вторник, 22 декабря 2009 г.

Georgian opposition protests against demolition of war memorial in Kutaisi

TBILISI, December 21 (Itar-Tass) -- The leaders and activists of several opposition Georgian parties held a peaceful protest in Kutaisi on Monday against the demolition of a war memorial in this city on December 19 that resulted in the death of two people.

About 2,000 people and the leaders of several parties attended the event, including Zurab Nogaideli (former prime minister and the head of the movement For a Just Georgia), Salome Zourabichvili (former foreign minister and the leader of the Georgia’s Way party), Temur Shashiashviil (former Imereti governor, presidential ex-candidate and leader of the Tetrebi party), Gubaz Sanikidze (leader of the opposition National Forum), and others.

They criticised the authorities for their policy and said “the fight against monuments is unacceptable and criminal”.

The speakers said they would insist on the dynamited war memorial be restored in the same place and an Orthodox church be built nearby in memory of those who died during the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War and the woman and her eight-year-old daughter killed during the demolition last Saturday.

Nogaideli said earlier that the government’s policy with regard to monuments was “cynical”.

“The decision to dismantle the war memorial in Kutaisi was made by the authorities without taking into account the opinion of the public and without any need,” he said.

“There is enough room around the war memorial for the construction of new buildings for the Georgian parliament and there was no need to dismantle the memorial,” Nogaideli said.

He blamed authorities for the death of two people who were killed during the blasting work at the construction site.

Georgia’s Main Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the death of two people during the demolition of the war memorial.

Chief prosecutor Murtas Zodelava told journalists, “Two persons died during the dismantling of a part of the memorial that was carried out by a private company under a contract with the Kutaisi municipal authorities.”

“According to preliminary information, the tragedy occurred because occupational safety rules were not fully compiled with during the operation,” he said.

“All persons responsible for incident will be brought to justice,” the prosecutor said.

Chunks of concrete killed a woman and her eight-year-old daughter who were standing several dozen metres from the war memorial. The site is fenced off, but obviously too close to the place of the work.

Another two local residents received injuries and were hospitalised, local mass media and law enforcement reported.

The investigation of the incident is underway.

President Mikhail Saakashvili has cut short his visit to Copenhagen, where he attended the U.N. Climate Change Summit, and flew back home.

In the evening, Saakashvili held “an urgent meeting with law enforcement leaders, members of the government and the heads of regional administrations and received a comprehensive report on the tragedy”, presidential spokeswoman Manana Mandzhgaladze said.

“The president of Georgia hopes that the investigation started by the Main Prosecutor's Office will determine the details of the tragedy and those responsible,” she said a press briefing.

“The president has been shocked by the tragedy and expressed condolences to the families of those killed. According to Saakashvili's decision, the state will provide financial aid and moral support to the families of those killed and injured,” the spokeswoman said.

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