dimanche 27 septembre 2015

Elections en Turquie : le journaliste arménien Markar Esayan est encore candidat sous l'étiquette AKP

Leading political party of Turkey again nominates Armenian for snap elections
10:43, 19 september, 2015

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 19, ARMENPRESS. Armenian journalist Margar Yesayan was again nominated by the Justice and Development Party (JDP) of Turkey for parliamentary snap elections to be held in November, “Agos” news reported.

Yesayan was nominated in the 2nd District in Istanbul as 12th on the list on July 7, and he was the 14th on November 1.

312 of 550 candidates on the list had been nominated also for previous elections.
Source : http://armenpress.am/eng/news/819206/leading-political-party-of-turkey-again-nominates-armenian-for-snap-elections.html

Voir également : Turquie : le journaliste arménien Etyen Mahçupyan est nommé conseiller du Premier ministre Ahmet Davutoğlu

Elections municipales en Turquie : le MHP poursuit sa politique arménienne traditionnelle

Interview de candidats arméniens du MHP (parti nationaliste turc réputé "dur")

Berç Keresteciyan : un député arménien sous Atatürk et İsmet İnönü

La Turquie kémaliste et sa minorité arménienne

La place des Arméniens dans les révolutions jeune-turque et kémaliste

samedi 26 septembre 2015

Arménie : passage à tabac de l'opposant Smbat Hakobian

September 22, 2015
Armenia: Activist Brutally Beaten

Stop Interference With Peaceful Protest

(Berlin) – A member of an independent political group critical of the Armenian government was savagely beaten after a protest in Yerevan, the capital, on September 21, 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately investigate the beating of Smbat Hakobian, a member of the Alliance of Freedom Fighters, and bring those responsible to account.

“No peaceful protester should have to fear a brutal beating just for expressing their views,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The effectiveness of the investigation into the vicious assault on Smbat Hakobian will be a true test of how seriously the Armenian government takes its commitment to free expression and peaceful assembly.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed by telephone an activist who was one of the first people to assist Hakobian after the beating. She said she found Hakobian covered in blood at a construction site not far from the protest site. She said she called for help and began to administer first aid.
An ambulance then took Hakobian to a hospital, where, she said, he was treated in the intensive care unit for serious injuries to his head and face, broken ribs, and damage to his lungs. She said the police arrived only an hour later. The woman asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

She said that Hakobian told her that shortly after the march, a group of five men he did not recognize dragged him into a gated construction site and brutally beat him. Activists said there are numerous video cameras in the area that could potentially aid in identifying the attackers.

Several dozen demonstrators, mainly supporters of a small opposition party and members of the Alliance of Freedom Fighters, had marched to the headquarters of the ruling Republican Party to mark Armenia’s independence day and express their discontent with the government. They said they had received official permission for the protest. The Alliance of Freedom Fighters consists of Armenian veterans of the war fought over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh war who are outspoken government critics.

The attack on Hakobian is the second on a prominent member of the group in Yerevan in the last year. In late 2014, unidentified attackers assaulted three members who had participated in a series of opposition rallies. No one has been held accountable for those attacks.

Other protesters have also faced physical violence in the last year. In late June, police used force against demonstrators opposed to a proposed 17 percent increase in electricity rates. Those demonstrations continued to protest the police use of force. In September, police also forcibly dispersed a second protest over electricity costs.

Armenia is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and has clear obligations under the convention not only to respect the right to peaceful assembly, but also to ensure the security of those exercising that right and protect them from unlawful interference by others.

Armenia also has obligations to carry out effective investigations into attacks on bodily integrity and personal security and to ensure that police use of force is in compliance with international standards. Those standards limit use of force to situations in which it is absolutely necessary to respond to physical threats to the police or others and then is strictly proportionate and nondiscriminatory.

“People in Armenia shouldn’t be risking serious injury to take part in a peaceful protest,” Denber said. “The government needs to make clear that anyone who interferes with peaceful protesters will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”
Source : https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/22/armenia-activist-brutally-beaten

Voir également : Erevan : répression policière contre une nouvelle manifestation

Arménie : un oligarque proche du pouvoir tabasse un homme d'affaires... qui décide de ne pas porter plainte

Erevan : agression contre l'activiste Vilen Gabrielian

Arménie : encore un opposant agressé à Erevan

Erevan : agressions de journalistes par la police arménienne

samedi 19 septembre 2015

Arménie : les dons "généreux" pour les juges soulèvent des questions

in English
Lavish ‘Donations’ To Armenian Judges Raise Questions

Irina Hovhannisyan

Հրապարակված է՝ 16.09.2015

Judges of the Court of Cassation, Armenia’s highest criminal and administrative justice body, as well as their close relatives claim to have received last year at least $126,000 in financial aid from sources not disclosed by them.


They reported the lavish donations, seen by some civil society members as another sign of widespread corruption within the Armenian judiciary, in their annual asset declarations filed with the state Commission on the Ethics of High-Ranking Officials.

The single largest donation worth $100,000 was reported by the wife of Serzhik Avetisian, a Court of Cassation judge dealing with criminal cases. Like many other Armenian state officials and their family members, the couple did not specify its source.

Ruzanna Hakobian, a member of the Court of Cassation panel on civil cases, claimed that her husband received over $17,300 in similar aid in the course of 2014. Another court judge, Hamlet Asatrian, declared a $9,000 donation.

Such donations appear to be also commonplace among judges of lower-level Armenian courts. Artur Poghosian, an Administrative Court judge, told the state anti-corruption body that his son received 7,300 euros ($8,250) in cash from an unnamed individual. Armen Bektashian, a Yerevan district court judge, also declined to explain the origin of 4,000 euros transferred to his bank account in 2014.

“I see corruption risks here,” said Gevorg Gyozalian, a lawyer who has been closely monitoring such income declarations, which are mandatory under Armenian law. “We must clarify the origin of these donations. Who gave them and why? After all, we are talking about judges and big cash transactions.”

Artak Manukian, an expert with the Armenian branch of the anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, shared these concerns. He suggested that the judges attribute the bulk of the donations to their family members in hopes of avoiding corruption allegations.

Despite having undergone frequent structural changes over the past two decades, the domestic judicial system is still regarded by many Armenians as corrupt and highly dependent on the government.Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Karen Andreasian, highlighted the problem in a 2013 report that accused judges, the country’s highest paid state officials, of routinely taking bribes in return for corresponding rulings.

The report based on confidential interviews with lawyers, judges and prosecutors singled out the Court of Cassation. Citing the anonymous interviews, it alleged that the bribes paid to the court’s judges typical range from $10,000 to $50,000 per case.Both the high court and a government body overseeing the judiciary denied the allegations.

The Court of Cassation and its chairman Arman Mkrtumian in particular have long been the main source of complaints from Armenian trial attorneys. The latter have accused Mkrtumian, among other things, of severely limiting the independence of lower courts.

Lavish “donations” coming from undisclosed sources are reported by not only judges but also many other Armenian state officials who are legally obliged to disclose their incomes to the Commission on the Ethics of High-Ranking Officials. Those include senior officials tasked with combatting corruption.

Hovannes Hovsepian, the wealthy head of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Oversight Service, is a case in point. He claims to have received a total of $2.75 million in financial aid from 2011 through 2014.

The commission in question has rarely investigated the source and purpose of these cash flows. Ever since being set up in 2012, with the stated aim of detecting corrupt practices, it has not accused any Armenian official of illegal self-enrichment.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27251886.html

Voir également : Arménie : la Cour d'appel refuse de libérer les opposants politiques

L'Arménie : une corruption systémique, selon un rapport

Arménie : des dons luxueux pour les officiels du régime bananier

Le pouvoir arménien veut classer "secret d'Etat" les informations sur les dépenses personnelles de ses dirigeants

Arménie : libération sur parole du fils d'un diplomate, impliqué dans un trafic de drogue à la frontière iranienne

La police arménienne a "perdu" 78 kg d'héroïne

Le beau-fils d'un député arménien serait suspecté d'être l'auteur d'une fusillade ayant fait cinq blessés

Arménie : les six raisons possibles de la démission du Premier ministre Tigran Sarkissian

Arménie : les partis oppositionnels et les ONG s'élèvent contre la tentative de Sarkissian de renforcer son pouvoir

in English
Armenian Parliament Opens Debate On Constitution

Astghik Bedevian

Հրապարակված է՝ 15.09.2015

The National Assembly began debating on Tuesday President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional reform package envisaging a radical change of Armenia’s government system which opposition parties say would prolong his rule.


The long list of amendments drafted by an ad hoc presidential commission reached the parliament floor nearly one month after being sent to the parliament’s leadership. Earlier this month the Sarkisian administration agreed to revise some of them in an effort to satisfy the Council of Europe and some opposition groups that seem ready to back Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic.

Vartan Poghosian, a member of the commission, told lawmakers that the draft amendments could undergo more changes during the parliament debates. He said the commission is open to constructive proposals that would “further improve” the text.

Two opposition parties represented in the parliament, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage), remained adamant in categorically rejecting the proposed reform. They insisted that Sarkisian is keen to remain in power in a different capacity after his second and final presidential term expires in 2018.

“He should be sent to prison in a manner defined by law, instead of having a bill prolonging his tenure debated here,” declared Zaruhi Postanjian, an outspoken deputy from Zharangutyun.

The verbal attack provoked angry rebuttals from some of her colleagues affiliated with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). They repeatedly interrupted Postanjian’s speech.


The HAK’s parliamentary leader, Levon Zurabian, demanded, meanwhile, that the debate be broadcast live on state television. “You are trying to hatch a plot behind the people’s backs. This once again shows that you are afraid of public opinion and therefore want to do this secretly,” Zurabian charged after speaker Galust Sahakian rejected the demand.

Sahakian announced later in the day that the Public Television of Armenia has agreed to start broadcasting the proceedings on Wednesday.

With the HHK and its allies enjoying a comfortable majority in the assembly, the constitutional bill will almost certainly win parliamentary approval later this month. This will pave the way for a referendum on the proposed changes.

“I think that we will be prepared to hold the referendum in early December, if the National Assembly gives a positive opinion,” said Vahram Baghdasarian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader.

Baghdasarian suggested that the parliament could tentatively endorse the draft amendments already this week. “We think it right to quickly complete the first phase [of the debate] so that we have more time to work on proposals,” he said.

The HAK and Zharangutyun have pledged to spare no effort to try to scuttle the reform. On Saturday, they joined more than two dozen non-governmental organizations in forming an alliance that will campaign against it. The alliance plans to hold rallies across the country in the run-up to the referendum.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27250194.html

in English
Armenian Groups Join Forces Against Constitutional Changes


Karlen Aslanian

Հրապարակված է՝ 14.09.2015

About three dozen opposition parties, civic groups and other non-governmental organizations pledged at the weekend to jointly fight against sweeping amendments to Armenia’s constitution sought by President Serzh Sarkisian.


They stood by their claims that Sarkisian is keen to circumvent a constitutional ban on a third presidential term by expediting the country’s transition to the parliamentary system of government.

“We are calling on citizens of the Republic of Armenia and all political and social groups to join in the struggle unfolding in the country,” read a joint declaration adopted by their leaders during a conference held in Yerevan. It said their “No Front” alliance will strive to mount “popular resistance” to the controversial constitutional reform.

The alliance comprises two of the opposition parties represented in Armenia’s parliament: Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage). Its establishment was initiated by the You Won’t Pass It pressure group which was set up recently with the specific aim of scuttling the constitutional changes expected to be put on a referendum later this year.

Armen Grigorian, the You Won’s Pass It leader, said the “No Front” will hold nationwide rallies as part of its campaign. But neither he nor other leaders of the new alliance went into details of that campaign.

“We will do everything to ensure that this constitutional draft reinforcing Serzh Sarkisian’s dictatorship does not pass,” said Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman. “It won’t be a constitutional referendum. It will be a referendum about whether or not Serzh Sarkisian should stay on as Armenia’s dictator.”

Armen Martirosian, a Zharangutyun leader, said that the No campaign will succeed only if Sarkisian is forced to resign. “Armenia’s problems cannot be solved without the ouster of the current illegitimate regime,” he said.

The Founding Parliament, a more radical opposition movement that also joined the grouping, likewise stressed the need to use the forthcoming referendum for a regime change drive.

Sarkisian has repeatedly stated that he will not become prime minister or hold any other state post after completing his second term in 2018 if Armenia’s becomes a parliamentary republic. Opponents of his constitutional reform dismiss these assurances.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27246722.html

mercredi 16 septembre 2015

Erevan : répression policière contre une nouvelle manifestation

in English
Police Clear Yerevan Street Of Protesters

Sisak Gabrielian

Հրապարակված է՝ 12.09.2015

In a quick pre-dawn operation, riot police dispersed on Saturday youth activists blocking a major street in central Yerevan to demand that the Armenian authorities formally annul a recent rise in electricity prices.


Police units cleared Marshal Bagramian Avenue 30 minutes after the expiry of a police ultimatum that was issued to the protesters late on Friday. The national police service said the protest is illegal and can therefore be broken up.

Colonel Valery Osipian, a deputy chief of Yerevan’s police department, reiterated this warning before security forces swept aside several dozen activists who remained at the blocked section of the avenue early in the morning. They did not use batons, water cannons or other riot gear.

“Policemen, stay calm,” Osipian repeatedly shouted through a megaphone as his officers dragged away activists.

Most of the protesters appeared to be detained on the spot. Those included leaders of the No To Plunder movement that resumed this month its vocal campaign against the more than 17 percent electricity price rise.


Rima Sargsian was apparently the only No To Plunder leader to avoid arrest. She condemned the police actions.

Several protesters suffered minor injuries during the crackdown.
Ambulance cars were on hand to provide them with first medical assistance.

Traffic through the avenue resumed moments later, after a police water cannon washed the site of the overnight protest.

The same street section was the scene of bigger nonstop protests against the price hike in late June. They forced President Serzh Sarkisian to promise that his government will subsidize the tariffs pending an international audit of Armenia’s loss-making power distribution network.

No To Plunder decided to resume protests after the government made clear last month that the subsidy will apply only to households and some small businesses.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27243458.html

Electric Yerevan, Part Two?
September 14, 2015 - 9:41am, by Giorgi Lomsadze

A fresh scuffle between police and demonstrators in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, suggests that widespread complaints about officials' handling of a 16.5-percent increase in electricity prices could still have legs.


The latest rally, scattered by police on September 12, did not boast the numbers comparable to the “high-voltage rallies,” a series of sit-ins in the city center in June known as Electric Yerevan. It was a much smaller crowd, made up mainly of activists from the No to Plunder group, which claims that the government, counter to its earlier promises, has not entirely covered the cost of the higher power prices.

Most businesses, the group alleges, have been left out.

At first glance, to many outsiders, paying roughly ten cents (48.78 drams) per kilowatt hour of daytime energy use may not seem high. But protesters claim the real issue relates to the practice of officials handing out special favors for the government's corporate chums -- a longtime complaint in Armenia. The government, they charge, always covers up accordingly.

No to Plunder has demanded that the new prices, seen as the result of government collusion with the Russian-owned Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA), be scrapped entirely. “We will go to the end,” the protesters told Interfax.


After demonstrators failed to disperse by dawn on September 12, police intervened, arresting 48. They have since been released.

The last time police attempted a protest-cleanup, during this June's Electric Yerevan, it only boomeranged back against the government, and even put Armenia’s big brother, Russia, on tenterhooks over what it perceived as another Maidan-style revolution in the making.

Both the government and protesters worked hard to make sure that anger with the Russian-owned electricity grid did not escalate into protests against Russia, its main military ally which supplies most of the country’s energy and much of its trade.

As the protest tensions petered out and the vacation season kicked in, the situation for both the government and ENA calmed.

Talk of penalizing ENA for not connecting clients to its grid as agreed tapered off in August after Armenia's regulatory commission voted against fining the company.

It also transpired that the auditor chosen to review the Armenian regulatory commission, the Moscow-based Deloitte & Touche CIS, itself has ENA’s owner, Inter RAO UES, as a client.

For now, the state subsidy for power prices has helped the government to keep things calm among ordinary Armenians. But the money for the subsidy, allegedly taken come from the sale of a large hydropower complex, will not last for long. Nor does Armenia’s ailing economy help matters.

Electric Yerevan left many Armenians with a sense that they can get officials to do at least some of their bidding — the question is whether or not another attempt will now be made.
Source : http://www.eurasianet.org/node/75071

Voir également : Erevan : la police arménienne réprime violemment les manifestants et les journalistes
 
Erevan : vives protestations contre l'augmentation du prix de l'électricité

Le gouvernement français semble soutenir la répression en cours en Arménie

dimanche 13 septembre 2015

Corruption : 2 ans d'emprisonnement avec sursis et 20.000 euros d'amende requis contre Philippe Kaltenbach

Corruption: 2 ans avec sursis requis contre le sénateur PS Philippe Kaltenbach
12/09/2015 à 09h18 Mis à jour le 12/09/2015 à 09h44

Deux années d'emprisonnement avec sursis et 20.000 euros d'amende ont été requis vendredi contre le sénateur PS des Hauts-de-Seine et ex-maire de Clamart Philippe Kaltenbach, qui comparaît pour "corruption passive" sur fond d'attribution de logement social, devant le tribunal correctionnel de Nanterre. Le substitut du procureur a également demandé une interdiction de 5 ans des droits civiques, civils et de famille, "emportant privation du droit de vote et inéligibilité".

Le parquet a par ailleurs réclamé 8 mois d'emprisonnement avec sursis à l'encontre de l'ancien adjoint à la sécurité de Philippe Kaltenbach, Mohamed Abdelouahed, poursuivi pour corruption active. L'accusation repose principalement sur une vidéo, tournée en 2010 à l'insu de Philippe Kaltenbach par son adjoint de l'époque, et diffusée sur internet en 2012. Dans une séquence, on voit l'ancien maire de Clamart recevoir, dans son bureau, une somme d'argent en liquide de Mohamed Abdelouahed. Pendant la remise de fonds, les deux hommes discutent de ce qui semble être l'attribution d'un logement à un tiers.
Par la rédaction avec AFP
Source : http://www.bfmtv.com/politique/corruption-2-ans-avec-sursis-requis-contre-le-senateur-ps-philippe-kaltenbach-914291.html

Voir également : Piégé par des vidéos, le sénateur Philippe Kaltenbach est enfin jugé pour corruption

Fin de règne pour Philippe Kaltenbach (président du groupe d'amitié France-Arménie au Sénat)

Philippe Kaltenbach enfin mis en examen pour corruption

Le maire et sénateur "socialiste" Philippe Kaltenbach, collaborateur notoire et hargneux du lobby raciste arménien, est soupçonné de corruption

vendredi 11 septembre 2015

Piégé par des vidéos, le sénateur Philippe Kaltenbach est enfin jugé pour corruption



Piégé par des vidéos, un sénateur socialiste est jugé pour corruption

Publié le 11/09/2015 à 11h12 , modifié le 11/09/2015 à 11h41 par SudOuest.fr avec AFP

VIDÉOS - Philippe Kaltenbach, sénateur socialiste des Hauts-de-Seine, est accusé d'avoir accepté au moins 1000 euros en liquide en échange de l'attribution d'un logement social 

Le sénateur socialiste des Hauts-de-Seine et ancien maire de Clamart Philippe Kaltenbach doit répondre ce vendredi de "corruption passive" devant le tribunal correctionnel de Nanterre, sur fond d'attribution d'un logement social dans sa ville.


Sur le banc des prévenus, il retrouvera son ancien adjoint à la sécurité, Mohamed Abdelouahed, poursuivi pour corruption active. Les deux hommes encourent une peine de dix ans d'emprisonnement et 150 000 euros d'amende.
Piégé par deux vidéos

Les soupçons contre l'élu socialiste avaient été portés à la connaissance du parquet de Nanterre par un signalement d'un adversaire politique, Philippe Pemezec, maire Les Républicains (ex-UMP) du Plessis-Robinson, commune limitrophe de Clamart, dans l'ouest parisien. Une enquête préliminaire avait donc été ouverte dès le printemps 2011.

Mais c'est surtout après la diffusion sur internet en janvier 2012 de deux vidéos, réalisées à l'insu de l'élu socialiste par Mohamed Abdelouahed, que l'affaire avait véritablement éclaté.
Dans une séquence, on voit Philippe Kaltenbach recevoir, dans son bureau, 1 000 euros en liquide de Mohamed Abdelouahed. Pendant la remise de fonds, les deux hommes discutent de ce qui semble être l'attribution d'un logement à un tiers.

"Une manipulation politique"

"Une manipulation politique", balaie la défense de l'élu PS, assurée par Me Dominique Tricaud, qui affirme  que "la démonstration d'un complot organisé est de plus en plus établie".

Philippe Kaltenbach avait initialement été placé sous le simple statut de "témoin assisté" par les juges d'instruction en février 2013, avant d'être formellement mis en examen pour corruption six mois plus tard et finalement renvoyé devant le tribunal correctionnel. "Il a la certitude de démontrer son innocence; il est soulagé que ce soit enfin jugé, parce qu'il traîne ça comme un boulet", fait valoir son avocat.  
Source : http://www.sudouest.fr/2015/09/11/piege-par-des-videos-le-senateur-socialiste-philippe-kaltenbach-est-juge-pour-corruption-2121200-710.php

A noter que, lors du centenaire du "génocide arménien", Kaltenbach a été invité à la télévision française pour donner son avis "éclairé" (ironie) sur cette question historique (aux côtés du nationaliste arménien Alexis Govciyan et des journalistes du Monde Guillaume Perrier et Gaïdz Minassian). Et ce alors que sa réputation était depuis longtemps entachée par les lourds soupçons autour de ses pratiques clientélistes.

Voir également : Fin de règne pour Philippe Kaltenbach (président du groupe d'amitié France-Arménie au Sénat)

Philippe Kaltenbach enfin mis en examen pour corruption

Le maire et sénateur "socialiste" Philippe Kaltenbach, collaborateur notoire et hargneux du lobby raciste arménien, est soupçonné de corruption

mercredi 9 septembre 2015

L'appartenance à l'Union économique eurasiatique ne profite pas à l'Arménie

Armenia: Eurasian Union Malaise Puts Government in Budget Hole
August 6, 2015 - 12:39pm, by Marianna Grigoryan

The expected economic benefits of membership in the Eurasian Economic Union are not materializing for Armenia. One way Armenian leaders are apparently hoping to offset looming shortfalls is by privatizing the postal service.


With roughly 3,000 employees, the state-run HayPost has been managed since 2006 by a firm owned by Argentinean billionaire businessman Eduardo Eurnekian. Under the HayPost Trust Management, facilities have been upgraded and, most Armenians seem to believe, services have improved.

The firm’s management contract does not expire until the end of 2016. That fact is prompting Armenian observers to question why the government wants to privatize the post office now? Many believe the country’s economic alliance with Russia is the main driver for privatization. As Russia’s economy has faltered, so, too, has Armenia’s.

Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in January, and during the first half of 2015, the country experienced a 20.6 percent decline in foreign trade, compared with the same period the previous year. Meanwhile, remittances from abroad, a pillar of the economy, fell by nearly a quarter between June 2014 and 2015. The vast majority of remittances are sent from Russia.

The EEU was expected to generate revenue for Armenia in the form of the redistribution of tax income. But in June, Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian cautioned that Russia’s persistent economic woes mean that Armenia is unlikely to receive its projected $200-$250 million share of EEU revenue this year.

Armenia’s 2015 budget of $2.9 billion (1.01 trillion drams) counted on robust EEU revenue to fund a 5 percent increase in state spending, RFE/RL reported.

In his May 27 announcement of the postal service plan, State Property Management Department head Arman Sahakian pledged that privatization would create a more technically savvy HayPost, with a stronger regional presence, the Arkan news agency reported.
 
But Ashot Yeghiazarian, a lecturer at the Armenian State University of Economics, asserted that the timing and circumstances suggest that the government is mostly interested in finding a way to plug budget gaps. “When the country cannot bear its financial liabilities, one of the steps is privatizing state property,” Yeghiazarian said.


How much the state could get for HayPost is unclear. The service’s assets are not large – officially valued at just over $1 million (521 million drams). But its tax revenues have been growing steadily. Over the past year, they have increased by 18.7 percent to $8.57 million (406,549,500 drams), according to the State Tax Service.

According to Sahakian, HayPost’s new owner will be expected to renovate 250 post offices, buy new mail trucks, install 750,000 mailboxes, build an automated mail-sorting center in Yerevan, plus diversify to countries with a large Armenian Diaspora and organize the international sales of Armenian postage stamps.

President Serzh Sargsyan signed the privatization bill into law on July 14, but neither HayPost nor HayPost Trust Management has commented about the government’s plans.

A tender has not yet been announced, though media outlets widely expect Eurnekian, the Argentinean billionaire, to maintain control of the postal service.

Privatizing Armenia’s postal service would not be unprecedented. Malta and the Netherlands are two similarly small states that have privatized their post offices; the United Kingdom and Germany have private shareholders.

In the South Caucasus, Armenia’s northern neighbor, Georgia, intended to privatize its own post office in 2011, but ultimately called off the tender for reasons that were never clearly stated.

Economist Vahagn Khachatryan, a member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, questions why Armenia needs to privatize such an asset when it could just continue to allow a private company to manage the structure.

As this summer’s Electric Yerevan protests showed, Armenia’s sale of state-run electricity and gas companies has not resulted in improved services or customer satisfaction, he noted.

“I use HayPost and every year we notice positive changes; something we cannot say about gas, the railroad or electricity,” Khachatryan said.

Parliamentary Budgetary Affairs Committee Deputy Chair Artsvik Minasian, a member of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, also takes issue with the logic behind the government’s privatization position. “With such an approach, we can privatize [everything] starting with the army all the way to the police.”

The governing Republican Party of Armenia’s parliamentary faction leader, Vahram Baghdasarian, who doubles as deputy chair of the legislature’s economic policy committee, saw no cause for concern.

“If there is a good opportunity for investments, why not use it?” he asked.
Editor's note:
Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.
Source : http://www.eurasianet.org/node/74571

Pas de chance : la Russie ne veut pas que le régime bananier arménien serve de "pont" entre l'Occident et l'Iran

Opinion
Armenia as a bridge to Iran? Russia won't like it
No matter how attractive Armenia might be as a bridge for re-engaging Iran, the real obstacle is Russia.


30 Aug 2015 11:22 GMT | Politics, Middle East, Iran, Armenia, Russia

About the Author
Richard Giragosian

Richard Giragosian is the founding director of the Regional Studies Centre, an independent think tank in Yerevan, Armenia.

@Richard_RSC

After years of steadily deepening relations with Iran, Armenia is poised to take advantage of the recent Western engagement of Iran. For Armenia, Iran has always represented a significant alternative to its geographic isolation.

It was this sense of isolation that has also drawn these two countries together - albeit, somewhat counterintuitively. With its borders with neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan closed, Armenia's southern neighbour, Iran, offered an essential second outlet for trade and energy imports. And given the constraints of both Armenia's reliance on Georgia as its primary trade route and its dangerous over-dependence on Russia as a major trade and security partner, the need for alternatives and options has always been an imperative.

Yet, Armenia's Iranian option has always been fraught with difficulty.
For the West, Armenia's steady but stealthy ties to Iran were overlooked.

In exchange, Armenia was careful to abide by the limits of Western sanctions on Iran. And this has also generally limited trade, with bilateral trade at only about $300m last year and with meagre Iranian investments in Armenia, estimated at only $100,000 for 2014.

Carefully scrutinised

For Russia, the course of Armenian ties to Iran was also carefully scrutinised, as Moscow sought to maintain Armenian dependence on Russian energy. This was also most evident in Russia's move to pressure Armenia over the construction of a natural gas pipeline, which was officially inaugurated in March 2007.

Moscow succeeded in reducing the pipeline's diameter, thereby limiting the volume of Iranian gas exports to Armenia. In fact, despite the strategic significance of the pipeline, Moscow's successful move to reduce the diameter from 1,420 to 700 millimetres imposed an obvious limit to any competition for Russian gas, and made any Armenian re-export of gas impossible.

Moscow's limits over Armenia's ability to turn to other energy suppliers is now demonstrated by the disparity of Armenian gas imports, which receives a mere 500 million cubic metres (cm) of gas from Iran, while importing some 2 billion cm from Russia.

Much to the frustration of the Armenian energy sector, the Iranian pipeline's overall capacity of 1.1 billion cm stands as an example of underused potential.
Iranian officials arrive at the construction site of a joint hydroelectric power plant near the Armenian-Iranian border in 2012 [AFP]

But in the wake of the recent Western-brokered nuclear deal with Iran, Armenia is now looking to position itself as a "bridge", or at least a platform, for engaging Iran. And it is geography - not geopolitics - that now counts the most in determining whether Armenia can exploit its position.

There are several advantages for Armenia, ranging from a cheap, educated workforce to low transport costs stemming from reliable infrastructure links. Perhaps most importantly, Armenia is one of the few stable neighbours of Iran, with a deep degree of stability and a long record of close and cooperative relations.

More recently, with several high-level visits of Armenian officials to Iran this year, and the planned visit to Armenia by the Iranian president, there is renewed interested in expanding trade and transport ties. The possible construction of a second twin gas pipeline has also resurfaced as a strategic priority for both countries as well.

Armenian role

On a smaller, yet more realistic scale, Armenia is also eager to expand its existing exports of surplus electricity to Iran. For years, as the only country in the region with a nuclear power plant, Armenia has sold electricity to neighbouring Georgia and Iran.

Iran is also keenly interested, as the planned expansion of the power grid would also link Iran to the Georgian network as well. This has also recently driven Iran to pledge to invest some $91m as its share in the $117m project. This is further supplemented by the development of hydroelectrical projects aimed at bolstering Armenian energy exports to Iranian consumers.

However, the outlook for a key Armenian role in re-engaging Iran depends less on energy and more on other trade opportunities. More specifically, according to diplomatic sources, Armenia offers a unique opportunity for Western commercial engagement with Iran, especially in the sectors of aircraft and automotive parts, as well as high-end consumer products, all of which have been subject to strict sanctions.

And after years of pent up demand and steady levels of disposable income, the sheer size of the Iranian market and the scale of opportunity have already attracted the interest of several larger Western firms.

This inherent opportunity for Armenia is also driving recent negotiations over an ambitious railway project connecting Armenia with Iran. The large, roughly $3bn project has also attracted the interest of Chinese investors, aimed at further leveraging the rail link to expand Chinese-Armenian trade, which stood at $600m last year, but that is limited to a reliance on a lengthy road network to Armenia from southern Iranian ports.

Despite the obvious potential for the deepening and development of Armenian-Iranian trade, the geographical advantage may still be trumped by the geopolitical reality. And unlike the limits on Armenian-Iranian ties imposed by Western sanctions, the coming challenge may be Russia, which is likely to see a new threat from any decrease in Armenian dependence on Russian energy and trade.

All this only raises the risk for Armenia to miss yet another strategic opportunity.


Richard Giragosian is the founding director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC), an independent think-tank in Yerevan, Armenia.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera
 Source : http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/08/armenia-bridge-iran-russia-won-150830063735998.html

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La Russie détruit 200 kilos de poissons en provenance d'Arménie

Russian agricultural watchdog destroys 200 kg of Armenian-produced fish

YEREVAN, August 21. / ARKA /. Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor  said today it ordered the destruction of 200 kg of Armenia-produced sturgeon in a heat-treating furnace in Sochi, a resort city in the southern Russia.

According to local Rosselkhoznadzor's  veterinary supervision service,  the fish was ordered to be destroyed because the Armenian exporter is not listed in the register of certified companies.

Rosselkhoznadzor said the decision complies with the requirements of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), of which Armenia is a member.
It said the Armenian company did not object the destruction of the product.

According to the watchdog, import of goods subject to  state veterinary supervision of  the Russian Federation, should comply with the regulations of the EEU. It said the list of enterprises in EEU member states which are allowed to export their goods to Russia can be found at ssfs.am.-0-

16:18 21.08.2015
Source : http://arka.am/en/news/economy/russian_agricultural_watchdog_destroys_200_kg_of_armenian_produced_fish/

Arménie : un oligarque proche du pouvoir tabasse un homme d'affaires... qui décide de ne pas porter plainte

in English
Armenian Oligarch Accused Of Fresh Violence

Hovannes Movsisian եւ Irina Hovhannisyan

Հրապարակված է՝ 17.08.2015

An Armenian businessman was beaten up and hospitalized over the weekend in an attack which he said was led by Ruben Hayrapetian, a government-linked and reputedly violent tycoon heading the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA).


Arsen Avetisian, a majority shareholder in the country’s largest airline, was reportedly assaulted near an infamous Yerevan restaurant where security guards working for Hayrapetian beat to death a man three years ago.

Speaking in a Yerevan hospital where he is recovering from a broken nose and other serious injuries, Avetisian said the violence occurred during his meeting with Hayrapetian held at the FFA Football Academy on Saturday.

“Hayrapetian grabbed my hand, and when I tried to free my hand everybody else started hitting me,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I didn’t see who was hitting me as I lay on the ground.”

“They then took me to another place. Ruben Hayrapetian was there and he continued to talk to me,” he said, while lying on a hospital bed.

The businessman declined to give the reasons for the violence. He said he will give more details “in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, Avetisian’s, wife, Izabella Melkumian, published an open letter to President Serzh Sarkisian saying that Hayrapetian and his bodyguards kidnapped him after the beating. She claimed they demanded that the businessman managing Air Armenia, a private carrier, sign a statement certifying that he owes a substantial amount of money to the powerful oligarch.

“I appealed to law-enforcement bodies but am worried about the safety of my husband and other members of our family,” Melkumian said, pleading with Sarkisian to ensure their protection by the state.

The Armenian police said later in the day that they are investigating the allegations. A police spokesperson refused to divulge any details of that inquiry.

According to News.am, Hayrapetian and two of his bodyguards were questioned by police investigators. The tycoon refused to comment when contacted by the online publication. Neither he nor his aides answered phone calls from RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Other Armenian media outlets linked the violent incident with Air Armenia’s outstanding debts to another local airline, Taron-Avia from which it is said to have leased an aircraft until suspending its operations late last year. One publication suggested that Taron-Avia’s owner “ceded” the debt to Hayrapetian.

Air Armenia, which has still not resumed its flight services, also reportedly has unpaid debts to several Armenian banks. Avetisian was assaulted one day after a Ukrainian investment fund, which recently bought a 49 percent stake in Air Armenia, announced that it has invested over $68 million in the troubled airline.

Zhanna Aleksanian, a veteran human rights writer, believes that Avetisian’s beating highlighted a broader problem existing in Armenia. “The oligarchs who are members of [President] Serzh Sarkisian’s inner circle enjoy impunity,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “This is why such incidents recur. Only Serzh Sarkisian can tell how long this will continue.”

The weekend incident will inevitably rekindle memories of a June 2012 brutal assault on several Armenian army medics who dined at Yerevan’s Harsnakar restaurant owned by Hayrapetian’s family. One of them, Vahe Avetian, died while two others were seriously injured after arguing with burly men working at the restaurant.


The death of Avetian, a 35-year-old father of three, shocked the nation, sparking a series of angry street protests by hundreds of civic activists. They demonstrated outside the restaurant as well as Hayrapetian’s nearby villa against what they saw as a manifestation of impunity enjoyed by government-linked oligarchs.

The outcry forced Hayrapetian to resign as member of the Armenian parliament and apologize to Avetian’s family. But he stayed on as chairman of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA),denying any involvement in the beating. Some media outlets accused him sanctioning or even ordering the violence, however.

In March 2014, six men thought to be Hayrapetian’s bodyguards were convicted of Avetian’s murder and sentenced to 12 years prison. An Armenian appeals court upheld this verdict three months later.

Hayrapetian continued to face allegations of violent conduct event after the Harsnakar incident. In particular, the oligarch was accused in November 2012 of beating up a doctor working for FC Pyunik, a football club controlled by him. In 2014, he allegedly verbally and physically abused a Pyunik player during a football match in Yerevan. Hayrapetian denied those allegations through the FFA’s press service.

The oligarch, who is a senior member of President Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia, has also been accused by Armenian opposition groups of politically motivated violence in the past. He is also notorious for insulting journalists.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27193756.html

in English
Injured Businessman Makes Peace With Powerful Attacker

Sisak Gabrielian

Հրապարակված է՝ 20.08.2015

An Armenian businessman who was beaten up and hospitalized last week said on Thursday that he has accepted a “reconciliation offer” made by Ruben Hayrapetian, his presumed attacker connected to the government.


The development is a further indication that Hayrapetian, the wealthy and controversial chairman of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA), will avoid prosecution for yet another violent incident widely blamed on him.

Arsen Avetisian, the chief executive and majority shareholder of the Air Armenia airline, suffered serious injuries during an August 15 meeting with Hayrapetian. He claimed to have been assaulted by the notorious tycoon’s bodyguards.

In a written statement, Avetisian said that he has decided to accept a “hand stretched out with the aim of reconciliation” in hopes of saving his debt-ridden company from bankruptcy. He cited a statement on the incident that was made on Wednesday by the East Prospect Fund, a British-registered company holding a 49 percent stake in Air Armenia.

The company deplored the attack on Avetisian, saying that it jeopardized its planned large-scale investments in Air Armenia. It also called on the Armenian authorities and all affected parties to find unspecified “lawful ways of solving the existing problem.”

The East Prospect Fund announced plans to invest over $68 million in Air Armenia one day before the violent attack. The fledgling carrier, which suspended its flights to Russia and Europe late last year, has millions of dollars in outstanding debts to several Armenian banks and other firms.

According to Avetisian’s wife, Izabella Melkonian, Hayrapetian tried to force the Air Armenia boss to repay some of those debts. Melkonian appealed to President Serzh Sarkisian the day after the incident,saying that the lives of her husband and his family members are now at risk.

“We opted for reconciliation because investments in the company were in danger,” an Air Armenia spokesman, Sirakan Hambardzumian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Investors expressed concern at the incident.”


“An offer of reconciliation was made by Ruben Hayrapetian the day after the incident,” said Hambardzumian. He insisted that the government-linked tycoon voiced no further threats against Avetisian.

What exactly that “reconciliation” means remained unclear. What is clear is that it should make it easier for Armenian law-enforcement authorities to avoid bringing criminal charges against Hayrapetian.

So far they have not even opened a criminal case in connection with Avetisian’s beating. A spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee said on Thursday that they are still “clarifying circumstances” of the incident.

“It is not clear what kind of reconciliation was proposed,” noted Zhanna Aleksanian, a well-known human rights campaigner. She urged the Avetisian family to shed more light on the deal.

Aleksanian suggested at the same time that Avetisian is too demand to seek Hayrapetian’s prosecution. She recalled in that regard the 2012 fatal beating by Hayrapetian’s bodyguards of a man at a Yerevan restaurant owned by the tycoon.


Several of those bodyguards subsequently received lengthy prison sentences for the crime that caused an outcry in Armenia. Hayrapetian, who has a history of violent conduct, had to resign as parliament deputy but avoided prosecution despite allegations that he condoned or even ordered the violence. He strongly denied any involvement.

Hayrapetian, 52, has been a staunch backer of President Sarkisian throughout the latter’s seven-year rule. The tycoon holds sway in Yerevan’s northern Avan district, putting him in a position to earn Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) many votes there.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27199998.html

in English
Armenian Oligarch Avoids Prosecution For Fresh Violence

Emil Danielyan եւ Heghine Buniatian

Հրապարակված է՝ 25.08.2015

Ruben Hayrapetian, a controversial government-linked businessman heading the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA), will not be prosecuted despite admitting beating up another entrepreneur, law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan said on Tuesday.


Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said it will not press criminal charges against Hayrapetian because of his “reconciliation” with the injured victim, Arsen Avetisian.


The development is certain to reinforce a widely held belief in Armenia that influential tycoons close to President Serzh Sarkisian and notorious for violent conduct enjoy de facto immunity from prosecution owing to their strong loyalty to the ruling regime.

Avetisian, who is the chief executive and majority shareholder of the Air Armenia airline, was assaulted and injured during an August 15 meeting with Hayrapetian that centered on some of the company’s massive debts. He was hospitalized with a broken nose and other injuries as a result. Avetisian’s wife, Izabella Melkumian, appealed to President Sarkisian the following day, saying that the lives of the businessman and his family members are in danger.

Avetisian announced on August 20 that he has accepted a “reconciliation offer” made by his presumed attacker and will not comment on the incident for now. He cited the need to save Air Armenia from bankruptcy.

In a lengthy statement released on Tuesday, the prosecutors said that the Air Armenia chief has not lodged a formal complaint against Hayrapetian because the two men have “made peace with one another.” They said this gave them sufficient legal grounds for not levelling assault charges against Hayrapetian.

The statement said the victim testified on August 19 that contrary to his wife’s claims he was not kidnapped by the feared oligarch and his bodyguards following the beating, which occurred in a Yerevan café located at the premises of the FFA’s Football Academy. Therefore, it said, Hayrapetian cannot be prosecuted on kidnapping charges either.

According to the prosecutors, Hayrapetian acknowledged punching and repeatedly kicking Avetisian when he was questioned by law-enforcement officials last week. They said the tycoon confirmed that the violence stemmed from Air Armenia’s failure to repay an outstanding debt to one of his “friends.”

Air Armenia, which suspended its regular flights to a dozen destinations in Russia and Europe late last year, has millions of dollars in unpaid debts to several Armenian banks and other firms. Some of those banks took it to court earlier this year.

Avetisian was attacked the day after a British-registered but Ukrainian-based investment fund holding a 49 percent stake in Air Armenia pledged to invest an additional $68 million in the troubled carrier.

In fresh comments to RFE/RL made over the weekend, the chief executive of the East Prospect Fund, Vladimir Bobylev, reiterated his strong condemnation of the violence, calling it an act of “savagery” and urging the Armenian authorities to prevent more such incidents. Even so, Bobylev stopped short of demanding Hayrapetian’s prosecution. “We hope that the matter will get a solution acceptable to all parties,” he said.

The fund manager further made clear that East Prospect will not reconsider its involvement in the Armenian civil aviation sector after the assault. He said the company has already made significant investments in the Armenian airline and continues to regard Avetisian as a “person whom we trust.”

By contrast, Bobylev warned last week that Avetisian’s beating put the East Prospect investments in Armenia at serious risk. In that context, he avoided citing any possible dates for the resumption of Air Armenia flights.

The August 15 assault happened just over three years after a brutal attack on several Armenian army medics who dined at Yerevan’s Harsnakar restaurant owned by Hayrapetian’s family. One of them, Vahe Avetian, died while two others were seriously injured after arguing with burly men working at the restaurant.

Avetian’s death shocked the nation, sparking angry protests by civic activists outside the restaurant as well as Hayrapetian’s nearby villa against what they saw as a manifestation of impunity enjoyed by government-linked oligarchs.

The outcry forced Hayrapetian to resign as member of the Armenian parliament and apologize to Avetian’s family. But he stayed on as FFA head, denying any involvement in the beating. Some media outlets accused him sanctioning or even ordering the violence, however. In March 2014, six men thought to be Hayrapetian’s bodyguards were convicted of Avetian’s murder and sentenced to 12 years prison.

Hayrapetian continued to face allegations of violent conduct event after the Harsnakar incident. Later in 2012, he was accused of beating up a doctor working for FC Pyunik, a football club controlled by him. In 2014, he allegedly verbally and physically abused a Pyunik player during a football match in Yerevan. Hayrapetian denied those allegations through the FFA’s press service.

Hayrapetian, 52, has been a staunch backer of President Sarkisian throughout the latter’s seven-year rule. The tycoon holds sway in Yerevan’s northern Avan suburb, putting him in a position to earn Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) many votes there. Armenian opposition groups have accused him of bullying and attacking their local activists in the past.
Source : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27208399.html

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