Sunday, November 29, 2009

Raise your hand if Putin "Hailing" HHK convention makes you feel better...

Let's take a look at the past 2 weeks or so...
On November 17, it is announced that Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s application to join the ruling party, President Serge Sargsyan’s Republican Party (HHK), is accepted.
On Nov 18, in the Yerevan Council, there are reports of significant clashes between Sargsyan’s HHK and Dodi Gago’s BHK . In fact, due to this clash, where the BHK claims that the HHK is ruling Yerevan singlehandedly, the BHK threatens to walk out (reported on the 19th).
And, on November 20-22, Dodi Gago participates in the United Russia Party convention.
Less than a week later, former coalition member ARF accuses Russia of acting against the national interests of Armenia, but one day later, November 25, they are explaining their criticism (which, if you ask me, was about as weak a criticism as was their supposed criticism of Kocharyan’s response to LTP).
On the same day, November 25, 2 ministers and 7 other top government officials who are close to PM Sarkisyan are applying for HHK membership.
On November 28, the HHK starts its convention. The ARF was invited and present, as “opposition.” The BHK was invited and present, but Dodi Gago was not there, even though Sargsyan was there at Dodi Gago’s BHK convention a while back. And, remember Orinats Yerkir? Artur Baghdasaryan was also at the HHK convention today, as was Vazgen Manukyan. And, the United Russia Party also had representatives there, and has expressed its desire to strengthen ties with the HHK. It is expected that both Mayor Beglaryan and Tigran Sargsyan will be voted onto the executive board of the HHK.

In the end, it seems, there are persistent problems between S. Sargsyan and Dodi Gago, and a shifting/concentration of weight towards SS/HHK, with the ARF still trying to stay relevant and playing games. None of it is surprising, actually. But it makes me wonder, for sure – if this is what we see from the outside, what’s really going on in the inside?
But I am at peace, as Putin has “hailed” the HHK convention. Phew.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Life in Prison

The information and picture are via HZH (Nov 26 2009). The rest of the HZH article states that the picture was made available on the web about 2 months ago, was likely taken at Nubarashen prison for those sentenced to life imprisonment, and that the RoA does not allow such gatherings, especially in the cells of those sentenced to life imprisonment. HZH also notes that it would be interesting to know who is securing the well-being of these prisoners.
A1+ had an article today, and noted that Artyom Khachatryan is the editor in chief of the newspaper Azatamtutyun.
The nickname "Shizolini" was one given to him by the press after the publication of his book "Gift to Pasolini" and it was soon revealed that Khachatryan is supposedly schizophrenic - hence Pasolini + Schizophrenia = Shizolini.

Now, these guys are convicted of what amount to crimes against the state, and in essence the people and the nation. And this is their punishment.

I think I see some prison bars in the back left corner of the photo... if I squint... But it may just be some art deco...

Friday, November 20, 2009

LTPs speech, in English, with my favorites...

Up until now, the only translation in English of LTPs recent speech that I had seen was the partial translation on Lragir, which was much appreciated but missing some key things. I've put a link to the speech in English and in Armenian below, but before that, some bits and pieces that are among my favorites...

"If we are fair-minded however, we have to point out that Serge Sargsyan did not implement the plan of signing the Armenian–Turkish protocols alone. In that endeavor he received unconditional support from the Republican, Country of Laws and Prosperous Armenia parties, the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian church headed by the catholicos Garegin II, the Public Council adjunct to the president of RA headed by Vazgen Manoukyan, the Armenian Assembly of America headed by Hrayr Hovnanyan, the Armenian General Benevolent Union under the honorary presidency of Luise-Simone Manougyan, the presidency of the Academy of Sciences of the RA lead by Radik Martirosyan, Armenia’s criminal-oligarchic economic elite represented by all the well-known individuals with nicknames, the presidents of state universities such as Aram Simonyan, Suren Zolyan and others, and finally the entire court intelligentsia with the silent agreement of Zori Balayan, Sos Sargsyan, Perch Zeytuntsyan, Ruben Gevorgyants and others. It is indicative, however, that none of the representatives of the listed organizations and groups, with possible exceptions of a few republicans, had the courage to personally defend the policy adopted by Serge Sargsyan, making instead the cowardly choice of hiding behind the collective statements and expressions of support, which did not require taking personal responsibility. In essence, everybody abandoned their president and left him to fend for himself. No minister, no academician, no president of a university, no oligarch, and no intellectual stood by him personally."

"It is completely incomprehensible, for example, that the ARF is protesting against the current Armenian–Turkish boarder when it is that party that has drawn those boarders by signing the Treaty of Alexandrapol. Or how is it demanding that Turkey recognize the historic rights of Armenian people when by signing the aforementioned treaty it has renounced the Treaty of Sevres. It is equally true in Vardan Oskanyan’s case. Why has he suddenly remembered Western Armenia and his native Marash, when during the period of holding high office he did not in any way react to Robert Kocharyan’s statement about not having any territorial demands from Turkey, why he did not say that it was treason or that it trampled on the historic rights of the Armenian people, etc? And if all of this is so, who is going to believe the ARF and Oskanyan that their current posture is sincere and that it is not aimed at scoring cheap political points? "

"It is not just to add sins that he has not committed to the many sins that he has. It was not Sargsyan who first recognized the existing Armenian–Turkish boarder - the ARF and the Bolsheviks did that before him with the treaties of Alexandrapol and Kars. He was not the one who renounced territorial claims against Turkey - Robert Kocharyan did that. He was not the one who demanded that Turkey recognized the Armenian Genocide, receiving in response the proposal to create a commission of historians - Kocharyan and Vardan Oskanyan did that. He was not the one who excluded Karabakh from the negotiating process – it was Kocharyan’s, Oskanyan’s and Arkadi Ghukasyan’s wrongdoing. And finally it is not Sargsyan, who can call the Madrid principles his “achievement”- he has inherited them from Kocharyan and Oskanyan. Sargsyan is responsible for all of this only to the extent that he was a member of Kocharyan’s regime, and he is no more responsible than the forces who were supporters or parts of that regime, some of which are pretending to be in the opposition now in order to evade their share of responsibility."

"this will also be a moral and psychological blow for the Diaspora, whose identity, irrespective of our subjective desire, because of the tragic circumstances, rests upon the Genocide, although I would have personally preferred it to be based upon the idea of the strengthening of the Armenian statehood and on universal values."

"Thus, even if we consider the establishment of the commission of historians to be a matter of commercial trade-off, it will appear to be a failed undertaking, or, at least, not the one that envisages the establishment of the commission in exchange for the open border, but, at best, a trade-off that presupposes the establishment of the commission in exchange for the recognition of Serge Sargsyan’s legitimacy."

The full texts:



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ARF meet Piaget, Piaget meet ARF

I read LTPs most recent speech multiple times. And obviously have been reading some of the reactions to the speech, including the response of the ARF, and its extremism and oversimplifications, its attempts at manipulation and misinformation, its overcompensation and sensationalism. And I have come to the conclusion that in addition to its numerous own political motives for such a strategy, the ARF follows this type of course because of an intrinsic problem, which became clearer to me when I thought to myself that, man, these guys are concrete thinkers, they just won't, and it seems can't, see the non-literal, the complex, the abstract. Which brought me to Piaget's famous stages of development: Sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational.
So at first I thought, these guys are stuck in the Concrete phase of development - but then I read that definition again:
Children begin to think logically but are very concrete in their thinking. Children can now conceive and think logically but only with practical aids. They are no longer egocentric.
Wow, that fit pretty well, but these guys still are stuck on themselves a lot of the time. So I went back one step to Preoperational thinking:
Magical thinking predominates. Acquisition of motor skills. Egocentricism begins strongly and then weakens. Children cannot conserve or use logical thinking.
Sounds pretty close. I can see where/how this stagnation in development occurred. The ARF, so heavily based in the Diaspora, are the sons and daughters, granddaughters and grandsons, and yes, greatgranddaughters and greatgrandsons, of fighters, martyrs, and victims - like so many in the Diaspora and Armenia. Crimes against humanity were committed which have gone yet unrecognized in a world which claims to want to stop violence, murder and genocide. And yet the Genocide has gone unrecognized by the majority of the world's countries; the pride of our nation and the sorrow of our victims goes unwritten in most history textbooks. And while the stories of our grandmothers and grandfathers must echo ever louder in our memory so that they will not be forgotten, this places a heavy burden of conscience on every new generation. They say time heals all wounds, but time does not pass when we relive history every day. When my image makes a 90 year old woman gasp, thinking she has seen her old childhood friend, one of my greats, time has not passed.
And so, I understand this stagnation. This need to relive, to remember, to find some justice and closure in recognition.

But the collective psyche does not Foreign policy make, and time does pass. And countries are revived, new wars are fought, pride, identity and freedom are renewed and revised. And the new Country and Nation has new needs to secure itself, in addition to the old needs. And yet, the ARF, from even before independence in 1991, has been unable to adjust. And so I think it is not just a lack of desire, and of course, the inner politics of the upper echelons of the ARF, but a developmental inability to see such things.
For the ARF, the ideals of Freedom and Liberty, Truth and Justice, apply only to 1915, and not to the Citizens and Republic of Armenia, of today, or of March 1, 2008.

This developmental stagnation pertains not only to those who would make decisions, but maybe, maybe even more so, to the common member of the ARF - a condition which, appropriately tended and fostered, makes manipulation by those who do make decisions - and are more involved in politics and have more to gain - much easier.

What the heck is my point? Here is what I am saying. LTPs speech is completely internally consistent - the priority is Armenia, the people of Armenia, Democracy, and Human Rights. This was true of LTP in 1988, and it is true now. The purpose of all major decisions is to help the development and progress of the priorities above.

I do not see an absolute contradiction in the following: Sargsyan is an illegitimate president. He gained his power through illegal and violent mechanisms. He, along with certain others, are accountable for the violence of March 1, and the continued oppressions, imprisonments, cover-ups, intimidation and violence which started even before the presidential elections of Feb 2008, and continues today. Sargsyan has willingly made unnecessary and unacceptable concessions in international diplomacy in order to gain the chance to be viewed as legitimate by the international community. Nothing changes any of this. However, keeping in mind the priorities of LTP and the HAK, Sargsyan has the chance, in fact, he has the chance every morning when he wakes up, to change things, to free political prisoners, to allow freedom of speech and press and assembly, and to follow a different path than that which he has so far. If he were to show such interest, then LTP, in line with the principles outlined above, would be open to helping him along that path.

That is by no means a Sargsyan-Ter-Petrosyan Union, as the ARF would like to have people believe. It is an offer of guidance, a restatement of priority, a paving of the road toward doing the right thing. Such manipulation of terms, of ideas, is an attempt to weaken LTP and HAK because, it seems to me, the ARF itself is actually, in some type of weird ARF-collective subconscious, intimidated by an entity (whether it be LTP, HAK, or an individual independent Armenian who does not need to be told by the ARF how to be Armenian) that will pursue guiding principles over a chance to spew venom, incite irrational fear and frenzy, and potentially gain more power.
In contrast to LTP, the ARF is now so internally inconsistent that it now thinks that a bill regarding March 1 presented to parliament will be a convincing opposition-type move. Sorry, that picture of the ARF raising its champagne glass with the rest of the coalition after March 1 is forever etched in my memory, and the memory of so many others. In fact, what is truly consistent about the ARF, is that it chooses to pursue Power, over any other principle.

I don't know if there is a 'cure' for developmental stagnation. Every day that the decision makers of the ARF wake up, they have the choice to make a new and better set of choices. That speech and guidance contained therein is almost as much for them as it was for anyone else... If so, that would mean, using the same logic that they used, that there may be an ARF-LTP Union?!!!!

But wait, making that jump requires consistency, logic, abstraction... (aka Formal operational thinking). And it would require an ARF that is principled, and truly Opposition. And they've got none of that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who's minion is on the other end?

"Authorities - You killed our sons"

"Don't try the heroes, try the murderers"

These were two of the posters held up outside Pashinyan's trial today, as well as pictures of many of the victims of March1. The video also shows brief interviews with mothers and fathers of those fallen men, their statements are clear and strong and in line with the messages of the posters. Gor Kloyan's father, Sargis Kloyan, said about the poster on the left ""I wrote this sign with my own two hands and I wrote the truth because the police killed my son by the order of Robert Kocharyan...[] The commander-in-chief and the godfather of all this is Robert Kocharyan." A1plus had a brief article, and a video.

At about 4:22min to 4:28, a woman's voice says, in response to what seem to be (and are reported) statements by the police that the signs were anti-government, says "What, do the signs say something false? What's written there is what several hundred thousand people saw."

And, fear not, while I haven't seen the illustrious Bazaz around for a bit, it seems his almost equally evil shadow, Valeri Osipyan, is out and about - watch the video above to catch him starring in some of his most recent acts of oppression!

Speaking of Kocharyan, there was an article recently of the Meghri exchange option coming up again...

And who is he calling... who does he report to, or turn to when he needs backup? The minions of which oligarch are on the other end of that line?

Monday, November 9, 2009

It goes both ways - evidence is evidence

A while back the newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak published a story that one of Robert Kocharyan's sons had caused some type of ruckus in Dubai. Long story short, that resulted in the Kocharyan family suing HZH for slander or some such charge. One of the main pieces of evidence put forth that said Kocharyan son had NOT been in Dubai at the time of the alleged ruckus was that his passport did not hold any evidence of travel to Dubai at that time.

It goes both ways.

Likewise, if Pashinyan's passport does not hold any evidence that Pashinyan travelled abroad, well, then he was in Armenia during that time.

Any other argument would be absurd...

RFE/RL interview(60 min program) November 9 with Lucine Sahakyan (Pashinyan's lawyer) from approx 6min to 11:34 min.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Authorities declare Pashinyan's trial invalid

In a bizarre turn of events, the government of Armenia has chosen a creative and unprecedented route to free political prisoner Nikol Pashinyan. Pashinyan, now a candidate for an empty MP seat, needed documentation of permanent residence of 5 years in Armenia to complete his paperwork. The Ijevan branch of the RA Police Passport and Visa Department has refused to give him that documentation, stating that he was not in Armenia between February 26 and July 7 of 2008. This is where the authorities' amazing and calculated strategy shines brilliant. Pashinyan is currently imprisoned and on trial for his role in the events of March 1, 2008. And, he turned himself in to the authorities, as witnessed by numerous article and videos, on July 1, 2008. With these minor but important changes in the dates, the government has made clear that it is impossible that Nikol Pashinyan could have been involved in any illegal events in Yerevan on March 1, 2008, that the charges are fundamentally invalid, and must be dropped. Now, what this means for those police and officials who have testified that Pashinyan was in fact in Yerevan on that date, I don't know - I hope they will not be reprimanded for their apparent perjury.

With this most recent move, the authorities have shown that they have truly turned over a new leaf, and are willing to make democracy and human rights a true priority in Armenia. The court will have no choice but to drop the charges against Pashinyan, and set him free. What's next? Will they reveal documents or videos that show undeniable proof that the order for March 1 was given by individuals high up in the government? Will the authorities come forth and say their position as negotiators on behalf of the Republic of Armenia is compromised, and voluntarily step back? Could Sargsyan's resignation be next?

Who knows. But, the authorities should be commended for this selfless act. I can't wait to see what's next...

[Note: this is obviously quite a sarcastic post. The fact is, that the authorities couldn't even get the dates right. So now we have an illegitimate and oppressive regime that can't even come up with good lies and excuses. Hey, guys, at least check your dates. It's a little embarassing when you guys mess up so badly. If you need help, just ask, ok?]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Serzh, jan?... Bazaz, jan? - No, it's Nikol, jan...

Watching the trials of the other political prisoners, I learned that the courts in Armenia have a much more personal nature that those I am used to seeing. Having the defendant be an active part of their own defense (e.g. Jhangiryan) and an active part of the evolving courtroom dynamic (e.g. the trial of the seven), is something I quickly became accustomed to. So maybe the bit on a1plus of Pashinyan's trial from the other day was just another manifestation of the same.
Pashinyan is asking the witness some questions himself - people moved forward, why did they stop where they did, he asks? He gently and warmly persists in trying to get an answer. And the witness answers "Nikol, jan [dear], it was two years ago, I can't remember those details."
She turns directly to Pashinyan and says, Nikol, jan,... she is sincere, and upset, but she doesn't seem to blame Pashinyan...
She does not give an answer to the judge (who was also guiding her to answer the question) of: I don't know, or I don't remember; she does not show anger towards the person asking the question, which would be easiest; nor does she say I don't know, or, Why or how would I remember that...

Now maybe this is just part of a different dynamic that exists as a norm in the court system in Armenia. But that familiarity, that comfort, is not something I can imagine a witness feeling toward someone whom they do not trust... I cannot imagine that during Serzh Sargsyan's trial one day, someone will say, Serzh, jan... or Bazaz, jan,... Robert, jan...

[start at 1:21 min]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Name that Hand!!!

Humanity - the abilities of humans - constantly amaze me. At first, Armenian government officials were able to say without a doubt, without any concrete zoological evidence provided, that teeth and jaw bits found on the ground after March 1 were porcine, and not human. And now, witnesses are able to recognize Nikol Pashinyan's leg. My guess is that it was covered in pants and shoes, since I don't remember the last time I saw a grown man wear shorts in Armenia - especially one who is involved in political activity. So that would seem to make it a little more less reliable, since we can change our pants and our shoes. And, believe it or not, someone else may have the same pants, and even the same shoes...

But let's play "Name that Hand" - below are pictures of the naked hands, which are usually considered more unique and so should be easier to recognize, of famous people in Armenia and throughout the world.... Do you know who they belong to?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Keeping it in the family

How do we, as humans commit to people? What makes bonds strong?...
We find similarities. We do favors and practice reciprocity. We make promises. We make threats. We use money.
And what makes any bond even tighter, stronger?

About two weeks ago, on October 17, Hovik Abrahamyan's (aka "Muk," speaker of the NA of the RoA) son married the daughter of Gagik Tsarukyan (aka "Dodi Gago," who is a member of the NA)
And just the other day, on October 31, Serzh Sargsyan's daughter married the nephew of the wife of Armenian Constitutional Court chairman.

I wish the best for the young couples - this isn't about them.
What I am concerned about are the repercussions that the merging of these families will have on politics in Armenia.

As Lragir entitled their recent piece, it's a FEUDAL HUMAN TRAGEDY.