Saturday, August 30, 2003

Today was another NK Arts work day, which I visited a few people here in Martuni, including my welder, who it looks like will be putting together the portable performance stage, which effectively will be 20 large tables that when put together will be 24 foot by 32 foot stage.

I took a drive out to the village of Ningi, where NK Arts has a pottery studio. I went as Neery was going out there to visit with our potter and discuss the work they are doing there and also to finalize how were going to bring water to the factory.

When I drove in, I was told that the bridge that crosses a creek had been washed out a few months ago when we had some very strong rains and that it would be difficult for me to pass with my car, as even jeeps have had problems crossing. When I got to the creek, I took a good look around and then did my crossing with very little difficulty.

I got to the studio and found Neery and everyone talking business and joined in.

We concluded that we are going to start to concentrate on ceramic tiles, as they are very unique and will be simpler to transport abroad. What we have so far are 3 designs, one being a pomegranate design which is very Armenian and very cute. I’ll have to take some pictures and post them later so those that are interested in can maybe place orders, so if we get enough interest we can put together a shipment.

We surveyed the route to run water to the studio and not that I’m a water engineer, but it was quite simple that the original plan to run an 800 meter line that was going to cost somewhere in the area of $600, we were able to scale back to having to run 350 meters and use a tractor plow to cut the trench for the pipe instead of an excavator or cutting it by hand, with the total cost of the job to now come out to maybe $150. In fact the original proposal was close to $800 and NK Arts had found a sponsor to pay that. We are hoping that the savings can be applied to other needs the studio has.

When I finished with the water plan, I headed back towards Martuni and passing the creek I did successfully, but right after the creek there was just a little bit too much mud and unfortunately, I got stuck. Jeff, our potter was with me and we walked up to the village and got his neighbor who has an excavator, to come and pull be out of the mud.

I returned to Martuni and on the way home stopped at the store to get some groceries.
Today again was a very uneventful day as it was very hot and though I thought I was going to have guests come, they again didn’t show up.

Today instead of sleep, I caught up with e-mails to people who I’ve been out of touch with for the last few years. This may sound like a waste of time, considering all I have to do here, but since I started working on my book, I’ve been revisiting events that I really have put out of my mind and the overload of them is just a little too much for me, thus my need for a real distraction.

So beyond the e-mailing, I also went to the bank to take care of end of the month expenses.

I stopped in to my salon, as come September 1st, all my workers in all my businesses by law have to wear a picture identification, so today I took digital pictures of everyone and tonight I printed up the badges on my color printer with photo paper Mama Manoogian recently sent me.

I took a trip down to the my lake as my fisherman was to cast nets today so we could take fish to market in the morning. While waiting for him, I took a nice long swim. It was great and really relaxing!!! By 8 PM it was clear that my fisherman was not going to show up, so I headed back to Martuni.

On the way home I stopped into the stone factory to take a picture of our guard for the identification badge, as he comes in at night and was not around when I earlier took the pictures of the workers. He didn’t understand the benefit of having to wear a badge and I said it was because those that don’t comply with this new law will be fined 100,000 dram. He quickly smiled for the camera.

I went to look at a water pump that I had looked at earlier this week, as we really need to have our own pump for filling our reserve pool, instead of barrowing a neighbors pump and the seller told me that they have no motors for the pumps. I had no problem with that, as I have a bunch of motors and I’m sure one will fit. These are good quality pumps from some wine factory in the liberated territories I think, as all he wants for it is $15.

I have to get down to the factory early in the morning, as one of the finish saws is not working right and needs my attention. This means I need to get to sleep early tonight, though it’s already 12:30 AM. Oh well, who needs sleep anyway?

Thursday, August 28, 2003

After my interview I gave yesterday for state television is aired and reading the story below about my grandfather, you should better understand that the Armenian saying of the apple not falling too far from the tree was not just someone being poetic, but a result of someone’s theory on genetics. At very least it shoud give you a better understand why I do what I do.

AWOL (Armenian Weekly On-Line) August 23-29, 2003

Shahan Natalie: A Retrospective

By Jack Danielian

EXETER, NH-Karabagh's Punic Publishing has rendered a valuable service to an English-speaking readership by reprinting and translating into English Shahan Natalie's The Turks and Us, his political writings from the 1920s. The Punic Press is to be commended for recognizing that these early writings of Shahan Natalie possessed a truly remarkable quality of timelessness; indeed they are at many points unnervingly prescient.

Shahan Natalie (1884-1983) was an accomplished writer and dramatist who during the Hamidian massacres, at the age of 11, had come face to face with the brutal murder of his family in his native village of Husenig, Kharpert. Instead of becoming paralyzed by the genocidal atrocities he witnessed, he responded with furious outrage in speech and in print. In the process, he demonstrated an unerring acuity concerning the psychological and political necessities for the survival of the Armenian people.

An activist and patriot of the first order, Shahan Natalie was nevertheless at times not hesitant to be critical, especially of the Armenian leadership across the political spectrum. He feared the perpetuation of such mindsets would inexorably lead to the eventual demise of Eastern Armenia as well, and therefore to the final end of the Armenian people. Perhaps only a universally accepted patriot of his people could offer such personal criticisms.

What were these mindsets Natalie most feared? He cited three areas of primary concern. First, Armenians have had difficulty seeing the true goals of the Turkish people, despite living amongst Turks for over 600 years. For example, Armenians could not understand how they, as a minority, could so quickly go from favored millet to hated infidel.

Natalie reasoned that Armenian attempts at rationalizing Turkish perceptions were misguided. He maintained that neither Armenian culture nor religion nor economics was involved in the plight of the Armenians. Rather, it was the relentless goal of the Turks of Anatolia who wanted to establish monolithic Turkism from the Mediterranean to the Caspian-in Natalie's words, the "unification of Anatolia with Azerbaijan over the corpse of Armenia." How else to explain, he wrote, that Turks were able to establish an empire from a clan of 400 people.

It is often in the nature of trauma that victims become unsure of themselves and self-referential. But Natalie's analysis would lead to the conclusion that any ethnic group standing between Turkish Anatolia and Turkish Baku should expect to face the same mortal danger. Currently we see monolithic Turkism oppressing the only remaining ethnic group still present on these lands-the Kurds. The fact that the Kurds are co-religionist with the Turks will offer them, as Natalie prophetically predicted, no safely whatsoever from annihilation.

A second forewarning concerning Armenian mindsets involved what Natalie called "the lullabies of various orientations." He states in several places that Armenians often enough had never met an abstract "ism" they couldn't countenance and that, charmed by universalism, the Armenian mind had taken on a separate existence from the Armenian heart, lulling Armenians into a false sense of security. Seduced by universalistic abstractions from Europe, he felt that Armenians became distracted from their already very palpable life-and-death struggle with the Ottoman Turk and with the possibility of the horror of their own extinction.

To think of Turks of that time as incompetent Asians was in Natalie's view to commit a double crime-underestimating the commitment of the Turks to empire building by any means imaginable, and overestimating the capacity of the Armenian leadership to forewarn the Armenians of their only true options. These were Shahan Natalie's observations, recorded in the 1920s.

Finally, in his essay "An Offense Committed is an Act Permitted," Natalie cites the ancient saying that "if a man commits an offense and repeats it, it becomes in his eyes something permitted." There were never any effective sanctions placed against the Ottoman Turks for their crimes. The European and Western powers in their own self-interest allowed the architects of the Armenian Genocide to escape unpunished.

Natalie witnessed this charade and almost immediately realized that if the perpetrators were left unpunished, the Armenian Genocide itself would rapidly be forgotten and over time even be denied. This was his warning to his people. Of course, that is what precisely happened in the course of the next 80 years. In the face of massive denial by successive Turkish governments and in the face of moral collusion by the US and other major powers, Armenians lapsed into a grievous silence.

As Natalie presciently anticipated, virulent denial and opportunistic quasi-denial of the Armenian Genocide has had serious ramifications for the children and grandchildren of this ancient people. The prolonged Armenian silence had not been, however, a silence of procrastination, indifference, or insularity. Rather, it was a silence of paralyzing loss, the magnitude of the silence perpetuated by wave upon wave of international denial, each denial further compounding the trauma.

Shahan Natalie fought against his own trauma and the trauma of his people with every fiber of his being. His legacy is firmly secure. He was a man of letters, a man of science, and a man of action. Calling on his enormous passion and will to not allow his trauma to disconnect his mind from his heart, he was able to transcend his own visceral pain, maintain his integrity against staggering odds, and, in the darkest of all moments 80 years ago, chart an early course for the recovery of his people.

Citing unnamed sources, "Haykakan Zhamanak" reports that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian has spent his summer holiday in the city of Monte Carlo, extensively gambling in its world-famous casinos. He is said to have been accompanied by Minister for Local Government Hovik "the mouse" Abrahamian, Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian and millionaire businessman Gagik Tsarukian. The paper claims the chief of the Armenian customs service, Armen Avetisian, had to wire Sarkisian a large amount of cash after the latter "lost his money in the casinos." Defense Ministry's press service, Seyran Shahsuvarian, refused to comment on the information. Abrahamian ("the mouse"), for his part, confirmed his visiting Monte Carlo, but insisted that he was there with his family and did not gamble. Manukian made similar comments.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I was in Stepanagert for the last 24 hours dealing with NK Arts work. It was very fast moving and there is so much to be done before the 12th of September, which is when were having our annual festival in Shushi.

Last night we had a dinner meeting with all the people who are work for us or with us, along with the minister of culture. We discussed what everyone will be doing and my main job is to keep track of what people want to spend and approve or disapprove.

I got an estimate for the electrical work from my coordinator and after reviewing it, I called my electrician from Martuni who also gave me an estimate based on the work over the phone and he will do it for 30% of what the other electrician will do it for. I also went shopping for the materials and found that the estimate was $200 more than what in fact it should have been. So it looks like my electrician will go to Shushi and do the work for us with the materials that we supply.

Same thing went for wall restoration, plastering and painting. It was twice as much as it should have been, but since we are doing hands on management, were not going to let anyone take advantage of us. I guess some people figure that since it's not our personal money, then why would it even bother us to not agree to let them claim unnecessary work.

Anyway, I can't wait for the festival to come and go, so I can pay more attention to my other work, which unfortunately I've been neglecting a bit.

The weather here is very hot. I got back to Martuni to find that it was 42c, which is over 100f. I turned on the air-conditioning and am now waiting for the house to cool down a bit and then take a shower.

I read Alex Sardar's log in and will just say that he has the right idea and we all have to be more active in making needed change.

Oh I almost forgot to mention that I finally got my television interview out of the way. It was very interesting. The format was defiantly different from what one would expect in an interview, as it was a more philosophical conversation rather than the same boring questions I'm use to getting in an interview. The whole interview too place in my car with me driving the streets of Stepanagert. They will air it here in Artsakh next week and then send a shorter version to Armenia, which may also be aired on satellite. So for those that are wondering what I look like, here is your chance.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

What a great day!!! Fishing season at our lake started today and we dropped the nets in the water, which means tomorrow we are eating fish!!!

The nets went into the water at 6:50 PM and for some reason the fisherman was having problems getting the net into the water, so after waiting an hour, I swam out to him to see what the problem was.

This was the first time I've swam practically the entire length of the lake, which is close to a kilometer. It was such a rush and I guess now I'm use to it, as I didn't feel at all any sore burning feeling.

So I got out to him and found that since the last time he cast the nets and gathered them up, someone besides him has cast a couple of our nets.

I toed his raft a bit, so he could use both hands to cast and untangle the nets.

Then I swam all the way back to the other side of the lake, where my general manager was waiting and told her to get to the bottom of things on our nets and them being cast in the water during the season the fish were multiplying.

I got back to Martuni at dusk, did some shopping, made some phone calls, checked my e-mail and am now waiting for some guest to come over for dinner.

Tonight on television was a concert from Armenia that is for the Armenian Games. It was great to see it and I now know why Tata Simonian is always wearing a hat. Someone gave him a shirt and he put it on and had to take his hat off to do so and guess what, the guy is bald!!! Mind you, I don't see anything wrong with bald and I think that Tata would look really good bald, if he would just shave the rest of his head. Anyway, I really enjoyed the program and have to say that it was well done.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything from Shahan Natalie's "The Turks and Us", so I want to make good on my promise and will continue to post a chapter every two weeks.

Today I posted on the Ara Manoogian forum chapter 7. It's titled "A NATION OF TURKS."

For those of you who are new to the logs, I have been posting chapters from a book by author Shahan Natalie titled "The Turks and Us". The original Armenian version was first published in Athens in 1928 and was translated into English in 2002.

Natalie was the mastermind behind the terminations of the young Turkish leaders and their collaborators who were responsible for the 1915 Armenian Genocide and were in the process of planning a second genocide on the people of Artsakh. In this book, Natalie shares first hand observations as to what happened during and after the genocide.
For those of you who are going to be in Fresno, California on Sunday the 24th, you may want to make your way down to the Table Mountain Casino to watch one of your fellow readers, Shawn Yacoubian fight for a IMTO light welterweight title belt.

Shawn went to Bangkok, Thailand for intensive training for this fight, so it should be really something to watch all the new moves he picked up there. Remember, this is one of our rising international Armenian stars, so let’s do all we can to support him.

For ticket information and how to get to the event, click here.
Yesterday (the 21st), I went to Stepanagert to meet up with my “boss” Neery, who is in charge of NK Arts and has come to oversee the preparations for the September 12th festival.

I took her to settle into her house and we sat to talk about what I have been working on. We called over some of the people who are working for us in various capacities to see how things are going. Everything is so far on track.

In the morning, we went to Shushi to visit the festival site and check on how things are coming along. Things are really falling into place and when we finish the restoration work, the Shushi fort is really going to look great.

One thing we were looking at is the entrance to the fort as been Turkified. What I mean is that the round arch that I was told is documented in a 1850’s picture, has been spiked. We decided that if we can document what it use to look like, we are going to request from the cultural minister the right to restore the roundness of the arch.

After a couple of meetings and some running around looking for materials for the festival site, I headed back to Martuni, where I checked my e-mail and then took a nice long nap.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

I just got home from a wedding reception that was for a friend’s son. It was a great reception that I was late to get to and when I got there, my place to sit and eat was ready with everything, including someone to eat with me.

After the reception, I sat with the service staff and musicians for a second meal and some very enjoyable toasts, of which I will not forget for a long time.

I said a toast to the bride and groom’s future and that we are just noticing real change and announced that things in Armenia are starting to chance for the better and basically said that the government is finally coming around to make changes if they want to or not (this was in reference to our first big change of the adoption law). This toast made everyone very happy, but most of all the groom’s father, who said that this was already a happy day, but this make it an even more memorable day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

This is what I was working towards, and will say that my work on this issue is half done. Now all that is left is to make sure those responsible are punished severely so others will not even think about committing such crimes in the future. On top of all this, it looks like I have a lifetime of work to get the orphans adopted and the children stuck in children’s homes back to their parents. I know this sounds like an impossible goal, but it’s something I’m committed to do.


YEREVAN, AUGUST 19, ARMENPRESS: Deputy social security minister
Karine Hakobian said an array of amendments to the Law on Adoption is
being now developed to be submitted to government's approval in
autumn. Ms. Hakobian said the current law is very imperfect leaving
room for corruption, especially in adoption of Armenian children by

Under the proposed changes a government body supervising the
process of adoption will have more authority to oversee adoptions and
receive regular information about the state of the adopted children.

Hakobian said that information about the children adopted by
Armenian citizens is usually available, which cannot be said about
foreign adoptions. According to the deputy minister, the supervision
must be based on inter-governmental agreements, as is the case in
many civilized countries.

The changes will exclude the services of middlemen, permitted by
current legislation. "Adoption of a child is a key decision in
parents' life and therefore they must be given time to arrive here to
see the children before adoption. If this is not important for
adoptive parents it would be better not to trust them," she said.

Some recent stories in local media suggested that the process of
adoption by foreigners involve thousands of dollars in bribes paid by
adoptive parents and their agents to Armenian officials administering
the process.

In the first half of this year some 80 children were adopted, of
which 43 by Armenian citizens and 37 by foreigners. In 2002 178
children were adopted, of which 116 by Armenian citizens and 62 by
Internet hell looks to finally be over!!!

Some new equipment was installed in Martuni a couple weeks back and due to me being so busy, I never had a chance to call up technical support to reconfigure my system so I could call a local phone number and log on to the internet.

Well I just finished up with the new configuration and all I can say is that I went from having a 12,000bps or less connection to a 33,600bps connection that does not cut off every few minutes. Am I happy? You bet. Only thing is that there is so much traffic these days that it’s almost like having a 12,000bps connection, that technical support said will be sped up September 1st with a higher speed satellite connection.

Anyway, this also means that when need be, I can start to use some kind of text messenger service again, though since I’m so busy these days, I guess I won’t have all that much time for it.
Though I didn’t attend, today was the funeral of a distant neighbor I really didn’t know named Valo.

Valo worked for the electric company and while working on the 10,000 volt line, he was electrocuted. They say it was his own fault, as he accidentally turned off a transformer that was for a line he was not working on and he must have figured he turned off the line he was working on. Right now there is a standard criminal investigation going on, though no one really suspect any foul-play, as for the most part, Valo didn’t have any enemies.

Yesterday I went to a birthday party for a close friend that lives across the street from Valo and returned today for lunch.

At lunch, my friend’s sister was telling me that one of our other neighbors, Alvina (who lives next door to Valo), had a falling out with Valo, as she would often visit at very inappropriate times and Valo finally told her not to visit them so often.

Their argument they had a few months ago, ended with Alvina telling Valo that she hopes they one day bring him home on his back. This translated into simple English means that she wished him death.

As it was even then, there really were no neighbors that were on talking terms with Alvina and the only time she ever talked to me was when she needed to barrow money (of which I have 20,000 dram due to be paid back to me on the 25th). She always would say when I would give her money that she worships me from the ground to the blue skies and may I live a thousand years.

Anyway, this tragedy has left Valo wife a widow and his two small children fatherless. Very sad.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Today I found myself once again looking for a reliable and powerful water pump for my stone cutting factory. My search took me to a vineyard on the outskirts of Martuni where a neighbor of mine is growing grapes and was said to have a pump that may be what I’m looking for.

I sat down with my neighbor and a fellow grower in their shack to get out of the afternoon sun.

I asked him about his pump and he said that he is on guard duty tonight and would come by in the morning at 9 AM and we would drive to his house to get the pump to try and see if it will work. He said he would not sell the pump, but will let me use the pump until I can find a replacement for it.

I asked him and his friend how the grape harvest was this year? They told me it was great and everyone that used pesticides can expect a good yield.

I asked if they were going to be selling their grapes to the local wine factory and they said no. They said that the wine factory is a farce and only will pay 100 dram a kilo, where in Armenia, they are getting 200 to 250 dram a kilo. They added that the Artsakh government is not allowing any grapes to be exported to Armenia, thus those that must sell their grapes, are selling for half of what they should get. They said that they will keep their grapes and make wine and vodka from them, as 100 dram a kilo is just too low.

We talked politics and they said that things will only really be solved if Artsakh is recognized as a nation. I mentioned the CIA declassified 1978 report about how the US effectively recognizes Artsakh as a religious and cultural center for Armenians. I went on to mention the notation of the removal of the Armenian leaders in the 1960’s. One of them recalled what happened back then.

He said it was August of 1967 and 362 Armenian representatives of all the regions of Artsakh were to sign a petition that was to request to Azerbaijan to have Artsakh reunited to Armenia. They knew that Azerbaijan would reject this and then it would be sent to Moscow, where there would be a very good chance that it would be accepted.

Of the 362 people, 2 persons did not sign. One of those that didn’t sign was effectively what would be the President of Artsakh, a man named Melkoumyan and the other was the Armenian Moscow representative who was named Souren Adamyan. Instead of signing, they went and sold out the other 360 people to the Azerbaijani government.

The night before the 360 were to be arrested, those 360 people were warned by someone who had to arrest them to flee to Armenia, as they were not going to be arrested for political reasons, as they would expect, but since most were leaders in various services and so on, they were going to be arrested for theft and other crimes that witnesses would fabricate stories that would put the suspect in jail for years.

So it seems that the Artsakh liberation movement was started 20 years prior to the movement that finally liberated our country and was delayed and 360 of our leaders were lost as a result of a couple of traders.

And what ever happened to Melkoumuan and Adamyan?

Well I don't know anything about Melkoumyan yet, but Adamyan was the President of the collective in Jardar and during his life he was credited in bringing in industry and economic stimulation to Jardar.

Adamyan also was responsible in stabbing many Armenians in the back in ways such as by refusing the request of Armenian Shepard’s who wanted to keep a few of their own sheep with the collectives sheep. Instead what he did was invited Azeri Turks from Merzulu and Kurds from Lachin to become Shepard’s for the collective and allowed them to keep hundreds of their own sheep (half of those extra sheep were said to belong to Adamyan) in return for bribes paid in gold as appose to Rubles which were traceable. As a result of this, a Turkish village was established or the population increased very close to Jardar (two of Rosa Myrig's sons were killed from Turks from that village).

It is said that Adamyan was determined to dominate industry in the region and when another clan moved in to try to also tap into the regions resources, Adamyan did everything to prevent them from prospering. As a result, in 1984, one of the other clan members hired some Armenian from Madakert to murder Adamyan.

After his death, Adamyan’s son, Vachig, demanded to replace his father as President of the collective and locked himself in his father’s office until he secured that post.

Vachig later came to power as regional minister and in the Adamyan tradition, he did everything he could to milk the region of it resources for him and his friends until I went to the Prime Minister a couple of years back to insist that he be removed as he was doing more harm that good to the region.

Vachig at that time when he was publicly dismissed by the PM, was promised that he would be called to work in a new government post a month after he had time to rest. Of course to this day they have not called him back, but instead have given Vachig the most land to plant wheat and grapes in the region and may I add, parts of his land have been categorized in a way that he pays less taxes than he should.

It should also be noted that a couple of year back, the present day Prime Minister and President celebrated Souren Adamyan’s being an Artsakh national hero (this took place at an event and also on TV), as appose to accepting the reality of history and calling Adamyan what he really is, a tyrant and trader.

So you see, the Artsakh movement started 20 years sooner than many of you thought and since Armenian history is so famous in repeating itself, from the above story, why would we expect it to be anything different than what it is today.
I got my car fixed today and found that all it was, was a threaded fitting to the fuel-pump that somehow came loose.

At 1:44 PM the ground shook. I’m guessing in Azerbaijan or Northern Iran there was a good size earthquake, but nothing so far in the news.

I went to my friend’s house the day after the wedding and we watched the wedding video. It was very long and I’ve noticed that the people here like to watch a video of people dancing. I mean 70% of the video is dancing, hours and hours of dancing. Only one person openly said that they can’t stand watching wedding videos. I’m sure there are others that feel this way too (like me), but keep it to them self.

I noticed the bride today sitting by herself and for the most part, she had no smile on her face. Someone told me that she is miserable and they are not sure how long she will last. Poor thing. We did decide to give her the benefit of the doubt and the tree that I’m to be hung from will not be cut down for another week.

Today was a bit hot and in the last couple of days we have had an increase of mosquitoes and I guess I should know best, as my legs are covered in bites. My left leg has over 50 bites, with the right one having under 40 bites. I’m sure glad that Mama Manoogian sent me deep-woods off, though I wish I had started using it 3 days ago.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Armenian Village Wedding

Today I drove the getaway-car in the wedding that I got invited to last night.

As I mentioned in my last log, last night I got a call from a friend who invited me to his wedding and he asked if we could us my car to bring the bride from her village to his house?

This morning after only 4 hours of sleep, I drove my car to my friend’s house and there his neighbor washed it and then his relatives decorated the car.

A caravan of 6 cars made their way to Red Village, which is about 20 kilometers outside of Stepanagert.

From what I thought was to be a traditional Armenian village wedding, turned out to be some kind of compromise of what I understand is a newer Armenian tradition which is gaining popularity and that is bride abduction.

I learned this before we left Martuni and when we got a flat tire 10 kilometers outside of Red Village, I could only think this was God sending a message that just maybe what we were doing was breaking some of our old Armenian cultural norms.

It seems that my friend had last week abducted his bride and kept her for 3 days to break her down and convince her to become his wife. Not that I know this to be a fact, but once she gave in, he broke this new tradition and allowed his new bride to return home so he could then make the whole thing look like a mutually agreed on marriage (the new tradition is you don’t have a wedding and you just apply for a marriage certificate and get on with life).

It was clear when we got to the village that the bride’s family was not too happy with loosing their daughter in this way and the bride herself for the ceremony in her village for the most part cried and when expected to dance, just stood there on the dance-floor and looked in shock. Not once did I see her smile. I really felt very bad for this girl, but thought that maybe this was one of those abductions that both bride and groom were consenting and it was the parents that objected and for this the bride was feeling bad about what she was putting her parents through and for this reason was not in a festive mood.

Though the toasts were nice and there was some dancing, for the most part I just sat in my place, didn’t drink (since I was driving) and just did my best to conceal my discomfort of participating in something that I don’t approve of at all. I guess I was also bothered that in the morning I was told that since I am the one bringing the bride, then if she was not a good bride, I was jokingly told by my friend’s aunt that I would be hung on the mulberry tree in my friend’s yard (she pointed to this the tree while saying this).

As the ceremony finished in Red Village and we were waiting to leave, I called my friend’s aunt, who was back at his house helping with the preparation and told her that she needs to very quickly find someone with a saw to cut down the mulberry tree, as we she be back to Martuni in a couple of hours. She understood what I was saying and said she would take care of it.

We left Red Village and just to make sure we made it back without another flat tire delaying us, due to not having a spare, we sent my flat tire with another car to get it repaired and if we did get a flat, then they would come across us and would provide us with an inflated spare.

We drove back towards Martuni and in light conversation, the bride did smile a couple of times, which gave me some hope that just maybe she was a willing abductee and this whole ceremony and the life they lead from here on would be fine.

As we got into Martuni and before we could get to the license department, where they would have their official civil marriage, one of the cars that was behind us, frantically signaled me to pull over and told me that I was spilling gasoline from under my car.

We took a look and sure as can be, it seems the hose on my fuel-pump sprung a leak and I was loosing gasoline, not to mention that it was spraying on the electrical wires that power the pump. One spark from those wires and that would have put an end to this whole ceremony. Of course all I could think of is this was another sign from God, as I’ve never had so many things go wrong with my car in one day.

So the bride, groom, best-man and maid of honor got into the other cars to continue on to the license department and I waited with my car to see about how I was going to get it fixed?

The car with the spare-tire pulled up and said that they could not figure out how the tire went flat, as there were no nails and the tube was torn, but this could have happened when I drove 50 meters before realizing the tire had gone flat. They had to replace the tube.

So the spare-tire people looked at my fuel-pump and we decided that we would leave the car where it is, as it was Sunday and there was no need to call a mechanic to come down to fix it today since this would take us away from the wedding.

I got in their car and we drove to the license department where the civil ceremony was just finishing and I was there in time to open the bottle of Champaign. As the video camera rolled, I popped the cork, but there was no pop and the darn thing was flat. A second bottle of tropical fruit Champaign was close by, so to get the popping and flowing suds of the bottle for the camera, I tried to pop that bottle open and found it had a screw-cap and was also somewhat flat.

We all congratulated the bride and groom of their union and headed towards the groom’s house. When we neared the house, in tradition of an Armenian village wedding, music and dancing started a block away from their gate as we walked to the house to announce the union and arrival.

We made our way into their yard and where the bride should have been dancing, she again was in shock and just stood, not knowing what to do.

Their were two plates at the entrance of the door and as they entered the door, they broke the plates and everyone cheered.

I was presented with a gift from the aunt for bringing the bride, at which time I reminded her that the tree needs to be cut down and maybe replaced with a smaller tree with small brittle branches.

It was 6:30 PM at this point and since the reception was not to start until 8 PM I decided to go home to clean up a bit, as from the tire change and poking around at the fuel-pump, I got my shirt a bit soiled.

I got home and it was a bit hot, so I undressed and I guess since I only had 4 hours of sleep last night and also was a bit saddened at being around the bride who was not having all that much fun, when I laid down to take a 1 hour nap, I didn’t wake until midnight.

So I missed the rest of the wedding/reception and though I would guess it will be going on until 4 or 5 AM, I’m not sure if I’m in the mood to go down there now, but I think it would be wise to make an appearance.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

For most of today, I worked at the factory. Nothing really exciting to write about I guess when one is cutting stone.

After work, I took a late drive out to my lake and with me I took the mayor’s daughters and two nephews.

The weather today was not all that warm and the water was a bit chilly. I swam, while the nephews very quickly got in and out of the water. The mayor’s daughters just watched.

When I returned to the shore, I found the mayor’s nephews hunting for crabs. The crabs we have are very small and for the hour they hunted, they caught 64 crabs, tossing back any that had eggs under their tails.

We finished just before sundown and headed back to Martuni, where we boiled water and cooked up a very new exotic meal.

The mayor’s wife and mother were quite frightened from the crabs and said they would not eat them, but once we got to eating them, the mayor’s wife indulged.

Though we did a good job of picking out much of the meat, there was plenty left over for the chickens to pick at for their breakfast.

After finishing our meal, we joked that we hope none of us get sick from the crabs, but since the mayor’s mother didn’t eat any, in the case of us all getting sick, she can care for us or at least tell the doctors what we ate.

I got a call from a friend of mine who at the last minute decided to get married and invited me to attend his wedding tomorrow. Though I was going to work tomorrow, I guess I’ll take a day off and participate in the celebration.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Prosecutors Probe Reported Corruption In Armenian Child Adoptions

By Emil Danielyan

State prosecutors are investigating a recent RFE/RL report which exposed apparent government corruption in the adoption of Armenian children by foreigners, it emerged on Friday.

The story, which appeared on the web site of the RFE/RL Armenian Service on June 23, suggested that the adoption procedures involve thousands of dollars in informal expenditures, apparently bribes paid by adoptive parents and their agents to Armenian officials administering the process.

An official in the prosecutor's office told RFE/RL that Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian has instructed his subordinates to look into the matter and report their findings to him. The official said the order followed a written request sent to Tamazian by Social Security Minister Aghvan Vartanian who was apparently alarmed by the report.

It is not yet known whether the preliminary inquiry will result in a criminal case. The prosecutors may question some government officials involved in the foreign adoptions.

The report in question is based on information collected by Ara Manoogian, an Armenian-American based in Nagorno-Karabakh. Posing as a U.S. woman interested in adopting an Armenian child, he has communicated by-email with Americans knowledgeable about the issue. Several of them told him that the entire process cost them between $9,000 and $13,000 per child and that most of the expenses were bribes paid to local officials. They all acted through Yerevan-based mediators.

A foreign adoption in Armenia typically takes between four and six months and requires a chain of positive decisions by several government bodies. The most important of them is a special government commission made up of high-ranking officials, including the ministers of justice, education, health and social security.

Its day-to-day affairs are managed by Aram Karapetian, a senior member of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's staff. Interviewed by RFE/RL in June, he strongly denied that any government official might have accepted kickbacks in return for facilitating foreign adoptions.

The final decision to allow a foreign national to adopt an Armenian orphan is given by the full cabinet of ministers. Officials say the government made about 30 such decisions in the first half of this year.
Today was a very long day which for the most part, I was in Stepanagert and Shushi on NKarts work.

Today I hired two people to work on the NKarts festival, one a coordinator to oversee the general operations for the next 30 days and one to oversee and work with all the labor people in doing the cleanup and construction of the site. Both very good people who seem to get along with each other well.

Tonight we had a meeting that Raffi Niziblian, LOC representative and Cilicia logger organized so we could discuss LCO’s participation in helping to prepare this years festival site. For the most part it was short and to the point, with everyone understanding what they must do.

I know there is a ton of work to be done, but I really feel very good about all the people involved and their dedication to making this years festival something much bigger and better than past years.

The biggest part of this years site preparation is a café, performance stage and pond. All these we are going to try to have ready by September 12th, which is our target date to start the festival.

Raffi and I were also talking about maybe next year to have a Karabagh Woodstock in the open field on top of the Shushi cliffs. All kinds of art performances to go for 3 days. Could you see all the Armenian hippies coming from the 4 corners of the world, camping out in Shushi?

Friday, August 15, 2003

Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th St., NW, Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648

August 12, 2003
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918


-- Confidential Agency Studies Acknowledge Nagorno Karabagh as "Armenia's Cultural and Religious Center"

WASHINGTON, DC - An analysis of recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents reveals a pattern over the past twenty-five years of official - although confidential - acknowledgement of the fact that Nagorno Karabagh is a historic part of Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The declassified documents - some from as back as the 1970s, confirm that successive U.S. Administrations have known that:

1) Nagorno Karabagh is historically Armenian;

2) Nagorno Karabagh has always maintained a legitimate claim to be reunited with Armenia;

3) Azerbaijani hostility toward Armenians in the late 1980s and early
1990s was not based on an Azerbaijani claim to Nagorno Karabagh, but, rather, was the outlet for growing domestic Azerbaijani frustrations over political, economic and demographic shifts that increased the gap in living standards between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Key excerpts of these reports are provided below:

* A 1990 CIA chronology of Nagorno Karabagh, prepared in August of 1990, included the following entry: "1921-23: New Soviet Government makes Nagorno Karabakh - historically an Armenian area - an autonomous region within the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan."

* A CIA 1988 study on the Caucasus confirms the historical record of Nagorno Karabagh's status as "Armenia's cultural and religious center." The study specifically noted that, "Karabakh through the centuries remained semiautonomous under the rule of Armenian princes even when the rest of Armenia was under Persian and Turkish tutelage."

* The same 1988 study, reports that, "Azeri animosity toward the Armenians has been intensified by political, economic, and demographic trends that have adversely affected the political status of Azeris and increased the gap in living standards between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In particular, the rapid expansion of Azerbaijan's young adult population has put enormous strains on the republic's capacity to provide adequate jobs, housing, and education. Azeri frustration has found an outlet in attacks on Armenians."

* A 1978 CIA report on Soviet minorities issues, notes that, "the inhabitants of another turbulent area in the Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, are able to make a better argument that their oblast should be transferred from one republic to another. The Karabakh Oblast is part of Azerbaydzhan, yet over 80 percent of its population is Armenian and it lies close to the border of the Armenian Republic. In 1975, according to the Azerbaydzhan Republic newspaper, virtually the entire leadership of the Karabakh Oblast was ousted for supporting a movement to detach the oblast from Azerbaydzhan and join it to Armenia."

To access images of these and other public CIA documents, visit:
Today was a wild day with me running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

I got an early start to go look for a water pump, as we are having problems with a lack of water at the factory and I need to pump water from a stream that runs along side the factory. To say the least, after trying 3 different pumps, I didn’t resolve the problem. There’s always tomorrow.

I stopped by my house between searching for water pumps to make a couple of calls and to check my e-mail, as I was waiting for instructions from the NKarts people in the states and all I can say is the more I get into this project, the more excited I get. There is so much good stuff to do and I’m getting a chance to practice my resourcefulness skills of working on putting together something big with a very small budget. A real challenge that I know I am up for.

A welder today stood me up for some work on the factory, so I had to scramble to find another welder, which I did. Eric, the replacement welder was unavailable 3 days ago, as he has given up smoking cold turkey and was not feeling well then. He came and took care of all our welding needs. I’m hoping that for the NKarts project, we will use Eric to make chairs, tables and lighting fixtures for a café we are renovating in Shushi. This is one of our ways of making something out of almost nothing. Making these fixtures out of square reinforcement rod will give the café and the surrounding lights an old look that will kind of match what could have been in Shushi a few hundred years ago and probably cost us what it would have back then.

I got a call from the police today, telling me that I was invited to visit the head prosecutor’s office in Stepanagert tomorrow morning. Before I remembered an appointment I have tomorrow, I accepted. I then called the prosecutor’s office to see if I could reschedule for a later hour or another day. I was told it was no big deal and all I needed to do is call the head prosecutor’s office in Armenia, as they needed some information from me. I called and though I can’t tell you what the conversation was about in detail (think adoptions), the thing that pissed me off was that I get a call in the afternoon and am expected to drop everything I am doing to drive out to Stepanagert to call Yerevan. Would it have been too hard for them to just tell me to call Yerevan? I’m almost sure this is another situation where the Stepanagert people just wanted to meet me to see who I am. This happened a couple of years back with the head of the traffic police.

I went to the mayor’s house for a BBQ tonight and after we watched the news, which one of the main stories was about a Russian couple that tried to sell their child for $1,000 and agreed to sell it to an undercover police officer for $600. They got caught and are now facing some very serious charges. They claimed that they needed money to pay their rent and living expenses. A very difficult situation and something that some people in Armenia are unfortunately going to possibly be facing soon.

Tomorrow is another full day of work and I really have an itching to go out to my lake, but I know for sure I wont be able to. Darn!!!

Time for sleep, this after checking my e-mail and sending of answers. This could take an hour or so.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Today was all work and no fun. No swimming at my lake, nothing!!!

For the most part of today, I had to work since one of my worker’s grandfather passed away and he had to go to their village for the wake and I guess the funeral will be in the next couple of days.

So with the lack of help, I have to work and all day I was cutting slabs of granite into tiles.

I guess from all the swimming, my mussels are sore, but now with all this lifting of granite slabs, I’m really sore.

Another guard from my lake was fired today for being absent from his post and he has been replaced. The guard that was fired, came to my house after I got home from work and could not understand what the harm was that he was absent for a couple of hours on a few occasion. I explained to him what the duty of a guard is and left it at that.

I’m really tired right now and since I have to get an extra early start tomorrow to be the fill-in guy at the stone factory, I better get to sleep now so I will be all energized tomorrow, as I have an order that is due in the next couple of days and there is so much to do. I think I need to call the customer tomorrow to let him know we are going to be late a couple of days, though there is a chance we may make the deadline.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Today was nothing short of being unproductive, yet ever productive. To some of you, this life I’ve been leading, is really not normal, but in the overall picture, is very normal.

Anyway, most of my plans for today were not realized, as I had planed today to do a little bit of work at the factory and then go to Stepanagert to finally get out of the way a television interview that for over a month I’ve been putting off.

Anyway, after yesterdays swimming, I woke this morning at a very reasonable hour and then after deciding that it was too early, I fell back to sleep to only be waken at a very unreasonable hour by the assistant prosecutor, to tell me that he was interviewing a person I had complained about and that my presents was requested.

I went to his office to discuss my fish farm and the hunter who violated the law and stole form me. The suspect did not deny anything and was ready to pay whatever price he had to for his mistakes.

We determined that the very least was he stole with his calculations was 12 kilos of fish, which has of value of 12,000 dram and he also violated the law of fishing during the time that fish are laying their eggs, which is a punishment of up to 3 years in prison.

After a long debate of what the government was today and the law and what should work and so on, we determined that we would drop the charges that would cause the suspect to sit in jail for 3 years, to him agreeing to compensate us for our loss my means of work. In short, instead of 20% of what we yield, he will receive 10%, for the next 3 months. Of course if he does not make good on this deal, he will face the charges and go to jail.

Though I wanted to make him an example as to the law working so no one would try to pull the same thing, with the present economic situation and other things considered, I figured that this was the best solution and in itself it does send out a message that if your caught stealing, you will be punished in some way. If I had insisted to follow the law, this guy was looking to have to pay out over $1,000, plus possible time in jail, which would have undoubtedly destroyed his life.

Come the 20th of this month, we start to fish and if things work as I think they will, the fish farm will start to generate a positive income for me and start to cover it’s costs and maybe have enough left over to start to build the resort I envision.

Other than this, my addiction to swimming in my lake is starting to become a burden on my work and though it’s a supper way to relax, I need to figure out how to make it not an activity that will cut into my already heavy schedule of things that I need to do.

I just got a call from the commander’s son asking me if we are going to the lake today? I really want to go, but I really don’t know if I should or not, being I have so much work to do. Oh what the heck!!!

I called the Mayor and invited him to come along. He agreed and he also asked if we could take with us another friend of ours, Eric, who works as the regional register.

So Yervant, Artyom (the mayor), Eric and Ashot, who is a neighbor and is the mayor’s nephew, went to the lake, where we swam for over 2 hours.

This time I swam out to the island and this time I used the ores to poke around and scare off any poisonous snakes and then retrieved the netted drum, loaded it on the raft, which I towed out with me and took it back to the guard-shack.

We got back to Martuni just as it got dark and got beer and a nice big ripe watermelon, which we ate at the Mayor’s house.

I am so tired right now and finally my muscles are getting sore (I was expecting this to happen yesterday). One other thing I noticed today is that I can go underwater for literally minutes. I don’t know if this is because the water is so light and full of minerals, or if it’s my no longer living in Southern-California, where I use to smoke the equivalent of 3 packs of smog a day, which undoubtedly had some effect on how long I could hold my breath.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Another day full of work and fun. After work, I took a trip out to my lake for a nice long swim.

This time I took with me Rosa Myrig’s husband Hurant, their grandson Rosleen, my neighbor’s son Yervant (whose mother was hesitant, saying what will she say to her husband, who is the commander of one the two military bases here in Martuni, if something happens to him) and another neighbor, Ashot.

We got to the lake and inflated the raft and dove into the water. It was great fun and this time I swam for 3 hours non-stop. What a rush and even when I got out of the water, I was not tired. In fact, right now, I just starting to get a little bit tired.

Before I made my way to the water, Ashot and Yervant had gone down to check the temperature and Ashot told Yervant that he saw a poisonous snake called a Ghurso. He was joking and before Ashot could tell Yervant, Yervant spotted a Ghurso going into the water.

They came back to report to us what they saw and Rosleen educated us and said that snakes of all kinds go in the water, but the land snakes do not bite in water. This didn’t register all that well with Yervant, who for the rest of the afternoon was asking me over and over again if I think there could be a snake in the water.

Yesterday while swimming, I went to an island that is in the middle of the lake, where I found a fishing net that is a drum that you put in the water and the fish goes in it, but can’t come back out. I had heard from someone that there was one hidden near the lake, but didn’t know where until yesterday. These drums we do not allow to be used in our lake. So today, I wanted to take the raft out and load the drum in it and bring it back to Martuni with me.

I swam out to the lake, which I’m guessing is about half a kilometer from where we entered the water. In the raft was Yervant, who really was not understanding how the ores work, so I tied the rope from the boat around me and dragged him to the island.

I got out of the water and where the drum was, were dried bamboo on the ground and I was looking where best it would be to step, so I didn’t get my feet in slug or something worse. Before I took a step towards the drum, I noticed something that looked like a stick, but instead of bark, it had scales. It then moved and then I saw it’s head. It was one of those Ghurso snakes and thou it was only 3 feet long, it was not something I was going to bother, especially since I was on this island and no one that was near could really swim all that well and once you get bit by one of these snakes, you have about 30 minutes to get to a hospital so they can save your life.

So I made my way back to the raft and instead of getting in the water, I joined Yervant in the raft and gave him a lesson on how to use the ores. When I was about 100 meters from the island, I got back into the water and dragged the raft back to where the others were.

We finished swimming just before it got dark.

I’m really thinking resort for this place, not for tourists, but for the natives. Something very basic where we charge maybe $2 a night for a very basic cabin with no electricity or bed sheets. In short a room on the lake that you camp in and there is a common out house and maybe a shower, but with the water being so clean, I may be able to even get away without this.

I’ll also build a nice restaurant and have a general store with lots of ice cold beer!!!

Anyway, last night after falling to sleep, I didn’t wake up until late this morning and this only after getting a call from Rosa Myrig, who invited me over for lunch.

Can life get any better than this?

Sunday, August 10, 2003

This weekend was all work and all fun!!!

My weekend started with putting in many, many hours at the stone factory to get some of the kinks out of the operation.

After work on Saturday, I drove to Garmir Shooga (Red Bazaar), where a group from the Diaspora-Armenian Connection are, working on a project to renovate some rooms in the school there and to also do a day-camp with the kids (50 to 70 of them).

After a nice drive, picking up a few familiar faces along the way, I pulled into Gramig Shooga and asked a couple of places as to where the Diaspora group is?

I went to the house they were staying and was told that they went to the Taskert River 5 minutes earlier.

I drove to the Taskert to find that they were not there. I then drove to another place a little further up from the Taskert and found the group driving up the road towards me, as they were returning to Garmik Shooga.

So we got back the house they are staying and to make a long story short, I spent the night with the group and agreed to take them to Amaras Monastery and then to Martuni and from there to Avo’s spring for a BBQ the next day.

The next morning, since I had to be at the stone factory early and it was still too early for their group to leave for Amaras, I left for Martuni and they said they would contact me when they finished with Amaras and were in Martuni so we could do shopping for the BBQ.

Though I was expecting them at 1 PM, I didn’t get a call until 3 PM. Their bus had broken down and they didn’t leave the village until 1 PM and came straight to Martuni, never stopping into see Amaras.

We went shopping and then drove to Avo’s spring, where the group didn’t seem to be having all that much fun, as the water level in the stream was very low and cows were drinking from where they were to swim, so it was not all that pleasant to swim there.

I suggested that we drive back towards Garmir Shooga, and on the way, to stop at my lake, where we could go swimming.

I left Avo’s spring before the bus and with a few people, so we could stop at my house and pick-up a couple of rafts that Mama Manoogian has sent me from the states last month.

We figured that the bus was ahead of us, so I drove a little bit fast to try to catch up with them so I could tell the people at the check-point to let the bus pass.

All the way, I was expecting to see the bus, but I never caught up to it and when I got to the check-point, they told me no bus had passed.

We drove to the lake and as we waited, we pumped up one of the rafts and once it was blown-up, we decided that the bus must had once again broken down and were sure they would soon arrive, so 3 of us got in the water to swim.

If this story bored you up until now, this is where it starts to get good.

So 2 people from the group who are French and not even Armenian get in the boat and I swim along side them.

Same experience I had last month at the little lake near Stepanagert, the water was warm on the surface and freezing cold if you dove under over a couple of meters. It was also as if without any effort, you float (I’m guessing from all the minerals being this lake is fed from mountain run-off).

So at some point one of the French kids (he was 17 years old), gets in the water and begins to swim.

As were swimming he starts to tell me how he was born in a small city in France and really likes it, but this place is something else. He added that he can now understand why I left that life in the West and came here to live.

So as were swimming on our backs, I start to notice the clouds starting to gather and were talking storm clouds. From above the sun is trying to break out into view and as it is doing this, you see black on the bottom of the clouds, and this illuminated snow-white on top and these very thick and wide sun-rays are projecting out from the clouds.

I tell the French kid if he ever wondered what heaven on earth would look like and told him to look up. I continued to say that it’s like what you would see in the movies and he said not just the movies, but I’ve seen it in paintings of heaven.

All I know is I felt so at peace swimming the lake, with this heavenly picture in the sky and then the suddenly Sparrows started to swoop down to the waters surface over our heads and also from time to time a fish would jump out of the water. There were also a couple of Falcons flying around the ridges that surround the lake.

After being in the water for what seemed to be forever, the bus showed up. They had a flat tire and no spare, so it took some time to get the tire repaired.

The group joined us in the water and for another hour we swam around. Everyone had a great time and as the sun started to come down, they got on their bus and headed for Garmir Shooga and I to Martuni.

I have to make more time for such trips to my lake, as right now I feel so relaxed and I know if I close my eyes right now, I’ll sleep like a baby until morning.

BTW, for those that want to see a picture of my lake, check the back logs and I think June 10th I posted a picture when Hagop Bedrosian visited me and the lake.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I guess if the Prime Minister agrees with me that it’s not in our countries best interest to allow non-Armenians to adopt Armenian orphans, then the time, effort and risk of this investigation was well worth it. I’ll have to give him a call next week to see if he agrees with the rest of my plan and will give me a green-light to straighten this whole mess out once and for all so we can tackle other important issues?

To: armenian-adoption-interest
From: Robin Sizemore
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2003 09:15:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: [armenian-adoption-interest] Digest Number 244

Jacky... while the law states that anyone can apply for adoption of an Armenian child... it is well known here that now the PM office will NOT approve a non Armenian family - CAS is completing our last non-armenian family next week and will no longer accept non-armenian families into the program. Also note... it is imperative to be Christian as well and a letter from your church stating that as well. As you are Jewish and non-Armenian... it would be unadvisable to attempt an Armenian adoption... be careful in letting anyone promise you that they can complete an adoption for you specifically through Armenia... as it would be a drain of finance only... warm regards from Yerevan... Robin Sizemore, CAS

Robin Sizemore
Carolina Adoption Services, Inc.
Relief Coordinator: Georgia/Armenia
Mommy to two beautiful Caucasus kids!!
Out of fairness to our readers and for those that may feel the same as this read does, I wanted to share this with you.

From: (name omitted)
To: Ara Manoogian
Subject: your homophobia
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2003 07:38:31 -0700 (PDT)

Ara --

I just read a few of your logs on gay adoption -- and I am outraged. Your prejudice is not helping us shape our new country. You are perpetuating traditionalism and spreading your unreasonable fears [expressed by others, a slick way to hide your own opinion, thus to avoid being accused later].

Learn to be more open-minded and accepting of others. Gay/lesbian parents can be more caring and practical than a hetero couple -- and your horrendous remarks, that you quote from others, but I see as your own -- are untrue and biased.

I am glad your logs won't appear on the main site of Armenian life any more.

(name omitted)
from Yerevan

I replied:

Hi (name omitted),

I don’t know how you could even conclude that I’m homophobic and what I reported were my own feelings using non-existent persons as my source?

Maybe I should put you in touch with my best and most trusted general manager Janice, who was an Afro-American, openly gay woman and she worked for me until she had to take an early retirement to go care for her elderly mother in Denver, Colorado. If Jan’s mother didn’t get sick, I would have let her work for me as long as she wanted to, as I had great respect for her because she was honest and forthright.

If these women are anything like Janice and her partner Johnnie, I have no doubt that they are loving and caring to the child they adopted. If I had children, without fear or hesitation, I would leave them in Janice’s care. In fact in the 1970’s, we had a homosexual couple living next door to us and everyone knew they were gay, but that didn’t stop any of us kids from visiting them at their house. They were nice, warm and they use to make us Tang (an orange drink mix) and feed us if we were hungry. I have many gay friends and none of them have ever “hit” on me, as they know I’m straight and we are only interested in being friend.

The issue we are dealing with in this adoption is not the fact that they are a direct physiological or physical danger to the child, it’s they adopted the child from a country where being gay at the time of their adoption was illegal and until today is culturally not acceptable for the majority of the people. On top of this, they clearly concealed this fact of their true intentions, knowing that if they had applied to the Armenian government as a couple (even today), they would have been turned down. If you just go on this one argument, then the adoption was clearly a moral, ethical and legal violation in any country of the world. The other arguments, as legitimate as they are, could be viewed as secondary if need be, though I think they are very important too.

I don’t know where your from, but if your not from Armenia, then the culture you brought with you can not be applied in deciding if this was right or not. You have to understand today’s Armenian culture and use that as a way to measure things. It would be like you going to Afghanistan and insisting that women do not cover themselves when in public. Irregardless of if you thinking this is wrong, it’s their culture and law. This means if you live in Afghanistan you have to respect the culture and law. Same goes for Armenia.

Since you are living in Yerevan and just to prove my point of how the natives feel, may I suggest that you share the story I posted with the natives that live around you and see what they think? When you do this, please write back to report your findings that I will share with the rest of our readers. If this is a problem for you because of a language difference, I would be happy let you go along with my worker to conduct a survey of 100 random people to see what they think of this situation, so when we petition the government for a review of all international adoption cases, they wont be able to accuse me of perpetuating traditionalism and spreading my unreasonable fears.

In the future, please read everything before writing me and certainly don’t read between the line, as what I write, I try to write as straightforward as possible.

I was not going to log tonight, as I was in Stepanagert all day doing work for the NK Arts festival and I got home a couple of hours ago and have been working for 2 hours on the meeting summaries for my boss Neery.

This NK Arts festival is one big deal here and I didn’t even know it. The minister of culture thinks it's THEE THING and he is ready to everything in his power to help us (which I really believe he will do).

To tell you the truth, I didn’t really know all that much about it until after the minister of culture filled me in on all they have done.

I will write more about this program and also I am definitely going to hit you all up for funds to help this very important program, this of course after I get some sleep and also myself learn more about what I’m getting myself into.

I will say that today was 7 non-stop hours of meeting for me with everyone and their mothers and though it totally ruined all my scheduled appointment, including a television interview I suppose to give for a half-hour program about me and my family, I was loving every minute of myself and didn’t even mind that I had no time to eat anything all day until I got home at 10 PM.

And from my meetings, I had the honor to pick-up another story for my book which until after I resolve this issue, I’m going to keep it to myself, but will just say it has to do with one of the 7 regional ministers that I think in the end I’m going to do our people a favor and do him like I did our Martuni regional minister a couple of years back. Ah, the good old days!!! And for this one, I wont need any camo-paint or flack-vest. I may even do this one with a velvet glove.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Today I didn’t get out of the house until noon, as I was up all night working on my book and answering e-mails, which lately have been coming in non-stop and I didn’t sleep until I think 5 AM.

I went to the stone factory and since the 5th had been pay-day, my workers were having khorovads for lunch. I pulled up just as they were getting ready to sit to eat and as I stepped out of the car, one of them told me “your mother-in-law loves you.” This is what they say here when someone unexpectedly shows up when people are sitting to eat and of course the unexpected guest is welcomed to the table to share the meal.

After our meal, I conducted some hands-on training of a new saw I made a couple of weeks ago. I love my workers, but one of them I keep having to tell that you can’t put a square peg in a round hole over and over again. Just before I was going to give up, he got it thank goodness.

At some point in my day, I found time to call the Minister of Culture (one of the few ministers that I actually like and feel he is actually qualified for his job) to set-up an appointment to meet with him tomorrow to discuss the up coming NKR Arts Festival, which as of 12 hours ago, I’m an assistant coordinator to. I also have to meet with the head Stepanagert Architect and the Shushi assistant regional minister to make arrangements for the festival. On top of this, I’ve also accepted the position of NKR Representative to for the Nungi pottery factory (this is part of the NKR Arts Program), which I will write about more when I get an idea of what that work will entails.

I also found time today to renew my automobile registration, which for my Mercedes costs me in all 23,200 dram (about $40) and required me to go to the bank and tax office before getting my new sticker from the Martuni chief of the traffic police. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to renew the registration on my jeep.

I know I’m forgetting to do something, but I’m so tired right now, I’m going to sleep early or for at least a few hour and then when I feel re-energized, I’ll sit back in front of my computer and do my e-mail and plug away at the book.

I got this message in response to last message I posted on the Yahoo Armenian-Adoption group that is the previous log posted on this site.

The message reads:

I see what you mean now about the camo paint, but the way you worded it sounded more threatening. Especially when you wrote: Ara is pissed, it's time to take out the paint....

Just be careful. It's like a colloquialism. No one else would understand its true meaning without you explaining or having heard it prior. Several of us (lawyers, attorneys, etc so not the least intelligent people you infer us to be) on the list thought it sounded threatening, not the way you meant it.

Your story about taking care of your cousin's baby was quite interesting. You must miss her.

Our adoption is complete. I only remain on the list to help people to understand the process.

I replied:

I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss her, but it gives me great comfort to know that she is in a truly loving home.

I guess one reason why I’m so vigil with this issue is because of my cousin’s adoption and me having to be mom and dad for over 2 months to a newborn who was orphaned for reasons beyond her control (as most are).

I knew from my interaction with her how smart she was and how much potential she would have in a loving and nurturing environment. I was torn with the fact that I was helping to remove her from her native land, a land that I had starved for while living in America and now I was sending someone to a place I despised.

I guess my only comfort was that I knew she would be raised with strong Armenian values and she would also one day know where she was from and why she was orphaned.

It was also understood that she would come to visit me here and be given an opportunity to know her homeland and knowing my cousin, they would never stand in her way and only encourage her if she wanted to do something for the betterment of her people.

Though all this may sound wonderful, to me it still was really not okay. I felt that she should have had a say in if she wanted to go or not, but what can a newborn tell you? Their eyes don’t say “no,” all they say is “love me.”

Through the process and with my experience in government issues, I saw how easily the system could be abused, but when my cousin adopted, the biggest issue was if my cousin and his wife were 100% Armenian and if this child would be raised Armenian. To this I was relieved to know that the people on the committee that would approve potential parents, understood their responsibility to the child they would allow to be adopted, and the important factor of the child’s genetic makeup corresponding with the culture it would be exposed to.

It was only last year that I learned that what importance was put on being Armenian in Karabagh, was not the same in Armenia and families with no idea of what Armenian is were taking our children abroad.

When I learned that the facilitators Gagik and Hasmik would let Jennifer and Edmond, a couple that I painted to be oblivious to what an Armenian is and their lack of any interest in raising the child as Armenian (which some people on this group told Jennifer that you have to at least tell the government you will raise the child Armenian, but the beauty of international adoptions is you can in fact raise the child anyway you want), and G&H were still willing to take as much as $22k for the adoption of 2 children without only Jennifer coming to Armenia and signing 2 papers and leaving, I knew we had a very serious problem. I also knew from my cousin’s adoption that we spent less than $100 on the Armenian fees and the entire process from start to finish took 12 days without any bribes being paid.

You have to understand, I didn’t do this investigation for the money, as no one paid me to do this. I did this to for the love of my God-daughter, who as an orphan, could have ended up with a life like the little girl we are now hearing about in the papers and her same-sex parents. You can’t imagine how that story eats me up inside and what punishment I wish on the Armenian authorities if they had any idea this would be the outcome.

It’s very clear to me that when I review the 100 case files of international adoptions that have taken place over the last couple of years, I will have no problem working to bring those children back to Armenia, who are now with people who illegally adopted them by fraudulent means and find them homes here or abroad that truly fall within the norms our culture and our laws.

And why does Ara do this and not the government or an organization? Well if you ask the natives here, they will tell you that all the people here are orphans in the sense that our government (in this scenario the government would be considered the parents), neglect the people (children) and are only thinking about their own personal gains. With that situation, you have a potentially lethal situation that has to be brought under control by someone and in this case that someone is me.

As for your comment about lawyers, attorneys and so on being intelligent, maybe I should keep my comments to myself, as I’ve had dealing with some of the “good expensive ones” in the states, one of whom no longer practice law because of me. Nothing I’m proud of, just something that I had to do so he would no longer steal peoples faith in the system. A couple others in that same related case were only spared the possibility of being disbarred because I had to catch an airplane to fix thing here and didn’t have time to see that case to its conclusion.

The only thing I can thank those attorneys for is to teach me how to deal with issues of law and for that reason, this adoption investigation for me is not all that difficult to manage. Thanks Knapp, Peterson and Clarke and also Ted Roberts (I’m not sure if he ever recovered from his heart problems and other illness that put him into early retirement).

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I wanted to share with you this post from the Yahoo Armenian-Adoption group.

The post reads:

Ara, which agency? I think it would important for the group to know--
especially if this agency is doing revisions without the prospective
adoptive parents' knowledge.

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely protect the children.
Someone could be paid to adopt a child then release them to someone
else. There are all sorts of things they could lie about to the home
study gal. Who would reveal something bad about themselves unless it
was part of their public record? While we are bashing the home
studies, what about the validity of the reference letters? Who would
pick someone to write a reference letter if they thought the author
would say something bad? Useless documents. The committee just has
to have faith that there is some good people out there.

P.S . you should be careful what you write on your site. That part
about getting your camo paint out could be perceived as terrorist
activity. Then you'll never get your citizenship & become PM or
President. Can you really become either if you weren't born there?
Just curious. Is it a communist country? I just wondered since som
many times you referncen how proud you are to be such. Educate us
more about this region of Nagorno-Karabaugh.
P.S. A relative of mine just funded & designed a better water system
for a little town in N-K. :)

I replied:

From a legal standpoint, until we finish our investigation and publish our findings, the agency in question is only suspect, meaning that it would be unethical to name them now.

I would advise anyone adopting to be in tune with what your agency or facilitator is doing with your papers and if they offer to do you a favor as you read in the letter I received, I would suggest that you get them to sign a paper that states that this favor is legally acceptable and within the laws of international adoptions and the country you are adopting from. But remember, in the end, agency or not, those adopting are going to be the ones that have to answer to any violations, and that paper is only going to give you grounds to sue the agency for recouping the damages you suffered as a result of their error. I say play it safe, don’t accept any favors and when it comes to your adoption documents, don’t conceal anything or it could come back later and haunt you as it may that same-sex couple. You would feel very bad if you lost custody of your child and faced criminal charges because you allowed someone to do you a favor that fell outside the law.

The reference to camouflage grease-paint does not imply that by taking it out of the closet that I would engage in terrorist activities (as much as an overly paranoid and imaginative American public would probably see it). It should be interpreted as a more symbolic and spiritual way of saying, “I just want to blend in and not been seen right now so I can think about what I need to do next.” Considering I really want citizenship more than anything else from this government, it would be really stupid of me to perpetrate a terrorist act on a country that I want to live in. It does not take genius to figure this one out.

Can someone who was not born here become President or Prime Minister? Well, the present day Prime Minister was not born here as far as I know. According to the law, if you are a citizen living on this land for 10 consecutive years prior to the presidential election, you are eligible to run for this office. Truth is, I’m really not interested in the job of President or Prime Minister, but I’m also not interested in being anything less than a real full-fledged citizen of this wonderful country I call home.

If you have followed my readings, you will see that in no place do I claim to be a Communist. I am in fact a member of no party here in Armenia or Karabagh (and have no plans on joining any of them in the near future). As for your question if Karabagh is a Communist country, it use to be prior to the fall of the USSR, and now, they say were a democratic nation, but as the President told me back in May of 1999, the people here don’t know what a democracy is and that the need to be educated. I’m really not quite sure what scale the President uses to measure democracy, but if you ask me, the only democracy the natives have today is only in name. I can say that from experience that someone like myself can speak their mind (within the limits of the law) without being prosecuted, so in those terms, it is a democratic nation.

Anyway, if your interested in life here, you may want or every now and then as when I have more information about the adoption topic, I’ll be posting in there.

Ps. Is your relative the one that designed the water system himself and got the villagers to help with the work?


I want to share with you a letter I received from one of our readers who has been following the adoption story and is also in the process of adopting a child from Armenia.

What she states below has to be the most disturbing news I have received so far since I’ve started this investigation 9 months ago.

I believe that if I uncover what she told me in her letter, it will put an immediate stop to all international adoption in Armenia, until we can get things under control so potentially dangerous people are not allowed to adopt our children.

I also believe that this will effect the way things are done in America and other Western countries in respect to international adoptions, not to mention close at least one unscrupulous adoption agency.

Dear Ara,

I have read your blogspot on the lesbian couple. Very sad for the child. But guess what.... if they went through an agency to do the home-study (say in their home-state) and then they submitted the home study to the adoption agency (say agency name omitted say out of state in state name omitted) , well then agency name omitted just rewrote the home-study because they have licensed social workers and they TOOK OUT anything that might have been questionable, such as being a lesbian.

Agency name omitted gets the reworded home-studies translated and then they submit them to the embassy as official home-studies, so the adoption committee sees only a bunch of spoon fed junk that the agency wants them to see. The only people that see the real home-study is INS, because they require one. But of course that could be altered too.

I know this is a fact, because when I was talking with my friend name omitted (she is adopting a baby currently through agency name omitted) about the fact that my husband and I have minor stupid stuff in our home-study, which I don't even know why the social worker put that stuff in, she was crazy in my opinion and then she (the social worker), was fighting with me because I wanted her to take it out and she wouldn't.

The stupid stuff had nothing to do with me or my husband or the adoption, such as the fact my dad is living with his girlfriend, he is 78 and she is 83, because IF they got married she would lose her first husband's benefits. By the way they are a sweet couple and I love his "girlfriend" dearly, plus my mom died almost 20 years ago, so this is not a big deal.

Anyway, name omitted said to me that she had stupid stuff in her home-study too, but that agency name omitted WAS REWRITING IT and that the adoption committee in Yerevan would never see the off-color stuff.

Pretty disgusting, I bet this is what happened if the lesbians went through an agency and if they didn't, then they could have had their translator omit that part and if the Embassy didn't pick up on the Translation being different from the actual English version, then the adoption committee once again would never have seen it.

Agencies such as agency name omitted are licensed to do international adoptions but they can only do home-studies for people that live in the same state(s) that the agency is licensed. That is why me and others get home-studies with some other local agency and send all the documentation to the actual out of state adopting agency like agency name omitted. But for some reason the embassy doesn't realize this and accepts psuedo home-studies from agency name omitted, for some people that agency name omitted never actually did a home-study for and that don't live in the same state as that which agency name omitted is licensed. Agency name omitted even tells you on their website that they can only do home-studies for people living in state names omitted, because agency name omitted is not licensed elsewhere.

Paraphrasing of documents to one's advantage is not new when it comes to the adoption papers. For example, since you know my husband and I were married before marrying each other, well I was concerned at the implication of being divorced and the expense of translating and verifying divorce decrees that were probably 50 pages in total. Do the math.... at $70 per page ($40.00 embassy verification, $30 translation minimum), then the divorce papers alone would have cost at least $3500, which is outrageous. Not to mention the cost of all the other papers.

So when I called the attorney in DC that the embassy recommended to do translations, he said that he would paraphrase the divorce decrees, which I was thankful for because they had a lot of stupid stuff in it, like in my case which person gets which pattern of china, who gets the fine crystal, who gets the vacuum cleaner, etc. Anyway he would paraphrase it down to 1 page per divorce, just enough to state the important stuff such as the marriage dates, divorce dates, and legal decision granting divorce with judge's name. That was really cool as it would save a lot of money.

However, SUPPOSE if a person was a violent person (just not criminally violent) and that was the reason he or she had gotten divorced as stated in their divorce decrees, well then that fact might never have made it into the translated copy.

Ditto for a home-study. A typical home-study is also several pages (about 10 or so) if done right. Agency name omitted paraphrases them to save the adopting family money in translating and verification, but in the process also takes out negative stuff.

One more thing, every legitimate agency that does a home-study must state the names of all the adults living in the home with the perspective parent or parents, each of those persons must be fingerprinted and a criminal background investigation is run. This is the law and this is required by INS.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


I went to the Mayor’s office today as I had a need to visit with the regional minister on business and while waiting for a call from the regional minister, the Mayor and one of his staff members were writing a decreed and also discussing the rental of the Martuni bazaar.

The decreed was to regulate the sales of fruits and vegetables, limiting their sales to the bazaar and to once and for all rid people from selling their garden goods on the sidewalks.

As they drafted the decreed, I listened to the Mayor’s staff member suggest a decreed that would effectively give the bazaar a monopoly on all vegetation goods that were sold in Martuni, to the point that in order for farmers to sell their goods to stores, it would have to go through the bazaar.

I objected to the wording of the decreed and said that I understand the intent, but this decreed would effectively create a monopoly and with that, they would get fallout from the natives and possibly soil the Mayor’s name.

They rewrote the decreed so that any individual that chooses to sell retail would have to do so in the bazaar and that they could still sell wholesale to stores.

Then I asked who the bazaar belongs to, as a month ago, the Mayor offered the bazaar to me and after thinking about all I am doing right now, I really would be biting off more than I can chew and declined the offer. So the bazaar belongs to the Mayor’s office and they are renting it out to a man who for the last 5 years has been asking the Mayor for work. This is also a man that when Monte Melkonian came here, he told Monte that Martuni was his (this in a confrontation).

I told him I know of the man, but don’t know what the terms are of his agreement and I would hope that there are limits to what he can charge for space to someone that is obliged to renting a space there, now that there will be a decreed that requires them to be in the bazaar. He said no, there is no real agreement other than the man pays each month a percentage of his income.

I advised the Mayor and his worker that they should defiantly put limits on what can be charged, as if they don’t then again, they could come under attack from the natives from creating a monopoly and then allowing this man that rented the bazaar to stick it to them and then people will say that since the Mayor’s office is getting a percentage that they did that on purpose.

I then asked them what percentage they are expecting from this man? The worker told us that they are due 50% of the profit. I asked him how he is going to know what the profit it and the Mayor said that would it not be better that we get 10% of the gross? The worker thought that 50% was better, but after a few arguments, 10% of the gross was much easier to manage and it seems that this is what they will do.

I’m really glad I was there as this tells me that if I was not there, the monopoly was defiantly going to formed and there would have been no limits as to what could have been charged to the person renting. This type of thing is not uncommon here and knowing the Mayor as being a fairly honest person, he was agreeing to the original terms out of a lack of experience.


Well it looks like I wont become a citizen of Artsakh in the near or distant future.

I ran into a close friend who is a member of parliament and I asked him how the citizenship issue was coming along and did they decide anything yet?

He asked me if I was a citizen of the US and upon my answer, told me that under what law is now in place, I can’t obtain citizenship in Artsakh and that if I want, I can become an citizen of Armenia by giving up my American citizenship.

I told him I’m not interested in citizenship in Armenia, I want citizenship in Artsakh and I really don’t see why there are others from America and other countries that have it and I can’t.

He went on to explain the fallout they got for giving citizenship to those few people and that for this reason, they stopped giving citizenship.

He went on to say that they give special residency to people from abroad and that I could obtain that. I told I’ve already had that [since 1997] and that this status does not give me the right to hold a government post. He said there are certain government posts I could have. I told him it does not allow me to become Prime Minister or President, which is really the only government posts I would ever be interested in.

Let me as briefly as possible remind you that in 2000, the Prime Minister, Anushavan Danielyan encouraged me to apply for citizenship and said that he would do everything in his power to make sure I got it.

I applied and according to my understanding of the process at that time, the papers I submitted were to be reviewed by a government committee that is made up of representatives of various ministers and then upon a positive decision, they send their recommendation off to the President, who signs a decree accepting my application and granting me citizenship.

Well from what I learned in July of 2001, from that committee, who were hearing a non-related issue that I was coordinating, that in December of 2000, had reviewed my application, and sent to the president a positive decision and that same month the President should have executed and signed the papers that would award me my Artsakh citizenship.

This did not happen and instead, the papers somehow got lost and finally surfaced at the office of the Minister of Internal Affairs and I was told that it was lacking a letter of approval form the Minister of Foreign Affairs and then later was told was missing a report form the KGB and the KGB told me they were in need of 3 reports to give their report, one of which was to come from America.

Once I jumped through all their hoops, I ended up contacting the President’s office and in the end met with one of his advisors Garen Baburyan, who informed me that everyone has lied to me and that the law in which I applied for citizenship as of December 31, 2000 was no longer in force and that Parliament was going to pass a new law in the next month (this meeting took place in April of 2002) and that once it is passed, then I will automatically get my citizenship. If this does not happen then I should understand that he too has lied to me.

So May and June of 2002 came a went and when I tried to set up a meeting with Baburyan, he would not get back to me.

I wrote to the President and was answered by Baburyan with a letter that said really nothing. So I wrote again and stated that this letter was intended for the President and in short said that the President should answer the letter and not his advisor.

I got no answer from the President and in October, 2002 called to set up an appointment with him, to which I was told that I am on his list of people to see and they would call me.

Well October 2003 is just around the corner and there is still no word from the President’s office as to my appointment. I can’t imagine he is very busy, as I know that in few months ago they installed 3 new computer games on his computer and that if you’re a journalist from the West, he will drop everything he is doing to see you.

I’m really not going to say what I am going to do about this issue but will all the energy and time I’ve had to spend and all the hoops I had to jump through to get to this point, I’m going to get my citizenship, or else those that messed up and didn’t do their job so in December of 2000 I would have had my citizenship, I’m going to push them to jump through a few hoops and if were lucky, maybe through an open window of the top floor of the “Projects.”

Ara is pissed and getting out the camouflage grease-paints from the closet.