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Georgia Blows Up Soviet War Memorial; Mother, Daughter Killed

Two people were killed during the demolition of this Soviet war memorial in Kutaisi.
TBILISI (Reuters) -- A mother and her 8-year-old daughter were killed in Georgia today when workers blew up a towering Soviet war memorial to make way for a new parliament building, authorities said.

Georgian media reported several people were also injured by the detonation in Georgia's second city of Kutaisi.

Russia said on December 17 that the decision to demolish the monument at the proposed construction site was "disrespectful" to Georgians who fought in the Soviet Army during World War II, of whom some 300,000 were killed.

(Georgian opposition parties also protested the memorial's destruction.)

"According to preliminary information, security norms were violated," chief prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava told a televised news briefing. He confirmed two people had died.

Authorities began demolishing the 46-meter-high concrete and bronze World War II monument this week, under a government initiative to move parliament sessions to Kutaisi, a former industrial hub in the west of the former Soviet republic.

Georgia's opposition said the move reflected an indifference to public opinion by authorities under Saakashvili, who has made overcoming Georgia's Soviet past his signature policy since taking power on the back of the 2003 Rose Revolution.