The messenger logo

Georgian priest’s attack on Mtavari Arkhi journalist sparks controversy

By Veronika Malinboym
Monday, May 10
A wave of controversy has hit Georgia after the recent incident in which Metropolitan Antony of Vani-Baghdati diocese verbally and physically attacked Mtavari Arkhi journalist Irakli Vachiberadze on May 7, when Vachiberadze visited the Vani-Baghdati diocese to conduct an interview but was met with Metropolit Antony who forbade him from entering. After releasing the footage of the attack, Mtavari Arkhi demanded that Metropolit Antony is brought to justice.

“Violent incidents against our journalists have increased, and we believe that this is a deliberate campaign. It is unfortunate that representatives of the lower or higher hierarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church are actively involved in this campaign. It responds to similar facts, but also justifies and thus encourages the aggression of the clergymen against journalists," the TV company said in a statement.

A similar incentive has been voiced by a number of local NGOs. In its official statement, the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics condemned the attack and called for the swift and efficient investigation of the incident. The organization’s statement notes that it is imperative that such cases are not left uninvestigated, as by doing this, the state may both encourage further violent incidents and damage the overall media environment in Georgia:

“Every journalist should have the opportunity to carry out his or her professional activities freely. They should know that all relevant incidents will be adequately and transparently investigated, and the perpetrators will be held accountable,” the statement reads.

The Institute for Tolerance and Diversity stated that it’s alarmed by the violence of the Georgian Orthodox clergymen and by the fact that the Georgian Patriarchy has not condemned or apologized for the incident:

“To this day, we have not seen the clergy of the Church comment on the violent incidents. The actions of influential clergy nurture and incite hatred and violence in society,” the TDI statement explains.