Weekend Update: Well-known actor Vardan Petrosyan arrested, march in support of Shant Harutyunyan; World Bank’s loan program for Armenia

Weekend Update: Well-known actor Vardan Petrosyan arrested, march in support of Shant Harutyunyan; World Bank’s loan program for Armenia

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The court of general jurisdiction of the Kotayk region has made a decision on November 9 on the arrest of Vardan Petrosyan, a well-known Armenian stand up artist, who is charged under the Criminal Code article dealing with “negligent breach of traffic rules, resulting in the death of two or more people.” A BMW car driven by Petrosyan collided with a Niva on the Yeghvard-Yerevan highway on October 20 killing two teenagers and injuring three more people in the car. Petrosyan himself received injuries and underwent a surgery after the crash. Petrosyan’s lawyer said they would appeal this decision.

Shant Harutyunyan’s supporters marched on Saturday in support of him and other activists, who were arrested after the clashes with the police earlier last week. The group of supporters went to the office of the Prosecutor General chanting “Free Shant Harutyunyan and other political prisoners” and calling for the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan. Harutyunyan, the leader of the nationalist Tseghakron party, is charged under the Criminal Code article “resistance to the representative of the authorities while in the line of duty or forcing him to perform obviously illegal actions, committed with violence or threat thereof”. On November 5, Harutyunyan initiated a march in central Yerevan, which turned violent as demonstrators put to use hand-made explosives and sticks to confront the security forces. As many as 14 people remain imprisoned now as a result of the Mashtots Avenue events is now 14.

For the first time Armenia appeared among the top ten most militarized countries on the latest Global Militarization Index (GMI) 2013 of the Bonn International Center for Conversion that shows the degree of militarization of 149 states. Armenia ranked fourth in the report, where Israel leads the ranking with 794 points. “Whereas Azerbaijan has already ranked high in previous years, Armenia is a new entrant this year,” reads the report. “The rapid buildup of military capacities in the Caucasus is accompanied by heated diplomatic rhetoric and the risk of rekindling the long-term military conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The World Bank approved a $72 million loan to the Armenian government for the First Development Policy Operation (DPO) to support reforms aimed at promoting macroeconomic stability and improving the business environment. This is the first DPO in a series of three operations, supporting the Government of Armenia in meeting its strategic objectives, including stronger job creation, which is Armenia’s overarching development challenge. The Operation is designed to help Armenia reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity through growth enhancing reforms. “This Operation initiates the programmatic series that will complement Armenia’s development vision,” said Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. “The proposed new series shifts the focus from mitigation against crisis vulnerability to a medium-term agenda for strengthening growth drivers. The Bank is committed to support the efforts of the authorities in meeting those challenges.”

Issues of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide were discussed at the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea. Over 300 delegates from 345 churches passed by consensus a Special Minute on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as a result of the official requests by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenian and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. It was decided to organize in 2015, around the commemorative 100th anniversary date of 24 April 2015, an international conference in Geneva for the WCC member Churches, different international organizations, lawyers, human right defenders, organize the ecumenical prayer service commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide at the Cathedral of Geneva during the international Conference and invite all churches to pray for the memory of the Armenian martyrs around the dates of the international conference, and also for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.