Sunday, September 28, 2003

Tonight at dinner, the usual roundtable discussion took place and tonight subject was the price of flower and the restriction on the export of grapes.

On September 23rd, at the Armenian-Diaspora Economic Forum, I ran into a man named Arnold, a man who use to be the Artsakh Minister of Economics and is now an advisor to the Prime Minister. He also happens to be a distant blood relative from my father's side of the family (nothing I'm proud of).

Before the session on economic policy started, I asked Arnold about why they are preventing people from exporting grapes to Armenia and why we are exporting needed wheat? He told me that the decision on grapes was wrong, but now people can export grapes freely and for the same reason why people can freely export wheat, it's a free market.

One thing to keep in mind about Arnold is that he only has his job because he is one of the Prime Minister's yes-men. I've seen him say one thing and when the PM says he is wrong, he just agrees and shakes his head up and down so much, it make you dizzy to watch. He is also one of three people who tried to make it look like our telecommunication system was in such bad shape by making sure it didn't work well, in hopes that he and his two friends could privatize it for almost free. This plan backfired, as the government worked extra hard in Yerevan to find us a real telecommunication provider thinking thing were beyond repair and for that reason, today our strategic telecommunication system is owned by a Christian-Arab company.

Tonight I learned that the price of flower went from 7,000 dram for a 50 kilo sack to 11,500 dram. The price of bread is expected to increase from 100 dram a loaf to 200 dram a loaf come January 1st. It also should be noted that 380,000 tons of wheat was exported from Artsakh in the last few months, thus we are already facing a shortage of wheat and for this reason the dramatic price increase.

As for grapes, there was an announcement on television the other night which said that no grapes will be allowed to be exported due to some disease our grapes have. Well there goes that free market and a reason to purchase gapes at below a fair market price.

Disease or not, the reality is that all of the major wine factories here in Artsakh are owned by a few people, including Armenia's Minister of Defense, Serge Sarkissian and the president of Agro-Bank, a guy named Arayig, who happens to also be the one whose gas stations sell bad gasoline.

So what will happen if the price of bread increases by 100%? Well, it sure is not going to make people happy here and what I would suggest to the people in power is to start a fund using some of the money they have stolen from our population to offset the price of bread so it does not go over 100 dram a loaf, or else watch out and don't claim that you didn't know. I understand that there is very little they really understand other than creating scams to get rich, but you can only do that for so long until it starts to effect the scammers in a negative way and that negative effect is just around the corner.

One counter statement I've heard the government say is that the increase is being offset by an increase in pensions. Well guess what, not everyone gets a pension and since unemployment is so high right now, the increases that we are expecting is sure to effect a large number of the population in a very negative way.

25 September 2003


This site adjacent to the Opera House is owned by Member of Parliament Levon Khachatryan. It was given to him by the former mayor of Yerevan, Robert Nazaryan. Everything was legally registered. According to the Government's 2001 Decision # 286, public officials (the only people who build cafes in the city center) may obtain 20-square- meter plots that they may later expand as they like. Every outdoor cafe in Yerevan has been so expanded. It was all in accordance with government regulations. In May 2002, the government passed another decision that would limit the enlargement to 20 square kilometers. But this decision simply doesn't work.

Thus, Khachatryan got his 20 square meter site and he expanded it. The structure now obstructs the view the Opera House from Sayat Nova Street. It may still be possible to halt construction. A few months ago, we asked Narek Sarkissyan, Yerevan's chief architect, if any of the new structures around the Opera House preserved the design that the city's architecture department had approved. He said they did not.

The government has received grants to fight corruption. All of the cafes in what used to be the park surrounding the Opera House are in fact illegal, making this the perfect field for the fight against corruption. Ladies and gentlemen of the government, make your move-implement the national anti-corruption program. Can you fight the owners of these cafes?

Of course not.

So that everyone understands why it's impossible, beginning today we will reveal the real owners of these cafes. We know who they are. This one belongs to Member of Parliament Levon Khatchatryan.

Edik Baghdasaryan

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Now that I'm back and only being away for less than a week, I'm getting an ear full of new challenges we are facing here.

For example, my stone business is facing the biggest challenge yet, with a recent increase in the price of granite, which last month had a 100% increase in cost.

It seems that last September, the largest granite mine was privatized, as was the largest stone-processing factory in Stepanagert by an Armenian investor from Switzerland. The same investor owns the watch factory, a large share in the Artsakh Bank and the Karabagh hotel.

On top of this increase of unprocessed granite, they have also dropped the price for grave-stones by 30%.

So how does this effect me? Well it mean that I have to increase the price of my finished product, which I wont say puts me out of being competitive, but in a way does and makes my profit almost nothing.

And how has this increase in the cost of stone and the drop in price for grave-stones effected the small factories that have been around for years? Well from what I'm told, if they try to compete with the Swiss owned company, they loose money. A few have chosen to close their doors.

And why has the Swiss-Armenian done this? Well to tell you the truth and from what I've heard, he does not even know this has happened and it's his local partners that have done this to get all the stone carvers to come work for them, I say this as they recently advertised for the need of 20+ stone carvers.

And what am I going to do? Well I'm now investigating the possibility of renting a granite mine myself and working it so I can eventually sell stone to the small operators at the more reasonable price and also make it possible for me to be competitive in the international market.

For those of you that might say that the price increase could be due to the real cost of removing granite from the mine, would have to agree that if that was the case, then the price of grave-stones should have also increased, rather than decreased. It's clear that the stone factory that is selling the grave-stones at 30% less than the old price, is doing so as it's not costing them much money for the raw material and they are doing it to cause the experienced stone carvers to not be able to continue to work and have no other choice but to close their business and work for the Swiss-Armenian or move to another country to work.

In short, I'm seeing a Diaspora-Armenian who claims to be very patriotic, is doing more harm than good and in the end causing great harm to the stone-carvers who took the risk and investment to go into business for themselves, not to mention ruining his name here. How very sad.

If I was the Swiss-Armenian, I would be concentrating on new international markets and not steal the domestic markets from the natives. To me it looks like someone coming in from the outside with big money and in a sense, enslaving the people here who fought and spilled their blood for the right to a free and prosperous life.

If anyone of you know this Swiss-Armenian, you may want to mention that he should take the time to look into this issue, since I really think if he knew about it, he would put an immediate stop to it.
It's great to be home!!!

After the Diaspora-Armenian Economic gathering, I had a couple days of meetings with prospective investors. If we can realize 10% of what is being planned, I'll be very happy.

During the conference, the second in command of the Russian business persons association proposed at one of the round-table discussions that we form an advisory committee made up of business persons and economic specialists to help guide the government when it comes to their starting economic programs and so on. We started a list of persons interested and the coming week, I'm going to follow up and contact all interested persons so we can form the committee and get to work.

Last night Raffi, Lena and I, met with one of our readers from Canada at the Ani Hotel. It was great to get some feedback from a reader in person and have to say that if she is any refection of our readers, then may I suggest that you snack during the day, as if the first thing you do when you get home before even cooking dinner is read the logs, then you may be endangering your health and I certainly would not want to be responsible for that.

After our meeting, we went to a friend's house to watch movies, drink and munch on chips and falafal sandwiches. To be different, Raffi had a spicy chicken sandwich, which was drippy and he used a plastic bag as a bib, but didn't take into consideration the hole that is a handle and managed to soil his shirt as a result. We all had a good laugh.

Oh I am so tired and think that I will take a nap, though I'm waiting for a phone call from a visitor from America who said that as soon as they leave Hadrut, they will call and we will meet up in the center.

Anyway, there really is no place like home and I'm really glad to be back.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Anti-Porn law in effect as of today in Armenia.

What this means is that as of this day forward, it is illegal to televise anything that can be deemed pornographic on television that is accessible without a decoder.

From what I understand, it will also be illegal to display publications which can be viewed by the general public and especially children on news stands.

I’m not sure, but would guess the Play Boy and the likes bubblegum with a picture of nude women will be banned all together, since it is clearly made to be sold to children.

Anyway, this is a very good thing and tells me that we really are starting to move forward.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

What a long day which was filled with endless meeting with people I made contact with at the conference. I really see that there are some promising persons and companies that are interested in doing some kind of business here and they seem to be in tune with the reality of things.

I’m not too sure about what is going on tomorrow, but will just say that these last few days have been very interesting and I think will be very rewarding too.

It’s very late now and I just want to go sleep and maybe one day I’ll make my way back home to catch up on some very much needed sleep.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Today was the closing of the conference and all I will say right now is that if the comments made during and after the conference is a true indication of what direction our country is going, were going to be doing just fine in time.

I made lots of good contacts with natives and people who came from the Diaspora of which there were about 150 of them, representing 26 countries.

An interesting bit of information I learned from someone today (have to still confirm this, but I know it’s close) was that during the USSR, Armenia was producing 1.6% of the products and providing 1.8% of the brain power to the USSR. It should also be noted that Armenia represented a little over 1% of the population of the USSR. What this meant is that Armenia in the end should have had the greatest potential (which I believe was even noted at the time) to be the most prosperous country of the former Soviet. What happened, I won’t get into, but according to what someone told me from the Red Cross back in 1999, according to what they knew as far as plans for the end of Armenia, we should have been reduced to 3rd world statues long ago. All I will say is that now that we understand what the G7 wished for us, we need to work accordingly and work to build our nation as we need to without waiting for help from those that were out to destroy us.

Tonight will be a concert and I guess mixer. It should be fun and who knows what other contacts I will make.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I’m in Yerevan and arrived this morning at 4 AM. It was a long drive.

I came to attend the first Armenian Diaspora Economic Conference. I wont get into details, as I want to go to the place I’m staying and get some sleep, as tomorrow I have to get an early start.

In the morning I’ll be attending a session on Economic Policy and in the afternoon will be the session on Agriculture and Food Production.

I would love to have a conference that would be titled “Karabagh, Asset or Liability?” Were thinking about maybe doing this in cooperation with a university. Ufff, another project, but one I think we need to do to get people in tune with reality (this could put me, the guy that sees Artaskh as an asset to understand something I just don’t see today, who knows).

Sorry if this log reads really bad, but I had 3 hours of sleep yesterday and this after only having a few hours each day for the last week. Time to go get some sleep, before I wake up and then can’t sleep.

Sunday, September 21, 2003


18 September 2003

Watchman at NK minister of interior’s house dies in mysterious circumstances

On July 17, 2003 the body of Robert Shakaryan arrived in the Stepanakert morgue. We were informed by a source, whose name we are not making public, that the police department received a call at 2 a.m. and officers proceeded to the residence of Nagorno Karabakh minister of the interior, Armen Isagulov, in downtown Stepanakert. Work was still being done on the inside of the house, by a group of construction workers from Yerevan. Robert Shakaryan was the watchman at the house. Shakaryan’s wife Galya, a nurse, was told at the morgue that her husband had died of a heart attack.

At the morgue, his relatives noticed while moving the body that the back of his skull was fractured and protruding through the skin and his clothes were covered in blood. Naturally, they didn’t believe that Shakaryan had died of a heart attack. They said that they also saw bruises on various parts of his body. Meanwhile rumors were circulating in town that Shakaryan had been beaten to death.

Five days later, after his relatives made repeated requests, they were given a document stating that Robert Shakaryan had died of alcohol poisoning. Of course, the relatives don’t believe that alcohol was the cause of death, but they are afraid to complain. Shakaryan’s wife was unwilling to meet with us. Relatives that I met a few times passed a message along to me - she has a son and she is worried about him. The word around town is that after the incident Isagulov’s son left Stepanakert. One thing is clear-- as long as Isagulov is the minister of the interior of Nagorno Karabakh nothing will be ascertained about the real cause of Shakaryan’s death.

Edik Baghdasaryan

Friday, September 19, 2003

Though I should be sleeping right now, I was reflecting on how demanding and how much of my time the NK Arts festival consumed. I mean the 10-hour a week job turned into a fulltime job and then some for the last couple of weeks, result in my stone factory to practically come to a grinding halt. In fact I'm still working on damage control everyday and don't know if I'll get things under control anytime soon since I still have not finished my work with NK Arts.

But in my reflection of the rewards that I get working with NK Arts, I really feel that even with the financial loss that has come so far with this experience, it was all worth it.

There may be one great thing that no amount of money can buy and this is not a reward that anyone can gift or I can ask for. It's also not anything I was looking for or expecting. If I didn't get involved with NK Arts, my stone factory would be doing great, but I would not be possibly claiming this reward that I've been waiting for since I moved to Artsakh and had already believe that it was not ascertainable.

What is this reward? Well I believe that it's a gift from God for my investing my time to the arts and culture that NK Arts offers.

Still wondering what I'm talking about? Well I can't tell you now, but if God rewards me as I feel He will, I'll write about it very soon so you can understand that good things come to people that do good for others without waiting for anything in return.

Some of you know what I'm talking about and for those that know, I hope you agree with what I've stated above.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Who pulled the plug on Ara's television interview?

Tonight at 19:05 I got a call from my General Manager telling me that my interview was being televised on Artsakh T.V. and when I started to talk about the need for law and order, the signal went out.

My manager asked me what did I say and why they suddenly cut it off and what should she do?

I told her to call the transmitting tower to see what went wrong which she did and was told that the repeater in Jardar was not sending a signal and for that reason they could not relay the program to Martuni.

After I got off the phone with her, I got a call from Stepanagert with the same story of as soon as I started to talk about law and order, the signal was cut there too.

My land-line and cell were ringing non-stop with people calling in to ask me what went wrong and what we should do. They all knew I had said something that scared someone high up who then ordered the plug to be pulled.

The signal came back on about 10 minutes later and a huge section of the program was cut out as a result (the whole show was to be 30 minutes, but I have no idea what was cut in those 10 minutes. Probably my talking about some "rich people" who are in love with money more than in love with our people).

Now I'm not sure what happened, but will say that all day we were having power outages here in Martuni, but during the time of the show, the power had not gone out.

Though I didn't see any of the show, when I went to pick my car up from the mechanics, the mechanics parents told me that when I started to talk about law and order, law and order was broken here and I must have scared someone in the government for them to censor the show.

Again, I don't know what really happened, but will assume that it was just a power outage and if it was, I think it would be a really good idea to rebroadcast the whole show one more time on a day when we have normal power service so those that are already pointing fingers to the government for censoring the program will not feel that law and order was violated.

All I know is that Bill Gates could not have sparked as much attention and curiosity for his newest Windows operating system as this has in Artsakh among I would guess by morning, the entire population, who would have been talking about this interview anyway, but now that they feel I said something politically incorrect to get the plug pulled, are all going to want to know what was said during the 10 minutes that was blacked-out and are going to be glued to the television, listening to every word for what was so bad that it had to be censored. I would guess this could also include the younger people who would not usually be watching. Very cool!!!

I guess this too could in fact be another one of those deals with God's finger in it, since this was the coming out of Ara. Not to say that I have not been on television before and people dont' know me, but this was my début into the public arena as Ara Manoogian, the nephew of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the grandson of Shahan Natalie and a descendent of the 11th century royal Pakraduni family. If that was at all mentioned in the 10 minutes that did not get televised, then when people actually do see that, they are going to think that those in power know that their competition for power has landed and is rising to his feet (even if that's not my intention) and they don't want the population to know. And if they did learn that about the family tree before or after the black-out, then they are sure to think I had something very important to say that the people in power didn't want them to hear. It's almost like this was a planned stunt by me. Yea, I did plan it this way and I'm good!!! Just kidding.

I guess Armenia saw the 15 minute version of this show yesterday (unless the power went out there too) and the same should be run on satellite soon, if it has not been run already.
The September 10, 2003 article from Agence France Presse titled "Armenia-Azerbaijan border clashes raise spectre of a new war", I find to be a very irresponsible journalism.

I say this as the only thing that can come from this article is panic from the already traumatized victims of war in Artsakh and Azerbaijan, who fear for their lives in the event of war.

Why is it that international mediators from OSCE are making irresponsible statements in reference to the possibility of a "new war" breaking out here in Artsakh?

A school-aged child can see that the chances of war breaking out anytime soon are very unlikely, as Artsakh is not interested (the article even states this) and Azerbaijan would be effectively committing suicide by attacking, seeing we have so many long-range rockets that target the major cities and oilfields in Azerbaijan (something we didn't have during the war) and their losses would be much greater than ours. On top of this, our front line of defense and our hill-top advantage would be very difficult if not impossible to penetrate. I've seen and studied what we have and will just say were in very good shape and ready for war if need be.

Not that we should ever downplay any threat of war, but I get the feeling once the Azerbaijan elections are over, the skirmishes on the front will become less and less.

Getting back to why I think the OSCE is talking about a "new war". It's probably because the peace process has stalled and the OSCE is going once again to the negotiating table and before that time they probably want to scare the greater population so they will agree with any peace plan that is presented. If that's the case, then the OSCE's trying to manipulate the public which is not only irresponsible, but unethical. I say if war does not break out and things calm down as I said they will, those on the OSCE who made those statements should resign after they apologize to those that panicked due to the OSCE that cried wolf.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I know I should not subject you to this, but thought you would be interested in knowing about some of the fallout I get every now and then for being a proactive Armenian. Though this kind of stuff use to bother me a bit, I now find it somewhat flattering that someone would take the time to even write anything about me. The following discussion is taking place on
September 13 2003 at 9:00 AM

It's time for a little grassroots education. Enjoy!

- Hagop Bedrossian

September 13 2003, 10:38 AM

please ignore the hoodlums among us.

- Ara Baliozian

Can you say sociopath?
September 14 2003, 5:33 AM

I'm can't elaborate on his criminal record, but know he left the U.S. during a criminal trial.

Dear Hagop, no one sane would leave California to save Armenia. As others pointed out, things can be accomplished from afar.

If you read his website daily, you'll see that he has some major psychological issues. While it seems some of his intentions are good, he routinely goes off the edge with his threats to someone & claims for absurb,unobtainable actions as if he thinks he is God.

Anyone who rambles on about himself & his mundane & apparently fictious days is missing a screw.

A sociopath is someone who appears to be good (loving, complimentary, does good deeds, etc.), but at the slightest hitch flips out & becomes the true evil person that underlies. Couple that with a little delusion of grandeur & there you have it.

- Guzu

Ara Manoogian Keeps the Faith
September 14 2003, 9:51 AM

Amot eh enger jan..LOL, you are so hard on the guy.

I'm not sure how well you know him or his family, but Ara Manoogian is a good man. You know he is the grandson of the late Armenian political activist and writer Shahan Natalie, therefore, radicalism is in his DNA. Listen, we are not professional psychologists, we don't know what is going on in his mind, and besides, we shouldn't care about his past. All we should care about on this specific subject is his full-fledged effort in helping Armenians directly with concrete action. Question: are you doing anything direct to help Armenia? If you are, great respect you, but most Diasporians don't do anything besides bag on another proactive brother or sister. It's as if, we want to bring each other down, for some odd reason.

Anyway, for the record, I did visit with Ara for two years in a row, on "extended periods" of time and he is a great individual to know. He is fully dedicated to his foundation's project-goals and is very passionate about helping needy Armenian people on a grassroots level. He is doing what he chooses to do, and that is to be helping Armenians every single day. Brother, life is so easy in North America (your IP address); it's very painless to criticize someone like Ara. Understand, as proactive Armenians, we need to get involved in more progressive ways.

I would hate to disappoint you but what Ara writes about in his daily bloggs are 100% accurate. Sure, he may write a bit self-consumed or critical, but hey...what abled Armenian man wouldn't? If you also had a debt or material free life, had no immediate family and had a meaningful legacy to fulfill, people would take notice and bag on you too. Now that seems normal. Ok brother, best of luck to all of us. Keep the faith.

- Hagop Bedrossian

Re: Ara Manoogian Keeps the Faith
September 14 2003, 10:36 AM

I do not know him or his family, but he has caused a lot of needless trouble in the adoption world for several of my friends & I find that very sad for both the childless couples & parentless children. He claims to the press that bribes are being made, & while that may or may not be true, in the vast majority of the cases, it is definitely not. I have corresponded candidly with 15 of the adopted children's adoptive parents over the past year & find no bribes going on. These are good people who just want to have families & he keeps muddling in their affairs. Not only that, but they infuse money into the Armenian economy (by charitiable donations). He hasn't substantiated one single bribery claim. Pretty soon, he is going to get the whole thing shut down. Then where will the children be? Reading the recent article allowing Armenian women to pretend they're pregnant while waiting to adopt to hide this secret gives one a bit of insight into the reason the children are not being adopted by Armenia Armenians--especially the older children. Why he is interested? I'm not sure. I know he helped his cousin adopt, but why he continues to try to crash the system I don't know. Most adoptions are now through agencies & are on the up & up.

Some of his other issues in which he is involved seem a little more helpful to the population a whole.

I respect much of his other work. Another issue I have with his posts is that he consistently makes the Martuni locals sound like complete idiots --as if he is the only one with the ability to get things done right.

As for my contributions to Armenia, I do my part.

As for my IP addy , I send my comments through a friend.


September 15 2003, 3:18 AM

Can you please remove my above posts? I think I might have been a little premature in posting it. That was unfair of me. Sorry!

- Gazu

Which criminal trail?
September 16 2003, 3:25 PM

Though I said I would not comment on this site, I just have to ask Gazu what criminal trial was going on during my departure from the US? Could it have been the O.J. Simpson trail?

Since you don't know me or my family, how the heck do you know so much about my "criminal" background? And since you know so much about my "criminal" background, aren't you in fear of your life since you are also sure I'm a sociopath that can snap at anytime?

You may send messages through a "friend", but for me and my associates we will have no problem tracking you down and instructing our attorneys to come after you, charging you with slander and defamation of character if you don't retract your statements on this forum immediately. Remember "Angela Bedrossian" and remember what Monte Melkonian said, "…If he refuses to correct his behavior the easy way, then we'll just have to do things the hard way. It's as simple as that." This is a rule I respect and follow.

- Ara Manoogian

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Who owns the biggest castle in Karabakh?

The biggest castle in Nagorno Karabakh belongs to Prosecutor General Mavrik Ghukasyan. Of course, no one doubts that it was built with the fruits of honest labor. Ghukasyan had been saving his salary throughout his working life, and this year, his childhood dream of living in a palace fit for a king has come true. We talked to one government functionary who is sure that the castle will become a kindergarten or a museum within a few years. Remember how former minister of defense and national hero Samvel Babayan's house was confiscated and turned into a kindergarten after his arrest in 2000. Of course, Ghukasyan's house surpasses Babayan's in size, appearance and furnishings. Maybe it will be a high school one day.

However, as politicians often say, you can never predict exactly what's going to happen. People in Karabakh have never forgotten the gold and diamonds shown on TV after Babayan was arrested. His property was valued at $3 million. But ordinary Karabakhtsis are asking each other what happened to the jewelry, especially Babayan's three black diamonds. Probably journalist Hamlet Ghushchyan knows the answer to this question, since he was commissioned by the Karabakh government to shoot a film about Babayan, and he saw the jewelry with his own eyes, filmed it, and showed it to the public. By virtue of his office, Prosecutor General Mavrik Ghukasyan should know the answer too.

Edik Baghdasaryan
I wanted to share this message that was posted on the Yahoo Armenian-Adoptions group from "Angela Bedrossian" on Sun Sep 14, 2003 8:03 pm which reads:

"We retract any previous statements made re: Ara Manoogian. We applaud the selfless efforts he has made in Armenia on behalf children and numerous causes. We particularly applaud his efforts to improve the adoption system of Armenia and its approaches to child welfare. We hope that he will find needed support for a simple, transparent system which assures the future of Armenian children."

I want to thank "Angela" and her husband and hope that people will answer your calling to support this and similar efforts, as this is what our nation really does need at this time.
I'm just getting home from Stepanagert and have to say that I'm very very very tired.

The festival on the Sunday was GREAT!!! Did any of you catch it on the internet?

We cleared the site as soon as the festival was over, as it was really cold and I didn't think it would be all that fair to make the police guard our stuff, considering it started to snow (that's how cold it was) just a little as soon as the show was over.

Today Neery and I ran around and also sent off a couple of guest. It was a very long day with lots of meetings.

It seems that my interview that I gave to government television will be airing tomorrow in Armenia and the next day here in Artsakh. I have not seen the final show and I'm really curious to see what their going to show. I say this as it was a very philosophical "conversation" (this is how they are presenting the show to be) that was for the most part as Hagop Bedrossian recently put it, "…the truth is the truth, however hard or difficult or uncomfortable it might be." Anyway, I'll catch the show tomorrow and maybe let you know what I think of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Rain or shine, the festival will happen in Shushi!!!

Late last night at 3:30 I got a call from Neery who told me they finished a long meeting and the dancers agreed that irregardless of the weather, they would dance in Shushi.

With that said, tune into at 8 PM Artsakh time to see the festival live. I will say once again, this is a festival that is worth seeing.
I forgot to pray tonight so there would be no rain, but unfortunately, my mind was on other things and well, it rained and we canceled the festival tonight. The good news is that if the sun is out tomorrow morning, we will have the second day of the festival in Shushi and in the case of rain, it will be held at the cultural palace in Stepanagert.

So why didn't I have time for praying so it would not rain as I did yesterday? Well I was dealing with my car and for the second time this year, I got bad gasoline, which caused my car not to start today, so I had to take a taxi to Stepanagert.

I guess the taxi raid was meant to be, as we got pulled over by the traffic police for no reason at all and the cop who knows me and saw me sitting in the back of the taxi, took a bribe of 500 dram right in front of my eyes. I could not believe what I was witnessing.

After my driver got back in the car, the cop opens my door and asks me, "Ara jan, how are you?"

I snapped at him and asked him if he was not embarrassed for taking a bribe in front of me? He said that he didn't understand and I told him he would soon understand, tell the driver to drive on, as I pulled the door closed and out of his hand.

So come Monday morning or if I have time tomorrow, I'll call the chief of the traffic police to tell him to remove officer #1478 from the force, or else I will write and sign a complaint to the minister of internal affairs and insist that they press criminal charges against said officer.

So I got to Shushi and just before we thought the festival would start, the rain beat us to it. Not to say it was coming down hard, but it was not like last nights weather and it was also I would guess about 10 degrees colder.

We planted some trees, that were provided by the Armenian Tree Project.

At 9 PM, we decided that the rain was not going to stop and made an announcement to the waiting crowd that tonight's performance is canceled and then all the organizers and some guest sat at the table intended for the President and drank toasts to each other and talked about some very political issues. I was kind of shocked at the way the toasts were going, as they seemed more like political debates, rather than toasts. Later on I made a comment about how I had never seen anything like this and was told that they have seen worse, but it was probably toned down because I was there. I could not understand, as in Martuni if someone is saying a toast, one does not turn someone's toast into a political argument. I say this, as I've sat at tables with people who thought I was a native and it never was like this. I guess maybe the people of Shushi are like this and for that it gives me great comfort that I picked Martuni as my home, where people have manors and a certain respect for each other where they at least don't belittle the person saying a toast.

For the most part, the rest of the evening was uneventful and all I know right now is my work tomorrow is cut out for me, with me having to deal with draining out all the gasoline from my car and then at very least calling the gas station owner to let him know that I had a problem with his gas so he can look into it if he wants.

Saturday, September 13, 2003


It almost looked like it was not going to happen due to rain, but at the last minute it stopped raining and after wiping down the stage, the show started.

I don't know if any of you caught it on the internet, but if you didn't, I highly recommend seeing it tomorrow.

You can view the show live at starting at 8 PM Armenia time.

Friday, September 12, 2003

RFE/RL: Ministers Vow To Tighten Rules For Foreign Adoption

By Ruzanna Khachatrian

Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and a member of his cabinet confirmed on Wednesday plans to tighten rules for the adoption of Armenian children by foreign nationals, admitting that the existing procedures leave room for government abuse.

But they said law-enforcement authorities have no compelling evidence to prosecute any government official in a position to affect foreign adoption on charges of bribery.

That the process is tainted with corruption was suggested by an RFE/RL report last June. It was based on the online correspondence of an Armenian-American businessman based in Nagorno-Karabakh with U.S. adoptive parents. Some of them told Ara Manoogian that their adoption expenditures included thousands of dollars worth of bribes paid to relevant Armenian officials.

Social Security Minister Aghvan Vartanian asked the office of Armenia's prosecutor-general to examine the report. The prosecutors have questioned several individuals but, according to Vartanian, have found no grounds to launch criminal proceedings against anyone.

"A criminal case has not been opened because it is difficult to find concrete evidence [of corruption]," he told RFE/RL. "But it is obvious that there are some worrisome practices."

Markarian likewise admitted "some problems" with the foreign adoptions, but claimed that his government has rendered the process more stringent in the last two years. Speaking to RFE/RL, he said the requirements will be tightened further soon.

Vartanian confirmed this, saying: "The number of foreign adoptions has grown in recent years, and that worries us. Our ministry is now drawing up appropriate changes to the adoption rules."

The process is currently handled by a high-level government commission comprising the ministers of justice, education, health and social security and other officials. It usually takes between four and six months and also requires positive decisions by several other government bodies. The final clearance is given by the full cabinet of ministers.

According to the Social Security Ministry, 62 Armenian children, mainly orphans, were adopted by foreigners last year, and 37 others in the first half of this year. Vartanian complained that the existing procedures are too "simple" as they mainly require adoptive parents to make only one trip to Armenia and have a minimum annual income of $24,000 per person. He said a foreign adoption should be allowed only in cases where the government can not find Armenians parents for an orphan.

Markarian said the government commission has already decided to allow foreign citizens without ethnic Armenian roots to adopt only mentally and physically disabled children.

The change was first announced in early August by a representative of a U.S. adoption agency that has for years been involved in Armenia. "We are completing [the adoption by] our last non-Armenian family next week and will no longer accept non-Armenian families into the program," she wrote to an Internet discussion group.
I just got home from Shushi, where the other day I had to take very unscheduled and unwelcome trip there to take control of all construction going on. To say the least, it was just not happening.

I called at 2:30 PM that day to see how things were going and was told that the crane I ordered the previous day to work 8 hours had in all loaded up and installed 5 of the 14 roofing panels and it looked like they were having problems.

I let off some steam when I asked if my cement workers from Martuni were there and was told that they didn't find them at the place they agreed to meet. I asked what time they went looking for them and was told 1 PM. Well when your suppose to meet someone at 10 AM and go looking for them at 1 PM, there is a good reason why you would not find them.

I dropped everything I was doing and drove off towards Shushi, figuring that my cement people would be someplace in Stepanagert looking for me or something, but just in case, I stopped one bus in Aghdam, that was heading for Martuni and sure as could be, Garen and Valaric were in it.

We rushed up to Shushi and got there at 4 PM to find the crane loading up on a truck panel #6. I asked what the hang up was in not so nice a tone, then went up to the job site to find that my Forman had brought in some shlop cement guy that was doing a horrible and didn't even have the right tools. I told him if he was to stay, he would be a laborer and said that the masters on this job would be Garen and Valaric.

They got to work and I went back down to make sure the crane was working and within 4 hours, we moved and installed the remaining 9 panels.

I insisted that we work until we get the base cement laid and for that we worked until midnight, with the lighting guy and I driving down to Stepanagert to get floodlights to light the work area.

Today we worked all day to get the final surface coat and a 6 foot wide staircase built from building stones so people can get on stage without having to use a ladder.

We also installed all the lights, which look great and finished all the major cleaning and other repairs.

At 8 PM, we all sat down for a meal and then I told Neery that I have to go to Martuni as I have neglected my other work to the point that tomorrow, I going to end up showing up with the other guests.

She was okay with this and it was clear that whatever work our Forman could screw up, she and the others could take care of.

I have to tell you, the whole place looks great and the stage really turned out great and only happened because of my ringers from Martuni Garen and Valaric.

On the way home Garen, Valaric and I were talking and they said that when I called the other night, they knew I was in trouble and figured I had blown up at the Shushi people, telling them I would bring in my own people to get the job done and said that they had other volunteers ready to come to make sure things were brought under control, but since I had not asked for a crew, only they would come. In fact, I had only called for Garen to come and Valaric said he would come along, just in case and if there was no work for him, at least he would see Shushi. Well I'm glad they both came and once again, it was the Martuni cavalry that saved the day and for that WE ARE HAVING A FESITVAL!!!

BTW, the festival will be televised on the internet and if nothing has changed, it will be found at (you may want to confirm this address on on September 12th and 13th from 8 PM to 10 or 11 PM (Armenian time). Be sure to tune in and sign our guest book to tell us how impressed you are with the stage (this way I will know you were one of my invited guests).

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Just got a call from the guy doing the shopping that he found chicken that is Armenian chicken from Armenia. It's the same company that owns our chicken farm. Good job and this means that I do have to be in Shushi by 5 PM to make the rice.
This morning what do I wake to, but a call from the person doing the shopping to tell me that there is no Martuni chicken in Stepanagert and they have not had said chicken for 10 days. They asked if the American hormone filled chicken legs would do? No, I tell them, try to find the imported French grown frozen chickens and if you can't find those, tonight we will feed tomorrows dinner today and I'll call the chicken farm to see about getting chickens which we can feed them tomorrow.

Though these kinds of encounters give me the feeling that the people here are helpless, it could be that they are more interested in doing the job they are given as it has been assigned to them and they don't know or fear to improvise, but I think with a little bit of work, it can be instilled in them (I sure hope so). Could this be a leftover from the old system, where you were only allowed to do what you were told, or else?

So now I'm working on getting things ready so I can be away from work here in Martuni for 4 days without returning to, though was suppose to take all day yesterday to do this, I'll have to try to pull this off in a couple of hours.

The chicken farm was not exactly on my list of things to do, but hey, were talking NK Arts and I guess I need to get use to the unexpected.

BTW, I may be logging and checking my e-mail a little bit less during the next 4 days because I may have less access to internet, but who knows, maybe I'll find the time to drop into an internet café in Stepanagert while running errands.
Tonight while I was trying to fall to sleep, I was playing some MP3's on my computer and in the dark all that was lit was the monitor on my lap-top. The light attracted a lone fly, that buzzed around.

I took a couple of whacks at the fly, not to squish it on my computer, but to maybe knock it out so then I could kill it. The fly got away and I thought that I could get up, turn on the light and in no time, I could track the fly down and kill it.

Then I thought who gave me the right to kill a fly? What did that fly do to deserve such a crewel end to it's already short life?

It made me think about how there are strong and weak creatures, as there are strong and weak nations and governments that today do the same thing.

I'm a strong believer of survival of the fittest, but I'm also a strong believer that one should hunt to eat, meaning collect only what one needs to sustain their basic needs.

Now going back to that fly and me, with me having the power to kill it and then thinking what my justification is to kill it?

Well, flies are dirty creatures that I've been taught spread disease and if not controlled, could multiply. With this as my reason to kill the fly, I have justified my actions and once I squish that little pest, I will feel better and have no remorse for my actions.

Now let's take that same situation and substitute me as being a Western power, or bringing things closer to home, let's make that powerful entity being let's say Azerbaijan and the fly being Armenia, or visa versa. One needs to crush the other because one views the other as being a treat to the others survival.

On the one hand, this behavior is very natural and justified, just like flies and people, though it could also be viewed by some who have been taught by religious belief that one must be civilized. One sure contradicts the other.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that when you mix a fly buzzing around in the dark while trying to sleep and an active mind, what you get is the mess I wrote above, though I'm hoping it at least got some of you thinking that the "civilized" world in fact is not all that civilized.

Darn, I can't believe I have not slept yet and if I don't do so soon, I'm not going to get any sleep before having to get up in the next couple of hours. Not good.
What a full day today was with me having to do things I was not expecting to do.

Though today was suppose to be a day for me to be dealing with the stone factory and other business related work, I got a call this morning from people working for NK Arts tell the work I gave them they were unable to do, which means they could not resolve some very important tasks that had to be taken care of today for sure, or else we were looking at not having the festival.

I was left with no choice but to get in my car and drive all the way to Stepanagert and resolve those issues that they could have very easily resolved. Yes, most of those things they claimed were going to impossible to do, I resolved in about a whole 5 minutes. And I went to the same place they claimed to have gone to resolve those issues. To say the least, I was not at all happy.

Then a trip to Shushi, no, two trips to Shushi to make sure things were being done right and guess what? I had to adjust work there too.

Then in Stepanagert, I was being given these outrageous prices from my people for just about everything that needed to be done, so after a couple of phone calls, I called in my people from Martuni, including one construction person who will do come cement work tomorrow for 25% the price (which is the real going rate) for a job they said they could get done for no less than the price they were telling me.

Then as I'm getting ready to leave for Martuni (this was 7 PM), one of our people comes form a meeting with a restaurant owner to give us a price on what the meals for our visitors is going to cost. I could not believe the price and it was decided that we would do the meals ourselves and the person that was suppose to be arranging all this (the guy that came with the restaurant price) ends up in the end, dropping the whole thing in my lap. So instead of killing him right there on the spot, we sat down together and made out a menu and then I sat behind a computer and made the shopping list and also called someone in Shushi to find me quick a cooking and cleaning staff for the kitchen, which I did. In the end, I was able to cut the price of meals in half.

I finally got out of Stepanagert at 2 AM and though I should have been really pissed off, I was smiling and thinking that when this whole festival is over, I'm going to pat myself on the back for a job well done, as this was a great test of what I am capable of doing and this only proves that according to the locals, from everything they were telling each other with the impossible tasks I was able to do today in a matter of a few hours, this means that I really am capable of doing the impossible, meaning that just maybe my vision of making this country into something good is in fact truly ascertainable.

Well it's now 3:30 and I think my body deserves a rest, as I have to be back in Shushi tomorrow by 5 PM to make the rice pilaf, as what my menu calls out for, I'm going to have to show them the first time how to make it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

We just finished 30 minutes ago with the installation of the transponder and are right now relaying H1 Armenian television.

We worked all day trying to get the transmitting antenna just right and also the satellite dish positioned so it would get the maximum signal.

Now that it's working, as soon as the NK Arts festival has passed, I will start to work on forming the advisory committee so we can determine what would be the best material to show.

Today some young boys advised us that if we want to have them as viewers, we will have to put on some sports. I'm thinking that maybe until we get things in order, on weekends, maybe I can relay Euro-Sports so we can get the male audience tuning in. I'll have to ask an educator friend that will be on the committee what he thinks?

In between the installation of our transponder, I made a bunch of phone calls to make sure things were moving forward in the area of NK Arts. We are coming very close to festival day and though it seems that there are things that may come down to being completed at the last minute, I'm confident that we are going to pull this off without any real problems.

Monday, September 08, 2003

A transponder was delivered today for a new television channel we will be broadcasting in the name of the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, Inc., here in Martuni and eventually if we can pull it off, the whole country. Our channel is strictly educational and cultural (a new concept here).

For years I've been trying to get little children off the street and into pre-schools, but the needs were too financially prohibitive and in the end, though I would do something in this regard, it was never quite what I felt was needed.

I then decided last year that instead of getting the children into classrooms, why not use what resources already exist in people homes and put the classroom right into the homes via that stupid box I have come to hate so much for the garbage it plants in peoples heads.

So to start with, once things are up and running (which should be tomorrow), we will be re-broadcasting Armenian television Y1 that I get on satellite.

After that, I will put a committee together of parents, community members and educators to decided what they would recommend to us as appropriate material to broadcast in terms of cultural cohesiveness. I think I'm also going to invite the head of the Martuni KGB onto the committee just so they know exactly what we are doing.

The general idea will be to put on a couple of hours of programming for pre-schoolers in the morning (Armenian Sesame Street kind of programs). After 1 PM when the school children get home, a couple of hours of something appropriate for them. At prime soap opera time, we will put on maybe a good cooking show or something that will be more desirable for the lady of the house. At night something for the whole family, maybe some movie that teaches some moral (the old Frunzig classics are always good for this). We could also have some useful programs about maybe farming, finance and business every now and then to give ideas to people on better ways to make their work more productive and maybe improve their lives in a small way.

One thing I will insistent that the committee considers is that we do not put on any programs that promote or imply a lifestyle that one can't truly ascertain here via honest means, meaning our programs will not be about let's say life in New York, showing bright lights and fancy cars. God know there are already enough of those kinds of shows out there.

The biggest thing I want after we do this much is to put together a small studio for a daily homework show (you may have seen this kind of program in America), which is basically a call-in show that is done live and children call in to ask a teacher to help them with a homework problem, which they solve in our studio for all to see. This would make our channel very popular with everyone, as everyone here is into knowledge and everyone would be calling in just to talk on television or listen to see who calls in. For now, this program will have to wait, as it will take a bit more finance than I have right now to work with, though I am exploring the possibility of finding someone with some old studio equipment that is collecting dust that they could turn into a tax write-off.

Anyway, I'm very excited about this new television channel, as I know what impact it will have, especially on those little kids I see everyday hanging out in the streets that everyone knows should be in pre-school learning during their formative years.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Oh what a very busy 36 hours. It's been all about NK Arts and all I will say now is that things are moving forward and by the 12th, we will be having a festival.

In fact, I want to invite all of you to attend. If you can't be physically present, we are now working on video-streaming, which means you can watch the even live via the internet. If it works, I will post the address so you can attend as a cyber guest. I'll suggest that we set-up a guest book also, that you can document your presents.

I wish I could report more on what I'm up to, but really other than NK Arts, I've been up to nothing. Lots of meeting, lots decision making and lot and lots of work. I'm going to be so glad when the 14th rolls around!!!

Anyway, I just got home a half-hour ago and I think it would be a good idea to go to bed now and maybe sleep.

Friday, September 05, 2003

A reader wrote to me asking about the Tigran Nagdalyan murder case and if people in Martuni are talking about it?

No one I know is talking about this case, as I think everyone is convinced that John Arutyunyan murdered Tigran and the others from Martuni who are now sitting in jail were somehow involved.

The other night I saw John Arutyunyan's mother at a friend's house and she asked me what I thought of this whole mess? I told her it was better that I didn't say anything, as my opinion would not change things and anyway ones looks at it, it's not a good situation.

I asked her what they paid John for killing Tigran and she told me he was paid $19,000. I asked if that took care of his debts and she told me that he gave all of that money to friends and didn't even bother paying $2,000 he owed to the bank. I would guess he didn't pay the bank as to not draw attention to where he got the money?

John's mother went on to tell me of how difficult life had been for them before the murder, as John has 4 children and was also caring for his brother's son, as his brother was killed in the war. With no job, he was struggling to make ends-meat. It's clear to me that the murder as far as John is concerned was all about economics and putting food on the table. Keep in mind that John did not have a prior criminal record.

As for the recent report from Public Television of Armenia that talks about John's motives for killing Tigran being "…because Gegam Shahkbazyan another murder suspect told him that TV journalist Tigran Nagdalyan was preparing "bad reports" about Vazgen Sarkisyan…" and "The second motive was his financial situation." I don't buy this. Remember, John had 5 children to feed and when your struggling to survive, politics and badmouthing someone who is partly responsible for the economic hardship your facing, I would think in fact gives one less reason to kill that person.

I think this murder as far as John and his friends from Martuni are concerned is all about money and survival. What the people in power will play it as being I would think can only be driven by their need to weaken their opposition.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Tonight I went to my accountants house for dinner and her father asked me what all this talk is about me building a performance stage to have a concert for the prisoners of Shushi?

I guess when I talked to my welder about building a stage, he understood that when I said we were having a performance at the "bert" (this means fort in Armenian), he understood the prison, which the people here call a "bert".

Now I understand why the last time I saw my welder, he asked me who the concert is for and will the prisoners from the jail be attending. I thought it to be a strange question and told him that if they were allowed to, I see no reason why not.

So small town Martuni is now talking about me putting on this concert for the prisoners and it would not surprise me in the least if word makes it all the way to the prison itself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

"Exploitation and oppression are in themselves forms of violence, and to defend myself and others I will leave all my options open, including violent options. This is natural, and the way things go. I don't care whether someone has been born into a position of oppression or if he has "worked" his way there. If he oppresses, he oppresses. If he refuses to correct his behavior the easy way, then we'll just have to do things the hard way. It's as simple as that."
--Monte Melkonian - Personal correspondence with a friend, A.S., dated April 25, 1988.

For more quotes by Monte Melkonian, visit

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Today is quite hot (right now it's 41.3 outside).

Tonight there is a big concert in Stepanagert to celebrate our independence. I really should go, but I'm really not in any mood to drive right now and leave the comfort of my home. On the other hand Nune is going to be performing and the people I hang out with will be hanging out with her and just maybe I can get that date I've been trying to have for the last couple of years so I can once and for all finish my research on what is different between Nune and logger Lena.

Here's a little trivial bit of information. Does anyone know what Armenians in Armenia call the "@" symbol? They call it "shoonig".

Anyone know why they call it "shoonig"? Because the Russians call it "sabachgah", which in Russian means little dog and little dog in Armenian is "shoonig".

So when I give out my e-mail address, I tell people here "ara_manoogian, shooing,". The only person I can think of that could like the word "shoonig" in an e-mail address is Madlene and my mom.

Does anyone know if there is another word in Armenian for "@"? I would think Armenians would be more technical than calling it "shoonig", as "at" makes more sense. Would saying "tebi" be so difficult? It makes more sense to me and I kind of like the way it sounds. "ara_manoogian, tebi,", though in that case, we would need to start a domain called ""

Monday, September 01, 2003, August 29, 2003.

Changes proposed for Armenian Law on Adoption

A paragraph in Armenia's Law on Adoption allows an adopting mother to "imitate" pregnancy.

According to the law, a woman who has been approved to adopt has the right to mimic a pregnancy - a right afforded in deference to cultural attitudes surrounding a family's attempts to have children. In Armenia, where even domestic life is rarely private, shared instead by neighbors and relatives, women are often reluctant to reveal that they are adopting. In a society where a woman's worth is sometimes defined by her child-bearing ability, women do not wish to be known as "infertile".

Understanding this cultural characteristic, the Law on Adoption has sipulated that a woman may imitate a pregnancy. (The clause in the law is intended to make it possible for a woman to get a birth certificate for a newborn, stating that she has delivered a child.)

Some women leave the country for several months and when they come back go straight to the hospital or orphanage to take a child. Others put pillows on their abdomen to make it correspond to pregnancy. Some even over-eat to gain weight.

But the controversial portion of the law may be about to change, as it will be under review this fall by the Government. The Ministry of Social Security says the portion of the law allowing imitation pregnancy is senseless.

"The pregnancy imitation makes women suffer," says Karine Hakobyan, Deputy Minister.

"Those women who can not give birth suffer the inferiority complex, and some of them prefer to endure a sham pregnancy. But pregnancy imitation makes them suffer even more, because they have to pretend each minute they are pregnant. And after all that they risk mental problems," Hakobyan says.

Many women who adopt children share this opinion.

Three years ago Zara Avagyan adopted a six-month old boy from Zatik orphanage. She was faced with whether to fake a pregnancy or announce that she was going to adopt a son. After long hesitation, she chose the latter.

"I thought that if I chose to imitate pregnancy I would first of all deceive myself," Avagyan says. "Besides I don't believe that in Armenia you can hide your private life. I haven't decided yet if I would tell my boy that he is adopted. It is my business but I am afraid that someone might tell him before I will."

In addition to abolition of the "pregnancy imitation" clause, the working group of the Social Ministry will also advocate abolishing third-party participation in adoptions on behalf of prospective parents living abroad.

"Almost all the foreigners who wish to adopt a child in Armenia don't come here, but send a middleman," Hakobyan says. "But I think aadoption is something which should not be done through a third person. We want parents to be in charge of a child from the very first minute they take him. If parents want to save travel expenses or do not have time to come to Armenia to see children wishing to be adopted, we can not trust them."

Hakobyan says that under 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.

"For the past couple of years the number of foreigners who wish to have a child from Armenia has increased," she says. "In Armenia we can follow the information about adopted children, but we lose ties when children leave Armenia."

The number of foreign families making adoptions in Armenia is icreasing. In 2001, 163 children were adopted - 120 by local families and 43 by foreigners. In 2002, 178 were adopted - 116 by locals and 62 by foreigners. And in the first half of this year, 80 children were adopted - 43 by locals and 37 by foreigners.

It is a wide spread opinion in Armenia that the process of adoption by foreigners involves thousands of dollars paid in bribes.

Hakobyan says that if the suggested amendments are approved by the Government there will be no loophole for corruption of officials administering the adoption process.

Ashot Mnatsakanyan, the Director of Zatik orphanage, says that neither he nor the directors of other orphanages are authorized to participate in adoption procedures.

"People who work in the orphanages know each child and can help parents to take a child by describing him. It is not right that we can not help our children to find a good home. And the accusation of bribery in orphanages is very harmful," Mnatsakanyan says.


"First I gave the application to the City Council. Then I collected the information about the family budget and the health reference guarantying that I was healthy and able to take care of a child," she explains. "In about a month the people from the Council came to my home to see the living conditions."

As a single woman living on a musician's salary of 20,000 drams (about $34) a month, Avagyan was not financially qualified for adopting. But her sister, living in the United States, wrote a letter confirming that she would help support the child by sending $300 each month.

The whole procedure of adopting her son took about six months, and Avagyan says she was satisfied with how the process worked. But when it came time to take a child, she was told that there was only one child she could adopt.

"When I saw the boy he was six months old, but looked as if he were three months," she recalls. "He was small, thin and pale and I thought maybe he had a serious health problem. Then he looked at me with his big brown eyes, and in the following second I realized that if I have to take a child it is him."

She named the boy Hakob and says that he is smart and healthy now. And she hopes that by the time Hakob learns the truth of his history, they will be a real family
I hope I'm not boring anyone, but today was once again another NK Arts full day of work in Stepanagert and Shushi.

Many meetings and checking work on the site, which I have to say is coming along quite well and things are really shaping up.

When living in a small town like Martuni, sometimes roomers start from someone over hearing only part of a conversation. So the latest roomer is that Ara is building a stage so he can put on a concert in Shushi for the people in the prison. When I heard this, I had to laugh.

It seems that my welder understood that the stage was being build for a concert in Shushi at the Pert (fort), but here the Shushi fort is the prison and they refer to the historic fort as the "wall". So now all of Martuni is talking about the concert I'm putting on for the prisoners.

After I finished my NK Arts work, I headed to a street near the bazaar where there are a bunch of butchers to get beef bones for my dogs. I scored big time today, as one butcher was a little bit drunk and since he likes me so much, he took the time to cut the bones out of a side be beef and while doing this, he kept repeating to the other butchers that we have to look after Ara, as he came from a far place and his dogs who protect him have to be well taken care of.

It was certainly a very long day and when I got home to Martuni, a beer and some munchies were certainly in order, as I didn't have time for lunch today and right now I've got a couple of Cornish game hen defrosting, which I'll start to cook up in a few minutes.
Azat Artsakh---NKR

According to the NKR prime minister Anoushavan Danielian, at present the government is occupied with implementation of the new program of assistance to families of killed azatamartiks. With its importance and range the program can be compared to the program of encouragement of birthrate. `We are hopeful that both with its importance in development of the economy and social importance it will have the same success as the program of stimulating birthrate,' said A. Danielian. According to the mentioned program it is anticipated to plant one hectare of vineyard for each families of killed or missing azatamartiks, which will become their property and source of income. The program is anticipated to be implemented through charity means. According to the prime minister, for each vineyard about 5 ` 6 thousand US dollars will be needed. For solving the questions of organization a special state committee will be established where families will also have their representative.


Where do they come up with these ideas and what's with the $5,000 to $6,000 figure?

I spoke with a specialist today about the costs involved in starting a vineyard and the breakdown in cost.

For one hector of land you can plant a total of forty 100meter long rows with 67 vines in each row. This means 2680 vines.

Each cutting costs 50 to100 dram and when you plant to make sure all 2680 vines take, you plant 2 cuttings per hole.

To start a new vineyard, you have to first till the soil with a large tractor. That tractor cost 25,000 dram for this operation.

Then after the soil rests, you level the ground and this time with a standard plowing tractor, lightly plow. Then with a roller, you press the soil. This process can't cost more than 15,000 to 20,000 dram.

Then cement poles need to be planted and for one hector, 440 pole are needed. These cost us delivered 100 dram each. I know this, as I have been using these same cement poles for fencing poles.

Three levels of wire need to be strung on the pole. About 20,200 meters are needed at 10 dram a meter totaling 202,000 dram.

Then there is a device that pounds holes in the ground (like a jack-hammer) and on one truck, there are 4 of these hammers. In one day, 6 people work and can plant one hector. Cost of labor is 12,000 dram and rent for the truck maybe 10,000 dram (may be a little more, but not much more).

At this point, you have a one-hector vineyard that costs you about $1,500. Mind you this price does not include irrigation, but depending on where they decide to put these vineyards, if they do it right, they will pick a spot where there is already Artesian wells and electricity close by, in that case, it's just a matter of pumping the water and a couple hundred meters of pipe per vineyard, which I would guess were talking anther $500 per vineyard maximum (even this is a high figure).

Now if were talking the real price to be $2,00 per hector, then where does this $5,000 to $6,000 per hector come in? And if you understand the article, it's basically saying we are going to turn to the Diaspora for this money.

One other thing that I can't help but think about is right off the top of my head there are 3 families that don't have the health to work these vineyards themselves, which means they have to hire someone to do this and one thing the expert told me what that if the vineyards are not properly worked, you could get no crop at all.

I would guess that many who receive these vineyards will not wait a minute and turn around and sell them for a fraction of their real value.

As for the Prime Minister's comment of the importance of this program being the same as the stimulating birthrates program, if this program is suppose to have the same effect, then in the end it will do us more harm than good.

Why do I say that about the birthing program? Well you don't pay poor people to have more children in the real world. You give people jobs and economic opportunities so they can afford to have more children that later on will no become a burden to us.

In fact this vineyard program as far as I can see it is just another program that is designed for the people in government to pillage from the Diaspora and use the names of our martyred heroes to motivate the Diaspora to open their pockets up.

I would really like to see their financial figures that reflect $5,000 to $6,000 per hector and when I go to Stepanagert, will request them from the government so I can review them.
Today I was talking to a journalist friend of mine from Yerevan who told me that the justice ministry is denying that the there was ever an adoption by a Janet Kendra and the story that ran in the Tribune-Review about "County approves first same-sex adoption" ( was a hoax. If it was a hoax, then why can you still view the story with picture on Don't you think by now the Armenian government would have put pressure on the paper to pull the story and apologize for their mistake?

You know what I hate most is when someone does something wrong and then lies to try to cover up their mistake. In such cases, I find it necessary to punish such people in a way that they become so humiliated that all they can think about is how they will ever be able to show their faces in public or even to their family ever again.

Now why the justice ministry is trying to cover this adoption up is obvious to me and if they think they are going to get away with it, the only people they are fooling is themselves as I am going to make sure that no stone is left unturned and everyone involved in this case is punished to the full extent of the law and then humiliated to the point that all they will think about is moving to out of the country.

I did hear some good news today which is some new laws have been passed on August 1st that deal with the protection of children. One of the laws covers punishment for those in the sale of children. Now if the laws will work is another story.