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Celebrating Victory Day

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Monday, May 11
May 9 is celebrated as the day of the capitulation of Nazi Germany in the Second World War (known as the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union and some post-Soviet states). 64 years have passed since then, but this year two thousand two hundred Georgian veterans of the war still gathered in Vake Park in Tbilisi to celebrate this day. They recalled the dreadful days they endured 64 years ago and decorated the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with flowers.

The Speaker of Parliament, representatives of the Government and the diplomatic corps congratulated the veterans on May 9. The Defence and Health Ministers also attended the Vake Park gathering. The Tbilisi Mayor gave one-time cash assistance to the veterans.

Russia celebrated the Day of Victory more pompously. “Our victory over fascism is a great example and a great lesson to all nations, a lesson which is still relevant today, when again and again people appear who indulge in military adventurism… the defence of our homeland is our holy duty... We are sure that any aggression against our citizens will be decisively rebuffed,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in Red Square, Moscow, on Saturday, in remarks which contained clear references to the five day war with Georgia last August.

Opening the biggest and most spectacular military parade in post-Soviet history, Medvedev also addressed the Georgian people directly. He congratulated them on this day and stated that the Georgian and Russian peoples have never been enemies and the mutual attraction between the two spiritually close nations will help them develop mutually beneficial partner relations.

“On May 9 we honour our fathers and grandfathers who fought shoulder to shoulder on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, crushed Nazism, upheld our freedom, and influenced the entire course of world history,” a message from Medvedev posted on the Kremlin website on May 8 also reads. “The joint struggle against Nazi invaders is one of the most memorable and heroic pages in the centuries-old chronicles of Russian-Georgian friendship. We will never forget that it was a Russian, Mikhail Yegorov, and a Georgian, Meliton Kantaria, who hoisted the flag on top of the Reichstag after its surrender.”

Medvedev also mentions the current relations between Georgians and Russians in his message and says that, “people-to-people contacts, cooperation between social and cultural organisations and links between the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches continue unabated,” adding that all these factors give both nations a hope that their mutual attraction will help them work together.