Armenian opposition persists in holding protest-rallies

While many people call the attempts of Armenian opposition to protest the results of February 19, 2008 Presidential elections by holding rallies as a pointless waste of time and efforts, it’s hard to imagine, what else the radical opposition could do at this point – their support is slowly declining, the government shows no genuine desire to engage in dialogue with them, international bodies seem to have exchanged their demands for Armenia’s democratisation with the vague promise for compromise in Nagorno Karabakh issue.

Meanwhile the opposition rallies continue: last week there was one in Gyumri, today the rally in Yerevan seems to have attracted less people then in the previous one. With summer heat driving people away from Yerevan and the holiday season killing all types of enthusiasm for action, political or otherwise, looks like this is just a lost cause for the opposition, or a way to slowly calm down the anti-government moods still persisting among a large number of people.

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58 thoughts on “Armenian opposition persists in holding protest-rallies

  1. Ditord is again doing personal conclusions based on his so called “independent objectivity”.

    If you remove this comment then you are really “independent”.

    No word, in your report about the rally and political demands. Are you reporter or people counter?

  2. Here’s an AFP press report–considering that once again the roads were blocked, and people were threatened, not to mention the number of people out of the city and indeed the country in July, it doesn’t seem like the enthusiasm has diminished, and certainly it cannot be called a “lost cause”, especially considering the bombshell that Russia and Azerbaijan came up with this week about NKR, with or without the Armenian government’s approval.

    YEREVAN (AFP) — Several thousand opposition supporters rallied Friday in the Armenian capital Yerevan to call for a series of anti-government protests.

    Up to 7,000 opposition supporters were seen in the centre of Yerevan by an AFP reporter. Organisers said 50,000 had participated.

    Protesters called for the results of a February presidential election won by former prime minister Serzh Sarkisian to be annulled, alleging the vote was rigged, and chanted “Levon for president” in reference to opposition leader and former president Levon Ter-Petrosian.

    “We demand that the authorities release political prisoners, punish those guilty of tragic events on March 1, guarantee freedom of speech, media, assembly,” Ter-Petrosian told the crowd.

    The opposition leader said that his supporters intended a “maximum mobilisation of society to prepare for the most important meeting on August 1, when we will voice the results of Sarkisian’s first 100 days.”

    The opposition would hold pickets and rallies, as well as sit-in protests, throughout July, he added.

    Police had earlier warned protesters to stay out of the city centre, saying they only had permission to rally on the outskirts of Yerevan. However, after a first brief confrontation, the police allowed protesters into downtown Yerevan.

  3. Armenianow’s report–note the higher crowd estimate: http://www.armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&AID=3182&CID=3048&lng=eng&IID=1194

    An estimated 10,000 people who had turned out for the rally met first president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan with rapturous applause and waited for about three hours to hear him deliver his speech.
    ….
    Police had been deployed to guard major government offices near the capital’s main Republic Square in anticipation of the opposition’s procession.

    Also, ArmeniaNow could confirm that public transportation towards Yerevan from at least two towns, Etchmiadzin and Abovyan, was mostly unavailable in afternoon hours raising speculations about plans to prevent opposition supporters in provinces from arriving in the capital in time for the rally.

    The Friday rally and march took place only days after an ugly incident in Northern Avenue, a scene of daily “political walks” of the opposition, as a fistfight broke out between Ter-Petrosyan supporters and a group of whom many eyewitnesses described as ‘well-built’ men. Several people on the opposition side reportedly sustained injuries as a result of the brawl. The opposition later accused the authorities of orchestrating the attack on its peaceful protesters in an attempt to scare people off from turning out for the planned rally and claimed that some of the assailants were bodyguards of two district mayors of Yerevan.

  4. In fact, on the ground it does feel like there is no air left in the tires. Most people have become convinced that Levon has no new ideas. Most feel he was bankrupt from the start, and the others – even if they expected to hear something in terms of policy ideas now months after March 1 (which itself was weeks after the election) – now most agree that the radical opposition has nothing new to say.

    Sour grapes, power-hunger, eagerness to steal more (once wasn’t enough)…call it what you will, but there is much more hope/interest among most people in what the new administration is (or is not) going to accomplish than what the retreads are clamoring for again and again.

  5. We took a lot more video than this at both June 20 and July 4. Now if only we could upload it somewhere…

  6. Katy
    You can open a youtube account and upload them. Or you can send them to postmaster_at_payqar.org I will upload them.

    Regards

  7. My internet connection here in Armenia isn’t good enough to upload anywhere. Thanks tho.

  8. I think all these opposition rallies in Yerevan is a joke….I bet all those 50.000 protesters do not understand what they want, but in overall it is good for Armenian democracy, at least they can raise their voices in the future properly it is a good exercise…

    I am sure Mr. Ter-Petrosian is not interested what people think of him, he is a politician he knows he can’t make them rich in few weeks time.

    I won’t be surprise that Levon to join to his already exiled family, and laugh at those rallies that he was responsible for ..Armenian should remember how he treated our Catholicos during March 1-st rally, only mentally retarded person would turn his face away from our Catholicos.

    I bet Catholicos of all Armenians would have asked him this is not a “Christian” way of protest… you are harming my people and their faith. as I mentioned before, I would have ask him again, see how Israelis keep their “politics” correct go and educate yourself Mr. Ter-Petrosian, and leave our people alone, enough is enough.

  9. What does Christianity have anything to do with anything? And the Catholicos could’ve and should’ve said the things that he wanted to say without having to meet Levon.

  10. It is against our Christian Believe to kill people, and we do not have Islamic Jihadist in our country. 10 people killed for no reason .

    Our Catholicos who is a holy man and has Christian values…he never commented and never had interviews because he knows he is not a Government official.

    But as I said he did right thing to go and see Levon, but like many none beleivers Mr. Ter Petrosian rejected him, he brought shame to our country

  11. Grish – looking at the numbers again: 3 weeks ago, protest crowd estimates were 8-10k. Last one was said to be even less.

  12. To Grish Begian

    What can you say about Kocharyan’s statement about Catholicos, who had called Kocharyan to ask him whether he could go to meet with Ter-Petrosyan or not on the 1st of March. REAL Catholicos does not need to call some one before doing something. This means that our Catholicos, unfortunately, is a part of this mafia system with his restaurants, hotels and other businesses. Unfortunately….

  13. a political statement that has to be verified …you are not sure. you have to see first and then judge…you can not insult our catholicos, that is street level talk…but that is beauty of freedom of speech that you and I having, instead of knife and gun…our people in Armenia are not there yet, but I am sure they will overcome of their problems…how many times in your life happened that you have changed your mind and find out you were wrong my dear?? we all going that direction which is great, we have to make people talk, eventually they will find their answer, they don’t have to be intimidated by Kochariann or Petrosian….all I can see today, Petrosian is an “obstacle” for Armenians in Armenia. He is not helping them.. he put hate and wrong words in our young and naive people’s heart, for his selfish need. 10 people killed in our country that is not a democracy that is anarchy. killing is final degree of hate…our young generation in Armenia poisoned with intimidation and fingerpointing at each others…people who are under influence they can make wrong decision, because they have not reached to their maturity yet. time will solve all problems as long as we respect and like each others opinion…we all want our country get out of this mess, as soon as possible, Kocharian is a history, he is gone Petrosian should have gone long time ago, he is also part of history…talk about today, I can tell you this, we will be part of history, but our country will be matured up and that is what I am concern “unity of our people”, something we always missed in our Long and unhappy history, we need that badly in today’s Armenia.

  14. if the catholicos was so sincere he would go to Myasnikian sq and talk to people. Instead he sacks the priests who were there praying with people while bullets were fired on them and into air.

  15. To Grish

    I do not want to offend you, but it seems to be you are out of touch from Armenian reality. It is clear that you are in USA, and you are attending Armenian Church every Sunday (at least), but it is not enough to judge that those protesters are immature, and the country is immature. Just keep your advises to yourself, then try to come to Armenia and see the reality.

    You state that 10 people are dead. Who killed them? Petrosyan?

    I think you need multi source information, because I see the American attitude “unity of people”. What is that? Are you serious? I think you need to mature a little.

    About catholicos.

    It is not street talk that he owns many businesses (not personally, his brother and relatives). You need proof? Come to Armenia and I will show you.

    To be Armenain Christian is good, but it does not mean that we have to tolerate the catholicos who has done NOTHING for his country. Absolutely NOTHING.

    I even can explain you how the priests are appointed in the Armenian church to USA and European countries.

    Hey body, you do not know many things

  16. Since this discussion has taken a turn towards catholicos, I felt I needed to step in. In the late 1980s, I was working in a government institution that’s dealt with airlifting children – victims of the Spitak earthquake abroad, mainly to the U.S., France, etc.

    At that time, there was only one color printer in the whole republic and it was a gift to Garegin, then-archbishop of the Ararat Diocese, now-catholicos, from his beloved Louise Simon Manougian. The printer was at the St. Sarkis church in Yerevan. We were told by foreign doctors who were to treat our children that color copies of the children’s traumas were needed for initial screening. We found out about the printer and made a phone call to Garegin. He agreed to let us make copies. . . for money! We couldn’t believe our ears. The country was in complete dismay, chaos and confusion reigned after the earthquake, and our own government salaries (still in Soviet rubles) were miserable. Nevertheless, we went there in the hope that when he sees that it was not something that we’ve requested for our own profit, but, rather, for the sake of many children whose medical reports we took with us as a proof. We were wrong in our hope. The guy stood by while we were making copies, then took the money that we gave fhim rom our own pockets, hastily put it under the robe, and said good-bye.

    I can understand the feelings of believers, but we need to distinguish among religious dogma and religious mafia on the one hand that are largely viewed as a stigma, and Christian faithfulness and spirituality, on the other. This catholicos should go, as should the authorities, former or present. We are not at the stage when we can say that people enjoy a public-spirited government or a religious authority. It will take time, jerks will still come, but I believe at some point in time they will go, too.

  17. Dear Nerses,
    I am shocked. The banditocracy doesnt stop surprising me, even when I think I had enough of it.
    I think you story deserves a broader audience therefore i am publishing it at http://www.khosq.com
    I hope you wouldn’t mind.

  18. Is this the Armenian Observer, or is this the Armenian Prognosticator? Stick to just observing; otherwise, you run the risk of looking like a person who sees thousands of people demonstrating on a weekly basis, a government who is terrified enough of them to refuse them permits and occupy Freedom Plaza, and prisons filled with legions of political prisoners and calls it a “lost cause.”

    Armenian society has gone through fundamental changes ever since February; the Armenians of today have a hope and an energy that does not have its match in recent history; calling this phenomenon an “anti-government mood” is not only wrong, but, I’m sorry, totally ridiculous; It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about, and I mean that as an “independently objective” observation.

  19. Armen – What makes Observers observations any less relevant or accurate than your own? Instead of wishful thinking that the power-struggle led by LTP and the radical opposition is gaining steam, he points out his view from the ground (not from Philadelphia, I might add) that the attempt to seize power is running out of gas.

    I for one agree. Almost no one I talk to and work with expect anything positive to come from LTP. I for one am just thankful that no more violence was precipitated and no further escalation of hate-speech was promoted at the latest rally.

    Thankfully, more and more people are seeing that as good or bad the current leadership is, it is far and away better than the alternative. Government is attempting to tackle corruption, moving toward reforms, and staying above the back-and-forth banter from a few months ago. Move forward and leave the squabblers behind.

    And for the record, there was much more energy and hope in the air when the discredited and failed president Ter Petrosian left office with his tail between his legs 10 years ago.

  20. Too many politicians but not very many noblemen with Armenians.. no my dear you do not offend me you offended to your country and to your dignity and to your people.

    I know history of Armenians, people like you will fight, until Russians or Iranians control our beloved country, then we all be quiet again. Go ahead make more fires and more enemy and kill each others, our enemy love to see that, That is Turkish dream.

  21. Nerses – thanx for sharing that. Shocking indeed.

    Armen – anything I write here is open to discussion – nothing I say is set in stone. I still have a feeling that LTP’s movement is already dead. Can you prove otherwise? Honestly, I’d be more then interested to hear your counter-arguments.

  22. AH, what makes Observer’s observations less relevant or accurate than mine? The fact that his interpretations are not based on any real observations of facts: read his post again and note the recurrence of the phrase “seem to”; note how his assertion that the Opposition is in “decline” is based on the government’s reluctance to engage them in a dialog, which is akin to saying that boxer A is weaker because boxer B refused to fight him, when, in fact, boxer A’s strength has got nothing to do with boxer B, obviously; note, too, that his strongest bit of evidence is the “summer heat” and the “holiday season.”

    Everyone knows that the more categorical one’s claims are, the more necessary it is to furnish proof. The claim that the Opposition is a “lost cause” is as categorical a claim as categorical claims get, yet the amount of proof provided by Observer to back this claim up approaches zero the harder one looks. That’s why his “observations” are less relevant than mine. If you need me to spell other obvious points out for you, feel free to ask.

    For their part, the “evidence” that you offer are themselves nothing but simple assertions and, I’m sorry to say, ridiculous lies. Fighting corruption? The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Armenia is a mafia Don; the current corrupt government has managed to make ludicrous taxes on certain imports “legal,” in order to protect Kocharian’s and Sargsyan’s cronies’ monopolies, starting from Kocharian’s son’s cell-phone monopoly, and moving to produce from Georgia, automobiles, and a host of other goods, which is to say other livelihoods that are destroyed by this parasitic clique; the firing of Armen Avetisyan, head of Customs, ostensibly because of corruption, was a complete sham, as Nikol Pashinian has exposed:

    “Gevorkovian theater’s worthy actor, Serge Sargsyan, commenced his post-election guest performances [Russian: гастрол?] from the Armenian Customs Service (ACS), which is close to the government. The dismissal of Armen Avetisyan, the chairman of the ACS for the last 8 years, served as the occasion for Sargsyan’s meeting with the customs officials. During the meeting he unleashed invectives upon them and said that the ACS is ruled by wretched habits–bribery and corruption. There was but one purpose for his visit: to show the public that an unprecedented formidable struggle against corruption has begun. And yet, if Serzh Sargsyan’s “custom’s performace” was a drama to the viewers who are uninformed, to the viewers who are informed it was nothing if not a comedy.

    On first glance, [the Sargsyan-at-Customs] story can make a favorable impression: Here is Serzh firing Armen Avetisyan who has turned Customs into a criminal establishment. In reality, however, Armen Avetisyan was not fired because of any wrong-doing, but because of ill health. Armen Avetisyan has spent most of the last year undergoing different treatments in various countries; keeping him in his post would have amounted to sadism. And, generally speaking, in order to understand this event, it is necessary to know who Armen Avetisyan is. Serzh Sargsyan has often said to the people in his circle that he, Sargsyan, who does not have a son, sees Armen Avetisyan as his own. And Armen, for his part, has naturally not refused such “high-level fathering”; his entire career is tied to just Serzh Sargsyan, himself.”

    Pashinian wrote this expose, and I translated it on my blog. You can read the rest of it in English here, if you want:

    http://tinyurl.com/592b52

    And the original Armenian is here:

    http://www.payqar.org/am/80/item/444/

    As far as your assertion that Serzh is in any way interested in fighting corruption is concerned, the article dissmisses your claims[edited by Administrator] AH. Read it. And may I add that you are being educated on this matter by a diasporan Armenian: Sux2BU, as they say. Which brings us to your next piece of “evidence”: You say, “Almost no one I talk to and work with expect anything positive to come from LTP.” And what do the “people [you] talk to,” have to say about the direction of world civilization? Does Serzh consult them when he is picking his Lucky Numbers?

  23. Armen – let’s get back to my question. I insist, that the opposition has lost the cause – they won’t be able to achieve anything by persisting in holding these demonstrations, with enthusiasm and numbers slowly declining. However, I don’t see any other course of action the opposition could have undertaken – so they will just have to keep doing these rallies.

    Also – I state with confidence, that this rally attracted less people then the previous one. If I estimated the previous one at around 20-25,000 people, this one was perhaps 12-15,000 people. Even if we forget the numbers for a moment, the sizes of the crowds were visibly different, so if the previous one was 200,000 (as LTP said), than this one was 100,000 or less. That is what I am saying – and that is what I consider facts. I can also state, that some highways leading to Yerevan were blocked for several hours during both events, but that doesn’t change the fact, that from one million strong population of Yerevan only so many people attended the rally, whereas we all remember, that during the continuous protests in February, despite the cold and bad weather, there were always more people.

  24. Armen – I think you have had one too many cheese steaks. I have no idea how you think you can discredit the authorities by quoting from Pashinyan. He is a disgrace of modern Armenian media (which is saying alot), having supported luminaries like Bleyan and denigrating everything related to the state for years. Among the good consequences of the sad March 1 night is that he is no longer in Armenia. And, anyway, why do you find such joy as a Diasporan in trying to “learn some locals”? How mighty of you.

    My point was that on the ground (ie in Armenia) one has a better sense of reality…just like if I started telling you how the feeling for or against McCain was on the ground in Rittenhouse Sq…I would happily listen carefully to you opinion.

    And finally, I have no grandiose expectations of corruption vanishing overnight. But thank God that enough people in Armenia have the sense not to invite the Architect of the System, LTP, back for round 2 of plundering and depopulating the country. We learned the hard way and we don’t need to swallow that poisoned pill again, thank you very much.

  25. The Opposition is alive and well; it is as strong as it ever was, and this fact is easily provable.

    Consider: Who are the ones best suited to judge whether the Opposition is still viable or no longer a threat? Kocharian and Sargsyan, themselves, of course; after all, they are the ones who are directly threatened by the Opposition; they are the ones who, out of sheer necessity, out of the fear of loosing their livelihoods, simply cannot afford to miscalculate when it comes to the question of the strength of the Opposition.

    And, clearly, Kocharian and Sargsyan still consider the Opposition a real threat. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t block the roads, they wouldn’t occupy Freedom Plaza, and they wouldn’t continue to hold political prisoners, not to mention threaten newspapers, spread propaganda, and invent new, ridiculous, laws that eliminate the people’s right to assembly–and all of this in flagrant disregard of the COE’s findings and recommendations.

    So I guess it comes down to a question of which is more credible, your facile attendance estimate and what you think that means, or Kocharian’s and Sargsyan’s estimate of the Opposition’s strength? The answer is the latter, of course: Kocharian’s and Sargsyan’s feeling a threat is incontrovertible evidence that the Opposition is very definitely viable, indeed; on the other hand, a casual head count means next to nothing.

    Not only is the Opposition movement alive and well today, its genesis as a real people’s movement and slow and steady development suggest that it is going to be a permanent part of the Armenian political landscape. When protest rallies are attended by all three, sometimes all four, generations of families, it is a clear sign that the movement has entered their lifeblood and is as much a part of their daily lives now as feta, lavash, and tea. It’s in the Armenian-techno of the teenagers as much as it is grandma’s enkuizi vareni. Young ladies wear yeraguin accessories at rallies as a fashion statement. Hundreds of villagers and–a Belgian guy–are on hunger strikes…

  26. I’m saddened to see this dichotomy in our society, caused, among other reasons, by the fact that the people, throughout their endurance as independent nation, feel deceived in their expectations for better-governed society on the part of the rulers, former or present.

    This societal split is exactly what is NOT needed. Neither of the rulers was or is responsive to popular needs, accountable to the people, open-minded, and progressively-thinking. None.

    I for one think it couldn’t be otherwise given the plethora of geographic, historical, socio-political, and economic reasons. Let’s not forget that the republic, or any other nation-state, doesn’t function on its own in this world order. There are those who interfere and manipulate from the outside in order to advance their interests. Armenia is just a pawn on their chessboard. For some reason, I think these behind-the-scene string-pullers are not genuinely interested in seeing Armenia prosperous, because Armenia has legitimate concerns and is thus perceived as dangerous regional entity.

    Think for a second: was it not possible to raise and bring to the fore liberal, open-minded people during the past 17 years? Armenians have such people in abundance. The problem here is that such people are less malleable, less controllable, less subservient than public-spirited, participatory rulers. That’s why we’ve got what we’ve got: LTP, RK, SS et.al.

    It will take time and will require wisdom and tranquility in order not to succumb to intrigues, machinations, and keep the society consolidated. I understand I can be asked “how?” I’m afraid I don’t have a recipe. Perhaps, time, natural course of events, and the mercy of God is the one that comes to my mind.

  27. “Almost no one I talk to and work with expect anything positive to come from LTP.”
    That’s a pretty small sample, wouldn’t you say? And unless any of them were expecting anything positive from LTP before and are now disillusioned, it’s a meaningless statement.

    I agree that the street manifestation of the so-called movement appears to be winding down because of fear and the heat, but you’re kidding yourself if you think it has anything to do with people all of a sudden thinking that this government is going to change their lives. You might be one of maybe 3 people who actually believe any of the anti-corruption or lawfulness rhetoric. And I find it absolutely hilarious that you think LTP can’t change things because he was part of the system in the ’90s and yet you believe that Serzhik who held various prominent posts in both Ter-Petrosyan’s and Robik’s administrations can.

    But if you in your heart believe that Armenia is on the right path then God Bless you; I’m sorry I can’t join in your optimism. Although in an overwhelmingly positive development, after 136 days in custody, Smbat Ayvazyan’s case was finally sent to court today, even though no court date has been set yet. That’s fantastic, it took them 4.5 months to gather enough evidence to prove he really did punch a cop while in custody. I bet if Robik was still in charge, his pre-trial detention would 4.5 years. Now that’s change I can believe in.

  28. I don’t need Kocharian’s or Serj Sargsyan’s reactions to be a litmus test to assess the momentum of the opposition. Maybe it is politically convenient for them, maybe it is wishful thinking on your part.

    My point is, that fewer people go to hear the same complaints, fewer people have positive hope in this group of would-be-coup d’etat-ists. Yes, these are my observations…what more are we supposed to post here? Our distant interpretations of someone else’s response?

    And me, I didn’t say that everything is on the right path: I said that my feeling is that far fewer people have expectations that some magical radical force will change things, while many are quietly hopeful (I won’t even say optimistic) that certain reforms will go forward.

    What is so unusual or surprising there? If you are a fatalistic naysayer who doesn’t think Armenia is capable of anything positive, than no amount of tempered hope can change that.

    Using the detention time of a reported coup participant is not such a critical litmus test for me: I am far more interested to assess changes that affect the people.

  29. Recent Armenians uprising against ruling party or better say against Mr. Sarkisian, mostly contributed by our Armenian Justice and educational system.

    We have to admit that our country run, for 70 years under corrupted USSR. Educational system never admit or mention about “justice and Corruption” during communism. In order Armenians become successful in Europe and EU and in Armenia, they have to trust their justice system and fight against corruption.

    it is Armenian Government duty to introduce a subject in our school system, and universities regarding our society “chronic corruption” habit, if we do not admit now, and correct ourselves, this dangerous disease will kill Armenia.
    Sincerely,
    Grish Begian
    Toronto, Canada

  30. A “reported” coup participant? Excuse me? Reported by whom? One has to have serious problems with logic and reality to believe that events of March 1st were an attempt at a coup.

    At any rate, Smbat Ayvazyan was arrested on February 24th, while driving, because the guys from 6 had “operative information” that he had illegal weapons on him. Of course the Makarov they found was issued to him by the Defense Ministry in ’94 and he had all the papers necessary. Inexplicable, they then decided to test him for drugs; when that cleared, old reliable article 316 was slapped on.It took 4.5 months to gather enough evidence to prove he did in fact resist an officer while being taken back from the drug testing facility (read: it took that long to find anyone who’d actually falsely testify against him). You might not see a problem with this but to me it just shows that it’s business as usual in Armenia, while our ex HHShakan turned opposition turned Central Bank Chief turned Prime Minister churns out masterpiece after masterpiece in fiction about corruption and respect of the law and the constitution.

    P.S. Needless to say Smbat’s a Kharabagh vet; I’m guessing you’d know more about him if he was either a 1)Kharabaghci Armenian or 2)dead.

  31. me –
    Months of hate, animosity, and disregard toward not only the government, but the Armenian state and its laws/institutions.
    Rioters clashing with police (seemingly initiating attacks, but not critically relevant for the point made here.
    Riot leaders encouraging troops to join their fight against the authorities (Just imagine if any had exercised bad enough judgment to do so. Even just a few.)
    Rumors of oligarchs with their private militias like Lady Hakob and especially General Manvel being announced in euphoric delirium that they had joined the fight…

    Sounds like a coup attempt to me.

    Re: Smbat Ayvazyan, as well as all the other arrested individuals: I hope they try them asap. Imprison those found guilty and let the others free. It doesn’t matter for me if he is a Karabakh vet or a veterinarian. as far as how he should be judged in a courtroom.

  32. A coup! Now you’re being ridiculous, AH.

    Were it a coup, the Council of Europe’s report would not have dozens of points against the government that the supposed coup was against. As it stands, the consensus is that the Kocharian/Sargsyan government is a criminal, non-democratic one.

    Europeans have officially assessed the Kocharian/Sargsyan government as a dictatorial one. So has the US condemned the Kocharian/Sargsyan government.

    No one on this planet has seen the Opposition movement as a coup, except you, AH. Sux2bu.

  33. Interesting that you feel comfortable speaking on behalf of everyone on the planet. Makes me wonder what planet you are on.

    I am in Armenia, and elements of a coup attempt is exactly what many of us saw.

    I have read nowhere that “Europeans” have officially assessed the Armenian government as dictatorial, and I would be interested in reading such a declaration. Or one from US.

  34. AH, I’ve noticed you do the same. You make sweeping generalizations of the situation “on the ground” and claim to know what “many of us”, “most”, “enough people”, “few people” in Armenia think and feel….And you base all of it on interviews with friends and co-workers. Everyone I speak to is a LTP supporter, but that doesn’t send me into a delusion of thinking that he doesn’t have opponents, or that there aren’t people “on the ground” (as supposed to underneath it I guess?) who think differently of him.

    As far as the “coup d’etat” is concerned. OK, I’m going to try to follow the official logic of the events. From February 20-29, Levon Ter-Petrosyan and “others”, being unable to concede defeat in widely fair elections, organized mass illegal protests aimed at creating distrust toward the said credible elections and inciting hatred toward the benevolent Armenian authorities. On March 1st-2nd, throngs of hypnotized protesters armed with guns and grenades attempted to take over power by looting shoe stores and burning cars (classic coup tactics) while cleverly refusing to go near any of the government buildings, the parliament, CIK, and not taking over the Yerevan municipality building that was theirs for the taking and at the time was not being protected by police or the army. Got it. Makes perfect sense.

    Re: Ayvazyan and others. The point is they shouldn’t be jailed. “Imprison those found guilty and let the others free.” What does that mean? Who’s going to be responsible for jailing tens of innocent people without due cause? Essentially the same sentiment was expressed by Tigran Torosyan when they stripped the MPs of immunity. “Let them go sit in prison and let us determine whether they were guilty or not.” Um what? So the burden of proving innocence falls on the accused, and here were are 4.5 months later, and there is still not enough evidence to send the cases of any of the 4 MPs to court, when there was paradoxically enough to strip them of immunity. By the same logic, people can be plucked off the street and forced to prove that they didn’t have anything to do with the “events of March 1st”….Oh wait, that’s already happening.

  35. To AH

    When you state something, or write something you need to understand the subject first. If you do not understand the meaning of the subject or the word you are using, then not only your point is useless, but also you sound uneducated demagogue.

    What is coup? From your posts I see that you do not know what is coup.

    Deifinition of the coup is “illegal attempt of seizure of the LEGAL Authority”.

    Now, What was illegal in opposition rallies. Just tell me what is illegal? It is illegal that the LTP could get the support of Lady Hakob or Manvel (I do not like these two also).

    Second, was the SS’s and RK’s power legal? Are they legitimate?

    I am sure that even if you do not like LTP, but if you try to be objective, you will find that there was not any coup.

    Everybody forgets the source of this political crisis. It is violent and falsified elections, the violent march of the police in the morning of the March-1st.

    After this any reasonable person on either side (serge or Levon), should not personalize this political crisis, and try to get rid of this illegal authorities.

    Then we People collectively will decide our new president.

    Some people say we need time, some say we need to have better education. Of course everything is right. But if you do not fight now, you will have better education system later, the corrupt system will last longer than expected.

    So, today’s action defines tomorrow’s events. For me is important that one time the people of armenia will feel that they are not powerless, that they are not deprived and destined to slave mentality, and I really do not care who is the leader, even if one from mountain chobans.

    I am sure, that most of those who oppose LTP, they would also oppose Raffi if he was the leader, just because they are all conformists and they do not realize the need for change by the people. By the way conformists in Armenia are majority, and many of them rise when there is only critical mood and need for them or in the environment they are in.

    I am sure that many will think that I am naive believing that people will decide the future not the persons. On the other hand I do not believe any other conspiracy theories, like LTP and Serge staged this crisis together and etc. Moreover, it is important the people them self believe in it, even if they are really not part of the equation.

    The first thing our country needs is not better education or less corruption. The firt thing we need that the people are not disappointed and despaired, so they do not leave the country. To achieve this firt thing we need is FAIR ELECTIONS.

    Then we can create free press, independent justice system, better education, no corruption and etc.

  36. I am merely stating my opinion and not on behalf of anyone, though living in Armenia, I have some interactions with different segments of people on the ground.

    Your astonishment that people are arrested and awaiting trial is funny, considering you question the legality of Serj Sargsyan’s presidency. (Who are you or who am I to deem something legal or illegal? there are institutions and processes to decide these questions.)

    Sargsyan was elected in an imperfect election, one that was nevertheless deemed better than any in 17 years by international observers. It was furthermore confirmed through all legal mechanisms (election committee, const, court etc), so by these legal measures he is the legal president. No amount of neo-Bolshevistic ranting and raving by LTP and the radical opposition can change that. That you are unhappy with him as president, that is fine, in fact, it is good to have difference of opinion in these matters.

    I don’t know what evidence the authorities have or do not have regarding the guilt/innocence of the accused. I also do not know what the average time for putting together a case (in the US, the time can be much longer). My guess is you do not know either, but when convenient, we find ourselves wearing judges robes, when convenient we chant democracy, when convenient we ignore democratic ideals, and attack policemen, ignore laws, and exhort troops to commit treason in serving against the state etc,

    I have little faith in political forces who act out of whatever principle is convenient for power-usurping.

    And we all agree that the country needs better laws, better elections, less corruption, etc.

  37. AH-
    When you refer to these recent elections as “better than any in 17 years,” are you including elections, just after independence, when LTP was nominated by a landslide that has never been significantly questioned? If you have seen it doubted, not in retrospect, but at the time, I would love to see that. I remember those years, just before and then after LTPs election and independence, and I’ll say right now it wasn’t perfect, but it was far from this mess.
    Moving on to the next set of elections (focusing ourselves on presidential elections), there are a number of people who have tried to compare February, 2008 to the LTP elections of 1996 – lets remember that at that time the LTP-led government did not even start trying to control the crowd (that was trying to climb over the fences and take over buildings) until word came that two MPs had been taken and beaten by those associated with the crowds (or protesters, if you want). And even then, the forces fired into the air, not into the people. So, in the “17 years” that you’re referring to, what’s left is the RK elections and the SS election.

  38. ‘there are institutions and processes to decide these questions.”
    Yes, but not when all of the above are rigged a certain way. Institutions and processes at the time declared LTP to be president, does that mean you or others stopped questioning his legitimacy? No, in fact, he was forced out less than a year and a half later. I question the legality of Sarksyan’s candidacy, and I therefore question the legality of his presidency. Further, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that a 2nd round was necessary, so I see one power-usurper in this situation.

    Why is my astonishment funny? One doesn’t affect the other. When an MP is stripped of immunity, there has to be damning evidence that he committed a crime. And in fact, Aghvan the Clown said during the immunity hearing that they had damning evidence that all four committed crimes. Incidentally, MPs cannot be arrested unless they are arrested while committing a crime. Why then did the investigators request another 2 months (until September, full 6 months after their arrest) to prove their guilt? Why does it take 4.5 months to get enough proof of Ayvazyan punching a cop? Why does it take 4 months to decide that Jhangiryan’s weapons were legal, when it took 4 minutes to decide the same thing for Vahram Sayakyan? Why hasn’t a single demonstrator been found who used/had weapons or grenades, which is the only thing that would make it OK for the police/army to shoot? As I said, business as usual while the two Sargsyans put on a show regarding corruption and the law.

  39. tzitzernak – and this is exactly why so many people despise LTP. He took a national euphoria, a chance at real independence and freedom and sold it cheap. Literally and figuratively. Created and benefited from an oligarch system, had advisers who openly encouraged depopulation, sold off factories for spare parts, exported electricity to Turkey while maternity wards held freezing and dying babies etc.

    I won’t even go to 1996, the nadir of Armenian political life, from which there has been a gradual growth upward.

    me –
    Regarding the legality of Sargsyan’s candidacy, these were arguments bordering on the absurd. That it even went to the courts (which obviously upheld the legality of the PM being eligible to run for president – can you think of a country on earth where s/he couldn’t?) is over the top. Feel free to question the legality or legitimacy of anyone, I just think it is a waste of time. More productive is supporting reforms that seem to be going forward (though not in the realm that you seem to find very important) like taxes, customs, and combating traffic lawlessness, for example. And of course these arrests have political overtones – no one is that naive. And that happens in the most mature of democracies. Regardless, I agree that if you, for example, wish to fight to defend Jhangiryan’s civil rights to the fastest possible trial, go ahead. Not something high on my personal priority list.

  40. Ah, the maternity ward story again. I could SWEAR you were reflective, but I didn’t want to say anything. After all, at least in theory, it IS possible that more than one person can hold such absurd and bizarre views that you do.

    I can assure you I lose no sleep over Jhangiryan or Lady Hakop being in jail. It isn’t about their civil rights, it is about everyone else’s. I say Jhangirich is a classic case of reaping what you sow; I bring their cases up to show you that nothing has really changed in the law enforcement, and things are just as arbitrary as before. Sure I welcome these attempts to pretend that something is being done in taxes, customs or traffic violations. My problem is that today the president has ordered to follow the law, tomorrow he can just as easily to order them to go back to breaking it. Ask any gaishnik why he’s towing some official’s car and he’ll tell you it’s b/c he was ordered to do so, not because say, it’s illegal for the official to park in that spot. We need a system where law is above everything else, not the President’s word. And I’m sure that these new found respect for customs law doesn’t extend to Dodi Gago or Toxmaxi Mher and is only used to squeezed the middle class even worse than before.

    I personally can’t think of any other “mature democracies” where people are arrested because of their political views. And can you think of any other civil country on earth where “իշխանությունը բռնազավթելու կոչեր անելը” is in the criminal code and is used to try oppositionists who call for a change in a ruling party or force? Please, let’s not start making out-of-context and meaningless comparisons.

    The reason the prime minister cannot be nominated unless he takes a leave of his duties is because he can then use the administrative resources, his pull on the state apparatus and his access to the state budget to either promise or fulfill promises to voters, who would then be inclined to vote for him. In fact, a committee within the government was set up by Serzhik’s order to do exactly that. Budget money was also used to transport Serzhik and his posse from rally to rally, for example, as well as for other expenses that would otherwise have to come out of his pocket. Can you see a potential for a problem there? Being upheld in court means nothing; the legality of keeping a1+ off air was upheld 12 times, before the European Court of Human Rights found it to be a gross violation of freedom of speech.

  41. Me—Don’t know if you caught my comment on Nazarian’s blog about replicants, but here are two comments on his blog. I think the similarities are pretty striking:

    http://hnazarian.blogspot.com/2008/06/armenia-embarrasses-itself-with-idiotic.html
    Comment @ June 26, 2008 4:50 PM

    http://hnazarian.blogspot.com/2008/07/interview-with-rk.html
    Comment @ July 09, 2008 11:57 PM

    And you’ve just pointed out the similarities here between Reflective (rather, Reflexive) and AH (all are one and one are all). My theory is that AH/Reflective/Anonymous is a Haylur person tasked with writing in the blogs, using an increasingly moldy and dusty script of points put together in February and March, and posting under different names to try to make it seem as if these opinions are widespread. At least one thing he/she says is true: “On the ground”, where he works, everyone certainly is hoping that the opposition fades, because if not they’re all going to be out of a job soon.

  42. me- We all want a better Armenia, a more law-abiding Armenia. And I do not think that this new government (or any other new government for that matter) is able to change everything overnight.

    LTP and crowd was a good example of the “medicine” being worse than the disease. I disagree that the court rulings are irrelevant. This must be the direction forward…after all what are the options? A revolution with disregard for all legal institutions? A council of elders to decide everything??

  43. AH

    Where do you work? and who are your colleagues?

    If you give me honest answer, it will be clear what drives you to defend this regime.

    corruption cut off? IN tax and customs? Just wait. This kind of shows are for you. Enjoy it.

    Just one number I will tell you as an economist. The imports of Armenia from January to June of 2008, rose by 400 million dollars compared to the same period of the 2007. At the same time tax revenues from Customs grew by 12 Billion AMD (40 Million dollars). This is absurd. It means the tax rate is 10% for that 400 million increase.

    The actual tax rate is 32% on most of imports (20% VAT, and 10% customs duties).

    See, be aware, be informed, be educated and then speak about corruption in customs and tax administration.

    It is just a TALE, for people like you, who are someway or another are either connected to regime or hate LTP so blindly that they can justify SS and RK, and the legal processes and institutions (as you named) in Armenia.

  44. hay – It is not about loving or hating any regime. I simply think as someone who has lived in or visited Armenia often (I am presently in Armenia working in hi-tech sphere) that I don’t recall the situation being any better than now: this is why I am an optimist for the future.

    And I clearly recall it being worse (ever try to start a business 15 years ago??) Unless you were connected to Telman or Vano it was impossible. While now having government connections helps (and I agree that in an ideal world it shouldn’t), there are plenty of businessmen starting companies now who are not in any way connected to the authorities.

    It is for this gradual yet positive change that I am optimistic. I also do not think that Armenians are just doomed to be in a bad environment etc etc. I think that with some modest efforts and determination, it is possible to create value in Armenia.

    How about you? What is your doom and gloom predicated upon?

  45. “Post-March 1 Thoughts of a Lone Intellectual

    I haven’t felt so proud to be an Armenian ever since 1988 and the victory in Gharabagh. I am proud and free now because of March 1, 2008 and the days that led to the stand-off. The names of those demonstrators, who gave their lives yesterday defending our freedoms and right to have a better Armenia, will remain in the history of our nation and our memory along with the names of our heroes. I bow my head before them and their memory, and promise to continue the job they started fighting for Armenia without cronyism, corruption, and tyranny, one with a better future, stronger foundations, and a more humane face. I now have ultimate faith in the collective wisdom of our people, something I thought I lost since 1995. The events of the past week came to remind me that not only the collective consciousness of our people is alive and well, but that it is also very progressive, against all the odds it endured in the past decade or so. I have little doubt that this page of our history will soon be over and that people’s victory is unavoidable. More…
    … Those who ordered armed Armenian soldiers against their fellow unarmed Armenian citizens in their sleep are doomed to be condemned by their people and history. I just hope that those who take on the responsibility of governing this nation after these events keep the nation’s best interest in their minds and remember that our people will rise again, if necessary, to keep the course on a truly stronger, prosperous, and fairer Armenia.

    God bless the souls of those who left us yesterday.
    God bless those who will keep up the fight. ”

    http://www.pf-armenia.org/blogs/human-rights-society-and-religion/

  46. When comparing the recent time periods in Armenia, it is crucial to remember that when LTP started, the infrastructure of the entire USSR, and Armenia, was collapsing. And there was war, which we should remember stopped because of the 1994 cease-fire during LTP’s time. The idea that comparisons with the period of LTP’s first presidency should take into account all of the difficulties which the country was facing at the time, is not an original one. But it seems it is completely ignored when it is convenient for those who want to criticise or demonize LTP.

  47. I follow the blogs very closely and came up with the following conclusion:
    there are 3-4 active people who deny everything and every possible fact and their aim is to defend the current regime. The most active are:

    Uzogh or chuzogh aka Ruben Muradyan aka Pascal Rubo
    Pigh aka Tigran Kocharyan
    Ahousekeeper aka Karen possibly Vrtanesyan or AH

    All of them are ultra nationalists. ahouskeeper is even a member or Armenian aryan order. They are not much different from each other but ahousekeeper is a little bit smarter than the other two.

    Uzogh works in Public TV and used to be a programmer most likely Pascal programmer hence the name.

    Pigh works in a USAID project most likely in health services most likely doing IT work.
    Ahousekeeper seems to be also an IT person.

    It is very likely that they are KGB recruits and work in the blogging surveillance and propaganda department. Otherwise i cant understand their massive efforts in trying to act so illogical . IT and programming requires some logic.

    So my advise is don’t argue with them and completely ignore them as there is no point. It will be waste of time and stress on your nerves. If you are a blogger just delete their comments.

  48. Blogobserver – may I please ask you to refrain from publicly accusing people of being KBG recruits without providing any type of evidence about it. I know all the mentioned people, except AH personally, and I can say with the same type of likelihood, that they are not.

    Re to your point: “If you are a blogger just delete their comments” – I denounce that type of attitude completely. My only policy is to delete comments, if they contain direct offenses, name calling and unjustified, false accusations. Moreover, following that logic I should have deleted your comment, but I’ll leave it here to make a point/example of how people are not expected to comment on this blog.

  49. Blogobserver – I’ll just add that your paranoid attitude is one of the (many) reasons why so many were turned off by LTP during the pre- and post-election season. “If you are not with us, you are enemy, traitor, KGB, you name it.”

    Not a great way to generate converts to the cult.

  50. To AH

    So, you are in IT Business ha?

    My friend opened small IT company last year (7-8 employees), does not have product yet, it is in developing process. But he has managed to lose already 10-15 thousand US dollars on government bureaucrats by bribing them. He is half french half Armenian, and was oposed to bribes, but eventually realized that without bribes he cannot continue anymore. So he decided to bribe, Tax admin, customs, Sanipetkayan, Fire stations, the Yerevan municipality, the Arabkir taxapetaran end etc. This is your and my country.

    About doing business 15 years ago.

    15 years ago being a student, freshmen, i started my business in Armenia in 1992. By 1994 my business grew enough to have even couple of transactions with Lfik Samo in big quantities. I was ordinary student, my father was ordinary mechanic.

    Then in 1997-98, I lost my business just because of competition, nothing else.

    So do not exaggerate, it was very possible (even easier) to do business 15 years ago. It is possible now too, but you have to be ready to bribe everybody and evry institution. This is the reality, and do not try to escape from that.

  51. I disagree with your “scientific experiment” of one data point then and one now.

    My own conclusions from your stories:
    1) Do not bribe. Once you bribe then they can always hold it against you, and I am not surprised your friend fell down a slippery slope.

    2) Don’t take my word for it, or don’t extrapolate from your one experience. Just look at the dozens of companies who have located to Armenia (including some publicly traded and/or big entities like National Instruments, Synopsys, Virage Logic, Lycos-Europe etc. None of these companies was in Armenia 15 years ago, and no amount of hysteria/Armenia-bashing can change the fact that according to the IT world, Armenia is a much better place to do business now than it was then.

    Having said all that, we have a long way to go to be globally competitive, but I was simply making a relative argument.

  52. AH, your observation skills really amaze me sometimes. So you’re saying that Armenia is a better place to do business in 2008 than in 1993? That’s just fantastic bits of news, I had no idea. I’m quite literally overwhelmed. Who would’ve thought that a war-torn, blockaded country, two years removed from its Soviet past and with inflation running at 5000% would be a bad place to do business?

  53. To AH

    ai IT specialist jan. 15 years ago there was not IT at all, in no country you could find Synopsys or virage logic. They are very new companies.

    Besides that read the news how Synopsis is very “PLEASED” with customs practices in Armenia.

    Ara du iskakanic kam KGB-ic es, kam el besamt erazkoti mekn es.

  54. Hay – you are wrong. There was IT 15 years ago, and if you don’t like hi-tech, look at low tech for examples of investments that never happened.

    My point is that as the war was ending in Karabakh, our country was busy creating monopolies for Armentel (nice cash-out for the thieves who engineered that deal) with the Minister of Con (I mean Comm) Poghpatyan. This catastrophe was the single biggest IT-related disaster in modern Armenian history, and one which continues to plague the development of our schools, economy, and society.

    What is your infatuation with the KGB? And why do you demand these accusations merely because I recognize that Levon’s putsch would send this place back at least a decade?

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