On May 9, Georgian leaders and veterans of the World War II gathered in Park of Culture and Leisure of Veterans in Tbilisi to mark the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.
Typically, on this day, Georgian leaders and WWII veterans visit the tomb of an unknown soldier in Tbilisi’s Vake Park, but the ceremonies are moved to the Veterans’ Park for the second year now over renovation works in the former.
In the Veterans’ Park, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, accompanied by Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri laid wreaths at the memorial of Meliton Kantaria, a Soviet Georgian soldier who hoisted the Soviet flag on top of the disarmed Reichstag in 1945.
“The Georgians made a great contribution and merit to win this war. I would like to pay tribute to our heroes who sacrificed themselves for a better future of the world, and it is a great merit of us, the Georgians, in winning this war,” Prime Minister Garibashvili told reporters.
Georgia, like Russia, marks the Victory in Europe Day on May 9, following the Soviet tradition, whereas the most European countries celebrate the day on May 8.
Amid Russia’s months-long bloody invasion of Ukraine, some of opposition forces, activists and historians suggested — yet again — to celebrate the occasion on May 8.
But the Georgian Dream government, advocating for a “cautious” stance with Russia, has turned a deaf ear to the initiative.
Following the wreath laying ceremony, the Prime Minister today brushed off reporter’s query on “why don’t you celebrate on May 8 like the whole of Europe.”
“I want to congratulate you on May 9 and wish you all victory and peace,” PM responded.
Veterans Talk Ukraine
Along with officials, some veterans also gave interviews to Georgian media, with the Russo-Ukrainian War seemingly stealing the limelight.
“Ukraine will be victorious… I trust the Ukrainian people and wish them victory. I dream of the Ukrainian people to win,” one of the WWII veterans told On.ge online media outlet.
“I served on the front line in Ukraine in 1943. They are very sweet, hardworking, caring people, and now these loving people are being attacked by mad [Vladimir] Putin and killed so mercilessly,” another veteran told the media outlet.
“He [Putin] should be put on trial, like fascists stood trial,” he added.
As of now, per official sources, there are 172 WWII veterans in Georgia. This year, the government allocated GEL 1,000 for each veteran as one-time allowance to mark the Victory Day.