Putin blasts Georgia for ‘erasing Soviet past’ 22 December 2009, MOSCOW - Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin Tuesday slammed the controversial demolition of a war memorial in Georgia as a plot to erase the common past of the two countries within the Soviet Union. The Russian strongman proposed that the World War II memorial be rebuilt in Moscow, pointedly reminding Georgia that the city was once the shared capital of their united Soviet state. “This is yet another attempt to erase from the collective memory of the people of the former Soviet Union the memory of their common past and of their heroic history,” Putin said in comments broadcast on state television. “I think it’s possible to rebuild this monument in the capital of our once united state: Moscow.” The memorial was demolished in the Georgian city of Kutaisi Saturday on the order of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, provoking vehement protests from Russia. A seven-year-old girl and her mother were accidentally killed in the work to raze the memorial, the Georgian interior ministry said. Georgia, which gained sovereignty with the collapse of the USSR in 1991, has sought to distance itself from its Soviet past since Saakashvili came to power in the 2003 pro-Western “Rose Revolution”. Ties with Russia remain strained since the two countries’ fought a war in August 2008 over the Moscow-backed rebel Georgian region of South Ossetia. Putin has repeatedly expressed his respect for the achievements of the Soviet Union and famously described its collapse as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.