In the last few weeks at about the same time there were reports of attempts to provoke conflicts against local Hungarians and Ukrainians in Ukraine and street fights among Azeris and Svans in Goergia. In both cases are suspected Russian special agencies. The article was prepared for publication by volunteers of the Res Publica – Civic Resilience Center.
In early May, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in Transcarpathia arrested persons who were distributing anti-Hungarian minority posters in Beregovo town with text – “Go away from Ukrainian land! We are giving one week and then will start poisoning you like rats. ” It turned out that these are three locals and two of whom are refugees from Luhansk. As reported by the press service of the SBU men were instructed and paid by Russian special agencies.
SBU officers / Source 5.ua
There were similar incidents in Transcarpathia before as well. In February 2018 unknown persons used to thrown a Molotov cocktail into the building of the Hungarian Cultural Society in Uzhhorod. Last year on YouTube channel was posted a provocative video in which a man in a skier’s mask (balaklava) was threatening local Hungarians. Man was filmed speaking in a front of a red-black flag. Cideo was calling on ethical Hungarians to give up their autonomy.
The SBU press release states: “During the criminal proceedings initiated under Article 161 (2) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine there were arrested suspected persons and done searches in their living places. During searches officers seized various evidence of illegal activity. The allegations were made against all three suspected men. At this moment are being considered pre-trial detention measures.”
Article 161 (2) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the equality of citizens depending on their race, nationality, religious beliefs, disability and other reasons) provides imprisonment for up to 5 years.
Almost at the same time (May 16-17) in town of Dmanisi in Goergia broke out riots between ethnic Azeris and local Svans. The conflict involved a large crowd of people who clashed in between using stones and wooden sticks. No casualties have been reported but at least are known about 5 injured.
Immediately to Dmanisi arrived Minister of the Interior Affairs of Georgia Vakhtang Gomelauri and big police enforcement. However even the police force was doubled they we not able to control so big mass of rioters at once. Situation got stabilized only with arrival of additional police enforcement.
Conflict in Dmanisi / Source civil.ge
The conflict was resolved with help of local unofficial authorities. During negotiations parties agreed on a ceasefire. However, this way of resolving the conflict has been sharply criticized by Khatia Dekanoidze, a member of the United National Movement Party. She said that Georgian government had settled the matter using “mafia methods” rather than legal ones – “We still don’t have any official information on how many individuals have been detained by police, questioned or who organized the riots”.
Police is blocking road entrance to Dmanisi on May 17. / Source civil.ge
Although the primary cause of the conflict at first glance seems to be purely economic, Sergio Chikhladze, a member of Strategy Agmashenebeli party said that there might be Russian involvement behind riots in Dmanisi with a purpose to start ethnic confrontation in Georgia. He called on the authorities to “respond in a timely manner, to evaluate all threats and prevent similar incidents in the future”.
The Azerbaijani embassy in Tbilisi has warned not to politicize the event. Embassy stated that incident should be assessed only by the relevant authorities Organizers of riots should be prosecuted in accordance with Georgia law and added that the embassy closely works with Georgia authorities “to avoid any negative consequences of this unpleasant event.” Embassy also addressed to local Azeris “not to give up to provocations, not to involve in this matter any politics and act responsibly.”
Cover illustration: SBU revealed criminals who distributed anti-Hungarian leaflets in Transcarpathia / pravda.com.ua photo.
Sources about Ukraine and Georgia, pdf