Georgia celebrated the Day of Victory over Fascism. There are only 116 World War II veterans left in the country, the oldest of them being 104 years old. Georgian politicians in one of Tbilisi’s parks in the morning laid wreaths on the bust of Meliton Kantaria, who, according to the official version, placed the banner of victory over the Reichstag in May 1945 with Russian soldier Mikhail Yegorov .
It should be noted that Meliton Kantaria lived in Sukhumi, but as a result of the 1993 assault, in which Russian troops played a leading role, he was forced to leave his home. Kantaria’s tomb is located in the village of Jvari in western Georgia.
“I would like to congratulate our veterans on their victory over a great evil – fascism…Once again, I bow to the memory of our heroes and on behalf of the government, I would like to once again thank our heroic veterans for all they did for us,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said while addressing the participants of World War II.
It is noteworthy that more than 700,000 Georgians participated in the war against fascism, 167 of them became Heroes of the Soviet Union, and more than 300,000, or about 10% of the total population of the republic, are dead.
Georgian opponents have repeatedly said that the celebration of the Day of Victory over Fascism should be postponed to May 8 in order to mark the date according to European time, but the Georgian authorities have not yet supported this initiative.
This year, the opposition lambasted the ruling Georgian Dream party for using a picture of the Reichstag with the Soviet flag hoisted above it, along with a hammer and sickle. Opponents reminded the Georgian authorities that since 2011 Georgian legislation prohibits the use of Soviet symbols. Following the protest, the photo was deleted.
A small action on May 9 took place in the courtyard of Joseph Stalin’s house-museum in Gori, the town where he was born and spent his early childhood. The demonstrators demanded the restoration of a six-meter monument to the Soviet leader, dismantled in 2010 under the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili.
Then the dismantling of the monument, erected during Stalin’s lifetime in 1952, took place late at night, presumably to avoid protests from the population, a significant part of which was against the transfer of the monument from the central square of Gori.
At the same time, according to the latest survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC), the number of people in Georgia who positively assessed the role of Stalin, who was of Georgian origin, has decreased in two years. So, in 2021, their number will be 45%, and in 2023 – 37%. 31% of respondents have a negative attitude towards Stalin and 17% say they are neutral.
In response to the demands of the Stalinists, the major of Gori said that the restoration of the monument, which was moved to the territory of Stalin’s house-museum, was not on the agenda. Although at the same time, the major told reporters that he did not see a problem that the main street of Gori still bears the name of Stalin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has traditionally congratulated the “Georgian people” on the 78th anniversary of the victory over fascism. It should be noted that after the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, Tbilisi broke off diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation, and since then Putin has not congratulated the country’s political leaders.
Along with the Day of Victory over Fascism on May 9, Georgia also celebrates Europe Day – a celebration of peace and unity of the member states of the European Union. On the initiative of Georgian President Salomé Zurabishvili, on the evening of May 9, a concert “For Europe” will take place in front of the Presidential Palace.
May 9 is the anniversary of the European Union. This date has been celebrated since 1951. Relations between Georgia and the EU have existed for 30 years and they serve freedom, democracy, human rights and common values. European integration is a very important process for our country, and we celebrate this date with emphasis on it,” the presidential administration said.
According to the results of another study conducted in Georgia from March 17 to 23 by an American non-governmental organization – the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 82% of the population supports the integration of Georgia into the EU, and 73 % of NDI respondents are in favor of the country’s integration into NATO.
Recall that in June 2022, the European Council refused to grant Georgia the status of a candidate country for EU membership, but at the same time recognized Georgia’s European perspective. At the same time, the EU named a number of reforms that Georgia must implement in order to receive the status of a candidate country by the end of this year.
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