More than two weeks on, an investigation into a potential scheme to poison the iconic leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, is nowhere near its denouement, leaving Georgians entrapped, spellbound, in a tangle of conspiracies straight out of an Umberto Eco novel.
If there is one thing that has become clear throughout the whole debacle is that there is a fierce, ongoing battle to become the 84-year-old patriarch’s heir apparent. The outcome of the battle has far-reaching impact in Georgia, one of the world’s oldest Christian countries, where sectarian and secular matters are deeply intertwined.
But what role the 32-year-old deacon, Giorgi Mamaladze, charged with the attempted murder of a “senior cleric,” has to play in this battle remains unknown.
Prosecutors spent an improbable eight hours on February 27 interrogating Mamaladze, yet, even as Georgians waited for a televised tell-all, emerged to say only that they have more questions than answers.
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