TBILISI, November 16 (Itar-Tass) — Closing of the Museum of Soviet Occupation of Georgia is not on the agenda of the Ministry of Culture and Monuments’ Preservation, Georgia’s ministry said in a statement following high public interest to the museum’s future.
The statement was an official reply to the permanent rallies in Tbilisi, organised by various non-governmental organisations, which demand the Museum of Soviet Occupation is closed. The latest rally was organised on Thursday by Earth – Our Home, where the participants in the rally blocked the museum building for several minutes. Some representatives of the Society of Irakli II joined the rally. They all support the demand to close down the museum, which, they claim, “worsens the tension between the fraternal Georgian and Russian nations.” The organisations’ leaders announced they would continue collecting signatures in support of closing down the Museum of Soviet Occupation of Georgia.
The Earth – Our Home has been organising weekly peaceful rallies by the museum since October 30. Earlier, the organisation’s leader Elgudzha Hodeli said “opening of the museum was a demonstration of the anti-Russian hysteria of Georgia’s former leaders.” He stressed that his organisation had “addressed with a recommendation to the new government to close down the museum and to use the money allocated for its work for events and actions, which would favour restoration and development of friendship between the peoples of Georgia and Russia.”
Georgia’s Museum of Soviet Occupation was opened in Tbilisi in May, 2006. The idea to organise it came from President Michael Saakashvili. He said then: “The Museum of Soviet Occupation is not a museum of Russia’s occupation of Georgia, and not Georgia’s occupation of Russia, it was the Soviet occupation of Georgia.” He continued saying “this museum is not aimed against anybody and it is devoted to Georgia’s history, it is organised with the purpose to make sure history of the kind does not happen again.”
Since 2006 and through to now, Georgia’s some politicians and public figures have asked Georgia’s president to close down the museum, saying it “does not favour restoration of friendly relations between Georgia and Russia, it will not bring anything positive to the public consciousness and to settlement of relations between the two nations.”
The museum, a large room on the third floor of the Georgian National Museum in downtown Tbilisi, opened on May 26, the day marking Georgia's declaration of independence from the Russian Empire in 1918. While organising the museum, the local authorities insisted that the museum was simply meant to commemorate the estimated 880,000 Georgians killed or exiled under the Soviet rule.