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Soldiers still missing at sea

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 24
After about a week, two Georgian soldiers remain missing at sea. Georgia’s Minister of Defence, Levan Izoria, says some mistakes may have been made during diving training which led to the fatalities.

“At this stage we can say that based on the preliminary information of the investigation there are obvious signs of a crime. I exclude that it was the fault of one individual; it’s a wider circle,” the Minister said yesterday.

The missing Georgian soldiers have been named as Corporal Iago Sharadze and Private Giorgi Nanetashvili.

The parents of the missing soldiers have been speaking about the mistakes made during the training from the very beginning.

The pair were undergoing mandatory diving training within the scheduled maritime special course in the Gonio region on August 16 but failed to resurface after the planned dive.

Shortly after the incident, on August 17, at the request of the Government of Georgia, United States special forces assigned to Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) became involved in the search for the soldiers.

The same day, a vessel from Turkey’s Coast Guard Service with nine crew members on board entered Georgian waters to participate in the search and recovery operation.

Early on August 20, a mine supper vessel of the Turkish Navy entered territorial waters of Georgia to show support in the search process.

When the vessel entered Georgia, minister Izoria said it could stay for three days, but if necessary the Mine Hunter would exit and then re-enter Georgian waters.

The vessel weights 650-tons. The cabin crew consists of 41 personnel and is equipped with sonar system. The Turkish vessel is carrying out search operations at approximately 200m depth in a 350m radius.

“The vessel may become involved in the search again after a week,” the Minister said yesterday.

The parents of the missing soldiers were also observing the search operation from the Turkish vessel last week.