Gurgen Badasyan has struggled to live on his Armenian state pension for years and holds out little hope that a parliamentary election on Sunday will improve his life in the mountainous South Caucasus state. The government raised his monthly teacher’s pension in January by a few dollars, to $82 from $75, but Badasyan says it is still almost impossible to get by. “If not for my son and my daughter, I would not survive,” the 68-year-old said, sipping his drink in a cafe in the landlocked former Soviet republic’s busy capital, Yerevan. Like many other Armenians, the most Badasyan is hoping for is a calm election that will reinforce stability in the tiny country of 3.3 million squeezed between Iran and Turkey. Above all he wants no repeat of the fraud and violence that marred a presidential election in 2008, when eight protesters and two police were killed in clashes. “My life will be the same after the election, but I don’t want to see blood and fighting in the street again,” he said.
Isolated and in chaos after the collapse of the Soviet Union, things got so bad in the 1990s that people cut down all the trees in Yerevan to use as firewood. The trees have been replanted but the capital, overlooked by Mount Ararat, is still dominated by Soviet-era apartment blocks on its outskirts, with homes near the centre built of a local pink-grey stone.
Armenia nestles in a region that is emerging as a vital transit route for oil and gas exports from the Caspian Sea to energy-hungry world markets, but has no pipelines of its own. Instability is a constant threat as Armenia is locked in a dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan over the tiny region of Nagorno-Karabakh, over which they fought a war in the 1990s.
Full Article: Armenians see election bringing stability at most | Reuters.