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The Kutaisi memorial: to rebuild or not to rebuild?

14.01.2010  |  09:55

5078.jpegThe reconstruction of the Glory Memorial blown up in Kutaisi causes controversial reaction both among the Georgian and the Russian people. Despite the fact that author Merab Berdzenishvili and his Russian colleague Zurab Tsereteli spoke against creating a copy of the memorial, the "Us" Russian youth movement has already started collecting funds. GeorgiaTimes tried to find out the attitude of the famous Russian people to the idea.


Another demarche of the Georgian authorities against the common human values has never received the proper evaluation of the West. Mikhail Saakashvili got away with the blow-up of the Kutaisi memorial dedicated to the warriors who died in the Second World War.

The haste caused by the opposition's negative reaction resulted in the death of a woman and her daughter who were wounded by the shell fragments. Before the tragedy, the UN General Assembly in New-York adopted a resolution criticizing the attempts of contamination and destruction of memorials erected in honor of those who struggled against the Nazism of the Second World War.

In Georgia, the authorities' actions were criticized by the opposition and the society. Many called to give up the construction of the new parliament building at the location of the explosion and erect the same memorial there, as well as a chapel in honor of the innocent people who died.

However, the author of the sculptural composition refused to reconstruct the memorial, having attributed his decision to the lost sketches.

At the same time, the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested that the memorial to the Georgian warriors should be erected in Moscow. He was supported by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, President of the Union of Georgians in Russia Mikhail Khubutia and many other politicians. It was decided to build the memorial not on the state funds but on donations.

Some time before that, the "Us" Russian youth movement started collecting money, which can be transferred to the special settlement account of the action. As was explained to VZGLYAD newspaper by leader Nikita Borovikov, the Georgian bosses "took an active part in the destruction" of the memorial, while the domestic social activists are in danger of "burying this crime in oblivion". Meanwhile, "Us" are convinced that the restoration of the blown-up memorial should become the all-Russia business.

It was decided that a famous Russian sculptor of the Georgian origin Zurab Tsereteli should be involved in the realization of the project on reconstructing the memorial on the Hill of Respectful Salutation.

However, before that, he stated that the task is impossible. "How can one restore someone else's sculpture? - he stated. - This should never be done. Can anyone imitate a poem or music written by someone else? No, it is impossible, such things have never happened".

Other Georgian experts also criticize the decision of the Russian authorities. For instance, Mamuka Areshidze stated: "Russia has destroyed a lot of historical and cultural memorials in Georgia and has got no right to speak about the restoration of the memorial". The point at issue is the cathedrals that have been incidentally scraped during the military actions last August when despite all the agreements, Georgia attacked Tskhinval and received a response blow from the Russian army.

Member of the United Russia fraction Konstantin Zatulin in his interview to GeorgiaTimes stated that the memorial in Moscow can be and should be restored. "The blow-up of the memorial was a demonstrative act, so the initiative of the Russian government and Moscow authorities fits the general strategy of the Russian Federation. We think ourselves to be the heirs of that glorious victory and we take care that this victory remained in the memory of those nations that fought for it", - the delegate commented.

When asked whether the restoration of a work of art created by the Georgian sculptor Merab Berdzenishvili is relevant and possible, Zatulin answered: "This is an issue to be discussed. I leave open the possibility that there is no need for an exact copy. The main point is to accentuate the respect for the Georgians that gave their lives in 1941-45 and to the Georgian veterans, even if there are only few of them left.

Perhaps, one can find a new architectural and creative decision, or retain just some element of the memorial. So long as the sculptor refused to restore the memorial for some reason, the symbiosis of the old and the new version is also possible.

As is known, the blow-up of the Kutaisi memorial was not the only demonstration of hatred for the Soviet memorials in the former USSR countries. However, should all the memorials be moved to Russia? Zatulin believes that in certain cases they should.

"First of all, one should not allow blowing up the memorials. Still, if we deal with some demonstrative destruction, the memorial should be moved to Russia", - the delegate says.


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