Georgian Patriarchate Accuses Rustavi 2 TV of Blasphemy

The Georgian Orthodox Church has released a statement slamming the most opposition-minded television station in Georgia, Rustavi 2 for “insulting Christianity and making provocative programs.”

The Patriarchate became outraged after the recent TV show Archevani on Rustavi 2 where, during discussions of a bill which would grant the possibility to impose censorship on some creative works, the anchor Giorgi Gabunia showed a painting of the pregnant Virgin Mary holding a pistol in her hand as if she wanted to commit suicide.

The author of the painting is Lia Ukleba, an artist from Kutaisi. The artwork 'The Mother of God with Toy Gun' was made in 2015 and caused intense controversy and criticism within Georgian society even to this day.

During the show, Gabunia stated, “today we have an extraordinary guest, 'Mary with a Toy Gun.' This painting is also known by the name Virgin Suicide. However, as this is a toy pistol, she cannot commit suicide and will give birth to Jesus, so don't worry.”

The Patriarchate stated that anti-Church forces have started a new wave of campaigns against the Georgian Orthodox Church, and claimed that Rustavi 2 is the most active among them.

The Patriarchate also called on its clerics to cut all ties with the opposition TV network.

“We urge our clergy to stop any relationships with Rustavi 2, not to give interviews and not to take part in its programs,” the statement reads.

The Church also called on the Orthodox community to stay away from Rustavi 2. 

“We call the parish not to get involved in the provocations because the desire of anti-Church forces is to create unrest in the country,” the Patriarchate stated.

The Georgian Church implored the non-governmental sector, NGOs, and international organizations “to show society that democracy does not mean offending peoples' religious feelings.”

“We also call on the government to take effective and quick steps to create legal mechanisms to protect society and prevent possible uncontrolled processes in the country,” the statement reads.

After the Archevani TV show on Tuesday, the Ruisi and Urbnisi Metropolitan Iobi stated that journalist Giorgi Gabunia is “a servant of the devil” who insulted Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. The Metropolitan then cursed Gabunia.

“He must quit not only journalism but also leave the country. I, as a cleric, should not be saying this but I curse him. He is the servant of the devil and the whole TV company [Rustavi 2] must be shut down,” the cleric stressed.

Rustavi 2 TV Director General, Nika Gvaramia, stated they could apologize but that they will not do so.

“We are not ashamed of admitting our mistakes but we have not done anything wrong. It is sad if someone’s religious feelings were hurt but it was not our aim,” Gvaramia said.

Rustavi 2 TV journalist Giorgi Gabunia has fellen under criticism from the Church for the second time. In mid-March, he made a statement about Jesus Christ which irritated the Patriarchate, parish and ultra-nationalist groups, who held a protest rally at Rustavi headquarters on May 19th, claiming the journalist had “hurt” their religious beliefs.

That day, the police detained eight members of a Georgian radical ultra-nationalist group, Georgian March, for attacking Rustavi 2 journalist Davit Eradze and damaging a car with Gabunia inside. The offenders are currently in pre-trial detention.

Gabunia joked on March 18th that Christ had made a “huge mistake” when he went to Israel 2000 years ago.

“Instead, Jesus should have gone to Adjara [Georgia's coastal region], where he would not have been crucified, as there are no trees left. All of them have been taken to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s garden,” Gabunia stated, referring to tycoon Ivanishvili, founder of Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and ex-PM, who is well-known for his hobby of collecting trees.

Afterwards, the journalist stated he had done nothing wrong and did not apologize.

By Thea Morrison

Video source: Unofficial Rustavi 5 Facebook

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25 May 2018 10:36