Please use calendar box on the right side to select news digest for the day of your interest. Please note that digests below are sorted in cronologic order.
On 21 November, the pro-government majority prevented a planned parliamentary debate on an opposition bill meant to foster the proper conduct of the upcoming presidential election. Deputies from the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and its junior partner in the governing coalition, Rule of Law Party (OEK), boycotted the session to ensure that it does not make a quorum. ANC parliamentary leader Levon Zurabyan denounced the boycott as “unconstitutional,” citing Article 70 of the Constitution explicitly providing the opposition with the right to initiate a debate on an issue even if the parliamentary majority is against it. In fact, on 22 November, the ANC moved to take the pro-government majority to the Constitutional Court. ARF-D leader Armen Rustamyan similarly criticized the disruption saying that he would report the matter to the parliament’s Ethics Committee. HHK representatives have so far defended their action, arguing that the parliamentary majority has a legitimate right to decide the agenda, that all factions are allowed to boycott NA sessions, and that Article 70 of the Constitution says nothing about quorum. RFE/RL, Aravot
Oppositional Heritage party candidate Styopa Safaryan, running for parliament in a Yerevan by-election scheduled for 2 December, claims that voter lists in his constituency have been inflated, while the election campaign is proceeding with “flagrant violations” to ensure the victory of a pro-establishment candidate. In particular, Safaryan said the police has rejected his request to provide him with a full electoral roll and with regard to this issue he will shortly submit a complaint to the CEC. Safaryan also alleged violations and dishonest behavior by the ruling party candidate for which he is planning do demand an invalidation of the HHK candidate’s registration. “Election campaign staffs cannot be located at polling stations. We have video recorded a number of them,” Safaryan told journalists on 22 November. Safaryan is the main rival of the HHK candidate Robert Sargsyan among the contesters of a parliamentary seat in Yerevan’s Avan and Nor-Norq district (Precinct N1) vacated after HHK MP Ruben Hayrapetyan’s surrender over the Harsnakar deadly incident. HHK candidate Robert Sargsyan, who is widely known as the brother-in-law of Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan, is reportedly running as many as 35 campaign offices in the precinct, as opposed to 1.5 electoral offices used by the Heritage candidate. Another opposition candidate, Armenak Dovlatyan heading the Green Party in the ANC bloc, withdrew his candidacy on 22 November, saying he did not want to hinder the Heritage candidate’s bid. ArmeniaNow.com, Lurer.com, Haykakan Zhamanak, Tert.am, ArmInfo
Members of the Prosperous Armenia Party’s (BHK) political council held a closed-door meeting late on 21 November, to discuss, among other issues, nominating a candidate for next year’s presidential election. The press has informed that the members of the second largest party have urged BHK leader Gagik Tsarukyan to make a presidential bid. In a further interview, Tsarukyan said he already had made a decision, but was not going to make it public yet as the electoral law allowed him to do it later. Under Armenia’s Election Code, nominations of candidates in presidential elections are to start 55 days prior to and end 45 days before Election Day, i.e. from late December 2012 to early January 2013. ArmeniaNow.com citing News.am, Zham.am, 7or.am
The issues of life-term prisoners were the theme of a two-day international conference organized by the Helsinki Committee of Armenia on 21-22 November, with support from Open Society Foundations and the OSCE Office in Yerevan. The aim of the conference was to discuss the experience of European countries on the legislative mechanisms of application and implementation of life imprisonment. “In European countries with independent judicial power the percentage of acquittals ranges between 10-25%, while in our country acquittals do not exceed even 2%,” chairman of the Helsinki Committee Avetik Ishkhanyan was quoted saying. Compared to European court practice, where numerous mistakes are admitted and court decisions are reviewed, in Armenia the possibility of a court mistake is not being admitted at all, Ishkhanyan suggested. “By saying judicial power we mean an independent judicial system. We don’t have judicial power, we only have a judicial system which is not independent,” Ishkhanyan added. Pastinfo, Aravot, Lragir
Armenian prisoners complain against Parole Commission. Elinar Vardanyan, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs, and Naira Zohrabyan, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on European Integration, visited on 22 November the Abovyan women’s and juvenile colony, where the inmates expressed complaints against the Parole Commission and informed about their intention to address an open letter, indicating concrete facts of “strongly biased” attitude and decisions by the Commission. Recalling a recent parliamentary hearing on the penitentiary system, Zohrabyan (BHK) said the MPs have pointed to the absence of clear standards of release on parole which, she said, was admitted by the Minister of Justice. The government is currently working on clarifying the standards, according to the Minister. Tert.am
OSCE mediators voiced misgivings about the planned launch of commercial flights from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh on 22 November as they visited Stepanakert at the start of a new round of regional shuttle diplomacy. “We think that the launch of the [Stepanakert] airport in the existing situation can cause tension in relations between the parties,” the Russian co-chair of the Minsk Group was quoted saying. “At the same time we think that the issue should be settled through diplomatic means based on the existing [international] experience,” Popov told journalists in Stepanakert. NKR President Bako Sahakyan, in the meantime, has called on the international mediators “to take steps to bring back Azerbaijan to a constructive path,” describing the glorification of the Azerbaijani axe-murderer inadmissible. RFE/RL, Mediamax
President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso is expected in Armenia on 30 November. Barroso is scheduled to take part in the second Eastern Partnership Summit of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Yerevan. Also expected to arrive in Yerevan for the Summit are the EPP President, Wilfried Martens, as well as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. Mediamax