Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Monday, June 27, 2022.
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Here are the major topics we’ll touch on today:
● Who killed the OSCE Minsk Group?
● Murders in Aparan
● Arthur Vanetsyan Resignation
● Gagik Jhangiryan in the Line of Fire
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Hrant Mikaelian, a political scientist and multidisciplinary researcher in social sciences based in Yerevan. He is also a senior researcher at the Caucasus Institute.
This week, Russian FM Lavrov was in Baku. This followed an earlier visit last week to Yerevan. Meanwhile top diplomats from the EU and the US have also been visiting the region, including Toivo Klaar (EU special rep for the South Caucasus) and Karen Donfried (Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the US). The level of diplomatic activity is certainly out of the ordinary.
In Baku, one of the main stated purposes of Lavrov's visit was the regulation of the Artsakh conflict. He made a few noteworthy comments including:
● Russia blamed (again) the US and France for the suspension of the work of the OSCE MG. Donfried has denied this and said they're willing to work in that framework.
● In another statement, Lavrov said that Russian enterprises are interested in post-conflict rebuilding of Azerbaijani territories
● Is there a shift in the Russian position since the start of the war in Ukraine?
● Who killed the OSCE MG?
● What effect are the street protests having on all of this?
● Where do we go from here?
● Azerbaijan has always tried to kill the OSCE MG, but it looks like it also had some help?
○ Post April war Azerbaijan closed their offices in Baku and forced the closure of the group's offices in Yerevan.
○ After Nikol Pashinyan came to power, he seems to have conceded to Azerbaijan and stopped pushing for "observation" and "monitoring", which was introduced into the MG agenda after the April 2016 war.
○ Just last year, Pashinyan said that they will be working on a peace deal and submitting it to the OSCE MG for approval. A peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan was not primary on the MG agenda. What effect did this position have on the primary agenda of the MG, which was regulation of the Artsakh conflict.
Last Sunday night, June 19, there was an altercation in Nigavan, a town near Aparan in the Aragatsotn region which led to a Yerevan resident shooting seven residents of Aparan, resulting in the death of two, and injuring five. Some media reported that the altercation was political in nature, and the shooter had fired on people who had made anti-Pashinyan statements. The police immediately refuted that, in a report which had multiple patently false statements. The report was slammed by prominent HR activist Ruben Melikyan, and two days later the Chief of the Police in Aparan was fired.
● What do we know about this shooting?
● Do we know why the police chief was sacked?
The shootings sparked further opposition protests on Monday, yet now a week later, the circumstances of the case are still unclear, and like Melikyan said in his statement, there is deep distrust in the course of the investigation by the police.
Meanwhile, PM Pashinyan convened an emergency meeting of certain government leaders, the chief of police, as well as Civil Contract reps. According to Past Info, he instructed to mute this issue and remove it from the media as much as possible.
● Why has it been so hard to get any real information on this incident?
● False statements about the nature of the quarrel (“domestic nature”), the type of gun, and the involvement of Civil Contract-related people on the shooter’s side.)
● One of the shooters is reportedly a Civil Contract member whom the police chief of Armenia and the Investigative Committee are trying very hard to clear of any wrongdoing.
Vanetsyan announced his resignation from the National Assembly on Tuesday. He also effectively dissolved the Pativ Unem alliance between his Hairenik party and Serge Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
As far as we can tell, the alliance’s membership lists will remain in effect, however, so the next Pativ Unem member on the list will succeed him in Parliament.
● What happens to the bloc, and its Mandates? How do things work?
● Do we know the reasons behind Vanetsyan’s resignation?
● Where does this leave the opposition protests?
Last week we discussed the leaked audio tape of Gagik Jhangiryan making thinly veiled threats to Ruben Vardazaryan, to force him to resign as the head of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
This past week the saga continued, and while pressure mounted on the government to sack the deeply corrupt Jhangiryan, what has happened instead?
● Vardazaryan was finally sacked from leading the SJC, where he had remained as the nominal head of the council.
● Jhangiryan has refused to step down as the acting head of the SJC.
● Jhangiryan met with judges, what promises were made? Courts stretched.
● Does having a SJC make any sense, if judges are essentially “supervised”, meaning “controlled”, where does such a department leave “independence” of judges and the judiciary?
● Where’s the SJC headed?
That was our Week in Review show, and we hope it helped you catch up with some of the issues in and around Armenia from this past week. As always, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Hrant Mikaelian, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh, Artsakh, OSCE MG, Minsk Group, Nikol Pashinyan, Arthur Vanetsyan, Gagik Jhangiryan, Ruben Vardazaryan, Aparan, Nigavan, Supreme Judicial Council, SJC, Leaked Audio, Berdzor, Lachin, Sergey Lavrov, Toivo Klaar, Karen Donfried,