Tag Archives: government

We refuse to pay 150 Dram for transport!- And Other Protests

Armenia is a country of protests; daily protests that take place all around the capital, particularly near the Opera and on the main streets with the embassies and government buildings. Within a few days, I saw 3 protests and took part in 2 of them.

The 1st was in front of the Russian embassy, where we were herded to the side, out of the officials’ view, against the inhumane treatment of an Armenian detainee accused of causing the deaths of 18 and the injury of 48 others. His lorry had experienced problems, possibly with the brakes or possibly with the tires, and turned over before crashing into a bus full of people. The Armenian driver of the lorry was taken to the hospital and given a woman’s robe before being paraded around in this during the court hearing, alongside being imprisoned while embarrassingly still wearing the robe and slippers.

 

The 2nd protest was near the Opera, against the low pensions that war veterans receive today. The amount is truly pitiable, an extremely low step taken by our oligarchical government. War veterans receive 30-50,000 drams, between $75 and $125 a month. Boggles my mind how one can expect another to live with such a measly amount. 20130721_202938 20130721_202957 20130721_202950

The third protest I so enthusiastically took part in began before the parliament building and our march took us from street to street until we were on some of the busiest ones. Here, we stopped the buses, removed any signs that indicated the pay to now be 150 drams, and stuck all over the transports flyers and pictures that condemned the raising of the prices and demanded we all pay the original fare of 100 drams. 100 drams is just about 23-27 cents, depending on the exchange rate. There were buses that had refused to increase the fare and taxis about which would take people to certain places for free. We got honks of support and cheers of approval. We increased our numbers as we walked and cried out at every corner that we, and only we, can protect our own rights. People joined as we walked by, store owners peeked out and stood on their doorsteps to watch or cheer on their support, and the people standing at every stop were encouraged to follow example and refuse to pay the new amount.

Together, with the whole country doing the same thing, we can make a difference. In Armenia, you ride the bus and pay at the end. As such, each and every citizen is encouraged to pay 100 drams before jumping out, encouraging those around them to do the same. Let’s drop this guise of a sheep and stand up tall with head held high. The people hold the power, they just need to realize that it lies in their collective strength!

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The Predetermined Win, a Worthy Contender, and the Hashtag Hijacking

Let’s start with the initial statistics. There are 2,505,980 eligible voters in Armenia according to the information provided by the Armenian police. The numbers are almost definitely inflated, considering these figures would probably include children and/or repatriates and refugees holding only a special visa without voting rights. A total of 1,988 polling stations across Armenia opened at 8.00 am Monday for a 12-hour balloting to choose the next president of the country.

The incumbent was show to have taken the crown once more in the sample exit polls with a 58% lead. Hovhannisyan, having utilized a more active Western-style campaign, managed to earn himself a whopping 32%. Bagratyan took home 3% of the vote, tied with Hayrikyan, whereas Ghukasyan, Setrakyan and Melikyan earned 1% each. This, however, is only 99% of the votes, so I’m assuming the missing 1% was blank or entirely random names, such as “Chuck Norris” as we’ve seen on previous ballots. Note: This is only the representative sample of about 2000 individuals to determine the end result. 

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The true numbers began trickling in at around 11 am Eastern Time. Within a few hours, the news coverage of the polls went haywire and each portal presented different numbers.

True Results: 

  1. Serj Sarkisian: 58.64%
  2. Raffi Hovhanissian: 36.75%
  3. Hrant Bagratyan: 2.15%
  4. Paruyr Hayrikyan: 1.23%
  5. Andreas Ghukasyan: 0.57%
  6. Vardan Sedrakyan: 0.42%
  7. Arman Melikyan: 0.24%

Of course, there are some more humorous takes on the voting process:

votes2

More such images were posted by News.am- http://news.am/eng/news/140816.html

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It was, I hear, one of the most apathetic voting seasons yet. Of course, Serj Sarkisian had been boasting about winning the elections from over a week ago, a predetermined victory few, if any, had doubts about. He continued to do so throughout the vote count process. Speaking to journalists yesterday after having voted himself, Sarkisian said he cast his ballot “for Armenia’s future, for prosperous Armenia, for the wealth of our citizens and our families.” Now, if this was the case, I would have no problems. His platform appears pretty, though there were better platforms prepared. Hrant Bagratyan’s platform looked to be most geared towards the socio-economic problems prevailing within the country, which appealed to me moreso than the rest. Only a few had viable platforms available, of course, which leads me to question why they would even run for a position in the first place if their aim is not to win? It only hinders the chances of a more suitable candidate, hurting the democratic process instead of appearing to be fair. Furthermore, it placed a whopping extra 40 million+ AMD in the pockets of the government.

Inserting some lighthearted news into the mix, though Raffi didn’t win the elections:

Votes1

I must commend Raffi’s Western-style efforts to break the mould and establish a better system in our country. Truth be told, his efforts were not in total vain. The gap in the official vote counts are surprisingly not as wide as originally predicted, a minor victory for those who yearn to see a fair and free democratic Armenia.

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Armenia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office says it has received several complaints from opposition groups claiming violations of elections regulations at some polling stations, to which the president has not given a proper comment. It’s nothing new, of course. iDitord has covered the fraudulent practices in depth, urging the citizens of Armenia to report any and all suspicious activity.

  • The first clamours of fraud came from Avan and then all over the country, where the stamp placed on the passport of voters, which should disappear in 12 hours, can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Video evidence can be seen hereBallot Stuffing is a crime and an electoral fraud punished in the Westernmost of countries, but it’s no phenomenon in Armenia, a country influenced by the Great Mother Russia to this day, the King of Electoral Fraud.
  • Next in line was news from Avan where the ballot box was found to have a slit underneath, to be used for ballot stuffing. According to reports, such boxes are said to be around the country and election observers were urged to ensure more such cases would be dealt with.
  • News emerged about Akhourian’s sugar factory workers being bussed to Yerevan by Samuel Alexanyan, having been given ballots on which Sarkisian’s name has already been ticked off. Concerned individuals were powerless to stop the vehicles with license plates belonging to the ruling party. These individuals were party to electoral manipulation and possible economic threats. 
  • Raffi Hovhanissian’s Facebook page points to some rather gruesome examples of fraud. In Vanatsor, a family of 3 was given 30,000 AMD to vote for Sarkissian, an example of vote buying. However, when the woman died suddenly the day before, the little minions arrived to take back the 10,000 bribe money, adding salt to the wound and rubbing cruelly. At one of the voting stations, as an example of misleading the public, the choice of candidates was placed so high up, it was nigh impossible to read for most. In another one of the villages, with a higher dose of vote buying, the staff employed at 2 different kindergartens were given 25,000 AMD by Samuel Alexanyan to vote in favour of the incumbent president. In Erebuni, citizens calmoured warnings about door-to-door vote buying. In Lori, 5,000 AMD were handed out to buy votes. In a gross representation of electorate manipulation, the governor of Agarak was advised to vote for the 300 citizens missing from the village in favour of the ruling party. In Yerevan, this type of fraud continues with the names of those who have left the country still being placed on the electoral lists. In Tashir, evidence of ballot stuffing has been found by a member of the Heritage Party. In 3-rt Mas, Ashot Arevshatyan has been seen walking around with an electoral list, offering bribes. Karatsor’s mayor, Arayig Matinyan, has been found to be ballot stuffing and directing votes. Warnings were given about suspicious appearing taxis parked before the voting station at Ajarian School. Countless other such disturbing events have been reported from all over the country, from every province. Check out the Facebook page for a list of 53 specific reports, including those mentioned here.
  • Video recordings have been made of attempts at fraud, as seen here
  • In Ararad, there were 1300 ballots, but only 1000 signatures of voters, as reported here. At least try to hide your tracks better!
  • Raffi Hovhannisian claims attacks on individuals known to support him
  • In Artashat, seal on envelope tampered, while mixed up and unevenly folded ballots found inside, mostly being Raffi’s an example of destruction or invalidation of ballots.
  • Suspicious group bribes voters checks lists at Shengavit’s polling stations and police remain indifferent
  • Preying on the votes of the handicapped elderly as seen here an example of “granny farming” or misuse of proxy votes
  • Blatant destruction of ballots is reported from Yerevan on https://www.facebook.com/Raffi4President
  • Blatant invalidation of ballots reported by CivilNet
  • Attacks on reporters seen

All in all, there have been 361 reports of fraud, with 27 known cases of voting lists presented to the people, 91 known cases of ballot buying and intimidation, 57 known cases of pre-vote preaching, 79 known cases of suspicious or fraudulent activity during the voting (including ballot stuffing, granny farming, misuse of proxy voting, etc), 43 known cases of falsification(including misrepresentation of votes, destruction or invalidation of ballots, ballot stuffing, voting for nonexistent or out-of-country persona, false ballots, etc.), 59 known cases of violent or threatening behaviour (including, threats to person, violent clashes, grabbing ballot boxes, presence of unauthorized or armed personnel, unlawful behaviour by police, etc.), as per the information gathered by the rather amazing #iditord.

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Now, this isn’t the only fun to be had at the moment. What’s an Armenian event without Azeri interference? Rather dull, apparently. Sometime around 5 am in the morning for me, an hour n half after I finally crashed, the hastag I was so ardently following on twitter was partly hijacked by… well would you look at that!… Azerbaijani activists! Our own dear Katy Pearce outlines the hijacking of #Armvote13 here. And here we were, concerned citizens and diaspora, keeping tabs on the elections and minding our own business.
Update: http://www.katypearce.net/cv/armvote13-hashtag-analysis-11pm-feb-18/

Tsarukian will Not be Running for President

 

Prosperous Armenia Party claims it will not support any other candidate

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian said on Wednesday that he will not stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

In a written statement, the Prosperous Armenia Party said Tsarukian announced his decision at an emergency meeting of the party’s governing body and parliamentary faction. It said this announcement led the meeting to decide that the Prosperous Armenia Party will not field a presidential candidate or support any other contender in the election scheduled for February 18.

The statement did not specify the reasons for the move given by Tsarukian. It said only that the tycoon thanked his allies for their “unconditional support and trust.”

Commenting on the development, Prosperous Armenia Party spokesman Tigran Urikhanian said Armenia’s second largest parliamentary forces is only keen to make Armenians better off. “No positions, including the post of president, can be a priority for us,” Urikhanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Prosperous Armenia has other priorities and will not deviate from the path leading to them.”

“You should also bear in mind that the nomination or non-nomination of a leader is his personal decision,” he said, adding that the Prosperous Armenia Party decided not to endorse other presidential candidates “out of expediency.”

Tsarukian was widely expected to run for president until his unexpected weekend meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian. None of its details were officially made public.

source: http://asbarez.com/107089/tsarukian-will-not-run-for-president/

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Personally speaking, I was curious about what Armenia would have looked like under the rule of a powerful figure that, although feared, held a form of dubious respect among the general populace. With his withdrawal, I believe it’s a guarantee that the incumbent president will complete a decade as head of the Armenian state. Hard for change to occur when the ruling party has no real competition. Even in Canada and the States, there are 2 ruling parties that go head to head and bash one another like rams in heat during election time. Tsarukian would have given Armenia that particular advantage as well, pushing for the government to garner votes in fairer manner.

It’s like playing chess against yourself. You know all your own moves and have no incentive to do better. What’s the point of winning when there’s no one to defeat?

A Curious Discovery- I Wonder if There’ll be an Azerbaijani V

Dystopian fiction novels have been documenting worlds in which fascist totalitarian governments take over known world communities in the wake of cataclysmic events leading to the mass destruction of large populations. Whether it’s because of a Nuclear War as in “The Crysalids”  or a Big Brother society established like in “1984,” these classic literature pieces are both terrifying and forewarning. Imagine “Brave New World” come to life, wherein consumerism makes the world go round and families are nonexistent. What if we were in a dark and dreary place “The Giver” presents to us? My latest obsession is with “V for Vendetta” and the ideas of freedom it represents.

Funny enough, Aliyev’s rant on twitter a few hours ago reminds me of Adam Susan’s speech in the comic series:

Susan’s speech:
My name is Adam Susan. I am the leader. 
Leader of the lost, ruler of the ruins. I am a man, like any other man. I lead the country that I love out of the wilderness of the twentieth century. I believe in survival. In the destiny of the Nordic race. I believe in fascism. Oh yes, I am a fascist. What of it? Fascism…a word. A word whose meaning has been lost in the bleatings of the weak and the treacherous. The Romans invented fascism. A bundle of bound twigs was its symbol. One twig could be broken. A bundle would prevail. Fascism…strength in unity. I believe in strength. I believe in unity. And if that strength, that unity of purpose, demands a uniformity of thought, word and deed then so be it. I will not hear talk of freedom. I will not hear talk of individual liberty. They are luxuries. I do not believe in luxuries. The war put paid to luxury. The war put paid to freedom. The only freedom left to my people is the freedom to starve. The freedom to die, the freedom to live in a world of chaos. Should I allow them that freedom? I think not. I think not. Do I deserve for myself the freedom I deny to others? I do not. I sit here within my cage and I am but a servant. I, who am master of all that I see I see desolation. I see ashes. I have so very much. I have so very little. I am not loved, I know that. Not in soul or body. I have never known the soft whisper of endearment. Never known the peace that lies between the thighs of woman. But I am respected. I am feared. And that will suffice…

Samples of Aliyev’s tweets can be found here: https://twitter.com/presidentaz

The world’s best comedian is what I call him. Should he not have had money and oil to offer the world, he’d be the laughingstock of every country. This is not to say that he isn’t already, for his words inspire such mirth, but a tactful diplomacy is utilized in order to keep that money and oil in the pockets of those who crave it most, though most definitely don’t need it. He seems to believe his ludicrous claims, his idea of uniformity of thought becoming the focus of every step he seems to take. Institutionalized lies have taken over, poisoning the education of young minds and twisting the mentality of all generations. Hatred is fostered, ethnocentrism becomes the doctrine and in all this, the state is portrayed as one of equality, tolerance and democracy. The sheer hypocrisy of the system is laughable, while the forced ignorance of the people is utterly pitiable.

I wonder, will this manner of governance inspire revolutionaries like V to rise up and dismantle this system?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November,
the gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.”