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W Weekly Update

20-27 June

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Weekly update

 

27 June

More than 21 million people took part in the vote on the amendments to Russia’s Constitution in the past two days, the turnout stood at 19.49%, TASS reported. "As of the morning of June 27, 21,171,137 citizens have voted (including online), the turnout was 19.49%," Chairperson of Russia’s Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova said on Saturday. Nationwide voting on constitutional amendments started in Russia on June 25. The official voting day under the presidential decree is July 1 but due to the coronavirus situation the voting period was extended for a week, from June 25 through July 1. Vote counting will begin in regions after 20:00 local time on July 1, when polling stations close. Along with the extended voting period (from June 25 to July 1), people can cast their votes outside polling stations at specially organized voting areas, including outdoors, or use contactless voting at home. Additionally, residents of Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod Region can vote online.

 

26 June 

The Presidential Office informed, President Armen Sarkissian hosted the Head of the EU delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to our country Jonathan Lacôte, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy in Armenia Vincenzo del Monaco, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany Michael Johannes Banzhaf, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Lithuania Inga Stanytė-Toločkienė. Present at the meeting was also the Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts. At the meeting, the President spoke in particular about the situation created by the coronavirus pandemic, presented a number of challenges, including economic difficulties, issue of food security, recent events in Armenia, and spoke also about the Constitution and constitutional changes. President Sarkissian responded to the questions raised by the diplomats. 

 

25 June

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian lashed out on Thursday at his political opponents accusing him of stifling dissent, mishandling the coronavirus crisis and failing to address its socioeconomic consequences. Pashinian said that they stand no chance of coming to power despite exploiting the pandemic for political aims. “The political bacteria think that they have got a chance to revive themselves,” he said, speaking in the Armenian parliament. “Now they are talking of famine, social revolts … You should be afraid of that social revolt because if it happens, we have nothing to become victims of a social revolt. For more information read RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). 

Europe has seen an increase in weekly cases of Covid-19 for the first time in months as restrictions are eased, BBC reported referring to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 11 places, which include Armenia, Sweden, Moldova and North Macedonia, accelerated transmission has led to "very significant resurgence", said Regional Director Dr Hans Henri Kluge. His warnings about the risk of resurgence had become reality, he said. If left unchecked, he warned health systems would be "pushed to the brink". More than 2.6 million cases of Covid-19 and 195,000 deaths have been reported in the WHO's European region, which is expansive, covering 54 countries and seven territories across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Almost 20,000 new cases and more than 700 new deaths are being recorded daily. 

 

24 June

An extravagant Victory Day military parade commenced Wednesday in Moscow, as Russian President Vladimir Putin looks to solidify support ahead of a national referendum that could keep him in power until 2036. The annual parade, which commemorates the end of World War II in Europe, is usually held on May 9. Putin had originally planned a major celebration, inviting world leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping to join him. But like many public events around the globe, the event was postponed over coronavirus fears. The Kremlin delayed the event after a letter from veterans' organizations voiced concerns about the health risks such an event might pose. Many foreign leaders chose to stay away from the rescheduled event, but leaders of several former Soviet states were in attendance on Wednesday, including Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been a prominent coronavirus skeptic. For more information read CNN report. 

 

23 June 

The Prosecutor General's Office of Armenia has filed a complaint to the Court of Appeal against the court decision of rejecting the motion to remand head of ''Prosperous Armenia'' Party, MP Gagik Tsarukyan, ARMENPRESS was informed from the press service of the Prosecutor General's Office. The appeal was submitted to the Criminal Court of Appeal today. Tsarukyan was stripped of parliamentary immunity on June 16, but a Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction denied the motion of remanding him on June 21. Gagik Tsarukyan is charged with giving electoral bribes and also economic crimes. He denies any wrongdoing. 

 

22 June

Armenia’s parliament approved constitutional amendments on Monday that allow for the suspension of three judges on the Constitutional Court and the election of its new head, moves the opposition said were politically motivated, reported REUTERS. Voters had been due to approve the changes in a referendum on April 5 but the vote was cancelled due to the new coronavirus outbreak. The three judges due to be suspended were appointed before a peaceful revolution against corruption and cronyism brought Nikol Pashinyan to power two years ago. The court’s other six judges will remain in place. Prime Minister Pashinyan has previously called some of the Constitutional Court’s decisions a “threat to democracy”. Most of its judges were appointed by the former ruling Republican Party. Last September the court ruled that a criminal case against Armenia’s former president, Robert Kocharyan, was partly unconstitutional. Kocharyan has been charged with acting unlawfully by introducing a state of emergency in March 2008 following a disputed election. Last week he was released from custody on bail of $4.2 million. Hrayr Tovmasyan, the head of the Constitutional Court, was charged in December with abuse of power while he was serving as Armenia’s justice minister. He has denied the charges.

 

21 June

“I’m glad that the court found the strength inside and stood above political processes.” This is Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukyan’s attorney Yerem Sargsyan told reporters in front of the Yerevan court of general jurisdiction in Shengavit Administrative District today, touching upon the court’s decision to not arrest Gagik Tsarukyan, said NEWS.am. “It’s clear that the court was going to be the last circuit of the political processes, and the decision to arrest Gagik Tsarukyan would be disgraceful for a legal state. The facts that were presented made it very clear that the petition for arrest would be denied,” he said, stating that he will issue a statement after reading the decision. The attorney added that he was certain that the court would rule to arrest Gagik Tsarukyan since the processes were leading to that decision, but there was no substantiated counterargument, and he suddenly had confidence that the court would render a lawful decision. The attorney also believes the Prosecutor General’s Office will appeal this decision. Tsarukyan is charged with obstructing the will of voters through electoral fraud, but doesn’t accept the charge and views the case against him as unlawful.

 

Sources: https://www.president.am/en/press-release/, https://armenpress.am, https://news.am/eng/, https://www.azatutyun.am/en, https://www.bbc.com/, https://edition.cnn.com/, https://tass.com/,  https://www.reuters.com/.

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31 May 2020

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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