Russian Paper Predicts Heightened Tensions in Javakhk

JAVAKHK (Combined Sources)–A recent conflict between Georgians and ethnic Armenia’s living in the mostly Armenian populated region of Javakhk in Georgia was covered by the Russian newspaper Pravda–which wrote–"While at first glance the incident appears insignificant–it can potentially become a grave problem for Georgia."

The paper writes that until now–stability in the region has been maintained because of the Russian military base there. "But once the Russian servicemen leave the region–serious ethnic and economic problems will emerge–which Georgia is unable–and unwilling to cope."

According to the Russian newspaper–Ria Novosti–the residents of the Armenian-populated town of Akhalkalak–in Javakhk–attacked a local branch of Tbilisi State University on Sunday–shattering windows and breaking furniture. They also attacked Georgian students–after learning that they had "cleaned up an abandoned church and surrounding grounds–located in the remote village of Samsa."

The chairman of Javakhk’s Virk party–however–said those reports are not accurate. Tavit Rstakian told Radio Liberty that student and a representative of the Georgian church in Javakhk entered the church with tools and began to desecrate Armenian inscriptions by removing stones. Armenian women at the church began to protest their actions–and were subsequently thrown out by the students.

A local source was quoted by the Regnum news agency as saying that Armenia’s were deeply offended by the developmen’s and rose to defend the church from being seized by Georgians.

A police investigation has been launched under the law on religious intolerance.

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