It only requires a glance at the dance-floor showdown in the Soviet cult-comedy “Mimino” to see that competition between the tiny South-Caucasus neighbors of Georgia and Armenia can run strong. No less so with economic alliances.
Russian Ambassador Ivan Volinkin’s recent call “to neutralize” Western-funded non-governmental organizations in Armenia is stoking fears among Armenian activists that the country’s pending membership in the Moscow-led Customs Union will prompt a rollback of civil rights.
For Heghine Simonian, the memories of her 27-year-old daughter’s suffering are still raw. She can hear her daughter’s pleas for relief from the pain caused by terminal-stage breast cancer, yet no help was available -- for the simple reason she lacked access to painkillers.
While President Serzh Sargsyan’s administration touts Armenia’s pending accession to the Russia-led Customs Union as likely to usher in an era of prosperity for the South Caucasus country, rights activists assert that when it comes to democratization, Customs Union membership means Yerevan will take “one step forward, two steps back.”
As the Russia-Ukraine crisis unfolds, the Armenian government is casting its diplomatic lot with the Kremlin. Some in Yerevan worry the government is committing a geopolitical blunder by expressing a clear preference for Russia over the West.
As elsewhere in the South Caucasus, Armenian women can expect to receive an array of toasts, flowers and little gifts on March 8, International Women’s Day. But there is one thing Armenian women won’t enjoy, or get anytime soon – a law covering domestic violence.