Samtskhe-Javakheti residents raided custom houses
at the Armenian-Georgian border

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On December 11, another incident occurred in the Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia. The reason was a resent dismissal of all the ethnic Armenians from the customs office near the village of Zhdanovakan at the Armenian-Georgian border. They were replaced by Georgian custom officers from other regions of Georgia. As for many local residents their work in the custom house was the only income, and the appointment of the Georgian officers was regarded as an intention to toughen the regime for carrying foodstuffs through the border, it caused mass disorders among the population.

As a REGNUM correspondent reports, in the morning of December 11, hundreds of local residents rallied near the custom and border stations at the border of Georgia and Armenia. They appealed to the Samtskhe-Javakheti governor asking to come to the scene and investigate the situation. However, after the governor declined to come, a quarrel of the residents with the Georgian custom officials and frontier guards occurred. As a result, the Georgian officers had to live the check-points that were then partially destroyed. However, a group of the civilians then came to the Armenian check-point which was also damaged. Local residents explained their actions by the fact that along with the hard economic situation and unbearable conditions of life, the region is in reality half-blockaded and actions of the custom officials at the Georgian as well as at the Armenian border make the situation even worse. In Javakheti, physical and climate are conditions very complicated and the population's activity depends strongly on food and goods supplies from the outside, which mostly come from Armenia. By their actions, they want to draw attention of the Georgian authorities as well as the Armenian authorities to the bad economic situation in the area.

As the REGNUM correspondent was told by representatives of the local non-governmental political organizations, the current forced and spontaneous rallies are “caused by continuing discriminating actions of the Georgian authorities.”

“We hope for an adequate reaction of the Georgian and Armenian leadership, who should understand that in the unbearable social and economic situation local residents have to react somehow not to let the situation become even worse,” said one of the rally initiators.

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13:01 12/12/2005