The Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church held a special meeting on March 9th. It was alleged that the clergy would discuss the Cyanide Case, in which a high-ranking clergymen in the church, archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, was arrested in February for allegedly plotting to poison another high-ranking member of the clergy. Metropolitan Zosime Shioshvili has said that the case was not discussed during the meeting.
Metropolitan Petre Tsaava was removed from his position of Director General of the Patriarchate’s Television during the meeting. According to Metropolitan Tsaava, he was “rebuked for activism.” Father Tsaava was actively discussing the Cyanide Case in the media. In one interview, he said that the Patriarch’s secretary, Shorena Tetruashvili, who was the alleged target of the planned poisoning, should be removed from her position; he argued that she holds huge amounts of power and that in order to improve the situation in the church, it is necessary to dismiss her. During early stages of the investigation, he also said that the Prosecutor’s Office “does not deserve trust.”
Metropolitan Tsaava spoke to journalists after the Synod meeting and said that he thinks “it was biased.” “There are many other problems and my issue was not the main one,” he said. Metropolitan Tsaava did not give a response when he was asked whether he was restricted from speaking to the media, but replied instead that it would be better if Patriarchate made a specific statement on that.
The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia released interim results on March 8th of their investigation of the ‘Cyanide case,’ including audio and video footage. The Prosecutor’s Office believes that the main suspect, Archpriest Mamaladze, “is trying to present himself as the victim and avoid the anticipated heavy punishment,” they said in their statement.
Archpriest Mamaladze was arrested by the Prosecutor’s Office on February 10 at Tbilisi International Airport while departing to Berlin, where Patriarch Ilia II was recovering from a gall bladder surgery. Cyanide was found in his luggage.
On February 16, the Prosecutor’s Office press service told the media outlet Rezonansi that Archpriest Mamaladze is charged with the intention to murder “an individual” from the Patriarch’s surrounders, but not the Patriarch, as was widely speculated.