Reactions to Levon Ter-Petrossian's Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[]

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

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

Notes from the Armenian Blogosphere

The Armenian and English versions of the CRD / TI Armenia Eleciton Monitor 2007 blog have published their notes on the Armenian Blogosphere, the Armenian version dealing with Russian and Armenian language blogs, and the English version speaking about the English language blogs. Here are some extracts from both language versions:

Korneilj Glas – better known as analyst Samvel Martirosyan, is pointing at his article published on the “Human rights in Armenia” web site. The analyst expresses interesting points of view regarding the current situation, and describing it as “pre-electoral ideological crises”, whereby the political landscape has become extinguished, and the political forces are incapable of presenting the voters with clear ideas, and those few who make an exception, are “led by ideas which are frozen, solidified over the years and not applicable to current realities”.
[…]
The newly established ICHD blog states that the “lion’s share” of ensuring legitimate elections is the responsability of the state. The blog asks the question very much in circulation these days: “What should be done?”, and follows up with variants of answers:

  1. do nothing
  2. boycott the elections
  3. persistently and everywhere talk about the [negative] impacts of forging elections

[…]
This issue of taxation is perhaps most poignant in a country such as Armenia where the shadow economy and widespread tax evasion accounts for the lion’s share in all financial transactions undertaken. Indeed, after Emil Danielyan reported that many of Armenia’s wealthiest men, who are coincidently sitting in Parliament, post losses despite their obvious affluence, Armenia Blog posts satellite images, photographs and commentary on their mansions and estates.
[…]
Interestingly, the oligarchs who will once again be running for Parliament are still able to get away with tax evasion and other illegalities much to the concern of civil society and human rights activists who are already in shock over the continuing eviction of residents from their homes in central Yerevan to make way for the new constructions. Indeed, Armenia Now warns that this situation is set to continue.

Methods of Political Corruption in Armenia

Social Science in the Caucasus blog says the methods of corruption in Armenia are “difficilut for non-locals to fully understand”. The blog refers to the analyses conducted by Masis Poghoyan, adressing […]”categories such as “usage of resources available to the candidates occupying administrative posts,” “application of pressure on voters,” “buying/bribing of voters,” “manipulation of public opinion” and “falsification of election results.” […] and provides a link to the research paper on the CRRC-Armenia Web site, which also provides […]”a set of recommendations for combating fraudulent election processes, which include the implementation of legislative reforms, public information campaigns, the provision of consultation/training to voters, and the improvement of the election commissions.” […]

Failures of the Armenian Judicial System

Marutni or Bust is frustrated with with the Armenian Judicial system and the Minister of Justice David Harutyunyan, who hopes to be running for Parliament on the upcoming parliamentary elections. The case has concluded in the court, with one trafficker receiving 5 years (should be eligible for parole next year), another 2 years and the others one year probation.

All I can say right now is that we should all once again be disappointed with the legal system in Armenia, which once again demonstrated that it does not work in the best interest of the people, but works to reward criminals so they will again go back to their dishonest deeds which provides an income for those people like RA Minister of Justice David Haroutiunian who has undoubtedly become one of the top 10 richest people in Armenia today as a results of manipulating the system to his advantage.

Parliamentary Election Monitor

Another issue of the 2007 Parliamanetary Election Monitor was posted on the CRD / TI Election Monitor Blog today – focusing on all major developments of the last week. Here are some of the issues covered by this issue of the Election Monitor:

  1. News regarding the high cost of political advertising slots through the broadcast media;
  2. RFE/RL reports that some regional TV stations say they will not air political advertising any at all;
  3. Armenia Now reports about the Heritage Party founded and chaired by U.S. born former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisyan – who says that they have been deprived of airtime for some time.
  4. The discussen stirred around hopes of the Minister of Justice, David Harutyuntyan to run for the parliament on the proportional list of the ruling Republican Party.
  5. Attacks on the vehicles of newspaper editors concentrating on the ArmeniaNow article covering the Friday incident of arson attack on the SUV of Ara Saghatelian – editor of “Im Iravunke” weekly and owner of online newspaper “Panorama.am”.
  6. Discussions about implied or obvious corruption among potential candidates for parliament: Gagik Tsarukyan, Aleksandr Sarkisyan and David Harutyunyan.
  7. Nazarian’s comments about the new political movement established in Armenia, Aylntrank (The Alternative) and the country development perspectives shared by the blogger.

For a much detailed discussion of all of the above and more visit the CRD / TI Election Monitor Blog.

High TV Fees for Political Campaigning, David Harutyunyan, Oskanyan and Globalization, Envirnoment and Labour Exploitation

Armenia blog has a full range of topics today, including: High TV Advertisement Fees Angers Politicians, “An example that should be followed by others” – Russian-Armenian Businessmen Help Nagorno-Karabakh, Pollution in Yerevan, Labor Exploitation in Armenia.

In the post “David Haroutyunyan to Participate in Parliamentary ElectionsRhyne sounds apalled:
If he seems familiar, that’s because you’ve seen him before on Armenia’s Richest Men list. It really is a Who’s Who of corrupt businessmen and politicians.
As to the points made by the RA Foreign Minister on Armenia and Globalization, the position of Armenia Blog is clear:

“I’ve always maintained that Armenia needs to become part of the global village, so to speak.

Armenia should not yield to anti-globalization motions, since taking into account country’s size and abilities, it is quite out of sense, stated Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian…
In his words, the little Armenia and the large Armenian Diaspora must use the chances given by globalization. If official Yerevan sensibly uses these opportunities, globalization can become a discovery for Armenia. If the country does not use the chances given by globalization, it can become a state that nobody pays attention to. (Panarmenian.Net)

True enough.”

More on oligarkh houses

Martuni or Bust repuplishes extracts from the Hetq article about the Member of Armenian Parliament Aleksandr Sargsyan (brother of Armenian presidential hopeful Serge Sargsyan), who happens to be selling a $3, 395,000 US house in Los Angeles.
” …interested buyers can learn more about the house, including its asking price—$3, 395,000—by visiting www.realestate123.com/Nav.aspx/Page=/ListNow/Default.aspx…In the tax returns presented to the State Tax Department he never mentioned that he had made that kind of money. ”
Check out Hetq.am or Martuin or Bust for more.

20% increase in traffic accidents due to corruption

Martuni or Bust criticizes the Armenpress article “TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS KILLS 332 PEOPLE LAST YEAR” issued on Feb 08 2007, saying it doesn’t disclose the fact fully and neglects serious issues, for example, the fact that “You can just pay the [driving]school fees, pay off the doctors that “examined” you and give a gift (bribe) to the head of the [driving license] licensing department.

Less US Aid Available for the Corrupt Armenian Officials to Feed On

Martuni or Bust has an interesting perspective on Bush administration’s budget request for the fiscal year 2008, unveiled on Monday, which calls for $35 million in economic aid to Armenia, sharply down from the 2006 level of $69 million, and which would also cut U.S. aid to the Armenian military by more than 30 percent to $3.3 million. In fact, Ara from Martuni or Bust applauds Bush, and says this move is for once trying to do something to avoid “feeding into corruption” in Armenia, and suggests, that Armenian lobbyist groups – AAA and the ANCA should:

instead of attacking George, praise him for starting to put an end to the problems that you have been involved in perpetuating since the early 90’s with the welfare you have worked so hard to secure for Armenia, which has made many people lazy, corrupt and added to the country not developing into what I could and should be“.

Ara Manoogian makes his point by concluding:

Now we just have to work on getting all aid cut and make sure the the $236 million MCA funds never makes their way into Armenia.

However, this approach was unique and agnry tones prevail. Blogian for example criticizes Bush plans for Armenian aid cuts aggressively:

America’s so-called president George aBush has introduced his glorious budget, that like last year’s, gives reduced economic and military aid to Armenia and much more aid to Armenia’s friendly neighbor and the most tolerant country in the world – Oilzerbaijan. Moreover, the Bushdickcandy administration is apparently cutting humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

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