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Military trainings at Davit Gareji cause preservation concerns

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, March 23
On March 22, Maestro TV revealed exclusive material on Davit Gareji Monastery in their Sunday Report. Talking of the “secret military trainings” carried out by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia (MOD) near the 6th century architectural complex, Maestro’s journalists worried that any military activities could damage the unique monastery.

It was on the next day that the New Rights held a special press conference and demanded explanations from MOD. Opposing the possible military trainings at Davit Gareji, Pikria Chikhradze, member of the New Rights discouraged the Ministry of independent Georgia from following the “nefarious and immoral” activities like the Soviet Army used to carry out in the past.

Demanding “the immediate suppression and prohibition” of the military trainings from the above mentioned territory, the New Rights addressed the Ministries of Defense and Culture to explain the reasons why Davit Gareji had become “the military polygon.” “We address Government, religious figures and representatives of civil organizations working of protection of cultural and historical monuments to make effective steps forwards to resisting this crucial process,” Chikhradze told the media.

Initiating the creation of a trustful social council oriented on preserving Davit Gareji Monastery complex, Chikhradze encouraged the public to participate in studying and monitoring the process. Encouraging the Director General of the National Agency of Cultural Heritage Protection of Georgia, Nikoloz Vacheishvili to act free from political bias, Chikhradze hoped that Vacheishvili would chair the social council.

The Georgian Party also opposed the restoration of the military polygon at Gareji. Planning to picket the territory of the possible military polygon, leaders of the party went to Gareji with their supporters yesterday. As the monk of the Monastery told Subari, there have been frequent shots heard from the reservists’ camps so far.

The studies of the building materials of the monastery have shown that the sand-stones used for construction can be easily disturbed by shots and vibrations. Highlighting that military trainings are prohibited at the preserves or Monastery complexes by law, Subari worried that the trainings have been damaging the unique 14-monastery complex in a 42 kilometers radius.

The Ministry of Defense denied the allegations about the existence of the military polygon and trainings at Davit Gareji. As Salome Makharadze, Head of Public Affairs Department of MOD told the media the camps where the reservists have been taking ordinary trainings is 10-15 kilometers from Davit Gareji Monastery complex. Using the anti-tank projectile, the most powerful weapon the militarists are using on the territory can only spread its power over a range of 500 meters. “No artillery is used in these trainings, accordingly no noise or vibration can reach the Gareji Monastery,” Makharadze said stressing that nothing has been endangering the Monastery complex.