Russia Claims Ethnic Armenians Demand Autonomy in Samtskhe-Javakheti

The Russian Foreign Ministry (MID) claimed in its human rights report that ethnic Armenians “have been raising the issue of autonomy for Samtskhe-Javakheti for a long time,” while ethnic Azeris in Georgia’s Kvemo-Kartli region “are demanding wider representatation in local government bodies where all the main posts are held by Georgians.”

The report, published on July 8, argued that the participation of ethnic Armenian and Azeri citizens in Georgia’s public and political life “remains extremely low,” which leads to the “representatives of ethnic diasporas to express their desire for greater independence.” It highlighted the “isolation of small ethnic groups and their alienation from the Georgian majority” as one of the key “issues” in Georgia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed the “main problem” of Georgia’s ethnic minorities is “still the lack of knowledge” of the Georgian language, and dubbed the official measures in this regard as “insufficient.”

The document also claimed, albeit without providing evidences or examples, that “there have been numerous cases of vandalism against” Armenian churches.

Citing “international monitoring structures,” the MID noted that “there are cases of physical attacks on representatives of ethnic and religious minorities in Georgia, and xenophobic and discriminatory statements by government officials and political party representatives.”

As an example of such attitudes, the MID highlighted “artificial Russophobic sentiments in the country,” and “June 2019, when radicals attacked Russian journalists.” It was not immediately clear which “attacks” the Russian Foreign Ministry referred to, however.

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