Armenians concerned about officers’ rotation at Russian military bas

Armenians concerned about officers rotation at Russian military base in

Azg web site, Yerevan
19 Oct 04

The 62nd Russian military base in Javakhk [Georgia’s predominantly
Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti Region] is of great economic and
psychological importance to the local ethnic Armenians, as well as
their security.

At the OSCE Istanbul summit in 1999, Moscow consented to resume talks
on withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia. These are the
62nd and 12th military bases stationed in Akhalkalaki and Batumi.

Georgia believes that three years are enough to pull out the troops,
but Moscow claims it needs 11 years.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili went to Moscow, as he said, “to
make friends with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin”. Though the
Georgian president did not mention the military bases in Akhalkalaki
and Batumi at the Moscow meeting, the sides seem to be hardly getting

On the other hand, Russia has been recently “getting rid” of local
Armenians at the 62nd military base in Akhalkalaki. About 500 ethnic
Armenian officers from Javakhk, who served in this military base and
who are Russian citizens, have been transferred to other Russian
military bases. They have been replaced by officers from North
Caucasus republics and other regions of Russia.

[Passage omitted: reactions to the replacement of officers]

Why is Russia changing the ethnic composition of the 62nd military
base? Official Russian sources note that the transfer of 500 ethnic
Armenian officers to other Russian military bases and their
replacement with non-Armenian officers are simply planned
rotation. One can believe or doubt the truthfulness of this
statement. But it is obvious that by transferring 500 Armenian
officers from Javakhk, Russia has made its “contribution” to the
“cleansing” of Javakhk of Armenians. It is beyond reasonable doubt
that the majority of the officers and their families will never return
to their homeland.

And most importantly, great significance has been attached to the
“Armenian factor” for 200 years in the issue of protecting the Russian
empire. However, at the most responsible moments of defeats, Russians
betrayed Armenians leaving them one-to-one against the Turkish
yataghan [a Turkish sword with a curved single-edged blade].

In all probability, Russians will leave Akhalkalaki. However,
consequences of this are more important for us than their
departure. It is important not to fall into the Russian
whirlpool. Otherwise, the Javakhk Armenians and Armenian-Georgian
relations will be threatened.