TBILISI—The Armenian Diocese of Georgia called on President Mikheil Saakashvili and his United National Movement party to refrain from making provocative statements in relation to amnestied or released prisoners.
The announcement comes days after Saakashvili publicly criticized the release of Armenian political prisoner Vahagn Chakhalyan, calling him an enemy of the state and a Russian operative.
Below is the text of the announcement:
Armenian Diocese calls upon Saakashvili and other leaders of the UNM to abstain from provocative statements.
The release of political prisoners and other amnestied persons, including Vahagn Chakhalyan caused furious reactions from the opposition party, United National Movement. During the last weeks, and especially yesterday their representatives have been making incorrect statements, trying thus to disseminate anti-Armenian sentiments in the multinational Georgian society.
President Mikheil Saakashvili and Secretary General of the UNM Vano Merabishvili stated that Vahagn Chakhalyan, whom they had imprisoned on political grounds, was a separatist, agent of foreign intelligence services and an enemy of the Georgian state. With such frank statements the President and former Minister of Interior recognized that when the UNM was in power justice practically did not exist. If Chakhalyan was truly a separatist and an agent then the question would be why was he not judged in accordance to the appropriate articles of the Penal Code in Georgia? This paradox has only one explanation: during its years in power, the former government had been using the system of justice against its political opponents.
Moreover, President Saakashvili allowed himself to mention the name of His Holiness, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, saying that Vahagn Chakhalyan was liberated upon His Holiness’ request. We would like to highlight that this request was based on humanistic beliefs and had originated from Chakhalyan’s parents’ appeal which could not have remained without the attention of the Spiritual Pastor of All Armenians. Secondly, Mr. Chakhalyan was included in the amnesty, as he was accused of crimes covered by the law of Georgia “On amnesty” entered into force on January 12.
During the recent days President Saakashvili has repeatedly mentioned the surname of another former political prisoner Armen Gevorgyan, who was equally accused by the President of espionage. Is that really so that from the list of 200 political prisoners Saakashvili could read exceptionally these surnames and reproduce them for certain reasons? It should be mentioned that as we know His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II himself solicited the President in favor of Armen Gevorgyan’s release.
The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia condemns the above mentioned actions and statements and calls upon the politicians to refrain from using them for their short-term political objectives. These issues directly affect the peace and calmness in our multiethnic Motherland, as well as relations between the brotherly Georgian and Armenian nations.
We are convinced that despite all political or other circumstances, our nations will continue strengthening and deepening good-neighborly and fraternal relations. Ethnically Armenian citizens of Georgia were and will continue to be devoted sons of Georgia.