ARMENIANS PROTEST AGAINST WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM GEORGIA

Channel One TV, Moscow
30 May 06

[Presenter] Many believe that Russia's presence in the Caucasus is the
best guarantee against interethnic conflicts. Several hundred people
in Yerevan today staged an action of protest against the withdrawal
of Russian troops from the Akhalkalaki base in the Georgian region
of Samtskhe-Javakheti, where quite a few Armenians live. According
to those taking part in the rally, experience shows that as soon as
Russians leave a place, Armenians leave it too.

Instances of clashes between Armenians and Meskhetian Turks
who are arriving in the region have become more frequent in
Samtskhe-Javakheti. Under an agreement reached between Moscow and
Tbilisi, the Russian servicemen will be withdrawn from the Akhalkalaki
base by the end of next year.

[Aram Karapetyan, leader of the Armenian New Times party] I think
our aim now is just to raise the issue and make it clear that serious
changes may take place in Javakheti after the Russian base moves out.

Very serious destabilizing factors may appear there because it will
be very difficult to talk about any stabilization after the base is
pulled out.