The Patriarchate Plot: Obfuscation of the Century

That summer, somewhere in West Georgia, an exalted crowd of thousands felt overwhelmed – the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, the Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi and Metropolitan Bishop of Abkhazia and Bichvinta, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II was expected to bless the believers with his brief appearance, myself among them. The long-standing head of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the advanced-in-years spiritual leader of the nation used measured steps to move towards his excited parish, gingerly accompanied and assisted by his devoted entourage. It all looked unreal. I pinched myself a couple of times to make sure that I was indeed part of that fascinating event.

The crowd parted before the walking team of clerics to make passageway for His Holiness, and closed behind them as if thoroughly rehearsed days in advance. Eventually, I found myself standing motionless in the visible line when the great man halted momentarily, slightly moving his hand towards me and almost unnoticeably beckoning me to approach. The multitude of necks extended and heads turned to know what was happening. I genuflected forthwith to reach His robe with my hand and touch it with my forehead when I felt the Holy man’s palm on the crown of my bowed head. Then, all of a sudden, it was over. I came to myself and felt that the administered blessing had reached my body and soul. And behold, I am not even a believer!

His beatitude is the only person in the entire country who is loved and venerated with equal sincerity by the faithful, atheists, agnostics, proselytes and apostates. People just adore the man. People toast to the Patriarch on a regular basis at various occasions. At times, His Holiness performs simultaneous baptism of hundreds of newly born babies. His popularity is humongous. His loveable personality attracts people like a magnet. He is a talented intellectual, full of humor and benevolence. We are all striving to squeeze ourselves into his holy presence. He is demanded and, for his part, he is responsive to that public attention. We don’t feel and recognize his age because we take him as eternity. Most of us are this way. I also admit and try to understand that there might be somebody out there who would not take my words for granted and would love to kick up controversy on the subject. Well, even the Patriarch happens to be part of the unattractive routine of our not very purified life.

This wide popular adoration must stem not only from the spiritual magic which Ilia the Second exudes but also from the deeds he has gotten under his belt in the last half century. And somebody wanted to poison the ailing octogenarian whose clout over the nation is undoubtedly indisputable? No, I will never say yes to that. Why should any living man desire to eliminate a person who could easily be identified with Abraham’s Bosom of Georgia? I do not remember this nation as shocked as it was at hearing the hardly believable news about the attempted murder in holy circles. With God’s grace, the official version of the presumed crime does not even mention the Patriarch, but suspicions are not so easy to quell. Although the allegations are made very carefully, not pointing to any specific intended victim, it is still very traumatizing for all of us who never had the slightest idea that a thing like this could occur right in the heart of the Patriarchate.

The official information has it that a Georgian cleric was arrested on suspicion of the intention to murder, although the statements are eschewing naming the target of the crime. The apprehended cleric is the head of the Property Management Department of the Georgian Patriarchate. The concerned officialdom is refraining from an exact formulation of the case, qualifying it as ‘plotting to poison a high-rank cleric’. Just as much as that! Dubiously, the deadly poison cyanide is stipulated as the tool of the murder which was found on the person of the accused and arrested cleric. And not only that! The police also found an unregistered handmade firearm with six cartridges in the house of the detained. This is the only factual information that is handy at this point in time.

Could the man who was found carrying the poisonous substance be innocent? It was noted that the Patriarch is not even mentioned in the context of the unaccomplished assassination. Nothing is clear so far. There are questions. The answers are indistinct, and the haziness of the story triggers even more doubts and suspicions. The level of obfuscation of this case makes all of us look like petrified primitive morons, at a minimum. We only hear that the investigation is ongoing. This is a real let-us-wait-and-see situation. I have no other description for it.

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

16 February 2017 18:45