Over hundred people from various Orthodox groups, among them some clerics, gathered outside the Justice Ministry on Sunday to protest against electronic ID cards, which are gradually replacing old identification documents in Georgia.
Since it was first introduced in 2011, Orthodox groups have been campaigning for either banning electronic cards or allowing those unwilling to take new ID cards to have alternative identification documents.
Some protesters at Sunday's rally outside the Justice Ministry were saying that electronic ID card was a tool for "total control" of citizens by the government. One Orthodox cleric said at the rally that although the current government might not "misuse" personal data stored on electronic ID cards, some other political forces who would be in power in the future might be willing to misuse this information.
A day before this rally, the Ministry of Justice released a six-minute long video on its YouTube channel in which a young man explains what electronic ID card is.
"Assumptions that ID card is a seal of Antichrist or that it bears mark of the beast are false and it has been confirmed by last year's conclusion of the Holy Synod," presenter says, referring to July, 2012 ruling by the main governing body of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which said that "version of ID cards, as they exist today, does not represent a seal of the Antichrist."
The video also tells viewers that three 6's "do not and will not" feature in personal number of any ID card holder. It also says that information included on electronic ID card and on its 80-kilobyte chip are holder's name, date and place of birth, nationality, personal number, facial image, card issuer agency, date when the card was issued and when it will expire.
Over 700,000 such electronic ID cards were issued so far. A holder of an old ID card can replace it with electronic one after the old card's validity term expires.