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Memorial destroyed

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 23
Some time ago the Georgian Parliament, following an initiative of President Saakashvili, decided to move part of the Georgian Parliament to Kutaisi, Georgia's second city. Not only the opposition but people in general expressed their curiosity about this. No state in the world has a Parliament which sits in two cities simultaneously, to our knowledge. But the administration does whatever the President wants, not caring about public opinion.

A site for the new Parliament building in Kutaisi was selected but building it there meant removing a memorial to the victims of the Second World War. This was made of concrete and too solid to move, so it was decided to blow it up. It was detonated on December 19 but two people were accidentally killed in the process, a little girl and her mother. If a Parliament building is erected at this site it will always be an unpleasant memorial to what happened on December 19.

A question arises, which was also being asked before this tragedy took place: why is it not possible to put the Parliament building in some other place in Kutaisi or preserve the memorial within it? No one has given a serious answer to this question so far. The administration has expressed its concern over the tragedy and started convicting those it considers responsible for it but it has also confirmed that it will continue erecting a Parliament building on that spot. This has triggered much criticism, inside and outside the country.

The demolished memorial was built in 1981 and dedicated to the memory of those who died during the Second World War. The Russian Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mikhail Margelov has held a special press conference on this issue and stated that the Georgian leadership has violated a UN resolution which forbids the removal of memorials to fighters against fascism. Merab Berdzenishvili, who sculpted the memorial, says that he built it to commemorate not only those who died in WW2 but all Georgians who have died as a result of conflicts throughout its history.

Of course this tragedy has provoked further fierce criticism of the Government by opposition parties. Most immediately sent delegations to the family of the deceased, expressing their condolences and condemning officials. The Christian Democrats have even suggesting building a church at the site to honour the two dead. Some analysts go further, suggesting that the Rose Revolution administration is deliberately destroying Georgian national values. Soso Tsiskarishvili has the impression that there is a special body somewhere in the Government which is censoring the Georgian people's historical memory.

The tragedy has inflicted a serious blow on the scheme of building a 'second capital' in Kutaisi. Most probably the opposition will continue speculating over who made such an obviously serious and fatal mistake.