Armenia Economy

Armenians looking to improve economy of region linking Karabakh to Armenia

Stepanakert, 29 March: A three-day conference is being held in the centre of the Kashatagh (Lacin) region of the Nagornyy Karabakh republic to discuss the region’s development issues.

“The fact that you are now here and are attending this very important event shows that our sisters and brothers in various parts of the world are inseparable from the fate of Kashatagh, and consequently, from the fate of Armenia and Artsakh [Nagornyy Karabakh]. This conference, dedicated to Kashatagh’s development, is the first one of this type, and I hope that it will become a basis for holding such events in the future. This will promote an effective solution to problems in the region and the implementation of projects aimed at further development,” NKR president Bako Sahakyan said while addressing the opening of the conference.

Sahakyan said that “the Kashatagh region is of great strategic importance to the whole Armenian people”. “It is no accident that our rival [referring to Azerbaijan] had turned this territory into a wedge between Armenia and Artsakh for about 70 years. Since May 1992, the role of this region changed sharply, and the section which was liberated during that period became a real ‘road of life’ for the people of Artsakh. Realizing both the political and economic significance of Kashatagh and our responsibility for its future, we must all get involved in the development of the region, establish a stable and competitive economy, increase the level of the people’s well-being and improve the living standards of people. This is the imperative for today, and this is required by the interests of our national security,” Sahakyan said.

At the same time, the Karabakh president said that the “existence of a strong, developed and populated Kashatagh creates stable conditions for the strengthening of our positions both in the negotiations process on the Karabakh conflict and on the front line, making it more protected and safer”.

“Funds allocated to the region’s development will increase considerably this year and in the coming years. The Kashatagh region’s budget for 2008 is 3.7bn drams [about 12m dollars], which exceeds last year’s figure by about 40 per cent. One billion drams [about 3m dollars] are planned to be spent on capital construction and 400m drams [about 1.3 m dollars] on the sphere of capital investment. These tendencies of proportionate development will be maintained in the future as well,” Sahakyan said. The president also said that apart from the region’s economic development, reforms are planned to improve the social condition of the population.

The conference is attended by representatives of 40 organizations of the Armenian diaspora, as well as individual businessman and philanthropists.

[Editorial note: Azerbaijan’s Lacin District (Armenian name Kashatagh), which was captured by Armenians in 1992, links the breakaway region of Nagornyy Karabakh to Armenia]

Source: Arminfo, Yerevan, in Russian 0903 gmt 29 Mar 08

Armenia Politics Society

The Son of the General/Parliamentary Deputy Cannot be Punished

After being beaten and horribly tortured in Etchmiadzin on March 13th, 23 year-old Sepuh Karapetyan died. His only ‘crime’ was that he dared to defend one of the neighborhood girls from the person who had been bullying her around. That person was Zarzand Saroyan, the son of Seyran Saroyan who is an Army General and a member of the National Assembly.
There are two big criminals in Ejmiadzin, and everybody knows them by name: Manvel Grigoryan and Seyran Saroyan. The extract above is from this Hetq article. At the moment there is lots of speculation about punishment for Manvel Grigoryan, for supporting Levon Ter-Petrossian. This will definately be a politically motivated development, however, I can’t say I’m sorry for having one criminal less among senior positions in the Armenian military. Questions remain however, why is it, that only Levon Ter-Petrossian supporters are being punished (criminal or not), while many other criminals are enjoying their freedom and terrorising fellow Armenians. Another great example is the son of Gyumri mayor, who took part in the famous drive-by shootout in Gyumri last Spring, was put in jail, but was promptly released after the Presidential elections, apparently due to the great “services” of the mayor to the Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan during the elections.


Perspective: will there be a return to journalism?

The dark cloud of sad events and disgraceful deeds of the past weeks has been pierced by a ray of sunshine. The telethon to raise funds for “GALA” TV company of Gyumri, harassed by authorities for many months on end, has shown that people are able to tell the difference between the real news and brainwashing, that they are able to value the little democratic achievements that they have. Our colleagues in Gyumri, “GALA” and “Asparez” Journalist’s Club that initiated the campaign to support the TV channel, brought to shame the TV journalism stars in the Armenian capital who justify their bias by saying the free word in Armenia is not protected by anything or anyone.

Only one camera (that of “Yerkir Media” TV company) was shooting the press conference in Yerevan, held on the arson of the car, used by the Chairman of “Asparez” Board Levon Barseghian, and the unprecedented fundraising for “GALA”. The others – over a dozen of Yerevan TV companies and at least as many pro-governmental national newspapers – thought this news “did not deserve attention”.


More then a dozen people arrested in Northern Avenue

The “political walks” taking place in Yerevan’s Northern Avenue are followed by arrests every day. Today more then a dozen citizens were arrested.
The video above shows a woman crying and telling the police, that she had come there with her husband with no “political” intent – just to walk, to which police respond, that there is probably a mistake and they’ll release her husband soon.
Arsen Kharatyan a prominent member of the youth “Sksela” movement is among the arrested today, along with Lyudmila Sargsyan, chairwoman of Social-Democratic Hunchakian Party and Gagik Nersisyan, member of governing body of “Democratic Fatherland” party.


GALA TV paid the penalties and fines of the tax inspection

The telethon/fundraising conducted for Gala TV Company in Gyumri was a success. The necessary sum was collected and completely transferred to tax inspection.
During these days of telethon, 26 million 458 thousand 500 drams have been transferred to the television company. The whole amount has been given to Judicial Act Enforcement Body. The rest of the amount, consisting of about 441 thousand dram will be exacted from the TV company account number where there is 540 thousand drams.

Via E-channel.


Aghvan Hovsepyan gives details of March 1 deaths

E-channel reports some details of the meeting of Peter Semnebi, the special representative of the European Union in South Caucasus with RA General prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepyan, who has told during the conversation that “8 people have died as a result of the disorders, 1 of them – a policeman – from an explosion of a grenade; 3 have died as a result of the special means applied (according to the initial conclusion of the experts); 4 have died of injuries caused by gunshot wounds. The bullets taken out of the bodies have various calibers, which allows to say that various types of arms have been used during disorders, and the preliminary investigation faces the task of revealing all those circumstances. 265 people have been injured, 210 of them being police officers. 68 cars have been set on fire, 10 objects of private property have been destroyed and robbed, including a pharmacy.”
The prosecutor has also informed Semnebi that “all the arrested and detained persons have been subjected to medical examination while being taken to location for keeping the arrested persons, as well as to criminal executive institutions, and all their injuries have been registered. 12 accused persons have been registered to have injuries, and expertise has been appointed in order to find out how they had been caused.”


The issue of Manvel Grigoryan will be solved by president

E-channel reports, that the Defense minister Mikayel Harutyunyan has said that the issue of defense deputy minister Manvel Grigoryan will be solved by the president of the country.
During the protest actions started after the elections held on February 19, 2008, there were many contradictory rumors, as well as statements made by the presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian, according to which deputy minister of defense Manvel Grigoryan supports the RA first president Levon Ter-Petrossian.
“Manvel Grigoryan is on vacation until April 1. His issue will be solved by the president of the country, as the supreme commander-in-chief,” the minister of Defense has announced.


Podcast: Armenian blogosphere under the state of emergency

The state of emergency announced in Yerevan was also emergency for the Armenian bloggers. For 20 days when many newspapers and online publications were not being published, blogosphere had turned into the main territory for searching and disseminating alternative information. After a long interruption due to the state of emergency situation, the Internews Armenia team have put together another radio program covering the Armenian blogosphere during the state of emergency. The podcast of the program is also available.

Armenia Politics

Silent protest action in Yerevan

An action of tribute to the victims of March 1, as well as protest against the clashes of March 1 and the following arrests that took place during the state of emergency was staged in Yerevan yesterday. E-channel reports, that the police had announced about the illegal nature of the protest.

At the beginning of the action, at 17:00, a few thousands of protest action participants had gathered at the Northern Avenue.

At 17:10, people started moving by the pavements to the square near the Myasnikyan monument. Many of them had photos of arrested people, as well as candles in glasses. Near the Myasnikyan monument, the police banned people to congregate, and a part of the action participants decided to go on walking to the Mashtots Avenue and reach the Opera.

Near the Margaryan hospital, the police approached the action participants, announcing “Your march is not licensed, please disperse.” The police banned the action participants to move on. An electric shocker was applied against a man – he was forced into a police car and taken away. The police demanded people to disperse, prohibiting them to stand at that segment of Mashtots avenue. A 60-years-old man asked the police, “Are you cleaning the area?” A police commander with an electric shocker instructed to take that man into a police department. The latter did not resist and quietly got in the police car.

About 15 minutes later, there were no participants of the action of protest in Mashtots Avenue.

Armenia Society

Arson attack on Journalist's Club "Asparez" in response to GALA TV support actions

On March 21, 2008 at 01:05 AM there was an arson attack on Gyumri Journalists’s Club “Asparez” President Nadezhda Hakobyan’s car, which at that time was in use by the Club’s Board Chairman Levon Barseghyan.

Levon Barseghyan is sure, that this arson attack is directly related with his efforts to protect GALA TV and the strict criticism of authorities voiced by him on that and a number of other occasions. He is also sure, that this incident is related to the number of threatening phone calls received by the club, as well as the arson attack attempted on the night of January 18, when the club’s window was put on fire.

It is also noteworthy, that on February 25 the Gyumri mayor had directly insulted and threatened “GALA” TV and “Asparez” Club, stating, that “…there are a couple of sections that disgust people. This is the “GALA section” and “Asparez section”… it is time for them come to their senses, too”. At the time the local police refused to file a criminal case based on the appeal of “Asparez” against the mayor for threatening and insulting them based on this sentence, “due to lack of corpus delicti (body of crime)”.

Meanwhile, according to the data by 22:30, on March 20th, the amount raised in support of GALA TV has reached 11.673.570 drams, which is around 46,47 % of the amount needed to save this small regional TV company. This increadable activity of citizens in support of Freedom of Speech has obviously raised the dislike of the authorities, and the idiosyncratic Gyumri mayor in particular. The latter has spoken on Gyumri “Shant” TV at around 9 PM on March 20th, when the GALA Telethon was in progress on GALA TV channel, and has urged the supporters of the TV to stop helping GALA, and claiming, that the small TV facing a closure if vital amount is not collected, has already received the necessary amount from the HHSH (Levon Ter-Petrossian’s party), and now they’re simply lying and collecting money for their personal gain. Needless to say that GALA supporters deny all these charges.

At any rate, this is a very troublesome development, and if the Armenian authorities want to do anything useful for this country, they should make sure the Gyumri mayor and all the state backed criminals working in various government institutions in Gyumri, including the National Security Service, Tax inspection and the Administrative Court, are fired from their positions and serve their terms for attacking the highest values of Freedom of Speech and Expression, guaranteed by the Supreme Law of this country – THE ARMENIAN CONSTITUTION!