Georgia and Russia rattle their sabres over war damage. Both sides claim the other damaged historic buildings

By John Varoli | From News | Posted: 25.11.08

ST PETERSBURG. The guns may be silent and an uneasy truce in place, but
Russia and Georgia are continuing the public relations war, most
recently levelling accusation and counter-accusation of destroying
historical and cultural sites during their week-long conflict in August.

At the end of September Georgia issued a 26-page report detailing how
Russian air attacks destroyed dozens of churches, monasteries, and
museums. Among these are the 12th-century Ikorta Church, the
11th-century Bishop’s House in Nicosi, and a 7th-century monastery, also
in Nicosi. Georgia appealed to Unesco to send a mission to
Russian-occupied areas to better ascertain the situation regarding
cultural sites. Located in the Caucasus mountain region on the border
between Europe and Asia, Georgia has one of the most ancient cultures in
the world, creating its own state in the 5th century BC. In the 4th
century AD it became one of the first states to embrace Christianity,
and therefore has many ancient churches and monasteries.

On 7 August Russia invaded Georgia, it said, to protect Russian citizens
living in the dissident republic of South Ossetia, which Russia now
recognises as independent. Russia says that Georgian troops damaged 11
cultural and historical sites in the local capital, Tskhinval. These
include the 18th-century Birth of the Virgin Mary Church; a local
synagogue; and buildings in the city’s historical district. Russia’s
deputy foreign minister Alexander Yakovenko told journalists his country
will raise the issue with Unesco.

Meanwhile, Georgia said it will close the Museum of Joseph Stalin in the
city of Gori and reopen the building as the Museum of Russian Aggression.

Museum Security Network / Museum Security Consultancy

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