by Marianna Grigoryan Days after President Serge Sargsyan nominated Central Bank chairman Tigran Sarkisian (no relation) as his prime minister, commentary among analysts and politicians in Yerevan turned from who had been chosen to how the decision had been made. Tigran Sarkisian, 48, has no political party membership and maintains that he will remain unaffiliated while serving a government overwhelmingly controlled by the president's Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
by John Hughes Inauguration Day came to Armenia April 9 with skies full of brilliance and spectacle over the capital, Yerevan. Like something from a fairy tale for most here who had never witnessed such a thing, 18 hot air balloons carrying waving passengers in straw baskets floated their way across the city as if the sky had opened into a bag of giant M&Ms.
by Richard Giragosian While Armenia was gripped by a series of demonstrations and protests in the wake of its February 19 presidential election, Karabakh seemed a far-away concern for most Armenians. But while Armenia's capital was under an internal siege of its own in early March, the turmoil created an opportunity that resulted in an outbreak of hostilities, which sparked renewed concern over the security and stability of Karabakh.
by Suren Musayelyan and Sara Khojoyan Political upheavals never do good to an economy, an axiom that Armenia's authorities may have already felt in some way in the wake of the post-election political crisis, and surely will have to deal with in the months or even years to come. Armenia, which has seen six straight years of double-digit economic growth and was, according to all projections, well on track for another year of robust growth in 2008, is facing a prospect of possible economic slowdown on the heels of this spring's troubled post-election developments.
by Leah Kohlenberg Early on Saturday morning, March 1, as police prepared to storm sleeping protesters camped in front of Yerevan's opera house, 300 kilometers away near the Iranian border, Samvel Alexanian, editor of Kapan's local newspaper, noticed that his regular edition had not been delivered to kiosks as normal.
by Ani Hakobyan A new kind of civic action in Armenia grew out of the turmoil of March 1, with the viewer-supported rescue of a Gyumri television station. March 17-25, supporters of GALA TV—schoolchildren to pensioners to human rights advocates to unknown fans abroad—rallied to "loan" the station 26,458,500 drams ($88,195) to keep it on air and out of trouble with Armenia's tax collectors. The action is the first of its kind in Armenia—similar to the popular worldwide telethon held in support of the Armenia Fund each November and broadcast from cities abroad.
by John Hughes As Armenia struggles yet to secure her place on the international map of importance and relevance, the 33 days from February 19 to March 22 sent a redundant message to the outside world that she remains a troubled teenaged republic. Even before Election Day, some allies were not happy with how the campaign process was being conducted.
by Tony Halpin Serge Sargsyan quoted Nerses Shnorhali, the 12th-century poet and catholicos, in his presidential election program to explain his outlook on the development of civil society in Armenia: "Unity as primary, freedom as secondary, and love in everything."
by Lincoln A. Mitchell Presidential races in Georgia, Armenia and Russia were not just bumps on the road to democracy, and that's a big problem for democracy advocates. Georgia, Russia and Armenia have all held presidential elections this year, and in each case, the outcomes demonstrate that efforts to strengthen democracy are either stagnant or, more worryingly, failing. In Russia, we saw a well-orchestrated and smoothly run undemocratic election, and there was little democracy advocates or international observers could have done to change that.
by Richard Giragosian and John Hughes During the February 19 presidential election, some 15,000 foreign and local monitors were on hand to observe the voting conditions and record any violations of process—about eight observers per polling station republic wide.