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Kristine Aghalaryan

Tensions Flare in Tabatzghour: Police Arrest Three, Villagers Blockade Road

Police arrested three people earlier this morning in the Armenian populated community of Tabatzghour (Samtskhe-Javakhk region of Georgia) in the latest flare-up in a long standing battle between local residents and Armenia MP Vardan Ayvazyan regarding fishing rights in the village lake.

Residents then formed a human chain across the road to prevent the three arrested youths from being taken away. The three were later released.

Tabatzghour residents told Hetq that police had been lying in wait around the lake last night to arrest villagers fishing in the lake, the fishing rights of which, were handed over to a company owned by Ayvazyan in 2010.

Ever since, villagers have protested the move, arguing that fishing is a prime revenue source, and have attempted to have the lease agreement revoked in the courts.

“Vardan Ayvazyan sent them in order to detain a few so that people would get scared and stay away from the lake. Residents formed a wall, not allowing the police cars to leave,” said one village resident.

Cars belonging to officials from the ministry of the environment were also on the scene.

On July 28, the Tbilisi Municipal Court refused to accept a suit filed by Tabatzghour residents to have the Georgian government’s lease agreement signed with Ayvazyan’s company Ldjer Ltd. invalidated and for the lake to be handed over to the state.