Saturday, 23 November 2019

W Weekly Update

September 28 - October 5

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Weekly update with commentary

 

On October 1, the session of the Eurasian Supreme Economic Council began in Yerevan. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, chairing the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), welcomed the participants, and the session continued behind closed doors. Heads of EAEU member states - Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kasim Chomart-Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Zheenebekov and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan. Moldovan President Igor Dodon, head of the observer state, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as heads of invited countries, also attended the enlarged session.

... The Eurasian Economic Union summit is always a significant event for the EAEU member states. It is a good opportunity to summarize the results of work done on a number of key benchmarks, analyze new strategic challenges, consider and suggest more effective, acceptable forms of cooperation for all member states. During the 5 years of its establishment, EAEU, despite being one of the most widely criticized post-Soviet structures, has done considerable work to promote balanced development of the economies of the Member States, to combine existing resources, and to increase product competitiveness. Prior to the Yerevan Summit in an interview with "EAEU Economics Bulletin " («Вестник Экономики ЕАЭС») magazine, the Armenian Prime Minister emphasized the importance of holding economic forums within the EAEU with the wide participation of foreign representatives, international organizations, business environment, scientific and non-governmental organizations. In this regard, the October 1-2 event in Yerevan was the first in terms of both the number of participants and the saturation of the agenda. "Such forums will promote the establishment of an active trade-economic and institutional dialogue, both within the EAEU and with external partners and unions, which is one of the important factors for the development of the transit potential of the Eurasian continent," Nikol Pashinyan said in his interview. And the other important, if not sensitive, locally important topic is the adoption of a decision on harmonization of member states' legislation in the field of gas supply and transportation, as a result of which the price of gas supplied to Armenia may rise. In short, it seems that EAEU is still in search of stabilizing the economic component.

Coming to the political component, it should be noted that long before the summit the fake agenda of the Russian president's participation or non-participation had become the subject of public discussion. Some circles were artificially generating rumors that Nikol Pashinyan's and Vladimir Putin's relations were not smooth, so he would not visit Yerevan. Whereas, the facts prove the opposite. Moreover, Russian media quoted Putin as saying that he was looking forward to arriving in Armenia. "I want to get to Armenia soon, to see Pashinyan and say that Armenian-Russian relations will now enter a new, more prosperous phase," the Russian President noted. And there is nothing to be surprised about: Armenia with its geographical advantage is as important to Russia as Russia to Armenia. And, besides, Putin understands very well that on behalf of Pashinyan, he is dealing with a leader enjoying the confidence of the absolute majority of the Armenian people.  Soon there was another "balloon" circulated by the same circles that bursted out, according to which Putin will not have a separate meeting with Nikol Pashinyan besides the general meeting. In fact, there were not one, but two such meetings.

That’s how it goes. Well, the rest the time will show.

 

Last week, it was reported on the Internet that Yerevan City Court of First Instance Judge Anna Danibekyan had been subjected to harassment and bullying by unknown persons who had presented themselves as journalists. In the footage, a young man, while filming a judge, made disrespectful remarks to her, specifically asking, "Do you belong to the judges who are whining under the walls?" A criminal case has been launched in connection with the case, in which two persons, Narek Mutafyan and Sargis Ohanjanyan were charged under Article 332 1.1 of the Criminal Code for "interfering in any way with the activity of the court in order to impede the administration of justice." As a precautionary measure, they have filed a petition to the court for their detention. The case is under the the RA Investigation Committee.

… The incident has received a wide response from the public, including lawyers, advocates, public-political figures, government officials, ordinary citizens and others. Some have condemned what has happened, while others have condemned the authorities and the law-enforcement system, which are guided by double standards, in one case protecting their own, and in the other neglecting more obvious encroachments on disfavored persons.  In the case of the latter the judges are Alexander Azaryan, David Grigoryan, Alvina Gyulumyan, David Balayan. As for the case of Danibekyan on September 27, the law enforcement agencies, the Supreme Judicial Council, the Ombudsman and the Minister of Justice also disseminated information. What is meant here, is that adding to this the criminal case, the discriminatory attitude really becomes apparent.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the public reaction to the latest incident is not accidental. In this case we are referring to the judge investigating the case of the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan and other high-ranking officials - a circumstance which is conditioned by the common interest and the sincere urge to support the judge. According to press reports, Anna Danibekyan is from a modest family, has become a judge by her own strength and knowledge, has no sponsor either in the present or in the former government, that is to say, she is alone against everyone. Consequently, needs the most support and encouragement of the public. Especially since Kocharyan is "almighty" on the opposite side, with his team of supporters quite formidable and, perhaps, mercenary. It was the two young "players" of that team who, at about 8:15 pm on September 27, decided to stalk a judge who had rejected the detention of the second president by trying to insult and humiliate her by unnecessary questions and to put her under psychological pressure. Judging from the vocabulary used by the journalist, "Are you one of the judges whining under the walls?" one can surely guess from which side the wind is blowing. Anna Danibekyan, who had filed a motion to deny Kocharyan a restraining order, applied to the second president's lawyer Hayk Alumyan just days before. Apparently, Kocharyan's team has a clear stipulation: the youth are committed to continue and develop the senior leadership's initiatives. And the copyright of the phrase "judges whining under the walls" is, as is well known, belongs to the Prime Minister.

Whatever: Let's finish the comment with the following post by human rights defender Ruben Melikyan: "Representatives of the ruling political force have no 'face' to criticize what happened - they just opened the Pandora's box, blocking the courts, prosecuting Judges Azaryan and Grigoryan in different ways, calling the judges" harassers ." Have the wisdom to mitigate as much as you can."

Aptly said and, most importantly, correctly.  

 

Commentary by Gevorg Lalayan

 

Other important events of the week in a few lines:

EAU leaders and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signed an agreement on free trade zone in Yerevan on October 1, according to the Russian TASS news agency. Kazakh President Kasim-Jomart Tokayev told the media, adding that this is the second country after Vietnam to sign a corresponding document with the EAEU.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Yerevan on October 1. This was reported by the Armenian Prime Minister on Facebook. The two leaders praised the results of the EAEU summit in Yerevan, in particular the participation of the leaders of Iran and Singapore in the session, the signing of a free trade agreement with Singapore and the entry into force of the document signed with Iran. Pashinyan and Putin also stressed the strategic nature of the Armenian-Russian relations.

At a September 30 special government session, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the executive approved the 2020 state budget bill. Accordingly, next year's state budget revenues will total 1 trillion 697 billion 618 million 538.8 thousand drams, expenditures - 1 trillion 880 billion 186 million 389.8 thousand drams, deficit - 182 billion 567 million 851.0 thousand drams.

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