Anna Kostanyan - New HR Ombudswoman Anahit Manasyan | Azeri Attacks and Infiltrations Into Armenia | Yerevan Mayor-Less Until End of 2023 Elections [EP248]

Posted on Sunday, Apr 16, 2023 | Category: Armenia, Politics | Series: wir



  • Intro to Anna Kostanyan and Hamakhmbum (Consolidation) Movement
  • New HR Ombudswoman Anahit Manasyan
  • Azeri Attacks and Infiltrations into Armenia
  • Yerevan Mayor-less Until End of 2023 Elections

Episode 248 | Recorded: April 16, 2023

Show Notes

Introduction to Anna Kostanyan

Ms. Kostanyan, since this is your first time on our show let us take a couple of minutes to introduce you to our listeners.


  • What drew you to politics?
    • What are your goals in politics? What do you hope to achieve, both for yourself as well as for our country?
  • What is your current relationship with Bright Armenia?
  • You are a member of the board of the Consolidation (“Hamakhmbum”) movement. What is this organization, and what is its relationship 5165?

Anahit Manasyan Selected HR Ombudswoman

Three months after the resignation of Kristine Grigoryan, the Civil Contract party installed a new HR Ombudswoman: former deputy prosecutor Anahit Manasyan. Grigoryan resigned in January 2023 and legally, the government had 1 month to appoint a new candidate, but that went delinquent until earlier this month when they finally got around to it.

Manasyan was elected on a strict party line vote by the ruling party, pretty much as was expected. The parliamentary opposition first did not propose its own candidate, but later came around to propose Edgar Ghazaryan, but his hearings in the parliament did not go well.


  • What happened there?

We know that Arman Tatoyan has set an impossibly high bar for the HR ombuds office, he was superlative.


  • Is Manasyan well-suited for this position? As a prosecutor, not a defender, does she have the empathy it takes to understand and defend those who have been abused and mistreated?
  • As the hand-picked selection of the ruling party, does Manasyan have the level of needed independence from the government, or the ruling party, to protect citizens from a government that has, even according to western NGOs, fallen off the democratic horse?
  • Manasyan’s predecessor, Grigoryan, pretty much ignored all government abuses of power against its citizens. Should we expect continuity of a similarly one-sided approach to HR accountability in Armenia under Manasyan?
  • Even Manasyan’s statement of acceptance was mostly focused on the government vs. the people. This is an interesting, implicit acknowledgment of problems inside the country. Is anyone thinking of our POWs in Baku anymore?

Recently there was another quarrel between two MPs in parliament. Hayastan Alliance MP Mher Sahakyan allegedly assaulted Civil Contract party MP Vladimir Vardanyan. Sahakyan was arrested then released while the ruling party voted to strip him of diplomatic immunity, per prosecutor general Anna Vardapetyan’s instructions, and now hooliganism charges are being filed against Sahakyan. The vote was 65-0, on a party line, in the same session that Civil Contract voted in their ombudswoman.

Our immediate interest here is not really what happened between Sahakyan and Vardanyan, but rather about the uneven application of the law to ruling party functionaries, as opposed to those who do not support the government.

For example, the very recent case of parliament speaker Alen Simonyan allegedly spitting on a citizen in public; special police guards roughing up protesting parents of fallen soldiers; or ruling party parliamentarians kicking opposition MPs, threatening them with physical harm; or the ruling party standing by corrupt judges; credible allegations by international organizations of state sponsored cyberspying on Armenian journalists; and so on.

None of these have seen any action or follow-through by the ministry of justice.


  • Can you share your thoughts on the state of the justice department under this administration?

Azeri Attacks and Infiltrations into Armenia

The past month has been another tough month for Armenia, as has been the unfortunate usual since the 44-day war. Counting from March 25, Azeri forces invaded western hills in Artsakh proper to close off a so-called utility road, which had allegedly served as a bypass to their blockade; then around April 2nd Azeri forces stopped a busload of citizens in a Russian peacekeeper convoy and searched and terrorized them; then last week on April 11 Azeris killed 4 Armenian soldiers as they tried to install new military posts on Armenian sovereign territory. At the same time, two Azeri soldiers infiltrated Syunik from the border with Nakhijevan, and one of them killed an Armenian citizen and gloated about it on video.

Anna, almost all of this is happening without a meaningful response from the Armenian government. All we’ve heard are warnings and complaints to western entities that the worst may be yet to come. Armenian soldiers shot back at the Azeris on April 11, and killed three of their soldiers, but that is a rare occurrence these days.


  • Is this government doing enough to keep our citizens and borders safe?

Civil Contract MP Andranik Kocharyan made an interesting statement this week. Instead of his usual slamming of journalists and disparaging of the opposition (this week that job went to Eduard Asryan), he said that it was the Armenian military’s response that stopped Azeri advances on April 11. Leaving alone that he was actually telling our strategic partner Russia that he didn’t care what they thought that they did to stop the military incident, I haven’t heard Kocharyan say anything positive about Armenia’s armed forces, and he’s the chair of the Defense and Security committee in parliament!


  • Does Andranik Kocharyan’s language introduce a new aspect of Pashinyan’s policy of defending our borders?
  • Pashinyan hinted after the April 11 events that some of the response by the Armenian side was inadequate and did not conform to his instructions. Asryan was defensive and evasive when journalists asked what hadn’t happened. Do you have any ideas what Pashinyan was alluding to?

Yerevan Mayor-less Until End of 2023 Election

A month ago on March 17, Hrachya Sargsyan resigned as the mayor of Yerevan after weeks of speculation that he would do so, in order to open the way for Tigran Avinyan to become the leading contender for the Mayorship. By law the Council of Elders should have met earlier this week to begin the process of replacing the mayor, but the ruling party announced instead that they will not elect a new mayor and will wait until the regularly scheduled elections at the end of this year. So Yerevan will not have a mayor for the balance of the year, and the effective “acting mayor” is now Tigran Avinyan.

Anna, you have been a candidate for member of the Yerevan city council.


  • Can you describe the politics of the Council of Elders (Avagani) in this case and what the residents of Yerevan can expect?

Topics from the Panelists

  1. Anna - Calling on all Armenians to understand and realize the gravity of the danger the nation is facing.
  2. Hovik - On the Azerbaijani flag burning at the EWW event in Yerevan.


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.


Anna Kostanyan

Anna Kostanyan

Anna Kostanyan, formerly an MP in the 7th convocation of the Armenian parliament, with the Bright Armenia party. She was also a member of the standing committee on Science, Education, Culture, Diaspora, Youth and Sport. Prior to that Ms. Kostanyan was a candidate for the member of the Yerevan council of elders, which is the Yerevan City Council, and was a founding member of the Bright Armenia party.


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 Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.