Monthly Archives: July 2012

March for Justice

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Now that Ruben Hayrapetyan has resigned from the National Assembly thereby forfeiting his mandate by the will of the Armenian people, something even more important is being demanded–that he he brought to justice. Today a demonstration march began at 10:00 am in front of the National Assembly building on Baghramyan Street, then with the arrival of EU President Herman Van Rompuy, who is on a short working trip to the South Caucasus, the protesters moved to the main entrance to parliament on Karen Demirjian Street. From there the group marched to the Office of the Prosecutor General situated on Vasken Sargsyan Street near Republic Square. More of what happened and who said what can be read here and here.

A greater number of people are starting to rise from their long slumber.

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All photos by Anush Khachatryan

Open Discussion: How to Put an End to the Armenian Oligarchy

P1040126I want to open a discussion about what it will take to get rid of the oligarchic system that has long taken control of Armenia.

For years I have heard nothing but complaints about the various clan leaders who enjoy immunity from prosecution and use their power positions in government to essentially do whatever they want, like terrorizing Armenian citizens and even having them killed as in the case of Vahe Avetyan. There is a video of Ruben Hayrapetyan on YouTube boasting about how he’s harassed and “punished” people, even some at gunpoint, so that he gets his way. But not all peer powerheads are so brazen as to admit committing such acts.

Some of these men rarely do some kind of benevolent work so people won’t think very badly of them. Gagik Tsarukyan has done quite a bit to shed his bad guy image with his philanthropy, helping people mostly living throughout the Kotayk region–his wife has even opened a maternity clinic helping women having difficulty becoming pregnant. And his Prosperous Armenia Party is trying to distance himself from pro-government forces, whatever his intentions may be for doing so.

But by and large, the “oligarchs,” which could include government ministers and even the president himself, depending on your definition of the term and its scope, can manipulate the system whenever and however they want because they know most citizens are too scared, lazy, or apathetic to challenge them. They invest very little in the country; they don’t use their wealth to develop Armenia’s industrial and production capabilities for instance, and they pay employees running their numerous businesses low salaries, at or below the minimum wage in most cases. Only those in their inner circles including family members seem to be living the privileged life. Thanks to their exclusive distribution of wealth, narcissism in Armenian society is endemic.

The questions are: why do Armenian citizens continue to permit the oligarchic system to thrive, and what steps can they take to stop them? Leave your answers in the comments section below. No defeatist answers, please.