Bullying in Azerbaijani army

A while ago Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced, that the Azerbaijani military budget will reach two billion dollars in 2008. That’s not quite as much as the whole of Armenia’s budget for the next year, but is very close, and certainly, is two-three times more than what Armenia can spend on its military.
However, given widespread corruption and ‘dedovshchina’ (bullying) in the Azerbaijani military, it is yet to be seen if the huge military budget will ever translate into quality. There’s some evidence (I’m not sure if it’s genuine) in the YouTube video below, showing bullying in Azerbaijani military. And although the Armenian military also has seen a lot of bullying and cases of murders of conscripts, whatever this particular video illustrates is simply unimaginable!

Meanwhile, Kornelij Glas has posted an interesting story about export of defective and old Ukrainian tanks to Azerbaijan.

First two appointments to key posts: Foreign Ministery and Ministery of Defense

President Serzh Sargsyan is forming a new government following the April 9 inauguration ceremony held behind the police wall, that separated him from the citizens of the country, which he will try to rule, following disputed elections on February 19th, which resulted in violent clashes between opposition supporters and security forces. Following the appointment of Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, President Sargsyan held consultations with representatives of the 4 party coalition, and today two key ministerial appointments were announced.

The current ambassador to France Eduard Nalbandian, a career diplomat who also served as the country’s ambassador to Israel, Andorra and the Vatican, will replace Vardan Oskanian on the post of foreign minister, AFP reports.

President Sargsyan has also appointed the chief of Armenia’s armed forces, Seiran Oganian, as the country’s new defence minister, according to presidential website news bulletin.

The Son of the General/Parliamentary Deputy Cannot be Punished

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

The issue of Manvel Grigoryan will be solved by president

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

Who Broke Karabakh Ceasefire and Why?

The uneasy ceasefire on the frontline held by Armenian forces from Nagorny Karabakh and the Azerbaijani military was broken early on March 4, IWPR reports, and notes that some people have been questioning, whether front-line skirmish was connected with political turmoil in Armenia.

Accounts differ as to who fired first. But all agree it was the most serious breach of the ceasefire in a decade, and one that could have alarming consequences if it were repeated.
Azerbaijani defence ministry spokesman Eldar Sabirogli said Armenian units broke the ceasefire by firing on Azerbaijani positions near the villages of Cheliburt, Talish and Gapanli in the Terter district, and the Tapgaragoyunli settlement in neighbouring Geranboy district. Both districts are to the north and east of Nagorny Karabakh.
Armenian sources confirmed that the fighting was in this general area, adjacent to the Mardakert district of Nagorny Karabakh.
Sabirogli said four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and two civilians injured.
Senor Hasratian, spokesman for the defence ministry of the unrecognised Karabakh government, also cited a figure of four Azerbaijani dead and said two Armenian soldiers were injured, although in neither case were the wounds life-threatening.
He dismissed the accusations coming out of Baku, saying, “They are deliberately distorting things. If we had launched an attack, the bodies of the four Azerbaijani soldiers who died would not be lying on territory held by the army of Nagorny Karabakh.”
The two sides agreed on these casualty figures, although according to Reuters, the Azerbaijanis also claimed that the Armenians lost 12 soldiers, which Hasratian denied.
The defence ministry of Armenia itself, which treats Nagorny Karabakh as a separate and independent entity, came out with a statement blaming the Azerbaijanis for starting the firefight.
Ministry spokesman Colonel Seyran Shahsuvarian said Azerbaijani forces seized an important defensive position held by the other side, which then responded with gunfire, regained the territory, and forced their opponents back to their original lines.
Major Hachik Tavadyan, one of those injured on the Nagorny Karabakh side, confirmed this account of events from his hospital bed, adding, “I was there and I know how it started. I cannot tell a lie – they attacked us first.”
Other commentators in Azerbaijan, Nagorny Karabakh and Armenia tended to identify internal political factors which might have prompted the opposing side to deliberately seek a confrontation.
David Babayan, a political analyst in Nagorny Karabakh, speculated that the Azerbaijani leadership might have been probing their opponents’ defences at a time when Armenia itself is in political turmoil.
A second possibility, he suggested, was that Baku was seriously concerned that Nagorny Karabakh’s aspirations for independence had moved a step forward following the declaration of independence by Kosovo, another former autonomous territory within a Communist state.
“Azerbaijan is seriously worried about the right of nations to self-determination, and it chose to react by using force,” he said.
A common theme among analysts across the region was that the exchange of gunfire was in some way connected with the domestic political strife in Armenia, where opposition protests over the results of the February 19 presidential election ended in bloodshed on March 1. Eight people were reported dead after running battles between police and demonstrators in the capital Yerevan.
Azerbaijani political scientist Rasim Musabekov believes the administration of outgoing president Robert Kocharian and his elected successor Serzh Sarkisian stood to gain from creating a diversion to distract attention from their own problems.
Armed forces chief of staff Lt-Gen Sadigov made a similar point, saying the ceasefire was a direct consequence of Armenia’s internal troubles.
Armenia’s foreign minister Vardan Oskanian, meanwhile, accused Baku of “taking advantage of the exacerbation of the internal political situation in Armenia”.
Despite the exchange of recriminations between Azerbaijan and Armenian politicians, and the flurry of international efforts to smooth over the crisis, not everyone was so exercised about it.

Read the full article here.

59 People charged for "organizing mass disorder"

The RA special investigating body has issued information, according to which as a result of mass violence on March 1, 180 police officers and military servicemen have received variuos degrees of phisical injuries. According to the official data, phisical injuries of also 48 citizens have been confirmed so far. From what I remember, many people avoided going to hospitals, fearing, that they would be seized by the police, hence, such a low number of injuries among civilians being reported. According to official information, at the moment 59 people have been charged for “organizing mass disorder”.

Of the 4 MPs, who were charged with the offence of “organizing mass disorder”, 2 have been detained: Myasnik Malkhasyan and Hakob Hakobyan (Lady Hakob), while the two others: Khachatur Suqiasyan (Grzo) and Sasun Mikayelyan, are wanted. Bekaisa also reported, that Alexandr Arzumnayan, 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 Ter-Petrossian has also lost the immunity granted by his status as a presidential candidate and can be detained any moment. It is true, that as a former president, Ter-Petrossian has certain privilages too, however, according to article 56.1 of the RA Constitution:

The President of the Republic shall be immune.
The President of the Republic may not be prosecuted or held liable for actions arising from his/her status during and after his/her term of office.
The President of the Republic may be prosecuted for the actions not connected with his or her status after the expiration of his/her term of office.

So, as we can see, arrests and political persecutions continue. I’m sure, in some cases, the law enforcement bodies are quite right to do so – and I’m sure, that arresting most of the “yerkrapahs” is probably justified. However, as of now, no generals, commanders, police or servicemen seem to have been charged with illegal activities for their actions on March 1-2, nor has any high ranking official stepped down for incompetent handling of the rioters, which resulted in 8 deaths and around 200 seriously injured people. Well, what did we expect from a police state, which Armenia is turning into, anyway?

Bloody Sunday: 8 People Dead. Names Known. RIP


Police violence in Armenia on March 1st, The Bloody Sunday, as a result of which the tent camp of sleeping protesters in Yerevan’s Liberty square was dispersed, their leader Levon Ter-Petrossian taken under house arrest, stirred emotions, resulted in large scale riots after a spontaneous gathering of opposition and anti-government demonstrators, triggering severe police and military action, deaths of civilians and institution of a state of emergency. Over a hundred people were wounded, among them more then 80 civilians. According to official data from Prosecutor’s Office 8 people died, names are known:

Zakar Hovhannisyan
Hamlet Tadevosyan
Gor Kloyan
David Petrosyan
Tigran Khachatryan
Grigor Gevorgyan
Hovhannes Hovhannisyan
Armen Farmanyan

Rest in Peace My Dear Armenian Brothers!
There are no doubts, that President Robert Kocharyan, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian and his supporters are directly responsible for these deaths, and should publicly apologise for their uncompromising stance and stupidity.
It is also important, that the activities of the military and police are carefully investigated. The incompetent commanders of police and military forces, who, as a result of their inability to control the situation, have become the direct cause of civilian and police deaths, should be duly punished. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening at this point. The authorities are playing the one sided blame game, taking advantage of total information blockade in the country, and directing their accusations solely against the opposition activists and media.
God forgive them, for blinded and corrupted they are with power!!!

Riots Stopped. Peaople Going Home Leaving Yerevan In A Mess

People are peacefully going home gathered in small groups. An eyewitness said, that Levon Ter-Petrossian had called from his house, where he was sitting under house arrest, and told the protesters to go away, warning, that tanks and military are coming and more serious accidents will happen if people do not obey. Ter-Petrossian has also said, that they will mobilize again in 15 days, after the state of emergency declared today by President Kocharian is lifted, and will continue “demanding justice”.
“Բան չհասկացանք էս ամենից վերջը”(“So we didn’t understand anything in the end”), said a grim looking man in late 40’s.
Minibuses and cars used as barricades were already gone, the trolleybusses and a couple of busses, as well as the overturned and burned police cars could still be seen on both sides of Grigor Lusavorich street, which was the main site of rioting drama today. The riots have stopped for good it seems, leaving Yerevan in a mess… cars burned, shops robbed and we still don’t know how many people have died or are badly injured.

"There'r no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue": Armenian Foreign Minister

“Russia Today” satelite and internet channel has broadcast an exclusive interview with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian on December 6-th, at 20:30 and December 7th, at 00:30. The interview, where minister Oskanian stresses, that the conflicting sides are very close to finding a solution to the issue, and that a military solution is not possible at this point, is available in a streaming video format from Russia Today’s website.

In Support of Protesters in Myanmar

Although this post may seem irrelevant to the general content of my blog, I can’t stop myself from posting it. My very good friend from Myanmar/Burma has disappeared from my Gtalk contact list for 2 days now. I have been following the developments with the protest of monks with excitement and anxiety, thinking about how every type of dictatorship, even the type that the Generals possess in Burma is doomed. However, after the main internet connection to Myanman was cut down, I realised in depth, that this is not just some philosophical speculation about the importance of democracy and the fight for freedom. There are human lives at stake, and among them, the life of a friend. Apparently, the Generals have ordered internet to be cut, so the world won’t see how they slaughter the protestors. I don’t think anybody can do much in this situation, however, the message I have posted below came on my Facebook account today, and gave me hope, that there is at least somethings that can be done. I find my duty to disseminate this information, and I pray again for all the wonderful people in Myanmar who are struggling for their freedom, lives and future.
A GLOBAL, COORDINATED DAY OF ACTION!
International day of Action
Contact: Burma Campaign UK
suki.dusan[email protected]
We are marching in solidarity with the monks and ordinary people of Burma who are risking their lives for freedom and democracy.
We appeal to the religious and secular communities across the world not to look the other way while the people of Burma cry out for international support.
Saturday 6th October
12 noon – worldwide
More information to follow
*–URGENT UPDATE–*
From internal source: It is heard that the junta has set a plot to assassinate the most senior venerable monks (Sanga Maha Naryaka) tonight as if it is done by the monks involved in the protest. We still have live contacts in Burma. We are getting reports of a massacre at a temple last night, around 200 monks killed. We will try to confirm this as soon as possible. They are arresting and imprisoning monks- so far over 700 have been arrested. They have raided dozens of monasteries. While the regime is stating only 9 have been killed the number is far closer to 200. They have snipers on tops of buildings to pick of the leaders. They are trying to suppress the violence.
We MUST protest! Continue reading “In Support of Protesters in Myanmar”

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