Armenia in Societal Crisis, Warns ARF’s Rustamian

YEREVAN (—Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian Wednesday warned that Armenia was embroiled in a societal crisis, saying the country was being controlled by a “wealthy class” and citing the absence of democratic reforms, during a press briefing.

As a result, Rustamian said, there does not exist a government that is ruled by the people, but rather a plutocracy that is governed by an elite class of wealthy Armenians who engage in wide-spread corruption and disregard for rule of law.

Rustamian said “unwritten and unconstitutional laws” regulate the country’s political, judicial and economic systems. In this climate, he explained, the pursuit of justice becomes impossible, since the ruling party, the leadership and the government has become one.

On the economic front, Rustamian’s assessment was equally bleak. He cited certain estimations according to which 40 to 50 families control Armenia’s budget, threatening the existence of a middle class.

As the ARF moves toward a pledged campaign for regime change, Rustamian said Armenia needed a drastic change of the entire governing system in Armenia, if it is to emerge from this crisis and flourish in a truly democratic society.

Rustamian proposed a parliamentary system of government, explaining that the presidential system has wreaked havoc on the country and poses clear dangers for Armenian society. He also emphasized the need to lift the immunity of parliament members and hold them accountable.

The people must hold their right to elect and vote in the highest regard so that the government can be represented by the people and not “some kind of an oligarchy.”

“The main component of democracy is the representative democracy. In this case, I refer to the parliament, which needs to balance the executive branch,” explained Rustamian. “Our parliament does not represent the true picture. The parliament is not merely weak but, for the executive branch, it is inept.”

He explained that there was a discrepancy between legislation that is borne from the parliament to measures that are pushed by the government. The ratio, he said, was 1 to 9.

“The other component [of democracy] is the participatory element, based on which the population can impact the outcome of all decisions being made in the country,” said Rustamian.

“The second component is the immediate democracy whereby the people express their will through elections and referendums,” added Rustamian. “However, the process has not been established in Armenia since the will of the people is ignored.”

At the conclusion of the press briefing, Rustamian announced that the ARF will host, on Thursday, a conference entitled “Challenges of Democracy and Nation Building in Armenia,” during which international experts, human rights advocates and representatives from the Constitutional Court will make presentations. He explained that the conference will also examine the importance of democracy, the current state of democracy in Armenia and will propose ways to remedy the current crisis.


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  1. andrew said:

    i will put my say in a short sentence it is time for us to correct ourselves we have enough enemies outside lets not have inside make all goverment ministers and everyone accountable

  2. Norin Radd said:

    With all due respect to Mr. Rustamian, the current populace only knows the present status quo, many of the youth have been borne into this condition. While there are those in the Diaspora that are inherently struggling for Armenia, none of them are of the “wealthy” elite. These wealthy figures in the Diaspora are equally as corrupt and out to exploit those within Armenia with big money and big bank account strong arm tactics if given the chance. They would have liked to have been the ones building the hotels and the casinos, some of them did manage snivel their way into Armenia’s economy and profit from it to this day quietly behind their “patriotic” political party curtains.

    In essence, the Diaspora Oligarchs feel “burned” that they did not snatch up the opportunities in Armenia to oppress, suppress, and exploit the country for personal gain before the domestic Oligarchs did. Now many of them are whining about how “if I was King I would do things differently”. Let’s not be so naive as to think that the “50 wealthy families” in the Diaspora are that much different from the “50 wealthy families” in Armenia.

    There are a good number of wealthy Diasporan Armenians that could have intervened during the infantile days of our Homeland by doing some good, but their precious gold was too valuable to part with. They could have put their financial might into building schools so that the children of 20 years ago grew up to be engineers and physicians rather than bodyguards, hitmen, and thugs. They could have set aside their ARF, Hunchuk, Ramkavar, Banana, Apple, and Orange mickey mouse politics and put in place unified funds to help alleviate the homeless of Spitak and combat the emerging poverty of the 1990s. They could have promoted a more unified Diasporan and domestic Armenian future.

    But these my dear esh tavar hyer are all the could haves that should have been done both by Diasporan leaders and domestic ones for the greater good. But we do not understand the concept of “greater good” do we fellow Armenians? We only understand the great mighty dollar and the padding it creates in our wallets. Perhaps another 5000 thousand years of struggle will teach us while the fragmentation continues as do your petty politics against one another. It’s amazing how vehemently diasporan “leaders” pledge that “they would do things differently” but when push comes to shove (and it has many times in the past 100 years), many of the Diasporan “leaders” are no better than those Oligarchs they point their fingers at today, their gripe isn’t out of concern for the state of the homeland, it’s out of jealousy that they were not around to cut themselves a piece of the pie. Now your beds are 20 years in the making, feel free to lye in them our “asgaser” wealthy Diasporan oligarchs. Some compare us to the Jews, but we don’t even hold a candle to them, in 60 years they have managed to unify their cause and forged a nation state that brandishes a nuclear arsenal. In 60 years, Diasporan political leaders will still be squabbling over their cut of the pie while their children and grandchildren are assimilated into oblivion, Armenian Patriots indeed.

    • Armanen said:

      Wow! I could not have written this better myself. I would add to the last part, concerning assimilation, that indeed too many in the Diaspora have the illusion that it will continue to exist for another 50, 100, 200 years. The truth is that time in this case is working against Armenians, and in order to preserve our nation we must build up our state, Armenia, so as to live, work, and create there. Armenia is the only place on Earth where an Armenian will not be different, will not be a minority, and will be assurred that his/her kin and descendants will indeed remain Armenian through and through.

    • Hye-phenated said:

      Thank you Norin – great summary! Don’t forget the “50 wealthy families” in Russia too. They are the ones with the real money and real missiles to protect their assets.

    • Mike said:

      Norin, spoken with passion, and obviously from the heart.

      Yet, I believe the issue here has more to do with the fact that -as Mr. Rustamyan tries to present it -at issue is Democracy .

      You are giving it a spin of patriotism.

      “Democracy vs. Patriotism” – is quite an issue, probably separate then what this article is trying to cover.

      What Mr. Rustamyan is saying that unfortunately there is no democracy(as it currently is in Armenia) , while Executive branch dominates.

      He also alludes to the fact that Executive branch , if corrupt, has no effective ways to correct itself, until it is too late, when things go awry.

      When overzelous patriots come to power – without stops – things might turn to into Fascism, like in todays Turkey.

      In my opinion – instead of pointing fingers to those “whos done it” ,would be much better to stop witch hunting altogether, and try to find some national policy that reflects Realities of Armenia. The Policy that is born within Armenia, not implanted from Russia, or elsewhere.

      Somebody ought to sit down and re-evaluate all the basic premises that brought us to this deplorable situation.

      Some of the tough choices would be to find our unique ways – of dealing with Russia, Armenia, Turkey, Iran, knowing that each of these countries have their own self interests, and not all of them (even including Russia) 100% co-inside with those of Armenian Republic.

      And lets not forget one of our nations greatest strengths – we are not greedy, instead we are Extremely Industrious. Not many Others could compare with us – in regards with that ability. So lets not belittle it, and trash it all together, and instead lets be proud of it, shell we ?

      In short there are 3 Problems:
      1. Lack of National Policy (re-evaluated)
      2. Lack of Participation
      3. Lack of Lack of Leadership.

      When a true charismatic leader emerges, who can bring new vision and share it with the nation,
      the nation will follow from all over the world. History has shown it once and it will happen again. And what is needed for that – is ability to think w/o copying others, and find truly what is ours.
      Its all about trust.

      All the Best , from California

    • Hagop said:

      Where does this article talk about Diaspora? Rustamian is an ARF (opposition political party) Parliamentarian….Why do you assume that he is a “wealthy Diasporan oligarch who is burned”?

      The ARF in Armenia, and the Heritage party are the only REAL forward thinking parties in Armenia, and the ARF is the only party which actuall has an ideology and a platform (not based on individuals).

      Its so frustrating to hear the CONSTANT “we need unity…nobody is unifying”, That is so pathetic and its so easy to say without basing the statement on anything substantive…

  3. Kevo said:

    Norin its people like you that fragment our nation. Your words are poison as you spew your venom…
    Your agenda is quite clear as you play the blame game. You are an obvious hater of the diaspora…
    nothing you say is constructive or even relevant to the issue.
    You are condescending and rude.
    Only an idiot would compare Jews to Armenians… are you kidding me?

  4. Hrair said:

    I think Norin is slightly unfare on the Armenian Diaspora. A massive number of the Diaspora have always supported and will carry on supporting the Motherland is some form or another as needed. I do however understand what he means in terms of one money making oligarch is much the same as another be it inside or outside Armenia, and with one thing on mind, self interest. I wish we could replicate what the Jews have done in Israel. You can not but admire at their industry in unifying themselves and creating a country that is envied in the wealthy Arab world – with some dubious unetghical double dealings though I might add. Jews have had and still do have America as a staunch ally providing protection, support and investment. Armenians do not have such willing freind. Armenians are on their own as they have been for many many years. We need to learn from our past. We should unite and suport each other as divided we will surely fall again. We have so many enemies and they are wathcing us closely in case we stumble. What Rostamian is proposing makes sense. We need a middle class. Middle class is the backbone of every democracy. We need to unleash our youth, majority of which fall outside the wealthy bracket. The Government has to be come accountable. I was in Armenia this summer and I was amazed to see the vosticans completely ignore speeding hooligans driving through Yerevan streets like they owned them showing contempt for the rule of law. This should not be tolerated. There should be accountability otherwise oligarchy could become the norm in Armenia – which would be disastorous for the overall development of the country.

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