Wednesday, November 30, 2005


| 18:42:28 | 29-11-2005 | Politics |

At 4 p.m. the united opposition started its rally at Matenadaran. The territory adjacent to the Depository of Ancient Manuscripts was de-energized and the opposition leaders were deprived of the possibility to use loudspeakers. Nevertheless the rally was attended by rather a big number of people.

The citizens were told that the united opposition is preparing a statement which will be read during the rally. Before the speeches were accompanied by cries "Armenians, gather", "No to Kocharian's constitution".

A group of students who joined the participants of the rallies was welcomed very warmly.

New NATO Office in Yerevan

RosBusinessConsulting, Russia
Nov. 30, 2005

RBC, 30.11.2005, Yerevan 12:59:37
. The Armenian representative of the Northern Atlantic Alliance will supervise the work of a new NATO office in Yerevan. The office is to be opened following an agreement to introduce a liaison officer for NATO cooperation in Armenia, Armenia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gegam Garibdzhanyan told journalists.

Armenia is obliged to provide the officer with a place of business and information regarding NATO programs implemented in Armenia.

The dynamic contact between NATO and Armenia will positively affect the cooperation between Yerevan and the Alliance. Romualdas Razuks will be appointed as the liaison officer responsible for cooperation between NATO and South Caucasus countries.



| 19:16:49 | 30-11-2005 | Politics |

Today the Armenian Center for National and International Studies has made the following announcement “Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia's first Minister of Foreign Affairs, was detained today for detailed questioning and inspection before boarding an Austrian Airlines flight to Vienna. {BR}

Awaited and confronted by an airport national security (formerly KGB) agent identifying himself as Arsen Poghosyan and saying his job was to ensure passenger safety, Raffi Hovannisian was questioned about the purpose of his trip, the Armenian constitution, and other matters unrelated to airport security.

Pursuant to a predetermined plan, Hovannisian's personal effects and papers were thoroughly examined, one by one, on the pretext of a search for possible "state secrets." Among the documents were a constitutional draft prepared by the Heritage Party, publications of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, the December schedule of Yerevan's theaters, a draft of an unsent private letter to Armenia's acting president, and Hovannisian's airline ticket.

Agent Poghosyan, upon making several telephone calls, invited customs agent Karen Petrosyan to the scene and instructed him to determine whether Raffi Hovannisian was in violation of relevant customs laws, suggesting a further examination of Hovannisian's personal papers in a separate room. There, under Poghosyan's watch, it was Petrosyan's turn to scour through the documents in pursuit of state secrets. Not finding any, he was signaled by Poghosyan to make a photocopy of Hovannisian's draft correspondence.

Raffi Hovannisian refused that suggestion and demanded the return of his papers or else a formal declaration as to the basis for the detention. Thereupon, Hovannisian was allowed to board the flight, already delayed pending the outcome of the detention, with a final remark from Poghosyan that they would "meet" on Hovannisian's return.

Raffi Hovannisian, who is en route to Kiev, Ukraine, to attend the International Public Forum of the Community for Democratic Choice together with former Czech President Vaclav Havel, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, US Senator John McCain, and other high-level officials and dignitaries, diplomats, scholars, policymakers, and human rights activists, has over the years had several similar experiences--during the Soviet period and in Turkey--but never before in the independent Republic of Armenia whose flag he raised at the United Nations.

He returns to Yerevan on December 3rd.

U.S. Echoes Questions About Armenian Poll Result

By Emil Danielyan
RFE/RL Armenia Report - 11/29/2005

The United States joined European observers on Tuesday in raising serious questions about the credibility of the official results of Armenia's weekend constitutional referendum which gave victory to President Robert Kocharian and his allies by a strikingly large margin.

`We share the regret of the Council of Europe, whose observers called into serious question the voter turnout figures for the referendum reported by the Armenian government,' the U.S. State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs said in a statement.

According to the Central Election Commission, nearly two thirds of Armenia's 2.3 million eligible voters participated in the referendum and more than 93 percent of them voted for Kocharian's constitutional amendments. The reported turnout, one of the highest in Armenia's post-Soviet history, was at odds with unusually deserted polling stations witnessed by observers and journalists across the country on Sunday.

The 14-strong monitoring mission Council of Europe's cast serious doubt on the official figures on Monday, saying that in a large number of polling stations `the extremely low voting activity did not correspond to the high figures provided by the electoral commissions.'

`We call on the Government of Armenia to investigate Council of Europe observer reports of serious abuses and fraud,' read the statement posted on the website of the U.S. embassy in Yerevan. `It is clear that there is room for improvement in the voting process between now and the 2007-2008 parliamentary and presidential elections.'

The statement reaffirmed U.S. support for the proposed constitutional changes, describing them as `potentially strengthening democratic institutions in Armenia.' The Council of Europe and the European Union take a similar view. Armenian opposition leaders, however, say laws will be irrelevant to the country's democratization as long as Kocharian and his regime remain in power.

Still, Washington clearly wants to see the Armenian president and his loyal parliament complete their terms in office in 2008 and 2007 respectively. `We are working closely with the Government of Armenia, political parties, and with civil society to implement a package of democracy-building measures aimed at helping Armenia achieve free and fair elections in 2007-2008,' said its statement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Armenian Garlic Bread

One of the frequent meals in our house is spaghetti with ground chicken meat-sauce which we have been eating with madnakash bread, the most common bread in Armenia.

The other night we invited guests over for dinner and my wife decided that we would serve spaghetti with ground-chicken meat sauce.

We went to the store, got the spaghetti, Ararat Valley tomato paste, ground chicken and when it came time for the madnakash, they were out. They offered to sell us some lavash, but what is spaghetti with lavash?

After panicking, knowing that dinner would be ruined, we went to a neighboring store where they have a section that sells bread and pastries, but not the greatest madnakash, we discovered they had what looked like French bread. A little bit pricy (35 cents as appose to 22 cents for madnakash) we decided that it was probably better than their madnakash.

While cooking up the meat sauce and boiling water for the spaghetti, it came to me that we had a big jar of garlic powder that our reader and now good friend Dawn had sent for her son Dan when he was here last year studying martial arts at the ABBA studio in Stepanagert and the garlic powder and other spices she sent him didn’t arrive until he was about to leave the country, thus Dan gave me the garlic powder.

Well having French bread and garlic powder, inspired me to try my hand at making garlic bread, since naturally spaghetti with garlic bread is the real way to serve such a meal.

I rushed back down to the store and got a bottle of olive oil and in no time my first try at garlic bread produced results.

The guest that night loved this new kind of bread and since then, we have been making garlic bread almost everyday since it in itself is a meal.

Karabakh Acknowledgment


Source: Vremya novostei, November 25, 2005, p. 1

Agency WPS
November 28, 2005, Monday

Armenian President Robert Kocheryan does not rule out, that the official Yerevan will acknowledge the self-proclaimed republic Nagorny Krabakh, if the negotiations with Baku will be at an impasse, as INTERFAX says. "If the negotiations with Azerbaijan exhaust themselves, without any results, I do not rule out the possibility of acknowledging the republic of Nagorny Karabkh or its joining Armenia," said the president on Thursday, on the Public Television of Armenia. According to the president, the actual acknowledgement of Nagorny Karabakh took place long ago. "Currently, Nagorny Karabakh uses Armenian currency, dram. We have a single customs zone," remarked Kocharyan.

Translated by Alexandra Zaitseva

Expat Given 1 Month In Jail


by Bassam Za'za', Staff Reporter

Gulf News
November 27, 2005

A foreign visitor was sentenced to one month in jail for falsifying her passport to help her underage sister enter a pub.

The Dubai Court of First Instance also fined the 31-year-old Armenian, identified as A.M., Dh1,000 for overstaying her visa and gave her younger sister, identified as M.A., 20, a one-month jail sentence for using a fake passport.

Dubai Public Prosecution charged the sisters with falsifying and using a fake document.

Dubai police heard the bouncer at a pub checked the younger sister's passport and noticed that her photograph was scotch-taped over the original.

He called the Tourist Security Department at Dubai police, who arrested the younger sister and summoned the elder one who was dancing inside the pub.

Who voted YES?

Who voted YES on the Constitutional Referendum?

The figures are in and according to the Central Election Commission of Armenia, 1,483,383 persons took part in the constitutional referendum in Armenia and abroad.

This number I personally find amazing, since it represents 64% of the eligible voters, meaning that if Armenia did have at present 3.9 million people living in the country, then this would be accurate. The reality is that Armenia had only approximately 2 million people living here and in the optimal conditions, there would be only 1.2 million eligible voters present to cast a vote (approximately 60% of the population).

Now here is the reality and some cases that were reported to me by people I know.

Our musical guru Nick went to cast a NO vote and when he showed up to the polling station, he noticed that next to his mother’s name was a indicator that she had come and voted (though she had boycotted the election) and next to his deceased father’s name which was on the register, was an indicator that he had come and voted. Presumably, they both voted YES.

At a polling station on Kochar Street in Yerevan, a friend of mine was involved in monitoring and told me that 367 people physically came and cast votes, yet they had reported 3,000+ votes at that station.

I’m sure there were tens of thousands of such cases and for this reason the referendum passed.

I believe that the reality is that there was a less than 15% turnout of voters and thus, the constitutional referendum did not pass and should not be recognized.

If Kocharian announces that everything was done on the up and up and the changes are set in cement, then as far as I’m concerned our President has lost what little credibility he had left and is nothing more than a criminal and should be treated as such.

Sadly this is Armenian democracy at work. The typical fixing of elections and even more sadly there has so far been very little condemnation from the international community.

My guess is that the silence of the international community over the constitutional amendment is connected with the Karabagh settlement.

A recent article could me an indicator of things to come:

Armenian Foreign Minister Makes Stunning Statement

Assa-Irada, Azerbaijan
Nov. 26, 2005

AssA-Irada 26/11/2005 12:32

Armenian foreign minister Vardan Oskanian has made a stunning statement, claiming that Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan's region under occupation, is allegedly 'an integral part of Armenia that will never be transferred to Azerbaijan's jurisdiction'.

"It will never belong to Azerbaijanis, as Armenians in Karabakh and all over the world won't allow this," he said in an interview with a local television channel.


Now that the constitutional amendments have “passed,” mark my words, an attempt to make Karabagh a part of Armenia will now happen and if they succeed in doing this, a peace settlement will be reached and the President of Armenia will hand back over a bunch of land to Azerbaijan, which the new amendments allow him to do without any problem.

In addition to this, he is now exempt from being prosecuted in a court of law with issues that relate to his duties as president, from the past, present and future. This means that effectively he is beyond reach of the written law for violations of human rights that were committed in the past and will be committed in the future, or all his documented acts of economic plunder, which in some countries call for the death sentence. This is very dangerous for anyone to have such exemption, because now the will not have a chance for a fair trial for what he has done, meaning that the laws of nature can justifiably be enacted and believe me, there are many, many people here who will exercise their right to be judge, jury and executioner.

Is there any hope for a promising future? I would say yes, but only with a strong collective involvement from all Armenians all over the world. Will this ever happen? Time will only tell.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Suit Against The Attorney General

| 19:56:34 | 27-11-2005 | Politics |

The opposition is going to apply to court in connection with the violations. According to the RA Law on Referendum and the Electoral Code, there are two factors affecting the results of the referendum - the agitation and the realization phases.

"Everyone, including the European structures pay attention to the realization of the referendum. The Constitutional amendments referendum was already forged in the agitation phase", Coordinator of the Center Ruben Torosyan finds.

According to Mr. Torosyan, this referendum differs from all the previous elections by the fact that the courts do not accept applications about the idleness of the CEC.

According to Mr. Torosyan, another violation is that the Referendum Central Committee has not established the agitation order. Ruben Torosyan is convinced that the agitation process has significant influence on the results of the referendum. As for the participation of the Attorney General in the process, Mr. Torosyan said, "The Attorney General warns the people that if they do not participate in
the referendum, they will be punished according to the 9th part of the 14th article of the RA Law on Referendum. But when we look it up in the law we see that the article has been amended twice two years ago."

The Opposition is going to apply to court according to the 309th article of the Criminal Code.

Liberty Off The Air In Armenian

Radio Liberty off the air in Armenian capital

27 Nov 05

Yerevan, 27 November:
The transmission of Radio Liberty to Yerevan ended unexpectedly at about 1935 [1535 gmt] today.

The director of the radio station's Yerevan office, Grach Melkumyan, told an Arminfo correspondent that the delivery of signals from Prague to Yerevan had been and was normal, but the broadcasts of the radio station in Yerevan had ended on all frequencies all at once.

"This gives us grounds to believe that our radio has deliberately been taken off the air," Melkumyan said.

Referendum Vote Update

CEC at 9:00 P.M.: 64,4% of People Having Suffrage Took Part in Constitutional Referendum

Pan Armenian
28.11.2005 03:15 GMT+04:00

According to the latest returns provided by the Central Election Commission of Armenia, as of 9:00 p.m. local time 1 million 483 thousand 383 persons took part in the constitutional referendum in Armenia and abroad, which makes 64.4% of the total number of people having suffrage. Over 418 thousand persons took part in the referendum in the Armenian capital, i.e. 56%. 18 815 Armenian citizens voted abroad within the same period of time.

It should also be noted that the number of polling stations in Armenia totals 1878, while there are 44 stations in forty cities of 28 countries, making the overall number 1922. For the referendum to be recognized as taken place it is necessary that 767 thousand persons take part in it. This number makes 1/3 of the total number of constituency in Armenia (i.e. 2 301 828). The CEC has ordered the printing of 2 million 334 thousand 300 ballots for the referendum.

Low Voter Turnout on Referendum



The Armenian opposition continued today its rally around the Opera House but people there were not as much as they had expected.

The head of the "Hanrapetutyun" ("Republic") party Aram Sargsian stated that the united opposition will organize a new rally on November 28 near the Matenadaran for which they have already got permission. The member of the "Hanrapetutyun" party's political council Suren Sureniants said that 8,000 observers from opposition followed the pace of the referendum.

After the rally the members of the opposition gave a joint press conference presenting the facts they registered during the referendum.

According to that facts, only 374,667 people participated in the referendum which is only 16.3 percent of the voters.

Voting Day for the Constitutional Referendum

Today was voting day for our first constitutional referendum.

This afternoon I went out with my wife for dinner and came across a couple of gatherings which were related to today’s voting.

The first one was a concert that was being held in the opera square and was youth singing and dancing their little hearts out. Unfortunately, there were never at any point more than 100 people watching.

So why were they there giving a free concert? It’s so the vote no for constitutional amendments people won’t have a place to have a meeting to report to the people what is going on with the elections.

On the other side of the opera which is the street side, was a gathering of the vote no people. There was a crowd of about 2,000 people, among them was probably a couple of hundred undercover police/KGB, who were sticking out among the mostly elderly people.

So here is what happened today.

The Central Electoral Commission has reported that 64.4% of the eligible voters have cast their vote and 88% of them have voted YES to constitutional amendments.

According to Raffi Hovanessian’s organized unofficial monitoring team, which consisted of 8,000 people, who were counting how many people physically went to cast votes at all the voting places, somewhere in the neighborhood of 350,000 have actually cast votes, as appose to the over 1 million people the RA government is claiming.

Tomorrow is a meeting at the manuscript library at 15:00, where the 8,000 monitors along with hopefully thousands of others will gather to hear the results of the unofficial monitoring and the real number of how many people voted.

After that, I’m not sure what will happen. I hope that it will not turn into the usual name calling match that these thing have become in the past, which was kind of the flavor of the meeting tonight.

Tonight on H2 television, they reported that at 18:00 there was going to be a meeting at the manuscript library, but no one showed up. They showed video pictures of an empty yard of the library. Reality is that the meeting was in front of the opear and not the manuscript library, as the pictures I've posted show. What are they trying to tell the people? No one cared and didn't show up to the meeting, so don't bother raising your voice? Once again government television misleads the people and so many ways.

If things go down as they recently did in Azerbaijan after the voting fraud they recently had, it’s going to be very ugly.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Support HETQ

Dear Readers:

Every month this year, more than 33,000 people have read the Armenian and English versions of Hetq. That more than 33,000 people are interested in the subjects we cover in our weekly reports is cause for rejoicing. Poverty, the environment, corruption, offenses against the law by the government and oligarchs… We have tried to focus our attention on these issues over the last three years and to utilize investigative journalism as a way to uncover the negative things taking place in our country and to assist, within the limits of our abilities, in overcoming them.

Investigative journalism is hard work. It means studying an issue in detail, gathering and weighing the facts, and verifying them with the people and organizations concerned. Sometimes it takes months of work, and travel to different regions in Armenia and abroad to put an article together, which, of course, implies serious expenditures.

There are subjects that our weekly is unable to address because we lack the financial resources. For example, in order to investigate the exploitation of the mines in Syunik Marz, and the sale of these mines to foreign companies, we would need to send reporters and photographers to this remote region of Armenia and provide them with everything they need to stay there for a considerable period of time and conduct an independent investigation. Or, we haven't been able to conclude our investigation of the situation in the Calcutta College, because we can't check the facts at our disposal on the spot. The same holds true for our reports on human trafficking – a phenomenon that requires visits to Turkey, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, again, impossible because of a lack of resources. Sometimes, in the course of an investigation, criminal links lead to other former Soviet republics and we are unable to fully investigate these cases. For similar reasons, we do not report as often as we would like to on social and economic problems in Nagorno Karabakh and the border regions of Armenia.

The translation of our articles into English also requires serious expenditures. The demand for the English version of our weekly is especially high abroad, but we are unable to translate many of our articles.

An investigative weekly loses its meaning if it is not independent. This is something the people we target in our reports understand very well. They offer us financial assistance, but we know what financing by a state official, an oligarch, or a partisan organization might mean for an independent media outlet—a loss of independence, bias, an inability to report on certain subjects. This is why we decline, categorically and in principle, any outside offer of financial support.

For our uninterrupted operation over three years, we thank the Embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom , and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. They have supported us mainly in putting together our English version – by financing the translation, in particular. We would like to stress that such assistance is usually provided to help get an organization like ours on its feet, to start it on a journey. It is not intended to be regular, or unlimited. Once again, we are grateful, and believe it is thanks to this support that Hetq has 33,000 readers today.

We have a stable readership, but we don't have a guarantee of sustainable existence or development. In recent months, the members of our organization have had frequent discussions on the future of Hetq. The pessimists among us suggest closing the weekly down, believing that we can't continue working like this for long. The businesslike people think that we should charge a fee. The optimists suggest appealing to our readers.

I reject the proposals to shut Hetq Online down, or to charge for it. They are unacceptable, if only because we have a responsibility to our readers to provide them with independent and unbiased information, and independent information loses its meaning when it is inaccessible to general readers.

In the end, we have chosen the optimists' proposal – believing in our readers' commitment and loyalty. And so we are appealing to you, asking for your assistance in preserving and developing independent journalism in Armenia. I am confident that your right to be informed is important to each and every one of you, and I believe that none of you will hesitate to give $12 a year to make use of that right.

Thanking you in advance,

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Finally Back Home In Armenia!

I remember when I was in school many years ago, I got behind in my homework a few times and had to rush to get caught up. That’s how I’m feeling right now since I really have not made time to write what is going on in our lives over the last couple of weeks.

I’ll give you a brief and we will just have to call it even, okay?

On the 16th, my wife and I took a mini-van ride to Tbilisi on our way to Israel, where we were invited by the Armenian Patriarch (who is my uncle) for a blessing of our union.

After finding an Armenian taxi driver at the bus station we went to look for a hotel to stay in for a couple of nights and found a $30 a night place in the Armenian section of Tbilisi, which had a fabulous view of the old city. Only thing that was not all that nice was that we were on the 5th floor, the place was so filthy that you could not walk around in your socks and the single-pain windows allowed the street traffic noise to sing you to sleep. The plus was the unobstructed view.

I took a bunch of pictures at night and discovered on my $144 Olympus digital camera the Night Scene mode. Incredible!!! I took a couple of dozen pictures of things that were practically black to the human eye, but after the shutter being open for a few seconds, wow!!! There are so many churches and they all look Armenian, but of course are not. I’m really not sure which ones are other than a couple.

On the 17th, we paid a visit to the Israeli embassy and picked up my wife’s visa. It was a very simple process and took in all a couple of hours.

Between dropping off the application and picking up the visa, we went to Mc Donald’s for a late breakfast, early lunch. Of course I was not impressed with the food, which I thought was a bit pricy, but I have to say that the staff was very friendly and any child that entered this fine Western establishment was presented with a toy.

The part of Tbilisi we saw was very nice in a sense that it had a nostalgic touristy look to it. Everything was old. Unfortunately it was also very dirty, with trash everywhere. As dirty as Armenia is, it is much cleaner than what we saw in Tbilisi.

Since we had time to kill, we decided to ride the metro which there was a station near our hotel. The metro is just about the same as it is in Armenia, only difference is that they have 4 cars running at a time (we have 2) and they come every couple of minutes to transport the hundreds of people waiting. It cost about the same as what we pay in Yerevan.

Many, many, many of the Georgian’s spoke Armenian. They even look like Armenians, but when asked, they proudly state that they are not Armenian but Georgian. A few people we met said that they were married to Armenians.

On the 18th, or taxi driver Alik showed up to our hotel at 7 AM and drove us to the airport to catch Georgian Air flight 695 to Israel.

On the way we drove passed President George W. Bush Street , which was announced by a billboard-style sign which read "President George W. Bush Street," written in Georgian and English. It included a large photo portrait of a waving Bush. I could only laugh when I saw it, but unfortunately didn’t get a picture of it. On the way back (last night), we passed another sign which a light up sign with the name of the street that also had an American flag. What a shallow jester in order to brown-nose the Americans. Our taxi driver told us that Georgians are known for selling out to the highest bidder.

The road to the airport was very nice and according to Alik was also very new. It was repaved very fast in order to receive Bush on his visit in mid-September. He said that it may look nice now, but according to a friend of his who worked on the road, the 100 kilos of cement that was to be mixed with the 1 ton of asphalt is missing. This is what is used so roads will harden. He said we should come back next year and see what condition the road is in. I guess Armenians and Georgians think alike in this area. I’ve never seen cement added to asphalt and this also would explain why in the summer when you jack up your car on the Lachin road, the jack sinks into the asphalt.

Anyway, we got to the Airport and waited 3 hours for our flights. While doing so, we watched the operations of the airport and all I can say is that the Georgians can learn allot from the Armenians in terms of how to run things.

We boarded our plane and parked next to it was a plane from Azerbaijan.

The flight to Israel was 2 hours and 30 minutes.

It’s very clear from what we saw while we were in Georgia that Georgians are lazy people don’t care much for the future of their country. They have so much potential and if that Armenians had what they have to work with in terms of location and resources, that place would be a very modern and prosperous place.

Our return to Armenia via Georgia was quite uneventful.

The view from the airplane coming in was fabulous. From the air in the distance, you cold see Armenia. Ararat and Aragast were quite visible.

We landed in Tbilisi at 5:30 PM, where Alik our taxi driver was waiting for us. He rushed us off to a waiting van that took us to the boarder crossing, where there was a very long line of cars and trucks to cross the boarder. I walked to the front of the line and found a car that was empty and talked the driver in to taking us with him. He had been waiting for over two hours to cross and it seems that a couple of days before there was a big bust which cleaned out the place of customs agents. After transferring to the car, we were back on Armenian soil in 20 minutes and on our way home.

In the next couple of days, I’ll try to write about our adventures in Israel.

What does “APOLITICAL” mean?

When Samvel Babayan first announced his Dashink party earlier this year, he said that it was an apolitical organization which would not be getting involved in politics.

Well in today’s NOYAN TAPAN’s article titled “SAMVEL BABAYAN: WHILE POWER IS CENTRALIZED AND LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT BODIES ARE NOT INDEPENDENT IN ARMENIA, FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IS INEFFICIENT,” it seems that Samvel’s initial claims as to have started an apolitical organization was not accurate. I’ll bet that many of the things stated in this interview are fiction.


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 25, NOYAN TAPAN. The Armenian newspaper "Azg" recently organized an on-line interview with Samvel Babayan, an Artsakh hero, Chairman of the party Dashink. People from various countries sent their questions to S. Babayan. The interview published on the webside of "Azg" is presented below with some abrigement:

Question (Marieta Khachatrian, the newspaper "Azg"): What section of Armenia's political field are you going to occupy, is there anything that others do not do and you will engage in?

Samvel Babayan: Together with my associates, I founded the party Dashink, and we hope to create such a party that will not be based on the authority of one person, for this reason I make no claim to any section of the political field. What role will Dashink play and how much place will it occupy in the political field depends on efficiency of our work, which will become clear after elections to the National Assembly in 2007. I don't know what others do or do not do, we do act

Question (Marieta Khachatrian, "Azg"): Do your approaches to the solution of the Karabakh problem differ from the official poistion of the authorities?

S.B. We see the conflict settlement from the perspective of the following four fundamental principles:

1. interim sovereignty under the patronage of an authoritative international organization,

2. voluntary resettlement of refugees and displaced persons,

3. creation of preconditions for economic development of Artsakh,

4. solution of the issue of Artsakh's status through holding a new referendum.

Add to it the interviews I gave last year, and I am sure that the respected correspondent can compare it with the official position of the authorities and get answers to all her questions.

Question (Marieta Khachatrian, "Azg"): You announced your intention to participate in all elections. In alliance with what parties do you consider it possible to run in the future parliamentary elections?

S. B: "Dashink" is not going to contract an alliance with any political party during parliamentary elections, we have entered into an alliance with our people and will take part in elections in anticipation of its trust.

Question (Aghajanian Yura, Samara, Russia): I live in Russia. The Armenians and Azeris here are on good terms, many even made friends with each other. Will there be a moment when Armenia and Azerbaijan will become friendly?

S. B: Azerbaijan and Turkey are our neighbors. Despite numerous problems, I am convinced that the future depends on mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. All neighbors of Armenia, except Iran, consider the European integration as the main issue on their political agenda. I believe that it will in its turn promote the regional integration processes. I am optimistic and take the view that in case of such development, a moment will come indeed when we will have the best relations not only with Azerbaijan but also with our other neighbors.

Question (Poghosian, Yerevan): Are you going to fight aganst corruption? Make your special promise to a general.

S. B: Of course. Althogh opinions vary on the issue of mechanism of fight. Some believe that a couple of corrupted persons should be publicly executed by shooting so that others can learn their lesson. Others express a view that the fight against corruption requires the adoption of certain strategical programs, or even receiving new state loans. In my opinion, the fight against this evil should be conducted by making certain system changes in the governance system of the country. While the prosecutor's office is not independent in its activities, while court judges show arbitrariness with respect to our citizens, and more importantly, while the power is centralized and local self-government bodies are not independent in our country, the fight against corruption is inefficient.

Question (Armen Khachatrian, Armenia): Will you consider yourself a legitimately nominated candidate at the next presidential elections?

S.B. I have said many a time that I am not going to become a President.

Question (Anahit, Armenia): What is the situation in Armenia?

S. B: I am not saisified with the situation in Armenia, with problems existing in all the spheres that constitute the important components of liberal values. I see problems with respect to the separation of the power branches, the decentralization of power based on the principle of self-governance of local bodies, the supremacy of the law, public control over the authorities, freedom of speech, inviolability of property, liberalization of economy, equality of citizens' rights and in other spheres.

Question (Ashot, Armenia, Yerevan): Don't you think that the October 27 was organized by Kocharian and Serge? Who will be our next President?

S.B: A am not a prosecutor or a judge. You have witnessed the court examination for years on end, and the fact that your suspicions have not been dispelled also speaks of the imperfection of our judicial system. I do not like to make predictions and cannot say who will become the next President. What I know is that a lot depends on the next parliamentary elections.

Question (Shavasp Adamian, Canada, Toronto): Mr General, you also want power, but who will fight? The Azeris will advance soon. Maybe you believe that the Armenian boys will fight whereas men of Artsakh will rule in Yerevan? Don't you think that Artsakh should live separately with its people? Kocharian has learnt a lot, take him with you. We will help the free republic of Artsakh.

S. B: I dedicated all my conscious life to the defence of our homeland and ensuring the security of our children. My notion of Homland's borders is different. I believe my people, my soldiers, during the war I never asked if my guys were from Stepanakert, Yerevan or Toronto. We defended together our homeland, state and people. In case of a resumption of war, I will be again with my soldiers, not asking any questions about the small homeland of each. We will again speak about the security of our single Homeland - Armenia. It is regrettable that we have a mania for seeking internal enemies. The Diasporan Armenians were such enemies in the mid 20th century - at the time of repatriation, now it is the turn of Karabakhi Armenians, or Armenians from Javakhk or Aparan - from the point of view of some people. If you like such animosity among our small nation, it is your business, not to say your mistake.

Question (Zaven, Yerevan): What is your approach to the events that took place on April 12-13, 2004? In your opinion, what is the mechanism, what should be changed, what important things should be done in order to form the power in the country in such a way as is stated in the law - by the people, in a fair way? Don't you think the authorities have distributed the 2006 budget revenues shamelessly, deepening the social injustice in the country?

S.B: I cannot say anything about the April 12-13 events since at that time I was not at large. Yet I think that the political force that organizes rallies and processions should feel fully responsible for all citizens involved. These parties should be so organized as not to allow the use of force against their supporters.

In our opinion, the whole budget policy should be put on program bases. The state expenditures should correspond to substantiated normatives which are to be discussed and adopted. Otherwise, state expenditures will uncontrolledly increase, with no improvement in the social conditions of the people.

Question (Victor Stepanian): When you were in power, the NKR was an authoritarian country, and you behaved in a provincial and wilful manner which was justified during the war but not after it. Today there is no alternative to democracy both in Armenia and the NKR, and you are far from democracy that requires diplomatic skills from a political figure. I am sure you will find associates but which is more important for you: fulfilment of your ambitions or the destiny of the nation?

S.B: During the war, my major goal was to defend my homeland, and I was completely preoccupied with solution of those problems. After the ceasefire up to 1998, I was mainly engaged in the army building. At that time I was not following the events going on at the rear, while many were arranging problems of their own power in their warm offices. Yet I was aware of the fact that all our achievements would be lost if no radical reforms were implemented in the social sphere - in the field of social and political development. However, my intentions met with hostility. So I had to resign, as well as to send a detailed letter about the reasons for my resignation to the Armenian Defense Minister Serge Sargsian (May 1998). Particularly, I stressed in my letter: "Unfortunately, during my activities I encountered 4 adversaries at once: a) Turks, b) NKR authorities, c) Armenian authorities, d) Armenian Foreign Ministry. If in principle I was to fight against one enemy, it also seemed that against one common enemy for the remaining three ones." My resignation was not accepted, and an opportunity opened to implement my planned reforms. A new government was formed in 1998. From that moment on, a number of laws and acts aimed at solving the most important problems were passed such as those related to the formation of local self-government, the autonomy and direct financing of schools, the improvement of the social insurance system, reforms in the court and legal system, etc. We revised the norms of the state machinery maintenance costs which allowed to raise the minimal salary and pensions. Nobody asked then how we succeeded in doing so. By having revised these norms, we "trod on the feet" of many, infringed on the personal interests of numerous officials. As everybody already knows, all that "crusade" of libel against me and the "staging" of a non-existent trial were organized. If you really want to find out whether I was a tyrant or not, I advise you to examine the laws adopted in that period. Who would benefit from inventing that negative image of me as an authoritarian dictator? All those, whose narrow personal interest was damaged as a result of the reforms. You just fell prey to that misinformative aggression. I would advise those who allow to dupe themselves by various misleading information to pay attention to the source and reasons of rumors.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hovannnisian's National Unification Gathering

Fellow Citizens of Armenia:

Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian announced and called on all the citizens of Armenia to civil protest, i.e. national unification by gathering in Opera Freedom Square on November 25th - 3.00 PM to participate in the initiative of national unity.

Raffi Hovannisian, who served from 1992-1993 as Armenian foreign minister, endorsed the opposition's call for a boycott of the November 27th referendum and urged voters to resort to civil protest if the outcome is falsified.

Raffi Hovannisian, using harsher rhetoric than ever before, described the Armenian leadership as "a regime that supports thieves, murderers, and corrupt individuals."

"It is really pathetic that the ruling clique, which has turned illegalities into a way of life and is enriching itself by unlimited plunder, is pretending to be a custodian of the constitution and law said the popular opposition politician. "By refusing to participate in the forthcoming political show we choose not to give them public amnesty through this false vote," he said.

Raffi Hovannisian dismissed their amendments as "cosmetic." Even the proposed abolition of the constitutional ban on dual citizenship was denounced by him as an attempt to "extend illegalities to the Armenian Diaspora."

Raffi Hovannisian's Heritage party is a member of a coalition of about two dozen opposition groups jointly campaigning against Kocharian's constitutional reform.

JOIN Heritaga initiative in Opera Freedom Square – Yerevan, Armenia on Friday, November 25th - 3.00 PM

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What Competition?


| 21:49:42 | 15-11-2005 | Politics |

Today the Center of political studies "Consent" organized a discussion on the economic aspect of the constitutional amendments.

The only rapporteur was former Mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan. He made a report tiled "Monopolies and free competition in the context of constitutional amendments."

Before his speech chairman of Consent center David Shahnazaryan stated that the media omitted the economic part of the constitution and focused upon the political one.

The rapporteur compared the provisions guaranteeing monopolies and excluding their abuse, which are fixed in the constitution of 1995. He also attracted attention to other articles of the reviewed constitution. According to one them, the right of heritage is absolutely ignored. The other jeopardizes the right of property.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hovannisian Seeks Public Support


By Ruzanna Stepanian

Raffi Hovannisian, Armenia’s U.S.-born former foreign minister, has begun collecting signatures in support of his demand to be declared eligible to contest the next presidential election, it emerged on Monday.

Tigran Xmalian, a film-maker and advisor to Hovannisian, told RFE/RL that some 50,000 people have already signed a petition demanding that the opposition politician be considered to have been an Armenian citizen since 1991.

Under Armenia’s constitution, only those individuals who have had Armenian citizenship and “permanently” lived in the country for the past 10 years can be registered as presidential candidates. Hovannisian received an Armenian passport in 2001, ten years after he first applied for one.

Hovannisian insists that President Robert Kocharian and his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian illegally blocked his citizenship applications. He says Kocharian’s decree granting him Armenian nationality should therefore be backdated to 1991. The authorities rejected this demand, preventing him from standing in the last presidential election held in 2003.

A statement appended to the petition says that the decision was politically motivated and was upheld by Armenian courts due to Kocharian’s “biased interference.” “It is clear that the first and the second presidents resorted to that step in order to make it impossible for him to run for president,” said Xmalian. “Raffi Hovannisian, who has lived with us and shared our successes and difficulties for 15 years, must have the right to contest the 2008 presidential election.”

Xmalian added that the signature collection began in areas outside Yerevan last month and will reach the Armenian capital after the upcoming constitutional referendum. He said Hovannisian’s objective is to secure 300,000 signatures. “The authorities would not be able to ignore the popular demand after that,” he said.

However, no petitions can be legally binding for the authorities regardless of the number of citizens who signed it.

Still, Hovannisian’s demands are backed by other prominent opposition figures such as Vazgen Manukian. Manukian believes that the former foreign minister was “artificially” denied Armenian citizenship for so long.

Also promising to assist in the campaign is the Hanrapetutyun radical opposition party. But Hanrapetutyun spokesman Suren Sureniants cautioned that he thinks it will not succeed as long as Kocharian is in power. “I don’t expect this issue to receive a fair solution through courts or otherwise under this regime,” he said.

(Photolur photo)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Armenian talent… 3 out of 4 isn’t bad

In the last couple of days monitoring Armenian public television and looking out my window, I have seen quite a bit of Armenian talent.

A couple of nights ago on H1, they had the young and very talented violinist named Serge Khachadouryan, who preformed in Belgium. An incredible talent that we should all be very proud of.

When he played, my wife and I were glued to the television as well as those in attendance at his concert, which from what I understood included royalty and/or heads of state.

Over on ALM, we had Dickran Garabedyan singing and whistling. My wife’s cousin could only laugh as Dickran sang with what looked like all his heart. My wife’s cousin said that this guy really is a choban. I asked him if he meant hoviv which means shepard in Armenian? He said no, hoviv is different than a choban, which is understood as an uneducated Shepard. Garabaedyan is a choban and his flock are all those villagers who love him for giving them the time of day and follow him like lost sheep.

According to my wife, this is a guy who thinks he can sing, but in reality he can’t and people only watch his talent program just to get a good laugh.

This morning we heard outside our window singing. When we looked outside there was a man under our building who looked to be about 50 years old (my wife insists that he was much younger, but looks older because of the hard life he has). He was singing Sayat Nova. My wife dropped from the window a greenback which he thanked us for and started to sing a song called Dzaghigner (Flowers). It could not have been a better song for him to sing, as from my interpretation, it is about how God gives some people wealth and others poverty. I’m going to transfer the video I shot of this song onto a format that I can e-mail. For those interested in a copy, please e-mail me at: and I’ll send you off a copy.

Just a side note on this guy. When I left the house, he had made his way down to the next building which is close to the trashcans and with him it looked like his wife, who was picking through the trashcans and looked to be picking out paper and things that could be burned to keep warm.

Then we have the up and coming talent, Nick. This guy is really incredible and is on his way up. We were at his house for dinner last night and it seems since my soliciting donations for Nick’s new fishing pole (a computer to record songs on), he has written a couple of dozen new songs.

I also found a friend of mine I have not seen in 20 years (I’ve been trying for the last few years to find him), who is a musician who knows all kinds of people in the music business and knows the ins and outs of how to be discovered. He sent Nick a bunch of links and information about what steps to take to get discovered.

Since we are talking about Nick, I want to take the time to thank the two families who responded to my calling for sponsorship for Nick, who collectively have pledged $750 towards Nick’s computer system. This amount is almost enough to get the system that Nick needs and if I can find someone to bring the computer from the states, then it is in fact enough for what Nick needs. Let’s see if I can find someone who is coming to Armenia and can bring a laptop for Nick. In the meantime, Nick is working on my laptop to record a few songs which he will be uploading onto the internet and sending around to a few people.

Anyway, if you ask me, the talent we have seen in the last couple days tells me that with a system in place that allows real talent a chance to show what they have, Armenia does have the potential to be properly represented in the international arts arena.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Armenian Family Started

I Yerevan there is a tradition of the bride and groom to drive around the city to show to the entire city that they have just been wed.

One of the traditional places to drive and circle 3 times is Independence Square.

Today as I was passing the square, I had the honor of seeing a wedding party circling the square in something that looked like a Lincoln Navigator stretch limo which seems to have originated from Galpin Ford in San Bernardino or San Fernando, California.

I wonder if by Armenia having such limos is a sign of economic stability? It could also play in to my show off theory, where people spend way more than they have to show to their neighbors that they are doing well and are economically stable, when in fact they are not.

Anyway, regardless of if the grooms family over extended themselves for this wedding, I’m very happy to see that another Armenian family has started.


Mediamax, Armenia
November 10, 2005

Yerevan, 10 November:
The constituent congress of the Dashink [Alliance] Party was held in Yerevan today. The former defence minister and commander of the defence army of the Nagornyy Karabakh Republic [NKR], Samvel Babayan, is the leader of the party.

Speaking at the congress, Samvel Babayan said that "there are some problems in Armenian politics and one of these problems is the lack of people's trust", Mediamax news agency reported.

"People do not believe any [political] force and are tired of constant disputes between the parties. We propose to form an alliance with the people," Babayan said.

He said that "the party is set up to solve national tasks in the name of democracy" and expressed readiness to cooperate with all interested parties and political forces.

One of the leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun, deputy speaker parliament Vaan Ovanesyan praised the setting up of the new party and said that "Dashnaktsutyun and Dashink are words with the same root which is not accidental". He expressed the hope that in the Dashink party "will be our a serious and reliable partner in solving national tasks and establishing social justice in the country".

Samvel Babayan was found guilty in organizing an attempt on the life of NKR president Arkadiy Gukasyan in March 2000 and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment in February 2001. He was pardoned by a presidential decree in September 2004.


You know I’m a bit concerned about what the real intentions of this party is. If it is an apolitical party that intentions are to gain the peoples trust and solve national tasks in the name of democracy, then why would they team up with Dashnaktsutyun? Last time I looked, Dashnaktsutyun is a political party.

If you ask me who Samvel Babayan is, he is the same person I knew years ago when he was defense minister of NKR. And in my opinion then and now really has not changed, meaning that for me and many, he is a criminal, murder, thief, rapist and still just as uneducated as he was back then. I would guess he still can’t read or write, but who knows, maybe while he was sitting in jail, he had time to learn.

For someone to say that they are going to “solve national tasks in the name of democracy,” has to speak volumes about him and if he understands what a democracy means (which I don’t think he does) and he means what he says, this means that he elects to solve our national tasks by not recognizing the written law(s) and instead follow the desires of the majority of the population, whose desires that day is the law.

For those of you who don’t understand what I am saying, "Democracy," comes from the Latin words demos and kratein, which translates to "the people to rule." Democracy, therefore, has always been synonymous with majority rule. On the other hand, the word "republic" comes from the Latin res publica, which Armenia is and means simply "the public thing(s)," or more simply "the law(s)."

For those of you who don’t know, America is not a democracy, but a republic.

To better understand what a democracy really is, consider the words of one of America’s Founding Fathers James Madison. He wrote in The Federalist, No. 10: "... democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths."

Reality is that the United States government with the help of the IMF works very hard to get developing countries to Democracy as a way to govern their country, knowing good and well that are “…short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths."

Teach them how to kill

Tonight’s lesson from Shant Television is how to kill and do so with homemade knife.

Yes, this is the most blood that I have so far seen on Armenian public television.

I’m not sure the name of this movie, but will say that it was shot in America and had a Russian voice over.

All I know is that this is certainly not the kind of public television we had access to in Los Angeles when I was growing up and I would suspect you still can’t access this on the public airwaves there or anywhere in the U.S.

The question that comes to mind now is that what is it that we need to do to prevent this crap from corrupting the minds of our population? Do we ban it? Do we educate people to what is out there and the effects it can have?

They had an advertisement for their programming for all the great soft-core films, which I found out airs Friday to Sunday at 1:15 AM. I guess you would not want to broadcast the sex stuff on a school night would you.

So who is Shant Television?

Well I know that they are the station that produces the Armenian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Armenian Public Television Instills Indifference and Perpetuates Violence

For the last couple of days I’ve been watching some television late at night to see what is being broadcasted over the private and government public airwaves.

In a couple of nights I’ve see stripping, jail-rape between a 21-year-old and some jail scum, rape/murder, suicide, more stripping, full frontal male and female nudity, executions and killings.

Of the stations that have broadcasted this crap include H1, which is the very popular government station that also broadcasts some of it’s programming over satellite; Shant Television, which is a private station; Yerger Media, which is known as the Dashnag station; and in the past I have seen topless women on a station that is run by the Armenian Church (I have to look back in my archives, as I do have a couple of pictures).

So what is this all about and why is it going on?

Well for one thing we know from past research on the subject of pornography and violence accessed on the internet, is that children under the age of 14 who are exposed to such materials are more susceptible to committing crimes similar to what they have seen.

So just really quick, what did I see.

Well on H1, I saw a movie which had a 16-year-old girl who has sex for the first time and commits suicide as a result. They show how she does this (popping a bunch of pills).

The first thing my wife asks me after seeing this scene was if people kill themselves this way and if such pills are available in Armenia?

In this same movie there were a bunch of nudity that belittles women and of course there were no shortage of glamorizing the life of a stripper.

There was a homosexual guy who was hitting on a heterosexual guy who becomes a male stripper. The homosexual guy hits on this guy a few times and is checking him out from head to toe making comments about his body and so on.

There was one scene which had a guy and girl talking about the suicide of the 16-year-old and the visuals I noticed was that they are across the street of a business called “Sex Koni” and the girl is wearing a cross and a t-shirt with a picture of Mother Mary and Jesus.

The film on H1 was with an Armenian voice over, meaning that it was not just some film pulled off of Russian television, but H1 went ahead and translated and recorded Armenian voice overs.

One other film on H1 was a film filled with thing a hit man does and that is kill people in cold blood. Killings which were very graphic and show the shooting of weapons and the projectiles striking and exploding. This film also had Armenian voice overs.

Now let’s move onto Shant Television.

Their films were also a combination of sex, rape at knifepoint, murder and violence.

The one scene that was most bothersome was the jailhouse rape of a 21-year-old guy who the guards take him and some jailhouse scum to a private cell, where the scumbag devirginizes this sweet looking guy. The scene does not show penetration, but clearly shows that the guys pants are forcefully lowered (you can see the side of his butt) and the scumbag is laying on top of him doing something that they guy is not enjoying at all.

And just so we are not singling out the government and some private station that is mafia owned, there was also some unacceptable materials I happened across while checking the channels on Yergir Media, which is the Dashnag station (the logo is a funky looking yellow dot on the lower left of the screen).

So does Armenia has law that regulate what is broadcasted on television? Yes they do, but the question has to be asked is if it is appropriate and/or enforced?

How Taxi Drivers Supplement Their Income in Armenia

Today my wife and I went to a funeral of an 82 year old woman that is related to my wife’s sister’s husband.

We called a cab, who took us to the funeral and back home, waiting 50 minutes. The cab was a 1995 GAZ Volga and there was a sign in it’s window indicating that it was for sale for $2,700.

When we returned home, the taxi had driven 30 kilometers and the charges including the waiting time came out to 4,100 dram.

I gave the driver 4,500 dram, which included a 400 dram tip for good service.

As we started to walk from the cab, the driver opened his door and asked my wife that if this office calls to ask them how much we paid for the cab service, to tell them 3,000 dram.

So not only did the guy get a 400 dram tip for providing us with good service, but he is going to skim off the top 1,100, which he should have turned into his office.

Fortunately for him, when we got home, the power was out, so our phone was not working, as if the taxi company had called, I was not about ready to lie to them for someone who misappropriated 1,100 dram from them.

So here is another example how people supplement their income in a dishonest way. It’s called stealing from your employer.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


A1plus News from Armenia 21:19:32 08-11-2005 Politics

For a long time already the website of Hetq online magazine is not accessible in the United Arab Emirates. When trying to open the site one can see the following lines, “We bring our apologies but the site you are going to open has been blocked, as its contents conflicts with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the UAE.{BR}

Why doesn’t Hetq meet the above mentioned values? The fact is that since June, 2005 Hetq has published the results of the journalist investigation on the sale of women in the country. The journalists described the ways the women from Armenian towns and villages found themselves in the United Arab Emirates and were subjected to sexual exploitation. Photos and names were published. The journalists found out that Dubai policemen and members of the migration services are involved in these criminal activities. The staff of Hetq is convinced that the sale of women and their exploitation cannot be viewed as “religious, cultural, political and moral values. The reporter met with residents of Dubai and other cities, who unanimously stated that their religion condemns sale of people and sexual exploitation.

“We think that the local inhabitants, who helped the women to return to the homeland, should know about the fate of these people.

We appeal to the UAE authorities to raise the taboo off the Hetq website and appeal to international organizations to urge the UAE leadership not to “clear” internet from critical articles about their country’, the statement issued by Hetq staff says.

Thrash an ARF Member, Get Promoted

Instead of disciplinary action for being involved in the beating of ARF member Pavel Manukian (see: NKR POLITICAL FORCES PURSUE DISMISSAL OF OFFICIALS HAVING BEATEN PAVEL MANUKIAN) which took place last summer in NKR Defence Minister Seyran Ohanian’s office, Major-General Vartan Balayan is promoted.

Add this one to your long list for next years report on corruption Transparency International.


ARKA News Agency, Armenia
Nov 7 2005

YEREVAN, November 7. /ARKA/.
President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Arkady Ghukasyan has signed decrees appointing Major-General Vardan Balayan Depuity Commander of the NKR Defense Army and Major-General Leva Mnatsakanyan Deputy Commander of NKR Defense Army.

A Light Sentence for Selling a Human Being

Posted on HETQ, Writteb by Samvel Poghosyan, November 7, 2005.

“I found out in Dubai that I wouldn't be working in a store, I'd be a prostitute instead. On Marine's orders, I visited several clients of different nationalities in the Al Harmud Hotel and had sex with them. I was in an impossible situation, because Marine had my passport, I didn't know anyone in Dubai, didn't know the language, and didn't have any money to survive. Since I didn't know the language, Marine would talk to the clients instead and tell me how long I had to stay with a client and how much he had to pay me. I would then give all the money to Marine,” A., who was a prostitute under Marine's control from April 7 to August 20, 2003, told the police.

On July 20 th Yerevan's Court of First Instance of the Kentron and Nork Marash Districts, Judge Zhora Vardanyan presiding, sentenced Marine Poghosyan to one year and six months in prison, just half of the three-year sentence requested by the Prosecutor general's Office in accordance with legislation regarding human trafficking (Armenian Criminal Code, Article 132, Paragraph 1).

In 2001, with the aim of providing for her young daughter, Marine Poghosyan went to Dubai to work for her cousin Armine Poghosyan, a prostitute there. Afterwards, she decided to lure good-looking Armenian girls to Dubai with the promise of non-existent jobs, force them into prostitution, and make a lot of money off them. She told her sister's husband Vardan Mikayelyan, who sold potatoes in the Gyumri market, to see if he could find anyone who wanted a job as a maid or nanny. Mikayelyan passed the word on to Maro, a coffee seller. Maro's daughter A. agreed to go to Dubai. “I was divorced from my husband and had a daughter to take care of. Our situation was desperate and I agreed to go to Dubai to work in a store. I faxed my passport details to Marine, and went thinking I was going to work in a store,” the 26-year-old wrote in her statement. Marine met A. in Dubai and took her to a hotel. Marine took A.'s passport, explaining that she had to show it to the hotel administrator. She never returned it. Instead she demanded that A. work as a prostitute until she could pay back the $7,000 that Marine had spent to get her to Dubai.

“I kept complaining that she had tricked me and I wanted my passport back, but she wouldn't give it to me, saying I had to pay her back. In those five months she only sent $400 to my mother, although I earned around $5,000,” A. said. In July 2005, when Marine was out of the hotel A. called her mother and told her what had happened. A's mother went to Vardan's house and demanded the immediate return of her daughter. At Vardan's request, Marine send A. back to Armenia. “After my mother went to Vardan, I worked for ten more days to make money for the ticket and then Marine sent me to Armenia, with only $10. I came to Armenia but didn't go to the police, because I was ashamed of what I had done in Dubai,” A. told the prosecutor.

In April 2005, when Marine Poghosyan was in Armenia, A's mother persuaded her daughter to go to police. Although A. claims she earned around $5,000 in Dubai, she never demanded any of that money back during the trial.

During the investigation Marine Poghosyan confessed that she had taken advantage of A. and forced her into prostitution, and she pleaded guilty at her trial.

Armen Boshnagyan, senior prosecutor for the Prosecutor General's Department of Anti-trafficking and Illegal Immigration, recommended that the defendant be sentenced to three years in prison.

The court, taking into account that Marine Poghosyan had confessed and expressed remorse, had no prior convictions, and was the mother of a young child, sentenced her to one year and six months.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Twisted Imported Evil

I often can't believe how fast this city is moving, lots of construction and business development everywhere, but for what price? Now we have an adult sex shop in Yerevan. God, when will this twisted imported evil and influence stop?


By Suren Deheryan ArmeniaNow reporter - Issue #40(162)

In what some praise as liberation, while others warn of sure iniquity, a "sex shop" has opened in the center of Yerev. "Sex and Life" is not the republic's first "adult accessories" boutique, but it is the only. Two others had short lives in the mid 90s, but closed amid public disapproval, mostly from elderly.

Now, 28-year-old sex aide entrepreneur Petros Movsesyan is hoping times have changed enough to sustain his new business, which opened at the beginning of this month near the Cascade.

"The shop now serves as a museum," says Movsesyan, laughing. "People come here as if it were a museum.They enter in a group, laugh at one or another assortment, but then they come separately to make purchases. There were women who phoned us to make sure there was no one in the shop, then entered and left quickly."

Besides "toys of pleasure" for men and women the "sex museum" also has special women's lingerie and perfumes, as well as different sexually-oriented novelty gifts. And the queen of the shop is the inflatable doll hanging on the wall for 17,000 drams ($40).Sex toys from $10 to $70 come from the US, Germany and China.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Armenian public television promotes erotic lifestyle

Last night I was shocked to see on Shant television (the picture to the right is their logo) what in America would never be allow to be broadcasted on public television.

Last nights film was shot in America and had a Russian voice over.

It was a film about some guy who is cheating on his wife and doing so with a sex slave who he pays and had her sign into a contract with him that she would serve him.

The film had full frontal female nudity, violence of him for his pleasures slapping around his contract slave, scenes in strip bars with topless pole-dancers, sexual intercourse scenes which took place under the covers, as well as the slave placing a condom on the cheating husband using her mouth.

The film was sponsored by Time Square Strip Club which is located at 1 Artsakh Street in Yerevan and also Sigma Poker Club. The strip club commercial was just as bad as the film, with bare breasts and straddling of poles.

I have no objections of adults of appropriate age viewing this crap, but the problem is the younger viewing audiences who undoubtedly know about this programming and stay up late to watch it.

I wonder what the law reads in showing such programs on public television?

I was told by my wife’s cousin, who stays over at our house occasionally that what we saw last night was nothing compared to what they have shown in the past.

Friday, November 04, 2005


RIA Novosti, Russia
Nov 3 2005

YEREVAN, November 3 (RIA Novosti, Gamlet Matevosyan) – Material damages due to corruption-related crimes in the first half of 2005 in Armenia totaled $5 million, an Armenian presidential advisor said at an anti-corruption strategy meeting Thursday.

"In total during the first half of 2005, 227 crimes linked with corruption were registered, compared to 198 during the same period of 2004," Bagrat Yesayan said.

He listed the main forms of crime linked with corruption as abuse of government funds, illegal business operations, deceptive business operations, tax evasion, abuse of authority, taking bribes and human trafficking.

Bad Constitutional Change Awaits Armenia

In 23 days (November 27th), Armenians will be going to vote yes or no on constitutional reforms.

Over on Oneworld Multimedia Onnik has done a good job of documenting and summarizing what is going on.

Some of the points that were brought out that concern me and others are:

1. There will only be a dozen international observers from the Council of Europe and no observers at all from the OSCE, as in order for the OSCE to participate, they need to be invited by the Armenian government and as of today, no such invitation has been extended.

A dozen observers could probably cover a couple of the hundreds of polling stations, meaning that there is a very good chance that the vote will be rigged as it has been in almost every election Armenia has had since independence.

2. There are two very illogical constitutional changes to be made, both are in relation to powers that the President will have.

a. The President will have the power to withdraw from boarders without consulting the nation in a referendum.

You have to ask why the President should have such powers? Is there a plan in the works to give some plan to Azerbaijan and someone knows good and well that in a national referendum, such a deal would be rejected? Maybe this is something the West is pushing for, knowing that if the President exercised his constitutional right, it would cause the revolution they are hoping for to really destabilize Armenia?

b. The President will be immune to prosecution, meaning that he will be legally beyond the law. This means that if there comes a need to charge him with economic or human rights violations (which there is already a need to do), he can only be dragged into an international court of law. In short, with this he would go unpunished for crimes that he committed and would most likely commit in the future.

Well let’s see what awaits us on November 27th? I personally hope that the NO votes win, as there needs to me much more public discussion on the proposed changes and also the OSCE need to be invited to monitor the elections.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Government workers at every level supplement their income

Tonight my wife, a friend and I took the metro in Yerevan.

I went to pay for the tokens that you have to insert at the entrance of the escalators that lead down into the tunnel and gave the cashier 200 drams.

A single token is 50 drams and instead of asking for 3, I asked for 4 since the change that I would have received would have been three 10 dram coins and one 20 dram coin, which is not all that easy to spend and would have just made a bunch of noise in my pocket.

The cashier handed me a single token and told us to enter via the gate which people who have a pass or are eligible for a free ride enter.

I looked to her and told her to give me 4 tokens, which she didn’t say another word and did.

I’ve had a similar experience like this before, but the last time the lady at the “free” gate, took my token and put it in her pocket after directing me to her gate.

I’m guessing this is a common practice and though I condone such dishonest practices and also understand that one can not support a family on $60 a month in Armenia.

It seems that every corner one looks, similar things are going on and people are lowering themselves to petty thieves just to get by.

I guess the thing that really bothers me is that for the most part, there is enough resources to go around and instead of putting people in a position to have to steal, just pay them better, since they are going to get it irregardless. If we can do this much, the overall social structure in Armenia will be a much more pleasant place for all.

I guess this problem is much more complicated and will take much effort to fix, but there is going to have to come a time when we have to deal with it, so why not start now?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I took a 4 day trip to Martuni to sign and file my quarterly tax documents. Though my business ventures in Artsakh are in limbo right now, it’s my obligation to file these returns every three months to keep my business license active.

Instead of taking a taxi or minivan, I went with my kavor (best man), who was going to Lachin on business. He had a new Niva, which I drove most of the way.

In Lachin, I hung out with the local traffic cop on duty and waited for a minivan to take me the rest of the way. The whole time I was there, the cop didn’t take a bribe.

Karabagh Telecom is now opening an office in Lachin. It’s looks to be in the final stages of construction and looks very nice.

At about noon, the cop stopped a minivan heading for Stepanagert, which I boarded and relieved the cop from having me around to prevent him from doing what he does to get paid.

The ride was very quick and the plan was that I would disembark from the van at the bottom of Shushi and hitch a ride up to my car, which I had left with Lavrent, my turck driver.

Unfortunately, Lavrent was not able to pick me up, as he had a very bad automobile accident last week which his knee was shattered and he laid up in the hospital in Stepanagert.

I got lucky that day, as the minivan had to stop off in Shushi to pick something up, thus I was delivered right to where I wanted, about half a kilometer from my car.

I walked up to Lavrent’s house, where I was greeted by his neighbor, who was in the process of remodeling Lavrent’s house.

Lavrent was living in Stepanagert, but due to his wife being in need of a series of operations, he sold his Stepanagert house (which he had already been wanting to do for the last year) and decided to move to his house he had in Shushi.

One of Lavrent’s other neighbor’s was also present. His name is Ararat and he is a blind man, who became blind in 1996, when the pressure in his head became too high, thus bursting the nerves in his eyes. At that time he said he was left with 5% vision in his right eye, but later on had and operation which was suppose to improve his vision, but instead for reason he does not know, lost what little vision he had and is now completely blind.

Ararat asked me to see if I could find a doctor to get a second opinion on what can be done to at least restore that 5% vision he had, which I’m now in the process of doing.

Ararat has 3 children, a wife and a parents that live in Armenia who helps him out financially, since the pension he receives is not much to speak of.

From Shushi, I drove to Stepanagert to visit Lavrent. On the way, I stopped at the police impound yard to see the condition of his car.

All I can say is that Lavrent and his passengers are very lucky to be alive. As you can see from these pictures, there is really nothing left of his car.

For those of you who have been reading my longs for at least a year, you will know that Lavrent is a war veteran who is known in Artsakh for blowing up on 30 landmines during the war and one after the war (31 mines). He retired early from the army because of his left knee being injured and preventing him from doing his duties.

Well in this recent accident, which was not Lavrent’s fault, he shattered his right knee. I’m not sure how this is going to effect him from driving my truck, but knowing Lavrent, he will figure out a way and will be back behind the wheel in no time.

I visited Lavrent at the Hospital in Stepanagert. He is looking good, but his knee is hurting quite a bit. He said that he will be in the hospital for at least another 6 days and then they will decide if the bone is sticking together or not, at which time he will start rehabilitation.

From Lavrent’s window, I noticed a new polyclinic hospital they are building. Very modern looking and it looks like it will be ready within the next month.

I noticed the head architect standing outside the building. His name is Garen Hagopyan and he is the same guy that was the architect for the 11 story apartment building that was built a couple of years ago for the sum of $1 million dollars ($650k from Louise Simone Manoogian and $350k allocated from the NKR government). If you read my posting on this project, you will know that project was a scam, probably costing around $150k to construct. I’m hoping that the new polyclinic is not another scam, but if Garen is involved, then it most likely is. If I have the time, I’ll have to find out the details.

As for Martuni, things don’t really seem to have changed much there other than another one of our main streets have been repaved, which means that a few less children will go to school this winter without getting their shoes muddy, which in Martuni terms is a big deal.

As for the weather, in Artsakh, it was great. Not too cold, but certainly it is heading in the direction of winter, which I’m predicting the first snow will happen on the 3rd of December, but will melt within a day. Then we will probably not see some real snow at the end of December or the beginning of January 2006.

I returned to Yerevan today with my uncle-in-law (the mayor of Matuni). It was a quick and uneventful ride.

Well it’s late and I need to take a shower and go to bed. My eyes are feeling very heavy, which means that I’ll sleep like a baby tonight :)