From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 12:54:52


                 by Ecumenical News International 
TBILISI, Ga.--Pavel Grachev, the Russian defense minister, was baptized a 
Christian last week at a Georgian Orthodox church at the end of an official 
visit to the former Soviet republic. 
     The baptism, conducted by Father Tejmoran Svarishvili, took place at 
the Holy Virgin Church at Ananuri, 70 kilometers from the Georgian capital, 
Tbilisi.  The Russian news agency, TASS, said Grachev had chosen the 
Georgian defense minister, Vardiko Nadibaidze, a longtime personal friend, 
as his godfather. 
     Grachev, who has been widely criticized for alleged Russian Army 
brutality during the war in Chechnya, was in the former Soviet republic for 
the signing of a cooperation agreement which gives Russia the use of 
Georgian military bases for 20 years. 
     A spokesman for the Georgian Orthodox Church said the baptism had 
taken place "quite unexpectedly" and required no particular authorization 
from church authorities. 
     "Our church has had some success in converting former Communists," the 
spokesman continued, "but not only that, it has also made great progress in 
converting the population as a whole." 
     Grachev, 47, was appointed Russian defense minister in May 1992.  He 
was a commander of Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan for five years 
and was a member of the Soviet Communist Party from 1972 until its 1991 
     He is the second former senior Communist official to be publicly 
confirmed by the Georgian Orthodox Church.  In November 1992, the Georgian 
president and former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze was 
secretly baptized in Tbilisi's Orthodox cathedral. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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