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President accuses the Defense Ministry of indifference

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 20
President Mikheil Saakashvili has accused the Georgian government and especially the Ministry of Defense, of indifference towards Georgian soldiers. The President made the statement after meeting with and decorating Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandre Tughushi on September 18th.

Due to an explosion, Tughushi lost both legs in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2011.

Saakashvili asked Defense Minister Irakli Alasania to cease making “abusive statements” towards the president and “express more attention to the army and soldiers.”

“It’s our national shame that Lieutenant Colonel Tughushi, a war hero and a symbol of Georgia, lives in a garage, near the Mukhatgverdi Cemetery. Do we have dignity and self-respect after this? I spoke to Gigi Ugulava and asked that he give Tughushi an apartment. It is our responsibility at the very least. I also asked the Ministry of Defense to find Tughushi work." Saakashvili stated.

The President awarded Tughushi with the Order of St. George.

“I am ashamed that I have to present the Order of St. George in a garage, but wherever he is, a hero is a hero. He has not uttered a complaint, he has only spoken about his fellow veterans who are left without funding and need help from the government for an elementary rehabilitation course." Saakashvili stated.

In response, the Ministry of Defense stated that the president's comments were deceptive and stated that Tughushi is currently employed.

“Currently Lieutenant Colonel Tughushi is an assistant to the Defense Attache of Georgia to the United States of America and receives quite a high salary. For the purposes of confidentiality, the Defense Ministry will refrain from citing the exact amount of money." the ministry statement reads.

The Defense Ministry claims that Tughushi asked the Defense Ministry for accommodation several weeks ago.

"The Special Commission of the Defense Ministry made the decision to find Tughushi accommodation. Like all wounded soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel Tughushi will receive a flat in Tbilisi. It is worth noting that though he was wounded in 2011, the decision to give him an apartment was made by the current government." the ministry statement reads.

The Defense Ministry also stressed that a special comprehensive program for wounded soldiers is ongoing at the ministry. Besides providing wounded soldiers with accommodation, the program also includes other benefits such as health care, prosthetic assistance, insurance and improved social conditions. Current soldiers are actively involved in the special comprehensive program for wounded veterans.

“Tughushi is one of the coordinators of the program and is responsible for communication with wounded soldiers undergoing treatment in the USA." the Defense Ministry emphasized.