Clerics Attacked at Tbilisi Church

Holy Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi

TBILISI, Georgia—Clerics at the Holy Etchmiadzin Church in the Georgian capital were attacked in what is being called a racially-motivated assault by the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Georgia in an announcement issued immediately after the incident on Saturday.

The Diocese statement said that at around 4 p.m. local time a woman who was trying to drive her car from a parking spot adjacent to the church began hurling insults and blaming church officials for allegedly blocking her way. Two men approached the woman and helped her out of the jam but then proceeded to hurl insults at the church officials who had gathered at the church courtyard to address the issue.

Hearing insults toward Armenians, the deacons protested the man who was being belligerent. He then picked up a rock and threw it at the direction of the church and threatened to beat the deacons with a stick.

Other clerics came out of the church and an altercation ensued with one of the priests being beaten and crosses being ripped off the necks of the priests. Several people sustained injuries before the men fled the scene.

The man returned with 50 more armed men two hours later and attacked the clerics and officials of the Diocese, all the while continuing to hurl anti-Armenian slurs at those present, who were at the church for a Christening.

The men attacked those who came out of the church while the women and children hid under the pews

Diocese and church officials urged Georgian authorities to launch a hate crimes investigation, but an internal ministry officials has refused saying the incident occurred on public grounds and was related to a misunderstanding stemming from the parking matter. Law enforcement has launched an inquiry into the assault.

Church officials urged the Georgian media to stop the spread of anti-Armenian sentiments in the country, urging the Georgian Church and authorities to condemn the attack and take proper measures.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Tigran Balayan said on Monday that Yerevan expects a thorough and unbiased investigation by the Georgian authorities.

The Holy See of Etchmiadzin issued a statement Monday expressing concern over the attacks and denouncing ethnic and religious intolerance.

“This provocative assault is a result of the anti-Armenian sentiments spread by different organizations and individuals, including some clergymen, in Georgia,” the Mother See said in a statement.

“Such radical expressions do not befit the spirit of friendly relations between the Armenian and Georgian peoples, which is one of the precious achievements of our common past,” the statement reads.

Etchmiadzin said it expected the culprits to be prosecuted and urged the Georgian authorities to guarantee the safety of Armenian citizens and the Armenian Church in Georgia.


Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. GB said:

    I wonder if they were Georgians or Axerbaijani elements in Georgia?

  2. Norin said:

    Georgia is becoming more and more like Azerbaboonbaijan. It’s a shame that a Christian nation with supposed EU association agreements is slowly slipping into this uncivilized behavior, against a church no less!

    Shame on the Georgians that allowed their civil society to slip into this primitive state. I guess this type if behavior is acceptable by the EU, otherwise th association agreement would have been cancelled after such a racist mass incident.

    Well this is what happens when the Georgians look up to baboon Azeris for guidence and oil scraps to be thrown from the Azeri table.

    It’s a sad day for you Christian Georgia.

    • Armenian said:

      I get what you’re saying, but this didn’t happen over night and there is no way you can claim that all Georgians support this behavior. Also, to cancel an Association Agreement over a small, isolated and obscene case of a bunch of village idiots putting on a show of “masculinity” in parking lot by calling their xoroshis is a terrible, terrible assertion.

      If anything, it goes to show you why Georgia needs the EU even more. Armenians as well as other ethnic minorities will be better off once Georgia becomes more closely aligned with the EU. Xenophobia and lack of opportunities have developed over the years because of the absence of a concrete set of rights and regulations concerning ethnic minorities within a nation state.

      The EU calls on its members to support the linguistic and cultural rights of its minorities, which is why Armenian is officially a protected language in 3 EU member states (Poland, Cyprus and Romania). Armenians will have more opportunities at prosperity, and preservation of culture and identity in a Georgia that is aligned with the EU than anything else.

  3. Armen Press said:

    Stop infusing tensions between Armenia and Georgia. It was just a criminal case nothing related to ethnicity. If you want Racial discrimination of Armenians look towards Azerbaijan you stupid Armenians.

  4. Armenian said:

    Extremely unfortunate turn of events, and this might be the result of some Azeri groups’ success in spreading anti-Armenian sentiments throughout Georgia and Europe by using our devout Russophiles’ brilliant “let’s cut up Georgia” speeches to help turn public opinion, but in all honesty, it doesn’t sound that much like a racial thing to me, either.

    Of course, race was involved in the matter because that’s just another thing that separates one party from the other, and that’s something one group can use to claim “superiority” but the whole scenario sounds like a typical case of South Caucasian hot-bloodedness and chauvinism. Georgia is still as backwards of a place as everywhere else in the South Caucasus, and I’ve seen things like that (insults, blowing minor misunderstandings into huge battles, calling your xoroshis to back you up, highlighting differences between one group and the other) happen between different kinds of Armenians as well.

    Nonetheless, I hope the perpetrators are punished and get what they deserve. Let’s see how dedicated Georgia is on building a country based on law and order and tolerance.

    • Norin said:

      No where on this site has any “Russophile” ever said to “cut up” Georgia. If you are referring to Javakh, then yes, that region is historic native Armenian land gifted to Georgians. I’m sure if we Armenians had received such gifts, today we would have Georgians knocking on our doors much more aggressively than we Armenians have done and of course these Georgians would be led by “progressive” infants like you preaching to us Armenians about “what’s right is right, give Georgians their land back”.I supposewhen the Georgian church authorities decided to build a giant church on the Armenian pantheon grounds they were also simply exercising a misunderstanding?

      • Armenian said:

        Excuse you? How many times has “we should cut Georgia up to get a common border with Russia” been written on this website? It would be a dream come true for some starry-eyed Russian-minded Armenians. I’m quite sure you’ve even said it yourself, and it is regularly written as a “solution” to Armenia’s predicaments on that god-forsaken Rise of Russia blog.

        As far as Javakhk goes, I think we as Armenians really ought to pick our fights more carefully. We’re not a large nation like Turkey or China to be able to public make claims on a country that supplies us with a route to the outside world, and suffer no consequences from it. You support individuals who make us weaker, yet at the same time seem to demand more and more while neglecting the little that we already have and are poorly mismanaging. Nobody will take a weakened Armenia (brought to you in part by HHK) seriously, and if anything, it makes people want to take more negative actions against us.

        At the end of the day, “demanding” Javakhk doesn’t do anyone favors, especially us. I’m sure that the Georgians can point to certain points in history and say that they are the rightful owners of certain Armenian provinces, that doesn’t make it practical for them to start demanding anything from anyone.

        As far as your example goes, you know very well that this is an isolated incident brought about by a couple of goons. There is a difference between that and the “example” you brought up.

  5. Armenian said:

    It’s also ironic that the Georgian Orthodox Church has been incredibly active in spreading intolerance towards virtually every kind of social, ethnic and religious minorities in that country. Just goes to show you the warped nature of religion in this region, and its deviation from that of a religion based on tolerance love and compassion to one of hatred, constant friction and political manipulation. Let’s hope the Georgian Orthodox Church has little to say in that country’s political development because based on its activities, it’s hurting more than it’s helping.