Episode 5 | Recorded ob August 2, 2020
From July 12 to July 17 Armenia and Azerbaijan clashed on their border, killing tens of servicemen and civilians from both sides. In the following week the press and propaganda from both sides picked up in an effort to align international opinion and sympathies on their side, and some demonstrations in cities around the world got out of hand, resulting in violence between protestors, injuries and arrests.
Even more worrisome, the violence spilled over to ordinary citizens and businesses in some diaspora communities. According to media reports restaurants and other businesses in Moscow were attacked by groups from opposing sides. Individual Azerbaijanis and Armenians, including children, were targets of random attacks. In some cases, humiliating videos of the victims being beaten were posted on social media. In Moscow police arrested over 30 people connected to the violence. We also read reports of vandalism of an Armenian school in San Francisco, attacks against individuals and businesses around the world, including Turkey, Germany, other places in Europe and in the US.
Observers indicate that this level of animosity between communities did not exist even during the worst days of war. The violence in the diaspora led some scholars, both Azerbaijani and Armenian, to call on their respective communities to renounce from street violence and re-engage in peaceful activism.
We are joined today by some of the initiating signatories of that call:
In July, former President Robert Kocharyan gave an interview to 3 news sources (5րդ Ալիք, Հ2, and Yerkir Media) where he talked about issues ranging from internal politics to NKR conflict and regional developments.
We are joined by our resident panel, Asbed Kotchikian, Emil Sanamyan and Alen Zamanyan.
This week the SIS brought charges against Arthur Danielyan for the fight with Alen Simonyan in the streets of Yerevan. No charges have been leveled against Alen Simonyan.
A faction of ANC members and supporters of former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan have criticized the government’s nominee to the Constitutional Court, Vahram Avetisian. They say that his father was linked to former regimes, passing several judgements on cases related to the March 1, 2008 events which Vahram Avetisian has never condemned.
The Supreme Judicial Council elected Yervand Khundkaryan, who is currently chairman of Court of Cassation, as their nominee for one of the three vacant seats in the Constitutional Court.
And Gor Hovhannisyan, a German legal scholar who was already nominated once for the constitutional court in 2019, has said that president Sarkissian’s office had reached out to him again.
We discuss these nominations.
Prime Minister Pashinyan this week declared that the situation over coronavirus has significantly improved in Armenia. He has also expressed hopes that the state of emergency can be lifted by September. This perception is based on data from recent days when the recovery rate has outpaced new infection rate. Do the statistics support the Prime Minister’s declaration?
This week the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Zareh Sinanyan, is in Los Angeles on vacation. However back in Yerevan the Prime Minister fired most of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs. What’s going on?
Turkey and Azerbaijan have launched large-scale joint military drills this week. Exercises are scheduled in Baku, Nakhichevan, Ganja, Kurdamir and Yevlakh. Russia and Armenia are closely following the exercises, which came as a direct response and pressure on Armenia following the Armenian-Azerbaijani border conflict earlier this month.
Defense Minister Tonoyan said the tactical nature of these drills is not concerning, but they could turn into provocative actions near the borders, defense structures and other infrastructures of Armenia.
Armenia gave notice that it will suspend the CFE-required military inspections by Turkey on its territory. Armenia consider Turkey to be a security threat, which supports direct military aggression against Armenia.
Guatemala’s Congress committee adopted a resolution on Armenia-Azerbaijan border situation.
FM Mnatsakanyan called on Israel to stop deadly weapons deals with Azerbaijan. He says these weapons are being targeted at civilians and civilian infrastructure, and that he will pursue this issue vigorously.
PM Pashinyan declared that the situation over coronavirus has significantly improved in Armenia. This perception is based on data from recent days when the recovery rate has outpaced new infection rates.
Minister of High-Technology Hakob Arshakyan announced that the government will improve Digital TV network, communication and Internet access in Armenia’s border villages.
Armenian Ambassador to the US, Varuzhan Nersesyan’s op-ed in Newsmax.com.
The Armenian government is supporting a local program that includes $64,000 for installing solar stations in the wider Noyemberyan region. The program is funded by the USAID.
Armenia has confirmed its participation in the Army-2020 forum to be held in Russia August. This is a large-scale military Arsenal exhibit.
Armenian winemaker cellars are 70% full amid coronavirus.
Armenia’s Demanding Applicant initiative files two lawsuits in court. These are the high performing students who were not admitted to universities.
Yerevan Appellate courts have twice now denied motions to arrest Mikayel Minasyan, son-in-law of former president Serzh Sargsyan and former Ambassador to the Vatican.
Turkish actress Songul Oden, 41, has married ethnic Armenian Arman Bichakchian (Arman Bichakci)
Kanye West’s Yeezy Foam Runner named “Ararat” was in instant sellout and hit with Armenian Americans.
Burbank Police Department has increased police patrols around Armenian Centers in the city in order to prevent possible acts of vandalism or violence. LA city councilmember Paul Krekorian warned the LAPD of a potential surge in hate crimes against Armenians.
The UK’s former envoy to Turkey, Richard Moore was named MI6 Director.
A faction of ANC members and supporters of former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan have criticized the government’s nominee to the Constitutional Court, Vahram Avetisian. They say his father was linked to former regimes passing several judgements on cases related to the March 1, 2008 events.
Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to the Russian RBC TV channel in which he rebutted Margarita Simonyan’s Facebook posting last week, as well as addressed other topics.
Arman Bichakchian (Arman Bichakci) Turkish actress Songul Oden. He is a businessman, working with uncle, jeweler Sevan Bichakci. His father, Zaven Bichakcian, is an Armenian clergyman in Istanbul.
Kanye’s Yeezy Foam Runner named “Ararat” was an instant sellout… ‘nuff said? Fo’ sho’
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.
Arzu Geybulla is an Azerbaijani columnist and writer, with special focus in digital authoritarianism and its implications on human rights and press freedom in Azerbaijan. Arzu has written for Al Jazeera, Eurasianet, Foreign Policy Democracy Lab, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, CODA and more. She is a contributor at Open Democracy, IWPR, and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso.
Ulvi Ismayil is a historian and researcher, based in Washington, D.C. and originally from Baku. He works with international development organizations such as UNHCR and USAID and has been involved in Azerbaijan-Armenian peace-making multilateral projects since 2004. He has written on the subject and has even developed his own peace proposal. Ulvi was a co-author of a joint petition drafted in 2014 calling the sides to observe peace along the line of contact.
Dr. Artyom Tonoyan is a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, where his research is focused on the nexus of religion and violence.
Diana Yayloyan is a Research Associate at the Ankara-based think tank TEPAV, working on Armenia-Turkey civil society dialogue supported by the European Union. She is also a Ph.D. Candidate at the Middle East Technical University with a focus on Gender & Peacebuilding.
Asbed Kotchikian, is an Associate Professor of political science and international relations at the American University of Armenia.
Emil Sanamyan, a senior research fellow at USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies specializing in politics in the Caucasus.
Alen Zamanyan was a software engineer in Los Angeles. He moved to Yerevan, Armenia, in 2020. He has followed and analyzed Armenian affairs for over a decade.
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 is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.