2009-04-06 16:43:00

Abkhazia expels clergymen to Georgia for refusing to recognize local church - official

Sukhumi, April 6, Interfax - Clergymen from St. George's Monastery in the village of Azhara in Kodori Gorge were deported to Georgia for refusing to recognize the jurisdiction of Abkhazia and the Abkhaz diocese, the Abkhaz authorities say.

"The clergymen said they do not recognize the authorities of Georgia or the Abkhaz Church and that they are subordinate only to the Georgian Orthodox Church and we offered them to join it," Sergey Jonua, representative of the Abkhaz president in the gorge, told the press on Monday.

"No illegal action was taken against the clergymen of the Georgian Church in Abkhazia," he said.

Earlier the head of the Abkhaz government in exile Malkhaz Akishbaya had said that three Georgian clergymen had been accused of spying and expelled from Abkhazia last Friday.