Georgia marks 31 years since the 1989 April 9th tragedy
09 April, 2020
Georgia marks 31 years since the 1989 April 9th tragedy
31 years have passed since the 9th of April 1989. On that day the Soviet army used tanks and poisonous gas to disperse the peaceful demonstration of several thousand participants supporting the independence of Georgia. As a consequence, 21 people (17 females, 4 males) were killed on Rustaveli Avenue, with hundreds wounded, maimed and poisoned.
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9april
The protesters were led by the Independence Committee of Merab Kostava, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Giorgi Chanturia, Irakli Bathiashvili and Irakli Tsereteli dem
anding the punishment of Abkhaz secessionists and restoration of Georgian independence.
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hen the Local Soviet authorities lost control over the situation in the capital and were unable to contain the protests, the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party Jumber Patiashvili asked USSR leadership to send troops to restore order and impose a curfew. The night of April 9 remained in the history of Georgia as one of the most tragic but at the same time heroic dates when the whole country united to fight for its independence.
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Several minutes before the raid, in an effort to prevent bloodshed, the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, asked the people to enter the temple and pray. The protesters, however, didn’t move. Shorty after the Patriarch’s address, the troops started approaching the Parliament building. Armed with entrenching shovels and blunt weapons, soldiers under the command of Colonel General Radionov started brutally routing the protestors. The riot police also used chemical gas. As a result, 16 people were killed on the spot.
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On April 10, in protest against the onslaught, Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia went out on strike and a 40-day of national mourning was declared. People brought a large number of flowers to the place of the killings to pay respect to the deceased. Eventually, on April 9, 1991, the second anniversary of the tragedy, the Supreme Council of Georgia declared Georgian sovereignty and independence from the Soviet Union based on the results of a nationwide referendum. In the same year, one of the leaders of the protesting movement Zviad Gamsakhurdia became the first democratically elected President of Georgia. A memorial to the victims of the tragedy was opened at the location of the crackdown on Rustaveli Avenue on November 23, 2004.
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9april

Photo: nplg.gov.ge

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