Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sacrifices for Parliament

21/12/09--Resonance Daily
Sacrifices for Parliament
Akaki Bobokhidze: “No one will stand in the way of the construction of the parliament building in Kutaisi”

By: Giorgi Putkaradze

As a result of the sacrifices made by mother and daughter, Eka Tsutskhvashvili and young Nino Jincharadze, up to ten people have been arrested, the governor of Imereti [of which Kutaisi is the capital] has been sacked and the president is horrified; however one thing will remain unchanged: the dismantling of the victory memorial and the construction of the parliament building in Kutaisi.

Two days ago, the deceased girl’s father, Soso Jincharadze, arrived at the scene of the tragedy pleading desperately, “They killed my child. What can help me?” Just as Soso’s child cannot be returned, neither will the fact that “no one will stand in the way of the construction of the parliament building in Kutaisi” be changed. Those were the words of parliamentary majority member Akaki Bobkhidze, one of the chief proponents of relocating Parliament to Kutaisi, who is paying close attention to accusations coming from the public in the wake of the tragedy.

On December 19, at approximately 16:00, Merab Berdzenishvili’s [WWII] victory monument, located in the residential area surrounding the auto-factory, was demolished. Minutes later, word spread throughout the city that the demolition had claimed a victim. It was later learned that young Nino Jincharadze died at the scene and that her mother, Eka Tsutskhvashvili, died at the hospital.

Several other residents near the memorial were wounded and were treated at the scene by emergency crews.

But the dismantling of the memorial began on December 12. The site of the new parliamentary building was marked out, and, as the news media would later learn from the workers on site, the date of the demolition was to be December 21, the president’s birthday. But supposedly due to the plans of political and non-governmental organizations to construct a human chain around the memorial, the dismantling process was hastened.

According to “The New Gazette” [„ახალი გაზეთი“], law-enforcement officers appeared in the residential area surrounding the auto-factory on December 19 at around 14:00. They warned residents in the area that they needed to evacuate their homes immediately. At 16:00, SakPetkMretsvi, LLC, demolished the 27 meter-high concrete structure (what was left of the “victory monument” after a week of dismantling). The force of the explosion sent chunks of concrete flying some hundreds of meters in the direction of the residential area.

“When they began the evacuations, they removed us from our apartments saying, ‘the demolition is going to happen and you need to get out in the streets.’ We moved away from the apartments and ran towards the ‘barracks.’ At that moment, the explosion occurred. Those poor folks who were in the courtyard by the apartment building—that’s where the girl was standing when the rock hit her in the head and killed her. Is our government happy now? They don’t care, their kids didn’t die! This is simply destruction for destruction’s sake—what trouble did the monument ever cause?” said several eyewitnesses to the newspaper.

“I was coming in from the city and the police wouldn’t let me go to my home. I wanted to pick up a few things. At that moment, the explosion occurred and when I arrived at the scene of bloodied people on the ground I discovered that my husband was among them,” said the wife of Irakli Jincharadze who was taken to the hospital.

Emergency crews first transported the wounded to the auto-factory’s hospital, and only later were they taken to the West Georgian National Center of Interventional Medicine. Nino Jincharadze would have been taken to the children’s hospital but it was too late to save her.

Local journalists quote eyewitnesses as saying that following the explosion, they were asked by police officers to leave the area with all haste as a second explosion was imminent. According to eyewitnesses, the police wanted to empty the area so that they could hide the child’s body.

[Second half of translation to come]