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Demolition of War Memorial In Georgia Kills Mother, Girl

A World War II memorial in Kutaisi, 238 kilometers west of Tbilisi. Tornike Turabelidze

TBILISI, Georgia — A mother and her 8-year-old daughter were killed in Georgia on Saturday when workers blew up a towering Soviet war memorial.

The demolition, to make way for a new parliament building, was condemned by Russia and Georgia’s opposition.

The victims were killed by lumps of concrete sent hurtling into the courtyard of their home in the country’s second city of Kutaisi, local media said. Four other people were hospitalized in serious condition.

Georgia’s chief prosecutor, Murtaz Zodelava, said Saturday’s detonation had “resulted in tragedy.”

“According to preliminary information, security norms were violated,” he said in televised remarks.

He said the detonation of the 46-meter-high concrete and bronze monument was carried out by a private demolition company.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said he wanted to move parliament sessions to Kutaisi in a bid to revitalize the former industrial hub in the west of Georgia.

But Georgia’s opposition said the demolition reflected an indifference to public opinion by Saakashvili. About 300,000 Georgians were killed while fighting in the Soviet army during World War II.

“The Georgian government has carried out an act of state vandalism, insulting the feelings of any civilized person,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Georgian television said Saakashvili moved forward his return to Georgia from Copenhagen, where he was attending UN climate talks.

The dispute has echoes of Estonia in 2007, when Moscow reacted furiously to the relocation of a World War II memorial in Tallinn.

n South Ossetia freed three Georgian teenagers on Saturday in a move that appeared designed to boost Saakashvili’s opponents.

The prisoners were escorted over the de facto border by former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli, a fierce Saakashvili critic who visited Moscow earlier in the week.

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