Dashnaktsutyun stage a rally in protest of Armenian-Turkish protocols


The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) rallied more than a thousand supporters in Yerevan on Monday to demand that Armenia’s Constitutional Court invalidate the fence-mending agreements with Turkey, RFE/RL reports. The whole rally seems like a big and colorful show, because very few people would consider the Constitutional Court an independent branch of the state capable of making decisions without the direct instructions from the President’s administration, or Dashnakstutyun, a true and independent opposition force, capable of impacting the government’s agenda. Continue reading “Dashnaktsutyun stage a rally in protest of Armenian-Turkish protocols”

Controversial Ter-Petrosian criticises Armenia-Turkey 'roadmap'

Ter-Petrosian makes his way through the rally
Ter-Petrosian makes his way through the rally © Artur Papyan | http://www.ditord.com

“In a damning indictment of Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian accused President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday of scuttling U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide and gaining nothing in return,” RFE/RL reports. Addressing thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan, Ter-Petrosian charged that Sarkisian’s apparent acceptance of a joint Turkish-Armenian academic study of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire amounted to “genocide denial.” Continue reading “Controversial Ter-Petrosian criticises Armenia-Turkey 'roadmap'”

Heritage spokesperson: “Large segment of electorate finds it hard to vote for Ter-Petrosian”

“There is a large segment of the electorate that finds it hard to vote for Levon Ter-Petrosian,” Hovsep Khurshudian, the  “Heritage”  spokesman told journalists today, defending his party’s refusal to back former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s candidacy for the post of Yerevan mayor.
“Heritage” (Zharangutyun), which is led by former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian, decided late Monday not to form an alliance with Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) for the May 31 municipal elections. Continue reading “Heritage spokesperson: “Large segment of electorate finds it hard to vote for Ter-Petrosian””

Former president to run for Yerevan's mayor?

Armenia’s main opposition alliance has decided to contest the forthcoming municipal elections in Yerevan and nominate its top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, as its candidate for the post of city mayor, RFE/RL reports.
Speaking on behalf of the Ter-Petrossian led Armenian National Congress (HAK), Levon Zurabyan said opposition block views the upcoming elections as the “second round of presidential elections”. The oposition spokesperson said, that given Yerevan’s political and economic significance, they see this as an opportunity “to change the existing dictatoral system in Armenia”.
It is of course hard to beleive, that the former president would actually want to serve as the mayor of Yerevan, but it’s quite easy to see, how this decision overhauls the otherwise predictible ‘elections’  and seriously damages incumbant mayor Gagik Beglaryan’s chances to be elected.

Divided blogosphere on united opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian's conciliatory speech

Quite predictably, the internet discussions over the past several days focused primarily on the congress held by opposition forces and the first public speech made by the opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian since the post-election violence on March 1st.

Opposition Congress, May 2, 2008 | Source: Unzipped

While speculating, that anyone “who made claims that they received 65% of the votes, accuses the present government of being murderers [] but is not presenting evidence to back his claims, can not be taken seriously“, Martuni or Bust!!! looks at the overall context of the opposition congress, concluding:

It looks as if things have not really settled down since the fraudulent elections and the killing of March 1st. The noticeable unrest is going longer than I was expecting and who knows, maybe this time around the truth really will come out and those who need to be put in their place will finally get what they have coming.

Bringing a more comprehensive analysis, the Caucasus Knot speculates, that “the radical opposition appears ready to negotiate with the authorities in order to prevent a repeat of the post-election violence which left at least 10 dead“, and concludes, that this first public speech by Ter-Petrossian since the March 1 disturbances “certainly represents a more conciliatory line“:

Interestingly, Ter-Petrossian was reportedly more conciliatory towards the new president, Serge Sargsyan. [] Ter-Petrossian instead directed his main attack on the former president, Robert Kocharian. Whether his words mark a realization from Ter-Petrossian that the radical opposition is unable to contest the outcome of the vote on the streets is a moot point.
[]
Whatever the view, however, and whatever the numbers, there is the basis for discussion and negotiations in the form of Council of Europe Resolution 1609. In particular, it calls on the radical opposition to recognize the constitutional court ruling confirming the results of the presidential election as well as on the government to release those detained on purely political grounds. Another demand is for an independent inquiry into the 1 March riot to be held.

Marking the fact, that Levon Ter-Petrossian has “effectively expressed readiness for a dialogue based on PACE recommendations”, pro-opposition blogger Unzipped disagrees with the statement, “directly accepting PACE call to opposition to recognise the Constitutional Court’s decision which approved the election results” in the opposition leader’s speech, speculating, that:

“Fraud in elections was the main reason which sparked the protests, and ‘acceptance’ of its results for practical reasons to move forward cannot be considered as a precondition (and never presented as such by PACE) but rather a part of a final outcome of negotiations (with a package of measures aimed at democratisation of Armenian society).”

Known for his outspoken dislike of the first president, Pigh has singled out some soundbites in Ter-Petrossian’s speech, hinting, that such approaches are inconsistent with the “role” of the opposition leader, and are making him a “tool”, which works more in favor of the ruling Republican and ARF-Dashnaktsutyun parties:

Republican-Tool
One [of the soundbites] was directed at the US Government and the “Millenium Challanges” corporation, calling upon them to abstain from cutting aid to Armenia, as it will hurt the people, not the authorities..
Dashnak-Tool
Secondly – the first president spoke about the neighboring Azerbaijan in particular, noting, that Baku has to finally realize, that regardless the internal political situation in Armenia, “it would meet with a united resistance of the Armenian people in the event of unleashing a military aggression against Karabakh”

Interestingly, the issue of US assitance to Armenia has also drawn criticism from the highly pro-Ter-Petrossian blogger, Nazarian:

In the speech below, Levon Ter-Petrosian is against some of the things I have been advocating such as the stopping of the US economic aid to Armenia. I disagree with him and will continue to push for the (hopefully short term) halt of American taxpayer money propping up the banditocracy in Armenia. One of the best ways to modify someone’s behavior is through financial (dis)incentives.

And while Uzogh wonders, what has really triggered such a drastic change in LTP’s perceptions of current political realities, Unzipped on his turn, highlights the importance of the authorities’ response to opposition leaders apparent call for dialogue based on Counil of Europe Parliamentary Assembley recommendations:

How serious is Armenian government in terms of making necessary reforms and changes in accordance with the PACE recommendations, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition, will be known on 10 May when a committee created by a decree of Serj Sargsyan will present its action plan.

Here’s the Podcast of the Armenian version of this post.

Big challanges to be faced by the new coalition government

Five out of seventeen ministerial posts have already been appointed, only two of which are new faces:   Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian, former ambassador to France, and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian, the former head of armed forces. Three ministers retained the positions they held in the outgoing government. Gevorg Danielian (Republican Party) will stay on as justice minister, while Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia) will continue as minister of sport and youth affairs and David Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun) as agriculture minister. Interestingly, as this ArmeniaNow analyses points out, despite the landslide victory achieved by the Republicans in 2007 parliamentary elections, the government formed after the elections was a coalition one.
When the non-partisan head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Premier, after Serzh Sargsyan’s 53% victory, disputed as it may be, it seemed for a moment, that leaning on heavy Republican majority in Parliament and control over the executive branch, Serzh Sargsyan might attempt to form a merit based, professional government. Still, the developments are indicating the opposite. So far the weight of coalition is prevailing, and it seems more coalition appointments are to be expected.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I find it strange, that four political forces, with distincltly different political agendas are working in a coalition government. Moreover, with Republicans being strong enough to rule on their own, it is clear, that their political line will be dictating everything, so it looks, as though Bargavach Hayastan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir party won’t be able to push any of their appraches through, and have joined the government only to retain some administrative levers and ensure better life for some of their top party officials.
Meanwhile, the new government faces the challanges of strengthening its legitimacy in Armenia and restoring country’s image in the international community. “The Monitoring Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on April 17 urging the Armenian authorities to implement a number of reforms aimed at improving the situation in the country. PACE suggests launching an independent inquiry into the clashes, releasing all prisoners who did not commit crimes, amending the law on public rallies, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition. PACE warns that, unless those conditions are met, it will consider suspending the voting rights of Armenia during its next session, which takes place in June.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
The expected sharp rise of prices following the rise of natural gas price doesn’t help much with raising the government’s profile. Instead, it gives the opposition more facts to build their struggle – which has been generally a destructive one so far. Seems like the internal situation will remain tense over the next month or two, possibly with the influence of opposition gradually declining, although – if the government keeps the policies observed over the past week – price-rises, which should have been avoided at all costs in this tentative and tense political period, we might just as well see the opposite.
No changes are expected in the foreign policy sphere either. “In his first major foreign-policy speech on April 16, Armenia’s president was uncompromising. “Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible,”Sarkisian said. “The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it.

Special conditions for the deputies participating in the special session

Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration ceremony will take place on April 9, at a special NA session.
Tomorrow there will be special conditions at Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration ceremony at the special session of NA, to be held at the Opera building.
NA deputies have received special invitations to take part in that session, sent by the NA chairman Tigran Torosyan.
“RA NA chairman Tigran Torosyan invites you to participate in the special session of NA. The deputies are asked to be present 45 minutes prior to the beginning of the session,” is mentioned in the invitation.
Also, there is a special note in the envelopes of Tigran Torosyan’s invitations, stating, “Please switch off your cell phones and don’t use your cameras during the session.”
It is also mentioned in the note that the deputies must present an ID to participate in the special session of NA.
The NA deputies have also been warned to notify the NA management in case of not attending the special session.
The special session of National Assembly to be convened on the pretext of Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration will start on April 9, at 14:00 and will last for 45 minutes.
Via E-channel

Women demand fair trial


About 150 women had gathered in front of the general prosecutor’s office to demand fair trial and freedom for political prisoners. They also conveyed a letter to the prosecutor’s office.
“Today, we have not come here to celebrate our feast but we have come here to demand freedom for our husbands and men. Since they are in prisons, we cannot celebrate it,” says Heghine Harutyunyan, a participant of the action. That was included in the letter signed by the gathered women and conveyed to the general prosecutor’s office of Republic of Armenia.
Continue reading “Women demand fair trial”

Heritage Files Legal Challenge to State of Emergency

Yerevan—Today the Heritage Party filed a petition with the Administrative Court of the Republic of Armenia, demanding annulment of the president’s March 1, 2008 decree on the declaration of a state of emergency. The appeal asserts, among other things, that the suspension of the activities of democratic institutions and specifically the restrictions imposed upon the media contradict the requirements both of Armenian law and of the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result, independent and opposition-oriented newspapers and online news services have been effectively blocked, and this stands in flagrant violation of the citizens’ right freely to receive objective and comprehensive information.
In its cause of action, Heritage asks the Court to invalidate the aforesaid decree which, as evidenced by the party, is unlawful and incongruent with the current situation. At the same time, petitioner has moved for a temporary restraining order against the Armenian president’s imposition of further restrictions on civil liberties, as well as for ruling to expedite judicial consideration of the case.
The Heritage Party expects the Administrative Court to deliver a just judgment lifting the extraordinary measures ordered by the president’s decree, eliminating the hardships caused by the state of emergency, and reinstating the constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms of Armenia’s citizens.
Heritage’s petition can be accessed at www.heritage.am.

Armenian government making first steps for reconcilliation?

President Kocharyan has signed a decree today, lifting 2 restrictions out of 9, under point 4 of the State of Emergency decree. Hence, the following two restrictions are no longer applicable: 1)Temporary suspension of the activities of political parties and other nongovernmental organizations obstructing the removal of the circumstances serving as a basis for the declaration of the state of emergency. 2) Expulsion of individuals who break the regime of the state of emergency and not residing in a given territory at the expense of their means, and if they don’t have means – at the expense of the means of the Republic of Armenia state budget on the condition of the further return of the expenses made.
2. Serzh Sargsyan continues to play the good guy – restating his willingness to cooperate, discuss, etc. The newly elected president has also decided to set up his own blogs and take questions from everyone. The official blog for Serzh Sargsyan created especially for this purpose runs the following announcement:

On March 13, the RA Prime Minister, newly elected president Serzh Sargsyan will be responding to the questions of the citizens. You can send your questions via the following internet sites:
www.serzhsargsyan.am
www.panorama.am
http://serzhsargsyan.livejournal.com
Alternatively, you can ask your qeustions calling 080099999 phone number. The qesutions weill be accepted from March 11, starting from 10.00 o’clock, till March 12th, 21.00 o’clock.

Given the amount of tensions, suspicion and gossip in the society, this move is more then welcome, and due credit should be given to Serzh Sargsyan for attempting it. However, it remains to be seen, if the new president will indeed be prepared to face the really tough questions.
3. Other then the two positive steps mentioned above, govenment is doing little to help discharge the situation. Persecution of opposition activists continues, along with total media control and policy of disseminting state propaganda and lies.

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