The messenger logo

Police diffuse tension in Akhaltsikhe

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 2
A clash took place between a State Security Service staff and locals in the country’s Akhaltsikhe region when a group of youngsters tried to get into the territory of a temple in the list of country’s cultural heritage.

Residents of the Kumurdo village claimed they wanted to get inside the temple territory to bury the bones of their ancestorsin the yard of the cultural heritage site.

The bones were discovered in the process of archaeological excavations.

“It is our obligation and our custom to respect and bury the bones of our ancestors,” some of the Kumurdo residents told the media.

The situation became complicated when the security police did not allow the parish of the Armenian Church(the village is inhabited by ethnic Armenians) in the church yard to bury the bones and erect a stone cross on the grave.

The parish believed that the bones belonged to the people who were collectively shot dead by the Soviet regime.

Local media reported that the security guards called the police and some locals threw stones at the police.

Interior Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and stated later the incident had been concluded peacefully.

He also promised the locals that two Kumurdo residents detained during the clash would be released.

Later, the police stated that the two people had only been summoned for questioning and they were released after the procedure.

The head of Georgia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Agency, Nikoloz Antidze, stated that the Kumurdo temple was no point of controversy between the Georgian and Armenian churches and that the temple was a part of Georgia’s cultural heritage, having been built in 964.

He announced that the bones on the territory of the temple were found last year, with the presence of bullet holes and spent ammunition cartridges indicating that the bones belonged to the people shot dead en masse.

“Both Georgians, Armenians and others could be among the people, as the Soviet regime used force in such situations without differentiating between ethnicities,” Antidze said.

He announced that the bones would be temporarily buried near the fence of the temple, outside of the cultural heritage site.