Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Karabagh, an Arms Race and Accusations over Coffee

In a bunch of interesting articles today, RFE/RL report that Pavel Manukian, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun, says that he was beaten up by the highest ranking members of the Nagorno Karabagh military that included the Defense Minister, Seyran Ohanian.
At a meeting with Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian local Dashnaktsutyun leaders demanded strict punishment for Ohanian and other alleged participants of the beating. Similar demands were contained in a joint statement by Dashnaktsutyun and several other local parties that condemned the violent incident. But nobody has been charged in the case so far.

The incident came in the wake of Karabakh’s June 19 parliamentary election in which an opposition bloc formed by Dashnaktsutyun and the Movement-88 opposition party unsuccessfully challenged Ghukasian’s loyalists. The bloc refused to concede defeat, alleging serious vote irregularities.
Meanwhile, and going back to a previous post on the start of a possible arms race in the South Caucasus, the Azerbaijan President has stated that his government's 70 per cent increase in military expenditure this year is largely due to the transfer of Russian military hardware from the Republic of Georgia to Armenia. And if there wasn't enough bad news going around, one of Armenia's leading importers of coffee into the republic has again accused the country's Customs of corruption.
“We are dealing with a group of officials who set unofficial rules, and if you don’t comply with those rules then you must not operate,” said the company’s executive director, Gagik Hakobian. “If they yield and do things in accordance with the law, they will have problems with other businessmen.”
Some things never change but with the lack of democracy -- and thus accountability -- some would argue that they are actually getting worse.

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