In Support of Protesters in Myanmar

Although this post may seem irrelevant to the general content of my blog, I can’t stop myself from posting it. My very good friend from Myanmar/Burma has disappeared from my Gtalk contact list for 2 days now. I have been following the developments with the protest of monks with excitement and anxiety, thinking about how every type of dictatorship, even the type that the Generals possess in Burma is doomed. However, after the main internet connection to Myanman was cut down, I realised in depth, that this is not just some philosophical speculation about the importance of democracy and the fight for freedom. There are human lives at stake, and among them, the life of a friend. Apparently, the Generals have ordered internet to be cut, so the world won’t see how they slaughter the protestors. I don’t think anybody can do much in this situation, however, the message I have posted below came on my Facebook account today, and gave me hope, that there is at least somethings that can be done. I find my duty to disseminate this information, and I pray again for all the wonderful people in Myanmar who are struggling for their freedom, lives and future.
A GLOBAL, COORDINATED DAY OF ACTION!
International day of Action
Contact: Burma Campaign UK
[email protected]
We are marching in solidarity with the monks and ordinary people of Burma who are risking their lives for freedom and democracy.
We appeal to the religious and secular communities across the world not to look the other way while the people of Burma cry out for international support.
Saturday 6th October
12 noon – worldwide
More information to follow
*–URGENT UPDATE–*
From internal source: It is heard that the junta has set a plot to assassinate the most senior venerable monks (Sanga Maha Naryaka) tonight as if it is done by the monks involved in the protest. We still have live contacts in Burma. We are getting reports of a massacre at a temple last night, around 200 monks killed. We will try to confirm this as soon as possible. They are arresting and imprisoning monks- so far over 700 have been arrested. They have raided dozens of monasteries. While the regime is stating only 9 have been killed the number is far closer to 200. They have snipers on tops of buildings to pick of the leaders. They are trying to suppress the violence.
We MUST protest! Continue reading “In Support of Protesters in Myanmar”

Politics of The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant

The Republic of Armenia identifies the need to implement reforms focused on individual branches of industry and sets the following priorities:
– to pursue greater energy independence through a diversification of energy supplies and production, the creation of new sources of energy, including nuclear energy, and to develop a stable and reliable export-oriented energy system;
National Security Strategy of the Republic of Armenia
National Security Strategy
of the Republic of Armenia

Fear of the return of dark years in 90’s, when there was no electricity in the country in many ways defines the domestic and foreign politics in Armenia today.
The dark days, conditioned by war, economic collapse and severe blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey as well as lack of infrastructures to compensate the negative consequences of the blockage via energy import routes through Iran and Russia (through Georgia), followed the closure of the Soviet-build Metsamor nuclear reactor, located about 30 kilometers west of capital Yerevan and taken out of operation after the devastating earthquake of 1988. The Nuclear Power Plant returned to service in 1995, and although it currently supplies only 40 percent of the country’s power, for many people its possible closure is directly associated with the darkest days in Modern Armenian history. It won’t be an exaggeration to state, that there is no single politician who would risk bringing up the issue of shutting down the Metsamor NPP without being thrown out of politics altogether.
Having this background it is not much of a surprise to hear, that Armenia has refused 200 million Euro EU loan for shutting atomic plant (Yahoo! Finance, AP| Sep 25, 2007). PanARMENIAN.Net reports: “The European Union’s stand on the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is clear: it should be closed, European Commission’s Acting Director for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr Gunnar Wiegand told a news conference in Yerevan.” Even if the amount were twice as big, it would be hard to explain to Mr Gunnar Wiegand and the EU just how much the NPP means to Armenia, and why no alternative energy sources can compensate the political significance of the Metsamor reactor at this point.
And it is not just the dark years and energy security behind the reluctance to give up the NPP – it is a major strategic resource. A simple look at what Iran is suffering to establish its right for possessing nuclear technology would have been enough for Armenians to stand up and say – no way, we are not giving up our Nuclear Power Station!

Photo by PanARMENIAN.Net

Reactions to Levon Ter-Petrossian's Speech

“If the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian takes part in the pre-election campaign for the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, he will become yet another opposition figure, with all the consequences flowing from it”, Robert Kocharian told Regnum News Agency today. The incumbent president has reminded his predecessor, that the state budget of Armenia was $300 millions along with a budget deficit of $40 million, when he took over, and today the government are planning a budget of $2.5 billions.
It took president Kocharian 4 days to spell out these words, branded by Uzogh as the “bringing in heavy artillery” against the former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and serves as an important indicator, just how much importance the incumbent authorities are attaching to ex-presidents return.
Having noted the fast and balanced coverage of first president’s speech on Yerkir-Media (the video is available here), I have to state, that I’m utterly disgusted by the coverage on Public TV. This piece broadcast on Public TV (and made available on YouTube thanks to Uzogh) is sheer disgrace for all journalism professionals in modern day Armenia, and I can’t understand – why the money, which I’m paying as taxes to this country, is being used in such a hideous way, and who on earth has allowed a journalist with such poor understanding of the meaning and role of journalism to work on Public TV?
Responses follow also from various political parties: Republicans seem to take it easy, while ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, the party banned by Levon Ter-Petrosian, are being highly critical, as analyzed by the 2008 Presidential Election Monitor blog:

With speculation that the former first president, Levon Ter Petrosian, might enter the fray for next year’s election, his bitter foes, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashnaktsutiun (ARF-D) have responded to Friday’s speech given on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. As has been mentioned on this blog before, although Ter Petrosian’s criticism of the current system might strike a note with much of the population, critics argue that today’s problems first materialized during his tenure as president. RFE/RL has more.

Reacting to the speech, Vahan Hovannisian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader and deputy parliament speaker, said Ter-Petrosian has no moral right to make such accusations because his eight-year rule was also marked by fraudulent elections, human rights abuses and other serious shortcomings.
“He spoke as if the population has already forgotten Levon Ter-Petrosian’s days in power — political repressions, the severe economic crisis that must not be linked with the war [with Azerbaijan,] and the terrible atmosphere that led to a massive emigration,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL.

Onnik Krikoryan also takes a look at the responses on Armenian newspapers, as well as the post by Nazarian, with very interesting comments on the video I’ve posted above:

In this piece they accuse LTP of allowing corruption become even worse, political assassinations, economic misdeeds, etc. Obviously, they did not forget to sing the old tired song about the cold and dark years either. It’s a powerful piece indeed; Goebbels would be proud of it.
But when you try to analyze the situation a little, you realize that this piece tells a lot more about the misdeeds of the current regime than LTP. Corruption now is much worse than during the LTP years as the amount of bribes has grown together with the number of areas where you need to grease palms to get business done.
The biggest political assassination occurred on Serzh Sargsian’s watch when the PM and Speaker of Parliament, together with ministers and MP-s, were murdered. Add to that a number of officials killed such as the Prosecutor General a few years ago and people who were officials during the HHSh rule (Artsrun Margarian, et.al.).
The polarization of the economy in the hands of a few people again occurred during the Kocharian/Sargsian years.
I am still undecided about the condition of democracy during LTP vs. the current administration. LTP banned the Dashnak Party in 1994. The Kocharian regime allowed it back into business but has been suppressing any dissent with carrots like government posts or sticks such as jailing and/or beating the crap out of the oppositionists.

Of other responses to Ter-Petrossian’s return I find especially noteworthy the posts by Unzipped and Narjan. The latter posted on September 21st a thoughtful piece, in which he speculates, that the former president’s comeback is staged by the current authorities and is directed against ARF-Dashnaktsutyun.
I can say, that I also held the opinion, that LTP’s return is being encouraged by the incumbent authorities, but at the moment I’m really undecided as to what I should think. Guess we will just have to wait and see.
As to Unzipped, I am amazed at how similar to my own views is his description of current political situation:

I noticed general tendency that people try to create an impression that there is no other choice in Armenia, they are the only ones. I do not buy it. Unfortunately, it seems that so far there is no real, ‘working’ candidate for opposition. And I do not want to make a choice between the lesser of evils, it is not a choice, it’s like a lottery, and I do not trust lottery. I want to have real choice. And by choice I do not mean that “anyone else will be better”. I need real alternative. If you do not provide me with a CHOICE, I’d rather stick with the current status quo, however critical I may be towards them.

After 10 years of silence Levon Ter-Petrossian spoke, only to say nothing?

Following months and weeks and days of speculation on media and the blogosphere about the possibility of Armenia’s First President Levon Ter-Petrossian’s return to politics he appeared on Yerkir-Media news report on September 21st, the Independence Day to say, that he has not made up his mind yet. “Unless I know, that my steps will be effective, I won’t make the move” the ex-president said. According to Levon Ter-Petrossian, the country is in crises:

“Getting rid of the corruption system, resolution of Kharabakh conflict, putting an end to blockades, establishing of normal, mutually beneficial relations with neighbors, and which is more, the initiative should come from them. We must make the people understand, that by buying the votes for $20-50 from the people, the incumbent authorities are stealing the future of their children, the fate of this country”

Although the former president does not see any solution to Kharabakh problem anymore, the rest of the issues can be resolved by removing the current government, he thinks:

“It is the Kharabakh issue, which in the course of the past years our authorities have led to a hopeless situation. I do not know the way out of this situation”

[]

“The only way to get rid of current government is by uniting all the political forces, all healthy social, intellectual, spiritual forces around one joint candidate”

While most of the traditional media are left pondering how to react to this news (bravo Yerkir-Media for being fast), bloggers didn’t take long: Continue reading “After 10 years of silence Levon Ter-Petrossian spoke, only to say nothing?”

The Independence Restoration Day

Today is a beutiful day – the proud holiday for the Armenian nation. Today is the 16th anniversary of restoration of Armenia’s Independence, following the Soviet invasion of the 1st Republic.
Officially it is called the Independence Day – and I’m content with that definition as well. In fact – words don’t matter today – what matters, is the feeling, that I can’t live in any place and country, other than Armenia. What matters, is that I’m ready to live, and care, and fight, and work, and build my future in this country. What matters, is the feeling, that this is MINE!
 Happy Independence to you MY ARMENIA!

Haykakan Zhamanak Blog

Via Kornelij Glas I found out, that Haiykakan Zhamanak newspaper have started a blog. It has started last week, is only in Russian, and as Kornelij notes, these are basicly commentable articles.
However, following A1plus blog, Panorama.am election site, Echannel blog (temporarily closed), this is already the forth Armenian media outlet to use blogging as an interactivity feature, and as a blogging maniac, I am more then happy to see such developments in the Armenian blogosphere.

Transport Hell in Yerevan

Don’t drive in Yerevan, Notes From Hairenik says, because as a result of Due to the numerous road construction projects car-driving “has become very hazardous with cars passing one another indiscriminately and causing near life-threatening accidents”. The root of the problem is corruption in the way the state grant licenses, Christian Garbis speculates, and the solution – take a taxi, don’t waste your nerves:

It is a fact that most motorists on the road today obtain their driver’s licenses by paying a bribe, without passing any tests to prove they are capable of being able to drive. As a result you have insane numbers of drivers operating their vehicles nearly out of control. I for one am going to start taking a taxi to where I work in Arabkir every morning because it is not worth wasting my nerves or my safety driving on these roads. I’ve had it.

Not everyone can afford taxi though, and Zara from Life around me, is more for the shuttle buses (minivans, often referred to as Marshrutkas), which cost 100 drams (about 30 cents) 5-10 times less then taxi, are usually fully packed, drive unsafely, and have an wide range of disadvantages, 5 of which are analyzed at legth in Zara’s post:

Well, actually I like traveling to any place by marshutkas and I take a taxi on rare occasions and also I don’t want to drive, especially in this manic city…
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Yeah, I know, marshutkas are not that safe, some people call them “100-dram-killers”. However, I don’t mind other people around me, I rather prefer it, especially when so funny incidents and conversations happen in them. And but for several things, marshutkas would be my adorable means of transportation.
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Sure, there are many other disadvantages, but I’ll leave them up to you. And anyways, I still prefer marshutkas!

One thing I know for sure – I will walk on every possible occasion, only to avoid getting into traffic hell. I can’t afford a car yet, but its definitely much better then the public transport. Taxis are a good solution, but they are not for everyone, as an average trip costs $3 US so travelling to work and back in taxi every day will take about $140 US, which is more then half of reported average salary in Armenia. And best of all is – working and sleeping in one location and not going anywhere if you can. It really is traffic hell in Yerevan these days, and I don’t see any tendencies for improvement for the nearest 3-4 months.

Armenia Becomes Dangerous for Journalists: Hovhannes Galajyan Attacked Again

Editor of opposition newspaper “Iskakan Iravunk” Hovanes Galajyan, was attacked on September 15, and hospitalized with brain concussion. This second attack against Hovhannes Galajyan is one of the many attacks against journalists in Armenia, and the fact it has repeated by possibly the same attackers against Hovhannes Galajyan reminds us again, that none of the ofgenders in this case, as well as in other attacks (e.g. burning of Ara Saghatelyan’s car) has been adequately punished so far.

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