Paata Zakareishvili

Paata Zakareishvili. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A petition calling for Georgia to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics has gathered over 8000 signatures.

The petition was started by local non-governmental organizations. ISFED and Transparency International Georgia do not exclude that there will be rallies against the Sochi Olympics, where four Georgian sportsmen will participate as things now stands.

Paata Zakareishvili, Minister of Reintegration, says the petition should not affect the government’s decision about whether to take part in the Olympics. He told journalists that ‘it is unacceptable to change the decision only because of a torch bearer.’

The Russian Olympic Committee picked a pilot who fought in the Russia-Georgia was in August 2008, as torch bearer. The pilot has been declared a hero in Russia, and the announcement has caused concern among Georgians because Russian soldiers have started moving and reinforcing a de facto border in the conflict zone.

“There are issues when the government better knows what is happening and everything cannot be said,” Zakareishvili said, adding that he respects the signatories of the petition, who have a right to express their opinion.

“This once again shows to the world what type of pressure the Georgian government is under, not only from Russia, which doesn’t want us to participate in the Olympics, but also from society.”