Armenian ethnic leader blames Georgia for misreporting soccer incide

Armenian ethnic leader blames Georgia for misreporting soccer incident

Yerkir, Yerevan
21 May 04

Text of S. Akopyan’s report by Armenian newspaper Yerkir on 21 May
headlined “The Tsalka events are presented in a distorted way”

The co-chairman of the unregistered Virk Party, editor of Akunk
newspaper, Mels Torosyan, comments on the Tsalka events on 6 May
[clashes between ethnic Georgians and Armenians during a football match
in Tsalka, southern Georgia]. He said that the local authorities and
law-enforcement agencies, as well as the central authorities in Tbilisi
and the Georgian mass media present distorted events to the public.

The reality is the following: after the victory of our young football
players, 50 or 60 Ajarians entered the pitch and started beating up
Armenian children. The incident took place in the regional centre which
is not populated by Armenians. The Armenians who were present there
went to the Armenian villages that are 10km away from the regional
centre and asked for help, after which a big clash took place.

The distortion of facts started after that. Tbilisi’s Imeti TV
company presented the event as an armed conflict and aired a video
report. But in reality, nobody was filming the events, there was not
even a camera. It became clear that the video report was about an
armed conflict that recently took place between the local Svan and
Ajarian residents.

Immediately after the conflict, the Ajarians went to Tbilisi and
organized a protest demonstration. And the police immediately
supported them.

According to Torosyan, this event is not the only one in Ajaria, there
have been many events of the sort. “Certainly, it is not a coincidence,
but a reality planned by the authorities, which aims to cleanse
Georgia of ethnic minorities. There are all grounds to think so.”

The current and previous authorities differ only by one feature:
“The current leaders create ethnic conflicts under the cover of
friendship, while [ex-Georgian President Zviad] Gamsakhurdia’s
government acted under the slogan ‘Georgia only for the Georgians’,”
Torosyan said. Incidentally, the chairwoman of the Georgian parliament,
Nino Burjanadze, believes that the problem was raised on the basis
of everyday conflicts and rules out an ethnic aspect. In doing so,
the authorities are trying to avert a possible wave of protests that
the incident might cause.

The police are trying to find weapons. There is a question: why was
there no investigation after the conflict between the Ajarians and
Svans and why were guns not confiscated? It was only announced that
the Armenians were armed. Torosyan thinks that this is also national

“It is time to talk about all the problems openly, it is time to raise
political, economic, ethnic and other problems, organize discussions
and make compromises to settle the problems. The time when everybody
acted secretly and hid the truth has passed.”