Kristine Aghalaryan

Questionable Crawfish: Lake Dispute Continues Pitting Javakhk Armenian Villagers Against MP Ayvazyan

On July 28 the Tbilisi Municipal Court is scheduled to rule on a long-going dispute between residents of the Armenian populated village of Tabatzghour (in the Samtskhe-Javakhk region of Georgia) and Vardan Ayvazyan (an MP in Armenia’s National Assembly who was born in the village).

What’s at stake is who owns the rights to a lake in the village and, by extension, who can fish it.

The dispute dates to 2010 when Vardan Ayvazyan’s company Ldjer Ltd. obtained the right to use a lake in the village to farm fish. He banned locals from catching fish in the lake.

Residents have since taken Ayvazyan to court. They want the lease agreement signed with Ayvazyan’s company invalidated and for the lake to be handed over to the state.

The last court session, on July 8, lasted a mere 30 minutes.

A village resident at the hearing told Hetq that the company representative claimed in court that crawfish dumped in the lake do not eat fingerlings and that they merely serve a sanitary function; eating debris and other detritus.

Residents say their livelihood derived from fishing is being destroyed. At the trial they presented the opinion of an international expert claiming that crawfish indeed destroy fish fry. They argued that this is the main reason for decreasing fish stocks in the lake. The judge said the opinion had been presented late and ruled not to include it as case material.

Residents suspect that Ayvazyan has already called in some favors to influence the judge in the matter.

Village residents say they will appeal the July 28 court verdict if it goes against them.