June 13, 2009 - 23:07 AMT
Armenian society demonstrates extreme indifference
Brief review of basic domestic events of the week.
Basic political events of the dying week in Armenia were the work of the Council of Elders in Yerevan, sluggish protests of the opposition, break-up of the fact-gathering group of March 1 events, review of the tax bill in the RA Parliament, and suspension of funding provided to Armenia by the program "Millennium Challenges".
The week began with publishing the final results of Yerevan Municipal Elections by the Central Election Commission of Armenia. According to these data, the 7% barrier was overcome by three political parties: the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the "Prosperous Armenia" and the Armenian National Congress (ANC). Mandates in the Council of Elders were distributed as follows: RPA-35 mandates, "Prosperous Armenia"-17 mandates and ANC-13 mandates.
However, members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Zoya Tadevosyan (Heritage party) and Hamlet Abrahamyan (ARF Dashnaktsutyun) did not sign the final protocol. As Zoya Tadevosyan declared, considering mass falsifications, Yerevan City Council Elections should have been declared null and void, but that wasn't what RA CEC did, arguing that there wasn't convincing evidence for making such a decision. "When several pro-opposition representatives refuse to put their signature under the protocol, it already testifies serious wrongdoings and falsifications," she stressed.
The same evening Leader of the oppositional movement ANC Levon Ter-Petrosyan held a rally near the Matenadaran, Depository of Ancient Manuscripts. He voiced the opposition's intention to waive all the mandates obtained in the Elections to Yerevan Elder's Council. However, in spite of ANC's repeated statements on mandate renunciation, the CEC press office reported that ANC representatives had not sent mandate renunciation statements to the Central Electoral Committee.
Different estimation to the Municipal Elections was given by Head of "Orinats Yerkir" parliamentary faction Heghine Bisharyan, who considers that, "In spite of wrongdoings, bribery and falsifications, the elections can be estimated as "satisfactory". "Coalition parties signed a document on not distributing bribes, but the agreement was breached," Bisharyan said. Refusing to give the name of any party, she also noted that pro-opposition factions had also engaged themselves in such ill practices.
His point of view on the election results expressed also RA Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan, who stated that the electoral system in Armenia completely corresponds to the political and economic systems. This opinion was expressed during the discussion devoted to electoral rights in Armenia organized by "Civilitas" Foundation. "The RPA should assume greater responsibility while the opposition should not feel suppressed. I am convinced that over half of those people who did not vote are supporters of the opposition," stated Armen Harutyunyan, warning the public against growing indifferent.
On the whole, the attempts of the Armenian National Congress to dispute the resolution of the Central Election Commission first in the Central Election Commission itself and then in the RA Court of Appeal did not receive a special response in the capital; neither did the press conferences of a number of political parties with the estimations of results of elections and also the arrest of several members of election commissions. The sluggish protests of the opposition parties rapidly came to naught.
On Monday in rather a quiet atmosphere passed the first session of the City Council and on Wednesday in the presence of a number of high-ranking officials newly-elected Mayor of Yerevan Gagik Beglaryan took an oath. Shortly, the attention of parties and civic community was drawn to RA President Serzh Sargsyan's Decree signed on June 6 under which the President declared null and void the October 23, 2008 Presidential Decree on "Setting up a Fact-finding Expert Group and Establishing the Procedure of its Activities."
The Armenian National Congress was among the first to condemn this decree. In its statements the Congress threatened that "This extraordinary move will receive a proper response from the Armenian society and the international community, particularly the PACE and the CE Commissioner of Human Rights." This was followed by a number of statements made by the fact-finding group members themselves, who blamed each other for creating conditions, which led to the "impossibility of team-work". In particular, such a statement was made by Chairman of the group Vahe Stepanyan, who tried to shift the blame on representative of the Armenian National Congress Andranik Kocharyan.
In a reply press conference Andranik Kocharyan noted that the rumors on tense relations among group members were ungrounded and emphasized that tensions rose after true circumstances of policeman Hamlet Tadevosyan's death were disclosed. He underlined that the mechanism of dissolving the fact-finding group was started by Vahe Stepanyan himself, who took a short leave without a permit, after which the presidential decree followed.
An analogous opinion was expressed by Larisa Alaverdyan, Speaker for the Parliamentary Faction "Heritage". She emphasized that "There were no professional or political reasons for terminating the activities of the fact-finding group investigating March 1, 2008 events." The group will not resume its activities if authorities find themselves only under internal pressure, Alaverdyan is convinced.. But even if that happens under external pressure, group format will anyway be changed. Larisa Alaverdyan also assured that dissolution of Evidence Collection Group will have negative consequences for country's and society's development.
From this point of view, liquidation of the fact-finding group was a well planned action, and was realized only with the intention that members of the group would not get to the true picture of what occurred. This view is shared by Leader of the "New times" political party, member of NA committee examining March 1, 2008 events Aram Karapetyan.
Anyway, at present all the facts and documents on March 1 events are with Chairman of the temporary parliamentary commission Samvel Nikoyan and will be open for investigation on Monday.
The week also marked the public considerations of the possibility of declaration of amnesty by the President, the suspension of funding provided to Armenia by the program "Millennium Challenges", the Russian credit in size of $500 mln. provided to Armenia and the rally of the Armenian National Congress, at which leader of the ANC called for constitutional struggle against the authorities until Serzh Sargsyan leaves Armenia. As for Levon Ter-Petrosyan, he fixed the date for another meeting - September 18.