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April 9 marks anniversary of a tragedy in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Monday, April 8
On April 9, 1989, Soviet troops brutally dispersed a peaceful demonstration in front of the government building at Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, killing twenty people. This incident signified the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, which collapsed less than three years later.

On the same day – April 9, 1991, Georgia announced the restoration of its independence. These are two important events connected with these dates in Georgia’s modern history. However, for the Georgian people the tragedy of April 9 is more important to commemorate.

MP from the Georgian Dream coalition, Paata Baratashvili, initiated to celebrate April 9 as the date signifying the restoration of Georgia’s independence. He also suggested that those who signed the declaration of the restoration of Georgia’s integration in 1991, as well as the MPs from the current parliament, should gather in the former building of the Georgian Parliament signifying that date.

Supporters of this idea believe that the April 9 sacrifice of innocent civilians eventually brought independence to Georgia two years later; therefore it has to be properly celebrated.

Presumably the parliamentary minority United National Movement (UNM) does not have much against this initiative, although some politicians still think that the Georgian political spectrum should be more moderately taking decisions about this date.

As for the public support, it looks like it is rather controversial. Some amateur polling carried out by the media has revealed that most of the population did not like the idea of celebrating the date when so many innocent people were killed by the brutal regime. Journalists also notice an interesting tendency: most people above 25 accept April 9 as a day of tragedy, however, those younger than 25 look at April 9 as a day of independence.

Some have said that May 26 as a national day should be substituted with April 9. However, according to the popular approach, the day of independence is May 26 when in 1918 Georgia declared its independence.

So, legally speaking, Georgia established its independence on May 26, 1918 which was temporarily suspended for years and restored on April 9, 1991. As for the original document of declaration of April 9 restoring the country’s independence, it is lost and nobody knows its whereabouts.