Wednesday, April 28, 2004


On Tuesday, April 27th at 11:50 AM, three fighter aircraft raced over the skies of Yerevan, presumably in the direction of Nagorno-Karabagh.

I left Stepanagert at 3:10 PM after touring my brother around Artsakh for 3 days, where we visited all the regions, going as far North to the city of Kelbajar and South to Hadrut. During his whole trip, I can say that everything was very peaceful and there were no signs of a conflict or troop movement.

On our way into Yerevan, we encountered 2 check-points, one before entering Ardashad and one just after, being stopped at both to have my documents checked. This has been a first, as they usually don’t stop cars from Artsakh. I noticed at the first check-point among the police cars, a car with license plate removed and a guy who looked KGBish sitting in the front seat.

This morning, I ran into a neighbor, who knows I work in Artsakh and knew I arrived yesterday. She asked me how the condition was there? I said it was fine. She said that it seems that they are having problems in regards to the war starting up again. I assured her this was not true, as I was just there.

I tried to call Artsakh on my cell phone and a land-line, but the connection was down. After trying for over an hour, I used other means to communicate with Martuni, where I asked as to the condition? I was told that everything was calm and there was no talk at all about war or skirmishes. I had them call all the regions in Artsakh to find out their condition and a few minutes later got word back that nothing new, everything was calm, no war, it’s all lies.

So it seems that on the eve of a big rally at the Opera, Kocharyan makes his way to France on an official visit and then spreads panic over the people and plays the “war in Karabagh is breaking out” card, knowing that many people who would attend the rally, have children serving in the army and if they rally and oust Kocharyan, then war will break out, resulting in Artsakh and Armenia being attacked and their children could die in a battle that is so bad, that they had to send fighter aircraft.

One thing I guess people don’t know is that Karabagh is a ground war and the only reason you would use aircraft is if you were attacking and wanted to push people back so you could advance your troops. Who does Sarkissyan think he is dealing with, children?

For this latest propaganda of war breaking out to spread panic among the people, to me this act boarders on treason and people should really think long and hard if they want a leader in power that will manipulate the people in such cruel ways just to keep in power?.

I don’t know if any of our readers are in France or know people in France, but if you do, please pass on word of what is really going on here and as Raffi said in his log, to remind Kocharyan that his behavior is not acceptable and we will no longer tolerate it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


26 April 2004

The deputy chief of the Armenian Police is a criminal

Shown in the picture is the deputy chief of the Armenian Police, General Hovhannes Varyan. So far no charges have been brought against him by Armenian law enforcement agencies, and President Robert Kocharyan has not dismissed him from office, despite his active role in the recent violence.

It was at the direct order of Hovhannes Varyan that Hayk Gevorgyan, a well-known writer and photographer for the daily newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak, was severely beaten. Gevorgyan sustained serious injuries on his head, chest and back and was hospitalized following a collective beating initiated by Varyan. "He personally grabbed my camera first," Gevorgyan told us. "I said something like 'What does this mean?' He shouted 'You'll see what it means now,' and more than a dozen other officers started hitting me." Gevorgyan was then dragged into the neighboring parliament compound, where the beating continued relentlessly. He said: "People there seemed to be waiting for me. They immediately attacked me, kicking, punching and hitting me with clubs. I kept yelling 'I'm a journalist, I'm a journalist.' But no one cared." He then was taken to the Nor Nork police station. Only after an hour-and-a-half, seeing that he was in serious condition, did they call an ambulance to take him to the Nor Nork hospital.

Levon Grigoryan, a cameraman for Russia 's largest television network, ORT, saw his camera shattered before being knocked unconscious. Grigoryan said he was filming thousands of people running away in panic when a group of plainclothes and uniformed men attacked him. He believes that they used electrical shock devices. "They beat me unconscious and then threw me under a tree like a rag," he said. Another journalist, Mher Ghalechyan of the weekly Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, was beaten up and taken to the Erebuni police station after he photographed security officers outside the ransacked offices of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party. Ghalechyan was set free later in the evening. Avetis Babajanyan, another Haykakan Zhamanak correspondent also present at the scene of bloody suppression of the opposition protest, was hit in the back and the legs as he was forced to pass through two rows of baton-wielding security officers wearing helmets and flak jackets. He was taken to the Nor Nork police station, where he spent the night.

There exist today sufficient grounds for the arrest of the oligarchs' bodyguards who committed violence against journalists during the April 5 th rally organized by the National Unity Party and of the high-ranking police officer Hovhannes Varyan, who organized the assault against journalists on April 13 th. But these criminals remain at large, ready to attack journalists at any time. The government relies upon them for this very reason.

Edik Baghdasaryan

Monday, April 26, 2004


22 Apr 04


"We hope that progress will be reached in lifting the blockade of the Armenian border by Turkey," US ambassador to Armenia John Ordway told a press conference today, commenting on numerous reports about the possibility of lifting the blockade in the run-up to a NATO summit in Istanbul in June.

A lot of work has to be done to prepare for the summit and for US President George Bush's visit to Turkey, Ordway said. "We have a very busy agenda to discuss with the Turkish government. Progress in the opening of the Armenian border and establishment of relations between Turkey and Armenia will be one of those issues," he said.


Every time I hear talk of boarders being opened and establishing relations with Turkey, all I can think about is Turks coming in like the Iranian’s did and buying up land, businesses and factories, having no problem paying bribes and marrying our girls who see the economic benefit to such a relationship.

In my opinion, until Armenia is not put under control and corruption is not eradicated, no boarders of any kind should be opened, as that will only perpetuate our problems and make them more difficult to fix.

If you eradicate corruption and the law works, when you do finally open the boarders, there is a real good chance that Diaspora Armenians, who do have resources and don’t do business here because they have a real problem with expecting to have to pay bribes to do business, will finally invest in Armenia and lessen the treat we face today from Turk, Iranian and Russian “businessmen”, who now instead of taking our nation by force, are buying it up with money.

I guess it also does not add any comfort to know that the US government is pushing for the opening of the boarder.
Though I have personally witnessed and documented numerous cases as written below, after reading this story and taking the current climate into consideration, I can better understand why roadblocks are being put up to prevent people like the ones in this story from attending rallies. And Raffi N. I’m not sure how many of these people are seniors, but if you and I were put in this situation, you know good and well we would call for revolution against those that have deprived our children of a future.

This story should also be a warning to those Diaspora organization and individuals who want to sponsor the construction of a new village out in the middle of nowhere that is surrounded by croplands that are rented by corrupt government officials, because when you do this, trust me, your not doing anyone a favor and only feeding into the problems we are facing today.

For those of you who have asked me in the past what I think of your village projects, add this one to the list of what such projects end up becoming in most cases.

If someone knows of a new village success story, please write to me so I can visit, review it’s condition and hopefully disprove what I have stated above.
23 April 2004

Isolated: A visit to a forgotten village

By Vahan Ishkhanyan ArmeniaNow reporter

When the snow melts, the village of Geghakar restores its connection with the world. Geghakar comes out when the snow goes away.

A nearly impassable road is the only link with the outside, and when nature closes it, Geghakar about 75 miles northeast of Yerevan hibernates until spring.

Until 1989, the village - formerly called Yenikend - was one of the richest cattle breeding areas of the Gegharkunik region. It was an Azeri settlement until then. But its population and its livestock industry and a lot of other things changed when Azeris were no longer welcomed across the nearby border, and vice versa.

Today Geghakar, like many villages around this part of Lake Sevan, is populated by refugees from Azerbaijan.

Ruben Karapetyan is 25. In 1990, when he was 11, his family escaped from the big-city (but dangerous for Armenians) life in Baku, and became villagers. Other refugees came for Kirovabad, and the former Azeri village became home to families like Ruben's.

"It's very strange how this village was put on a map," Ruben says.

Ten years ago there was a telephone line connecting Geghakar. But residents of the village remember that one day someone came to the village from Vardenis and cut all telephone lines taking them away saying that nobody can lay a complaint against him. Refugees, who had no support, couldn't save their telephone lines.

"Those days they lied to us," says refugee from Kirovabad Roman Karapetyan. "They said they would develop the village, install a gas line . . . And then they put us into an Ikarus (model of bus) and brought us here."

It is a far measure from life as it was known in Kirovabad or Baku.

Villagers mainly live by growing potatoes and wheat, a task made more difficult because the village has no irrigation system. They say they cannot work their croplands because they have no machinery. And even if there were machinery, they couldn't afford to buy fuel.

Thirteen families live in Geghakar, about 50 residents. Three times that many are registered here. Two-thirds of the official population actually live seven kilometers away in Lusakunk. They come to the village to graze cattle and to vote. The head of the village also lives in Lusakunk, and rarely visits his "constituency". (In general, almost all refugee villages in the region have heads who are non-refugees.)

The poorest villagers are refugees from Baku, Boris and Irina Kulikyan, who have seven children.

"We had been living in the city for 35 years. What can we do now? This is our reality. We have no place to go," says Boris, who is seriously ill and cannot do physical work anymore. Their eldest son, who is the main breadwinner in their family, was called up for military service.

"In summer we can do something, but in winter it is very hard. We can hardly sell 500-600 kilograms of potatoes and buy firewood. However, I cannot work the land anymore. In addition, there was terrible heavy rain, which killed all potatoes." (In early March a storm and flood caused severe damage to the region. Many roofs in Geghakar were damaged).

In general, Geghakar has rich resources including wide meadows, croplands and a quarry. However, villagers insist they don't make use of them as quarries belong to a businessman from Vardenis, where only residents from Vardenis work. And majority of croplands is granted on lease.

"All hayfields belong to head of the village. He thinks only about his pocket," says one of the villagers. (ArmeniaNow tried to reach the village head, but he was not in Geghakar nor in his permanent residence in Lusakunk.)

There is a medical station in the village, but it is always closed. A nurse from Lusakunk visits every two months, according to villagers.

Emma Tsaturyan, 62, a refugee from Baku, is the villagers' means of health care. Emma gives injections, and, since 1992, has delivered 11 babies. She is not paid. Neither by the government, nor by the villagers, from whom she will not even allow a small gift.

"I used to work as a midwife in Baku," Emma says. "When we were escaping from Baku I couldn't take my medical school diploma. Head of the village didn't allow me to become a nurse. He said I had no diploma (medical association of the region appoints nurses, however, head of the village can offer his candidature)."

There is only one car in the village but it is very old and hardly works. When somebody is seriously sick, the car becomes an ambulance. But if the road is closed by snow, or if there is no petrol, patients are taken by horse. Roman remembers when his daughter was seriously ill he took her to the city, carrying her along in a sled.

But when a villager is too sick to be moved, he is at the mercy of fate because it is impossible to call an ambulance. One villager died this winter as a result.

Geghakar has little to show as improvement since it became this involuntary home. It has, however, built a school with money given by Diaspora. Twelve students attend the eight-grade school. Those who wish to study beyond eighth grade must go to Lusakunk. Few, however, are likely to do so, as it would require walking 14 kilometers a day on a desolate road. Roman says his daughter is an excellent pupil, however, after finishing eight years in school she will not continue her study.

A month ago a bus to Vardenis began operating once every two weeks. However, it is not clear how long that route will be in use.

At least there was a shop here those days (when the refugees first settled)," Roman Karapetyan says. "But now even if you die nobody will know about it. I have arms and legs. I can do everything. We are specialized in different professions but we sit here and have nothing to do. We can hardly keep a couple of sheep and cows to be able to exist. How could they bring citizens to these mountains?
Since the start of the Iraqi war, I have not really had any guests from the US visit me in Artsakh until recently.

My guest is a close blood relative, who I have been showing the sites in Artsakh and will later take to Armenia for a real inside look at life there too.

An interesting conversation that has been repeated a few times already while visiting with the natives is the Iraqi war and my guests opinion?

Keep in mind, I am very fond of my guest, but on this issue, I seem to get very upset and though the people we are visiting act kindly and polite, I pull out all the stops and lay in with all my guns and very strong opinion that has not made for a pretty site for anyone including myself, but I tell you, I can’t take what has been said and will share it with you also.

The question comes up what my relative thinks the greater American public thinks of the Iraqi war?

The answer is that for the most part, no one approves of it and thinks that it is wrong.

Now I’m fully okay with that, but when a statement of how the American public understands that it is very important not to repeat a mistake of 40 years ago and how veterans from Vietnam were being mistreated when they returned home and spit on as women and baby killers and how the American public knows that this would be wrong to do that to those that served in Iraq, I have a real problem with.

For one thing, the people who served in the US armed forces during Vietnam were for the most part drafted into the army and by law had to fight, where today’s US army are volunteers and no one is forcing them to go and fight in a war, so there is more reason to call them woman and baby killers.

Then when the comment of how just because a government does something, does not mean that you can blame the common people, for the most part, they are not bad, I go off again and state that the government is a reflection of it’s people and if the people allow the government to do something, then the people have to be ready to answer since it’s being done “in the best interests of the people”.

At that point, I agreed with my guest and said that he was right, the American public had no right to call their military personal baby killers, because they are going to fight a war for oil, which everyone knows that the 250 million persons (less than 5% pf the world’s population) that live in American today consume 25% of the worlds energy resources, so for that reason, America and the minority of the wealthy nations have to bring home the very much needed resource for their parasite population and if a few woman and babies die in the process, so be it, "it's for the best interests of the people".

Yes, it was a very ugly situation, though in the end, my guest agreed with me and I hope that the next time he is asked the question, he will not bring up the importance of how all Americans are responsible for killing innocent women and babies so they can live like the gluttons and parasites they are.

And you wonder why so many people outside of America hate Americans? Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Amreicans, I feel very sorry for those that are born into that trap. As for those who chose to move there and partake in the feast, don’t look to me for any sympathy.

Do I feel any better for writing this and having that conversation with my guest and the people who we were visiting? Not really, since I know that for the most part, the American public and the other 6 wealthy nations will continue to suck off the resources of the world that nature didn’t intend for them to have, thus further upsetting the balance and causing hardship and suffering for the majority of the worlds population. Very sad.

Friday, April 23, 2004, 23 April 2004

Hell Night: A victim's story of police brutality

By Zhanna Alexanyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Ani Kirakosyan is 22. She will not let us take her photograph, because she
is afraid. By her accounts of what happened to her during a police crack
down on Armenia's political opposition, her fear is justified.

Ani got a degree in journalism at Yerevan Pedagogic Institute and after
graduation was offered a job collecting information for the online magazine
of the Republic party.

On the evening of April 13, Ani was in the headquarters of the party. It is
oppositional leader Aram Sargsyan's office, but Ani is not a member of the
party and says she is apolitical. For her, the work is a job, not a passion.

Police raided the office where Ani works during a sweep of oppositional
members ordered by authorities on a night when hundreds were attacked with
water canon, percussion grenades and beaten by police with batons.

At about 2 a.m., police reached the Republic party headquarters near the
Opera House.

First, police took away the men in the office. Then they came back for the
women. Ani was one of 13.

"We switched off the lights and were waiting," says Ani. "I was terribly
afraid. When police officers began beating a woman under our window, I
approached the widow as I decided to help that woman. But at that very
moment they began fiercely knocking at our door."

One man was left in the office, Artak Zeinalyan a disabled veteran who lost
his left leg in the war in Karabakh. He tried to intervene when police came
in, but was pushed to the floor.

"They were cursing us and roughly dragging us into a car," Ani recalls.
"There was an elderly woman with us who was feeling very bad. We asked them
to at least let her go but they refused."

When Ani asked: "Where are you taking us?" A policeman replied: "I don't
know. Somewhere, where we find spare place."

Lockup was at a premium that early Tuesday morning as an estimated 400
arrests were made. More would follow.

The women were taken to the Erebuni Community Police Department. Ani was
questioned by an officer named Grigor Mitoyan.

"First, Mitoyan entered the room with four or five policemen then a
high-ranking policeman came and everybody stood," Ani recalls. "I was
sitting and watching. I didn't know what would happen next. He approached me
and kicked me: 'Stand up, I say!' I stood up and he began kicking my legs,
belly and hitting my face with his hands. I was crying but I didn't say
anything. He was cursing us using profanity toward me. I was so scared that
I urinated on myself."

Ani says she was beaten for about 10 or 15 minutes by an officer named
Poghosyan. One of the women in the group identified him as Kamsar Poghosyan,
deputy head of the department.

When that officer left the room, other officers gave Ani water and warm

"I asked what I did and why he beat me? He could have had a daughter of my
age. Policemen told me that nobody beat me and it was only my imagination."

In a few minutes she heard shouts and curses coming from a corridor. The
policemen quickly took away the warm clothes and water from Ani. At that
moment head of Erebuni Community's Police Department Nver Hovhannisyan
entered the room.

"I don't remember, at that moment I was standing . . . He came at me in a
fury and was kicking me. I urinated on myself three times. I dropped on my
knees, I was crying: 'What have I done, why are you beating me?'," Ani says.

"You were at demonstration, I saw you there," she recalls the head of police
saying. "You were standing in the front rows. So you wanted to change the

"I told him he mistook me for someone else," Ani says. But he continued to
kick my back and belly."

Ani says the department chief threatened that "he would bring all his
policemen and they would rape me or he would arrest me".

One of the 13 women, Oghide Harutyunyan, was taken to police department with
her 19-year-old daughter. They were kept in the department for 36 hours, in
separate places.

Harutyunyan, 45, has a degree in law. She previously held the rank of major
in the Ministry of Defense.

She says she tried to defend the women by telling police of their rights.
She says a policeman told her: "Don't you live in Armenia? The law is at the
top. We do whatever we are told to do."

From a floor above her, Harutyunyan heard screaming and feared it was her
daughter. (She and her daughter were also beaten by Hovhannisyan, she says.)

"I could clearly hear horrid yells of a girl coming from the third floor. I
didn't know whether it was my daughter crying or someone else. Later I knew
it was Ani Kirakosyan," Harutyunyan says.

When Hovhannisyan left the room (according to Ani, he was beating her longer
than the deputy head) Ani continued to cry loudly. One policemen asked her
not to cry so loudly. "If he hears you crying, he'll return and beat you
again," the policeman said.

Eventually, police took Ani to the Erebuni Medical Center.

In a waiting room one of the nurses saw bruises on the girl's legs and back.
The nurse asked Ani if she had fallen.

"I said I was beaten in the police department," Ani says. "A doctor, who was
present during the conversation, interrupted the nurse and was treating me
roughly. I saw an investigator waiting in the lobby."

Ani, afraid that she had passed out during the worst of her experience,
asked to be examined by a gynecologist. She was denied.

She was examined by sonogram, then asked to pay 5000-6000 drams (about
$9-$11), however, Ani said she had no money with her.

She was discharged, but not given documents of her examination.

"I never knew what had happened with me," Ani says. "They said everything is
ok but their faces said completely different things to me."

(Ani is currently recovering at home. She suffers acute abdominal pains and
doctors say her internal organs are bruised.)

When Ani left the hospital she saw her parents and relatives waiting at the
entrance. However, an investigator didn't allow her to talk with them and
again she was taken to Erebuni Police Department.

After spending 15 hours in the Police Department seven women were gathered
in one room. "All of them were beaten but not so much as I was," Ani says.
"There was a woman among them, who was also beaten very fiercely. All of us
were crying."

At 7 p.m. five women, including Ani, were let go.

When Ani tried to find out why only five had been set free policemen told
her: "Because you are not guilty".

Editor's note: Twice during the preparation of this article, ArmeniaNow made
attempts through police department officials to verify the claims of women
in this article. We told a police spokesperson that allegations were being
made, and that members of the department should be given an opportunity to

Sarkis Martirossyan, Head of Operations at Erebuni Police Department
"categorically rejects the fact of women being beaten" at the department.

Press and Public Relations Department of the Republic of Armenia Police
Mushegh Kroyan told ArmeniaNow: "If these women were subjected to acts of
violence, then let them go to the law. It is natural that policemen of
Erebuni Police Department will not confess that they had beaten them."


Thursday, April 22, 2004

It’s great that all over the US and Canada, the Armenian Genocide is being recognized.

Sadly, the city of Burbank where I lived and worked, this year instead of recognizing the Armenian Genocide out of respect to it’s 30,000+ Armenian residence, will be celebrating “Burbank on Parade”. Yes, Burbank White-Trash Pride Day will be held on April 24th. This is a community that for the most part knows about the Armenian Genocide and it just makes you wonder if someone picked this date intentionally to divert attention?

I heard that the Armenians made a stink about it and were told that it was too late to change the date, but next year they wont make the same mistake and they were very sorry.

I think it would be appropriate that in the parade a float or a group of marchers be included to commemorate the Genocide, or maybe the AYF can hand out tactfully prepared fliers to the parade goers to further educate the Burbank public so they understand a little more about their Armenian neighbors.
In an interview with "Haykakan Zhamanak," former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian calls on Kocharian to step down "for the sake of the state's future." "Otherwise, nothing good will await Armenia," Hovannisian warns. "Not only do I think that actions worse than the ones taken on April 13 are possible, but already see their signs." Kocharian's days in power only postpone "the fateful clash," the U.S.-born politician adds. "If we don't correct the big mistake which occurred during the 2003 presidential elections we will face new challenges on both the domestic and external fronts."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Please Light A Candle On April 24.

I strongly urge you all to visit the website listed below and Light A Candle for April 24. Make sure you have your speakers on to listen to the accompanying singing of " SOURP, SOURP, SOURP " (HOLY, HOLY) while lighting a candle and adding your name and comments to the 10,000 plus individuals and families who have already done so from all over the world.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Subject: A library on fire

A tragic fire on Monday destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. Both of his books have been lost.

A presidential spokesman said the President was devastated as he had not finished coloring the second one.

Friday, April 16, 2004

As I was catching up on my internet work from the last couple of days after coming back and forth to Yerevan, I checked what was going on with the discussion on Shooshig’s last log and found that a reader who signs his name G. Garabedyan made the following statements regarding me and what he though was accurate insight on my part based on past and present logs and actions I have taken. Of course his comments got others to comment:

I’m very sad about this horrific news. I think, for the most part, the Southern California Diaspora doesn’t care. Like you stated, we tend to spend and work to no extremity, excluding our inherit social obligations. I’ll probably even get a bunch of nit-picking objections, challenging me on my definition of “inherit social obligation”. That would only exemplify how unwell our perplexed our community is. Bottom line, we tend to facilitate excuses rather than real solutions. The Diaspora needs genuine community leadership to protest such violent setbacks. That leadership will never surface in the Diaspora, as long as that individual is obliged to “keep up” with the Blah-“ians” or Blah-“yans” of the world.
G. Garabedyan | 04.14.04 - 6:05 am |

By the way, where is our 1800-year-old Church leadership? Really folks, what in God’s name is the Armenian Orthodox Church doing to remedy all of this? What kind of dim-witted Catholicos sits idly aside as a corrupt government runs a mock on Armenian liberty? A matter of fact, what purpose does the Catholicos of the Armenian Orthodox Church serve in today’s Armenia? Nothing…Zero! The Catholicos of the Armenian Orthodox Church is as much to blame as Robert Kocharian. I sincerely feel that they should both quit for failing to protect the liberty of the Armenian people.
G. Garabedyan | 04.14.04 - 6:06 am |

We are all to blame for what is happening in Armenia today and we all know it.

For the last 10 years, most of us that are active in Armenia have at one time or another paid into making those in power exempt from having to answer for what they do.

Proud to be Armenia in the past has equated to hiding the dirt from international eyes and continues to happen today with the lack of accurate reporting of the news.

This pride and denial issue is what got us into this situation and until we get passed it, will continue to sink us deeper and deeper.

Also, don’t wait for the Church to help out. Most who serve there are no longer in the business of saving souls, as the profit margin is too low and they don't see the long term return.
Ara Manoogian | Email | Homepage | 04.14.04 - 7:26 am |

I accept no blame. Sorry.
Raffi Kojian | Homepage | 04.14.04 - 8:24 am |

Hasn't our church been notorious throughout history for standing by idly while things like this occur. Isn't that what sparked the fedayee movements and the organization of revolutionary parties??? Why are we expecting the church to do something now?

I want to thank the repat loggers, becauase I get my news from the BBC and rfe/rl websites and they made it seem like the protestors were merely ushered away! Maybe that is a good thing? I don't want the international community to know what the loggers have reported. Amot mezi!!! I guess I'm one of those people who wants things like this brushed under the carpet!
Lori | 04.14.04 - 12:13 pm |

I appreciate reading devotee post replied beyond anything. However, I must state that Lori’s log reply exemplifies how clueless the Diaspora community is about what is really going on behind the public curtain, politically. I feel that Ara Manoogian’s current blog states the political fervor fairly accurately. Let me exemplify with this paragraph Ara recently published on his online journal called “Martuni or Bust”....” What I have discovered over the last few years, the Kocharian and Sarkissian propaganda machine has intentionally divided Armenians. They have done this to better control the common people so to use them to keep in power by pitting one against the other.”
G. Garabedyan | 04.14.04 - 1:19 pm |

This grass-rooted analysis is important to embrace due to the fact it has been generated by a Diaspora living and interacting on the ground in Armenia & Artsakh. Now how many Armenian Diaspora leaders or activists can say they have had that adjustment before shooting they handicapped morals toward the general community? The current brutal reaction of the police have only highlighted what Ara has been stating for years. It’s so ironic to read the distraught journal entries of each of the other repat loggers, without somehow keeping in mind what Ara’s doctrine has been affirming all along… “how Kocharian and Sarkissian in Shahan’s terms are worse than Tallat and the Turkish leaders” This current Armenian government is absolutely criminal and it should not be facilitated because Diaspora thinks its “Amot mezi”. Screw that simple-minded mindset!
G. Garabedyan | 04.14.04 - 1:21 pm |

Ara is a very fascinating individual and I encourage you all to follow his online literary efforts. Keep in mind that I’m not at all stating I embrace his ideology or approach all the time, I just feel he accommodates a well-researched, intellectually driven-approach to many problematic issues. For example, the man single-handedly investigated and disciplined the child adoption abuses of a governmental adoption system paralyzed by greed and corruption. He refused to sit idle and accommodate lame excuses while local Armenians were amassing fortunes selling off children. That alone deserves much praise and recognition.
G. Garabedyan | 04.14.04 - 1:23 pm |

What does the Diaspora have to do here? I mean, if the "leaders" of the diaspora want to change things, then pack up and get yourself to Armenia. This is the only way that the diaspora community will contribute in the political and social change, besides that, just send money and be polite tourists. I have been here for almost a year. I am so tired of the diaspora rhetoric that we (I am still including myslef in the diaspora) have to change things. You know, Armenia has its own people, its own government, its own intellectuals and its own curropt elite. We don't need another group of intelectuals, curropt elite etc etc to guide Armenia's path. As for the church, I think Ara has got it right, it is far beyond spirituality or redemption... a couple of bucks and they are ready to look the other way!
By the way, who is Garabedyan? Ara's PR manager?
Raffi N | 04.14.04 - 4:12 pm |

[Raffi] Niziblian you should be genuinely honored to even personally know Ara Manoogian. His political foresight is parallel to immense political minds like Noam Chomsky and Frantz Fanon. One small example of his truth-seeking talent is well documented in the exact same Wall Street Journal article you posted online today. The sentence I’m referring to is… “By maintaining Armenia in a state of constant conflict, Mr. Kocharian has successfully used the insecurity of Armenians and manipulated their fear to his political advantage.” This was exactly what Ara Manoogian noted on his online journal prior to Phillip’s Wall Street Journal news admission. As a regular cilicia and Wall Street Journal reader, I’ll stand up for humanitarian no-nonsense, and Ara Manoogian’s philosophy is just that brother…. Niziblian shedak kosenk…shnorhagal eghear Ara’in bez Mart janchnalou.
G. Garabedyan | 04.14.04 - 5:57 pm |

The Fool by Raffi.

A completely modern day relevance prevails throughout this book.

As to the rest - keep out of demonstrations - it only serves to weaken Armenia internally and externally and at the end of the day does not serve the people who are the ones suffering.

Those who perpetuate this kind of stupidity are ruining the country - both opposition and government. Don't get dragged into it.

Equating Ara Manoogian to a 'immense political mind'. That remains to be seen. He is more like a 'law until hisself'.
Anonymous | 04.15.04 - 5:38 am |

Who is G. Garabedyan? You got me? I guess he is my self-appointed PR manager and before this was a guy whose suggested (I’m sure as a joke) I dress up in red and work the rally crowd, which could possibly get me killed, a comment I deleted. Is Garabedyan sane, or by him stating that I have political foresight parallel to immense political minds like Noam Chomsky and Frantz Fanon an indication that just maybe we are dealing with a nut case? I guess what Anonymous stated will determine this in the future. By the way Raffi N., are you honored to know me personally? I know I’m honored to know you.
Yesterday morning (1 AM), I called Yerevan and learned that I was expected a meeting the following afternoon. I happened to be in Stepanagert at the time, so as to not loose time, I got in my car and drove.

As I was nearing Lachine, I came across an overturned fuel-truck. It was a 6 wheel drive army truck which had somehow hit the side of the mountain and flipped over on it’s back. Fortunately for the driver, passenger and the village that was within 100 meters of where the truck rested, it didn’t blow up, nor was the gasoline it was carrying spill.

The driver of the truck was covered in blood, but his injuries were I guess minor, as he was walking around the truck, holding his head in shock. His passenger was unhurt and said there was no need to take the driver to the hospital, but if I could hurry to the Lachine check-point and have them contact Stepanagert to send a crane to turn the truck over, that would be of help.

Since there was diesel that had spilled from the trucks fuel tank, they told me not to start my car engine as to not possibly ignite the spilled fuel.

We pushed my car passed the fuel and only after costing past a turn, did I start the car and drove on to the check-point.

I arrived in Yerevan at 8 AM, after resting couple of hours on the side Ararat plain highway.

After my meetings, which lasted most of the day and part of the night, I slept for 6 hours and then this morning headed back to Artsakh.

On my way out of Yerevan, I noticed that the check-points leading into the city were blocked and it looked very much like last week before the meeting they had a week ago. Also there were some check-points set up along the road leading to Karabagh, but they seemed to only be stopping cars heading in the direction of Yerevan. The last one I saw was in Vike and at that check-point, 2 of the police were carrying automatic rifles.

A later learned that there was a meeting in Yerevan, with attendees numbering maybe 500 people, who under the cover of umbrellas since it was raining, sang and marched from the Opera to the manuscript library.

BTW, the weather here is cold and damp. It’s raining right now. Also, my 7 puppies are doing great!!! They are less than a week old and very strong.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Though I want to keep silent for a while so I can collect my thoughts and determine the best course of action, I wanted to share with you some of the feedback I’ve been getting from the natives here in Martuni in regards to the latest developments in Yerevan.

The initial reaction from the natives here is their wanting to know what the opposition wants and if Kocharian steps down, who will lead the country? If it’s not Kocharian, they will hand back Karabagh to the Azeri’s.

Once I explain that Artsakh is a buffer zone for Armenia and that Kocharian and Sarkissian worked very hard to eliminate the potential good leadership so there would be no alternative to them, they understand better the situation.

When I was in Yerevan and as I was leaving on Saturday, I had the steering on my car aligned. The guy aligning the steering asked me how I can live with the people of Karabagh? He went on to say that all of them are dirty!!!

What I have discovered over the last few years, the Kocharian and Sarkissian propaganda machine has intentionally divided Armenians. They have done this to better control the common people so to use them to keep in power by pitting one against the other.

I called someone yesterday in Yerevan who works for the government and asked him what was going on there? He told me as a matter of fact that the opposition got out of hand and the police had to move in. A couple of people were injured, but nothing big happened. Again, Kocharian’s propaganda machine at work.

I’m not going to say much more on this subject other than what happened yesterday is very sad and very wrong. I’m also glad I returned to Artsakh when I did, or else I would have been in the crowd and to see that with everything else I have seen over the years would have been very unhealthy. I feel very sad for Alex, Raffi, Lena, Madlene, Arthur, Onnik and all my friends that had to see it first hand. My heart goes out to you and I hug each of you in an attempt to relieve the trauma.

I remember the great K & D presidential debate where K told D that he had no control of his team. The reality is that K has no control of his team and really never did.

Every now and then I wonder what Shahan Natalie would do if he was alive today. I know from his teachings that an Armenian who inflicts damage to another Armenian is worse than Turks and has to be dealt with accordingly. Kocharian and Sarkissian in Shahan’s terms are worse than Tallat and the Turkish leaders who Shahan terminated.

Kocharian, your end is near. You must resign and leave the Armenian lands to never return. You are not welcome here. There is nothing heroic to what you have done and the only heroic thing you can do now is resign. Please take that terminally ill sad excuse of a defense minister who has cancer with you. If anyone other than you is responsible for your failure, it is he. You are a trader, a lair, a con artist and a failure. Don’t think people don’t know the truth of who you are. Your recent actions only further confirm what people here have told me about you. Don’t think the people of Artsakh like or respect you, because they don’t. I live in Karabagh and know all about your past. If your brother could sell weapons to Armenians during the liberation movement and then inform the Turks as to who those same people he sold to are, you can do the same. The lemmon does not fall to far from the tree. When you and Sarkissian claimed to have been involved in the Shushi liberation, but in fact your group got lost in the foliage below Shushi and you never saw combat, that does not mean you and Sarkissian helped liberate Shushi. And telling people your knee was injured in battle is also a lie. When a hand grenade that your brother made with a missing safety device, goes off in a house you were at, also destroying the television, that is not an injury from battling the Turks. You are an embarrassment and disgrace to our people.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

My dear readers, though I have enjoyed writing logs on life in Armenia and Artsakh for the last couple of years, the time for talk is over and the time for serious action has arrived.

I hope that what I have shared with you in the past has given you an idea of what life is like here for me and those that live here and I hope it has also inspired a few to get involved to do something to make life here in out homeland a little better.

Until further notice, I am suspending my writings of these logs and will occasionally post a relevant news worthy story.
RFE/RL 13 April 2004

Panic And Mass Arrests As Opposition Protest Suppressed

By Emil Danielyan and Hrach Melkumian

Armenia's opposition faced the worst ever government crackdown in the early hours of Tuesday after its peaceful demonstration in Yerevan was brutally dispersed by security forces using water cannons and stun grenades.

Thousands of people ran away in panic after being suddenly attacked by what appeared to be special baton-wielding police units. Scores of them were badly injured in the chaotic scenes. More precise information on the casualties was not immediately known.

The offices of the main opposition parties were reportedly ransacked and dozens of their activists arrested. At least three members of parliament affiliated with the Artarutyun alliance and the National Unity Party were said to be among them. And the editor of a leading pro-opposition newspaper, "Haykakan Zhamanak," said one of his reporters, Avetis Babajanian, disappeared while another one, Hayk Gevorgian, was in intensive care in hospital after being beaten up by the police.

The violent showdown put an end to an eight-hour standoff between the demonstrators and the security forces on the city's Marshal Baghramian Avenue leading to President Robert Kocharian's residence. Some 15,000 protesters marched towards the presidential palace from Freedom Square but were stopped by hundreds of riot police and interior troops. They did not attempt to break through the security barrier.

Tension eased as the protest, seen as the culmination of the opposition campaign for Kocharian's resignation, turned into an open-air festivity, with jubilant participants dancing to pop and folk music tunes that blared through loudspeakers. There were still between 2,000 and 3,000 people on the scene at two o'clock in the morning when the attack began from at least two directions.

Deafening stun grenade explosions and jets of water quickly spread a panic after the police began indiscriminately beating the protesters. Some of them tried to fight back but were quickly overpowered by the advancing force helped by darkness. The grenades continued to be fired at the crowd even while it fled down the street only to be confronted by other police forces at the nearest intersection.

One man screamed in pain after being directly hit by a grenade. An eyewitness said a large group of police officers beat two fleeing protesters about 200 meters away from Baghramian Avenue.

Deprived of a safe retreat path, the opposition supporters ran chaotically in various directions, sneaking into smaller streets crossing Baghramian Avenue and their courtyards. About 30 people, among them two RFE/RL correspondents, scaled a wall to find refuge in the garden of a private house.

"They hit me with a truncheon and pumped gas," said a young man with a bloodied face and a blanket wrapped around his body. "There were no soldiers among the attackers. They were all special police with red berets."

Another man, a 56-year-old villager, also had ghastly wounds on his face. He said he was toppled and kicked by three security officers.

"They were hitting so hard. What they did was shameful," an elderly woman recounted, crying.

The opposition supporters, too scared to speak loudly, were joined by AMK leader Artashes Geghamian and Artarutyun's Aram Sarkisian moments later. The two bitter opponents of Kocharian were accompanied by a handful of bodyguards. They both described as "barbaric" the authorities' response to the demonstrations and vowed to continue their campaign for regime change.

"I can say for certain that in this situation Mr. Kocharian will be unable to govern. It is impossible to break the people's will with truncheons," Geghamian told RFE/RL. "The people once again saw what the authorities are capable of."

"This once again proved that Kocharian can not stay in this country and must go," Sarkisian said for his part.

Both leaders said they were hit by the police. The third top opposition leader, Stepan Demirchian, was also in the crowd but escaped unscathed. According to Demirchian, "many" demonstrators were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Geghamian, Sarkisian and the rest of the fugitive group were then invited into the house by the hosts for safety reasons. Police cars, meanwhile, could be heard racing through the city center. Shocked and exhausted, the people sat there silently, hoping to leave the hideout after dawn. One of them, a villager from the northwestern region of Shirak, helped these correspondents find a safe way back to the newsroom.

In the meantime, police broke into the AMK headquarters, located across the street from RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau, arresting several people, including Geghamian's deputy Aleskan Karapetian. Similar raids were reported by Sarkisian's Hanrapetutyun Party and Demirchian's People's Party (HZhK). They said the police smashed office equipment and took away dozens of activists.

Apart from Karapetian, at least two other opposition lawmakers, Vartan Mkrtchian and Shavarsh Kocharian, were in police custody. Kocharian (no relation to the Armenian president) spoke with RFE/RL from a police van parked inside the parliament compound which also lies on Baghramian Avenue.

A police spokesman rejected the arrest numbers cited by the opposition as a fraud, but refused to provide any official figures. He said the information could be released later in the day. There were also no official statements explaining the excessive use of force.

Some of the opposition leaders said the crackdown will not stop the campaign of demonstrations. "We will definitely hold more rallies," Sarkisian said. "I think entire Armenia will rise up. Kocharian has only accelerated his departure."

However, Freedom Square, the main venue for the opposition rallies, was filled with scores of police officers and vehicles shortly after midnight and is unlikely to be available for further anti-Kocharian gatherings.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

This is going to be a really quick log to say that tonight I returned to Martuni and am so glad to be home!!!!

To say the least, I was not a happy camper when I left Yerevan, as police harassment was on the rise. The cops working one of the checkpoints that I always cross, were not the same that are usually there and the one toting an machine gun was a real prick!!! To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure if all the guys at the post were really traffic cops.

If the Kocharian government didn’t violate any human rights in the last 6 years, what they have done in terms of human rights violation in the last 6 days makes up for it in a very bad way.

To add to what Madlene reported in her log on, roadblocks were up, my fiancé and others that live on the outskirts of Yerevan that depend on mini-vans and taxis were stranded where they are and until the meetings end and Kocharian calls off his goons, peoples right to free movement, an education and the ability to report to their jobs are being violated in the worst way.

I’m really tired right now, so as soon as I catch up with some sleep, I’ll log more.

One bit of good news is that my dog gave birth to 7 puppies!!!! Five male and two female. They are sooooo cute and were born yesterday.

Friday, April 09, 2004


08.04.2004 17:56

Only 39% of population of Armenia support the ideas of change of authorities, head of the Armenian Sociological Association
Gevorg Poghosian said in an interview with Novoye Vremya Armenian newspaper.
According to the returns of the survey, held by the Association in all regions of the republic, 43.4% of the respondents do not support the idea and 17% found it difficult to answer. "The rating of the two opposition leaders does not exceed 30% - Artashes Geghamian (leader of National Unification Party) has 20%, which is about twice as much as Stepan Demirchian's rating (Justice Bloc leader) - 10%," G. Poghosian said. In his words, the model of the Georgian rose revolution, when external forces organize and sponsor authority change without hindrance, will not work out in Armenia. "One should realize that Armenia is traditionally oriented towards Russia, and 67% of those questioned state this," Gevorg Poghosian said. 1 thousand citizens of Armenia were interrogated by the Association.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Though there are more serious things going on here in Armenia, I have to share with you a couple of police stops I had today.

The first one took place this afternoon as I was passing a slow moving car that was practically pulled over on the side of the road.

The cop stopped me and came up to my car identifying himself as traffic inspector Vartanyan (badge #0888).

Vartanyan informed me that he has seen me around for a long time, but I have now broken the law!!!

I asked him what I have done and he said that I illegally passed a car where it was illegal to pass. He went on to say that he knows I always argue with the traffic cops, but this time I have finally broken the law.

I told him that I didn’t realize that it was illegal to pass a car that was going less than 20 kilometers an hour.

He again asserted that he knows that I always argue with the traffic officers and eat their nerves and claim that I have not broken the law, but this time I have finally broken the law and there was no room for me to argue.

I said that if he feels that I broke the law, let’s not loose any time and he should write me a ticket as I have no problem being punished for doing something wrong.

He continued on with his speech of him knowing who I am and my breaking the law.

I told him again that I didn’t think I had broken the law and the last time I had a ticket written was at the same spot and it was his fellow cop Arayig that wrote me the ticket and educated me on the law of passing at that same spot.

He said he didn’t know what Arayig told me, but I have broken the law and at least I should apologize to him for being wrong.

I told him to write me the ticket and get it over with.

He thought for a while and then said that he didn’t stop me to write me a ticket, but just to warn me that he is watching me and next time I break the law, it will be different.

He handed me back my documents and I drove on.

I then got to the Sevan checkpoint and got stopped.

The cop at first didn’t identify himself and asked for my documents. I asked him if he had a name and he again asked me if I had documents. Again I asked him if he had a name? Traffic inspector Avakyan. He asked me my name? Manoogian I said, as I handed him my documents.

He asked me where I was from? America I said.

He asked if I was a tourist? I said no, not anymore, I have decided that I would stay.

Avakyan handed me back my documents without looking at them and said that he respects me and sent me on my way.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

A1 Plus | 14:51:39 | 06-04-2004 | Social |


At the rally on April 5 Armenian from Diaspora Onnik Krikorian, press photographer of "Hetq" Internet site of Investigating Journalists' Association, was beaten while performing his professional duties.

He has appeared today with a statement. Here we represent it.

"In the aftermath of yesterday's attack on journalists and photographers covering the rally organized by the National Unity Party of Artashes Geghamian, I am obliged to issue a statement regarding the events that resulted in a number of media representatives being attacked by men
identified as working for the authorities.

In particular, I am concerned by coverage of the event on state-sponsored Public TV. In their reports, Public Television -- which is broadcast via satellite to the Diaspora -- lay the blame on the opposition for the attacks despite all eye witness accounts identifying the men as having the
protection of the state.

As a British citizen who was hit in the face by one of the thugs and who approached two policemen who witnessed events but refused to intervene, I can state quite categorically in the instances that I witnessed at least, that nobody in the crowd responded to the provocation. Moreover, it was plainly clear that the group of men were there with the full knowledge and
protection of the Armenian police.

In light of Public TV's attempts to propagandize yesterday's events as evidence of violence by those attending an otherwise peaceful rally, the authorities must respect the role of journalists in this period of confrontation. I urge Public TV to report the facts and not to disseminate
propaganda that they know to be untrue in order to fulfil the orders of the state and to escalate an already tense situation.

In particular, it should be noted that Public TV did not report the presence of half a dozen men believed to be hired muscle despite the large number of people, including foreign citizens, that saw them attack journalists and citizens alike without any provocation.

Journalists are not parties to this conflict between the opposition and the government. Journalists are responsible for covering the events and I call upon both sides and especially the police to respect that role".

It seems that the attacks yesterday at the rally were documented in pictures and what I would guess triggered them was that those tossing eggs and trying to start trouble were photographed.

I also learned today that the reason the amplification system was inadequate was that the police confiscated the original better sound system just before the rally started. They also confiscated the van and sound system that was used at the end of the rally.

As for the picture you are seeing, these are pictures that Onnik Krikorian took and I'll just briefly explain as to what they are.

The upper left of the picture is a cameraman (the guy with the cap on backwards) who got his camera smashed and it's possible that the person who smashed it is the guy shaved guy in the left of the picture.

In the upper part of the picture, we see a guy with video camera in hand. He is on the second floor of the Kino Nairi building taking pictures of the rally. He is thought to be taking video for the KGB.

The rest of the pictures are of what seems to be hired troublemakers, one that sticks out is the guy with the blue cap on. Also notice the cop in the picture that is just standing and watching as the troublemakers wreak terror over the crowd, smashing on journalists and their cameras.

The next rally is scheduled for Friday and if this rally was a taste of what we can expect, the unrest will not end with just a few cameras being smashed.


Statement by the Editorial Board of Hetq

On April 5, 2004, during a rally organized by the National Unity political party, journalists covering the event were attacked by a group of heavy-set young men. The video cameras of four television stations - Kentron (reporter Astghik Bedevyan, cameraman Tigran Babayan), Hay TV, Shant (reporter Edward Petrosyan, cameraman Husik Aristakesyan), and Public Television (reporter Vahe Shahverdyan, cameraman Romik Khachatryan) - were damaged, as were the cameras of the daily newspapers Aravot (reporter Anna Israelyan) and Haykakan Jhamanak (reporter Haik Gevorgyan), and Hetq (photojournalist Onnik Krikorian).

The reporters and cameramen received various bodily injuries. Law enforcement officers present at the rally did nothing to stop the perpetrators of this violence. Moreover, according to the journalists, the attackers, dressed in civilian clothes, were themselves officers of the law. This leads us to conclude that no one may be held responsible for this attack.

We condemn acts of violence aimed at preventing journalists from conducting their professional activity, and demand that the Prosecutor's Office act quickly to find the perpetrators. In the meantime, we demand that the journalists be compensated for their material losses. We call upon the government of Armenia not to infringe the rights of journalists in the course of executing what it calls "actions aimed at defending lawfulness".
A1 Plus | 18:55:52 | 05-04-2004 | Politics |


Geghamyan-staged rally had heavy consequences for the journalists fulfilling their professional duty today. Aravot and Haykakan Zhamanak newspapers' correspondents Anna Israelyanand Hayk Gevorgyan underwent violence: they were beaten and their cameras were snatched out and broken.

Cameras of Kentron, Hay TV and H1 TV companies were broken as well.

Among those became victims of brutality was Investigating Journalists Association member Onik Grigoryan.

Camera was pulled out also from Shant TV company cameraman hands.

National Unity cameraman was beaten and his camera was broken.

It should be noted that legions of policemen lined the pavement from early morning to provide security.

When our correspondent on the scene asked one of them why they let offenders act with impunity, he answered: "Who knows who they are?"

Yesterday I attended the Artashes Geghamian rally, which was suppose to be at the Matenadaran, but for reasons unknown to me, it was held a block away in front of Kino Nairi.

For those that don’t know who Artashes Geghamian is, he was the person who came in 3rd during the presidential election and someone whose name I keep hearing from the natives as the person who could really lead this country properly if allowed to come to power. From the way he was talking and the look on his face, the first impression I got was that he seems to be very sincere with what he was saying and was publicly saying many of the things I have written on this site about corruption, Kocharian, Sarkissian and the rest of our problems.

Being that it was a very cold, I was impressed with the turnout. The attendees for the most part were older persons, but mixed in with them I could feel a very strong presents of the KGB, who when I walked in, I got some very dirty looks from and also there were quite a few criminal looking persons, who looked like they just got our of jail. These criminal looking types, I have never ever seen before in Armenia anywhere. On every side of the rally, were police with vans parked a block away with police waiting with riot-gear.

Being that it was cold, I kept my jacket zipped up and being that there were these new criminal types around, I also kept my pockets zipped up so as not to loose my camera.

Geghamian spoke well and the crowd for the most part reacted as you would expect. At one point, someone threw an egg at Geghamian, I’m guessing one of the criminal types, at which Geghamian calmed the crowd and called to the police standing by, who did nothing.

A few minutes later, I could hear yelling behind Geghamian. IT sounded to be someone who was very upset, but I have no idea as to what this mans protest was about.

I moved around the crowd trying to find a good spot to hear what Geghamian was saying, as his voice amplifying equipment was inadequate for the hard of hearing. He was standing on the top of a van with a couple of speakers.

I took some pictures and as I did, I was getting dirty looks from the KGB looking people in the crowd, so I kept on moving and at one point a chill came over me, which I took as a sign to leave.

As I was walking away, Geghamian made an announcement that the next meeting with be on the 9th.

I had heard that troops from Artsakh had been sent to Armenia to deal with the opposition and when I spoke with someone there, I was told that they were gathering those up that had no problem to stand up against Armenians, but had not yet sent them. This same thing happened during the elections last year and this time since the people have had enough of the Kocharian government, I think we may see blood spill in the Streets of Yerevan very soon.

As I had said before, if Kocharian and Sarkissian use the army to suppress the people from asserting their democratic rights so they can retain their power, they and those that go along with their plan to do so will pay dearly, as the Armenian constitution clearly states that the army may not be used for internal security purposes.

Friday, April 02, 2004

I guess God must be following our logs, as my need for an honest driver was fulfilled today.

I went to my contactor�s house tonight to see if there was any news in the area of a driver and he said he found 2 people. Our first choice and the one he elected to hire, was working for the army as a driver. I know him quite well and he is the kind of person that when you look at him, you know is honest and a hard worker. I also knew that he was not a candidate, as he was working for the army, but I guess I was wrong.

It only happened today that he came to my contractor looking for work as a laborer at the wine factory, where my contactor is working as the head of construction for the next couple of months. He turned down his request for work as a laborer and hired him as our driver. So my driver problems are taken care of.

Next request is to find a good excavator operator that can work for a week until my regular operator gets back from working for someone else for the last 3 months. The wine factory needs to have some work done and all the excavators we have in Martuni are not working well. I guess mine is the only one that is well maintained. Let�s see if I find someone that can work for me for a week.
I few weeks ago, I shipped off some tile samples from the NK Arts Nungi ceramics studio to the states.

The process was a real pain in the butt, as the post office would not take it without it being sealed and approved by the customs office.

At that time, after being sent to 3 different customs offices, I found the customs office on Gomidas that deals with artwork. Once I found that office, I stood in line with artist that were taking their goods out of the country and in short, I was there for 4 hours to get the tile samples approved.

Then once I had the tile sample box sealed by customs, I took it to the post office and had to fill out a bunch of forms to have it shipped, which took me over an hour to do.

The samples arrived in the states 11 days later in great shape with no damage to the tiles.

Today, I once again prepared myself for a full day of customs and post office, as I had to again ship off samples to the states for a show in New York to introduce our tiles.

I got to the customs office a little bit late and the sign on the door indicated that the hours to request and receive the services I needed had passed and I would have to return in the morning.

I really didn’t have a problem with this, as I have 15 days to get the samples to New York, so I asked if there was a place I could leave the 24 pound box so I would not have to carry it up to the 3rd floor tomorrow?

The worker told me that we should ask the director and proceeded to take me to her office. She had remembered me from the last time and instructed the worker to prepare my package today while I wait.

To say the least, I was very happy and within a half-hour, I had a ready to ship package, which they even gave me some cotton packing material to fill in the empty space.

I thanked them for their help and headed down to the post office.

This time the post office seemed more organized and since there was no line to wait in, they weighed the package and within 15 minutes I was done.

What I am learning is that in Armenia, red-tape is only as red as one makes it.