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Georgian Policeman Suspended for Giving Priests a Helicopter to Bless Villages

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, November 17
(TBILISI) -- Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has reported that the head of the Border Police’s Special Operations Department has been suspended due to the possible misuse of a state-owned helicopter, news site reported.

Clergymen from eastern Georgia’s Gremi Monastery used the helicopter to ‘bless’ schools in the Kakhetian region villages of Shilda, Gremi, Eniseli, Almaty and Sabue.

The MIA says the unnamed law enforcement official will be suspended until a thorough investigation determines whether he exceeded his official powers.

According to reports, the priests sprinkled holy water from the helicopter and threw candy down onto the schools, while accompanied by numerous icons.

Unverified sources said that courses at several schools had to be suspended due to the students’ refusal to resume classes after gathering “holy candies.”

Local teachers and administrators claim they were warned in advance by the priests that a flyby would occur and that candy would be thrown to the children.

“The priests called me and said they wanted to make the kids happy. The students were in the yard when they dropped the candies from a helicopter,” Konstantine Tskhovrebadze, the principal at a school in the village of Eniseli, said.

Father Ioane, one of the priests on board of the helicopter, claims the blessing of the villages is a usual practice that takes place once a month in different areas of the country.

“We wanted to make the children happy. The Border Police helicopter helped us a lot. If you want, ask the MIA, they know everything. We also warned the administrations of the schools ahead of time,” the priest said.

Another participant, Metropolitan Sergei Chekurishvili of Nekresi, says the practice was the result of a previous direct order by Georgian Patriarch Ilia II.

“We protect Georgia this way. During the war (World War II), the Russians flew icons around Moscow so the enemy could not capture the city,” said Chekurishvili.