By Ruben Meloyan
Scores of residents of Georgia’s Javakheti region protested near the Armenian-Georgian border on Monday demanding that border crossing procedures be simplified for the province’s Armenian population.
The participants of the action held upon the initiative of the United Javakhk organization claimed that the border connecting the Armenian-populated Georgian province with Armenia is becoming ‘a strictly controlled dividing line’ and blamed official Yerevan for continuing to raise obstacles on the border.
The organization denounced the Armenian authorities for their policy of ‘cutting and alienating the Armenians of Javakheti from the homeland’ and demanded that psychologically pressuring obstacles at the borders and the customs house be removed.
“The border between Javakhk and Armenia must be transparent and conventional,” Armenians of Javakheti say, adding that the issue should deserve the attention of Armenia’s executive and legislative bodies and that a corresponding law should be adopted.
According to Georgian MP David Rstakian, the protestors expressed their indignation also that Armenia’s law-enforcement agencies have not yet dropped the charges against United Javakhk board member Vahagn Chakhalian for “illegally crossing the state border of Armenia.” They also expressed their anger over Chakhalian’s being unable to return to Javakheti despite his release from custody.
Chakhalian was taken to custody and charged with illegally entering Armenia on October 11.
Chakhalian, a citizen of Georgia, was released from custody on October 30, but was confined to city boundaries with a written undertaking he signed.
Chakhalian’s lawyer Tigran Hayrapetian told RFE/RL that his client’s case had been sent to court. He said the court is to decide within 15 days whether to accept the case or dismiss it.
The lawyer said it was still unclear to them for what ‘illegal actions’ his client spent about 20 days in the pre-trial detention prison of the National Security Service.
Back then prosecutors insisted that Chakhalian illegally crossed the border at the Bavra check point. Therefore, the lawyer says, the workers of the border check point who allowed Chakhalian’s entrance into Armenia should also have been punished. For that very reason, according to Hayrapetian, it is said in the newly formulated charges that in crossing Armenia’s state border Chakhalian used devious ways.
Hayrapetian said this gives him reasons to hope that the court will acquit his client or dismiss the case against him.