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3 years on, Georgians pay their respects to fallen war victims

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, August 9

August 8, the third anniversary of the Georgian-Russian War has been marked all around Georgia. The August war brought death to hundreds of peaceful civilians and brave soldiers, while hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless as result of the fighting. Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, paid tribute to the memorial of soldiers at Mukhadgverdi cemetery with the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia the Second and other state officials. Expressing his great respect towards the Georgian heroes the Minister of Defence Bacho Akhalaia emphasized how painful the date is for Georgia. “I want to express my condolences to the entire country and stress that we would do everything to loyally continue their path,” the Minister stated.

Special events commemorating the date were held in Gori – the epicenter of the war. After the end of the holy liturgy the memorial of the August heroes was covered with a wreath where a special requiem was performed for the heroes. Theatric performances and photo-exhibitions on the war ended with the showing of Renny Harlin’s 5 Days of August at the central stadium of the town.

Expressing their respect towards the people affected by the August War in 2008, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia started the provision of IDPs with free medical examinations. Nika Rurua, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, emphasized the merit of the fallen heroes protecting their country, while Goga Khachidze Minister of Environment Protection of Georgia wished that “no such days would ever be repeated in Georgian history”.

The Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia Ramaz Nikolaishvili and the Governor of Kvemo Kartli David Kirkitadze visited the refugees from Shida Kartli, who are densely populated in the village of Koda with 450 families. The Minister and the Governor distributed washing machines and refrigerators to the families, whose members died in the war while the children received special gifts and watched "Harry Potter" movie.

Later the officials put flowers on the memorial desk of soldiers at Marneuli. IDPs thanked the guests for their kind support and emphasized the necessity for such activities for them not only on a social level, but also for psychological rehabilitation. Meeting with IDPs living in Metekhi settlement Khatuna Kalmakhelidze Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia emphasized that “the Government would do everything for ensuring comfortable lives for these people before they would return to their homes”.

The authorities proudly spoke of the examples of heroism which the Georgian soldiers had shown three years ago against Russia. Chairperson of Parliament Davit Bakradze said that “protection of IDPs’ rights remains the most burning issue for Georgia’s diplomatic policy”. “We would continue improving the living conditions of these people but as soon as the Russian occupation is over they would return to their homes,” Bakradze promised the IDPs temporarily living at Saguramo compact settlement. Counting on the “political course of the Government” IDPs thanked the authorities for “their active support” and hoped to finally return to their homes.

Not only the whole of Georgia but the Georgian communities abroad also marked the date. Joined at the streets of Istanbul, Georgian and Turkish friends opposed the Russian occupation in front of the Russian Consulate. Demanding “a peaceful life for every citizen in their homelands” Georgian immigrants encouraged Russia to take its tanks from the Georgian territories. The similar rally was organized in Athens (Greece), Warsaw (Poland), Stockholm (Sweden) and other European capitals where the Georgian communities condemned Russian aggression towards Georgia and expressed their solidarity for Georgia. “We demand Russia to stop occupation so that the IDPs could safely return to their homes! We can never accept occupation of our Georgian territories,” Marina Tskhondia, the Chairwoman of Greece fellowship encouraged the compatriots.