Saturday, March 29, 2003

Believe it or not, this picture was taken on March 28th and the snow you see accumulated in a matter of a few hours.

Believe it or not, even with the bad and very cold weather, I�ve been working and have not yet found the time to �hibernate� this winter, as I usually do to avoid the cold so I wont get sick.

Believe it or not, the cold does not seem to bother me anymore, nor have I got sick this year (knock on wood).

Believe it or not, I have been so busy with work that I have not had the time or desire to follow the war in Iraq. Everything I know about it comes from the natives, who have reported to me that the war seems to not be going to well and America is having some technical difficulties and paying a heavy price.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Sorry for not logging for the last few days, but I�ve been out of town on business and just got home.

I wont even get into what I�ve been doing for the last few days, as it�s very boring stuff, and unless your in the stone business, it would not even make sense to you.

The weather is the same (unpredictable). Will this be another long wet season, which ends in June? I hope not, but if it is, so be it.

The war in Iraq is something I�ve been following and just want to say that all the dead Iraqi�s they have shown on television here have not been in military uniforms. Does this mean that the Iraqi army is really poor, or are most of the casualties civilians? The one I found interesting was the guy that surrendered to the invading force (the US) and asked were the aid was, as he had hungry children at home.

One thing I learned today about America�s great fighter aircraft, particularly the type which is �stealth� is that it seems that it�s not all that stealth and that radars can be modified to a different frequency to detect them. I only learned this after hearing talk of aircraft being downed in Iraq and talking to this about with an engineer here, who said that Russia already has such technology to trace and down such aircraft. Well all I can say is that I hope this war ends soon and not too many people loose their lives in the process.

Anyway, I really glad to be home and now that the woodstove is burning and my room is nice and warm, I'm off to take a nice long HOT shower.

Sunday, March 23, 2003


I wanted to share with you some observations and first-hand experiences I had in the last month while I was working in Stepanagert.

I noticed that everyplace I turned while I was in Stepanagert, I encountered what I could only call opportunitisum (sp?).

If this is the effect of living in a big city, I can�t really say. All I know is the surplus of opportunists was quite overwhelming for me and made my stay in Stepanagert quite unpleasant.

It started with the machinist who was making my stone cutting equipment. Then the truck I had to rent to bring an air-compressor and the person who sold me said air-compressor, that ended up not working well at all. Then there were those people who provided their services or materials I needed to complete my work.

There were a few people who wanted to convince me that their services would have to be extensive, even when I knew well that there was not much to what they really had to do and I guess it was seeing my Mercedes and my western smile that for them was smelling ripe for the pickings. To say the least, I kept clear of them at all costs.

On the non-work side, I encountered merchants, taxi drivers and common people trying to take advantage of me in a financial way.

While I was in Stepanagert, I gave a radio interview and when we took calls from the listeners, I was complimented for moving to Artsakh, but was also given some very negative questions to answer in regards to corruption, lack of jobs and is it not difficult to live here? Even the DJ asked me off air if I was not sick of this place and all the corruption and opportunists? Since it was early into my visit, I still had not really experienced too much of the negative experiences and told him no, I love living here (which I still do, but now understand why he was asking me).

It is interesting for me, but I have very few encounters in Martuni with opportunists and can only conclude that it has to do with the greater population not being exposed to too many corrupt officials. I say this as I know for a fact that the mayor does not take bribes from the people, but know for a fact that this has not been true in the past in Stepanagert. I�m even guessing that this problem still holds true today.

I had mentioned my observations to a government official here in Martuni and that official told me that he had always known this to be true, but had never mentioned it to me as he didn�t want to influence my opinion and added that Martuni and Hadrut are similar in this way (a lack of dishonest people in comparison to Stepanagert).

Oh, while I was in Stepanagert, I had an opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister�s chief of staff about my dual-citizenship issue and my inability to get the President to meet with me and sign the final documents. He said that he was not up to speed on this issue, but said that he was involved with the process to approve my application and knew that it was sent off to the President 2 years ago for his signature. He said he would talk to the Prime Minister about it and ask him to talk to the President to see what he plans on doing about it. To say the least, he was not happy that the process was not completed and felt that there should not be a problem to get some resolution soon. I hope that this is not another act of opportunitisum, like I have encountered with the President and his staff members in the past.

I do want to make it clear to the reader that even with this problem that we are facing today, if you are in tune with this problem, it�s not too difficult to protect yourself. Also it should be made clear that the majority of the people are not opportunists and they too are very concerned with this problem.

If you wondering why this log is being posted so late, it's because my connection from Stepanagert is not working well again. In fact, while I was in Stepangert for the last month and would come home for a day, it was not working. In the past, it was due to my good quality line that the head of the phone services has insisted be given to me, has been switched with one of the lines that has problems as far as line quality. It will take me to get really upset with the local telephone people and tell them if they can't fix the problem, I will have to call the head of the phone company to find some other alternative. Then within a day, the problem is sloved.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I got the following e-mail from one of our readers about the �Karabagh Conflict: Public Discussion� at the House of Lords in the UK which was held on March 17th. I thought you might find the message interesting.

Dear Ara,

Yesterday, I attended Dr. Brenda Shaffer's lecture at the House of Lords.

I now understand what you meant in your log.

The good news is that the Azeris are paying someone like her. With enemies like that who needs friends?

She was embarrassing and came across as a "fanatic" rather than the "impartial historian" - an image she wanted to project.

Her number of Azeri refugees increased from 800,000 to 1 million - within 20 minutes.

She was trying to convince everyone that NKR is not under blockade as she herself had seen "thousands and thousands" of Iranian cars there.

How, since her childhood, she had read about the Poets of Shusha and how unthinkable it is for her to see Shousha in Armenian hands...

Armenians must be aware that Azerbaijan is much richer and one day they will rebuild their army.

Baroness Cox was at the meeting and asked a few relevant questions, very politely. Cox's questions included:

1. For the sake of completeness one must also mention Sumgait and Baku pogroms which triggered the violence.
2. How come the "impoverished" Armenian government manages to re-settle the Armenian refugees whereas the "rich" Azeris keep theirs in misery?
3. Shushi was an important Armenian Cultural centre...
4. What confidence building measures should the two sides take?

Instead of answering Baroness Cox, Dr. Shaffer - in a very rude tone - kept on about how she is a "qualified historian" and that Baroness Cox is not a historian and that is why she does not have the right facts.

Then the mask dropped and she started listing all that is wrong about Armenia - Corruption, poverty, immigration (one minute she was complaining that Armenians are re-settling on Azeri lands, then she was saying most Armenians refugees are leaving the country...) Armenia will not get a penny from the pipeline, etc.

When Baroness Cox tried to say something, Dr. Brenda raged "I did not interrupt you when you said your bit. I thought the British are meant to be polite". These words were said in the British House of Lords!

None of those impartial members of the audience were impressed by it.

There were only 4 or 5 Armenians and 50 Azeris at the lecture. I was proud of the 2 young ladies from the Armenian embassy who asked very polite, very logical questions. They ended up speaking 80% of the time, while Dr. Brenda and the Azeris were getting more and more frustrated...

We left the lecture and went to the House of Commons to follow the debate about Iraq. Dr. Brenda - the "historian" - could have learnt a few lessons about the art of debating.
I was going to log today about this incredible dream I had last night which had Madlene and Harut (Der Hova) in it, but unfortunately something more interesting happened this morning that I felt a need to log about. Maybe I�ll log about the dream later, as it really is worth sharing.

I spent the night in Stepanagert and this morning I went to the Artsakh Central Bank to exchange $100.

The woman at the exchange window looked at the $100 bill I handed her and told me that it had a small hole in it and was discolored. She said that its value would be lower than the normal exchange rate.

I asked her what she was talking about and said that a dollars value is not based on its appearance, but based on the serial number and the amount noted on it.

She told me that it was the policy of the bank to pay a lower amount to worn and damaged dollars and there was nothing she can do about it.

I asked to see the bank manager and found that he was coming late. I saw one of the assistants, who looked at my $100 bill and told me that it really qualifies as worn and damaged, but for me being from the Diaspora, he would exchange it for the full rate.

I asked him what difference it made to the bank if the bill was worn or not and he said that he buys dollars and turns around and sells them to other people and if there is any damage, no one is willing to buy them. He said the same thing is in Armenia.

I told him that this was absurd and I could understand if it was a private party who was buying and selling dollars, but the main central bank for all of Artsakh should at very least be a place that one can turn in worn money as a normal banks function is to get worn money out of circulation.

I added that if this is the way he is doing business, then he is not in the business of buying and selling dollars for their value, but he is selling pictures and in that case, appearance is the only thing that matter.

Though the picture I have posted is hard to read, you will notice on March 20, 2003, the bank was buying dollars at 590 dram to $1, selling at 593 dram to $1 and if the dollar is worn or damaged, buys at 566 dram to $1, a loss of 24 dram or in my case would have been 2,400 dram (over $4).

One thing that should be noted is that today, the greater share of Artsakh bank is owned by Diaspora Armenians and I would think that if those individuals were conscious that such an unfair practice is taking place in their bank, they would put an immediate stop to it (I would hope so). I think a letter to them would not be too difficult to write (which I have done) and certainly in will be sent (as soon as I can get their mailing address).

Monday, March 17, 2003

March is known as a crazy month and I can see why. Yesterday it was warm and the sun was out and today, it was snowing. This kind of weather makes it difficult to plan anything.

Today I took the puppies to be vaccinated and on the way to Stepanagert, they seemed very uncomfortable and vomited all over the floor in my car.

In Askeran, I got a package of napkins and a bottle of Jermuk, which I used to clean up the car and puppies a bit, who by this that time had climbed all over each other after stepping in the vomit. Yuk!!!

Well they got their shots, which they didn�t care for too much and then hanged out with me for most of the day, while I ran around with my engineer and machinist, as we finished putting together a stone polishing machine and planed tomorrows work.

I finished and drove back to Martuni and on the way, when nature called, I pulled over and took the puppies out of the car, who by this time were now use to driving around in my car and were asleep when I had pulled over.

It was very cute when the puppies watched as I relieved myself and caught on that they too should do the same. The smarter of the two looked up at me and after I encouraged her to do her business, she did, which the other saw what was going on and joined in.

I got to Martuni and I have to tell you that though it�s always great to open my door and make my way to my nice warm room, the mud that wet weather brings is really not fun at all.

One thing is for sure, we will only have another month of this kind of weather and then things will get really nice.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Last night, as I was driving home from Stepanagert and passing Aghdam, I was thinking to myself why I am here and not in America?

It was not one of those �I�m tired of this place� kind of thought, but just a reflection of life here and life in America.

First let me tell a little bit about what has been going on here and then I�ll tell you what my thoughts on the above question to myself were.

So I found myself in Stepanagert for a couple of days, working on some new equipment for the stone factory. It has been quite a challenge to get machinists, engineers and parts suppliers motivated to work at a speed that meet my needs.

On top of this, I�m working with a couple of electrical engineers to manufacture electronic products for markets here, Armenia and the former CIS. For that project, I�m also working with a plastics company for the packaging of the products we have already built and future manufacturing of plastic parts we are presently getting from Armenia and Russia. I�m facing the same challenges with this project, as I am for the stone factory equipment.

Then there is the �disgruntled and eminent departure� of the Prime Minster of Armenia, who I understand could be replaced with the president of Grand Candy.

We add to this my purchasing a professional electric hair clipper from the only store I could find in Stepanagert that had one.

The store is owned by the head prosecutor, Mavrik Goulkasyan. This store is in a building that is near the main bus-station in Stepanagert that was once the center of a controversy of where did Mavrik get the money to build said building and when asked �with what was his building built with�, he answered �building materials.�

The issue was dropped when Mavrik published in an opposition paper an example of the President�s violation of the law and stated that he had some 60+ other such documented crimes committed by President Goulkasyan in his office. I think that�s called blackmail.

So I made my purchase at 5 PM and asked for a receipt. The woman who made the sale is the eldest daughter of the former chief of police in the Martuni region and who is now the director of one of Serg Sarkissyan�s (Minister of Defense of RA) wine factories that he owns in Artsakh. She asked if I could wait for a minute, as she had not turned on the receipt machine today. Once it was turned on, she asked me if the date made a difference? I told her no. Mind you this store is very busy and that machine is suppose to register all sales so that the store pays to the government VAT and income tax.

I get to Martuni and learn that a family that I take care of, who live in my neighborhood is being told that the water project which USAID if funding for the city of Martuni has cut their old pipe which as supplying water to their house and now they have to cut a trench 40cm deep and over 100 meters long and supply a new pipe, so they will have water. Being on the water committee, I remember something about no one resident having to run more than 50 meters of pipe.

So this is a sample of what I encounter in a 2 days period.

Now what were my thoughts of the question I asked myself about why I�m here and not in America?

Well, it seems that in America, when I lived there, things were very stable and life�s program was somewhat fixed. In short, in America, you live to one day die.

What I mean by this is that the common person (this included me), does his or her job day in and day out. We get old one day and retire. Then one day comes that we die. Everything in-between our birth and death in America is somewhat insignificant if you consider what is really going in the world outside of America.

Then you come to place like Armenia or Artsakh. This is a place that is hanging on a thread, and like so many places in the world, its survival and future is impacted in a positive and negative way, based on what a few people do.

It�s a country that is gradually being enslaved by western powers and Russia, not to mention it�s facing that same threat from Muslim neighbor�s, who for over a thousand years have been trying to (and at time has) rule over the people who live here.

So what is my role here? Well for one thing, I�m doing the same thing here that I was doing in America. I�m doing business. The difference is that the business I do here has a greater impact and is a counter force on everything I have written in this log.

My life here has so much more meaning, as by me being here and doing what I was doing in America, I am indirectly fighting against my brothers and sisters from being enslaved by not only foreign powers, but also by some very bad native powers, who if we turn a blind eye to, will do what they please with our people and our nation.

And while �Bush braces Americans for war�, you should think about if your life in the west is what you want it to be and if just maybe now is the time to make life really meaningful?

Thursday, March 13, 2003

If any of our readers happen to be in London during the week of March 17th, you may want to attended a series of events that will be discussing the Karabagh conflict.

It would probably be best to just sit and listen, as I get the feeling that this going to be a �search and gather information and see reactions� event.

I say this as one of the main speakers is none other than Azerbaijan�s propagandists and revisionist, Dr. Brenda Shaffer.

I had the opportunity to attend one of Brenda�s early lectures back in 1999 which was held at Hebrew University in Israel. Her lecture was called �Azerbaijan and its Neighbors�.

For her, the Karabagh conflict started on �Black January�, which is when Russian troops moved in and put a stop to the Azeri ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Baku. Of course for Brenda, talking about what took place before �Black January� was not relevant, as her goal is to get Azerbaijan recognition of being the victim of the conflict.

During that 1999 lecture, Brenda was not at all comfortable that I had brought with me a video camera and asked that I did not video tape her. I respected her wishes and instead, kept the camera in my lap and recorded the audio. Until now, I have not had time to sit down and prepare a transcript, but if I do one day, I�ll be sure to post it on my forum.

Her lecture was very one sided and during the questions and answers portion, she concluded that we should not let history guide us, as history has only hindered Israel from ascertaining what we need today, which is peace.

Her idea of resolving the Karabagh conflict was that we should allow everyone to go back to their homes and get along. Sounds simple to me, but I think we should let Israel do that first and if we see it works, then maybe we can consider doing the same thing. Oh, I guess right after that lecture, Israel did try that and well, we saw where that got them.

Anyway, if your in London at that time, please do attend and take with you a video camera or tape recorder, as I would be interested to see in the last 4 years of Brenda�s song and dance has changed at all?


The Caspian Studies Program [Harvard University] will participate in a
series of events in London next week. Please see event listings below
for details. All events are free and open to public.


The Vatan Society, working in partnership with the London School of
Economics Hayek Society and the Eurasian International Development
Association, presents a series of events covering various issues affecting
Azerbaijan and the wider Caspian region.

Karabagh Conflict: Public Discussion
17 March 2003
Committee Room 3
House of Lords, London SW1A
Speakers: Dr. Brenda Shaffer, Director, Caspian Studies Program, Harvard
University; David Barchard, author and journalist; Murad Gassanly, Chair,
Vatan Society
Email for more information

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan: Eurasian Energy Corridor
in partnership with LSE Hayek Society
18 March 2003
Old Theatre
LSE, Houghton Street, London, WC2A
Speakers: Thomas Goltz, Oil Odyssey; Dr. Brenda Shaffer, Director, Caspian
Studies Program, Harvard University; Barry Halton, Regional Affaires
Director, BP/BTC; Caner Toksoz, Legal Councillor, BOTAS
Email for more information

Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity
by Brenda Shaffer, MIT Press, November 2002
This new book by Brenda Shaffer explores various issues concerning modern
Azerbaijani identity, both in Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan,
reflecting on ethnic politics in the region. Special presentation of the
publication and opportunity to meet the author.
21 March 2003
Economist's Bookshop (within LSE campus)
Clare Market, Portugal Street
London WC2A
The presentation will be followed by the event below at LSE at 18.00pm
Email for more information

Azerbaijan Movement: New Challenge in Iranian Politics
in partnership with the World Azerbaijani Congress
21 March 2003
Room D302
LSE, Clement House, Aldwych, WC2A
Speakers: Dr. Brenda Shaffer, Director, Caspian Studies Program, Harvard
University; Sharokh Mazhari, Official Representative, World Azerbaijani
Congress (UK)
Email for more information
Have you ever been at the right place and the right time? What I mean is when your in need of something and your wondering how you will get what you need, that thing just falls in your lap? Well it seems for most of my life, this kind of thing happens all the time.

People sometimes think that I go looking for information or "trouble", but like what I said above, information comes looking for me and being a good listener, I�m always ready to hear the latest.

The other day, I was really bothered by the elections and all the fraudulent methods used by the candidates to get as many votes as possible. Though I had seen during the Artsakh election many of them, the following I had never imagined possible.

The other day I was in the presence of a guest from the Sisian region who happened to be an official at a poling station (one of the 1,800+ stations). This visit was over a meal.

Before I learned his position, I asked him what he thought of the elections, thinking this was a common person just trying to make a living.

He told me that the elections went well and what fraudulent methods was I talking about? He said this with a somewhat evil smile on his face.

He went on to tell me that for them, it was very important that Kocharian get re-elected, as he takes very good care of Artsakh, which is a big market for the products and harvest they produce in their region.

After a little bit of Vodka in his system, he volunteered a little more information of how they increased Kocharian�s votes.

He said for their polling stations, they went to the archives and got the names and passport numbers of 50 people who were dead and registered them with votes for Kocharian.

I asked him if he thought that was okay to do and he said that Kocharian is much better than Demichian.

I then tossed out my �why is it we were not given a real alternative to Kocharian� and my �Kocharian worked for over a year to make sure there would be no alternative to him�.

He didn�t argue and then I asked him if in the last 5 years has their been an increase or a decrease in the number of people leaving for Russia for work?

He said that the economic situation has gotten a little bit better in the last few year and with that, people have been able to save enough money to get a one-way ticket out of this place, thus, their has been a increase, especially among the young people. He said that in his village, more than half the young people have left for Russia.

Incidentally, when we had our elections last year here in Artsakh, there were many people who were not here, but votes were made in their names for Goulkasian.

So the opposition is crying foul and with everything I can see, they probably have a right to.

In my very rough estimate, I would say that Kocharian at least got 90,000 votes from dead people and would say it would be fair that at least 300,000 votes from people who are alive but have left the country for work or didn�t bother to go and vote.

It would not be that difficult a task to go to a couple of villages where there was suspected election fraud and do a physical count of how many people could vote, how many people did vote and also compare the registered voters to the list of dead people.

From what I�m hearing on the ground in Yerevan, things have not settled down and I�m just guessing that it�s going to get worse, before it gets better.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

What a great piece of work the television station put together about the Sylva Beauty Salon!!!

I was fortunate to be at the Mayor�s house when it aired and we were able to record it on video. I�ve watched it 5 times already and I think I can watch it another 50 times, it�s so good (I hope I don�t sound like I�m bragging, but the story they give, gives one a warm fuzzy feeling).

It�s not the same piece they ran yesterday, but if I spoke as well on what they aired yesterday as they did today, then the lesson of being a good communicator has been learned and until seeing myself on video, I was not aware how well I can articulate myself in a way that the natives can understand everything I say.

Yesterdays piece got business hopping today to the point that we had to turn people away to come later. Well today�s 5 minutes piece of very valuable advertising should cause a flood of people to storm our salon tomorrow and besides cutting hair, my manager should be pulling out her hair, trying to figure out how to manage things so everyone is taken care of.

On top of this, we have now had dozens of requests from men who want to have their hair cut at our salon and as they put it, it is worth paying 150% more for a haircut at a woman�s salon, as they also want to look good. So from that, we decided we will also cut men�s hair.

Well, as far as I can figure, the Sylva Beauty Salon is going to do very well for itself and the women working there who were out of work for quite some time will now be able to provide a real income for their families (3 more real jobs created and another warm fuzzy feeling for everyone!!!).

Monday, March 10, 2003

Thanks Haig and everyone that has sent me congratulatory messages on the opening of the salon.

I didn�t make it home in time for the news tonight and that should have been a strong indication that the salon opening would be on today instead of tomorrow as they told me.

The phone has been ringing off the hook with people calling to congratulate me on the opening and to report that I spoke very well on television.

I wonder if they will show it again or if I�m going to have to get a copy from the television station so I can see what they reported. Regardless of what they showed, it's great exposure for the sake of bringing us business.

As for things around here, the weather has been great and later this week, construction on my house and the new factory will start.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Happy Woman Day everyone!!!

The Sylva Beauty Salon opening was a smashing success and a great gift to present to the women of Marutni!!!

The opening was well attended and everyone was happy that Martuni finally has a real beauty salon.

I had called the television station in Stepanagert and invited them to send a camera crew and guess what? They showed up with two reporters to interview me for the news and also a program they are putting together to show what new investments have been made in Artsakh.

I wish I had the energy to tell you more, but I�m just about ready to pass out, so the pictures will just have to suffice and tell the story of what happened today.

Oh Mama Manoogian, the women of Martuni send you their thanks for providing them with such a wonderful salon and want to know when you going to come to have a full beauty makeover?

Friday, March 07, 2003

A long day hard day of work and all I can say is that I feel very accomplished today.

The Sylva (Mama Manoogian) beauty salon is ready for its grand opening tomorrow. Why is it that everything had to come down to the last minute? I guess those moments of meeting a deadline at the last second gives a great rush.

Though no one is officially invited to the grand opening/ribbon cutting, we already know it will be well attended.

Well I have to go right now and wash my car as in the morning I don�t think I will have a minute to spare.

I can�t wait for this all to be over and the salon is working and maybe even provide a return on the investment.

Happy Woman�s Day Mama Manoogian!!!

I�ll post pictures of the opening tomorrow so you can see what the interior looks like.
This Tigran Naghdalian murder case is really bothering me and not the black and white part of it (Tigran Naghdalian being killed and by who), but all the underlying details that could be intentionally ignored or covered up.

It seems that 5 of the suspects are from Martuni and one from Hadrut.

I saw the news tonight and all they are saying is that the suspects have been detained and there are more who are in hiding, but are being sought.

As for the underlying details I think will maybe be ignored or covered up are about the weapon and where it came from and also the legal system if it worked as it should, would have had at least one of the suspects and his father sitting in jail log ago?

The weapon came from the bank in Martuni. One of the suspects had stolen the weapon during the war.

At some point (I can�t remember when), the suspect had the weapon confiscated from him by the police and it was register as being confiscated and in the custody of the police.

Then at some point, the chief of police secretly gave it back to the suspect.

I really think this little detail will be overlooked and the chief will pay some big bribe to someone to make sure this happens and he retains his job or retires and in both cases does not face any charges.

If you are scratching your head wondering what to make of all this, then your not alone, as I�ve been doing this for the whole day and from my thinking about this, I�ve got a splitting headache.

I guess if what I think will happen, happens, I�m going to have to make sure that this log falls in the hands of journalists and a huge stink is made about it.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

The two foot deep trench for the main water-line in front of my house is finally being filled as the weather cleared up and all the new water lines to the individual houses have been welded in place.

Now when they get around to really filling it in is another question.

What I mean is this morning when I went outside, I noticed that one of my neighbors was filling the trench with the trash heap he has in front of his house.

I went out to ask him what he was doing and if he realized that after they cover his trash with dirt, in a short amount of time, his trash will settle and there will be a large pothole.

He quickly realized his error, but instead of removing his trash from the trench, he began to fill dirt on top of it so no one would notice.

My other neighbor also put some of their trash in the trench and when I explained that the glass bottles and 5 liter plastic canister with the hole in it would collapse and a pothole would form, they removed their trash.

I called one of my cohorts on the water committee, who is also the mayor and told him that it seems the trash disposal people are not working well (as the neighbor who put in the bottles and canister pays for trash service) and people are filling the trench with trash.

He told me to warn the neighbor who was filling the trench with compost and all his other trash to stop, as it is illegal to burry trash in the middle of the street and if need be, he will have him arrested.

I told him that the neighbor in question is a police officer and the mayor made some comment to the extent of that will work in his favor when he is sitting in jail.

Our people have a lot of learning to do, but at least when something is explained to them, they do understand and take measures to make appropriate changes.

On another note, when I was in Stepanagert, I went to and electronics store called PENTA to purchase a Sony Play Station controller for a friend of mine and really didn�t pay much attention to its condition, assuming that since it was a little more expensive than what a new controller costs in Yerevan, it must be new.

Well as you would guess from what I said above, the controller was not new and in fact it was worn to the point that it was not even in working condition. The �X� on one of the buttons was worn off and there was dirt between the buttons.

My next trip to Stepanagert will be to PENTA Electronics to see if they have a NEW controller. If not, I�ll have to see what there return policy is. If all else fails, I�ll give the owner a call (who happens to be one of our readers), as I�m sure he has no idea (until he reads this) that his store is selling used/worn-out merchandise as new. Maybe he can do both of us a favor and pre-warn his workers so they will have a new controller or my money waiting for me in advance, so I wont have to say anything.

Like I said before, we still have quite a bit to learn, but in time the people here will catch on.
Welcome to the logs Haig.

I was wondering when they were going to finally announce the arrests? The people here in Martuni have been waiting to hear the news that many got on the 3rd and in my case last night (since I was busy in Stepanagert and out of the Martuni information circle for a few days).

It seems that a couple of our local boys were arrested on the 3rd or 4th in connection with the Tigran Naghdarlian assassination. What the details are, I don�t know yet and if it was the starting point of the arrests and those arrests lead to other arrests, that too I don�t know.

I guess without all the facts, we can�t really say that this is a diversionary move to draw attention away from election fraud. I would think that it could in fact be turned around and add to Kocharian�s problems, being that the people that are maybe tied to Tigran�s assassination are from Artsakh and with the suspicion of Kocharian�s being behind the October 27th assassination that Tigran was possibly going to provide incriminating evidence, someone from Artsakh might have been called in to shut him up.

Anyway, I don�t know what to say but will say that Haig is right about them waiting to announce arrests a couple days after the fact (though even in the states, that�s not uncommon if they have not arrested everyone). The timing is just a little strange.
What the heck is the picture you may be asking yourself? Well this is one of the most exciting things that was created in Artsakh in the last 24 hours.

Yes, computer hell is officially over and what you are looking at is my Artsakh made power supply!!!

It�s made of a bunch of what American�s would consider junk. A few capacitors, bridge rectifier, voltage regulator and zeener, heat sync, a military grade soviet made transformer that I think was recently taken out of the intercom system that the President and Prime Minister use to use to communicate (since they seem to have no need for it anymore) and a bunch of screws and imagination.

We tested its load capacity and even with a load of 2 amps, it maintains 15.39 volts, meaning that with everything on my computer running, it�s virtually unaffected.

This power supply is the alternative to a $125 to $150 Japanese made factory power supply (Mama Manoogian had to do that one time) that would have taken at least a month to get delivered to Artsakh.

All I can say is that if this act of resourcefulness is any indication of what our future is, the only direction we can go is up!!!

On another note, the beauty salon is almost done and our grand opening will be March 8th, which is Woman�s Day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Internet hell and more along the line of computer hell is going strong. My power supply died and this time, the electrical engineer could not fix it. I have a friend in Stepanagert that is putting together for me a new power supply. So if you e-mailed me or our wondering why I hav not logged, now you know. As soon as I get my computer back up, I�ll answer all that wrote.

As for the K & D debate, it was pathetic. Not just was Demirchian very bad, but Kocharian was in some way very unprofessional.

One thing I will say is that in the end of the debate, Kocharian began to demand that Demirchian give him names of people who he had removed from a government job and not punished. Demichian said he would provide him a list the next day.

One thing I will give to Demirchian�s credit was that he did not answer question that he had no knowledge of. What I�m talking about is they asked him about the economic condition of the country and for him to answer, he would have to be the President to give an honest answer.

In my opinion, that debate was a waste if valuable airtime.

Oh Lena, I taped the debate and will get you a copy. And when I get my computer back up, I'll also log on my forum what I thought of the debate.

Saturday, March 01, 2003


Tonight I had an unexpected encounter with a high-ranking government official at a friend�s house while we were watching the Armenian news on television.

It was all pro-Kocharian propaganda again. We watched some doctor saying something to the extent that when you go to the hospital, you want to find an experienced doctor to operate on you. In the same way, when it comes to your president, you want to have an experienced president.

I asked if this doctor works for the President's wife, who recently bought one of the privatized hospitals in Armenia?

This high-ranking government official got on the defensive and asked me if I didn�t understand what the doctor was saying and would it not be better to go to an experienced doctor? He then went on to add that the whole point was that Kocharian is experienced and Demirchian is not.

I told him that my question was not who had experience, but if that doctor works for Kocharian�s wife, the woman who recently privatized a hospital in Armenia?

So this government official continues to rant and rave and finishes with saying �Kocharian will get elected, finished!!!�

At that moment, I wanted to laugh and at the same time cry. Here I was sitting with a Kocharian government official who was telling me that it is decided that Kocharian will be president and he made it clear that there will be no alternative.

Though I had planned on changing the subject as I didn�t see any point in arguing with this guy, he turned to someone else in the room and asked if he had seen the news yesterday and how Demerchian is so stupid, he did not know who the royal family in some country was and is now being tutored.

Well, my plan to change the subject, failed, as I asked him if he thought that Kocharian was that worldly when he first became president and knew everything? I told him that it seemed very immature and almost childish to take such cheep shots at Demirchian on Kocharian�s television station. He said that Demirchian has taken cheep shots at Kocharian. I told him that if Kocharian has lowered himself to the same level as Demirchian, then this tells me that he is no better and we should take that as a warning.

The conversation heated up and he started to talk about all that Kocharian had done over the last 5 years.

I countered his comments of the huge economic growth as being reported, but we all know good and well that it�s all a matter of reporting big numbers that only exist on paper.

He asked me if I was a citizen and if I could vote, who would I vote for? I told him I would abstain as I feel Kocharian and Demirchian are not fit to run Armenia as it should be run. I said that our big problem today is that Kocharian and before that TerPedrosian has not allowed a real leader to run for president. He said that this is another subject and I said no, this is the real subject and biggest problem today, a few people deciding who will run our country.

The conversation went on for another 30 minutes, with me not backing down and he trying to find some common ground.

One thing I really didn�t care for was his comments of �your America does this� and �we don�t do things that way here�.

I told him that this overall condition is not fitting for our people, as they are educated and do have a sophisticated way of thinking. He said this life is not so bad and very fitting for us. I asked about the people who are starving and he asked what people I�m talking about? I said the people who want to work, but who have been deprived the opportunity to do so by our corrupt system. He said what system am I talking about?

I went on to tell him about how our system works, of which he could not argue that I was making up anything and he could only agree and said that �it�s the same in America�. I asked him what he was talking about? He said that he has seen it in the movies and movies must reflect at least 10% of what really goes on in America.

I told him that I was in business in America and never has anything happened to me or anyone I know that regularly happen here. I said that if they made movies that told the real way things work in America, no one would go see them.

The conversation ended at some point and I could see that my sermon once again had its effect on this man who didn�t get to where he is at by being honest. If he got the message that just maybe what he is doing is harmful to the future of his country, then the hour I spent listening and talking was well worth it.

One thing I will say is that there is no such thing as a bad Armenian. At worst, they are a little bit lost and it�s just a matter of getting them back on track.