A strong ally in oppositionists’ efforts to unseat the current government regime says that regardless of what happens on May 12, Armenia’s parliamentary elections already fail to meet democratic standards.
And the campaign hasn’t even begun.
The Heritage party, founded in 2002 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs and would-be presidential candidate Raffi K. Hovannisian, has prepared and distributed to international agencies here a 4-page manifesto of sorts giving chapter and verse, that is a party indictment on political persecution.
The most powerful Armenian lobbying group in America is protesting the US Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08) budget funding for Armenia and Azerbaijan, saying that it “sends the wrong message to Armenia, an important U.S. ally”.
The Armenian Assembly of America objects to proposed funding for Foreign Military Financing that calls for $4.3 million for Azerbaijan against $3 million for Armenia.
A popular and controversial Turkish journalist of Armenian descent, sympathetic to the cause of Armenian Genocide recognition, was shot dead in Istanbul today.
Hrant Dink, the editor of the Armenian-language "Agos" was shot four times while leaving his offices Friday (January 19) afternoon.
Dink, who had often run afoul of Turkish government policy for his editorials favoring Armenian viewpoints, was recently found guilty of "insulting Turkishness". He escaped Turkish prison on a provisional sentence, and had pledged to appeal his conviction to the European Court of Human Rights.
Slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink is being remembered in Yerevan by colleagues and officials who praise his work while mourning his loss.
Dink was shot dead in Istanbul Friday afternoon outside the offices of Agos newspaper, the bilingual journal he founded in 1996 (see “Hrant Dink Shot Dead”). On Saturday Turkish authorities arrested a 17-year old youth in connection with the murder.
In Yerevan Saturday night, Dink was remembered in a candle-light vigil in Charles Aznavour Square. The journalist was a frequent visitor to Armenia and became something of a national hero after being arrested by the Turkish government for “insulting Turkishness” by writing about the Armenian Genocide.
Independent Armenia’s transition from communism is embodied, unavoidably and intrusively so, exactly where its homage to socialism had stood.
On the very spot where the famous, finger-pointing statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin used to stand, there is now a giant-screen monitor that blaringly broadcasts much of what Komrade Lenin enwalled his people against. Music clips, sex-driven commercials advertising western-inspired consumption, and even the occasional macho movie image featuring the now-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, play for passersby walking a square once named for the dictator but now reclaimed for the freed republic.
A world-known hotel chain announced today its intentions to add Armenia to its family of luxury properties.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) plans to open a 225-room hotel on the site previously held by the "Corncob" youth palace (so called for its distinct shape). The hotel is planned to open in 2010, and would be only the third internationally-recognized name in Armenia, following Marriott, which took over management of the Hotel Armenia six years ago and added its name to the property in 2004, and Golden Tulip, management of the Yerevan and Congress hotels.
A bill that would make it a crime in France to deny the Armenian Genocide has passed that nation’s Lower House of Parliament today. If the bill is ratified by the Senate and the President, it would establish a 45,000 Euro fine and a one-year prison term for anyone publicly denying that the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey last century was genocide.
The French Government does not support the bill, but the ruling parliament party is behind it, making it likely to reach at least as far as President Jacques Chirac’s desk.
(The vote comes two weeks after Chirac lead a diplomatic team to Armenia, to inaugurate the “Year of Armenia in France”.)
Sounding as much like a Head of State as Armenia’s Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian today called on Diaspora to be “apostles” for a program spearheaded through the Foreign Ministry that would erase poverty in Armenia’s villages by 2020.
When the main session of the Third Armenia-Diaspora Conference convened (albeit an hour later than scheduled), the minister followed introductory comments by Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan and other members of the Government to bring attention to an issue everyone knows, but not enough have addressed:
Capital gain in the capital has not spread to the larger population of the republic.
There is no “yan” at the end of her three-word name, nor any brown in Kathryn Cameron Porter’s complexion.. Yet when she speaks of Karabakh, the blue-eyed grand daughter of a Cherokee Indian uses the word “Artsakh”.
In the world she comes from, few even know the tiny wanna-be republic by its modern name. But Cameron Porter is hardly from the world she is part of.