Armenian opposition reports new arrests over rallies

Armenian opposition reports new arrests over rallies

Noyan Tapan news agency
1 Jun 04

Yerevan, 1 June: There have been new arrests of opposition activists
over the last two days. According to the office of the [Justice] bloc,
six men were arrested in different regions of Armenia on 31 May and 1
June. Some of them were subjected to several days’ of administrative
arrests, while others were fined.

An investigation into Artak Gabrielyan’s case, who was arrested for
his participation in rallies, was postponed until 2 June. On the same
day, the trial of Tigran Ter-Markaryan and Karen Markaryan will take
place in Gyumri.

Armenian rally outside prosecutor’s office demands release of prison

Armenian rally outside prosecutor’s office demands release of prisoners

A1+ web site
1 Jun 04

1 June: Once again representatives of various public organizations
gathered outside the Prosecutor-General’s Office today to demand
“Freedom to political prisoners” and “We demand to punish those who
resorted to force”.

The organizers of the picket managed to collect 8,000 signatures
in support of the political prisoners. “We believe that our protest
actions will somehow help the political prisoners and that they will be
released, but even if this does not happen, it makes no difference,
I am ready to go there again. We do not strive to bring together
as many people as possible, we simply want new faces to join us,”
protester Arutyun Alaverdyan said.

Today 391 signatures were handed over to the Prosecutor-General’s
Office. Members of the Justice political bloc also attended this
peculiar protest action.

Up to now, the protest actions went on for about an hour, however,
beginning from 2 June, protest actions will go on for two hours, from
1000 to 1200 [0500-0700 gmt]. The organizers are calling everyone to
join them.

BAKU: Azeri paper critical of Georgia’s “anti-smuggling operation”

Azeri paper critical of Georgia’s “anti-smuggling operation”

Zerkalo, Baku
1 Jun 04

The Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo has criticized the Georgian
authorities for acting “unprofessionally” during their recent
anti-smuggling operation on the border with Azerbaijan and called
for the use of “civilized” anti-smuggling tactics. It described
the operation in the Azeri-populated region of Georgia as “dirty
provocation” aimed “to deport the entire population” of this region.
In an interview with the newspaper, the leader of Georgia’s ethnic
Azeri movement said that he was “outraged about the mass arrests of
our compatriots” during the operation especially as many of those
arrested had nothing to do with the border incident. The following is
an excerpt from report by M. Yasaroglu, A. Rasidoglu in Azerbaijani
newspaper Zerkalo on 1 June headlined “Over 100 Azeris have been
arrested in Georgia”; subheadings have been inserted editorially

Georgia has tightened control on the border with Azerbaijan and, in
fact, has closed down the state border, the leader of the movement
Qeyrat [of ethnic Azeris in Georgia], Zumrud Qurbanli, has told

Meanwhile, according to information from the Georgian Security
Council, the Red Bridge checkpoint will be temporarily closed within
the framework of the programme to combat smuggling from Azerbaijan
(Turan news agency).

[Passage omitted: Georgian officials comment on the border incident
with Azeris on 30 May; Azeri ambassador to Georgia deals with the

Yesterday [31 May] the Georgian ambassador [to Azerbaijan] told
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov about the results of
a sitting of the Georgian Security Council and, particularly, with
regard to the situation on the border. According to Mammadyarov, the
traffic on the Red Bridge has not been blocked. “Certain clashes have
occurred there between law enforcement agencies and Georgian citizens
of Azerbaijani origin,” Mammadyarov said. He added that “Georgia is
our strategic partner and a friendly country, that is why, stability
and tranquility there have major importance to us.”

Paper cannot share Azeri foreign minister’s optimism

We would like to share Mammadyarov’s optimism, but facts are
different. Long before [Georgian President] Mikheil Saakashvili’s
election there were fears that he will do his best to deport the
entire population of “naughty Borcali [Azerbaijani name of Georgia’s
Kvemo-Kartli region]” whom he describes as “Tatars” and “second-rate
people” [Passage omitted: about Saakashvili’s election promises to
guarantee the rights of ethnic Azeris].

But completely different processes started after the elections which
allowed us to assume that the new Georgian president’s election
promises, to put it mildly, are not being fulfilled. What happened
after Saakashvili’s election as president? Contrary to his promises,
he has given all lands of Borcali to [ethnic] Georgians lessees,
and only their scanty part, which is unsuitable for use, has been
given to Azeris. The Azeris are being denied all rights, including
the right to land, by the new Georgian political leadership. The
Georgian leadership’s policy is not logical – it’s a fact.

Zerkalo newspaper has repeatedly talked about the violation of rights
of our compatriots in Georgia, a country via which territory we are
laying an oil pipeline to Europe and for whom we have arranged reduced
transport tariffs. True, Saakashvili himself understands fully well
that Azerbaijan would not have agreed to the oil pipeline going via
Armenian territory and the USA was categorically against “the Iranian
route”. The only choice was “the Georgian scenario””…[ellipsis
as published].

As a result of Saakashvili’s policy, the Azeris living in Georgia
are concerned about their fate. There is no need for them to be
afraid of being sacked, as they are already being persecuted and
arrested. [Passage omitted: only three ethnic Azeris have been elected
to the Georgian parliament].

No link between border incident and “anti-smuggling operation” in
Azeri v illages

The movement Qeyrat is the only organization which supports our
compatriots. Zumrud Qurbanli is outraged about the mass arrests of
our compatriots.

[Qurbanli] The Georgian media outlets have been trying to analyse
the unfolding events from various positions and angles. The incident,
which happened around the customs checkpoint, is being taken as the
basis. But this is not just about the incident on the Red Bridge. The
main events occurred not on the border, but in the villages of
(?Garadzhalar) and (?Politsala), 5-10 km from Tbilisi.

The events at the customs checkpoint and in these villages can be
linked indirectly only because 60 km separate these two areas. Had
it been only about smuggling, they could have been dealt with that
en route.

Second, nobody objects to the Georgian authorities’ anti-smuggling
operations. But one should not carry out operations of this kind so
unprofessionally and in the homes of innocent people. Even if there
was information about smuggled goods in someone’s house, there was
no need to humiliate the whole village.

Many buses in Georgia pass the Red Bridge and, naturally, they are
being first of all checked by border guards, the customs as well
as other state bodies. One should not forget that a bus carrying
smuggled goods could have been detained while it was covering the
60 km en route to the village. So, I cannot agree with those who say
that they allegedly “came to the village to confiscate the smuggled
goods brought precisely by this bus “. This is a lie.

How could the Georgian customs have missed this bus? It is
impossible. It is impossible to take even a bag across the border
without the state bodies’ inspection.

Authorities could have informed village administration about operation

I recall that nearly two to three months ago the governor of Kvemo
Kartli called for measures to combat smuggling by the village of
Politsala. This proves that “carrying out measures” has been planned
long ago. But how did they carry out the operation? At 0200 [2100
gmt on 29 May] nearly 200 people in masks burst into the Azerbaijani
village and started to shoot randomly. This is a sign of unprofessional
approach to say the least.

[Passage omitted: background information]

There is another issue of concern, i.e. the Georgian side has
instituted legal proceedings against more than 100 Azeris, who
were arrested and whose property was confiscated. Many of those
arrested had nothing to do with the incident on the Red Bridge. That
is why, I believe that this dirty provocation may seriously damage
Azerbaijani-Georgian relations. There are civilized ways of combating
smuggling and the border service and the customs should start to
do this.

[Passage omitted: the Qeyrat movement tries to protect the rights of
the Azeris and some forces could make use of arrests; Azeri parliament
and envoy to Georgia are dealing with this issue as well]

[Zerkalo] The aforesaid operation was carried out after [Azerbaijani
President] Ilham Aliyev’s statement about his forthcoming visit to
Georgia. In your opinion, could this incident lead to the postponement
of the visit?

[Qurbanli] Ilham Aliyev’s visit has nothing to do with
Georgian-Azerbaijani relations because he is planning to attend
the GUUAM’s [Georgia-Ukraine-Uzbekistan-Azerbaijan-Moldova] regular
sitting. Thus, the recent events will have no impact on the Azerbaijani
president’s visit to Georgia. It is necessary to establish relations
with Georgia as both countries will benefit from this. This will,
in turn, help solve problems of the Azeris in Georgia.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Separatist Karabakh ready for talks with Azerbaijan “in any format”,

Separatist Karabakh ready for talks with Azerbaijan “in any format”, leader says

Mediamax news agency
1 Jun 04

Yerevan, 1 June: Nagornyy Karabakh is ready for negotiations with
Azerbaijan in any format – “be it with Armenia or without it, with
the OSCE Minsk Group or without it”, the president of the Nagornyy
Karabakh Republic [NKR], Arkadiy Gukasyan, said in Stepanakert today.

Mediamax news agency correspondent reported from Stepanakert that
the head of the NKR said that Azerbaijan “will be obliged to sit at
the negotiating table since there is no other way”.

Arkadiy Gukasyan believes that the sides have not yet managed to reach
an agreement because there is no tradition or culture of communication,
which he thinks requires time. At the same time, he noted that the
“Karabakh side intends to work constructively”.

Lithuania continuing coop with S. Caucasian, CIS states


Baltic News Service
June 1, 2004

VILNIUS, Jun 01 — Representatives of the Armenian, Azerbaijani,
Bulgarian, Romanian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Uzbek armies are starting
a four-day visit to Lithuania on Tuesday, during which they will get
acquainted with the country’s system of military training.

This is the first visit of the kind, the Defense Ministry has reported.

The guests are scheduled to go to the Kaunas-based Division General
Stasys Rastikis NCO School, Nemencine-based General Adolfas Ramanauskas
Military Advanced Training Centre, Lithuanian Great Hetman Jonusas
Radvila Training Regiment in Rukla, General Jonas Zemaitis Military
Academy of Lithuania in Vilnius.

The military officers will hold a meeting to discuss results of
the visit.

In the framework of the Partnership for Peace Program, in the end
of 2003 Lithuania proposed military officers from South Caucasian,
some Central Asian and CIS countries training at the Lithuanian
Military Academy. Lithuania also suggested sharing experience in such
fields as crisis management, resource planning, military strategies,
security policy.

The training at the Military Academy — intensive 4-month English
language classes arranged according to NATO program and international
courses for captains — has been favored the most.

Since 2002 the Lithuanian Defense Ministry has sponsored education
of Georgian officer in the Baltic Defense College, and from this
year will pay for studies of two Georgian officers, one officer from
Armenia and one from Azerbaijan.

Take Ten: On visiting Nazareth – 2

Take Ten; On visiting Nazareth – 2
by Behn Cervantes

May 31, 2004, Monday

After a hearty lunch, we went around window shopping. Now, that is
another experience.

Merchants in this area whether Arabs or Jews, have got to be the most
persistent, makulit and hard-sell of all. If you don’t like this,
there is that and many, many more to chose from. “C’mon all are of
the best of quality!” You almost feel guilty for not buying.

One lady store owner even gave me a free card because after she told
me she was Armenian, not an Arab – she added her name ended with
an “i-a-n” which, she said identifies many of her people. “Like
Khatchaturian?” I asked. “Ah,” she said “you know. Good!” Taking
advantage of my position of acceptance I added like “William
Saroyan?” “Aaah” she gasped, “you really know.” She then gave that
free card made by nuns – some Filipinas she added.

There is too much to buy in these tourist spots and I had lost interest
in collecting material souvenirs. I collect memories instead these
days. When the church opened we went through the different points of
interest including the site where Joseph, the carpenter was supposed
to have lived. Why was it underground?

Naturally, we had Kodakan sessions, mixing religious experience with
tourist concerns. However, the drive up Mt. Tabor was breathtaking.
The ancient church atop it is stark for a Catholic church which makes
it indeed impressive.

When I looked down the vast horizon and the valley below, you had to
feel spiritual. Religious thoughts returned.

Ricky pointed out Bedouin settlements when we drove down and explained
their controversial role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However,
what really got my interest was driving through Megido Valley. We
had seen it from atop Mt. Tabor but driving through it now and being
informed by Ricky that this was the alleged Biblical site of the Final
Battle or the Armageddon, my hair literally stood on end. When we
drove through it I dropped my defenses, allowed my imagination to
“ride along.” I pressed the Pause button in my doubtful mind and
consider what this all meant. Going through the alleged site of The
Final Battle or the Armageddon had an entirely different effect on me
from seeing the humble home of Joseph in Nazareth as a tourist. All
of sudden, I had very mixed emotions, one rather mundane, the other
rather spiritual and deeply profound.

Nazareth the simple home town of Joseph, the carpenter, Mary, his
wife and a young boy named Jesus is now a booming tourist attraction,
rather blatantly commercial under a patina of religiosity. It is
unrecognizable by Biblical standards after 2,000 years of progress
and commerce.

Megido Valley, on the other hand, is utterly still, unoccupied, and
empty, as though waiting to play its final role as proclaimed in the
Good Book.

One is opposite the other. The connection between the two contrasting
places is Jesus of Nazareth. As Christ he will have the central role
in Megido in that prophesied event.

I had to pause, consider and think. It was mind-boggling. I had to
pray… in my own manner.

ARKA News Agency – 05/31/2004

ARKA News Agency
May 31 2004

RA NA Vice Speaker and the member PACE monitoring commission
discussed the inner political situation in Armenia

NKR Minister of Foreign Affairs receives the co-chairmen of
International Work Group for search of missing people, hostages and
prisoners of war in the region of Karabakh conflict

Co-reporters of monitoring commission of PACE to arrive in Armenia on
June 14-17

The HEAD of RA NA Parliamentary commission receives the chairman of
SEYM of Poland

Economic reform in Armenian are highly evaluated at the meeting of
the board of IMF in Washington

RA President Kocharian signs the law on making amendments and novels
to the law on state pensions

RA President Kocharian receives delegation of the heads of the
Armenian Evangelical Churches and organization

Chairmen of Democratic Liberal Party of Armenia (Ramkavar) and new
times party discuss today’s situation in Armenia



YEREVAN, June 1. /ARKA/. RA NA Vice Speaker Tigran Torosyan and Jerzy
Jaskiernia,the member PACE monitoring commission, the Head of the
commission on foreign affairs of the Seym of Poland discussed the
inner political situation in Armenia. According to RA NA Press
Service Department, in the course of the meeting Torosyan stated that
the opposition rejected the initiative of th eruling coalition of
Armenia to reduce the tension in the country and settle the existing
problems through political dialogue, and instead it preferred rallies
to a dialogue. He added that the opposition was suggested joint work
on doing amendments to Election Code and the key articles of the
Constitution. Torosyan noted that the majority of the commitments
stated by PACE resolutions are complied with Armenia and a detailed
document wil be submitted on it before the visit of PACE monitoring
group to Armenia (June 14-17 ).
According to the press release, in the course of the meeting Torosyan
also touched upon the issue of imposing sanctions against persons who
violated law during presidential and parliamentary elections in
Armenia. Torosyan noted that a corresponding reference is received
from the General Public Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia that would be
submitted to the Parliament in the course of coming three-day
session. Speaking of pluralism in Armenian Mass Media, Torosyan
suggested inviting an export commission to the republic for
conducting monitoring in this area. A.H. –0–



STEPANAKERT, May, 31. /ARKA/. Ashot Gulyan, the NKR Minister of
foreign Affairs received Bernhard Clasen and Svetlana Gannushkina,
the co-Chairmen of International Work Group (IWG)for search of
missing people, hostages and prisoners of war in the region of
Karabakh conflict, as well as the coordinators of the group Karine
Minasyan (Armenia), Avaz Gasanov (Azerbaijan) and Albert Voskanian
(NKR). According to NKR Press Service Department, Gulyan expressed
hope that the experience of IWG will allow them to solve the
humanitarian problems relating to all parties in the conflict. At the
same time, the Minister noted that politicizing of the issue
regarding hostages and prisoner of war by Azerbaijan as well as
accusations addressed to Armenia and NKR hinder search work and
create the atmosphere of distrust. In regard with this, Gulyan
emphasized that the clear position of IWG on the issue could stop
such actions on the part of Azerbaijan.
In their turn, the representatives of IWG also agreed with
non-acceptability of politicizing of humanitarian issues. The
accepted that the state committee of Azerbaijan on hostages and
prisoners of war is rather occupied with propaganda than search. A.H.



YEREVAN, May, 31. /ARKA/. The Head of Parliamentary Commission of RA
NA Armen Roustamyan received the Chairman of Seym of Poland Jerzy
Jaskiernia. According to RA NA Press Service Department, Jaskiernia
is also a member of PACE monitoring commission and the reporter on
Armenia. In the course of the meeting the parties emphasized the
importance of development of relations between two countries,
activation of interparliamentary relations, co-operation in
international organisations and European structures. Roustamyan
emphasized the importance of inclusion of Armenia and other countries
of South Caucasus into Enlarged Europe: New Neighbors EU program.
This would contribute to regional partnership, and create the
conditions for peaceful settlement of regional conflicts. A.H.–0–

JUNE 14-17

YEREVAN, May, 31. /ARKA/. Co-reporters of monitoring commission of
PACE to arrive in Armenia on June 14-17 , as stated by the co-
Reporter of PACE monitoring commission, the Chairman of Parliamentary
commission on foreign relations of Seym of Poland Jerzy Jaskiernia,
who was on his visit in Yerevan. As he said, his present visit is not
connected with monitoring. Jaskiernia stated that the reporters will
meet the Leaders of the opposition, NGOs, and the representatives of
the Constitution Court. “The latter is especially important, since
most people in Strasburg do not understand what was and is the role
of Constitution Court. It’s important to introduce info about Armenia
comprehensively”, he said. Jaskiernia added that the reporters want
the dialogue between the opposition and the coalition be resumed.
“PACE will be informed about the events in Armenia and the steps done
by the Government of Armenia to comply with the commitments to PACE
“, he said. Jaskiernia confidently said that Armenia will comply with
the main commitments and there will be no necessity to impose any
sanctions ion the country.
According to April 28 PACE resolution, Armenia is obliged to regulate
the inner political situation till September. If the commitments to
PACE are not complied with Armenia , then in September the Assembly
in accordance with the 9th point of its order has the right to review
the authorities of the Armenian delegation in PACE. A.H.–0–



YEREVAN, May, 31. /ARKA/. Economic reform in Armenian were highly
evaluated at the meeting of the Board of IMF in Washington. According
to RA President’s Press Service Department, James McHugh, the
permanent IMF representative in Armenia, during his meeting with RA
President Kocharian noted that at present new program of the Fund to
be discussed. According to the press release, the sides agreed that
more attention to be paid to Armenian regions and their problems by
the programs of IMF.
Also current issue connected with the improvement of tax and customs
administration were discussed in the course of the meeting. A.H.–0–



YEREVAN, May, 31. /ARKA/. RA President Kocharian signed the law on
making amendments and novels to the law on state pensions, according
to RA President’s Press Service Department. Kocharian also signed the
law on approving state annual program on preserving, spread and
development of culture for 2004. A.H.–O



YEREVAN, May, 31. /ARKA/. RA President Kocharian received the
delegation of the Heads of the Armenian Evangelical Churches and
organizations. According to RA President’s Press Service Department,
the delegation consisting of the representatives from various
countries, was headed by the Chairman of world Armenian Evangelical
Council and Armenian Evangelical Union of Near East Reverend Mkrtich
Karagezian. Kocharian highly estimated the education and charity
mission of evangelical churches and organizations and added that
consistency can be observed in the work they do. Kocharian expresses
his confidence that the joint constructive work will be successfully
continued in future.
In their turn, the Heads of Evangelical Churches and organizations
noted that their goal is to render help to their motherland and “all
programs are focused on it”. A.H.–0–



YEREVAN, May 31. /ARKA/. Chairmen of Liberal Democratic Party of
Armenia (DLPA) (Ramkavar) and New Times party Harutyun Arakelyan and
Aram Karapetyan discussed today’s political situation in Armenia and
its possible development. As DLPA Headquarters told ARKA during the
meeting the Chairmen agreed to make such meetings on regular. T.M.


Turkey’s ancient Christians seek to resettle villages

The Daily Star, Lebanon
June 2 2004

Turkey’s ancient Christians seek to resettle villages
Syriac archbishop: ‘It is our pleasure to have our people back from
different parts of the world’

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Turkey: The ancient Syriac Orthodox monastery outside this southeastern
city is praying for a brighter future as Christians, forced out
of their ancestral lands by economic hardship and an armed Kurdish
insurgency, start trickling back to their villages.

“It is our pleasure to have our people back from different parts of the
world,” said Archbishop Filuksinos Saliba Ozmen at the Deyrulzafaran
Monastery, which dates back to the 5th century and sits on a bluff
overlooking an extensive plain.

“By the grace of God they are coming back. Otherwise we would lose
everything, the entire community,” he added in his office adorned
with pictures of late archbishops and patriarchs.

The Syriac Orthodox community, one of the world’s oldest Christian
denominations, whose original congregations also settled into what is
today Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, numbered some 50,000 to 60,000 members
in southeastern Turkey in the 1960s.

Many left for Europe in the 1970s for economic reasons. Emigration to
countries such as Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden
ballooned over the following decade amid heavy fighting between
the army and Kurdish rebels seeking self-rule in the mainly Kurdish

“We were caught in the middle of the clashes,” Ozmen said.

The community now numbers 20,000-25,000 with most now living in

Recently some Syriac Orthodox families in Europe decided they would
try their luck and return to villages they had abandoned, as the
insurgency has almost died out after rebels declared a unilateral
cease-fire and took refuge in neighboring Iraq in 1999.

The rebels however issued a statement over the weekend threatening
new attacks.

“The situation now is at least safer than before. We have been
struggling, working for it to get better,” Ozmen said just before
that statement was issued.

Also bolstering the community’s hopes was an official government call
in 2001 for the Syrian Orthodox community to return and a guarantee
they would not be hindered from doing so.

Turkey’s drive to join the European Union is another influence on
the return of this Christian community, as the mainly Muslim country
strives to ensure religious freedoms and democratic rights for its
minorities in order to join the EU.

Ozmen explained that of 12 Syriac villages abandoned in the region,
only one, Marbobo, had been rebuilt and resettled after eight families

Reconstruction was under way in two other villages, Kafro and Arbo,
while plans were being drawn up for the rebuilding in some six other
villages in the surrounding rugged hills, said the archbishop.

“The authorities are helping us with getting water and electricity
to the villages. We are planning to receive some young families”,
said Ozmen. “If we get five percent of the Syriac community back,
it would not be bad,” he added.

But all is not rosy. The archbishop pointed to the difficulty of
keeping alive the culture of the community which uses Aramaic, the
language spoken at the time of Jesus, in its liturgy.

The Syriac Orthodox were not recognized as an official minority
in 1923 when the Turkish Republic was founded – unlike the Greek,
Jewish and Armenian communities – leaving them without the right to
open official schools.

The community resorted to sending their children to Turkish state
schools during the day and afterward to informal schooling in both
Deyrulzafaran as well as in the Mor Gabriel Monastery – the oldest
monastery in the world – in the nearby town of Midyat.

“That is why we would like to see Turkey in the EU to live better
and practice our culture better. We, as Christian minorities, have
a great task in establishing ties between Turkey and the European
Union,” said Ozmen.

By Hande Culpan, Agence France Presse

Opposition Reports Fresh Arrests

Opposition Reports Fresh Arrests
By Karine Kalantarian and Ruzanna Stepanian 02/06/2004 01:19

Radio Free Europe, Czech Rep
June 2 2004

The Armenian opposition reported on Tuesday renewed “administrative”
detentions and imprisonments of its activists ahead of the resumption
of its anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan.

Dustrik Mkhitarian of the Artarutyun alliance told RFE/RL that eight
activists in Yerevan and other parts of the country have been
arrested since Monday for allegedly disrupting public order or
“insulting” police officers.

She said five of them were sentenced to between five and ten days in
prison while the others were fined and set free. She added that
another oppositionist, the leader of an Artarutyun chapter in the
nearby town of Abovian, was detained and being questioned by the
local police as of Tuesday afternoon.

Arrests were also reported by the opposition National Unity Party
(AMK), Artarutyun’s top ally in the two-month campaign for President
Robert Kocharian’s resignation. AMK leader Artashes Geghamian said
two of his activists in the central town of Gavar got five-day and
ten-day jail terms under the Soviet-era Administrative Code after
publicly informing local people about his visit to the area due on

The reported arrests come in advance of yet another unsanctioned
rally which Artarutyun and the AMK plan to hold on Friday following a
two-week pause. Leaders of the two opposition groups pledged on May
21 to stage “permanent” anti-Kocharian rallies from June 4. They also
said they will “rethink” their tactics to pull larger crowds in the

The upcoming rally was formally banned by the Yerevan municipality on
Tuesday in response to a written notification from several opposition
leaders. A written reply signed by an aide to Mayor Yervand Zakharian
pointed to the ongoing criminal investigation into the opposition
drive for regime change. It also cited a clause in the new Armenian
law on rallies which bans public gatherings in cases where they
“jeopardize citizens’ life or health.”

The law was enacted last month over serious objections voiced by
legal experts from the Council of Europe and the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe. They believe that it fails to
meet European standards to which Armenia has committed itself.

The opposition said it will challenge Zakharian’s decision in the
court and will press ahead with the rally regardless of the outcome
of the lawsuit.

More than a hundred people have been subjected to administrative
detentions, mainly in closed trials and without access to lawyers,
over the past two months. Most of them were ordinary participants of
the opposition demonstrations. Hundreds of other opposition
supporters faced similar punishment during and in the wake of last
year’s presidential election.

The authorities’ controversial enforcement of the Administrative Code
has prompted strong protests from prominent international human
rights organizations. In its April 28 resolution on the political
crisis in Armenia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (PACE) urged the authorities to “immediately end the
practice.” Human Rights Watch similarly said in a May 4 report that
Yerevan should “cease using arrest as a means of pressuring the

In a related development, the head of the Yerevan office of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reiterated on
Tuesday his calls for the release of more than a dozen opposition
leaders and activists who face criminal charges stemming from the
opposition push for power. “I think that the release of those
individuals would create necessary prerequisites for ending the
political deadlock in which the opposition is refusing to engage in a
constructive dialogue with the government,” Ambassador Vladimir
Pryakhin told RFE/RL.

Pryakhin was particularly concerned about the fate of the most
prominent of the detainees, former Defense Minister Vagharshak
Harutiunian. “Vagharshak Harutiunian could not have done something
for which he could be sentenced to between 10 and 15 years’
imprisonment,” he said.

Harutiunian and another senior member of Artarutyun, Suren
Sureniants, are being prosecuted for allegedly calling for a “violent
overthrow of constitutional order,” a charge they both deny.
Sureniants spent several days on hunger strike in his prison cell
last month to demand the release of all “political prisoners.” His
defense lawyer, Robert Grigorian, told RFE/RL that state prosecutors
have asked a court in Yerevan to prolong his pre-trial detention by
two more months.

BAKU: Political analyst says Russia’s stand in Caucasus will weaken

Political analyst says Russia’s stand in Caucasus will weaken

AssA-Irada, Azerbaijan
June 2 2004

Political analyst Vafa Guluzada was quoted as saying on Monday that
after Azerbaijan and Armenia sign a peace treaty, Russia will have
no influence on the two countries.

AssA-Irada — He underlined that the issue of influence is the key
reason for Moscow’s interest in the protracted Upper Garabagh conflict.
Guluzada said Russia will not bring investments and new technologies
into Azerbaijan and Armenia under pressure from the US and Western
European countries, and added that Armenia is likely to demand
withdrawal of Russian military contingent from its territory soon.

At the same time, the political analyst noted that official Moscow
will make attempts to bring pro-Russian forces to power in Georgia
and Azerbaijan.

“Russia hopes for weakening of the US stand worldwide and will
thus try to strengthen its own position in the Caucasus”, he said.
However, Guluzada said such attempts by Russia will be unsuccessful.
“The history never goes back,” he concluded.