Friday, February 29, 2008

The so called alternative goes down the tubes.

Something is very creepy with the above picture. It is Artur Baghdasarian, a self proclaimed oppositionist who claimed that the SS and RK duo was out to get him, toasting with that same a couple weeks later...

This is one more example of a politician selling out the votes of his followers for a cushy job (he will become the head of the National Security Commission: less than a year ago RK called him a traitor). One would say that he finally exposed his true self but in reality this will be forgotten very soon. He will either become a spent cartridge like Paruyr Hayrikian after running against RK and then becoming his adviser, or he will continue exploiting opportunities that open up.

OSCE is changing its tune.

'There are people who point to our initial report on the elections and say that they were remarkable. That is not correct...' This is what the head of the monitoring for the OSCE Gert Arens said today. He also clarified that when OSCE said that the elections were mainly in line with Armenia's abligations towards OSCE, they meant that the majority, i.e. 51% of the precincts were acceptable.

Of course, that leaves the 49% or so that were not acceptable. This looks like whitewashing whatever garbage they put out earlier thinking that they were going to get away with it. They didn't so now they are changing their tune.

The US, on the other hand, never endorsed the elections. Now they are openly critical of the elections, and the post election arrests of Levon Ter-Petrosian supporters and the closure of his campaign offices.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another Haylur propaganda item: Kocharian interview.

The head of the banditocracy slings mud, issues threats, spreads misinformation yet again and says that he himself was not elected legitimately. He carefully avoids using the word 'Liberty Square' and refers to it with its Soviet name: 'Theater Square'.

Tigran Karapetian brings his case to the Constitutional Court.

Tigran karapetian, the owner of the ALM TV station and a presidential candidate, has brought his case to the Constitutional Court against the Central Electoral Commission's decision about the elections.

In the mean while, the protests of the oppositionists continue, and their mass arrests and home searches by the authorities continue as well. The police have issued another warning to the protesters to disperse and go home.

There are fears that the authorities may attempt to arrest Levon Ter-Petrosian as well. Yesterday they had asked his security personnel to hand in their handguns. They did not comply since according to the law, they have the right and should carry guns.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mass arrests in Armenia, Republic Square closed.

The state has started arresting rank and file oppositionists en-masse. They have also started conducting searches in the homes of the azatamartik - the veterans of the Karabakh War.

They also organized a rally in the Republic Square in support of Serj Sargsian. The state employees were required to attend and the traffic through the square was closed off. I wonder when they are going to arrest the organizers for 'obstructing the flow of traffic'. :)

Ironically, after the Serj rally the participants went to the opposition protests at teh Liberty Square thus swelling the numbers present there. The LiveJournal community is now making fun of the stupidity of the regime.

Also it is worth to note that the emergency services have started denying medical aid to the protesters on hunger strike at Liberty Square. I wonder if it's in violation of UN human rights or an Armenian law but I know that it's immoral for sure.

Not funny at all.

While the protests and the arrests of the protesters go on, Azg continues to criticize the opposition for protesting the falsification of the election. But there is not a single word condemning the falsification itself.

It's not funny at all.

Two new arrests in Yerevan.

Two more opposition politicians have been arrested in Yerevan: Garnik Margarian, the chairman of the 'Motherland and Dignity' party, and Suren Sureniants, a member of the board of the 'Republic' party. Garnik Margarian has already been charged with article 300 of the Criminal Code - attempting to come to power. There still are no charges against Mr. Sureniants.

The state terror continues...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Brown terror.

David Sand has posted a witness account of a kidnapping/arrest where a group of diners in a khinkali joint in Central Yerevan were taken by security services in an unknown direction. He recommends avoiding restaurants in Yerevan...

It's in Russian so I will attempt to translate it to English with the help of Google:

Caught this story on a smoke break with colleagues. They decided to eat Khinkali, and since the best prepared khinkali is on Tumanyan Street, not far from the Liberty Square, they went there for a meal. They sat down, and while eating they noticed that in a flow of men coming in and going out in remarkably similar black clothing. Two, four, then a few more of them came in, and then grabbed four men eating at a neighboring table, dragged them into the street, loaded in a van and took them away.

Here, my friends, what happens when you eat khinkali in such turbulent times. Be careful not to enter a restaurant without an urgent necessity.

Another arrest in Yerevan.

Petros Makeyan, the chairman of 'Democratic Motherland' party, has been arrested in Yerevan. The tally so far for arrested people is two chairmen of political parties, an assistant prosecutor general and his family/friends (Jahangirian appears to have also been shot by the police), a number of Grzo employees.

Artur Baghdasarian has noted that such crude methods of suppressing the opposition will actually do more harm to the ruling duo. But crude methods of suppressing popular protests is what Kocharian does well.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Our lands like a bone stuck in Turkey's throat.

Turkey has yet again invaded Iraq in pursuit of the Kurds. Normally, invading another country would not be a welcome event for me. But this proves that almost a hundred years after they murdered my ancestors, they are still unable to digest what they did. Our lands are like a monkey on the back of Turkey.

Gagik Jahangirian kidnapped.

There are reports that Gagik Jahangirian, a prosecutor fired yesterday for supporting free and fair elections, has been kidnapped together with his brother, an aide and the driver of the car on the Ejmiatzin-Yerevan highway.

Things are starting to get ugly as the RK-SS duo are upping the intimidation of the citizens. I am surprised they haven't started arresting people on trumped up charges as has been their practice in the last 10 years.

UPDATE: Radio Liberty has more details on the Jahangirian and other arrests.

Vote recount Armenian style.

During the vote recount in district 13/10, the envelope that contained the votes cast for levon Ter-Petrosian was stolen by Serj Sargsian's representative Mr. Hrach Ayvazian, Radio Liberty reports. Despite the objections by the OSCE representative present at the recount, the head of the electoral committee for the district denied that the envelope existed.

Now there is no way to prove that Levon Ter-Petrosian got any votes there.

In another incident, 100 votes belonging to Levon Ter-Petrosian were discovered in the envelope for Serj Sargsian's vote.

Kocharian meets with the KGB chiefs and other power structures.

The house of cards that is the RK-SS duo looks flimsier by the day. Radio Liberty reports RK has met with the KGB, the most repressive state structure in Armenia after the tax police, and wants to make sure that they will obey his orders. The chiefs have pledged their allegiance to Kocharian.

The State Department reacts.

Press Statement
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 22, 2008

Armenia: Presidential Election

We congratulate the people of Armenia on the active and competitive presidential election of February 19 and note the preliminary assessment of the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and Parliamentary Assembly that the election was "mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections." At the same time, we also note that international monitors identified significant problems with electoral procedures. Armenian election authorities have responded with the positive step of recounts in a number of jurisdictions. We urge the Government of Armenia to ensure these recounts are conducted comprehensively and transparently, investigate all allegations of irregularities, and implement steps to improve future elections. We also urge all political forces to continue observing the rule of law and to work peacefully and responsibly for a democratic Armenia.


Released on February 22, 2008
This is a stern criticism of the elections by the State Department topped with a light dressing. The pro-Serj present this as a validation of their candidate's victory; they claim it's raining when being spat on.

Armenia: Violence at Polling Stations Mars Elections

"Armenia: Violence at Polling Stations Mars Elections" that's the title of the report by the Human Rights Watch. They report about the abuses and violence committed by the Serj Sargsian's team during the presidential election.

The interesting thing is that the OSCE described the same elections as 'compliant with our expectations with Armenia' while they observed that 'some of our observers had very bad experiences during the vote count'(Anne-Marie Lizin, a Belgian lawmaker).

I guess the Europeans have very low expectations from us.

Here is a video of a man caught stuffing ballots attacking a proxy of an opposition candidate.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vahan Hovhanisian steps down.

ARF presidential candidate Vahan Hovhannisian has stepped down from his post as an assistant speaker of the Parliament. You can see how his votes were counted as part of Serj Sargsian's tally. Had there not been any protests and recounts, this would not have been revealed.

I don't know if it was by design or whether Vahan Hovhannisian was indeed cheated out of so many votes but now that everybody knows about this, he has made a smart decision for his political career.

Vazgen Manukian speaks out.

Vazgen Manukian has spoken about the disgusting conduct of the incumbent force in the presidential elections last Sunday. And he sounds like an old fart that does only one thing - complain.

This man has unjustly been thrown in the dustbin of the Armenian politics and he is very bitter about it. But he can blame himself for that.

He needs an image overhaul. Nobody wants to hear so many complaints and naggings. What Vazgen Manukian needs to do is either:
- create a think tank and get busy with situation analysis and actually contribute to the Armenian nation; or
- retire.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

1988 all over again.

The Armenian nation rose to liberate itself in 1988 from the communist dictatorship and unite. In 2008 it has risen again to liberate itself from the banditry of the current regime.

And I was ready to take down my tri-color in disgust after the 'elections'.

Open-ended sit-ins in Yerevan.

  • The opposition has started an open-ended sit-in demanding the annulment of the election results and brand new elections. Levon Ter-Petrosian has called on the students to start a strike and join the protests at the Liberty Square.
  • Two assistants to the Defense Minister have declared that they are not going to use the army against the civilians, and that they are with the candidate who has won the people's vote and trust.
  • In the electoral district 9/31 in central Yerevan, the recount of the ballots has revealed gross violations of basic math. Here is what was revealed:
Serj Sargsian - reported votes: 709, real votes: 395. Difference: +314
Levon Ter-Petrosian - reported votes: 376, real votes: 392. Difference: -16
Artur Baghdasarian - reported votes: 134, real votes: 184. Difference: -50
Vahan Hovhannisian - reported votes: 3, real votes: 120. Difference: -117
Vazgen Manukian - reported votes: 0, real votes: 57. Difference: -57
Arman Meliqian - reported votes: 0, real votes: 6. Difference: -6
Tigran Karapetian - reported votes: 11, real votes: 22. Difference: -11
Artashes Geghamian - reported votes: 6, real votes: 7. Difference: -1
Aram Harutyunian - reported votes: 0, real votes: 1. Difference: -1
And this is central Yerevan within the attention of the observers and such; yet look at the gross over-reporting of the SS votes. And this is after the electoral bribes and ballot stuffing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oh-oh, I might get fined.

Under the Cypriot law, it is mandatory for a citizen (dual or not) to participate in the elections. I was among those who did not - you can cast a vote only in Cyprus so I had to travel over there in order to vote. The penalty for not voting is about USD400 (342 Euros).

I don't know if the embassy will be sending the fine to me or whether I will be prosecuted when I cross the border into Cyprus. The last time I went there, I did not raise any red flags at the border.

More on this here.

Twentieth anniversary of the Gharabagh Movement.

Twenty years ago today the population of Armenia rose to free Gharabagh from the oppression of the Azeris.

Today, the Gharabagh clan steals the presidential elections the third time in ten years in order to maintain their grip on Armenia.

One starts to think that this whole Gharabagh thing was a mistake.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Looks like the elections in Armenia are worse than ever before.

I keep reading reports of ballot stuffing, vote buying, voter intimidation. But the most alarming is the violence against the members of the electoral committees that belong to the opposition including assault and in case of the town of Abovian, kidnap. In that town the Levon Ter-Petrosian representatives have been kidnapped allegedly by the Gagik Tsarukian's security guards.

UPDATE 1: Exit polls indicate that LTP has gathered 54% of the vote thus winning in the first round. SS was a distant second with 24% of the votes. The consensus in LiveJournal is that this is a representative of the voter mood.

At the same time, another exit poll indicates that SS has won 57% of the votes. The consensus in the LiveJournal is that it's untrustworthy and the organization conducting the polls, Populus, uses face control for choosing respondents. That would be a big no-no in statistical survey.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What do the Kosovars have that we don't?

The US has recognized the Kosovo independence. Since Karabakh situation looks very much like the Kosovo situation, there is a valid point in why the West was so much interested in the well being of the Kosovar Albanians and not Karabakh Armenians.

Number one: Serbia is/was a close ally of Russia. Since the West is out to get Russia, it makes sense to weaken the Serbs by partitioning their country. Serbia has now become a landlocked backwater of Europe and as a Russian proxy doesn't present much threat.

Similarly, Armenia is the proxy of Russia in the Caucasus, and Middle East in some sense, so it is very logical that the West would try to do to Armenia what they did to Russia. Fortunately, Armenia is not in an as important location as Serbia and so far we have spared this fate.

Number two: Serbia has no natural resources but Azerbaijan has a little bit of oil. More significantly, they are an alternate route for transporting oil from Middle Asia to the West. The Azeris have been very skillful at delivering that message to the Europeans and the US.

So what has prevented us to have a different fate so far from Serbia?

1. We are located in a less significant portion of the world.
2. Our enemies are more unsavory characters than the Albanians.
3. Our Diaspora is a lobby channel to educate the decision makers of the Western countries and influence their national interests.
4. We have had the balls to stand up to the enemies and secure a military victory.
5. We are friendly with the West.

Can't wait till the elections are over in Armenia.

I'm normally not very passionate about politics; I care about economics and normally would not care much who the policy makers are as long as these policies are valid in my view.

But we all know that in reality a lot depends on the person, or the party, of the policy maker so I get dragged into the cesspool of politics as an interested party, and sometimes an overly enthusiastic participant. Not only the economic policies of the Armenian government matters for economic development but their compliance with the laws and enforcement inside the country, and their foreign relations are fundamental if Armenia wants to be a part of the developed world instead of languishing among the third world countries. I worry about the military expenditures by the government but as a hawk I am all for a strong and aggressive policy there. The military may take precious funds away from the investment in the economy but otherwise there wouldn't be an economy to speak of.

I just hope that we have a normal president after the elections and I believe that it should be Levon Ter-Petrosian. While I agree with the economic policy fundamentals of the Kocharian administration, its implementation leaves much to be desired. That is why I would not want the incumbent force like Serj Sargsian, and in a lesser extent, Vahan Hovhanisian, as a president. I also think that the foreign policy of the Kocharian administration has been a disaster, and the enforcement of the law and order is a joke with the corruption that is deeply rooted in the government and society. And by corruption I do not mean only bribery but the corruption of the moral fabric of the society itself.

An acceptable choice for me would also be Vazgen Manukian who has proven to be a decent libertarian but he does not have a team - his team is Arshak Sadoyan or Shavarsh Kocharian - both of them proven windbags. A distant third would be Artur Baghdasarian even though I believe he is a populist and an opportunist and is similarly corrupt as the incumbent forces.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dual citizenship and elections.

Cyprus has long allowed its citizens have other citizenships. Like Armenia, they only hold elections on the island. They are about to hold presidential elections and the citizens are flying to their home to cast their votes.

Voters arrive in droves ahead of elections
By Alexia Saoulli

THE arrival of voters from abroad ahead of Sunday’s presidential elections has been relentless throughout the week.

Around 20,000 voters are due to fly back to the island to cast their votes in what promises to be the most exciting elections since Cyprus’ independence in 1960.

Cyprus Airways is transporting the lion’s share of voters, having set aside 14,700 seats which have been shared equally between the three main runners’ campaign teams including incumbent President Tassos Papadopoulos, AKEL’s Demetris Christofias and DISY’s Ioannis Kasoulides.

The remaining passengers are expected to fly in on tickets booked by the candidates’ political parties with other airlines including Olympic Airways, Aegean, Monarch and British Airways.

The Cyprus Airways tickets were sold to the campaign teams at special rates due to the mass bookings, the national carrier’s spokesman Kyriakos Kyriakou said.
The seats were made available on the airlines already scheduled flights, with the majority of voters due to fly in from Athens, Salonica and London.

Only yesterday a number of extra flights from Athens, Heraklion and Salonica were scheduled to transport the 1,200 passengers affected from Wednesday’s 24-hour all out strike in Greece, he said.

“The arrival of voters started slowly from last week, on February 8 and 10, and is escalating this week, and the majority of voters from abroad are expected to fly in today and tomorrow,” Kyriakou said.

He said flights transporting voters would continue until Sunday, although the main bulk of passengers were due yesterday and today.

“Today for example, Cyprus Airways is due to fly voters from abroad on 38 scheduled flights,” he said.

“Last week 1,200 passengers were due to arrive on flights confirmed from the campaign teams and parties, this week we have another 7,100 seats confirmed and for the second round of elections another 6,400 seats have been confirmed, which comes to a total of around 14,700 seats,” he said.

Where a candidate failed to get through to the second round, political parties had four days to reconfirm the bookings, otherwise the seats were offered to the other candidates, Kyriakou concluded.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008


Only in America...

A man overwhelms the 911 with 27,000 calls since last May because the calls are free.

Why no televised debates in Armenia?

Strangely, there were no televised debates on TV this time around in Armenia. The last televised debate was between Karen Demirchian and Robert Kocharian in 2003. Even though Karen Demirchian is not the most articulate public speaker, he dwarfed Kocharian. We have all accustomed to Kocharian's vulgar speeches where he mumbles and then says something about someone's balls or breaking someone's head. His mildest vulgarity has been the threat to pull the ears of those who would dare to protest against rigged elections.

This time around if they had debates, we would have a great intellectual divide between Levon Ter-Petrosian and Vazgen Manukian and the rest of the pack. These two are a couple of levels above in class than the rest. At the bottom would be Karapetian (only in Armenia an ex pickpocket would dare to run for presidency) who would mumble about how ungrateful people are who did not vote for him even though he gives away TV sets. A little above him would be Serj Sargsian who would mumble about giving people a car in two years.

No wonder there are no TV debates this time. The intellectual midgets have learned their lesson.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I think the space station is going to become inhabitable in the near future. The South Koreans are sending an astronaut to the space station this April and they are packing kimchi for him.

For those who don't know what kimchi is - it's a fermented cabbage food. I use tiny amount in my cooking in order to give some flavor to winter dishes. In larger doses it's a foul smelling substance.

SS goose is cooked.

As the election day approaches, it is more and more evident that Serj Sargsian's goose is cooked. Who would have though as little as 4 months ago that this would be the case?


Badri Patarkatsishvili is dead.

The man who ran against the Georgian President Sahakashvili in January is dead. He died in the UK in what the police say was a heart attack. The BBC describes it as 'suspicious'.

This is the second high profile death related to Sahakashvili. His first Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania died a few years ago in a CO poisoning incident due to a faulty heater.

It's a dangerous job to be around Mr. Sahakashvili.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Heritage is with LTP.

The Zharangutyun party and its leader Raffi Hovhannisian have endorsed Levon Ter-Petrosian's candidacy. This is a welcome development as it will provide more chances of progress after LTP is elected.

I predict that the rats will start leaving Serj Sargsian's sinking ship in the coming few days. I am partial whether they should be accepted as supporters of LTP. Some of these characters were the ones who left LTP's sinking ship in 1998 to Vazgen Sargsian's HHK party.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Did Kocharian and Sargsian organize the October 27 assassinations?

During his last rally, Levon Ter-Petrosian said that the Kocharian, Sargsian and Oskanian trio was ready to give the Armenian territory of Meghri and the Southern part of the liberated areas to Azerbaijan in return to Karabakh and the Lachin corridor (very much like the Goble plan proposed in 1989). Karen Demirchian and Vazgen Sargsian disagreed and later paid for it with their lives, Levon Ter-Petrossian alleged.

Obviously, any version of the Goble plan would be the beginning of the end for Armenia. I remember there was a lot of publicity in October 1999 right before the 27-th.

A tourist in the provinces of China.

Even though the major cities in China have become places resembling the free world, the provinces remain outposts of the old communist ideology. Smaller cities in the provinces may look like they are moving towards liberty and free markets but deep inside they are still closely linked to the past.

As a tourist in such a small city of Changchun (population 9 million) in the Jilin province, I as taken on a sightseeing tour. Either they lacked cultural places or they thought that this would be a great opportunity for a little brainwashing the Americans. The moment we stepped in the bus, the main topic was how bad the Japanese were. Changchun was the capital of Manchuria during the Japanese occupation and they still have hard feelings about it. So mos of the tour was preoccupied about the tales of treachery of the Japanese and the abuses the Chinese had to endure while under their control. It's truly mind numbing.

I wonder if our tales of our torture and murder by the Turks has the same effect on the foreigners. But the Jewish people seem to get away with it any story about the WW2 at least mentions the Holocaust.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The quote of the day.

"I'll return you your liberty and restore your constitutional rights",- Vahan Hovhannissian, an ARF presidential candidate at a recent rally.

The funny thing is that ARF, and Vahan Hovhannissian, have been part of the government for the last 10 years!

Does he admit that he and his party have taken the liberties and rights away from the Armenian citizens?

I have to admit that ARF is in a strange situation. They are part of the government but they criticize it by which they criticize themsselves. If they don't like it, why are they still part of the ruling coalition in the parliament and why do they hold a number of ministerial positions? They have zero credibility in what they say and the voters realize that.

Ministry of Justice burned down.

The third, fourth floors of the Ministry of Justice, and partially the second floor, have burned down in Yerevan. The offices of the minister and other important officials are completely destroyed.

With only 10 days to go before the presidential election, this cannot be good.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Armenian version of Swiftboating.

Just discovered an Armenian version of Swiftboating -

It's got some interesting stuff about Serj and Mook.

Oh-oh. President Kocharian has met with the power ministry employees.

Kocharian has met with the state and regional heads of police, prosecutors and KGB. The topic of discussion, of course, were the upcoming presidential elections.

As you know, these three ministries, hand in hand with criminal gangs, have been crucial in strong arming elections in the past. They have been responsible for falsifying the election votes, the vote counts and violently suppressing any protests of such violations.

Assaults on Levon Ter-Petrosian's campaign intensify.

Today there was another assault on Levon Ter-Petrosian's supporters. Meliq Gasparian, an election campaign chief for Serj Sargsian, and three accomplices have physically assaulted three young Levon Ter-Petrosian supporters who were distributing leaflets. One of them, Hovhannes Grigorian, 19, is in a hospital now.

Just a few days ago in the town of Artashat, Levon Ter-Petrosian's supporters were assaulted when Serj Sargsian's people threw rocks and ice on them and Levon himself which he descried as an attempt on his life.

The intensity and the frequency of such attacks is increasing by the day.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Robert Kocharian meets the Catholicos.

Aravot had this picture of the President meeting with the Catholicos which seems a little disturbing to me. No, it's not the rubber soles of their shoes.

Just look at Kocharian's face.

Armenia's weakening importance in the US.

Since Robert Kocharian became the president, the importance of Armenia in the US has steadily diminished. There has been a defeat after a defeat the most important being the scrapping of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (banning military aid to Azerbaijan).

The best way to gauge this trend is to count the dollars. That is, the dollars that the US government gives to Armenia. It has steadily declined and it is going to decline in 2008 as well.

While this would not be a big tragedy, the problem is that the money flowing to Azerbaijan now constitutes a larger amount even though Azerbaijan is a much richer country. Since the two countries are in a state of war with an everyday possibility of Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia, it would be logical for the US to have a balanced approach in military aid.

Unfortunately, the Armenian government has not been able to convince the US in that. For 2008, the US government will allocate 900,000 USD to Azerbaijan and 300,000 USD to Armenia! That basically means that the US endorses Azerbaijan's militaristic rhetoric.

Only a month ago Foreign Minister Oskanian expressed his satisfaction with the 2007 performance made by his ministry.

It looks like the bar is set very low for him. After such failures, any other employee would be fired. Heck, it's time to boot the administration for its failures, too.

See the Armenian Assembly's report on the aid cuts here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Brits need to leave.

BBC reports yet another incident involving the British soldiers in Cyprus. The UK has two bases on the island which were left there from the colonial times and were a condition for the independence. For years the soldiers from the bases get out of their bases and go on drunken rampages in the local bars. They usually cause drunken brawls but have committed at least one murder that I can remember (in 1995 I believe).

The Cypriots have tolerated such behavior for some time but since the British government is unable to control its soldiers, a radical solution is needed to end this. The colonial times are over and it's time to kick these remnants of the past out.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Why the Armenian justice system is a joke.

In normal societies ex-cons are looked upon with suspicion since they have a past that is in violation of the law and the mores of the society. For example, no one in the electorate will vote for someone with a stint in jail.

Armenians do not seem to have that attitude - there are quite a few parliamentarians and high ranking civil servants who are ex-cons (rapists, murderers, terrorists, etc.). To someone from a place with a long tradition of law and order this seems like an odd society.

But there is a reason for that. Since the Soviet times the law enforcement in the country has been a joke. The police, the prosecutors and the courts were the most corrupt institutions. A criminal could go free by bribing the police, if that didn't work then he had a shot at bribing the prosecutors and the judges. But since they would need to show a high rate of solving crimes to their superiors, they would need a patsy to send to jail.

To maximize their revenues, the cops had a nasty habit of planting evidence in order to extract money. Usually this would be an 'off-the-books' event.

Since the independence this corruption has thrived. It was used by the previous administration and by the new administration (the trial of the Dro terrorist group and then the criminal charges against Vano Siradeghian). But while these were highly publicized events, the day-to-day corruption of the justice system goes on as usual.

And today there was another event that discredits the law and order in the country. If you remember, a few days ago a KGB agent provocateur started an incident at an LTP rally. Four of the rally organizers from the campaign headquarters in the town of Talin, who were not involved in the scuffle, were taken into custody. The prosecutors have now charged them with hooliganism and detained them indefinitely in an obvious political persecution of the opposition.

Normally, hooliganism would not warrant detention but since these 4 are opposition supporters, they get a special treatment. If they were pro-Serj Sargsian, they could get away with murder (as did the President's body guards who killed Poghos Poghosian, got charged with hooliganism and one was paroled for their 1.5 years sentence while the others were found not guilty).

It is no wonder then if the population is cynical of the law.