A former security officer has allegedly leaked a massive cache of surveillance files, including details on clergy from the Georgian Orthodox Church. On September 13, hundreds of files related to the clergy became publicly available on the Internet.
From the leaked files, it became known that the state security service is watching and tapping the phones of members of the Synod, the Patriarch, his assistants, bishops, priests, and nuns.
The files allegedly include their phone communications containing information on their political opinions and their activities, including their private lives. The Formula TV channel reports that the secret recordings included, among other things, intimate relations between priests and nuns, facts of pedophilia and incest, and the personal data of specific children.
The authenticity of the materials has not yet been confirmed.
Following the leak, several media workers, including the director and anchor of TV channel Mtavari, Nika Gvaramia, and another anchor, Eka Kvesitadze, the head of TV channel Pirveli’s news service Nodar Meladze, TV Formula journalist Nino Vardzelashvili, and Tabula editor Levan Sutidze corroborated the reports that concerned their own activities.
Mtavari’s Gvaramia alleged on 13 September that the leaked recordings included his privileged communication with a client, archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, when he represented him as a lawyer.
Reportedly, the mentioned documents indicate possible connections between representatives of the Patriarchate and Moscow, including the legal or illegal business of the Georgian clergy in Russia.
“The documents also mention the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II himself, the same information is reported about him that was disseminated by the Georgian media before:
“In 1956-60 he studied at the Moscow Theological Academy-Seminary. In 1959 he was ordained by the Russian Patriarch Alexy II. In the past, he collaborated with the KGB under the pseudonym “Iverian”.
“According to the documents, the influential secretary-assistant of the patriarch Shorena Tetruashvili was supposed to leave the position in the 1990s. However, she has remained in her post to this day at the personal request of the Russian Patriarchate,” reported JAM News.
Andria Jagmaidze, Head of the Public Relations Department of the Patriarchate of Georgia, told the media on 13 September that they would not rush to comment on the story.
“It’s very bad if reports of illegal wiretapping are confirmed. However, we have all seen a lot of falsifications in some TV shows, slander, and, unfortunately, we are used to the fact that news is “created” and not just covered,” Jagmaidze noted.
“Netgazeti reported that Jaghmaidze was himself implicated in the files, allegedly asking Zurab Abashidze, the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for relations with Russia, to help members of his family obtain Russian citizenship,” reported OC Media.
The State Security Service has released a statement regarding the materials spread on the Internet relating to secret recordings. The agency says the State Security Service of Georgia is ready to cooperate closely with the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia at all stages of the investigation.
“The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has launched an investigation into the violation of the secrecy of private communications. The State Security Service of Georgia is ready to cooperate closely with the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia at all stages of the investigation. It is in the agency’s objective interest the investigation to be comprehensive and thorough to answer all questions.
“At the same time, the State Security Service urges the media and political stakeholders to refrain from disseminating inaccurate and unverified information until the investigation is completed, as dissemination of such information violates the dignity of individuals, security officers and the service as a whole, and undermines trust in the law enforcement system,” reads the statement.
The opposition says this is a testament to how the Intelligence Services control and monitor everyone in the country. The leaders of the ruling party ‘Georgian Dream’ assess this as a move against the Church and the state “organized by the opposition party United National Movement.”
By Ana Dumbadze