- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 August 29, 2003 



A Week in Seven Days: Shots, strikes, borders, tunnels . . .

Old Temple New Image: The 180 million dram (about $300,000) repair work of the pagan temple of Garni, Kotayk province launched in 2002 will be wrapped up by mid September ARMENPRESS reported August 22.

The work, supported by US-based Lincy foundation, included repair of the temple's walls, palace buildings and hall, the 7th century church as well as the construction of a mechanical irrigation pipe line with its own pump and water basin. A ($10,000) lighting system is also planned.

Unknown Shooters: The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk said it is impossible to say whether shots fired during an August 19 OSCE monitoring visit in the Tavush region came from the Armenian or the Azeri side.

As ARMINFO reported August 23 Kasprzyk said that the types of the arms were impossible to identify as well. He expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the given incident cast doubt on the monitoring and endangered the OSCE group.

Hunger Strike Over: Twenty-nine prisoners protesting the Armenian government's decision to commute their death sentences to life terms called off a brief hunger strike after lawmakers agreed to look into their concerns, Associated Press reported August 24.

The convicts launched a hunger strike on August 22, demanding that their death sentences either stand or they be given a 20-year sentence - the maximum punishment under the new code, which came into effect on Aug. 1, replacing 40-year-old Soviet-era legislation.

Good Borders Make Good Neighbors: Senior officials from Georgian and Armenian foreign affairs ministries will meet in mid-September in Yerevan to discuss a range of issues pertaining to delineation of their borders before the end of 2004, Azg daily reported August 24.

Also the Russian Novosty news agency quoted an official of the Georgian border guard service as saying that there are no disputable questions between the two neighbor nations, "but the existence of some minor, side questions, have put off the signing of the final agreement."

Lake Will Survive: ARMENPRESS reported August 25 about the completion of construction of a major Vorotan-Arpa tunnel. The tunnel, which opens in October, will take the waters of Vorotan River to Lake Sevan. The new tunnel will add some 165 million cubic meters of water to Sevan Lake of which 100 million will be pumped out for irrigation purpose and the rest for raising its level. The construction of the tunnel was resumed in 1997, after 16 years of suspended work.

Anti-Corruption Plan: The Armenian government, facing mounting pressure from Western lending institutions, will adopt a long-awaited strategy of combating corruption within the next three months, Tigran Torosyan, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, told RFE/RL Yerevan bureau August 26.

Torosyan said it would be possible to finalize that program in two or three months' time. The anti-corruption plan will be made public this year despite a decision by the three parties making up the ruling coalition to intervene in the ongoing work of government experts who were charged with drawing it up more than two years ago.

Airport Frightens Tourists Off: Low quality services at Armenia's Zvartnots airport is the main reason hindering further development of tourism in Armenia, reported Azg daily. This was the main conclusion drawn by a meeting August 26 that brought together officials of trade and development ministry and heads of local travel agencies.

The meeting also looked into possibilities to improve the low quality services, but noted that they remain poor even after an Argentinean company was given the airport's management.

Good News: The minimum salaries are expected to reach the level of minimum living standard in the next fiscal year, reported Yerkir weekly online August 27. This objective was set in the strategic program for elimination of poverty. It is proposed that next year's budget be drafted in a way as to accomplish this objective.

Currently the minimum monthly salary in Armenia is 5000 drams ($8.60). If the requirements of program are carried out, the minimum salary will have to increase at least three times amounting to 18-20,000 drams ($31-$34). According to expert evaluations, this is the per capita minimum living standard even though the official agencies state the minimum living standard is 12,000 drams.

International Construction: Turkish civil engineers and builders as well as mechanics and workers from the Philippine Islands, Bulgaria and India are engaged in the construction of a new US Embassy in Armenia.

The involvement of foreign workers was accounted for by the fact that the construction requires a high qualification, as well as conformity not only with the US standards, but also with the requirements set by the US Department of State to modernization of embassy buildings, ARMINFO reported August 27.






According to Agnes
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Free Speech Debate: Government official defends jail term for libel

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Death over Life: Inmates Prefer execution over terminal sentence

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The Week in seven days


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There She Is . . .

Lusineh Tovmasyan was crowned Miss Armenia 2003 at the annual beauty pageant in Yerevan on Tuesday.



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