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Independence Day without the president

By Messenger Staff
Monday, May 27
For the first time in the last 9 years, President Mikheil Saakashvili will not be greeting the military parade on Georgia's Independence Day.

The current Georgian leadership decided not to hold a military parade in the center of the capital, or at any other place. Instead it suggested holding events celebrating the date in different cities throughout the country. The United National Movement immediately responded, explaining this decision by the unwillingness of the new governing Georgian Dream Coalition to allow the commander in chief of Georgia's military forces to receive the military parade.

Some analysts suggest that since the war with Russia in August 2008, there is nothing to celebrate for the Georgian military forces and in particular for the commander in chief of the defeated army.

This way or that, the celebration had a different format this year. Unfortunately, the rainy weather in the capital affected the celebrations. Instead of open-door events, many of them were moved inside.

May 26 was a date when the first Georgian Democratic Republic was inaugurated in 1918, soon after the Russian empire's collapse in 1917. Unfortunately, Georgia’s independence lasted only 3 years. In 1921, Bolshevik Russia's Red Army regiments attacked the Georgian state from different directions and took over the country.

Georgia’s Menshevik government left the country and went into exile, hoping to come back later. However, the pause lasted almost 70 years. Only in 1991 did Georgia declare its independence for the second time and the cruel experiment of the Soviet system ended. This fact caused some controversies among politicians and historians. Some suggest that Georgia should celebrate Independence Day on April 9th when Georgia declared its independence for the second time. However, most of the people prefer May 26th as the date to mark the country's independence, thus giving a longer history to Georgian democracy.

During the last several years, the Rose administration celebrated May 26 in Tbilisi regularly, including military demonstrations and with the president cheering on the people of Georgia from the high tribune in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi.

Last year, Saakashvili decided to hold a military parade in Kutaisi in front of the newly built parliamentary building. This has a different explanation, on one hand Saakashvili wanted to confirm the idea of moving the parliament from the capital Tbilisi to Kutaisi.

Other opinions suggest that this decision was taken by President Saakashvili because of the fact that just a year before on May 26, 2011, the Georgian leadership headed by Saakashvili launched a brutal attack on peaceful citizens stationed in the capital of Georgia in front of the Parliament. These people demanded that he resign. The result of this merciless attack against the people from the police forces was very dramatic. One policeman was hit by a car and died. The bodies of two men were found on the roof of a nearby building. The official version said that they were killed by an electric wire, which they accidentally touched. Though, relatives of these persons as well as NGOs and opposition forces challenged this information suggesting that they were killed by the police and later this legend was created. Despite this brutal act, the next morning the military parade was held at the same place and Saakashvili attended.

Among the accusations against the former Interior Minister of Interior Vano Merabishvili will undoubtedly be the accusations concerning the crackdown on this peaceful demonstration by using excessive force.

The current Georgian government supports a modest format of the celebrations and obviously will move the parliament from Kutaisi back to Tbilisi, as the Tbilisi Parliament building is traditionally the place where all the most important political events of Georgia take place.