- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 August 1, 2003 



The President's Postbag; Traveling Tycoons; Diplomatic Movements; A Military Buy-Out; A Surprise Political Marriage; One Man's March.

The Office of the President of Armenia published a report July 25 concerning letters received from citizens during the first quarter of this year. Ministries, regional administrations, and Yerevan City Council answered 30,229 letters: only about 10 per cent were complaints, according to Armenpress, while the rest were suggestions or declarations of opinion from citizens. The President's press service reported that the appropriate ministries answered every letter, either orally or in written form.

Argentinean businessman Eduardo Eurnekian returned to Argentina to face a charge of tax evasion. Eurnekian, who has the management contract for Armenia's Zvartnots airport, reportedly headed for court together with his lawyers immediately after his plane landed in Buenos Aires and denied all charges.

Another Armenian tycoon, Ara Abrahamyan, Chairman of the Union of Russian Armenians arrived in the United States July 26 to promote his plan to establish a global body representing Armenians. Abrahamyan, who is said have close Kremlin connections, said that Diaspora groups and communities in the US had shown "full understanding" of his proposal for a World Union of Armenians.

More pilgrims arrived at the Holy See of Echmiadzin on July 27, this time from Russia. More than 100 people made the journey from Southern Russia to participate in the "Divine Liturgy of Oath" dedicated to the 1700th Anniversary of the consecration of the Mother Cathedral of all Armenians. His Holiness Garegin II presented the primate of the diocese with a marble relief of the Cathedral as a gift for the diocesan headquarters in Krasnodar.

Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian met July 28 in Yerevan with Heikki Talvitie, the European Union's newly appointed special representative for South Caucasian issues.

Talvitie stressed the EU's support for the Minsk group co-chairman in their efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. Talvitie also met the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament Vahan Hovhannisyan, who told him that recent aggressive statements towards Armenia during the pre-election campaign in Azerbaijan were unhelpful to the process of the negotiations.

Ukraine is shopping for an embassy in Yerevan. The Ukrainian cabinet approved a suggestion from its Foreign Ministry on July 28 to purchase real estate up to a buy of $680,000, according to Arminfo.

Ambassador Roy Reeve bade farewell after more than three years as head of the Armenia office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He visited President Robert Kocharyan on July 29 prior to his departure to take up a similar post in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Another foreign diplomat is Armenia's new cart racing champion. Armenpress reported that Michael Francis, from the French Embassy in Yerevan, won the main tournament.

A special police department dealing with vagrant children said it had identified or detained 163 juveniles in the first six months of this year, Armenpress reported July 29. The majority of these children were from vulnerable or single parent families, many of whose parents had compelled them to go out begging.

Armenpress also reported the opening of an Anti-Corruption Center in Yerevan on July 30. The center aims to raise public awareness of the problem and to strengthen the fight against corruption. It is supported by the Armenian branch of Transparency International and the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency. An award has been created for the best contribution to the anti-corruption struggle for public servants, political figures journalists and international organizations. The outgoing OSCE Ambassador, Roy Reeve, was the first recipient.

An amnesty for draft dodgers which will allow young men to buy a legal pardon for avoiding national service was formally approved by the Armenian government July 30, Armenialiberty reports. The bill passed by the National Assembly exempts draft dodgers aged at least 27 from criminal prosecution provided they pay a fee. Men who have avoided national service for 10 years, for example, would have to pay 2 million drams ($3,500) to avoid imprisonment.

Two of the oldest political parties have put aside a long history of mutual antagonism and announced that a partnership to achieve common policy goals, Armenialiberty reported July 31. The surprise move followed a meeting of leaders of the Dashnaktsutyun and Ramkavar-Azatakan (Liberal Democratic) parties. They say they will cooperate in drafting new laws and in anti-corruption efforts. Armenialiberty said it was unclear how the parties will cooperate in practice, since Dashnaktsutyun is one of the three parties in the governing coalition in Parliament while Ramkavar Azatakan failed to win any seats in the May 25 elections.

Sergey Martirosyan, a reporter and a traveler, announced July 31 that he planned to hold a rally to Baku to urge Azeris to put an end to the long lasting Armenian-Azeri confrontation. Martirosyan, 69, a self-styled people's diplomat, has walked 45,000 km in 67 countries as a way to inform people around the world about the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. He has been awarded a special certificate by the United Nations allowing him to cross from one country to another.



According to Agnes
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The Week in seven days


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About 10 to 15 students sat outside the Presidential Residence in Yerevan Thursday to protest the closing of student hostels. They held banners saying "Think about future students" and "Mr. President are you with us?" The government is dismantling the student hostels, forcing non-resident students to find other housing.



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