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Unrest In Javakheti

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  • Unrest In Javakheti


    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Akhalkalaki, the main town in the predominantly Armenian-populated and Armenia-bordered Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia, was the site of an anti-government protest rally on October 5. The incident reaffirmed that this turbulent region remains unstable, despite the Georgian government's efforts to normalize the situation there.

    The unrest began after tax officials from Tbilisi, conducting a routine inspection of local retailers, closed 10 shops for financial irregularities. The shop owners, mostly ethnic Armenians, and about 300 supporters, evidently influenced by local provocateurs, gathered outside the Akhalkalaki district administration building to protest the alleged violation of the Armenians' rights. The protestors's complaints quickly moved from economic issues to political demands such as stopping the closure of Russian military bases and granting political autonomy for the region.

    Local police dispersed the rally using rubber truncheons and firing shots in the air. The clash between the authorities and the protesters left several people injured. The police efforts to break up the rally instead prompted more residents of Akhalkalaki and nearby villages to join the protest, making the situation even tenser.

    Civic groups based in Samtskhe-Javakheti, as well as some Russian sources, have alleged that the government deliberately planned the brutal end to the protest in order to intimidate the local Armenian population following local demands for political autonomy in the region. A council of local non-governmental organizations, meeting September 23-24, adopted a resolution calling on the Georgian government to grant autonomy to the region (see EDM, September 29).

    Javakhk-Info, the local news agency, distributed a bellicose statement by regional Armenian non-governmental organizations saying that the aggressive behavior by the Georgian authorities towards the region's ethnic Armenians leaves them "no other choice than the use of force to protect their interests and dignity" (Regnum, October 5). However, a source in Georgian law enforcement told Kavkas Press that the police shot into the air only after one of the protesters had taken a shot first (Kavkas Press October 5).

    Giorgi Khachidze, the presidentially appointed governor of the region, managed to calm the angry crowd through negotiations. Khachidze criticized the police for excessive use of force and promised to hold some of them accountable. "In my opinion, they had no right to fire shots, even in the air," he said (TV-Rustavi-2, October 6). Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili hailed the police actions, saying, "there is no serious problem" and emphasizing that law-enforcement officials were merely maintaining order in a region that had been poorly controlled in recent years (TV-Imedi, October 6).

    Saakashvili and other Georgian officials have tried to downplay the latest events in Akhalkalaki, claming that the radical organizations advocating autonomy for the region do not enjoy serious popular support.

    Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told the Armenian newspaper Aikakan Jamanak that Tbilisi welcomes autonomy for Javakheti so long as that means no more than ordinary self-governance. Merabishvili said he is not interested in the Javakheti civic groups expressing political ambitions. "We are going to listen to the elected deputies," he said (Regnum, October 6-7).

    A diplomatic warning from Yerevan snapped the Georgian authorities out of their complacency. On October 8, Garnik Isagulian, national security aide to Armenian President Robert Kocharian, warned Tbilisi to show restraint when dealing with the predominantly Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti. Of the October 5 clash, Isagulyan commented, "Georgian authorities should be extremely cautious and attentive in their actions, because any minor provocation could turn into a large-scale clash." Isagulian also dismissed rumors about Russian intelligence playing a role in recent events in Samtskhe-Javakheti (Regnum, Civil Georgia, October 8). However, the Russian media's wide and largely biased coverage of the October 5 unrest in Akhalkalaki, routinely voicing the Kremlin's position, suggests that Russia is not a mere observer.

    Georgian media have long speculated that Russia and several radical Armenian groups are behind the provocations in Javakheti. Van Baiburt, an Armenian member of the Georgian parliament, confirmed this in an interview with Meanwhile, Levon Mkrtichyan, from the Armenian Dashnaktsutiun party, one of the alleged supporters of the Javakheti radical organizations, insisted that Javakheti Armenians advocate only for cultural autonomy.

    The Armenian newspapers are increasingly linking the recent unrest in Samtskhe-Javakheti with the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway, which bypasses Armenia. They suggest that as Georgia increases its ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia may be left isolated. Armenian papers also argue that if Georgia's national interests conflict with those of Armenia, Tbilisi "should not be astonished at the eruption of a natural _expression of self-preservation and self-defense among the Samtskhe-Javakheti population."

    As the problem becomes increasingly complicated, Tbilisi will be forced to act. When he visited Armenia on September 29-30, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli stated that Georgia would not implement any programs directed against Armenia. Meanwhile, Nogaideli publicly underlined that regional autonomy in Georgia is only available for Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Ajaria.

    Nogaideli's Armenian trip, coming on the heels of the demands for autonomy in Samstkhe-Javakheti, suggests that stability in Samtskhe-Javakheti greatly depends on Yerevan's good will, as Tbilisi has always appealed to the Armenian government to mediate serious disturbances in the region. Saakashvili's government, which inherited the unresolved problems of Samtskhe-Javakheti from former president Eduard Shevardnadze, follows the same pattern. Saakashvili, like Shevardnadze, strives to resolve the region's problems with short-term decisions (see EDM, March 23, May 24, August 3). Meanwhile, Yerevan is gaining more leverage to manage the situation in Samtskhe-Javakheti and may be clandestinely urging Tbilisi to reconcile itself to this fact.

  • #2
    Unknown organization threatens to massacre Armenians of Akhaltsikha

    12.10.2005 18:08

    YEREVAN (YERKIR) - Leaflets in Russian were posted on the buildings of Akhalkalak on the early hours of October 12, signed by an unknown organization calling itself Brigade of Akhaltsikhe Liberation, and depicting Turkish symbol of crescent and star.

    The leaflets urge Armenian of Akhlatsikha to "move to Armenia, Russia, United States or else were. Otherwise, you will be massacred like your ancestors in 1915."

    On October 12, the Akhalkalak District Assembly invited to its session the heads of the prosecutor's office, police and state security service to hear explanations. The Assembly instructed the officials to find out those responsible for dissemination the leaflets and make a relevant statement.

    Though the threats targeted the Akhaltsikha residents, no such leaflets were found in Akhaltsikha or Ninotsminda.


    • #3
      Recurrent Attempt to Tense Situation in Samtskhe-Javakhetia

      /PanARMENIAN.Net/ As PanARMENIAN.Net came to know from A-info agency, on October 12 night in the town of Akhalkalaki of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia unknown persons stuck leaflets signed by some “Akhaltsikhe Liberation Brigade” to the walls of buildings. The leaflets tell the Armenian population “to immediately abandon the region and go to Armenia, Russia or America.” “Otherwise you will be subjected to genocide like your ancestors in 1915”, the leaflets say. The Council of the Armenian organizations of Samtskhe-Javakhetia and the majority of the Akhaltsikhe residents rated it as a recurrent attempt to provoke the Armenian population of the region, since tension of the situation is not profitable either for the Armenian or Georgian party.


      • #4
        I hope they can resolve this, I would hate for my first trip to this historical Armenian province occupied by Georgia to be for purposes of Liberation

        Blessed are the Crusaders!
        [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hovik
          I hope they can resolve this, I would hate for my first trip to this historical Armenian province occupied by Georgia to be for purposes of Liberation

          Blessed are the Crusaders!

          Yes indeed, I hope we don’t have to show these people once again, what Armenians made of, I hope everything will be settled in peace, but if no, we are ready for them.
          If they harm one Armenian they will see the real “Armenian Jihad..!!!!”
          And I’m sure they will run away like always, with their tails between their legs, start crying and saying Armenians are the aggressors.

          Let the world be the witness of these threats


          • #6
            Armenians Of Georgia Complaining Again

            Today the Union of Armenians in Georgia «New Generation» and the residents of the Marneul region Armenian village Qudro rendered a press conference in order to represent their problems to the journalists. {BR}

            The residents of the village complain that the lands near the village cultivated by them for long years have been given to the citizen of Georgia David Tsintsadze. According to them, they have not been aware of the upcoming auction, which has been organized with a number of violations. The residents of the village mention that they have been paying the rent regularly.

            What is most important is that the residents are indignant over the announcements of the new owners of the land that the residents of the village must not take measures against them and they must not forget that they are not Georgians. The organizers of the press conference look upon this fact as application of law with criminal aims and manifestation of national discrimination.

            The residents of the village have sent a number of letters to several Georgian officials but they have received no answer. The members of the «New Generation» Union announced today that if the problem is not paid attention to, they will apply to the President of the country Michael Sahakashvili with the request to resign the governor of Marneul region of his post.



            • #7
              Moscow Sacrifices Armenia to Destroy Georgia



              • #8
                Head Of Adjaria To Arrive In Yerevan


                Pan Armenian
                24.10.2005 22:46 GMT+04:00

                /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Head of the Republic of Ajaria (Georgia) Levan
                Varshalomidze will arrive in Yerevan on a 2-day working visit
                October 24.

                The purpose of the visit is the strengthening of relations between
                Batumi and Yerevan. Levan Varshalomidze is scheduled to meet with
                President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan, Mayor
                of Yerevan Yervand Zakharyan and other officials. The possibility of
                Armenia's participation in privatization of industrial enterprises
                and ground areas in Ajaria as well as the restoration of direct air
                and railway communication between Batumi and Yerevan with a view to
                develop tourism and economic cooperation will be as well discussed,
                reported IA Regnum.
                [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]


                • #9
                  Official comments on "notorious" anti-Armenian leaflets in Georgia

                  Official comments on "notorious" anti-Armenian leaflets in Georgia

                  Hayots Ashkarh, Yerevan
                  3 Nov 05

                  Excerpt from report by Vaan Vardanyan entitled "What are they passed
                  about in Javahkh?" from Armenian newspaper Hayots Ashkarh on 3
                  November An interview with Stepan Markaryan, deputy chairman of the
                  Mighty Homeland party and an adviser to the prime minister [Andranik
                  Markaryan]. He comments on the situation in Javakheti
                  [Armenian-populated region in Georgia] today.

                  [Interviewer] Mr Markaryan, you have recently visited
                  Samtskhe-Javakheti, what is the situation there after the scattering
                  of the notorious anti-Armenian leaflets? Have the initiators been

                  [Stepan Markaryan] No, they have not. There is no official information
                  about this. There were hints in the Georgian press that the "event"
                  had a Russian link, but this is just a supposition. The people in
                  Samtskhe-Javakheti are waiting for official explanation.

                  [Correspondent] Are the local residents worried about this?

                  [Markaryan] Naturally, they are. At first sight, the scattering of
                  leaflets seems to be primitive, but I see deeper tendencies. The
                  leaflets were written on behalf of Meskhetian Turks and were directed
                  at the Armenian population of Akhaltsikhe, but were circulated in
                  Akhalkalaki. This had its own purpose because the people of
                  Akhalkalaki are more active in their national and public life.

                  [Correspondent] Is the problem of Meskhetian Turks' resettlement in
                  Samtskhe-Javakheti so obvious?

                  [Markaryan] This is the wrong way to put this question. [Passage
                  omitted: the history of the Meskhetian Turk community since 1944]. The
                  Meskhetian Turks should be resettled in the Aspindza District between
                  Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikhe and in Adigeni District near Akhaltsikhe.

                  [Correspondent] But both of them are populated by Georgians.

                  [Markaryan] Yes, since 1944 Georgian authorities populated these
                  regions by Georgians and naturally their resettlement by Meskhetian
                  Turks is not possible. The Georgian authorities are really in a
                  difficult situation, as it is impossible to imagine that the Georgian
                  or Armenian population of these districts would leave.

                  [Correspondent] What is the attitude of the Samtskhe-Javakheti
                  population towards the programme to build a railway from Kars [in
                  Turkey] to Akhalkalaki?

                  [Markaryan] There is some anxiety. Although this will give a boost to
                  the economy, it will at the same time facilitate the Turkish economic
                  involvement and later will create an opportunity for demographic
                  changes, especially if we add the factor of Meskhetian Turks and the
                  fact that this is a programme to isolate Armenia.

                  [Correspondent] Which of the three parties are the most interested in
                  Armenia's isolation?

                  [Markaryan] When the name of the programme was changed and it was
                  called Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railway, it became a regional
                  programme. Azerbaijan is not going to profit from that in a big way,
                  but as this is a programme that isolates Armenia, it is favourable to
                  Azerbaijan. Georgia is basically indifferent to it because it needs a
                  railway link to the West. I think that Turkey is the most interested
                  party because it may solve two problems: first, that of isolating
                  Armenia, and second, the problem of developing its economy and its
                  poorly developed eastern regions.

                  There is no trouble-free, functioning north-south railway link and
                  this project may create one. If we also add that Turkey has a railway
                  link with Iran, with this programme the north-south and east-west
                  communications will go via Turkey and this promises big economic
                  profits. In this case, the Kars-Gyumri sector of the railway would
                  become unpromising, and also the railway that goes to Iran via
                  Naxcivan would lose its significance, because Turkey would get an
                  opportunity to communicate with Azerbaijan via Georgia as well as via
                  Iran. For this reason, the reopening of the Kars-Gyumri railway is
                  becoming vitally significant and the European Union pressure on Turkey
                  in this matter is becoming more objective.
                  [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]


                  • #10
                    Series of Anti-Armenian Incidents in Stavropol Kray

                    (November 21, 2005)

                    Armenian cultural monuments continue to be targeted by vandals and arsonists in the Stavropol region. According to a November 14, 2005 report by the Interfax news agency, in the early morning hours of the 13th, security cameras at the Armenian cultural center in Pyatigorsk, Russia (Stavropol region) recorded a man throwing a Molotov xxxxtail through the window of the center, shortly after two of his comrades painted the words “Allah Akbar!” (“God is great!” in Arabic) on the walls. The attempt to burn down the building was unsuccessful. Police are investigating the incident.

                    Meanwhile, the Armenian community in Budyonnovsk, another city in the Stavropol region, have decided not to restore an Armenian Apostolic Church cross which serves as a monument to the city's founders, after it was vandalized for the third time this year. According to a November 11, 2005 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center, a local Armenian community leader told the press: “If there are forces which prefer not a symbol of Russian-Armenian friendship, but its ruins, then let the ruins stay there.”