Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated that the release of alleged leaked files on clerics from Georgia’s State Security Service (SSS) is a conspiracy against the state and the church.
Garibashvili said that the country’s opposition ‘launched a dirty campaign’ against the Patriarchate and church a year ago, noting that ‘their main goal is to discredit the church, the army, the police in order to demoralise them.’
PM Garibashvili said that the Georgian Patriarch Ilia II must be protected and ‘his entourage should be under complete control.’
The vast majority of our population declares full confidence in him (Patriarch). This has been the case for decades and will continue to be so. Of course, the word of the patriarch always carries great weight at a crucial time,” Garibashvili said.
Garibashvili pointed at the connection between various opposition leaders regarding the issue of leaked files and stated that ‘their unanimous statement against the state is very doubtful.’
The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party accused the largest opposition United National Movement (UNM) party of ‘standing behind the leaked files’ while pointed at former PM Giorgi Gakharia’s possible involvement in the illegal surveillance as he served as Interior Minister from 2017 to 2019.
Gakharia created all the crises in the Georgian Dream and the GD paid a very high price,” said Garibashvili.
PM Garibashvili also said that former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili who currently chairs the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council ‘accidentally mentioned compromising materials on clerics in August.’
Saakashvili vowed earlier in September that he will return to Georgia for the upcoming October 2 municipal elections after nine years of being abroad.
Garibashvili said that he does not believe Saakashvili will come back to Georgia and noted that ‘Saakashvili is accused and convicted as of today.’
He will immediately go to jail, whether he arrives or not and of course no one in this country can oppose this process,” Garibashvili said.
Garibashvili pledged that all involved individuals in the process of illegal surveillance will be punished.
Georgian media outlets received thousands of files titled 'Georgian State Security Sevice’s compromising materials against Patriarchate’ online from an unidentified sender which contained the personal data of top clerics pointing at alleged crimes such as spying for Russia, taking bribes and sexual relations with minors.
The Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched the investigation into the case day after the disclosure of the files.
The files have been removed from the internet and are no longer available for the public.