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Experts in Additional Unrest Probe Meet, Elect Leader

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A five-member group of experts commissioned by President Serzh Sarkisian to conduct a fact-finding probe into the post-election violence met for the first time on Tuesday to elect its leader in accordance with the presidential order of October 23. The group includes two representatives from the governing coalition and the main opposition forces each,

Authorities Streamline Travel Document Issuance Procedures

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A senior police representative on Tuesday boasted of an imminent ‘logical conclusion’ in the ongoing reforms of the country’s notoriously bureaucracy-stricken passport and visa authorities, saying that new changes in the system leave a narrower scope for procrastinations and abuse. Deputy Police Chief Gevorg Mherian, in particular, said citizens in capital Yerevan can expect

New Government Body to Monitor Armenian Media

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government has set up a new agency tasked with monitoring and regulating the work of the local media outlets, prompting serious concern from some of them. The Center for Public Relations and Information (CPRI) was set up during a weekly cabinet session on Thursday upon the recommendation of President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration.

Turkish Commission Threatens Recognition Efforts, Warns ARF Leader

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Official Yerevan will jeopardize recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide by the new U.S. administration if it agrees to a Turkish-Armenian academic study on the subject, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation warned on Thursday. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has repeatedly assured the influential Armenian-American community that the United States will officially

Closed TV Gets Government Payout

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Acting on a recent verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, the Armenian government approved on Thursday payment of 30,000 euros ($39,000) in damages to an independent television station that was controversially pulled off the air in 2002. The A1 channel was stripped of its broadcasting license in a tender administered by the

Opposition Sets Conditions for Joining New Unrest Probe

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s two main opposition forces listed on Saturday several conditions for their participation in a new, supposedly independent inquiry into the deadly post-election clashes in Yerevan. The Armenian National Congress and the Heritage party said the Armenian authorities must at least invite international experts to a fact-finding body which is due to conduct the

Armenian Housing Prices Drop after Long Surge

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Real estate prices in Armenia have fallen slightly in 2008 after skyrocketing for seven consecutive years and fuelling a construction boom that has been a key driving force behind the country’s robust economic growth. According to the State Real Property Cadastre, housing prices in the center of Yerevan, the most expensive residential area, have

Armenia Sets New Development Targets

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s government approved on Thursday a long-term economic program that commits it to achieving over the next decade much greater prosperity already enjoyed by the European Union’s new, formerly Communist, member states. “Our target is the level of economic development of eastern and central European countries,” said Finance Minister Tigran Davtian. “The program envisages

Armenia to Boost Ties with Diaspora

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia will pay greater attention to and rely more heavily on its worldwide Diaspora, its recently appointed minister for Diaspora affairs, Hran’sh Hakobian, said on Wednesday. Armenia’s relations with various Diaspora structures used to be coordinated by a special department at the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan. President Serzh Sarkisian decided to turn it into

Leader Admits Tensions in Ruling Republican Party

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The governing Republican Party of Armenia is beset by internal disagreemen’s over who should lead its faction in parliament, a senior party figure admitted on Tuesday. The Republican caucus, by far the largest in the National Assembly, has had no leader ever since its previous head, Karen Karapetian, was appointed as chief of President