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Friday, 27 February 2009

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Remembering 1 March 08...

1 year on...

Abovyan street, Yerevan, Armenia

Khandjyan street, Yerevan, Armenia

... about 'Armenian - Karabakhtsi divide' re March 1 events

Quote of The Day
(in Armenian)

- Ինձ համար հասկանալի է դժգոհությունը այսօրվա կյանքից ու դրա հասցեագրումը իշխանությանը, քանի որ առաջին ու գլխավոր պատասխանատուն հենց նա է: Բայց ինձ համար, մեղմ ասած, հասկանալի չէ այդ դժգոհությունը իշխանավորների ծագումնաբանական տարածքի ու դրա բնակիչների դեմ ուղղելը: Մեղմ ասած՝ դա ազնիվ չէ: Ինչպես ասում են, ամեն ժողովուրդ արժանի է իր ղեկավարներին: Ժողովուրդ բառը ես կփոխեի հանրության ու կասեի, որ այսօր ես լուրջ հիմքեր չունեմ կարծելու, որ Արցախում եւ Հայաստանում հանրությունն ավելի լավն է, քան ղեկավարությունը: Սա դառը ու սարսափելի իրողություն է: Դժվար է հաշտվել այս մտքի հետ, բայց մեր ղեկավարությունը մեր իսկ բարքերի, հոգեբանության, ուժեղի ու թույլի, չարի ու բարու մեր պատկերացումների պրոդուկտն է: Սա ավելի դժվար ու դառն է ընկալելը: Ավելի հեշտ է ղարաբաղցիներին մեղադրելն ու նրանց քավության նոխազ դարձնելը, ավելի հեշտ է ուրիշի դեմ պայքարելը, քան ինքդ քո դեմ: Բայց այստեղ մի նրբերանգ կա՝ նրանք ո՞ր Ղարաբաղն են ատում: Նրանց իմացած Ղարաբաղը Հայաստանի ղարաբաղցի ղեկավարներն են: Նրանք այլ Ղարաբաղ չգիտեն: Ըստ էության, նրանք ընդհանրապես Ղարաբաղ չգիտեն: Ուրեմն՝ ինչո՞ւ զարմանալ, որ մարդիկ չեն ուզում ԼՂ-ի ճակատագիրը վստահել նրանց: Ես էլ եմ Ղարաբաղ, հայտնի տեսահոլովակի տրամաբանությամբ՝ ես եմ Ղարաբաղը եւ ուզում եմ հասկանալ, թե ինչու եմ արժանացել ատելության: Որ Ղարաբաղից «սպեցնա՞զ» է գալիս: Ե՞ս եմ ուղարկել: Ես շատ կուզենայի, ես աղոթում եմ, որպեսզի դա սուտ լինի, քանի որ հասկանում եմ, թե ինչպիսի սրբապղծություն է դա (թեեւ լսել եմ, որ եկողներ եղել են, բայց չեն մասնակցել ջարդին, այլ զբաղված են եղել պետական կարեւոր օբյեկտների պահպանությամբ): Իսկ ի՞նչ ենք արել, որպեսզի ԼՂ-ից ուրիշ բան գա՝ միտք, գաղափար, ազնվություն, աշխատասիրություն: Իսկ ի՞նչ ենք արել, որպեսզի ես կարողանամ ազդել ուղարկողի եւ ուղարկվելիքի վրա: ԼՂՀ ժողովրդավարացման բոլոր փորձերն էլ շնչահեղձ են եղել ՀՀ իշխանությունների որդեգրած քաղաքականության պատճառով, ընդ որում՝ դա այդպես է եղել ե՛ւ Տեր-Պետրոսյանի, ե՛ւ Քոչարյանի օրոք, քանի որ ՀՀ ղեկավարությունը միշտ էլ ձգտել է կառավարելի իշխանություն ունենալ ԼՂՀ-ում: Բարեփոխման մեր փորձերն արժանացել են ոչ միայն ՀՀ իշխանությունների հակազդեցությանը, այլև հայաստանյան հանրության քար անտարբերությանը: Ուստի, այսօր անարդար է մեզ մեղադրելը: Նորերս նշեցինք ԼՂՀ առաջին ղեկավար Արթուր Մկրտչյանի ծննդյան 50-ամյակը: Արթուրի կորուստը մեծ կորուստ էր հայության համար: Ոչ միայն Արթուրը չկա, այլեւ նրա դպրոցը՝ ազնվության, բարոյականության, հայրենասիրության դպրոցը: Մեռավ այս դպրոցը, սպանվեց: Եւ ինչպես ղարաբաղցիներն են ասում՝ մեր մեջքը կոտրվեց, մեր մեջքը մինչեւ հիմա ծկթում է:

*Gegham Baghdasaryan, an independent MP from Karabakh, interview with pro-opposition Haykakan Zhamanak daily

In memory of victims of 1 March bloodshed

1 year on... We have yet to hear from the Armenian authorities a simple "Sorry" and "My condolences" for all 10 people who died on 1 March 2008...

Below is info which I do not normally post on this blog, but considering above, and the stance of the Armenian church back then...

Requiem Service in the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin
source
On March 1, 2009 following the Divine Liturgy in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin, a solemn Repose of Souls service will be offered in memory of the victims who lost their lives on March 1, 2008 in Yerevan. His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, will preside during the service with the participation of the members of Brotherhood of Holy Echmiadzin.

"Auction of Souls": the first genocide movie ever made

(press release) “Ravished Armenia”, one of the first documentary memoirs of an eyewitness of Armenian Genocide was published in 1918, in New York. In this book Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian, a girl from Chmshkatsag, Armenian populated town in the Ottoman Empire, gave a detailed account of the terrible experiences she endured during the deportations. At the age of fourteen Arshaluys was beaten and tortured in harems of Turkish officials and Kurdish tribesmen.

The book “Ravished Armenia” was completed when American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief offered to create a film based on the scenario of the book and all the profit, which later on reached $30 million, would be given to 60.000 Armenian orphans in the Near East for relief purposes. In 1918, at Metro Goldwin Mayer studio, director Oscar Apfel made “Auction of Souls” silent film, which actually became not only the first movie on the Armenian genocide, but also the first genocide movie ever made. More than 10.000 Armenian residents of Southern California, including 200 deported children, participated in the scenes.

The premiere of the “Auction of Souls” was held on February 16, 1919, in Plaza Hotel, New York under the auspices of Oliver Harriman and George Vanderbilt, members of American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief.

The film was shown in large cities of 23 U.S. states, in several countries of Latin America, including Mexico and Cuba. It was a success everywhere and was estimated as “epoch-making film”.

The “Auction of Souls” was taken to Great Britain in December, 1919, and censured. After long lasting negotiations the film was shown in Royal Albert Hall, by the permission of Scotland Yard and played for three weeks. At the beginning of 1920s Mardiganian’s “Ravished Armenia” was censured and taken off the British and American libraries.


For over eighty years film historians have been searching the world for the nine reels of Ravished Armenia but failed to find any trace. The remaining reels of the rare nitrate based film were lost. Some say the reels presumably sunk with a ship on their way to the port of Batoum, Georgia, or stolen by thieves. The full-length version of the film, which lasting 85 minutes, unfortunately, hasn’t been saved. With the efforts of Eduard Gozanlian, an Armenian from Argentina, a 20 minute segment of the reel was found in 1994. One copy of that segment is kept in the funds of Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. The film included English, French and Armenian subtitles for every scene. The list of the original subtitles for Ravished Armenia is preserved in The Selig Collection at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They are also reproduced in Anthony Slide’s book "Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian". This book was published by Scarecrow Press in 1997. It tells the story of the making of the film and reveals the young girl's survival story.

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the “Ravished Armenia”, the AGMI has issued a memorial postcard and has created an on-line exhibition at www.genocide-museum.am

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Armenian authorities accused of human rights abuses (US State Department 2008 Human Rights Report)

Following a damning Human Rights Watch report, the US Department of State has just released its annual Human Rights Report (2008). Agree with Blogian, this report stands out for its unprecedentedly harsh wording accusing the authorities in Armenia of human rights abuses:

The government's human rights record deteriorated significantly during the year, with authorities and their agents committing numerous human rights abuses, particularly in connection with the presidential elections and the government's suppression of demonstrations that followed. Authorities denied citizens the right to change their government freely and citizens were subject to arrest, detention, and imprisonment for their political activities. Authorities used force, at times lethal, to disperse political demonstrations. Authorities used harassment and intrusive application of bureaucratic measures to intimidate and retaliate against government opponents. Police beat pretrial detainees and failed to provide due process in some cases. The National Security Service (NSS) and the national police force acted with impunity for alleged human rights abuses. Authorities engaged in arbitrary arrest and detention.

Prison conditions remained cramped and unhealthy. Authorities imposed arbitrary restrictions on freedom of assembly and the press, particularly through harsh measures imposed during the state of emergency. Journalists continued to practice self-censorship. The government and laws restricted religious freedom. Violence against women and spousal abuse, trafficking in persons, and discrimination against persons with disabilities and homosexuals was also reported. More...

Armenia: "No excuses for excessive use of force on 1 March" (Human Rights Watch report)

Human Rights Watch urges Armenian government to investigate excessive use of force (including those who gave the orders) against demonstrators and all allegations of ill-treatment of detainees

(New York) - Armenia has yet to hold the police accountable for their excessive use of force a year after a day of clashes with protesters that led to at least 10 deaths, Human Rights Watch said in a comprehensive report today.

The 64-page report, "Democracy on Rocky Ground: Armenia's Disputed 2008 Presidential Election, Post-Election Violence, and the One-Sided Pursuit of Accountability", details the clashes between police and protesters in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, on March 1, 2008, in the wake of the disputed February 2008 presidential polls. It also documents the ill-treatment of individuals detained in connection with the violence, and lack of comprehensive investigation and accountability for excessive use of force on March 1 and in its aftermath. The report is based on more than 80 interviews carried out over three research missions in Armenia in 2008 and 2009.

"The full picture of what happened almost a year ago in Yerevan has yet to emerge," said Giorgi Gogia, researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "This much is clear: at various times on March 1, security forces used excessive force against demonstrators."

On March 1, 2008, police clashed with protesters in downtown Yerevan, demonstrating against disputed results of the presidential election. In several episodes in different parts of the city, police variously set upon protesters without warning or resistance, negotiated, withdrew, and returned to the offensive and finally fought a pitched battle with a small group of protesters. As a result, at least 10 people died - eight protesters and two police officers - and scores were injured.

While the Armenian authorities have investigated, prosecuted, and convicted dozens of opposition members, sometimes in flawed and politically motivated trials, in connection with the demonstration and violence, they have not prosecuted a single representative of the law enforcement agencies for excessive use of force.

Serj Sargsyan, the prime minister, was declared the winner of the February 19, 2008, presidential election over the opposition candidate, Levon Ter-Petrossian. A group of protesters contending that Sargsyan's victory was the result of fraud established a continuous protest on Yerevan's Freedom Square immediately after the election, with daily rallies; some camped out overnight in tents set up on the square.

Human Rights Watch research indicated that police used excessive force in a pre-dawn raid on the tents on March 1, justified as a search for weapons. This led to a much larger demonstration in front of the French Embassy in downtown Yerevan. By evening, with a major, violent confrontation unfolding on the streets of the capital, the outgoing president, Robert Kocharyan, declared a 20-day state of emergency during which public gatherings and strikes were banned and media freedoms were significantly curtailed.

"The authorities' response to the March 1 events has been one-sided," said Gogia. "The fact that police were themselves under attack at times by no means excuses them for incidents when they used excessive force."

The report also documents ill-treatment of detainees and other violations of due process rights following the March 1 events. Human Rights Watch spoke to people who had been beaten during arrest, and assaulted, verbally abused, and threatened while in police custody. Many detainees were denied the right to inform their families of their whereabouts, and were refused access to lawyers of their own choosing.

Human Rights Watch urged the government to investigate the use of police force in the March 1 clashes, emphasizing that each distinct police action during the day should be assessed separately. Where there was evidence that the use of force went outside the boundaries of legitimate policing, all the perpetrators (including those who gave the orders) should be prosecuted. Human Rights Watch also urged an investigation into all allegations of ill-treatment of people detained in connection with March 1 events, also leading to identification and prosecution of those responsible.

*/emphasis mine/

Narek Baveyan - Khelagar Ser (original version)

Apparently, this music video of Narek Baveyan's song Khelagar Ser ('Crazy Love') proved to be too 'explicit' for some Armenian TV stations. According to the director of the video, it has been "prohibited by most Armenian TV channels. But any way there is some TV version on broadcasting. This is the original version of the video."

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Armenian-American Students & Activists United (new blog)

I’d like to introduce this new blog by University of California, Berkley based students of Armenian origin:

http://armenianamerica.wordpress.com/

“This group was originally formed in early October of 2007 in response to the immense Armenian-related political issues emerging within the United States and its various government institutions.”

They do not shy away from controversial and sensitive issues. Read their latest entry:

Azerbaijani Parliamentarians Visit UC Berkeley & Discuss the ‘Tragedy of Khojaly’

South Caucasus integration: alternative start

In May 2007, as an example of good news from the South Caucasus, I wrote about the joint initiative of Armenian and Azeri press clubs to launch common website Writers vs Conflicts. Sadly, this site no longer exists. Its aim was to provide a platform for a dialogue between sides using a literature to re-create bridges between nations. The site was intended to serve as a forum for discussions on various topics.

There is, however, similar initiative involving all South Caucasus countries, both recognised and unrecognised: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia.

http://southcaucasus.com/

My impression of the site is very positive. Honest and thought-provoking discussions, reports, interviews, publications. Recommend it.

Check out a very recent interview (in Russian) with the author of Artush and Zaur Alekper Aliyev. Must read.

Monday, 23 February 2009

TV ad for the Ukrainian army

"Daytime at work, and at night in the clubs!"

Via Gawker, this TV ad for the Ukrainian army :) Apparently, this was shown on TV to "recruit servicemen on contract basis".



Transcript:

Girl 1: would u take us for a ride on your BMW?
BMW-driver: even to the end of the world!
Soldier: hey, I'd like to drown some vodka, girls!
Girl 1: just a second!
Girl 2: where do you live?
Soldier: right here- daytime at work, and at night in the clubs!
Girl 1: which work???
Soldier: contract of course!
Blond girl: contract?? marriage contract or what?
Girl 3: army contract, stupid!
BMW driver: hey, don't you wanna ride on my car?
Girls: forget it, take yourself for a ride!
Narrator: it's about time for new heroes! with contract based service in Ukrainian armed forces!

Gay rights night at Oscars

Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black - Men of The Day

Sean Penn - Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of gay rights champion Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay politician in San Francisco, in Gus Van Sant’s Milk:

"...I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone. [...]"

Dustin Lance Black - Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Milk:

"...to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. [...]"

For more details - Unzipped: Gay Armenia

*Photos - Getty Images/Kevin Winter (via AfterElton)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

“No Service for US Citizens”



This is a protest action by the owner of this central Yerevan kiosk. “No Service for US Citizens” says the notice on the kiosk.

Tert.am quotes him as saying that this is to protest US embassy’s routine rejections of visas to Armenian citizens. This action is not directed against US citizens per se, he continues, but rather the US embassy officer who can simply say: «... You will leave and won’t come back». That's all. “A presumption of guilt” here without any justifications or explanations provided. And there is nothing you can do about it...

A very familiar story for many Armenian citizens who dealt with the US embassy in Yerevan.

A Girl's War: An Armenian-Azeri Love Story (theatre play)

Long before Artush and Zaur, there was this fascinating (based on description) award winning theatre play by Armenian-American playwright Joyce Van Dyke. This is a taboo breaking heterosexual love story between Armenian and Azerbaijani against the backdrop of Karabakh war. I wish I could see the play. May be they could submit it for the annual HayFest international theatre festival in Yerevan which is known for alternative, thought-provoking plays (to be held on 1-10 October this year).

For details - Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Friday, 20 February 2009

Letter to the Ombudsman: Armenian opposition challenges constitutionality of declaring state of emergency on 1 March 2008

Armenian opposition challenges constitutionality of declaring state of emergency on 1 March 2008, referring to the “irrefutable evidence” of using army to settle internal political crisis, in breach of Armenia’s Constitution. In a letter to the human rights Ombudsman, released over the last hour or so, opposition Armenian National Congress calls Armenian Ombudsman to take the case to the Constitutional Court of Armenia and challenge the constitutionality of the presidential decree.

Letter to the Ombudsman in full (in Armenian) is provided in the comments section below.

Yerevan-2 for Tbilisi?

Burjanadze Calls on Senior Officials to Defect from Saakashvili
Civil.ge

Nino Burjanadze, former parliamentary speaker and leader of Democratic Movement–United Georgia party, called on senior political officials “to distance yourselves from the criminal government.”

“Your resignations would contribute to peaceful and safe completion of the current processes,” she said in a statement on February 19, referring to her calls for President Saakashvili’s resignation and holding of early presidential elections.

She also called on the public sector workers not to obey “dirty orders” of the authorities and instead to continue serving “only people and not the odd ambitions of President Saakashvili.”

“We believe that all the professionals and patriots should remain in the service of Georgia, irrespective of their political preferences. Only those civil servants should be held accountable who were involved in the criminal activities,” Burjanadze said.

On February 17 Burjanadze called on the opposition parties to “consolidate” and jointly pressure President Saakashvili to resign through protest rallies.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan writes…

I must confess, other than glancing, I did not have time to read prime minister’s articles, but what a titles, eh?

The End of the State
How to make a revolution happen?!
Challenges of the 21st century


They are available on government’s website:
http://www.gov.am/en/articles

“If we want to build a bright future we must learn to dream!!!” – says Tigran Sargsyan as a conclusion to his article “Challenges of the 21st century”. I am all dreams, prime minister!

Yerevan, block 16

"Perestroika era abandoned plot"

Block 16
Yerevan, Armenia

A visually dramatic part of the city, where construction of a housing block was stopped during perestroika after it turned out that the quality of material being used was very poor.

*source: Abitare - international design magazine

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

PACE: Armenian authorities should fully respect the principle of freedom of assembly

Last year, in June, to 'justify' banning opposition rallies in Liberty sq, Armenian authorities set up the 'amusement park', or 'children's park', there. Someone(s) is lacking originality and imagination, and it's time for a déjà vu. Yerevan municipality refused to authorise the rally in central Yerevan (outside the Matenadaran institute of ancient manuscripts) citing already planned 'little Matenadarantsi', a 'children's event', there. They went further banning the rally on Northern avenue too.
They also said there’s an “expert conclusion” stating the rally on Northern Avenue might “endanger the health and security of the people due to ongoing construction works there. (Now that one’s funny - I haven’t seen any traces of construction there for months!)
To complete this picture, below is a statement issued today by infamous Prescott & Colombier of PACE.

Strasbourg, 17.02.2009 - John Prescott and Georges Colombier , co-rapporteurs on Armenia 's monitoring for the Parliamenatry Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), expressed their concern about the refusal of the authorities to allow the Armenian National Congress (HAK) to organise a peaceful rally in Central Yerevan on 1 March 2009. They stressed that the Assembly has on several occasions called upon the authorities to fully respect the principle of freedom of assembly in Armenia and not to place undue restrictions, especially with regard to the requested venues, upon peaceful rallies organised by the opposition. In their view , the possibility for all political forces to organise peaceful rallies is an essential component of democracy and therefore call upon the authorities to allow such peaceful rallies to take place unimpeded in the requested venues. (PACE)

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Poor choice of song for Inga and Anush Arshakyan to represent Armenia in Eurovision 2009

For details - Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Naked men in downtown Yerevan… to mark Valentine’s day


To mark Valentine’s day, Brabion Flora Service in Yerevan initiated an unprecedented PR action. They announced that all men who will be at their flora salon at 2 pm local time in swimwear or underwear only, will get a free bouquet. The organisers expected 1 or 2 men to turn up, but there were 10 or so there.

This is unprecedented since it’s not every day you could see naked Armenian men in downtown Yerevan. In fact, this is the first time that something like this is organised in Armenia. Well done to all those brave Armenian men who did not care what others would say and did what they wanted to do. Well done to organisers too. That’s what I call Valentine’s day in Yerevan ;)

*For more details, read A1+ story here (in Armenian)
**photos – Photolur, via A1+

Thursday, 12 February 2009

“Being religious” is getting out of hand in Georgia

In Armenia, this trend is still more at the level of “showing off”: building ‘private’ churches, references to God and bible… In Georgia, this trend evolved into something much more serious and worrisome, to the dangerously bizarre extent.

Below are selected lines from the EurasiaNet report Georgia: Faith Is The Fashion, As Church Influence Soars:

Nearly two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Georgian Orthodox Church has become one of the most prominent actors in Georgia’s social and political life. […]

The church’s rising influence is also reflected in polls. In 2003, 38.6 percent of 1,000 respondents in a survey conducted for Tbilisi’s International Center on Conflict and Resolution named the patriarchy as Georgia’s most trustworthy institution. By 2008, the number had jumped to 86.6 percent. […]

"Let’s say [it] openly: Today it is unthinkable to ignore a personal request from the patriarch, Ilia II, because his authority is tremendous." […]

Meanwhile, on the streets of Tbilisi, public expressions of faith are becoming ever more commonplace. Pedestrians and drivers alike routinely stop in front of churches -- or within sight of a church -- to cross themselves. Small shops selling icons and religious paraphernalia are multiplying rapidly. A clerk at one such shop in central Tbilisi estimated that some 100-150 customers now visit her store each day.

"To be faithful . . . has become fashionable," concluded sociologist Nijaradze. "It has become the social norm."

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

“Artush and Zaur” – gay love story between Armenian and Azerbaijani published in Baku

Alekper Aliyev, editor-in-chief of kultura.az, has published, as he put it, his “most scandalous” novel “Artush and Zaur” in Baku. It’s a gay love story between an Azeri and Armenian, a sort of partial deconstruction of "Ali and Nino" (a heterosexual love story of Azeri Ali and Georgian Nino) having instead Azeri and Armenian male lovers against the backdrop of the emerging Karabakh conflict.

For details - see Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Monday, 9 February 2009

Charles Aznavour: “I am a free man and cannot lose my freedom for an honorary post”

UPDATE (12 February 2009): No longer a "free man", 'changed his mind', accepted... (see comments section below)

Says Charles Aznavour: “I am a free man. I was proposed by the president of Armenia a position of the Ambassador to Geneva, and I was absolutely flattered. That day I went to bed happy, but when I woke up I realised that if accepted I would lose my freedom. If I did not like any decision of the Armenian government, I would feel bad. I cannot lose my freedom for an honorary post.”

Interview with El Pais (via RFE/RL)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The rise of Russia's neo-nazi

Luke Harding of San Francisco Sentinel details the rise of Russia's neo-nazi movement, providing (among others) a chilling account of the murder of ethnic Armenian by one of those groups in Moscow.


By LUKE HARDING

San Francisco Sentinel

It was 9.10pm and Karen Abramian was returning home to his flat in southwest Moscow. Abramian had been visiting his parents in a nearby tower block. His journey back took five minutes - past a series of grey high-rise buildings soaring into Moscow’s packed skyline and a children’s playground, and up a modest flight of steps. As he punched in the entrance code, two young men, one wearing a baseball cap and one a bandana, approached him from behind. And then they stabbed him. They stabbed him again - methodically slashing his head, neck, back and stomach. Abramian pleaded with his attackers. “Don’t do this. Please take my money,” he begged them. His assailants - two slight, boyish, almost nerdish figures - ignored him, stabbing him 56 times. At this moment, Abramian’s wife Marta peered out of their ninth-floor apartment window and spotted two boys beating a dark shape lying on the ground. The couple’s 14-year-old son Georgy, who had been playing nearby, found his father in the entrance, bleeding profusely. Georgy took off his T-shirt (it was April, still winter in Russia, and bitterly cold), wrapped it around his father and ran upstairs. Abramian was conscious when Georgy came back with a blanket and pillow. Georgy wrapped his father in it and they waited in the gloom for an ambulance. Abramian told his son simply: “They were skinheads.” Four hours later, in the early hours of 17 April 2007, Abramian was dead. Doctors had been unable to stem the colossal loss of blood.

The names of Abramian’s killers are Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, both 17. Their motive for murdering Abramian, the 46-year-old boss of a Moscow insurance company, was ideological. As they saw it, Abramian’s violent death was part of a national liberation movement - an ambitious, quasi-mystical struggle to get rid of Russia’s foreigners, in which they played the role of hero-warriors. The boys had picked Abramian because he was an ethnic Armenian. But his murder was an act of random racist violence: Ryno and Skachevsky spotted him on the street and decided impulsively to kill him. They were apprehended by a neighbour who witnessed the attack and ran after them. They insouciantly escaped on the number 26 tram, but the neighbour, a former investigator, flagged down a passing police Lada and gave chase. Police officers halted the tram and arrested both boys. Ryno and Skachevsky had turned their blood-soaked overcoats inside out; their victim, however, had managed to grab one of them by the arm, leaving behind a bloody print. They made no attempt to disguise their crime; on the contrary, they were proud of it. In their rucksack, detectives discovered 10in knives. In custody, investigators asked Ryno and Skachevsky whether they had committed other murders. To their surprise, the teenagers said they had. In a period of nine months, from August 2006 to April 2007, when they stabbed Abramian, they had killed 20 people and attacked at least 12 others, who had survived. Initially, the police were highly sceptical, assuming that the boys were delusional. Gradually, however, investigators began to confirm Ryno and Skachevsky’s fantastic claims. Prosecutors established that the diminutive pair had indeed killed 20 people.

Ryno and Skachevsky are among the worst mass murderers in Russia’s modern history. Three hours before Abramian’s murder the pair stabbed to death Kyril Sadikov, a Tajik. They ate some food, then set off in search of their next victim. The 45-page court indictment against them shows a disturbing pattern, with the skinheads lying in wait next to different suburban metro stations and stabbing their victims 15 to 60 times. The victims had one thing in common: they weren’t Slavs. Most were guest workers toiling in Moscow’s building industry or as cleaners in the capital’s communal courtyards and urban parks. Nobody knows how many low-wage gastarbeiter are currently resident in Moscow, a teeming metropolis of 12 million people - estimates range from 200,000 to 2 million. Typically, Ryno and Skachevsky’s targets had fled poverty and the impoverished former Soviet republics of Central Asia - Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Others were from China. A few were “of Caucasian appearance”, as the charge sheet puts it, from Russia’s troubled southern provinces of Chechnya or Dagestan.

Like all warriors involved in a holy war, as they perceived it, the boys sometimes made mistakes: several of their dark-skinned victims were actually ethnic Russians. […]

I later discover that most Russian skinheads revere the Führer, believing that his only mistake was to attack Russia. The average age here is about 15 or 16; the style is baseball caps, Burberry scarves and Lonsdale - the uniform of the British far-right. One skinhead even has a Union Flag jacket. There are several girls. The skinheads adhere to two ultra-nationalist groups - the Movement Against Illegal Immigration and the Slavic Union. […]

In December 2008, Ryno and Skachevsky were sentenced to 10 years in jail, the maximum sentence for a juvenile. Five other members of their gang were jailed for between six and 20 years. […] Ryno made a final speech to the jury. In a rambling address, he explained that he committed the murders for the “tsar, country, and monarchy”. Later he revealed that after prison he intends to embark on a new career. He wants to be a politician.

Marta Abramian shows off a photo of her husband, taken a month before his murder. As well as their son Georgy, the couple have two strikingly pretty dark-haired daughters, Meline and Karine, now 20 and 21. The photos show Karen dancing with his girls at a party; other snaps show the family relaxing on holiday in Egypt, next to a camel; there are black and white photos of Karen’s happy boyhood in Baku, Azerbaijan. The couple met and courted in Baku, but in the late 80s they moved to Moscow when war erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Karen studied at Moscow University and then joined an insurance firm, rising to become its general director. He wrote poems and composed songs. “He was a wonderful father, a wonderful son and wonderful husband,” Marta says. “I never thought this could happen to my husband. We considered ourselves real citizens of Russia. We work here. We pay taxes. This is our country.”

We meet in the apartment of Karen’s parents, Asya, 75, and Georgy, 76. They sit together on the sofa holding their son’s framed photo; his murder outrages them still. After an hour punctuated by phone calls from the court - the skinheads’ trial is just ending - Marta takes us to the spot where Karen was murdered. Next to the entrance, she has planted a small fir tree; she and the kids still live upstairs on the ninth floor. “It’s so we can remember Daddy,” she says. “It’s very difficult without him. There is just an empty shape. Nothing can fill the emptiness.”

*photo - via San Francisco Sentinel

Forest guard hunt a wild boar in Khosrov reserved forest (Armenia)



This message I received from the Armenian environmental Facebook group:

"The head of foresters KILLS WILD ANIMALS... to protect the Khosrov reserved forest.

"it's a stupid animal damaging the trees" says the head of foresters.

Reserved Forest? Slaughter house? Place for having Fun?....

What is KHOSROV RESERVED FOREST NOW?

Who are the real protectors of it? In whose hands is it? How many animals still exist in the place called RESERVED FOREST"?

Watch - The head of foresters hunt a wild boar in Khosrov reserved forest.

PLEASE WATCH AND REACT sending this video through your mailing lists....

here is the number of Ministry of Nature "Protection" 519182, 523835 and email: info@mnp.am

Lets protect our rights to live in HARMONY with NATURE~~"

Read also related report by A1+ (in Armenian).

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Armenian bachelors among the most desired in Moscow

For the third year in a row, the highest number of marriages with foreign citizens in Moscow in 2008 were with citizens of Turkey, reports Interfax (via Tert.am). This followed by Germany, US, Israel and the UK.

Among the CIS countries (ex-Soviet states), the ‘most desired’ are citizens of Ukraine followed by Armenia, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan (all sharing the second place).

On one hand, this may sound like an encouraging statistics having the background of recent surge in racist, neo-nazi attacks on foreigners in Moscow, especially from the Caucasus and Asia. However, this perhaps a reflection of numbers of ethnic Armenians etc. who are Moscow residents and tend to marry their compatriots too.

It’s Dubai calling for Arthur Baghdasaryan

Ever wondered what Arthur Baghdasaryan is up to nowadays? Yes, the former fake oppositionist, current head of the National Security Council of Armenia Arthur Baghdasaryan. Apparently, he is busy with establishing the “organisation which shares our ideology”... in Dubai where he had lavish New Year celebrations this year with some of his party comrades. Pay attention to the word “ideology” here, that is his Orinats Yerkir party's "ideology". A laughing stock.
***

Լավ է՝ թրաֆիկինգի զոհ չեն դարձել
168 Zham, via Tert.am

Երեկ ԱԺ-ում կայացած ճեպազրույցի ժամանակ ԱԺ «Օրինաց երկիր» խմբակցության ղեկավար Հեղինե Բիշարյանը լրագրողներին փորձում էր համոզել, որ Ամանորին ՕԵԿ-ական պատգամավորները մեկնել են Դուբայ ոչ թե հանգստանալու, այլ իրենց «հերթական կառույցն այնտեղ ստեղծելու նպատակով»։ Հարցին, թե ի՞նչ ծրագրի շրջանակներում են իրենք Դուբայի ամենաթանկ հյուրանոցում մնացել, և արդյոք ո՞չ պետբյուջեի միջոցներով՝ Հ. Բիշարյանը պատասխանեց. «Որևէ կուսակցություն պետբյուջեի հաշվին որևէ տեղ չի գնում։ Կարծում եմ, շատ մարդիկ, կուսակցություններ դրսում են լինում, բայց քննարկման չի ենթարկվում՝ ով ուր է գնում։ Այո, ՕԵԿ-ն իր նախագահ Արթուր Բաղդասարյանի հետ մեկնել էր Դուբայ, և սա մեր հերթական հանդիպումն էր դրսի հայկական համայնքի հետ։ Կարծում եմ՝ այստեղ որևէ արտառոց բան չկա, թե ինչպիսի հյուրանոցում, ովքեր էին գնացել»։ ՕԵԿ-ական պատգամավոր Հովհաննես Մարգարյանն էլ հավելեց. «Մենք մեր աշխատավարձով տոմս ենք գնել և գնացել ենք մեր հերթական կառույցը բացելու Դուբայում»։ «Դուբայում «Օրինաց Երկիր» կուսակցությո՞ւն եք ստեղծում» հարցին Հ. Մարգարյանը պատասխանեց. «Մեր քաղաքական ուժին հարող հասարակական կազմակերպություն, որն այնտեղ կրում է մեր գաղափարախոսությունը»։ ՕԵԿ պատգամավորների «պարզաբանումները» մեղմ ասած, արժանահավատ չեն, քանի որ Ամանորին ոչ ոք գործնական հանդիպումներ, այն էլ՝ Դուբայում, չի ունենում։

ՕԵԿ-Ը՝ ԴՈՒԲԱՅՈՒՄ
Aravot, 7 February 2009

«Մենք մեր աշխատավարձով տոմս ենք գնել եւ գնացել ենք մեր հերթական կառույցը բացելու Արաբական Միացյալ Էմիրություններում, ի դեպ, նմանատիպ կառույցներ մենք ունենք եւ Ֆրանսիայում, եւ Գերմանիայում, ասեմ ավելին, Գերմանիայում այդ կառույցների մասնակից է նաեւ նույն իմ անուն-ազգանունով եւ հայրանունով իմ եղբոր որդին, որը բնակվում է այնտեղ եւ Գերմանիայի քաղաքացի է»,- ԱԺ ճեպազրույցների ժամանակ այսպես բացատրեց ՕԵԿ-ի ղեկավար կազմի՝ Արաբական Էմիրություններ կատարած վերջին այցի մանրամասները ՕԵԿ-ական պատգամավոր Հովհաննես Մարգարյանը, եւ երբ լրագրողները զարմացան, թե ինչպես է կուսակցական կառույց հիմնվել այլ երկրում, պարոն Մարգարյանը նոր բացատրություն տվեց. «Ոչ թե կառույց, մեր քաղաքական ուժին հարող հասարակական կազմակերպություն, որը կրում է մեր գաղափարախոսությունը»:

Adana 100

(Press release) The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute organizes an international conference on April 20-21, 2009 dedicated to the centennial anniversary of the Armenian massacres in Adana district of the Ottoman Empire.

Historians from Armenia, Italy, Hungary, Austria, France, USA and Sweden specialized on these issues will make speeches at the conference.

The speakers will have the opportunity to present their papers and share their knowledge about the massacre in Adana district and in the city of Adana itself in spring 1909 in the main reverting on the motives of massacres as well as international responses.

In 1908, the Young Turkish revolution brought some hope for change for the Empire’s Christian minorities. However, the initial euphoria and hopes for equal rights for Muslims and Christians were dashed in brutal slaughtering of Armenian population in Cilicia and its center Adana. This massacre revived the fears of Christian minorities, particularly of Armenians towards the traditional Ottoman policy against them.

The Adana massacres of April 1909 became a symbolic prelude for the state orchestrated and executed policy of genocide against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. Ethnical cleansings and large-scale massacres were carried out even earlier; during the Hamidian massacres in 1894-1896 about 300.000 Armenians were annihilated and evicted.

The study of Adana massacre reveals several important issues, particularly in terms of crime investigation, reparation and involvement of Turkish regular army in the massacre. These tragic events resonated with the events of the earlier attacks on the Armenians and brought back the feeling of the coming catastrophe.

The Adana massacres heralded a large-scale extermination policy, which was implemented shortly after the breakout of the WWI. This resulted in the genocide of Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during 1915-1922, and expulsion of several hundred thousand people from their homeland.

Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Breaking news: Armenia deputy police chief murdered

RFE/RL: Colonel Gevorg Mherian, a deputy chief of the Armenian police, was gunned down outside his Yerevan home late on Tuesday.

Police sources said Mherian, 33, was repeatedly shot in the head by unknown gunmen as he left an apartment building in the capital where lived with his family. A senior medical official told local Kentron television that he was dead by the time an ambulance arrived at the scene.

Dozens of police and other law-enforcement officials, including Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian, rushed there shortly after the murder. The police did not immediately issue any statements.

Mherian was appointed as deputy police chief in July as part of a reshuffle of the higher echelon of Armenia’s security apparatus initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian. He had previously served as an adviser to former President Robert Kocharian monitoring the implementation of the Armenian government’s strategy of combating corruption.
***

As per Armenia Today, he was a close associate of Armenia's ex-president Robert Kocharyan.
***

A1+: Այսօր ժամը 20. 20 -ի սահմաններում Կիեւյան փողոցի վրա գտնվող իր բնակարանի մոտ, հրազենով սպանվել է ՀՀ փոխոստիկանապետ, գնդապետ, 1975թ. ծնված Գեւորգ Մհերյանը: Նա մահացել է գլխին ստացած հրազենային կրակոցից: Մեր տեղեկությունների համաձայն` Մհերյանի վրա արձակվել է 6 կրակոց: Դեպքի վայրից հայտնաբերվել են պարկուճներ, հանցագործության առարկան` զենքը դեպքի վայրում չի հայտնաբերվել:

Դեպքի վայր են ժամանել ՀՀ Ոստիկանության բարձրաստիճան պաշտոնյաներ, ինչպես նաեւ ՀՀ Գլխավոր դատախազ Աղվան Հովսեփյանը, ԱԱԾ պետ Գորիկ Հակոբյանը: Մանրամասները ճշտվում են: Դեպքի առթիվ հարուցվել է քրեական գործ: Քննությունը վարում է Հատուկ քննչական ծառայությունը, որը կոչված է բարձրաստիճան պաշտոնյաների դեմ եւ նրանց կողմից կատարված հանցագործությունների ուսումնասիրմանը եւ բացահայտմանը: Գեւորգ Մհերյանը ՀՀ փոխոստիկանպետի պաշտոնում նշանակվել է 2008թ. հունիսի 2-ին` Սերժ Սար•սյանի հրամանով: Մինչ այդ նա եղել Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանի օգնականը` իրավական գծով:

*photos - Photolur, via A1+

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Armenian church + Kim Kardashian

Debbie Hovsepian, Gayane Tatoulian, Abp. Hovnan Derderian, Maria de Silva, Kim Kardashian, Kloe Kardashian, and Robert Kardashian, Jr., at a fund raiser for the Etchmiadzin Children’s Fund, Universal City, Calif., Jan. 23, 2009. Hilma Shahinian for the Armenian Reporter

Universal City, California - The unlikely pairing of the Armenian Church and sex-scandal-infamous party-girl-turned-celebrity Kim Kardashian help raise more than $90,000 for the Etchmiadzin Children's Fund (EFC). The charity's annual Gala Night on Friday, January 23, attracted more than 350 guests and featured real, somewhat real, and fake Hollywood stars, celebrity look-alikes, Las Vegas impersonators, and a few disconcerted church ladies.

*source: The Armenian Reporter