Sefilyan's pre-trial custody extended without any concrete evidence produced against the former Karabakh commander

CRD / TI Election Monitor 2007 reports that “a Yerevan court has rejected the appeal of Lebanese-born former Karabakh commander Zhirayr Sefilyan who was arrested by National Security Service (NSS) agents in December.” Sefilyan’s pre-trial custody has been extended without any concrete evidence produced against him. Further on the Monitor reports:

[…]A vocal opponent of any concessions in negotiations to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, Sefilyan stands accused of plotting the violent overthrow of the Government during the May election.
No concrete evidence has been produced, and Sefilyan remains in pre-trial custody that was recently extended. His supporters and opposition activists allege that Sefilyan’s detention was politically motivated and because he threatened to prevent any electoral fraud during the election.[…]

Bekaisa has re-published a highly emotional letter disseminated via the Armenian Dispute Club yahoo group. Here are some extracts (translated):

[…]Jiro will be kept in the KGB for two more months… then it will probably be extended by two more months and so on and so forth…
About 30 people were present in front of the court building with a couple of [protest] posters. 50% of those people are usually present in all actions [demonstrations] of this type! And a couple of people from Jiro’s batallion…[…]
Passers by were looking at the newly rennovated building of the court and probably feeling very happy that they have nothing to do with this building. And of course they would do everything not to have anything to do with demonstrators like us as well!
[…] But don’t these passers by worry at the perspective, that tomorrow they and their children will be put there too [into the court]!

Armenia: Countdown to the Democratic Elections

Good things actually do happen in Armenia, like police being more considerate these days – and this evolution is a side-effect of the upcoming elections, or at least that’s what Lara feels according to the post at Life in Armenia. The blogger says it’s hard to see how the new strategy of the Central Election Commission raise voter participation during this year’s parliamentary elections will work, at any rate there are announcements on local Armenian radio stations urging citizens to register for the elections at the website, which is somewhat awkward considering the low level of internet penetration in Armenia.
Regardless the number of international organizations monitoring the election process, the end result of the elections really depends on the voters of Armenia, who have to demonstrate the political will and faith to actively participate in the upcoming elections, and even then “it will remain to be seen whether there have been democratic, real and fair changes in the pre-election period. ” -Lara concludes.
The CRD / TI Armenia Election Monitor 2007 is more upbeat, announcing the initiative by It’s Your Choice, the largest domestic election observation organization in the Republic of Armenia, and the Center for Regional Development / Transparency International Armenia inviting Armenians from abroad to take part in the Elections 2007 as election observers, particularly encouraging Communities in the Diaspora to send representatives to monitor the conduct of the vote.
Visit the CRD / TI Armenia Election Monitor 2007 for further details, and generally: “Take Action!”

[email protected] spurs a wave of discussion in the Armenian Blogging Community

Reports and reactions to the [email protected] rally continued in the Armenian Blogosphere today. Onnik Krikorian at the CRD / TI blog was the only one to present a more neutral account of the events at the rally. The blogger reports that the “crowd was small”, and looks at the reaction from the crowd when the names of the Karabakh Committee were read out especially noting, that “the loudest cheers of all were reserved for his Minister of Interior, Vano Siradeghian, who had his parliamentary immunity lifted and was charged with masterminding several assassinations before apparently fleeing the country. He is still wanted by Interpol.”
CRD / TI blog pays special attention to Nikol Pashinian, one of the leaders of the movement.
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Nikol Pashinian, Aylentrank Rally, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian, CRD / TI Armenia 2007

[…]The main leader of the movement, however, appeared to be Nikol Pashinian, the young editor of the opposition Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Georgia’s Mikhail Saakashvili in both looks and temperament, Pashinian is an outspoken critic of the current Government.[…]

Speaking of [email protected] the ALS Movement welcomes the fact, that it is a non-partisan movement, however takes note of parties attending it: “both the controvercial HHSh (liberal-nationalist) and the Hndchaks (Marxist Social Democrats), which is in itself an interesting development.” The blogger at ALS Movement, kronstadt further explores the atmosphere of the rally, drawing parallels with his personal experiences of Artsakh Movement 19 years ago, and questioning the attempts of [email protected] to recapture “that sense and that momentum”. Kronstadt has many important questions about [email protected]:

[…]if they are a movement, then what is their philosophy? what is their ideology? which theoretical tradition do they adopt for analysing the past and cultivating the future? From browsing through their website I realise that they are generally meritocrats (each to his own abilities), which could work if the movement was actually initiating certain Empowerment programs for the peasants, cooperatives and unions on the ground. […]There is also this strange technocratic overtone to what they’re saying: there is still that central-source-of-all-authority in their rhetoric. […]

Aylentrank is not the Alternative ALS movement concludes.
The Armenian bloggers on the LJ, mostly blogging in Russian have put up a wide array of their memories of the days when HHSh was in power, uniformely identifying [email protected] as an attempt of HHSh to come back. Uzogh has put up a list of those posts under a joint title “So that everyone remembers”.
Kornelij Glas also has a more controversial post, saying he doesn’t see any hope in the nearest future, blaming Robert Kocharian, Serge Sarkisyan, many others and the Armenian people in general. But, Kornelij says – the start of all this disgusting situation in the country was the result of HHSh policies and ideology, in which the symbiotic relationship of criminals and cynicists like Husik, Vano and “impotent intelligency” headed by Levon Ter-Petrosyan became the norm.
Christina on her turn criticizes the movement, saying she doesn’t see any guarantees in this movement, that when they come to power the same attitudes of ripping the country off won’t continue. More interestingly the blogger notes that this movement is also one of those “male only” movements, where the creative female component is absent.
Maybe that is the real reason why [email protected] was received with such hostility in the Blogosphere?

Dual Citizenship inches closer…

While Raffi K. is ” happy to read that the provisions of dual citizenship are being discussed in great length in Parliament”, Sassna Dzrer amounts the discusstion on the Dual Citizenship bill to something “Ridiculous”. Speaking of the bills supporters Pokr Mher comments writes at Sassna Dzrer:

[…]Its supporters argue that dual citizenship would encourage many more in the dispersion to feel a real connection to the ROA and would increase travel to and investment in Armenia. As if that is not possible now. […]These are fine sentiments indeed but for the most part based on emotional desires and not on concrete analysis of the situation and conditions involved. Before we can even contemplate dual-citizenship , concerned individuals and organizations on both sides of the Armenian divide need to get serious regarding how we can, to the extent possible, bridge the cultural and communications gap that has kept the two sides strangers for the past fifteen years since independence.[…]

Armenia-Turkey Relations and the "Surrender" vs "Rational"policy of the RA

Armenia Blog disapproves of Armenia’s insistence to develop relations with Turkey without precondition (the blogger has explained more about his reasons in an earlier post) and evalutes Kocharian’s interview in France, where the president of RA expressed his readiness to reestablish relations with Turkey without preconditions and create an intergovernmental commission for discussing “most sensitive” issues [i.e. Armenian Genocide] as “surrender to Turkish demands”, saying the commission will only be for show.
Sassna Dzrer however seems to have taken a radically different view of Kocharians words, subtitling them as “the Rational” bit of news in last weeks Armenian foreign politics.  It is important to mention, that the bloggers are using different sources for their quotes, and Sassna Dzrer seems to have had accessed a fuller version of the interview, which has led him to different conclusions.
Interesting, how both bloggers quote the same sentence by Kocharian with such vastly different interpretations:

“That’s why we are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without conditions and to create an intergovernmental commission and to discuss all questions, even the most sensitive.” (via Armenpress)

Aylyntranq Meeting Report

Kornelij Glas has a brilliantly humorous report about the meeting-demonstration organized by Aylyntranq Social-Political initiative yesterday (February 20, 2007).
Uzogh has also addressed the event by looking into the coverage of the event by A1plus which has claimed that (indirect quote from Uzogh’s post) […]”The correspondent of A1+ Company is currently there and in her words the square is overcrowded”[…] compares it with the reports by Kornelij Glas, who has reported about 700-1000 participants, 100 of whom were journalists.
Uzogh concludes, that he’d rather trust the fellow blogger then the full-blown media outlet – A1plus.

Methods of Political Corruption in Armenia

Social Science in the Caucasus blog says the methods of corruption in Armenia are “difficilut for non-locals to fully understand”. The blog refers to the analyses conducted by Masis Poghoyan, adressing […]”categories such as “usage of resources available to the candidates occupying administrative posts,” “application of pressure on voters,” “buying/bribing of voters,” “manipulation of public opinion” and “falsification of election results.” […] and provides a link to the research paper on the CRRC-Armenia Web site, which also provides […]”a set of recommendations for combating fraudulent election processes, which include the implementation of legislative reforms, public information campaigns, the provision of consultation/training to voters, and the improvement of the election commissions.” […]

Kornelij's election leaflet #2

This time Kornelij’s election leaflet pays attention to the following news (translated):

  1. Gagik Tsarukyan has been finally and unconditionally elected the head of “Prosperous Armenia”.
  2. “Prosperous Armenia” now has 500 branches and 370 thousand members. […] I have heard some rumours about the methods of attracting new members. For example – PA fixes the elevator in an apartment house – and in exchange the inhabitants of the house are obliged to enter the party with exalted outcries. Considering the condition of elevators and other components of the housing services in the country I predict the PA will soon have a million members. […](Please note, that ArmRusGazProm has dug some holes in front of our house last year and doens’t seem to be willing to fix them. So – we’re waiting for you, gentlemen!!!)
  3. Yet another general, Sedrak Saroyan – will run for Parliament, probably on the side of the Republican party. It seems the Azerbaijani dream will come true after all – the Armenian army will soon be decapitated.
  4. The Minister of environment Vardan Aivazyan intends to help his Republican Pary – he has promised to organize a demonstration in the near future. Aivazyan is the co-cair of the union of Georgian Armenians, which turns out to be asurprizingly large organization – the party has 30000 registered members. I am starting to doubt the official demographic statistics of the country and think that it should be increased by 20%.
  5. has launched a separate section dedicated to the elections. On exclusive materials on the election theme have also started popping up, and it seems that their blog has also been reanimated.

Barekendan – Waking up…

Barekendan, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian, CRD / TI Armenia 2007
Barekendan was the top story around the Armenian blogosphere. As I reported earlier the event was initiated by civil society activists as a “call upon their fellow dormant citizens to “wake up” and become involved”, which was clearly a success. However, there were slightly different views on the event from around the blogosphere, as were many different photos. Make sure to check them all:

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