Azerbaijani-Armenian Gay Romance Novel Fuels Controversy

030409_frontScandals and discussions have erupted in Azerbaijan over the bestselling new novel – “Artush and Zaur.” This book by Azeri writer Alekper Aliyev (who has been in Yerevan on at least two occasions that I can recall) has written a novel about the romance between two young men — one Armenian, one Azerbaijani. For a highly conservative society like Azerbaijan (and Armenia for that matter), the publication of this book comes as a real shock.
“Taboos will not be easily overcome” declares the sub-title of “Artush and Zaur.” And in this bestseller novel about the romance between two young men — one Armenian, one Azerbaijani — Azerbaijan is experiencing the truth of that line. Continue reading “Azerbaijani-Armenian Gay Romance Novel Fuels Controversy”

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 Hence, the following two restrictions are no longer applicable: 1)Temporary suspension of the activities of political parties and other nongovernmental organizations obstructing the removal of the circumstances serving as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.

Post-Election Armenia: Time To Pick Sides?

There is a lot of confusion in Armenia today. Information and misinformation flows follow each other – it is becoming harder to distinguish truth from lies. Protests continue in Yerevan’s Freedom Square, where opposition candidate, First President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian’s supporters demand recognition of their candidate’s victory, although there was no objective indication throughout the electoral process, that Ter-Petrossian’s claims are true.
On the other hand, demonstrations are staged in the regions of Armenia – students, schoolchildren, employees of state subsidized organizations, big and small government officials are forced to attend them to express their “support” of the government candidate, Prime-minister Serzh Sargsyan, who was declared to be the winner of the presidential race by the Central Electoral Commission in the absence of opposition representatives. Interestingly, the authorities don’t seem to feel confident enough to stage a large rally in Yerevan, where the anti-Sargsyan sentiment is especially strong. Generally, it feels like only morons could support Serzh Sargsyan – in many circles it is considered disgraceful to openly voice support of the pro-government candidate. Although a range of polls and surveys before the elections, including a Populus exit-poll, indicated Serzh Sargsyan’s victory, everybody I’ve spoken to so far, including Sargsyan’s supporters, have agreed, that without widespread vote bribes, ballot stuffing and election fraud, there would be no way for Serzh Sargsyan to ensure 53% of the vote that he received. Continue reading “Post-Election Armenia: Time To Pick Sides?”

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