To Maim and Kill with Impunity

Preferential Treatment for Armenia’s Oligarchs and their Entourage

In November 2011, Syunik Governor Suren Khachatryan (aka “Liska”) physically attacked businesswoman Silva Hambarzumyan in the lobby of the Marriot Hotel in Yerevan. He was reportedly angered over her accusations that he stole over 100 million drams ($258,000) worth of equipment from her gold mine. The media quickly picked up the story, as the attack happened in a public space, involved two high-profile individuals, and had as eyewitnesses Republican Party MPs Samvel Sargsyan and Khachik Manukyan.

Syunik Governor Suren Khachatryan

This was not the first time the Syunik governor or other members of the ruling elite were accused of physically attacking citizens. In 2001, an intoxicated Georgian-Armenian was viciously beaten to death in a bathroom stall by then-President Robert Kocharian’s bodyguard, Aghamal Harutiunyan, during a jazz concert in Yerevan’s Poplavok cafe. The victim, Poghos Poghosian, had been imprudent enough to “insult” the president by greeting him with, “Hello, Rob!” (short for Robert). The bodyguard received a mere probation for his crime, as the court rejected the key witness account of British citizen Stephen Newton. Unfortunately, these crimes are not exceptions, and they have not escaped the attention of foreign diplomats.

A set of U.S. Embassy cables originating from the embassy in Yerevan paint a disturbing reality of beatings and murders at the hands of powerful figures or members of their entourage. U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, for instance, wrote of a brawl that took place in a Yerevan discotheque in Octeber 2008 that was allegedly “prompted” by a nephew of President Serge Sarkisian’s. It resulted in serious injuries, and the loss of an eye for one of the men involved.

Unrestrained violence has even permeated state institutions; the cables and various news reports tell of beatings and murders that happen at the hands of the police and army officials, and often go unpunished. Numerous cables chronicle instances of attacks against human rights activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens, in addition to media censorship and intimidation.

The May 2007 death of restaurant owner Levon Gulian troubled U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph Pennington because the victim perished when he plunged to his death—head first—out of the window of a police station where he was being interrogated. According to his family, Gulian voluntarily went to the police to give his account as a witness to a crime, but ended up dead. A proper investigation has never been carried out, and his injuries are left unexplained. Pennington wrote that the government counsel provided a “fantastic scenario” of how Gulian fell head first, and not on his feet—as he should have if he had willingly jumped down 25 feet. Pennington followed that case closely, sending a number of cables with updates on the investigation.


In May 2008, Pennington cabled another report that described how Governor Khachatryan had allegedly “viciously beat[en]” a teenager who was unlucky enough to have fallen into a skirmish with the governor’s son. After the news spread, the governor’s supervisor, the minister of territorial administration, looked into the affair and found no misconduct.

In April 2011, the governor allegedly beat a 12-year-old boy and broke his jaw. The boy’s family did not report the attack out of fear, wrote Aravot newspaper at the time. Pennington noted that the incident was not a first for Khachatryan or his family. Khachatryan “de facto reigns over Syunik as a feudal lord,” he wrote, adding, “in 2007, the governor’s brother reportedly attempted to rape a girl at broad daylight in a supermarket.”

Soon after, Aravot printed a retraction stating they had wrongly identified another child as the victim, and that the real victim was 16 years old. The newspaper further stated that the family, fearing Khachatryan, did not wish to be identified, and had not taken the boy to a hospital, deciding instead to rely on the expertise of a physician they knew. It also stated that the victim’s house was under surveillance by thugs working for the governor.

According to Pennington, soon after these news reports were published, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian ordered his deputy prime minister, Armen Gevorkian (who also serves as minister of territorial administration), to look into Aravot’s report. Gevorkian formed a special commission; after first meeting with the misidentified 12-year-old boy and X-raying his jaw, he finally met with the real victim and found there were no outer signs of injuries. Pennington noted that weeks had passed since the incident occurred, and the commission did not X-ray the jaw of the actual victim. Again, the commission found no wrongdoing on the part of the governor. Instead, they found that the teenager had hit the governor’s son, and that Aravot’s reports were flawed.

A month after sending the cable, Pennington authored another one stating that a direct source (identified in the report but protected here for his safety) confirmed the governor’s attack. The teenage victim was the son of one of the Board members of the Goris Teachers’ Union. Apparently, the governor’s son had made advances toward a girl on the street, and the teenager had intervened. The governor reportedly called the teenager to his office, to reprimand him for daring to hit his son. The teenager showed no remorse. Angered, the governor hit him, drawing “excessive” amounts of blood from his nose. Khachatryan then offered the boy a napkin, but the latter pushed it away. Furious, he then “viciously” beat the teenager.

The source also revealed that the governor had forbidden area hospitals from giving aid to the injured teenager. Thus, his family was forced to drive him to a hospital four hours away in Yerevan. According to the source, all the residents of Goris knew of the incident.

“Syunik’s governor has a long-standing, well-deserved reputation as a thug who rules the distant southern province with an iron grip,” wrote Pennington. “The ability of key figures—governors, mayors, generals, oligarchs, as well as their sons, bodyguards, and retainers —to beat up or even kill ordinary citizens with impunity remains both a human rights blot and cause for ongoing public anger at the entrenched elites.”

According to a 2004 U.S. Embassy cable authored by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Armenia Vivian Walker, Khachatryan was appointed governor of Syunik province by Kocharian. Some regarded Khachatryan’s and others’ appointments to key government positions as payoffs for their support in the 2003 elections. In both the 1998 and 2003 presidential elections, Syunik province cast the most votes for Kocharian. Formerly an auto mechanic and a parliamentarian, Khachatryan entered the political scene during the Karabagh War, serving as a commander to military units in Goris. “Some claim that the Khachatryan family considers the province to be their de facto personal fiefdom,” wrote Walker, who added that according to media reports, Khachatryan has been “linked” to “violent incidents” in Goris since 1996. In March 2004, two of the governor’s nephews faced criminal charges for murdering a local man, Walker noted.

Settling scores on the streets of Yerevan

Two years earlier, a set of murders in Armenia prompted then-U.S. Embassy Chargé d´Affaires Anthony Godfrey to send a cable to Washington to express his alarm. “Oligarchs and thugs have taken to settling scores on the street in greater numbers in the last few months, and high-profile assassinations and murder attempts are on the rise in Armenia,” he wrote in a cable dated Oct. 18, 2006.

He mentioned how in June 2006, 26-year-old (31 by other accounts) Sedrak Zatikian, a Yerkrapah (Karabagh War veterans’ political movement) leader, was gunned down in broad daylight while driving his car. The shooting also claimed the life of a bystander. Zatikian was “wealthy, relatively powerful, and notorious,” wrote Godfrey. His notoriety was established in 2004, after he assaulted the nephew of influential parliamentary deputy, Hakob Hakobian (aka “Ledi Hakob”). Zatikian hid from police for months, avoiding prosecution, but later reconciled with the Hakobians. Police arrested one of Hakobian’s nephews in connection with the murder, but only charged him with illegal arms possession.

According to recent news reports, Hakobyan’s 33-year-old nephew, Stepan Hakobyan (wanted since Zatikyan’s murder), was apprehended in December 2011. Two others, Ashot Hakobyan, 43, and Arayik Yeghiazaryan, 40, were also arrested.

Murder in Etchmiadzin

In 2008, Pennington penned his outrage at an incident involving yet another father and son. This time, the son of retired army general and parliamentary member Seyran Saroyan was accused of participating in the murder of Sepuh Karapetian, 23, from Echmiadzin in March of that year. The murder was allegedly ordered by the retired general who was enraged that his son, Zarzand, had received a knife wound during a fight with three young men. The wound was inflicted by Karapetian’s friend, allegedly in self-defense, according to a Hetq interview with an anonymous friend present at the scene. The fight reportedly broke out when the three tried to stop Zarzand’s unwelcome advances towards a young woman. Upon learning about the fight, the general reportedly ordered his son to seek revenge.

According to reports cited by Pennington, Zarzand, a relative (rumored to be the general’s father), and eight of the general’s bodyguards participated in locating the three youth, savagely beating them, and murdering Karapetian. “According to Karapetian’s anonymous friend, when the 23-year-old’s body was found, it showed signs of torture. Karapetian’s shoes and socks had been removed and his feet beaten to a pulp; the deceased’s legs had turned white from repetitive blows; and his hands had been pierced by a sharp implement in the manner of a crucifixion,” wrote Pennington.

In the end, a distant relative of the general, Arayik Saroyan, was charged with premeditated murder, but third-party sources were unable to verify whether the relative had been present at the time of the murder. Pennington noted that according to a Hetq report, Zarzand was also involved in a hit-and-run that left a 10-year-old boy dead and another crippled in 2007.

“This and other similar incidents in recent years reinforce the impression of many ordinary Armenians that there is a class of well-connected individuals and oligarchs here who, along with their families and security details, can rob, kill, and maim with impunity,” wrote Pennington. “We customarily hear reports several times per year of influential generals or oligarchs, or their families or retainers, being involved in violent altercations with average citizens unlucky or imprudent enough to get in their way. Such incidents are routinely swept under the carpet… It is precisely incidents such as these that deepen Armenians’ feelings of helpless rage that there is a class of wealthy and thuggish regime supporters who are effectively free to maim and kill ordinary citizens with impunity.”

Unfortunately, some of the very same individuals whose actions shocked the authors of these cables are still terrorizing the streets of Armenia. Khachatryan made headlines yet again in recent weeks after he allegedly threatened the wellbeing of an environmental activist. An even-handed judiciary must emerge that acts not as the pawn of the rich and powerful, but as an institution that guards the rights of all Armenian citizens. Crimes must be punished, regardless of the depth of the criminals’ pockets or their familial relations.

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and English and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts (Boston).
Nanore Barsoumian

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  1. Now that we have a “free” country, we appear to be treating ourselves the way the Turks treated us 100 years ago. Haven’t we by now lost as many Hayastantzsi’s as we lost western Armenians in 1915 to 1922? Self inflicted genocide – there’s a case study for you.

  2. It is reported that past President Robert Katcharian’s net worth is approximately 200 plus million dollars. Tell me, where does he “earn” that money? Its out and out thuggery, theft.. The diaspora does have to deal with this.. We cannot work on behalf of Armenia and ignore the robbers that rob it blindly with iron fist rule..This needs to end..

  3. The basic Supremacy of Law Should be established ,installed in the government system and respected Now!!! Surely, one of the causes of this social evil is greed and CORRUPTION, and last, but not the least, IGNORANCE.

  4. Very sad to read such things. Without protection of equal rights and the incorruptibility of the rule of law to ensure that the guilty are punished and the innocent protected, there is no real security for the common citizen in Armenia. Interesting how so many of these incidents pivot around a female. One wonders how archaic attitudes about women and social status play into this problem. May fair and decent people in Armenia raise their voices and rally to correct this corrupt system.

    • The article also mentioned the violence on basically children as well. apparently The mayor is a tough guy beating up a child as well.

  5. We need a revolution in Armenia! Throw the F*N bums, thugs and the thieves to the lions.Shame shame! but they would not get it because “they” are animals.
    I am very saddened reading these terrible news from “homeland”.
    We diaspora Armenians SHOULD do something about this lawlessness!

  6. There was a time when many diasporans would see in the independence of Armenia the realization of their cherished ideals. Alas, independence came, the euphora about it went on for some time, but it gradually subsided. It bacame clear that independence does not necessarily mean democracy and rule of law.
    The deep-rooted corruption in the state apparatus of Armenia is really disappointing. It is responsible for the exodus of great numbers of citizens and is a major obstacle in the fruitful cooperation of Diaspora and Fatherland to boot. This is in fact a matter of national security and negligence to it is tantamount to treason.

  7. It is absolutely disheartening to read such things but nothing surprising…I am simply appaulled how these thugs (they are suppose to be Armenians just like those living in ARmenia and outside right? but they don’t act like any other normal and just citizen of our nation) are ruling the country.. someone need to burn their tongue and hands so next time they dont’ raise use them to physically hurt someone or go complain to their big daddy who is rich and fat.. i am sooo frustrated and disgusted with these weak and ugly people…they don’t belong to brave and strong nation Armenia.. they are nothing…

  8. It is with utmost shame and disgust that very unfortunately Armenians in Armenia and abroad are VERY JEALOUS people!!! Why is this, I don’t know, but shamefully so they are. They act like saints towards non-Armenians and like animals towards their own kind, especially if they are not afraid of them. I have personally known this to be true and am disgusted by it!!

    In Armenia, the oligarchs and the people in authority if they don’t abide by laws and act like they own Armenia and act and do as they please and take the law into their own hands, not abiding by the law of the land, unfortunately the civilised Western world is going to take note and intervene. If Armenians in Armenia wish to be treated and looked upon as civilised human beings, then they should act like one. Otherwise the civilised world will try to reprimend them like they do towards belligerent children. Yes it is truly a shame and corruption must stop in Armenia.

  9. The fish always rots from its head,and sadly in our case we have Serzh and his brothers who are nothing but a bunch of crooks,and we in the diaspora keep clapping him,receiving his devalued state medals,state titles,what a farce.

  10. Arshag .I agree with you as rgds need of more rule of law and riddance of corruption as much as possible.Total? impossible ,like in any country.I´m realistic. As rgds Expodus in great numbers,that has many explanations.
    After total collapse of ex-soviet system,near all industries were rendered useless as the previous one was interconnected completely. Anyhow…..
    What we should be thinking about is RE-ORGANIZING OUR OWNB HOUSE in Diaspora.That is where the ANSWER IS TO SOLUTIONS IN HOMELAND.
    In brief, once we have a Supreme Council of diaspora and a Nat´l Investment Trust Fund in Swiotzerland,governed by Board of our magnates,the we can FUND A MUCH NEEDED REPATRIATION,.
    This based on giving loans to those repatriating against mortgages(properties, businesses and or farms they acquite there) for say 10 year periods at low 2% per annum.
    In the past also(soviet times9 the after WWII Repatriation was organized by the Diasporic countries.the soviets did not SPEND A DIME!!!!!!
    The authorities will get a load of( a not said hint) that THE FUND IS DIASPORA´s of all armenians even some from RA/Artsakh investing therein and will be USED ONLY FOR NATIONAL PURPOSES NOT INDIVIDUAL ….
    Thinkl about it and please opine as to my ¨suggestions¨ for silence bodes bad!!!! I welcome very negative responses rather than SILENCE !!!!

  11. Diaspora needs to wake up and realize that what concerns us now are the daily issues of Armenia, and the injustices in Armenia Today…enough with living in our own bubbles and dreaming of a better homeland! Azad Ankakh Hayastan was the call of our parents generation. The call for our generation is working towards a Democratic functioning State!

    MORE SIMILAR ARTICLES SHOULD BE WRITTEN IN “HAYRENIK” and THE JOURNAL be sent to the president of Armenia so he realize that Armenians living all over the world know now how badly the corruption is spreaded out.

  13. Nanore

    Before writing such article…in a main site like AW
    you can send every Armenian e-mail letter and we can sign…collect our signature and send to site …they should know what they are doing…
    We are honest people and such things should be vanished…specially from our main land…You are correct… But there are many ways to do…instead of putting our dirty cloths and pleasing our enemies …
    WikiLeaks did not report that Erdugan has 8 bank accounts in Switzerland…?
    All politicians are not clean see The British Tony Blare what is doing corrupting many sites…!

    • Necati Pasha/bey/ogly/—- instead of laughing at an Armenian poster.. why don’t you go and adjust your attitude and hatred toward Armenians and then bestow your hate filled denialist self upon us…

  14. I am surprised how the government is blamed for everything that happened and is happening in Armenia. The government is the reflection of the people in the country. You have to live in Armenia to understand why our government is so corrupt and bad. As to killings and violence again it is the reflection of our society in Armenia. Sadly enough that is true. Have you seen how average people talk to each other in markets, on streets, how they behave while waiting in line, how they talk to a police officer, a doctor, how children behave in schools? Diaspora is living in its dreams. Lets speak the truth, There are wonderful, talented and educated people in Armenia but our society in Armenia as a whole is immature and rude. And everything starts from here not from the government. If average citizens can curse, beat each other while waiting in the line what can you expect from the government? After the Soviet Union collapse, I witnessed how many Armenian families would tell their children that education is not important any more that they have to learn to be clever and flexible once the opportunity is provided. And I do not blame those parents because after 1990s it was horrible in Armenia it was all about buying Soviet factories and selling the iron and stones, taking a loan from the bank and leaving Armenia. Our poor people were confused. Now it is very different, people understood that education is very important and many parents encourage their kids to do well in school and get higher education. We are just in transition, we are developing. People are developing too, they have learned that they have rights, human rights that is why we see so many demonstrations now against injustice. It is a good thing.

  15. This is a great article for everyone to open up their eyes and see what corruption is doing to this amazing country. Change can only happen when the citizens stand up and have hope.

  16. gaytzag,
    Contrary to what you say, repatriation in Soviet time was financed by the Soviet government. It was after all good political publicity for them. I have never heard or read anything about financing repatriation by Diaspora at the time.
    As for “national investment trust” to finance repatriation, I think that would not be much different from the bitter experience of many diasporan investors who went to Armenia with the same patriotic motives only to be robbed and insulted and made to close business and finally leave Armenia. A proven failed method.

    I have been to Armenia many times and I quite undestand what you say. I think the move for change should come from Armenia. The country needs a social-cultural revolution. There should be more NGO’s, more social control, more tolerance. Many notions, ways and habits should change. We from Diaspora can help, but the initiative should come from Armenia. May the Force be with you.

  17. what a depressing article. you want to get a feeling how armenia is just visit glendale and see how rude some of our compatriates are toward others and each other. very sad and i hope it changes fast. as for the republic, i am afraid short of a full blown revolution or one or two generations of progressive growth, things will not change anytime soon.
    the solution is for the diaspora to repatriate to armenia, like the jews to isreal, armenian diaspora back to armenia this is the solution. i do not consider these thugs as armenian. they are weak cowards who beat women and children and have the audacity to call themseles armos. they should be shunned in all aspects of society.

  18. I agree with Arshag 100%. The corruption of the government entities are so
    bad that it makes you vomit when you deal with them. They are rotten to the core.
    I went there with the idea of helping the needy. After what I went through with the government officials, I was saddened and sorry to witness the corruption in the country by the government leaders. To me those leaders are nothing but the
    “Tavajans” of the Armenian nation. They are ruining the country. I have heard of
    many diaspora Armenians who were able to and desired to open factories there, after they found out what they had to go through, they left the country disgusted and did not want to have anything to do with it. And who is t he loser? The common people. May God help us. We hope someday we can say “Huysie Hairenik, Luysie Hayrenik” but for now it is “Voghpy Hairenik, Vorpy Hayrenik”.

  19. Arek
    Your proposed solution, Diaspora should repatriate to Armenia, is idealistic and I’m afraid will not work. It does not work already. We see it just now. Do you think there have been insufficient number of patriotic Diasporans during the last 20 years after independence who haven’t tried that? You can’t propagandize repatriation, as the Minister for Diasproa does, whereas our Armenian compatriots leave their land to find better lives in oher countries (Turkey incidentally!). And don’t compare Armenians to Jews. Armenia is not for her Disapora the same as Israel is to the Diasporan Jews.
    The question is much more serious than to be left to wishful thinking. Unless there is a real shake-up in the whole social, judicial fabric of the society, I can’t see any prospect of course change. It is not enough to have a strong army and sing patriotic songs. The Army is of course very important for a country like Armenia, but it is not the sole gurarantee for the well being of the citizens and the rule of law in the country.

  20. Without wanting to sound like I’m protecting that thug called Suren Khachatryan, I have to in all honesty say that these types of incidents are being politically exploited by Washington-based organizations and activists against Armenia. We all know that Armenia has sociopolitical problems, as do all nation’s on God’s earth but this stuff has really gone way beyond merely fighting corruption or raising awareness about abuse. These types of stories are in fact being used as part of the active information war against Armenia. Shock and awe articles like this are meant to bring out the worst in us. Imperial interests are using various subversive individuals and agencies to spread anger, hopelessness and despair throughout Armenian society. Naturally, their excuse is always to raise “awareness” or “fight corruption”, but the result is always the further alienation of an already alienated diaspora. Their intent is to break the Armenian spirit, after which they will break the Armenian nation. Armenia is going through natural growing pains. When addressing these matters Armenian activists need to keep the fight in Armenia, they need to keep the fight against individuals (not the government) and they need to keep the fight free of individuals and organizations connected to the political West. In other words, fight the thugs in Armenia without fighting for the thugs in Washington.

    • and they do and will continue to do Avetis jan…

      It is no surprise that outside factors do create such choas to see and feel how Armenians react.. it is a decoy to get the waters muddy; however our focus should not change.. our focus should be on our country, our people and Genocide…

      Things like this will happen and we will face division between Armenians from time to time but I know our common cause, to have strong and free democratic country and get the world aware of the Genocide and most of all get Turkey not only to apologize but pay every penny back… and I know we can achieve that as long as we are together…

  21. Avetis, I respect your opinion but couldn’t disagree with you more. You were given your Freedom and a Constitution giving you ( the Armenian people) more Rights than even we Americans have. You don’t need a Revolution, you need to enforce your Constitution. We use our courts and an Attorney General responsible for enforcing our Rights to do that. Where is that person in Armenia?

    No one can give you your rights, you have to demand them and they require free and open elections.
    Since I rarely hear anyone discussing it, here are a few of the Rights Armenians already have;
    1.”power belongs to the people”
    2.”dignity, human rights and freedom are an ultimate value”
    3. (this ones for “Liska” )-“the usurpation of power by any organization constitutes a crime”
    4. “the Constitution of the Republic shall have Supreme legal force”
    5. “Parties shall ensure openess of their financial activities”
    6. (political) “Parties are formed freely and are the expression of the political will of the people”’s another one, ( if he is guilty, as I would want him to have a fair trial); “the State shall ensure protection of the environment and natural resources”
    I could go on and on but the question is; does this sound like your Armenia
    and if not, why not?
    You called it “Imperialism-trying to break the will of the People”, We call it Freedom bringing hope to the People.
    In any Democracy, this man could have been charged with assault on the businesswoman Silva,-he would have been arrested for the assault on the boy and removed from office. What you have here isn’t Democracy; it’s Thugocracy.
    That’s why we’re losing patience with Armenia but it’s your Country, your choice and we do wish you the best but we are reaching the limits of our influence.
    It might be “embarrassing” to have things about your country publicized (it happens to us everyday) but Democracy is argumentative and Freedom, truly isn’t free. You can’t get any more “rights” than you already have in your Constitution.
    Your Constitution was your Revolution.

  22. Dave:

    when you write {“That’s why we’re losing patience with Armenia but it’s your Country, your choice and we do wish you the best but we are reaching the limits of our influence.”}

    Can you please clarify who is “we” ?
    “we” as in Anglo-Saxon Americans ?
    “we” as in Armenian-Americans ?
    who ?

  23. Dave.. i am sorry but i missed your point where you said ” That is why we are losing patience with Armenia..”””” what did you mean by that and who is we???

  24. Avetis,
    State corruption, I believe, is the weakest point of Armenia. Unless it is done away with, all are going to suffer of its evil effects, whether compatriots in Armenia or Diasporan Armenians. What you are saying is that expressing anger and disappointment at this scandalous state of affairs in a Diasporan paper is “fighting for the thugs in Washington” and propose us to go to Armenian and “fight the thugs there”. Wasn’t this patriotic Diasporan lady doing just that? And how was she treated instead? How on earth is the situation going to be rectified, if not by open criticism, among others. Should we keep silent in Diaspora on such a vital issue, because our criticism may be misused by others? Then no one should criticise his country or its rulers, because it might be used by its enemies. This logic doesn’t hold. Your assertion that “Imperial interests are using various subversive individuals and agencies to spread anger, hopelessness …” sounds like old Soviet cliches.

  25. Avery,Guyanne, I’m just an american armenian in n.calif. but the “We” Is just about anyone who reads this disturbing article.

    Here, we’d demand an investigation, fair trial (for the accused) and removal from office (if guilty). If the Govt. didn’t act, we’d “occupy” (peacefully) his Governors Palace until he left. We’d also investigate his conduct as a military commander and if he’s using any Armenian soldiers for his own purposes, he would be charged also for violating the political neutrality of the military as expressed in the Armenian Constitution.

    But Avetis is right, because we don’t fear our Govt., the worst that can happen to us is that we’d be politely arrested and quickly released. (then, volunteer attorneys work behind the scenes to get all the charges dropped-so it doesn’t appear on your record). How does that compare to your system?

    There, people get hurt for voicing their opinions, so, I want to be careful, I’m not trying to provoke armenians into action nor do I feel I even have the right (as a foreign citizen) to meddle in their political affairs…but
    they, (old-school soviet throwback types/common gangsters) thought that they could just sign it (Constitution), sit back and collect aid from “Imperialist” Western Fools and go back to their old ways (I call it “sliding” back under the Iron Curtain) but the “West” is demanding full implementation of those rights and open parties/free elections, so Armenians don’t have to go back into the streets to get them.
    They (the above mentioned) had 70 years to build their little “workers paradise”, times up. there will be no replay..
    They, (reactionary anti-Democratic forces) think it’s a joke (Freedom-Govt. by Law, human rights,etc), and that groups like the Coalition Against Violence, Enviromental groups, etc. are unpatriotic for criticising the Govt. but they’re the real Patriots, why?, because they carry the full force of the Constitution behind them-it’s the “supreme law” of the land and any one who obstructs their rights under it-is an enemy of the people and an obstruction to their freedom. That’s probably why they like to call them/us “dangerous” and “subversive”-they’re not used to “sharing power” (or prison cells) and it is dangerous to the status quo and its little fiefdoms and petty tyrants.

    Mr President, please do something about the situation, people are grumbling all the way to Fresno. As an astute turkish politician recently said (about a totally unrelated subject), “You can’t cover the Sun with Mud”.

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