigned. My information is that the patriarch's entire security detail has been changed," Metropolitan Dimitry said.

No one at the Patriarchate has yet confirmed the resignations and their association with the arrest on February 10 at Tbilisi's international airport of Deacon Giorgi Mamaladze, head of the patriarchy's property management department, whose luggage, prosecutors said, contained the poisonous substance cyanide. Mamaladze was charged with an attempt to murder a high-ranking cleric in Germany where Patriarch Ilia II was undergoing medical treatment at the time.

The investigators have yet to question Mamaladze, who, in a letter sent to the patriarch, unveiled a corruption link between top hierarchs of the Church and current government officials. The letter was published by several Georgian media but no one was named in particular.

Irina Sarishvili, a well-known Georgian politician, told journalists, that both Deacon Mamaladze and Patriarch Ilia are currently in danger.

"The fact is that something happened, because of the inaptitude of administrators, that put the current authorities in a stupid situation and they are now looking for a solution. Unfortunately, today there is a threat to the life of not just Deacon Mamaladze, who is facing a dilemma - whether to expose himself to a blow or agree to collude with the authorities - but also to the life of the patriarch," Sarishvili said.