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25 Dec, 2009 15:35

MPs outraged by demolition of WWII memorial in Georgia

The Russian lawmakers have released a statement condemning Georgia's destruction of a WWII memorial in the city of Kutaisi and urged the global community to denounce the move by the Georgian authorities too.

The statement says that the State Duma is calling for parliaments of other states and international organizations to condemn the actions of the Georgian regime “which after the failed aggression against the South Ossetian people in August 2008 has tried to unleash war against the Georgian people this time, and against our common history.”

“The Tbilisi regime, which loudly speaks of its adherence to European values, put itself beyond the European civilization doing things like this, and roughly and cynically tramples the memory of the heroic deeds of their own people,” the statement also reads.

The Russian lawmakers have supported Vladimir Putin’s idea to rebuild the monument in Moscow.

The Head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said that this is a tragedy for the Georgian nation.

“The Taliban and Estonian revanchists used to be the only ones who destroyed monuments. Now Mikhail Saakashvili and his supporters have joined this shameful list. Some 700,000 Georgians fought in World War II, and almost half of them never returned,” Konstantin Kosachev said.

The Foreign Ministry said that the actions of the Georgian government are a form of state-sponsored vandalism against the memory of the people.

And TV host Nikolay Svanidze says the demolition of the monument was a tragic move which has damaged the Georgian authorities’ standing.

“I cannot imagine how anyone could blow up a monument to defenders of their homeland,” Svanidze said. “This is something sacred for any nation. Also, people died in this explosion. Of course it was an accident, but it emphasized the immorality of this action. They destroyed a monument to people who gave their lives, and more people died in the process. In my opinion, this is a tragedy, and a huge stain on the reputation of the country’s authorities.”

The Glory Memorial in Kutaisi was destroyed on December 19. The official explanation for doing so was to make way for a building that will house parliament when it is relocated from the capital Tbilisi.

Two people – a woman and her eight-year-old daughter – were killed by accident during the demolition.

To draw attention to this story, a Georgian human rights group has posted a clip from a pro-Georgian military documentary that was aired in the spring of 2008, just prior to the South Ossetia conflict. The human rights group says that the Georgian government is using a quote from Hitler in their propaganda.

Some say the use of the video, and the decision to destroy the monument, are ways that the Georgian government is choosing to show it is in control of the situation.

“The results of the EU investigation into the war in 2008 were not favorable for Georgia, and the demolition of the Kutaisi monument is a kind of psychological vengeance for them,” said Ekaterina Kuznetsova from the Center for Post-Industrial Studies. “Georgians think that when they eliminate the memory itself – the monument – it helps them gain control of the situation.”