OSCE Official Sees Serious Headway in Armenia’s Democratization

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The new Russian head of the Yerevan office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Thursday–substantial progress in Armenia’s democratization process.

He also made a positive assessment of the situation with press freedom in the country that sharply contrasted with the opinion of OSCE’s Vienna-based media watchdog.

"Armenia has taken a big step on the path of democratization," Ambassador Vladimir Pryakhin declared at a news conference.

Pryakhin said his conclusion takes into account the 2003 elections in Armenia that were marred by reports of irregularities. He implied that they compared favorably with the recent parliamentary vote in neighboring Georgia that were annulled following similar fraud allegations. Armenia avoided sliding into both "anarchy" and "stiff authoritarianism" as a result of the polls–he added in a reference to the post-election situations in Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Pryakhin–59–has previously held various positions in the Soviet and Russian diplomatic services. Earlier this year he became the first Russian diplomat to be appointed by the OSCE Permanent Council as head of an OSCE field office in a member country. The decision was taken by consensus–meaning that the US and other major Western governmen’s did not oppose his candidacy.

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