The Electoral Process Ended in Armenia. Serzh Sargsyan is The President.

The Presidential election process has finally ended in Armenia – Serzh Sargsyan is now officially president and all legal means to challange this fact are now exhausted. The Constitutional Court rulling on March 8th rejected the appeals by the presidential candidates Levon Ter-Petrossian and Tigran Karapetyan, demanding for invalidating the results of the February 19, 2008 Presidential elections and calling new elections. It is true, that the hearings were held under a state of emergency situation in the country, and severe information blockade was also one of the factors, hindering the proper investigation and fact collection process. However, under current state of affairs, there had to be some sort of a rulling, and so we have it. In fact, the concerns about the legitimacy of the newly elected President, Serzh Sargsyan can be discarded quite easily. We are the type of society, which will accept him as president, despite the forged elections – and will nicely obey, and condemn those restless souls who keep fighting. Well – we are now a very weak and divided society. We have a weak president, weakened foreign minstry, security forces, etc. Repressions have been triggered, and it is hard to beleive, that the government will be ready to give back the rights taken away from the citizens even after the state of emergency is lifted.
The question now is not – who to blame, who started, etc. The problem is – where we are now, and where do we go from here?

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. […] head of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s electoral team has been detained. With the constitution court rulling on March 8th effectively ending the electoral process in Armenia, the presidential candidate Levon […]

  2. I’ve translated Paykar newspaper’s take on the court’s decision here:
    I’m translating relevant passages there when I have time.
    It’s up to the Armenian people to decide, but I think, and I think many of them agree, that a that is thoroughly corrupt that, on top of everything else, opens fire on and kills its own people is no longer a legitimate, sustainable government. One has to give up one’s dignity to live under such a regime. I’m hoping the Armenian people decide not to do that. These clowns resorted to violence because they’re weak, incompetent, and hollow. One blow, and they’ll topple over.

  3. You ask the right questions, the answers to which I have been articulating to the people of Armenia and the international community for the past year through my ‘Blowing the World Bank Whistle’ action ( “Who is to blame, who started, etc. The problem is – where we are now, and where do we go from here?”
    Your readers may prefer not to believe it, but be assured that the vast majority of Armenians now do.
    Armenia – A Crisis Long in the World Bank Making
    A Parliamentary Commission study into World Bank (WB) projects in 2004 amazingly found that the World Bank and its sister institution the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were clearly orchestrating ways and means to divert state assets from the Armenian public into the pockets of a small circle of state associated cronies. Although the commission worked for only a year and studied a very limited sector of WB/IMF projects, it exposed fraud and embezzlement valued at more than two hundred million dollars, about a third of the state budget. Much of that was facilitated through a wider program to illicitly and virtually free-of-charge transfer billions of dollars worth of major state assets to state official cronies, who operated through international front companies, often in Russia, and it included other methodologies which were used to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars of poverty reduction funds each year to be used by the same corrupt state officials.
    Fully aware of this massive theft of state assets and misappropriation of state funds, the Bank and the IMF continued to report years of economic boom, led by Foreign Direct Investment and followed by a boom in the construction sector. The Northern Prospect project of shops, offices and apartments is the star in the construction crown, adorned by dozens of apartment buildings. The construction epidemic has been spreading since the turn of the century, and with ever-increasing fervor; new apartment buildings occupy every available square meter of Yerevan’s city center and even sprawl throughout the outer suburbs in what appears to be a determined rush to expand the ghostly square meterage. But the offices and apartments continue to stand empty. Moreover, during the same period, Armenia’s population has seen a reduction of more than half a million, the lesser well-connected having been driven from their Republic, which provides impressive Poverty Reduction data for the WB.
    Why were the corrupt state cronies continuing to pump hundreds of millions of their illicit dollars each year into construction projects, when there was no sign of the rush of eager punters they needed to turn their money laundering full circle? By the beginning of 2007, the clouds over the internationally sponsored Yerevan skyline transformation started to clear, the ground works were being laid for an eventual resolution of the Karabakh problem. The international community has long been demanding that Armenia withdraw from the occupied territories around Karabakh, as a lead-in to the full return of Karabakh to Azerbaijan. But despite ever-increasing pressure from the Minsk group, their final guidelines of 2004 continued to gather dust.
    The preparation has been going on in secret, with Kocharian determined the people of Armenia and of Karabakh should not have an inkling of his plan. So he waited his moment, the 2008 Presidential election, when he was to hand over his Presidential sword to his hand picked successor, Serge Sargsyan. With that feat behind them, and with total dominance over Armenia, Sargsyan and Kocharian could finally wash their hands of any responsibility toward their kindred folk (Baghdasarian backed recognition of Karabakhi independence) and eventually sign the Karabakh agreement. That would lead to an immediate flow of several thousand refugees from the surrounding territories, followed by an inevitable second wave of tens of thousands from the homeland, more than sufficient to fill the recently constructed Yerevan apartments.
    It has been a well-conceived, well planned World Bank / IMF supported program, essentially to resolve the Karabakh problem, but at the same time giving Armenia’s corrupt state cronies the opportunity to finally reap the rewards of the billions of embezzled dollars they have been laundering through the past years of construction, backed by the World Bank / IMF and led by Armenia’s Karabakhi led authoritarian regime.
    Azerbaijan will happily pay the two or three months worth of oil revenue needed to have Karabakh back under its control, Russia will probably act as go-between, converting the multi-billion dollar Azerbaijani compensation package to increased Russian investment in Armenia’s construction sector, and the people of Armenia will not only find themselves under increasing Karabakhi led tyranny for the next who knows how many years, they will again have the pleasure of knowing that billions of dollars of their compensation money will have been nicely siphoned off by their leaders – and all with the enthusiastic support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
    It is for this reason that, since January 2007, I have been pursuing my internationally supported ‘Blowing the World Bank Whistle’ campaign, and why through the past year I have been articulating this message to senior representatives of the international community, including the UK Government, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the UN, and the World Bank, for them to be assured that the people of Armenia know what the World Bank and the IMF have been planning since the turn of the century and why Armenia is now under a state of emergency.
    Bruce Tasker
    Senior Specialist
    Armenian Parliamentary Commission (2003/4)

  4. Bruce – thank you for the comment. That was… startling. I have to digest what you’ve just articulated, before making any further postings.

  5. You and the people of Armenia should be startled, the situation is indeed critical. But it is not the first time I have sent info to you.
    Look at my blog and you will see much more, and believe you me, it is all well substantiated and internationally supported.

  6. Today I held myself back from writing a little something about Kocharian’s Special Karabakhi Forces ‘Melting in the Rain’, but I didn’t. But having read Armen Filadelfiatsi’s, comment ‘One blow, and they’ll topple over’, and while I’m on, I’ll add a little comment in reply:
    I take a walk each day through Yerevan’s central squares, which as we all know are now under a state of emergency, including interestingly the Opera’s ‘Liberty’ Square. The central Republican square is surrounded by a variety of soldiers from different batallions, including Kocharaian’s Special Karabakhi Forces, who protect our most respected and beloved leaders in their Government House. I usually have a chat with the Armenian soldiers, and I start by asking, who do you serve. It is nice to hear that they all reply in the same way, the people of Armenia, and I add, and do not forget it. I don’t talk to the Karabakhi Special Forces for fear of antagonizing or provoking them.
    But today, being a Brit. with great pleasure I took to the streets to soak up the rain, and I was amused to see Kocharaian’s Special Karabakhi Forces, who usually flaunt their bravado in front of the Government House, were today huddled together out of the rain under the arches. I could not help myself from calling to them and asking, “Are you worried you might melt in the rain?” Let us hope that soon they will do one or the other.

  7. Bruce you sound like you are mixing up economic “improvement” plans with politics and wishful history-revisionism. I applaud your stand against divisive policies and/or modern day colonialization in Armenia. Your comments about “1/2 a million have left Armenia since 2004” seems ungrounded (at best). A stand against corruption coupled with your love-affair with LTP (not in the above post, but in your other comments) and racism against “Karabakhis” is a self-annihilating combination.
    In any case, best of luck righting the wrongs of the past (meant not facetiously). All would like to see corruption vanish, and I think/hope Armenia is making strides toward that goal today.

  8. Nice to see a vibrant debate under way, which is useful and important at this time and under these circumstances.
    Firstly, AH, my “1/2 a million which you suggest I wrongly claim have left Armenia since 2004” is in fact WB/IMF data. In 2004 their annual report quoted the population of Armenia as being 3,700,000, whereas in 2006, their annual report gives 3,100,000, a little more than 1/2 a million reduction. In fact I wrote “during the same period, Armenia’s population has seen a reduction of more than half a million”, which refers to since the turn of the century. In either even the figure is substantiated by the WB /IMF.
    Secondly, I have absolutely no racist thoughts or tendencies toward the Karabakhi people, and neither as far as I know do the people of Armenia, nor for that matter LTP, although I can not comment on their behalves. It is Kocharian who loves to play the Armenia / Karabakh divide card, always contesting that they are one and the same. But it was he that brought his Special Karabakhi Forces to Armenia during the night of the election (I understand 5,000) to defend Serge’s illegal and self-imposed presidency. And it was he who gave the order for those Karabakhi forces to shoot and kill peace-loving Armenians on the 1st March.
    With respect to my ‘Love affair with LTP”, I often said that during his Presidency it was hard to find a commendable quality in him. But since Kocharian came to power, LTP took on a wonderful quality – Kocharian is far worse. Unfortunately the people of Armenia had a difficult choice to make at the last Presidential election, to choose the bad or the worst, although in fact there was never a question about the rigged outcome. All the others were simply introduced by the SAS/RSK team to muddy the waters, and LTP was the only real alterrnative. Unfortunately the SAS/RSK grip has tightened so much on the Armenian society that they were able to manipulate the results and make sure Armenia finished up with the Worst – So Far.
    If you would like, I can publish some of my letters to the international community, covering my assertions. And whilst there are many high-rankers who openly agree, I have yet to hear from anyone who suggests I might be incorrect, including the World Bank, whose investigatory body, the INT, has been dragging its feet on an investigation for the past year.

  9. According to World Bank data:
    Armenia’s net population growth from 2000 through 2006 was -0.4%, given a reported base of 3.0M in mid 2006. This means 12k less people over 6 years. Now I will not interpolate to get to a 2004 figure, nor extend 6 months past mid 2006 to get to a 2007 figure, but the claim of 600k drop in 3 years within this time frame is hard to imagine in this context.
    And this is using official World Bank data, which I don’t necessarily trust.
    Without doing any research, common knowledge is that massive emigration took place in the early 90s (peaking during the nasty winters in 92-4) and by 1999 or so, net emigration flattened to about zero. A slow climb since has been reported though I have not researched this conjecture, and only present it as generally accepted perception. Having lived in Yerevan during this time, I have only noticed more cars, more traffic etc in the city. Rural population has also not appreciably diminished during that time frame to my understanding. Some even report growth as financial crisis in Russia at the end of the 90s brought many Armenians back to Armenia.
    A 15% drop would be *quite* noticeable, and in lieu of reliable data, I ask the readership to comment on this strange World Bank claim.

  10. AH – you present your figures in a similar way to the Bank, which you don’t necessarily trust, and quite rightly, they manipulate them to suit their purposes, together with their partners-in-crime in the ‘Kocharian Koncern’, often referred to as the GOA.
    The 0.4% negative population growth you quote from 2000 to 2006 is actually an
    annual exodus, which for 6 years amounts to 72,000, or for the 7 years I refer to, 84,000, a much more respectable figure – about half the population of Karabakh. The report you refer to is from 2006, when these figures suited the Bank, to demonstrate impressive Gross National Income (GNI) and Poverty Reduction. If you refer to WB documents of 2004 and before, you will see the Bank continued to quote a population of 3.7 million, which they then needed to keep as much money flowing as possible. But those documents are conveniently no longer readily available.
    That is not of most significance; the important point I make is that Armenia is at a crisis point, and coming back to your incorrect comment on my racism against “Karabakhis”, it will be the Karabakhis who suffer first, followed and worsening through a period of a few years by the people of Armenia. What the Bank and their Armenian partners have very carefully and secretly prepared since the turn of the century is exactly in line with their philosophy, firstly create a crisis, and then demonstrate how marvelous they are at resolving it – irrespective of the suffering it will cause, which we are already starting to witness.

  11. First of all, I would never rely on WB data in general. I merely looked for and found the most relevant (ie World Bank data itself) data I could to try and substantiate/disprove your claim of more than 500k reduction in the population over the 3 years period you indicated.
    My own impression (and I tried to qualify it as such) was that Armenia’s population has not dropped since 2001 or so, and if anything it has modestly increased. In any case, I have never seen any reputable data published anywhere claiming net population drops during the time period 2004-07 of the level you stated so confidently.
    I agree that many players in this numbers game (World Bank included) inflate or deflate numbers according to their objective-of-the-day.
    I also agree we are at a crisis point, and I am optimistic that the current authorities together with any and all constructive opposition players will find the smarts to engage each other with dialogue, a search for common good, and priorities.
    As far as the Kocharian presidency, I think it is a complicated question. Much has improved since the dark (real and figurative) days of LTP’s regime. I for one see more good than bad, but agree that this is subject to interpretation. I will welcome LTP’s final exit from the political stage and look forward to a real opposition forming which can constructively challenge the authorities on all issues relevant to Armenia’s interests.
    Glad to hear your clarification about racism, and especially so in the case of Karabakh, as Armenians have been subjected to extreme forms of racism historically, recently, and often to the detriment of the Armenian people as a whole.

  12. AH – I really do not want to continue a blogger debate, although I could go on indefinitely, with reliable and mostly derogatory information you would never imagine, basically from my year of studying for the National Assembly, but including much more. The bottom line for me is that, if the President thinks it is right to murder his own peaceful citizens in order to maintain his control, then there is something drastically wrong. The problem is that he either goes out as the not too common criminal he is, or he continues to strengthen his tyranny and makes an even greater fortune at the expense of the people of Armenia. With respect to LTP, unfortunately he is the only one who has shown he is ready and able to make a real fight of it. The rest of what are generally quite rightly referred to as ‘Political Prostitutes’, either sell out for money and privileges, or sell out for more money and privileges – like our latest Baghdasarian.
    And with respect to being subjected to extreme forms of racism historically, the Armenian Army has never through the history of Armenia been asked to fire on its own people – until now.
    I hope you don’t mind me leaving it at that, and let us all hope for the very best for the both peoples of Armenia and of Karabakh.

  13. I’ll indeed leave it at that, but for the record respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the events and the causes/faults. I think people who are driving a busload of people to the edge of a cliff must and will bear some responsibility for what you call murder.
    And as far as political prostitution, might that be redundant? This is politics after all, and no one who has followed politics anywhere on earth should be surprised at all when people cut deals. Frankly I hope sensible poeple are doing that right now to avert further disaster. The other option is called a healthy opposition. I will not give much positive value to other alternatives, such as civil war etc.

  14. Well said Bruce.

  15. Another little nail in Armenia’s Democracy Coffin
    I took my constitutional today as usual through the Republican Square and then on to the Liberty (Freedom) Square, to make sure the various forces are properly looking after Armenia’s security. And I had the pleasure of witnessing how at the Liberty Square, the army was being assisted by the police force, who were overseeing removal of the metal bench seats, which our ever-caring authorities had previously put into place in the run-up to one or another election in an expression of their devotion and commitment to the people of Armenia. So now, it seems that not only does Armenia’s democratic majority not have the right to step a foot on their Freedom Square, they are now longer allowed to sit and watch it being guarded.

  16. Bruce,
    Thanks a lot! 100% agree with your statements. Were we are is already obvious. But the question is how to get out of this situation.

  17. 🙂 I wonder where all these Brits that desparately want Armenia to prosper come from?
    World Bank and IMF are bad. They have conspired with Serje and Robert against the Armenian people :)))? Is that the logic? They are going to move some 3 mln Armenians out of Armenia and bring some 150.000 Karabaghtsies instead :)))
    I can give you a lot more trustful conspiracy theory. LTP, backed by the UK and the US has attempted to implement a color revolution, a move agaist the Russian interest in the Caucasus. It is plain and simple. If you want the whole picture, consider the events in Serbia and Kosovo, Ukraine, Georgia, Abkhazia and Osetia and most importantly the rising oil prices and the coming US recession.

  18. Armen – you have to agree, that “all these Brits” – I guess you mean Bruce and Onnik, usually bring very valuable contributions to the Armenian blogosphere. If nothing else, the fact that we can have a side view of ourselves is very valuable, even if you or I might not agree to some of the points these guys are making. So I’ll thank them (and all commenters on this blog for that matter), and ask and invite them to keep contributing to the discussions here.

  19. Observer, thank you for your interest, although I have not read what Armen has written – maybe I shouldn’t?
    Whilst you still reeling from your startledom, I thought I would refer to recent events which are already falling into place (before Sargsyan has even been inaugurated) and what GAP’s lawyers in Washington are doing in our ongoing attempt to try and help the people of Armenia gain some kind of benefit from the multi-billion dollar corrupt program I have articulated.
    You will have seen that the motion for Armenia to recognize Karabakhi independence is now again being prepared, after Raffi Hovhanissian pulled out from his initial attempt in the autumn of last year. Thankfully Raffi saw the light, possibly in response to my numerous submissions to him, and now he is part of a real opposition. And today I read that Sargsyan is preparing to meet with the Azerbaijan side to discuss resolution of the Karabakh problem.
    Have no doubt, the Karabakh agreement which has been gathering dust for the past four years will soon be signed and the scenario I have articulated will start to affect the lives of all Karabakhis and Armenians. That part is inevitable, irrespective of who is Armenia’s President. The important aspect is that the state connected cronies who have been laundering their hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ill-gotten gains in the construction sector through the past several years, at the expense of the people of Armenia, will soon be reaping their rewards, again at the expense of the people of Armenia.
    In Washington, Armenia is now right in the limelight because of today’s state of tyranny, and in accordance with our program, which started in January 2007, GAP is now preparing a submission to Nancy Pelosi for a Congressional hearing on the World Bank’s involvement in this highly corrupt politically motivated agenda.

  20. I’ve now read Armen’s comments: With respect to this Brit, I became involved with this problem in 2004, when I spent a year studying World Bank projects as Senior Specialist for Vahan Hovhanissian’s Parliamentary Commission. I can assure you I have well-documented information to back my claims, which by the way are also supported by several reputable international bodies. I found that there were two other Brits orchestrating the whole sordid affair, Roger Robinson, World Bank Armenia Country Manager, and Jimmy McHugh, IMF Resident Representative, plus one or two other Brits were involved. Those Brits were and are a complete disgrace (the two from the IFI’s now both in Kyrgyzstan), which I have articulated to them and to most of the international community, including our Embassy. I feel that I should do something to try and undo, or at least expose, some of the wrong they have been doing since the turn of the century. But they are not alone; most of the World Bank system seems to support their corruption, including its watchdog organization, the INT, which has spent the past year finding all manner of reasons to put off responding to my Government Accountability Project (GAP) supported request to have the matter investigated. So we are now going to Congress.

  21. Whilst on my daily walk-through of the Liberty Square today, I saw that the metal benches had been completely removed and in their place a police officer had been installed to make sure order and security was being maintained on the sidewalk (or in English – pavement). I walked on to the tarmac (or in American I think asphalt), I gathered together a small group of soldiers, and asked; was it embarrassing to watch your Armenian brothers and sisters watching you guard their Liberty (Freedom) Square? They all gave a little smile and replied – Yes it was, to which I answered, well thank you for that.
    The policeman then came up to me and whilst he was very politely removing me from the tarmac, he asked what I was talking about, and I told him. He then asked what nationality I was, to which I answered, I am British, and added, but I am more Armenian than the two who arranged all of this. He also gave a little smile, to which I commented, I see you are also ashamed, and his eyebrows raised in obvious agreement.

  22. Bruce – I think it is easy to read a bit too much into polite formality (formal politeness?) on the part of soldiers and policemen who probably amuse themselves with random comments/conversations all day long.

  23. AH – Yes they probably think I’m crazy.
    And they are probably right!

  24. What can be said about Bruce Tasker? The man is a boon to the Armenian people. An unlikely miracle that shines in the dark miasma that is Kocharian’s Armenia. Why mainstream Armenian newspapers don’t take up the key information that he has uncovered is a never-ending source of mystery to me.
    How else can I put this:
    Read the damn blog and publish the information already, god dammit, you stupid, fucking Asbarez editors! Kaj Vartan, my ass. Where’s your courage now, you chickenshits?

  25. Armen Filadelfiatsi:
    How succinctly you put that!
    Thanks for your support, and if you did not know, the 168 Hours and the Armenia Times newspapers published more than a dozen articles on the action through the latter months of 2007, each of which I distributed throughout the Armenian state system and internationally. So there are quite a few who have followed the case closely, and it is pleasing to hear their reactions, when I meet with them on the streets, including from within the Government. A bit similar to yours, but maybe not so vernacular.

  26. Too bad you are published in papers that are completely discredited. Your baby will get lost in the bathwater.

  27. They are the only papers that are ready to publish anything but state propaganda, which as we have seen from Sargsyan’s recent question and answer session, usually amounts to a pack of lies. BTW – Sargsyan said he was ready to re-look at our action, but when GAP’s Director of International Programs came from Washington to Yerevan in November last year to meet with him, he did not event reply to a written request for a meeting (which he is obliged to do). That is how much he is ready to tackle the problem of rampant corruption in his administration – Not at all!

  28. To be honest, I wouldn’t read that much into one in a long line of corrupt international projects. Armenians will eventually clean up Armenia, with or without the “help” of the WB etc. Time to move forward – lots to do here and now. Glad to see elections are finished (the least likely time for change to come about) and that everyone can get back to work/school etc.

  29. Bruce Tasker,
    I’ve followed your story for a while now. Honestly…you bore me. You are a boring bitter Anglo-maniac who is too frustrated for losing his job, being stuck in Armenia and not finding a job anywhere else.
    Seriously go and blow your d*** for a change instead of the whistle. We have enough problems in Armenia as it stands.

  30. Hello Hayrenaser,
    Thank you for your most impressive and objective comments. You sound like an independent photo-journalist I know. Just for the record, with respect to losing my job, I have never lost a job – anywhere. To the contrary, when I was involved in my study for the National Assembly in 2004, the Armenian Government offered me a Very Cushy Number, as they usually do to keep a lid on these problems. But I made a promise to the people of Armenia to take a stance against the ever-escalating corruption in Armenia (and so did Vahan Hovhanissian, but when faced with the facts he decided on the more attractive route) , but contrary to most, I kept to my word and I am still fighting for a full investigation, after four years, and things are going not too badly.
    Moreover, In December 2004, one of Armenia’s most influential businessmen who has his offices in Moscow offered me a job as Project manager for the 70 projects he had on his books at the time. I told him that I had made a promise to the people of Armenia and I would stand by my promise.
    So, Hayrenaser, your comments are out of context and you are well off the mark. And the problems in Armenia are not of my making, they are because there are still Hayrenaser’s like you who have absolutely no comprehension of what is going on around them, or they prefer not to see the problems, or they are a part of the problem.
    But thanks for your input, which shows the debate is still of interest.

  31. Out on my daily constitutional this evening, as usual I passed by Liberty Square, which in a recent press conference our outgoing tyrant renamed ‘Theater Square’, no doubt to avoid any unwanted questions. Assuming his state-of-emergency had ended, I thought I might sample a foot or two worth of freedom. But alas my hopes were dashed; the square was again teeming with riot police, suitably helmeted and garnishing their shields and batons. As is my way, and knowing that Armenia’s emergency was over, I spotted a lesser attentive group of riot police and walked straight on to the tarmac, which of course was received by shouts of disapproval, which I did not understand, as it was in Armenian. But the general in charge came to my assistance and in Russian, which I do understand; I asked him what was going on, because as far as I was aware, the state of emergency was over. He explained that it was his problem, to which I replied, yes his riot police were the ones who were causing the problem, but it was the freedom loving people of Armenia who had to suffer it. So much for the end of Kocharian’s ‘State of Emergency”!

  32. >So much for the end of Kocharian’s ‘State of Emergency”!
    Very well said indeed, Bruce!

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