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Ombudsman Rules Out Ethnic Motives Behind Tsalka Clash
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 11 Mar.'06 / 19:11

Georgian Public Defender Sozar Subari said on Saturday that a clash in Tsalka, Kvemo Kartli region, on March 9 which resulted into death of Gevork Gevorkian, 24, and injury of four other young men, was a result of “an ordinary hooliganism” which has nothing to do with ethnic confrontation as claimed by the local population in Tsalka and some minority advocacy groups.

At a joint news conference ethnic minority advocacy group Multinational Georgia and union of ethnic Armenians in Georgia “Nor Serund” condemned the incident and demanded from the authorities an immediate and unbiased investigation of the case.

Maria Mikoian of the “Nor Serund” said that clash erupted after a group of Georgian young men irritated by the Armenian music in a restaurant in Tsalka attacked ethnic Armenian young men.

“Unfortunately ethnic confrontation more and more often becomes a reason behind criminal acts in Tsalka,” Agit Mirzoev, executive director of the Multinational Georgia, said.

But Public Defender dismissed this reason as groundless. “Our representatives traveled there and probed into the case. We can say that this dispute has nothing to do with ethnic confrontation… Law enforcers should immediately investigate the case and persecute those who are guilty,” Sozar Subari said on March 11.

Police said on March 10 that five suspects were arrested.

Meanwhile a group of about 200 local residents rallied in the town of Akhalkalaki in Samtskhe-Javakheti region which is predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, on March 11, the Georgian media sources reported. Protesters demanded a fair investigation of the Tsalka incident.

Clashes between the locals erupt sporadically in recent years in Tsalka district with population of 20 000. Ethnic Armenians comprise 57% of population, according to the Georgian department of statistics.  4,500 ethnic Greeks, 2,500 ethnic Georgians and up to 2,000 Azerbaijanis also live there.

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