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First Georgian soldier killed in Ukraine

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, December 22
Aleksandre Grigolashvili, 32, is the first Georgian soldier who was killed in Ukraine while fighting against pro-Russian rebels.

Grigolashvili served at the intelligence battalion which was located near the village Shastya, Ukraine.

Information concerning the death of Grigolashvili while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russian rebels was released on Friday and was confirmed by the commander of the Georgian Legion to Ukraine Mamuka Mamulashvili.

Grigolashvili’s family members have stated that the soldier went to Ukraine two months ago. According to them, before his departure to Ukraine, Grigolashvili served in the Georgian army, fought in the Tskhinvali region and in Afghanistan.

A farewell ceremony to honor fallen Georgian soldier took place at Maidan, in Kyiv on December 20. After that, Grigolashvili’s body was transported to Georgia, to his hometown of Kutaisi.

Commander of the Georgian Legion to Ukraine Mamuka Mamulashvili, admitted that it is a very complicated situation in the region. However, according to him, Georgians fighting in Ukraine were not going to leave. He said that by fighting in Ukraine, Georgians are protecting their homeland from Russian aggression.

The Ministry of Defence of Georgia has laid the responsibility for the death of the Georgian citizen on Georgia’s former government.

The Defence Ministry expressed its condolences to Aleskandre Grigolashvili’s family and said that several representatives of the former government of Georgia have called on Georgian citizens to take part in the hostilities abroad.

“The Defense Ministry has repeatedly noted that such calls are irresponsible and mislead the former and current soldiers of the Georgian Armed Forces. The Ministry calls on each citizen not to yield to provocations,” the ministry statement reads.

The statement caused negative responses from the opposition and NGOs.

Giga Bokeria from the United National Movement (UNM) has called the statement shameful. “I have not seen any government that expressed its enemy’s interests so openly,” Bokeria said.

Head of the opposition Free Democrats, and the former Defence Minister of Georgia Irakli Alasania, said that any worthy country must mourn its fallen soldiers appropriately. “We should not allow for the diminishment of the soldiers’ merit and devoutness anymore,” Alasania said.

Head of the Transparency International Georgia Eka Gigauri said that the ministry’s statement was offensive. She stated that Grigolashvili was a hero who remembered Ukraine’s support to Georgia in 2008 and sacrificed his life to both Ukraine’s and Georgia’s interests.