Georgia: Searching for Salvation from Military Service

Author: Anna Sarukhanova

It’s a religious group, which, like others, attracts followers with its promises. But the main reward of the Georgian Christian Evangelical Protestant Church -- avoiding Georgia’s compulsory military service -- comes in this life rather than in the hereafter.

The Church, registered by the Girchi (Pinecone) Party in 2017, offers male Georgians between the ages of 18 and 27 the chance, as allowed underGeorgian law, to suspend their compulsory, year-long military service by becoming clergy. It has no other faith.

Thousands – some 7,000, to be exact – of young people appear ready to sign on. Most are doing so to dodge conscription. They complain about conscripts’ inadequate pay (reportedly 75 laris or $30 per month) and menial work.

The Georgian defense ministry did not respond to a Chai Khana request for comment in time for publication. Pro-government MPs, however, strongly oppose Girchi’s “faith” initiative.

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Chai-khana Survay