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Patriarch’s ex-chief guard denies the link with ‘cyanide case’

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 28
The Patriarch’s ex-chief guard Soso Okhanashvili, who is said to have already quit the position, claims there were attempts by some to link him with the ‘cyanide case’, referring to the recent notorious case with a detained clergyman for the attempted murder of a “high-ranking spiritual figure”.

Local media reports that Okhanashvili, who is Patriarch Ilia's nephew's son-in law, has already quit the post and is replaced by Zurab Buchukuri from the Patriarch’s guard’s service.

Okhanashvili was summoned for questioning from Germany, where he was guarding the Patriarch Ilia II.

Despite the fact the Chief Prosecutor stated Mamaladze was detained for involvement in an alleged murder attempt of a “high-ranking spiritual figure”, the Office hasn’t yet specified who was the alleged target of the attack.

Mamaladze’s lawyers say that the charge reads the cleric is detained for attempted murder of the Patriarch’s female secretary Shorena Tetruashvili, who is not a spiritual figure at all.

Okhanashvili says that the Patriarch was told in Germany that Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze was detained on his way to Germany for alleged murder.

"He was directly told that he did not act alone and that I was summoned to questioning for that reason. There are attempts to link me with the case,” Okhanashvili said.

He stressed he would do everything to let the public know the truth and to free the Church of the scandal.

Okhanashvili does not rule out that a struggle is underway to take over the Patriarch’s throne.

There was an open verbal confrontation between the Patriarch’s secretary Father Mikael Botkoveli, Archbishop Jacob and Okhanashvili.

Father Mikael stated on February 23 that Okhanashvili hadn't been seen in the Patriarchate after the Patriarch’s return from Germany, which fueled speculation that Okhanashvili was no longer the chief guard.

However, Okhanashvili claimed that the Father Mikael was lying.

The same day, Father Mikael quit the post, and explained he was tired of the ongoing speculations.

Archbishop Jacob was earlier accusing Okhanashvili of giving a secret interview wherein he was unveiling property-related violations in the church.

The Archbishop stressed, “I have Okhanashvili fired [from the patriarchate].”

Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze said that Mamaladze was attempting to acquire cyanide, and the man from whom he tried to receive the substance informed the police that the archpriest intended to kill a senior religious figure.

Later, after significant turmoil and speculation, the Prosecutor's Office also said the target “wasn’t the Patriarch”.

Some clergymen have stated that Mamaladze was detained because he knew too much about various financial and property-related violations within the patriarchate.