Georgians and Armenians fight in Tbilisi centerA serious incident based on ethnic enmity took place near the Surb Echmiadzin Armenian Church, one of the rare operating Armenian churches in Georgia, in the center of Tbilisi. Several dozens of people were involved in it, including clergy. It is the first serious conflict in the historic Armenian Avlabar quarter.
Of course, it is difficult to say what the real reason for the fight was. The sides have opposite views on the conflict. The chairman of the Georgian Eparchy of the Armenian Church, Levon Isakhanyan, told journalists that “everything started from a failed attempt to leave a territory neighboring the church by a lady driving a car.” It seems her car was blocked by a car of a clergyman. The clergy was in the church at a baptismal ceremony.
As she couldn’t get out, the lady,who apparently lives nearby, started shouting. Her neighbors – Georgians – came to help her. According to Levon Isakhanyan, they started to insult the Armenians, and a fight with church members who were standing in the yard started. The Georgians say that everything started from an insult from the aforementioned lady.
Some time later about 50 Georgians approached the church. According to Isakhanyan, “they had various weapons.” A serious fight began. Participants in the baptismal ceremony heard noise and ran outside. The fight became very serious. However, the police managed to pull the parties apart.
Nobody was seriously hurt, some of the fighters were bruised. But the interesting thing is that members of the clergy of the Curb Echmiadze Church were actively involved in the fight.
The Armenian Eparchy of Georgia made a statement about “a serious incident based on ethnic hatred.” The document says that “about 50 people attacked church members and clergy; they were well-organized, and some of them had cold steel weapons.” The statement says that “unknown people in expensive suits watched the fight from the side.” This is a hint about the involvement of officials in the incident.
“We call on the law-enforcement agencies of Georgia to consider the incident to be a crime based on ethnic and religious hatred,” the statement says. Its authors stress that the incident “is a result of anti-Armenian statements by some social activists and religious activists of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which are spread by the Georgian mass media.”
The Georgian authorities are trying to diminish public reaction to the incident, referring to “the domesticnature” of the fight, but Armenian clergy state that they were insulted for their ethnicity.