Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dodi vs Gurzo

A couple of weeks ago at a restaurant that that belongs to a friend of Dodi Gago, the famous and well respected Armenian singer Suzan Markaryan and her daughter Sirusho were dining.

While they were enjoying their meal, a bodyguard of Gurzo’s walked up to Sirusho, complimented her good looks and suggested that they put some music on so he could dance with her.

The bodyguard was defiantly out of line (and I think drunk), as to suggest such a thing is practically implying that Sirusho is a prostitute, which Sirusho is definitely not and in fact her mother makes sure her daughter does not dress in a way that could ever imply such a thing to a normal person (unlike many girls who dress, but are not prostitutes). I guess if you’re a bodyguard for Gurzo, there can’t really be anything normal about you.

The owner of the restaurant intervened and asked the bodyguard what the problem was? The bodyguard asked him who he was, to which he identified himself as the owner. The bodyguard made some additional inappropriate remarks, to which the own struck the bodyguard and put an end to the confrontation. The bodyguard left and everything seemed to have ended.

A little while passed and the bodyguard returned to the restaurant with a bunch of his fellow bodyguards (numbering 30). The owner got on the phone and called Dodi Gago’s bodyguards (numbering 5), who intervened. A fight broke out and someone pulled a knife, stabbing someone. The police were called in and when they discovered that a knife was used and someone was injured, by law they would have to close the restaurant down to conduct an investigation, but since someone at the police station was friends with the restaurant owner, they allowed the restaurant to continue to operate while they sorted out things.

What happened in the end, we are not sure of, but ever since the incident took place, the restaurant and owner were investigated and the owner has not been around since.

As for what is suppose to happen to the out of line bodyguard, since Sirusho is President Robert Kocharian’s son’s girlfriend/fiancé, according to my fiance, the son has to arrange to have the bodyguard killed, since Robert’s son is not from America, but from Karabagh and what the bodyguard did was equivalent of calling his fiancé a prostitute, which to do that to Karbaghsti bride is the equivalent to a death sentence. Thank goodness I was born in America, or else there would be quite a few dead people today.
Down & Out in Yerevan

On Christmas Eve, 24 December 2004, a chance meeting with Robert and Gayane, a homeless couple scavenging off the streets of central Yerevan, took Investigative Reporter Edik Baghdasarian and Photojournalist Onnik Krikorian into the life of the homeless living rough in the Armenian capital. That evening and well into the early hours of the morning on Christmas Day, the two journalists were introduced to a world literally hidden away from prying eyes. Articles and photographs on homelessness in Armenia will continue to be published by Hetq Online during 2005.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Armenian parliament approves troop dispatch to Iraq

Agence France Presse -- English
December 24, 2004 Friday 6:58 PM GMT

YEREVAN Dec 24 --
The Armenian parliament Friday approved a controversial government plan to send 43 troops and medics to join the US-led coalition in Iraq.

Ninety-one deputies voted in favour of the proposal with 23 against and one abstention, despite fears from opposition groups that the deployment would endanger the large Armenian diaspora in the Arab world.

Opposition parties and youth organizations have warned that insurgents could target the some 20,000 ethnic Armenians in Iraq if the troops join the US-led campaign.

Under the plan backed by President Robert Kocharian, the non-combatant troops including doctors, mine-clearers and drivers would serve under Polish command south of Baghdad for one year.

They are expected to arrive in Iraq in February.

Friday, December 24, 2004

December 23, 2004

Dear Friends,

It would be nice to enjoy family, friends, and peace this holiday season. But while we in diasporan countries of the West are distracted with holiday preparations, members of Armenia’s National Assembly, under pressure from key ministers, are taking the final steps to paste a veneer of legitimacy over an unpopular, short-sighted, and potentially disastrous policy.

On Wednesday, December 22, Armenia’s Defense Minister, Serzh Sarkisian, met behind closed doors with the National Assembly's Committee on Defense and Security. Although the Defense Minister refused to divulge details of the discussion, it is clear that he succeeded in convincing members of the National Assembly to support the deployment of around fifty Armenian “non-combat” troops to Iraq.

The National Assembly’s committee is scheduled to “pass judgment” on the issue of deployment tomorrow, December 24. A few hours after that, the National Assembly will supposedly debate whether or not to authorize the deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq. In all probability, however, the National Assembly will simply put its stamp of approval on a decision that has already been made for it. Like the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Defense, and the Office of the Presidency, the overriding concern of pro-deployment members of the National Assembly is to demonstrate abject obedience to Washington DC--and damn the consequences to Armenia, to Armenia’s neighbors, to Iraqi Armenians, and to the hundreds of thousands of Armenians who have lived in peace and friendship in the Arab countries.

When we take into account the time difference between Yerevan and diasporan Armenian communities in the West, it appears that the “decisions” and “debates” will take place on Western Christmas Eve and Christmas day. After December 25, we and our fellow Armenians in Yerevan and Baghdad might well be presented with a fait accompli: Washington’s minions in Yerevan might well have cleared the last procedural hurdle before sending Armenian troops to join Bush’s army of occupation in Iraq.

Armenia's Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian, was quoted on December 22 as saying that "the international community" expects Armenia "to make it's contribution to Iraq's reconstruction and democratization.” By “reconstruction and democratization,” of course, he is referring to the brutal foreign occupation that has destroyed tens of thousands of lives, reduced the city of Fallujah to rubble, created intercommunal hatred where none had existed before, and produced the spectacle of Abu Ghraib Prison.

But who or what was the Foreign Minister referring to by “the international community”? It certainly doesn’t include Russia, Iran, China, India, France, Germany, the Arab countries, Canada, Mexico, or most of the other member states of the United Nations. In fact, this “international community,” like the “Coalition of the Willing,” consists of several dozen weak, bribed, self-humiliating vassals huddling around one arrogant tyrant, George W. Bush.

The euphemisms and silly pronouncements have not convinced the overwhelming majority of Armenia’s citizens. On December 21, the independent Armenian Center for National and International Studies released results of a new poll of 2,002 Armenians, which found that 70.5 percent of respondents oppose the deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq, and only 15.6 percent approved of the deployment plan.

Although the Armenian public overwhelmingly rejects the deployment, it might be claimed that they are obliged to accept the decision of their elected representatives. This argument might have some weight if it were not for the fact that the Kocharian administration which has been pushing for the deployment took power under election conditions that international monitors found very questionable. By foisting this deployment--along with all of its foreseeable consequences--onto the Armenian people, leaders in Yerevan have further compromised their democratic credentials.

Many of you have already written to ministers, ambassadors, and members of the national assembly. I am asking you, once again, to take a moment to show that even in the midst of our holiday schedules, we have not lost sight of our compatriots in Armenia and the Middle East. An appeal in the eleventh hour might bolster the backbones of wavering members of the National Assembly. Please take a break from the rush to write a few lines to:

The National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia

On the “TO:” dropdown menu, click on “Foreign Relations.”

Put them on notice. Let them know that politicians who put obedience to foreign warmongers above the interests of their nation may hide behind closed doors, and the distractions of the holiday season, but they will not remain anonymous. One way or another, their names will be known. Let members of the National Assembly know that if they go through with the deployment, their compatriots will not allow them to blame the consequences of their actions on “terrorists” and “Islamic fanatics.” The responsibility for any resulting damage to the Armenian community of Iraq will fall where it belongs: squarely on the heads of pro-deployment officials in Yerevan.

If we don’t give it our best now, we may well regret it for a long time to come. Thank you again for your efforts.

Here’s wishing you and yours a more peaceful 2005.

Markar Melkonian
December 23, 2004

Thursday, December 23, 2004


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 22. ARMINFO. Armenia's participation in Iraq will be of only humanitarian nature. Minister of foreign affairs of Armenia Vardan Oskanian stated during the press conference at the National Press Club.

According to him, it is laos not excepted that Armenian military specialists will take with them humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq and the Armenian community of that country. "If the parliament approves the dispatch of the contingent to Iraq, our presence will be only within the framework of humanitarian assistance. We have not and shall not have any military presence there. It's our principal approach", the foreign minister stressed. "I think it will be better that Armenia made its contribution to the restoration of Iraq and formation of democracy. The stability of that country is important for the whole region, which may have its positive influence on the Caucasus as well", Vardan Oskanian said, adding that the contribution to the restoration of Iraq proceeds from the interests of Armenia. As regards possible negative consequences of the dispatch of Armenian contingent to Iraq for the Armenian community of Iraq, the minister mentioned that it is difficult to foresee negative consequences, but they should not be ruled out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I’ve been trying to figure out why our budgeted $250 a month for basic living expenses (not including rent), we just seem to be just making it, thanks to eating lots of buckwheat and macaroni.

The price of everything has gone up.

For instance, eggs which use to cost 40 to 50 drams each now cost as much as 70 drams each.

I also noticed that there are places that were known last year as having relatively low prices, to now be charging almost twice as much as places such as Pedak.

What really gets me is that the dollar is now worth 480 drams to a dollar, compared to 580 dram last year at this time, a drop of 100 for each dollar. The justification is that the dram is now stronger.

If the Dram is stronger, then it has more buying power, meaning that most of the goods we purchase in the market, which are imported, should cost less, not more. Why have they not dropped in price then? Gasoline and natural gas should also cost less, but it too has not dropped and in fact natural gas is suppose to go up after the new year.

So why has there been no drop? Because the reality is that the Dram is no stronger than it was before and it’s clearly a case of the financial institutions taking advantage of the majority of the population who survive for the most part from money sent to them from the outside in dollars.

Here is one more. If you withdraw money from an ATM and your account is in dollars, they now give you money in dram calculating using the banks exchange rate, which is always lower than what you would get from exchange office.

Here is another one that gets me and forgive me for venting, but the way that our “government” measures poverty and what is needed in a minimal food basket each month. The thing that bothers me about their calculating the minimal food basket is that they INTENTIONALLY use the 1996 consumer price index for their calculations. Well I’m sorry to tell you, but the price of goods in 1996 and 2004 have changed quite a bit.

And since I’m talking about minimal food basket, let me talk about what is in this basket. From what I understand, the daily calorie intake is figured at 2,100, which compared to Poland, is something like 600 calories less than Poland’s.

I’m not sure how this makes you feel, but I feel really bad about this situation, since I know that it’s all about us having a bad government. Oh did I make you laugh when I used the word “government”? Yes, I agree they are a joke, but not one to laugh about. The way I see it is that what we have is not a government, but a bunch of criminals that forced their way into office and have only one goal and that is to get as rich as they can, without ever considering all the suffering they are inflicting on our people.

I look forward to the day that LTP, Robert Kocharian and all those that conspired with them are put on trial. And when the Armenian legal system fails (because you know it will), the real justice system provides us with the justice we need.
Press Release

24 April Committee
Weesperstraat 91
NL - 2574 VS The Hague
Contact: M. Hakhverdian
Tel. 070 4490209

The Netherlands recognises Armenian Genocide

The Hague, 21 December 2004 - The Armenian Federation announces with satisfaction that today the Dutch Parliament has adopted unanimously a motion concerning the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian community of The Netherlands has been insisting at the Dutch Parliament and the government on recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 for many years. Especially last year, in the run-up to and during the Dutch presidency of EU, the 24 April Committee of the Armenian Federation has persistently campaigned to bring the Armenian question under the attention of the Members of Parliament and the Dutch public.

The motion was introduced during the debate on the outcome of the European Summit of last Friday in connection with the start of accession negotiations with Turkey. In that debate nearly all fractions asked the government about the absence of the Armenian Genocide issue in the Presidency conclusions. This in spite of commitment by among others France and the European Parliament and also by Dutch Foreign Minister Bot himself, who ensured the Dutch Parliament that the Armenian question has always been brought up at the meetings with the Turkish colleagues. The majority of the Parliament Members had asked to pay attention to this point.

In the motion adopted by the Parliament the government is asked "to bring up the recognition of the Armenian Genocide continuously and expressly in the dialogue with Turkey".

This motion has been introduced by the Chairman of Christian Union fraction Mr. Rouvoet and supported by all other political parties in the Parliament.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Today was our last day of Christmas shopping.

Yesterdays shopping was at an outdoor market near Independence Square called Ferduce. I was not enjoying myself at all as it was really cold (maybe -10c) and snowing. My fiancé on the other hand was in shopping heaven.

The prices at Ferduce are really low. We got our artificial tree that cost at most places 7,000 dram for 4,000 dram (about $8). I got a bunch of supplies for my salon there and probably saved 25%, compared to the place my workers recommended I go.

At some point, I started to complain to my fiancé as I could no longer feel my feet, hands or face and said that we need to take a break and drink some hot tea. She was not in the mood to hear my complaining and said that she too was numb, but being that she was in her element (shopping heaven), she was not interested in taking a break. She did allow me to go to Southern Fried Chicken with all the packages to drink something hot, but only after I threaded to hold my breath until I pass out. She said that when she finishes her shopping, she will join me.

After a nice hot cup of chocolate milk and thawing out my body while watching music videos, she showed up with a bunch more packages.

I called a cab to come take us home, but after waiting for what seemed a half hour, we decided to try to find a cab on the street. After failing at finding a cab, we sat on a mini bus that took us home.

Today, we went to the Pedak, which is an indoor shopping center. Again my fiancé was in shopping heaven and we walked the whole place twice and a few rows 3 or 4 times.

We got for the most part everything we were looking for and then some. One thing we got that my fiancé was not expecting was a DVD/CD/MP3/VCD/ Karaoke player (Made in China and only $70) since my fiancé loves music.

From the Pedak, we took all our packages and made our way the Hayastan shopping center, where I left my fiancé and took all the packages to my cousins house where my fiancé agreed to meet after she finished buying herself a pair of pants and a gift for her aunt.

We made our way home, hooked up the DVD player and put in an Armenian Karaoke disk my fiancé picked up at the Hayastan shopping center and well, it has been playing non-stop for the last few hours.
I have been so busy that I didn’t get around to logging about my meeting with Magnum.

On the 13th, I went to Stepanagert for a meeting and also to attend a birthday party for Lavrent’s son who turned 4 years old.

After making a couple of phone calls, I spoke to Magnum, who agreed to meet me at a café near the amusement park. Lavrent was with me and spoke to Magnum for directions.

We arrived at the café, which was just below the Konica store near the Shahumyan statue which is just below the Prime Minister’s building.

Magnum who was I would guess 20 years old, was waiting for us on the street with 5 of his big and burly friends, who were obviously there to intimidate.

We went into the café and I asked the boys if they were interested in a cup of tea? They said yes, we will drink and reciprocated my offer with the same offer.

Among Magnum’s friends was Shushi Vacho’s son, who Lavrent knew. The café belonged to Shushi Vacho. For those that have been to Stepanagert, there is a good chance that you have visited this café. It’s the one which the windows are aquariums filled with exotic fish. And for those that don’t know who Shushi Vacho is (which I’m sure this is almost everyone), he was the commander of the Shushi forces once upon a time.

Magnum admitted that it was he who called me on the phone 4 days earlier, but denied even having the chat account 2 weeks before when the inappropriate comments had been made. From the way he told us, it was clear that he was lying, but if the guy denied it, what were we to do? Even if he had admitted it, what were we going to do?

We made it very clear to Magnum, who by this time was uncomfortable with this meeting, that from this point on, if such behavior was observed coming from him in the future, I would not be paying him a visit and he would be dealing directly with Lavrent.

When we left the meeting, Lavrent pointed out that it was clear that Magnum was lying and that his friends, especially Shushi Vacho’s son completely understood what had happened and would surly set Magnum straight.

Was my fiancé happy with the results? No, of course not. She felt that Lavrent and I were not manly enough and should have at least hit Magnum a few times to really get the message across. My fiancé’s twin sister said that the only one who was not manly was Magnum, who if he was a man, would have taken credit for what he way and not worm his way out.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

R.I.P. Moleh

I got a call from my fiancé’s cousin an hour ago telling me that the female Caucasian Shepard Moleh he was keeping for his cousin’s husband had died.

Moleh was only two and a half years old and was soon to breed with her husband Cesar, who is three years old.

It seems that Moleh got sick a few days ago and they called the vet to revive her, but to no avail.

Caucasian Shepards are very rare fighting dog. They feel practically no pain when hit or bitten. As far as we know, there were only 3 or 4 of them in all of Armenia. Dodi Gago, who fights dogs, has offered last year to purchase Moleh for $80k, but since they were interested in breeding, they turned old Dodi down.

It seems that Cesar was quite upset with the loss and as it was, he has been a very aggressive dog, with only my fiancé’s cousin and myself being the ones who he would allow to enter his pen to play with him. I’m wondering what condition he will be in, as these dogs are very intelligent and understand everything. Who knows, he may not be in any mood now to play and just may not be interested in seeing me.
It seems that winter is not on the way, but has arrived.

My fiancé and I went Christmas shopping today and found the stores filled. For my fiancé, she was in shopping heaven. For me, shopping and crowds hungry for matrial goods are the worst thing to have evolved. If it was up to me, the Grinch would have his way.

So far winter has been very good to me. I have not got sick yet and if I play my cards right and keep pumping in the vitamin C like I have been doing, I’ll do quite well for myself.

There is nothing better than taking in some dry crisp cold air while taking a walk in central Yerevan with the one you love.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Snow… Snow… Snow

Winter is defiantly on the way.

I left Martuni at 8am on the 15th to go to Yerevan. I took a mini van, as I avoid driving in the winter as much as possible. I figure it’s best to leave the driving up to a professional.

The mini van that I took was a red Ford van, driven by Bedo, a 50 something year old with a little bit of grey hair.

With us was some very familiar Martuni personalities, including Vito, the owner of one of the largest stores in Martuni. Vito and I had reserved the front seat, but once we got in the van, a woman who suffers from high blood pressure and motion sickness sitting up front. We chose the next row of seats as an alternative, which was probably also safer.

We drove towards Stepanagert and as passing Aghdam, it started to snow. Once we got to the new Stepanagert bus station, the snow was coming down quite hard.

We picked up one passenger at the station and continued on. The passenger told us that the snow had started at 2am and that there were many cancellations of vans and cars going to Yerevan.

As we started to make our way out of Stepanagert and up the hill that goes to Shushi, our van lost traction and could not continue. We stopped and the driver and one of the passengers got out to put on chains.

As we were waiting for the chains to be put on, I got a call from my friend Harout, who runs ABBA-NKR martial arts studio in Stepanagert, who was suppose to meet me in Yerevan where he had made arrangements with a private car to take him, his family and one of our reader’s son Dan, who had been studying with Harout for the last 3 months. He asked me how I was going and told me because of the bad road conditions, their driver canceled the trip. They had been looking for an alternative, including calling the Red Cross for advice. Their big dilemma was that they had tickets to Lebanon for the morning of the 17th and they were non-refundable, so they had to get there today if at all possible.

I told Harout that I was in a van that was about a kilometer out of Stepanagert that had room for him and his family, but he would have to find someone to bring them to us and we would wait.

The passenger who was helping the driver, came back to the van to warm up and tell us that the driver was having problems putting on the chains. I got out to see if I could help and discovered that he was putting the chains on backwards, with the locking clasp on the wrong side. I helped him put on the chains, which were a little bit too small, as the tires on the van had been changed with tires that were one size bigger than the original tires.

After a bit of a wait, Harout and family with Dan showed up. They had lots of bags, which were good, as we loaded them up on the roof in the back of the van, giving us that extra weight for added traction.

We loaded up in the van, with Dan sitting between Vito and I and drove on.

As we neared Lachin, the roads seemed as if they had been de-iced, so our driver decided that we should take off the chains.

Before we got to Goris, the driver pulled into the yard of a house where he had agreed the day before to pick up a passenger, but to find that the passenger’s son the night before had been sick, so the passenger would not be joining us.

As we tried to exit the yard, the van would not go. There was too much snow and ice on the ground and after trying to lay down dirt and rocking the van, the driver had to back the van out the way he came in. (it was like a circular driveway deal and we were trying to go up hill).

The driver backed down and ended up sliding the van around, but while doing so, ended up almost driving us into a gorge as we were trying to cross over a small bridge.

After trying a bit to get us off the shoulder of the road, but instead of go into the road, we were sliding off the edge and Vito deciding that the driver could drive us back on the road, I spoke up and ordered all the men out of the van to push. We all piled out and shoved the van back on the road and then got back in.

Now we are driving back in the direction of Artsakh, looking for a level place to turn around. At this point, the woman with the high blood pressure is sucking on a lemon to bring her blood pressure down, as I guess sitting up front was getting to be a scary experience.

We got to a level and somewhat wide place on the road, where the driver applied the brakes, which caused the van to slide out of control, right towards the side of a mountain, tapping into the mountain and then bouncing back, turning our van around in the direction we wanted to go in.

As we were heading down the hill into Goris, for whatever reason, the driver tapped the breaks, causing our van to once again slide, this time towards a gorge that was very steep and deep. Fortunately by the time we neared the edge, there was a fence, that kept us from going over.

We drove into Goris in 2nd gear and into a gas station, where we insisted that the driver put the chains on. I figured that driver could do it himself, since he just had instruction a couple hours before, so we went to a store and had a cup of hot coffee to warm up.

When we returned to the van, the chains were still not on and there was some man giving our driver advice on how to put on the chains, not knowing that the chains were too small. I stepped in and thanked the man who basically said that his way was right and if we didn’t do it his way, the chains would fall off and installed the chains as we had before, this time having to let some air out of one of the tires to allow us to squeeze the chain on, later filling it at a tire repair store.

The rest of the trip was quite uneventful, with one of the chains breaking at a point where we were going to take the chains off anyway.

We got into Yerevan 13 hours after we left Martuni. A very long trip, which when we got to the bus we discovered that we were the 2nd van to arrive from Stepanagert, meaning that we did well, making it in 13 hours.
The following is a letter I sent off to the members and committees of Parliament that had e-mail addresses:

Dear Members of Parliament,

I am writing to you to encourage you to vote AGAINST the deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq.

My name is Ara Khachig Manoogian. I am an American-born Armenian, who permanently resides in Artsakh, Martuni. I am the grandson of Vahan “Ivan” Manoogian, born in Dilijan, Armenia. My grandfather left his home in 1915 as part of the Tsar’s army, and later joined a group of fedais who went on to defend the Armenians of Erzerum and Van. As a result of my grandfathers’ service to the Armenian people, upon his return to Bolshevik Armenia, like many of his fellow fedais, he would have been executed for his desertion of the Russian army and was forced to seek refuge elsewhere.

Like many others, my grandfather and grandmother (who was a refugee from Van), were welcomed by the people of Iraq, who opened their country to thousands of Armenians in their greatest time of need and allowed them to live a free and prosperous life.

Though my immediate family has left Iraq, quite a few relatives remain in the country. From them I’ve received reports that their lives after the US occupation have changed for the worse, but they have not been treated any different than their fellow Iraqi’s until recent news of the possible Armenian deployment of troops.

The Armenians of Iraq have stood by Armenia’s side following independence. They have a strong understanding that Armenians must support each other, especially those who are vulnerable. Today, our most vulnerable compatriots are the 25,000 Iraqi Armenians. Like members of other ethnic groups that are represented In the Coalition that is occupying Iraq, Armenians could face the dangers of kidnapping and death as a direct result of the deployment of Armenian troops.

Armenia will receive nothing in the way of benefits for this ill-advised deployment. If anything, the deployment will increase the distance between Armenia and a Europe that is overwhelmingly opposed to the U.S. occupation. Will Armenia send troops to Iraq now, when the resistance is escalating, and European coalition members are trying desperately to get out of Iraq?

Armenian history has recorded many instances where choices have been made which have caused suffering to our people. The deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq, if it should happen, will be one of those unwise choices. The people of Armenia overwhelmingly reject this deployment. Please do not add your names to the list of those responsible for the further suffering of Armenians in Iraq. I again urge you to vote AGAINST the Armenian troop deployment.


Ara Khachig Manoogian
Artsakh, Martuni

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


By Markar Melkonian

On December 8, Armenia’s Constitutional Court ruled that President Kocharyan’s plan to deploy troops to Iraq does not conflict with the basic law of the Republic. The Court’s ruling is misguided, but the damage has been done. The Court has given its green light, and now the danger of an Armenian deployment is imminent.

Green Lighting a Debacle:

From the perspective of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the Court’s ruling is indefensible. Chapter One, Article 9 of the Constitution reads: “The foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia shall be conducted in accordance with the norms of international law, with the aim of establishing good neighborly and mutually beneficial relations with all states.” Leaders of many of the member states of the United Nations, including Canada and Mexico, have concluded that participation in the occupation of Iraq is not compatible with the norms of international law. Moreover, the deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq is incompatible with the aim of establishing good neighborly relations with any Arab state except Kuwait and the quisling regime in Baghdad.

The President of Armenia has portrayed the deployment as a way to improve Armenia’s ties with Europe. But this claim, too, is indefensible. Most of the more prosperous and democratic countries of Europe, led by France and Germany, oppose the Bush Administration’s war and refuse to join the Coalition. At the same time, erstwhile Coalition members are looking for a way out. The Netherlands announced on November 12 that 1350 Dutch troops would leave Iraq in March 2005, despite U.S. and British pressure for them to remain longer. Hungary, a member of the Coalition contingent under Polish Command, has announced that it will withdraw its 300 troops from Iraq in early 2005, and Bulgaria has announced that it too will reduce its troop presence in Iraq. Indeed, even Poland--the leader of the multi-national command under which Armenian troops would serve--has announced its intention of reducing its troop presence soon, and withdrawing from Iraq entirely before the end of the coming year. (A CNN report of October 4, 2004 begins with the line: “Poland may reduce its commitment of forces to the war in Iraq by 40 percent by January 2005 and have all its troops out by the end of that year, Polish officials said Monday.”)

Armenia’s Constitutional Court, then, has provided legal cover to send troops into a war that members of “the Coalition of the Willing” are trying desperately to leave. Joining the Coalition might boost Armenia’s relations with Rwanda, El Salvador, Palau, and other vulnerable vassals of Washington, but it will further distance Armenia from the heart of Europe.

The deployment proposal, furthermore, is incompatible with the aim of establishing mutually beneficial relations with Armenia’s two most important neighbors, Russia and Iran. The Russians have repeatedly disparaged Kocharyan’s deployment plan. Responding to Russian objections, the Deputy Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly was quoted on the day of the Court ruling as stating that “their [the Russians’] conduct in the international arena does not encourage free and independent decision-making on the part of Armenia.” When it comes to Moscow, it seems, Armenia suddenly wants “a free and independent foreign policy.” The situation would be laughable if it weren’t so potentially tragic: If the last century of Armenian history has taught us anything, it has taught us that a choice between Russia and the United States is no choice at all. If the Bush Administration insists on pressing the point, then it is clear which way Armenia must go.

The Bush Administration is threatening “regime change” in Iran. Any country that helps Bush to “stabilize” Iraq is effectively strengthening Washington’s hand against the Islamic Republic and encouraging further aggression against Armenia’s most helpful neighbor. By participating in the Coalition from the beginning, Georgia and Azerbaijan have set themselves against Russia and Iran-two of the most influential countries in the southern Caucasus. Armenia has an opportunity to distinguish itself as a reliable ally of Russia and Iran. If leaders in Yerevan fail to seize this opportunity, they risk setting the stage for costly diplomatic defeats down the line, including further isolation on the issue of self-determination in Nagorno-Karabagh.

Loopy Rationales for Deployment:

In addition, the deployment would endanger Iraq’s 25,000 Armenians. Even members of the Constitutional Court have acknowledged this as a likely consequence of the deployment. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on December 8 that one of the Constitutional Court judges, Kim Balayan, “wondered if the planned deployment could put the lives of Iraqi Armenians at greater risk.”

In late October, Armenia’s Deputy Defense Minister dismissed this objection by posing what he presumably thought was a rhetorical question, and then answering it: “Do you think that there are no Georgian or Azerbaijani communities in Iraq? Of course there are. But both Azerbaijan and Georgia think of increasing their presence in Iraq.” Surely Armenia’s Deputy Defense Minister should know that Iraq has no Georgian or Azerbaijani communities. Georgia and Azerbaijan have far less to lose by participating in the occupation of Iraq than does Armenia.

In response to these concerns, Armenia’s Defense Minister has said that Iraqi Armenians “will be insecure regardless of Armenian military presence in Iraq.” This is a revealing remark. Ninety years ago, Iraqis opened their doors to Armenian genocide survivors, and since then, Iraqi Armenians have lived in friendship and security with their fellow Iraqis, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and Kurds. No one was attacking the Armenian community in Iraq until the second President Bush launched America’s second war against the country. In view of the record, then, the Defense Minister’s statement amounts to an admission by the most vocal proponent of the deployment that George W. Bush’s war and occupation have placed 25,000 Iraqi Armenians in peril. For Armenia to participate in the deployment would amount to Yerevan rewarding Bush for endangering the lives and the future of the Armenian community in Iraq.

Bush’s apologists in Yerevan continue to portray the deployment as a “humanitarian” mission aimed at “stabilizing” Iraq. But the occupation of Iraq has destabilized the country, fomenting murderous sectarian strife that did not exist before 2003. Coalition forces have set Kurds against Arabs and Sunnis against Shiites. The occupiers continue to kill civilians, desecrate mosques, destroy and invade homes, and torture and humiliate detainees in the most disgusting manner. Meanwhile, robberies, kidnappings, and extortion proliferate, and a small number of insurgents have bombed churches and Shiite mosques. Supporters of the resistance repeatedly denounce these attacks, but lawlessness prevails in Iraq to such an extent that no one is able to stop them.

The occupation is fomenting terrible violence. The sooner it is brought to an end, the sooner stability will return to Iraq. Armenia can help stabilize Iraq by refusing to participate in the Coalition, thereby refusing to help prolong the occupation.

In an interview published on December 8, Armenia’s Minister of Defense stated that he “simply see[s] no connection” between the announced deployment of Armenian troops in Iraq and the increased danger and insecurity of the Armenians there. Iraqi Armenians, however, most assuredly do see a connection. Their representatives, their benevolent and cultural organizations, and their spiritual leaders have repeatedly implored Armenia’s President and its National Assembly, through letters, petitions, and emissaries, not to deploy. A Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty report of November 11, 2004, summarized the obvious: “Iraqi Armenians Link Explosion Near Armenian Church in Baghdad to Armenia's Intention to Send troops to Iraq.” Another international press report quoted an Iraqi Armenian community leader who warned that “if Armenian troops arrive in Iraq, the attacks on Iraqi Armenians will intensify.”

At the Edge of a Steep, Slippery Slope:

An Armenian deployment in Iraq might have even more disastrous long-term repercussions. One of Armenia’s closest regional allies, the Syrian Arab Republic, is in the crosshairs of influential neoconservatives in Washington. Syria, it will be recalled, was a member of the Operation Desert Storm coalition. We now see how the Bush family expresses its gratitude towards its “coalition partners.” There is a lesson here for Armenia.

The Syrian Arab Republic has been a place of refuge for thousands of Christians fleeing Iraq. Will Armenia help set the stage for these refugees to be uprooted yet again? Are leaders in Yerevan prepared to take the next step, to help “stabilize” Syria if the neoconservatives in Washington get their way yet again? It is as true of George W. Bush as it was of Adolph Hitler: To appease an aggressor is to invite further aggression.

Day by day, the Iraqi resistance is growing. This raises another question for the politicians in Yerevan: Are they prepared to help occupation forces kill, imprison, and torture Iraqi Armenians who take up arms to defend their country and their homes against the occupiers?

Armenia’s Constitutional Court has failed in its duty to ensure that “the orders and decrees of the President of the Republic and the resolutions of Government are in conformity with the Constitution.” It would have been nice if the Constitutional Court had at least shown as much concern for the security of Armenia as they have demonstrated obedience to George W. Bush. But it seems that even this is asking for too much these days.

Leaders in Yerevan stand at the edge of a slippery and very steep slope. Thanks to the Constitutional Court’s ill-advised ruling, the decision is now in the hands of the National Assembly. That is, if in fact there is any decision at all to be made in Yerevan that has not already been made in Crawford, Texas.

* * *

Popular pressure is the only hope of derailing this deployment. Please take a moment to urge the National Assembly to be brave in the face of intimidation, and to stay focused on the interests of Armenia and the Armenian people. Please send a message to:

The National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia

On the “TO:” dropdown menu, click on “Foreign Relations.”

You might also send a message to:

The Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Washington DC:

Explain that you oppose the proposed deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq. Remind them that such a deployment will adversely affect Armenia’s relations with its neighbors, especially Russia and Iran, and that it will isolate Armenia from its long-standing friends in the Arab countries. Remind them, too, that the deployment could precipitate bloodshed and a mass exodus of Armenians from their country, Iraq.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

BBC News

Monday, 13 December, 2004, 17:45 GMT

Turkey 'must admit WWI genocide'

France has said it will ask Turkey to acknowledge the mass killing of Armenians from 1915 as genocide when it begins EU accession talks.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Turkey had "a duty to remember".

Armenians say 1.5 million of their people died or were deported from their homelands under Turkish Ottoman rule.

France is among a group of nations that class the killings as genocide. Turkey denies any organised genocide, claiming they were quelling a civil uprising.

Mr Barnier said France did not consider Turkish acknowledgement a condition of EU entry, but insisted his country would raise the issue once talks opened.

Where Turkey's bid stands

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss plans to invite Turkey for accession talks, Mr Barnier said Turkey "must carry out this task as a memorial".

In addition, France believes that accession talks should not begin before the second half of 2005, Mr Barnier said. Turkey has pushed for immediate negotiations.

"I believe that when the time comes, Turkey should come to terms with its past, be reconciled with its own history and recognise this tragedy," Mr Barnier said.

'So-called genocide'

His comments drew no immediate official response from Turkey, which has consistently denied orchestrating genocide and the Armenian figures.

A foreign ministry spokesman in the Turkish capital, Ankara, told Reuters that Turkey has never and will never recognise "any so-called genocide".

Armenia alleges that the Young Turks, in 1915 the dominant party in the Ottoman Empire, systematically arranged the deportation and killing of 1.5 million Armenians.

Turkish relations with independent Armenia, which borders Turkey to the north, have long been coloured by the issue.

Around 300,000 Armenians live in France, more than in any other European country, and community leaders have pledged to pressure French President Jacques Chirac on the genocide issue during Turkish accession negotiations.

France passed a law officially recognising the Armenian genocide in 2001, cooling relations with Turkey and scuppering a major arms deal.

Another 14 nations, including Switzerland, Russia and Argentina, also classify the killings as genocide.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Saturday, December 11, 2004

When I spoke to my fiancé his morning, I told her about my Magnum experience in Stepanagert yesterday.

She was not impressed and felt that Magnum would be ready to lie to me, now that he knows why I want to meet with him.

She said that I did this whole thing wrong and what I was suppose to do was meet with him and at that time “teach him some manors” so he would understand that what he did was not right. She said that’s how a Karabagh man deals with such issues.

I told her that it’s not my style to beat up people and break their teeth and hospitalize them so they understand that what they did was wrong, though Lavrent was ready to rip the guy in half if I gave him the order.

I said that it’s my style to push the guy to break his own teeth and hang himself if need be, which is a much greater punishment. I said that when I find Magnum, he will go public as to who he is and apologize to everyone, or else I will post his information and picture in the chat room and those that have a bone to pick with him and settle their scores individually.

My fiancé said that there is no way that Magnum will publicly apologize, as that is not something a dugha mart (boy-man) from Karabagh would ever do and there is no way I would get Magnum to agree to such a thing and this is not America.

I reminded her of an incident that took place 6 years ago when I had to defend her and her sisters honor when they felt violated by a broadcast the Artsakh television station had.

It was back in 1998 and I had discussed with their mother of the possibility of producing a CD of her husband’s songs that he recorded for the Artsakh movement (he was a well known singer in Azerbaijan).

I said that for the CD, I would like to include a song that was written about her husband after his death and have it sung by his daughters.

In search of a recording studio, I was told to call the television station. I called and spoke to a producer who told me that they could do the recording for 30,000 dram ($60), plus we would have to provide them with a couple of BetaCam tapes.

We had our recording session which was quite difficult, as the producer kept stopping the filming because of lighting problems and so on. The girls got quite frustrated at one point and wanted to go home. I was telling the producer that I don’t care about lighting, but am interested in sound.

We finished the recording and the producer told me that they were having a singing competition going and she would like to include our video in it. I asked the kids what they thought and they said no, this is a very personal thing for us and we did not do this to compete for prizes. I made it very clear to the producer that under no circumstances are they allowed to use the video in their competition.

A month passed and as I was getting ready to leave for Yerevan, my fiancés older sister came to me quite angry and said that it is my fault that they were publicly embarrassed as their video was on television and people are already talking about how they are trying to profit from the death of their father. She said it in a way as if I had betrayed her trust and it was my fault this had happened. I was furious and called the station, but at that time, the phones were so bad that I could not contact them.

I got an early start the next day to leave for Yerevan, with intentions of stopping to resolve this issue and defend the honor of these children who I was the big brother figure in their lives, the one that is responsible to make sure their rights are not violated.

I arrived to the station to find the producer in the studio working on recording something. I called her out. She had a big smile of her face and asked me if I liked the broadcast? I told her in a very nasty tone that I didn’t see the broadcast, but who gave her permission to broadcast it. Had she forgotten that we didn’t want it broadcasted?

She became defensive and from my loud stern tone, we were joined by her director, who took the stance that they were right by broadcasting it and that there was nothing I could do about it now, it is done and over with.

I told them that it’s obvious that they have no common sense and that they are playing with the emotions of children who have already lost their father to the defense of the country and now they are in the process of loosing their good name to the gossip of them trying to profit off of their father’s memory.

I demanded to talk to the head of the station, to which they told me they were the head of the station and there is nothing I can do.

At this point, I was really pissed off and told the producer that she will soon be nothing more than a cleaning lady and to the director I said that he will see how much I can do.

I drove up to the Prime Minister’s office and in those days, I had a very good relationship with the PM to where I could drop in without an appointment.

I told the PM what happened and who the children that were involved were.

He got on the phone with the director of the station, told him that he is sending me to down there now and to straighten out this mess immediately.

I returned to the television station to meet with the director, who were not the people I had been arguing with. After telling him all the details, he called the producer to his office. In walked the producer with her eyes looking to the floor.

She admitted that we had told her not to broadcast our video and that what she did was wrong. She agreed to my demand that a public apology be broadcasted at the beginning of the next few programs they have and I must approve the text.

Anyway, that was the second time I had to defend my fiancés honor and thought that I got satisfactory results (the first when I got into a fist-fight with a guy who made inappropriate comments and then grabbed her on June 10, 1997, that in the end landed him in jail, which I logged about last year).

As for Magnum, I know I’m going to get some very interesting results. If I have analyzed my information correctly, there is a very good chance that this is not going to be an contest of who is physically more endowed (though my driver and Lavrent will balance that out if need be), but who is more convincing of what is right and that Magnum does the right thing.
I went to the bank yesterday to receive a transfer from the US and when I walked in, I was shocked to read the exchange rate as being 464 drams to $1.

All I could think of was that the $2,000 a month that once covered my living and business/project expenses was no longer worth $2,000, but now only worth $1,600. And with the price of food, gasoline and services on the rise, the $1,600 is worth probably half that.

I went to the bank and told Elada, the bank manager that if someone ever wants to have a heart attack, all they have to do is enter the bank and look at the exchange rate.

She agreed that it was very bad and herself didn’t understand why it was so low?

She said that what is really bad is that there are many people who for the last year have kept $100 for their New Years celebration so they could have a nice meal and now what they were expecting to be 56,000 drams, will now only be 46,000 drams. That is a huge amount of money for anyone these days, even me.

Anyway, the following is an article that maybe can explain why there was a sudden rise in the value of the dram?

If you ask me, it sounds to me like it’s just some people at the top with the controls in their hands who found another way of squeezing a few more drops of blood out of the common people who live here that are just barley getting by. If I am right, these people responsible need to be found and terminated, as this not just an act of theft, but again is another act of white genocide, the thing that we must not tolerate for any reason.


YEREVAN, December 9. /ARKA/. On Dec 1-9 nominal exchange rate of Armenian dram strengthened in respect to all foreign currencies, quotes on which are set by CBA. According to analysis of ARKA News Agency, Canadian dollar lost its positions compared to Armenian dram, its rate decreased by 6.27% in Dec 1-9 (395.53 AMD). Australian dollar goes next - by 5.82%, to 366.1 AMD, Argentinean peso – by 5.21% to 161.08 AMD.

Currencies, most important to participants of financial market of Armenia, i.e. USD and Euro, weakened their positions during such a short period of time. Thus, exchange nominal rate of AMD to USD made 478 per $1, i.e. by 22.05 AMD or 4.41% more than on Dec 1, 2004. Note a year earlier, on Dec 9, 2003 $1 was equal to 566.53 AMD. Exchange rate of AMD to Euro since the beginning of the month strengthened by 4.37% or by 29.08 AMD and today it costs 635.74 AMD. A year ago 1 Euro cost 692.19 AMD.

The fact of strengthening of Armenian dram to Russian ruble is also interesting. Since the beginning of December ruble in Armenia weakened by 3.77%, to 17.09 AMD per ruble, while as of Dec 9, 2004, 1 ruble cost 19.17 AMD.

Analysis of foreign exchange market sale-purchase rates by the banks gives more surprising picture: pretty serious margin between purchase rate and sale rate of foreign exchange. Today it achieves 25 AMD during trade of USD and sometimes even more in trade with Euros. Such a serious margin usually took place in the country in more serious variation of rates in conditions of not created foreign exchange markets in the beginning of transition period. In `normal' conditions, namely in the beginning of 2004, margin in trade with USD ranged between 2-7 AMD. On request of ARKA to explain the reason to such a big difference between sale and purchase rates, the dealers of some commercial banks said that they go for this because average rate really makes 460 AMD per $1, at the exchange rate of CBA in 478 AMD. That is why the banks had to increase the margin to minimize currency risks and receive income from foreign exchange operations in account of rate difference. Otherwise the banks would have losses.

Thus, most of the dealers, though do not exclude future strengthening of AMD in the beginning of the next year, do not give the forecasts in short-term perspective. No one of them gives any comments, explaining it that existing situation `does not have any logics, and it is outside of all economic laws'. Everything depends on what will take place at international financial markets, what moods and trends will be created there, what inflation and what macroindicators will be created in USA and European countries. It is also noted that not the last role in rate trends was played by not so much by exporters, but large investments in Armenia. Nevertheless, part of the dealers expressed opinion that fast decrease of USD rate in last days and in the future more than likely won't take place. At this, dealers note serious volumes of sale-purchase deals at foreign exchange market of Armenia. Along with that on the threshold of holidays Armenia continues receive large private transfers and mostly in USD. At this, received assets immediately turn to drams for making purchases.

Note that in the beginning of Aug 2004, when ARKA News Agency conducted poll among commercial banks, the banks forecasted that by the end of 2004 the rate of national currency in the country will stabilize around 530-550 AMD per USD. Besides, Armenian banks did not exclude that in result of the year, inflation can make 8%. At the moment, in 11 months of 2004 deflation in Armenia made 0.3%.

According to ARKA News Agency data, 26.94% of profit accrued by commercial banks of Armenia in Jan-Sep 2004 was provided in account of net income from foreign exchange operations (1995.3 million AMD on 19 banks). With consideration of Armsvyazbank, net income from currency operations of banking system made 2448.1 million AMD. Compared to the same period of 2003, income on foreign exchange operations of 19 banks grew by 816.1 million AMD, or by 69.2%. ($1 - 478 AMD).


11 Dec 04

All Armenian Movement Gets Separated Again

First RA president Levon Ter-Petrosian joined the 14th Congress of the All-Armenian Movement five minutes late. His entrance to the sittings’ hall of the government aroused the obvious excitement of the participants. It seemed tome that Ter-Petrosian's delay was artificially staged. On the other hand, it seemed that AAM exists for the only hope of Ter-Petrosian's return. Doubtlessly, the participants of the sitting are the very group of people that are ready to urge for the first RA president's return.

Before taking his seat in the first row Ter-Petrosian greeted the members of his party, shook the hand of progressive-liberal Hovhannes Hovhannisian, then sat down next to Samvel Gevorgian. The political figures sitting behind him were likely to enjoy his presence. Indeed, there can be historic moments in the life of each political figure.

The journalists failed to interview Levon Ter-Petrosian. He was smoking and talking to his acquaintances during the breaks. At the congress he listened to the speeches on the unprecedented massacres of the Western Armenians in 1895-96, the Armenians Genocide of 1915 and the final loss of the Western Armenia, as well as on the loss of the Eastern Armenia's great part in 1918-1921. In its adopted formula the 14th Congress of AAM condemned the Armenian ideology based on national-socialistic ideas in all these tragedies, instead of condemning the Ottoman Empire in that.

"The freedom of speech is banned, journalists and the mass media become targets of terrorism, left-wing TV channels are being closed," this is another extract from the formula of AAM Congress. Ararat Zourabian, chairman of the party, emphasized the closing of A1+ channel in his speech. But was it right to talk of the freedom of speech in the presence of the first RA president? On December 28, 1994, all the mass media reflecting the ideas of Armenian Revolutionary Party Dashnaktsutyun were closed and robbed during one night.

The leaders of some parties separated from AAM were not present at the congress. Babken Ararktsian, Alexander Arzoumanian, Ara Sahakian were not at the sitting hall. Henry Cuni, French ambassador to Armenia, accepted the invitation to be present at the congress. Aram Sargsian represented Hanrapetutiun Party, while Stepan Demirchian, leader of the People's Party of Armenia was absent.

Ararat Zourabian stated in his speech at the congress that the regime that seized the power continues its activities that destroy the base of the Armenian state. According to Zourabian, in the Nagorno Karabakh issue, NKR doesn’t participate in the negotiation process, and the conflict became a territorial quarrel between Armenia and

Zourabian emphasized that Armenia is excluded from the regional security, energetic and transportation systems, there is no progress fixed in the Armenian- Turkish relations, while the relations between Russia and Armenia were characterized as those between the master and the slave. As for "Property against Debt" project, it endangers the independence of Armenia, he said.

The leaders of the party keep saying that the All Armenian Movement can be a part of the nation-wide movement against the current regime in Armenia.

BY Tatoul Hakobian
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
10 December 2004

U.S. Citizen Wins Court Case Against Armenian Prosecutors

By Emil Danielyan

A U.S. citizen of Armenian descent has won a court case against Armenian prosecutors whom he accuses of covering up an alleged wholesale embezzlement of his business assets in Yerevan, his lawyer said on Friday.

George Najarian, who has engaged in extensive charitable work in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for the last 15years, sued the Office of Prosecutor-General for its refusal to press fraud charges against his former local business representative. The man, Grigor Igitian, is the legal owner of a photo shop and two buildings currently constructed in downtown Yerevan.

Najarian insists that in reality the lucrative property belongs to him and that he registered it in Igitian’s name in 1996 because Armenian law at the time did not allow foreigners to own land in the country. He claims to have been defrauded by Igitian, a charge denied by the latter.

The state prosecutors have twice investigated the fraud allegations but stopped short of bringing charges against Igitian, citing a lack of evidence. The Armenian-American, who suspects them of being bribed by his ex-partner, challenged the decisions in a Yerevan court of first instance.

According to Najarian’s attorney, Ashot Poghosian, the court recognized his client as a “victim” and ordered the Prosecutor-General’s Office to resume the fraud inquiry. “We are satisfied with the verdict,” Poghosian told RFE/RL. “We regret that things have gotten thus far and hope that the prosecutor’s office will not appeal.”

In a recent newspaper article, Najarian and his wife Carolann slammed Armenia’s law-enforcement authorities, describing them as “a system wrought with deceit and corruption.”

Friday, December 10, 2004

Defending ones honor

The internet can be a very dangerous place for the naïve, especially chat rooms.

My fiancé is one of those people who uses a chat room to keep in contact with her schoolmates and family that live abroad. I have always warned her that she may encounter weirdoes who will hide behind a fake identity (like Jennifer Smith) and to be careful not to engage in conversations with people who she does not personally know. Growing up in small town Martuni, you are not exposed to such thing.

A couple of weeks ago while chatting to her sister in an Armenian chat room, she got an unsolicited proposition from a someone. All I know is that I happened to be looking at her from across the room and could see her jaw drop and she looked like she was going to choke on her tong. I rushed over to her and asked her what was wrong and did her sister give her bad news?

It took a little bit for her to compose herself and with an almost frightened look on her face she asked me if I knew what someone had just said to her? She went on to say that she didn’t fully understand everything that was said, but said that she was just propositioned by someone with the nick “Magnum” and he wanted to do something with her “boots” (which in Armenian is a somewhat dirty way of referring to the female sexual organ). Before I could see who Magnum was, he had left the chat room.

My fiancé was really upset for the rest of the night and told me that I have to find Magnum and take with me my driver, the former Samuel Babyan special forces guy who once almost ended up in jail for striking a guy in the head with his fist, who fortunately didn’t die and came out of the comma he was in to testify that he was the one that provoked my driver. She wanted me to defend her honor and teach this guy some manors.

A few nights ago, I went into the Armenian chat room to tell my fiancé to turn off the internet so I could call her and entered with her sisters name (this chat room you have to register for before you can use it and since I don’t know Russian, I’ve never really felt the need for my own name).

Before we came out to talk on the phone, I noticed Magnum’s nick and asked my fiancé in a private message if this was the guy?

She told it was him and after looking at his profile, which was in Russian and only said that he is in Stepanagert, I engaged him in a conversation with the help of a free on-line translation service (English-Russian).

The conversation went something like this:

H: Privet (I didn’t need the translation help for this)
M: Privet
H: Don’t I know you?
H: What’s wrong, don’t you want to talk to me?
H: Are you in Stepanagert? Let’s talk on the phone.
M: Yes
M: Where do I know you from?
H: I want to meet you, why don’t you give me your phone number and I’ll call you?
H: What’s the matter, you scared to talk to me? You think I will laugh at you when I hear your voice? Don’t worry I won’t laugh. If you want you can call me. My number is #######.

Not a minute passed, my cell phone rings. I answered the phone which displayed a cell phone number ####### and used a soft and as feminine voice that could pull off.

Ara: Hello?
Magnum: Hi.
Ara: Is that you Magnum?
Magnum: Yes.
Ara: What’s your real name?
Magnum: Arthur. What’s your name?
Ara: That’s a nice name Arthur, thank you Arthur, goodnight.

I hung up the phone.

Arthur called back again and this time I answered the phone with a deep voice of what I would describe as the guy you see in the movies that just got out of jail and is pissed off at the world and more so because you just woke him up at 1:30 in the morning.

Ara: Hello!!! Who is this!!!
Arthur: Who is this?!! Where is the girl I was talking to?! Let me talk to her!!!
Ara: Excuse me, but do you know what time it is?!!! What business do you have calling me?!!!

I hung up the phone again.

Magnum called again.

Ara: What do you want?!!!
Magnum: Who are you?!!!
Ara: Do you know what time it is?!!! It’s 1:30 in the morning!!! It’s rude to call at this hour!!! Go sleep!!!

I hung up the phone and turned it off.

I got what I was looking for, which was a phone number that could belong to Magnum or someone Magnum knows.

A couple of days later I went to Karabagh Telecom to pay my phone bills and told the woman that I also want to pay my friend’s phone bill, giving the phone number that Magnum had called me on.

The woman said Haik Casparyan? He owes 7,840 dram. I looked to the woman and said that yes, let me pay Haik’s bill now. They took the money and printed me out a full statement, which had name and a Stepanagert address.

Today I went to Stepanagert for some work and while I was busy with my work, I sent my driver off to locate the house, but not to approach it and once he found it, to call me. With all the street name changes, it took my drive a while to find the place, which was near the university, half of the building being dormitories and the other half housed refugees from Baku.

Once I finished all my work, my driver and I headed for Haik’s house, calling my truck driver Lavrent (6 foot tall, 240 lbs., built like the guy that was in the Indiana Jones movie who Jones could not defeat and only killed when the guy was stuck by an airplane propeller), who joined us in the parking lot of the building.

We went up the third floor #62. A newer white steel door and it was clear from the other doors in the building that the people who live in there are well to do.

My driver knocked on the door and I heard someone inside ask as to who it was? I asked the woman if we could ask her something? The woman opened the door to find three people, two of which were on the large intimidating size/look.

I asked if Haik Casparyan was home? She asked who is Haik? I said I don’t now, but he has a cell phone and claims this to be the address he lives.

She said no, there is no Haik here. I presented her with the statement and showed her the name and address and asked her if this was #62? She said yes.

She then said that Haik is her bother’s son, but he lives in Yerevan. She said that he has not been in Artsakh for over a year and must have sold the phone to someone.

I asked her she would know of an Arthur and if he could have purchased the phone?

She said she didn’t know but would get in touch with Haik and have him contact us with that information.

She asked why we were looking for the owner of the phone and was it because he owes money on the telephone? No, Lavrent said, walking into her house, the owner goes on the internet and says inappropriate things to girls in chat rooms, one of them being Ara’s fiancé.

My driver asked if she could call Haik now so we can find out?

She said no, she didn’t have his phone number and would have to call her relative in Abovian to find out.

Lavrent said that my phone has Armenia access and we could call now, to which she claimed to not have the phone number handy.

She invited us into her living room after telling us that they are a dignified family and her son Garen we may know who is the head of the tax office in Stepanagert, to which I told her that Garen is a friend of mine. Her other son is the Deputy Minister of Social Services.

She looked for the phone number and as we were waiting, I noticed a computer with a phone line going into it. I asked her if they have internet to which she said yes.

She could not find the number, so we left our phone numbers and names so she could have someone call us with the information of who owns the phone now.

We left and sitting in the car, I looked over the statement for numbers that started with 022, which is the code for Abovian. There were 2 numbers. I called the first number, identified myself (Ara Manoogian from America) and asked for Haik Casparian. The man said that there was no Haik there to which I apologized for calling, to which the man said that if I’m looking for Haik, I would have to call him in Yerevan, the man identifying himself as Haik's uncle. He said to call back in 5 minutes and he would find the number.

I called back and this what I’m guessing the man’s wife answers. She asked me how I got there number to which I said that we had just finished visiting with Garen’s mother, but not saying that she gave it or not. The woman gave us the number, but warned us that he is not yet home, as they already tried to call.

On the way back to Stepanagert, I called the head of the tax office in Martuni and got Garen’s cell phone number, which I tried to call, but it was out of range or turned off.

Once in Martuni, I called Haik’s Yerevan number and a young girl answered (probably his daughter). I asked for Haik and was told that he was not yet home. She asked who I should tell him called to which I identified myself and that I was a friend of Garen’s.

A half hour later, I got a call on my cell phone. It was Garen’s number. Keep in mind, the last time I saw Garen was maybe 3 years ago. I answered the phone “Hello Garen, how are you”?

Garen asked who I was and after telling him, a friendly conversation began.

I told Garen all the details to which he understood why we visited his home and continued the same story his mother started as to him not knowing who the phone belonged to, but he would find out and call me back and have the owner contact me. He made it very clear that the person who had the phone was not related to him.

Garen called me back and said that he found the owner (we had been calling all day to the number and it was turned off), a guy that is an administrator at an internet café named Artyom, not Arthur. He said that he probably gave the phone to a customer who called me that night. He said that Artyom will call me soon.

Later on I got a call from someone who asked me if I was looking for the owner of ######. I said yes. He said that he understood that I wanted to talk to him and let’s meet. I told him I was already in Martuni and that I am not due back in Stepanagert until probably Monday. I said that I would call him and asked if his name was Artyom? He was about to say no and then as if I gave the wrong name said yes.

What transpired was a little bit fishy in terms of how it is that Garen and his mother don’t know who has the phone, but the Abovian number belongs to Haik’s uncle and was last called 10 days ago?

Anyway, when I go to Stepanagert on Monday, I’ll see what “Artyom” has to say and to who he gave his phone to at 1:30 in the morning and then decide who is telling the truth.

So much energy I am spending to defend my fiance’s honor. Is it worth it? Well she is going to be the mother of my children and no I'm not going to allow someone to play with her emotions and get away with it so she feel further violated.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I visited Armenia’s Central Bank website to check what the exchange rates have been over the last 2 years so I could run numbers to see how much extra I paid my accountant/general manager?

According to my calculation, I paid an extra $142.09. If added up in Dram comes out to 75,375, which as of today has a value of $159.29. I also just for the heck of it ran some numbers of 5% interest compounded monthly and came up with 23,945 dram ($50.60).

Now I need to decide if I should call her on this error? My fiancé tells me to let it go and just be happy that we have rid ourselves of her, but I feel that just for the sake of principal, I need to let her know what happened and tell her that she can keep the money.

For Young Armenians, a Promised Land Without Promise


Published: December 9, 2004

EREVAN, Armenia
- In a smoky corner of the Red Bull bar, a favorite hangout for university students, Zara Amatuni mulled over the reasons she would leave her homeland.

"It's poor, it has no natural resources, it has an undeveloped economy and it's unlikely to be developing in the next 10 years," she said with a small apologetic shrug.

Ms. Amatuni, 21, imagines herself in London or perhaps Moscow. Her language skills might land her a well-paying job, and plenty of Armenians have marked the trail before her.

"We can fit in anywhere," she said. "The only place we can't is Armenia."

For young people who have come of age in an independent Armenia, a country the size of Maryland with a population of barely three million people, it is an awkward paradox.

Their parents grew up in a captive republic of the Soviet Union. Their grandparents escaped the massacre of Armenians by Turks in the years of World War I. For them, and for the four-million-strong Armenian diaspora, the creation of a sovereign Armenian homeland 13 years ago was the fulfillment of a dream.

Yet the promised land has proved too constricting and its promise too distant for the next generation's ambitions. Those who want to leave and those who want to stay are all trying to reconcile what it means to be Armenian.

For some, no longer being part of the empire that was the Soviet Union means a loss of significance in the world. Then there were opportunities for well-educated Armenians to work in Moscow and elsewhere. Independence, they had hoped, would propel Armenia into the wider world, important on its own. Instead, they find themselves in a backwater with a double-digit unemployment rate and where most of the decent-paying jobs are with international aid organizations. "Let us build Armenia here," said Artyom Simonian, an acting student in the struggling town of Gyumri, 75 miles northwest of the capital, where residents are still recovering from a devastating 1988 earthquake.

He is one of those nostalgic for an imagined past. Like many of his fellow students, Mr. Simonian, 21, was uncomfortable with what seem to be the country's choices, integration with Europe or tighter bonds with Russia.

"We are trying to love foreigners too much," he said.

He and some other students, gathered around a small table in the chilly cafeteria of the Gyumri Arts School, understand they have fewer opportunities than did their parents, who learned to speak Russian and assimilated Russian culture.

So they long for a bigger, more muscular Armenia, a land that would embrace what is now southeastern Turkey where their ancestors lived a century ago. The snowy crest of Mount Ararat, now on the other side of the border, floats on the horizon beyond Gyumri as a reminder of that phantom homeland.

"I won't consider myself Armenian until all of sacred Mount Ararat is in Armenia," said Alexan Gevorgian, a theater student. He saw the world as essentially hostile and neighboring Turkey, just 15 miles to the west, as "an animal waiting for its prey to weaken."

His bitterness was too much for Ludvig Harutiunian, the student council president.

"We young people should leave this hostility behind," he protested. "I'd like Armenia to be known for good things, not genocide and wars and victims and mourning."

Mr. Harutiunian had evaluated his prospects. His father was already working in Russia, his brother was working in Spain and he was resigned to finding a chance for artistic expression elsewhere.

"Leaving the difficulties aside, Armenian culture is not developing and you have to go out," he said.

Mr. Simonian interrupted, chiding, "It's wrong to leave the country." The other students fell silent.

The insular views of some of these young people dismay older Armenians who have a sharp sense of how their own horizons have shrunk since independence.

"For 70 years we lived in a different country, where we were open to Russian culture and history," said Svetlana Muradian, a mother of six in Gyumri who used to work in Russia but now supports her family with odd jobs. "Kids now see nothing beyond Armenia. My only hope is that my three sons will grow up and leave."

The students gathered in the Red Bull bar in Yerevan were struggling with a different facet of the same predicament. Fluent in English and Russian as well as their native Armenian, they were impatient with the growing pains of a post-Soviet state and cynical about politics.

To Gevorg Karapetian, a doctoral student in computer engineering, the ideal leader would be a businessman, "someone educated and clever enough to make relationships with the neighboring countries."

The present crowd of politicians did not measure up. "Our president and all the presidents before him just want to be president," Mr. Karapetian said.

Unlike the less privileged students in Gyumri, he and his friends in the capital have reached out beyond Armenia's borders. They get their news from the Internet and use the Web to chat with English speakers from around the world. They regularly meet Armenians from the United States and Russia who come to visit Armenia, to teach at the universities, plant trees or to set up charities.

But their relative sophistication also makes them keenly aware of the contrast between their aspirations and their country's opportunities.

Victor Agababov, 22, earns the princely sum of $650 a month working as a computer programmer in Yerevan, making him the best paid member of his university class. Yet he tends to mock his own achievement because his job involves doing outsourced work transferred from the United States and Japan.

"We are a cheap work force," he said. "We're cheaper than Indians and probably 10 times cheaper than Americans."

Mr. Agababov is considering moving to Moscow to find a technology job that might promise advancement and independence.

As far the Armenian-Americans and other diaspora visitors who say they yearn to come to the new Armenia, Mr. Agababov and Zara Amatuni, the linguistics student, have a suggestion.

"We can swap," Mr. Agababov said.

"Right," said Ms. Amatuni. "They can come back and we can go there."
Today I was amazed from the news my cosmetologist Satig shared with me.

It seems that a year and a half ago, her father-in-law had a heart attack and had to be taken to Yerevan for emergency treatment.

Since she and her husband didn’t have the money needed for the treatments ($1,500), she barrowed it at 5% interest per month.

Until now all they have been able to afford was the interest which they have practically paid $1,500 in.

The other day, the woman who lent them the money, came to Satig and requested that they repay her immediately. The problem is that they don’t have $1,500 to repay her with, since what her and her husband make collectively just barely covers the $75 a month they pay in interest and basic living expenses for her family and husband’s parents.

I mentioned this situation to the mayor yesterday, to which he said that it is a shame they were put into a compromising situation beyond their control where they had to barrow money and that the person who lent them the money charged them an unreasonable amount of interest.

The mayor added that by law, they don’t have to repay the money, as charging interest for money lent is illegal without registering the loan with the tax authorities (something that was not done), as the interest that the lender receives is taxable. This means that legally, all they have to do is repay $1,500, which they have already done.

The mayor also said that during the hard times here, when there were people lending money at 10% per month for people doing business, he helped out a friend by lending him money to repay his high-interest loans and charged him only 2% (the amount the banks were paying on savings accounts). He said that obviously the person who lent the money to Satig was no friend and just someone who took advantage of the desperate situation they were in.

During this conversation at the salon, there was a hint of concern coming from Manoush, our hairdresser, who last year was in need of 100,000 dram from a gambling debt that her younger brother Arsen had ran up at a casino in Martuni (which has since been closed down). It seems that she too barrowed money from that same person at high interest, but has since paid her back.

What made me feel somewhat bad about this situation is that the person who lent the money to my employees charging such high interest is my former accountant/general manager Sweta.

It seems that my paying her $150 a month gave her the ability to “invest” that money in illegal, high-interest loans to people in desperation. On top of this, while recently reviewing the books, it seems that our deal of paying $150 a month was not followed, as what it appears she did was fix her salary based on the exchange rate of when she first started working for me and as the exchange rate began to drop, her salary began to rise, with her last paycheck being $174, twenty four dollars more for her to use for loans.

What baffles me the most about this is that she was supposedly friends with Satig and Manush and a strong bible toting God fearing believer.

I don’t know what Satig is going to do, but once I finish reviewing the books, I may send her a bill for the amount that she over charged me for her services, just because this is the right thing to do.

8 December 2004

Not even National Security can stand up to Gagik Tsarukyan’s bodyguard

November 5, 2004 was a historic day for the officers of the National Security Service: their boss, Karlos Petrosyan was dismissed from office “at his request”.

“That day, a deplorable and shameful event occurred. We were not able to defend the honor of a fellow officer. For me, it was the death of our institution,” said one NSS officer, whose name we cannot make public, for obvious reasons.

What happened on November 5th?

NSS officer Ararat Petrosyan was driving his Lada from Nor Nork toward the city center, with his wife and son in the car. Petrosyan's father-in-law, Hrach Utukyan, was following in his car. A Jeep Range Rover, accompanied by a Chevrolet, was driving at high speed down Miasnikyan Avenue (toward Water World) and suddenly attempted a U-turn from the far lane. There is no place to make a U-turn in this part of the road. There is a concrete divider running from the beginning of the road to Nork to the beginning of the Avan district, with only one spot for U-turns in this segment – near the Yerevan Zoo. In the stretch where
Petrosyan and his family were driving, no one makes U-turns, or expects them. The Jeep, license plate #008SS08, hit the NSS officer's car, denting the doors. Gagik Tsarukyan's bodyguard/driver, known as “Arjuk (little bear)”, got out and began shouting. As Ararat Petrosyan was examining the damage, Ardjuk hit him from behind, in the presence of his wife and child. He then hit Ararat's father-in-law, who had pulled over and was walking toward them.

Hrach Utikyan fell, striking his head on the pavement. At the point, the drivers of the jeep and the Chevrolet got into their cars and sped away.

When the other officers of the National Security Service learned about the incident, they determined to punish the bodyguards. It is a point of honor for them; no one can be allowed to raise a hand against a fellow officer.

Our source told us that the head of the department of special operations of the National Security Service, Misha Tadevosyan, informed the number one bodyguard in Armenia, Head of the President's Security Service Grigor (Grish) Sargisyan, of their intention to get permission to take action.

And since in Armenia, the institution of godfather-godson is a most important political category, and Gagik Tsaruyan is Grish's godfather, the number one bodyguard decided to close the case and told the NSS officers to settle down.

Ararat Petrosyan refused to answer our questions. It is even possible that he will refute this information after it is published, but there are other people who are willing to talk.

“Naturally, the notion of an officer's honor is alien and inconceivable to the head of the President's Security Service, Grish. You can't blame him for something he has no idea about. But we feel like weaklings after this incident,” the NSS officer we spoke to said.

The Department of Information and Public Relations of the Police that informed us that traffic police had reported no accidents that day on that segment of the road.

When we asked the head of the Department of Information of the National Security Service, Artsvin Baghramyan, what action had been taken in response to the incident, he told us that they hadn't registered any such case.

The fact is that the NSS was defeated by Gagik Tsarukyan's driver/bodyguard, nicknamed Arjuk. In Armenia, not even National Security can stand up to a bodyguard.

Edik Baghdasaryan


If you want to get a good idea who our Minister of Defense really is and how all he care about his is position of power and personal wealth, read the following story, it’s all there. Serzh is playing with fire and in the end he needs to be burned so he understands that such selfish behavior will not be tolerated.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
8 December 2004

Armenian Court Gives Green Light For Iraq Deployment

By Anna Saghabalian

Armenia’s Constitutional Court gave the government the green light on
Wednesday to send Armenian non-combat troops to Iraq, a deployment which Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian claimed will spare the country international isolation.

The ruling paved the way for a debate on the issue in parliament dominated by President Robert Kocharian’s loyalists. Some of them have serious misgivings about the wisdom of the deployment, sharing concerns about the security of Iraq’s Armenian community.

But Sarkisian brushed aside those concerns as he addressed the panel of nine judges. “Armenia could not have stayed isolated from regional developments,” he said. “Hence, the Armenian authorities’ decision to participate in the process of Iraq’s stabilization.”

Sarkisian warned that Armenia’s failure to follow neighboring Azerbaijan’s and Georgia’s example and join the U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” in Iraq “could create certain obstacles to a further expansion of Armenia’s cooperation in the international arena.” He did not elaborate.

The one-day court hearing centered on an agreement between Poland and 18 other countries that have troops in a Polish-led multinational division controlling south-central Iraq. Kocharian promised to place about 50 Armenian military doctors, sappers and truck drivers under Polish command during a visit to Warsaw last September. The Constitutional Court found that the agreement does not run counter to the Armenian constitution.

Sarkisian said Yerevan will sign up to the document on the condition that the Armenian military personnel take part only in “defensive and humanitarian activities” and avoid joint actions with the bigger Azerbaijani contingent. “Performance of joint tasks with the contingent of Azerbaijani armed forces stationed in Iraq will not be acceptable,” he said.

Speaking to reporters afterward, the powerful defense chief was confident that the National Assembly will endorse the deployment plans welcomed by the United States. “I think that the overwhelming majority of our parliamentarians care about Armenia’s future and will not make emotional decisions,” he said.

Critics have been warning that an estimated 25,000 Iraqi citizens of Armenian descent could face retaliatory attacks from Iraqi insurgents once Armenia becomes part of the U.S.-led occupation force. The insurgents have routinely kidnapped and killed citizens of countries cooperating with it.

Leaders of the Iraqi Armenians have themselves exhorted Kocharian not to send any servicemen. Underscoring their fears was Tuesday’s bombing of Armenian and Chaldean churches in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
News reports said gunmen burst in and set off explosions inside the buildings, damaging them but hurting no one.

The Armenian Apostolic Church condemned the violence, with Catholicos Garegin II warning of a “danger to the centuries-old co-existence of the Christian and Islamic peoples” of Iraq. Garegin urged Iraqi spiritual leaders to prevent the continuing unrest in the country from degenerating into a religious conflict.

The alarm was echoed Pope John Paul II on Wednesday. "I express my spiritual closeness to the faithful, shocked by the attacks," John Paul said, speaking from his apartment window above St. Peter's Square on the Roman Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In Yerevan, meanwhile, one of the Constitutional Court judges, Kim Balayan, wondered if the planned deployment could put the lives of Iraqi Armenians at greater risk. Sarkisian countered that they will be insecure regardless of Armenian military presence in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Today I went to have my hair cut at Nershik’s barbershop. Nershik has been my barber since the first day I came to Martuni and for this whole time I have always left his shop happy.

Like any good barbershop, I leave with new views of life in our small town, as well as events that effect our lives in Artsakh.

Though I heard a little bit of this a few days ago, today I learned a few more details about Esh (donkey) Edo, the guy that a couple of summers ago took his son swimming in a reservoir even though the two of them didn’t know how to swim resulting in his son drowning. After that his wife divorced him.

Last year Esh Edo’s father, Esh Albert left his wife and married some young girl from a neighboring village. At that time it was the talk of Martuni about how wrong it was for Esh Albert to do this.

The other day, Esh Edo went to she his father and after arguing with him for whatever reason, he left. Esh Albert a little while later died due to reasons that have not yet been made clear. All we know is that Esh Edo has been seen walking the streets of Martuni, which means that he didn’t kill his father, though people say that in the argument that he had, he hit his father.

Nershik and I also talked about the Armenia Fund telethon and the used car sales pitch our president gave. Nershik could only shake his head and say that he too was an unwilling victim of this con and was forced to give 250 dram (50 cents).

He said he would not have objected to the forced donation, but knows that they will down some gravel, then put a thin layer of asphalt and call it a road, which in a short period of time not be fit to drive on. On top of that he said that people can’t afford to drive cars these days, so who will use it?

So how did Nershik get taken for 250 dram? The same way dozens of other people who are members of the combinat (workers collective) were taken for 250 dram. First of all let me clarify what the combinat is. It is a collective of small service businesses where you pay in each month and automatically your taxes (income and pension) are paid. Because of my stone factory I too am a member and each month pay 18,000 dram of which I receive 4,000 dram as a salary.

I was in Yerevan the day my 18,000 dram was due, so I sent someone to pay it and they had mentioned to me that they were asked for a voluntary donation for the road, to which they were told I was in Yerevan and when I return, I will stop by if I wish to make a donation.

I took this information as an opportunity to visit the combinat to find out what these donations were all about?

I walked in to find two ladies that work there and asked them what the donation deduction was all about? They told me it was strictly voluntary and if I didn’t want to give, I didn’t have to. I said that this is not what I heard and asked by name what Nershik gave? They didn’t answer and again said that it was strictly a voluntary and showed me a list of who gave. It had 25 names with figures from 105 dram to 500 dram.

I returned to Nershik’s where I told him that he had voluntarily donated and asked him if they personally took the money from him? He said no, he sent the money with the shoemaker next door who is also a member of the combinat.

I went next door to the shoemaker to ask him if he voluntarily made a donation? He said no, he was forced to donate and present were the two ladies and the president of the kombinat.

If you read my log from a year ago, this shake down for donations from no voluntary individuals is a repeat performance. Last years example came from someone in the president’s building who refused to sign the paper stating they will donate, to which Oleg Yesayan, the president of Parliament gave instructions to the persons collecting the signatures to sign for those that refuse.

Later on in the afternoon, I found myself in the office of a government official and mentioned what had happened with the kombinat. Though I won’t get into the details of the conversation, in short they said that if we don’t show that we are giving, why should the Diaspora give? We then got into a disagreement of money from such projects being stolen and how we must do what we can not to feed into such things.