Georgia, Tbilisi / Trend corr. N. Kirtskhalia / The Georgian Orthodox Church will send a new senior priest to Kurmukh Church of Saint Georgia situated in the densely Georgian-populated Gakh region in Azerbaijan. Father Ioan, who has Azerbaijani citizenship, will be substituted by Father Gabriel, the Georgian patriarch reported to Trend Agency on 25 October.
Recently, the Georgian press expanded on the information about the Kurmukh Church being closed by local authorities. The official representatives of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry commented that the information is a provocation directed to worsen Georgian-Azerbaijani relations.
Father Gabriel had to receive his Azerbaijani citizenship within a month otherwise he would have to leave Azerbaijan. Ziyafat Khasayeva, the deputy head of the Executive Administration of Gakh region of Azerbaijan on Science, Education and Culture Issues, said Iosif Tamazovich Janbazashvili appointed the new priest to Azerbaijan by the Georgian Patriarch Ili II because he did not want to receive Azerbaijani citizenship.
In compliance with the Azerbaijani legislation, foreigners cannot take a religious post in the country.
Father Ioan served three years in Kurmukh Church.