Raffilution begins!!! Raffi Hovannisian's turn to lead Armenia's self-destructive peasantry - February, 2013

Now that the voting nonsense in Armenia is over, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate President Serj Sargsyan on his well-won victory. As mentioned in my previous commentary, President Sargsyan has proven himself to be a grossmeister of politics, both foreign and domestic. As we have seen, even his antagonists in the West have reluctantly come to admit that there exists no one in Armenia's political opposition today that can pose him a real challenge and that he is the man they will have to deal with for the next five years.

During the year leading up to the presidential elections, I feared that Western interests and political opposition activists in the country would unite to cause an Arab Spring like unrest in the country. These concerns of mine were the motivation behind several previous blog commentaries -
The revolution has begun? Armenians again reveling in self-destructive behavior - November, 2012: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-revolution-has-begun-armenians.html
Collective destructionism of Armenians - August, 2012: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/08/collective-destructionism-and-armenias.html
The Whore of Babylon in Yerevan - June, 2012: theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/06/whore-of-babylon-in-yerevan-june-2012.html
Vartan Oskanian Placed Under Investigation by Armenia's NSS - June, 2012: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/06/oskanian-placed-under-investigation.html
Panel Discussions Calling for Chaos in Armenia - January, 2012: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/01/washington-sponsored-panel-discussions.html
I am glad that the pre-election period transpired without any serious problems. However, it now looks as if we have to wait and see what the post-election period will bring. Although I do not think it will mount to much, there have already been some early attempts to start unrest in the country. Once again, thanks to our Western-led, self-destructive peasantry, an election process that was unfortunately more democratic than anything we see take place in the Western world may again take an ugly turn.

Raffilution begins!

In an early effort to prepare one of their most important operatives in Armenia for higher office, about two years ago Raffi Hovannisian went on a drastic weight loss program. This public relations stunt was done to endear him in the eyes of the Armenian sheeple and to grant him a divine aura of a selfless/suffering servant. Therefore, it can be said that Raffi's presidential campaign actually kicked-off two years ago via a "hunger strike" that was most probably carried out in collaboration with the queen of color revolutions, Marie Yovanovitch -
Marie Yovanovitch, Raffi Hovannisian and Regime Change in Armenia - March, 2011: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/03/marie-yovanovitch-and-raffi-hovannisian.html
Of course there was also that strange trip Raffi took to Baku last November (most probably with Washington's blessing and protection) during which he ended up getting into a silly yelling match with his Azeri hosts. His Baku escapade was immediately presented by one of Armenia's American funded propaganda outlets as - Raffi entering the enemy's den to stand up for Karabakh rights -
Raffi Hovannisian's Speech in Baku: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU3KmHDZ450

Raffi Hovannisian stands up to Karabakh rights in Baku: http://www.armenianow.com/karabakh/41343/armenia_azerbaijan_raffi_hovannisian_baku_speech
As you can see, for almost two full years Raffi has been diligently preparing for the role he is currently playing. In fact, I strongly believe that the assassination attempt on a presidential contender shortly before the election was to take place (an act that was widely seen as a foreign attempt to cause political unrest inside Armenia) was ordered by interests that would like to see Raffi succeed. Therefore, it now seems inevitable that Raffi would not be accepting defeat.

On the night of the presidential elections, a colleague brought to my attention the following from a facebook page dedicated to the Washingtonian lemming -
The people have spoken. The monsters appear ready to pretend that the majority of the Armenian people amount to the 38% they will officially give Raffi. They will not get away with it, not this time. Tomorrow at 5pm at Liberty Square the Raffilution begins. What you can do if you are not able to show up in Armenia is flood your Congressional reps with emails and phone calls, demanding that they stand up for the Armenian people who have defied mass bribery and thuggery and fraud to lay claim to their souls and their country today. The time is now for a new and free Armenia. The time has never been more now.
Source: https://www.facebook.com/Raffi4President
And the day after the presidential elections, PanArmenian reported the following -
Despite the fact that every single foreign observer group that had monitored the election process in Armenia has officially validated President Sargsyan's win; despite the fact that exit-polls revealed President Sargsyan was wining by a wide margin; despite the fact that pre-election polling data revealed that President Sargsyan was wining by a wide margin; Raffi and company are claiming that they have won.  

For more information about Raffi's newest political theatrics, visit the articles towards the bottom of this page. Some of the articles in question unfortunately come to us via ARF sources. Once again the ARF is doing its best to prove to us all that it no longer has any credibility. Once again the ARF is doing its best to prove to us all that it cannot be taken seriously or trusted. The party has gone from being a proud revolutionary organization to a pathetic gaggle of opportunistic men championing gay rights in Armenia. 

We all know Raffi did not win the presidential election. Therefore, what the hell is Raffi doing? 

Some of you may recall that claiming the election is not legitimate and that an opposition candidate had actually won is the exact same subversive tactic Levon Petrosian and his gang of criminals used to cause chaos and bloodshed in Yerevan five years ago.

On the night of the presidential election back in 2008, I personally witnessed the opposition propaganda outlet A1 Plus announce that Levon had won the presidency by a wide margin. Interestingly, similar to Raffi's supporter's current claim, the announcement about Levon wining the election was made even before the official count was completed. In other words, although the ballot boxes were in the possession of the authorities, the Levon camp miraculously knew what the final tally was. The following day, thousands of Armenia's self-destructive-peasantry were out soiling the streets in Yerevan in the name of a treasonous criminal that had already once before raped and pillaged the country and placed Artsakh on the international market for sale. 

By making false claims via their propaganda organs, the political opposition (similar to what they did back in 2008) is trying to prepare their field of play for the next five years. In other words, they are trying to set the stage for another five years of infighting, division, tension and heartache for the fledgling and embattled nation. Another five years of anti-government propaganda that will drive even more people out of the country. They are again trying to drag Armenia through muck for another five years; but this time in the name of a Western-backed whore... Just what Armenia needs today! You just gotta love Armenian style democracy!!! 

Before I go on, I would like to address a question raised about Raffi's well known affiliations with Washington: If Raffi is known to be serving Western interest in Yerevan, then why are Washington and the OSCE signaling that they are content with the election process in Armenia?

First of all, it's no ones business, especially not of the West's, how anything is conducted in Armenia. If we Armenians have any respect for ourselves or for our homeland, we first need to get our minds out of this manner of thinking. Armenia will have to develop naturally, without foreign meddling. No one has given Western powers the right to classify, categorize, label or rate nations. The global community should instead be reminding Western officials of how the Western world became so wealthy, so developed in the first place. How democratic was the Western world as it accumulated unprecedented wealth and power for centuries at the expense of indigenous populations and at the expense of the ecology? 

Imposing their "values" on other nations today is their way of making sure they remain the dominant global power. It's all a matter of power projection and wealth preservation.

Having said that, we must recognize that major powers often play both sides of conflicts. It's a standard part of their conflict management. Both sides are played because ultimately no one knows who is going to win in the end. Therefore, on one hand they try to appease a regime that they deem powerful or useful. On the other hand, they try to cause unrest - indirectly - by using subversives to put pressure on the same regime. Western officials know that directly antagonizing Armenia will have bad repercussions for them in the south Caucasus for it will push Armenia fully under Russian and Iranian influence. Although Washington would love to see Russia's presence forever removed from Armenia, they nonetheless realize that Russia is firmly embedded in the country. Thus, knowing that Russia is securely in Armenia for the long-term, Western officials find themselves appreciating President Sargsyan's conciliatory/balanced approach in politics. 

In other words, they do not want to lose the already limited leverage they have over Yerevan by openly antagonizing the ruling regime. 

Therefore, when we see Western officials being cordial with Armenian officials, we must realize that it is their way of reserving at least some leverage over the nation. Despite their official smiles, however, we must also realize that they will continue to have their lemmings on the streets looking to incite unrest. 

Simply put: since they cannot have their forces of freedom and liberty bomb Yerevan into submission, they are bombing it instead with their bullshit. 

Major powers do not attack nations that are well connected or ones that have powerful militaries, unless out of absolute necessity. Acting overtly hostile towards nations that have powerful allies or a dangerous military is often too risky for policymakers in the Western world. This is more-or-less why North Korea, Syria and Iran have thus far been spared direct military aggression from Western powers. The only time Western powers will initiate open hostility against a nation is when the nation in question is militarily weak and/or is politically isolated. Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are sad examples of this.

Getting back to Raffilution! 

Similar to what Levon attempted five years ago, Raffi has announced himself to be the "president elect" and has gathered several thousand idiots around him to prove it to the world. 

Although I do not expect anything serious to come out of Raffi's latest public relations stunt, I have to mention here that if these Raffilutionists gets out of line as their Levonakan counterparts did back in 2008, I would like to see the repeat of what occurred on the night of March 1, 2008. This time around, however, I hope to see the names of all the ringleaders on the final death tally. Having finally put my genocide-derived psychological complexes to rest a very long time ago, I personally don't have a problem seeing Armenian blood spilled if it's done for the good of the homeland. However, stability is what Armenia desperately needs today.

I remain confidant that President Sargsyan will be able to maintain law and order in the country. Knowing his political acumen, I wouldn't be surprised if he somehow managed to bring Raffi into a coalition government. I personally believe that such an outcome could be very beneficial for the nation at this stage. 

In the words of the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

If Armenia's political opposition does not kill the young republic, it may just help it.

One of the ways in which political opposition figures and civil society advocates can help Armenia is if they put aside their self-serving agendas and their Western connections and enter into a power sharing agreement with the ruling authorities. I have no problems with the thought of political opposition figures working within the nation's power structures to bring about positive change in the country. In fact, such a merger of interests would be an ideal outcome, considering the circumstances Armenia is in currently. From the authority's perspective, such an agreement can also be used to keep a close eye on the opposition. As the saying goes - keep your friends close, your enemies closer.

But does the political opposition or the ruling administration have the foresight or the fortitude to do this? We'll have to wait and see.

This democracy nonsense is going to kill us

We should not forget that terms such as "oppressive government", "human rights", "corruption", "free and fair elections" and "democracy" have been weaponized by Western officials and are being used today as catchphrases to rally the self-destructive peasantry in targeted nation around the world. We also should not forget that for developing societies the practice of democracy can prove suicidal. Even for developed societies, unsupervised democracy can cause stagnation and/or instability.

I reiterate: In the West, the practice of democracy is tightly controlled by its deeply entrenched elite. The democratic processes in places like the United States or Great Britain, for instance, won't be allowed to get outside their clearly defined parameters. In fact, Switzerland and Iceland may be the only nations on earth that practice the purest forms of democracy today. We Armenians on the other hand must take a good, long look at ourselves in the mirror and recognize that we are not Swiss, we are not Icelandic, nor are we Germans or Japanese for that matter. Before the leadership of any developing country is capable to allowing their citizenry to participate in nation's political processes in any degree, political system in the country first needs to develop well established national institutions and give birth to political parties that are subservient to them. Thanks to the incumbent president and Russia's security services, I am glad to see this crucially important political process beginning to take place in Armenia today. Having deeply rooted and powerful national institutions that oversee and sometimes guide the political process in a country is a prerequisite to practicing any form of democracy. In their transitional phases, developing nations like Armenia need top heavy governments with powerful leaders -
The two ring circus called the American presidential elections - January 2013: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-two-ring-circus-called-american.html

Armenia on the eve of its presidential elections - February, 2013: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2013/02/armenia-on-eve-of-its-presidential.html
Nevertheless, this is no time to dabble in suicidal political adventures for the sake of gay-rights or McDonalds.

 Although what we saw in Armenia was without any doubt the cleanest presidential election in the young republic's history, this election nonsense should have nevertheless again underscored the real dangers of a democratic process in a young, poor, embattled and developing nation coming out of a one thousand years old hibernation.

For what it's worth, I'm confident that Serj Sargsyan got most of the votes in the country. However, I am also confident that most of those who voted for him did not vote for some higher political ideal; they simple voted for who they thought would most be most beneficial for their personal pockets. Moreover, even by official accounts, the political opposition against Serj Sargsyan (collectively) accounted for roughly half of those who voted. Let us also take into consideration that four out of ten eligible voters stayed home. The aforementioned was more-or-less the same situation that existed five years ago. 

Therefore, the following is the general picture of the electoral demographics of the country today: roughly half (50%) of the voting constituency in the country remains politically indifferent and ambivalent; a quarter (25%) is active in the political opposition; and a quarter (25%) supports the incumbent leadership for whatever reason. 

Does any of this look healthy? Well, this is typical democracy.

In a situation like this, the vociferous minority - the active political opposition in the country - is in an advantageous position in the streets and the ruling administration is only concerned about preserving power because very few Armenians today are faithful/genuine supporters of the incumbent leadership. In a situation like this, the majority of the population, those who are politically indifferent, will only seek to leave the homeland when things get bad.

In a "democratic" political climate like this, the nation NEVER wins.

Regardless of how one looks at the political situation in the country, the fact of the matter is that the ruling administration in Armenia is not as firmly in power as we may be inclined to think - and Yerevan's antagonists both foreign and domestic know this. As a result, there remains the real possibility of a West-leaning political force coming to power in Yerevan.

I personally think that Armenia's and Russia's security services are the only things standing in the way of an "Arab Spring" or a "color revolution" in Armenia. Thus, a small group of individuals are actually standing in the way of Armenia's self-destruction. What's really frightening here is just how little of this is recognized by Armenians.

For the sake of argument, imagine what would happen if the ruling administration in Yerevan got toppled by force and a Washington-backed government managed to take control. If a West-leaning regime somehow managed to come to power in Yerevan and Armenia's political orientation began to tilt Westward (especially now that Russia is resurgent throughout Eurasia), Armenia and Artsakh would very likely suffer devastating repercussions as a result of angering Moscow. 

I need to remind the reader, however, that it would never come to this because a servant of Western interests would never be allowed to get near the presidential palace in Armenia in the first place. Any high level Armenian official that will attempt to lure Yerevan away from Moscow will sooner die in a car accident. The most someone like Raffi can ever dream of doing is to cause unrest by appealing to the sentiments of the nation's disgruntled and gullible citizenry.

Knowing well the cards he has been dealt, this is exactly what Raffi is doing today. Not being able to subdue the nation's control panel via a political process that is essentially set-up by Western powers to give the nation's ignorant masses political power, he is therefore going to the street and appealing to the sheeple to do his dirty work. 

It's easier to deal with sheeple

One of the secrets of Western style democracy is this: Western officials realize that by utilizing powerful levers that they have cultivated for decades (i.e. political operatives, fiance, trade, social media, news press, international organizations and pop culture) they can convey, transfer and impose their cultural "values" and sociopolitical agendas throughout the world. Using such levers under their control, they have managed to harness the world's surplus of idiots, deviants and freaks and are currently manipulating them towards grand geostrategic pursuits. They know that dealing directly with a targeted nation's sheeple can be much more effective than dealing with the same nation's uncooperative leadership or its intelligentsia.

Therefore, Western style democracy can be a clever method of by-passing a nation's leadership and dealing directly with the nation's self-destructive masses. 

A recent Op-Ed piece by Russia's RT addressed this modern phenomenon -
Washington on the War Path: CivilSociety as Battering-Ram: http://rt.com/politics/washington-war-russia-putin-023/
Using powerful levers they can rally "freedom loving" peasantry around the world. And as we have been seeing for quite a few years now, we Armenians unfortunately have more than our share of politically ignorant peasantry for the West to manipulate. In fact, we Armenians actually have a serious surplus of politically ignorant compatriots. Yes, many nation have a surplus of politically ignorant people. What sets our politically illiterate compatriots apart from others is that our idiots are in-your-face arrogant and they have convinced themselves that their stupidity is the best way. What's more, most of our idiots today - and the mercenaries who organize them - seem to be hailing from the American-Armenian community.

The following are most recent examples of political illiteracy exhibited by Armenians -
Armenian Activists NOW! March to Democracy: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/263044
Ara Manoogian's "March of Solidarity": https://www.facebook.com/events/544078458958216/
ԵԱՀԿ/ԺՀՄԻԳ ասուլիսն ընդհատվեց: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-YNSaq8HY0
Armenia does not need Western values, Armenia need Armenian values. Armenia does not need Westernization, Armenia needs Armenianization. Armenia does not need a Western inspired revolution, Armenia needs an Armenian inspired sociopolitical evolution. Armenia does not need democracy, Armenia needs a top heavy government that is both nationalistic and socialistic.

A Western oriented regime in Armenia will end up killing the young nation. Armenia is a nation that CANNOT survive such types of political adventurism. Moreover, with the world on the verge of a third world war, this is not the time for volatile Diasporan experiments in the homeland. Therefore, it is best we stick with the devil we know. In light of the fact that there exists no one within Armenia's political opposition that we can genuinely trust, we must be mature enough to realize that we need to work with the incumbent leadership.

President Serj Sargsyan's administration today is the lesser of all the evils that currently exists in the country. 

Again, allow me to remind the reader that Armenia's most pressing problems are primarily GEOPOLITICAL in nature. Therefore, even if every single so-called oligarch in Armenia turned into an angel overnight, Armenia would continue suffering from severe economic and sociopolitical stresses. For Armenia to truly develop, for wealth to finally begin trickling down to the masses, the south Caucasus needs lasting peace and stability - of course under Moscow's supervision.

The south Caucasus has been ravaged as a result of the "Great Game" being played by the West and its regional allies and Russia for the past twenty-five years. What the south Caucasus today needs more than "democracy", more than "free and fair" elections, more than "freedom of speech" and more than "gay rights" is Pax Russicana! 

And speaking of one of the devils we know, many Armenians today complain that one of the problems with Armenia is that it is still not independent of Russia.

Armenia needs independence from Russia?

There many Armenians today that say Armenia needs to rely on no one expect Armenians. Armenia relying Armenians sounds very nice indeed. I really hope to see it become reality one day. In the harsh realities of the world we live in, however, there are literally only a handful of nations that are truly independent. A vast majority of nations on earth (nations even with much better situations than Armenia) are severely dependent on larger powers for survival. Being that Armenia is a small, landlocked, remote, poor and blockaded nation surrounded by enemies in the violent south Caucasus - Armenia's natural partner and protector has been, is and will continue being the Russia Federation. 

Although many Armenians today are not ready to hear this, Armenia needs Russia for its survival in the south Caucasus much-much more than Russia needs Armenia to protect its southern border. Another thing that Diasporan Armenians dont want to hear is this: Armenia can survive without the Diaspora, but it can't survie without Russia. 

If Yerevan somehow managed to cut its umbilical cord with Moscow, it would by default fall under the mercy of its larger and more powerful neighbors. And now, allow me to again remind the reader that Armenia's neighbors are not cheese eating Swiss, beer drinking Germans or pot smoking Dutch. 

For Armenia/Armenians there is no alternative to Russia. Therefore, our Captain Americas and our die-hard nationalists should be careful about what they wish for. Anyone that suggests Armenia needs to be independence of Russia is ultimately promoting Armenia's self-destruction

The Russian Federation is an opportunity that an independent Armenia has not had in well over one thousand years. This opportunity needs to be fully recognized and appreciated. This opportunity needs to be fully exploited. Armenians need to stop wasting time and money trying to get reptilians in Washington to say the "G" word and begin concentrating on promoting better Russian-Armenian ties. Russia is the big, powerful and wealthy friend little and poor Armenia desperately needs in a very tough and unforgiving neighborhood. No one is saying that this friendship between Russia and Armenian will be flawless. However, the friendship in question holds great potential. 

Therefore, organized lobbying efforts within the walls of the Kremlin should be Armenia's number one strategic priority.

For Russia, Armenia is a strategic asset protecting its vulnerable underbelly from Turkish and Islamic expansion. As long as Turkic peoples and Islamists exist along Russia's vulnerable underbelly, Armenia will continue playing a very important role within the walls of the Kremlin. This is the opportunity we need to exploit collectively.

For the West, Armenia is a nuisance, a thorn, an obstacle getting in the way of their neo-imperial desires of exploiting Central Asian energy resources,  isolating Russia and threatening Iran.

The fact of the matter is that the West is not Armenia's friend; it has never been, it never will be. Any Armenian that maintains Western ties or promotes a Western political agenda in Armenia needs to be placed under surveillance.

Armenia has chosen its political path. Armenia's orientation - as well as its collective focus - will be towards the Russian Federation during the next five years. Having put the presidential elections behind us, it is now the responsibility of all Armenians to figure out a way to work with President Serj Sargsyan's government to bring about positive change in the country.

Now that the ruling administration in Yerevan has managed to maintain its hold on power in what mounted to a landslide victory, I hope to see the political course Armenia had been put on for the previous five years continue for the next five years. I hope to see the Armenia's steady forward progression continue free of Western meddling. I hope to see the Caucasus finally free of Western and Turkish meddling. I hope to see Artsakh develop faster. I hope to see the Armenian Diaspora come to its good senses. I hope to see better collaboration between the homeland and the Diaspora. I hope to see even closer collaboration taking place between Yerevan and Moscow. I hope to see even closer relations developing between Yerevan and Tehran. And in five years from now, I hope to see Karen Karapetyan being sworn in as Armenia's next president. 

More importantly, being that Armenia is a tiny (demographically and geographically), landlocked, impoverished, remote and a blockaded nation surrounded by enemies in the violent Caucasus, I hope to see Armenia remaining firmly under Russia's protective military umbrella. And I hope to see the Moscow-led South Caucasus Railroad project and the Eurasian Union becoming a reality for Armenia during the next five years. I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next five years in Armenia.

February, 2013


Appo Jabarian: Does Failed Presidential Candidate Raffi Hovannisian Seek Armenia’s Destabilization?

Decision 2013 Part II: Hovannisian-Sargsyan talks produce no immediate news amid continuing post-election standoff

Armenia’s northern neighbor, former Soviet Republic of Georgia recently aborted its so called ‘orange revolution’ and reverted back to a foreign policy that fosters balanced ties with the Western bloc (Europe and United States) as well as the Eastern bloc (mainly Russia). It is against this backdrop that Armenia’s main opposition, presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian hoped to win Armenia’s Feb. 19 presidential election effectively pulling off an ‘apricot revolution.’

He failed. But will he concede defeat?

Despite the fact that there are no solid indications that he ‘won,’ Mr. Hovannisian boasted early this week that he is the president-elect. He even went further to introduce his wife as the “new First Lady.” He also demanded that Pres. Serge Sargsyan submit his resignation (Mr. Sargsyan was declared the winner of the election with 58.64 percent of the vote, against Hovannisian’s 36.75 percent. The remaining 4 percent of the votes was spread among several other candidates).

Mr. Hovannisian also called for continuous demonstration at the Liberty Square located in Yerevan, capital of Armenia. Additionally, he expressed his intention to stage a new demonstration countering a demonstration in support of Pres. Sargsyan organized by the Republican Party of Armenia. Both demonstrations will be held at the same location. One can envision the great civil unrest and turmoil triggered by this confrontation ultimately destabilizing Armenia.

In March 2008, Armenia went through a post-election turmoil when innocent Armenian citizens lost their lives because of instigations by then failed presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossyan’s backers. Mr. Hovannisian was a supporter of Mr. Ter-Petrossyan. While President Sargsyan’s administration has been criticized for many political mistakes, Mr. Hovannisian’s track record as an Armenian parliamentarian is vividly remembered when he compromised on the issue of Armenian Genocide in his infamous August 2007 letter to Turkey’s newly elected President Abdullah Gul.

Mr, Hovannisian had faced widespread criticism and condemnation by many Armenian media outlets for pandering to Turkey as a result of his usage of a highly insulting term “Great Armenian Dispossession” in lieu of the words “The Armenian Genocide.” If as a mere parliamentarian Mr. Hovannisian was willing to sell out on the Armenian Genocide and justice for his people, what would he do as President?

Would he be any different than his former boss Pres. Ter-Petrossyan and another operative – Vartan Oskanyan then Deputy Foreign Minister and later Foreign Minister under Pres. Kocharyan — who were all too willing to return strategic lands in liberated Armenian territory of Artsakh (Karabagh) back to Azeri yoke?

I must clarify that I have absolutely no intention to offer blind support to his main opponent Pres. Sargsyan either. Pres. Sargsyan’s administration has been red-flagged for a number of critical issues – corruption; catering to Armenia’s oligarchs that continue to monopolize Armenia’s economy; intending to ratify the infamous Turkish-imposed protocols that are detrimental to Armenia’s present and future. Patriotic Armenians in Armenia and Diaspora are sandwiched between Armenia’s oligarchs on the left and Armenian neo-Cons on the right.

They are wary of their future being hijacked by either of the two fringe groups – oligarchs and their clans, Armenian political careerists, materialists, and seekers of fame and fortune at all cost who are backed by their neo-Con masters in Washington and elsewhere. For how much longer the patriotic forces both in the Homeland and Diaspora will continue to feel squeezed? Will they stand up anytime soon to ‘invite’ both destructive forces to curb their appetite for power at-all-cost; and to put the Armenian state and its Diaspora on the right track?

Time will tell.

On Feb. 19, Armenia staged its sixth presidential election ever since it became independent in 1991. Reportedly, this presidential election was marred by widespread bribes, irregularities, bullying and corruption. Despite the emergence of a new generation of Armenians who are endeavoring to distance themselves from the old Soviet corrupt ways of doing ‘business’ practiced by their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, Armenia’s society as a whole still hasn’t freed itself from ‘giving and receiving gifts.’

Many compatriots live in abject poverty. The 21-yearl old newly independent former Soviet republic failed in rebuilding an economy capable of providing employment and healthy economic opportunity for all. Even though Mr. Hovannisian presented a great-sounding campaign platform promising to create massive employment, his campaign rallies failed to attract sizable turnouts in many localities and cities of Armenia. Many considered his promise as coming a little too late. They lamented Mr. Hovannisian’s close association with the highly corrupt administration of Armenia’s First President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. Hovannisian served as the First Foreign Minister of Armenia, while his boss and other associates looted Armenia and dismantled the country’s industrial base.

For over two decades, succeeding Armenian presidential administrations as well as the Armenian Diaspora failed to bring to Armenia 1) Institutionalized democracy; 2) Comprehensive reform on all levels of government and in all segments of civil society; and 3) Massive employment and economic prosperity.

The blame and responsibility for the current situation rest on the shoulders of both the Homeland and the Diaspora. But the lion’s share of the responsibility specifically belongs to the oligarchs, major political parties in Armenia; and all major organizations and structures in the Diaspora. Despite Armenians’ collective desire, the politically mature citizens in Armenia have yet to constitute the majority of the electorate. The number of politically alert and economically self-sufficient Armenians barely hovers around 15-20% of the total populace. That’s hardly sufficient to engender better government; independent judiciary; and prosperous economy.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that weeks before the election many independent observers anticipated that Armenia would ‘reelect’ incumbent Pres. Sagsyan for another five years. Some even went further in underlining the fact that the outcome should not come as a shock to anyone, lamenting

1) lack of democracy;
2) absence of free and fair elections;
3) apathetic and unengaged electorate;
4) politically immature populace;
5) weak, disorganized and fragmented opposition;
6) lack of Armenia-centered political orientation that can serve as the basis for the country’s foreign and domestic policy doctrine. 

All these and other factors have combined in predetermining the outcome of the presidential election. The seemingly insurmountable internal problems of Armenia are after all manageable.

During the course of 21-years of independence, Armenia and Armenian society could not achieve massive transformational changes. The qualitative changes have not permeated all aspects of life in Armenia. The bulk of the population that was already over the age of 18 and indoctrinated by former soviet corrupt values continues to make up the overwhelming majority of Armenia’s electorate. So it would be unrealistic to anticipate an expedited transition to a new Armenia that’s comparable to Denmark or Switzerland. That task requires serious and sustainable commitment.

A battle has been lost but not the war.

However, in order to avoid facing another quarter century of lost opportunities for world Armenians, the ‘Powers That Be’ in Armenia must foster genuine partnership with the Diaspora; and stop treating it like a cash cow. As for the Diaspora, it must reinvent itself and become a better organized entity both for its sake and the sake of Armenia. It must adopt a hands-on approach in helping build Armenia’s economy and in helping shape a progressive civil society. Qualitative and quantitative repatriation needs to be further developed. Thinking outside the box may pave the way to overhaul the modus operandi both in Armenia and Diaspora.

VOA: Democracy Making Strides in Former Soviet Armenia


Armenia's president wins re-election, exit poll shows


Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan won a new five-year term on Monday, an exit poll and initial results showed, in an election marred by allegations of fraud and the lack of a serious opposition challenge. Police said they had received at least 70 reports of voting violations after a campaign in which one of the outside candidates was shot and wounded. The opposition Heritage party said many ballots cast for opposition parties had been thrown out, but did not say whether it would challenge the result.

The president, 58, has vowed to sustain economic recovery in his landlocked South Caucasus country and said before the vote he would ensure stability after years of war and upheaval, although he has outlined no plans for big policy changes. The continued peace of a region where pipelines take Caspian oil and natural gas to Europe is a concern for foreign investors and neighbours, especially as relations are fraught with fellow former Soviet republic Azerbaijan.

"I voted for the future of Armenia, for the security of Armenia, for the security of our citizens," Sargsyan said as he cast his vote at a polling station in the capital, Yerevan.

The exit poll by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization put Sargsyan on 58% of votes cast. His nearest rival, US-born Raffi Hovannisian, trailed on 32%. With 82 polling stations out of a total of 1,988 counted, Sarksyan was leading with 68% of the vote, according to official Central Electoral Committee data. Final results are expected late on Tuesday. The result, if confirmed, will strengthen Sargsyan's hold on Armenia, which borders Iran, Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, following his Republican party's victory in a parliamentary election last year.

The immediate reaction on the streets of Yerevan was muted as voters awaited the official results. Opinion polls had long predicted Sargsyan would win after his biggest potential challengers opted not to run. "I voted for Serzh Sargsyan to give him a chance and I will demand that he fulfils everything correctly as he promised," said Mariana, a housewife who declined to give her last name.

"This is a victory of our society, in as much as the process of the election and the voting proved that democratic processes are irreversible in Armenia," said parliamentary vice-speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, a member of Sargsyan's party.

Sargsyan's promises of economic recovery resonate with voters in the country of 3.2 million, where more than 30% live below the poverty line. He has given no indication he wants to change ties with neighbours, most notably Azerbaijan, which went to war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in the 1990s and uses its diplomatic and economic muscle to isolate Yerevan. Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian-majority enclave inside Azerbaijan, which Armenia-backed rebels wrested from Azeri troops. Firefights along the border still kill troops on both sides.

Election observers before the vote expressed concern over the democratic credentials of the election as none of Sargsyan's serious opposition rivals chose to stand. The last presidential election, in 2008, was marred by clashes in which 10 people were killed, but there were no reports of violence on Monday. Domestic security concerns were underlined by an attack on one of the candidates, Paruyr Hayrikyan, 63, an outsider in the election who was shot in the shoulder on 31 January.Another dark horse in the race, Andrias Ghukasyan, went on hunger strike to press for Sargsyan's candidacy to be annulled.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/18/armenia-president-election-poll

Foreign parliamentary experts: Armenia election free, fair and transparent


Members of a high level team of foreign parliamentary experts invited by the Armenian Free Society Institute to assess Armenia’s adherence to international election standards today declared the 18 Feb. presidential election to be “generally free, fair and transparent”.

The independent team, headed by UK Member of Parliament Gisela Stuart and Lord Chris Rennard of the UK House of Lords, and joined by other parliamentarians and political journalists, spent election day touring much of the country surrounding Yerevan, visiting over 20 polling stations  and speaking with electoral officers, party representatives and ordinary voters.

Addressing a press conference in Yerevan today, team member Paul Keetch, a British Liberal-Democrat MP until he stepped down in 2010, said he had been an observer in elections from the US to Albania, and had even been physically ejected by Albanian authorities for his criticisms in a past vote. “From what I could see, there is no question in my mind that this election was free, fair and transparent, and incorporated robust checks and balances designed to make it that way.”

Lord Rennard noted that, prior to election day, the group had met with the representatives of various competing campaigns, asking each what they feared most in the process. Several of the campaigns listed voter impersonation and vote buying as particular concerns. “From what we could see, we could found no widespread basis for complaint,” he said.

Mrs. Stuart listed several matters which the team did see. For instance, there was a portrait of the incumbent president at one rural polling station visited. It was quickly pulled down. At another poll, there were questions raised by an opposition party representative about the address listed for one of the voters. “This is the kind of irregularity that I have seen in every election I’ve ever witnessed,” Mrs. Stuart said.

Several of the team members noted concerns about the ink used to stamp voters’ passports. Prior to the election, there had been concerns about stamps disappearing, thus allowing multiple voting. The team took ink samples at every polling station and detected no problems. But even had there been, they noted that the stamps were just one part of a three-step process to prevent vote fraud. “You have more checks in this country than we have in the UK,” noted Peter Hayes, a long-time British political correspondent and broadcaster.

Several team members said they were particularly reassured to note a consistency between pre-election opinion polls, exit polling, and the actual election result. ”If one candidate gets a third of the vote and comes in second, that is a sign of democracy in action and a competitive political system,” Mrs. Stuart said.
The advisory team has been asked by the Free Society Institute to compile its observations and those of all 12 of the international observer teams accredited for Monday’s election, and to advise on further improvements that might be adopted for the future.

 OSCE/ODIHR: Armenian election was generally well-administered

Armenia’s presidential election was generally well-administered and was characterized by a respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of assembly and expression, concluded the international election observation mission in a statement released today. Official web-site of the OSCE writes about this. At the same time, the statement said, a lack of impartiality on the part of the public administration and the misuse of administrative resources resulted in a blurred distinction between the activities of the state and those of the ruling party.

Candidate registration was inclusive, contestants had the chance to campaign freely and voters had the opportunity to express their choice. Media fulfilled their legal obligation to provide balanced coverage and all contestants made use of their free airtime, the statement said. Among the concerns over misuse of administrative resources identified in the statement was the participation, while on leave, of a large number of public and civil servants in the campaign of the incumbent.

“There have been clear improvements in the electoral process since the previous presidential elections, and we have noted progress in many areas, including the media environment and the legal framework,” said Karin Woldseth, the Head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delegation. “At the same time, our joint findings note several important areas where marked improvement is needed to ensure full public trust in the electoral process.”

The electoral framework is comprehensive and conducive overall to the conduct of democratic elections, and election commissions administered the process in a professional manner, the statement said. It also noted that, while several candidates alleged that voter lists were inflated and raised concerns about possible impersonation of out-of country voters, no evidence of this had been provided prior to election day. The mission assessed positively the efforts that had been made to improve the accuracy of voter lists, although further work in this area remains to be done.

“We have observed a calm election day, characterized by no major difficulties in electoral procedures, following a somewhat quiet, low-key election campaign lacking significant political debate and real competition,” said Milan Cabrnoch, the Head of the European Parliament delegation. “This was mainly due to the decision by three main parties not to nominate candidates.”

The campaign remained peaceful, although one candidate was shot and injured early in the campaign under circumstances that are under investigation, the statement said. While election day was calm and orderly, it was marked by undue interference in the process, mainly by proxies representing the incumbent, and some serious violations, including cases of pressure on voters, were observed.

“Having been in the country for six weeks, we can say that candidates were able to campaign freely and fundamental freedoms were respected. Overall, the election was administered in a professional manner and real efforts were made by the authorities to improve the quality of the voter lists. The media covered all candidates in a rather balanced manner, but that coverage would have benefitted from more critical analysis and debates between candidates,” said Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the Head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) long-term election observation mission. “Unfortunately, the blurring of the distinction between the State and the ruling party continues to be an issue. This was demonstrated in the misuse of administrative resources, pressure on voters, and a lack of impartiality on the part of the public administration.”

Source: http://times.am/?p=18991&l=en

Armenian election day calm and orderly in general, US State department spokesperson says


In general, Armenian election day was calm and orderly, US State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told a daily press briefing. Nuland said the U.S. supports the conclusions of the OSCE ODIHR observer mission in their preliminary conclusions that the elections were generally well administered with fundamental freedoms respected.

Nuland also said the State Department agrees that the media fulfilled their legal obligation to provide balanced coverage and all contestants made use of their free air time. However, she said, there were some serious violations that obviously need to be investigated.

"ODIHR was concerned about some lack of impartiality on the part of public administration officials and the misuse of administrative resources that resulted in a blurred distinction between the activities of the state and those of the ruling party" Nuland said.

According to the ballot count results from all 1,988 polling stations Armenia’s incumbent president Sezrh Sargsyan won the re-election Monday with 861,378 votes or 58.64%. Raffi Hovannisian polled 539,674 votes or 36.74%, Hrant Bagratyan - 31,643 votes or 2.15%, Paruyr Hayrikyan - 18,093 votes or 1.23%, Andrias Ghukasyan - 8,328 votes or 0.57%, Arman Melikyan - 3,520 votes or 0.24% and Vardan Sedrakyan – 6,203 votes or 0.42%. 

CIS and European observers gave a positive opinion of the presidential elections in Armenia, called them democratic and legitimate, noting some violations, which had no impact on the election results.

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

U.S., EU Praise Armenian Election Conduct

Belgium -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and EU enlargement commissioner for Stefan Fuele give a press conference in Brussels, 25May2011

The United States and the European Union have praised the Armenian authorities’ handling of Monday’s presidential election, citing the generally positive findings of international vote monitors. The EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Fuele, were especially encouraged by the election conduct, calling it a step forward.

“We welcome further progress made by the Armenian authorities in their efforts to hold these presidential elections in line with international standards, notably through improved administration of the electoral process, ensuring possibilities for candidates to campaign freely and better quality of the voter lists,” they said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

​​“At the same time, we expect a number of outstanding concerns to be followed up appropriately in the future, including reported instances of partiality by public servants, claims of misuse of administrative resources, unclear interpretation of campaign financing provisions and cases of pressure on voters,” the statement added, echoing the conclusions of a preliminary report released by the Western observers on Tuesday.

The 300-strong observer mission was mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It also comprised lawmakers from the EU and the Council of Europe.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Victoria Nuland, endorsed the mission’s largely positive verdict as she voiced U.S. reaction to the ballot, official results of which gave President Serzh Sarkisian a second five-year term.

“We support the conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR observer mission … that the elections were generally well-administered and characterized by a respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of assembly and expression,” Nuland told a news briefing in Washington late on Tuesday.

Nuland also noted misuse of government resources by Sarkisian loyalists, their “undue interference” in the voting process and other irregularities reported by the observers. “But in general, election day was calm and orderly,” added the U.S. official.

​​The EU and U.S. reactions were a further boost for the international legitimacy of Sarkisian’s reelection, which the main opposition candidate, Raffi Hovannisian, has rejected as fraudulent. They should also pave the way for Armenia’s deeper integration with the EU.

EU officials have stressed in recent months that closer ties with the 27-nation bloc sought by the Sarkisian administration are contingent on the freedom and fairness of the presidential election. They have implied that it is also essential for the holding of an unprecedented conference of Armenia’s foreign donors planned by the EU.

“It is critically important that the next presidential elections are impeccable,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said after talks with Sarkisian in Yerevan last December. The Armenian president assured Barroso that his government is committed to holding polls “meeting the highest international standards.”

U.S. officials have also stressed the importance of a clean vote. “Our hope is that these elections will become the new benchmark for [Armenian] elections in the future,” John Heffern, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, said last month.

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/24907620.html

From one defeated “winner” to another: To fight outcome with rallies is pointless

From one defeated “winner” to another: To fight outcome with rallies is pointless

Former oppositional candidate Vazgen Manukyan, who ran for presidency and lost in the second elections of independent Armenia (1996), believes that current oppositional favorite Raffi Hovannisian now has two options – either to accept the election results, or keep holding rallies, which experience has proven to be ineffective. Incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan has been pronounced the official winner of the February 18 presidential elections by preliminary count, while Hovannisian came second in the big race. Hovannisian and his supporters claim that the official results were forged and say they are planning to fight the outcome. 

History seems to be repeating, as back in 1996 Vazgen Manukyan, now chairing the Public Council on appointment by Sargsyan, was in a similar position, and says that ever since then “we have entered a wrong cycle, but that cycle is coming to an end with these elections”. “I believe that although these were not the 100-percent clean elections we were anticipating in 1996, but as compared to all the previous ones, these elections have been cleaner,” says Manukyan.

According to the former single oppositional candidate for presidency, Hovannisian has two ways and is the only one who can decide which way to go. “Hovannisian either has to declare that he accepts the election results and does not appeal them despite the election fraud, and it would become a new unique page in the history of the third republic; or he can follow the second way – the one that has become a pattern with rallies which would gradually fade away,” says Manukyan, adding that the second option so far has done no good to people.

Manukyan says the high number of votes trusted to Hovannisian demonstrate also that the discontent with the authorities is greater than one could have expected and the authorities have to take that into account. 

Source: http://armenianow.com/vote_2013/43750/vazgen_manukyan_raffi_hovannisian_serzh_sargsyan

Hovannisian Challenges Sarkisian on ‘Transition of Power’


Heritage Party Presidential Candidate Raffi Hovannisian, at a press conference and rally held at Liberty Square Tuesday, called Monday’s presidential elections a “victory for the people” and urged President Serzh Sarkisian to meet with him by 5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the peaceful transition of power. “I am already the elected president of the Republic of Armenia,” he told supporters at the Liberty Square rally. “I want to come here tomorrow at 5 p.m. and report to you that I met with Mr. Sakisian and that he had the strength, manliness … to say that the Armenian people won and congratulate them.”

Hovannisian and campaign representatives declined to state what course of action they would take should Sarkisian refuse the meeting. Armenia’s Central Election Commission reported that Sarkisian secured 58.6 percent of the vote to win the election with Hovannisian coming in second with 36.8 percent. Early results put former prime minister Hrant Bagratian in third place with 2.2 percent of the votes. The remaining four candidates Paruir Hayrikian, Andrias Ghukasyan, Vardan Sedrakyan and Armen Melikyan each received less than two percent of the votes, according to the preliminary reports. According to the CEC, 60 percent of eligible voters took part in Monday’s election.

Hovannisian campaign spokesperson Hovsep Khurshudyan disputed the results, telling reporters that the results from 21 of 42 polling stations sampled had different results than those reported by the CEC. “We had 27,902 votes at the polling stations, with 19,057 votes or 68% cast for Raffi Hovannisian, and 32% for Serzh Sargsyan. We can get the results with difficulties. All the election commission chairmen were ordered not to provide information from the polling stations where Raffi Hovannisian is winning,” Khurshudyan stated.

A preliminary findings report by election observers representing the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament (EP) noted marked improvements in electoral practices, but documented a number of shortcomings. “Overall, the election was administered in a professional manner and real efforts were made by the authorities to improve the quality of the voter lists. The media covered all candidates in a rather balanced manner, but that coverage would have benefitted from more critical analysis and debates between candidates,” said Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the Head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) long-term election observation mission. 

“Unfortunately, the blurring of the distinction between the State and the ruling party continues to be an issue. This was demonstrated in the misuse of administrative resources, pressure on voters, and a lack of impartiality on the part of the public administration.”

Source: http://asbarez.com/108360/hovannisian-challenges-sarkisian-for-%E2%80%98transition-of-power%E2%80%99/

Thousands rally in Yerevan to back Hovannisian’s claimed election victory


The official runner-up in Armenia’s presidential election, Raffi Hovannisian, who has already declared himself to be president-elect, again gathered his supporters in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Wednesday to declare his determination to wage a “lengthy” struggle.

The opposition Heritage party leader told thousands of his activists and supporters that he will remain in the square until 2 pm Thursday waiting for President Serzh Sargsyan, the official winner of the Monday vote, whose ruling Republican Party is expected to hold a rally in the same venue tomorrow. Hovannisian said such a meeting would be “for the organization of the transfer of power”.

“This time we will have a real victory that will belong to our people,” stated the opposition leader, who polled about 37 percent of the vote, according to the official results of the presidential ballot announced by the Central Election Commission on Tuesday, in contrast to Sargsyan’s nearly 59 percent.

“Serzh Sargsyan has made a reservation for this square for tomorrow. We will remain here and will meet him here. If he wants, we will have a question-and-answer session, if he wants, we will have a debate. We must stay here till the victory of Armenia,” stressed Hovannisian.

According to media reports, Sargsyan’s Republican Party already now considers cancelling its event in the square scheduled for Thursday in view of Hovannisian’s statements. Earlier today, a Sargsyan spokesman responded to Hovannisian’s previous offer of a meeting saying that the current head of state was ready to receive him “at any time” convenient to him to discuss what he described as “not quite clear demands” of the opposition challenger.

Meanwhile, joining Hovannisian in Liberty Square tonight were also a number of opposition figures and civil activists who delivered speeches at the rally. Among them was also Nikol Pashinyan, an outspoken oppositionist affiliated with the Armenian National Congress (ANC), who delivered a passionate speech, calling Hovannisian the “elected president”. He said that the elections were again rigged in Armenia, like they were in February 2008. He also stressed that what “this February brings” to Armenia will largely depend on Hovannisian and his team.

“There is no leading the bright people of Armenia to disappointment, they need victory and nothing else. Let’s wish Raffi Hovannisian enough will and wisdom to lead the citizens of Armenia towards a victory,” said Pushinyan.

The Heritage party leader again urged all political parties and the “non-partisan majority” to join him. Two major opposition forces, the ANC and Dashnaktsutyun, have already issued statements condemning fraud in the February 18 elections, but they said nothing about their support to Hovannisian. Hrant Bagratyan, the other opposition candidate who finished a distant third in the election, was not present in Liberty Square either.

Source: http://armenianow.com/news/43766/armenia_presidential_election_2013_raffi_hovannisian_rally

Can an Armenian Spring Come with One Flower?


Hovannisian’s strong performance has brought hope to many, particularly in light of speculation that Sarkisian would handily win reelection. Hovanissian’s performance, which some minimize as a mere vote of protest against the regime, is also surprising in light of a lack of endorsements from other opposition forces such as Prosperous Armenia, Armenian National Congress, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. It is unclear whether this was an inability to build coalitions or a strategy of direct outreach.

Hovannisian has a record in both. In the latest parliamentary elections, he partnered with another former Foreign Minister—Alexander Arzumanyan. The two parted ways after securing a small number of seats and disagreeing over their pledges and plans. This may explain, in part, why Hovannisian launched a presidential campaign of direct outreach, which often included random appearances in different neighborhoods to shake hands. His outreach to young people also included an appearance on ArmComedy, Armenia’s popular version of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show with occasional Stephen Colbert-like nationalist sarcasm. Hovanissian told the hosts that he cancelled everything as soon as he got their invitation.

Hovanissian also cancelled his comfortable life in his native California, relocating to Armenia in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake. A lawyer and diplomat, he soon accepted to become the newly-independent country’s first Foreign Minister in 1991 and fax “Armenia is free. Please recognize” to the world. Yet his diplomacy, charisma, and fair-mindedness seem to contradict some of his arguably hard-line positions. Hovanissian wants Armenia to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as a free country, which many believe would hinder the hitherto unfruitful peace negotiations and even be used as an excuse by conflict party Azerbaijan for a military attack against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. It is particularly offensive for incumbent President Serge Sarkisian to hear hints that he isn’t doing his best for the region he hails from and fought for. Yet Hovanissian is the only major political figure to have recently visited Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.

Hovanissian’s perceived hardline position on Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, may explain western powers’ reluctance to support his case. Serge Sarkisian, his critics argue, has been more than accommodating in demands to reconcile with Turkey, in part because of the West’s implicit recognition of his first, 2008 election. The New York Times bluntly articulates Washington’s stake in the Feb. 18, 2013 Armenian election: To “maintain stability in a country that has become an increasingly important, if uneasy, United States ally in monitoring Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

In the eyes of some, international observers’ monitoring results seemed to reflect Washington’s interests (while a non-governmental observer reported massive ballot stuffing). A group of activists interrupted the press conference by official observers and read a statement about the fraud. They didn’t mention Hovanissian’s name and only identified themselves as “Citizens of the Republic of Armenia.” One of them screamed in Armenian, “Do you have such elections back home?”

Presidential elections, save the first one, have always been divisive and sometimes bloody in Armenia. All candidates who won second place and their supporters felt that the election was rigged. Unlike Hovanissian, however, these candidates were or had been a key part of the establishment and had influential supporters with eyes on power and resources. Most of those forces have been quiet, waiting for the next comeback opportunity. Hovannisian’s failure or choice not to unite opposition forces is an apparent shortcoming. But it may have been a blessing, as a stronger challenge might have actuated more intense election fraud. An Armenian saying advocating for unity states, “Spring won’t come with one flower.” But it can start with one.

Source: http://www.armenianweekly.com/2013/02/21/can-an-armenian-spring-come-with-one-flower/

Decision 2013: ARF, ANC slam Feb. 18 election, stop short of explicitly supporting Hovannisian


Two major opposition forces that did not participate in this year’s presidential election issued critical statements on their course and results, but stopped short of explicitly declaring their support for opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, who is challenging the official outcome giving incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan a first-round victory.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said that “the citizens of Armenia proved on February 18 that their patience has limits.”

“The outburst of the people was the response to the current state of affairs in the country. It was a response to the government’s self-satisfied behavior pretending that they have the support of the absolute majority of the society. It became apparent that the majority of the Armenian people do not accept the current system,” stressed Dashnaktsutyun.

At the same time, the traditional Armenian political parties with links in the Diaspora warned that the post-election situation and possible developments require “enormous responsibility and complex solutions from the current government, the main challenging candidate, the opposition forces and active part of society.”

“Dashnaktsutyun is next to the people and is for finding solutions through combined efforts,” the party concluded.

Another opposition group, Armenian National Congress (ANC), which did not contest the latest presidential election, also slammed President Sargsyan and his “regime” for what it described as a fraudulent election. It said that the current authorities will never give up the practice of using falsifications to rig elections until it is confronted by “the united will of the people” and until the international community gives an “adequate” evaluation to this fraud.

In its statement the ANC also reminds of similar post-election claims of its candidate, ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, five years ago and the crackdown of the opposition in the wake of nonstop protests in February 2008.

Addressing his supporters in Yerevan’s Liberty Square last night Heritage Party leader Hovannisian, who declared himself to be the rightful winner and elected president, made it clear that if given a chance to form a government he would also cooperate with the broad-based opposition, including both the ARF and ANC.

Source: http://armenianow.com/vote_2013/43747/armenia_presidential_election_2013_february_18_arf_anc

Armenian Bar Association - Government Denies Victory to Raffi Hovannisian


On February 18, 2013, in an unprecedented show of willpower the people of Armenia elected Raffi Hovannisian as their next President. They voted against the odds, against threats of persecution and against temptation. The present government of Armenia now denies Raffi Hovannisian’s victory. For years the people of Armenia have been criticized by many for failing to stand up for their own rights. Now they have stood up and voted their will. Now it is time for the Diaspora to act its role.

Tomorrow President-elect Raffi Hovannisian will hold a rally at 5 p.m. (5 a.m. PST February 20, 2013) at the Republic Square in Armenia where he will announce his plan to enforce the people’s will. Join him and stand ready to do whatever becomes necessary to ensure by legal means that the people’s vote counts. We are on the verge of changing Armenia’s future. The people’s vote must govern. This transcends all boundaries including political affiliations. We must unite. We must not only unite with each other but also force those who resist the truth to embrace it and to unite with us. The people of Armenia have suffered far too long. Empowering them will empower Armenia, empower democracy and empower us all.

We urge the Republic of Armenia to exercise the rule of law and honor its people’s vote by declaring Raffi Hovannisian as the winner of its 2013 Presidential Elections. We congratulate President-elect Raffi Hovannisian and the people of the Republic of Armenia for their victory. We urge President Obama to join us and to reaffirm and declare that the United States government is unbending when it comes to civil rights and liberties across the globe.

We urge all members of Diaspora political parties, associations, communities, schools and charities to join President-elect Raffi Hovannisian in the battle to enforce the people’s will. We often chant “ignoring the Armenian Genocide was the same as commending it.” Now is the time for each of us to determine whether we oppose or commend the utter disregard of the Armenian people’s will by the present government of Armenia.

We must ask ourselves whether we choose to stand up for civil rights and liberties in Armenia or whether we choose to stand by in silence. Every citizen of the free United States of America must join this call to action for it parallels the essence of our ability to exercise our free will. The people of Armenia too have a right to exercise that free will. They have. Now we must assure that their will gets accounted for.

Source: http://hetq.am/eng/news/23605/armenian-bar-association---government-denies-victory-to-raffi-hovannisian.html

Freedom Square is Calling


I recall the stories my father and older brother would tell when they returned from a game. Depending on whether Homenetmen had won or lost, they would talk about the chants and slogans, describe how this or that player scored a goal, how luck was simply not on our side that day, or how the referees were completely unreasonable and unfair in their rulings.

Teams went to great lengths to ensure victory. Bribing referees and fixing matches were regular occurrences for several local teams that could afford it—a phenomenon we refused to participate in. For the community, though, it did not matter. Whether we were strong enough to take on the opponent or not, whether we could expect a game to be fixed or not, our fans showed up in the numbers with their flags and chants to support their team. It was not just about sports. The games were about the community’s thirst for acknowledgement, for winning. It was one way to channel the political aspirations and frustrations of a community formed on the ashes of Genocide and deprived of a homeland. And so rain, hail, or shine they showed up.

So did our compatriots in Armenia on the day of the country’s sixth presidential election. They showed up to express their aspirations for a better future; they showed up for a chance to win against all odds.

With three major opposition forces not participating, the non-competitiveness of the election seemed to dominate public discourse, or at least media discourse, in the pre-electoral phase. The results were going to be fixed—and they were; People were going to be bribed, pressured, intimidated—and many were; Not many people were going to show up, because it was all a sham—but many did; it was meaningless to participate—but the aftermath has shown it certainly wasn’t. In retrospect, those who held these views—myself included, but, more importantly, several prominent opposition forces—were right about many things; but I am thankful we were wrong about what counts most—the will of the people.

Election day is over but the struggle for fair and just elections is not. We may never know the exact proportion of votes Raffi Hovannisian and Serge Sarkisian received, but our people are still showing up, this time at Freedom Square, to defend their democratic right to vote, to defend their choice. I don’t know where the future will lead us, and if, when, or how the gatherings at Freedom Square will come to an end this time around. How the coming days pan out will depend on many things, including the decisions and actions of Hovannisian, the authorities, and other political forces in Armenia.

In these uncertain times, however, one thing is certain. This struggle is not about Hovannisian gaining power. It is not about the Heritage Party or the Republican Party; the ARF, the Armenian National Congress or Prosperous Armenia. This sentiment was reiterated by Hovannisian himself during one of his speeches at Freedom Square. This struggle is about freedom, self-determination, nation-building, and democratization. It is the struggle for a better future—a strong Armenia where the will of the people is respected, not oppressed. For this reason, it must be a united struggle.

Yet again, Armenia is at a crossroads. All political forces in Armenia have a choice to make. Those who see themselves defending the freedom of the people and democratic principles must play their role in this struggle. This is particularly true for the main opposition parties. Members of the Armenian National Congress—which remains embroiled in an internal struggle—have attended the gatherings at Freedom Square. Prosperous Armenia remains silent. The ARF has announced it stands by the people. More concrete actions are needed, however. Having sat out the elections out of lack of faith in the process, these parties now have an opportunity to re-evaluate their policies and to take part in carving out a different future for our country. Otherwise they may risk marginalizing themselves.

The people of Armenia have spoken. They have spoken against five more years of corruption, emigration, social inequality, economic deprivation, human rights violations and irresponsible foreign policies. We can’t afford five more years of suppressing the will of the people. Enough. Freedom Square is calling.

Source: http://www.armenianweekly.com/2013/02/21/freedom-square-is-calling/

ARF Joins the Movement


“This popular struggle will not die down. We will achieve victory,” said opposition presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian on Firday as he addressed thousands of supporters who had gathered at Liberty Square to hear a briefing on his meeting Thursday with Serzh Sarkisian at the Presidential Palace. Hovannisian, who addressed the crowd that has been multiplying exponentially since Monday’s elections, reported that Sarkisian rejected all of his proposals, which aimed to satisfy the aspirations of Armenia’s citizens following the presidential polls.

Hovannisian said that among the points discussed with Sarkisian was holding of repeat elections, the response to which was a “No.” He then proposed snap parliamentary elections based on a representative system. “What do you think was the answer? No,” said Hovannisian. “I have nothing to say to these de facto leaders anymore,” added Hovannisian.

“I stand before you to say that we will not surrender, we will not hide, and we will not rest until the voice of our people is heard in our government. City by city, village by village, we will take our country back,” said Hovannisian, who announced that he would be expanding this movement to regions outside of Yerevan with rallies in Vanadzor, Gyumri and Ashtarak on Saturday. He asked the people to reconvene at Liberty Square at 3 p.m. Sunday to further the movement.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation joined the thousands upon thousands of Armenian citizens gathered at Freedom Square Friday, with the party’s Supreme Council of Armenia representative Armen Rustamian delivering a powerful message of solidarity with the people.

After a series of speeches by Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage Party leaders, other opposition leaders, civil society activists, and artists, Hovannisian introduced Rustamian, saying: “Today we are joined by a political figure whose party, our party, the party of my ancestors, in the name of the fatherland, unity, our national interests, the rights of the citizen, and our  state’s sovereignty, wages a struggle wherever it is necessary, from Strasbourg to Ankara to Moscow to Washington…. Please welcome the representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Armen Rustamyan.”

Rustamian first spoke of the ARF decision to come to Freedom Square. “For a few days now, Freedom Square was waiting for—and wanted to see—the ARF. And we are now here! We have come here, to this rally, because as we announced earlier, the ARF stands with you, with the people,” he said. Rustamian noted that the Armenian people proved on Feb. 18 that it’s impossible to kill justice and freedom. He said, “The people does not tolerate the rotten political, social, economic, and moral environment.”

Rustamian joined other opposition leaders at the rally in their criticism of the statements of international observers, who deemed the elections fair. “Regardless of what the international observers say, it is you who took part in the election, and you know all too well what really happened,” Rustamian said. “This is an unstoppable movement to establish the rule of the people,” argued Rustamian.

Source: http://asbarez.com/108428/hovannisian-vows-to-continue-popular-movement/

Protecting the Right to Vote in Armenia


The authorities in Yerevan once again falsified the presidential elections. Just as before, people have rushed to the streets to urge the authorities to recognize the voice of the majority. Once again an opportunity has emerged for a civil movement, which includes not just people who have voted for Raffi Hovhanisian, but also citizens who have not voted for him and doubt in his potential as a politician. People are joining this movement to protect the basic right to vote: a right, without which no democracy can exist. Five years ago, an opportunity for a civil movement had also emerged, and anyone concerned with the birth of democracy in Armenia should learn from the experiences of 2008.

Lessons of 2008

Based on negative memories and hatred towards Levon Ter Petrossian, many political parties, journalists from the Diaspora and Armenia, non-profit organizations, certainly also individual citizens and diasporans did not support the movement that began in 2008. In contrast, many minimized the violations of the 2008 elections, did not restrain from painting Levon Ter Petrossian and his team in black and most unfortunately described the demonstrators and activists as sheep, traitors, and so on. This stance, arising from personal preferences and party politics, indicates that maybe those opposing the 2008 movement had not understood that the demonstrations were not in about electing Ter Petrossian as president, but rather in support of the Armenian citizen's democratic right to vote.

Others realized that the 2008 movement was a struggle for democracy, but argued that such demonstrations and movements would destabilize Armenia and harm the image of the nation internationally. By now it should hopefully be clear that as long as Armenia is not democratic, the country would be instable. Those who opposed the 2008 movement prevented an opportunity for developing democracy in Armenia and ensuring stability. Regardless of whether or not Ter Petrossian or Hovhannisian as presidents would have been or will be able to uphold democracy in Armenia, one must stand by the demand of the people, if one believes in democracy.

Just like in 2008, now as well, we must stand back from our personal preferences and struggle for the wish of the majority of the people. We cannot forget that this movement demands the de jure recognition of a de facto elected president. Just for this reason the 2008 and 2013 movements in their nature first and foremost embody civil rather than political principles.

A civil rights movement

The rally on February 22 seems to have landed the movement towards a promising direction. Speakers of the podium and among the people of Liberty Square have also stated that being present at the Liberty Square does not signify that they have voted for Raffi Hovhannisian. Raffi also, commendably, has tried to divert the movement from his personality. Having said that if the current movement will remain a civil movement, then Raffi Hovhannisian and other political leaders should refrain from uttering their domestic and foreign policies from the podium of the Liberty Square; the 2013 presidential campaign has ended.

The current situation does not demand creating a political coalition, at this point efforts should be directed towards enhancing a civil movement. The involved individuals and political forces may not be in agreement with the perspectives of the Heritage Party, they have united, and I hope more will unite, to struggle for the citizens' right to vote: for democracy.

In response to those joining the movement, Raffi Hovhannisian should not demand anything less than the presidency that he has won. Thus to ask for new parliamentary elections or commit to any other compromise will be unacceptable for the participants of the civil movement because to protect the democratic rights of the citizens in the Republic of Armenia stands as the forefront purpose of this movement.

- Dzovinar Derderian is a PhD student in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Source: http://www.reporter.am/go/article/2013-02-23-protecting-the-right-to-vote-in-armenia

The Police Warns Raffi Hovhannisyan


It is not the first time the Police of the Republic of Armenia have reminded Mister Raffi Hovhannisyan and the participants of the meetings organized by him that in all states including Armenia there is not and can't exist a right to conduct meetings which demand a preliminary notice addressed to relevant bodies without any notice, to gather in preferable places, give instructions to the police officers not having that power. Unfortunately, these warnings were not apprehended by their addressees.

It is several years that the police have taken all the possible efforts to provide the complete freedom of meetings within the scope of the Constitution and laws, as well as to make the atmosphere of peace and interaction take roots between the participants of meetings and police officers. Such an atmosphere is urgent not only for the police or for the authorities, but just for the society because it provides security and stability which are urgent for the development of peaceful and safe life.

On February 23, presidential candidate of the Republic of Armenia Raffi Hovhannisyan conducted meetings in Ashtarak, Aparan, Spita, Vanadzor and Gyumri cities without a preliminary notice. Thepolice of the Republic of Armenia emphasize that illegal meetings can lead to an uncontrollable situation, exploitation of rights, various offences when it becomes impossible to provide the natural and peaceful course of the meetings.

Taking into the account the fact that the meeting organized by Raffi Hovhannisyan directly conflict with freedom of meetings, The police of the Republic of Armenia in order to avoid unallowable developments find it necessary to inform Raffi Hovhannisyan the methodology of controlling masses, taking into the account that illegal meetings, calls not to obey law enforcement authorities and instructions, other illegalities during the meetings can be n incitement to a variety of other illegalities and lead to irreversible consequences, depriving the police of the possibility to provide the peaceful course and public order during the meetings.

So the police of the Republic of Armenia express their readiness to discuss the abovementioned issues with Raffi Hovhannisyan and his allies informing them about the possible consequences of such actions.

Source: http://hetq.am/eng/news/23768/the-police-warns-raffi-hovhannisyan.html