Environmental activists Mariam Sukhudian and Yeghia Nersissian are blowing the whisle. They have visted the “Kaqavaberd” area of Khosrov Forest State Preserve and discovered remnants of endangered animals around what seems to be festive bonfires of a group of hunters. Continue reading “Activists Warn of Poaching in Khosrov Forest State Preserve”
“Armenia is a very safe country, Yerevan is a safe place” I usually tell foreign friends and colleagues visiting Armenia and leave them free to explore it as much as they like, they are all grown ups, after all.
Latest crime figures released by Armenia’s Police for the first 9 months of this year will certainly make me think twice before I let my foreign guests walk free of my company from now on.
Two members of parliament, a former foreign minister, a former deputy to Prosecutor-General among 19 or so other oppositionists, walked out of courts and were released from prison in a matter of 2 days as an amnesty put forward by President Sarkisian and approved by the National Assembly last Friday came into action. Continue reading “Prominent oppositionists released on amnesty”
Gagik Tsarukian, 23, has been detained in Gyumri on charges of attempting to forge 1000 AMD notes. The Gyumri inhabitant has admitted to making a printing machine, printing and using at least 2 banknotes.
The reason this story from A1plus attracted my attention (and probably yours too), is because this young man from Gyumri is the namesake of the richest Armenian oligarch – Gagik Tsarukian, owner of a range of businesses, founder of “Prosperous Armenia” party.
Deputy chief of Armenia’s police Colonel Gevorg Mherian, 34 was shot dead just outside his apartment in Yerevan late on February 3. President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday strongly condemned Mheryan’s murder, hinting it may have had to do with his anti-corruption activities.
A generated photo of the suspect has been published by some Armenian newspapers yesterday. Armenian police confirmed that publicized picture is their probable suspect – constructed based on eyewitness accounts, although nobody has been arrested in connection with the killing yet.
Mheryan was heading the passport and visa departments of the police as well as the legal support department.
The passport and visa departments are notorious for their level of corruption and last year a range of high ranking officials from those departments were fired, apparently as a result of Mheryan’s activities.
Admittedly, this murder has caused quite a stirring, I have been getting emails and enquiries from Armenian friends living abroad, asking what’s the story. Well – if you’re asking my opinion – it looks more like vendetta or a trivial case, rather than a big case of corrupt criminals facing the good guys, but media have been paying a disproportionately large amount of attention to this case, perhaps because of lack of any other development in the country. I don’t know. RIP to Mheryan – that’s all I can say for now, hoping for more clarity in the near future.
I avoided flying Aeroflot since 2001 – having had an unforgettably horrible experience of this giant Russan air-company. This year, however, Aeroflot seems to follow me – had to fly to London via Aeroflot this March – with most horrendous experiences of being stuck in Sheremetevo 2 airpot for 18 hours on the way back, with no reasonable explanations. This flight to Blogger Meatup – Barcamp Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan via Airflot again was so bad, that at some point I gave up making a frustrated face and started having a hell of a lot of fun, especially as my collegues, Reporter_Arm and F5Admin were equally frustrated and full of sarcasm.
Airflot deserves a separate entry, so I’ll stop right here, and tell about Bishkek – well, it fells like back in Soviets. One understands just how progressive Armenia is today. Russian is the second state language, Russian mobile operator Megaphone greets you with an SMS welcoming you to the Russian network, not bother to let you know that you’re actually in Kyrgizstan.
The situation is tense – horror stories start from the airport – with a startled competition between private and ‘service’ taxies. The private ones are dangerous for tourists, local friends who came to see us inform us. Don’t walk in the streets after 10 PM, they warn just in case – might be dangerous.
Well, it’s dangerous in daytime too – police are fierce, corrupt and lack sense of humor. Reporter_Arm and myself were stopped when crossing the central square – a fluffy lady in the police uniform smiled a cunning smile when Reporter_Arm said he left his passport in the hotel. The other lady in uniform had a harpy smile too – too bad they didn’t notice our excitement with this sudden happiness of meeting corrupt police and having the opportunity to do the blog-post of all times about them 🙂 Our bold behavior was clearly unexpected – the uniform ladies dangled around in disbelief, seeing that none of us thinks about attempting to bribe them despite obvious signals. The boss – a young officer-surgent of perhaps 12-13 years of age approached with a stern face and put his hand forward for a wet handshake. Spitting across the shoulder, the surgent-boy invited us into a toilet sized box – the police checkpoint on the square under trees, walking with wide open steps, as if something was stuck in his ass.
He looked at my passport with a bunch of visas for what seemed like a century, asking why are we here, what is a barcamp, what type of a conference it is and what are we up to here in Kyrgyzstan, walking without passports with our our Armenian faces. We are from brotherly-soviet-republic we insisted, we have not been bold or mocking with the lady-police, and Reporter_Arm will take his passport along as soon as we get to our hotel, yes Sir! we said. And just in case it didn’t go down with him well enough, that we’re not going to give him any bribes no matter what, I showed him my press-pass and said I’m ready to take a photo or interview him. Reporter_Arm let him know, that he’s from Internews, a journalist. The narrow eyes of the police-boy and the uniform-ladies narrowed down to dangerous sizes – the victims were slipping away! “You guys should give tourists some notes in the airport, stating that they must carry passports at all times”, I advised them with a knowing face – then you’ll have no problem taking them to jail for the violation. We turned our backs to the ‘tourist friendly’ Kyrgiz law-enforcement and half-walked, half-ran away. That’s a way to encourage tourism in a country – we thought. Horrible we thought. Oh how we love Armenia we thought…
…meanwhile in Armenia a major opposition event is scheduled today -still no news on A1plus, and we’re really worried.
A most incredible story was published by Hetq today:
In 2006, Armenia imported 8,614 tons of bananas; 7,056 tons from Ecuador, 1,509 from Costa Rica, 38.2 from Guatemala, 3.2 from Thailand and .2 tons from Iran. In the same year Armenia exported 3,002.2 tons of bananas to the Bahamas and 90.7 tons to Georgia. (emphasis is mine)
In 2007, Armenia imported some 17,198 tons of bananas, almost twice as much as in 2006. Armenia didn’t export any bananas in 2007.
I’ve made a little map to illustrate the locations of a) Armenia b) Equador c) Bahamas to illustrate, that it is entirely impossible that Armenia could have imported bananas from Ecuador to ship it back to Bahamas. It is just nonsense. Continue reading “Wow! Armenia is a Banana Republic after all!”
After being beaten and horribly tortured in Etchmiadzin on March 13th, 23 year-old Sepuh Karapetyan died. His only ‘crime’ was that he dared to defend one of the neighborhood girls from the person who had been bullying her around. That person was Zarzand Saroyan, the son of Seyran Saroyan who is an Army General and a member of the National Assembly.
There are two big criminals in Ejmiadzin, and everybody knows them by name: Manvel Grigoryan and Seyran Saroyan. The extract above is from this Hetq article. At the moment there is lots of speculation about punishment for Manvel Grigoryan, for supporting Levon Ter-Petrossian. This will definately be a politically motivated development, however, I can’t say I’m sorry for having one criminal less among senior positions in the Armenian military. Questions remain however, why is it, that only Levon Ter-Petrossian supporters are being punished (criminal or not), while many other criminals are enjoying their freedom and terrorising fellow Armenians. Another great example is the son of Gyumri mayor, who took part in the famous drive-by shootout in Gyumri last Spring, was put in jail, but was promptly released after the Presidential elections, apparently due to the great “services” of the mayor to the Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan during the elections.
E-channel reports some details of the meeting of Peter Semnebi, the special representative of the European Union in South Caucasus with RA General prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepyan, who has told during the conversation that “8 people have died as a result of the disorders, 1 of them – a policeman – from an explosion of a grenade; 3 have died as a result of the special means applied (according to the initial conclusion of the experts); 4 have died of injuries caused by gunshot wounds. The bullets taken out of the bodies have various calibers, which allows to say that various types of arms have been used during disorders, and the preliminary investigation faces the task of revealing all those circumstances. 265 people have been injured, 210 of them being police officers. 68 cars have been set on fire, 10 objects of private property have been destroyed and robbed, including a pharmacy.”
The prosecutor has also informed Semnebi that “all the arrested and detained persons have been subjected to medical examination while being taken to location for keeping the arrested persons, as well as to criminal executive institutions, and all their injuries have been registered. 12 accused persons have been registered to have injuries, and expertise has been appointed in order to find out how they had been caused.”
On March 21, 2008 at 01:05 AM there was an arson attack on Gyumri Journalists’s Club “Asparez” President Nadezhda Hakobyan’s car, which at that time was in use by the Club’s Board Chairman Levon Barseghyan.
Levon Barseghyan is sure, that this arson attack is directly related with his efforts to protect GALA TV and the strict criticism of authorities voiced by him on that and a number of other occasions. He is also sure, that this incident is related to the number of threatening phone calls received by the club, as well as the arson attack attempted on the night of January 18, when the club’s window was put on fire.
It is also noteworthy, that on February 25 the Gyumri mayor had directly insulted and threatened “GALA” TV and “Asparez” Club, stating, that “…there are a couple of sections that disgust people. This is the “GALA section” and “Asparez section”… it is time for them come to their senses, too”. At the time the local police refused to file a criminal case based on the appeal of “Asparez” against the mayor for threatening and insulting them based on this sentence, “due to lack of corpus delicti (body of crime)”.
Meanwhile, according to the data by 22:30, on March 20th, the amount raised in support of GALA TV has reached 11.673.570 drams, which is around 46,47 % of the amount needed to save this small regional TV company. This increadable activity of citizens in support of Freedom of Speech has obviously raised the dislike of the authorities, and the idiosyncratic Gyumri mayor in particular. The latter has spoken on Gyumri “Shant” TV at around 9 PM on March 20th, when the GALA Telethon was in progress on GALA TV channel, and has urged the supporters of the TV to stop helping GALA, and claiming, that the small TV facing a closure if vital amount is not collected, has already received the necessary amount from the HHSH (Levon Ter-Petrossian’s party), and now they’re simply lying and collecting money for their personal gain. Needless to say that GALA supporters deny all these charges.
At any rate, this is a very troublesome development, and if the Armenian authorities want to do anything useful for this country, they should make sure the Gyumri mayor and all the state backed criminals working in various government institutions in Gyumri, including the National Security Service, Tax inspection and the Administrative Court, are fired from their positions and serve their terms for attacking the highest values of Freedom of Speech and Expression, guaranteed by the Supreme Law of this country – THE ARMENIAN CONSTITUTION!