Tuesday, October 30, 2007


There is a whole slew of “talent” contests on Armenian television these days and most of them are based on how many votes people cast via Short Message Service (SMS) text messages. Of course to make matters worse, there is no limit on how many votes you can cast since each message received, someone or some entity tied to the contest receives revenue from. This results in too many cases of the non-talented contestant with lots of friends or money, buying their way into first place over the real talents who deserve to win. The end result is we have a bunch of untalented persons flooding the television and radio airwaves, setting the standard for music that our children will grow up hearing and thinking is good, when in fact is crap.

Yesterday’s “International Star” music talent contest was very disappointing for me, not so much because our music guru Nick was eliminated, but because it finally became clear to me that the word “talent” in Armenia has little to no meaning. This I’m not say holds true only for the arts, but almost every area of life here, especially politics and government.

Tata Productions/Armenia TV’s “International Star” music talent contest has not at all been about making a “star” out of talented people if you ask me, but as I stated above, about how many of your friends, family and business associates you can get to buy you into stardom, while the real talents are left frustrated, demoralized and wondering how they were suckered into participating in a contest that was not a contest about talent, but a contest of how one can manipulate the system to feel they are talented, while the real talents we have in Armenia waste their time and talents trying to get ahead, not understanding that it’s not about talent, but about being the highest bidder to win.

What makes “International Star” offensive for me is that Armenian TV, a station that has financial support by a Diaspora Armenia, supports knowingly or unknowingly such an unfair contest that is does not promote culture, but lowers the standards of the arts so that when Armenians compete in the international arena, we are left not leading, but standing on the sidelines wondering why we lost?

In my book, in a real talent contest, the contestants are judged by a jury of professional artists and not determined by how many votes were purchased. I guarantee you that if you give the materials from “International Star” to music professionals, they will tell you who purchased their way to the top and who are the real talents.

I guess I should not be surprised as to what happened and I warned Nick that it was clear to me early in the competition that his declining contract offers of the organizers and subsequent song assignments to sing songs that didn’t compliment his real talents, would deprive him of votes and was going to get him eliminated, as it did in the end.

The reality is that this competition is not going to hurt Nick from moving forward, since before he entered in this competition, the doors to the international entertainment world were opened for Nick and a very successful music company that produces and sell the type of music that Nick is gifted with were and are waiting to review, consider Nick’s work and hopefully sign him. There are also 3 other major labels I have access to present Nick’s materials to, one of which I’m almost certain will sign him, though I would really like to get him signed to the label that is waiting for Nick’s demo.

I had given Nick’s earlier and what I would call his more primitive works compared to what he has recently produced to a few non-Armenian persons in the music business and only got back positive feedback. Of course, as can be expected, the Armenians in the music business I’ve shared Nick’s materials with were impressed, but negative as to the outcome of his possible signing with a major label, since they have tried and failed. One Armenian producer from L.A. told me before hearing the materials that we can getting signed by a major label will probably not happen, saying this even before he heard any of the materials.

The following is message I got two months ago from an associate of mine I knew from my days when I worked for a recording studio. This person himself is a very talented studio musician and has a gift for spotting real talent:

Nick is amazing!

As a teacher of music, I am extremely impressed and if you're looking for harmonicanalysis, I can give you that too.

Basically, I have lots to say about Nick's music but my opinion doesn't matter. You've got the bull by the horns (a major label) and I hope you and Nick don't blow it.

Over 30,000 garage bands in Los Angeles alone would love to be signed to a record deal with a major and you're closer than 99% of them. GO FOR IT with everything you've got!

Don't hesitate to call my cell phone whenever you're discouraged dealing with the music business since I've experienced all of the bad (dozens of great talented artists who never came close to a deal) and the 1 record business success to my credit (White/Margitza signed to MCA Records in 1987).

I owe you big time, so don't offer me anything and I won't have to worry about "splitting" anything.

If Nick gets signed THEN gets produced (although I think his masters are finished if you want my opinion), the next 3 layers after production: marketing, radio/touring and hopefully [platinum] sales are the toughest.

You both better be in awesome shape to deal with the intense stuff but as you already know, timing is everything. Go for it Ara!

Sincerely yours,

Anyway, we should know in the next month as to who Nick will be signed with and on his way to working in the international world of music.


12:55 27/10/2007

A round table took place in Moscow House in Yerevan within the framework of 3rd international festival of children's films. The round table ran under the title: "What are children reading? What are Children watching?" Guests from Russia, France, Armenia, as well as public and non-governmental organization representatives were present at the round table.

"Today our children are watching American war films, detectives. What can it give? Only aggression. These are the films that our children are educated on," Art Head of Rolan Bikov Foundation Nelli Aliolova told a correspondent of Panorama.am. The participants also noted that by the invasion of television into the daily life, children are cut off from books and literature.


The following story is long, but worth the read.

For me it not only sheds light on understanding the root of Genocide, but more importantly touches on indifference people have towards fellow humans on every level.

For those of you out there in the civilized world who are waiting for your calling to do the right thing by your fellow human, read this story and than act accordingly.

As the story states, care deeply, share generously and help willingly.


Ottawa Citizen, Canada
Oct 28 2007
Final Edition

BYLINE: Louisa Taylor, The Ottawa Citizen


LENGTH: 1521 words

Parents have turned to Barbara Coloroso for thoughtful and caring advice on raising children since the publication of her first book, Kids Are Worth It, in 1994. Since then she has written about understanding and preventing bullying, and later nurturing ethics in children. In her latest venture, Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide, Coloroso explores the roots of genocide. Examining three genocides of the 20th century -- of the Armenians by the Young Turks, the Jews in the Holocaust and the Tutsis in Rwanda -- Coloroso draws a line from the bully in the schoolyard to the killer with a machete.

Coloroso will be Ottawa on Nov. 5 as the keynote speaker for Holocaust Education Week.

You're known as a trusted source of parenting advice, beginning with Kids Are Worth It and later your work on bullying. You've said you were surprised when your editor suggested you write a book on genocide, so surprised in fact that you dropped your glass.

I was just stunned -- we were celebrating this other book (Just Because It's Not Wrong Doesn't Make It Right, on ethics) and it was the last one I was ever going to write. I needed a long break. I don't like to write, it's not a fun thing for me. Speaking is what I love to do.

But I've studied genocide since the late '70s. It has been my own personal interest. If you go back to Kids Are Worth It you'll see quotes from Viktor Frankl and Primo Levi -- but it was never a public thing.

I walked the rabbit-proof fence in Australia, I went to death camps in Europe. And when I was working in Rwanda, my editor asked what I was doing there, and I told her I was working with orphans from the genocide.

Why did you go to Rwanda?

I asked Stephen Lewis if there was anything I could ever do for him and he said 'Go to Rwanda.' He put me in touch with a group in Toronto called Hope for Rwanda ... so I travelled with them and they introduced me to a group of orphans and then to the Tumerere Foundation. They work with child-headed households and orphans.

A professor asked if I would come and talk to the new teachers in Butare, which was then the University of Rwanda's education school. A large number of the Hutu staff there killed the Tutsi staff and a large number of the students were complicit in the deaths of their Tutsi classmates. He wanted me to talk about schoolyard bullying, on a campus where people slaughtered one another.

All I had with me was the little cartoon bully circle from the bully book, and I was embarrassed when I handed it out. Here was a bunch of survivors from the genocide who were going to be teachers, and there were Hutus in the group as well. It was an uneasy peace.

I handed it out, apologized and said "Let's start with how it's a short walk from bullying to genocide."

I didn't get very far before the survivors started to list on the chart where the UN fit, where Romeo Dallaire fit, where Oxfam fit, where their neighbours fit, where church leaders fit. It made sense to them.

I was struggling with the ethics book at the time and that lecture was an "aha" moment about three virulent agents -- hating, hoarding and harming. If we can look at the antidotes, then perhaps we will have a foundation for ethics, an ethic rooted in deep caring, where you teach kids to care deeply, share generously and help willingly, instead of harming other people with lying and cheating and stealing.

If you're raising children who are more willing to help one another because it's the right thing to do, then I think you are raising an ethical child who will stand up for values and against injustice and who will do the right thing when the burden is heavy, when that girl asks all the other girls not to sit by the new girl.

You say it's a short walk from bullying to genocide. Do you mean bullies grow up to be perpetrators of genocide, or genocide is the same forces at work, with deadly consequences?

It can be both, but it's more often the latter than the former.

Although, bullies tend to be leaders. In order to be a bully you have to have leadership skills. The sad things is, look at Hitler -- he was a bullied bully. So was Stalin. We ought to be tuned in to angry people who treat other people with contempt. So it's possible for a leader to be a bully, but more possible is the climate and culture of mean that is created in a political environment. It's a system of behaviour that's learned from childhood -- you have to be taught to have contempt for somebody. You have to learn that somebody is less than you, that somebody can be put outside your circle of moral concern.

... When I was in Rwanda, somebody said it doesn't start in school, and one survivor raised her hand. She was shaking and she said "Yes it does. When I was in Grade 2, the teacher told all the snakes to stand up and move to the other side of the room, and we did it, because we knew we were snakes." And kids called them cockroaches and snakes on the playground.

It was very easy then to get a political party with hate radio, and for people to become very fearful of them. Hitler said "the Jews are going to take over the world." The hate radio of the Hutus said the Tutsis are going to come and kill you. And what is it that the Christian right here says about gays? They're going to make your children gay and take over our schools and destroy marriage. It's the same fear-mongering.

You focus on three genocides that fit the United Nations definition of genocide, but there is much disagreement about other events, such as the famine in the Ukraine, that don't meet that definition.

Some people say the definition needs to be narrowed, some say it needs to be expanded. I was at a conference recently, where genocide scholars were ripping into each other -- you're making it too general, everything's a genocide -- you're making it too specific, the Ukrainian famine ought to be included.

I go back to bullying, and then I have to add on top of it where it is a political group or a party in power that has decided one group, for whatever reason, needs to be destroyed. We're looking in the Congo right now at the genocide of women. We've never made the gender leap in genocide. Women are being so horribly butchered in the rapes that are being committed, butchered to eliminate women. We have to take stock of that.

The definition of bullying has come under attack in some quarters, because some people think all bullying is conflict. The majority of anti-bullying programs have as their foundation conflict resolution.

Conflict is normal, natural and necessary -- it's two of us fighting over something.

Genocide is one-sided -- I'm out to get you and you didn't have to do anything for me to have contempt for you. We can build up fears and say you're going to take over our schools, you're dirty, filthy, you're a snake, but the reality is you're a human being. Once I make you an "It," I can do anything to you.

The scary thing is when it's in our schools, we can work on it, when it's in our community we can work on it, but when it's an entire government that shuts itself off from the rest of the world, the international community has to be gutsy enough to step in and not ask permission.

We say never again, then it happens again.

And again and again. We don't have the will to stop it. We have our self-interest at stake. Look at this genocide resolution (proposing that the U.S. Congress acknowledge the Armenian genocide). We're worried right now about what the Turks will do to us if we even acknowledge a genocide. So if we stepped in some place to stop a genocide, oh my goodness, we might lose our oil! Human beings should be at the centre of our choices, not "What's in it for me?"

What reaction have genocide scholars had to your book?

Mixed. From the survivors, which means a lot more to me than any scholar, I get overwhelming support and thank you. I'll take that.

I'm not a genocide scholar and never pretend to be.

What will you be talking about in Ottawa?

I'll be drawing the connection between bullying and genocide.

What's next for you?

My next book is on the power of good -- immersing myself in the people who are witnesses and resisters and defenders. I find it hard to believe the resilience of people who have been so horribly hurt, because even listening to their stories and being immersed in it took a toll on me.

But I met some Hutu children who had rescued a Tutsi family without their parents knowing because their parents were off looting during the day.

I talked to a man who had rescued people during the Holocaust when he was 17, and didn't know the people he was rescuing. When asked why he did it, he shrugged his shoulders and said "That's how we were raised." I keep hearing that comment.

On the bully circle, that's the people on the very top, the antithesis of the bully. Why do they do what they do? I want to find out what kind of environment we can create to make that more the norm than not.

I'm looking forward to it, because I don't know the answer.

Coloroso will be in Ottawa on Nov. 5 at Sir Robert Borden High School at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and must be reserved by calling (613) 798-4696 ext. 236.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Let us not forget our past

The following is a very important article of Levon Ter-Petrosyan's announcing his candidacy for President of Armenia.

If you read the article in full and you know our history from independence to LPT's resignation, many of the things that LPT is accusing the present day government of, he himself was responsible for carrying out during his time in office.

His mention of the people electing him as the person they want to lead them will only happen if he does so as he did last time he was "elected" when the election was rigged and then the people protested the outcome and he called out the army to put a stop to the protesting populous, which was unconstitutional.

In the last two paragraphs when he refers to the "...thousands of lower-ranking judicial and low enforcement officials who are honest and conscientious professionals." and the forgiving statement about "Samvel Babayan in the liberation of Artsakh, restoration and strengthening of the Armenian state", turning a blind eye to all the criminal offenses they need to answer for, which are not quite as bad as the criminal offenses that LPT himself and his clan had committed in the past and should have to answer for, tells me that if LPT is elected, there is nothing that will change in the Armenian government and common people will feel just as alienated as they do today, or as LTP put it so eloquently, we will have "a government which treats its citizens like aliens, and is a disgrace for the Armenian people".

If you ask me, LPT's candidacy is just a scheme to make people feel as if they have some choices in who to elect, but the fact is that if the choice is between Serj and Levon, then there is no choice, since they are the same.


Oct 26 2007

The first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan who addressed the rally on October 26 announced that he will be running in the presidential election. "You may believe me or not. It does not worry me. I believe that the main problem of Armenia today is not the personality of the future president of Armenia but the prevention of the reproduction of this regime because it is a vicious government, a government which treats its citizens like aliens, and is a disgrace for the Armenian people," Levon Ter-Petrosyan said. He repeated what he had stated in his address on September 21 that he will support any activist who will emerge and prove able to solve this problem. If not, Ter-Petrosyan says there is nothing else to do but to fulfill the will of people. "Frankly speaking, I was inclined to make a decision on the eve of the election process. However, the recent acts of violence against my supporters, as well as the immense energy of this rally urge me to make a decision immediately. Therefore, I am stating now that I will be nominated as president of the Republic of Armenia," Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated. He says since he has already announced he will be a presidential candidate, it means his status is going to change abruptly as a political activist. "Therefore, let the policemen surrounding us listen to me attentively - any act of violence against my supporters or attempts of intimidation by the tax service will be viewed as a criminal violation of the right of the citizens to vote, and will be conveyed to both our society and the international organizations. Let every policeman, community head or taxman keep in mind that an act of violence against the constitutional rights of citizens is a crime, and sooner or later they will be responsible before the law," Levon Ter-Petrosyan said.

Besides, the first president said a list of people using force against people is being made, and it will include everyone who misbehaves. Levon Ter-Petrosyan said the list already includes the head of the Police of Yerevan Nersik Nazaryan, his deputy Sashik Afyan and deputy chief of the police Ararat Mahtesyan. "The heads of two communities of Yerevan are contending for appearing on my list, whose names will or will not be announced in the upcoming rallies, depending on their behavior," Ter-Petrosyan stated. its opponents.

After the definition and structured revelation of the government Levon Ter-Petrosyan touched upon the moral, psychological, political, economic, social consequences of the rule of this regime, which has turned Armenia into an "outcast", the population is impoverished, even though the government is demonstrating tiger bounces through juggling of statistics. "However, research by serious economists shows that these indices are false, and the annual growth in reality is hardly 3-4 percent. What is the secret of appearance of those two-digit numbers? It turns out that there is no secret. The figures of the economic growth are direct correlation with the dynamics of remittances," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says, adding that it means if the Armenian economy develops, it develops outside Armenia. "At the expense of the muscle energy of hundreds of thousands of Armenian migrant workers in Russia," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. He also spoke about black economy because, according to him, black economy is one that is out of the control of the government. "It is found everywhere, even in the most developed and legitimate countries.

Meanwhile, the ruling system in Armenia is so organized and powerful that nothing avoids its control, even a proprietor who earns 200 dollars. In other words, all kinds of criminal economic activities are carried out by it. Consequently, it is not black economy but flagrant robbery, extortion, and two budgets accrue in Armenia, one is the official budget, the other is in the pocket of the government.

In addition, calculations show that the second is much bigger than the first," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. He says, however, he does not think the government, which comprises conscientious professionals, provides false data to the government. Levon Ter-Petrosyan believes that the data are initially correct but they are distorted before offering to the society. According to him, the judicial system also serves the government, and recent evidence is Justice Pargev Ohanyan's punishment who dared to make a decision on acquittal.

However, Levon Ter-Petrosyan points out that he does not mean thousands of lower-ranking judicial and low enforcement officials who are honest and conscientious professionals. "They are also humiliated and insulted by the regime like the rest of people. They are not expressing their feelings because of the lack of an alternative, but they will unanimously join the surge of popular movement. The same is with the police, like in 1988, during the national movement," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. Nevertheless, Levon Ter-Petrosyan said this criticism and attitude gives him pain because both Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan were his personal and military friends not a long time ago. "Personalities whose names should be out down in the modern history of the Armenian people.

Their behavior after 1999 cannot erase or cast a shadow on them, as well as the undeniable and considerable role of Samvel Babayan in the liberation of Artsakh, restoration and strengthening of the Armenian state. My tough statements do not aim to defame or condemn them, and are out of sheer necessity to prevent the reproduction of the regime," Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated. He even said Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan will stand a chance to keep their good name in the history of independence of Armenia if they leave the political arena voluntarily. The first president also stated that his attitude is not due to their Karabakhi origin. "If they deserved, they would be welcome to rule in Armenia for one hundred years, like their ancestors, the Hetumians from Artsakh who ruled the Kingdom of Cilicia for 150 years," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. He condemns all efforts to tap a wedge between the Armenians of Karabakh and Armenia, describing them as unfair and dangerous. "Therefore, I will be trying my best to prevent this mindset from spreading and becoming rooted. Especially that 99 percent of the pillars of the government system created by Kocharyan and Sargsyan are Armenians of Armenia rather than of Karabakh," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
Oct 24 2007

Armenian law-enforcement bodies arrested the oppositionists calling people to rally.

APA reports that editor-in-chief of Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper Nikol Pashinyan, Democratic Fatherland party leader Petros Makeyan, Conservative Party leader Mikael Hayrapetyan, editor-in-chief of Fourth Power opposition newspaper Shoher Matevosyan and some others are among the detainees.

They delivered leaflets calling people to participate in rallies to support Armenia's first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

There was a confrontation between the oppositionists and the police.

20 were injured as a result of it. The detainees were released after they gave a written undertaking not to leave the country.

Ter-Petrosyan's supporters will hold a sanctioned rally in Yerevan on October 26.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Stepan Demirchiyan and Aram Sarkisian are expected to deliver speech. The ruling party organized a free concert with participation of Armenian stars in Yerevan Republic stadium on the same day.


2007-10-25 14:07:00

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged US lawmakers to drop an Armenian 'genocide' resolution, warning of the strategic fallout on sensitive ties with Turkey, Thomson Financial News reports.

'This is a very delicate time with Turkey,' she told the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, which voted two weeks ago to label the Ottoman Empire's World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide.

'We have extremely important strategic interests with the Turks,' Rice said, appealing to the House as a whole not to vote on the controversial resolution.

'This was something that was a horrible event in the mass killings that took place, but at the time of the Ottoman Empire. These are not the Ottomans,' she said of the modern-day Turkish state.

Rice on Tuesday held talks with Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, and she told the House panel that she had urged both the Armenians and Turks to work together on bridging their historical differences.

'But I continue to believe that the passage of the ... Armenian genocide resolution would severely harm our relationships with Turkey,' the secretary of state said.


25-10-2007 16:28:28

1619 children were born in Karabakh January to September, which is up by 41 compared with the year 2006. The rate of death totaled 925, which is down by 8 compared with the same period of the past year. Over the past three quarters the natural growth totaled 694, which is up by 7.6 percent compared with the past year's index.

Over the past nine months 494 marriages were registered, which is up by 100 compared with last year. The rate of divorce went decreased by 4 and totaled 85.


Noyan Tapan
Oct 25, 2007

The recognition of the Armenian Genocide by U.S. Congress is inevitable. RA Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian gave assurance at the October 25 press conference. Attaching importance to the adoption of Resolution 106 by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of U.S.

Congress, the Minister expressed the hope that it will be discussed at the plenary sitting of House of Representatives.

"They say that it is not time yet, but I am just convinced that the moment will come and the Congress will recognize the resolution on Armenian Genocide," V. Oskanian said. According to the Minister, judging by the responses in the U.S., "in case of a correct moment from American point of view, this resolution will be unanimously adopted."

V. Oskanian considered as positive the circumstance that even the American Congressmen, who are against the resolution's adoption, consider the issue only from point of view of security and do not deny the historic fact of the Genocide. "We overcame that approach of denial and the Turkish party has an occasion for anxiety," the Minister said.

V. Oskanian also touched upon his meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister held lately. According to him, the Armenian party does not consider that meeting as part of the process aimed at establishment of bilateral relations, as today there is no such process between Armenia and Turkey and such meetings will be held only if necessary.


Oct 25 2007

Yerevan, 24 October:
During a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan on Tuesday [23 October] in Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed on behalf of the US government readiness in case of necessity to assist the Armenian authorities in the solution of technical problems while organizing the presidential elections of 2008.

As Mediamax was told in the press service of the Armenian government, the sides discussed a wide circle of issues, including the process of the Karabakh conflict settlement, the relations of Armenia with the neighbours, issues of energy and security, as well as the participation of the Armenian military in international peacekeeping operations.

Touching upon the topic of Nagornyy Karabakh, Serzh Sargsyan and Condoleezza Rice stressed the importance of acceleration of the negotiation process. As the Armenian prime minister noted, the militant statements of the Azerbaijani authorities do not promote the activization of the peace talks at all.

Tuesday evening Serzh Sargsyan also had a meeting with the leadership of the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA).

Friday, October 26, 2007


Oct 23 2007

In an incident involving policemen and the participants of the march at the intersection of Abovyan and Koryun Streets the special operations personnel injured Gohar Vesiryan, reporter of the Chorord Ishkhanutyun. On October 24 Nichol Pashinyan, a member of the Alternative Initiative stated this October 24 who says he witnessed how the red berets hit the reporter. Nichol Pashinyan says he feels ashamed for the people who wear a uniform with the emblem of the Republic of Armenia and beat women.

Nichol Pashinyan was also injured. His face is swollen from punches.

The eleven participants of the march who had been detained by the police got different injuries, Nichol Pashinyan says. Some of them, including Nichol Pashinyan, were referred to the forensic doctor but he stated that they are not going to be examined by the doctor.

The policemen and the participants of the peaceful march clashed when the policemen approached about 30 participants of the march and asked to stop the action organized to inform the public about the rally on October 26 and hand out their megaphones. The policemen had nothing to offer in return for the demand to give legal grounds for their demand. Instead, the participants of the march offered their legal right which, however, was not taken seriously by the police. The policemen continued to demand to hand out the megaphone but the participants of the march did not give up. Afterwards the police used force.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Climate Changes in Martuni

A few of months ago, I got a call from someone interested in purchasing a very large scoop for a bulldozer that I've had sitting in front of my stone factory that I had purchased as a spare for a bulldozer I sold a few years back. Today's going rate for such a part is $500.

At that time in July, my truck driver Lavrent and I went down to get the part ready for pick-up and discovered that this 2 ton scoop was not where we left it and all that we found was a bare spot of soil with no grass on it, where the scoop had been months easier.

We asked my guard where the scoop was and he told me that there was no such part and in the three years he had worked for us, he had never seen such a thing where the bare spot of earth that was the size of the scoop now exists.

I told him I would give him time to think about where the scoop my have gone and until such time that he has an answer, I would withhold his pay.

Well in the last month, my guard has come to me for his pay and I've asked him if he found my scoop? Of course up until now, his answer has not changed.

Today, I visited my local police station to report the missing scoop and a detective drove out with me to the stone factory where the bare patch of earth is and my guard who was sticking by his story was sleeping 10 meters away.

The detective asked the guard where the scoop was and he again told his story of there never being such a scoop and justified the bare spot of a piece of tin having been on the ground. We gave my guard a ride down to the police station for questioning.

At the station, the guard again stuck to his story, to which the detectives there understood that what he was staying just didn't add up.

They asked the guard if someone was threatening his that he was not willing to tell who came and took the 2 ton scoop, which even if 20 people came, could not lift it up on a truck and it was clear that it had not been dragged away. The guard stuck to his story.

The detective told me that I could return to what I was doing and they were going to keep the guard at the station a bit to get to the bottom of things.

I went home and on the way, ran into my former general manager. I told her what had happened and she just shook her head and told me that she is a witness to the scoop being there when we hired him and said that she really does not understand why people lie and how things in Martuni have really changed over the years for the worse.

I will say that the recent elections for mayor here were a very good indicator as to the new climate of things and people really have changed in a way that is not cohesive for the development of a civil society.

I'll pay a visit to the police station tomorrow to see if there are any developments. I'm also going to find myself a new guard for the factory.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Changes in Martuni...

We are kind of over the shock of the elections in the city of Martuni for mayor.

We thought that my wife's uncle Artyom was going to win for sure based on 1,400 people who told us that they were going to vote for Artyom. In the end Artyom only ended up with less than 700 votes coming in 3rd.

There were 4 people running, the person who came in second was Artyom's aid, Azizyan, a man I can only describe as uneducated, unlucky in almost everything he does, never seeming to pick the right road to take and on top of this owing money to the bank and many many people. He once borrowed from me 20,000 dram for a month, but it took him 3 years to pay me back.

The reason why Azizyan ran we later found out was not only was he being backed by the Dashnag's (they always seem to back up someone who if elected they can later on try to control, thus someone who is uneducated in this case was their choice). On top of this, the commander of one of the bases in Martuni, said he and the former police cheif and present day director of the electric company would back him and make their people vote for him, but later on had their people vote for the mayor who ended up winning. The commander and head of the electric company did this to split the votes that Artyom was to get and it worked. If Azizyan didn't run, Artyom could have got 1,500 votes.

So who is our new Mayor? His name is Nelson and he is a businessman who has a small wine factory, a real working stiff who underpays his workers and in many cases was found working his own fields since no one was willing to work for slave wages that were many times paid late. He is also uneducated and can be controlled by those who got him into office. During his visits to schools, the electric company and other gatherings to present his plans if he is elected, he claimed to have an income far less that what he has, only claiming to have a family income of 2,300,000 dram, which for his family of 8, would provide about $65 a month per person. The reality is that he has an income of 10 times that, but only pays taxes on the lesser amount. He also claimed that he donated $15,000 to the construction of the memorial to the people who died in the Artsakh war with Azerbaijan. The fact is that he donated 250,000 dram (about $750).

Anyway, I saw Nelson yesterday at his office and the guy I have seen for the last 10 years working his crop was wearing a suit. I asked him if he had problems with the feel of a suit, which though I didn't say it, really didn't look good on him at all. He said that if it was not raining, he would be wearing his working clothes so he could go out and work in the city to make things better.

Artyom has had 3 job offers since the elections and I'm guessing that there is a good chance that next year they will appoint him regional minister of Martuni.

As for the commander and head of the electric company, word is that there are people at the top who did not like their divide and concur tactics to get their man elected. As a result, I've been told that the head of the electric company will be removed and there is a good chance we will be seeing a new commander in Martuni.

One other sad note. Night before last we had a car crash in the center of the city. It seems that a drunk driver hit the gas instead of the brake and ended up hitting the wall of the theater building, killing the two people in the car and leaving another is very bad shape.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Oct 15 2007

Armenia's parliament adopted a bill on Thursday aiming at identifying and saving human trafficking victims on airplanes before take off

The National Assembly of Armenia passed the Anti-Human Trafficking on Air Act on Thursday requiring notification to all air passengers about the threatening high number of women and children being transported from/through Armenia by traffickers for sexual exploitation purposes without the passengers' knowledge or consent before airplanes take off.

The notification process will include distribution of brochures in three languages (Armenian, Russian and English) to all passengers shortly describing human trafficking and asking passengers to let the attendant know they are in danger at any time during/before the flight and they will be guaranteed safe evacuation and persecution
of their traffickers.

Before the airplane takes off, a video-recording or an attendant will announce in three languages (Armenian, Russian and English) that if there are any children on the airplane who are traveling with somebody else's passport they are at high risk of being raped and abused in the countries of their destination. They will be also given additional two-minutes of presentation about how to identify human trafficking. The passengers will be told if they have a slight doubt they may be a victim of human trafficking they will be in safe protection after notifying an attendant. Two unidentified enforcement agents, trained to combat human trafficking, will be on the flight to help the victims before the plane takes off or after it arrives or to interfere during the flight if absolutely needed.

"Even if this Act saves one life it will serve its purpose," said Raffi Hovhannisyan, an American-born Armenian legislator who sponsored the bill. "It is time to fight the horrible abuse of already oppressed women and children from poor and unprotected families who are treated like animals after being tricked into human trafficking."

Armenia is not only a resource for human traffickers, experts say, but also a transit country for other victims of eastern European and central Asian origin. The victims, often from single-mother families, are told they will be working in restaurants and cafes in rich Middle Eastern or European countries. Once they get to their destinations, they are beaten and forced into prostitution serving dozens of men every day against their wills.

A handful legislators who voted against the bill expressed concerns for the funding of the project. But several Armenian NGOs and charity organizations vowed to contribute to the project. "We will do everything in our power to support the fight against human trafficking in Armenia," said a spokesperson for the U.S.-based Cafesjian Foundation.

Armenia's President Robert Kocharyan signed the bill into law the following day, expressing his admiration for the legislature'sreadiness to combat modern day human slavery. "The Armenian leadership can have no moral leadership in the fight for Genocide recognition if it ignores the sexual exploitations and physical and psychological tortures of women and children at the hands of human traffickers."

The sponsors of the Act still expressed concerns about a fabricated news item posted on Blogian.net and republished by other websites several months ago announcing the passage of a "bill combating human trafficking" claiming Armenian parliament's official website as the source. The webmaster of Blogian.net, an Armenian-American student, had deliberately fabricated the story with hopes that Armenia's leadership and parliamentarians would finally start thinking about ways to fight human trafficking.

"I am glad Blogian.net brought the inevitability of this issue to our attention ," Hovhannisyan said, "But I thought I was dreaming when I read the news attributing statements to me I had never made - not that I didn't wish I had made them in the first place."

Several Armenian-American groups also denounced Blogian.net for "misleading tactics" and "spreading lies in uncivilized ways."

Saturday, October 13, 2007


By Anshel Pfeffer

Ha'aretz, Israel
Oct 11 2007

"The Turks are not the only ones who believe the way to Washington passes through Jerusalem," says Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, director of Ecumenical and Foreign Relations for the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. "We also know that this alliance is very important, and the day Israel recognizes the Armenian genocide, the U.S. administration will, too."

The almost mystical belief that Israel and the Jewish lobby have the power to sway votes on Capitol Hill is sometimes reminiscent of the conspiracy theory in the style of the protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is probably the one thing the Turks and Armenians have in common in their historic war over the recognition of the Armenian

The archbishop was not surprised that Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan chose this week to act in Jerusalem against U.S. Congress' decision to recognize the genocide.

"Recent statements in the U.S. led the Turks to suspect that the Jews and Armenians were collaborating to pass the law in Congress. They know the Jews in the U.S. have close ties with Israel, so they are pressing the government here as they have in the past," he says.

There is no escaping the Armenian holocaust in the narrow streets of the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City. Posters on every wall call on people to remember it and a new monument in the Theological Seminary's yard is to be inaugurated on memorial day on April 24.

The memorial features a large Armenian cross and six smaller ones, representing the West Armenian districts where the slaughter took place during World War I.

But Shirvanian and the 20,000 Armenians living in Israel know that the way to the recognition of their holocaust is still long and paved with disappointment. They also understand that remembering their massacre has become a cipher in the complex equation of global politics.

It includes strategic American and Israeli interests in conflicts with Syria and terrorism, Turkish national pride, concern for Istanbul's Jews and relations between minority groups in America.

There is little place for history or justice in such an equation.

One example is the decision of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith six weeks ago to recognize the Armenian massacre as genocide.

The statement followed ongoing pressure by Armenian communities that argued that an organization that fights racism cannot ignore another nation's genocide.

A few months ago, a controversy erupted in the organization and the ADL's New England branch director, who sided with the Armenians on this issue, was fired. This led to contributors' pressures on the ADL and finally director and chairman Abraham Foxman announced that the ADL was changing its position.

The Turkish rage following the move was not directed at the ADL's offices in Washington but toward Jerusalem. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called President Shimon Peres and asked him to intervene. Peres contacted Foxman who promised to issue a new statement saying that the matter was merely semantic and that the ADL objected anyway to a resolution proposal in Congress.

The Turks knew they could depend on Peres. Five years ago, when then education minister Yossi Sarid said at a remembrance ceremony for the Armenian massacre that it would be taught as a subject in Israeli schools, then foreign minister Peres leaped to disassociate Barak's government from the statement. He rushed to Ankara and stated that Israel regarded the Armenian affair as "a disaster" but not genocide.

"We sent him a letter of protest and he didn't reply," says Archbishop Aris. "Since then, we haven't had any contact with him."


Same old things...

I’ve been quite lazy in writing impressions of life in Armenia and the main reason would have to be that married life presents itself with a whole new set of priorities and as much as I have to write about, much of the stuff I am exposed to outside of my family life are the same old things I’ve been writing about for the last 5 years. I’m not interested in sharing my family life with the world, so other than rehash, there really is not that much to write about.

Let me give you a quick rundown in what is going on in my world right now so you can see how much of it is similar to the past.

- Mayor elections in Artsakh are on Sunday. My wife’s uncle Artyom is running for a 4th time. It’s an interesting process that I am participating in for the first time. We have nightly meetings at Artyom’s election headquarters. I’m sure it’s a much more serious process in the West, but here for the most part we talk about who we think will vote for Artyom (this goes on for maybe 15 minutes), trying to get an idea of how many votes he will win by. For the rest of the night we drink tea and gossip. I’m thinking the reason we meet for so long is we have a “good reason” to stay out all night with the boys and avoid our wives (this is also why the women are not allowed into the headquarters and why my wife is so interested in what we do all night). I think the other reason we may meet so long is so the other candidates will think we are working away really hard on how to win and since I’m sure they have less votes to count and if they meet as long as we do, are consuming more tea and candy than we are. Since I'm the one to leave first to go home to my wife, since I'm not intersted in avoiding her, tonight I caught one of the opposition supporters outside our headquarters and it looked like he wanted to see what we were up to? After startling him, we engaged in small talk. He asked me when I going to give him a copy of pictures I’ve taken of him over the years (he is a former police chief and present day director of the local wine factory. He is also related to our present day Prime Minister, who is not intersted in Artyom winning since Artyom refuses to join the PM's political party)? I told Slavik I didn’t know about the old pictures, but we could take a picture together after Artyom wins. He said that he didn’t need a picture after such a sad event. We shook hands and he disappeared into the dark.

- I’ve had some transmission problems on my wife’s car that started right after I had it serviced on in Yerevan last week. It had me very concerned as I’m going to be selling her car and the people who worked on the car have told me that I’m in need of a new transmission. Nonetheless in a semi-crippled state, we drove the car back to Martuni, not understanding what was wrong with it. So after pulling my hair, my truck driver Lavrent comes along to look at the car and discovers that the transmission oil was just a little bit over the maximum level. He drained out ½ a liter of transmission oil and low and behold, the problem went away. Then I discover that Artyom, the Mayor, has a manual in Russian for Opel cars, which is what we have and in our model which has an automatic transmission, there is a sensor that if the oil is low or high, the transmission goes into a safety mode that you basically have to manually shift gears. I want to call the two mechanics in Yerevan who basically ripped me off in the tune of $300 for doing nothing and tell them how incompetent they are, but know that doing this will not change them, nor will it make me feel any better.

- I’m still building and there is no end in sight. Our house is still not finished. Our second house is still not finished. Though there is movement forward on the new factory building, I’m working on enquiring more commercial property to expand on the lot I already privatized earlier this year, which means I will end up starting to build more buildings. I guess I like construction projects to be never ending and to tell you the truth, it does not bother me a bit. The real problem is that when the end of building is near, for some reason I elect to expand it.

- I signed into an artist management contract with Nick, our talented musician. We are hopeful that within the next few months, we will sign into a contract with a major music group, which I already have solid contacts with and are ready to listen to Nick's demo. Of course when then happens, our lives will really change directions. If things materialize the way I think it will, life will have a little bit more variety. Of course I won’t give up human rights activism, and with some of my proceeds, I will hire a competent staff here in Martuni and Kashatagh to continue my work I won't have time to do. Depending on how successful Nick is, will determine how much more I can invest in development here.

- Life is changing for the better for me and my wife with the additional of a new life in the next couple of months. We are expecting our first child and are both very much looking forward to the joys of parenthood. These last few weeks I’ve been taking in and enjoying uninterrupted sleep full nights, knowing that in a couple of months all that will change. It will be interesting how I will change and once again be more forgiving to the environment around me. I remember this peaceful feeling 6 years ago when I cared for a newborn orphan for over 2 months, that my cousin adopted. With all the crap we see and experience on a daily basis, a much welcomed diversion will enter in our lives and from what I remember, the simple things through the eyes of a child, brings solitude and peace to ones soul. I’m sure looking forwards to the change. Of course this does not mean that I’m going to become mister nice guy, it just means that I’m going to be more relaxed while bad knocking people around, since I know that there is someone at home who needs me and will give me unconditional love.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yezdi Brothers killed at Gomidas 16

Yesterday morning I heard on the radio that two Yezdis were shot and killed at Gomidas 16. There were no details as to the reason behind the shooting, nor did I hear anything on the news later on that night.

As for the television show which was disrupted due to an attack on one of the hosts by members of the audience, in the afternoon, they showed it again and the station was claiming that it was a preplanned skit.

Looking at it a second time, it looked nothing like a preplanned skit and if it was, those “acting” in it deserve an Oscar and to convince me it was what they said it was, then the host and "actors" need to go on television together and state that it was a skit.

Just prior to the attack, there was a skit about Yezdis, which though may have seemed funny to some, could have been offensive to Yezdis.

A friend of mine has a neighbor who was part of the studio audience and said that what happened in the studio was not some joke, but for real and the people who attacked the host were Yezdis.

And for those of you who did not get to see the attack yourself, it was the host that punched the audience member first and then the big Yezdi was the mustache slammed him on the table.

It’s not everyday that we have Yezdis killed in Armenia and you just have to wonder if the killing at Gomidas 16 had anything to do with the attack on television the night before?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Home-Grown Wild Animals of Armenia on Live T.V.

Just a few minutes ago my wife and I were watching Erevan1 television's live comedy show called "Agoump 32 Adam".

At the start of the show, there were some persons in the audience that were disruptive. The hosts of the show asked the disruptive persons in the audience who invited them to the show and the disruptive audience members said that it didn't matter. The host played down the whole thing and the show continued.

At 10:40 p.m., the same disruptive audience members started up again and someone asked if security should be called in or send Vahe, one of the comedians, to talk with them?

The next thing we see is Vahe getting off stage and saying something to the disruptive audience members, which was followed by this big thug of a man with mustache picking up Vahe and like you see in wrestling, slams him down on a table head first. The table breaks and Vahe goes head first to the floor. We then heard someone yelling to lock the doors! It looked to me like the guy with the mustache stabbed Vahe, but I think the stabbing motion was him reaching his hands between Vaheís crotch to life him up in the air and slam him down. Next thing we know, were watching a bunch of commercials and then a music show come on.

We are now sitting here in shock wondering who the hell these people where that attacked Vahe on live television and what happened after the they cut to commercial? Did a brawl break out or did someone get killed? Did they beat the crap out of the guy with the mustache and his friends and which mafia are they connected with that they could do what they did on live television? Will they be arrested and charged? What the hell is going on in Armenia and when will this madness stop?

Apologies to the underdog

A little over a week ago a group of people from Martuni, Shushi and Stepanagert paid a visit to the village of Haygazyan, which is located in Southern Kashatagh.

For those of you who have been following Martuni or Bust for the last year, you will remember that we paid a visit to Haygazyan and Hale villages on January 6th with Father Christmas to spread holiday joy to the children and monetary aid to the 16 families living there in the dark as the government had failed to provide them with electricity for almost 10 years (see: http://aramanoogian.blogspot.com/2007/01/haygazyan-update.html and http://aramanoogian.blogspot.com/2007/01/they-went-to-make-artsakh-strong.html).

Our visit last week was to celebrate the electrification of the village and the allocation of a tractor, which was secured via an interest free 2-year loan the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation provided.

Though the celebration was wonderful, I learned that the pressure we put on the Kashatagh and Artsakh governments to fulfill their obligation of electrification came at a price to three other villages. It seems in an attempt to appease the Diaspora/native collective voice demands, the government did the right thing by helping the underdogs of Haygazyan and Hale, but in the process ended up depriving equally deserving underdogs in the villages of Kashunig, Vereni Kashunig and Marajur, who have also been waiting for 10 years in the dark and were going to receive their electricity this year.

I had a meeting with Ernist, the Kashatagh Governor in July regarding electrification of Haygazyan and at the same time brought up the subject of perusing former regional administrators of Kashatagh, especially the former governor who was Antranig Markaryanís in-law, who had basically stolen all of the money from the 2007 budget for the region and who presently holds a very good and lucrative government post in Armenia. I also added that minister Armo had stated in our January 7, 2007 meeting (see: http://aramanoogian.blogspot.com/2007/01/great-success.html) that he had desired to review all projects in Kashatagh which equates to millions of dollars, but large parts of them have obviously been stolen. Armo said that though this was his desire, the President and Prime Minister at the time said that he was crazy to consider such a thing and declined his request. Governor Ernist's answer to me on pursuing the former governor and Armo's plan, which was not pursued under the former corrupt Gulkasyan administration, was that if we do that, 80 out of 100 people will have to face criminal charges and instead of disrupting what we have, we should forget the past and just move forward.

Well seeing how the electrification has come to Haygazyan and the price paid by Kashunig. Vereni Kashunig and Marajur villages, I think that the now Deputy Prime Minister Armo's desire of reviewing all work done in Kashatagh and making the people who have enriched their personal wealth via misappropriation of funds that were earmarked for the development of the region should be a priority of the new Artsakh government. Of course if this does not happen, then it means that the next 5 years are not going to be any different than what we have faced during the last 10 years and the human suffering our people have faced due to a corrupt government will continue until we start to think about the people and not the 80% of those who hold government posts who have and most probably will continue to enrich their lives at the price of what should reach the common citizens so their lives will improve.

On a bright note to this story, thanks to the electrification of Haygazyan, the village has been added to a program that teaches computer science to villages in the regions with computers provided by Friends of Armenia. This is a very popular class that is attended by young and old alike every Friday and Saturday.