Georgia’s ruling Civic Union party, chaired by president Eduard Shevardnadze, issued a statement yesterday denouncing the Russian military’s intention to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Transcaucasus Military District in Tbilisi as an "insult to the people of Georgia." The statement recalled that Soviet Russia created the military district in 1921 as "the Red 11th Army suppressed the democratic Republic of Georgia by force and introduced Soviet power." The statement warned that the Civic Union would call a protest action in front of Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi if the celebration plan was not rescinded. Parliament chairman Zurab Zhvania in turn warned that he would propose a special parliamentary resolution against Russia’s military presence in Georgia if the scheduled celebrations go ahead.
The Russian command under Col. General Fyodor Reut planned a troop parade with armor and artillery in Tbilisi, together with a 400-salvo salute as part of celebrations in the Georgian capital. The celebrations are scheduled to start May 18. The command let it be known yesterday that it "did not expect such a negative reaction" and would revise the celebration program "in order to avoid aggravating relations with Georgia." (Interfax, May 15) Those relations are complex. The command has transferred to Georgia some combat hardware under Russian-Georgian military cooperation programs. But it has also antagonized Tbilisi through some of its actions, for example, in helping the pro-Moscow state security chief Igor Giorgadze to flee to Russia following his participation in an August 1995 conspiracy and attempt on the life of President Shevardnadze.
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