Vardan Ghukasyan's son in custody

Several news sources report that Gumri mayor Vardan Ghukasyan’s son – Spartak Ghukasyan, has handed himself to authorities late last week. Spartak Ghukasyan had gone into hiding after apparently initiating a high profile shootout in the city center back in May. The incident, which involved the son of a Bargavach Hayastan (Prosperous Armenia) party member and injured several civilian bystanders, rocked the city and made headline news in the country. In what is to be considered an exceptional case, the authorities were compelled to display force by commissioning special police units into the city.
Aravot cites unnamed sources suggesting that Vardan Ghukasyan had received an ultimatum on surrendering his son, from the president, otherwise risking loosing his post. The daily further suggests that pressure was also applied by the prime minister. The fact that Spartak Ghukasyan handed himself over to authorities appears to confirm this information.

Too Many Pop-Stars in Armenia?

There are so many “pop-stars” in Armenia, that it is becoming hard to find ordinary people in this country – after all, we are only 3 million!
While it all started with Artur Grigoryan’s Theatre of Song, it was ALM and Shant TV who spoiled Armenian music landscape once and for all. Yesterday I spent 5-6 minutes watching some kind of new music star show on Shant TV, and then another one on Armenia TV, only to turn to ALM and find Tigran Karapetovich complaining, that Shant has taken away all his stars: diamonds, jewels, etc. The problem, as I see it, is not that we have too many stars and star shows, the problem is – we don’t have even a single pop-star!!! All this fighting for “stars”, calling names to each other, etc is just ridiculous. We don’t have anyone we can speak of as our home-bread Armenian music star, which the world would recognize.
This news item I saw today on A1plus, in which Nune Yesayan and Shushan Petrosyan are complaining about the new singers who hinder former stars, was the end of it. I can’t bear and will just shout: “SHUT UP YOU ALL”! What is it you are fighting for? This miserable media market, which can’t sustain even a single star? Or are you complaining, because the new kids have taken your place near the table of the ruling political force – when they go on their pre-election campaign? This is just ridiculous…

Following NKR Elections

Reactions are coming in on the presidential vote conducted in Nagorno Karabakh last week. Obvious positive responses coming from Armenia, with the president, prime minister and parliament speaker congratulating Bako Sahakyan with victory.
Also in a predictable move international organizations and western states, particularly NATO, the EU and the US were quick to criticize the elections. Rudolf Perina, United States charge d’affairs in Armenia stated that the US, as any other country, does not recognize the NKR and subsequently the elections held there.
A Russian newspaper “Vremya Novostey” (News Time) expressed an opinion, that Mr. Sahakyan will be a good partner for Serge Sargsyan, apparently accentuating widely held expectations that Mr. Sargsyan will succeed Robert Kocharyan in 2008.
With regard to reactions coming from Nagorno Karabakh, Masis Mayilyan, Mr. Sahakyan’s main contender in the vote, congratulated the president elect and said, that Mr. Sahakyan has been rightfully elected, despite some falsifications in the voting process. It is highly unlikely that the results of the vote will be in any serious way challenged from inside the NKR. With official monitoring missions limited mostly to former CIS countries it is yet unclear if a more independent assessment of the elections will become available in the future.

Negative Trends of Negative Trade: Armeni'as foreign trade balance deficit made $838mln in January-June, 2007

The jumpy Caucasian Tiger – i.e. Armenia’s economy grew by 11,2% in January-June of 2007, according to Banks.am, and it looks as if life has gone for good to better, with average monthly salary increasing by 20.5% as compared to the same period of 2006, thus making 71344 drams.
Somehow all these growth figures make me remember the Soviet times with impressive growth figures being reported each year, while people could hardly find anything in the shops. Today, one can find everything in the newly built shiny shops, but how much of that is affordable? In a recent post over quality of life, I’ve spoken about how figures and reality don’t add up. Is it all thanks to the National Statistical Service of Armenia? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that the guys there have no clue about statistics – you would hardly expect a brilliant scientist working there on the average salary of 52491 drams as they have gladly reported, noting that it represents a 22.1% rise for organizations feeding from the state budget.
Another way I can explain the degrading quality of life despite growth figures in the economy is the foreign trade turnover of Armenia:

[Banks.am, Mediamax, July 20, 2007] The foreign trade turnover of Armenia in January-June of 2007 totaled 674.7bln drams or $1892.0mln, having increased by 36,5% as compared to the same period of 2006.

As the press service of the National Statistical Service of Armenia told Mediamax today, the export volume during the accounting period made 187.7bln drams or $527.0mln, and the import volume totaled 487.0bln drams or $1365.0mln.

The deficit of the foreign trade balance in January-June of 2007 stood at 299.3bln drams or $838mln.

 

With the tendency of Armenian Dram’s exchange rate growth vs all major currencies of the world it seems like we will soon stop selling anything abroad. On the experience of my own household, I wouldn’t expect to live better, if I’m buying everything I need to survive, and not bringing any money home. Is there any economist over there to help me change my mind?

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