Armenia. Human rights violations continued despite
Armenia joining the Council of Europe in early 2001; inter
alia the death penalty was not abolished. In addition,
President Kotjarjan was criticized for trying to influence
justice. In a February trial, one of the president's
bodyguards escaped with a year's conditional imprisonment
for killing a man who was believed to have disrespected the
At the beginning of the year, the government proposed a
legislative change that would impose censorship on the media
and force journalists to reveal their sources. The bill was
adjusted after criticism from journalists, but the new
proposal was also considered to put too much pressure on the
mass media. While the US military arrived in neighboring
Georgia to lead the training of anti-terror forces there,
Armenia negotiated with Russia on increased arms supplies.
During the year, Armenia and Russia agreed that Armenia's
debts to Russia would be written off in exchange for Russian
takeover of several state-owned Armenian companies,
including arms industry.
In August, President Kotjarjan met his Azerbaijani
colleague Gejdar Alijev for talks on the conflict over the
Armenian breakaway climax Nagorno-Karabach in Azerbaijan. In
the autumn, information came out that a new peace proposal
was under discussion. According to
Countryaah website, although Armenia's economy had grown
by about 9% in 2001, over half of the population was
estimated to live below the poverty line and unemployment
Serzh Sargsyan regained the presidential election in
February 2013, rising 58.6% at the same time. In second
place came Raffi Hovannisian with 38.5%. He refused to
accept the election result, which sparked riots in Yerevan
and 10-31. March Hovannisian went on hunger strike. It
didn't help, though. On March 14, the Armenian
Constitutional Court affirmed Sargyan's electoral victory.
However, the OSCE election observers pointed out that there
were many irregularities in the election and many results
that contradicted what they had observed themselves. NATO
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the
Police violence against protesters is frequent, and so is
impunity. In August 2013, locals demonstrated against the
construction of a high-rise building in Yerevan. 26 were
arrested and at least 1 of them was given a couch on the way
to the police station. In October, the country's ombudsman
stated that the police had acted unnecessarily violently,
but no disciplinary action was taken subsequently against
the participating officers. In November, police arrested
opposition leader Shant Harutyunyan and 13 others as they
tried in vain to go to the president's administration
building. They were charged with violence against government
officials in office. On the other hand, Harutyunyan and the
other detainees could report violent assaults on the part of
the police. In September 2013, a visiting EU delegation
expressed deep concern over attacks against civilians and
harassment targeting human rights activists.
The government's pension reform came into force in
January 2014. It meant that all employees (born after 1974)
with an income below US $ 1200 per person. month to pay 5%
of their salary to one of two private pension companies.
People with salaries above US $ 1200 would have to pay 10%
of the salary. Pension reform triggered widespread protests
- especially among the higher paid. A survey in March showed
that 80% of the country's IT workers were unhappy with the
scheme. The dissatisfaction went, among other things. that
no one was sure of the survivability of private companies.
Last March, the Constitutional Court knew the forced part of
the pension savings for being in violation of the
Constitution. The unrest in April led Prime Minister
Sargsyan to resign. He was replaced by the chairman of the
National Assembly, Hovik Abrahamyan.
In 2013, Armenia had joined the Euro-Asian Economic Union
consisting of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. The Union
Agreement came into force on 1 January 2015.
In January, clashes between police and protesters came as
several thousands marched against the Russian consulate in
Gyumri in protest of a Russian soldier who had murdered a
family of 6. Police fired tear gas and sound grenades at the
protesters who responded with stone. Twenty-one protesters
were arrested and released the following day. 9 protesters
and 3 police officers were injured.
In June 2015, protests erupted in Yerevan against an
announced increase in the electricity price of 6 Ýre per
year. KWh. After a few days of peaceful demonstrations, it
came to confrontations with police using water cannons
against the protesters. The demonstrations continued until
September, when the power company was sold to a foreign
investor. At the same time, the government agreed to
subsidize the price increase until 31 July 2016.
In December, a referendum was passed on a comprehensive
amendment to the Constitution, whose main element was the
transformation of the country from a presidential to a
parliamentary republic. The amendments had been adopted by a
large majority in Parliament in October. In the referendum,
66.2% voted for the changes while 33.8% voted against.
However, the turnout was only 50.8%.