Sunday, November 30, 2003

I need your help.

The picture to the right is the latest product coming out of Nungi’s ceramic studio.

What we need to know is what would something like this sell for in the US?

This lidded pot is 4.5” in diameter and 4.5” tall.

It was carved by my cabinet maker/wood carver Jerig.

If the market in the US will bare a reasonable price, you may soon find these pots from Nungi in stores near you.
Tonight was beer batter onion ring night.

There really was nothing to make tonight for dinner, at least anything I was interested in eating and Jeff Ryan, the director of the NK Arts Nungi ceramics project said that he wanted to make beer batter onion rings.

He went off to the corner market and returned with a few beers and began to whip up some batter. I didn’t realize how simple the batter was to make and how tasty this Americanized dish was?

I guess the secret behind the batter has to be Gold Meal All-Purpose Enriched Bleached Presifted Flour. This is the flour that is sent over from America to Armenia as aid, but somehow ends up in the stores and 2.26kg (5lbs.) sells for a bargain 500 dram (less than $1). I don’t think you can get it in America that cheap on sale. Only disadvantage to making your purchase here is the New Children’s Cookbook Offer that sells for $2,50, would cost you a small fortune to have shipped over here.

So Jeff fried up onion rings and peppers and I have to tell you that it’s been over 3 years since my last visit to the states for onion rings and I now know what I’ve been depriving myself of. They were great!!! I could just sit around and eat them until my blood clots!!!
Hayastan All-Armenian Fund Telethon 2003 Update

I had reported on the 28th that $4,538.790 of the money pledged came from 31 major donors. There were 2 donors that did make my list and those were Gerard Gafesdjian, $500K and Ara Abrahamian, $200K. This means that $5,238,790 came from 33 major donors. This also means that only $833,767 of the $6,072,557 was possibly donated from 1 million+ Armenians found in the United States.

This is very sad for a telethon that was organized with the primary aim of soliciting funds from the financially best off Armenians found in America on their day of thanks. If that’s not a vote of confidence to the Armenia Fund, I don’t know what is. I know Armenian-Americans (being one of them myself) and if they really thought their donations were going to go where they were intended, they would give until it hurts.

“Around 55,000 Karabakhis partook in the fund raising”, said Karabakhi leader Arkady Ghukasian. More like 54,998 Karabakhis were forced to partake in the fund raising, having their unwilling donation automatically deducted from their already meager salary that undoubtedly will end up in the pockets of some corrupt officials. From the results of the telethon, the 99% of Diaspora Armenians that didn’t partake understood this. What a joke.
The following are my edited version (cutting out things that are not relevant to Armenia) of Radio Free Europe's Nov 28 2003 article titled "UN: Despite Pledges, Report Finds More People Going Hungry", written by Askold Krushelnycky

A United Nations report published this week says more people than ever are going hungry, despite pledges to reduce by half the number of the world's malnourished by 2015. The UN report says that noble ambition is probably now unattainable.

Prague, 28 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- More than 840 million people, one out of every seven people on Earth, will go to sleep tonight gnawed by hunger.

That was not supposed to happen following a 1996 UN conference where the world's richest countries vowed to halve the number of the world's malnourished by 2015. However, a report published on 25 November by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes that goal is now unattainable by the original deadline.

The report finds the number of hungry people actually increased by 18 million in the second half of the 1990s. Most of those who are malnourished are from the Third World, Africa and Asia. But 34 million live in the former communist countries of Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

FAO spokesman John Riddle says someone who is malnourished does not have enough caloric intake to expend the energy necessary for a normal productive life. He said malnourishment can lead to death but that it is difficult to measure how many deaths it causes directly.

"They can die from undernourishment, but generally they die from other things caused by the fact that they weren't healthy enough to fight off those other things. So they get sick or they get an infection or something along these lines, and they're not really well fed enough to deal with it," Riddle said.

The report says Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia had levels of malnourishment of between 20 percent and 35 percent of their populations. The worst affected were Armenia, with around half of the population regularly undernourished, and Tajikistan, with 70 percent not getting enough to eat.

Gurkan says the study shows hunger declined in countries where the economies are developing well. "This report indicates that there have been a number of factors that have been instrumental in differentiating between those who have done well and those who have not done as much or as well as the others," he said. "And amongst them is indeed the economic performance, not only of the overall economy, but also of the agricultural sector, which suggests that those who have achieved higher growth rates -- as far as agriculture and overall economics are concerned --- have done better."

He says the FAO has proposed a new antihunger program that learns from past mistakes and targets assistance more accurately. The proposals include improving agricultural productivity in poor rural communities, developing and conserving natural resources, expanding rural infrastructure and market access, and ensuring access to food for the most needy.


According to everything you read with economic development and growth in Armenia and Artsakh today according to government statistics, we should be doing much better than Georgia and Azerbaijan, but as you can see, they have 20 to 35 percent malnourished, while we have around 50 percent.

So where do these inconsistencies come from?

Well to start with, Armenia has too many clans and monopolies that are directly tied to the government that control all sectors of industry. They are headed by persons who are only looking for their own personal gains, are usually uneducated and in most cases, exploit the common person. For the most part, they pay starvation wages, thus you end up with around 50 percent of malnourished persons.

One thing I'm not sure of from the UN report is what number about 50 percent represents? I say this as if they use the official population figure of 3.5 million (?), then this would mean that our malnourished rate would be much higher (which is what I suspect since there have been other reports reflecting higher numbers).

I can only conclude and have always felt that the Robert Kocharian/Serge Sarkisian government needs to go. The big problem is who should replace them so that we can turn things around? And if you think irregardless of who we bring in, things can't get better, your wrong. We need leaders that are not thinking of their personal wealth like Kocharian, Sarkisian and their clan. With leaders that are only thinking of the well being of our people, just from the natural resources our country has, we can eradicate the problem of malnourishment in Armenia and Artsakh.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Winter will soon set in and checking my stats on who visits my site, we have a reader or two from Brazil.

When thinking of Brazil, all I can think of is the warm tropical sun ofRio and this Armenian-Brazilian who attended the 1999 Armenian-Diaspora conference that stole my heart.

When I approached her to ask if she minded if I took her picture, her very proper grandmother intervened and basically chased me off.

I took a couple of pictures of her from a distance, but never caught her name.

If our reader from Brazil could e-mail me, I can send you a copy of her picture and maybe you can tell me who she is and…
Fin culture lands in Maine (USA) and is televised in Nagorno-Karabagh.

Today Jeff Ryan and I were watching satellite TV from Dubai and one of the programs which was in English was a wife carrying contest. The winner who could carry their wife over a 270 meter obstacle course in the shortest time, won his wife’s weight in coins (today’s winner won $650) and also in beer (6 cases). Jeff commented on how it takes a real balance to find the right wife as you want a big fat wife so you get lots of beer, but if she is too fat, you can’t carry her.

Following this program, they had a show with Santa Claus and some talking bricks. It was not in English, so I’m not sure if this was Muslims mocking old Saint Nick, or if this is some indication of the station catering to it’s Christian viewers?

I guess I’m really bored and besides doing laundry, cleaning house, playing with Vartan the cat and watching TV, there really is not much to do.
I was a bit bored today and decided to take a trip down memory-lane. While doing so, I came across this log from that I thoght you would enjoy.

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Ara Manoogian wrote at 2:12 AM:

THE BIGGEST EATERS ON EARTH CHOW DOWN ON THE ALL-NEW SPECIAL 'GLUTTON BOWL #1: THE WORLD'S GREATEST EATING COMPETITION' THURSDAY, FEB. 21, ON FOX This gut-busting, eat-'til-you-drop, two-hour special pits 40 larger-than-life contestants against each other in unique competitive eating challenges. In the early rounds, competitors square off in a challenge to see how much or how fast they can consume. The winner in each round earns a spot in the finals, which will be an unbelievable, all-out gorge-fest with a big cash prize. The qualifying round categories will range from huge bowls of mayonnaise to beef tongue to sticks of butter. The final round -- not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach -- will include a surprise "delicacy", and won't end until only one competitor is left standing on the special GLUTTON BOWL #1: THE WORLD'S GREATEST EATING COMPETITON Thursday, Feb 21 (8:00- 10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (SP-0208) (TV-PG)(READER'S NOTE: FAMILY GUY is pre-empted this night.)

When I'm trying to beat a dead horse to illustrate a point, I can always count on the Internet and it's vast pool of useless information to keep things going.

So did anyone catch this new FOX show, "The Gluttony Bowl"? I can't help but think that America is the only country that has the sheer conceit to devote millions of dollars to television entertainment programming, so they could showcase a group of sloppy yokels stuffing their faces, yet, at the same time, will do very little about helping the majority of people in this world that are barely able to scrounge a meal.

Here's an interesting statistic I read: "Each year, Americans eat 38 billion hamburgers. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of red meat. Cattle consume one half of all the fresh water consumed on Earth. The sixty million people who will starve this year could be adequately fed if Americans reduced their meat intake by just 10 percent."

America's food surplus alone, already feeds the rest of the "civilized" world, and whatever they don't export, they stuff in their over-fed, over-sized, over-weight, faces. I've got a nice idea for a game show: starve the gluttons, and feed the starving. Let these fat slobs get a little malnourished.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Hayastan All-Armeniam Fund Raises $6,072,557 for Artsakh’s North-South Highway

The Armenian Fund in their recent fund raising campaign has raised enough to construct over 40 kilometers of Artsakh’s North-South highway.

It was a collective effort that all Armenians from all over the world including persons from Armenia and Artsakh contributed to.

I watched the first 7 hours of the telethon and from what I could gather, $4,538.790 came from 31 major donors (contributions of over $5K), including $900K collected from France and $719K(?) from Armenia and Artsakh. The largest donors were Louise Manoogian Simone and Albert & Tove Boyajian, who each contributed $1 million. Around the 7th hour and at the point I fell asleep, the counter read $4,566,668.

What this would mean is that in 7 hours, separate from the 31 contributors, $28k was collected. I guess this does not make sense and it makes me wonder who was running the counter and why after 7 hours their total counter only reflected such a small amount?

Now I’m not sure if there were any other major contributions in the last 5 hours of the telethon, but if there were not, it would mean that $1.5 million was pledged from the remainder of the Armenians in the Diaspora. That sure is a small amount and reflects the lack of trust the Diaspora has for the fund.

Naira Melkoumyan, the executive director of the Armenian Fund and former minister of foreign affairs of NKR stated that $84k of the donations came from Artsakh and this is an indication that things are better in Artsakh and people are now able to start helping themselves. She forgot to mention that the only thing that is better in NKR is that the government’s system of forcing people to donate.

I was a bit disturbed by the testimony of a couple of Diaspora Armenians who had visited Artsakh and reported that they saw the road and what a great quality job they are doing. To my trained eye, these are people who probably came here for a week as guests of the government and have no clue on what a good quality road is, or after driving on bumpy dirt road for an hour and then driving on the new road, they felt a great improvement, thus their opinion. As a rule, you don’t lay asphalt down right after it rains (which I’ve witnessed happening quite often) or else you get a wavy, bumpy road that is susceptible to getting potholes, like the one we now have.

One guy made mention of how what you give to the road project goes 100% to that project. I don’t get that since from what I remember, it costs quite a bit to put on a telethon and to make a claim like that is a bit misleading. Anyway you look at it, the telethon has to be paid for and the right way to calculate what you raised is the total amount collected, minus the overall costs of putting on the telethon.

I’m really happy that the telethon is over and hope they will be able to collect all the pledges and will put all the money in the road and not a portion of it in their pockets.

One thing nice about the telethon is I got to see lots of people I know. Some of then I have not seen in years, some who have gotten older, grayer and if they were not introduced, I would not have recognized them. I wonder if I’m looking older?

I was also reminded that there really are many Armenians in the Diaspora who really do understand how important it is for us to have a healthy and prosperous nation. Thank about this. If we had this much support from the Diaspora with them knowing about the corruption, can you imagine what support we will get from the Diaspora when we can eradicate corruption?

Arthur Zakarian $50k; Joseph Dorian $50k; Ralph & Savey Tufenkian $10K; Mardirosus Manoukian $50k; Armenia/Artsakh($84k) $719k; Beta Investments & Contracts, Inc. - $10K; Hratch Kaprielian - $50K; Nigol Koulajian - $50K; Mr. and Mrs, George Pagoumian - $125K; Lola Harentz $5k; Philippe Khovbesserin - $5K; Albert & Tove Boyajian - $1 million; Armenian Society of LA-Iranahay - $77,790; Louise Manoogian Simone Foundation - $1 million; Arcady & Ira Ovanessian - $50K; Vahe & Veonic Karapetian - $30K; Kamo Avagumyan - $10K; Vahan & Nora Bezdikian - $10K; Arsen & Hasmik Baran - $10K; Samuel Aleqsanyan - $15K; France - $900K; AYF-Iran - $12K; G. Balyan - $10K; Simon Libarian - $5K; Koko and Levon Termengian - $20K; Vartanian-Topalian Foundation - $5K; Century Marble LLC - $20K; Varnat & Houri Melkonian - $10K; Charles & Julie Ghalian - $5K; Sosi Khachadourian Family - $5K, ARF - $10K; Harout & Nune Aghasarkissian - $10K; Tina Carolan - $10K; Berg and Belet Shahbazian - $100k
Nov 27 2003

Largest US embassy in world is being built in Armenia

The US embassy in Armenia will be the largest in the world. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced yesterday by US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway.

He said the US embassy, which is currently under construction in the suburbs of Yerevan, will take up 9 hectares of land. The embassy will also have its own energy and water supply. The ambassador explained that there are many people working on various projects in Armenia and this is the reason for building such a large embassy.

According to Mr Ordway, the embassy will be built by spring 2005. About 600 Armenians and 65 Turks are currently working on the building's construction. The present embassy will be sold as soon as the new building is complete.

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 27, ARMENPRESS: The US embassy in Yerevan said around 11,000 Armenian citizens have applied to the embassy for entrance visas this year of which 4,627 were given permission to travel to USA.

Ambassador John Ordway said November 26 that the new embassy compound being now built will have a special room for applicants, who now wait for their turn on the street.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

While watching the Armenia Fund telethon 2003, I decided to visit their website and see what projects the fund has done. While doing so, I came upon this project which maybe I’m taking too personal, but for the Armenian Fund to refer to us as “PEASANTS” was just a little bit too offensive for me to take. Just because we don’t all own cars, we own our houses outright (we don’t have a mortgage to have to pay) and are not in debt up to our noises to credit-card companies, does not make us PEASANTS!!! Then again, maybe in the minds of the people at the Armenian Fund, by us being peasants, they can take advantage of us, since you can give the "peasants" scraps and they will be satisfied.

And the only reason the entire country is not already gasified (see Armenian Fund projrct below) is that instead of using our natural resources (pipes from the liberated territories), a few of our leaders felt it was more important to get rich and sell the pipes we could have used to complete this task, which would reduced the need for wood and have helped greatly to preserve our forests. Yes we have peasants, but those crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement are not the Armenians living here, but the people in power who I will not name again since the list is too long and you can read my past logs that name them by name.

Do we need the Armenian Fund? In my opinion NO. If you give the “peasants” the resources so they can work and pay taxes, then they can build their own roads, schools, hospitals, water and gas systems. What the Armenian Fund does is give the opportunity to make a few bad people richer and more powerful, thus a bunch of good people become PEASANTS.

WordNet Dictionary


Pronunciation: 'pezunt

Matching Terms: peasanthood, Peasantlike, Peasantly, peasantry, peasants, Peasant's Revolt

Definition: 1.[n] a country person; 2.[n] a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement; 3.[n] one of a (chiefly European) class of agricultural laborers

Synonyms: barbarian, boor, bucolic, churl, Goth, provincial, tike, tyke

See Also: agricultural laborer, agricultural labourer, cottar, cotter, disagreeable person, fellah, moujik, mujik, muzhik, muzjik, peasantry, rustic, unpleasant person


Definition: [n] (English history) a widespread rebellion in 1381 against poll taxes and other inequities that oppressed the poorer people of England; suppressed by Richard II

Synonyms: Great Revolt

See Also: insurrection, rebellion, revolt, rising, uprising
Not much going on right now. Just getting ready for winter and enjoying some fantastic weather. I’m not going to say it’s short pants weather, but close.

The work in my front yard will conclude today (they didn’t work yesterday). Four days of cleaning, moving soil and cement work. I have to say the place is looking really good.

Today is Thanksgiving and being that Jeff Ryan is an American, I’m going to go try to find us a turkey, or a very large chicken so we can have some kind of feast and be thankful for whatever one is suppose to be thankful for on this day.

The pictures of the day were taken in Nungi by Jeff. Jeff said that he was standing outside and this little boy came walking down the street dragging a wolfs head. Though a little freaked out (Jeff’s words), he asked the boy to wait and went home to get his camera. When he returned, a crowd gathered and everyone wanted their picture taken with the head.

It seems this wolf didn’t have a chance any way you look at it.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned Sunday as the opposition threatened to storm his residence. His fall sparked fireworks and dancing among tens of thousands of protesters, and ended a political crisis astonishing for its speed and lack of violence in a blood-washed region.

It seems that the former president had no support from the army or law enforcement, who seemed to join in with the change of power.

Now let’s see how Armenians will be effected or motivated to make change in their country that is very similar to what Georgia was before their corrupt president resigned?

Sunday, November 23, 2003


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 23. ARMINFO. The development of the events in Georgia showed that the society and the political forces of that country will not tolerate the dictatorship anymore. Representative of the Justice bloc, Leader of the National-democratic party of Armenia Shavarsh Kocharian told ARMINFO.

According to him, the situation in Georgia may have several developments. Either the president Edward Shevardnadze will compromise with the opposition and continue to remain in power on condition that new parliamentary elections are conducted. In this case the whole legislative and executive powers will be in the hands of the opposition, and President Shevardnadze will come out in the role of "English queen", Kocharian said. Or the opposition and the president cannot compromise, and in this case it is impossible to avoid conflict between the authorities and the opposition, the NDP leader stated. The super-powers are interested just in such development of the situation in Georgia.

If the anti-presidential moods in Georgia don't stop, which will result in conflicts between the opposition and the authorities it cannot but have influence the political situation in Armenia, the deputy of Armenian parliament said. He stressed that similar development of events in the neighbor republic will bring to chain reaction in Armenia as well, where the people will begin to worry, as in Armenia the elections were held with no less infringements of the electoral code than in Georgia.


I’m not sure what to think of this story, but gut feeling says that this is wishful thinking on part of the Justice bloc. As far as I know, the greater population has less confidence in the Justice bloc and those other political parties that have the potential to take power of the country, rather than the present government. I especially think those that feel that our problems stated on October 27, 1999. Those are the ones that are most dangerous.

Now just maybe a velvet revolution in Armenia will lead to Kocharian being more cooperative and fair with people, but such a revolution has to be done right to get such results.

Today is Sunday and as I had prearranged earlier this week, Hagop Bedrosian’s snake handlers showed up at 9 AM. This has so far been a major cleaning which included the removal of almost a ton of cement that got wet last winter and has been preventing me from parking my jeep in my garage (which is where it is now).

As you can see, the yard is somewhat over grown (thus the need for snake handlers) and the trees are in much need of a trimming. One Apricot tree will be removed since it’s dead.

Among the foliage in my yard, we discovered a walnut tree sapling. One of my workers figures it must have come from a walnut that a crow dropped while flying over my yard last year, since I sure didn’t plant it. We decided not to pull it out, as it’s in a good spot and when it grows, it will provide shade and maybe even walnuts.

As the workers were cleaning, I had to lock my dog up in the basement and then later tied her up on the balcony as she has become quite aggressive towards strangers and no longer hesitates to attack anyone that enters her territory.

Vartan the cat left the house for a walk when she was in the basement and upon his return, he spotted the dog and tried his best to make his way back into the house undetected.

Fortunately for Vartan, he is fast and like a bolt of lighten, Vartan shot up the stairs before I could get a picture of him making his entrance and before the dog could react in anyway.

It looks like the work will be completed tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

It looks like a change in government is taking place in Georgia and I don’t want to speculate, but depending on how it ends, Armenia will follow. It’s great to see 40 to 50 thousand people without guns trying to make a change and assert their wishes. I hope their successful. As Raffi commented on how it would be great if Armenia did the same as Georgia, he may just have his wish soon.

Today I had my winter wood delivered and as soon as it arrived and it was being unloaded, the neighborhood children asked if I needed help to stack the wood (Gor’s oldest brother Yervant made the offer and lead the others). I accepted their offer and within 20 minutes, the truck was unloaded and stacked.

As we were working on the wood, Jeff Ryan called down to me to report that Vartan the cat had caught a mouse. Vartan is no longer a bal of fur, but had proven himself and is defiantly worth keeping.

After the wood stacking, the people who brought the wood got to work on picking pomegranates and persimmons from my yard. I rid myself of about 300 kilos and only another 500 kilos to go. Any takers?

I was talking to some from Stepanagert today and he told me that they have been informed that all government connected agencies will be “donating” money to the All-Armenian Fund. Like I’ve reported last year, those that refuse to sign a paper to agree to the deduction from their paycheck, they will have someone sign for them. On the news tonight, they reported and showed staff from a school (I think they said school), were making donations and talking about how much they understand how important it is for us all to work together and give. I’m not sure how sincere the persons being interviewed were, but what they were saying does not reflect the opinion of everyone I’ve spoken to, which is we don’t trust the All-Armenian Fund with out money and would never willing give to them.
Yervand Zakharyan denies access to public information

Every citizen of Armenia has the right to become acquainted with the decisions taken by the mayor of Yerevan. These decisions are open documents and must be accessible to everyone including journalists. On October 2, 2003 we sent a letter to Mayor Yervand Zakharyan requesting permission to look at the decisions regarding land allocations for café in the vicinity of the Yerevan Opera House taken from 1997 to 2003 by former mayors Vano Siradegyan, Suren Abrahamyan, Albert Bazeyan and Robert Nazaryan.

It took the mayor's chief of staff, Samvel Koshetsyan, forty days to leave the following message with the mayor's secretary: "In response to your letter addressed to the Mayor's office I would like to inform you that you should specify the exact kind of information you intend to receive from the Yerevan Mayor's Office".

In fact, every decision we requested had been taken from the archive, Xeroxed, and given to the mayor. We will try to find out why Yervand Zakharyan avoids providing us with texts of his predecessors' decisions. And we will continue our series "We Know Who the Owners Are."

Starting next week, we will introduce the real owners of plots in Oghakadzev (Circle) Park and the public park near Babayan Street as well. As to the information we requested from the mayor's office, we have been forced to go to court for it.

Edik Baghdasaryan
Honesty is Still the Best Policy

Today when I went outside to get some firewood, my 6 year old neighbor Gor called to me to tell me that he found money in front of my car, in the sum of 1,100 dram.

I told him it was not my money and if no claimed it, he should keep it. He said that was too much money for him to hold and wanted to give it to me.

I asked Jeff Ryan if he lost any money in front of my house, maybe when he was taking the key out of his pocket, the money slipped out?

Sure enough, it was Jeff’s money, of which Jeff gave Gor a thank you and a reward of 100 dram for his honesty.

Gor was so excited and went off to the store to spend it on candy.
The following story reminds me of how Samuel Babayan, who was accused of allegedly organizing the assassination on the President and given 15 years, though there was no evidence that in an international court would have convicted him.

It seems that anyone that stands up against the Kocharian clan (both Samuel and the Sarkisyan’s would fall under this category), is doomed to having their day is court with a just outcome. At least this seems to be the message Kocharian is trying to send out to scare people so they wont even think about standing up against him in the future.

One thing I will say is that it would have been better if they handed down this verdict after they beg to the Diaspora for money and not before. Remember, Robert Kocharian is the not only the president of Armenia, but also the president of the All-Armenia Fund, the fund that is going to be asking you to give money on November 27th.

Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home
By John Hughes, Editor, 21 November 2003

I don't want to turn the idea into a theme, but the justice system in Armenia just keeps serving up material for comment for which I don't want to appear ungrateful. So . . .

Who is served by the verdict and sentencing in the Tigran Naghdalyan murder case?

A synopsis of the outcome is this:

One man, John Harutyunyan, told the court that he killed Naghdalyan for money. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Another man, Armen Sargsyan, was accused, but not proven in court, of putting up the money to have Naghdalyan killed. He, too, got 15 years.

It seems that in Armenia confessed murder carries the same sentence as unproven conspiracy. Is it just me, or is there something not right about that?

I'm not equipped for defending Sargsyan, nor is it beyond belief that a family as powerful as his could have anybody in this country whacked if they so desired. But a few things in this high-profile case – one that again put the Justice System itself on trial - don't make sense.

First, sources in the General Prosecutor's Office have said privately that, originally, the state intended to charge Armen Sargsyan's brother, Aram, in connection with the murder. In fact, when one of the defendants was being interrogated after his arrest, the investigators kept referring to his relationship to "Aram", not Armen. There is reason to believe that their line of questioning was not simply a slip of the tongue.

Aram Sargsyan is a leader of Republic party, a major oppositional force, and initially stood against Robert Kocharyan in the last presidential election. (Sargsyan withdrew from the race early, throwing his support to oppositional candidate Stepan Demirchyan.)

Apparently unable to draw up a decent case against Aram Sargsyan, prosecution went after the brother, Armen, and arrested him on March 15, 10 days after the presidential elections runoff.

The State accused Armen Sargsyan of offering $75,000 to have Naghdalyan killed, for reasons, prosecution said, that included TV journalist Naghdalyan having "mocked" Sargsyan's dead hero brother, former Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan (a victim of the October 27, 1999 parliament assassinations).

Over a three-month trial, not one of six witnesses (the defense was not allowed to call additional witnesses) named Sargsyan as a conspirator to the murder. Neither, in fact, did the 12 other defendants, some of whom went out of their way to emphasize that Sargsyan, specifically, did not order the killings.

To be fair: If I were on that witness stand, knowing what even I know about the influence of the Sargsyan family in this country, I'd think considerably about my future health before saying anything ill toward one of its members. Still:

Twelve men who could have rolled for the prosecution and made sentencing easier for themselves by fingering Sargsyan, did not.

But forget that, and consider this:

If the court was willing to believe John Harutyunyan when he said that he killed Tigran Naghdalyan, why was it not willing to believe others who said Sargsyan had nothing to do with it? Was their testimony less reputable than that of a man who flatly admitted killing a stranger for money?

The answer may be found in an interview given by the judge (Armenia does not use a jury system) to a Yerevan newspaper in explaining his verdict. He said some judgely things about evaluation of proof. (What proof?, becomes a reasonable question here.) But one quote may say more:

"My inner conviction is completely reflected in the verdict," said Judge Saribek Amaryan.

Some societies operate according to "reasonable doubt". For example if three months of testimony fails to produce one person who said Armen Sargsyan was the culprit, that just might raise reasonable doubt about his guilt.

Here, apparently, inner conviction is a more powerful tool of justice. For all I know, Armen Sargsyan may be guilty as sin. It's a shame this society can't feel better about its justice system by having that proven, rather than relying on instinct. Or something worse.


Friday, November 21, 2003

For those fight fans out there, the Shawn Yacoubian vs. Josh Bendell fight will take place on November 22, 2003, 7PM at the San Bernadino Fairgrounds, 14800 Seventh Street Victorville, California, USA.

The show will unfortunately not be live on pay-per-view but will be taped for future airplay on pay-per-view.

Shawn was supposed to fight Josh last February in Thailand as the second "Young Guns Tournament " fight, but the show was cancelled. This fight will be a Young Guns Prestige 5 round muay thai ruled bout with no elbows. So if you are out in California, take the time to attend and support our fellow reader Shawn as he adds another win to his record.
Just What The Doctor Ordered

Not that I have nothing better to write about, but this Michael Jackson fiasco is just what the doctor ordered to start the “healing process” in the world.

Don’t think that I’m looking for something that’s not there, but you think that just maybe to distract the American public from US foreign policy and what is going on in our part of the world here, the Michael Jackson allegations could not have come at a better time? I know the American public and they will soon forget the real problems facing them in Iraq and only talk about Michael Jackson. In fact, if they televise the trial, retail sales will drop off as people stay home glued to the television.

I guess what makes this issue worthy of writing about on my site other than my fear of distraction so the West can continue their axis of evil in this region of the world, is that Michael’s defense attorney, Mark Girogos is Armenian, which means that he will defiantly get off again.

“Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons” – Michael Jackson

As the sun was going down yesterday, the wall in my front yard was completed and I set my dog loose.

As a rule, when there is any kind of construction going on at my house, I make it a point to be home and make sure that the work is done without any mistakes. Though for the most part things went smooth, the wall would have been completed an hour sooner if on the last arch they were making did they not miss-measure where the arch was to be. Center to center of each arch is 230 centimeters and for some reason on the last one it was only 220. I noticed and before the cement was dry, I made them take it down and redo that part of the wall.

In 3 days they built 40 meters of wall and 5 arches, using about 1,000 building bricks, 500 kilos of cement and 2 tons of sand and gravel. The labor cost was 37,500 dram, cement cost 20,000 dram, sand and gravel about 5,000 dram and bricks 50,000 dram. Total cost 112,500 (about $200).

Before winter sets in, I have a couple of walls that need to be built at the stone factory so I can secure the manufacturing area and lock it up for the winter. That work will start on Monday and should take a couple of days to do.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

If your ever in Armenia and in the need of a car, this agency can be found on Abovian halfway between the Yerevan and Armenia hotels.

I'm not sure how good they are, but would hope that the name has nothing to do with the reliability of their cars.

Today the sun was out and construction on my wall that we demolished earlier this year before it fell over should be completed by the end of the day.

I've already talked to a neighbor who charges 33% more for his daily labor, but works twice as hard as anyone I know to come and clean the yard and level it out so next year I can finally install the sprinkler system, plant roses and green grass.

The completion of the wall construction will also allow me to unleash my dog, who as I reported over a month ago, had eaten over 11 chickens that belonged to my neighbors.

And speaking of my dog who is now 9 months old, she has gained quite a bit of confidence and before she would run from people who come into the yard, but now confronts them in an almost attacking way.

In the picture can you find Waldo (Jeff Ryan)?
Armenian Opposition: US is unhappy about close Russian-Armenian ties

15:16 2003-11-18

Washington is extremely unhappy about the improving relations between Armenia and Russia. This was announced in an interview with Rosbalt by Armenian MP Victor Dallakian when speaking about the US' reaction to closer contact between Moscow and Yerevan.

According to Mr Dallakian, this was reflected in the decision by the Armenian Defense Ministry to start clearing mines located near the border with Azerbaijan. 'The official reason for this is to help the local population by providing more land for agriculture. This is not the real reason. In truth, it is the US which has demanded that the mines be cleared as they want to deploy their troops in the border region,' Mr Dallakian said. He added that the US also put pressure on Yerevan by demanding that Armenia close its nuclear power station. In his opinion, the US will continue to exert pressure on Armenia due to the country's foreign policy.

© RosBalt


It looks like US foreign policy and Armenian national security are not compatible. For that reason, if this story is accurate, then I think we need to really start implementing ways to cut ties that make us dependent on the US so they have less leverage on dictating to us what we have to do.

And instead of taking out land mines between Azerbaijan and us, I say plant more of them. I think it's time once again for Serg Sarkisian to read The Turks and Us and start acting like a defense minister and not a puppet of the US.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The picture of the day was taken in Jabrayel, which is one of our Southern liberated territories and is of a building that was built on a spring. A very beautiful place with writing in Turkish that reads “Friendship”.

Today I went to a funeral for a friend who was 70 years old and had cancer. It was kind of sad to loose such a good person, but he knew over a year ago that he had cancer and had accepted that he was to die.

In attendance were quite a few people, including the regional minister, chief of police and a number of high-ranking government officials who came to pay their respects to Souren.

After the funeral, we had a lunch and then I went off to Stepanagert to take care of some work there that of course I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, but during my visit, which included looking into alternatives to getting raw granite at a more reasonable price, I learned something about the increase in the price of stone from 40,000 dram to 80,000 dram a cubic meter.

It seems that the stone operation that 60% of the business is owned by a Swiss-Armenian, is being mismanaged.

It seems that the entire operation requires a little more than 30 people, but they have on the payroll 100 people. Those 70 extra people that do virtually nothing are the being paid somewhere in the range of $300 a month.

The people who are working the stone mine are being paid by the cubic meter in the range of 4,500 dram and the equipment being used there for the most part is rented.

The real cost of stone with taxes should not cost more than 10,000 dram per cubic meter and the reason for the high price of stone today seems to be so that 70 deadbeat persons can have a $300 a month income that the people who have to purchase stone and the Swiss-Armenian are paying for in a very bad way.

I was advised today that I should definitely look into picking up a few hectors of land to mine stone since I virtually have all the needed equipment and have enough pull that no one would stand in my way to do it. I could also become the one to break the monopoly and bring the price of stone down to a reasonable level so that people who have stone processing plants can continue to work. I’ll have to think about it and have until the end of winter to decide if I do it or not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Today the weather was a little bit on the warm side and when I went outside to breath some fresh air, I straddled a flock of Sparrows who were in one of my trees eating fruit.

I immediately called Jeff Ryan out to join me in the harvest of Persimmons, as last year on a day like this one, the Sparrows picked my Persimmon trees bare within a few hours.

We were joined by my cabinetmaker, who gave us some guidance and help to pick what I though would be a couple of buckets, but so far has turned into 70 kilos (154 lbs.) and were not even half way done.

Since there was so much on the upper branches that we could not reach, we cut the branch off and hung it in my storage area.

My cabinetmaker told me that from the 2 trees I have we should have well over 200 kilos (440 lbs.) and I should really think about having someone make jam out of the smaller Persimmons.

Tomorrow we will finish picking the Persimmons and will then move onto Pomegranates, which by the looks of it, my 11 trees have produced well over 500 kilos (1,100 lbs.) of which I have no idea what I will do with. Maybe I will take a trunk load with my to Yerevan and sell in the market out the trunk of my car and then write about villagers lives and how they are or are not allowed to sell their goods (I've heard about this in the past and should experience it so I can get an idea of what it's like).
I have a new cat named Vartan. I didn’t name the cat. It was Jeff Ryan’s cat that he use to keep in Nungi at the studio and he named it after a veteran potter named Vartan.

Vartan is a good cat (actually still just a kitten) and will take turns staying in my house and in my other house were we are having a little problem with mice.

As for Vartan the potter, I’m not sure how he feels about having a cat named after him and I sure hope my uncle Vartan would not be too offended that I have a cat that shares his name.

It reminds me of when I was a little kid and Aris Srpazan gave us a puppy named Koko. My father made us change the name since his close friend was named Krikor (we use to call him Koko) and my father didn’t want his friend to be offended that we could have a dog with the same name.

I did suggest to Jeff that we change the cat’s name since it seems a little bit rude to give a cat the name of someone you actually know (remembering my dog) and he said that he heard it would be bad luck to do that. I don’t know if I'm buying his reason since this is a guy who deletes chain e-mails that say if you don’t pass the e-mail on, you will have years of bad luck.

One thing that Vartan the cat and Vartan the potter have in common is that they seem to both be attracted to getting inside of things that are made of clay.

Hey Hagop, how am I doing on the picture front? Anyone have a special request?
A month ago when I was in Yerevan visiting the girl I was accused of fooling around with and she was still staying at the house she was kicked out of, we were sitting and watching music videos on public television.

As we were watching the video count-down, the #2 video came on and as we watched these girls dancing around in their skimpy swim suits, in the last minute of the video, they started to take their tops off and rubbing whipping-cream allover each other.

To say the least I was in shock since not long before that the law had been passed to ban such programming on public television.

Well this passed and I figured it would only be this one, but no, after the count-down was over, they had some commercial for an up coming program which some woman in swim suit again exposes her breasts.

Okay I have to admit that I have nothing against breasts, but when depicted in a demoralizing way on public television with children watching, I have a real problem with that.

I asked the girl what channel this was and she said it was a channel from Russia that was rebroadcasted. Okay, being it was Russian television, I had a problem, but not as much as I would have if it was Armenian television.

A couple of days ago while in Armenia, I woke up to the sound of the television. It was 8:00 am and the girl I was accused of fooling around with was starting her morning off early with some music videos and the one that was on I think was called “French Kissing”. Yes, it was a stupid song that was full of people French kissing and as much as I may like to French kiss, I really don’t think it’s such a great idea to broadcast such videos at 8 am, when kids are watching as they get ready to go to school. On top of this, it was being broadcasted on Armenian government television. Oh and one other thing to add is that it was not just guys and girls kissing, but there were also girls kissing girls.

Now I’m not sure how the new law applies to these videos, but I think our Armenian culture and these videos that the government television is broadcasting just makes no sense.

My picture capabilities are back. I had given up on the possibility of posting pictures and then I got a message from Hagop Bedrossian today telling me that our readers need some pictures, I tired again and it worked.

Well let me post a picture from the past that I promised. This one is from my log about youths and gambling in Yerevan. When I took this picture, I got into a verbal argument with some guy claiming to be a cop. Then the guy in the upper left of the picture grabbed me and would not let go. When I saw he was almost ready to punch me, I warned him that I would have him arrested and he would be sitting in jail sson, he let loose.

Anyway, it looks like I’ll be able to start posting pictures again, which I guess according to Hagop will make you all happy.

Monday, November 17, 2003

I’m back in Martuni after a very interesting van ride.

I had gone to Yerevan via a van and went with the Mayor’s wife and children, who went to buy winter clothes.

The ride in was smooth and fast. The return trip was a different story.

It seems that our van is not part of the company that was awarded a monopoly that now controls Lachin road. Yes, the nice road we built with Diaspora money has been “sold” to a transportation company who I’m sure is owned by someone with connection, if not some general or minister. I was told it was an auction that the road was giving to the one best qualified.

So the van I was in that I usually take was “legally” not allowed to drive on the new road that my money paid for and I guess on the way out, this would explain why he didn’t stop at the Lachin check-point and ignored the police there and why on our return in, he didn’t take the Lachin road, but took a road that took us through the Southern military zone.

I had been on this military road 10 years ago and I remember it being exactly the same, but at that time it had much less potholes.

The weather that day was increasable and though it was cold in Yerevan, it was quite warm in the South. I took quite a few pictures, including pictures of where General Levon is removing pipes.

The pipes are being taken out of these gigantic fields which go on as far as the eye can see. I can understand why the MAX Group is so upset with having the capabilities to water their fields taken out and shipped off to Iran and Armenia.

If you think about it, as a result of General Levon, who is also working with General Ohanyan, the minister of defense, what they are doing is reducing the yield to what we could produce, thus lowering our potential crop that could otherwise feed our people and keep the price of wheat and other vegetation lower. In my book General Levon and the minister if defense for this are in fact traders to our nation and I hope the people will eventually clue in on what they are doing and take appropriate action to stop them.

When you take into consideration what I’ve seen in the last few years, multiply it by 1,000 and what Raffi commented the other day about revolution, I have to agree with him and can only hope that it will happen sooner rather than later so we can start to really build this nation into what it should and can be.

Oh and one other thing to push us into revolution would be the new compressed natural gas station in Stepanagert. Why would this be and addition to the list? Well it’s true that natural gas is more economical and would be of a benefit to the people. The thing that adds it to the list is that the station belongs to the Primate of the Armenian Church in Artsakh, Arch Bishop Barkev Mardirosian. Yes, it seems that the church was not as profitable as need be for him, or many in the case of the Marutni Church and other construction jobs I’ve written about in the past, it has been too profitable and he needed to invest his stolen money someplace. I know he also has a chicken farm that produces eggs that he provides to the army. Yes my dear Srpazan, you too are on our radar screen of corrupt leaders that need to be dealt with.

Today as it was yesterday, we have no power here in Martuni (9 am to 6 pm), as they are adjusting the power lines so when the winter winds kick up, we will not have power lines hitting each other and forcing the turning off of the electricity.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Sorry for being out of touch, but I left for Yerevan a couple of days ago and since I’ve been here, I have really not had much time for internet.

I came to look for a place for the girl who got kicked out of her place because the landlord thought that we were fooling around when he showed up.

Anyway, it’s been very frustrating looking for a vacant place. I was thinking it would have been a matter of just walking into any building in Yerevan, ring a doorbell of an occupied apartment and they could tell of which of the many vacant units are available for rent.

After 2 days of looking, I learned from my cousin whose help I enlisted, that everyone wants to rent a place as in order to flee Armenia, people have learned that you start long before you are accepted to move to another country, to sell your place, rent and then when the papers come through, you vacate the place you are renting and leave for good. Very sad and the reason we have not yet found a place.

Now if I was interested in buying, I didn’t have any shortage of available places. One woman was ready to pack up her meager belonging and leave her apartment if I paid her $6,000 for her one bedroom apartment which is in a building that only she and 2 others were occupying. The building had a total of 12 units.

Winter is just around the corner and when I got up this morning, there was frost on the windows, meaning that last night it got down to 0c.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003



The Armenian Diaspora has spent millions on ambitious infrastructure projects in the mother country - but has the money been well spent?

By Tigran Avetisian in Yerevan

A charitable fund set up by Armenian American billionaire Kerk Kerkorian is this month completing the biggest-ever aid project in Armenia, worth scores of millions of US dollars.

The Lincy Foundation has been reconstructing roads and houses in the Spitak region which was devastated by the 1988 earthquake, as well as repairing central streets and historical landmarks in the capital Yerevan.

The 160 million dollar investment is an enormous sum for a cash-strapped economy like Armenia, totaling 30 per cent of the national annual budget. Armenian government analysts believe that without Lincy's financing it would have taken the state at least 30 years to complete projects of this scale.

But a debate is underway in Armenia about whether the Diaspora money is being put to good use and whether expatriate Armenians should be relied upon to support the economy to such an extent.

Edward Bezoyan, who heads the fund's road construction programme in Armenia, told IWPR the investment is making a big difference to Armenia. "We've seen great progress in the construction industry and related infrastructure," he said, arguing that all Lincy projects make perfect sense economically. "Good roads are the groundwork of economic growth."

Romik Manukian, governor of the northern Shirak Region, agreed that construction is by far Armenia's greatest priority at the moment, and praised Lincy for building long-awaited quality housing for families made homeless by the Spitak quake.

"Lincy is not only helping housing construction, it has been working to improve the entire economy and social sector. New roads have greatly improved the psychological climate in Gyumri," Manukian told IWPR.

But Tatul Manaserian, economics professor and Armenian opposition deputy, is less convinced, saying the latest programme was not a big priority for Armenia. "Of course any kind of aid of this sort is important for a poor country like Armenia, but the fact that we are poor makes it much more important to spend the money well," he told IWPR.

Manaserian questions the long-range economic rationale of prioritizing roads and is concerned that none of the funds provided by Lincy to Armenia has been spent on the country's moribund industry.

In addition, he claimed that the implementation of some of the foundation's programmes was flawed, reflecting the views of a number of opposition deputies.

"The Yerevan-Ashtarak highway was in a relatively good condition, but they broke the existing paving and replaced it with a very thin asphalt coating," he said. "I had a chance to see the scale of the work done there and, measuring it against the amounts spent, I believe large sums of money had gone missing."

Bezoyan denied the allegations, saying that the overall quality of the construction work was high, and if there were any shortcomings, the contractors were obliged to do the work again at their own expense.

After suffering economic collapse following independence in 1991, the Armenian economy has shown modest signs of recovery in recent years, posting some of the highest growth figures in the Commonwealth of Independent States of around 10 per cent per year.

However, some experts are warning that much of that is due to Diaspora projects such as Lincy's and the economy will suffer a slowdown when its programmes come to an end.

The shock will come next spring, warns Gagik Atabekian of the non-governmental think tank, the Centre for Economic Studies. "Around 20,000 people were employed in Lincy projects, and they earned around 25 million dollars in salaries," Atabekian said. "It is hard to predict what will happen to Armenia's already fragile economy unless these programmes continue or are replaced."

The foundation is currently deciding whether and how to continue its programmes in Armenia. Even President Robert Kocharian admitted recently that he does not know what the outcome of their deliberations will be.

"We have done our best to prove we are a reliable partner who can take on major projects and complete them to high standards and on time," Kocharian said, visiting a Lincy construction project.

The president said that the Armenian economy could withstand the withdrawal of Lincy and the government would be able to afford more construction projects, albeit on a more modest scale.

"That is absurd," responded Atabekian. "Economic growth in recent years has been driven precisely by these large-scale construction projects, which we owe entirely to Lincy. Once these projects are finished, Armenia's GDP will plummet, and construction funding will no longer be possible."

Atabekian said after an initial rush of enthusiasm following independence, Diaspora philanthropists were much more cautious about spending their money in Armenia, citing corruption and red tape as obstacles, "Many Armenian expats who sought to invest here have pulled out due to bureaucratic hurdles."

He argued that the Armenian economy needed a good legislative framework and investor climate to foster smaller businesses, "Then our economy will no longer be dependent on one big source of funding, and our compatriots abroad will give money not out of charity but from commercial considerations. When this happens, diaspora money will do us more good than it has so far."

Tigran Avetisian is a reporter for Aravot newspaper


Monday, November 10, 2003

A1 Plus
19:18:10 Monday, 10 November 2003 (official)


Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan is to go on short-term leave on Tuesday because of health problems. Premier will go through medical examination in Moscow.

Territorial Governing and Infrastructures Minister Hovik Abrahamyan will temporarily assume PM duties.

Nice to know that the Armenian healthcare system is good enough for the

It's also nice to know that Hovik 'Mouse' Abramian is taking over in his place. Who says sending the goons round to stamp out opposition campaigners during the Presidential Elections is a detriment to a political career? Seems like at the moment in the present political climate, it's a bonus!

I guess the nice Italian dinner the PM had the other night that Madlene wrote about on the log did not agree with him.

For more background as to who Hovik 'Mouse' Abramian is, the following is my Friday, August 01, 2003 log:

Ara Manoogian wrote at 12:01 AM:

For those that read my logs for raw honesty of what really goes on here and maybe felt you got the short end of the stick last week when I only reported on the good that goes on here, this is your compensation and also my need to let off a little steam.


YEREVAN, February 4 (Noyan Tapan) - Around 50 drunk people armed with knives and steel rods made an assault on the RA presidential candidate Aram Karapetian's campaign manager, deputy chairman of the "Constitutional Right" Union, NA deputy Hayk Babukhanian and his companions in Artashat, the Ararat Region, at around 3:50pm on February 4. The incident occurred during a visit to the Ararat region staged as part of Aram Karapetian's electoral campaign. Hayk Barukhanian was rushed to hospital with a back injury. The doctors assure that the patient's life is out of danger. Mr. Babukhanian's driver sustained a head injury, another two of his companions incurred slight corporal injuries.

Mr. Babukhanian fired into the air out of self-defense during the clash, Aram Karapetian's Campaign Headquarters press secretary Artur Sahakian revealed to Noyan Tapan. The primary gunshot was shortly followed by another 2 or 3 shots, however it was impossible to locate the source of those shots due to the general turmoil. Those gathered, according to Sahakian, told the assailants belonged to the Campaign Hedquarters of the presidential candidate, President Robert Kocharian. The "Constitutional Right" Union chairman Hrant Khachatrian revealed in an interview with Radio Liberty that being originally from Artashat he recognized the attackers as "men" of Hovik Abrahamian, the minister in charge of local government and industial infrastructure affairs.

Aram Karapetian didn't rule out the possibility that both of the theories might be true to fact. He expressed his certitude that the incident was a pre-planned action, as "it is impossible for so many armed men to incidenatally gather at the same spot." Besides, they staged a particularly successful meetings prior to their visit to Artashat in other parts of the Ararat region and the people didn't harbor any foul mood, Mr. Karapetian stated. Everywhere they received a warm and cordial welcome.

Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched in connection with the case.


I don't know how many of you remember this incident, but when the smoke settled and the elections were over, I visited Artashat to see what happened that day and look into seeing who this Hovik Abrahamian is?

What I found was the people of Artashat believed that Hovik Abrahamian, AKA "Mook" (meaning "Mouse" in Armenian) was in fact the one who organized the men who ran the campaigners out of Artashat. They added that those that did the stabbing were compensated for their services by "Mouse" after Kocharian was elected, meaning they were not charged and are now doing well for themselves.

The people I spoke with went on to tell that "Mouse" has privatized most everything that is worth privatizing in Artashat, done everything he could to prevent the educated people who live in Artashat from working in government and in some cases even in their own private businesses, and has brought in his uneducated relatives and friends to hold almost every government post and control business and industry there.

I wont even bore you with Mook's house, which if you ask me, makes Vasken Sarkisian's father's house (this is a huge complex that you can see on the main road in the Ararat region) look like a small common house.

So why am I bringing this subject up now?

Well it seems that the Armenian government is considering a major overhaul of its policing structure that could lead to the creation of a single powerful ministry overseeing local governments and the national police.

You would think that such a structure would prevent people like "Mouse" from doing what they have been doing in the past, but from what I recently read, I fear that such a structure could make things even worse.

And why would such a structure be bad for us? Well guess who they are thinking about putting in charge of this new ministry? You guessed it, Hovik "The Mouse" Abrahamian, who is said to be the unofficial number two figure in Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's coalition government.

If the story "Armenian Government Mulls Major Police Overhaul" (see: for story and picture of "Mouse") that appeared on July 28, 2003 on RFE/RL is true, you really have to start to wonder who the Prime Minister is and if he's really qualified to run this country, as this is not the way one should run a country. First it's selling orphans to foreigners and now this. What will be next?
I was going to go to Stepanagert this afternoon after having some repairs made on my car, but it took my mechanic a little bit longer than I was expecting to do the work.

As I was testing out the breaks to make sure that all the air was taken out of the lines, I drove on the main road and in the opposite direction came a jeep with it's high-beams on and practically drove over me figuring that the road must belong to him.

I turned back around and returned to my mechanic's shop and found the jeep parked there.

I walked up to the jeep to see who could be so important that they felt that it was okay to blind me with their lights and found that it was General Levon Yeranosyan, the guy that was written up on HETQ ONLINE (see my log of October 28, 2003) about how he is digging up and sell off our strategic pipes to Armenia and Iran even though according to the minister of defense no pipes are to leave Karabagh.

After saying hello, I asked him what was wrong with his band new Toyota Land Curser? He told me that it was some minor thing that was causing it to loose power and asked my mechanic to fix it. Fortunately my car was finished so he was able to help the General.

Outside my mechanic's shop was waiting a couple of youths heading to Stepanagert and asked me if they could have a ride? I agreed and at 7:30 we departed.

Not 5 kilometers out of Martuni the back drivers side wheel came off. Yes you heard it right, the darn thing just flew off!!! I brought the car to a grinding halt, with sparks flying as the brake disk dragged on the asphalt. To say the least I was not too happy since my mechanic had taken off all the tires on my car and put them back on while making repairs. We could not find the tire, but did recover 2 bolts.

As we were looking of the tire in the fields, General Levon came across us and asked what had happened? I told him and he said in a not to happy tone that the mechanic was unable to fix his car, resulting in him having to drive slowly to where he was going.

We mounted the spare tire and fortunately since my spare is not like the rest of the tires (alloy rims), it uses a shorter bolt which I have 5 of, so the lack of bolts was not a problem. We also checked the other 3 tires and found that the bolts on them were not completely tight. Not good, but thank goodness it was the rear left tire and not the right rear as the fuel pump and lines would have been damaged and who knows if the sparks could have ignited the car and if it has, it had almost 15 gallons of gas in it, which would have meant I would have been walking or worse.

We headed back to Martuni and found my mechanic who apologized. It's strange, but these things just don't seem to bother me, though I did half jokingly asked him if he no longer loved me? At his shop happened to be my summer tires, which I took one of them with me as a spare. He said that tomorrow morning he will go find the tire and fix whatever damage there may be.

We once again departed for Stepanagert and being that it was very foggy, I was not able to drive very fast, but none the less we caught up with General Levon, passed him and then I tried to keep him in eyesight just in case he broke down, but he was going way to slow for me, so I drove on.

On the way into Stepanagert though I was not in a talking mood and just wanted to listen to the sounds my car could make just in case something else could come loose, the youths who were both 20 years old stated to ask me where I live and where did I come from?

I was very short and vague in my answers and one of them asked me if I was a Dashnag? I guess he assumed this as a friend of mine recently gave me a cassette for my car that has a couple of pro-Dashnag songs on it and before the car had lost it's tire, I had it on and in fact for the first time tonight I noticed the words of Dashang being the best thing and so on.

After I denied being Dashang, I asked them what they were doing with their lives and they both said that they were learning to be auto mechanics.

I asked them if they had finished their time in the army and they said they didn't serve in the Army. I asked them why and one of them said that he has a bad heart. As he was saying this, the other one giggled a bit, so I asked the other what ails him and he said the same thing.

I asked them how much it cost them to get a doctor to give them a paper to state that they have bad hearts and they said the whole thing cost them only $2,000 each.

I asked them where they came up with that money and do they work or do their parents work? One of them said that his father works for the government in the Prime Minister's building (across the hall from the PM, last door on the right) and is named Samuel Hayeryan (I've heard this name before someplace and will asked tomorrow who this is?).

I asked them if war happened to break out, what would they do being that they have not had any formal training? They said that in high school they had some training and they will fight. I later asked someone else what they think and they said that those that will pay to not serve in our army will also be quick to pay to get a ticket to Russia if war breaks out. I guess it's hard to argue that since such things did happen in the early 90's.

I dropped the youths off and tended to my business, finishing at 11 PM, and making my way back to Martuni by 1 AM.

This was a long day that I wont be forgetting soon, though it seems that lately, once I write something, I soon forget it, especially the unpleasant things (I guess this is my natural defense to keeping sane).

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The following story echoes my own finding from talking to people over the last few years., 7 November 2003

Exit Interviews: Publication reveals cause and effect of emigration

By Gayane Mkrtchyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

A book released earlier this year confirms that poverty and a pessimistic view of the future are the leading reasons why citizens leave Armenia.

"There is an opinion that emigration is a temporary economic solution as the employment market is not developed in Armenia," says Hranush Kharatyan, president of "Hazarashen", the Armenian Center for Ethnological Researches.

Supported by the Open Society Institute, researchers interviewed more than 100 residents and published 10 of their stories in "Emigration from Armenia".

Research was conducted in several regions, including Gegharkunik, a high-mountain province with a history of migrant employment, the Shirak and Lori "disaster zones", Siunik, one of the regions farthest from the capital, and in Yerevan.

And while widespread poverty forces many from their homeland, the research found that emigration is also rooted in general discontent.

"Many of those who leave the country are employed people, who have average living standards in Armenia and more or less normal perspectives for future," Kharatyan says. "Besides the lack of jobs, the reasons have deeper roots like lack of confidence, problems with getting used to new socioeconomic conditions, legal injustice, helplessness, hopelessness and feeling of being at a 'dead-lock'."

Typical of responses, one Yerevan intellectual told researchers he lived better in Soviet times and now plans to emigrate because he doesn't believe there is independence and democracy in Armenia.

A young businessman from the Ararat region, who sells cement, says if he considered emigrating, it would be because of unethical officials.

"Every 10 days representatives of the tax inspection visit me," he is quoted. "Every time I explain to them that I've already paid the tax and why must I give money again, what for? I have all necessary documents. As soon as they get hungry they visit me so that I take them somewhere and set a table for them but what for? They spend in two hours money that we spend during two months."

"Ordinary citizens, who have gotten on to their feet with great difficulties, always have to deal with tax laws, illegal relations, which make them emigrate from Armenia," Kharatyan says.

The center's research also shows education as a reason for emigration.

"Abroad, children attend schools and get good education. When they stay here they don't normally attend school and we haven't got enough money to cover school expenses," says a woman from Gegharkunik. "And when they finish the school where can they go to continue their study? From here you can't take care of children if they are in Yerevan. That's why those who earn money abroad, if they are a little settled there, come and take their families for ever."

A Kapan resident says many people emigrated from Siunik because of schools. "The majority of teachers prefer working the land and keeping hens over working in schools as salaries are low. Where can children continue their study after school, where can they live? There is only one Yerevan left and all of us can't find room in Yerevan".

Researches show that Armenia has experienced three major periods of emigration. The first wave, in 1992-1993, was mainly conditioned by hardship of transition, including the energy crisis. Most who left during that time were from Yerevan and they mainly left for Russia. A second surge of emigration took place in 1995-1996, just after the second presidential and parliamentary elections.

"It surprised us, but during researches we talked to people and realized that their expectations hadn't been met. Promises made during elections arouse hopes in the minds of people and in case those promises are not fulfilled people get very disappointed," says Kharatyan.

One of the workers of Shirak region's Head Office says emigration Occurred in Gyumri when promises that a sugar plant would start functioning again were not fulfilled.

"There were talks that a textile factory would start functioning soon but nothing changed," says one Gyumri resident. "They lied so much that people don't believe any more. People think that whoever comes to power nothing will change and there is no hope."

Kharatyan says that young people, who possess craft skills or are educated, and who might help strengthen Armenia, are among those who emigrate.

The research found that many believe emigration is advantageous for the standing government, as it decreases the number of active oppositionists. Further, when more people emigrate, there is less competition for jobs.

Kharatyan says that money sent from abroad has an impact on the internal economy. Many families solve their urgent problems either with the help of those who left the country for work or with the help of their emigrated relatives.

"However the negative influence of emigration on the economy of Armenia is noticeable. There are numerous people among emigrated with endurance and stamina. These people could have been successful businessmen in the country and could have weakened monopolization of the economy by being involved in the competitive field."

According to the president of the center, those, who have succeeded in business outside the country, are gradually breaking relations with Armenia and connecting their plans for the future with the country where they live.


Friday, November 07, 2003

I just had a visit from my neighbor who stays in my other house and does woodwork for me. He is now making a chest of drawers.

My neighbor is from the village of Spitagashen (the village my great-great grandfather on my father’s side was from) which is about 10 kilometers from Martuni. He was telling me that we are getting a visit from Kocharian in a couple of days (maybe even tomorrow) and thanks to his visit, we got our road from Martuni to the village repaired. It seems that Kocharian will be visiting some places in Karabagh during his visit and one of the places will probably be Avo’s Spring (named after Monte Melkonian), which is where it seems the road repairs end.

I noticed the repairs being made the other night when I took Jeff Ryan to Nungi and then continued on to my friends house to attend his birthday party.

Prior to that ride, Jeff and I drove to Nungi a few times and every time we drove the road, Jeff commented on how bad the road was and when you finish your ride, you feel like you have been in a 9 round boxing match. Jeff is obviously not a boxer, as every time we get to Nungi, his neck is stiff since he does not loosen up like your suppose to on these roads and just flow with the “punches”.

They repaired the road in a matter of a week and did so with the help of 300 soldiers from the army base that is close by. Why they have not done this before is beyond me, being that a couple of years back the commander from that base was complaining to me about the condition of the road and if war did break out it would take 4 times as long to get to Martuni if they were needed there and how important it is to make sure this road is always in good condition. So it took a visit from Kocharian to finally fix the road? I think someone has their priorities mixed up.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Nov 4 2003


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 4, ARMENPRESS: Armenian president Robert Kocharian signed a decree November 3 to appoint Armenian ambassador to Egypt, ergey Manasarian, to serve also as Armenian ambassador to the Sultanate of Omar.

By another decree Kocharian appointed Vahram Barseghian head of a presidential oversight service with a two-month probation period. Vahram Barseghian was the winner of a competition announced by the Civil Service Council to fill the vacancy.


To remind our readers, I had made mention of Vahram Barseghian (see my Oct. 14, 2003 log), who while the Deputy Minister of Culture and president of an Armenian based aid organization who claims to help persons injured during the Karabagh war, was defrauding the Armenians of the Diaspora.

In December of 1999, I had filed a complaint with the presidential oversight service about Barseghian, who I found and documented was involved in collecting money from the Diaspora for persons who were not in need as he was claiming and in the end, the money was not being used for the purpose it was collected.

I also learned from reliable sources that Barseghian was and I would guess still is involved in Sev (black) work in America. This was clarified by the source to mean he had connections with the Armenian mafia in America. It should also be noted that he is a native of Stepanagert, Artsakh and a long time friend of Kocharian.

I guess the saying that implies a person is as good as the friends he keeps would apply here.

I guess this is just another example of the legal system no longer working and now with Barseghian being at the helm of the presidential oversight service, you have to wonder where things will go.

Am I upset? Not really. I figure this brings us one step closer to implementing needed change.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Musavat (Equality) party was founded in 1911 in Baku by the journalist Muhammad Amin Rasulzade.

The party adopted a light blue flag covered by 45 crescents and stars (the crescent pointed towards the hoist), in seven lines of 6,7,6,7,6,7,6 white crescent and stars. Then the party adopted a new flag, horizontally divided blue, red and green with a white crescent and star in the center, that was similar to the first national flag.

Azerbaijan underwent a Turkic cultural revival in the second half of the 19th century and in 1875 the Baku newspaper Akinci became the first Turkic language publication in the Russian dominated world and spread pan-Turkic ideas. The newspaper was closed by the Russian authorities. However, similar publications subsequently appeared and a number of Azeris, such as Huseyinzade Ali Bey (Turan) and Ahmed Agaoglu were prominent in pan-Turkish circles advocating unity of all Turks within a single state. This movement saw the foundation of the Musavat (‘Equality’) party in 1911 in Baku, similar to the Young Turks then in power in the Ottoman Empire, in which the idea of creating a single Turkish/Turkic Muslim state was strong.

"Especially tragic was March 23, 1920 when the Turkish-Azeri troops burnt and sacked the Armenian part of Shushi which occupied more than half of the town’s territory. Within three days the number of the town’s population decreased by 65%. 30,000 of the 47,000 Armenian population of Shushi became victims of the Turkish-Musavat band units." [see: ]

"There is nothing impossible in the life of nations. Nations which are impelled and led by intellectuals of a certain principle and purpose, will succeed in everything with time.

Should it be necessary, the ultimate purpose is kept secret, and the goals are revealed as purpose. Musavat is a Turkish political party. It is possible that, by covering up its first goal, it presents its primary purpose as its mission. It has edited its true design, based only on that first goal, and determined its political purpose accordingly. ...Therefore, Upper Azerbaijan will first secure its independence and then ally itself with Turkey...In that instance, their efforts are in agreement with outs."

Ali Haydar Emin
(1923 Septemeber)

"Isa Gambar, who is the chairman of the Musavat Party, stated that a war with Karabagh was the only way to solve the Karabagh conflict." [Armenian Action, Country Reports-Karabagh, March 2001, Vol.22 No.3(73)]

"The widely acknowledged real winner of the election, Isa Gambar, is currently under house arrest. His Musavat party name means equality, but represents no progressive alternative to an Aliyev-style kleptocracy. The only equality Gambar demands is of access to Azeri oil riches for himself and his clique." [WSWS: AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FIXED WITH THE APPROVAL OF BUSH AND PUTIN, By Simon Whelan -- 30 October 2003]

I’m of the thinking that as long as there is such a party called Musavat and international moderators are trying to get us to agree on solutions, we really have to remember Ali Haydar Emin’s words of what their true purpose is and if said purpose and the solutions being recommended threaten the security of our people and nation?
Today’s scheduled power outage was not all I thought it would be. Not that it didn’t happen as they said it would, but my plan to rest was not all that restful.

I had figured that I would work all night until the power went out and then sleep while there was no power. Well I tried, but it just didn’t work. First of all I slept before the power went out and then once I woke, the power was still out, so I decided that I would do something, but what?

Since it was cloudy and there was no sunlight, reading was out of the question, so what does one do then? I guess I could have done some cleaning, but the house was not all that messy. I decided that I would try to go back to sleep but as much as I tried, was unable to.

I then realized that when one is use to having electricity and then there is no electricity, one starts to get a bit depressed. Not that I felt the need for antidepressants, but I could feel I as not in a happy mood. Just the sight of a light bulb to read by makes would have made a world of difference. I would have loved to just have one little light bulb today to read by.

It then started to make me wonder about the people who can no longer afford to pay for electricity and live in a home that has no electricity. Coming home to a dark house can really be quite depressing I’m sure, especially when you know what it’s like to live having electricity.

I remember back in 2000, when I was returning to America for a visit, I took a taxi to the place I stay in Yerevan and on the way the driver was telling me about his life and how things are so bad financially that he can’t afford to pay his electricity and they had not had lights in their house for months. He told me about his two children and how his son who was 13 years old has to study by candlelight and how this is ruining his eyes. He told me how depressing it is for his whole family and he knew that this was not the way things should be, but with all the factories closed and unemployment so high, he didn’t see any relief coming anytime soon. He added that his story is not unusual and there were many people like him.

I asked him how much it was that he owed to the electric company and he said something like 25,000 dram. I guess the man was very convincing and not to say I was in a good mood, but being that I was leaving for America the next day and only in need of money to get to my parents house, when he dropped me off, I gave him a folded 5,000 dram note with a $100 bill inside it and told him to keep the change and use it to get his electricity turned back on. He thanked me and drove off.

The electricity should be coming back on soon (they said 6 PM) and I’ll have lights once again, though if they didn’t finish adjusting the power lines today, then they will once again turn the power off tomorrow. If that happens, I’m not staying home and will go visit with friends to keep busy until the lights come back on as this being in the dark and having nothing to do is no fun at all.

I need to take my portable generator to my mechanic’s to have the oil changed and everything adjusted on it so this winter when we do have unavoidable power outages, I can start it up and lead a semi-normal life.

The electricity came on right at 6 PM!!!

We just had an EARTHQUAKE!!! It was not very strong here. I’m sure it was in Iran or Azerbaijan.
Winter is coming and as we see every year, the power will be turned off all day today so they can check all the power-lines to make sure that when the winter winds kick in, they wont have to shut off the power. This also means that just about everything today will come to a full stop. This also means that I'm going to rest and keep the woodstove going.

Monday, November 03, 2003

We know who the owners are – 5

When people make plans to meet at the Meghedi (Melody) Cafe, they often refer to it as the Dashnaks' cafe. In 1997 former Yerevan Mayor Vano Siradeghyan gave the 20-square-meter plot where the cafй now stands to a member of the Dashnaktsutiun Party, Mikayel Manukyan, to build a pavilion.
We have been unable to find out who persuaded Siradeghyan to do so. Later, former Mayor Robert Nazaryan expanded the cafй's plot to 1,250 square meters. Most likely, this additional allocation was made for former Member of the National Assembly Samvel Avetisyan's brother. It is he who now owns 50% of the cafe.

Edik Baghdasaryan
I Could say the same thing about many of the Diaspora in Armenia...

Immigrant says US Armenians exploiting compatriots in sweatshops in Los

Azg web site, Yerevan
1 Nov 03

The Armenian newspaper Azg web site has published a story by an immigrant who says that US businessmen of Armenian origin exploit their compatriots in "sweatshops" by forcing them to work overtime and paying them low wages. He said that these businessmen see their "fellow Armenians" as a way to profit from their disadvantageous position. "They hire their fellow Armenians at below minimum wages, and subject them to excruciatingly brutal work conditions, and long hours of heavy work," he said speaking about the time he had spent working in two Armenian-owned businesses in Los Angeles. In conclusion, the immigrant stated that he had lost of a lot of faith in Armenian brotherhood as it has been "washed away by capitalist greed embedded in businessmen" and that "nationalism I used to feel for being Armenian has changed drastically". The following is a text of Armen Garabedian report in English by Armenian newspaper Azg web site on 1 November entitled "Breaking the chains of Armenian slavery". Subheadings inserted editorially:

"The sun's ferocious beam could be felt upon our backs as our tenth hour working straight came. The gallon of water we had brought with us now completely used up, we were going into a state of hallucinatory fever. The boss yelled at us to continue work and not stop for breaks." Sounds like an excerpt from a slave's accounts in a plantation in the 19th century? In fact it does, however, this excerpt is from my own experiences working for a "fellow Armenian" in Los Angeles in the year 2003.

Businessmen use their compatriots to profit from their disadvantageous position coming to America as an immigrant, I had moved here for a brighter future, and a feeling that in California, Armenians cared for each other and wanted to move forward and progress together. I came with the belief that Armenians stuck together, and worked hard to help each other out in times of hardship. What I found was that there is no Armenian pride left. Armenian business owners see their Armenian compatriots who have come to America with no documents, and in need of jobs, as a way to profit from their disadvantageous position. They hire fellow Armenians at below minimum wages, and subject them to excruciatingly brutal work conditions, and long hours of heavy work. They are not poor businessmen, who cannot afford to pay higher wages. They are in fact, very wealthy and own several homes and expensive cars; all due to their high profits obtained from tax evasion, and low wages paid to their workers. These businessmen have become wealthy by the blood and sweat of other Armenians. I am compelled to tell the truth and expose these sick bastards, as they have no care towards the livelihood of other Armenians and only wish to become wealthy and approach their mind conceived godliness".


One such shop I worked in was a marble and granite shop. When entering this dark and dusty shop, pockets of the sun's rays glistened off the dilapidated machinery. The rat infested "sweatshop" was truly a grotesque sight in itself. Within the shop, there were as many as 10 employees at one time. Later, many had left, but the most there had ever been was about 10 workers. About five of the 10 workers, would be working within the shop while the other five or so would be working outside the shop in homes laying tiles or installing counter tops. One man was appointed to cutting the huge slabs of marble or granite with a massive saw that was operated electrically. The other men would glue edges onto the counter tops while others grinded the edges round and polished them. The team I was appointed to would then load the huge counter tops onto a truck, and head out to homes where we installed them. Now it is easy to imagine the extreme weight of these counter tops, as they are made of rock. The boss would only send two guys to transport and install these counter tops. One time my partner and I were sent to this job where the counter top was this L-shaped mammoth of slab, and the location where we were to install it was down these flight of stairs. Despite numerous protests to the boss to bring more helpers to move the slab, he refused and forced us to go alone. Now, he knew that it took five guys to barely load the slab onto the truck. So how did he expect two guys to move it down a flight of stairs? Well it wouldn't have been profitable for him to send five guys to a job where he was charging so little. You see, he didn't have the business sense of making customers happy by quality service which most people would happily pay more for. The way he made profits was like this. He would charge customers half the market price for such services that any other legitimate company would have charged. How then does he make a profit? Well, he would pay us very low wages, a daily rate. Now he didn't care about the hours we worked. Our normal day should have been from 0800 to 1700. But when he paid us daily, he meant daily. He would want us to work 18 hours just so he could get his job done and make more. The more days it takes us to get a job done, the more he would have to pay us the less he would make. But it is inhuman to work such long hours and at such a heavy job. Well, my partner and I were lucky enough to find two other construction workers that day, and the four of us barely made it down those stairs. Given a normal eight hour work day, people have to take a 30-minute break at least and a lot of places also a 15-minute coffee break. Now the days we worked until 2300, (sometimes 0100) we had only taken a 15-minute break. If the boss ever saw us resting for five minutes, he would yell at us and tell us to get to work. We were lucky that he wouldn't always be at the work sites, so then we could have taken longer breaks, but sometimes he would drive over to check up on us. Many days he would stay watching over us and force us to work longer hours. By law, you are allowed to work overtime but no more than four hours. Also, the wage you receive for over time is one and a half times your normal hourly wage. We would get the same daily amount no matter how long we worked. I for example, started working at 40 dollars a day. After four months, I was making 50 dollars a day. Many times I had come home dead tired at 0000, too tired to cook my dinner or even enjoy a nice evening with friends. This slave driver of a boss, also made people work Sundays, (normal work week was six days for us) but I took a stand and refused. I was punished indirectly by other worse duty jobs.

In terms of health and human rights issues, we were abused under all the factions. Some days I would work in the shop, where the boss wanted us to get into a garbage bin that was dangerously overfilled, and was too heavy to transport by the dump trucks. This garbage bin was full of the decomposing remains of haunta virus infested rats, and when I refused to come near any rat without a respirator, the boss just made a joke and called me a chicken. It took every nerve in my body not to frag (abbreviated verb for "fragmentation grenade") this evil man, but I didn't want to be caught by the police after and put in jail then deported. Eventually I left this job however, and found other jobs with Armenians.

"Slavery in the 21st century"

The next job I took while working in California, was at a dry cleaners. This was a well-established business that brought many affluent customers. The business was owned and operated by an old Armenian couple. This seemed like a heaven sent job, since I didn't have to contend with harmful dust or back breaking labour. I was wrong. They had me working at this job for the whole week. I'd arrive at 1000 and leave the store at 2100. I would have to sort the clothes according to these numbers and colours attached to them. Seems light enough a job, doesn't it? Well it would be if you only worked eight hours at it. But the job was an assembly line job and breaks were a joke. The flow of clothes to be sorted kept me on my feet at all times and I constantly had to run from one position on the line to another. The man's wife was a crazy cross-eyed woman who always yelled in a high pitched shrill that would awaken the dead. She would never talk in a normal voice. She would only yell. After my first week on the job I went to the boss to discuss my hours and work out a schedule and wage. He started talking to me very rudely and said: "Look here. This is a 24-hour business, and you are going to work here every day. You will work here for two months straight every single day until 2100. After two months, you will get every third Sunday off."

I was surprised by the tone he conveyed especially since he was trying to impose slavery in the 21st century! I told him I could not work such hours, and every single day since I have to study. I take college at home since I cannot attend a university here nor do I have enough money to. I study from the Internet-based colleges. I still will receive a nationally accredited degree, so the prestige of an expensive college doesn't make a difference to me since I will be working in a good job once I become a citizen. I tried to reason with him as to why I couldn't work a normal shift. He just grunted over and over again how this is a 24-hour business and such. The concept of rationale did not reach his mindset. I wasn't even asking to work part time, I was just asking to work a normal 40 hour work week. Well the reason why he wanted to have me working there every day was again a matter of personal gain. Him and his wife didn't care that I was a young fellow Armenian new to this country looking for a start to my life. They just saw me as a way to save money on wages and become rich. Might I note that everyone there was receiving substandard wages and working brutally long hours.

Armenian brotherhood washed away by capitalist greed

To conclude this writing, I would like to say that I have lost a lot of faith in the Armenian brotherhood. I feel the old honorable ways of the Armenians I was brought up to believe, were all washed away by the capitalist greed embedded within these business owners. They will stop at nothing to become rich, and even use their own people who are in need of a hand, to gain the riches they so desire. The nationalism I used to feel for being Armenian has changed drastically. I still feel that I am Armenian, but I seriously doubt the motives of most of the business owners out there. This wasn't an isolated incident. Just go to Glendale and North Hollywood and see all the Armenian shops there. See how many hours a day the poor Armenian immigrants work, and the minuscule wages they receive. They have families to support but little do their bosses care. We are led to believe that slavery was abolished more than a century ago. Why then, does the use of slavery drive the American economy forward from the shadows of horrific sweatshops?