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Bad Chakhalyan, good Chakhalyan2013-01-29 14:45
On January 24, 32-year-old defender of the interests of Armenian-speaking population of the Georgian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti Vahagn Chakhalyan was released early from prison. He was sentenced in April of 2009 to 10 years in prison. He was charged with illegal purchase, possession and carrying of weapons and "organizing mass disorder, leading to the destabilization of the region". Chakhalyan's relatives, namely his father and his minor brother, who were released after the conclusion of the procedural agreement, had been also detained. The first thing Vahagn did after the release was the visit to the Armenian Church in Avlabari. This is understandable: most of all he is grateful for his release to God. He told the GTimes about this.
- First of all I thank God and Catholicos Karekin II, as well as those who asked for me, and everyone who played a role in my release.
- Mr. Chakhalyan, who do you blame for your detention?
- (Laughs). Well ... I probably would have said that Saakashvili and his regime.
- You claim that you are a victim of the regime of Saakashvili?
- In Akhalkalaki local Georgians speak about you not very flattering. I would even say they do not like you. How do you think, why?
- I do not agree. I saw how they met me upon return. Perhaps they were afraid.
- Afraid of you?
- No, they rather were afraid to contact me. After all, they could be charged of collusion.
- Yes, but we are talking about the Georgians. What kind of collusion you are speaking about?
- I do not know, but in Akhalkalaki I was well treated.
- Have any of influential people asked your release?
- Yes, I have learned about this from the local media. Catholicos of Armenia, local Armenian diocese.
- What are you going to do now, when you are free?
- Continue the fight. At first I'm going to consult with lawyers and human rights activists - I will sue those individuals on account of whom I have suffered. I will require rehabilitation and awarding me the status of political prisoner. Then I will restore the work of the portal and radio.
Georgia Chakhalyan is called differently - "symbol of the fight against the Georgian people", "mastermind of Javakhk separatism", "naked emissary of the Russian military intelligence". He was charged for holding rallies and demonstrations; his "track record" includes vandalism, looting, assault, promoting extremist and separatist ideas, etc., etc. On the other hand, the Armenians of Akhalkalaki are willing to pray for this man for his "just cause". He fought for the right to have a local radio station in the Armenian language, organized the launch of an interactive portal, stood for increasing the number of Armenian schools in the region. Who actually Chakhalyan was?
His lawyer Nino Andriashvili from the human rights organization, in which he asked for help, said in an interview GTimes she fully believed in the innocence of her client.
- What points of the charges against Chakhalyan, in your opinion, have real grounds?
- He has suffered for his political views, for the activity expressed in his everyday activities. He was the leader of "United Javakhk", activist of the portal and radio in Armenian language. His whole activity depends on interpretation. We believe that he is engaged in protecting the rights and interests of the Armenian diaspora.
- That's why you decided to defend him?