Most Armenians approve of Crimea’s return to Russia – pollster

A new survey in Yerevan and across the regions of Armenia has found that most of the country’s population approves of Crimea’s return to Russia as a result of a recent referendum.

The polls, conducted by Gallup International Association from April 8 to 18, attracted 1,067 respondents, Aram Navasardyan, the organization’s ountry director, told a news conference on Wednesday.

“The first question was whether the respondents had heard of the revolution in Ukraine; 92 percent responded ‘yes’, and the other 8 percent said ‘no’,” he said, introducing the results.

Navasardyan said some 77% of those surveyed had negatively treated the bloodshed in Kiev. As for the general attitude to the Crimea referendum, the pollster noted that most of the respondents – 76% – found Russia’s move positive, with only 12% giving a negative answer.

Navasardyan said further that 70% of the respondents found Crimea’s decision to gain independence from Ukraine positive.

Asked about the opinions about recognizing Crimea, the pollster said 73% had found such a move important.

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Republican Party of Armenia to ‘play first violin’ in Armenia’s politics during coming decade – Eduard Sharmazanov

 

Spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and Vice-Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament Eduard Sharmazanov believes that a new political situation with new rules of the game has developed in Armenia, which stems from Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s statements.

To inform all the political figures that intend to run for the presidency or premiership of Armenia, he said that the RPA is the principal – if not the only – way to that during the coming decade. 

“The RPA will play first violin in Armenia’s political arena during the coming decade,” Sharmazanov said.
 
“Specifically, President Serzh Sargsyan’s statement that he had no intention to seek a third term was actually an announcement of the rules of a new political game, which has not been fully perceived. The president said that he had no intention to run for the presidency and, in case of parliamentary system, he would not seek Armenia’s premiership,” Sharmazanov said.

Armenia’s president also stressed his conviction was that one and the same person must not run for more than two consecutive presidential terms in his life.

“He noted that, whatever rules are in effect, the Republican Party of Armenia, with him as its leader, would continue playing its decisive role in Armenia’s politics. We have launched a government system with a diminishing political role of one person and a substantially enhanced role of political parties,” Sharmazanov said.

With respect to the RPA, he said:

“The leader of our state clearly said that it is the RPA’s vote – rather than the vote of a former or future leader – that would be decisive both now and during the coming decade because the RPA is leader in terms of both organization and political potential and will remain leader in our politics during the coming decade. By his statement President Serzh Sargsyan clearly showed that any political figures that intended to run for the highest government posts the RPA was the principal – if not the only – way to that during the coming decade.”

As to whether this could be interpreted as a proposal to join the RPA to Armenia’s first and second presidents, Sharmazanov said:

“The reality is that the RPA will play first violin in Armenia’s political arena during the coming decade.”
 

Armenia’s non-coalition forces only think they win – Galust Sahakyan

 

Newly elected Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament Galust Sahakyan notes that the non-coalition forces only think they have gained victory. 

But they actually suffer defeat.

Speaking of the vote on draft amendments to the Law on Excise Tax, Sahakyan noted that he was surprised when the Prosperous Armenia parliamentary group, which is co-author of the draft amendments represented by Mikael Melkumyan, did not take part in the vote.

“If the four forces want to jointly discuss issues and make decisions, I think it is logical. I consider it a political action by the four forces.”

As to the difference he sees between the Prosperous Armenia party and the Rule of Law party after the former supported him as a candidate for the post of Armenian parliament speaker, Sahakyan said:

“A great difference. They are different political forces with different orientation.”

Educationists, scientists hold protest in Yerevan

A group of educationists and scientists, supported by the movement against funded pensions, held a protest in front of Armenia’s Ministry of Education and Science and demanded that Minister Armen Ashotyan honor the ruling by Armenia’s Constitutional Court.

An announcement by the movement reads, in particular:

“We must demand that the minister honor the Supreme Court’s ruling and allow employers not to make employees effect compulsory payments.”

Armenia’s new parliament speaker wins support by two political forces

 

Galust Sahakyan, Armenia’s new parliament speaker elected in a secret ballot on Tuesday, is thought to have won support by two political forces represented in parliament: the Republican faction (of which he is the leader) and Rule of Law.

Sahakyan won the election with 101 votes “in favor”. His only rival was Hrant Bagratyan, an opposition MP from the Armenian National Congress. Of the 131 parliament members, 106 participated in the voting. Two ballot-papers were declared null and void. According to the Armenian National Assembly’s official website, the ruling political force has 70 registered lawmakers.

Prosperous Armenia and Rule of Law, which said before the voting that their members are free in their choice, actually cast their ballots in favor of the Republican candidate.

Fifteen lawmakers boycotted the voting. The opposition Armenian National Congress, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun and Heritage said before election that they would not vote.

Though the voting was held in a secret ballot, two of the ANC lawmakers, Nikol Pashinyan and Alexander Arzumanyan, said they would give preference to the opposition candidate. Apparently, two of the three votes cast in Bagratyan’s favor came from their ballot-papers.

Prosperous Armenia parliamentary group member Vahe Hovhannisyan told reporters that he did not take part in the election of Armenian parliament speaker.

Asked if he would have voted for Hrant Bagraryan if he had taken part, Hovhannisyan said: 

“No, there is not such a question. It was my conscious decision. The group decided in favor of a free ballot, and I decided not to take part.”

Prosperous Armenia member Stepan Margaryan did not take part in the ballot either. As to his opinion of the most of the group members having supported Galust Sahakyan, Margaryan said:

“I have nothing to say. I am not informed of the results.”

Prosperous Armenia group member Vahe Enfiajyan took part in the free ballot.

As to the accusations of supporting a pro-government candidate Enfijalyan said:

“I can only say that it was a free ballot. I cannot say who and how voted. I know how I voted.” 
 

Struggle against injustice Rule of Law party’s priority – MP

 

Speaking in Parliament Rule of Law parliamentary group member Hovhannes Sargsyan addressed the problems facing Armenia.

According to him, supermarkets cause small shops to close down. 

“As a result, jobs are killed rather than created, which causes larger-scale emigration,” he said.

With respect to monopolies, the MP said: 

“We do not accept the idea of exempting the rich class from the luxury tax. They must pay the luxury tax not only on their luxury cars, but also on their villas,” he said. 

With respect to the criticism against the Rule of Law party, the MP said that the Rule of Law party considers public opinion more important.
 

Protest amid apartment dispute in Armenia’s capital (video)

A protest in front of the Armenian Government earlier today saw a crowd of people raise their voice of anger in a row against a development company which refused to give them apartments in a new residential block despite charging money.

Servantes Babajanyan, who said he had transferred a preliminary sum of 3 million Armenian Drams (over $7,250) to the company, even threatened to explode the building.

“I will explode that building … I have that right, and I can prove why,” he told Tert.am at the protest site.

Hasmik, another aggrieved citizen who invested money for an apartment in the same block, said the owner of Norashen 2007, the company which was formerly responsible for the construction, pledged the building for money and later had to cede it to the new developer, the limited liability company Artashes Melikyan.

“After a court dispute that lasted two years, the judge, Vazgen Rashtuni, was replaced. It took the new judge two or three months to get familiarized with the case and take it under proceeding. The hearings have now begun, and we again see long draw-out proceedings. Our building is under arrest, as the company has problems with the previous developer because of money,” said Hasmik Vardanyan, another protester.

The head of the Government’s correspondence department later approached the crowd, offering them consider the problem together.