Demonstrations in Armenia are NOT politically motivated, there is NO Maidan in Yerevan - Summer, 2015

Predictably, Western news media has been dramatizing and sensationalizing the recent mass demonstrations in Armenia. They are also making it seem as if police violence is taking place against peaceful demonstrators. They are also doing their best to portray the situation in Armenia as one being against Russia. None of it is true, at least thus far. Although the protest movement is attracting all kinds of unsavory characters, professional revolutionaries from around the world and Western-Armenian activists, the organizers of the protests themselves have thus far been successful in keeping their movement apolitical and strictly confined to their stated grievance. Let's therefore please stop taking Western news reports about the recent events in Armenia too seriously. Let's also stop panicking and overreacting. Although Russians as well as many Armenians like myself are understandably concerned about the prevailing situation, there is NO color revolution taking place in Armenia. There is NO Maidan in Yerevan! While I agree that we cannot underestimate the inherent dangers of having Western operatives present amongst thousands demonstrators on a daily basis, I also think we don't need to be creating self-fulfilling prophesies by overreacting and blowing things out of proportions. While I understand that the danger is clearly there for this protest movement to get hijacked at some point by Western interests, we are not there yet. Most probably, we will not get there at all. For now, however, we don't need to make things worst by overreacting. This especially applies to Armenian law enforcement bodies. Their actions will therefore be pivotal. With that said, from what I have seen thus far, security officials in Yerevan have been exercising great restraint. If things do get out of control, however, I am confident they are well prepared to deal with it.

What is now known about the current, widely publicized demonstrations in Armenia is that their organizers are the same group of young activists that organized two prior «ԴԵՄ ԵՄ» movements against unpopular government initiatives. From what is known about them, they don't have funding or leadership, at least in the traditional sense. They are a group of loosely interconnected young activists who use social media to coordinate their actions. They had made a good name for themselves previously because they were seen by the public and authorities alike as a homegrown, grassroots movement that did its best not to align themselves with any political party. More importantly, they were seen as doing their best to stay clear of Western/American meddling. Now, the same group of young, apolitical activists have taken to the streets to protest against another unpopular government  initiative. Thus far, protest organizers have not made any political demands other than demanding the cancellation of electricity tariff hikes proposed by the Armenian government.

Revolutions are dreamed of by romantics, carried-out by adventurists and exploited by scoundrels

Thus far, protest organizers seem to be successfully maintaining their politically non-aligned position. But with thousands of excited protestors in the streets, there is an opportunity. It goes without saying that Armenia's Western-led political opposition representatives and Western-funded activists have been trying to steal the show. It is no secret that Armenia's Western agitators want to hijack the current momentum. And therein lies the real danger Armenia faces. If as a result of our young romantics and adventurists Armenia descends into sociopolitical unrest, those well positioned to take advantage of the situation are Western interests.

Since political opposition groups in Armenia have been discredited in recent years, they are incapable of drawing large numbers of people into the streets. They have therefore been trying to take advantage of the current situation by trying to make it seem as if they are part of the demonstrations. For example, members from Jirayr Sefilian's Founding Parliament and Raffi Hovanissian's Heritage Party have been participating in all the  demonstrations but the young protest organizers don't seem to be giving them much attention. I admit that Nikol Pashinyan's presence amongst demonstrators is not heartwarming in the least bit. But as much as I dislike the character, I can't in all honesty say he is directly working for Western interests. Protest organizers also seem to be doing their best not to publicly express any anti-Russian rhetoric or call into question Armenia's strategic alliance with Russia. The few EU flags seen on one particular day were not sanctioned by protest organizers. The flags in question may have been photo-shopped into pictures to either discredit the demonstrations or make them seem as if they are politically motivated. There is also the possibility that the EU flags were displayed by provocateurs or employees of Western-funded NGOs in the country. More importantly in all this, we need to understand that there was no police violence (i.e. the kind of police violence we regularly see against demonstrators in Western countries) or widespread unrest on part of the demonstrators (i.e. the kind of which we see in Western countries) at any time during the demonstrations. Demonstrations have been mostly orderly and at times even jovial. The only instance when law enforcement personnel resorted to using some force was when a group of demonstrators had blocked motor-vehicle traffic on a main boulevard and police forcibly moved them after they refused to clear the street.

One of the things about these demonstrations that immediately caught my attention is how the term "Maidan" has been turned into a negative, derogatory word inside Armenian society. It seems that the term has come to mean Western manipulation, violence, destruction and chaos. This is an encouraging sign that Armenian survival instincts are alive and well. Western interests in the country, in particular, seem to be doing their best not to liken the demonstrations in Armenia to Ukraine's Maidan. This is because they are hopeful that the current movement can still be hijacked and politicized. They therefore don't want to risk ruining their prospects by labeling what's going on in Yerevan as a Maidan. An interesting dynamic is therefore taking place: Western operatives such as Paul Goble and Richard Giragosian and Western activists such as Babken DerGrigoryan are trying to avoid using the term in question to describe events in Armenia, while Russian officials and pro-Russian political observers are not shying away from describing events in Yerevan as a possible Maidan. In other words, one side is trying not to turn off the public, the other side is trying to scare the public. This essentially suggests that the Western-instigated bloody coup in Ukraine has had a great impact on Westerners, Russians and Armenians alike. I am happy to see that Armenians have learned their lesson from Ukraine quite well.

Nevertheless, the main reason cited for the electricity rate hikes is the devaluation of the Armenian Dram versus the US Dollar. But there is one other possible factor that is not getting enough attention. I personally think that the decision to sell the Vorotan Hyrdo Cascade hydroelectric power plant in southern Armenia to a major American firm may have played some form of a role in this latest mess in Armenia. It should be noted that Vorotan Hydro Cascade produces around 50% percent of Armenia's hydroelectric power and 15% of the entire electricity capacity of Armenia. As a result of the sale, we now have a situation where Armenia's energy production and distribution is controlled by two rivals, Russia and the US. In other words, our brilliant officials have handed all of Armenia's energy lifeline to two enemies who have been conspiring against each-other around the world. Was that really a smart move? Could the Vorotan sale have formed the basis of the current crisis? Could Russians or Americans be seeking to cause trouble in the country for one reason or another? Giving a major electricity producer like Vorotan Hydro Cascade to Americans while Russians control the rest of Armenia's energy production and distribution is like giving two rival mafia gangs control over your home. Is that a really smart thing to do?

Russia controlling most strategic sectors in Armenia and Western agents running free throughout Armenian society is a recipe for disaster. I personally think Yerevan's complimentary politics bullshit (i.e the desire to blindly play both sides of the geopolitical fence) is beginning to hurt Armenia.

In an interesting turn of events, but one that was only inevitable in my opinion, on evening of June 29, the presence of a number of Armenia's Western-led political opposition leaders at the main protest venue on Bagramyan street prompted the electricity price hike protest organizers to move their demonstration to Freedom Square adjacent to the national opera house. It was reported that they did this not to be seen as being part of the political opposition. The move effectively split the protest into two parts: One represented by Armenia's Western-led political opposition and their followers, the other represented by the young, apolitical activists and their followers. The following news article by John Hughes' CIA run ArmeniaNow is about what happened that evening -
Baghramyan vs Opera?: Protesters in different venues urged to remain committed to single goal: http://armenianow.com/news/64937/armenia_electric_yerevan_protest_liberty_square_baghramyan
An even more interesting development occurred on the evening of July 02. That evening, Washington's street whores in Armenia, Founding Parliament clowns and one of Armenia's longest serving CIA agents, Paruyr Hayrikian, tried to make another attempt to hijack the on-going demonstrations in Yerevan with EU flags but they were angrily shouted away by the demonstrators. This is what we get when our politicians allow Western mercenaries  to setup shop in Armenia -


It is too bad that Uncle Sam's whores were only shouted away. They should have been beaten bloody and sent to the hospital or the morgue instead. I say this because as long as these Western financed toxic agents are allowed to freely breath the air in Armenia, they will continue posing an existential threat to the fledgling and embattled country -
Founding Parliament mercenaries and CIA agent Paruyr Hayrikian arrive at Yerevan's Baghramyan Avenue with EU flag (PHOTOS and VIDEO): http://news.am/eng/news/275123.html
Nevertheless, what happened on the evenings of June 29 and July 02 clearly suggests that there is a discernible ideological divide between the homegrown protest movement against the proposed electricity rate hikes and the country's Western-financed whores. This is very promising for this suggests that Armenians are indeed developing a heightened sense of political awareness. Thus far, the young protest organizers seem to be doing their best not to be associated with Armenia's discredited political opposition. Law enforcement authorities in Yerevan for their part seem well aware of this unique nuance and seem to be doing their best to differentiate between genuine protestors and Western mercenaries. With that said, with thousands of people out on the streets and hopeful jackals roaming about them, the inherent dangers of the current situation in Armenia is all too apparent.

When not politicized, demonstrations can be evolutionary

Putting aside geopolitics for a moment, I have to say I am somewhat happy to see what appears to be thus far some healthy, constructive and homegrown sociopolitical activism in Armenia - without allowing Uncle Sam any room for meddling. I am happy to see all this because the importing of Western style capitalism, materialism and consumerism into post-Soviet Armenian society during the past twenty-plus years has utterly ruined the country economically and culturally. The current government in Yerevan may be the lesser of evils from a geopolitical perspective, but it is still very incompetent, especially when it comes to domestic matters. The bottom line is that governments cannot be run like corporations. A nation cannot be run like a for-profit institution. And a nation's primary economic agenda should not be based on the irrational notion of perpetual growth. There are certain things in life that government officials simply have to ensure for their citizenry. At the very least, the cost of food, water, shelter, transportation, medical care, education, fuel and electricity have to be kept at affordable levels for the average citizenry.

Armenia has been suffering from over twenty years of Western style crony capitalism, plutocracy, monopolies, materialism and greed with all the corruption, criminality and mismanagement that comes with it. I am therefore happy to see politically non-aligned young men and women taking to the streets to demand better governance from their leaders.

For many years I have been saying that Armenia needs sociopolitical evolution, not a Western-sponsored revolution. Genuinely homegrown, constructive and peaceful protest movements - not revolutions, but peaceful demonstrations - against government mismanagement is a healthy, evolutionary process that is crucially important for the organic development of any nation - as long as they are not co-opted by Western interests. 

What I see on the streets of Yerevan thus far may be the beginnings of sociopolitical evolution in Armenia. With that said, Armenian authorities and protest organizers now need to find some common ground and negotiate an end to this affair. The sooner this is done, the better will it be for all. Conversely, the longer this drags, the greater will the risks be. I say this because no one knows how long protest organizers will be able to keep Western/American meddling out of their movement. Moreover, no one knows how long the relative restraint currently being practiced by both sides, police and demonstrators, will be maintained either. In my opinion, the real danger we face with the current situation comes from Western mercenaries. Similar to what they did in Kiev during the Maidan uprising, they may kill protestors or security personnel to incite widespread bloodshed. Tragic events in Ukraine during the winter of 2013/2014 vividly showed us all that this is a very real possibility. In fact, stuff like this is exactly what US embassies, especially the large ones, specializes in around the world.

To develop naturally, Armenia needs less exposure to the political West

For a nation that willingly and enthusiastically flirts with Western powers (i.e. complimentary politics), there will always be the danger of homegrown sociopolitical movements getting usurped by Western interests. As long as Armenia's incompetent and money-hungry leaders continue giving Western interests a warm place inside Armenian society, every single natural growing pain in Armenia will continue being exploited and used against the country. This is a very real danger for a small, impoverished, blockaded and embattled nation like Armenia. This is a very real danger for a nation that is allied to Russia but hosts hundreds of Western-financed NGOs, dozens of Western-financed propaganda outlets, an army of Western-financed political activists, one of the largest US embassies in the world and an American university to boot!!!

The danger that Armenia faces from Western powers today is essentially why many Armenians such as myself tolerate the largely ineffective leadership we have in Yerevan as the lesser political evil.

By that I mean to say many politically aware Armenians who truly love their homeland are constantly worried that under certain circumstances Western interests within Armenia's porous political landscape will turn the country into yet another Greece, Serbia, Georgia or Ukraine. Armenia is too vulnerable to survive such an affair. Faced with the danger of a color revolution in the country, Armenians such as myself are thus forced to put up with our current government's incompetence, corruption and mismanagement. This ultimately is one of the ways in which Western meddling in Armenia's internal affairs continues to stunt the country's sociopolitical evolution. Ultimately, for it to develop organically, Armenia needs less exposure to the West.

There are those who say with better governance in Yerevan Western powers will be less likely to manipulate the Armenian street. While I agree that Armenia desperately needs better governance, better governance does not necessarily mean Western powers will not be able to manipulate the Armenian street. Let's not be stupid enough to believe that merely with better governance the Armenian street will be less inclined to fall for Western manipulation.

When it comes to understanding international relations and geopolitics, we Armenians are no better any other sheeple. Armenians may have good survival instincts but Armenians remain largely politically illiterate, not to mention in love for all things European or American. Armenians must therefore somehow be made to recognize that Western powers are the absolute masters of manipulation and exploitation and they continue being the root cause of all man-made catastrophes around the world today.

Generally speaking, Armenians have always had a European/American fetish and are therefore naturally susceptible to political manipulation by Western powers. Even if Armenia was being run beautifully by wonderful politicians, as long as Yerevan chose to remain within the Russian orbit (which is where Armenia has to remain for its survival), Western powers would still be able to appeal to the Armenian street to cause sociopolitical problems in the country. Therefore, better governance by Armenian officials would not necessarily lessen the Western threat. Moreover, people also fail to realize that despite our best efforts, due to Armenia's less-than ideal geographic location and the geopolitical circumstances in the south Caucasus, attaining any form of a higher standard of living for the population in Armenia will prove elusive for many years. Being within the Russian orbit and facing the severe hardships of the south Caucasus will therefore keep Armenia vulnerable to Western machinations.

I'd like to remind the reader that Libyans once enjoyed the best living standard in all of Africa and one of the best living standards in the world. Yet, due to Tripoli's political independence (i.e. its desire to create pan-African unity) and incompetence (i.e. desiring close relations with Western powers), Libya became targeted for destruction by the "democratic" West. Today, after NATO powers militarily helped Al-Qaeda type Islamic extremists to overthrow Qaddafi, Libya has quite literally become hell on earth. But don't expect CNN, BBC or Agence France Presse to tell you this, do the research on Libya yourself to see how the country was before and after Western powers brought "democracy" to the country.

Geopolitically speaking, if Western powers do not have direct or indirect control over a nation, particularly control over its financial system, that nation becomes a target of the Western world. And the more strategic or wealthier a nation is, the bigger target it becomes. Why? Because for the Western world to maintain its political hegemony, wealth and influence over humanity, the rest of the world has to be made to live in squalor. Western powers want nations in their pockets or under their boots. In other words, bullies don't like competition of any kind.

So, seeing what we have been seeing around the world in recent years, why do we have significant numbers of Armenians still running to Western powers for support?

Because we Armenians do yet fully understand the dangers our homeland faces from the Western world. Because we Armenians have a Western fetish. Because we Armenians do not yet fully understand the dangers of Western money, Western aid, Western corporations, Western NGOs, American schools, American embassies, American music, American films and the psychological conditioning power of the English language.

Their grip over humanity is unprecedented. Their grip over humanity is cultural and psychological. In fact, it's we the sheeple that give them their power over us. If we want to speak their language, earn their money, live in their lands, learn in their schools, sing their songs, watch their films, eat their foods, wear their clothing... they have already won half the battle. If we are so eager to be like them, how would we ever think of them as our enemy? If we are so open to their cultural values and their way of life, they will easily infiltrate our society and usurp our nation.

Consequently, due to Yerevan’s counterproductive "complimentary politics" of the past twenty somewhat years, large numbers of Western operatives have embedded themselves within the country today and are waiting on the political sidelines to take advantage of any political unrest. If the current, unpopular government is somehow toppled, rest assure that Uncle Sam’s servants will be the ones best positioned to snatch political power in Yerevan. This is not a far-fetched scenario. There are significant numbers of West-leaning, self-destructive peasantry throughout Armenian society that stubbornly refuses to learn anything from the mistakes made by Argentinians, Venezuelans, Libyans, Egyptians, Syrians, Greeks, Serbians, Georgians and Ukrainians. And many of these characters are found within Armenia's political landscape.

I reiterate: Armenia is too vulnerable to survive such mistakes. I would rather see Russia takeover Armenia militarily before a Western-backed revolution becomes a reality in the country. But I do not want it to come to that. We didn't wait nearly one thousand years for our nation's independence to simply hand it back to foreigners, regardless of who they are.

Therefore, there has got to be a clear red line placed between allowing sociopolitical activism and protecting the country from Western manipulation. Thus far, I see Armenian officials doing a good job managing the situation in the country. If however the current protest movement gets co-opted by Western interests or if protestors are coerced to resort to violence or vandalism as it happened back in 2008, I would expect - I would demand - law enforcement authorities in the country to use all means necessary to restore law and order.

Because at the end of the day, I rather live with our chobans-in-Armani-suits than face the dire consequences of a Ukraine-style regime change. But we can't continue on with the status quo indefinitely either. Armenians need to pursue sociopolitical change in the country without the constant fear that it will turn into a color revolution. 

This is a serious national dilemma and a conundrum.

A way to remedy this impasse is to lessen the influence Western powers currently have in the country. The time has come therefore to shut down all Western-funded NGOs and news outlets and expel all Western-funded political activists and politicians from the country. Armenia's security services need to closely monitor the daily activities the US embassy in Yerevan as well as all US affiliated institutions in Armenia. It is high time for Armenian law enforcement authorities to learn from the Russian experience and begin cracking down on any organization or individual that is financed by Western interests so that the rest of us can start the long and difficult process of nation building without the constant threat of Western-backed political revolutions hanging over our heads.

But right now we need to understand that the main danger we face is the danger of foreign mercenaries stirring the pot in Armenia.

The sociopolitical conditions in the country today are in fact ripe. If killings or shootings do take place, it can spark wide-scale violence throughout the country. And if shootings or killings do take place it will be the work of either Anglo-American or Turkish provocateurs. It remains to be seen however if any of the aforementioned really want to turn Armenia into another Ukraine. I am not yet convinced they do. If Armenia descends into political chaos, Artsakh may face an attack from Azerbaijan. Facing the potential loss of Armenia and/or Artsakh, Russia will definitely get involved militarily. Moscow has also not concealed its preparedness to create a land corridor to its 102nd base in Armenia if it's position in the country is threatened. I do not think Western powers are ready to risk a Russian invasion of the south Caucasus simply because annexation of Crimea was enough of a shock for them. They also would not want to risk being cut-off from Azeri gas supplies. I therefore do not think Western powers (or Turks) will resort to the dirty tactics they used in Ukraine. But they will definitely continue encouraging all forms of sociopolitical unrest in Armenia in order to continue putting pressure on Yerevan and keep Armenia politically, economically and financially vulnerable.

I reiterate: Armenia desperately needs a healthy sociopolitical movement because after twenty-plus years of economic stagnation and cultural degradation, Armenia desperately needs sociopolitical evolution.

We will have to wait and see if Armenia can finally have a genuinely homegrown (perhaps even an inherently anti-West) political opposition movement that the masses will respect or descend into chaos as it happened in Ukraine. I personally do not think a Maidan scenario is possible in Armenia: Armenians are not as Russophobic, violent or politically suicidal as Ukrainians. So, let's hope the current protest movement is able to plant some healthy seeds of change. But since we live in an Anglo-American-Jewish era in human history, I have to also keep reminding myself - as well as anyone that is willing to listen to me - that Western powers do not have any shortages of activists anywhere on earth and that Armenia continues to be vulnerable to Western machinations. I do not want to make any concrete predictions for what is yet to come. Mostly likely the current situation will be remedied in the coming days. But there is also the possibility, albeit remote, that the current situation will get out of control and perhaps morph into a color revolution. The next few weeks will therefore be crucial. In the meanwhile, Armenians needs to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Exploitation of millions of young activists from around the world

Since we are on the topic of the exploitation of humanity towards Western imperial gains, I would like to bring the reader's attention to the following speech given by a senior Western official. The words you will read in the following quote are that of Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the strategic masterminds of the American empire. The video link posted below Brzezinski's picture is to a 2010 speech he gave in Montreal during a Council on Foreign Relations meeting and the text below it are excepts from his "The global political awakening" speech he gave back in 2008. Please pay close attention -



The Global Political Awakening


"For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions."

"These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches... The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well..."

"Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred..."

"[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people."

Zbigniew Brzezinski is Former U.S. National Security Advisor for President Carter, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member and co-founder of the Trilateral Commission and board of trustees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Well folks, there you have it: Right from the source. Please note that he made these comments before the Arab Spring and Ukraine. They have been riding one crisis to the next since he spoke these words. Which brings to mind Rahm Immanuel's words: Never let a serious crisis to go to waste. And if a crisis does not occur naturally, why not create a crisis? Nevertheless, isn't what Brzezinski conceptualized and seemed to be suggesting some years ago exactly what's going on around the world today? Aren't Western NGOs, social media networks and experts like Dr Gene Sharp being used to manipulate the pent-up hate of potential revolutionaries around the world, which as Brzezinski said were "already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned"? It's also fascinating to see that the imperial hubris of Western officials like Brzezinski are such that they see young revolutionaries around the world as coming from "often intellectually dubious tertiary level educational institutions of developing countries". And isn't it troubling to realize that Western officials such as Brzezinski seem to be hoping for when he says "these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred".

Aren't the "emotionally frustrated and hateful student revolutionaries" from Libya, Syria and Ukraine the same ones Western powers manipulated into destroying their nations?

This is scary stuff, especially when you juxtapose what Brzezinski said back in 2008 and 2010 with what has been transpiring around the world since 2011. And now you know who and what Armenia's not so little army of "revolutionaries-in-waiting" that go by the title of "rights advocates", "political activists" and "independent journalists" are directly or indirectly working for every time they try to rise-up against their government. Whether they realize it or not, their political activism in Armenia is only serving to advance Western imperial interests in the country.

Therefore, let there be no doubts as to why Western powers (and US government connected influential individuals and organizations in the Western world) have been spending tens-of-billions of dollars in trying to create "open societies" around the world. As we have seen in recent years, former Soviet nations have been targeted by these architects of social engineering. Under lofty banners designed to play on people's emotions, Western operatives throughout former Soviet society have been seeding nations with seeds of destruction for the past twenty years. Ukraine, Libya and Syria become their worst victim. At the end of the day, we Armenians need to sober up and look at the political West and their activists in Armenia from within the following context -

Does the US engineering revolutions?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpXbA6yZY-8
Documents Leaked by WikiLeaks Show an Organization Training Opposition Around the World: http://revolution-news.com/documents-leaked-wikileaks-show-organization-trains-opposition-around-world/
Revolution Engineering: US know-how and 'colourful' technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0xlOeZ8Dr8&feature=plcp
The Weight of Chains | Težina lanaca (2010): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waEYQ46gH08
NGOs, an extension of US foreign policy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-raqX4KKY1Q
Washington on the War Path: Civil Society as Battering-Ram: http://rt.com/politics/washington-war-russia-putin-023/
George Soros and his open society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncdisau7rBs
Czechs open center for civil society activists from ex-Soviet countries: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/czechs-open-center-civil-society-activists-ex-soviet-145849840.html
When we put all the global unrest taking place in the world today under a microscope, we will find Washington and friends pulling the strings of most of them. With a full array of powerful levers at their disposal the political West expertly manages the world's control panel. The sheeple around the world may be complaining and rebelling and protesting for very legitimate reasons, but their shepherds and ringleader are in one way or another carrying out the orders of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance.

Had Armenia's current regime been in bed with Washington, they would have been the darlings of the south Caucasus alongside the Islamist Erdogan, the tyrant Aliyev and the dictator Saakashvili. Had Yerevan been one of Washington's many stomping grounds, however, Armenia would have been turned into Turkey's eastern most province by now, at least economically. We need to understand that Armenia is a nuisance, or an obstacle, getting in the way of Western desires in the south Caucasus. As long as Armenia remains within its crucially important strategic alliance with the Russian Federation and in doing so empowers Moscow in the region, I'm afraid there is nothing Yerevan can do that will be acceptable in the eyes of Washington and its servants throughout Armenian society. As a result, similar to what they have done in the Arab world, Washington will continue conditioning the minds of our self-destructive peasantry with the hopes that it can eventually use them against the Armenian state when the time is right.


Zbigniew Brzezinski reminds us that the Soviet Union was an easy thing to fear for the average person for much of the 20th century. Moscow's seemingly threatening posture at the time, as well as the prospects of Marxism coming to a nation nearby helped in concealing the true face of the Western political order. Since the Soviet collapse, however, the mask has come off and the political West has been revealed to be a bloodthirsty monster of global proportions. Therefore, Zbigniew Brzezinski also reminds us that being stupid during the Cold War was one thing, when an ominous threat presumably existed on the other side of the Iron Curtain, being stupid now, in this age of information and after what we have seen and experienced during the past twenty years, is totally inexcusable.


How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights  

Continuing on the topic of Western manipulation and exploitation of human society, let's take look at some of the ways with which Western powers manipulate and exploit the gullible, the decadent, the disgruntled, the psychologically disturbed.

Regardless of how beneficial or even necessary they may seem at first glance, any movement that has any form of Western-backing or is spearheaded by Western-led or inspired activists need to be categorically rejected. I say this because imperial interests in Washington have co-opted and weaponized sociopolitical issues and are currently exploiting them towards self-serving political gains. Accepting help, in any form, from the political West comes with dangerous strings attached, conditions that developing nations such as Armenia or the Ukraine cannot meet. I ask you to refer to a book by James Peck regarding this very important topic for our era -


Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights

 
"Devastating and deeply disturbing, this book lays bare any lingering illusions that human rights concerns seriously influence U.S. policy."—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules. The United States has long been hailed as a powerful force for global human rights. Now, drawing on thousands of documents from the CIA, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, and development agencies, James Peck shows in blunt detail how Washington has shaped human rights into a potent ideological weapon for purposes having little to do with rights—and everything to do with furthering America's global reach. Using the words of Washington's leaders when they are speaking among themselves, Peck tracks the rise of human rights from its dismissal in the cold war years as "fuzzy minded" to its calculated adoption, after the Vietnam War, as a rationale for American foreign engagement. He considers such milestones as the fight for Soviet dissidents, Tiananmen Square, and today's war on terror, exposing in the process how the human rights movement has too often failed to challenge Washington's strategies. A gripping and elegant work of analysis, Ideal Illusions argues that the movement must break free from Washington if it is to develop a truly uncompromising critique of power in all its forms"
Yes, many of the world's Hollywood-struck sheeple these days are indeed suffering from ideal illusions. These sheeple are the cannon-fodder Washington exploits against developing nations that are not in their pockets or under their boots. Now, to place the enlightening book featured above into a better, more complete perspective, juxtaposed its message to the following book titled "From Dictatorship to Democracy". Unlike the previous book's author, the following book was written by an American with a Western/Globalist political agenda. Unlike the previous book's intent, this work by Gene Sharp is essentially a step-by-step blueprint for revolution and its primary target (i.e. those it is trying to bait) are freaks of society and the disgruntled masses -


From Dictatorship to Democracy


"From Dictatorship to Democracy was a pamphlet, printed and distributed by Dr Gene Sharp and based on his study, over a period of forty years, on non-violent methods of demonstration. Now in its fourth edition, it was originally handed out by the Albert Einstein Institution, and although never actively promoted, to date it has been translated into thirty-one languages. This astonishing book travelled as a photocopied pamphlet from Burma to Indonesia, Serbia and most recently Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, with dissent in China also reported. Surreptitiously handed out amongst youth uprisings the world over - how the 'how-to' guide came about and its role in the recent Arab uprisings is an extraordinary tale. Once read you'll find yourself urging others to read it and indeed want to gift it"
When Western financed civic society organizations gather their diverse operatives to form networks and workshops and make global connections during their annual meetings and conventions, these are the types of publications they disseminate and this is the kind of inspiration at work behind their activism. We must for once recognize that virtually every single societal matter found around the world today - be it Islamic militancy or gay rights or planned parenthood or nature protection - is ultimately being financed, controlled and/or exploited by Western imperial interests. As the first book by James Peck courageously suggests: Sociopolitical movements of the world today must first break free of Western control if they are to be safely embraced by developing societies. As the second book by Gene Sharp reveals, many of the democracy uprising we are seeing in various parts of the world get their funding and inspiration from Western sources.

"Free media" is a serious vulnerability

In 1969, British historian and aesthetician Sir Kenneth Clark stated: "It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilization. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs." In 2004, a Dutch paper called "The Effects of Strategic News on Political Cynicism" claimed that the way a news media presents the news can cause political cynicism.

They have the tools to set the political mood of a society. They have the tools to sow political unrest. They first destroy the spirit through an information war, after which they can easily destroy the body either through economic/financial blackmail or war. Softening your opposition and making it susceptible collapse is what propaganda and psy-ops is all about. For Western powers, free media simply means media controlled by Western interests. Therefore, keep this in mind next time you read news articles produced by Armenian news outlets based in the US or come across news reports put out by Armenia's Western-led political opposition. Most of the news reports and political commentaries put out by such sources are designed to convey outrage against the Armenian state and sow hopelessness amongst Armenians. They are therefore meant to break down the spirit and sow the seeds of political unrest.

Now you know why Western powers have been encouraging Armenian opposition officials, journalists and political activists to disseminate negative news about Armenia on a constant basis. Their constant sky is falling rhetoric is how they have killed the Armenian spirit. Much of the reason behind why Armenians have been demoralized and why there is political instability and a powerful sense of hopelessness in Armenia in recent years is precisely due to the hysteria fomented by the Western-led opposition news press in Armenia. Armenia is suffering from a persistence campaign of doom and gloom. Every single growing pain in the country is being co-opted by Western-led opposition news media and turned into a fiasco.

In an age where information and the manner in which it is presented can be a weapon of mass destruction, one of the vulnerabilities Armenia currently has is its news press. I say this because Armenia's news media has been and continues to be much freer than its counterparts in the "democratic" West where a handful of government connected men control virtually the entire news media. Armenian news media is represented heavily by political opposition groups in the country and in the traditional Diaspora that are Western connected, whereas no real political opposition exists in any Western nation. Many Armenians naively rejoiced when news came out last year that Armenia is leading its region in press freedoms was made public. But that is not enough for them, they want more press freedoms in Armenia -
Knowing how Western powers operate we should be really concerned about this. In real terms “press freedoms” simply mean giving Western interests the freedom to continue causing political unrest in Armenia by their constant disinformation campaign and incitement through their propaganda outlets posing as news agencies. Armenia unfortunately has more press freedoms than the US. What Armenia needs is in fact tighter control on its foreign funded news agencies and journalists. Having press freedoms in Armenia is a liability in this day in age when journalism and information are used as weapons by Western powers. Similar to how Western aid is used as a weapon, so is information. In his book "The Brothers", author Stephen Kinzer explains that the more free or open a society is the more vulnerable it is to Western manipulation and exploitation. The following is an excerpt from a interview he recently gave NPR -
"[The Dulles brothers] were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it's very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it." 
The same and worst is being done around the world on a much grander scale. They have the money. They have the expertise. They have the experience. When they are given the freedom, they waste no time in spreading their politically motivated spin and disinformation and in doing so spread their seeds of war and political unrest. Nations of Venezuela, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Serbia and Ukraine have been recent victims of Western manipulation. Controlling and manipulating news has become a preferred weapon of choice for Western officials and many Western journalists have consequently become combatants. Please make sure to see the following -
Faking It: How the Media Manipulates the World into War: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4P2O8UjQeU&feature=player_embedded#!

Behind The Big News: Propaganda and the CFR:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmKiiY_HqsY
Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media in Darpa-funded research: http://rt.com/usa/171356-darpa-social-media-study/
It is therefore not a surprise that Russian, Iranian, Venezuelan and Egyptian governments, to name a few, have cracked down on Western journalists in their countries. If I personally had any say in the matter I would classify all Western financed journalists in Armenia as foreign combatants. We should all know by now that "open society", "economic reform", "human rights", "freedom of press" and "democracy" are code words for making nations vulnerable to a destructive invasion by Western powers. Hong Kong and Macedonia were their most recent victims. 

As long as Yerevan tolerates its Western-led political opposition freaks and bestows upon them legitimate sounding titles such as "patriot", "political activist", "musician", "rights advocate", "environmentalist", "expert" or "journalist", Armenia will remain a weak state, not taken seriously by any of the world major powers, including by our only ally in the north. The global community only understands the display of power and unity. The global community only respects those who respect themselves. This is why Turks have historically been successful. This is why nations such as Armenia and Greece has historically been failures.

Yerevan is vulnerable to Western manipulation because Armenia has more than ample political freedoms and because Armenians have a love for all things Western. In fact, politically, Armenia is much freer than the US. When was the last time the US had political parties and political activists as diverse or as violent or as competitive as the ones that exist in Armenia today? Never. Why? Because Western officials realize that political diversity is not an advantage, it's a serious problem. Western world has been powerful because of its entrenched elite and centuries of human exploitation, peace and plunder - not because of its fictitious political freedoms. Had political diversity been a healthy thing for developing nations, Western powers would not be pushing it upon their enemies. What Armenia needs today is tighter control of its Western funded news agencies, NGOs and activists. What Yerevan needs to do is less exposure to Western powers. Armenia is too small. Armenians are too few. We Armenians simply cannot afford the kind of mistakes made by Serbians, Georgians and Ukrainians.

Some of the ways they prepare their operatives

Since we are still on the topic of Western exploitation of humanity, let's look at some of the ways they prepare their operatives. Although the Anglo-American educational system is regularly ranked amongst the lowest in the developed world, the hype created by the Anglo-American global propaganda machine is so powerful that a majority of the sheeple in the world actually look forward to sending their impressionable sheeplets to the Anglo-American world for an "education". What a situation like this essentially does is that it gives senior policymakers in the Anglo-American world a very large pool of "human resources" that they easily can tap into and exploit towards political purposes. This is essentially why they periodically look for Armenians students to condition of course free of charge. This method of recruitment is one of the most effective ways to obtain and prepare operatives that eventually go back to work in their lands of birth. Incidentally, a good example of a western educated political activist in Armenia is a London resident that goes by the name of Babken DerGrigoryan. He can be seen in the following picture holding an anti-Putin placard the day President Putin was in Yerevan visiting the Armenian Genocide memorial -

https://thegampr.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/putin-protests.jpg?w=1000&h=

Incidentally, this disgusting Babken character is very actively involved in the current demonstrations in Yerevan. Ultimately, it is unsavory assholes like him that taint the current protest movement and present it with its risks.

Having a large pool of energetic and ideologically pliant army of western educated young activists is one of the West's most powerful weapon - after American pop culture of course. In recent years we have seen many examples of how Western officials use western educated young men and women from places such as Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, China, Serbia, Greece, Ukraine, Russia and Armenia against their homelands. We periodically see such types on CNN or BBC justifying Western actions, including military hostility against their homelands.

I reiterate: Their grip over humanity is cultural and psychological.

Think of it this way: If we want to speak their language, earn their money, live in their lands, learn in their schools, sing their songs, dance to their music, watch their films, eat their foods, wear their clothing... how would we ever see them as the enemy? Ultimately, our love for all things Western/American is what gives them their power over us and makes it easier for them to manipulate and exploit us.

Let's take a closer look at some aspects of mental processes that makes an individual pliable to Western manipulation and make him or her actively seek the Westernization of Armenia.

A twenty-something year old from one of Armenia's many slums or backward villages suddenly opens his or her eyes in hustle-and-bustle of London, Paris, New York or Washington. Just imagine their awe, their excitement, their heightened consciousness. Imagine what it would be like for a young man or woman from a poor family in Armenia when they are given the opportunity to live and/or study in the western world. Try to put yourselves into their shoes and try to think of what their impressions would be as they walk the beautifully manicured Ivy League university campuses of the most powerful empire the world has known. How enjoyable it would be for them frolic with youth from all around the world and do so without any cultural inhibitions. Would it be farfetched to think that these young people would be more than willing to emotionally attach themselves to the political system of the land they are so awe struck by, the system that gave them an opportunity to leave their dilapidated towns for the opulence they find themselves in? After living through Communism and Crony Capitalism, after experiencing firsthand Armenia's severe growing pains, after suffering impoverishment or unemployment, after growing up listening to the ubiquitous anti-Armenia hate-speech of all the grownups around them... of course these impressionable, naive and psychologically vulnerable individuals will be in total awe of the seemingly magnificent political system.
 
A common thought going through their impressionable minds would be: Why don't we have this kind of life back in our homeland? Why cant we have such diversity and freedoms back where we come from?

By consciously and enthusiastically latching themselves onto the Western system of things, they subconsciously convince themselves that they are trying to bring "progressive values" to their underdeveloped and backward homeland. They are also simply happy to have the opportunity to have a job, an education and some self-worth, all of which they lacked back in their homeland.
 
This type of superficial and shortsighted - yet utterly human - thinking lies at the very root of a natural psychological process that takes young men and women down the path to assimilation (a best case scenario) or treason (a worst case scenario). These young adults unwittingly and sometimes wittingly become the "human resources" Western powers exploit for their imperial agenda.

The aforementioned natural processes of turning simple, poor folk from Armenia into enthusiastic activists for the political West can of course be applied to virtually all nations on earth today. Even the world's second largest economy, China, is not immune. A recent survey conducted in China suggested that a majority of China's wealthy would prefer sending their children to the US for an education - even though their educational system is known to be better than that of the US. And in some cases, young men and women don't even need to travel to any Western nation to receive a western education. For example: There is a much beloved American University providing western education right in the heart of Yerevan.

Nevertheless, millions of young people are given the opportunity to study (i.e. get brainwashed) in Western institutions and a select few amongst them get recruited to become active operatives for Western governments. Therefore, keep this in mind for next time you are watching CNN or BBC and you see a western educated Arab, Russian, Iranian - or an Armenian - publicly criticizing and/or attacking his or her homeland.
 
The quality of education in the Anglo-American world's universities, even the "Ivy League" ones, are in no way superior to their counterparts around the world. It can be argued, for instance, that generally speaking students in Germany, France, Finland, Japan, China or Russia receive far better college educations. However, it should be noted that the thing that sets Western universities apart from their counterparts around the world is the priceless value of a thing called - networking - that students get to do, especially in "elite" Ivy League educational institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard. These are the magnificent campuses where sons and daughters of kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, tyrants and dictators, oligarchs and business tycoons meet and mingle, and often times make friendships that lasts a lifetime. These are also the ideal environments where Western intelligence operatives freely roam looking for prospects.

They already have a pool of millions of young, naive, pliable minds yearning to learn English  and become Westernized. Western powers therefore don't have to look hard for willing or unwitting operatives. All they need to do is just put out a sign and potential recruits will flood in.

It should also be noted that homosexuals also figure prominently in this discussion.

As we all know, the Western world has become the epicenter of homosexuality. As a result of the Westernization and Globalization of human society, homosexuality is also on the rise around the world as more-and-more "closet homosexuals" are coming out in the open and a new generation of children are being encouraged to "explore" their sexuality. We know that the promotion of homosexuality and ultra-liberalism is one of the ways the Globalist elite in the Western world seeks to control population growth, breakup the traditional family, end nationalism and racism and undermine conservative religions. The ultimate agenda is to lower global population, mix all races and stamp-out nationalism and religion, all to make it easier to control the masses. This is why we see Western powers backing the proliferation of homosexual propaganda around the world through school curriculum, pride parades, same sex marriage legislation, children's shows, books, films, music and celebrities. Needless to say, when it comes to politics, a homosexual today (open or otherwise) will most likely be pro-Western. After all, Washington has become the beacon on the hill homosexuals around the world look up to today -

http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/content/kabc/images/cms/808818_1280x720.jpg

People with deep set psychosexual disorders like homosexuality often times become very enthusiastic activists for any form of "change" that promises to bring about societal tolerance and sexual freedoms. Seeking change within which one feels emotionally and psychically secure is an instinctual "survival strategy" that is also commonly practiced by Jews. Nevertheless, a homosexual (or anyone with loose morals) living in a traditional, conservative society like Armenia will naturally yearn to live in the Western world. And if he or she cant live in the West for some reason or another, he or she will yearn to bring Western "values" into Armenia. Consequently, there are many cases of homosexual opposition activists throughout Armenian society. And I strongly suspect that many, many more of those who want to see the Westernization of Armenia are in fact the closet gay types.

Western NGOs are cancerous tumors

Since we are still on the topic of wide-scale exploitation of human resources by Western powers, we need to address the role Western NGOs play in Armenia. Not many people know that one of the very first American NGOs was founded in Vanadzor, Armenia in 1994 by none-other-than the Washington-connected Hovnanian family. Vanadzor incidentally has since become a hotbed of Western activism. The Hovnanians also introduced into Armenia American style homes and golf, but that's another story. Their lasting legacy was the introduction of NGOs into a fledgling post-Soviet Armenia. Today, although the situation in Armenia is no way near as bad as the one that existed in Ukraine before its decent into chaos, Armenia nonetheless hosts hundreds of Western funded NGOs. We have come to realize in recent years that these foreign funded organizations pose a very serious threat to the normal development of developing societies like our embattled republic in the south Caucasus. Today, there are hundreds of NGOs championing great number of things and they employ many thousands of people in a small and poor nation like Armenia. While some of these organizations truly benefit society, some, perhaps most, do not. Nevertheless, a majority of these NGOs are Western-funded operations. For example: Caucasus Research Resource Center in Armenia is one of the typical Western funded organizations that have setup shop in the country during the past two decades -
Caucasus Research Resource Center: Donors and Partners: http://www.crrc.am/about/Donors-and-Partners?lang=en
These organizations have in recent years become staging centers for those trying to push all kinds Western agendas in the country. Many of these organizations, if not most, including the beneficial ones, are often times staffed by Western operatives and they never miss an opportunity to meddle in the country's politics.

As we saw in places like Serbia, Egypt, Venezuela, Hong Kong and Ukraine in recent times, many of these Western-funded organizations are like cancerous tumors that can metastasize and turn fatal if left unchecked by security services. If Armenia is to develop organically as a nation-state, at least some of these organizations have to be surgically removed regardless of how bloody the operation may be. Ultimately, we Armenians must understand that behind the lofty rhetoric and seemingly humanitarian concerns of some of these NGOs lurks an imperial agenda, an imperial agenda to subvert and destabilize targeted societies that are not in Western pockets or under Western boots.

Speaking of toxic organizations in Armenia, USAID (one of Washington's most dangerous weapons of mass destruction around the world) is definitely one of the major ones. USAID has been known to be actively spying on Armenia since the early 1990s when they first invaded the unsuspecting nation. USAID has also been known to have introduced genetically modified foods into the country, and it has long been rumored that USAID has used Armenia as a transit hub for the CIA's global narcotics trade.

An interesting letter said to have been written by USAID's mission director in Armenia appeared on a pro-Russian Facebook page just recently. While I cannot confidently state that the letter in question is genuine (it may very well be a Russian forgery) it does nevertheless accurately portray the master-servant relationship that exists between Western organizations and those retched souls that work for them -

This letter may or may not be genuine. What is not in doubt however is that characters like this Artur Sakunts, and there are many others like him, have been utilized by Western powers to sow political unrest and societal decay in Armenia for decades. As long as these types of characters are allowed to freely operate inside Armenian society, they will continue sowing their poisonous seeds. Once more: The following is a partial list of organizations and individuals that, in my opinion, should be either put under constant surveillance, shutdown, exiled, jailed or banned from ever entering Armenia -
Richard Giragosian, Paruyr Hayrikian, Raffi Hovanissian and family, Zaruhi Postanjian, Levon Petrosian, Vartan Oskanian, Andreas Gukasyan, Levon Zurabian, Manvel Sargsian, Shant Voskerichian, Artur Sakunts, Babken DerGrigorian, Shant Arutyunian, Ruben Gevorkyants, Avetik Ishkhanyan, Jirayr Libaridian, Nikol Pashinyan, Yeghia Nersesian, Gayane Abrahamyan, Armen Martirosyan, Hilda Grigoryan, Salpi Ghazarian, Jirayr Sefilian, Edik Baghtasaryan, Arpine Galfayan, Emil Danielyan, Levon Parseghyan, Van Krikorian, Susanna Muradyan, Hranush Kharatyan, Georgy Vanyan, Igor Muratyan, Jhanna Makhyan, Ara Manoogian, Robert Davidian, Onnik Krikorian, David Grigorian, Arpine Galfayan, Vardges Gaspari, Hovnanian family, Zaruhi Poghosyan, Lara Aharonian, Nanore Barsumian, Larisa Minasyan, Mamikon Hovsepyan, Naira Hayrumyan, Sona Ayvazyan, Ara Papyan,  Yekaterina Poghosyan, Tigran Khzmalyan, Daniel Ioannisyan, Garo Ghazarian, Garegin Chugaszyan, Liana Aghajanian, Arevik SaribekyanAnush Sedrakyan, Arman Babajanyan, Tsovinar Nazaryan, Gevorg Safaryan, Karine Aghajanyan, Angel Khachatryan, Alex Yenikomshyan, Alexander Arzumanyan, Eduard Abrahamyan, Boris Navasardyan, Gayane Mkrtchyan, Maro Matossian, Marianna Grigoryan, Edgar Khachatryan, Karen Hakobian, Tony Halpin, Anna Nemtsova, John Hughes, Kirk Wallace, Rick Ney, Anton Ivchenko, Blogger Unzipped, Rotary Club of Yerevan, Transparency International Anti-corruption Center, Gala TV, Open Society Foundation Armenia, Armenian Assembly of America, Pink Armenia, Policy Forum Armenia, Armenian Renaissance, ACNIS, Civilitas, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Peace Dialogue, Armenian Environmental Network, NGO Center of Armenia, Rights and Support Foundation, UIC Armenia, British Council of Armenia, Women’s Support Center, Rights and Support Foundation, Caucasus Research Resaurce Center Armenia, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Founding Parliament (formerly Pre-Parliament), Heritage Party, Radio Liberty, Asparez Journalists' Club, Caucasus Center for Peacemaking Initiative, Women’s Resource Center, Arajinlratvakan, ArmeniaNow, Armenia Today, Aravot, Hetq and Lragir
These organizations and individuals will go to great lengths to justify their actions inside Armenia, regardless of how dangerous or irrational they may be, essentially because they are making a name and/or a living for themselves by serving a Western agenda. Many of them, at least subconsciously, hate their homeland and are ashamed of their ethnic identity. Quite a few of them are psychologically disturbed or suffer from psychosexual disorders like homosexuality. And a few amongst them are professional agents working directly for Western (perhaps even Turkish) intelligence. Regardless of the reason or motivation behind their service to Western powers, many Armenians today continue being Armenia's first and foremost problem. As the above list of individuals and organizations testify, Armenian history has taught us that the Armenian state has to be ready to battle not only external enemies but also internal enemies - 
Հայ-ռուսական համատեղ մարտավարական զորավարժությունը «Ալագյազ» զորավարժարանում: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1qU3_acLno&list=UU4lSkT4s1RJ8EK4nZ7pPgqA
Ոստիկանության զորավարժությունը Արզնի օդանավակայանի տարածքում (դիտել 4:45-ից): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHgK_kKhAxs

We can't continue like this. We need to eradicate Armenia's internal dangers before we are able to properly turn our attention to Armenia's external dangers. Therefore, don't be fooled by our Westernizers and see them for who they really are: Armenia's internal enemy.

When viewed through the prism of geopolitics, the rhetoric of Washingtonian agents in Armenia become painfully obvious. Behind their humanitarian speeches and patriotic fervor hides the cruel motives of an evil global hegemon. Washington's ultimate problem with Yerevan isn't the lack of "democracy" in Armenia, but rather it's the lack of "America" in Armenia. Therefore, be mindful of the fact that "press freedoms", "human rights", "civil society" and "democratic progress" are essentially code words for allowing Western assets in Armenia a free hand to meddle in the internal affairs of the country and sow social and political discord. The freer a society is the more vulnerable it is to manipulation and exploitation by Western powers. Sadly, more-and-more nations are curbing societal freedoms to shield themselves from Western manipulation and exploitation. It is truly unfortunate that freedoms have to be curtailed to thwart off Western imperial designs. It is truly tragic that human progress is being therefore stunted around the world due to Western machinations. But this is where humanity stands today and this has to be acknowledged. Armenia therefore needs to adopt the Russian model and begin shutting down any Western-funded organization thought to be involved in political meddling.

Neo-Bolsheviks and Western imperialists join hands

Today we have a convergence of interests between two very powerful forces: Neo-Bolsheviks (civil society groups funded by Soros-type leftist entities in the Western world) and traditional Western imperialists. The aforementioned two global powers have joined hands and are currently seeking to topple governments not under Anglo-American-Jewish rule. They have the money. They have the tools. They have the expertise. They have the experience. They have the following. They control the global control board. When they are given the freedom to operate in an targeted country, they waste no time in sowing their seeds of sociopolitical unrest. And keep in mind that George Soros is not the only Western elite engaged in Social Engineering around the world for there are many other private and government sponsored organizations that meddle in nations' domestic matters.

Nevertheless, no talk on Western politics would be complete without also addressing the near total control Jews have over the Western world. After all, everything culturally decadent and politically/financially dangerous about the Western world today can be directly traced to the Western world's Jewish elite - and the societal engineering (i.e. the mental conditioning of the masses) they have subjected western society (first via television programming, cinema and music and later through the school curriculum and legislation) beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While non-Jews in the Western world would not dare speak about this matter in public, Jews themselves are quite proud of their success in transforming the US into the cultural cesspool that it has become - 
Douglas Rushkoff: The thing that makes judaism dangerous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGt7_0GEOvo&noredirect=1
The Western world has become a test-tube for Jewish societal engineers and a playground for the Jewish elite. In a nutshell: Virtually all American politicians - both Democrat and Republican - eat from Jewish hands. Which is why I say: You may think you are on the left, you may think you are on the right, the reality of the matter however is that you are on 'their' side regardless of what side you think you are on. Jewish money finances both sides of the political spectrum in the US. They do this to essentially have a firm footing in any given political discourse. The US has thus become a showcase for Jews on the left and Jews on the right - and those in the middle getting screwed is the average American as well as America's reputation around the world. Much of what the world hates and/or fears about America today - be it its ultraliberalism or its neoconservatism - can be traced to American Judaism. Although Jews and their "Bible Belt" shabbos goyim known as "Christian Zionists" represent America's warmongering right, Jews are much more prolific and active in America's degenerate left. We can see this unique dynamic sometimes when Jews air their dirty laundry. While Jewish support of the political right is confined primarily to collaborating with the country's White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants (WASPs), their support of the ultra-liberal left is massive in scope. A massive amount of Jewish money is spent to promoting liberal/leftist ideology not just in the US but all around the world. The Western world's Neo-Bolshevik tentacles are truly far reaching. If you can think of an agenda that these modern day Bolsheviks deem worthwhile, you will get funding for it. 

In short: There is a lot of money being allocated for all kinds of agendas conjured up in many boardrooms across the Western world. This is how they promote their Globalist ideas on sexuality, governance, multiculturalism, immigration, pollution, food production, human rights, population control, public health, global warming, vaccinations, etc. There are of course also more sinister agendas that specifically target nations that the Western establishment deems strategically important for one reason or another. Therefore, the Western world's left and the right often join hands in trying to foment political unrest in targeted societies. We have seen this process play out against nations such as Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Russia, Serbia, Greece, Georgia, Ukraine, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, China and Armenia, to name a few.

Armenia can no longer afford playing host to a host of Western operatives seeking to use Armenia's natural growing pains to foment political unrest in the country and undermine Yerevan's ties to Moscow. Armenia can no longer afford to allow Westernization and Globalism (modern forms of Bolshevism) to corrupt its national identity. Armenia can no longer allow "Democracy" to weaken the Armenian state by empowering those on the fringes of Armenian society. I reiterate: Armenia needs to follow Russia's footsteps and begin shutting down Western-funded organizations in the country.

Armenia needs to develop closer relations with the Russian Bear

Armenia needs to develop closer, more efficient relations with the Russian Bear. The basis for this can be political (i.e. combating regional threats), economic (i.e. flourishing of bilateral trade) or cultural (Christian Orthodoxy heritage and conservative societal values). Speaking of Christianity and societal conservatism and how it can impact international relations, let's take a look at German Sterligov. German Sterligov is a Russian billionaire who some years ago traded in his luxury cars, yachts and mansions for a horse, a rifle and a farm. Now, German has made yet another sensational move: He has moved to Artsakh with his family.
Why The Sterligov Family Has Settled in Artsakh: http://asbarez.com/137649/why-the-sterligov-family-has-settled-in-artsakh/

German Sterligov To Start Eco-Friendly Food Production in Nagorno-Karabakh: http://asbarez.com/137672/german-sterligov-to-start-eco-friendly-food-production-in-nagorno-karabakh/
I'm not yet convinced he had to flee from problems at home. If he wanted to protect himself and his family from "threats" at home he could have gone into hiding in Russia itself. Russia is so vast there are places in the country where even the FSB would not be able to find him. Moreover, if he really felt threatened by anything or anyone, he would not be openly riding around Artskah on his brand new donkey and horse. If he really wanted to hide himself from threats, he would not be proudly advertizing his intention of opening a water mill, a winery, producing and exporting organic foods to Russia and helping his wife open up a fashion studio and a clothing production line on Shushi. To be honest, I really don't care why the Sterligovs have suddenly arrived in Artsakh. I am simply happy they are there, and I would be even happier if they settle there permanently and have their children marry Armenians. The presence of these people on Armenian soil can only be positive for this is an iconic family -

http://www.sostav.ru/articles/rus/2009/columns/efir/images/sterligov_text6.jpg

In fact, the Sterligovs’ are the embodiment of the ideal family: Christian Orthodox, patriotic, hard working, innovative, traditional and ecologically conscious. It is people like this we Armenians should be celebrating and turning into role models, not Westernized whores from the US. As mentioned above, the Sterligov's presence on Armenian soil underscores the great importance of Armenian lobbying efforts in Russia, be it by officials, be it by civilians. It also shows the important role of shared cultural values between our two historically allied peoples, shared values such as Christianity, genuine patriotism (i.e. attachment to the soil) and the world's oldest and most successful institution, the traditional family. 

I'd like to see the arrival of more German Sterligovs in Armenia, even if they come in the form of bikers. Likewise, I would also like to see Russians get a bit more proactive inside Armenian society. I say this because Moscow is also guilty of allowing Armenia to turn into a Western playground during the past two decades. Russians officials cannot continue thinking that by merely dealing with top level leaders in Armenia or controlling the nation's infrastructure they will have no worries in the country. Moscow's negligence and old world tactics has allowed Western interests to set roots deep within Armenian society. Moscow needs to step into the modern world and recognize the paramount importance of Public Relations, Societal Engineering and, more importantly, Soft Power.

Speaking of Russian soft power, recent news that Permyakov will be tried by an Armenian court is an unmistakable sign that Moscow is beginning to understand the volatility of the situation in Armenia and the crucial importance of public relations. I should add here that the Russian decision to hand the murderer in question over to the Armenian side was a result of Armenian law enforcement officials working with their Russians counterparts. Another recent example of Russian soft power was the announcement that Moscow is extending a "soft loan" to Yerevan for the equivalent of 200 million dollars. The money will be specifically earmarked for the modernization of Armenia's armed forces. When one takes into account that Armenia purchases its military equipment from Russia at factory prices, it becomes apparent that the 200 million dollars is in fact the equivalent of Baku's billion dollar weapons purchases. And in an even more important development, one that clearly suggests that Russians are beginning to value Armenia's geostrategic importance, was the recent news report from Russia that Armenia may soon be supplied with one of the most fearsome, non-nuclear (yet nuclear capable) weapons systems on earth - 
Russia In Talks To Supply Armenia With Iskander-M Missiles As Battle Lines Drawn Across Europe: http://www.ibtimes.com/russia-talks-supply-armenia-iskander-m-missiles-battle-lines-drawn-across-europe-1994731
With the Iskander ballistic missile system, the Armenian military would be capable of destroying virtually any target within Azerbaijan with pinpoint accuracy and their S-300 missile systems would not be able to intercept it. This is astounding news and militarily speaking this is a potential game changer in the south Caucasus. I'm extremely satisfied that in its effort to keep NATO out of the region, Moscow has gradually been turning Armenia into an impregnable fortress. Armenia's geopolitical stature has risen significantly in recent years as a result. And with its membership in the EEU and its recently granted observer status in the SCO, Armenia also stands poised to become a major regional trade hub. All that is now left for Armenia to do is to somehow secure some form of unhindered land access to the Russian Federation (via Georgia and/or Azerbaijan) and the nightmare will be over. And speaking of a land link between Russia and Armenia, the gap has already shrunk by about a mile in recent days -
Georgia: Russia Occupies BP Oil Pipeline: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/74201
Nevertheless, as much as I hate to say it, and I know many of my readers will disagree with me, when it comes to protecting Armenia from regional predators, I have more trust in Russian officials than I do in Armenians. Why? Until Armenia begins giving birth to capable nationalistic leaders with vision, wisdom, courage and political acumen and a populace that stands-by its leadership unconditionally, I will continue looking north for Armenia's salvation. As long as Armenians are not rallying behind their state unconditionally, at least on the international stage and with matters pertaining to national defense, Armenia will forever be looked upon as vulnerable and will thus be subjected to foreign manipulations. As long as Armenians tolerate a fifth column that is always ready to attack the Armenian leadership at any given opportunity, the international community will continue looking down at Armenia, Western powers will continue funding subversive activities in Armenia and Moscow will continue holding Armenia on a very short leash. And speaking of why Russians keep Armenia on a short leash: In the following video link we see the views of a well known Russian parliamentarian about Armenia -
Armenia - the 100th coup. Evgeny Fedorov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOLZdLzy7ok
I would disagree with the way Evgeny Fedorov characterizes the current demonstrations in Yerevan. But I would agree that Armenia is playing a very dangerous game today by maintaining close ties with the Western world. By playing both sides, Armenians think they are being smart, clever, shrewd, etc. I think Armenians need to put aside their empty bravado and understand that Western powers are the undisputed global masters of political and financial manipulation. You don't play them, they play you. I should also add that all of the flaws that currently exists within Russian-Armenian relations as well as the reason why Armenia is incapable of fully exploiting its historic alliance with the Russian Bear can be directly traced to Armenia's so-called "complimentary politics", its desire to maintain close ties with the political West as well as Russia. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, Yerevan's burning desire to flirt with Western powers is giving Western mercenaries a dangerous foothold inside Armenian society. Yerevan is therefore playing a very dangerous game, during a very dangerous time, in a very dangerous environment.We would be lucky if all this does not seriously backfire on Armenia one day.

Although I don't agree with some of what Evgeny Fedorov is saying about the current demonstrations in Yerevan, I'm glad that he is saying it nonetheless. I am glad Russians are raising the alarm. But I would have been gladder if they got more directly involved inside Armenia. Armenia needs more Russian involvement because the vacuum the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union created in Armenia in the early 1990s was filled by Western influences. Although its situation not nearly as bad as the one that exists in the Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia or Greece, Armenia is still dangerously exposed to Western manipulation and exploitation. It's high time to buffer the toxicity of Armenia's Westernization with better, closer, more efficient relations with the Russian Bear.

One of our main national tasks today is to resist the lure of the Western lifestyle - and Western financing - and not allow Western operatives to comfortably settle inside Armenian society. Westernization of Armenia, with all that it entails, poses an existential threat to the fledgling nation. Therefore, all those in Armenia that maintain ties with the Western alliance, in any capacity and regardless of who they may be, should be placed under state surveillance by an Armenian government that is not beholden to Western interests. Moreover, Armenians that actively promote Western agendas in the country need to be jailed or banned from entering the country. Ultimately, however, we must also understand that Armenia simply does not have the proper resources, the strength, the expertise or the experience to effectively counter Western machinations on its own. Therefore, when it comes to safeguarding Armenia against Western manipulation and exploitation, the only remedy Armenians have is closer relations with the Russian Bear. I hope to see Russians start taking Armenia more seriously and begin making a concerted effort in playing a bigger role inside Armenian society.
 
Arevordi,
June, 2015

***

Russia warns against 'color revolution' in Armenia

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In a veiled warning to the West, Russia cautioned Thursday against any attempt to spark a new "color revolution" in Armenia by exploiting protests against electricity prices for political ends. Large crowds of mostly young people have been protesting in the Armenian capital Yerevan for more than 10 days, demanding the government scrap plans to raise the price of electricity for households. Russia has been wary of unrest on its borders since governments fell in Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution, Ukraine's 2003-04 Orange Revolution and Kiev's 2014 Maidan protests - events in which it says the West backed the protesters.

"You know how the 'color revolutions', and the Maidan in Ukraine, started," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a BRICS Youth Summit gathering of young people from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) in Moscow. "The current developments in Armenia - there is also a temptation among many to use them to whip up anti-government sentiment although the root of these events is purely economic," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. "It seems useful for someone to go further and develop these processes in a political way." Lavrov said that the West in particular was paying increasing attention to the role of young people in shaping national agendas, including through "peaceful protest."

His comments were the closest any senior Russian official has come to suggesting the West may have or be seeking a role in the protest in Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, to pull it further out of Moscow's orbit. Thousands of protesters have been gathering every evening in Yerevan though their numbers dwindle during the day. Police tried to disperse them with water cannon early last week but the protest continued and has been peaceful since then. The protesters have ignored concessions offered by President Serzh Sargsyan, saying they want the price rise of up to 22 percent planned by the distribution company, a subsidiary of Russian firm Inter RAO, to be scrapped entirely. The protesters have avoided chanting anti-government slogans, saying their demands are limited to the electricity price dispute, though many also complain about alleged corruption in Armenia.

"I think the process of these protests is largely over - or if not over, heading that way," Armenian political analyst Alexander Iskandaryan told Reuters in Yerevan. But Russian leaders fear unrest in neighboring states could encourage protests in Russia and President Vladimir Putin said last year that Moscow "should do everything necessary" to prevent such a "color revolution" in Russia. Armenia, in the southern Caucasus, was once part of the Soviet Union and its 3.2 million people have been hit hard by an economic downturn in Russia, its main ally and trading partner. It is also part of the Eurasian Economic Union, a political and economic bloc set up by Moscow to try to match the economic strength of the European Union, China and the United States. The Kremlin has said it is up to Armenia's government and the protesters to resolve the dispute themselves.


Bloomberg: Kremlin Fears a Revolution in Armenia

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The events of the past five days in Armenia can be followed on Twitter under the hashtag #ElectricYerevan, but they aren't on the front pages of global newspapers. The world doesn't get excited about protests over an increase in electricity prices in a country of 3 million, tucked into a beautiful but resource-poor corner of South Caucasus. The demonstrations in Armenia are watched closely in Moscow and Kiev, however, because they reflect unusually intense dissatisfaction with Russian power in a post-Soviet nation that had seemed to be securely in the Kremlin's grip.

It all started last month when the country's energy monopoly, Electric Networks of Armenia, asked the government to raise electricity tariffs by 40.8 percent. The utility complained that Armenian hydroelectric plants were producing less energy, and that repairs at the country's sole nuclear power plant were taking longer than planned, causing the company to go into debt to the tune of $250 million -- a huge sum in a country with a gross domestic product of just $10 billion -- and fall out of favor with Armenian banks.

The government initially resisted, arguing that the losses had been caused by graft. The public utility regulatory commission established, for example, that ENA had been overpaying suppliers and contractors (charges that the company denies). But on June 17 the commission caved, raising tariffs by 16.7 percent starting in August to avoid outages. Two days later, activists staged the first relatively small sit-in in the center of Yerevan, Armenia's capital. Then the protests grew. Tuesday, police used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, and arrested 250 people. About 1,000 protesters stayed through the night, though, and they were marching again Wednesday morning. 

All this would have little significance outside Armenia if ENA weren't fully owned by Inter RAO UES, a large Russian energy company whose board chairman is Igor Sechin, a close friend of President Vladimir Putin and chief executive of state oil giant Rosneft. So the protests against the company's allegedly corrupt management are, by default, anti-Moscow, if not anti-Russia.

The Kremlin is highly aware of this. "Armenia is our closest partner, we are united by historical ties with Armenia and the Armenian people," Putin's press secretary Dmitri Peskov said Tuesday. "Of course we are watching what's going on there very closely." That may sound tame, but in Armenia it was a thunderclap. "The very fact that that the Russian presidential press secretary commented on the events in Yerevan," commentator Musa Mikaelyan wrote on the news site 1in.am, "is evidence that either Russia is taking part in the events unfolding in Yerevan, or it is very worried and trying to take part, or is expressing readiness to participate if events get out of control."

Moscow's worry is that the uprising in Ukraine started in the same way: with quiet grumbling, small rallies and a singalong. Then police used excessive force, and the protests escalated so that, in less than two months, downtown Kiev was burning, and soon President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia. Many Ukrainians, proud of having broken Russia's hold on their country, would like to see this repeated in Yerevan. Liga.net, one of Ukraine's most popular sites, is covering the "Electric Yerevan" protests as a new "Maidan," the common name for the Kiev uprising. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, an ethnic Armenian, encouraged the Yerevan demonstrators with a Facebook post recalling the romanticism of the Ukrainians' struggle. "My dear Armenia," it started. "There was a day when we were beaten up and dispersed, and our barricades were cleared from Krepostnoy Lane in Kiev. It seemed our hopes had been trampled." Yet, Avakov concluded optimistically, Ukrainians' "will for freedom" prevailed.

This support from Kiev tells Putin's allies in Moscow that what's going on in Yerevan is no mere economic protest. "I'm sure there are plenty of militants from Ukraine and there is an outside coordination center run by the same political operators who ran the Maidan in Kiev," Russian political scientist Sergei Markov wrote on Facebook. "There can be no doubt that this is no spontaneous outpouring of popular protest in Yerevan. It's all a matter of technology and the organizers' main goal is to incite bloodshed."

According to Markov, the Yerevan disturbances are the response of a sinister Western cabal to Armenia's 2013 decision to opt out of a trade and association agreement with the European Union and instead join Putin's Eurasian Union. But it's not as if Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan had much choice in that matter: Apart from its energy stranglehold on the tiny nation, Russia has a military base in its second city, Gyumri, where 5,000 soldiers serve as a warning to neighboring Azerbaijan that resuming hostilities over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region might not be a good idea. 

Russia has been playing both sides in that frozen conflict -- the most rarely mentioned one of the five that help Russia control its post-Soviet neighborhood -- since the early 1990s, lately using it as leverage to pull both Armenia and Azerbaijan into the Eurasian Union. Although both countries are part of the EU's Eastern Partnership program, Moscow is determined to prevent that loose association from turning into anything more meaningful.

The balance in this region is, if anything, more delicate than it was in Ukraine at the time of Yanukovych's ouster. Perhaps this is why there's less anti-Moscow sentiment in Armenia and even in the huge Armenian diaspora, which by far exceeds the country's population. Serj Tankian, a singer with the Grammy-nominated California band System of a Down, has been posting on Facebook about the electricity demonstrations, but even though he's clearly sympathetic toward the protesters and would like Armenia to nationalize "monopolistic foreign-owned utility companies," he has studiously avoided making anti-Putin remarks.

So #ElectricYerevan is no Ukrainian-style revolution yet, and it's not likely to turn into one. Yet it gives Putin's paranoid regime another reason to rattle its weapons. It would have done better to deal with corruption inside the companies it uses to exert influence in its former empire. Moscow is unable to do that, however, because corruption is one of its main exports. It can only fight the symptoms, which often include popular discontent, as though they were part of a global conspiracy.

Source:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-06-24/kremlin-fears-a-revolution-in-armenia?cmpid=yhoo

Sergei Markedonov: What Armenians are protesting (and what they’re not)

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Last night, some 6,000 people marched towards President Serzh Sargsyan's residence in Yerevan. Water cannons against protesters have been used against participants in what has already been dubbed 'Electric Yerevan' in reference to the cause of the protests: rising energy prices. Tuesday's initial mass protest against hikes in electricity tariffs, and the authorities' reaction against them, have had a noticeable effect on the country’s political situation. According to the Armenian police, 237 people were arrested on 23 June and, in total, 29 people suffered injuries, including 11 police officers. But while this situation has already begun to provoke comparisons with recent events in Ukraine, these protests have a domestic trajectory which should not be ignored.  

Why are Armenians protesting?

On 17 June, 2015, Armenia's Commission on Regulating Civic Services examined a document from Electricity Networks of Armenia (the ENA, which owns and manages the country's national grid). This company is part of Inter RAO, a large energy holding company based in Moscow. According to the Armenian police, 237 people were arrested. In total, 29 people suffered injuries, including 11 police officers. Though it is a publicly traded company, Inter RAO is often seen across the post-Soviet space as an instrument of Russian energy politics (critics of the Russian Federation go as far as calling it a tool of 'Russian energy imperialism'). 

Thus, many internal political decisions in Armenia are seen (or can be seen) in light of this relationship, even if Moscow itself does not directly influence concrete administrative decisions in Yerevan. ENA is thus extremely important for Moscow-Yerevan relations and, of course, how Armenian society perceives them. ENA petitioned for a 16% rise in electricity tariffs, and this rise was due to come into force on the first day of August. The Commission's decision was the immediate cause for the public’s dissatisfaction. Two days later, a sit-in started in central Yerevan, where protesters shouted simple slogans, such as 'No to theft!'. 

After the protesters' demands were left unaddressed, they marched towards Baghramyan Avenue, the centre of Armenia's central state apparatus. It was these demonstrations that resulted in clashes with police. The authorities have their own reasons for being so heavy-handed. The paralysis of state institutions is fraught with dangerous consequences. And there are those among the protesters who would like to use this mass protest for their own political gain. However, the authorities' actions in June 2015 look more like the temporary treatment of a symptom rather than a systematic treatment of a far deeper illness. 

These protests are the latest, not the first

It would be hard to say that protest demonstrations here in Armenia were unexpected. This is not the first time public dissatisfaction with the authorities (and not just the ever-loathed 'bureaucracy', but the current administration in particular) has been manifested. People have had many grounds to come out on the streets. The economy languishes. Remittances from workers abroad make up a large chunk of the economy. Citizens differ on the best way to provide security to the country against hostile neighbours.

It would be hard to say that protest demonstrations here in Armenia were unexpected. During the 2013 presidential election, when Serzh Sargsyan faced little political competition and many political heavyweights ‘refused’ to participate, Raffi Hovannisian, an ex-foreign minister and leader of the Heritage party, took 36% of the vote. Hovannisian is not known for his electoral successes, and Heritage, a liberal democratic party with traditional leanings, holds only four seats in the Armenian parliament.

Hovannisian's 'success' was the result of a protest vote, pure and simple. Electors voted for Hovannisian because, for various and different reasons, they were unhappy with the current authorities. Indeed, the result was less a vote for Hovannisian, than one against Sargsyan. The fact that the Heritage leader didn't manage to convert this success at the subsequent elections to the Council of Elders (the highest organ of self-government in Yerevan) is an indication of Hovannisian's poor leadership, as well as the authorities' ability to counter the opposition. But these factors did not quell the existing social problems and dissatisfaction.

Later that year, in November 2013, there were clashes between police and participants of a so-called Million Mask March, when anti-establishment protesters gather in cities all over the world. Of course, there weren't a million people in masks in central Yerevan. And the demonstration didn't receive mass support: the protest attracted roughly 100 people. However, 20 people were arrested, 38 were detained and 9 – hospitalised. The clashes were also marked by the use of Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades.
Eurasian integration was seen by many as a route to higher tariffs and cuts to government services.

The most notable thing about the protest was its reception: after the smoke cleared and the fires doused, Shant Aruntyunyan, leader of the nationalist Tseghakron party, called it a 'revolution.' Back then, many Russian journalists (just like today), turned to a 'comparative' lens in order to understand this 'Yerevan Maidan'. And although the protest didn't led to any significant results, November 2013 did reflect Armenian society's disposition to protest and activism.  Likewise, Vladimir Putin's visit to Armenia in December 2013 also provoked demonstrations. And although protesters made the Russian leader a target of their criticism and what the protesters saw as his attempts to 'drag' the republic into the Customs Union, domestic circumstances also played a role. Many people saw Eurasian integration not as another guarantee of Armenia’s security, but also as a route to higher tariffs and cuts to government services.  

The danger of lazy analogies

Since the beginning of Kyiv's 'EuroMaidan' in November 2013, which led to a change of government, triggered a European crisis and caused the most serious confrontation between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War, most opposition activity in the post-Soviet space is viewed through a 'Ukrainian lens'.

In addition to causing lazy analogies between different political situations, this approach shifts the domestic political agenda in any given country to the background. Instead, domestic politics is made a sacrifice to 'geopolitical determinism', according to which any crisis in former Soviet territories are merely a reflection of the 'proxy war' between America and Russia. Since the beginning of the 'EuroMaidan' , most opposition activity in the post-Soviet space is viewed through a 'Ukrainian lens'.

Thus, an otherwise obvious point disappears from view: political crisis is not a virus. Of course, judging by purely external signs, you could unite the events of the Arab Spring, the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, two Maidans in Ukraine, and two changes of power in Kyrgyzstan into a single whole. But this obscures fundamental differences. When talking about Egypt or Tunisia, the issues of Kurds or Alawites don’t figure, and in the case of Syria, no one talks about the merits of ‘strategic partnership with the West’ like they do in Ukraine.

Prior to 2003, Georgia had already experienced two ethnopolitical conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (and received two de-facto states on its territory in return); before the 'second Maidan', Kyiv didn't see Crimea or Donbas as potential points of conflict. The armed conflict in Ukraine's east is just one of the consequences of a revolutionary change of power in the country. Just as post-revolutionary Georgia intensified its struggle for territorial unity, making it the cornerstone of its domestic politics and foreign policy, so did Ukraine encounter a similar problem after EuroMaidan.

Clearly, no country exists in a vacuum. Countries are of interest both to their strategic allies and partners, and to their opponents and competitors. Here, both groups try to influence what is happening in any given country, and extract maximum profit for oneself in the process. But whatever interests external forces might pursue, there have to be certain 'domestic' pre-conditions for social protest and political crisis. And they are present in Armenia.

So, before we apply the Ukrainian lens to Armenian reality, forecasting a 'change in Yerevan's geopolitical vector', we should pay closer attention to domestic political dynamics in this small Caucasian republic. Not least of all because Russia considers Armenia to be a strategic partner.

In contrast to Ukraine, in Armenia today the authorities and opposition are not squaring off against one another on the basis of their attitude to Russia. This issue is not a fundamental part of their conflict. Even today, you can easily find people in the Armenian bureaucracy who are sceptical about Eurasian integration. And you can easily find supporters of deeper ties to Moscow among the opposition. Just take a look at statements by Levon Ter-Petrosyan, leader of the Armenian National Congress, which ultimately boil down to this: Putin is not our opponent, the current government is.
You can easily find supporters of deeper ties to Moscow among the opposition.

Thus, Moscow should not yield to its emotions, should not look for spectres of the Maidan where they don't exist, and try to build co-operation with people from across the political spectrum of Armenia. Dissatisfaction with tariffs today is still far from dissatisfaction with Moscow. But under certain conditions, this 'connection' could be made. In particular, if Russian politicians and diplomats draw the wrong conclusions from these protests and make their own connection: the opposition is part of a US State Department plot (making support of the Sargsyan government an absolute priority).

One need not have illusions about American or European 'good intentions' when it comes to Russia's interests in the post-Soviet space. But to reduce the domestic political agenda to the evil designs of the EU, Nato and US is a serious mistake, which could have a negative impact on Russian-Armenian relations.

Source: https://www.opendemocracy.net/sergei-markedonov/what-armenians-are-protesting-and-what-they’re-not-protesting

 MP Konstantin Kosachev: Foreign NGOs May Be Behind Protests in Armenia

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Foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may be orchestrating the current protests in the Armenian capital Yerevan, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia's upper house said on Wednesday. On Friday, mass protests were initiated in Yerevan, in response to household electricity price increases. On Monday and Tuesday thousands of protesters attempted to march to the presidential residence. Police detained about 240 people and dispersed marchers with water cannons. “I do not exclude that in the end, the role and the hand of foreign NGOs will be proven to be behind these developments [in Armenia]. We watch this situation very closely,” Konstantin Kosachev told the Russian Rossiya-24 television channel. Earlier in the day, foreign affairs committee member Igor Morozov asserted that the protests in Armenia are identical to the early stages of the coup in Ukraine and may be orchestrated by the United States. A political crisis erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when the country's authorities announced they would suspend a European integration process. Protests in Kiev spread across the country and led to a government coup in February 2014, forcing then-President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country.

Source: http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150624/1023792220.html

Sputnik: 5 Things You Need to Know About Armenia's 'Electricity' Protests

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Armenia's electricity protests have been alleged to be a coup attempt, something that both police and protesters have denied. We look at five notable trends behind the protests. Armenia's protests, while allegedly apolitical, have increasingly begun looking like they are more of a political than a social protest. However, their self-proclaimed apolitical nature clash with other factors seen in the protests and the situation surrounding them.

1. Police Tactics Are Strangely Inconsistent

Yerevan's police have acted very inconsistently with the protesters, at times dispersing them with water cannons and at other time doing nothing to prevent gatherings. Police chief Valery Osipyan previously said that he is also against the price hike, but aims to uphold the law. Armenian police also plan to hold a football match with the protesters after the rally on Thursday concludes. Osipyan also refused to remove makeshift barricades at the protests, telling journalists that they don't get in the way of the police. The combination of the use of force together with an order to not disperse the protest completely was previously been seen at the Ukrainian Euromaidan protests. In Kiev, riot police were ordered back when they were close to dismantling the protest camp, according to reports at the time and later testimonials.

2. Conflicts of Interest Exist Over Electricity Pricing

The Vorotan hydroelectric cascade, which generates half of Armenia's hydroelectric power sold to the US ContourGlobal on June 6, which then agreed with Armenia's energy regulator to considerably raise prices for the electricity it generates. Protests began when the energy distributor, Electric Networks of Armenia agreed with the regulator to raise energy prices for consumers. The privatization and sale of the company to ContourGlobal violated multiple Armenian laws, including Armenia's laws on water resources and its privatization law. The deal, which required parliamentary approval to sell the holding, was negotiated on the executive level by the country's president and its now-ambassador to the US, Tigran Sargsyan. If the protests do succeed at reversing the price hike decision, they could force the energy distributor, Russian InterRAO-owned Electric Networks of Armenia, which already operates at a loss, out of business and open the company for acquisition, considerably changing the country's energy landscape.

3. Officials Behind the Vorotan Sale Were Removed but Remain Influential

Members of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's inner circle, including former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, who became the country's ambassador to the United States after signing an agreement with CascadeGlobal regarding the sale of the Vorotan Hydroelectric Cascade, were later removed from their positions. The country' energy minister at the time, Armen Movsisyan, was also a signatory to the deal.

In April 2014, President Serzh Sargsyan accepted the resignations of the prime minister and the energy minister. Former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Armenia's Ambassador to the United States in June 2014, while Movsisyan was made an advisor to the president. Tigran Sargsyan's own political positions have been seen as inconsistent, as he was considered a pro-Western leader in Armenia while in Russia he was considered the chief negotiator for Armenia's entry to the Eurasian Customs Union. Armenian political sources initially expected Tigran Sargyan to become an ambassador to Russia or the EU, but he was later made ambassador to the United States. Armenian media alleged as early as 2013 that Tigran Sargsyan could be planning a coup after Armenia joins the Eurasian Customs Union. 

Both men have also faced corruption-related inquiries in recent years. Tigran Sargsyan was found to have ownership in an off-shore capital fund during his time as prime minister. Armen Movsisyan, who was able to stay away from corruption-related issues in his 16 years as energy minister was pursued by the Armenian opposition in October 2014 over alleged embezzlement at the Nairit chemical plant whose employees protested unpaid wages for years after it was shut down in 2010.

4. Europe Stays Quietly Supportive

While European Union officials have generally stayed quiet on the issue of protests in Armenia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have issued two resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and democracy in Azerbaijan which Armenia saw as favorable. PACE is the only body in which legislators from both EU member states and other European countries meet. Its decisions are seen in the media of countries such as Armenia and Azerbaijan as indicators of European countries' political positions. Armenia's president went on a visit to Brussels on Thursday to deliver a speech at the European People's Party summit.

5. Azerbaijan Directs Anger at Europe but not Armenia


Armenia's rival Azerbaijan has been relatively silent on the conflict between the two countries. On Thursday, two Azerbaijani soldiers were found dead on the Armenian side of the border, according to Azerbaijani media. However, Azerbaijan, which generally makes statements when the two countries' border conflicts heat up and lead to deaths of soldiers, has been silent on the issue.

Instead, the Azerbaijani government spoke out against the Armenian government, with presidential advisor Ali Hasanov calling the protests "an uprising of the Armenian people against the criminal and anti-popular Sargsyan regime." Hasanov also spoke out against PACE for its criticism of Azerbaijan and silence on Armenian protests. The deputy head of Azerbaijan Presidential Administration and director of its Foreign Affairs Department Novruz Mammadov said that the statements bring to question Azerbaijan's continued membership in the organization. Azerbaijani parliament member and political analyst Rasim Musabekov told Sputnik Azerbaijan that while the protests appear to be meant as pressure on Russia, it could also be an attempt to change the Armenian leadership. "I don't exclude that this could be a joint project involving part of the ruling elite," Musabekov told Sputnik Azerbaijan.

Source: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150625/1023846030.html

President Sargsyan in favor of international audit into Russian-owned energy company in Armenia

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The Armenian electricity distribution company, which is a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned energy holding Inter RAO, must be subjected to an international audit from an early date of their operations, that will also engage the expert community and civil society representatives.  According to the press service of the Armenian President, President Serzh Sargsyan made such a suggestion meeting earlier today with the Russian co-chair of the Russian-Armenian inter-governmental commission, Minister of Transport of Russian Federation Maxim Sokolov. Minister Sokolov agreed to the suggestion of President Sargsyan, and said an audit will be carried out under the umbrella of inter-governmental commission.

“We all want the investments [of Russian companies in Armenia] to be protected, and on the flip side –that issue should be viewed from the perspective of social responsibility of those companies”, - Serzh Sargsyan said, suggesting to the inter-governmental commission to pay special attention to the operations of Russian companies in Armenia.

Speaking about the continuing street protests in Yerevan against a suggested hike in electricity tariffs, President Sargsyan remarked that some experts are doing their best to find anti-Russian sentiments in the sit-in, and he is glad that the protesters themselves confirm those allegations are nonsense. Sargsyan also said that this indeed unpopular step of price hike was made considering the inflation levels of the national currency and the rise of costs of the energy produced in the country.

In response, Minister Sokolov said that he had earlier meetings with the Armenian Deputy Prime-Minister, Minister of Energy and the Chairman of the Public Services Regulatory Commission in order to discuss in every detail all previous operations of the electricity distribution company. Sokolov said he was glad that there was the substantial program to pull out the company from the crisis it dig itself into -- through certain measures and within a timeframe specified.

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/economy/2015/06/26/serzh-sargsyan-3/

Russian Inter RAO may sell Electric Networks of Armenia amid unrest in Yerevan due to price hike

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Unrest in Yerevan due to electricity price hike and the leadership’s promise to nationalize the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) may force the Russian owner of ENA, Inter RAO, to sell the company, Komersant says.  According to the newspaper, the Russian holding has already had talks with Armenian Russian businessmen, including the owner of Tashir Group Samvel Karapetyan.  But it is not easy to find a new owner as unbalanced tariffs have led to ENA’s substantial debt load, while protesters demand that the losses should not be compensated for from the budget, the newspaper says.  Following protests held during the last ten days and public unrest in Armenia due to another electricity price rise, Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan said on Friday that the ENA may be nationalized and handed over for concession. Head of the police Vladimir Gasparyan said the government will buy the ENA in two months.

The Russian owner Inter RAO has not commented the information. The newspaper’s source says the holding is ready to get rid of the problematic company and start negotiations with potential buyers.  A source from Komersant in Yerevan says that ENA will be bought by Russian businessman Samvel Karapetyan and that the negotiations started before the tariff hike. Yet, representatives of Karapetyan’s Tashir Group denied the allegation.  When there is a certain statement about the sale, any company will be able to look into and decide if it is profitable to buy the company or not, having in mind the huge debts of the company, the source said adding debt to EBITDA ration exceeds 20 in ENA. Yet, the Russian office of the group was not aware of this information.  Another source of the newspaper aware of the Armenian energy sector confirms that talks are under way with Tashir and other Armenian Russian businessmen as well.  ENA is the owner of electric networks stretching 36,000 kilometers in Armenia (almost the entire system of networks in the country) and is engaged in energy distribution across the country. The company is fully held by Russian Inter RAO. ENA is the buyer of the entire energy generation in the country (tariffs are set by the government). ENA’s revenues in 2014 were 157.3 billion drams ($333.8 million); the losses were 10.7 billion drams ($22.6 million).

Tashir Group owned by Samvel Karapetyan is engaged in housing and commercial real estate development (5mln square meters built so far). The group owns also Cinema Star network (105 cinema halls) and Cascade energy holding (regional electric networks). According to Forbes, the holding’s revenues as of the end of 2014, were 105.3 billion rubles and the fortune of Karapetyan amounted to $4 billion in 2015.

The conflict around ENA started after Armenia’s Public Service Regulatory Commission raised the electricity tariff by 6.93 drams ($0.015) per kilowatt-hour. The company asked even for higher increase, by 17 drams ($0.036), in its bid to the regulator. The regulator’s decision gave rise to protests in Yerevan and other cities. On Friday, following his meeting with Russian minister of transport Maksim Sokolov (co-head of Russia-Armenia intergovernmental commission), Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan said an audit will be performed in ENA and the government will pay the tariff increase before the completion of the audit. According to Komersant, the issue of Russian possible help to Armenia has been not brought up yet.

The justification behind the tariff increase was that the Armenian nuke station operations were stopped for 88 days and its cheap energy generation was substituted by production from expensive gas and heat power plants. This amount was not anticipated in the tariff calculations, and the company had to resort to borrowing, and the interest is 8 billion drams ($16.9 million). Debts to ENA generators, according to the newspaper, amount to about 23 billion drams ($48.6 million) today.   The newspaper’s source says the tariff increase compensation from the budget is a temporary solution, as the current increase will help ENA ensure reliability of supplies, but gives no opportunity to develop the energy systems. The company’s tariff bid included paying the generation debts by the end of this year, but now, with the current increase, debts can be repaid only in 2016, according to the newspaper. - See more at: 

Source:http://arka.am/en/news/economy

Sputnik: The Interests That Power Armenia's 'Electric' Protests
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Armenia's "Electric Yerevan" protests against a hike in power tariffs coincide with Armenia's sale of a massive complex of dams to a little-known US company with US government approval. We look at how it could impact US influence in the region.

 Protests over electricity price hikes in Armenia follow the June 6 privatization of Armenia's Vorotan Hydroelectric Cascade to private US holding company ContourGlobal, reportedly financed in part by the US government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The protests' declared apolitical nature and the Armenian opposition's relatively marginal role in them could indicate that the conflict is inside Armenia's government and foreign interests rather than an internal political movement. On Wednesday, a rally in Armenia's neighbor Georgia is expected to take place to support the Armenian protests.

If the protests succeed at reversing the price hike decision, they could force the energy distributor, Russian InterRAO-owned Electric Network of Armenia, which already operates at a loss, out of business and open the company for acquisition, considerably changing the country's energy landscape. "In Armenia's energy system, this cascade is the unit generating the cheapest power. If it is sold for the said $180 million, the new owner will in the near future raise electricity prices by at least 20 to 25 percent," the head of Armenia's Domestic Produers Union Vazgen Safaryan said after the cascade's sale.

The 16 percent consumer price hike implemented by the Armenian energy regulator also coincides with the Vorotan Hydroelectric Cascade's 16 percent share in Armenia's electricity generation. An agreement between the Armenian regulator and ContourGlobal announced on June 17 raises the tariff for the Vorotan stations' power capacity nearly 5 times. Beginning in March 2016, the tariff per kilowatt-hour will also rise above the current value. The protests appear to be linked to the US government's continued interest in Armenia's energy sector and ContourGlobal's purchase of the Vorotan cascade, which generates half of the country's hydroelectric power. The conditions of the no-bid privatization of the power stations have been called highly questionable and could indicate inter-government corruption involving high-level US and Armenian officials, according to Sarkis Martiroyan of the Public Institute of Political and Social Studies of the Black Sea-Caspian Region.

Armenia's opposition demanded that the government prevent the stations' privatization as recently as 2014. The leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress, Levon Ter-Petrosyan called the deal illegal in 2014. The current protesters do not appear to have issued any statements on the sale. Armenia's opposition underwent a considerable restructuring earlier in 2015. "We are not against the sale. But we doubt the terms of the deal, the logic of the price formation, and so on," member of parliament from the opposition Prosperous Armenia party Mikael Melkumyan said in June.

The Vorotan Purchase

The Vorotan Hydroelectric Cascade, which generates half of Armenia's hydroelectric power, is also reportedly one of the country's most profitable companies, with a 23 percent annual profit rate. The cascade also has the lowest electricity generation costs in all of Armenia. The privatization of the company to ContourGlobal violated multiple Armenian laws, including Armenia's laws on water resources and its privatization law. The deal, which required parliamentary approval to sell the holding, was negotiated on the executive level by the country's president and its Ambassador to the US, Tigran Sargsyan. "The Vorotan Cascade is by itself unique because on the territory of the entire former Soviet Union this cascade, has the biggest slope. This provides the cheapness of the electricity it supplies," Melkumyan added.

As the deal included the sale of not only the power stations, but also the adjacent reservoirs, the $180 million purchase price did not include the roughly $1.125 billion worth of water in the reservoirs which are part of the asset. According to Armenian law, the reservoirs are state property not subject to privatization. ContourGlobal plans to invest around $70 million to modernize the dams, 50 million of which will come from the Armenian government's debt to KWG for the improvements it never made on a previous loan.

While Electric Networks of Armenia has not linked its price hike policy to ContourGlobal's Vorotan acquisition, it has posted statements on its website, stating that the hike is due to increased supplier prices, citing a World Bank expert. In an official statement, the company also said that factors such as the decrease in hydroelectric power generation in Armenia have been behind the price increase, as the company continued investing into the modernization of Armenia's power grid despite lower revenue. "In total, Energy Networks of Armenia received 37 billion drams ($78.2 million) less revenue than planned," the statement said. Armenia's second hydroelectric power cascade, the Sevano-Radzan Cascade 90-percent owned by Russian RusHydro has been increasing power generation, unlike the now US-owned Vorotan Cascade.

Source: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150624/1023800067.html

Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan: Foreign media trying to politicize Yerevan protests

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Foreign media reports are trying to politicize the protests in Yerevan against the electricity price hike, a political scientist Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan said in an interview with Sputnik Armenia radio station in comments on Tuesday's protest and its tough dispersal by the riot police in the early hours of June 23.  "This is clearly a social protest without political overtones. Although it sounds strange but the attempts to politicize it are being made by largely foreign media, especially, from Ukraine and Russia. The impression is that Armenia’s information field, especially today, in a sense, has become a platform of Russian-Ukrainian confrontation,’ said Melik-Shahnazaryan.

According to him, this tendency should be prevented as quickly as possible, because it can distract both demonstrators and government representatives from the developments that are unique to Armenia only. In comments on the fact that some foreign media describe what happened in Yerevan as "Maidan” he said  they, in fact, are not particularly interested in what is really going on in Armenia, and what is the real reason behind the protest.  "This is a social unrest, social rebellion, and they (foreign media) will try to use this opportunity to solve their own problems,' he added.

Another political analyst Movses Demirchyan said there is no word about the choice of the country’s development vector or the choice of a party ideology and in this sense, foreign media reports do not reflect the situation that was created in Armenia.  Demirchyan found it difficult to predict how the situation will develop in the future saying that will depend on what kind of demands the activists of the protest may put forward today, and how realistic they are.   The office of the prosecutor general said today it has opened a probe into "hooliganism and disturbing public order" after today morning’s dispersal of the sit-in. If found guilty, the protesters could face a fine of a jail term.

Armenia's health ministry said 25 people, including 11 police, were treated for injuries including fractures. The overnight rally was the culmination of several days of protests aimed at forcing president Serzh Sargsyan to cancel the tariff hikes, with protests also taking place on Monday in several other cities.

Source:  http://arka.am/en/news/politics/foreign_media_trying_to_politicize_yerevan_protests

Pro-West NGOs, Armenian unrest and the destabilization of Russia

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A number of pro-Western NGOs in Armenia perform various functions, including the support of political processes and even overseeing foreign elections. Now, as protests against an electricity rate hike drag on, these groups are getting a second look. Protesters, demanding the cancellation of a 17 percent electricity price hike that is set to take effect on August 1, have spent another night on the streets of Armenian capital. The demonstrators have refused to meet with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to discuss their grievances, opting instead to continue their street sit-in that began last Friday.

 In the midst of these protests, and with the Ukrainian political crisis still smoldering on Russia's doorstep, attention is being given to some of the non-governmental organizations operating in the country. Many of these NGOs have been funded by the United States ever since Armenia voted for its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

 “The Choice is Yours” organization, for example, which is fully funded by Washington, actually performs in the election processes outside the territory of Armenia. In December 2004, during the third round of presidential elections in Ukraine, for example, over 100 independent observers from Armenia were sent to a province in Ukraine to monitor the elections. By the time the 2010 Ukrainian elections rolled around, the number of Armenian election monitors from this US-funded group appeared to more than triple. An official from “The Choice is Yours” NGO told Armenpress that “450 short-term observers took part in the international observation mission in the Ukrainian presidential elections.”

However, proving that Washington is directly bankrolling NGOs lobbying on behalf of American interests in the political and socio-political sectors is “practically impossible,”writes Susanna Petrosyan, in Vestnik Kavkaza. “Armenian fiscal structures have information about the finances but they do not publish it.”

Meanwhile, other NGOs with an anti-Russian bias, such as the "Committee for Support of Ukraine," pop up like weeds for a short period of time and therefore are not registered at the Justice Ministry, Petrosyan says. Mger Simonyan, the president of the Fund for Development of Eurasian Cooperation, believes that the number of pro-West NGOs grew significantly since Armenia joined the Russia-led Customs Union and the Eurasian Union. 

“Russian and pro-Russian public organizations of Armenia are far behind their Western competitors. Armenia has 5-10 competent Russian organizations and about 200 Western ones,” says Simonyan. Meanwhile, some observers are cautious about drawing parallels between the current Armenian unrest and the violent upheaval that occurred during last year's Maidan protests in Kiev, Ukraine, which ultimately forced out a democratically elected leader."If American NGOs were directly involved in the Armenian unrest we would be seeing a lot of crude street slogans talking about the need for 'good governance,' which is just another way of describing politicians supported by Washington," 

Dmitry Babich, a political analyst based in Moscow, told RT. "The protesters all seem to be holding homemade signs demanding economic justice, while there has been no overt blaming of Russia."Armenians understand that Russia is not the source of their problems," Babich said. Dr Paul Craig Roberts, the former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy, who actually predicted turmoil for Armenia due to foreign meddling, also shared his thoughts with RT on the role of NGOs and how they might be used for less-than-beneficent purposes in the realm of geopolitics.
 
RT:So how did you see this coming, when it seemingly caught most people by surprise?
 
Paul Craig Roberts: Well, it’s part of the destabilization of Russia. It is part of the regime change that neoconservatives in Washington desire to accomplish. So it was obvious that Armenia would be subject to this type of thing. Now this particular protest, it might be innocent, it may be a legitimate protest. But even if it is, Washington will make an effort to turn it into more. And the same thing is going to happen in Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan. If possible, Washington will destabilize Kazakhstan, they would love to do that because then they can also put pressure on China.
 
RT: So how do you see this unrest unfolding then, given your suspicions?
 
PCR: Well, it’s not suspicions, it’s just fact: the National Endowment for Democracy was set up in 1983 for the explicit purpose of causing a political dissension inside of Soviet Eastern Europe. And it is the main source of funds for these non-governmental organizations that are active, that exist in every former constituent part of the Soviet Union. In fact, you have hundreds of them in Russia itself. These were created by Washington and although the Russian government is finally taking notice of them and put some constraints on them, they are there. And of course they are in Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan; and they are being used against China in Hong Kong. So they are everywhere and they are used to try and put pressure on countries that are trying to exercise an independent foreign policy from Washington.
 
RT: Do you find these protests to be proportional to the issue of energy price rises?
 
PCR: Well, it didn’t unless they made a huge increase in the electricity price that people really can’t meet; it does seem to be an unusual thing to protest. But even if it is a legitimate protest, it does not mean that Washington won’t jump on it and turn it to its own purpose. Sometimes Washington will originate the protest, other times it waits for one to happen. And then it puts its NGOs and various bought and paid-for local politicians into the mix. We saw this perfectly in Ukraine. And it happened in Georgia. All of these so-called color revolutions are a product of the National Endowment for Democracy funding of the NGOs in those countries. And the money is also used to pay politicians who will line up with Washington, such as the current Prime Minister of Ukraine.
 
RT: What do authorities need to do to ease the public mood inside of Armenia?
 
PCR: I don’t know enough about this particular situation, but the authorities everywhere that are on the periphery of Russia and were former constituent parts of the Soviet Union, or Russia itself, they need to understand that they are targeted for disruption. Because that is part of Washington’s policy of putting pressure on Russia. That’s what going on, and people need to be aware of it. So, what they have to do: regulate these NGOs, or watch them, or terminate the foreign funding? I don’t know, but they need to be aware that is what they are used for. They are not there to teach democracy and human rights and women's rights. They are there as fifth columns for Washington.


Andrey Areshev: Protests against electricity tariff rise in Armenia have no signs of a coup d’etat 

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The protests against the electricity tariff rise in Armenia have no signs of a coup d’etat, but they will continue until the local authorities try to reach a compromise with citizens, Andrey Areshev, an expert at the Center for Central Asian and Caucasus Studies of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RIA Novosti.
 

“I think the situation should be resolved peacefully – given its complexity – which was also said in yesterday’s statement of Dmitry Peskov (editor: Russian President’s spokesman). It is important for Armenia, an EEU member and a country close to us (editor: Russia), to maintain socioeconomic and internal political stability. I believe that the Armenian authorities need to take steps in that direction,” the expert stressed.
 

He said that in order to settle the current conflict, it is first of all necessary to eliminate the prime cause that triggered discontent, namely, to deal with the issue of power price increase. In his words, some solutions can be found, including at the level of parliament – the confrontation should be moved from Yerevan streets into a more constructive course, in particular, the parliament where such issues are to be solved. Areshev said on the whole, the Armenian authorities are in control of the situation, and although various people joined the ranks of protesters, “there has always been an understanding in the country that the conflict’s development according to ‘Ukrainian’ scenario will result in very negative consequences. “Armenia have always managed to find some compromise. I think it will do it this time as well,” the expert noted.
 

As was reported, Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) Company earlier submitted a bid to the Public Services Regulatory Commission about a rise in electricity tariffs. The parliamentary opposition considers it unfounded and serving the interests of that company. The current night-time tariff for the population is 31.85 drams per one KWh, the daytime tariff is 41.85 drams. The bid of ENA proposed raising the tariffs to 48 and 58 drams respectively. Yet the Commission satisfied the bid of ENA only partially on June 17. The tariffs in Armenia will increase by 6.93 drams, and not by 17 drams. The Commission’s decision will take force on August 1, 2015. Protests against the power tariff raise have been staged in Yerevan since June 19.

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/popular/2015/06/24/areshev/

Hetq: Armenian Parliament Speaker Lauds 'Independence Generation' of Young Activists

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Galoust Sahakyan: “Bringing the busiest thoroughfare in Yerevan, Baghramyan Avenue, to a continuous standstill cannot be the only form of struggle."  While lauding the thousands of young protesters who’ve taken to the streets of Yerevan and other Armenian towns to express their anger over a recently approved electricity rate hike, Armenian National Assembly President Galoust Sahakyan, in a statement released today, nevertheless noted that “bringing the busiest thoroughfare in Yerevan, Baghramyan Avenue, to a continuous standstill cannot be the only form of struggle."

Sahakyan categorized the “No to Plunder” movement’s actions, which have continued for ten days, as peaceful and within the law, adding that the positions and stance of  the youthof the independence generation, the powerful guarantor of our country’s future and their adopted “Free and Independent Armenia” slogan is to be commended.  

Sahakyan continues by saying that the struggle for democracy waged by civil society and to monitor the workings of the government by the public is an effective mechanism.  The parliament speaker also calls for dialog between the public and state institutions, arguing that only through such dialog and mutual influence can Armenia solve the problems it faces and strengthen the foundations of the state.  Sahakyan, in his statement, also doesn’t rule out that the police used excessive force on the morning of June 23 (the first night of the Baghramyan protest) and says that each incident needs to be thoroughly examined and the guilty brought to justice.

In conclusion, Sahakyan calls on the members of the “No to Plunder” movement to stay within the confines of the law, not to escalate the situation, and to relocate the protest to a more rational locale for dialog and conversation in order to jointly solve Armenia’s socio-economic and system-wide problems and to affirm the legitimacy and vitality of the slogan ‘We are masters of our country’.


Belarusian FM: No need to dramatize situation in Armenia, authorities will resolve it democratically

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Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei called the rallies in Armenia against a rise in power tariffs an ‘internal affair’ of Armenia and expressed confidence that Armenian authorities will resolve the situation in the spirit of democracy. He was quoted by Tut.by as saying this at a June 25 press conference following the 5th round of Eastern Partnership informal ministerial dialog in Minsk. When asked if the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, may affect in any way the situation in Armenia, the minister replied that he was perplexed by the question, and there is no need to dramatize the situation in Armenia: ‘Yes, the government intended to take some measures which caused discontent of the population”.

“It is quite clear to everyone that the country’s leadership shows a readiness for dialog. And if those who stage demonstrations fail to grasp it, then it is their problem. I am sure that situation will be resolved,” Belarusian foreign minister added noting that it is an internal affair of Armenia.  “I cannot now recall exactly what provisions of the CSTO regulations are related to provision of military assistance to some state or other, but I think the CSTO regulations say such assistance is possible only in case of foreign military aggression and at the request of the state itself,” Makei said expressing confidence again that the Armenian authorities will resolve the situation in the spirit of democracy.

As was reported, on June 28 demonstrators against the power tariff hike divided into two groups after blocking Bagramyan Avenue in central Yerevan for over a week. The presidential residence, the Armenian parliament, Constitutional Court, and several embassies are located on that avenue. Following the statement made by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on June 27, the organizers of the rally attended by thousands – members of ‘No to Robbery’ civic initiative called on protesters to leave the avenue and return to Liberty Square nearby. Yet some of the demonstrators refused to leave, while others moved to Liberty Square. Police warned several times that they plan to open the street so normal traffic could resume.

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2015/06/30/belarus-armenia/

Alexander Iskandaryan: Protesters against power tariff hike in Armenia have no claims against Russia

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When commenting on the fact that Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) Company that submitted an application for a rise in electricity tariffs in Armenia is a daughter company of Russia’s Inter RAO UES, political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan said that it does not necessarily mean the protesters have claims to Russia.

“Stereotypical thinking leads people to assume that if it is a Russian company, there must be an anti-Russian component. I suppose that some people can say anything and that one can always find people who show their emotions that way. Yet there is simply no background for widespread anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia,” the expert said.

He invited attention to the fact that the demonstrators have appealed to the authorities, the president, rather than they “gather outside the office of Electric Networks of Armenia”. Protesters also believe that it is up to the Armenian authorities to deal with the problem of the Russian company, Iskandaryan added. He stressed that it is a social protest, not a political one, and it was the power price hike that prompted people to take to the streets.

“It does not resemble the Ukrainian maidan. Maindan had a different, foreign political nature, but here the character of protests is domestic: it is annoyance with the economic situation. An economic stagnation has been observed in the country since 2008. The country remained in that situation for long, and there is growing annoyance with the economic scheme. Of course, it is a specific rise in prices which is a pretext, rather than a cause,” the expert noted.

“In Armenia there is a culture of street political activity. Rallies have been staged regularly since 1991. A culture of achieving something through rallies does exist in Armenia. A year ago a pension reform was scrapped. Rallies against the gas price increase took place in Yerevan, and the decision on transport fare hike was suspended. People are accustomed to the fact they can take to the streets and gain their end in some cases. True, they may not gain it, either,” Iskandaryan said.

It should be noted that amid numerous statements of Russian politicians, MPs and senators about some similarities with the Ukrainian maidan and intrigues of ‘external forces’, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on June 24 that statements to the effect that the situation in Armenia was provoked from outside need to be proven. “We will carefully examine everything that preceded it, but I would not jump to conclusions,” he said.

As was reported, Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) Company earlier submitted a bid to the Public Services Regulatory Commission about a rise in electricity tariffs. The parliamentary opposition considers it unfounded and serving the interests of that company. The current night-time tariff for the population is 31.85 drams per one KWh, the daytime tariff is 41.85 drams. The bid of ENA proposed raising the tariffs to 48 and 58 drams respectively. Yet the Commission satisfied the bid of ENA only partially on June 17. The tariffs in Armenia will increase by 6.93 drams, and not by 17 drams. The Commission’s decision will take force on August 1, 2015. The decision triggered non-stop protests staged by ‘No to Robbery’ civic initiative. The participants demand that the head of state revoke the Commission’s decision, which at the same time does not suit ENA Company as well. Rally participants say that their protest is purely social by nature. 

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2015/06/25/iskandaryan-meeting-armenia-rf/

Anatoly Karlin: Why Armenia Isn't Ukraine (Probably)

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There’s this little thing called the Armenia-Azerbaijan stand off in which Armenia desperately needs Russian support (since it is not going to get it from the west)

In recent days, some Armenians have been up in arms over increases in electricity tariffs by the evil Russian-owned electricity monopoly that will bring them up to… well, a level slightly higher than in Russia and about 2-3x lower than in most EU countries (don’t you love comparative context?). Discourse in both Russia and the West has now shifted to the familiar template of color revolution. Cookie girl Victoria Nuland was in Armenia last February in a closed meeting with NGOs, which is never a good sign, and the Maidanist Ukrainian elites are salivating over the prospect of a color revolution in Yerevan, with Interior Minister (and ethnic Armenian) Arsen Avakov going so far as to express his support for the “Electromaidan” couched in a bizarre anecdote about his adventures with a thermos in (Ukraine’s) Euromaidan.

Does this presage the overthrow of Russia’s colonial “puppet” in Armenia and its inevitable transition to the promised land of freedom, prosperity, and end-of-history that all such revolutions inevitably entail?

At first, one might have cause to be skeptical. The numbers of protesters fhas been few so far: No more than 1% of Yerevan’s one million strong population. And while they do include the usual young pro-Western and anti-Russian types, there’s also plenty of older leftists and apoliticals, so for the most part it could be said to be a domestic political affair with no particular connection to questions such as Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union or its hosting of a Russian military base in Gyumri.

In opinion polls, Armenians are highly positive towards Russia. On the other hand, pretty much of all of this could also have been said of Ukraine’s Euromaidan in Ukraine before November 2013. There is however one very critical difference between Ukraine and Armenia and it is summarized in the following chart (figures are from SIPRI):

http://russia-insider.com/sites/insider/files/styles/1200xauto/public/armenia-azerbaijan-military-spending_0.png?itok=FVOuzI3O

Azerbaijan does not much like Armenia. The two fought a war in the early 1990s soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was officially Azeri but populated by Armenians (thanks to Georgia’s Stalin). Occupying favorable defensive positions and enjoying high morale and funds from the diaspora, the Armenians got by far the better of the exchange, and Nagorno-Karabakh has since been de facto theirs, albeit that is hotly disputed by the Azeris and unrecognized by the world community.

Azerbaijan is fully committed to revanche, and relations between the two countries are poisonous to an almost slapstick degree. This is mostly amply demonstrated by the case of an Azeri military officer who murdered an Armenian counterpart while on a NATO exchange program in Hungary. Upon being sent back to Azerbaijan to serve the rest of his life sentence, was immediately set free by Presidential decree, named a national hero, and given a free flat. Azerbaijan is backed to the hilt by Turkey, but is constrained by uncertainty over Russia’s possible response to overt aggression.

The two countries maintained a rough parity in military spending until the mid-2000s, with Armenia also benefitting from below market cost Russian weapon supplies. Since then, however, Azerbaijan has surged massively ahead, and its oil-fueled military spending is now higher than Armenia’s entire state budget.

It now enjoys an approximately threefold preponderance in air and armor, and its equipment is on average more modern. Once relatively isolated, Azerbaijan now enjoys good relations with Turkey, Israel, the US (especially its neocon/corporatist nexus), and even Russia. A new war between them – absent Russian support – will almost certainly no longer be a repeat of the early 1990s were the Azeris suffered debacle after military debacle.

As a result, any even minimally sane Armenian administration will take great pains not to alienate Russia, even if they should come to power as a result of a color revolution. For a country surrounded by two avowed enemies (Azerbaijan and Turkey) and one lukewarm friend (Iran), alienating Russia would be so phenomenally stupid and counterproductive that it would be functionally close to treason.

The discomfiting thing, though, is that said stupidity and chiliastic fanaticism is a feature of all Maidan-like movements in Eurasia. If the Washington Obkom commands them to sacrifice their national interests just to spite and undercut Russia, they will generally do so with pleasure – as happened in Saakashvili’s Georgia and (twice) in Maidanist Ukraine – since if worst comes to worst, they can always retire to a comfortable position at Columbia University, while it is the ordinary people who are left to pick up the pieces.

Source: http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/why-armenia-isnt-ukraine-probably/ri8347

 Ara Abrahamyan: I believe in wisdom and patriotism of our youth

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External players should not interfere in the situation in Armenia, let alone take advantage of it, Chairman of the Union of Armenians of Russia, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Ara Abrahamyan told RIA Novosti on Friday. According to him, rocking the boat will lead to no good, we should draw lessons from mistakes of others. “Other countries should not interfere in this situation or take advantage of it. I believe that the Armenian people and President have wisdom and he will not allow the situation to reach the point of getting out of control”, he said. Ara Abrahamyan expressed hope the situation over protests in Armenia will not reach a critical phase and a bitter confrontation between protesters and the government. ‘The electricity price hike is a purely social issue. I hope the situation will not escalate. I believe in wisdom and patriotism of our youth. But authorities should not break the spirit of our youth. We need to find a common way out of the situation that will be to everyone’s advantage. If this understanding exists, all will be all well,” he added. As was reported, a sit-in protest is underway in central Bagramian Avenue of Yerevan. The protest is staged by supporters of ‘No to Robbery’ civic initiative against the rise in electricity tariffs. Participants stress that the protests they have been staging since June 19 is purely social by nature. They demand that the head of state revoke the decision of Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission of June 17 to raise electricity tariffs by 6.93 drams.

 Source:http://www.panorama.am/en/interviews/2015/06/26/abrahamyan/

Paul Creig Roberts: Are Armenian Protests Aimed At Russia?

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As I expected, protests have broken out in the capital of Armenia. The pretext is a rise in electricity rates. Apparently, the rise was not budget-breaking, which puts the pretext under suspicion. Moreover, videos of the protesters show an overwhelming young component, which suggests that the protesters are not the ones who pay the electricity bills. The protest may be innocent and legitimate, but on the surface looks yet again like National Endowment for Democracy-funded NGOs calling the gullible and naive students into the streets.

Even if the protest is innocent, Washington will jump on it in order to turn it to Washington’s purpose. Protests are Washington’s method of putting pressure on governments that do not adhere to Washington’s foreign policy and of effecting regime change, as in the former Georgian and Ukrainian provinces of Russia and the Soviet Union.

“Color revolutions” and regime change are the purpose of the National Endowment for Democracy. This US government agency was set up in 1983 in order to spread political dissent in Soviet Eastern Europe. NED is funded by the federal budget via the Department of State. Washington has its NGOs in all former constituent parts of the Soviet Union and inside Russia herself. By using “color revolutions” or, as in the case of Ukraine, regime change via an outright coup, Washington removes governments friendly to Russia and replaces them with its vassals. Once Russia’s periphery is in Washington’s hands, Washington will begin to break up the Russian Federation itself.

The Russian people and their government have been slow to understand this threat to their sovereignty. Having emerged from the authoritarian rule of the Communist Party, Russians thought that their country would be welcomed and supported by the United States. Russia would be as long as Russia is willing to be a US vassal like all of Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Once the Russian government acted in defense of its national interest and international law and blocked Washington’s intentions against Syria and Iran, the neoconservatives shifted their focus from the Middle East to Russia. Having spent $5 billion cultivating Ukrainian politicians and financing NGOs in Ukraine, Washington grabbed Ukraine while the Russian government, trusting to Western good will, was focused on the Sochi Olympics.

Washington has used its coup in Kiev to foment an European-Russian crisis that harms Europeans more than Russia, but serves to keep Europe under Washington’s thumb. The Russian government’s response to the crisis has not been sufficiently strong to make Europeans see the error of their ways. The weak Russian response, relying on diplomacy which Washington has rejected and replaced with force, has encouraged Washington to further surround Russia with regime changes. Armenia was predictable, as is Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan would be the big prize as the country also borders China. Indeed, if Washington can grab Kazakhstan, Washington will also have Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, all of which sits atop Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As far as I can tell, a number of influential Russians believe that their prestige and self-esteem depend on being a part of the West. Russians of this ilk are willing to give up Russian independence for Western acceptance. These are the Russians on whom Washington is relying. And these Russians are Russia’s main enemy.

 Zaman: First east Ukraine, and now Armenia

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It is too early to argue that there will be a change of power in favor of the West in the country. If this is a “colorful revolution,” then the Kremlin will have a very hard time. Armenia has a strong and powerful diaspora in Western countries. This diaspora may act swiftly to integrate Armenia with the West in case of such a change of power. They have firm relations in the West because of the victimization associated with the 1915 incidents and the popularity of the genocide thesis in Western countries. If Yerevan becomes pro-Western, this will mean that Russia will lose its final stronghold in the South Caucusus. The Western pressure on Russia will become more visible after the loss of Armenia; Russia was already suffering from the loss of Ukraine north of the Black Sea. This new state of affairs will lead the Kremlin to reconsider its policies.

The Kremlin risked losing east Ukraine to keep Crimea under control. So will it also sacrifice Armenia to hold Crimea? Or just as when every former Soviet Republic rioted against Moscow, will it create a frozen conflict zone in Armenia for a state of irresolution?

All Russian oligarchs, including those in St. Petersburg, elites and local administrators, define themselves as European. They do not want to become party to the east Ukraine crisis. They do not want deterioration in the political, economic and cultural relations with the West because of east Ukraine. For this reason, they tend to define pro-Russian activists in east Ukraine as terrorists. Nobody wants to pay attention to Ukraine because they do not want to go back to the Cold War era or a new Soviet Union period. They want further integration with the West. And they want to distance themselves from Asia and former Soviet Republics in Central Asia. The West's political and economic embargo visibly affected the Russian oligarchs and elites. And they still suffer from the repercussions of the sanctions. Will Russians who did not pay attention to east Ukraine become attentive to Armenia?

The pro-Russian activists who oppose the oligarch fascism in Ukraine are aware of this hypocrisy in Russia. They are aware that the Kremlin relies on all propaganda tools to show that they support the pro-Russian groups in Ukraine but also avoids giving the impression that they do not act together with activists in Ukraine. The Kremlin is unable to protect young activists in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kiev, Odessa and Lviv against violence by Kiev. They are unaware of what is happening to them. Young activists are unable to present themselves as pro-Russian. They oppose the repressive Kiev administration, oligarch fascist structure and the Ukrainian fascist groups that terrorize the cities. They are now aware that the Kremlin will not be able to offer solutions to their problems.

Russia pulled the breaks in Ukraine; but the US did not. They keep supplying aid to the Ukrainian army. In a year, the Ukrainian army will reach NATO standards. The east Ukrainian activists are waiting for a strong response by the Ukrainian army now. For this reason, they are likely to make peace. Reconciliation and peace is always better than war.


Radio Liberty: 'ElectricYerevan' Protesters Chafe At Comparisons To Ukraine's Euromaidan

A demonstrator waves an Armenian flag as others shout slogans during a protest against an increase of electricity prices in Yerevan on June 25.

As protests in Yerevan and other Armenian cities enter their second week, activists are struggling with a postmodern problem -- branding. They bristle at comparisons -- whether well-intentioned or not -- with the Euromaidan movement that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014. Babken DerGrigorian, an activist who is also a researcher at the London School of Economics and who invented the #ElectricYerevan Twitter hashtag  that has been widely adopted, has been adamant on social media that outside observers should avoid slapping the Maidan label on events in Armenia.

"Framing is crucial," he posted on Twitter. "IT IS NOT A MAIDAN! ITS (sic) MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT!!!" Perhaps the main reason why the protesters resist this comparison is because Russian state-controlled media and pro-Kremlin figures have been so aggressive in insisting on it. And when they use the term "Maidan," they mean a U.S.-inspired anti-Russian coup. Pro-Kremlin analyst and former Duma Deputy Sergei Markov has been one of the most outspoken. The Yerevan events "are an attempted color revolution that has been ordered from abroad," he wrote on Facebook on June 23.

"This attack on Yerevan was expected as a reaction to its rejection of a semicolonial Association Agreement with the EU and its joining to Eurasian Union," he wrote the same day. "Most likely there are many fighters from Ukraine among the demonstrators and they are being managed by an external headquarters run by the same political technologists that ran Kyiv's Maidan."

Russian state-controlled television has also pushed the Maidan comparison, prompting demonstrators to try to shout down Russian journalists reporting from the protests.

"Last night the crowd moved through the center of Yerevan along Marshal Bagramian Avenue, where the embassies of key European countries are located," Russia's Vesti news program reported on June 23. "The prosecutor's office is now interested in the protests. Inspectors are looking into reports that the people are being provoked and incited by some nongovernmental organizations -- of which there are dozens in Armenia, most of which live off of grants from the United States."

As a result of such reports -- which have also included the claim that demonstrators attacked police on June 23, prompting the authorities to respond with water cannons -- demonstrators have been holding up signs with slogans such as "Tell the truth!" behind Russian journalists trying to do stand-up reports from the scene. Such Russian coverage prompted activist DerGrigorian to concede at least one comparison between Yerevan and Kyiv. Some protest supporters have tried to counter Russian media claims with humor, setting up a Facebook page featuring mocking memes and other jokes. In one, for instance, a photograph of protesters playing a game of chess is captioned in Russian: "Armenian activists have received the latest tactical maps from the U.S. State Department. Now they are preparing to storm the presidential residence."

Similar In Motivation, At Least

On the other hand, some Ukrainians and others who argue that Euromaidan was a grassroots popular movement aimed at holding corrupt politicians accountable have been eager to see Yerevan in the same light. "Yesterday some friends and I went down to Marshal Bagramian Avenue," Oleksandr Bozhko, Ukraine's former ambassador to Armenia, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on June 25. "The atmosphere that prevailed there, the particular sense of elevation, the confidence of the people in the justice of their cause, of course, reminded me of Kyiv's Maidan. And it even seemed to me that I had gone back to the autumn of 2013."

The main spokespeople for the Armenian protesters insist that #ElectricYerevan is not an anti-Russian phenomenon, but is narrowly aimed at the repeal of a government decision to raise electricity rates for the third time in recent years and the investigation of possible corruption and mismanagement at the country's monopoly electricity supplier. They insist the fact that the electricity supplier is owned by a Russian company is irrelevant to their basic contention that ordinary Armenians are being asked to pay for poor management and the government is doing nothing to protect them.

Yelizaveta Khramtsova, a correspondent for Russia's LifeNews channel, says demonstrators consistently tell her to report that their demands are not "political" and they are not calling for a change of government. "There is nothing like in Kyiv here," Khramtsova tells RFE/RL. "I was in Kyiv and I can say that these are two different situations."

"The important thing is that we realize Armenia will not follow the Ukrainian scenario," she adds. Razmik Avagian, an ethnic Armenian who lives in Sweden but who is participating in some of the protests, says that the international media "make things more complicated than they really are."

Looking Under The Hood

However, despite the efforts by protest spokespeople to keep a laser focus on the issue of electricity rates, some protest participants are expressing much broader concerns that do seem to echo Euromaidan's trajectory. The Hetq investigative journalism website published a collection of quotations from protesters under the heading "the voice of Armenia's new generation," seeming to highlight a new political awakening. The concerns expressed in the Hetq survey are far-ranging: "The exodus from the country must be halted." "To change anything in the country, we must first change education." "First, an active society must be formed." "A healthy mindset must be shaped in order that we overcome our slave mentality and fears." "We require regime change."

The #ElectricYerevan movement also echoes Euromaidan in that it is a grassroots and leaderless organization that organizes largely through social media. It is dominated by people in their 20s. The protesters are as skeptical of the political opposition in their country as they are of the ruling politicians. Although the demonstrators are not overtly anti-Russian, they also do not share the uncritical view of Russia often found in Armenians of older generations. A further similarity may be a drift toward anti-Russianism.

"Everything started after the Rossia 24 channel correspondent distorted news by claiming there are anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia, that there are people here dispatched from Maidan," protester Levon Yuzbashian says. "There is no such thing here. Simply, the Armenian people have risen to their feet. They have stood up for their rights."

And that may be enough to put them at odds with the Kremlin. Analyst Sergei Markov wrote on Facebook that the Armenian government has two options. "Either to go down the path of Yanukovych or that of [Belarusian President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka," he wrote, referring to Lukashenka's brutal suppression of protests against his allegedly falsified December 2010 reelection. "And I think it will choose Lukashenka's path."

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia-electricyerevan-protesters-chafe-at-euromaidan-comparison/27095421.html


Electric Yerevan and Lessons on the Color-Spring Tactic

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The Electric Yerevan protest provides us with an excellent opportunity to review some of the basic underlying mechanics and psychology of the Color-Spring tactic.  It is important to share these publicly, for it is indeed probable that the Color-Spring tactic will be increasingly applied in the world as a “hybrid soft-power/hard-power tactic”. 

A moral principle held by Gene Sharp, who was one of the tactic’s main developers, was that violence is not necessary for revolution. What is strange, contradictory, even dishonest here is that violence is reduced taxonomically to the physical violence of the state’s gendarmes against the civilians.  But we know that violence comes in many forms.

We live in a time of great violence; physical, psychological, legal, economic, spiritual violence.  Not only has the Color Revolution tactic engendered the latter four, but its mutation into the Arab Spring tactic also employs heinous physical violence.  We can see today, tens of thousands dead in Libya, hundreds of thousands in Syria, and a mounting figure in Ukraine which threatens to surpass the precedents.

“Non-violent” change in Syria
Novices to political science and political activism may be lured by the spectre and spectacle of the Color Revolution method that has characterized ostensible movements for radical social change in the last generation.  The symbols have become iconic and clichéd: the tent city, the die-in, the girl placing flowers in the gendarme’s gun barrels, water cannons and tear-gas, the fist flag.

What is missing of course from this view is an understanding of the real social forces in a society, class and economic forces.  For forty years, genuine activism, labor union militancy, has been marginalized.  In place of direct action against the ruling class at the very places that make their wealth, is a strange simulation of late 1960’s student activism; shown to us on a never-ending film reel loop. Others have caught on to the fact that the US has been funding these protest movements, and that these ‘grass-roots’ movements are in fact astroturf movements.  Still, it is misunderstood how the US viewed these governments before they tried to destabilize them.

One thing which is often popularly misunderstood about the Color-Spring tactic, by those who know that the US is behind them, is that governments being targeted for regime change by the US are not just those which have apparently bad relations with the US, but may in fact be generally US-friendly governments.  By and large, in fact, the latter is the case.  We will be exploring this aspect as it relates to Armenia. Also we will look at some of the methods used in the application of this tactic in Armenia, and at the general psychological and technical framework of the organizing methods.

Gene Sharp – a man of ‘Non-Violence’

Why the US Targets ‘Regimes’ for ‘Change’

In the Color-Spring tactic, the US may target countries for ‘regime change’ that it has had generally constructive relations with, but whose other ties are increasingly problematic.  It may be also generally friendly countries who refuse to commit resources to reshaping regional power balances, such as with Mubarak in Egypt, who was reluctant to interfere with Syria.  Another reason may be that the targeted country has a natural relationship with other countries in its region which, regardless of the official position of the government, promotes certain economic and meta-political relationships and developments which are contrary to US interests.  In the latter case, it may be desirable to employ a scorched earth policy, known as the ‘failed state’, in order to destroy the material foundations of economic and political coherency.

Given the failure of the Orange Revolution to frustrate relations with Russia, the situation in Ukraine may be an example of this scorched earth/failed state strategy.   Conclusively, the Color-Spring tactic is compatible with any number of strategies, and can be a part of producing any number of desired outcomes, and as such is a very useful weapon to possess.

How the US Sets up a ‘Regime’ for ‘Change’

In this tactic, the US can effectively hide behind itself.  It works to create or at least catalyze the very situation which it later exploits.  From one of the pioneers of the Color/Spring tactic at Dartmouth and Harvard, Gene Sharp – whose work follows that of Saul Alinsky and others – we can reflect on the following truths:

1.) People often think of redressing grievances politically in terms of protests by citizens; it is under the legal-constitutional framework as citizens that protests are legitimate.

2.) The mischief of mercantile and private interests: companies, corporations, investment consortia, etc.,  often are the source of public discontent.

3.) Yet it is the government’s approval of (or inability to work against) these private interests which, by and large, becomes the focus of citizen protests.

4.) People generally understand that one actor (such as the US) may benefit from being behind one side of a given conflict.  But the idea that one actor may simultaneously generate the problem, provoke a public reaction, and then back a pre-planned solution of its liking, strikes many as either difficult to understand or ‘conspiratorial’ in nature.

5.) Thus, the US can with a relative degree of public stealth, be the promoter and main beneficiary of these above described private interests in the short term, while simultaneously using the public discontent that these logically produce, as a vehicle to leverage long-term pressure upon that same government, up to and including ‘regime change’.

The basic framework of the ‘Electric Yerevan’ protests is a prime example of this dynamic.  The reasons why average Armenians would take part in and support these protests are rational, and from the perspective of the public interest, even supportable at face value.  The US, working through its network of NGO assets and favored charitable corporate entities, seeks to steer these protests in an anti-Russian direction.

Why the US wants to ‘Regime Change’ Armenia

When Armenia joined Eurasian Economic Union on January 2nd, 2015, it made history.  This was a civilizational decision which would define its relationship to the world for the coming period.  The US saw this coming partly as a result of the previous elections.  The US had been a longstanding partner in various Armenian economic and political projects, ever since the collapse of the USSR almost twenty-five years ago.

Armenia never lost its close ties with Russia, and in the previous period – which in US foreign policy we might say ended with the 2007 economic crisis – it was acceptable for the US within the framework of the US’s lukewarm relationship with Russia, and the US’s course at that time, for Armenia to maintain good relations with Russia.

Nevertheless, the US never lost sight of the importance of Armenia to Russia, and vice-versa.  The US continued to play the regional power politics, in terms of encouraging and promoting the pre-existing conflicts and problematic historical narratives between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Insofar as the US could not decisively improve its power base within Armenia, it simultaneously promoted a weak Armenia policy (similar to its Serbia policy) which significantly favored Georgia and others.  The end of 2014 was when the US made a major decision.

Indeed, when the winds of change were felt a few years ago in Armenia, the US changed its policy and appointed a new US ambassador in December 2014, and declared that the US will substantially cut funding and assistance to Armenia, and will terminate several projects that were in development.  The February 13th, 2013 presidential elections, as well as the May 6th,  2012 parliamentary elections were critical.  It has been discussed for some years that Armenia would be joining the Eurasian Union, and US efforts to steer that discourse ultimately failed.

The general context here is that going back to 1994, Armenia joined the important Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).  This, as it is known, is what the Russian Federation has been building with former Soviet republics as a replacement to the unified command structure of the Soviet Army.

Despite Armenia’s willingness to globally diversify its partnerships (including in the energy markets which are critical to ‘Electric Yerevan’), the post-2007 period has been characterized by a change in the US’s tolerance for balanced or multi-polar foreign policies in other countries. The US has never been a paragon of free market liberties, and to the contrary, as a realist oriented actor on the global stage, has always used tariffs, exclusive agreements, and gunboat diplomacy within its repertoire in pursuit of its own interests; i.e., the interests of its ruling elite.  But the upping of the ante vis-à-vis the ‘BRICS and friends’ nations has significantly changed the climate and the rules of the game.

Despite Armenia’s willingness to allow US companies and NGO’s to operate in Armenia, it’s membership in the Eurasian Union and CSTO remains the US’s primary reason for targeting Armenia for regime change.

Why the US Thinks it can get Armenians to ‘Regime Change’

As we have explained, the US’s use of the Color-Spring tactic does not negate the fact that the Armenian government has faced massive public discontent over several ongoing issues. Because Armenia’s economy and public budget is so tied to the global economy, government initiatives to increase prices or taxes related to public sector services are essentially a public recognition of economic fact; a rubber-stamping of a reality being created far beyond Armenia’s borders or the reach of its government. A number of protests preceded this one, and while they were popular for tangible reasons, they were also a training ground for the organizers of ‘Electric Yerevan’.

Protests happened two years ago when the government indicated its need to increase the transportation fare by 50%. In this case, elements of the public protested for a week and the government heeded these demands. Additionally, this type of protest happened last year in opposition to a new pension fund system, and the struggle to abolish this lasted for six months. But what was popularly promoted by the NGO leadership among protesters in both of these policy-protest movements, was that people are doing this without any leadership or organization.

Because there is an organizational history of protests, with organizers taking notes and perfecting various methods and strategems on the ground, US financed organizers may now believe they are in the position to escalate the present protest into a ‘regime change’ scenario.

They might believe this because they have been escalating the whole time.  In labor and community action-organizing, planning works by the method of escalation.  Each step that escalates is harder to pull off, but is harder for the target to withstand.  If you have accurately assessed your organizing results so far, and if the prior escalations have succeeded, then the next step stands a better chance at success. Now this protest dubbed ‘Electric Yerevan’, organized under the project name ”No To Plunder”, against the electricity cost increase, is being promoted as a self-organised internal protest which has no leader and no political affiliation, including with the opposition.

Activists claim, and many believe, that there are no political dimensions, no political slogans, and no call for resignations. They claim that they are not against any country (Russia), are not for any country or international body (USA or NATO), and that they do not call for revolution, nor demand any change in government policy. At this stage, we can see they have attempted to sanitize the protests as purely being a demand for an investigation into the workings of the Electric Networks of Armenia.

The Protester’s ‘Demand’ Reveals the real Target

The reason that this demand is indeed political, geopolitical, and geostrategic, is that the power distributor Electric Networks of Armenia is controlled by one of the successors to Russia’s electricity giant, Unified Energy System of Russia (RAO UES).  Under a reorganization plan in 2008, RAO UES technically ceased to exist, with its 51% government shares being largely privatized as well, but the successor network is commonly referred to by this name as a matter of habit, and because the various entities are essentially managed in the same centralized manner.

This makes a perfect narrative to steer this in an anti-Russian direction, and lay the blame at the government’s relationship with Russian firms. The purpose of this call for an investigation into Electric Networks of Armenia is more clear when we understand who the protest organizers ignore: the US company, ContourGlobal. ContourGlobal purchased the Vorotan Hydro Cascade, a complex consisting of three hydroelectric plants, on June 6th, 2015. ContourGlobal then increased its projected operating costs, compelling the government to recognize this, which the distributor, Electric Networks of Armenia, was forced to pass on to consumers.


In other words, the demands of the protest organizers exclude both the facts and the recent history of  the issue, focusing instead on a downstream element, the distribution end of the industry. Rather than demanding socialization of the Vorotan Hydro Cascade, protest organizers – not without reason – are hyperventilating the public into an anti-Russian direction. This direction focuses just on Electric Networks of Armenia and its control by RAO UES.  This relationship is reinforced by the Eurasian Union.

Economies of scale tend to deliver goods and services at a lower cost when compared to smaller scale operations. Armenia has a population of about 3 million. “RAO UES”, in the wake of the collapse of the USSR, is and was well positioned to manage the affairs of Electric Networks of Armenia.  “RAO UES” essentially inherited the system used by the USSR, which was already designed to maximize output on a non-profit basis, by using a centralized management system.  However, “RAO UES” and its successors are not ‘non profit’, and public outrage against a basic utility such as power being run on a for-profit basis is rooted.

Nevertheless, we may believe at first that the relatively limited demand to focus just on the “RAO UES” could be relatively benign: heed the protester’s demands, conduct the investigation, and shift budgetary items around, or take on further debt in order to cover the cost of the rate hike reduction.

Organizing and Manipulating: The Course of Escalation

Ultimately, the Color-Spring tactic – in borrowing from the rich history of left-wing social protest movements, as reflected upon by Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals – begins with minimal demands before moving forward to the maximal ones.  This moves the protest movement from a relatively benign one; based upon a popular framework of peaceful assembly and seemingly realistic and necessary demands, into a full-scale scene of chaos and disorder which forces the gendarmes of the state to act, thereby finally de-legitimatizing the already shaky government.

The demands change as ‘things change'; the nature of the Color-Spring tactic always involves a developing list of demands which grow and change in strategically planned stages.  Each reform that the government commits to as a compromise, to meet the  demands of the protest organizers, is not promoted by the organizers as a sign of goodwill on the part of the government. Rather, the concessions are couched as proof that the government was wrong in the first place, proof that all alleged excesses of law enforcement were indeed criminal acts, and proof that the power of the people is growing, that the government is afraid, weak, and divided; and that now is the moment to push forward with more and more demands.


An interesting distinction that Alinsky makes is between organizing and manipulating.  Organizing is when the ‘leading from behind’ is done in the best interests of those being led.  Manipulating is when the leading is done against the interests of the led.  Given the results of the Color-Spring tactic in the last few decades, the US’s co-option of Alinsky’s work probably fits the latter description; and by their own professed ideas the employees and volunteers of these US backed NGO’s in Yerevan ought to be called ‘Manipulators’ instead of ‘Organizers’.

From Riot to ‘Revolution’ and the Dynamics of Group Psychology

The group psychology of the encampment in Yerevan changes by the day.  The more time the protesters spend with each other, the more they have common memories and the more they think and act as a single unit. The tone of the protest movement becomes more severe, more fatalistic: it becomes the final, last stand.

The protesters are manipulated by the organizers and lose any sense of history or proportion.  Those who speak the most, who call  the regular meetings, seem like natural, honest, charismatic figures. They symbolically project and communicate ‘goodness’.  In reality they are highly trained organizers whose first area of expertise is in downplaying or concealing the organization that trained them, and the organized nature of the proceedings.  The ‘sworn testimony’ of the regular encampment participants that there was ‘no leadership’ is honest testimony; the simulation has been executed very well.

One reason also that regular protesters in Armenia do not believe they are being led, is that leadership is commonly conceived of as a person in front, pulling people with him. Leadership is conceived of as being done by people who are well spoken, professional, like the people we see on television, like those who win elections.

Alinsky teaches in Rules for Radicals that leading is done not by pulling, not by standing in the front, but rather by leading from behind, or leading by pushing.  Most people do not want to lead, and they fear public speaking.  Effective labor and community organizing tactics teach that effective leaders act like they do not want to lead, they may even feign a little discomfort and humility with speaking publicly.  The mass then begins to identify very intimately with this person who ‘leads by pushing’.

Leading from Behind – Lead by Pushing
How the 1% Pretends to Be the 99%

One method in the tactic, used in Yugoslavia, Syria, Ukraine, Macedonia, and Armenia, works like this, and it is identical to the method of inciting a riot: In a crowd of a thousand, ten of fifteen individuals shout from the crowd. Their words are emotive, their affect seems honest; but their timing and content is planned.  They may seem to disagree with each other on minor things, but the core things they agree on – things must escalate and ”we will not leave until we win”. The state will respond “and we must be ready to stand here to take their violence.  When they use violence, it is because they are afraid of us; it proves we will win and they know it.”

While representing at first only 1% of the protesters, their monopoly on time and message creates a sense of unanimity, mutual consent, and consensus within the crowd.  Each individual erroneously believes that what these planted organizers are saying reflects the majority; but through this process the simulation of consensus is reified, and in actuality becomes the majority view. Organizing science describes that mass protests without organization and leadership do not occur effectively, if at all. When they are effective and appear as spontaneous and leaderless, that is intentional on the part of the protest organizers.

Freud and Reflexive Anarchism

This mass attraction to leaderless resistance  fits into a simplified ’emotional’ variation of anarchist/radical-liberal idealism: abstracted conceptions of freedom and liberty which are irrationally connected to physical material life. These are often cognitized and even verbalized as social concerns about conditions of work, social expectations about sex, or government and corporate wrongdoing.  However on the subconscious level these yearnings for freedom are rooted in struggles with existential questions that are innate to the human experience, and subsist on the level of the psyche as a motive force.  This is written about with remarkable clarity by Color Revolution theoreticians, and borrows tremendously from Sigmund Freud’s work Civilization and its Discontents. For Freud, human beings had evolved over millions of years under conditions of pre-civilization, where the human experience was defined by a struggle for survival and marked by adversity.


Thus each concession by the government tends to solve real existing problems, but simultaneously excites the limitless nature of the imagination in relation to the realm of perceived possibilities.  So the relatively simple initial demands of the protesters are not as important as what the organizers will say the demands are, or were, at any given time.  What matters is the interplay of forces and the creation of new facts on the ground, which in turn generate shifts in collective consciousness.  In the context of  many global actors with several competing hegemons, it is irrational to think that these hegemons do not compete for control of the protest movement.  In many cases, they have financed them.

What we might Expect from the Protesters

At a certain later stage in the protest, western media will only focus on or interview certain people who have already been selected by the organizers to be interviewed.  This is common in both labor and community organizing within the US.  The staff organizers will only speak to media when posing as protesters; visibly they are almost indistinguishable, with most organizers only seeming a bit more bookish or intelligent than the average person.  Organizing guidelines indicate that selecting protesters to present to media for interviews, who already think what you want them to say, is most desirable.

This also requires a qualified media liaison or communications director working for the NGO, but more importantly a willing media counterpart. The BBC, CNN, ‘Vice’, and other similar pro-NATO propaganda outlets, must be willing to cooperate. At this later stage, the person interviewed will exaggerate, invent, or distort narratives about the nature of the police intervention, which provides western audiences with the appropriate western cultural ques and narratives that justify ‘change’ action by their own governments against the target ‘regime’. Other times, the BBC, CNN, et al, will purely invent or read a script of what the protesters are there for.  They will simply say:

“What began as a protest over electricity rates has, after brutal crackdown by the regime’s security forces, transformed into a protest for the government to step down”.

The viewer sees tens of thousands of protesters, either at present or from stock footage from weeks before, who are simply there for the electricity rate protest, but hears the BBC narrative.  In this application, the language and the images combine to create a perception based upon an expectation that the images are proof of the language.  Thus, the combination of media sounds and imagery create a ‘truth’ which is distinct from what actually occurred. This will create the justification the west requires for ‘sanctions’ and other forms of ‘Arab Spring’ warfare against the target regime.  This last narrative is how the Color Revolution transforms into the Arab Spring.

How to Counter the “Color” before it “Springs”

What the government of Armenia can do is utilize the same science of organizing, and work the protests in reverse.  They should not, under most conditions, use the state gendarmes to evict the encampments. Rather, they must cut the head and take control of the body. They need their own team of community organizers and protest workers to infiltrate and counter-agitate, using the same methods of ‘leading from behind’ to discredit the established ‘non-leading’ leaders on the ground.  In some cases, one-on-one fist fights can be provoked with identified lead organizers in order to justify their individual extraction from the site.  This is why governments that may be targeted for this tactic should already have a mirrored operation in place; we saw this used with high efficacy in both Russia and Macedonia.

Then, they must proceed externally to arrest organizers for various charges, off camera.  The courts must be ready to order asset seizures of the NGO’s, closures of offices, even if temporary, even if the funds are ultimately released. The protester encampment on the ground functions as a siege.  A direct sallying forth of the government gendarmes against the protesters will be perceived as a crime against humanity. The correct method against this is to conduct a counter-siege. The encampment functions on a network of supply-lines both actual and virtual.  These supply-lines must be cut, while increasing access to the same for the government operatives who do counter-work.  Eventually the ‘normality’ line will prevail as the predominant ‘meme’ among the protesters, as the old leaders are marginalized, and new ‘sane’ leaders emerge.

Only then can and should the government announce any concessions, in this case a repeal of the rate hike or some kind of subsidy.  A government concession before the proper protest leadership is in place to accept the concession will only be used to further the crises as described in the sections above. To prevent these in the first place, and looking long term, societies must work to create rich cultural lives, based upon friends and families, and societies based on collective purpose.  These can be constructed and reinforced in whichever ways their traditions provide.  This can be reinforced in opposition to the relatively purposeless life provided by the western-liberal, commercial/consumer, individualist model. The western model breeds alienation, depression, introversion, repression, and angst.  These are prerequisites for these unaddressed psychological problems to be redirected and manifested as a protest movement which loses sense of proportion and reality.

Armenian folkloric dance and attire
Finally, a ‘good culture’ cannot solve or mask real corruption stemming from adventures in capitalism.  The real existing economic problems are often political, as with the case of Armenia’s energy markets.  People must learn how to create real social movements which aren’t part of the same Color-Spring tactic.  The difference is that the Color-Spring tactic only works with massive foreign support, and works primarily through the way that western audiences interpret media narratives, which justify western government action against the target governments.  The tactic also breeds distrust and divisiveness in societies, as a rule and as a goal.

If the Armenian government had not allowed the sale of one of its most valuable resources to the US, then they would have had more control over the costs to the Russian managed distributor, and there would not have been a price increase. To remedy this problem requires a shift in commitments and thinking in Armenian governance.  Basic infrastructure is a critical part of economic and social life, but also is a large part of sovereignty.  Armenian prosecutors can probe the very issue that the protesters are interested in, and find that the US colluded to create this problem in order to instigate instability in Armenia.  This could be used as a legal pretext to unwind the deal with  ContourGlobal.  Then, the state would be in a good position to nationalize this valuable resource.

The re-directed ‘protest movement’ would add the demand that an independent public oversight/review board be established, composed of trusted leaders, academics, and whistle-blowers.  They would have authority to veto certain decisions of the governing board of the nationalized hydro-electric enterprise.

Conclusion

The protest movement in Yerevan over the electric bill hike has many of the clear signs of the Color-Spring tactic. The US involves itself in much financing of protest movements, and does so with the aim of working against the interests of the protesters themselves, but this does not mean that the demands in Yerevan and elsewhere are not real, not legitimate, or do not reflect the real interests of the people on the face of them. These are not incompatible spheres, and it is problematic to understand this through the lens of dichotomy.

The US creates concrete economic problems, exporting its chaos – it then also reaches around from the other side and manages the direction of the efforts against these problems. But the solutions it offers in fact creates more problems.

Protest organizers and participants tend to stress that their aims are limited, simple, defined, and realizable.  This is true at the early stages, but the discourse can rapidly shift when the conditions are met. Ultimately the organizers will work closely with western media to shape the perception of the events, sometimes giving a very different rendering of reality than what actually is occurring. This will be shaped first for citizens of the target country in local media whose owners are part of the western network.

People in modernity tend to share vague and frustrated aspirations for freedom and individuality, feelings that many people share, from a childhood of being misunderstood. The particular difficulties of growing up which are specific to westernization, are politicized in a manipulative way in post-modern political organizing schemes. Sex and sexuality are also not off limits in terms of manipulation.  Abstract or innate problems related to the human experience are concretized and given shape in the Color-Spring organizing campaign.

These are combined with real existing problems, often economic and political, but are combined in such a way that all workable solutions and concession from ‘the authorities’ are rejected for irrational reasons based in the psyche as a motive force. The ‘Color’ tactic can be reversed before it goes ‘Spring’ if the targeted ‘regime’ also has access to the same community organizing technology.  The occupy ‘siege’ can be both infiltrated, and the supply lines to the destabilizing leadership can be cut.

The ‘Color’ tactic requires certain pre-requisites, including US access to the societies under the guise of pluralism and civil society.  This access can be done through non-profits and charities, whose managers can be forced, for starters, to register the organization as a foreign one.  One problem is that some of these organizations come through the UN, so a common global movement to raise awareness and against the abuse of UN institutions, doing the work of empire, needs to be waged.
Color Revolutions can be prevented if:

a.) there is a strong multi-generational mono-culture which provides people with a stronger sense of purpose, history, and community than the ‘citizen’ model.  This later model is provided by atomized, western, modern social projects as typified by US society. b.) critical economic and infrastructural assets are publicly owned and managed, and all necessary cuts in health, housing, education, and general welfare are last resort and not first resort measures.

**
Joaquin Flores Joaquin Flores is a Mexican-American expat based in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst and director at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank and consultancy firm, as well as the co-editor of Fort Russ news service. His expertise encompasses labor, political, and community organizing as well as the geopolitics of Eastern Europe, Eurasia, with a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing ideology and the role of mass psychology, as well as the methods of the information war in the context of 4GW and New Media. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation.

Source: http://syncreticstudies.com/2015/06/28/electric-yerevan-and-lessons-on-the-color-spring-tactic/

Paul Goble: 'Armenia is not a new Maidan. Please don't make it one'

Dispersal of peaceful meeting by security officers in Yerevan

Protests against electricity price hikes in Yerevan have little in common with Ukraine’s uprising – but Russian geopolitical rhetoric has a habit of making self-fulfilling prophecies, says Paul Goble

Many Russian analysts are hurrying to suggest that this week’s protests in Yerevan and their suppression by the Armenian government are the opening round of a new Maidan – an anti-Moscow action promoted and exploited by the west as part of a broader geopolitical struggle. But such an interpretation of events, if it comes to guide policy, could prove to be the worst form of a self-fulfilling prophecy, transforming what are protests by Armenians about domestic conditions into something more. Should Moscow choose to defend the existing authorities in Yerevan no matter what, it would alienate the country against Russia.


That is the conclusion Sergey Markedonov of the Russian State Humanities University offers in his latest commentary, one that constitutes a clear warning to the Kremlin, as well as analysts inside Russia and abroad, about misreading the situation on the ground by trying to make everything fit a pre-existing framework. Those who read every case of popular discontent in the post-Soviet space as a Maidan or proto-Maidan are falling victim to a kind of geopolitical determinism, as Markedonov puts it, according to which “practically any [protest movement] is only an expression of ‘a proxy war’ between the United States and Russia.”


Such people are taking the lazy way out, and forgetting that “a political crisis is not a virus” which spreads from one place to another, but rather reflects specific problems, however much some of those who are participating in it – both the regimes andthose who oppose them – draw on past cases in their vocabulary. What is happening in Armenia is decidedly not like what happened in Ukraine. For one thing, Russia considers Armenia its strategic partner. For another, the government and the people are not divided in their attitude toward Moscow. Some in the government question Yerevan’s ties with Russia; and many in the streets would like to see those ties deeper.


In short, the Moscow analyst says, the issue of Russia is not the defining element in their struggle and it is critically important that “in Moscow people do not fall victim to emotions and look for signs of a Maidan where they are hard to find”. Rather, Russia must recognise that the protesters are not unhappy with the Kremlin but with Yerevan’s own power structure.



“If Russian politicians and diplomats draw incorrect conclusions and link the opposition to the actions of the [US] State Department”, Markedonov says, they will create a situation in which Moscow will have to support the Armenian government no matter what, something that could have the effect of alienating Armenians from it. In that event, what is a domestic Armenian problem today could become a Maidan tomorrow, and thus something larger and more dangerous for Russia. Instead, the analyst urges that Russia keep its lines open to both the government and people of Armenia and encourage a settlement rather than backing only one horse. Markedonov concludes with the observation that he “has no illusions relative to the good intentions of the Americans or Europeans with regard to Russian interests on the post-Soviet space. But to reduce everything to the ill intentions of the US, NATO or the EU is an enormous mistake.”

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/armenia-yerevan-protests-kremlin-ukraine 

Radio Liberty: Russian 'Profiteering' At Heart Of Armenian Power Protests

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Russia owns Armenia's power-distribution grid, and Armenian consumers are furious about the way they are being treated by the firm when it comes to paying for electricity. Protests have been growing in Yerevan and other Armenian cities since the country's Public Services Regulatory Commission voted on June 17 to raise electricity prices by 16 percent. A violent police crackdown on June 23 against demonstrators and journalists in Yerevan has fueled the anger further, bringing even larger crowds of protesters out to Yerevan's Liberty Square. 

The plan to raise power prices by 16 percent as of August 1 came after Inter RAO UES -- the Russian state-controlled electrical-energy import and export monopoly that acquired Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) in 2006 -- asked for a 40 percent increase. Amid reports of widespread misappropriation and mismanagement by ENA's Russian leadership, many Armenians say they are the victims of Russian corruption and oligarchs.

'Servile' Attitude To Russia

Meanwhile, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian's government has refused to investigate ENA's financial matters. Armen Grigorian, an Armenian political scientist and analyst for the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, says a "habitual servile attitude toward the Russians" among Armenian officials is being paid for by ordinary Armenian citizens. "Russian ownership of Armenia's gas and electricity supply and distribution networks has not resulted in the discounts or higher quality of services that were expected by Russia's loyalists," Grigorian says. "Rather, it appears to have led to profiteering at the expense of the country's population."

Armenia provides a crucial foothold for Moscow in the strategic South Caucasus, hosting a large Russian military base, and this year joined Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in the Eurasian Economic Union, one of the groupings the Kremlin is using to increase its clout in former Soviet republics. However, Grigorian says, "Despite the 'strategic partnership' and 'brotherhood' narratives, Armenian households pay the highest electricity fees in the post-Soviet space, and household gas prices exceed even the costs paid by consumers in Ukraine" -- which is fighting Russian-backed separatists in a bloody conflict -- and in some European Union member states.

Losing Money?

ENA's managers, led by the firm's Russian general manager, Yevgeny Bibin, have attempted to justify the price-hike demand by pointing to the company's low profitability and mounting debt, which have resulted in overall losses. Grigorian says that those explanations "seem suspect" and that "complaints about losses suffered by ENA do not seem justified." A report published by Inter RAO UES itself showed that the Russian company's revenue from Armenia was $104 million for the first quarter of 2015, compared to $60 million in the first quarter of 2014. The May 2015 report said that the company's earnings from Armenia before interest, taxes, depreciation and other adjustments also rose during that period, increasing from $2.23 million to about $12.3 million.

Paying High Prices

Meanwhile, RFE/RL's Armenian Service has documented how ENA's Russian managers have been paying, on average, about 20 percent above the market price for equipment, electrical cables, and other materials it has purchased since 2013 -- usually from Russian suppliers or Armenian firms with close ties to the government. In one example, RFE/RL investigative reporters in Yerevan found that ENA was paying eight times the market price for electrical gloves.

According to ENA's own records, its Russian management paid more than 1,000 times the market price for concrete supplies from the Ararat Cement Factory, which is owned by influential government-connected tycoon Gagik Tsarukian. Tsarukian is a parliament deputy and head of the Armenian National Olympic Committee. His daughter is married to the son of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.

After RFE/RL published the price that ENA itself had reported paying to Tsarukian's concrete firm, ENA responded by saying those figures were the result of a technical error. But Robert Nazarian, the chairman of Armenia's Public Services Regulatory Commission, has said that ENA simply made up the figures for those payments. RFE/RL also found that services supplied to ENA by contractor companies were, on average, about 14 percent above the market price.

The Armenian parliament's oversight committee reported in April that ENA had paid a Russian-owned electricity producer in Yerevan more than twice as much for supplies during 2014 than it had paid Armenian-owned firms for the same amount of electricity. Transparency International also has said that the way ENA pays for supplies, salaries, travel, and other costs is not transparent.

Poor Service

Despite such reports, the Public Services Regulatory Commission said on June 24 that their decision to raise electricity prices for ordinary Armenians was economically justified. ENA also faces complaints about poor service and frequent power outages in Armenia. Critics say that since it was taken over by its Russian owners, the firm has failed to modernize the aging infrastructure that delivers electricity to about 985,000 consumers -- despite a 10-year, $45 million loan issued to ENA in 2009 by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to improve Armenia's power-distribution network.

The Russian owner of Armenia's power grid is one of the largest Russian public energy companies on the basis of market capitalization. Inter RAO UES heads a group of more than 20 different companies based in more than a dozen other countries from Europe to Asia. In Armenia, it also operates the Metsamor nuclear power plant, which produces about 40 percent of the electricity generated in the country. Other assets that Inter RAO UES owns outright in Armenia include the Hrazdan thermal power plant, which it has been expanding with help from Russia's state-controlled natural gas giant, Gazprom.

Armenia does not produce its own natural gas. It depends upon Russian supplies shipped to the Armenian border by Gazprom and purchased by Gazprom Armenia, a firm which is fully owned by Gazprom. Natural gas accounts for about half of Armenia's total energy consumption, including about a third of its power generation.

Source:http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia-russian-profiteering-at-heart-of-protests/27091644.html


Richard Giragosian: This is not Armenia's Maidan moment - yet

 Armenian demonstrators  during a protest against an increase in electricity prices in Yerevan, Armenia [Getty]

As an estimated 10,000 people in Armenia joined round-the-clock protests over a recent rise in electricity prices on June 24, demonstrators sensed a turning point on the fourth day of this outpouring of discontent. The turning point was evident as scores of normally disengaged, first-time protesters descended on the protest site to show solidarity and support. Yet this wave of protest represents much more than a display of anger over an energy price rise.  And these demonstrations are only the latest in a series of civic actions against the Armenian government.

This recent round of protests against the Armenian government represents something new and novel. Public demonstrations themselves are certainly not new for Armenia. But the protesters, largely consisting of the young, educated, and empowered, stand as a new challenge for the government. Unlike the more traditional political rallies and protests of Armenia's opposition parties, these demonstrations deprive the authorities of any avenue for political negotiation, and the protesters are simply not interested in anything short of concession.

More than energy

While this lack of politicisation served as an important advantage for protesters in the initial period, it is now becoming a weakness, as the need for a strategy for coherent political demands is now apparent. Yet, despite that serious shortcoming in leadership, the momentum of the protests is likely to only deepen, and not dissipate.

Such an outlook of sustained momentum is grounded in the fact that these protests are also about more than energy prices. The discontent is much deeper, rooted in a broader economic downturn, as seen by an already severe one-third decrease in remittances coming to Armenia from abroad. This cut in remittances has hit many ordinary families in Armenia, who depend on the money for basic commodities and food staples. 

A second, related element that has only exacerbated the situation is the anger over the arrogance of the Russian-owned energy company in Armenia that has pushed the Armenian government for the electricity price rise. The Russian connection does not necessarily mean that these protests are directed against Moscow, and they are certainly not a Kiev-style 'Maidan moment'.

The anger and outrage over Russian arrogance was not only rooted in the exposure of lavish spending on luxury vehicles and homes for the Russian executives, but grew due to the company's refusal to respond to a request by the Armenian parliament to defend the move in the legislative debate over the price rise. The Russian connection does not necessarily mean that these protests are directed against Moscow, and they are certainly not a Kiev-style "Maidan moment". 

But against the backdrop of a pre-existing crisis in Armenian-Russian relations in the wake of the brutal murder of an entire Armenian family by a Russian conscript stationed at the Russian base in Armenia, any additional public perception of a Russian insult to Armenian sovereignty only escalates tension. 

Russian economy

And with the cause of the decline in remittances directly linked to the downturn in the Russian economy, which is the source for roughly 90 percent of all remittances coming into Armenia, there is a broader aspect to such public anger. But it is also a "crisis of confidence" in the Armenian government that is driving these protests. In fact, one key lesson from the earlier round of demonstrations over the Armenian government's half-hearted attempt to introduce sweeping pension reforms was that those earlier public protests were based as much on a lack of trust in the government's capacity to fairly implement the reform as the pension reform itself.

Moreover, this crisis of confidence in the government has also been matched by a destabilising degree of government arrogance, where key decisions are taken with little or no public preparation or engagement. This was most notably demonstrated by the Armenian president's unilateral and abrupt decision to commit Armenia to joining the Russian-led Eurasian Union in September 2013, which thereby ended Armenia's hopes to conclude an Association Agreement with the European Union.

No Armenian government has been able to handle public protests. For the Armenian authorities, the traditional response has always been a reflexive resort to force, in varying degrees of excess and abuse. This was most evident in the country's violent clashes during its 2008 post-election crisis, in which 10 people died and many more were wounded in a violent crackdown on demonstrators by police.

Given its consistent failure to communicate, the government's inability to strike a delicate balance in response means that there is little likelihood of a negotiated way out of this confrontation. This was only confirmed by the excessive force used by police during an initial attempt to forcibly disperse the protests on June 22, which also included the mass arrests of some 230 demonstrators and journalists. Thus, while the immediate outlook of these mounting protests in Armenia remains far from clear, it is fairly certain that Armenia faces a long, hot summer of discontent in the weeks to come.

Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/06/armenia-maidan-moment-150625112125114.html

 Ukraine interior minister Arsen Avakov addresses Yerevan protesters

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The Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Arsen Avakov, addressed the Armenian people in his Facebook account, and in connection with the ongoing protests against the decision to raise the price of electricity in Armenia and the use of police force against the demonstrators. “My precious Armenia, there were days when we were beaten and dispersed in the Krepostnaya Lane in [the Ukrainian capital city of] Kyiv, [and] they had collected our barricades. It seemed they had pulverized our hopes.  “(…) we[, however,] returned to the [Euro]Maidan [in Kyiv] with 8 people, [and] under the Ukrainian flag.  “We had brought with us a huge army thermos (…), now with a cold tea, to ours at Maidan, as a symbol, as our endeavor to not give in and be free.  “At the time, we were not taking there tea, but a tempered will of freedom,” Avakov specifically wrote.

Source: http://news.am/eng/news/273490.html

American Political Consultant: ‘Regime in Armenia Won’t Back Down’


Eric Hacopian, a California based political consultant with over 25 years of experience in American politics, says that “governments win 99 out of 100 times, but no one in government sleeps at night thinking about that one time.” At the invitation of Impact Hub Yerevan, Hacopian gave a talk on the issue of Organizing in an Era of Change last Friday and commented on the ongoing rate price hike protests in Yerevan. The speaker noted that movements for change in Latin America have faced much more authoritarian regimes that in Armenia. “Here too the regime will not back down without a fight, but those assembled at Baghramyan Avenue lack sufficient strength to resist the government,” Hacopian said.

He said that the problem faced by the protesters is getting organized and cited the example in Buenos Aires where 100 organizations would be on the ground to organize the movement. Hacopian laid out the fundamental principles of organization – to know the sources of power, to make the organizing effort long-term, to implement actions derived from local experience, to define the issue simply and plainly, to understand the opponent, to have flexible tactics, and to know the law. What’s also required for the above are leadership and institutional memory.

“By institutional memory I mean to organize and learn. I think that many of the young people participating in today’s movement are veterans of movements that took place two years ago. Thus, this element exists, but I believe it must be institutionalized,” said Hacopian, adding that one must organize groups of 100, 500, or 1,000 people since “one cannot gather 10,000 to dance.”

He also said that such movements must understand the role of social media. Hacopian believes that the #ElectricYerevan Twitter campaign is brilliant but it must understand that it is also be used by the government to find out who is doing what. He reminded the audience that in Iran, in 2009, the government used Twitter to arrest hundreds of protesters.

“Some think that the social media changes everything. It changes nothing. It’s just another tool, but like all tools, it is neutral. Both sides can use it,” he said. “No one should be under the illusion that the problems of Armenia must be solved by someone or some model from the outside. The problems of Armenia will be solved in rooms like this, by people like you,” said Hacopian.

At the same time, Hacopian called on people not to be enamored of politicians who could just as easily have worked for Stalin, in Washington D.C, or in Armenia’s Ministry of the Economy. “70% of these people, throughout the world, go from one system to another. They are individuals who want a pension and a comfortable life. Thus, don’t be enamored of them.”

Source: http://hetq.am/eng/news/61192/american-political-consultant-regime-in-armenia-wont-back-down.html

Freedom House: Armenian protesters were exercising their constitutional rights

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Freedom House issued a statement regarding the recent peaceful protest in Yerevan that was dispersed by police on June 23.  “Freedom House condemns the arrest of 237 peaceful protesters  by police,”  said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs.  “The thousands of Armenians who marched in Yerevan to protest widespread corruption were exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The images of hospitalized civilians, beaten journalists, and broken filming equipment show that these rights are being trampled. We call for a full and transparent investigation of these unprovoked incidents of police brutality and use of force against peaceful demonstrators.”

Source: http://news.am/eng/news/273705.html

Opportunity of one-year free education in Great Britain for Armenian students


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The British Embassy Yerevan is offering Chevening Scholarships, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and administered by the British Council. Press service of the British Council told Armenpress that these cover the costs of study (including living expenses and international flights) in the United Kingdom for 12 months. They are awarded on a competitive basis for Master's degree programme in the fields of: conflict prevention and resolution; development of the public sector to meet EU and other international standards; strengthening free/unbiased media. Applicants must have the potential to rise to positions of leadership and influence. They will need to demonstrate that they possess the personal, intellectual and interpersonal attributes reflecting this potential. Although the scholars must meet the academic requirements for their courses of study, academic excellence is not the determining selection criterion for the scholarship. The criteria for suitability are: applicants should ideally be aged 25-35 but applications from all ages are welcome, should already hold a higher education diploma, hold a higher education diploma, should have at least two years work experience in their selected field of study, have an adequate standard of English, and should be committed to return to Armenia and contribute to the development of the country. All applications must be made on-line. Deadline for submitting applications is 23 January 2

Source: http://armenpress.am/eng/news/669866/Opportunity_of_one-year_free_education_in_Great_Britain_for_Armenian_students.html


Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office


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Who should apply? Applicants should be:
  • Motivated to make a career that will take them to positions of leadership in their own country within ten years of their scholarship
  • Able to use their studies and experience in the UK to benefit themselves, their countries and the UK
  • Natural influencers and talented communicators, with energy and ambition
  • People who value networking and who can demonstrate the value of networks to their studies, and to bringing about change on a global level
  • Intelligent, with demonstrable academic potential
  • Strong characters with integrity, drive, and the ability to self manage and work independently
Source: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/wh...-should-apply/

U.K. Has Record Influx of Immigrants


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Migration into Britain last year hit its highest rate since record-keeping began in 1964, a blow to Prime Minister David Cameron's promise to curb an unprecedented immigration wave. Migration—defined as the difference between the total number of people who enter and exit the country to live—hit 252,000 in 2010, an increase of almost 15% over 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics. Government statisticians said they believe this is most likely the highest level of migration ever into Britain. The number was driven by a 591,000 increase in immigration and declining emigration, which fell to 339,000, its lowest level since 2001.

Since coming to power in May 2010 in a coalition government, Mr. Cameron's Conservative Party has promoted an annual cap of 20,700 visas for non-European Union workers; promised a clampdown on immigrants bringing families into the country; and cut the amount of colleges allowed to recruit foreign students. Thursday's figures show, though, that education was the most common reason stated for immigration to the U.K, with 238,000 people having arrived to study in Britain in 2010, compared with 211,000 in 2009.

Mr. Cameron faces a tricky balancing act between satisfying concerns among the wider population and British businesses who say stricter controls are stopping them from hiring foreign workers with key skills, which they say exacerbates the economy's troubles. Foreign students are also a big earner for British educational institutions and had for many years been targeted as an area of economic growth by British ministers.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said immigration has been coming down since it hit a peak in September 2010, but said a lot more work needed to be done. He promised to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands over the course of this Parliament, which will end by 2015. While the U.K. doesn't have the same history of far-right political agitation over immigration that many European countries have, the subject has played an increasing role in voting behavior. Labour lawmakers say immigration was a big factor in their loss in last year's elections.

The issue has climbed national agendas across Europe after a decade-long burst of immigration led to fears of home-grown terrorism and the erosion of local culture. Also, the recession has increased unemployment, stirring resentment over extra competition for work. The U.K.'s unemployment rate is currently 8.3%, lower than most other major economies, which means fewer people are moving out of Britain for work reasons, according to the ONS.

The numbers underscore how a globalized economy like Britain faces a struggle to control immigration. The U.K. has no control over immigration from the European Union given open-border agreements with its members. Still, despite Mr. Cameron's promise to cut down on immigration from outside the EU, more than three-quarters of immigrants into Britain came from the rest of the world. Almost half of new entrants came from the Indian subcontinent, which includes India and Pakistan.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204630904577057811238887328.html

Armenia First in Region in Winning US Green Cards


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A total of 1,200 entrants from Armenia have won US Green Card Lottery 2011. And in the 2012 Lottery, the number of winners from Armenia is close to one thousand, US Consul to Armenia Robert Farquhar stated, during a press conference on Thursday, adding that with this indicator Armenia is the clear leader in the region. Farquhar also informed that in 2011 the number of Green Card Lottery winners was around 700 in Georgia, and 350 in Azerbaijan. Also, 2,400 people became Green Card winners in Russia. Green Card Lottery 2013 started on October 4 and it continues until November 5. Every year around 55 thousand Green Cards are played in this lottery, RFE/RL reported. 

Source: http://news.am/eng/news/77821.html


American University of Armenia hosts talk on Turkish identity

American University of Armenia hosts talk on Turkish identity

Meltem Naz Kaşo, a former Today's Zaman daily reporter and a research fellow participating in a Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by the Hrant Dink Foundation, was a guest speaker at the event. Participants included 25 second-year Armenian students who took the Armenian Language and Literature course at the university. The class was taught in English and focused on the questions of identity formation through literature. The course instructor at the AUA, Nareg Seferian, who invited Kaşo to the event, told Today's Zaman that it was the first time that many of his students had interacted with a Turk in their lives. “This was a thought-provoking session for them. A seed was planted in their minds to transform clashing narratives into a much more nuanced common narrative,” he said.
 

Kaşo's discussion focused on three aspects of Turkish identity that she found important to the collective identity of her native country. “The Turkish identity is not a rigid construction, quite unlike Armenian culture in Armenia, which appears somewhat monolithic [and] consists of a single religion, race and certain traditions,” she said. Her talk highlighted Islam; the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the republic's founder; and patriarchy as three key values of the Turkish identity. “These three aspect of ‘Turkishness' are usually in conflict with each other, causing Turks both individually and as a society to struggle to be in peace with themselves,” she said. Kaşo also mentioned the increasing polarization among Turks based mostly on the questions of the practice of their faith, social class and political stance.
 

After the talk on Turkish identity, Seferian told Today's Zaman that in modern times, it was very easy to base Armenian identity in a stark contrast with the Turkish one. The idea is that “we are Armenians because we are not Turks,” Seferian explained. According to him, Armenian students are not exposed to the Turkish identity enough. “The Turk is a character or a figure in Armenians' minds. It comes from their collective memory. The Turk is not a person with a story,” he said to Today's Zaman. Students were also active participants of the event, raising questions both during and before the talk and also sharing their perspectives. They were made up of Armenians coming from different countries, including Canada, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the Netherlands and the United States.
 

Meghety Karjikian, a Lebanese-Armenian student who joined the Turkish identity talk, spoke to Today's Zaman after the event. “I am glad we had this talk because we needed it. We had been exposed to only one side of the story,” she said. The Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme promotes cross-border affiliation and cooperation of professionals from Armenia and Turkey within the framework of the Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process program financed by the European Union.


How British spies covertly shape the flow of information online to 'discredit' their targets

UK police officer laughing with helmet

British spies build fake websites, impersonate people, and create "persuasive" YouTube videos to disrupt their targets' activities, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. JTRIG, or the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, is part of British spy agency GCHQ, and was first revealed publicly in documents leaked by exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. A newly published document dating from 2011, which Business Insider has been unable to independently verify, appears to shed more light on the secretive group's activities. In one section, the document lists a number of the tactics that JTRIG staff have employed. These include:

  • Uploading YouTube videos containing “persuasive” communications (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt)
  • Setting up Facebook groups, forums, blogs and Twitter accounts that encourage and monitor discussion on a topic (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt)
  • Establishing online aliases/personalities who support the communications or messages in YouTube videos, Facebook groups, forums, blogs etc
  • Establishing online aliases/personalities who support other aliases
  • Sending spoof e-mails and text messages from a fake person or mimicking a real person (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deceive, deter, delay or disrupt)
  • Providing spoof online resources such as magazines and books that provide inaccurate information (to disrupt, delay, deceive, discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter or denigrate/degrade)
  • Providing online access to uncensored material (to disrupt)
  • Sending instant messages to specific individuals giving them instructions for accessing uncensored websites
  • Setting up spoof trade sites (or sellers) that may take a customer’s money and/or send customers degraded or spoof products (to deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter)
  • Interrupting (i.e., filtering, deleting, creating or modifying) communications between real customers and traders (to deny, disrupt, delay, deceive, dissuade or deter)
  • Taking over control of online websites (to deny, disrupt, discredit or delay)
  • Denial of telephone and computer service (to deny, delay or disrupt)
  • Hosting targets’ online communications/websites for collecting SIGINT (to ;disrupt, delay, deter or deny)
  • Contacting host websites asking them to remove material (to deny, disrupt, delay, dissuade or deter)

These techniques are deployed against a number of law enforcement targets, including suspects believed to be engaged in "online credit card fraud and child exploitation." It also co-operates with other domestic British law enforcement agencies, and helps "[provide] evidence for judicial outcomes" and monitoring domestic terrorist groups. The documents also go into detail about psychological research that could be used to help promote JTRIG's goals. "Theories and research in the field of social psychology may prove particularly useful for informing JTRIG's effects and online HUMINT operations," one document says, identifying topics including "conformity," "obedience," and "psychological profiling" as "particularly relevant for social influence."

In short: The documents — if accurate — demonstrate how the British spy agency uses sophisticated psychological techniques to try and shape the flow of information online to achieve its strategic goals. When reached for comment, a GCHQ spokesperson provided Business Insider with the following statement:

It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position. In addition, the UK's interception regime is entirely compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.


Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media
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The Pentagon’s research lab has funded dozens of studies concerning the use of social media, the Guardian reported on Tuesday, raising further questions about what kind of data is of interest to governments around the globe.

Just days after a report published by researchers at Facebook revealed that users of the social media site had been manipulated for science, Ben Quinn and James Ball at the Guardian wrote this week that DARPA — the Pentagon-run Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — has in one way or another funded several studies recently that set out to explore that social networking site, as well as users of Twitter, Pinterest, Kickstarter and others.

The journalists’ report stems from a list of publications that went live on DARPA’s site late last month concerning its Social Media in Strategic Communications, or SMISC, program.

“The general goal of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program is to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base,” a statement there reads. “Through the program, DARPA seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”

From there, visitors to the site can view any of dozens of studies from researchers at the likes of the University of Southern California, IBM or Georgia Tech Research Institute who have relied either fully or partially on Pentagon money to conduct social media studies.

According to the journalists, the projects funded by the federal agency run the gamut of social media and include a number of studies sure to raise a few eyebrows. Formed in 1958, DARPA has been instrumental in the Pentagon's development of drones, robotics and even the internet.

“While some elements of the multi-million dollar project might raise a wry smile – research has included analysis of the tweets of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, in an attempt to understand influence on Twitter – others have resulted in the buildup of massive datasets of tweets and additional types social media posts,” the Guardian reported.

“The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behavior (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit.”

Responding to the Guardian’s request for comment, DARPA defended the lengthy list of social media studies.

“Social media is changing the way people inform themselves, share ideas, and organize themselves into interest groups, including some that aim to harm the United States,” the Guardian quotes an agency spokesperson as saying. “DARPA supports academic research that seeks to understand some of these dynamics through analyses of publicly available discussions conducted on social media platforms.”

Revelations concerning DARPA’s role in these studies comes only days after the researchers involved in the controversial Facebook report publically apologized for manipulating the posts that appeared on users’ news feeds to see how emotions can carry across the web. “The goal of all of our research at Facebook is to learn how to provide a better service,” Facebook staffer and researcher Adam Kramer wrote.

On the Pentagon’s part, DARPA told the Guardian that the studies it has funded are essential to US defense interests.

Source: Revealed: Pentagon spent millions studying how to influence social media

Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
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The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries". Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: "The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US."

He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to "address US audiences" with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto. Centcom said it was not targeting any US-based web sites, in English or any other language, and specifically said it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command. Centcom's contract requires for each controller the provision of one "virtual private server" located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

It also calls for "traffic mixing", blending the persona controllers' internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer "excellent cover and powerful deniability". The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate's armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to "counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard". He said the US military's objective was to be "first with the truth". This month Petraeus's successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV "supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities".

Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is already in operation or discuss any related contracts. Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid. In his evidence to the Senate committee, Gen Mattis said: "OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." He added that Centcom was working with "our coalition partners" to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use "to counter the adversary in the cyber domain".

According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department in Iraq, OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom. Asked whether any UK military personnel had been involved in OEV, Britain's Ministry of Defence said it could find "no evidence". The MoD refused to say whether it had been involved in the development of persona management programmes, saying: "We don't comment on cyber capability."

OEV was discussed last year at a gathering of electronic warfare specialists in Washington DC, where a senior Centcom officer told delegates that its purpose was to "communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries". Persona management by the US military would face legal challenges if it were turned against citizens of the US, where a number of people engaged in sock puppetry have faced prosecution. Last year a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of "criminal impersonation" and identity theft.

It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that "a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person's prejudice". However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered "prejudice" as a result.

• This article was amended on 18 March 2011 to remove references to Facebook and Twitter and add a comment from Centcom, received after publication, that it is not targeting those sites.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

US launches cyber spy operation



In order to undertake the massive operation in cyberspace, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has purchased software designed to create and control false online personas from California-based company Ntrepid, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday. The software would allow each user to be in command of 10 personas. Each persona is "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.”

The users controlling the false personas would be hidden in a variety of ways, including randomizing the IP addresses they accessed the software with, traffic mixing or blending web traffic with that outside of CENTCOM. The US cyber espionage operation will enable false online personas, also known as sock puppets, to seem like real people when they monitor online discussion blogs, message boards and more. The online persona project is thought to be completely under the sway of Operation Earnest Voice, which watches over CENTCOM's Information Operations.

According to CENTCOM commander James N. Mattis, the project "seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." Meanwhile, the spyware would not be used in America, or by American owned companies or major social network services such as Facebook and Twitter, the CENTCOM said. "We do not target US audiences, and we do not conduct these activities on sites owned by US companies," CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said
.

Source: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/170623.html

Non-Governmental Organizations in Armenia
During the Soviet era in Armenia, there were virtually no non-governmental organizations (NGOs). After the devastating earthquake of December 1988 and during the years of the war in Artsakh (Karabagh), NGOs began to form and were heavily involved with relief and humanitarian efforts. The government of Armenia was unable to cope with the dire situation resulting from the earthquake and the war, and therefore had to accept the active participation of civil society organizations (CSOs). Alongside humanitarian aid, major international organizations and NGOs started contributing to the development of the local non-government sector. Major Armenian organizations from the diaspora also provided humanitarian aid and contributed greatly to the reconstruction process.

The focus of these new NGOs was on refugees, women, children, the elderly, and the disabled, but their activities were somewhat limited. Their inability to meet the growing demand for emergency services and operations, for example, was due to a lack of local NGO skills, knowledge, and capabilities, and the absence of an appropriate legal framework. This period can be considered the first stage in the formation of local NGOs.

Even though most of the NGOs were located in Yerevan, local NGOs began emerging in the marzes (provinces), too, and implementing projects in education, health, culture, community development, and income generation. In 1997, the number of local NGOs passed 500. By 2001, data from the state register showed that 2,585 NGOs were officially registered. In 2010, the state register reported 45 international NGOs and 5,700 local NGOs. However, out of the total number of local NGOs registered, only 15 percent can be considered operational; most in that percentage are small outfits that are not active, and some have vague and obscure missions. The following are the mission statements of a few such NGOs:
–The main goal of the organization is to participate actively in the social and legal life of the country in order to promote a free and safe life for the youth.
–The main goals of the organization are to develop art and psychology and to form civil society.
–To organize and collect all the recipes of Armenian national cuisine and publish it. To participate in international contests, seminars, and meetings.
Table 1 presents a list of operational NGOs and their fields of activities, although not all are necessarily active.
International NGOs can be classified under the same categories as local NGOs, but have two additional categories—(1) infrastructure development and construction, and (2) capacity building and technical assistance for local CSOs, self-governing bodies, and community councils. A survey conducted by World Learning revealed that in the 1990’s, 70 percent of NGO leaders were women. However, by 2001, 58 percent of NGO leaders were men, and by 2009, the percentage of male NGO leaders had increased to 63. The shift might have occurred as men came to view NGOs as a job opportunity and a means to further their careers. Yet, while in 2004, approximately 75 international NGOs were operating in Armenia, that number has since decreased. The reason for this decline may be the stable economic growth seen in Armenia in 2006 and 2007.

Government involvement

The gradual increase in the number of international NGOs in Armenia and the corresponding need to regulate the activities of all types of CSOs led to the Armenian government adopting its first Law on Civil Society Organizations in 1996. The law encouraged international NGOs to shift their activities from emergency response to development, the protection of human rights, and enhancing the capacity of local NGOs. The law states that Armenia recognizes the crucial role of NGOs in the development of civil society and aims to promote the establishment of NGOs as legal entities. The government has also passed decrees, regulations, memorandums, and agreements related to cooperation with NGOs, and formed institutional bodies and units on community and national levels.

Voluntarism

When interacting with society, NGOs in Armenia, in comparison to NGOs in the Armenian Diaspora, use an informal and less structured process for volunteering. NGOs in Armenia also have greater issues with volunteer mismanagement; sporadic volunteer recruitment; lack of skills assessment, orientation, and training for volunteers; and recognizing volunteer contributions. Engaging volunteers in long-term regular commitments, instead of ad hoc projects, could better utilize this important resource.

Because voluntarism for society was not a common practice during the Soviet era, there is a need to widely publicize the value of volunteerism to get more people interested. Presently this important human resource is underutilized by NGOs in Armenia. NGOs should realize the expectations of the volunteer in order to retain their involvement and commitment over time. A non-profit organization with a strong and committed volunteer base is also more likely to attract new funds.

Democratic governance

The internal democratic governance of NGOs in Armenia is another issue that needs to be addressed. NGOs have developed written policies for democratic governance, but often do not follow these policies. They hold elections to select their internal leadership, yet the rotation rate of such leadership is low. Typically, the founders of NGOs hold their positions for a long time, which affects the formation of an independent Board of Directors.

While most Armenian NGOs have bylaws and constitutions that outline their governance mechanisms, it sometimes seems as though these mechanisms are developed only to get the required permits and to attract new funds, rather than from a genuine interest in democratic management. Members are also often excluded from decision-making processes. Unless NGOs embrace democratic procedures into their regular operations, they will not be able to establish a credible reputation in the community.

Funding sources

Financial sustainability is one of the main challenges that local NGOs in Armenia face. It is this challenge that limits their capacity for impact and distorts the image of civil society as a financially dependent sector. It is necessary to diversify funding sources by fostering partnerships with a full variety of potential funders, whether they are individuals, corporations, or governments. NGOs in Armenia undertake fundraising activities through various events, exhibitions, concerts, and other activities. However, the majority of NGOs have difficulty with fundraising because they lack experience in fundraising methods, basic marketing, and financial management skills.

The activities of Armenian NGOs are heavily reliant on external funding. Some donor organizations work directly with NGOs, while others operate on a bilateral or multilateral basis. The Armenian Diaspora also assists the local NGO sector by allocating funds or providing in-kind assistance. Many NGOs believe that if donor organizations leave Armenia, the scope of their activities will be curtailed and they will become non-operational due to a lack of funding.

The Civil Society Fund is one of several programs supported by the World Bank, which has provided grants since 1999 to NGOs and other CSOs in Armenia. The grants support activities related to civic engagement, and focuses on empowering people who have been excluded from society’s decision-making processes. The individual grants are between $8,000 and $10,000.

Today’s unfavorable legislative framework related to donations to non-profit organizations does not provide the NGO sector with an opportunity to acquire alternative financing. Therefore, limited and unsustainable funding from donors and the government make the NGO sector more dependent, which in turns affects their independence and sustainability. Furthermore, the Armenian business sector does not invest in NGO development. (If it does, the investment is limited to a one-time project or event-based charitable contributions.) Often NGOs are forced to accept funding for projects that are not in line with their mission, values, or principles; the project requirements are often determined by the donor’s agenda, and this greatly affects credibility of the organization. Armenia’s state budget allocates some funds for NGOs on a competitive basis.

Lack of transparency and accountability is another issue facing NGOs, which generally do not produce and disseminate annual reports and financial statements. The majority of NGOs claim that their financial information is publicly available; yet, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that they rarely report to their beneficiaries when it comes to the finances and the quality of their work. The majority of Armenian NGOs think that the preparation of reports requires additional financial expenditure. Reporting of finances and activities would improve the public’s perception of NGOs.

Effectiveness

One of the underlying causes of civil society’s weak effect on policy and social issues is that NGOs have failed to extend their outreach and rally greater support and higher levels of citizen participation in their activities. Long-term financial insecurity stands as another hindrance to the number of CSO’s in Armenia. NGOs have relied solely or predominantly on international donor funding, without diversifying their income sources or developing a long-term strategy to change this situation. As a result, the instability of work in the NGO sector has not attracted young specialists.

Increasing the professional skills of CSOs through trainings and staff development could help strengthen the level of organizational development and achievement. What is critical is focusing on staff retention, as well as establishing a culture of information sharing and knowledge transfer.

Fragmentation and competition among NGOs occur frequently, resulting in an ineffective system for Armenian CSOs. Because of limited coordination among NGOs, the sector lacks updated information and a database of NGOs. This creates an inadequate picture of these organizations and, consequently, gives people a poor perception of NGOs. This also affects the ability of NGOs to influence the decision-making process in the public sphere.

Some issues facing civil society include a short-term approach, lack of strategic thinking, clustering around pro-government or opposition groups, and poor organizational capacity. In order to increase citizen participation and sponsorship, NGOs must realize that they should be deriving their legitimacy from society, as they depend on popular support. Increased transparency and accountability are vital to support this action. This includes reporting to beneficiaries just as they do to funders, and presenting an inclusive account of all aspects of their activities. Improvements in these fields will contribute to increased levels of trust with the civil society sector and the broader society, and will foster increased citizen participation.

Source: http://armenianweekly.com/2014/01/15/ngo-armenia/

Do Certain NGOs Play the Role of a ‘Trojan Horse’ in Armenia?

In an August 28 article titled “Could a Euromaidan happen on Yerevan’s Republic Square?,” Vestnik Kavkaza magazine wrote: “After the events of the last decade in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, experts have started serious talks about color revolutions in the South Caucasus.” Some analysts claim that the neo-cons in the West are angling certain opposition media outlets, some NGOs and certain political operatives to “open a new anti-Russian front in the Transcaucasus.”

Vestnik Kavkaza further wrote: “The term ‘democracy’ in Armenia has long been exploited for information wars. For quite a while, Washington has been hesitating whether to support President Serzh Sargsyan or put bets on the opposition. After the victory of Sargsyan in early presidential polls, it seemed that the power was in the hands of a politician loyal to Moscow. However, it is hard to say that Armenia has a pure pro-Russian position. Sargsyan himself is trying to gain the support of both Russia and the U.S.”

According to the Center for World Journalism and Research, the work of non-governmental organizations in Armenia has reached “a grand scale in recent years.” The Justice Ministry has registered thousands of NGOs.
The magazine also noted: “After the collapse of the USSR, the Armenian Assembly of America, a structure related to the State Department … has been in the avant-garde of American influence in Armenia.”

The article pointed out the fact that millions of dollars have been dumped in Armenia to fund the activities of NGOs that are loyal to western donors’ agenda. “Open Society Institute, a Soros Fund founded in Armenia in 1997, has already spent over $24 million in Armenia.  … The Investigative Journalists got $187,400, the Asparez Journalist Club got $58,650, and the Independent Network of Journalists got $83,200 for creating a negative image of Russian-Armenian cooperation.”

Back in 2012, I wrote: “Not all NGOs in Armenia are completely devoted to their stated missions. Some of them have raised several ‘red flags’ because of their activities. They may have been set-up to pursue hidden agendas that are detrimental to Armenia’s national security. … Given the fact that sizable segments of the Armenian society continue to be politically illiterate they can be easily influenced and misguided by individuals or non-governmental organizations that may present themselves as ‘well-meaning’ but in reality they can pursue hidden goals. They may sound very empathetic towards the general populace, yet they care less about Armenia and its future. They publicly discuss burning issues and gain political mileage, yet their main intention is not democracy as they claim to be.”

I further underlined: “Can Armenia mitigate the negative impact of certain NGOs that play the role of Trojan horses from within? It can and it should. Armenia Should Emulate Russia in Qualifying Foreign-Funded NGOs as ‘foreign agents.’ … It would be strongly effective if all NGOs whether engaged in political activities or humanitarian endeavors be required to publicly present every year the sources of their income and itemize their expenditures. Transparency at NGO level can be utilized as a great example to follow.”

A few years ago, in an interview with the REGNUM News Agency titled, “LOOK OUT! ETHNIC ESPIONAGE,” Igor Muradyan, a widely recognized expert on the politics of the Caucasus region, stressed: “First of all, you should take into account the continuing political struggle in Armenia and view the stance of the Armenian Assembly of America also in this light. I don’t think that ethnic NGOs enjoy full independence in the US, but the point is that the Armenian Assembly of America is more than dependent. Even more, the Assembly is functionally dependent. The Assembly directors and employees don’t just look down on Armenia’s political class and leaders; they look down on them with disdain.”

He elaborated: “In 2001 the Assembly’s board decreed ‘to fight Armenian nationalism.’ This implies suppression of any instance of patriotism, especially over the Karabakh problem and Armenian-Turkish relations. … Gathering information on the state of the armed forces of Armenia, including armaments, information on senior officers, on the import of military hardware (invoice numbers, payment terms, transportation routes), receiving analytical notes on the fighting capacity of the Armenian army, information and assessment of typical conflicts inside the military command, the concerns and plans of different groups in the military circles; gathering information on the leaders and activists of political parties, the mass media and political leaders of Armenia, including economic interests, ties with foreign countries.”

He concluded: “Of certain interest is the impression I got personally from such contacts. Strange but true: Assembly representatives get openly malicious and bilious over the fact that the Armenian armed forces are highly capable of discharging many combat operations on their own. Would they be more comfortable if the army of their ‘historical homeland’ had other characteristics and was like the armies of some other states? Altogether incompetent, the Assembly representatives were as much annoyed to know that Armenia is not a perishing country and is successfully developing economically.”

Many Armenia-based NGOs are well-organized and genuinely transparent, and continue making transformational contributions to Armenia’s present and future. Armenian society can achieve optimum results through social, political, spiritual and economic activism. There is no question that civil society in Armenia is in need of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

However, some NGOs can prove to be a curse if they are not regulated properly and their activities watched closely.


A Distorted Media Mirror


When Armenian attained independence, many Diasporan-Armenian organizations and experienced journalists moved to Yerevan to "liberate" the bland Soviet-style news media and restore its original mission. The newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting improved dramatically, in terms of formatting design, news gathering, reporting and above all, commenting freely. This much was a patriotic contribution, which Diaspora Armenians brought to Armenia.
 
But in a parallel rush, major powers introduced their own outlets, of course, to serve their own political interests. While the newspapers owned and operated by Armenian organizations have encountered funding challenges -- consequently suffering in quality -- foreign-funded news outlets flourish and are run professionally. George Orwell's Big Brother is omnipresent globally, tending its business and has not spared Armenia.
 
Open Society Foundation, Radio Liberty and other agencies operate freely in Armenia and common sense will dictate that they don't care about the well being of the Armenian people nor the problems facing Armenia. They have recruited professional journalists, writers and commentators to toot their own horn. For example, the Open Society Forum could feign to promote democracy in Europe and in Third World countries but in the end, it serves a greater political design.
 
The Open Society Forum is the brainchild of billionaire George Soros, who escaped tyranny in Hungary and made a fortune in the US. During the Bush-Cheney Administration, he demonstrably confronted the US administration in its foreign policy objectives. But in the meantime, his organization trained some youth and sent them to Ukraine and Georgia -- and certainly to other parts of the world -- to organize the Orange Revolution and the Rose Revolution, a feat that the US military power could not have achieved so easily.
 
Mr. Soros is entitled to use his money to spread his ideas around the world but he is not entitled to play with the destiny of the Armenian people who have suffered so much from major power rivalries, in their history. The writers and commentators of these agencies may be sitting in Yerevan and Karabagh, but the brain may be on the remote control in Prague or in Washington. The controlled news media does not operate in isolation -- and no matter what lofty ideal it claims to pursue -- it is part and parcel of the overall strategy of a major power.
 
 We can easily make the connection with all the well-oiled religious sects, which penetrate like rodents in the fabric of the society in Armenia to decimate and to disorient the population. One treacherous act is to brainwash the youth to refuse to bear arms under the guise of conscientious objection, when Armenia is at war with its neighbors -- not of its own choosing.
 
To cite a salient example, trading Armenia's security against NATO's objectives in the Caucasus we may refer to an article in lragir.am, an outlet funded by Open Society Forum. The article is entitled "Serious Geopolitical Prospect for Javakhk," under the byline of Hakob Badalyan, a prominent political commentator.
 
Javakhk is an Armenian-populated region of Georgia. Historically it has changed hands between Georgia and Armenia. Currently more than half of the region is populated by Armenians; in cities like Akhatsikhe and Ninotsminda, Armenians account for 94.3 percent and 95.8 percent, respectively. The region was deliberately mismanaged and left economically depressed by Tbilisi authorities to force Armenians out of the area, fearful that Armenians would one day ask for autonomy or independence.
 
Until 2007, the city of Akhalkalak was home to a Russian military base, which provided jobs and security for Armenians in the region. Moscow precipitously moved out the base, before even its deadline in the treaty, leaving the Armenians to the mercy of the hostile Georgian government. Tbilisi's harassment and Russia's reckless move satisfied, to a certain measure, the Georgian goal of the government, as many destitute Armenians migrated to Russia for jobs and for security.
 
Russia went to war with Georgia to give independence to South Ossetia and Abkhazia while the destinies of Javakhk and Ajaria were left in the hands of the Tbilisi government. President Saakashvili jailed human rights activist Vahakn Chakhalian and implemented policies to force the people out or to assimilate them under the guise of teaching them the Georgian language. Despite a punishing war with Russia and despite a regime change, the new government in Tbilisi is looking for NATO presence on its territory, if not outright membership.
 
Armenians have enjoyed the "benefits" of having a NATO member in the Turkish border and now this writer is hailing a NATO move into the heartland of Armenians in Javakhk, as he writes: "NATO may empower itself with new tools of cooperation with non-member countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. And it may mean that the North Atlantic Alliance will receive a possibility or prospect for being present in Georgia, though the latter is not a member. In this respect, Georgian military base in Akhalkalak has strategic importance because it is close to the Russian base in Armenia, is located in a place where Russian provocation against Georgia are probable, close to the conflict area of Artsakh which is one of the potential places of destabilization of the region."
 
First NATO's interference on the Southern Russian underbelly is the most flagrant provocation, and also, the writer should know better that even Washington blamed Saakashvili for the provocation, which triggered the 2008 war. In a shortsighted conclusion, the writer jubilantly welcomes NATO's extension in the region as a "stabilizing factor," exactly at the moment when the defense ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey had been meeting in Nakhichevan to plan war games and tighten the noose around Armenia at NATO's behest.
 
The conclusion is more ludicrous than the article itself as it states, "It would be interesting to observe the reactions of Russia, Javakhk and Armenia to the Georgian military base, who will torpedo the process full of prospects for regional balance for the sake of security of Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk and what the force will be."
 
This concept fits in and complements the recent proposal by Ambassador James Warlick to introduce US Peacekeeping forces in Karabagh. Adding insult to injury, the Open Society Forum has a hypocritical disclaimed at the bottom of the article, which reads, "The opinions and analyses expressed in these sections are those of the authors and are not approved by OSF-Armenia or its Board."
 
 When Open Society Forum cuts the payroll check of the writer, at least it is disingenuous to make such claims. Hagop Badalian is a better-qualified writer. He deserves a more dignified job than peddling NATO wares in Armenia through a distorted media mirror.

 
Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia

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It's no secret that the Armenian media space contains pro-Western, anti-Russian mass media. There are two ways to spread anti-Russian information, and the aforementioned media are divided into two categories. The first category includes the mass media which openly, strictly and even thoughtlessly criticize all things connected with Russia. That is why they are not taken seriously even in Armenia, and their work is like a proverb – the dog’s barking is for the wind to carry. The second category of the mass media treats its mission more seriously and is very dangerous. In such media projects, criticism of Russia is added to criticism of the native government, criminal stories and the gutter press. If we exclude the gutter press aspect, the Armenian radio “Freedom” belongs to the second category.

The Armenian media – Azatutyun – is financed directly, but unofficially, by the American embassy in Armenia. And the consequences are clear. The edition works solidly, steps are highly coordinated, and information is well-thought through. Almost all the correspondents of “Freedom” go to various conferences on one and the same day and ask one and the same question. Usually the question touches on Russia’s activities or reaction to a certain problem which often has nothing in common with Armenia. It means the edition fulfills a clear plan which hasn’t been developed by it. “Freedom” floods the Armenian media space with false information to promote an atmosphere of mistrust of Russia and all its projects in the region.

After Serge Sargsyan’s statement on intention to join the Eurasian projects of Moscow, the activity of the aforementioned media had improved. Most of the anti-Russian articles and reports are absurd. For example, the authors state that a possible Armenian-Azerbaijani military conflict will be beneficial for Russia. Information on Moscow’s plans to “give away Karabakh” can be seen in publications of the mass media in the last 20 years. In January 2014 there was information that a group came from Russia and jabbed residents of Yerevan with HIV-contaminated syringes. “We don’t comment on rubbish,” the police of Armenia told Vestnik Kavkaza.

Now the radio is very concerned about the situation surrounding the status of the Armenian language and violations of the country's Language Law. Among such violations, according to Freedom radio, is the fact that a number of Russian-language international conferences are being held in Armenia. According to the law, all public events should be held with simultaneous translation into Armenian. The radio station's official website is now full of anti-Russian comments concerning this topic provided by various experts. The same is happening on air. 

The radio has also paid special attention to the Rossiya Segodnya's chief executive Dmitry Kiselyov's remarks made in the Armenian parliament. Kiselyov and Armenian lawmakers who were taking part in the event, are still being stigmatized and accused of all possible and impossible transgressions. This also promotes an atmosphere of distrust and fear. 

The last event, which caused an immediate reaction in the pro-Western media, was the Armenian president's visit to Georgia. It's quite clear that the massive Russian Railways' project launched in the region is unfavorable to the United States. That is why such media could not hide their delight when the president failed to reach an agreement with the Georgian authorities. According to such authors, there is now no chance that the railway connection between Georgia and Abkhazia can be resumed since Georgia agreed to join the European customs space. It seems like no comment is necessary.


Source: Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia | Vestnik Kavkaza

Countering Color Revolutions: Russia’s New Security Strategy and its Implications for U.S. Policy

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The May 2014 Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS), sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defense, was focused on the role of popular protest, and specifically color revolutions, in international security. The speakers, which included top Russian military and diplomatic officials such as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, argued that color revolutions are a new form of warfare invented by Western governments seeking to remove independently-minded national governments in favor of ones controlled by the West. They argued that this was part of a global strategy to force foreign values on a range of nations around the world that refuse to accept U.S. hegemony and that Russia was a particular target of this strategy.

While the West considers color revolutions to be peaceful expressions of popular will opposing repressive authoritarian regimes, Russian officials argue that military force is an integral part of all aspects of color revolutions. Western governments start by using non-military tactics to change opposing governments through color revolutions that utilize the protest potential of the population to engineer peaceful regime change. But military force is concealed behind this effort. If the protest potential turns out to be insufficient, military force is then used openly to ensure regime change. This includes the use of external pressure on the regime in question to prevent the use of force to restore order, followed by the provision of military and economic assistance to rebel forces. If these measures are not sufficient, Western states organize a military operation to defeat government forces and allow the rebels to take power. Russian officials at the MCIS conference described color revolutions as a new technique of aggression pioneered by the United States and geared toward destroying a state from within by dividing its population. The advantage of this technique, compared to military intervention, is that it requires a relatively low expenditure of resources to achieve its goals.

Shoigu argued that this scheme has been used in a wide range of cases, including Serbia, Libya, and Syria—all cases where political interference by the West transitioned into military action. In 2014, the same scheme was followed in Ukraine, where anti-regime protests over several months transformed into a civil war, and in Venezuela, where the so-called democratic opposition is supposedly organized by the United States. While Western readers may find the lumping together of uprisings as disparate as those in Serbia in 2000, Syria in 2011, and Venezuela in 2014 hard to swallow, from the Russian point of view, they all share the common thread of occurring in countries that had governments that were opposed to the United States. Although uprisings in countries whose governments were close to the United States, such as Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and Egypt and Bahrain in 2011, are harder to explain, such inconsistencies do not appear to trouble the Russian government.

Furthermore, while Russian discussion of the destabilizing role of color revolutions usually portrays U.S. actions as taking place around the world, there is a clear perception that Russia is one of the main targets. This drives fear that unrest in the post-Soviet region may be a wedge for the United States to force regime change in Russia itself.

Russia’s Counter-Strategy

This perspective appears to be at the core of a new national security strategy that Russia is developing. Although the Russian government has not produced any kind of document summarizing this new strategy, the key aspects can be gleaned from an analysis of Russian leaders’ statements and Russian actions in recent months. The counter-strategy combines political and military actions.

On the political side, Russia has stepped up its efforts to make alliances with other authoritarian regimes that are similarly concerned about the possibility of a popular uprising that could lead to their loss of power. This strategy has been used by Russia to some extent throughout Vladimir Putin’s presidency, with efforts to develop ties with former Soviet allies in the Middle East and Asia. The MCIS conference highlighted a renewed emphasis in this direction. The presence of the Iranian defense minister, the Egyptian deputy defense minister, the chief of defense from Myanmar, and deputy chiefs of defense from Vietnam, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a large delegation from China, all indicate the primary focus of attention for Russian military engagement this year. The absence of official representatives from NATO member states particularly highlighted the shift in emphasis of Russian military cooperation. By comparison, the 2013 MCIS had no representatives from Middle Eastern or Asian countries outside of post-Soviet Eurasia, while senior officials from most NATO member states were in attendance.

The second part of Russia’s political strategy is to damage the unity of the Western alliance. This effort has been pursued for several years through the development of political alliances with right-wing parties throughout Europe and in the United States. As described by Marlene Laruelle and Mitchell Orenstein, among others, Russia has supported European nationalists’ anti-EU and anti-immigrant positions. The core of Russia’s alliance with the European far right has been a shared opposition to increased ties between the EU and its eastern neighbors. The European right has also been sympathetic to Russia’s positions on issues such as the role of religion in society, same-sex marriage, and gay rights generally. These positions have also gained Russia some unlikely supporters among the Christian right in the United States, where Russian support for anti-abortion and anti-gay rights views has, in turn, been reciprocated by what would be otherwise surprising sympathy for Russian foreign policy positions on issues such as human rights and democracy promotion.

On the military side, Russia has determined that the best way to counter the perceived U.S. strategy is through a combination of strong support for existing authoritarian regimes around the world. This support has included military and economic assistance, as well as public support for actions taken against protesters, who are often conflated in Russian rhetoric with terrorists or supporters of radical ideologies such as radical Islam or fascism.

In circumstances where this proves insufficient and the situation is in an area deemed crucial to Russian national interests, Russia has shown that it is willing to go further by providing direct support to forces opposed to those supported by the West. This support may include the simulation of popular uprisings, support for local insurgents, and the threat of direct military force to protect co-ethnics.

Russia claims to reserve the right to protect Russians living abroad. Given the large numbers of Russians living throughout post-Soviet Eurasia, this claim has the potential to provide Russia with an excuse for intervention anywhere in the region. Furthermore, it may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, by which governments of other post-Soviet states come to distrust their ethnic Russian populations, leading to discrimination that creates the conditions for a potential Russian intervention.

The Russian Strategy in Ukraine

The actions that Russia has been undertaking in Ukraine in recent months are based on this strategy and closely parallel Russian officials’ perceptions of how the U.S. color revolutions strategy works. Russian officials provided the Yanukovych government with advice on how to deal with anti-government protesters. This advice appears to have involved encouragement to use repressive measures, though the government appeared to lack either the capacity or willpower to carry it out to the end. Officials from Russian security services met regularly with Ukrainian government officials, with FSB Colonel General Sergei Beseda present in Kyiv on Feb 20-21 as the Yanukovych government collapsed.

At the same time, the Russian government provided economic assistance to Ukraine, including a $15 billion aid package and an agreement to lower the price Ukraine paid for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas from $400 to $268. This assistance was canceled after the change of government in Ukraine. When Russian assistance proved inadequate to maintain the Yanukovych government in power, Russia took immediate steps to weaken the new anti-Russian government that was being formed in Kyiv. It seems highly likely that Russian agents were involved in organizing counter-protests in eastern Ukraine and Crimea after Viktor Yanukovych’s departure from Ukraine.

From the start of the conflict, Russia repeatedly used the threat of force to try to influence the actions of the new Ukrainian government, both by making statements reserving the right to intervene in the conflict and by staging several military exercises on the Ukrainian border. The statements initially focused on the right of the Russian government to protect its co-ethnics abroad, though as the conflict accelerated over the summer they have shifted to the need to protect civilians in general from a humanitarian disaster. This parallels past Western statements that use the doctrine of the international responsibility to protect civilians to justify interventions in internal conflicts.

Finally, Russia has engaged in covert military action in Crimea and, at a minimum, provided military and financial assistance to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. The quick Russian intervention in Crimea was made possible by the presence of a relatively large contingent of Russian troops (approximately 14,000) who were already based in Crimea and the strong antipathy of the local population to the new Ukrainian government. The Russian naval infantry based in Sevastopol were augmented by special forces troops from Russian military intelligence, who occupied key locations on the peninsula, including government buildings and the isthmus connecting Crimea to the rest of Ukraine, and surrounded Ukrainian military bases in the region. Many of these actions paralleled Russian military exercises that had taken place a year earlier in the Black Sea region.

Russian actions in eastern Ukraine have escalated more gradually, as the conflict has dragged on in recent months. Initially, Russian support consisted of a mass media propaganda campaign in opposition to the “fascist junta” that had taken power in Kyiv and in support of the actions being taken by protesters in the Donbas. As the conflict became more violent in April and May 2014, volunteers from Russia joined in the fighting. Many of these volunteers were recruited (unofficially) through military recruitment offices in Russia. While no conclusive evidence has surfaced, there is a strong likelihood that agents from Russian security services were involved in coordinating protests in eastern and southern Ukraine from their earliest stages.

Russia’s role in the conflict has increased over time, especially after the separatist forces began to lose territory in late June 2014. Early on, local protest leaders were sidelined by Russian citizens, some of whom had a background working for Russian security services. Beginning in June, Russia began to provide heavy weaponry to the separatist forces, including multiple rocket launchers and air defense weapons. Beginning in July, Russian forces have shelled Ukrainian forces from Russian territory in order to prevent Ukraine from sealing off the border and ending the provision of military assistance to separatist forces. In August, the Russian government responded to continued Ukrainian victories by sending in a limited contingent of Russian troops and opening a new front in territory previously under the firm control of government forces, near Novoazovsk and Mariupol in southern Donetsk region. This escalation in Russian military assistance caused a major shift in the path of the conflict, with Ukrainian forces taking heavy casualties throughout the Donbas and losing control of approximately half the territory they had gained over the summer.

Russian actions in Ukraine appear to mirror the actions Russian leaders believe the United States has been taking in its efforts to eliminate unfriendly governments around the world. While the increase in military support for separatist forces during the summer of 2014 appeared to have been largely improvised, the earlier actions to destabilize Ukraine in the aftermath of Yanukovych’s flight from Kyiv seem to have been based on existing contingency plans. It is possible that Russian leaders believe that the United States actively seeks to destabilize opposing regimes because such activities are a standard part of their own policy toolkit.

Impact on U.S. Policy and Recommendations

There has been a continuing debate on whether domestic or international factors are primary in Russia’s current foreign policy. In reality, it appears that both are working together. Russian foreign policy appears to be based on a combination of fears of popular protest and opposition to U.S. world hegemony, both of which are seen as threatening the Putin regime.

Russia’s current policies in Ukraine have little to do with geopolitical calculations about Ukraine’s economic ties with the EU versus the Eurasian Union or even its potential NATO membership. Similarly, the annexation of Crimea was not about ensuring the security of the Black Sea Fleet. Instead, the main goal has been to strengthen the Putin regime domestically by increasing patriotic attitudes among the Russian population. Patriotism is the means by which the Russian government inoculates the Russian population against anti-regime and/or pro-Western attitudes. This goal explains the obsessive focus on building an anti-Ukrainian and anti-American media narrative from an early stage in the Ukraine conflict.

In this environment, it is not worth spending time trying to convince the current Russian leadership to pursue more cooperative policies. If they truly believe that the United States is seeking to force them out of power and is simply waiting for an opportune moment to strike, then Russian policies will remain committed to ensuring that the United States does not get such an opportunity.

The U.S. response to such a position needs to focus on a combination of reassuring steps to show that the United States is not planning to overthrow the Putin regime and a restatement of the core U.S. position that the citizens of each country deserve the right to determine their own government without external interference (from either Russia or the United States).

In practical terms, the U.S. government should encourage the Ukrainian government to pursue policies of reconciliation in the Donbas. While the conflict has been greatly exacerbated by Russian actions, it has an internal component that cannot be solved by military action alone. In an ideal world, Russia and the United States would work together to encourage this reconciliation, though I doubt that the current Russian government is genuinely interested in peace in eastern Ukraine. Instead, it prefers to keep eastern Ukraine unstable as an object lesson to its own population of the dangers of popular protest leading to the overthrow of even a relatively unpopular regime.

Source: https://russiamil.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/countering-color-revolutions-russias-new-security-strategy-and-its-implications-for-u-s-policy/

Russian military to order major research to counter ‘color revolutions’

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has told reporters that the military will sponsor a major research of coups conducted through mass protest – so called ‘color revolutions’ – to prevent the situations that Russia faced in 1991 and 1993.

Some people say that the military should not be involved in political processes, some say the direct opposite. We will order a study on the phenomenon of color revolutions and the military’s role in their prevention,” Shoigu told the participants of the Army-2015 political forum Friday. “We have no right to allow the repetitions of the collapses of 1991 and 1993,” he said. “How to do it is another story, but it is clear that we must deal with the situation. We must understand how to prevent this and how to teach the younger generation so that it supported the calm and gradual development of our country.”

 The minister added that the consequences of color revolutions can be now observed in many Arab nations and also in Serbia. He also said that the Ukrainian crisis that started in 2014 also was “a major tragedy in the row of color revolutions.” In March this year the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev promised that this body would develop a detailed plan of action aimed at preventing color revolutions or any other attempts of forceful change of lawfully elected authorities through mass street protest. He also said that the Security Council had prepared a list of proposed measures that could negate the possible threat, including some steps against “network protest activities” and propaganda work against “romantic revolutionary stereotype.”

Also in March, President Vladimir Putin addressed the dangers of color revolutions in his speech to the Interior Ministry. “The extremists’ actions become more complicated,” he said. “We are facing attempts to use the so called ‘color technologies’ in organizing illegal street protests to open propaganda of hatred and strife on social networks.”

In the same month, the Interior Ministry drafted a bill containing amendments to the law on rallies that covered car protests and sit-ins. The ministry experts said that the move would circumvent legal ambiguity in the interest of society as a whole. In November, Putin blasted color revolutions as a main tool used by destructive forces in the geopolitical struggle. “In the modern world, extremism is used as a geopolitical tool for redistribution of spheres of interest. We can see the tragic consequences of the wave of the so-called color revolutions, the shock experienced by people in the countries that went through the irresponsible experiments of hidden, or sometimes brute and direct interference with their lives,” the Russian leader said.

In January, a group of Russian conservative activists, uniting war veterans, nationalist bikers and pro-Christian politicians launched an “anti-Maidan” political movement in Moscow to oppose any attempts to thwart the stable development of the country. Its first rallies were held on the same days as some anti-government protests and according to law enforcers the conservatives outnumbered the pro-revolution activists by almost 10-fold.

Source:  http://rt.com/politics/268378-russian-military-color-revolutions/

Russian security doctrine to be adjusted after Arab Spring, Ukraine turmoil - official

Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council. (RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneev)

The head of Russia’s Security Council has promised that the authorities will adjust the nation’s security doctrine after learning the lessons of the latest political crises in the Middle East and Ukraine. “In order to update the basic concepts of national securitythe council has ordered to begin the work on making corrections to the main strategic plans – the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to year 2020 and the Informational Security Strategy,” Nikolai Patrushev said in an article published Wednesday in the Defense Ministry’s daily newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star).

He added that the necessity of such actions has arisen after the so-called Arab Spring (a wave of violent mass protests that led to overthrowing of governments and leaders in several Middle East countries in 2011-12), the wars in Syria and Iraq and also the situation in and around Ukraine. Patrushev said that these events demonstrated the tendency for security threats to shift from the military sphere into the informational space. “As leading nations of the world fight for their interests they typically use ‘non-direct action,’ the population’s protest potential, radical and extremist groups and also private military contractors,” Patrushev wrote. 

He also noted the increasing aggressiveness of the United States and NATO toward Russia, embodied in the beefing up of military potential near Russian borders and the continuing deployment of the global missile defense system. The Security Council is Russia’s top consultative body on national security, and Nikolai Patrushev has headed the council since 2008. Before that, he was the director of the Federal Security Service for nine years.

In October 2014, Patrushev openly accused the United States of playing a role in the current turmoil in Ukraine and the military conflicts in Georgia and the Caucasus, saying these were direct results of the anti-Russian policy of the US administration. He also revealed in a press interview that intelligence analysts established that American special services were executing an anti-Russian program that dates back to the 1970s, and is based on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “strategy of weak spots,” the policy of turning the opponent’s potential problems into full-scale crises.

In September 2014, President Vladimir Putin tasked senior military and state officials with developing an updated military doctrine that would meet the needs of changing global politics and modern military challenges and the new dangers and threats, in particular those manifested in the so-called Arab Spring, the civil war in Syria and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Source:  http://rt.com/politics/256025-russia-security-doctrine-patrushev/

Russia to bar Soros, other foreign NGOs


Russia is moving to ban the MacArthur Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute and 10 other foreign groups under a law on “unwelcome organizations” adopted this spring. The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, on Tuesday unveiled the initial names on what the Kremlin and its allies call a “Patriotic STOP-list.” President Vladimir Putin in May signed the law, the latest step by the Kremlin to restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations in Russia.

The others on the ban list are Freedom House, a U.S. democracy advocacy group; the U.S.-government backed National Endowment for Democracy; two arms of the main American political parties that help parties abroad, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute; the Michigan-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; the Education for Democracy Foundation and the East European Democratic Center, which are both in Warsaw; the Toronto-based Ukrainian World Congress; the International Ukrainian Coordination Union in Kiev; and the Crimean field mission for human rights, which is overseen by the Ukrainian parliament.

The list, which is to be voted on Wednesday, would be forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s office and the foreign ministry for inclusion on the official “unwelcome” register. Under the law, anyone in Russia who works for or collaborates with these banned groups faces financial penalties as well as up to six years in prison. Since the 2011 mass protests in Moscow against fraudulent elections for parliament, the Kremlin has steadily moved to crack down on dissent. The Russian parliament has passed laws that require any Russian NGO or charity that gets funding from abroad register as a “foreign agent” and that bloggers register with the state.


How foreign NGOs destroy Russia

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Recently, the Federation Council suggested introducing a "stop-list" for foreign NGOs in Russia that either implement political tasks to the benefit of foreign states or finance Russian NGOs for the same purpose. The issue of "political NGOs" has become relevant again lately. It was about the story of Dynasty Foundation, which the Russian Justice Ministry labeled as a "foreign agent". In addition, President Putin made a speech in the Public Chamber, where he spoke about political NGOs, separating them from the part of the "third sector" that deals with social problems. Let's take a look at well-known political NGOs. Many of them do not work in Russia officially anymore. However, there are organizations that still work on the territory of the Russian Federation, such as The Council for International Research and Exchanges, or IREX.

The organization was created in 1968 to oversee exchange issues between the United States, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union within the scope of educational, scientific and socio-political programs. IREX really can hardly be called a "non-profit organization. Officially, the organization is registered as an independent foundation. In fact, the lion's share of its annual financial turnover - about $60 million - consists of funding from the USAID and the Office for Culture and Education of the US State Department.

Foreign NGOs work to destroy Russia from within

In some countries of the former Soviet Union - Belarus, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan -  the work of this NGO has been officially banned "for anti-state and anti-government activities." In Russia, IREX focuses on journalists and media. A recent  report from the organization about mass media in Russia is very eloquent: "We see an example of Kremlin's total control of national television stations and the press." On this occasion, IREX has a "training of journalists" program in Russia, so that they write "correct news" and provide information the "right way." Generally, IREX targets humanitarian personnel in the countries with "emerging democracies." That is, in fact, the organization is preparing platforms for color revolutions, to establish US-loyal political regimes.

American Councils for International Education is another similar organization, funded by the US State Department. The fund was established in the first half of the 1970s, specifically to manage research and educational programs in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. In 2006, a US citizen of 27 years of age, James Matthew Dirmon, decided to improve his knowledge of the Russian language. American Councils for International Education sent him to the city of Vladimir. During his entire stay in Russia, Dirmon was collecting specific information, for example, about Russia's migration legislation. He studied and analyzed the appearance of interethnic conflicts in Russia and corruption in the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation.

The young man did not receive specific instructions of what he was actually doing. He went straight to the Migration Service in Vladimir and asked for a report on migration in the past five years. As a result, Dirmon was invited for an interview, where he said a lot about his work with American Councils, about the ties of the organization with diplomats and politicians in Russia and the former Soviet Union and about the interest of the organization in Russia's Far East and Siberia.

USA not the only country to promote its interests in Russia

The USA is not the only country that promotes its interests in Russia. The UK invests for the same purposes too by introducing its own NGOs. For example, there is the British Council working in Russia, a non-ministerial department of the government of Great Britain. That is, the gentlemen do not even hide that they are a public service. The organization works to spread British culture in the world.

Noteworthy, the names of many employees of the British Council were put on the list of secret agents of British intelligence working abroad. It goes about the so-called "Tomlinson List." In Russia, there was only one office of the British Council left - in Moscow. Yet, the organization is much more active in Ukraine. The official goal is to teach Ukrainians English. However, a bit more than one thousand Ukrainian officers and employees of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry have taken part in "Peacekeeping English" program since 2008.

Separate political parties promote their interests in Russia via NGOs as well. The most straightforward one of them is the International Republican Institute. The head of the fund is Senator John McCain; the organization is financed by the Government and the Congress of the United States. Officially, the organization has no party affiliation, but most of the staff are members of the Republican Party. The organization says that its mission is to bring democracy to the world. The fund works with political parties, officials and state system of foreign countries.

In Russia, IRI works since 1992. The fund actively participated in the events of 1993 on the side of Yeltsin and his team, of course. During the Cold War, the fund was involved in several coups in Latin America. Generally speaking, the organization works to arrange color revolutions without hiding its goals. This is not surprising at all as its chief is Senator John McCain. He is definitely an enemy of Russia, but he is a straightforward man, who remains alien to subtle diplomacy.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a much talked-about organization. This is a fully politicized organization funded officially and publicly by US Congress. The NED is closely related to US foreign intelligence. In Russia, the NED is banned, but it still funds Russian NGOs. In 2014, Russian foreign agents received more than 40 million rubles from the NED. The money is transferred "to develop democracy and civil society to teach protest action techniques to politicians and public figures. Noteworthy, it is considered a crime in several countries to receive finance from the NED.

We can not but mention the Soros Foundation. This structure, like NED, is widely known in Russia, although it has not been working in Russia for years.  More specifically, the work of the Fund in Russia was discontinued in 2003. Yet, the fund created a network of NGOs that now work without direct participation of the parent organization, at least on an official level. From 2013 to 2015, the Soros Foundation wired more than 250 million rubles on accounts of "foreign agents" in Russia. This is only a small part of foreign funds that invest in socio-political organizations in Russia. All of them invest their funds to promote specific political and ideological interests.

One can see now that the "humanitarian work" of American and British philanthropists leads to humanitarian catastrophes, rather than achievements: think about the bombings of civilians in the Donbass and the total collapse of the Ukrainian statehood. Therefore, developing protective measures is a question of Russia's national security.


US National Endowment for Democracy labeled ‘undesirable’ group under new law

© Jason Reed

Prosecutors have recognized NED’s activities in Russia as undesirable and undermining national security after the US NGO spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of military service. According to the release published on the Prosecutor General Office’s website deputy head of the agency Vladimir Malinovsky on Tuesday signed the decision to recognize as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation all activities of the foreign non-government organization the National Endowment for Democracy. On the same day this decision was forwarded to the Justice Ministry that must now include NED in the list of undesirable foreign organizations.

Prosecutors added in their report that the decision was based on the analysis of the endowment’s recent work. This analysis showed that it controlled some Russian commercial and non-commercial organizations and used them in campaigns aimed at recognizing the results of Russian polls illegitimate, influencing the authorities’ decisions through political actions and discrediting of the Russian military forces.


The release reads that in 2013 and 2014 the National Endowment for Democracy rendered $5.2 million in financial aid to its Russian partners. According to RBC the endowment itself has earlier reported that in 2014 alone it satisfied 95 Russian applications for aid amounting to $8.4 million. The National Endowment for Democracy, founded in 1983 on Ronald Reagan’s initiative, is sponsored by the US Congress and sees its main task as helping the democratic institutions all over the world. The Russian Justice Ministry has earlier recognized this organization as the most active provider of various grants in politics and politics-related spheres, such as sociology or political research.

The NED was also included in the very first draft of the ‘patriotic stop-list’ – the document approved by the Russian upper house that names the groups that the senators see as potential threat to security and want to be probed and, if these suspicions are confirmed, officially declared undesirable. The bill on undesirable foreign organizations was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in late May. The new law allows the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to create a proscribed list of ‘undesirable foreign organizations’, making the activities of such groups in Russia illegal. The main criterion for putting a foreign or international NGO on the list is a “threat to the constitutional order and defense capability, or to the security of the Russian state.”

Non-compliance with the ban can be punished by administrative penalties, and for repeated and aggravated offenses can carry prison sentences of up to six years. Russian citizens and organizations that continue to work with banned groups would face administrative fines only. As the sponsors of the bill faced criticism from the domestic and international rights community, they replied that it was more of a preventive measure and it was not targeting any particular organizations.


In early July the Federation Council released a list of foreign organizations it plans to declare ‘undesirable’. The 12 entries in the document include the National Endowment for Democracy, the Soros Foundation, Freedom House and other major US-sponsored groups as well as two Ukrainian organizations.


Ambassador Kovalenko Again Warns Armenia About the Dangers of Adopting Western Values

Armenia -- Russia's Ambassadror to Armenia Vyacheslav Kovalenko (C) addresses the press in Gyumri, 1Sep2011.

Armenia will put its national security and independence at serious risk unless rejects “Western values” to fully align itself with Russia, a former Russian ambassador in Yerevan warned on Tuesday. Vyacheslav Kovalenko claimed that failure to make a “final” geopolitical choice in favor of Russia could thrust the country into the kind of crisis that has plagued Ukraine since the overthrow of a pro-Russian government in Kiev.

“Armenia must make a choice because in order for the economy of a small country like Armenia to develop, it has to integrate, it has to join some integration structures,” Kovalenko told Armenian journalists in a video conference from Moscow. “And the choice here is stark. I think the situation will develop in such a way that we will require Armenia to make that choice.

“Armenia can’t endlessly balance [between rival foreign powers] in this complicated international situation. So a lot depends on Armenia’s historical choice: the future of the country, the future of the Armenian people and the future of Armenians in general.”

“Will Armenia remain an independent state with its own national policy, national interests and identity respected around the world?” continued the diplomat who headed the Russian mission in Yerevan until March 2013. “Will it embrace instead the Western values which … will exist as long as Western powers continue their aggressive policies?”

Echoing the official Russian line, Kovalenko claimed that the spread of those values was responsible for the Ukraine crisis. “It is very important that what is now happening in Ukraine, where such [conflicting] relationships have emerged between various segments of the population, is not repeated [in Armenia,]” he said.

“I think that the Armenians, who are one of the most ancient peoples in the world and outlived other peoples that are now non-existent, now live on thanks to right choices which they have always made at critical historical moments. Now is such a critical historical moment in which the Armenians must make a final choice for themselves.”

The ex-envoy, whose current status is not clear, did not clarify whether the Armenian government should only join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) or go further and freeze or downgrade relations with the West.

President Serzh Sarkisian has sought to deepen those ties even after unexpectedly deciding to make Armenia part of the EEU in August 2013. That decision is widely believed to have been the result of strong Russian pressure exerted on Sarkisian. The latter had previously planned to sign a far-reaching Association Agreement with the European Union. Kovalenko exposed the Russian pressure in an interview published in July 2013. “By embracing European values, Armenia, it appears, could step onto a slippery path,” he warned.

The 68-year-old diplomat has had no official position in the Russian diplomatic ever since the end of his four-year tour of duty in Armenia. Still, in an indication of his lingering links with the Russian establishment, he accompanied Dmitry Kiselyov, Russia’s most famous TV journalist close to the Kremlin, on a trip to Yerevan in June 2014. Kiselyov caused an uproar during that visit when he said that the Russian language must be granted an official status in Armenia. Kovalenko backed those calls rejected by the Armenian leadership.

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/26602633.html