It sounds like an odd espionage thriller, but it's all too true in the Republic of Georgia: Police busted a priest traveling with cyanide and say he meant to kill a high-ranking member of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Father Georgi Mamaladze, who runs the church's property department, was arrested Friday as he was attempting to fly to Berlin with the cyanide in his suitcase, reports the BBC. Police say they were tipped off by an individual whom Mamaladze had asked for the chemical. Authorities haven't identified his alleged target, but Mamaladze was on his way to meet with the church's longtime leader, Patriarch Ilia II, reports the Guardian.
The 84-year-old patriarch, head of the church since 1977, was in Germany awaiting gallbladder surgery at the time of Mamaladze's arrest, reports Christian Today. The surgery went off without a hitch on Monday. A Georgian government official wouldn't comment on whether Ilia was the target but said his "security and health are protected absolutely," per the AP. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said "a crime against our country, a perfidious attack on our church, has been prevented." Mamaladze has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. Authorities did not speculate about a motive.