“Today in Our Country 80-Year Old Veterans Suffer from Hunger”
02 February, 2012
“Today in Our Country 80-Year Old Veterans Suffer from Hunger”

Ministry of Finances says nothing

In front of the Presidential residence, in the middle of the freezing winter, 80-year old elderly people are on hunger strike. They are sitting on the beam connecting two trees, and are encircled by standing aged men and women. It sounds like a fiction story. But it is not. It is an acidic reality in Georgia. The reality cast consists of veteran aviation workers.

The veteran pilots started their hunger strike in front of the

Presidential residence on 25 January. 80 year old Akaki Bitadze, 78 year old Zaur Bedia and Albert Nurbekiani - 72 resorted to the extreme form of protest. They demand implementation of the court decree made six years ago.
Albert Nurbekiani, President of Pilot Association: “We sent as many as 417 letters to the President of Georgia, Chair of the Parliament, Prime-Minister and Minister of Economy. The only thing that we request in these letters is the fulfillment of the obligation imposed on the Minister of Economy. We – veteran pilots – hold five enacted court decisions in our hands. The State has to pay compensations to the pilots for work-related trauma that they sustained. All the court decisions entered into force seven years ago. What is the sense in having the justice system if its decisions are not attended? In which western country do 80-year old veteran pilots are going on hunger strike demanding realization of court decisions?”
Akaki Bitadze, veteran pilot: “No one can steal my decency. Let the world know how “democratic” our Authorities are and how they let 80-year old veterans die in front of the Presidential residence. 11 veterans have died. They were living in mind-blowing poverty waiting for the compensation, but in vain. These bureaucrats though live exuberant lives. They easily parted with 150.000 Lari to purchase a four-wheeler for the newly appointed minister Zaza Gorozia, did not they?”
Dimitri Lortkipandze, MP: “I nicknamed the aviation settlement in Lilo suburb of the capital as “the death town”. A month will not pass without a death of a veteran pilot. Today too, there is a funeral of our colleague. He died in poverty, having no money to buy food and medications. The Authorities owe some 400 thousand Lari to 20 veterans. They are well aware of their obligations. We think they want to recognize it as an internal debt. Yet, they also see how the ranks of these 70-80 year old people are shrinking fast.”
We contacted Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. They explained that the obligation to compensate the veterans goes to Ministry of Finances. As the head of the press service told us, they sent several enquiries to Ministry of Finances. However, they failed to learn what Ministry of Finances thinks about the matter. It’s true, Ministry of Finances did not respond to our enquiry either.

P.S. This article was ready for publication when we learnt that health of 80 year old Akaki Bitadze deteriorated and that he was rushed to a hospital.

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