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Violent brawl at Georgian military barracks

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, November 8
Soldiers of the Vaziani-based 42nd battalion of the 4th brigade of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia (MOD) were beaten on November 5. According to the information released by Nana Kakabadze, the Chairperson of the Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights, she received messages from a soldier at around 7 a.m. claiming he had witnessed these incidents. The eye-witness confirmed that such torture had happened in “ALFA” before, but worried that this time totally innocent people had become the victims of the commanders. “Do something or they will kill someone,” he addressed Kakabadze asking her to keep his name in secret.

The messages sent by the soldier stated that when corporal Chokheli of the 4th brigade of the 42nd battalion “ALFA” came back from leave, he found out that his gun had disappeared. Chokheli, according to the eye-witness had been beaten so badly that he could not even move. Moreover, the sergeant Kiknadze in charge of armament was also assaulted in such a severe way that he cut his veins trying to commit suicide.

The soldier claimed that the headquarters of the brigade premises had a basement where people were actually being beaten with the police batons. The soldier told the human rights defender how the soldiers had been forced to stand out-of-doors in the freezing cold from 7 o’clock in the morning till 5 o’clock in the evening and kicked in the stomach, face and legs. The author of the text message warned Kakabadze that 15 other soldiers were also cruelly beaten and if she did not take care of these people, they would soon die.

Refraining from sharing the details about the injured soldiers and their states of health, the MOD confirmed that there was an incident, but said it only involved a scuffle between several corporals, which originated from a verbal argument between them after it was found out that one assault rifle was missing from the unit. “The incident has been totally resolved, there is peace at the battalion and the military police are investigating the case,” the MOD told the media.

Giorgi Tugushi the Public Defender of Georgia who promised to study the case was able to visit the Vaziani Military Base in the evening on November 5 and met both with the battalion authorities and the soldiers. “The soldiers named Chocheli, Nadiradze and Datunashvili have minor body injuries while Kiknadze claims he has a self-inflicted wound for cutting his hand,” Tugushi said admitting that the soldiers, who did not seem enthusiastic about speaking, claimed they had brawled because an assault rifle was missing.

Demanding to meet with Bacho Akhalaia the Minister of Defense to discuss the issues concerning the current situation at the Georgian Army, the Chairman of the civil union of war veterans Georgian Legion and the former Minister of Defense Gia Karkarashvili said that the incident at the Vaziani Military Base endangered the trust towards the Army and its authority. “The case assaults the personal and professional dignity of the military staff thus I insist on meeting Akhalaia to find a solution for this problem,” Karkarashvili told the media.

The Public Representative Assembly and its supporters condemning the incident at the 42nd battalion of the 4th brigade asked the International Community to react to the violations at the Georgian Military Base. “The case at the Military base wasn't an accident - the Georgian Government doesn’t need smart soldiers but wants to keep them amid constant terror and violence. We will always defend the dignity of the Georgian soldiers,” Nino Burjanadze the leader of Democratic Movement – United Georgia said at the briefing. Terror and violence, according to the party are the only weapons of the Government of Georgia, motivated on demoralization of the Georgian Army and its final destruction. The Georgia’s Way chaired by Salome Zourabichvili was also opposed to the aggression against the Georgian Army started with the so-called Mukhrovani Revolt to Akhalaia’s appointment as the Minister which had logically continued with the “ALFA” case.

Questioning why the soldier would have needed to send text messages asking for support from the scuffle among the soldiers, the military analyst Irakli Sesiashvili did not believe the official version of the story. “They would have resolved such an argumentation themselves… But it really seems to have been a more serious incident like beating the soldiers by the commanders,” Sesiashvili told Maestro TV on November 5.

Irakli Aladashvili another military analyst and the editor of military-analytical magazine Arsenali, stressed the necessity of restoring the Military Ombudsman’s post to The Messenger. “Suggestions about a confrontation among the soldiers due to loss of a rifle are less convincing. The case at Vaziani military base was a violation of procedural rules within the base – the commanders shouldn’t have raised hands or assaulted the corporals. They are not the ordinal soldiers but corporals fully realizing their obligations and serving at the base with a contract. The Public Defender should have his special representative with the constant contact with the military staff,” Aladashvili said explaining the psychological aspects of violence from the commanders.

“It was a problem of the Soviet Union, even the 1990s and unfortunately there are even violations in the Georgian military system nowadays. When the commander is physically or verbally assaulting the soldier among hundreds of his friends, the latter becomes depressed - his warrior soul dies, moreover he will never protect his commander at any war,” Aladashvili explained to The Messenger.