JAVAKHK, Georgia—A local Armenian activist who had recently aligned himself with Georgia’s opposition party was arrested on June 24 and charged with fraud, reported the Arm-Info news agency.
Georgy Mkhchyan was working in the campaign offices for Georgian Dream Party candidate Bidzina Ivanishvili. Local observers say his arrest was politically motivated, and that Javakhk Armenians who work with opposition forces are being targeted.
On June 3, the police had initiated an investigation into another Javakhk activist, Melik Rayisyan, who was charged with fraud two days after joining the Georgian Dream Party and expressing his support for Ivanishvili.
Investigators from Georgia’s Finance Ministry have accused Mkhchyan of falsifying and forging documents in relation to a land deal. The building on the land in question currently houses the Akhalkalak offices of the Georgian Dream Party.
Speaking to Hetq.am, Rayisyan’s son, Carlos, said that his father was concerned about the increasing Turkification of Javakhk under the current Georgian regime. “He did not want our homeland to be Turkified,” said Rayisyan’s son, adding that his father joined the opposition Georgian Dream Party for that reason.
Until 2004, Rayisyan and his family lived in Akhalkalak. In 2007 they moved to Tbilisi. In the same year, Rayisyan moved to Armenia, while maintaining residences in Tbilisi and Akhalkalak, settling in Armenia permanently in 2008.
For five years, Mkhchyan was Rayisyan’s driver and he, too, joined the Georgian Dream Party, whose headquarters is on a plot owned by Rayisyan.
Mkhchyan’s father, Alik, told Hetq.am that his son’s arrest is politically motivated, asserting that the aim of the authorities was to shut down the Georgian Dream Party offices.
Mkhchyan’s attorney has indicated that the case will not be heard by the judiciary for another two months.
Ivanishvili Akhalkalak campaign manager Goga Zhvania told reporters on June 25 that Georgian authorities were creating immense obstacles for the opening of a campaign office in Javakhk, by closing roads and threatening workers.