GEORGIA MARKS INDEPENDENCE RESTORATION DAY, 16TH ANNIVERSARY OF APRIL 9 TRAGEDY

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TBILISI, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Today Georgia marks April 9, entering its latest history as the day of restoration of independence and remembrance of the tragedy which happened during a national-movement meeting in a square in Tbilisi.

On April 9, 1991 leader of the national movement Zviad Gamsakhurdia (future president of Georgia) declared restoration of the independence of Georgia on the basis of the act of Declaration of Independence of the First Republic of Georgia on May 26, 1918.

The decision was adopted on the basis of the March 31, 1990 national referendum, when the sweeping majority of the population of Georgia spoke up for independence and Georgia's secession from the USSR.

Restoration of the independence of Georgia took place precisely two years after the tragic events in Tbilisi on April 9, 1989. A thousands-strong peace rally of representatives of the national movement gathered on the Rustaveli Prospekt was dispelled by the army. As a result, 16 people were killed, many were wounded. The dispersal of the peace rally in Tbilisi broadly reverberated in the world and became a symbol of struggle of the mounting national movement against the Soviet regime.

The Novosti-Georgia news agency reports that today Catholicos of All Georgia Ilia II will do divine service for the dead. Memorial candles in front of the parliamentary building on the square were lighted at dawn in memory of that rally, which began at 4 hours p.m. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers. Among them are members of government and parliament, politicians, public figures, relatives and friends of the victims, rank-and-file people. President Mikhail Saakashvili is expected to attend.

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