Armenia — Municipal elections have started in capital Yerevan on Sunday. Voters will elect an elderly council which will in turn elect the Mayor of Yerevan for the first time in over a decade. The elections held on proportional party lists are the most significant political event since the troubled presidential elections in 2008 which ended in violence on the streets of Yerevan.
The tension is high, as elected mayor will represent about half of Armenia’s population and will be in charge of the formidable budget from the largest community in Armenia – Yerevan, where most of the key businesses are located (roughly 50% of Armenia’s economic activity is concentrated in Yerevan according to IMF data). The Yerevan Mayor is thus set to become the most powerful elected executive official after president.
Following a pre-election campaign marred with violence not only between the opposition and the authorities, but also two major pro-government parties: the Republican party and the “Prosperous Armenia”, (hopefully for good), more than 770 thousand registered voters cast ballots to decide which of the 6 parties and 1 pre-election pact will receive the majority sits in elderly council.
So far everything seems normal – with Public TV of Armenia painting the rosy picture of the most democratic elections in the world, while opposition cries fowl and claims all sorts of violations. Business as usual…
Gagik Tsarukian, 23, has been detained in Gyumri on charges of attempting to forge 1000 AMD notes. The Gyumri inhabitant has admitted to making a printing machine, printing and using at least 2 banknotes.
The reason this story from A1plus attracted my attention (and probably yours too), is because this young man from Gyumri is the namesake of the richest Armenian oligarch – Gagik Tsarukian, owner of a range of businesses, founder of “Prosperous Armenia” party.
Days before the first ever municipal elections in Yerevan several bloggers have noticed that the municipal authorities are doing major road construction works, fixing street lightes, renovating backyards.
Reporter_arm has put together his notes on what the Armenian blogosphere has to say about the pre-election race, this sudden push by the authorities to finally start doing some of their responsibilities and more.
The ‘film directors’ taking part in the “one minute one shot” film festival were either not taking it seriously, or they are mostly deprived of basic imagination and directing skills. That is the conclusion I arrived at after viewing about 90 films – that were given to me to evaluate as I took participated in the ‘journalistic jury’ for the event.
The festival itself, organized by the Armenian Center for contemporary experimental art, sounds like a great idea. From what I understood, the task is to create a 1 minute video piece without any editing – and in that one shot to try and tell a lot. Continue reading →
Armenian bloggers Kornelij Glas, InferoArm, Ditord and Reporter_Arm met at the studio of “Armenian Blogosphere” radio program / podcast at “Internews” to discuss the municipal elections in Yerevan slated on May 31st.
You can download the short, 5 minute mp3 version of the radio program/podcast from here or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below. A longer version of the discussion will soon be available on this blog as well. A text-version of the discussion is available at E-channel.
Aereal photo of Yerevan’s City Hall | Photo from Municipality’s official website
“Normal work process”, involving beating the hell out of each other with over ‘fundamental disagreements’ continues, as Armenia’s two largest pro-government parties engage in fresh brawls in Yerevan ahead of the upcoming municipal elections.
Last week a group of activists of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) attacked the election campaign office of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the Yerevan’s Kanaker-Zeytun district. According to newspaper reports, the attack was made in retaliation for the beating earlier in the day of their comrades by Republican campaigners armed with clubs.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Gagik Mkrtchian, deputy head of the HHK branch in Kanaker-Zeytun downplayed the significance of the incident, calling it a “normal work process.”
Another incident came on Monday, in Yerevan’s Silikian district of Ajapniak community. Eyewitnesses told RFE/RL that doezen’s of supporters of both ruling parties, most of them young men, clashed with each other at BHK election campaign office, after Ajapnyak’s Mayor Ruben Hovsepian arrived there with his deputy Armen Baghdasarian. Notably, the Ajapnyak mayor is also the brother of Armenia’s influential Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian.
The police claimed, meanwhile, that the BHK and HHK activists were only engaged in a bitter political debate over ‘fundamental disagreements‘.
P.S. I know I shouldn’t say this, but you know what? I don’t care about the two ruling clans settling scores with each other. Let them brawl till they all grow blue or something. Sick and tired of gangsters trying to appear like politicians. Sick and tired of rich boys who collect a bunch of thickheads only capable of shaking their fists, and pretend that they have a political following. Of course those little armies are going to want to ‘prove their committement to high political ideas’. Of course they’ll clash. Of course we’ll see more brawls before the elections are over… …the elections to turn Yerevan into a gangster’s paradise.
Armenia -- Argishti Kivirian, editor of "Armenia Today" news agency beaten on 30Apr2009. Photo courtesy of Gagik Shamshian, via RFE/RL
Two high profile assaults on journalists in Armenia during the first week of May have highlighted the vulnerability of media as capital Yerevan heads into municipal elections. The stakes are high in the pre-election campaign period of Yerevan’s municipal elections which will, for the first time in more than 15 years create an elected elderly council and a mayor with enough economic and executive powers to challenge the authority of the country’s president. Continue reading →
Mayor of Gyumri, Vardan Ghukasian | Photo via A1plus
Since March 16, 2009 – the scandalously famous mayor of Gyumri, Vardan Ghukasian – is officially an academician. Ghukasian, a semi-criminal authority who has been continuously reelected on the post of Gyumri mayor since 1999, more on the merit of vote-bribing and scaring people, than genuine popularity, was granted the title by members of Russian academy of science, along with representatives of the Armenian branch of International academy of Natural and Social Sciences.
The mayor is known for his violent behavior – anyone in the streets of Gyumri can cite numerous occasions when Vardan Ghukasian would start shooting in the air during a drunk party or assault people. The mayor also faced corruption charges in 2004 over distribution of state built apartments for families left in temporary shelters since the earthquake of 1988. Continue reading →
Armenia -- Onlookers watch as black smoke billows from the Nairit chemical plant in Yerevan hit by an explosion on May14, 2009, via RFE/RL
As of this morning fire is extinguished in Nairit Chemical Plant in capital Yerevan. 4 dead, 8 injured as a result of two explosions which rocked a rubber production plant at the chemical factory. Investigation is underway to reveal the cause of the tragic. Emergency officials say there is no danger of toxic smoke in Yerevan, although the air smelled of chemicals as of 2 AM this night. Continue reading →
“What’s burning? Is it at Nairit? Can’t see very well”, these were there questions asked at 18:55 on Dabavogr’s blog, minutes after the first deadly explosion at Nairit Chemical factory’s rubber production plant in Yerevan, which left 4 dead, 8 seriously wounded. Minutes after Shur posted a photo of the thick column of smoke, made from central Yerevan, the buzz was out in the Armenian blogosphere.
This 46th episode of the Armenian Blogosphere podcast brings reactions of the Armenian blogosphere and Twitterers, to the emergency in Yerevan. Download the 1.3 Mb mp3 file, or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.
The podcast also features an interview with blogger Ogostos on the new initiative of the Armenian authorities aimed at collecting data on cases of misinformation and falsifications of facts related to Armenia and Armenians from the internet and various other open sources of information.