Georgians are mourning the death of three compatriot volunteer fighters in Ukraine.
Gia Beriashvili and Davit Ratiani were killed early on March 18 on the Irpin front, northwest of Kyiv, defending the Ukrainian capital from invading Russian forces.
“Dato [Davit Ratiani] lived like a hero and died like a hero: helping a French soldier with an injured leg to reach the assembly point. A mine blast killed Dato on the spot,” wrote journalist Aleksei Bobrovnikov, Ratiani’s friend, on Facebook.
A vigil honoring Beriashvili and Ratiani was held in Tbilisi outside the Parliament building on March 19. The two fighters were also remembered in Batumi and Zugdidi, western Georgia.
Opposition politician Elene Khoshtaria, who announced about the vigil events, said: “these people gave their lives for our freedom and for us [to live] in peace.”
Also on March 19, reports emerged that another Georgian fighting for Ukraine, Bakhva Chikobava died in Mariupol, a besieged Ukrainian city on the Azov Sea.
Chikobava, 54, under previous UNM administration served as the head of Interior Ministry’s Special Tasks Department in western Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region.
“I wish to express my condolences to the families of our, Georgian citizens, three former servicemen died during this war,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on March 21.
He stressed the “state did everything so that they are transferred to Georgia for burial.”
“Russian aggression in Ukraine took lives of three Georgian fighters. My deep condolences to the families and loved ones of Davit Ratiani, Gia Beriashvili and Bakhva Chikobava,” Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili wrote on Facebook on March 19.
“Our solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people are unwavering. Our friendship is centuries old and I believe, it will strengthen further.”
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze also expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the murdered Georgian fighters.
“The pain of Ukraine and Georgia is common – it has always been so, it is the same today,” he said in a Facebook post on March 19.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Tbilisi also reacted: “Heroes don’t die. Ukraine will always remember its heroes-defenders.”
NB: The article was updated on March 21 with comments by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze.