Armenian MPs voice support for arrested Georgian Armenian activist
Regnum, Russia
20 Oct 2006

Armenian members of parliament have released a statement in support of one of the leaders of the United Javakhk Democratic Alliance, Vaagn Chakhalyan, which says, in part:

"Armenian members of parliament express their concern and deep anger over Armenia's position in relation to the United Javakhk organization. It is common knowledge that this alliance, which consists mainly of young people, adheres to the position of national ideas, protection of the native language, of Armenian spiritual and cultural values, the protection of rights and a solution to other major problems of the Armenians of Javakhk (the Armenian-populated region of Georgia). It is no accident that on 10 October in Yerevan, over a short period of time, Vaagn Chakhalyan, the activist Gurgen Shirinyan and others were subjected to an organized attack, as a result of which they sustained injuries to their body and were sent to hospital. Gurgen Shirinyan's life was saved thanks to an operation.

Instead of trying to solve a crime committed against national figures, the Armenian law-enforcement bodies decided to punish the victims by "legal" methods, as a result of which the injured Vaagn Chakhalyan was arrested a few hours after the incident by members of the Armenian National Security Service, and two days later was taken into custody on a ridiculous charge of 'illegally crossing the Armenian border'. Consequently, there is clearly a direct shameful link between the attack on national figures and Vaagn Chakhalyan's arrest. In condemning this incident, we demand that the law-enforcement agencies (i) expose those responsible for the crime against the activists of United Javakhk and institute proceedings against them in accordance with the law and (ii) immediately release Vaagn Chakhalyan or at least change his form of preventive punishment of arrest."

The statement was signed by Amayak Ovannisyan, Vazgen Manukyan (leader of the National Democratic Union), Stepan Demirchyan (leader of the Armenian People's Party), Aram Sarkisyan (leader of the Republic Party), Arshak Sadoyan, Viktor Dallakyan, Edmon Tsaturyan, Manuk Gasparyan, Armen Ashotyan (member of the Republican Party of Armenia), Grigor Arutyunyan, Tatul Manaseryan, Stepan Zakaryan and Rafik Petrosyan.

In the evening of 10 October, at about 2200 Moscow time, the vehicle belonging to the leader of the United Javakhk Democratic Alliance, Vaagn Chakhalyan, was stopped by unknown persons as it entered Yerevan. In the vehicle were members of Chakhalyan's family and his friend Gurgen Shirinyan. Vaagn Chakhalyan was dragged out of the car and beaten up and Gurgen Shirinyan sustained knife wounds as a result of the attack.

It will be recalled that at local self-administration elections in Georgia on 5 October, representatives of the United Javakhk movement cast their votes in a municipal sakrebulo [assembly] based on the proportional lists of the Industry Will Save Georgia Party. For four days the Akhalkalaki constituency electoral commission No 40 failed to make public preliminary information regarding the election results. Despite the fact that a deadline of five days had been decided for releasing this information (up to and including 10 October), on 9 October supporters of the movement occupied the building of the constitutional commission (the prefecture of Akhalkalaki District is located there), and later took it by storm. As a result, supporters of the ruling United National Movement used fire arms, and some activists were beaten up and sent to various hospitals.

The incident in the evening of 10 October, as a result of which Gurgen Shirinyan was sent to a Yerevan hospital with knife wounds, is also being linked with the storming of the building of the Akhalkalaki prefecture in which the electoral commission sat.