“7 trial” pulled apart, “political” context stripped off

The controversial trial of ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 7 prominent supporters de-facto ended today – separated into isolated cases by the ruling of judge Mnatsakan Martirosyan. The charge for “usurpation of state authority by force” was dropped, making the now separate cases against the oppositionists more “politically neutral”. RFE/RL carries the news:

The new twist in the so-called “case of the seven” resulted from the newly enacted amendments to Articles 225 and 300 of the Armenian Criminal Code used against the prominent supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian. The articles deal with provocation of street violence and “usurpation of state authority by force” respectively.

The judge ruled, that the seven oppositionists should stand separate trials for “provoking mass disorders and violence”, while the charge of “usurpation of state authority”, which was the main charge politicizing the case, was dropped. 

While this means, that the trials will continue beyond the deadline of PACE April session, it also means, that the opposition will have fewer arguments in claiming that the seven oppositionists are “political prisoners” at the PACE’s upcoming session.

It will also disperse the “high profile” cloud from the case, making it harder for the society to follow.

All of this looks like a thoroghly considered plan for putting the oppositionists in jail for good (BtW: Shant Harutyunyan’s case had been suspended earlier in March while he undergoes psychiatric examination).

It also signalls the decisive stance of the authorities to punish political dissidence as the country heads into Yerevan’s municipal elections.

Reports say no sanctions against Armenia expected in PACE

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There are reports claiming, that the suggestion to suspend the voting rights of the Armenian delegation at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has been removed from the draft resolution to be presented at the Assembly today.

Levon Zurabyan, a spokesperson for the Armenian National Congress (HAK) told RFE/RL today, that a copy of the draft resolution has been obtained by the representatives of HAK, which allows them to draw the conclusion.

Armenia has been living under constant pressure since December 17, 2008 – after the adoption of a suggestion by the PACE Monitoring Committee to suspend the voting rights of the Armenian delegation over concerns that political prisoners exist in Armenia and that the provisions of PACE resolutions 1609 (08) and 1620 (08) have not been fully implemented.

Following the visit of PACE Monitoring Committee co-repertoires Jon Prescott and Gorges Colombier to Armenia mid-January to evaluate the situation and possibly make amendments to the draft resolution adopted by the Monitoring Committee, a number of Armenian pro-government politicians had expressed hope and even conviction, that the voting rights of the country won’t be suspended after all.

This would be generally good news – suspension of voting rights would be a hard blow to Armenia’s international authority, amidst ongoing Karabakh talks. Moreover, considering the fact that PACE has been much more patient with countries like Azerbaijan which has literally turned into a monarchy with non-existent civil liberties, it would seem unfair for the Assembly to adopt sanctions against Armenia.

On the other hand – since Armenia’s entry to the CoE the PACE resolutions on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia had been one of the main drivers of democratic reforms. Today, when it was time for PACE to show, that it is a body genuinely concerned about democracy, not adopting any sanctions will be an indicator for the Armenian politicians (government and opposition alike), that they can do pretty much anything and get away with it. …and that will really hurt the fragile democracy in this country.

I really hope, that there are no sanctions against Armenia, but that there is a very strict resolution with some type of control mechanism, to make sure the country doesn’t fall off the track of civil liberties. Otherwise, what do we need the CoE membership for?

A1plus wins in European Court. Meltex Ltd and Mesrop Movsesyan v. Armenia

imageI just heard the best news for the Freedom of Speech in Armenia in the course of the past 7 years! A1plus has won the case against the RA Government in the European Court of Human Rights. Check out the text of the official judgment. Congratulations – A1plus.

The Armenian authorities will have to pay EUR 30,000 to A1plus – which is of course very little, but what is more important, is the precedent. Admittedly, the Armenian government has been loosing case after case in the European Court of Human Rights in the recent months. Here’s more from A1plus:

http://a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=61705

http://a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=61709

Armenian news headlines during the week

The big news at the start of the week was ex-president Robert Kocharyan’s interview given to Mediamax News Agency in response to ex-president Levon Ter-Petrossian’s speech on May 1st. Quite expectedly, Kocharyan talked complete crap, noting, that as he is not Armenia’s President anymore, he will be more unrestrained in his speech – not that he was ever restrained or anything.

Basically, while the great, educated egotist Ter-Petrossian was analyzing the situation in Armenia in nicely formulated sentences and trying to establish grounds for dialogue with current president of Armenia – Serzh Sargsyan, by laying most of the blame on Kocharyan, the Second president of Armenia chose to respond in the manner typical for his semi-educated egotistic self, calling the First president names, like “dumb” (տկարամիտ) and “deeply indecent” (խորապես անպարկեշտ), and saying, that it was the opposition who needed the blood and deaths on March 1st. [text here was edited, as the original post contained obviously biased points of views] Now, while I clearly recall at least one case, when Levon Ter-Petrossian spoke on the rallies, saying, that they will go till the end, that doesn’t mean, that human casualties can be blamed on the opposition. Moreover, in the situation, when the country disparately needs peace and reconciliation, and when the opposition has just attempted the first vague steps towards dialogue, Kocharyan’s words are rather unwelcome.

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