Property and Funds Allocated to Religious Organizations in Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti over 2014-2016
Transparency International Georgia periodically publishes information on the property transferred and funds allocated from the state and local municipal budget to religious organizations and related business companies.
This time, we are presenting data on the funds allocated to religious organizations in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region as well as on the property transferred by the National Agency for State Property Management to the given institutions. The study covers the period from 01 January 2014 through July 2016.
As the obtained information reveals:
- All ten municipalities of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region have rendered financial assistance exclusively to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia;
- Direct funding allocated by the municipalities has made up GEL 1 267 604,3;
- During the reporting period, the State has transferred real estate (plots of land and buildings) to the Orthodox Church and the Association of Georgian Jews (synagogues in Martvili and Senaki);
- The National Agency for State Property Management has transferred property into the ownership of the Orthodox Church whereas the Jewish Community has received it with the right of use.
The property transferred to religious organizations in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region:
- By the Governmental Decree of 13 January 2014, two plots of land (cadastral codes: 04.01.07.604 and 04.01.07.603) along with two attached buildings on the territory of Poti Port were transferred to the Orthodox Church of Georgia through direct sale for a symbolic price of GEL 1. According to the documents, which were enclosed in the letter sent by the Chorbishop Theodor to the Ministry of Economy in November 2013, the Church requested transfer of the given area on the grounds that construction of containers terminal on the territory of the Port would block passage to the nearby church.
- In May 2015, the National Agency for State Property Management transferred to the Jewish Association synagogues in village Bandza and town Senaki with the right of use.
In addition, over the period between 2014 and 2016 the Patriarchate of Georgia has submitted five applications to the State Property Management Agency for other sites; however, requested plots of land still remain into the ownership of the State:
- 12 414 square meters of land located in village Pirveli Maisi, Khobi municipality along with attached buildings. As the application to the Agency states, Poti and Khobi Diocese intends to set up a secondary school there;
- 8 300 square meters of land in village Naphichkhovo, Chkhorotsku municipality for construction of a temple;
- Agricultural plot of land (144 867 sq. m.) located in village Rukhi of Zugdidi municipality; the letter sent by the Chorbishop to the Agency in November 2015 does not specify the grounds for the Diocese to seek transfer of the land.
- The same holds true for the plot of land in village Inchkhuri, Martvili municipality; while requesting transfer of 7 797 square meters, the Patriarchate does not justify its motives;
- Former educational institute and the surrounding area (10 342 square meters) in village Nokalakevi, Senaki municipality to arrange a school-camp for the youth and socially vulnerable children.
Funds allocated by Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti municipalities to the Orthodox Church:
City of Zugdidi
From 2014 through July 2016, Municipality of Zugdidi City has overall expended GEL 329 896 on celebration of religious holidays and building-reconstruction of churches and monasteries. Namely:
- Celebration of “Vlakernoba” holiday – GEL 29 996
- Construction of the cathedral – GEL 279 900
- Construction of a church on Tamar Mepe Street in Zugdidi - GEL 20 000
Community of Zugdidi
Over the study period, funds have been disbursed three times from Zugdidi municipal budget for purposes of “promoting the religion” - in 2015, GEL 9 599.3 for “Vlakernoba” celebration and GEL 400 for purchase of marching flags the same day; in 2016 – GEL 10 000 for a festive dinner dedicated to “Vlakernoba” celebration.
From 2014 through July 2016, Khobi municipality has overall allocated GEL 15 500 to rehabilitate Holy Trinity Church in Khobi and reimburse electricity costs of Nojikhevi monastery.
In September 2014, Senaki municipality allocated GEL 65 000 from the local budget to rehabilitate St. Aleksi Shushania school-gymnasium, operated by the Patriarchate of Georgia.
Funding allocated by Abasha municipality has made up GEL 132 000. Specifically:
- In 2014, GEL 50 000 were allocated to renovate churches and monasteries in Chkondidi Diocese;
- In 2015, GEL 50 000 were allocated for improvement works in the Parish Sunday School, operated by the Cathedral in Abasha;
- In 2016, GEL 2 000 were allocated from the local budget to serve invited guests with a festive dinner on St. George’s Day on May 6.
During the study period, GEL 280 563.35 were allocated from Poti municipal budget to rehabilitate Poti Cathedral, in particular:
- In 2014 – GEL 36 741.08
- In 2015 – GEL 138 267.45
- In 2016- GEL 105 554,85
In 2014, Chkhorotsku municipality allocated GEL 40 000 to Senaki-Chkhorotsku Diocese to construct a temple after the King David Agmashenebeli.
From 2014 through July 2016, Tsalenjikha municipality has allocated GEL 67 507.35 to several churches and monasteries, in particular:
- In 2014 – GEL 23 500
- In 2015 – GEL 15 007.35
- In 2016- GEL 29 000
During the study period, GEL 115 000 have been allocated from Martvili municipal budget to Chkondidi Diocese – GEL 40 000 in 2014, GEL 50 000 in 2015 and GEL 25 000 in 2016. In its response, Martvili Gamgeoba does not specify the goods and services for which the given funds were expensed.
From 2014 through July 2016, Mestia municipality has allocated GEL 231 141:
- In 2014, GEL 66 600 were spent to construct cells in Mestia monastery and Kala Church in Kali village; GEL 2 986 were allocated to Lamaria Monastery in Ushguli; GEL 14 250 were spent to arrange a fencing around a church in village Nakiphari;
- In 2015, GEL 60 000 were allocated to Mestia and Zemo Svaneti Church Union “Revival” and to the Monastery Complex of St. Ilia the Prophet for construction of additional cells; GEL 7 305 were transferred to the Holy Savior Church in village Tskhumuri for purchase of building materials.
- In 2016, GEL 20 000 were allocated to install central heating in Monastery of St. Ilia Tezbiteli in Mestia. In addition, GEL 60 000 were spent to rehabilitate the local bishop’s residence in Mestia.