Reflections on Artsakh Blockade | Is Russia Pressuring Armenia to Join Union State | Bill to Control Internet During Martial Law | Highlights and Lowlights of 2022 | Predictions for 2023 [EP197]

Posted on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023 | Category: Armenia, Politics | Series: wir

Guest:

Topic:

  • Hovik’s Reflections from the Artsakh Blockade Interviews
  • Is Russia Pressuring Armenia to join a “Union State”?
  • Government Bill to Control the Internet During Martial Law
  • Highlights and Lowlights from Armenian News in 2022
  • Predictions for 2023

Episode 197 | Recorded: January 3, 2023

Show Notes

Artsakh Blockade

Hovik, since you’ve been interviewing analysts and politicians for the past 2 weeks, on the topic of the Artsakh Blockade, can you share your impressions from these conversations?

FSU is now the Future Soviet Union

Once again this week rumors flared up that Putin is pressuring Armenia to join the so-called “Union State” that currently consists of Russia and Belarus. This round was set off by the secretary of the Armenian national security council, Armen Grigoryan. For a day or so the entire ruling party was buzzing with this news, but Russia vehemently denied the report and slammed the provocative remarks.

  • Are reports of a Future Soviet Union exaggerated or true?
  • What do you make of the allegations that Russia is using the ongoing Artsakh blockade to pressure Armenia to a- join the Union State, and b- to agree to an extra-territorial so-called corridor for Azerbaijan through Armenia, to Nakhichevan?

Even Civil Contract parliamentarians have said that the government has not reported to them that such requests have been put to Armenia.

  • Does it make any sense to you, that a government does not inform its own parliament of such momentous proposals?
  • There are no opposition parliamentarians in the critical security and defense committees of parliament. Are these reports by the secretary of national security credible, when there is no substantiation to the allegations?

Government Control on the Internet

The Ministry of Justice is pushing a bill to allow the government to censor and block information on the Internet in Armenia, during war or martial law. The MoJ said that the draft bill is in response to Pashinyan’s demand to ensure the government’s powers during a martial law situation.

It’s alarming how many times the government has pushed forward laws to limit freedom of speech and information, despite western NGOs and also governments open disapproval.

  • Why are we seeing this specific bill right now?
  • Is it going anywhere? What’s the outlook for it?

Year in Review

Alright, let’s take an incomplete look back at 2022, and have each of us pick a highlight of the year, and a lowlight of the year.

Now, I’m going to be OK if you decide that the service at some restaurant, or a vacation you took was your highpoint, or low point, but in reality I’m looking for reflections from the news we have read all year.

Hovik

  • Highlight

    • Armenia’s national debt grew by only $1B!!!
    • They repaired the road that bypasses Goris-Kapan road. Sure the new road is narrower and goes through much tougher terrain, but hey it’s an accomplishment. And please don’t be a party pooper and ask why the original Goris-Kapan road cannot be used.
  • Lowlight EVERYTHING IN 2022!

    • Aghavno/Berdzor
    • Parukh
    • September clashes
    • Surmalu
    • Blockade of Artsakh!!! 120K-big concentration camp in progress.

Benyamin

  • Highlight

    • Double digit economic growth.
  • Lowlight

    • Armenian government’s demoralization of the nation into feeling like it is a stateless nation.

Asbed

  • Highlight

    • I’m not sure anything from Armenian news can be called a highlight for me in 2022, but I’m thankful for all the Artsakhtsis who remain on their ancestral lands, and fight for it.
  • Lowlight

    • The September war which left over 200 Armenian soldiers dead, and many subjected to horrible crimes against humanity, rape, torture, mutilation, execution. To say this was a low point is a crazy understatement, it makes me very angry.

2023 Predictions

  1. One prediction that you assess, in your opinion, is “highly likely to happen”, or has an 80% chance of happening.
  2. One prediction that has a 50/50 chance of happening.
  3. One prediction that is unlikely to, but may happen in 2023. Maybe a 20% chance of happening.

High Likelihood

  • Benyamin - A new Military escalation along Armenia - azerbaijan international border
  • Hovik - New war.
  • Asbed - I think that the Russia-Ukraine war will yield to a political or diplomatic phase in 2023.

50/50

  • Hovik - Nikol Pashinyan’s motorcade, which got refreshed last year, might get some new luxury additions!!
  • Asbed - 50/50 chance of a power shuffle in the Kremlin. I’m thinking mostly about the defense minister, etc.
  • Benyamin - Ukraine war continues without any new agreements. Armenia and Artsakh continue current status quo without new agreements with Azerbaijan.

Unlikely

  • Asbed - Small chance that a Kremlin power shuffle could reach the top and end up with Putin’s removal or departure.
  • Hovik - Nikol Pashinyan’s removal and trial for treason. Despite my greatest wishes.
  • Benyamin - Peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Wrap-up

We hope you found our Week in Review helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions, you can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.

Guests

Benyamin Poghosyan

Benyamin Poghosyan

Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is a senior fellow at APRI Armenia, a Yerevan based think tank,and the Chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies. He has served as the vice president for research and head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia. Dr. Poghosyan was a Distinguished Research Fellow at the US National Defense University College of International Security Affairs. He is a graduate from the US State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security Policy Making. He holds a PhD in history and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Hosts

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.

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