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Georgia’s Patriarch says he was misunderstood

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 8
Georgia’s Patriarchate has released a statement which highlighted the recent speculation over giving the Patriarch the right to pardon prisoners; the statement claims that this was a misunderstanding.

The statement reads that Patriarch Ilia II has never demanded any legal amendments that would enable him to pardon prisoners; he only wished to show his emotional support to the prisoners.

“As you know, on December 5 a play was staged at Rustaveli Theatre. It was the first time that prisoners performed before an audience in any state theatres in Georgia. The play and the situation were both very emotional. The Patriarch stated it would be good if he had the right to pardon prisoners, but this was only referred to the Patriarch's solidarity and sympathy with the people on an emotional level; it was not a demand that the statement be discussed on a legislative level,” the Patriarchate stated.

After the Patriarch voiced the statement, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressed Parliament and the President to discuss what he dubbed a “very positive initiative”.

Part of the majority Georgian Dream coalition also supported the Patriarch to have the right to pardon prisoners.

However, majority member Republicans stressed they did not support it, as the only person who has the right to pardon prisoners in Georgia is the President, as per the national constitution.

Speaking about the issue, Parliament Chair Davit Usupashvili stated “he had never heard of a democratic country where the Patriarch had such a right.”

Almost all the prominent NGOs also protested the statement, saying there was a “risk of Georgia being transformed from a democratic state to a theocracy”.

They also stated that granting the right to the Patriarch would further decrease the President’s power, which has already been lessened by the new constitution adopted under the previous state leadership.

The parliamentary minority was also mainly against the notion.