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Population Finds Bullets Shot By Reservists in Their Yards

19.09.2007
Population of the villages of Grdzelichala, Eniseli and Gremi in Kvareli District demands to remove the military polygon of Telavi Reservists’ Battalion from the village of Shakriani. They have petitioned to the local government and Ministry of Defense regarding the problem several times, though in vain. Local residents claim that the firing very often results into fire and they find bullets in their yards. Unfortunately, one person became a victim of gunfire.

Military Polygon, where reservists are trained in shooting and in some other military arts, is located one kilometer away from villages. Thus, specialists think that it is violation. They claim that polygon must not situate so close to the residential area because a stray bullet can kill a local resident during the training.

Residents of the village of Grdzelichala said that a little time ago eighty-year-old Aleksi Khutsurauli, was killed by a spray bullet fired by reservists. The old man was working in the garden in front of his house when suddenly he fell down. Doctors found him dead having arrived on the place. Later the bullet was removed from his abdomen.

After the accident local people demanded the Kvareli Municipality to remove the polygon from the area but nobody replied to them.

“We wanted to leave our petition at the Kvareli Municipality but they did not accept it at the chancellery. They said similar problems were not in their competence and we should have applied to the Ministry of Defense. We have not sent written petition to the Ministry; however, the problem was widely discussed in media. Anyway the situation has not changed at all,” said Darejan Davitashvili.

Seventeen families live in the village of Grdzelichala. They say that they live in constant fear because of polygon. “It has become impossible to live in the vilalge. We are afraid to leave house because we do not know whether we return home alive. Thus we have to abandon our village and move some other place. But the problem is that we do not have anywhere to go to,” said Natela Tvaliashvili.

“Unless somebody assists us, we will either die or the village will get completely empty. How long can we remain without attention? Initially, they killed my father-in-law and nobody investigated the accident. Now my mother-in-law escaped the death. How long should they continue killing innocent people?” asked Isan Mamulashvili, a son-in-law of murdered Khutsurauli.

The Ministry of Defense does not deny that the death of Aleksi Khutsurauli was connected with reservists’ training. They also confirmed that on the day of accident the soldiers were trained on Shakriani polygon. However, Archil Mamageishvili, deputy head of the Military Police Department, claimed that the old man, working in his own garden, could not be killed by a reservist.

“On that day reservists really were trained on the polygon. Consequently, they were firing too, but the distance between villages and the polygon is nearly two kilometers. In addition to that there is approximately 400-meter-high-hill between them. Thus, I do not think Khutsurauli was murdered by the bullet shot by reservists,” said Mamageishvili.

If the training polygon of Telavi Reservists Battalion had no deals with the accident, Asmat Khutsurauli, daughter of the murdered man, wonders why the Ministry of Defense paid the expenses of Khutsurauli’s funeral.

“Officials from the Ministry stated that the polygon has no connection with the death of my father. The investigation has not finished yet. Why did they pay the expenses of my father’s funeral if they were not guilty for it? Why did they warn and urged us not to tell anything to journalists, particularly about compensation?” said Asmat Khutsurauli.

Military expert, Irakli Sesiashvili stated that in order to avoid the danger the government should formulate the norms to comply with NATO standards. Those norms will regulate how long distance should be between the polygon and residential area; in what direction the soldiers should fire, etc.

“Today, there are not any regulations in Georgian jurisdiction. The accident in Kvareli demonstrated that the Georgian Government and particularly Ministry of Defense must formulate concrete norms immediately and they must comply with NATO standards,” stated Sesiashvili.

Lia Khuroshvili, a lawyer for the Human Rights Center, said that according to the legislation if military training is carried out close to residential area, population can appeal against it and protect their rights. “The local residents should inform the Ministry of Defense regarding the problem and the Ministry is responsible to reimburse the damage for population without any delays. Unless people are compensated, they might appeal to the court,” said the lawyer.

According to the Human Rights Center’s information, the area, which is used by the Ministry of Defense for military trainings, is leased by farmers.

“We leased this territory to use as pasture before they started military trainings here. Now the field is burnt and we cannot use it anymore. Corresponding bodies have information regarding the situation; though they still demand us to pay lease taxes. Besides that there is not empty place nearby and our cattle do not have pasture at all. Consequently we have to stop breading the cattle that is the only source for local people to earn living,” said Spartak Kamashvili.

After great effort, the leasers met Nika Janjgava, Commander-in-Chief of the National Guardia. However, the negotiation had no result.

The population expects the Public Defender to assist them

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

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