Having monitored the Armenian blogosphere for almost 1 year now I can state with full confidence, that the most vivid Armenian blogging community is based on the LiveJournal blogging platform. As the Armenian blog review with its two versions: English and Armenian (the latter is temporarily halted) is intended primarily as a service to the Armenian blogosphere, I find it most appropriate to establish a mirrored LiveJournal version of this blog which will from now on be available at http://ditord.livejournal.com – closer to where the most bloggers are. However, as I like the WordPress interface so much better, I will continue to work primarily at this WordPress version of the Armenian Observer.
The continuous efforts of Bruce Tasker and Onnik Krikoryan for drawing attention to what they claim is a major corruption case which involves the Armenian government and the World Bank seem to have finally drawn media attention, Onnik Krikoryan writes, that the The Observer newspaper in the U.K. has published details of Tasker’s allegations, and the A1plus and RFE/RL have reported on the issue:
The World Bank on Thursday again shrugged off embarrassing allegations about gross misuse of a $30 million loan to Armenia that were first made by an Armenian parliamentary commission in 2004 and have resurfaced in recent weeks.
The loan was part of a 1999 World Bank project designed to upgrade the country’s water infrastructure and improve Yerevan residents’ access to drinking water. The Armenian parliament formed in 2003 an ad hoc commission to investigate the effectiveness of these and other large-scale infrastructure projects financed by Western donors.
In its first report made public in March 2004, the commission headed by deputy speaker Vahan Hovannisian concluded that the water scheme has failed to achieve its main objectives to due to mismanagement and corruption among government officials and private firms. The report deplored the fact that 27 percent of the World Bank funds have been spent on project management, overheads and logistics.
The World Bank office dismissed the claims at the time, insisting that the project’s implementation has been a success.
The Washington-based institution, which has been Armenia’s principal lender, was again put on the defense recently by Bruce Tasker, a Yerevan-based British engineer who had participated in the 2003-2004 parliamentary inquiry as an expert. Tasker detailed those allegations on his website and effectively implicated the World Bank in the alleged corruption.
“The fact is it was not an isolated case of a few thousand dollars here or there, it was tens of millions of dollars,” Britain’s “The Observer” newspaper quoted him as saying on Sunday.
Read more at Oneworld Multimedia.
Avant-Garde Fol Music Club. Pushkin 3a. tel: 561497
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09.10.2007 at 21:00 Lennon’s birthday
Travelling to work from Erebuni to Mashtots avenue every day means, that I have to spend over 1 hour per day being stuck in the minibus at the crossroad of Khanjyan – Agatangeghos streets and Tigran Mets avenue. From this forced daily observation of the construction site I came to realize yesterday, that I haven’t seen any construction going on on the section across “Ayrarat” cinema for around a month now. I remember being rather welcoming albeit a bit skeptical when this massive construction works started back in June:
Construction works are in progress also on the Khanjyan – Agatangeghos streets and Tigran Mets avenue crossroad. Considering the exceptional levels of congestion in this crossroad a multifunctional underground tunnel-passage is being built here. At the moment one-sided traffic is set up on the section across the “Ayrarat” cinema theatere.
This is all very good, but for the fact, that the anti-congestion efforts of the municipality have resulted in even more congestion. So now we know what’s going on, but will we be able to survive it all? Considering the state Komitas is in after two years of ongoing construction works I’m a bit skeptical. I guess we will have to wait about 2 years and see…
Having all this background in mind, I decided to stop by and check out what’s going on yesterday. It seems that I was right – the construction site was abandoned. This sign at the entry to the barrage hiding the construction site says the construction is due to complete in 7 months. Remembering that it started back in June I could easily calculate, that at least 3 months have passed leaving a big hole in the ground and nobody to even guard it. Does this mean that we all will have to endure the hell around this site much longer then originally planned? Does this mean that it will become another Komitas avenue? I called the City Hall (using the number on their website) and found no response. So today I wrote a letter to them with the following content and expect and answer, which will be published here:
I have noticed, that over the past 1 month the construction works of the underground passage accross the “Ayrarat” cinema theater have been halted. I would like to know, what is the reason for this, when can we expect the construction works to resume, and how this pause of works will affect the initial schedules of finishing construction.
I must note, that my question and your response to it will be published on the Armenian Blog Review electronic publication at http://ditord.wordpress.com and I expect your kind response as soon as possible.
Via the gossip channel on the same issue (!) a friend told me, that the road construction at the mentioned site has been stopped, because the digging has gone too deep without careful planning (aren’t you surprised(!) ?) and they have hit the wall of the tube (the tunnel through which the metro trains run). I guess all we can do now is wait and complain.
Yesterday, on a trip to Vardenis from Yerevan, a friend pointed at the village of Noradus on the road, saying – there’s an interesting Armenian cemetery there. So went. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to be that(!) interesting, and I strongly urge you to visit, if you ever pass by those areas, especially if you’re a blogger consistently complaining about the demolition of Armenian cemeteries and destruction of khachkars.
Onnik Krikoryan at 2008 Presidential Election Monitor reports, that in a surprise move the former and first president Levon Ter Petrosian has held a meeting with representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashnaktsutiun. The meeting is a suprise, says Onnik Krikoryan , given the fact that Dashnaktsutiun was outlawed under Ter Petrosian, and senior party officials were arrested and ARF newspapers were shut down then.
On 29th of September in “Simon Vracyan” Center of Dashnaktsutyun party representative of the ARF Office Armenia Hrant Margaryan and the representative of “Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Body ” Armen Rustamian met Levon Ter-Petrosyan Aleksandr Arzumanyan. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was the initiator of the meeting. They discussed issues connected with internal political situation in Armenia and issues concerning coming presidential elections. Both parties found ideological-political debate necesary at this stage of development.
Onnik Krikoryan further speculates, that the meeting will ‘raise some eyebrows among ARF-D supporters and not least in the Diaspora. For them, Ter Petrosian is considered something akin to a criminal and traitor and this news must appear strange after last week’s angry rebuttal of Ter Petrosian’s Friday speech.”
The news comes as a surprise even to active supporters of the former president. Aramazd call is a move worthy of a chess grandmaster, sounding really surprised, although he was perhaps the first blogger back in March 2007 to call for the return of the former president into active politics, and generally seems to know more about things going on with HHSh.
Ahousekeeper provides a link to the Regnum version of the news, also taking a brief look at the names of both parties: HHSh-Pan-Armenian national Movement (It’s rather “Turkish” then Armenian, the blogger says, was Pan-Armenian only back in 1989-90, and is rather like a swamp, not a movement), and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (although undoubtedly Armenian, it is not revolutionary for more then 90 years, and is not a Federation in its essence, but is rather a monolithic organization).
Mark Grigoryan is tired of politics, tired of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, Armenian-Turkish problems, tired of nationalism, elections and the fact, that the secret services of at least 3 countries are reading his journal. The guru journalist would rather prefer to sit somewhere in the autumn park and read poetry, but no… in this post he writes about politics again, because Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s meeting with dashnaks. There was no dialogue between them for 14 years, after LTP prohibited the activities of the party. The meetings mean that the first president is literally breaking into politics, and although not long ago the blogger was sure, that Ter-Petrossian has no practical chances, no we can see his return – step-by-step. Mark Grigoryan is inclined to believe Levon Ter-Petrosian’s statement, that he hasn’t decided if he will run, and looking at the movements Serzh Sargsyan is doing in Russia (trying to get Moscow approval in the forthcoming elections), and speculating about his possible visit to US with the same mission, Mark Grigoryan is sorry, that once again the common people are lost amongst the political dealings and nobody really talks about the actual voters, who still remember the “dark” and poor years of Ter-Petrossian’s rule. It will be interesting to see Mark Grigoryan says, and I wholeheartedly agree.
A1plus blog goes even further, asking the readers to comment, if Levon Ter-Petrossian is going to unite with Dashnaks. While nobody thinks that there is a slightest chance for such a possibility, it is still a valid question.
Gost_474_90 writes about “writing provocative posts” and getting in the Yandex.ru top list, and lists “writing about Serzh vs LTP” as the second most provocative way of doing that. If that is true, we can expect a lot more “provocative” posts in the Armenian blogosphere throughout the upcoming presidential elections, even as many bloggers, like Mark Grigoryan claim, that they’re tired of politics.