Saturday, 26 June 2010

Watching Spain vs Chile World Cup match with Spanish fans

Was watching World Cup Spain vs Chile match with hundreds of Spanish fans at Camino bar in London. A friend of mine suggested this place, as I wanted to watch the match with Spanish fans and in a place where I have not been before. I am so grateful for this suggestion. It was an excellent choice. A genuine Spanish-like atmosphere. Friendly staff and security. Relaxing environment. I am definitely coming back, and not only for World Cup matches.

During the match I kept comparing the experience of watching football with Spanish and English fans.

What I like in Spanish fans is that they always manage to turn the occasion into a celebration. The atmosphere was very friendly, hot, crazy. I loved it. I did not like throwing half-empty cans of beer at each other though. I do not know if it's a tradition or just a one-off thing, as have not noticed such things before.

True, there is always a good level of craziness present with English fans too. And the atmosphere (and fans) could be pretty hot too. So you could get hotness and craziness with both Spanish and English fans in different ways and depending on where you watch it.

What I dislike in English fans is that there is too much stress and anger present during England games. Also, more frequent nationalistic sentiments expressed during commentary, shouts and some songs. I have to admit though that the level of adrenalin is higher when watching football with English fans.

Below is a short video I made today, and few pictures.

Friday, 25 June 2010

TwitPic of the Day: Rio Ferdinand's naked support for England and Russia president Medvedev's 'Burgergate'

Injured Rio Ferdinand tweets his picture of support for England's World Cup bid.

I call this a 'Burgergate' :) Russia president Medvedev starts tweeting and posts his picture of guilty pleasure with US president Obama: "Haven't had a burger in a while. Lunch with Obama at Ray's Hell Burger".

Monday, 21 June 2010

Azerbaijan activist severly beaten by Baku police officer. Same guy was interrogated by authorities last year when voted for Armenia at Eurovision

Further to the info I posted earlier: "Fuck Oil": say it and get detained in Baku, Azerbaijan, it was emerged today that well known Azeri activist Rovshan Nasirli was severely beaten by a senior police officer.
Further reports indicate that at least one protester was beaten severely by a senior Baku police official. Rovshan Nasirli, a well-known activist, was allegedly roughed up by Lieutenant General Yashar Aliyev, who placed Nasirli under arrest. Witnesses report that police officers at the station where Naasirli was taken say that they “found narcotics” in his possession. It is unclear whether this is the same Rovshan Nasirli who was interrogated by Azerbaijani authorities last year when he voted for the Armenian entry in the 2009 Eurovision song contest, something that was reported world-wide.
I got confirmation today that he is indeed the same guy who was interrogated last year by Azerbaijani authorities when voted for Armenia at Eurovision.

Here is what RFE/RL reported back then:
Rovshan Nasirli, a young Eurovision fan living in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, says he was summoned this week to the country's National Security Ministry -- to explain why he had voted for Armenia during this year's competition in May.

"They wanted an explanation for why I voted for Armenia. They said it was a matter of national security,” Nasirli said. “They were trying to put psychological pressure on me, saying things like, 'You have no sense of ethnic pride. How come you voted for Armenia?' They made me write out an explanation, and then they let me go."

A total of 43 Azeris voted for the Armenian duo Inga and Anush, and their song, "Jan-Jan."

Nasirli, like others, used his mobile phone to send a text message expressing his preference, little imagining his vote would eventually result in a summons from national security officials. (By contrast, 1,065 Armenians voted for the Azerbaijani team, apparently without consequence.)
*picture - via Foreign Policy Blogs

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Khloe Kardashian pays tribute to her dad

To mark Father’s Day, Khloe Kardashian revealed previously unseen family photos, and dedicated her album to both her dads - her father Robert Kardashian, who died of cancer seven years ago, and stepfather Bruce Jenner. (pictures and quotes below - via Mail Online and Khloe Kardashian)
*Family snaps: An Easter picture of Khloe with sisters Kourtney and Kim and their father Robert was among the family pictures she posted online

*Happier days: Rob, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe with their father Robert

'I was seriously the luckiest girl in the world growing up because I had two amazing dads who not only loved us kids more than anything, but adored each other as well.'

Khloe's mother Kris, 54, was married to Robert from 1978 to 1990, before marrying former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner in 1991. [...]

'Father's Day is always a bittersweet holiday for me because I of course miss my dad, but it also reminds me of how truly blessed I am to have had two incredible fathers.' [...]

Since Robert died of cancer aged 59 in 2003, his son and three daughters have gone onto find fame in the reality TV shows Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Khloe And Kourtney Take Miami.

Kourtney, now 31, is mother to baby Mason with boyfriend Scott Disick.

Khloe, 25, is married to LA Lakers star Lamar Odom and openly trying for her first child, while Rob, 23, is trying to forge a music career.

The most famous of the family is sister Kim, 29, who appeared on Dancing With The Stars.

"Fuck Oil": say it and get detained in Baku, Azerbaijan

Two words that say it all. “Fuck Oil”. Say it, and as per reports from Baku, you are guaranteed at least 10 days of administrative arrest.

His name is Rashadat Akhundov (pictured), and he was among youth group that took part in the protest today in Baku. There were about 300-350 protesters there, representatives of various opposition groups. Rashadat himself used to be a member of OL! Youth Movement, but left. He is no longer part of any youth/political organisation. Young activists decided to hold posters that read: "ILHAM - RESIGN" and "FUCK OIL". (you may see pictures of posters in making here) They were demanding "freedom of assembly and transparent parliamentary elections this fall".

80 people in total were detained: 61 of them were kept in Sabail District Police station; the rest were driven to Gobustan. [Most of the detained were later released. However, four people got 10 days, one person - 15 days of imprisonment. Six people were fined 20 AZN.]

During the protest youth activists managed to run away from the police, however Rashadat was among people waiting outside the Sabail District Police Station for news on the 61 detainees kept there. One of the policemen recognised Rashadat and detained him too. He then got sentenced to 10 days in prison.

*many thanks to my Azeri friends for the info provided.

**picture - via @ljmaximus, via

Friday, 18 June 2010

UN expert calls for better protection of human rights defenders, including LGBT, in Armenia

Unfortunately, so far UN human rights missions in or outside the region did not give us hope that this will be anything but a paper-based exercise. Still, good to see that Margaret Sekaggya is highlighting some important issues which Armenian authorities should take into account not for the sake of international organisations but for the sake of our country.
18 June 2010 – Armenian authorities must take steps to protect human rights defenders, who are often physically attacked, harassed or stigmatized as they try to carry out their work in the Caucasus nation, an independent United Nations expert said today.

Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, also voiced concern about restraints on freedom of assembly in Armenia as she wrapped up a five-day fact-finding visit – the first visit to the country by a UN human rights envoy since 2000.

“I am worried by documented cases of ongoing violence, assaults, intimidation, harassment and stigmatization of defenders, in particular journalists,” she said in a statement issued in Yerevan, the capital.

“These cases would seem to illustrate an apparent culture of impunity in Armenia which impinges upon the work of human rights defenders. This impunity appears to be closely related to the deep-rooted problems within the police system as well as with the shortcomings of the justice system.”

She recommended that the Government implement a comprehensive reform of the police service, immediately take steps to tackle the problems in the justice system and set out an anti-corruption strategy for government.

Ms. Sekaggya, who met Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan during her visit, urged Armenian authorities to “undertake prompt, thorough and transparent investigations of all human rights violations, in particular attacks against journalists, in order to create a safe and enabling environment in which human rights defenders can carry out their activities.”

She also called on Mr. Sargsyan to publicly acknowledge the important role that human rights defenders play in a pluralistic and democratic society.

Human rights defenders and civil society groups should be consulted and included in decision-making processes, Ms. Sekaggya said, adding the specific needs of women defenders and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender defenders must also be addressed.

In addition the Special Rapporteur spoke out against what she described as “significant constraints” on freedom of assembly within Armenia, nothing that the right to peaceful, open and public demonstrations should be available to all.

“I also add my voice to those who have already expressed serious concerns about the amendments to the Law on Television and Radio. If signed into law by the President of Armenia, these amendments will further restrict and seriously hamper the plurality of voices and opinions available to Armenian society.”

Ms. Sekaggya serves in an independent and unpaid capacity and reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Her full report on the visit to Armenia will be presented to the Council in March next year.

*source: UN News Centre

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Human Rights Watch urges Armenia president Sargsyan to veto TV law amendments

In a letter to Armenian president, executive director of Human Rights Watch (Europe and Central Asia Division) Holly Cartner expressed HRW's concern re recent amendments to the "Law on Radio and TV" and urges Serj Sargsyan "to refrain from signing the law" "with the aim of bringing any and all amendments into compliance with Armenia’s international obligations on freedom of expression."

Below are selected excerpts from the letter along with the copy of it.

"Human Rights Watch is writing to express its concern regarding the negative impact on media pluralism and public access to diversity of information and opinion in Armenia, recent amendments to the “Law on Television and Radio,” are likely to have. We urge you to refrain from signing the law and instead return it to the National Assembly and urge them to continue their deliberations with the aim of bringing any and all amendments into compliance with Armenia’s international obligations on freedom of expression. [...]

We are first concerned that the amendments to the law will reduce the number of television stations able to broadcast in Armenia from 22 to 18. The changes in the legislation could have created room for more actors to participate in provision of media facilitated by digitalization, yet reducing the number of television broadcasters poses the opposite risk of limiting media pluralism. There is a serious concern that the reduction in available television stations may particularly disadvantage new television broadcasters, especially as the amendments indicate that preference in future licensing competitions should be given to existing broadcasters or those with at least three years’ experience.

Armenia’s civil society members and international partners have also criticized numerous other aspects of the amendments, including the failure to require the National Television and Radio Commission (NTRC) to provide explanations for its decisions to reject broadcasting license applications, which would increase transparency of the licensing process. The amendments also do not address long-standing concerns that the law does not ensure pluralism in the selection and appointment of members of the National Television and Radio Commission (NTRC), which is responsible for the granting of licenses. [...]

The draft Law on Television and Radio was developed by the Armenian Ministry of Economy and adopted by the National Assembly in the first reading on May 20th.
Armenia was obliged to amend the law on Television and Radio following a June 2008 European Court of Human Rights judgment finding Armenia in violation of Article 10 (Freedom of Expression) as a result of the NTRC’s repeated denials of a broadcast license to A1+, an independent television station. The court found that the Armenian legislature did not provide sufficient protection against an arbitrary decision of the licensing authorities. A1+ was taken off the air in April 2002 and has not been able to resume broadcasting despite the ECtHR judgment.

In the interest of ensuring Armenia’s full compliance with the ECtHR judgment and protecting media pluralism, we urge you to use your discretionary power and veto the amendments to the Law On Television and Radio. We strongly hope that the National Assembly will heed the concerns of Armenia’s civil society, the OSCE, and others and make the necessary changes to bring the legislation fully into line with Armenia’s international obligations."

Related: OSCE Slams Armenian TV Law

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Armenian Taverna, Manchester, UK

Who knew that in the very heart of Manchester (Albert square) there is a restaurant called The Armenian Taverna.

The menu is more Middle Eastern than what we would consider Armenian in Republic of Armenia. There were some amusing food names there too, like “dabagadz tzugnik” :) Food was tasty. Price-wise, it’s of middle range (not very cheap, not very expensive). Environment and design are very-very retro, hardly ever changed since its establishment. I felt like I was immersed into a place of decades ago. But it was kind of cute and different.

As I learned, The Armenian Taverna was founded in mid-20th century by two Armenian brothers. Currently, it’s owned by its former employee, an Armenian from Turkey (if I remember right). He was friendly and chatty guy. He loves Yerevan, and recently bought a flat there. He was constantly repeating that Armenia has a big potential but lacking human resources. I might be wrong but assume he was referring to people leaving Armenia, and Armenia not making enough efforts to attract them back, or others for that matter.

Their website is at

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Shall we re-shut instead of ‘re-open’ the Liberty sq in Yerevan?

That Liberty square has been re-opened is good news, indeed. And I am not referring here to politics. However, apparently, the authorities in Armenia declare it a politics-free zone. Police stop and detain ‘operation’ is in full action resulting in scuffles and arrests. The aim is to halt any sign of protest or opposition activism in Liberty square. Using force is allowed.

It’s during reading such news I wonder that perhaps it was better to have Liberty sq shut having in place ‘alternative arrangements’ for opposition or any citizen, in fact, to exercise their civil rights. Yes, there may be provocations. Yes, some or many ordinary citizens may get annoyed, or as British would say, pissed off by shouts or rallies or whatever, instead preferring the square for cafes and entertainment only.

But there is no such thing as convenient democracy. I do not believe in ‘human rights light’. It’s either there or not.