The Region in Brief

March 1, 2023 - March 8, 2023


Armenia’s Court of Appeals has ordered a new investigation into the death of a pregnant woman hit by a police car escorting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s motorcade in April 2022. Sona Mnatsakanyan, 28, was killed in the hit-and-run. Her family has been critical of the criminal investigation, saying that police refuse to release radio conversations among the security personnel from the day of the accident. Police say the conversations were not recorded due to a technical malfunction. The court has ordered the Investigative Committee to inspect why the recordings are missing. The driver, Aram Navasardyan, has been indicted on charges of reckless driving and negligence. Other members of the security detail were cleared during last year’s investigation.  


Riot police deployed tear gas and water cannons to crack down on tens of thousands of protesters demonstrating against the foreign agent bill. The proposed legislation, which passed its first reading in parliament on Tuesday, would require non-governmental organizations and media outlets that receive more than 20-percent of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence.” Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze said the protesters had been led with “disinformation” and that the bill was necessary to investigate critics of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The bill has been condemned by Georgian civil society groups and Western governments as modeled after Russia’s repressive foreign agent law. The US Embassy said the bill raised “real questions about the ruling party’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration.” Opposition MPs have also been attacked by ruling party MPs in parliament. United National Movement leader Levan Khabeishvili was removed from parliament by security on Monday after he was slapped by Georgian Dream MP Anri Okhanashvili. 


Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of center-left Republican People’s Party, has been nominated as the opposition candidate seeking to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in general elections on May 14. The six-party alliance announced Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy after reaching a compromise to nominate Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas as vice presidents. Meral Aksener, head of nationalist Iyi Party, broke away from the coalition last week because he had favored the mayors’ nomination. The opposition alliance has vowed to abolish the presidential system put in place by Erdogan in 2018, which they say has created a one-man rule without checks and balances. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party is excluded from the alliance. 

Turkey’s struggling economy has received a $5 billion boost from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The generous deposit from the Saudi Fund for Development was described as “a testament to the close cooperation and historical ties” between the nations. Turkish inflation has been soaring above 55 percent; the lira has weakened by almost 30 percent in the last year. Details on the use of the funds were not disclosed.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.

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