Saturday, December 31, 2005


This week presents a special video gallery that will take you into the lives of families in this season’s HyeSanta campaign.

The stories were reported by ArmeniaNow and documented by Shoghakat Television, directed by Tigran Paskevichyan and Ara Shirinyan and filmed by Arman Shahinyan.

For a look at real life in Armenia around the New Year, visit ArmeniaNow.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Anti-trafficking Efforts in Armenia - 2
[December 26, 2005]

A number of NGOs are implementing projects aimed at raising the level of awareness towards human trafficking (See also: Anti-trafficking Efforts in Armenia).

The Yerevan office of the Armenian Caritas charitable NGO began its awareness campaign at the school level. Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking, a three-year (2003-2006) program funded by the Italian government, aims at introducing the issue of trafficking and the problems surrounding it to students in the 9th and 10th grades. The program covers 100 schools - 15 each in the provinces of Shirak and Gegharkunik, and 70 in Yerevan. The schools chosen have a large number of students.

"We organize classes twice a year with one teacher from each of these schools. We train the teachers, prepare a program, provide materials, and then pay them to talk to senior students for one academic hour each semester about trafficking. We already have more than 25,000 students who are aware of this problem - the program is also run in provinces where we have offices. We plan to publish a textbook and I think it would be right to make this a mandatory subject in the curriculum; graduating schoolchildren are mature people who should be aware of this issue," said Movses Hakobyan, program director for Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking.

Another program aimed at youth awareness of trafficking is Let's Stop it Now 2, implemented biennially by Armenian Women for Health and a Healthy Environment. It is financed by the Foreign Ministry of Greece.

"Our target age group begins at 18 - these are students at any institution after school, be it college, university or in vocational education. We give talks and distribute reading material in the form of booklets and posters. We work in various provinces - Kotayk, Aragatsotn, Ararat, Tavush and Vayots Dzor, but awareness isn't at a high level in the capital either, and we think that there is a need for such a program in Yerevan as well," said program coordinator Emma Anakhasyan.

Created in 2002, the interdepartmental Committee on Illegal Human Transportation, Migration and Trafficking only has a mandate to advise. The committee had to conduct research and present proposals to the government. "The various proposals made by the committee are mainly summarized in the 2004-2006 national action plan against trafficking," said committee president Valery Mkrtumyan. In 2005, the committee's third year in existence, Armenia was classified in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report as a country requiring special supervision. Asked about what steps were taken by the committee in this regard, Mkrtumyan noted, "The issue was brought to the attention of the president, and clear orders were issued to law enforcement agencies to address the shortcomings mentioned in the report, the government presented the national action plan, and so on."

The OSCE Yerevan office provides providing political support to the government in its anti-trafficking efforts. "We implement strategic programs - expert support, training law enforcement officers, legal reform, the criminalization of punishments and protecting victims' rights. We are studying the shortcomings in the field and are trying to support their eradication, we discuss possible solutions and propose them to the government," said Dr. Blanca Hanchilova, director of democratic development programs at the OSCE Yerevan office.

The OSCE Yerevan office representative noted that the creation of special subdivisions within the state police and prosecution dealing with human trafficking could be considered a government reform. In her opinion, this has led to an increase in the number of cases tried under article 132 (human trafficking) of the legal code.

"Such steps are appreciated, but we still feel that not everything is being done to coordinate efforts in this area. I think there should be increased collaboration between different structures dealing with this issue," Hanchilova said.

June 2005 saw the creation of a section dealing with human trafficking and illegal migration within the investigative department of the State Prosecution. This office has thus far leveled charges of human trafficking against 13 individuals.

"The prosecution is always strict when it comes to article 132, and punishment is always through imprisonment. It seems the courts share this attitude - there has only been one case of a lenient sentence, and we have objected; let's see how that turns out," said Armen Boshnaghyan, chief investigator of the section dealing with human trafficking and illegal migration at the investigative department of the State Prosecution.

The prosecution is strict in cases of human trafficking not only regarding the form of punishment meted out, but the duration of imprisonment as well. "Our position is that punishment meted out under article 132 should be considerably more strict. Pimping and human trafficking are separate crimes - trafficking is a denigration of human rights, it is a blatant abuse of free will, whether people are used in the sex business or as laborers. The prosecution has already presented proposed changes in the legal approach to sentencing in cases of trafficking to the Ministry of Justice," Boshnaghyan explained.

"This sphere of criminal activity is developing rapidly. Criminal rings are very flexible, so our legal system should also be able to match them in flexibility. This is an opportunity to assess our inner potential and make the necessary changes," said UN programs manager Hrach Kajoyan. In his view, charging people with human trafficking (article 132) but then softening the charges to involvement in pimping (article 261) smacks of inefficacy.

"Creating our section was not a short-term project, it was the beginning of the whole process. This is a crime which has to be fought. Even if the US State Department shows total indifference to this issue, we will continue to fight," Boshnaghyan stated.

Anti-trafficking programs aim at raising awareness in schoolchildren and state officials alike, and at enacting legal reforms such as stricter punishment and establishing support mechanisms for victims. But the organizers of these programs realize that there is no guarantee against trafficking as long as people see going abroad as the only means to realize their hopes of employment. "One of the main reasons for the spread of this phenomenon is the difficult financial situation of the population. Divorced young women who have to care for their children usually end up as victims of trafficking. They are either single mothers, or women whose husbands have gone to Russia to work and remarried there. These women, who have secondary education at best, cannot find employment, but have to find a way to feed their children," Boshnaghyan said.

"No mother would leave her children here and go to work abroad if she could find satisfactory employment here. Their only reason to leave is employment; nobody is promising them millions, they go abroad to make 200-300 dollars a month, i.e. enough to get by on. No matter how much we promote awareness or reform the law, if someone is unemployed and has nothing to live on, they will go," said Viktoria Avakova. There have been cases established where Armenian men have been subjected to trafficking, particularly in Russia. However, Armen Boshnaghyan noted that no such cases have been registered in their jurisdiction.

"Offering support to Armenian men is definitely more difficult that it is to women. Armenian men, finding themselves in financial difficulty, usually have different means of getting aid, but do not seek help. We had a case on our hotline where a man had been subjected to exploitation in Russia. He had a college education and held a good post in Russia, but his documents were kept from him by someone else and he didn't receive pay for his work. Our mindset does not allow more such cases to surface," added Viktoria Avakova.

It is difficult to say whether or not cases of trafficking have decreased, or if the programs of international organizations and NGOs as well as the efforts of law enforcement bodies are effective.

But if the situation does not change soon, then Armenia risks finding itself among countries that do not combat trafficking, which could lead to economic sanctions - a cut in support for economic programs and humanitarian aid.

Aghavni Yeghiazaryan

Oskanian Warns Of `Economic Cost' Of Vote Rigging

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/29/2005
By Emil Danielyan

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian made a case for Armenia's democratization in a televised interview broadcast late Wednesday, warning that the country risks paying not only a political but also an economic price for its culture of electoral fraud.

He specifically warned that the Armenian authorities will miss out on multimillion-dollar assistance from the United States if they fail to ensure the freedom and fairness of the next elections.

`Democracy is the main guarantee of Armenia's continued economic development,' Oskanian told the private Kentron television.

`We are now in a situation where any step away from democratization and a repeat of electoral fraud would have an economic cost. And I can name that cost: 235 million dollars,' he added, referring to the amount of extra U.S. aid to Armenia that was approved this month as part of Washington's Millennium Challenge Account program.

A U.S. government agency administering the scheme made its allocation conditional on `corrective steps' that would improve Yerevan's human rights record and rule out voting irregularities in the future. The Millennium Challenge Corporation expressed concern about reports of serious fraud that marred the recent constitutional referendum in Armenia.

According to Oskanian, a proper conduct of the next parliamentary and presidential elections, due in 2007 and 2008 respectively, is also vital for Armenia's relations with the European Union, another major donor. The EU has also criticized the handling of the November 27 referendum, openly questioning Yerevan's commitment to democracy.

`We can not afford to find ourselves in a similar situation after the next elections,' said Oskanian. The West has now `higher expectations' from Armenia and the latter would fail to meet them with mere claims that irregularities did not affect election results, he said.

The stark warning was addressed to `those individuals who resort to violations' of the electoral law. Oskanian did not name them, saying only that the country must not suffer `for the sake of some people's political careers.' The Syrian-born former U.S. citizen went on to urge the authorities and the Armenian opposition to embark on a `dialogue' on the issue.

That the referendum was accompanied by serious irregularities is also admitted by other government officials and pro-establishment politicians. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, for example, said earlier this month that Armenia's leadership should `draw appropriate conclusions so that such actions are not carried out during the next elections.'

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Dec 28 2005

A Georgian prosecutor asked a court in Tbilisi to sentence a man charged with the attempted murder of the U.S.

President George Bush when he was visiting Georgia last May 10 to life imprisonment. The defendant, Vladimir Harutunian, has sewed up his mouth in what he says is a protest at a violation of his rights.

Vladimir Harutunian is accused of throwing a hand grenade at Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili while they were addressing a public audience on Freedom Square in central Tbilisi on May 10. The grenade did not explode. Harutunian was arrested in Tbilisi on July 20 after a shootout with Georgian police that resulted in the death of Col. Zurab Kvlividze, the head of the Georgian Interior Ministry's counterintelligence department.

The defendant came to the court hearing on Tuesday with his mouth sewed up. He claimed earlier his rights were violated. At the beginning of December, Harutunian refused to testify in his case unless representatives of Human Rights Watch attended the proceedings. He said the sentence had been "handed down even before the trial began."


AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan
Dec 29 2005

The United States has again left Azerbaijan out of its Millennium Challenge program, explaining the move by what it called stalling democratic processes, shortfalls in state governance and lack of transparency in economic development.

Azeri officials said they are 'not concerned over this'. The Foreign Ministry spokesman Tahir Taghizada said the important issue is not U.S. assistance, but the continuing cooperation between the two countries. "The decision was also due to the fact reference was made to biased research materials on Azerbaijan provided by non-governmental organizations in the United States when the document was being developed."

The Azeri ambassador to the United States Hafiz Pashayev, in his meetings with American officials, voiced his objection over the decision. He called on Washington to use more impartial sources and on Congressmen not to accept the falsehood being spread by some pro-Armenian forces represented in these NGOs. The Millennium Challenge program implemented by the Bush administration targets assisting
developing countries. 16 criteria have been set for admission, including economic reforms, promoting democratic society, and living conditions of the population.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Dec 28 2005

Dear People of Armenia, on behalf of President Bush and the American people, I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In 2005 the United States and Armenia continued their strong tradition of friendship. During the past year, the United States and Armenia deepened their cooperation in the areas of business development, law enforcement, border security, and agriculture, to name just a few.

Through U.S. assistance programs, which have totaled over 1.6 billion dollars since 1992, the United States is ["]working["] to strengthen democratic institutions, provide for a more stable and secure South Caucasus, and build the economies of all three countries of the region [THAT'S QUITE A BIT OF MONEY TO GET NEGETIVE RESULTS].

As we look forward to 2006, it is my hope that Armenia and the United States can work together to create a bright future for the people of Armenia [MINE TOO, BUT "HOPE" IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PROGRAMS THEY ARE OFFERING]. The forthcoming year will serve as an opportunity for Armenia to establish itself as a thriving democracy and a country where the benefits of economic growth are shared broadly. The United States is committed to helping Armenia on this path [WITH THE RIGHT PUSH, WE CAN MAKE THIS STATEMENT A REALITY]. Once again, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and all the best.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


ARKA News Agency, Armenia
Dec 26 2005

YEREVAN, December 26. /ARKA/.
On December 26th President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Arkady Ghukasyan released Foreign Minister Arman Melikyan and appointed Georgy Petrosyan in his place, formerly the NKR President's Counselor on foreign-policy affairs.

The President also appointed Arman Melikyan as his Counselor on foreign-policy affairs.

Brief biography of Georgy Petrosyan: He was born in 10.01.1953 in Stepanakert. In January-April 1992 - Vice-Chairman of the NKR's Supreme Soviet, from April 1992 to June 1993 - acting Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. Served in the USSR's armed forces in 1971-1973.

Graduated from the Minsk Institute of Radio Engineering (1978). In 1980-1990 worked at the Stepanakert condenser plant as Head of the Technical Control Department, later as Production Manager.

Since 1988 actively participated in the Karabakh movement. Member of the "Krunk" committee, the "Miatsum" socio-political organization and the NKR's National Council. In 1997-1999, President of the "Hai dat" education center, since 2000 - NKR President's Counselor. Member of the Armenian Supreme Soviet (1990-1995) and the NKR's Supreme Soviet (1992-1995).

Monday, December 26, 2005


Regnum, Russia
Dec 26 2005

US visa has been denied to one of the leading Armenian political analysts Igor Muradyan on December 23. Explanation of this decision is unclear. As Muradyan commented on the situation for REGNUM, he was given only vague explanations about a necessity to find out goals of his visit to the USA.

Earlier, he visited US for four times, where he conducted research on problems of the US policy in Caucasus and Middle East regions, which resulted in publication of four books and participation in numerous international conferences in Europe and Middle East.

He explains such decision of the US authorities with his recent speeches, where he stated that settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict in 2006 is a myth, and that all current settlement processes are only an imitation, conducted by the US ruling Republican Party.

He said that his statements contradicted with official Armenian rhetoric, and rhetoric of many Armenian opposing political forces. He also thinks that this decision may be influenced by the Armenian Assembly of US, experts of which regard Igor Muradyan as a serious rival in the question of creating ideas and propositions in non-public politics. He also noted that he always agreed with positive role of
the US in the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh problem and readiness of Washington to recognize sovereignty of the Karabakh Republic.

According to a number of politicians and political analytics "such position of the US embassy is an insult for the whole analytical and political community of Armenia."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Anti-trafficking Efforts in Armenia
[December 19, 2005]


The US State Department's 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report places Armenia on its “Watch List” (countries that require special supervision).

March 16, 2005. The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Armenia creates a new department to fight human trafficking.

March 30, 2004. The Armenian Government and the UNDP approve the Anti-Trafficking Programme: Capacity Building Support and Victims Assistance project.

January 15, 2004. The Armenian Government approves a 2004-2006 national program to stop the trafficking and illegal trade of women.

August 2003. According to the new Armenian Criminal Code, human trade and trafficking becomes a criminal offense.

March 25, 2003. Armenia ratifies the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.

October 14, 2002. The Armenian prime minister creates a new committee to study the illegal trafficking and subsequent exploitation of women from Armenia and propose solutions for this problem.

2002. The Armenian government decides to take the issue of trafficking seriously, after Armenia is placed on Tier 3 of the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report (countries that ignore the issue and do not undertake proactive steps to solve it).

Anti-Trafficking Programs

“Everything began in 2001, when we met 59 victims of trafficking, discussed their cases, and notified the Armenian government. But the government determined that there was no trafficking in Armenia and that it was too early to talk about ‘modern slavery',” explained Hrach Kajhoyan, coordinator of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) programs. “It was only after the US State Department's report that the government decided to take action and to work with the IOM.”

Since 2002, the IOM's Yerevan branch has been implementing programs in several areas. These include retraining consulate and embassy workers, retraining and providing technical support for law enforcement anti trafficking departments, increasing awareness of the issue amongst the populace, and helping the victims of trafficking.

“In the beginning everyone had a wrong understanding of the issue. But now I can say that seminars, round tables, conferences, and discussions with international experts have yielded positive results. Now government officials in the various agencies know what trafficking is and how to fight it in a proactive way,” Kajhoyan continued.

The IOM also assisted the local NGO Hope and Help, which works with the victims of trafficking. They run a hotline and a shelter, providing psychological, legal and medical support.

“We've worked with 32 people,” explained Enok Satvoryan, the director of Hope and Help. “It's hard to get in contact with the victims, and help them understand that they are victims of trafficking. We help them as much as we can; we file the necessary documents and give them a place in our shelter. There will be a need for programs like this in Armenia until people stop dreaming of leaving this country.”

In March 2004, the Armenian government and UNDP approved the Anti-Trafficking Programme: Capacity Building Support and Victims Assistance project. The UNDP program is implemented with the help of the Armenian branches of the IOM and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and has three main directions: supporting anti-trafficking, raising awareness of the issue, and helping victims.

The governments of Norway and the Netherlands have provided $650,000 for implementation of the program. It is scheduled to end in May 2006, but most likely will be extended.

The UNDP assists the government in creating an effective anti-trafficking policy by introducing legislation improvements, providing the victims with medical support and helping them reintegrate into society, and improving the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts in the region. A network of local NGOs, reporters covering the issue, and journalists' organizations has been created to promote greater coordination and effectiveness.

“To improve anti-trafficking efforts, we are trying to create an efficient channel of communication between all the parties involved—the government, NGOs, and international organizations. UNDP subcontractors UMCOR and the IOM are also working on the ‘raising awareness' part of the program,” said Aida Khazaryan, coordinator of the UNDP anti-trafficking program.

“Our part of the program is called ‘Helping the victims of trafficking and forced prostitution.' We are implementing it working with the NGO Democracy Today,” said project director Viktoria Avakova. “In the beginning it was hard, as government officials from different departments did not differentiate trafficking from prostitution, and victims did not realize that they were victims. Now the situation is different. Social workers and doctors know how to treat people who are victims of trafficking and the victims now trust us.”

UMCOR works in several directions, raising awareness of the issue amongst the populace, providing support to the victims, and training social workers and employment agency and hospital personnel.

In 2004, it opened a support hotline to provide assistance to the victims. The hotline has received 1,000 calls so far, 16% of them related to trafficking and similar incidents. The victims are given advice and a place in the shelter. “We have worked with 14 people so far. Regardless of whether the victim stays in our shelter or not, our experts provide legal, psychological, and medical assistance. But our support for the victim doesn't end there. We work with local employment agencies and if there is an appropriate vacancy, we send the victim to a take whatever course is necessary, so she hopefully will find a job,” Avakova continued.

To raise awareness, announcements have been printed in newspapers and aired on TV and radio. Seminars have been organized for NGO workers and government officials.

The IOM works in the regions as well, presenting the trafficking issue in a play called Burning Candles , which tells the story of a woman who becomes a victim. “We perform the play in the regions. We have already done it in Gyumri, Charentsavan, Vanadzor, Yeghegnadzor and Goris. After the play, we discuss the issue with local organizations and give them information so that they can do their work in the regions. Sometimes the local TV channels do news reports on the issue. We also provide a video of theatre play, so it can be aired on TV, too,” said program consultant Lusine Melkonyan.

to be continued

Aghavni Yeghyazaryan

Friday, December 23, 2005

| 16:30:06 | 23-12-2005 | Politics |


The RA Ombudsman Larissa Alaverdyan was deeply impressed by the letter of the «Millennium Challenge Corporation» to the RA Government. «The country must not appear in a situation to allow others to treat him that way», the Ombudsman said noticing hints of order in the letter. “They give us the sum with one hand and show us with the other how to earn it”, she said. {BR}


There are cases in Armenia when the citizens desperate by the injustice around them take the last measure – go on a hunger strike. Larissa Alaverdyan has her own point of view about this issue, “From the humanitarian point of view I am against hunger strikes”. She explains her point of view by the fact that first of all the hunger strike affects the health of the person. Besides, according to Larissa Alaverdyan, there is not a single precedent in the world when the person reached his aim by means of the hunger strike.

The head of the Helsinki Committee Avetiq Ishkhanyan did not agree with the last remark He reminded that Gandhi stopped the war between Pakistan and India by means of his hunger strike. They also mentioned that Sakharov too did the same thing. “All the same, I would not like the people to be elated by those facts”, the Ombudsman said and advised the residents of the Buzand street to choose the legislative way of struggle.


The participants of the discussion of the activity of the RA Ombudsman tried to sum up what the RA first Ombudsman has done during her 6-year office. Before that Mrs. Alaverdyan is to submit her annual report about “The Activity of the Ombudsman and the Violations of Human Rights”. In comparison with the last report it will be full of examples of human rights violations. There will also be a reference to cultural and ecological issues and to the interests of consumers.

Larissa Alaverdyan complained that after the Constitutional Amendments there were very few people who applied to the Ombudsman. She also said that she doesn’t have enough data for her report yet; for example she does not know how many soldiers have died in the RA Armed Force in 2005. Before receiving official information the advocates present at the discussion informed her that 135 soldiers have died this year.

At the end of the discussion some of the representatives of the NGOs said they wanted Larissa Alaverdyan to continue in her post.


Haroutiun Khachatrian: 12/06/05
A EurasiaNet Commentary

Considerable speculation is surrounding a new Armenian political party established by the former army commander of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Samvel Babayan. Armenians tend to see Babayan as a living legend, but the issues his party has adopted are anything but middle-of-the-road. Among them: interim sovereignty overseen by an international organization and provisions for ethnic Azeri refugees to return to Nagorno Karabakh. Babayan himself has called for the restoration of occupied Azerbaijani territories to Azerbaijan.

The founding congress of the Dashink (“Alliance”) Party, which took place on November 10, was a prominent event in Armenia’s political life. Babayan, as the then 28-year-old Commander of the Karabakh Defense Army, signed the May 1994 cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan that brought military hostilities to an end over Nagorno-Karabakh. The document is one of the few signed by both Azerbaijan and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Babayan, now 39, has been adamant that he has no personal political ambitions in setting up Dashink. Rather, in official statements, the party claims a host of “liberal” goals: revitalization of the political system via a changeover in the ruling elite; creation of an independent judicial system; investigation of human and civil rights violations; electoral system reform; and the break-up of numerous economic monopolies that the party claims exist.

Babayan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh, however, promises to provide greater cause for controversy. In an interview published by the Aravot daily in March 2005, he stated that some of the seven Azerbaijani territories around Karabakh that are occupied by Armenian forces “should be returned to Azerbaijan for the sake of peace.” Dashink’s platform calls for interim sovereignty for Karabakh under the auspices of an international organization; voluntary resettlement of ethnic Azeri refugees and displaced persons in Karabakh; resolution of the territory’s status by referendum, and encouragement of economic development in the breakaway region.

In an online interview with the daily newspaper Azg, Babayan also stated that Armenia could eventually build friendly relations not only with Azerbaijan, but with Turkey, which broke off ties with Armenia in 1993 in support of its ally, Azerbaijan. The three countries’ pro-European orientation, which Dashink also espouses, provides the basis for this belief, he said.

For a former warlord, these arguments are seen as surprisingly moderate. Many other veterans of the 1988-1994 Karabakh war with Azerbaijan strongly oppose the return of ethnic Azeri refugees. Dashink’s policy positions are, in fact, similar to provisions discussed as part of the so-called Prague process, the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group.

Babayan’s relationship with the current Armenian government and Nagorno-Karabakh leadership is an even more delicate problem, however. The former military commander spent four and a half years in jail for the attempted assassination of de facto Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian in 2000. Babayan was released on appeal in September 2004, and has denied any involvement in the attempt on Ghukasian’s life.

In an October 25 interview with the Haykakan Zhamanak daily, Babayan stated that he has met twice in 2005 with Armenian President Robert Kocharian, once with the influential Defense Minister Serge Sargisan and once with his alleged victim, de facto Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian. As a result, many local experts suppose that Babayan and his new party enjoy support by both Yerevan and Stepanakert, the Karabakh capital.

The emphasis placed by the party on building a broad political coalition – as evidenced by Dashink’s name – has reinforced those suppositions. “We have come to unite rather than to disrupt political forces,” Babayan said in the interview with Haykakan Zhamanak. “We are ready to cooperate with any party, either pro-government or opposition.”

For the time being, Babayan and his party have obstained from strong criticism of the authorities.”If you want, I can berate the president of the Republic, but it is not what I have come here for,” Babayan told journalists after the Dashink congress. Dashink did not express a position on the November 27 constitutional referendum. Babyan himself has said that he will not run for president, but that his party plans to take part in the 2007 parliamentary elections.

Most political party leaders – both opposition and pro-government -- attended the Dashink congress in apparent hopes to win favor with Babayan. In the late 1990s, Babayan served as a de facto strongman in Karabakh, with enough power to sway Armenia’s own political affairs by lending his support to individual political parties during the 1998 parliamentary elections. Notably, though, three prominent political parties – Prime Minister Andranik Margarian’s Republican Party, and the opposition Popular Party (led by Stepan Demirchian) and Hanrapetutiun (Republic) Party (led by Aram Sargsian) – did not send representatives to the Dashink congress.

Editor’s Note: Haroutiun Khachatrian is a Yerevan-based writer specializing in economic and political affairs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Book Review by Paul Chaderjian

My Brother's Road
by Markar Melkonian with Seta Melkonian

By any account, the enigmatic genius, scholar, political activist, soldier and freedom fighter Monte Melkonian led a short-lived but extraordinary life. In the newly published My Brother’s Road, Monte’s brother Markar, with the help of Monte’s widow Seta, chronicles one Californian’s journey from small town kid to legendary martyr.

Monte’s modern-day epic begins in 1969, when the Melkonians visit their maternal grandmother’s ancestral village in Western Armenia, some 55 years after the Genocide. At the impressionable age of eleven, Monte sees his grandmother’s birthplace, watches the Turks who have taken up residence in the village, notices the Armenian Church has become a Turkish movie theatre and ponders about the outlines left when crosses were chiseled off doors.

His people had disappeared from the village and the region, millions of Armenians had evaporated from the face of the planet, and the Turks still denied they had done anything wrong. This great riddle and his family’s visit to the ‘old country’ shape Monte’s eventual mission to seek justice for the crimes against his people.
Monte’s humanitarian concern develops further at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, California. In 1973 at the age of 15, Monte — the “mentally gifted minor” bored with his high school courses —is invited to spend three months in Japan as a sister city representative from Visalia to Miki City near Osaka.

After the visit, Monte decides to stay with some friends in Japan, to earn money teaching English and then to travel through Southeast Asia on his own. These travels raise his awareness of peoples struggles for self-determination and independence.
During his studies at UC Berkeley, Monte becomes feverish about righting the wrongs done to the Armenians. He decides to bypass doctoral studies at Oxford and commits himself selflessly for the Armenian independence movement in the early 1980’s.

Monte’s mission for justice takes him to the suburbs of Beirut, Tehran, and Paris where his activities eventually land him in a European jail cell. These chapters of his life read like a fictional Hollywood account of a hero or anti-hero’s intriguing involvement with secret armies, assassination plots and lessons learned to make possible his victories on the battlefield of Karapagh at the end of his life.

When Perastroika and Glastnost present the opportunity for Monte’s people to declare their independence from the USSR, the modern day freedom fighter’s focus shifts from Western Armenia to Karapagh, where Armenians are the victims of barbaric pogroms and Armenian children are burnt on kitchen stoves, reminiscent of the atrocities suffered by his grandmother’s family and others like them during the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

During the early 1990s, when Armenians are hungry, landlocked, facing an economic and energy blockade, defenseless, cold and abandoned by the world, Monte and other like him from the Diaspora reach back to the homeland from all obscure corners of the world. The sons and daughters of the Diaspora, the grandchildren of Genocide survivors return to their ancestral homeland to turn their people from victims to victors.

My Brother’s Road is an intriguing look into the psychology of a man who left ‘the good life’ behind in the bountiful San Joaquin Valley of Central California to stand up for those oppressed overseas. It is both an educational and historical atlas of the road traveled not just by one man but by a people struggling for cultural preservation and freedom near the end of the 20th century.

Written by Paul Chaderjian Reporting for Mosaix Magazine ©2004

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Genocide Commemoration

Paul Chaderjian’s TV report on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is on-line on Current TV's website:

Take a look at this and forward the link to EVERYONE you know. If it receives enough votes (a greenlignt), it will be aired. So please join and give it a greenlight.

For those Madline Minassian and Alex Sardar fans out there, they both make some very strong and moving statement in this very well produced presentation.

Great job Paul!!!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Where are The US and European countries? Whose spouse to protect civilization?

Paper of anger and protest

It is about two days that, the government of Azerbaijan started a cultural genocide; they are destroying the tombstones and monuments (cross stones) of a 600 year old Armenian cemetery, located at the north side of Aras river (the historic cemetery of Old Julfa).

200 Azerbaijani soldiers armed with necessary tools and equipments, are demolishing the tombstones and breaking the historical monuments, pulling it into the river.

Where are The US and European countries, which spouse to protect of civilization and its historical heritage? Instead they are protecting the Azerbaijan and its great protector Turkey.

The cultural genocide is taking place "in the day light "and no one is doing any thing.

With our deepest anger, we protest to the UN and all the international organizations of human rights, asking them to act as soon as possible, do what ever is possible, to save the historical site, of course if any thing is survived yet.

Prelates of 3 Armenian prelacies of Iran
Dec.14 2005
Tehran, Iran

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


By Ruzanna Stepanian

Radio Liberty, Czechia
Dec. 12, 2005

President Robert Kocharian will not respond to grave accusations contained in an open letter sent to him by opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, his spokesman said on Monday.

The letter, read out by Hovannisian at an opposition rally in Yerevan on Friday, challenged Kocharian to publicly clarify whether he has rigged elections or had anyone killed while governing Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. The leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party personally delivered it to the presidential office after the protest.

"It is difficult to describe that piece of paper as a letter," the presidential press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, told RFE/RL. "It's complete nonsense. Naturally, the president does not answer such ludicrous pieces of paper."

"It's a pity and shame," Hovannisian responded in a brief written statement later in the day. "But putting labels, finding excuses and failing to respond itself is a quite telling answer."

The letter consisting of 21 questions marked a further toughening of the former Armenian foreign minister's stance against the Kocharian regime. One of those questions effectively implicated Kocharian in high-profile political murders committed in Karabakh and Armenia.


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 12, NOYAN TAPAN - ARMENIANS TODAY. Major-general Arkadi Tadevosian, commander of the Artsakh army in 1992-1993, Arkadi Karapetian, first commander of the Artsakh army, and Zhirayr Sefalian, commander of the Shushi special battalion, sent on December 12 an open letter on behalf of the Artsakh war volunteers to the Georgian President Mikhail Sahakashvili, in which they appeal to the official Tbilisi for soberness.

"The recent reports from Javakhk and other Armenian-populated areas of Georgia are worrying. They are indicative of the fact that the Georgian government has adopted and is implementing a large-scale program on driving the Armenian population out of its cradle. Meeting the natural resistance of the Armenian population, the authorities have tried several times to use power methods," the open letter reads. The authors of the letter underline that further escalation of anti-Armenian actions on the territory of the Georgian state will damage the Armenian-Georgian relations, which could have been much more friendly with the will. The Artsakh war veteran commanders warn that "international experience showed that power methods may lead to undesirable developments."


| 13:31:20 | 12-12-2005 | Politics |

Today the Committee controlling the lawfulness of the Referendum has accused the US Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Armenia John Evans of abusing his authority. The copies of the letter sent to the Ambassador have been also sent to the OSCE, CoE, and UN Armenian offices and to the Embassies of the COE member-countries.

The letter reads, `You obviously abused the respect and trust of our nation for the American democracy and became one of the indirect authors of the violations. During the preliminary period of the referendum you violated the laws of our country together with a number of officials from CoE'.

Despite the accusations, head of the Committee Ruben Torosyan continues to rely on the democracy of the Ambassador and together with the accusation letter he also sent to the Ambassador the copies of the court decisions with which the complaints of the Referendum Central Committee were sent back.

According to the letter, Ruben Torosyan hopes that the Ambassador will get acquainted with the documents and will compare the true picture of the referendum with the one represented by the US State Department and the European observers.

Next Najarian Hearing – ATTEND IF YOU CAN

Dear Friends: This may be a turning point - the next hearing is as follows:

Location: Court of Appeals (the new court next to the Cinema Hayrenik)
Date: Friday December 16
Time: 1: 00 p.m.

As you know, in October the Court of First Intention overturned the Prosecutor General’s decision to dismiss our case. It was the 4th time this kind of decision was handed down in our favor - against the Prosecutor General and his investigators. The Court said the case is criminal and ordered the Prosecutor General to reopen the investigation, nullifying their dismissal of the case.

The Prosecutor General appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals. We just received the date and place of the hearing as noted above.

We also just learned that this decision cannot be appealed! There is a new law (ruling?) that says the following: if the Court of Appeal upholds a decision of the Court of First Intention, that decision cannot be appealed again to the higher court -- the decision stands and has the power of law. This means that for this round (and maybe for the last time?) there will be no appeal. After two years and 4 months let us hope there may be an end to this!

Thus, we face another very important hearing and hope as many people as possible will be able to attend this hearing! (Dress warmly!) It is so very important that the courtroom be filled (I’m sorry I keep saying this - I know everyone knows this and if possible will attend!) For those of you outside of Armenia - please, as you have done so many times in the past, contact your friends and relatives and ask them to go to this hearing if at all possible. (No one who has been an observer has had any reprisals against them. That’s the good news - there is nothing to fear by attending these hearings!!!)

As soon as we have the court’s decision I will let you know what it is. It should be handed down on the same day, but last time it took 10 days.

With warm regards and our many, many thanks!

Carolann and George

PS If you know any media connected people, please ask them to go as well. We are aggressively carrying out a campaign on that front as well. Some 80 packets of background and information on our case were distributed to nearly 80 media outlets in Armenia over the past 10 days. C.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A must read

When my wife and I were in California last September, we had dinner with Monte Melkonian’s brother’s family. Markar, the author of “My Brother’s Road” gifted me a copy of his book, as I had not properly read it since I didn’t have a copy of my own.

Well a couple of times I have picked up the book and started to read it, only getting as far as a chapter or two before being distracted by work.

Well, in the last 3 days and with the foggy and cold weather here in Yerevan, I have had enough time to read “My Brother’s Road” cover to cover.

All I can tell you is that this is a book that everyone who wants to learn what dedication of the cause is and how even one person can make a difference in the lives of our people, should defiantly read. It will also give the reader a good look at how things really are here.

The most difficult was to read the last two chapters, as I am very familiar with all the various scenarios of his untimely death. I wont say that I can say it was not Azeri’s, but can’t say that the Armenians didn’t play a part in his death, in the best case scenario, out of incompetence, the worst, they allowed it to happen (both viable possibilities). If you read between the lines and remember Monte’s encounters in previous chapters, you will get a better idea as to what really happened.

Anyway, for those of you who have not ordered their copy, do so, as it really is a book worthy of being read.


DeFacto Agency, Armenia
Dec. 9, 2005

According to the World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, the WB may try to deal with the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement just "from the point of view of social - economic development".

When speaking at the National Press Club in Washington P. Wolfowitz stated the WB's experience on the Balkans testified to the fact that such an approach might yield benefit, as the conflict sides did not deny it, Mediamax reports.


This is bad. I guess the U.S. is thinking that if you can’t beat them by force, you can enslave them with debt. We need to make sure that the World Bank is not allowed to give loans to this corrupt government. They would do just like Armenia has and misappropriate the funds. What is really sad is that the WB and IMF knows good and well that this is the norm in the part of the world and knowing this, continues to give these loans that the people who are not benefiting, will have to repay. We need to make sure that the people of Artsakh are not subjected to this form of slavery.

Saturday, December 10, 2005



| 20:20:12 | 09-12-2005 | Politics |

After the meeting Raffi Hovannisian went to the President's residence on foot. The police officers had naturally heard about the action and had taken measures: five police cars and three ordinary cars ones waited for Raffi Hovannisian near the Residence.

Raffi Hovannisian approached the letter department the door of which was closed. The police officers approached him and said that the letter department works till 05:00 p.m. on Fridays and is now closed. Raffi Hovannisian asked if the post works and without getting an answer put the letter inside the border. The cover of the letter read, "To the RA deputy President Robert Kocharyan".

After that Mr. Hovannisian left the place without uttering a word. One of the three policemen passing by took the letter and hid it. The group left. The police cars did the same.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ex-FM Hovannisian Attacks Kocharian In Open Letter

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/09/2005

By Emil Danielyan and Shakeh Avoyan

Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian stepped up his verbal attacks on Robert Kocharian Friday with an open letter that challenged Armenia's `acting' president to publicly clarify whether he has rigged elections or killed anyone while in office.

The letter contains 21 accusatory questions to Kocharian which Hovannisian hopes will be publicly and `truthfully' answered by December 16. The former Armenian foreign minister read it out at another opposition rally in Yerevan, underscoring a radicalization of his anti-government discourse.

The rally marked another failure by the opposition to mobilize serious popular support for its efforts to force Kocharian and his government into resignation. It was visibly smaller than the previous gatherings staged by the opposition following the November 27 referendum on amendments to Armenia's constitution.

`Did you ever murder a person or cause a person's murder or know about a person's murder beforehand or attend a person's murder ¦ during your government tenure in Nagorno-Karabakh or Armenia?' read the most incriminating of Hovannisian's queries. `If the answer to the previous question is positive, will you state the names and ethnic origin (Armenian or other) of the victims, the relevant dates and

It was a clear reference to high-profile unsolved killings committed in Karabakh and Armenia in the 1990s. Kocharian is still dogged by opposition allegations of complicity in the most serious of those crimes: the October 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament.

`Do you consider yourself honestly elected?' Hovannisian continued, reminding Kocharian of fraud accusations that clouded his two electoral victories in 1998 and 2003. `Which portion of the falsifications was perpetrated at your orders and, if so, with your knowledge?'

Hovannisian challenged Kocharian's eligibility to contest those elections in the first place when he asked, `You are a citizen of which country? Is the answer to the previous anything to do ¦ with your decision [in 1997] to leave Artsakh (Karabakh) and come to Yerevan? The rank-and-file citizens who have not left Artsakh are citizens of which country?'

Under the existing constitution, only those Armenian nationals who have resided in Armenia for the last ten or more years can be registered as presidential candidate. The Armenian authorities invoked this provision when they refused to register Hovannisian as a candidate in 2003.

The ex-minister, who now leads an opposition party called Zharangutyun, was born in the United States and remained an American citizen until being granted an Armenian passport in 2001. He claims that he was illegally denied Armenian citizenship by Kocharian and his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian for almost a decade.

In his letter, Hovannisian also demanded that the Armenian leader and his family declare the assets owned by them now and in 1991. `How would you explain the difference, if any, between the answers to the two previous questions?' read his next question.

The normally cautious and reserved Zharangutyun leader has stepped up his political activities of late, joining a coalition of opposition parties challenging the official results of the disputed constitutional referendum. His `questionnaire' came ten days after Hovannisian was subjected to a brief but humiliating detention at Yerevan's Zvartnots airport on his way to an international conference in Ukraine. Officers of Armenia's National Security Service and customs reportedly sifted through his documents in search of `state secrets.'

Hovannisian said he will personally take the letter to the presidential palace in Yerevan. `Our struggle is long-lasting and will end in victory,' he said in an emotional speech.

One of his opposition allies, Aram Sarkisian, sought to boost the sagging morale of the most hardcore opposition supporters. Many of them are disappointed with their leaders' continuing postponement of promised `decisive' action against the ruling regime.

`The impression is that we have fallen to the ground like a ball,' said Sarkisian. `When you hit the ground it hurts, but you always rebound after that. I do believe that we are on the rise.'

`We will constantly be holding rallies,' he said. `Do not get tired of the rallies.'

Armenian Speaker To Send `Evidence Of Vote Rigging' To Prosecutors

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/09/2005

By Astghik Bedevian

Parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian insists that there were serious irregularities during last month's constitutional referendum and will present relevant `facts' to law-enforcement authorities, an aide said on Friday.

`Is there a person who says there wasn't [ballot stuffing]?' Samvel Balasanian, who leads the parliament faction of Baghdasarian's Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) party, asked at a news conference.

`There are facts proving this,' he said. `The chairman of the National Assembly has stated that he will submit them to the Prosecutor-General's Office.'

Baghdasarian raised eyebrows within Armenia's governing coalition last week when he said that there were serious instances of ballot box stuffing during the November 27 referendum. That led Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian to ask the speaker to send him concrete facts substantiating the claims.

Orinats Yerkir's coalition partners, the Republican Party (HHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), are clearly unhappy with Baghdasarian's statements. Dashnaktsutyun's parliamentary leader, Levon Mkrtchian indicated that Orinats Yerkir should have shared its concerns with its government allies before publicly giving more weight to opposition allegations that the vote was blatantly rigged. He said Dashnaktsutyun is unaware of the content of the letter which Baghdasarian will send to the prosecutors.

The speaker's remarks were openly criticized by an HHK leader, Galust Sahakian, last week. But Sahakian played them down on Friday, dismissing talk of a renewed rift within the presidential camp. `No relationships have been severed, and we all continue to respect each other,' he told reporters.

Hovsepian separately instructed his agency to look into newspaper reports of ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and other irregularities and see if they warrant criminal investigations. No such investigations have been announced yet.

The United States and the European Union have urged the Armenian authorities to investigate the fraud reports and punish delinquent election officials. However, nobody has been prosecuted in Armenia for electoral crimes in the past and few observers think anyone will be held accountable this time around.


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 8. ARMINFO. The last days' heavy fog in Yerevan and Ararat valley is not the only reason why flights have been transferred from Yerevan Zvartnots Airport to Gyumri Shirak Airport, says a source from Russian Aeroflot.

The true reason is the untimely preventive work on the new German air navigation equipment installed at Zvartnots.

Fog is no news in Yerevan in December and to carry out preventive work on air navigation equipment in foggy weather is like laying asphalt in Moscow during snowfall. The point is that Zvartnots cannot receive flights because its "blind landing" system is being repaired.

All this should have been done in summer in good weather, says the source.

A source from Zvartnots reports that the airport has not yet resumed its flights despite lifting fog but will as soon as gets appropriate instruction.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Dec 8 2005

Armenian authorities announced on December 7 that the revised constitution, which according to official figures of the Central Election Commission (CEC), received the sweeping support of voters in the November 27 referendum, entered into force.

The amended text of the constitution was published a day before by the official bulletin of the government and under the Armenian law the revised constitution enters into force the next day. Volodya Hovhanesian, the deputy chairman of the Constitutional Court, said, "since the results of the referendum were not protested within 7 days after the referendum date, the amended constitution enters into force
after it is published by the bulletin."

According to the CEC, around 1.5 million Armenian voters participated in the referendum of whom 93.3 percent backed the proposed amendments. The Armenian opposition that boycotted the referendum, however, claims the ballot was marred with serious breaches. It also claims that actually some 375,000 voters went to the polls which is not enough to meet the required threshold of voter turnout to consider
the referendum valid.

ACTION ALERT - Human Trafficking in Armenia


Please find below two distressing very recent reports about Armenian Prostitutes and Human Trafficking in Armenia.

It is the decadent regime in Armenia that is responsible for all this and many other harmful "Azkavnas" policies in my opinion.

Please e-mail your opinions directly to the Armenian consulate in Los Angeles, the Armenian Embassy in Washington DC and Foreign Ministry in Armenia, as indicated above, as well as to various Armenian newspapers or your friends. THIS SHAMEFUL AND DEGRADING ACTS OF PROSTITUTION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING MUST STOP! (e-mail list: "armconla" , "armecon" , "Armenia Foreign Ministry" , "Salpi H Ghazarian" , "diaspora" ,,,,,

If the present regime in Armenia can not manage Armenia by creating normal living conditions for its citizens, let them have the honesty to resign. Half of Armenia's citizens have already left the country. Until when are we going to carry this corrupt Mafia regime on our shoulders? A morally decadent Armenia is doomed to disappear, sooner or later. And as indicated in a report published in AZG Armenian Daily #218 of 30/11/2005 "CORRUPTION IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO ARMENIA'S NATIONAL SECURITY RATHER THAN AZERBAIJAN OR TURKEY".

I just got a report about a situation in an Armenian village as follows: "What was sad to see and hear was in some sense the helpless situation of the villagers - they were afraid to tell the truth about what's happening in the village because in many ways they depend from the village head who wouldn't be happy knowing that. There used to be incidents of damaging or stopping the farms/initiatives of those who appeared to be competitive to those having power in the village. They even said that having poor telephone infrastructure might be intentional situation to deprive people from information and have them more controllable and poor."

How can Armenia progress under those conditions? We need a regime in Armenia that cares for its people and has a well defined social, economic and political plan for a prosperous and well organized Armenia and Diaspora. Time is against us for now.

Your opinions do count. Respond today!

Thanks for listening.

Harout Bronozian
3000 Honolulu Av., Unit 4
Glendale, California 91214
Tel. (818) 248-3529
Fax. (818) 248-6343


Armenian Prostitutes in Turkey

The Court is Soft on Human Trafficking

Armenian Prostitutes [Trafficking Victims] in Turkey

By Edik Baghdasaryan

Hetq Online - 07 December, 2005

A few months ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in a speech that Turkey hosts around 40,000 Armenian citizens. What are so many Armenians doing in different locations within Turkey? They are mainly in trade, working in the service industry, or, painful as it is to admit it, involved in the sex business. Armenians are going to a country with whom Armenia does not even have diplomatic relations. This means that Armenian citizens can expect no support from their country if their rights are violated in Turkey or if, for example, they are involved in an accident of some sort. Although we don't have diplomatic relations, traveling to Turkey is easy and inexpensive. There are a number of travel agencies in the center of Yerevan where you can get an entry visa and a bus ticket to different destinations in Turkey from various Armenian cities. A large percentage of travelers to Turkey choose to go by bus.

The Armenian authorities do not have any clear numbers regarding Armenian prostitutes in Turkey. Our preliminary investigation suggests that there are more Armenian prostitutes in Turkey than there are in the United Arab Emirates. Clearly, most women are driven to prostitution by necessity. It is women in socially vulnerable groups - those who cannot feed their children or their parents- that are usually the ones who end up choosing the path of prostitution. Ruzanna Movsisyan, a resident of Vanadzor, was the plaintiff in a trial that came to an end in that city on November 24th. She was found guilty of human trafficking by the Court of First Instance of the Lori Marz, Judge Borik Grigoryan presiding, in violation of Part 2, Point 1 of Article 132 of the Criminal Code and sentenced to four years in prison. Movsisyan, the mother of two children, had been in dire straits financially. Her husband had gone to Russia years ago and the family hadn't heard from him since. The 33-year-old woman was left to bear the burden of supporting the family alone. And so one day she joined her friend Anush to work as a prostitute in Turkey. The investigation did not reveal who Anush was; the criminal file describes only "one Anush". Ruzanna Movsisyan has revealed next to nothing about her. Investigators did not manage to learn exactly how Movsisyan and her friend got to Turkey. There are a number of pimps in Turkey who have recruiters in Armenia. In Armenia's small cities, everyone knows who they are. But they work freely and enjoy impunity. We will provide more on them in future articles.

Movsisyan and her friend first worked as prostitutes at a hotel in Trabzon, after which they were moved to Konya where they continued to work under the supervision of Murat, a Turk, and his lover Arzu. Murat and Arzu proposed that Movsisyan recruit girls in Armenia and bring them to Turkey for prostitution. She agreed and called one of her acquaintances, whom we shall call A.V., a waitress at a Vanadzor cafe. A.V was also a divorcee in financial need. In the ensuing telephone conversation, Movsisyan offered A.V. a high-paying job at a cafe. She agreed and left for Konya via Trabzon. Movsisyan met A.V. there with her Turkish colleagues and took her to an apartment, where they were guarded by young Turks.

That was where Movsisyan first revealed to A.V. that she had to work as a prostitute. A.V. refused and demanded to return to Armenia. The Turks promised to let her go once she returned her travel costs. Murat and Arzu took her passport from her to prevent her escaping from the country. A.V. was thus forced to work as a prostitute. After paying her debts and promising to recruit women upon her return to Armenia, A.V. was set free. She returned to Trabzon and made money washing the clothes of the Armenian women who lived there. A.V. returned to Armenia in August 2005, after having spent around 20 days in Turkey.

Ruzanna Movsisyan pleaded guilty in court. She was not an organizer in this racket; she got caught in the net herself when she first ended up in Turkey. Investigators have not yet discovered how Movsisyan and her friend got to Turkey, or who took them there from Vanadzor.

The court could have made an exception in Movsisyan's case, since she is the mother of two children, one of whom suffers from Familial Mediterranean Fever. By imprisoning this mother of two the court achieved little. Who will feed her children now? And who is to blame for the fact that it was the need to provide for them that sent the woman to work as a prostitute in Turkey?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Has anyone been watching the continuation of the Saddam Hussein trial? I’ve only seen some bits and pieces of it on CNN and read about it on the internet.

I have to ask a question. It seems that Hussein is being punished for crimes against his people that others have committed possibly on his orders, during the time he was president.

I wonder what the Iraqi constitution says anything about protection to the president from prosecution for things that took place during his term in office? If it reads anything like the recent amendments that the Armenian government fraudulently passed on the November 27th, then no one would have the right to prosecute him for what had happened in Dujail in 1981.

I’m also fascinated by the recent stories coming out of Germany of the Kuwaiti-born father of five, Khaled el-Masri, who the CIA abducted while on vacation in Macedonia and took to a detention facility in Afghanistan where he was tortured in an attempt to get a confession out of him that he was involved in September 11th. They later figured out they had the wrong guy and after waiting for a couple more months, flew him back to Europe and abandoned him on an Albanian hilltop in the middle of the night.

Now let’s go back to the Hussein trial and see if the recent testimonies to what happened during Saddam’s time as president of Iraq and what the CIA did to a German citizen during George W. Bush’s time have anything in common?

Well, according to the recent testimonies at the trial, people from the city of Dujail were gathered up and tortured in some very bad ways, probably to find out who was behind the attempted assassination on President Saddam Hussein.

In the case of the CIA and the German guy, people are being gathered up and tortured in some very inhumane ways because someone slammed a couple of airplanes into a couple of buildings in New York on September 11, 2001 and the US government wants to find out who was involved.

In both cases, it is clearly documented that some innocent people have been picked up and have suffered as a result.

At least the American government is willing to set things straight when news of these atrocities get published in the press (though I’m sure if they could they would cover them up). In the case of the CIA, so far we have not heard of any deaths as a result of what they are doing (though there probably have been some, but dead people can’t complain).

So in the end, what will happen? We at some point, George W. Bush be put on trial for all the human atrocities committed? Will Hussein be left off? Will Robert Kocharian succeed in getting all the amendments adopted into the Armenian constitution so he will not have to answer for atrocities that took place during his time as president?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Reporters without borders, France
Dec. 6, 2005

Reporters Without Borders has called on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to stop blocking an Armenian-based news website, that has been censored since 8 July, apparently because it posted a report on Armenian women being trafficked into the Emirates.

"This website appears to have been blocked because it publishes investigations that displease the government", the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"This kind of administrative censorship, outside all judicial control, is utterly unacceptable. We remind you that an online news publication should enjoy the same legal protection as a newspaper, radio or television", it added.

When Internet-users in the Emirates try to get onto the website, they see the following message : "Sorry, the site you are trying to connect to has been blocked because of content which infringes religious, political, cultural and moral values in the United Arab Emirates".

The website's editorial managers said the Emirates' authorities were censoring the site because of an investigation that was posted at the beginning of July that exposed a prostitution ring involving girls recruited in Armenia.

It added, "The censorship of our publication proves once again that the Emirates' government does not accept freedom of expression and prefers to conceal the truth from its people".

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Court is Soft on Human Trafficking
[November 21, 2005]

On November 11th in Echmiadzin, the Court of First Instance of Armavir announced its ruling in a case involving trafficking in women. That day, Judge Tigran Petrosyan gave three of the defendants in the case very light sentences, based on Article 64 of the Criminal Code, which is to be used only if there are mitigating circumstances, for example, when a defendant has assisted in solving a crime.

There were four defendants in the case- Simon Nersisyan, Nanasil Arakelyan, Tamara Makarova, and Patvakan Malkhasyan. Malkhasyan the brother of the notorious pimp Anahit Malkhasyan (aka Dbr Ano), who died this September under mysterious circumstances in a car accident in Dubai. Anahit Malkhasyan's body was brought from Dubai to Armenia with the help of Asad, one of the bosses of the Armenian network in the Dubai sex trade (See also: The Armenian network in the Dubai sex trade).

Patvakan Malkhasyan was charged with two violations, of the Article 262, Section 1 (Organization of prostitution, pimping) and Article 132, Section 2, Point 1 (Human trafficking); the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of five-and-a-half years. The court, however, sentenced Malkhasyan to only two years, citing Article 64, apparently in response to a document presented during the trial stating that Malkhasyan had three persons in his care and suffered from bad health.

In 2002 Malkhasyan worked for his sister in Dubai, transporting women to discos, hotels, and cafes and ensuring their “safety”. When he returned to Armenia, he started sending his sister new girls.

Two victims testified during the trial—S. M and R. K. However, one year ago when we visited Anahit Malkhasyan's rented apartment/hostel and interviewed the women who were working for her, we met three other women who her brother had brought to Dubai. Defendants Nanasil Arakelyan and Tamara Makarova had tricked the victims into prostitution, promising them babysitting jobs in Dubai. In Dubai, Anahit Malkhasyan took their passports and forced them into prostitution. The victims had never engaged in prostitution before. Both were divorced, and found themselves in an extremely dire financial situation. The defendants made use of these circumstances to ensnare the women in their net. One of the women described in her testimony the cruel treatment she had received from Anahit Malkhasyan and her Arab colleagues.

Defendant Nanasil Arakelyan had been convicted twice before for similar crimes. The only one whom the court sentenced as the prosecution had requested, he will serve five years and four months.

The prosecution sought five years in prison for Tamara Makarova, but the court, though it found her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, sentenced her to only two years. The only mitigating circumstance in her case was that she had no prior convictions.

Simon Nersisyan brought women to Dubai via Moscow. He was charged with violating Article 132, Section 2, Points 1 and 4; the prosecution requested five years. Again, based on Article 64, the court gave him only two years.

“The court obviously gave a mild sentence to the three defendants. For us it was shocking and illogical that Article 64 could be applied to people who have committed such serious crimes. I don't see any mitigating circumstances; the court shouldn't have used Article 64th. We will appeal,” said Senior Prosecutor Armen Boshnagyan of the Anti-trafficking and Illegal Immigration Department of the Office of the Prosecutor General.

These mild sentences can only be explained by the fact that the defendants are representatives of the Armenian sex trade business and have influential sponsors. We will find out once the complete sentences are released what the mitigating circumstances were that the judge took into the account as he handed down such light sentences to the three defendants. We might even find out that these men are war veterans or have performed services for the Court of First Instance of Armavir. As we have noted in the past, a large number of the Armenian pimps in Dubai come from Echmiadzin. The cases against them, the investigations into their activities, and our own sources all suggest that these pimps have an army general from Echmiadzin standing behind them. Some months ago, it was this man's interference that allowed the early prison release of Marietta Musayelyan, a notorious pimp from Echmiadzin. According to our sources, the same general also asked the judge for a milder sentence for Dbr Ano's brother Patvakan Malkhasyan.

Since Judge Tigran Petrosyan is also a member of the judiciary committee, we expect that his recent rulings may be a topic of discussion at their next meeting.

Edik Baghdasaryan


RIA Novosti, Russia
Dec. 5, 2005

YEREVAN, December 5 (RIA Novosti, Gamlet Matevosyan)
- The external debt of Armenia totaled $1.117 billion as of September 30, down 5.55% since January, but up 3.1% year-on-year, the National Statistics Service said Monday.

Armenia owes 89.6% of its debt to international financial organizations, including $754 million to the World Bank and $185 million to the International Monetary Fund.

Debt to bilateral creditors aggregates $116.4 million, $69.3 million of which is owed to Germany. Armenia owes the United States $41.3 million and France $4.27 million.


| 13:54:12 | 05-12-2005 | Social |

"How true are the returns of the constitutional referendum?" According to the results of the internet poll, the majority of its participants do not believe that the draft amendments received 94% "Yes" of the electors.

709 readers participated in the internet poll. According to the 82.2 % the results of the November 27 Referendum are completely fabricated. 9.2% were undecided, and 8.6% found the results true.

This week the poll question of the internet site "A1+" is "According to you, was there any economic progress in Armenia in 2005?"

Armenian opposition leaders meet European envoys to discuss referendum

Aravot, Yerevan
3 Dec 05

Excerpt from Anna Israelyan's report by Armenian newspaper Aravot on 3 December headlined "The ambassadors are angry and surprised"

The opposition leaders met the ambassadors of all nine EU countries accredited in Armenia at the British embassy yesterday [2 December]. The main subject of discussion was the constitutional referendum and developments around it.

The leader of the Anrapetutyun [Republic] Party, Aram Sarkisyan, told us that the meeting had been initiated by the ambassadors who invited the leaders of the Armenian Democratic Party, the Anrapetutyun Party, National Democratic Union and Heritage Party.

"I should say that [Armenian President] Robert Kocharyan's voting openly was shocking," Sarkisyan said. "I asked them what they would do if their country's president voted openly? No reply," he added.

Sarkisyan said that the ambassadors of all EU countries admit that fraud was clearly committed during the referendum, and they have even more serious facts about fraud than the opposition does. They suggested handing over all facts available to the opposition to the law-enforcement agencies.

"We said that we had 125 complaints and this number will grow. The courts did not investigate these complaints during the campaign and this is one of the reasons why we declared the boycott. We also told them that the judges' representatives in the Central Election Commission signed the document which they consider exaggerated [as published]. For this reason, there is no sense to apply to them. They had nothing to reply to this," Sarkisyan said.

He also added that the ambassadors were surprised at the fact that obstacles were being created to opposition rallies and marches. [Passage omitted: minor details]

"I have met these ambassadors many times but I have never seen them so surprised and angry. They were more emotional and sometimes their statements went far beyond diplomatic norms," Sarkisyan said.

Armenian Speaker Chided For Admitting Referendum Fraud

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/02/2005

By Ruzanna Stepanian

Parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian was attacked by a fellow leader of Armenia's governing coalition on Friday for giving weight to reports of serious fraud that clouded the referendum on constitutional amendments.

In a newspaper interview published on Thursday, Baghdasarian said, `It is obvious that there was ballot box stuffing and I agree that it did not add to our honor.' He blamed the fraud on unspecified `individuals with a criminal mentality who are prepared for everything to please their bosses.'

The remarks were denounced as `unacceptable' by Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's Republican Party (HHK). `If a high-level state official like Artur Baghdasarian says there was ballot stuffing, he must immediately submit relevant facts to the appropriate bodies,' Sahakian told RFE/RL. `I think that expressing theories about the referendum, associating it with negative phenomena or again trying to please somebody is neither political nor civilized.'

Sahakian would say who he believes Baghdasarian, often accused of populism, is trying to please.

The HHK, Baghdasarian's Orinats Yerkir Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) hold most of the ministerial posts in the government and have co-sponsored President Robert Kocharian's constitutional amendments. In a joint statement earlier this week, they strongly endorsed the official results of the November 27 referendum and denied opposition claims that it was rigged.

Baghdasarian's remarks clearly contradicted the statement and could be exploited by the opposition.

Sarkisian Defends Referendum Results

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/02/2005

By Ruzanna Khachatrian

Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian insisted on Friday that the Armenian government's constitutional changes did win sufficient popular support and confirmed his intention to contest the next parliamentary elections due in 2007.

Sarkisian was asked by reporters whether he thinks that as many as 1.5 million people, or nearly two thirds of Armenia's eligible voters, indeed took part in Sunday's constitutional referendum. `I believe that the referendum passed,' he replied. `I believe that more than one third [of the voters] said `yes.' I believe that this is the clear will of our people.'

The reported turnout, one of the highest in Armenia's history, contradicted anecdotal evidence of unprecedented voter apathy toward the Western-backed constitutional reform. Observers from the Council of Europe have reported `serious abuse in several polling stations which cast a shadow over the credibility of the officially announced turnout.'

Sarkisian seemed to imply that even is that the turnout is inflated, the Armenian authorities must have at least cleared the legal threshold of about 770,000 `yes' votes needed for the passage of the amendments. The opposition demands for the referendum to be declared void are therefore baseless, he said.

`Several persons can constantly express a desire to have the referendum results invalidated, but I don't think that can serve as a basis [for scrapping the referendum],' he said.

Sarkisian rejected as a `lie' opposition allegations of multiple voting by tens of thousands of army conscripts. `Please be serious,' he told an RFE/RL correspondent, referring to the allegations. `I don't answer unserious questions.'

However, problems with military voting, one of the traditional sources of election fraud in Armenia, were reported not only by the opposition. `Military voting appeared to lack the voluntarism which is the hallmark of democratic participation,' the Council of Europe observers said in a statement on Monday.

Sarkisian spoke to the press as he visited the site of the Armenian Defense Ministry's new sprawling compound which is being constructed by a Russian company on the northern outskirts of Yerevan. The ministry staff are scheduled to move there in April 2007, two months before the next legislative polls.

Asked whether he expects to remain defense minister and work in the new building after the vote, Sarkisian said, `It's hard to say in what building I will be. I may even be at my home. It depends on how much trust we will have, how many votes we will get.'

Sarkisian declined to specify on which party's ticket he will ran for parliament in 2007. `We will answer this question after celebrating the Christmas holidays,' he said.

Even though Sarkisian is not affiliated with any political group, his name was second in the list of candidates fielded by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's Republican Party (HHK) in the last election held in May 2003. The HHK won the largest number of parliament seats amid allegations of serious vote rigging echoed by other parties loyal to President Robert Kocharian.

The powerful defense minister is widely regarded as Kocharian's most likely successor. But he has so far skirted questions about his participation in the next presidential election due in 2008. Sarkisian said during a recent visit to the United States that that will depend on the outcome of the parliamentary vote.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

EU Statement on Constitution Referendum in Armenia

Pan Armenian
03.12.2005 19:32 GMT+04:00

The EU welcomes the Government of Armenia's positive role in the process of constitutional reform and believes that the package of amendments to the Constitution proposed by the Government of Armenia will pave the way for the strengthening of democracy in Armenia. The British Embassy today issued this press release on the November 27 referendum on changes to the Constitution of Armenia on behalf of the European Union member states. The message specifically says, "However, the EU is concerned at reports of ballot stuffing and manipulation of the turnout figures and of intimidation of local observers during the referendum held on 27 November. A failure to prevent activities such as this call into question Armenia's commitment to transparency and democracy. The EU commends the efforts of the Council of Europe observation team and notes their statement of 28 November. The EU urges the Government of Armenia, and specifically the Central Election Commission, to take seriously the Council of Europe observers' recommendation of a thorough investigation into the allegations of fraud, and calls on the Government of Armenia to ensure that those responsible are brought to account.

Proper conduct of the whole electoral process is crucial for the democratic credentials of Armenia, particularly in view of the parliamentary and presidential elections which are due to be held in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Against this background, the EU would have welcomed a decision by the Government of Armenia to invite the OSCE/ODIHR to observe the referendum. The EU would also have welcomed the participation of the opposition parties in Armenia in the referendum and regrets their decision to withdraw their members from the election commissions. The EU calls on all parties to ensure that any demonstrations continue to be peaceful in nature." It should be noted that as acceding states Bulgaria and Romania are fully associated with the statement.

Saturday, December 03, 2005



| 19:56:34 | 02-12-2005 | Politics |

Today after the meeting of the opposition near the Matenadaran when the people were returning home about 10 agents in plain clothes started to provoke the crowd. Then one of them asked the help of the policemen standing on the opposite pavement and as if waiting for that.

According to different data after today's meeting 3-5 people were arrested from the streets of Yerevan. Among them were members of the Republican and New Times parties and residents of Artik.

Member of the Republican party Artak Hakobyan who was responsible for the equipment was set free an hour after the arrest. According to eyewitnesses, "they started to arrest people earlier, and the cars were full of them". The agents in plain clothes chased the participants of the meeting till the office of the Republican party and put them into the cars by force.


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 2, NOYAN TAPAN. Parliamentary elections will be held in Armenia in April 2007, two months after putting into exploitation RA Defence Ministry's new building complex. Expressing preliminary willingness to take part in the elections, RA Defence Minister Serge Sargsian, in response to a journalist's question, found it difficult to say, in what building he will be after the elections. "Maybe, I will be at home. Everything depends on the fact how much the people will trust us, how many votes we will receive," S.Sargsian declared promising to inform after the Christmas with what political force he will participate in the parliamentary elections.

The Minister estimated the situation formed after the constitutional reforms in Armenia as "normal." In connection with the opposition's demand to recognize the referendum results invalid the Minister mentioned that he returned to Yerevan only yesterday in the evening and isn't aware of the latest events.

At the same time, he expressed an opinion that "several people can constantly express willingness to recognize the referendum results invalid." As for the statements of observers representing the opposition about cases of repeated votings in the army, the Minister said: "It's a lie, nothing of the kind has been ever taken place."

"I consider that the referendum has passed and believe that more than one third of our citizens said "yes," I believe that this is the will of our people," Serge Sargsian declared to journalists.



| 21:42:34 | 02-12-2005 | Politics |

The political council of the Republican Party spread an announcement informing that after the meeting of the opposition at 04:00 p.m. near the Matenadaran at about 06:30 p.m. several agents in plain clothes forcefully arrested some of the participants of the meeting, put them into cars and took in an unknown direction. Among those arrested the following names are mentioned:

Petrosyan Levon - member of the Republican party from Maralik;

Sukiasyan Misha - member of the Republican party from Maralik;

Manoukyan Margarita - head of the People's party local structure in the Malatia-Sebastia community, observer

Yeranosyan Vrezh - member of the People's Party (Mrs. Manoukyan's husband).

Those arrested were taken to the Yerevan central police. Some of them phoned from there and informed that there are tens of people arrested in the police.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Today was big demonstration of the opposition to the constitutional amendments, where they should have marched onto the presidential palace since the government didn’t fulfill the demands of the people and deem the election null and void.

When I came down Baghramian Street and passed the Presidential Palace and Parliament, I didn’t see any water canons, barbed wire or riot police standing by. I knew from that, there would be no march today.

The demonstration was well attended and this time I saw quite a few young people, which in the past I didn’t notice.

It seems that my prediction of things fizzling out and people loosing interest didn’t materialize and since this time there is an unquestionable smoking gun to prove without too much doubt that a major act of deception has taken place, thus with the good turnout today, we just may see some results and some form of justice could materialize.

The usual speakers got up and spoke, but this time much of what they were saying was starting to make sense. All I know is that if things continue as they have been, those that are responsible for fixing the election have something to worry about.

According to one of the speakers, 160,000 people who have the old red Soviet passports and expected to vote no to the constitutional amendments, were denied the right to vote.

It was reported that there were 16,000 people who were involved in collecting names of people for the election registers who are not present, who will not vote and in some cases, who are dead. Those are 1 million of the votes that are said to have been falsified.

They said that we will not have any problem to come up with those peoples names and those names should be made public. At one point, it sounded like this guy was calling for a witch hunt.

The next meeting will be next Friday (the 9th), at which time if the government does not comply with the demands of the people and set things straight, then maybe the people will finally take to the streets and storm the Presidential Palace or Parliament.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


28 Nov 05

Yerevan, 28 November:
Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan today received the chairman of the GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), Drago Kos, and the head of the OSCE office in Yerevan, Vladimir Pryakhin.

Drago Kos is attending an international conference entitled "Legal instruments on national and international anti-corruption activities" in Yerevan on 29 November, Arminfo learnt from the governmental press service. The conference is organized by the OSCE Yerevan office jointly with the Armenian commission for monitoring the implementation of anti-corruption strategy.

Armenia has been a member of the GRECO since January 2004 and fulfilled all the conditions of the organization, the Armenian prime minister said. In particular, the Armenian parliament ratified the European conventions on criminal and civil liabilities within the framework of the anti-corruption responsibilities. The government submitted the UN convention on fighting corruption for the ratification now.

The head of the GRECO congratulated Andranik Markaryan on the conduct of the constitutional referendum. Kos said that the reformed constitution will contribute to the country's further democratization and meeting international standards. He noted that fighting corruption is in the focus of attention of the Armenian government and Armenia is carrying out an intensive work in the GRECO since its membership.

He said that at the beginning of 2006, Armenia's anti-corruption activities will be assessed at a plenary session of the GRECO after which the organization will come up with its proposals in this sphere. Drago Kos also spoke about the preparation of the GRECO member states for the third stage of the monitoring which will deal with problems of political corruption.

The prime minister expressed the hope that the conference will have a positive impact on promoting the efficiency of the anti-corruption fight in Armenia.


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 9, No. 222, Part I, 30 November 2005


Almost 10,000 people attended a rally in Yerevan on 29 November to protest the perceived falsification by the authorities of the outcome of the 27 November
referendum on a package of constitutional amendments, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Aram Sargsian (Hanrapetutiun) and Stepan Demirchian (People's Party of Armenia), gave the authorities 72 hours (until Friday 2 December) to annul the outcome or risk mass popular protests that they hope will force the present leadership to step down. Also on 29 November, the Armenian NGO It's Your Choice unveiled the findings of its monitoring of the 27 November vote, which its leaders characterized as failing to meet international standards for democratic elections, Noyan Tapan reported. Meanwhile, President Robert Kocharian released a written address thanking the Armenian people for their "unequivocal and resolute" support of the amendments, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. He said the new revised constitution "paves the way for turning Armenia into a thriving country of the 21st century." LF