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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The ruthless enemy spoke: the Russians captured him at the age of 14, he broke 27 bones

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In the war in Abkhazia he first fought against the Russians; The conflict in the early 1990s confronted Georgians on the one hand, and Abkhaz separatists supported by Russia on the other, and militants from the North Caucasus. At that time, Mamuk Mamulashvili was 14 years old, and his father, a Georgian general, handed the machine gun to his hands.

He suffered three months of Russian captivity, full of wars, tortures, repeated unfinished executions. He survived. It hardened.

He voluntarily fought against the Russians in the first Chechen war (1994-1996). After finishing his studies, he devoted himself to martial arts; Among other things, he became president of the Georgia mixed martial arts association MMA.

Another war with Russia followed, a five-day invasion (2008) in which Moscow conducted a “peace operation” directly in Georgia. Mamulašvili also fought in this conflict. At one time, he rose to the position of military adviser to the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

Then the Russians began to attack Ukraine in the Donbass. In the spring of 2014, shortly after Russia stole Crimea from Ukraine, Mamuka Mamulashvili launched his fourth war against the Russians. Quoting an article from that period on the Ukrainian Segodnya website, “I came to help protect the civilized people from the barbarians.”

He handed the interview to Seznam Zprávám shortly after reporters Ray Baseley and Roman Havelka spent three days filming one of the elite units of the Georgian Legion operating in Ukraine and founded by Mamulashvili. The interview was filmed mostly in the Russian-dominated Zaporozhye region; You can play from the attached link.

You fought against Russia in two wars in the early 1990s. If you compare your experience with the war that the Kremlin is now starting in Ukraine: have the Russians changed in any way? For example, on the way to making war?

In general, I think that all the wars that Russia waged on the territory of the former Soviet Union – all terrorist wars – are the same. The same cruelty, above all the same killing of civilians, children, women. For us Georgians this is familiar because we have experienced it several times. Georgia is the first country to experience occupation after the collapse of the USSR. And that’s why we’re all here today.

The Georgian Legion was established in Ukraine in 2014. What has changed for you during this time?

For eight years, Ukraine has been telling everyone that we are facing open aggression from Russia. And unfortunately the international community didn’t want to open their eyes and see what was really going on here. Now they say we have an all-out war. But here we have an absolute war for eight years. It didn’t start in February. Nothing has changed for us militarily since 2014, unless we take into account the airstrikes and missiles currently flying over us. Everything is the same, we face the same Russians, the same aggression.

How has the Georgian Legion changed during this time?

The Georgian Legion is the largest foreign formation in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. We have always been the biggest group since 2014.

We saw a huge increase in those who wanted to join us in February. But we have a very strict recruitment process. We only select those with combat experience, military service alone is not enough. You spent a few days in our unit, you saw the professionalism for yourself. We need men who can do delicate work. Those who are good at their job. In the main part of our units, we also have trainers responsible for the recruitment process of experienced people. These trainers are very effective in the training of Ukrainians, they train territorial defense, military police, regular police and national guard. But we really only recruit those with excellent combat experience.

Photo: Ray Baseley, Roman Havelka, Seznam Zpravy

Mamuka Mamulashvili (centre) with one of the Georgian Legion units. In his left hand (wearing sunglasses) stands Irakli Madharashvili, the second-in-command of the Georgian Legion in Ukraine.

What is the main task of the Georgian Legion?

The Georgian Legion is a group of special forces soldiers. Our main task is to hit command staffs and logistics and eliminate these targets. We have many different units with a wide variety of skills. They work independently and mostly do not interact with each other. They have very sensitive information and are on the front lines right now.

What we see with our own eyes: Unit members are very close to each other. They treat each other almost like family, like brothers. Is this something you built on?

Of course, of course. Members of 32 nationalities are all friends, although they operate in our ranks. One of the reasons we are so effective is that men from different countries bring together all the experience of their respective armies. We usually have several nationalities in units, they share their experience; therefore, they are now the most influential in Ukraine.

And that’s how we’ve been working in Ukraine for eight years – until now. We’ve been doing the same job all this time, although we didn’t start talking about it publicly until the February invasion.

We’ve heard that you’ve personally met everyone who’s joined the Georgia Legion. Like this? Are you doing this to test your skills or do you have another reason?

You must have noticed that these guys are like family. I don’t want to break this tradition as they have to work together as a family. I’m talking to each of them individually.

One of the reasons is I don’t want to rule out extremism. I want to exclude men with radical views, Nazis, racists or the like. They can certainly die for each other as we have different nationalities, different religions and all these men are brothers. We don’t want an intruder in the Georgia Legion who doesn’t share our worldview, who isn’t mainly there to protect civilians, who comes to shoot himself. All these guys are unacceptable to us.

I know you taught various units how to fight in Ukraine in 2014. For example, you took part in the heavy battle for Debaltseve in 2015. How did you manage to become a legion commander?

Here’s how: I personally experienced the Russian mentality when I was 14 years old. At that time I was in Russian captivity for more than three months. It was actually the beginning of the Georgian Legion, because at that moment I decided to fight against Russia. And I’ve been doing this for the last 30 years.

The Georgian Legion was founded by me in 2014 when there were only a few officers from Georgia. Then – thanks to our reputation – men from different countries started to join us. The Americans were first in 2016; then we signed the first contract with the armed forces of Ukraine. Before 2016 we were only volunteers, then we were officially accepted into the army. That’s when the president also decided to allow foreigners to join the army. And we were the first to sign. It started to rise, our reputation was so good – everyone was trying to join us. All foreigners who fought in Ukraine, ie 90 to 95 percent of those who were in Ukraine, were first in the Georgian Legion.

The Georgian Legion has a wolf head with red eyes on its coat of arms. It is a historical name given to Georgians by Persians. They called them wolves – gurzh, because they attacked in small groups. Thus, the wolf head symbolizes the Georgians. The shield on which it is placed is the flag of Ukraine. In the wolf’s head is a map of all Georgia before Russia left the region: that is, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The co-author of the design was Alexander Grigorashvili, a friend of Mamuk, who was one of the first to fall in eastern Ukraine. Source: Segodnya

Are there any Czechs fighting in your ranks?

We currently have two Shots, but I don’t remember exactly which unit they are in. Personally, I don’t put too much emphasis on nationality because it doesn’t matter to me. As long as the man is with us ideologically and is good enough to serve in the unit, that is enough.

You said yourself that you have been fighting against Russia for thirty years. What keeps you going?

My motivation was 27 broken bones from Russian captivity…

You know, the history of my family and the struggle against Russia goes very deep. My whole family was killed by the Russians. And only one teenager with my last name survived.

Russia has always tried to destroy the Georgian elite. And my family was one of them they just killed. Father ideologically fought against Russia all his life. He was a military general; He was already 72 years old and was still serving as a soldier in the Georgian Legion of the Ukrainian Army.

Georgia is a country that has resisted Russian aggression for over 400 years and we are still independent. We follow the tradition of our ancestors, we want Georgia to be free and part of Europe. And of course we are fighting for it.

Do you think that Russian aggression will somehow affect Georgia’s fundamentally pro-Russian policy in recent years?

I think what happened in Ukraine has unmasked many politicians. And mostly pro-Russian Georgians. They’re doing some really terrible things in Georgia today.

Ukraine has shown that the Georgian government is strictly pro-Russian. After the war started in Ukraine, not only Georgia but many countries revealed their true face. Unfortunately, we have a pro-Russian government in Georgia, but fortunately all the people are against the current government. And mentally, our people are on the side of Ukraine. They send us as ambassadors of Georgia to help Ukraine. I think every Georgian here is an ambassador of our country and shows the will of Georgia.

Do you know what they think of the Georgian Legion’s operation in your home?

The Georgian government is giving our children a lot of trouble. They arrest our soldiers returning home. They are just pro-Russian. I do not distinguish them from the Russians at all, it is precisely the same thought that feeds them and the same financial support from Russia.

What happens when you go home?

I’ve been to Georgia several times. They always warn me to leave the country. They did not allow me to be detained because they were afraid of people’s protests.

Georgian Secret Service is always around but they don’t try to get close to me. I don’t know what will happen now that the war has started, but I was told that I would probably be arrested.

Do you see any ending? That you can say: OK, I don’t have to fight anymore?

Even if Ukraine and Georgia are saved, our struggle will not end. Russia should not exist in the size it currently has because it cannot cooperate with the civilized world. They cannot live with their neighbors. I think Russia should leave the civilized world.

We will fight until Russia is torn to pieces, because Russia is made up of many countries that have been forcibly parted. They don’t want to be a part of Russia, they have nothing to do with Russia. Russia must be torn apart – and we want to join it.

We will participate in every war against Russia, against terrorists. We see from history that there is a war here every ten years; Every ten years there is a war against Russia, against other empires.

But Georgia is still alive, Georgia was never a slave. We are 3.5 million people and no one could break us. We have preserved our religion, identity and history so that they may invade us for a while, but they cannot destroy us. We have a history, we have a religion, we have traditions, and we will fight at all costs.

Source: Seznam Zpravy

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