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Tbilisi Armenians 'Not Taking Sides' In Georgian Standoff

Most of Georgia's Armenian groups are trying to steer clear of the demonstrations in the country.
TBILISI -- The leader of the Armenian community in Tbilisi says its members are doing their best to remain neutral in the current standoff between Georgian authorities and the opposition, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Arnold Stepanian, head of the Assembly of Armenians of Tbilisi, told RFE/RL on May 25 that he is very skeptical about statements by Georgian opposition leaders who say the protest actions are entering "their most decisive moment."

"In fact, the number of the protesters is not that large and the radical opposition's statements about the situation cannot be [considered] correct either from the moral or from the constitutional point of view," Stepanian said.

Stepanian added that there are some Armenians among the protesters in Tbilisi, but that diaspora bodies are trying to stay out of the stand-off, despite efforts by opposition activists to draw Armenians into the protests.

Stepanian also said that the assembly will try to avoid a situation similar to that in November 2007, when some Tbilisi Armenians expressed their support for Georgian opposition groups on behalf of the assembly, thereby putting some Georgian officials of Armenian origin in a very embarrassing position.

Two of the more radical Georgian opposition groupings launched protests in Tbilisi and Batumi on May 21. But several other opposition groups have stayed away.

Armenians account for 5.7 percent of Georgia's general population of almost 4 million.

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