Tuesday, August 23, 2005


YEREVAN, AUGUST 22, NOYAN TAPAN. The depreciation of the Armenian dram over the last two months has been mainly conditioned by a fall in the prices of agricultural products. This is how Chairman of the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) Tigran Sargsin explained the Armenian dram depreciation at the August 22 presentation of BTA Invest Bank.

According to him, the effects on the currency exchange rate are numerous and multifarious, ranging from the ratio of demand to supply on the domestic market to processes taking place on iternational markets. The speaker indicated that the reduction of the excessive dollar liquidity in the global economy has gradually led to a growth in dollar savings. At the same time, the dollar's profitablity against the euro has sharply risen in the market. According to T. Sargsian, the profitabilty of the euro has remained the same, whereas that of the dollar has increased from 1% to 3.5%.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Are you cheating on your spouse?

Though these commercials on Armenian television are filled with twisted humor, the ones that bother me are the ones that show men and women cheating on their spouses.

There is a coffee, jewelry and the latest I’ve seen is for Hotel Ararat, where both the man and the woman are simultaneously cheating on each other.

What kind of message is this feeding into the viewing audience, which is filled with up and coming future husbands and wives?

Where is the Church in addressing this very culturally and religiously non-cohesive advertising?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Breading Indifference in the Homeland

A couple of nights ago the Archbishop who married us was crossing Gomidas near HSBC bank and tripped on a chunk of asphalt next to the trolleybus line.

The Archbishop fell flat on his face as a result and could not get up. He had hit his head hard, fractured his wrist and injured his knee.

As he lay in the street, the people who were standing on the sidewalk watching nor the numerous passing cars that saw him laying helplessly, did not come to his aid.

After a while of laying there and realizing he was on his own, not realizing how severely he had injured himself, found the strength to rise to his feet and make it to the sidewalk, where he hailed a cab and went home.

The next day he went to the hospital where they x-rayed his arm and knee, setting his wrist in a cast, which he will wear for the next three weeks.

In the last year, I was a witness to a couple of similar situations and if I had not been passing by, am convinced that no one would have come to the aid of the person in trouble, since no one did other than me.

I have spoken to a few natives about what had happened and if the same thing happened during pre-independent Armenia, would we have seen the same outcome? Of course the answer was NO.

You really have to ask yourself why the change in attitude toward ones fellow countryman and is there hope to change this indifference?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 10:43:06 +0500
From: trees@arminco.com
To: ara_manoogian@yahoo.com
Subject: Armenia Tree Project/Thank You!

Dear Ara,

On behalf of the Armenia Tree Project I wish to extend heartfelt thanks for your response to our Action Alert to save the Shikahogh Reserve. Thank you very much for sending a letter to President Kocharian asking him to choose an alternate route for the road. Your letter was one of 55 from Armenia joining a total of over 745 letters from Armenians all over the world!!! This united and prompt response made a tremendous impact and was instrumental in achieving the incredible success of having the road re-routed outside of Shikahogh and the ancient forest of Mtnadzor!

After the June 14 Action Alert was sent to over 5000 people, the Shikahogh issue took a dramatic change of direction.

Minister of Transportation Andranik Manukyan and Minister of Nature Protection Vardan Ayvazyan announced during a June 17 Public Forum at American University of Armenia that the government is choosing a new route that by-passes the Reserve. The President gave instructions to submit a feasibility study on the alternative route and a commission was appointed by the Prime Minister to study the issue.

Later, Robert Kocharian signed the order for an alternate route and the construction of the road by-passing the Reserve started.

While the public campaign contributed to an extremely positive result, the SOS Shikahogh Working Group is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that the new route remains on course and that adjacent habitats are not threatened by this proposed road. After visiting the site several times with engineers and environmental specialists, the coalition believes that with proper planning and implementation the road can be constructed while also protecting the natural environment of the region.

The movement to protect Shikahogh is a very significant step forward in the development of a civil society in Armenia. This united action from
NGO’s, international organizations, the Diaspora and Armenian citizens gave proof that the voice of the people can be heard and can effect positive change. Again, our deepest gratitude for seizing the moment and becoming part of the Shikahogh movement!

The Armenia Tree Project would like to keep you informed of the development of the Shikahogh alternate route and of other environmental threats which arise. We also invite you to visit our nursery and our Environmental Education Center and see firsthand ATP’s programs which are replanting, reforesting and protecting the environment of Armenia.

For further information, please, contact us at:

Tel.: 44 74 01 or 44 74 02; E-mail: trees@arminco.com; website:

With sincere gratitude,

Susan Yacubian Klein
ATP Foundation President

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Prosecutor’s Star Breadwinner Back in Business in Dubai

After found guilty for pimping and given one year unsupervised probation by the Armenian court, Lucine Hagobyan, aka Aisha, made her way back to Dubai and is back trafficking/pimping Armenian girls.

Just to remind you, Lucine was put on trial after being called back to Armenia by the Prosecutor’s office back in May, to settle her debts.

After meeting with the Prosecutor’s office and paying her $150k “debt,” she was set free and only picked up and put on trial when Edik printed a story on May 25th, documenting our encounter with Lucine that we had when we were in Dubai.

The evidence presented at the trial clearly painted a picture of a person who was trafficking girls to Dubai and should have landed Lucine in jail for 8 years. Testimony during the trial also justified that charges should have been pressed against Lucine’s mother for trafficking.

In the end, Lucine was charged with pimping and given 1 year unsupervised probation, this because supposedly Lucine’s mother was ill and could not care for her under-aged son.

Well, like I said, Lucine is back in Dubai, her son and mother remain in Armenia.

What has changed? Not much other than Lucine no longer wanted by the Armenian authorities, thus she can now continue her work as a pimp/trafficker and can continue to pay the Armenian and Dubai authorities their share. It also means that Armenia is one step closer to Tier 3, which will mean possible cuts in aid and sanctions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


YEREVAN, AUGUST 15. ARMINFO. During his leave President Robert Kocharyan was informed of the decision of Yerevan Mayor on rising the prices for rote minibuses in Yerevan, Press Secretary of the President Victor Soghomonyan informs ARMINFO.

He says the president demanded that the mayor grounds his decision.

As the mayor failed to satisfy the demand of the president, Robert Kocharyan instructed him to cancel the decision within 24 ours and restore the former price for tickets - 100 AMD, Soghomonyan says.

It should be noted that on August 9 Yerevan Mayor rose the prices for route minibuses in the capital up to 130 AMD. The mayor cancelled his decision on August 13.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Attempt by Yerevan mayor to monopolize public transportation so far has failed

The 30% increase to 130 drams in the cost of fares on privately owned mini-vans has reverted back to 100 drams.

One has to ask why in the first place there was a 30% increase to the already relatively expensive fare?

Well it seems that the mayor of Yerevan himself is involved with the purchase of some 500+ used buses from Europe, which according to him are newer busses that are 3 years old, but in fact are busses that are 10+ years old, that have been painted and new seat coverings have been installed. These buses will be introduced in the beginning of September.

The 30% increase was initiated by the mayor in an attempt to make the mini-vans less competitive with the 100 dram fare the mayor was hoping to set for his buses.

Anyway, this is where things stand now. Let’s see what trick the mayor will pull when he introduces his buses?

I’m guessing he will pass some sudden rule that mini-vans that are transporting the general public will have to be no more than 4 years old, thus putting out of business a bunch of people who are struggling to get by and will be competition with the mayor’s fleet.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


YEREVAN, AUGUST 11, NOYAN TAPAN. Several youth organizations of Armenia called upon citizens and students of Yerevan to struggle against the recent 30% increase of the minibus fare, social oppression and aggravation the already poor social conditions of the population.

The youth organizations of the party "Hanrapetutyun" ("Republic"), the National Democratic Union, the Bloc of National Democrats, the Liberal Progressive Party of Armenia, the party "Heritage", the Union of Armenian Aryans, the NGO "For Justice" and the People's Party of Armenia issued a joint statement on August 11. They demand that Mayor's Office of Yerevan declare its August 8 decision about increasing the minibus fare invalid. The statement says that the fare increase in inadmissible, taking into account the low standard of living of Yerevan citizens, their low incomes (salaries, pensions, benefits).

YEREVAN, AUGUST 12, NOYAN TAPAN. In order to initiate proceedings in connection with the fact of the 30% increase of the fare of Yerevan minibuses, the RA State Commission on Protection of Economic Competition must conduct studies based on written complaints. Yet, as the Commission Chairman Ashot Shahnazarian told reporters on August 12, the Commission has received no such complaints. In the opinion of A. Shajnazarian, if the fare rise was substantiated and necessary, it would be more correct to increase it by 50% to 150 drams, since the current fare of 130 drams causes problems when passengers give to and get back small change from the driver.

Monday, August 08, 2005

[August 8, 2005]

Judges Need Training

On August 3, 2005 the hearing of the case against Natella Saghatelyan, a resident of Uzbekistan charged with violating Article 132 of the Criminal Code of Armenia (human trafficking) continued in the Court of First Instance of the Malatia-Sebastia District of Yerevan. The maximum punishment envisaged in Article 132 is four to eight years in prison. Natella Saghatelyan is accused of transporting residents of Uzbekistan to Dubai via Armenia – she managed to get two of them to Dubai (the third remained Yerevan ). The two Uzbek women were arrested at the Dubai airport for carrying false passports. They were held by the UAE Migration Service for five days, and then sent back to Armenia . Once the National Security Service of Armenia had conducted a preliminary investigation and determined that this was a case of human trafficking, it handed the case over to the Office of the Prosecutor General. In court on August 3, 2005 , one of the victims - 17-year-old resident of Uzbekistan Karine Yeremyan -testified as a witness in the case. The girl’s passport records her nationality as Uzbek. When she was a little girl, her father, Vazgen Yeremyan, sold their house and turned her and her sick mother out. Karine has been working since she was twelve to take care of her mother, mainly as a nanny.

This hearing was a classic example of how the interrogation of a minor should not be conducted. Judge Iskuhi Vardanyan’s attitude was strange, and suggested that she perceived the 17-year-old girl as the accused rather than the victim. For hours the girl underwent a cross-examination by the judge, the prosecutor, the accused, and her lawyer, who tried to prove that the girl wound up in Armenia bound for Dubai of her own free will.

At one point the judge addressed the audience, saying enthusiastically, “From now on, let us all fight against people like this!” She meant Karine, a minor. And the interpreter, for unknown reasons, did not translate the proceedings entirely, and kept adding his own remarks. From the attitude of the judge, the questions by the prosecutor, and the behavior of the accused, it is easy to predict what the outcome of the trial will be. The skillful Natella Saghatelyan will either receive a slap on the wrist or be acquitted of the charges entirely.

But the most disturbing thing is that there are no guidelines in our court system for handling and questioning minors. This girl was questioned without a lawyer present; there was no one defending her interests. When a woman representing an NGO participating in the trial tried to give to Karine, who was visibly upset and whose throat was parched in the hot courtroom, some tissues and water, Judge Vardanyan said angrily from her seat, “What are you fussing over her for? Nothing happened.”

Throughout the entire interrogation, the judge’s hostility toward the witness was palpable. One thing is clear - Judge Iskuhi Vardanyan should not have been allowed to preside over this trial without training in dealing with minors.

As for the Minister of Justice, he misses no opportunity to brag about the fruitless judicial reforms.

Edik Baghdasaryan
[August 8, 2005]

Why Pimps Don’t Get Punished, Part II

“And so in the beginning of 2003 the next phase of my activities began. I called Anahit Mlkhasyan, a Dubai pimp, and got Nune Kcheyan's phone number in Yerevan, which I can’t recall now. I called Nune, and asked her to find girls for me and send them to Dubai, so that they would do prostitution for me. She demanded $1,000 for each girl she would recruit. Within a couple of days, I sent the money to her via Western Union. After that, Nune faxed me Kamila's and Armine's passports. I approved of the appearance of the girls, and asked Nune to send them to Moscow right away, where Araik Aghajanyan, Sevo, Avo and others would organize these girls’ departure to Dubai. At first, Nune sent Kamila to Moscow, but since I didn't have the $2,000 to pay Araik for each girl he sent to Dubai, I asked Nazik Papyan to pay me the money that I had already spent on Kamila as well as the rest of the costs, and take Kamila under her control. Afterwards, Nune sent Armine to Moscow; I paid Araik $2,000 for her.

“After some time, I don't remember the specific date, Armine came to Dubai, where I organized her prostitution. Armine and the other prostitutes would live in the apartments that I rented. I would take care of their food and clothing costs, show them the tables that I rented in the discos, so they could find clients and have sex with them for $100-$150. During the time the girls were working I would be in touch with them by phone and if there were any problems, I would solve them.

“At first, the money the prostitute would earn was taken to pay back the money that had been spent to bring her to Dubai--about $5,000. Also, for each day she was in Dubai, for her food, rent and other expenses, she paid me $100, and the rest was split between me and her. Nune sent me the aforementioned girls, but I don't know their family names or where they lived.

“In the beginning of 2003 I asked my friend Siranush Musayelyan to recruit girls to work as prostitutes for me. Siranush was also recruiting and sending prostitutes to pimps in Dubai. At different times, I don't remember the specific dates, Sirush and her friends recruited and sent to Moscow K.T from Dilijan. K. was recruited with the help of Nune Kcheyan and Anahit from Dilijan.

“Afterwards, Sirush and Nelli sent me A.H (nicknamed Cassandra after the Barbi doll) and K. KH (aka “Milirovka” or “Liza”: she grew up in the orphanage in Gavar).”

-Excerpted from a statement by Marietta Musayelyan, November 8 2004.

Nelli Harutyunyan, recruiter, sentenced twice. Currently serving a prison term at the Abovyan Prison.

“Me and Sirush, and on two occasions Nune Kcheyan, recruited ten young girls from different regions and districts and send those girls to Dubai pimps Marietta Musayelyan and Nazik Papyan to work as prostitutes.”

-Excerpted from a statement by Nelli Harutyunyan, October 14 2004.

Nune Kcheyan, recruiter, sentenced four times previously. Currently serving a prison term at the Abovyan Prison.

“In 1997 I went to Dubai, where I worked as a prostitute till 1998. Afterwards, in 1998 and1999, I was in Armenia, after which I returned to Dubai to work at the same job. In 2001 I was deported from Dubai. Upon my return from Dubai, I started recruiting young girls and trafficking them to various pimps in Dubai, for which I was sentenced in September 2003. In August 2003 I, with Nelly and Sirush, recruited A.G from Vedi, K.T from Dilijan, and Kamila from the Gavar orphanage and sent them to pimp Marietta Musayelyan, to work as prostitutes in Dubai. After agreeing with pimp Narine Khachatryan that I would receive $1,000 for each prostitute I recruited, I sent Hasmik, Susanna, and Gohar from the dormitory in Nork’s Second Massiv, and Gayane from Alaverdi.”

Excerpted from a statement by Nune Kcheyan, October 18, 2004.

“In November Sirush sent me M.M, and in 2004 M.G.(aka Ovsanik). Till September 23, 2004 these girls were working for me as prostitutes on the aforementioned conditions. They did the work of their own will, so I organized their prostitution with their agreement. I would like to note that M.M was deported from Dubai in May 2004 and in that regard I would like to update my statement. Besides the girls mentioned, from April to September 2004, A.K., recruited by Sirush and Nelli, was also working under my direction. The latter's sister had also been sent by Sirush but after a medical examination it turned out that she was a virgin. She wanted to sell her virginity for $10,000 but since nobody wanted to pay that price I sent her back to Armenia. Besides her, Marietta Aghajanyan sent me N. from the village of Jrarat in Echmiadzin (I had paid $1,500 for her previously), and A.M and N. from Yerevan in January 2003.”

In September 2004, Marietta Musayelyan took the belongings, money, and jewelry of the girls who were working for her and without paying the rent on the apartment they were living in, left for Istanbul (according to her statements). The criminal file does not contain anything else about the girls who were working for Marietta and remained in Dubai. Apparently, the investigators didn't care much about what happened to these girls.

After Marietta's disappearance, three of the girls were imprisoned and their subsequent fates are unknown. The rest are either working independently or for other pimps.

After leaving Dubai, Marietta first went to Oman, then to Istanbul. and afterwards to Yerevan.

to be continued

Edik Baghdasaryan, Aghavni Yeghiazaryan

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tonight we had a visitor from Russia who is a former resident from Martuni, NKR.

I’ll refer to her as Ani, as the story I’m going to share with you is not exactly the kind of story that she would share publicly.

Ani went to Russia and married a man who is 14 years her senior, a marriage her father arranged after a high ranking official in the NKR army started to make her life hell.

I remember Ani as a 18 year old beauty, who could easily compete in an international competition and maybe even win.

So why the harassment from the high ranking military official?

Well it seems that Samuel Garabedyan, the war hero, discovered Ani and her beauty and wanted her to become his lover. This took place back in 1998, when Samuel Babayan was the NKR defense minister and Samuel Garabedyan had amnesty to do as he pleased.

Ani’s father approached Samuel Garabedyan and pleaded with him to leave his daughter alone.

Samuel made it clear of his intentions and said that Ani’s life would not be easy if she didn’t become his lover and made it a point to make her life a living hell.

Ani was a student at the state university in Stepanagert and was at the top of her class.

Samuel arranged to make sure Ani was given failing grades, even though she was the best student.

In the end, Ani’s father arranged a marriage with a man from Martuni who lived in Russia to his daughter and Ani was forced to leave Artsakh forever.

Tonight was the first time I have seen Ani since she left back in 1998 and though 7 years older, she is still a stunning beauty.

In the city she lives in, she became the top graduating student of her university and is now on her away to becoming a professor in her field of specialty.

To think, a war hero for his personal pleasures, ran out of the country one of our beauties and brains who could have been an asset to our nation.

The year following Ani’s escape from Artsakh, Samuel Garabedyan got married to his close friend who was killed during the war daughter who was 14 years old at the time of the wedding. Artsakh law does not allow a girl to get married until the age of 16 with the consent of the regional minister.

For those of you who don’t know who Samuel Garabedyan is, besides being an SOB, he is one of the people who along with the defense minister a few months ago, beat Pavlik Manoukyan, the ARF candidate for parliament.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sevan on the Rise

Today my wife and I took a trip to Lake Sevan. What a great place to just lay out in the sun and relax.

It seems that there has been a change from 12 months ago, as there is now less beach to play on, which I guess means more water to swim in.

There is a new addition to the lake in terms of toys. One of them is the Viva Cell parachute and some big yellow inflatable that is dragged around by an old speedboat that kept breaking down.

They also had a show with some guy eating fire, razorblades and jumping/laying on broken Kotyke beer bottles, a clown act and some woman dancing with hula hoops. A great show of real Armenian talent.

I also spotted someone that looked like the world famous singer Sirusho Markaryan, who was picnicking with some people close by. I didn’t walk up to her for an autograph or a picture as I didn’t want to be turned down or beaten up.

Anyway, I had a great relaxing day at Sevan and hope that we will get a chance to do this again before the sunning season is over.
The Innocents and the Guilty
By Pap Hayrapetyan

Editor-in-Chief , Sevan regional newspaper

Does trafficking exist in Sevan city? The question came as a shock to the local government official sitting across the table from me. I had to explain what trafficking is, and then again I met his surprised stare.

"What are you talking about? I never heard anything like it. That can't exist in Sevan city," he insisted.

There was no sense in trying to convince him that he was wrong, that our city had not avoided the ugly phenomenon that brings grief to so many people in the 21st century. It is just that dignitaries do not like to have the truth flung in their faces.

Yet something like that did happen in Sevan. So I asked the official to be patient and hear me out. I told him my stories are based on fact and the people in them - the victims of trafficking - all come from the neighborhood.


"I married a man from Razdan city," one of the victims tells me between sobs. "My life was terrible," she continues. "My second child was just forty days old when my husband left us and went to Russia. We heard nothing from him for a long time. I lived with my in-laws. No one in the family worked.

We barely survived on my parents-in-law's pensions. It was getting worse every day. I was forced to leave my in-laws and live on my own. There was no other way. I started looking for a job. One of my neighbors helped me to get a job as a waiter in a restaurant in Razdan city. The wages I got were barely enough to buy bread. Two little kids were waiting at home. One day my husband showed up. I wished that he hadn't. I found out that he had been involved in gambling and that we had huge debts." Then she began avoiding my questions. I was curious so I kept asking what happened next? And next?

Earlier, she had promised to tell me the full story, so she continued in a low voice. "I had a terrible time and I kept trying to find ways out of my awful situation. As if we hadn't suffered enough, I suddenly learned that my husband had lost me and our son in a game of cards. My parents who lived in Sevan city turned away from me.

"There was a lady from Yerevan city that often used to eat at our restaurant. She would always bring her dog along. You could see she was well off. The girls advised me to ask her for help. For a long time I didn't dare. One day she noticed the depressed look on my face and asked what had happened. I had a chance to tell her everything.

"'I can help you,' she said, 'My daughter lives in Greece. She has good contacts there. Go see her; she will give you a job gathering bananas.' "I was very happy. I told her that if she could arrange this, I would be very glad. It is just that I didn't have any money to cover my expenses.

'Don't worry, ' she said, "I shall sort everything out". Indeed, five days later she got in touch with me and arranged everything. She even gave me a new passport with a visa inside."

She stopped talking, breathed in deeply and wiped the tears from her face with a handkerchief. I realized that it hurt to remember the days that brought her suffering and changed her life. She told me that the lady was known in Razdan as Mamma Roza. She gathered a group of young women. "Most of them were women my age, 25 to 30, from Razdan and Yerevan. We met on the plane. We all knew we were going to Greece to gather bananas. Mamma Roza saw us off at the airport and told us that her daughter would meet us in Greece and make all the arrangements for our jobs.

"The flight seemed terribly long. We all sat there planning our new lives, thinking of all kinds of things. Who could have known that life had a surprise in store for us?" She became silent for a while. "We never reached Greece," she continued. "Our plane landed in Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. In place of Mamma Roza's daughter, we were met by a portly young man. We later learned that he was aide to the Boss - the man who would decide our fates. Right at the airport, we were very upset, we started to protest, but who cared?

"Then they took us to the boss. He had a well-furnished house of his own.

The boss talked to us, and each girl was taken to a different place. I started to protest and said I had been swindled. He told me that they had not brought me to Dubai for my own amusement.

"'Pay us back five thousand dollars and we'll send you home,' he told me in an angry voice.

"I realized that we had been sold like commodities, and that it was Mamma Roza's business to buy and sell people without asking their permission.

"I did not give up, I kept protesting. I told the boss that had I been this kind of woman, I would have made my living that way in Armenia and provided for my kids. I even told him I would seek the protection of the law.

"The boss laughed. 'There is no law like this in this country. You came here, you must work'. There were girls there that came a long time ago, some of them of their own will. They were making their living that way."

I asked if he had had her passport with her.

"I did, but he tore it into a hundred little pieces," she explained. "And he told me I would never leave this place until I paid him back the money.

"Since I kept protesting, the boss's men gave me a beating. For five days I could not move, the girls used wads of cotton wool to drip water into my mouth. They really beat me and humiliated me. Every day the boss would come to my room and say: 'Hurry up, you are wasting your time. You've got work to do, you must make a profit for me.' "I learnt that the girls from my group were distributed among different hotels. For five or six months I worked for my boss. We would wait in our rooms for the clients - there would be 10 to 15 every day. We had no sleep or quiet. I really could not stand it any more, I cried all the time. My friend Nana, who had worked there for seven years and told me she had already brought the boss 300,000 dollars, gave me the advice to cry all the time - maybe someone would have pity of me and help me. I followed her advice and kept crying and protesting in front of the hotel owner. In the end, he believed me and realized that I really had not come there of my own accord.

"It was especially difficult for me because I did not speak the local language. The girls would write things for me and I showed them to the hotel owner. Eventually he took me to his own home and I worked there as a servant. He had an Indian wife who was very kind. She saw my grief and tried to help me. I stayed one or two months at their home and even learned some Hindu. The hotel owner's wife asked him to find a job for me. He knew a girl in Abu Dhabi city, 350 km from Dubai, and he sent me there. I got there somehow, in the night, without a passport. I worked in factory that manufactured cellular phones. There was a furniture store next door. The owner of the store, an Arab, saw me and fell in love with me. One day he approached me and asked me to marry him. I had been fooled many times in my life, so I did not believe him. I thought this was just another trap. The girl who had helped me to get that job advised me to do as he asked. 'You have no other way,' she said. ' Maybe this man will help you. ' "I lived in the Arab's house for six months without marrying him. Against my expectations, he proved a very kind man and helped me with everything he could. He sent 5000 dollars to my friend in Razdan so she could buy a house for me. He kept sending clothes and food to my children who were in an orphanage.

"We must marry and start a family, " he insisted.

But I kept thinking of my kids that I had left in the orphanage. He promised to help me go back to Armenia on the condition that he would come and fetch us to live with him. Meanwhile we could not get a new passport. One way of getting the passport was to be tried and deported. But, by the law, before they deport you, you have to stay in jail for as long as you stayed in the country illegally.

"Adil, the Arab, did everything he could for me. He spent ten thousand dollars to buy a paper that said I had been tried and deported. That way I got back to Armenia. I am now here with my kids. Adil visited us twice and tried to take us with him but could not. We have problems registering our marriage. " I asked her if she would like to go with Adil?

"There is no other way," she said. "I regret my life worked out like that. I hope that the future will be better for my kids and myself."

I asked her if there were many Armenian women in the Emirates.

"Quite a few," she said. "There were many women from Razdan, Gavar, Yerevan and Gyumri. The saddest thing is that many of them went there of their own accord, to make a living. For them, just like for Mamma Roza, it is just a business, a way of making money." "Does it work?" I asked.

"For some people," she said. "It works out very well. For others, life becomes a nightmare. "


Moscow attracts people. For many Armenians faced with extreme poverty, Moscow appears to be the only solution. With hopes of finding such a solution, a group of over sixty car drivers from various parts of Armenia, mostly from Gegharkunik, went to Moscow to find jobs for themselves. One of the group, Yurik Barseghian, tells his story.

"Like many others, I was surprised to learn that drivers were invited to go to Moscow to work at a construction site - they were building a new military base. Why shouldn't I go, especially since I'd been sitting home jobless for two years already, and they were offering very large wages - 1000 to 1500 dollars a month, and provided lodgings and food.

"They told me that Martik Vartanian from Sevan city would gather the group.

I had known him for a long time, he was the one who gave me my driving license. The next day I went to his place. There were more than a dozen men standing in front of his door. I knew some of them, we had worked together in a transport company. Everybody looked happy, they talked all the time, mostly about Moscow.

"Martik received us one by one, interviewing us. He asked each one of us whether he had a job, what kind of driving license he had and whether he needed money. He promised to sort everything out, including getting new driving licenses, B-licenses instead of BC etc. We had to pay for these services ourselves, while Martik and another man from Sevan, Yurik Mkhitaryan, would pay our travel expenses.

"After talking to Martik, I went home and had a long discussion with my wife. She was also in favor of my going to Moscow. She said: "Go there, work, at least will pay back our debts".

"But where could I get the 350 dollars to pay for a new driving license? We found a way: we took my wife's jewelry and pawned it at the Agrobank. I gave the money to Martik. Several days later I got my new license and a passport with a visa inside.

"Two days later they asked me to come to Martik's office. There were many people there. We had a meeting. Martik spoke first, and then Yurik. They made long speeches. They said the construction of the military base had started long ago and they needed drivers badly, so that we'll get jobs as soon as we get there. Then several drivers took the floor. We were so inspired that no one doubted that everything would work out very well.

"Two days later we were on our way. There were sixty of us. The organizers sent us by bus to cut the costs down. The first surprise awaited us on the way. They stopped us at the Georgian border and kept us there for a day and a half. They made each pay 150 rubles and only then let us go on our way. In Minvody, we paid 200 rubles, and in Voronezh, the same amount.

"Several days later we finally arrived in Moscow. The traffic police stopped the bus as it entered Moscow and did not let it inside the city. The leaders of the group, Martik and Yurik, left us there and went to Moscow to sort things out. We spent three days and nights in the bus but they did not show up. Our food supplies were running low. Worse still, we had spent almost ten days in the bus and smelled awful. On the fourth day, police told us to move to the nearby forest on the grounds that we interfered with the traffic. We did not have the guts to disobey and went to the forest. We stayed there for two more days. We slept in the bus and wandered in the woods during the day.

The police forbade us to move the bus so much as a meter forward. Eventually the bus drivers told us to get out of the bus: their time had run out and they had to go back.

"If you want to go back to Yerevan, pay for your tickets and we'll take you back", said one of the drivers, Arthur.

"But how could we go back if we had borrowed lots of money to pay our way here? We got out of the bus and stayed in the woods. We began to realize that something was wrong but we still had hopes. We spent one night under the trees. The next day, three cars started to move in our direction.

Well-dressed, well-fed young men were driving the cars. Some of the guys from our group recognized them at once. They were men from Sevan city that had moved to Moscow several years ago and started a successful business. The cars were laden with food. There were the Meloyan brothers from Sevan city, Armen Grigoryan from Ddmashen, and others. They approached us, we all hugged each other. Martik and Yurik arrived a little later. In the presence of the guys from Moscow we held back our anger at those two. Martik started to give excuses. He said we had arrived too late, drivers for the construction site had been found already and everyone will have to seek his own fortune. We felt as if he poured cold water over our heads. No one spoke. What can you do with you pockets empty, who will give you shelter?

"The Meloyan brothers took the matter in their hands. An hour later a bus arrived. They came to terms with the police and we were on our way. We settled down in cottages next to a garage belonging to Armen Grigoryan. We could not sleep from that day on. We woke one day and found that Martik had left. He fled during the night fearing revenge from his pals. Until this day we have not heard from him.

"We started looking for jobs. Some of the guys, mostly from Martuni, found some kin, phoned them, and they came and took them away. I got a job at Armen's garage: I changed the tires and washed the cars. Three of our group started to work as manual laborers at a market across the street. We did all kinds of work but could only earn enough to buy bread.

"I stayed in Moscow for six months before I could make enough money to pay my way home, and came back. Until this day I have not paid back my debts or the interest.

Indeed, Moscow has surprises in store for Armenian drivers. They trust someone, leave their homes with the hope to make their living and borrow money to pay their way. With the terrible social situation and growing unemployment in Armenia, people lose all hope to find jobs at home and go to Moscow. How could they know that this was a trap skillfully set by several men who were doing business that way?"

My next interviewee was from Chambarak village. He used to work as a driver in a local transport company. He had a good income, was respected in his village, built a house for his family. Independence became a nightmare for him. The company where Martik Galstyan worked went bankrupt and closed down.

For around two years he was jobless. Every day he would look for small jobs to do and thus provided for his daily bread. It was Yurik who told him about the opportunity to go to Moscow.

"One day Yurik phoned me and said he would visit me in a couple of days and bring good news. Then he came and said that guys from Sevan were putting together a group to go to Moscow and that he had asked them to take me as well. I agreed because I had no other option, and two days later I came to Sevan. Yurik introduced me to Martik. At first he refused to take me saying that there were too many applicants from Sevan and he can hardly accept all of them. Yurik pleaded for me and Martik agreed to accept me on the condition that I pay 300 dollars extra. I agreed. Several days later I received my papers and went to Moscow with the group.

I asked what he had done when he realized that he had been swindled?

"I stayed a few days with the guys from Sevan," he said. "I am grateful to them for their help with food and shelter. I have a school pal in Moscow, by the name of Hrach. Luckily I had his phone number. Armen helped me to find him. He came and took me away. I worked as a manual laborer in a shop, got a temporary residence permit. I worked for about eight months. The job was awful. I couldn't stand it anymore, so I put some money aside and came back.

By chance I found a job here and managed to pay back my debts. But you can't imagine how mad I am at Martik. How could he swindle sixty people, sixty families and leave with a clear conscience! Until this day I cannot understand what he wanted."

In Sevan, Razdan and Gavar we talked to the drivers who had been swindled by Martik, and to their families. Until this day they cannot forget what had happened. They are very angry with Martik and his companions. The women damned him for making them go into debt.

Gaghik Hakobyan from Zovaber village tells his story.

"One day after midnight an old friend of mine from Sevan called and offered that I come to Sevan the next day. I agreed without knowing what he wanted.

We met near a technical school and had a short conversation. He told me that a driver, Martik, was gathering a group of drivers to go to Moscow. It was a good job, they promised good money. Later we met with Martik and talked to him. The next day I gave him the required amount, 450 dollars. Next time we met on the day of departure. I can remember very well that the guys were very enthusiastic. On our way to Moscow we were joking, everybody was telling what he would do after coming back. By the way, I borrowed money from my neighbor on the condition that I would send it back in two months. " I asked whether he believed they wouldn't swindle him?

"There was no doubt," he said. "Could you believe they would swindle 60 men at the same time?"

"Then how did they manage to?" I asked.

"Well, they did," he said. "It was the first time in my life I had been swindled. A few days ago my neighbor suggested going to Moscow where he had found a good job. I didn't believe him. No, brother, I told him, I'll better stay here on bread and water than go to Russia again."

"How did it go in Moscow?"

"At first I carried meat boxes in a supermarket, then I was night watchman.

Those were hard days. I barely managed to come back home." I asked Misha Stepanian from Vardenis City, how he ahd joined the group.

"Damn that day.," he said. "My wife is from Sevan. My brother-in-law called me and told me about the group. Than he said that it was very hard to convince Martik, so I had to come right away to Sevan and bring about 500 dollars. The next day I went to Sevan. He acquainted me with Martik, who seemed a nice guy but boasted a lot. I asked him if he would keep his word.

He answered with confidence and even looked offended with my question. I gave him the money, my old driving license and passport and came back home.

A few days later we were on our way, full of expectations. I had lots of debts; both my children study at a private college. I went and came back and I'm still in debt. "

The list of drivers swindled by Martik and Yurik includes three men from Razdan city - Varuzhan Gevorkyan, Barsegh Poghosyan and Edgar Hakobyan; Garnik Ignatevosyan from Lchashev village; Yerem Hakobyan and Shahen Astvatsatryan from Gavar city, and many others. Meeting these people and talking to them made me think that it was their difficult situation that made them choose the seemingly attractive solution of going to Moscow. Not one of them had the slightest suspicion that they might be tricked.

Meanwhile Martik and his pal Yurik did not stop at anything in order to make money. They didn't even have any scruples about the fact that many of their victims were their friends or relatives. They were blinded by the desire to make a quick profit. The way back proved very long for the swindled drivers.

Some of them are still in Moscow, far away from home.


Those were just two cases that I described to the official in front of me.

He listened to the stories and, finally seemed convinced that trafficking does exist in Sevan. He could not help it: the facts spoke for themselves.

Behind the facts there are people - helpless, despairing, tricked by their own kin, forsaken by the authorities. There are many similar cases. Society needs to be protected against trafficking.

--Pap Hayrapetyan

Friday, August 05, 2005

The trial of journalist Edik Baghdasaryan at the Malatya-Sebastia court of the first instance yielded no results

Today I went to the trial of Natela Saghatelyan, an Uzbek, who is facing charges of trafficking of girls from Uzbekistan, one of her victims is half Armenian and only 17 years old.

This was the forth day of the trial and the first day that I attended.

The trial was to start at noon, but for some reason it didn’t start until 1 p.m. and due to the death of someone close to the translator, the judge continued the case until the 17th, claiming that the translator was familiar with the case and to find a replacement on short notice was not possible.

After announcing the continuation of the trial, judge Vartanyan then asked where Mr. Baghdasaryan was? Edik was not in attendance.

The judge then went off in a rage as it seems that she just finished reading a story that was printed in Aravot newspaper today which criticized the court proceedings, in particular the judge and translator, predicting that the trafficker will be handed down a light sentence.

In judge Vartanyan’s fit, she lashed out at Edik’s reporter who was present and asked the prosecutor and defense attorney if they had shared any information with Edik, as his statements were in her opinion were inappropriate and could only be made by someone who had inside information.

I kept my mouth shut, as the whole thing was absurd and very unprofessional. Here we were at a trial of traffickers and the judge had put Edik on trial.

For those of you who can read Armenian, visit http://www.aravot.am/2005/aravot_arm/August/5/aravot_news.htm and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

My wife pointed out that when a trial is going to be continued, no one is invited into the courtroom and someone from the court makes the announcement. My wife knows this as her mother is a judge and I’m sure of this also, as when we were attending Mother Pimp Nano’s trial, a few days were canceled in this way. It was clear that today’s court session went on only to confront Edik and what he had written in his story.

In short, the judge made a complete fool of herself and I’m sure that Edik will be writing about this also in the days to come.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

August 1, 2005

Why Pimps Don’t Get Punished

On May 25 2005, The Court of First Instance of the Kotayk Province, Judge Gagik Heboyan presiding, reviewed the request from the Abovyan prison and released prisoner Marietta Musayelyan before she had completed her sentence. Muselyan had been wanted by the police since 2003 and was sentenced to one year and six months in prison. She served only seven months.

Why were the Ministry of Justice and the court so willing to grant the notorious pimp a reprieve? We can only guess.

Who is Marietta Musayelyan, born in Echmiadzin in 1966? Let's look at her criminal file to find out.

On September 17-18, 2004, two representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Armenia, Senior Detective Aristakes Yeremyan and Detective K. Batikyan went to United Arab Emirates. In Dubai, they interrogated Marietta Musayelyan and the women who were working for her. This is what Marietta said during her interrogation. “In 1983 I married Arsen Muradkhanyan from Echmiadzin. I had two children from the marriage, Suren and Sarkis Muradkhanyan. Arsen is now in Echmiadzin; Sarkis is living with him. Suren lives with me in Dubai. In 1986 I divorced Arsen Muradkhanyan and I was taking care of the children myself. In 1990 I went to Turkey to make a living by trading goods. In 1997 I went to Dubai to become a prostitute. But I couldn't do it, and after I learned the details of making money on prostitutes I decided to traffic young women from Armenia to Dubai, to become their pimp and make money on them. I went to Armenia, recruited five young girls and transported them to Dubai, where I organized everything.

“I was sentenced by in a Yerevan court to community service for organizing prostitution from 1997-2000. After that, since I didn't have a job, and couldn't take care of my kids, I decided to recruit prostitutes in Armenia, send them to Dubai and become a pimp again. I was sentenced under my old family name, Muradkhanyan; that's why I got married in April 2002 to Albert from Echmiadzin, my friend Siranush Musayelyan's brother.

During that time I got a new passport with the new last name. Siranush was a prostitute years ago, and so I asked her to recruit girls for me. I also asked Nune Khechyan. Meanwhile I went to Dubai and started receiving girls from Nune and Siranush. Overall, I received ten girls from Nune and Siranush, but now I don't remember who sent how many. For each prostitute they sent my way, I would send Nune and Siranush $1,000 via Western Union, so that they could buy a plane ticket for the girls and take care of all the departure problems.”

On November 8 2004, detectives Yeremyan and Khachatryan once again interrogated Marietta Musayelyan, this time in the prison in Abovyan. During the interrogation the pimp revealed several interesting details.

“I confess that I indeed was organizing prostitution in United Arab Emirates from 1997 to September 24 of this year. In 2000 I was convicted by the Malatia-Sebastia District Court of violating, Article 226 Paragraph 1 of the Armenian Criminal Code. When my sentence was almost up, I decided to pursue the aforementioned criminal activity again in order to gain personal profit. This time, through the help of two friends, Anna Ghazaryan and Marietta Aghajanyan, who had also been sentenced previously for the same crime, I met L. B from Tavush. Upon her agreement, I got a visa for L. from Susanna Sukiasyan, a pimp in Dubai. In April or May 2002 I sent L. to Dubai via the Yerevan-Dubai flight. I had agreed previously with Susanna that L. would work as a prostitute for her, but upon my return to Dubai I would become L.'s pimp. Unfortunately, that didn't last long, as after several days of my arrival in Dubai L. was caught for prostitution and was deported to Yerevan. To deal with my problem, I asked my old friend Nune Khechyan, who was recruiting girls in Armenia and sending them to Dubai, to get me couple of girls for a price that I do not remember now. Since it was no longer possible to transport prostitute girls on the Yerevan-Dubai flight, I asked around and found out that the pimp Narine Khachatryan’s (aka “Horse Nano’s”) lover Araik transported girls from Moscow to Dubai. I decided to cooperate with him. After talking with him on the phone, we made a deal. He agreed to help me at $1500-$2000 for each girl.”

Who is Araik Aghajanyan? The trafficking of Armenian women via Moscow to Dubai was mainly done by several Armenian gangs. Among these, Araik Aghajanyan's gang was the most famous. In the files of the criminal cases against pimps, both the pimps and their victims give the names of the members of this gang. Three people were in the gang, all Armenian citizens living in Moscow: Ara Aghajanyan, Sevak Simonyan, and Avetik Khachatryan. They took $1500 - $2000 from the pimps for each girl they sent to Dubai. In June 2004, as a result of cooperation between Russian and Armenian law enforcement agencies, these three were arrested. The Vesti program on Russia’s RTR TV channel reported the arrest. The gang members were extradited to Yerevan, but after some time they were released. According to our sources, they were interrogated, their crime was uncovered, and yet they were released. Who gave the order to release them? We don’t think it would be too hard for our prosecutors to find that out.

to be continued

Edik Baghdasaryan, Aghavni Yeghiazaryan