Georgia celebrated the 74th anniversary of the Victory Day which is a public holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Georgia marks the 74th anniversary of Victory Day over fascism
By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, May 10
The Soviet government announced the victory early on May 9 after the signing ceremony in Berlin. Though the official inauguration occurred in 1945, the holiday became a non-labor day only in 1965 and only in several Soviet republics.
Georgia has officially recognized May 9 since its independence in 1991. Every May 9, World War II veterans gather and celebrate.
Mamuka Bakhtadze, Georgian Prime Minister arrived in Vake Park in central Tbilisi to place flowers at the monument of the Unknown Soldier.
“Hundreds of thousands of Georgian heroes fell on the battlefield, and I want to pay tribute to their memory. I want to wish health, happiness and prosperity to the veterans and their family members," he said.
Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze also congratulated veterans on the 74th anniversary of the Victory Day, thanking them for 'their bravery and sacrifice which saved humanity from fascism.'
Member of the opposition party, European Georgia, David Bakradze arrived in Vake Park too. He said the country is assessed according to how the elderly people are taken care of and appreciated there.
“I bow my head before the veterans. Today, we should not only congratulate them but realize what we can do to make their lives better,” he noted.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili also visited Vake Park and paid tribute to the fallen soldiers.
“Each hero who died for freedom deserves respect. They will always live in our memory,” she said.
Totalitarian communist and fascist symbols are banned at the legislative level in Georgia. The Liberty Charter, adopted in 2011, bans public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols, including statues or photos of the former Soviet leader and native Georgian, Joseph Stalin.
Georgia was the first post-Soviet country outside the Baltic Region to ban former KGB operatives and senior Communist Party officials from holding public office. They have also been prohibited from serving as university deans or judges.
Georgia’s State Security Service (SSS) released a statement before May 9, reminding people not to use totalitarian symbols.
May 9 also saw several different protest rallies in the center of Tbilisi.
One rally was held by the representatives of the Immortal Regime movement, sponsored by the Russian state and personally by President Vladimir Putin. The movement is dedicated to the memory of those killed and fighting in WW2, although many believe that this is a Kremlin propaganda campaign. The movement covers more than 80 countries, and, mainly gathers activists from pro-Russian groups or Communist parties.
In response to the Immortal Regime rally, a counter-demonstration was arranged by pro-Western citizens, who arrived near the Vake Park with the banners: 'No to Putin’s March!'
There was a small confrontation between the participants of the two different rallies, as a result of which police detained a few people. Several people were arrested for demonstrating Soviet symbols on May 9.