Parliamentary Election Monitor

Via CRD / TI Armenia Election Monitor 2007:

Writing for RFE/RL, US-Armenian analyst Richard Giragosian says that the pressure is now on for the May parliamentary election to be considered free and fair by the international community. Moreover, Giragosian argues that the conduct of the vote will determine the country’s place in the region as well as impact on its declared intent to integrate into European structures.

If the ballot proves to be only the latest in a series of flawed and tainted elections, the international response is likely to be both serious and swift. And in that case, the elections will go down in history not just as another lost opportunity for the development of real democracy in Armenia, but as a move toward further regional isolation.

Yet, while most analysts agree with such a reading of the situation, many remain skeptical that the political will to hold democratic elections exists. Instead, critics point to actions aimed at restricting the activities of the opposition which have become a standard feature of elections in Armenia in recent years, and which are seemingly once again being repeated.
Meanwhile, given the posters and banners now on display even though the official campaign period has yet to start, RFE/RL’s Press Review quotes the pro-government Hayastani Hanrapetutyun newspaper as saying that the Yerevan Municipality is already concerned about how such adverts will be removed when the election is over.

Read the full post here.

Driving in Yerevan

Bekaisa has a lively post about driving in Yerevan:

By the way – driving has become better. This is primarily because they removed GAI [the street patrol] from the streets, and secondly, although this may sound paradoxical, because of the [increased] number of cars. On all major streets of the city, in daytime especially, you have to drive calm and slow no matter how fast you want to drive. There is just no other way :)))

Bekaisa also notices, that there are now authomatic car-washes in Yerevan, one of those, where you seat in the car and drive through, while the car is being wash.

Studies on Strategy and Security

The book Studies on Strategy and Security has been published on internet, Kornelij Glas reports, noting, that the materials there are mostly in Armenian and Russian. “There is a lot of interesting stuff, for example, an article about Commandos in the period, when we surrendered Shaumyan and Mardakert, but you have to ask for that article separately, there are also articles by myself [by Kornelij aka Samvel Martirosyan] and Vrtanesyan Karen.”
Ahousekeeper [aka Vrtanesyan Karen] has also announced about the collection of articles “Studies on Strategy and Security” book, providing links to the media coverage of the book’s presentation.

IFES (International Foundation for Election Systems)

“After introducing readers to the work of the domestic observation organization It’s Your Choice as the May parliamentary election approaches,” CRD / TI Armenia Election Monitor 2007 is now presenting the “IFES, formerly known as the International Foundation for Election Systems”:

In 2005, IFES began a project that aims to increase the government of Armenia’s ability to fulfill its international and national election commitments in time for the 2007 parliamentary and 2008 presidential elections.
To meet this goal, IFES is working with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and the Passport and Visas Department (OVIR, which falls under the jurisdiction of the police) as well as other interested parties, including the Armenian government, members of the National Assembly, and members of civil society.

Read the full post here.

Another youth activity planned: "Flash – Mob" this time

SKSELA !!!!!!!!!
March 18, 13:00, next to the Komitas statue.
It has begun… again. And its not really clear what exactly has begun this time, and if you really want to know, you have to come and see for yourself… that’s all the information that could be found at Bekaisa and at the Sksel a website.
The previous events of the young civil activists, trying to wake up the country from the political standstill have been covered quite intensively by the blogosphere. The latest post on the “Sksela…” can be found at Anoush Armenia, which will maybe give you a hint of what to expect from this new event.

Are local products really good – Artfood, Ashtarag, Marianna, Biogat… Jermuk?

“Encourage local products!”, Life in Armenia is urging, “Our food products – namely – are tastier, well made, AND cheaper. …I would choose Artfood (or any other local brand) over Bonduelle anytime!” Lara get’s a kick out of watching how the “city is transforming itself so quickly and how modern the stores are becoming”, but many goods sold in Armenia are imported and “relatively expensive” the blogger says, arriving at the conclusion, that the way out is to encourage the local producers.
However, the local producers, more specifically jermuk mineral producers are still struggling to prove that their mineral water is not dangerous, following the warning by US FDA, that the level of arsenic contained in Jermuk imported to US could cause cancer. “Armenians Paranoid About Jermuk”, according to the Armenia Blog, which has reposted an article from A1plus, dealing with attempts of Armenian Jermuk producers to fight back, and here are some of the thing’s they’re saying (Via Armenia blog, check out A1plus for the full article):

[…]The companies are surprised to hear no specific company. “First of all the agency should have discussed it with the corresponding producer, to see whether it belonged to it or not. None of our company got any notification.”
“This is a deliberate action towards Armenian mineral water.”[…]

Meanwhile, some people are looking for alternatives to Jermuk, like the Notes From Hairenik is doing:

[…]Now the hope is that other competitive carbonated mineral waters bottled in Armenia, such as Arzni and Bjni, will be found to have little to no arsenic in them.[…]

Armenian opposition not ready for elections, while Prosperous Armenia is campaigning already

Armenian opposition is just not serious urges East Meets West, characterizing all except Raffi [Hovhannisyan] in the Armenian opposition as “greedy, self indulged, inept, corrupt, ‘me first’ individuals”, who do not “deserve to become a president, since none of them really care about the people and their problems”. The blogger is especially frustrated by lack of any kind of serious political manifesto, or issues raised by the opposition:

[…]They have no publicly announced plans for decreasing joblessness in Armenia (the most important issue for Armenia today), they have no such plans for the Karabakh issue, for health care, for emigration, and pretty much any other important issues.[…]

Ogostos has been looking into the political program of the newly established United Libratory National Party (MIAK) party, which was recently covered in this blog because of a well known humorist running for the Armenian parliament in that party’s list. Ogostos has defined MIAK’s programme as a package of pointless general phrases, overburdened with words like “institutes”, “systems”, “mechanisms”. However the biggest problem Ogostos has found with the party’s programme was the notion of “removing the Mass Media registration institute”, which, Ogostos reminds the party ideologists, has been abolished 4 years ago – since the adoption of the new law on mass information.
On a related note, in his analysis of the opposition programmes East Meets West poses an important question:

[…]these guys put their personal needs before the needs of the people, just like the current bunch in the power. So a question arises; Why should the people change the ruling elite if the new comers are not going to bring anything new?[…]

Well, it doesn’t look like the rulling elite really needs this kind of support for their cause from East Meets West as we can see from the post at CRD / TI Armenia Election Monitor 2007, the pro-government parties have already started campaigning, well ahead of the date for the official launch of the political campaigns:

According to the timetable of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Republic of Armenia, campaigning for the May Parliamentary Election should not start until “from the day following the last day of registration of the candidates and completed a day before the date of voting.” Yet, despite the CEC site making it quite clear when pre-election campaign should start, political advertising has already started, and both the opposition as well as pro-government forces are guilty.
However, with infinitely more administrative and financial resources at their disposal, pro-goverment parties such as the ruling Republican and newly formed Prosperous Armenia parties are the biggest offenders. As a result, Armenia finds itself in an interesting situation where parties engaged in early political advertising will be able to spend more than the permissible level determined by law for the pre-election campaign itself. This then begs the question whether such activities are violating the electoral code or not?

The full post in English is at the CRD/TI Armenia Election Monitor 2007 here.

Online Interview with Armen Aghayan

OpenArmenia forum will host an interview with Armen Aghayan, representative of Jirayr Sefilyan, on Tuesday, March 13, 16:00 Yerevan time.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe interview is open to everyone, but you will need to register under this topic in the forum prior to participation.
For videos of Jirayr Sefilyan’s well known speech, which resulted in his and Vardan Malkhasyan’s arrest a couple of hours later, can be found at the links below:
Google Video, Metacafe,,
Please disseminate this announcement. Source: Ahousekeeper, Bekaisa, Kornelij Glas. Photo via: Ahousekeeper

Azerbaijani Military: More Money, More Problems?

Yandunts has two articles (both first published in the Armenian Reporter) on the Azerbaijani Military, discussing the economy behind the Azerbaijani army, Azerbaijani presiden Ilham Aliyev’s promises that “his country’s military spending would soon surpass Armenia’s total state spending” and looking at possible problems in the Azerbaijani army, which the blogger claims are the result of “more money, more problems“:

[…]The Azerbaijani government has repeatedly threatened a new war against Armenians. In the last few years, its rhetoric has also been matched by growing military spending and some weapons acquisition. Armenians are taking notice. Armenia’s National Security Strategy identifies Azerbaijan as the most imminent external threat to the country’s security.[…]

[…]The purpose of spending over $2 billion in four years – other than Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s oft-stated desire to overtake Armenia’s total state spending – must be to improve the discipline, sense of purpose and fighting efficiency of the armed forces. Azerbaijani officials and sympathetic observers boast that such improvements have taken place.[…]

Armenian Elections: Choice with No Choice

[…]Parliament elections in Armenia are scheduled for May 12. They promise to be interesting, if only for the fact, that they will become а launch pad for the presidential elections in 2008, in which Robert Kocharyan won’t be able to run. It seems, that the main competition for seats in parliament will go on between the pro-government forces, while the opposition will find itself out of the game. […]

These are some of the conclusions made by Kornelij Glas regarding the upcoming elections in an article published at The blogger has a very insightful analyses of the whole political landscape in the country, giving views and opinions on pro-government and opposition camps and sharing future projections.
EastMeets West blog has also looked at the “Typical Armenian Politics”, mostly looking at the failure of the Armenian opposition to unite and thus form a viable alternative to the pro-government political forces.

[…]Last week talks between opposition parties commenced with Aram Sarkisian initiating them. The goal was to form an alliance, and it failed. Manukian’s National Democratic Union announced that it will boycott the elections, Stepan Demirchian said he’s going at it alone, and poor Raffi Hovannisian was left preaching to deaf ears about how he wished an alliance could be made.[…]

Emil Sanamyan at Yandunts speaks about the latest visit of Armenian opposition leaders to Washington DC, US.

[…]Two Armenian political party leaders were in Washington last week to raise concerns about what they see as unfair treatment of opposition parties in the run-up to Armenia’s May 12, 2007, parliamentary elections. But a Yerevan expert monitoring the pre-election process argued that the picture they presented was incomplete.[…]

The conclusion made by EastMeets West sounds rather as a warning, the warning that has come to the minds of all those concerned with the fate of the country:

[…] That being said, I just hope that May’s elections be fair, and not just because it’s the way it should be, but because Armenia has a lot at stake riding on these elections. […]

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