Hard life of veterans

30 families of the veterans, who participated in the military operations for the territorial integrity of Georgia, have been living in the demolished barracks near the Ketevan Tsamebuli Street # 71, in Tbilisi of more than 20 years.

Marina Shorgolashvili worked for the Armed Forces of the National Guardia for years. She participated in the actual fights during the armed conflict in Abkhazia and also worked as a doctor on the frontline. Marina Shorgolashvili said she has brought bodies of many killed warriors from the battle field. “I remember all of them, who I withdrew from the battle field; I remember who was wounded and who was killed. I still cooperate with the Veterans Department and permanently support them but when I have problems, nobody supports me. During the 2008 August war my son was taken to the reserve army; he received contusion; he hardly survived death and still needs medical treatment. We have neither home nor job.  I am socially indigent person. Did I fight for Georgia to become beggar now?”

Veterans living in the Ketevan Tsamebuli Street # 71 say Isani district administration registered barracks in the area as dormitory in 1995. Since then, different state institutions replaced each other as owners of the territory.

When it rains the water leaks into the barracks. Inhabitants said the owner forbade them to change windows and doors for what they cannot warm the barracks.

Ilia Vardosanidze has been living in the barracks for more than 20 years. “When the territory belonged to the Ministry of Defense, we had electricity and water supplies. In 2007, the territory together with the constructions was assigned to the Ministry of Economics; In 2008 Real Invest purchased it. Since then we have neither water nor electricity. It is impossible to live here; nobody knows when this demolished building collapse,” Ilia Vardosanidze said.

There is no sewerage system in the barracks either – inhabitants had to construct common toilet on a huge ditch. Head of the organization defending rights of veterans Patriot Vakhtang Matchavariani blames the state in inattention towards veterans. “In 2008 the property was illegally sold. Instead addressing problems of inhabitants, the state sold the territory to Ilia Kokaia. Soon, we will appeal to the Tbilisi City Court and request to annul the contract, based on which the territory was assigned to Kokaia. It would not be a big problem for him to give alternative accommodations to these people.”

Human Rights House Tbilisi applied to the State Service for Veterans’ Issues to find out the situation about the veterans living in the Ketevan Tsamebuli 71. They said initially the barracks belonged to the Ministry of Defense but later the territory was assigned to the Ministry of Economics. The latter sold the property. Lawyer of HRHT Eka Kobesashvili said. “Veterans state they did not settle in the barracks voluntarily. The Ministry of Defense offered them to live there and it was done in verbal form. However, the Ministry assigned the territory to the Ministry of Economics through neglecting the fate of the veterans. Finally, the Ministry of Economics sold the territory together with inhabitants.”

On social network Facebook, HRHT contacted the businessman Ilia Kokaia. “I do not know anything about it. If they live there, let them live on; nobody prohibits them to live there. They do not create problems for me. I am a shareholder in the company which owns this territory. So you can find out the situation with the management of this company. I do not interfere in their activities. It is very bad if they [veterans] live in similar conditions! They really need support. I think the state is responsible to assist them. When the government sold the territory they had to assist the veterans with the money. I am ready to support them to execute their legal rights.”Ilia Kokaia did not clarify what he meant with the promised support. His answer became vaguer after he initially agreed but then categorically refused to meet HRHT representatives in Germany in case we arrive there.

The State Service for Veterans’ Issues promised to HRHT they would do everything within their authority to assist the veterans if they appeal to them for help.

Giorgi Janelidze


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