Couple of hundred protesters in Akhalkalaki, a town in predominately ethnic Armenian populated Samtskhe-Javakheti region, stormed a local court chamber and a building of the Tbilisi State University’s Akhalkalaki branch on March 11.
Initial reason of a protest rally of about couple of hundred people in the center of Akhalkalaki was to demand an immediate and unbiased investigation of a murder of 24-year-old Gevork Gevorkian in Tsalka, Shida Kartli region on March 11. Gevorkian died in a clash, which the local population and some ethnic minority advocacy groups claim was triggered by ethnic reasons. But the Georgian Public Defender strongly denied that ethnic reasons were behind this clash in Tsalka and said on March 11 that it was “an ordinary hooliganism.”
Later, the protesters voiced demands related with the right to conduct the proceedings in courts and in the state structures in Armenian language. Protesters dispersed shortly after the court building and a local branch of the Tbilisi State University were raided.
Khacatur Stepanian, one of the organizers of the protest rally said that storming of the court and university could have been a provocation.
“I can say for sure that nothing of this kind was planned by us. I think it was a provocation, provoked by someone,” Khacatur Stepanian told Imedi television.
A group of non-governmental organizations based in Samtskhe-Javakheti region requested the Georgian leadership to consider possibility of granting the region autonomy with “broad authority for self-governance, including the right to hold elections for all bodies of governance.”