Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Armenian killed in Moscow

Pubic Radio of Armenia
30.01.2007 17:50

An Armenian was gunned down in the northwest of Moscow. The representative of the Moscow Prosecutor General's office informs that "this afternoon in front the entrances of one of the buildings in Khimkinski Boulevard unknown people gunned down a man. The man immediately died of the gunshot wounds," the Prosecutor's Office reports.

The operative-investigative group of the Prosecutor's Office of Moscow Northwest Region is working at the place of the crime. A criminal case has been launched. It was revealed that the victim was Armen Manukyan, born in 1970.

According to the data of law-enforcement bodies of Moscow, the crime was committed at 12:00 Moscow time at 4, Khimkinski Boulevard.

According to preliminary data, the fire was opened from "Zhiguli" car.


YEREVAN, JANUARY 26, NOYAN TAPAN. A group of famous Armenian intellectuals expressed their anxiety in an open letter addressed to the RA President, Prime Minister and National Assembly Speaker on the occasion of the exhibition dedicated to the Armenian Christian art to open in the Louvre museum within the framework of the Year of Armenia being held in France. It is envisaged to exhibit in Louvre ancient illustrated parchment manuscripts, Etchmiadzin Avetaran (Gospel) of 989, Margare painter, Kirakos miniature painter and Toros Roslin, correspondingly the Gospels and other manuscripts germinated in 1211, 1249 and 1267-1268, being kept in the Yerevan M.Mashtots Matenadaran (Armenian repository of ancient manuscripts.

In the intellectuals' opinion, transportation of these manuscript exclusive volumes to France at the same time, especially by air, is fraught with irretrievable and calamitous consequences. They mentioned that one must not forget how a number of paintings of world-famous paiter of the Armenian origin Arshile Gorky were abolished during a plane crash years ago, and how Martiros Sarian's early period canvases were burnt in France during the fire on a ship.

According to the letter authors, these manuscripts envisaged for being exhibited in Louvre are just crumbs of our centuries-old history and the further generations will not forgive their loss. "Finally, the letter authors mention, those manuscripts are the treasure of all Armenians and not only of Matenadaran and the Republic of Armenia."

"So we ask you to prohibit transportation of manuscripts to France, especially all together, by air, based on the existing corresponding legislation," the intellectuals mention. And instead of those valuable volumes, the intellectuals propose to exhibit in the Louvre copies of the same manuscripts and miniatures which are exhibited at the National Gallery of Armenia and Matenadaran.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Will anything change?

In the last few days I’ve been engaged in discussions of if anything will change in our relations with Turkey due to the murder of Hrant Dink?

Though most of the people I’ve spoken to want to have friendly relations with Turks and Turkey, very few believe that the Turkish or Armenian side are really ready for them.

First let me start out to say that I am all for relations, but have a real problem having friendly relations without Turks and Turkey coming to terms with their past. Yes it will be traumatizing for the nation, but I can’t imagine it being more traumatizing for them then the trauma my grandparents had when most of their family members were slaughtered violently and everything their families had worked for was suddenly taken from them and they were marched off into the desert to presumably die.

On the 19th, I wrote a log titled “Another victim of the Armenian Genocide.” This log had some very interesting comments from both Armenians and also a Turk named mersenne_twister.

From what I gathered of mersenne_twister writings, this is liberal Turk who had a great deal of respect for Hrant and mourned his loss. mersenne_twister views presumably represents the best we Armenians can hope for, though mersenne_twister admits to being the minority in a land of ultra-fascists nationalist.

mersenne_twister admitted that the ultra-fascists nationalist are in control of the country and the APK Government are not nationalist, but are liberal Islamists who want to integrate with the EU and although they are conservatives, their actions with EU are seen by the military & nationalists as betrayal. So the governing party doesn't have a strong hand as well and right now all the opposition parties are becoming more nationalistic to get them off the senate.

mersenne_twister interpretation of Hrant Dink was that he was not for “genocide” and that he was a supporter of PEACE and understanding between Turkey and Armenia. Though he was for peace, from what I’ve seen of Hrant, he was for Turkey to come to terms with it’s past Genocide of the Armenians and for this reason he was being charge with article 301.

mersenne_twister goes on to say that it's Turkey who has to go a step forward because of the constant denial in the past, but the Turkish people are so deeply brainwashed about the issue, most of them think that the whole world is conspiring against them.

mersenne_twister stated that unfortunately the political system in Turkey does not really give the individual any chance to speak up, that's why Hirant was killed as well, so whenever you mention something about resolving the feud with Armenia, these fascists label you as traitors almost immediately and most of the common people don't know beyond the official history that's taught in class. mersenne_twister states that “individually I don't have any power apart from speaking and now I've got to be careful about even that.”

In terms of mersenne_twister personal view on the Genocide and remember, this is coming from a liberal common everyday Turk states the following:

“I don't think It will be easy to make them even think about possibilities, most of the people here know that massacres happened then, but either they feel that there was a war and it had to be done (which is kinda true although it IS surely a systematic massacre which has gone way over the top.) and the Armenians killed many Turks as well. That's because most of them never care to read a history book, and even if they read, they read a Turkish historian like Hacaloglu, who support the official thesis, and Mr. Berktay & co. who are notable history professors who don't support the official thesis are not allowed to speak, and most of the newspapers conspired that they were traitors as well.

I don't know what will happen, even if the whole world agrees that it's a genocide, most of the people here will still think it's a conspiracy against the Turks as they always say the only friend of a Turk is Turk, and stuff like that would get the nationalists even more powerful, which unfortunately would make this country unendurable.”

“and if you wanna know my ideas about the 1915 issue, calling it genocide would be anachronistic, because there wasn't the term for it, and obviously the concept wasn't there too. it was during the WWI and in that era & especially during the war time, disinformation by Ittihad & Terakki, no possible communication with parts of the country, resulted in a terrible catastrophe like this, but the term genocide, I don't know man frankly, no one living here would want to be labeled as a nation that wanted to kill all Armenians,”

“A possible Genocide or Ethnicide is a very harsh term, and the term itself is causing all the problems. I know how you feel about your past, and I'm sorry and the blame is on Turkey for not resolving this problem and issue an apology or give back belongings. but today at this point, the problem is not easily to be resolved because it's based on perceived differences, the same event is believed to be two different things by two different camps. Armenians believe it's a genocide (because of years of talking and reading), and the Turks say it's not possible to be genocide (because of propaganda).

As I said forcing Turkey to agree a genocide is not gonna work as it will make nationalists go even madder. I think the best solution is to get Turkey to open the border to Armenia so both Eastern Turkey and Armenia would benefit. The relations would be neutralized, then Turkey will issue a formal apology on behalf of the Ittihad Terakki regime. Maybe Conferences together talking about the events, exhibitions etc. to form ties between two nations takes place.

However the word "genocide" connotes a much too powerful image, which would shatter the common Turks' understanding of the world and traumatize it that's why even if the US agrees that's a genocide, I think common people here would not agree with it and I think it's not the best way to get a heartfelt apology.”

Now you have to ask yourself that if a common everyday educated liberal Turk has the perceptions as stated above and the majority of the population in Turkey today are ultra-fascists nationalist who are trying to prevent membership to the EU, what hope is there for opening boarders, signing into peace deals and living happily ever after?

I can certainly tell you that Turkey is going to have to come to terms with her past and it’s not going to be up to her to decide if what happened in 1915 (according to mersenne_twister before the term or concept of Genocide was invented, thus it could not have happened) was Genocide. It’s going to be up to Turkey and it’s population to come to terms with what the world labels what happened in 1915.

Bottom line is that Hrant Dink went into a tunnel that he could not see the light at the end, but believed there had to be a light. He had hoped that something good would come from his journey, but at the end of that tunnel he found that the lights were off and no one was interested in hearing what he had to say. Article 301 (which represents the majority of Turkey) handed down a verdict of death to Hrant and the 17-year-old ultra-fascists nationalist carried out the sentence.

It should also be noted that Hrant should have known better as to what awaits him for the work he was doing. His first-cousin Noubar Yalmian, who was also a writer and activist, was run out of Turkey, hunted down in Holland by MIT (this is the Turkish CIA) agents and killed in November of 1982.

The world will talk about Hrant’s murder for a month (if that) and then all will be forgotten, with a few of us trying to keep the fire going, but no one will be listening or interested in what we are says as usual.

What is the future of our liberated territories?

After our visit to Southern Kashatagh (Lachin), visiting with persons in government and then reading the December 1994 Human Rights Watch/ Helsinki (HRWH) report titled “SEVEN YEARS OF CONFLICT IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH,” I’m starting to think that the Artsakh/Armenian government does in fact have plans on turning over those territories they are presently neglecting to Azerbaijan in exchange for a legal status. Though this contradicts their actions in terms of repopulating those territories over the last 10 years, it seems the direction they are going.

I will say one thing in terms of such a plan and that is that if we give land for peace/status today in the form of a treaty, mark my words, just like the United States, who has signed into many treaties and broken all of them, Azerbaijan will do the same thing. A Treaty with Azerbaijan means nothing and the only thing it will do is prolong the inevitable.

If it was up to me, we would not give anything to Azerbaijan and build our country on what we have today. Of course to successfully do this, you have to have a committed government who are working for the people and not for themselves. This is also why today’s government is ready to give Azerbaijan these territories, because they know without sacrificing their personal economic control/gain of the countries resources and upholding the laws for the benefit of the greater population, there is no way such a plan of action could be realized.

Maybe I was too harsh with the Minister of Territorial Administration, Armo Tsaturyan when he told me during our January 7, 2007 meeting that those that have stolen and taken control of our economy for themselves should all be lined up and shot. I thought that the law should punish such people, but he insisted the only way was a firing quad.

Anyway, enough of why I think Artsakh and Armenia really are opting of giving Azerbaijan liberated territory that is vital for our security now and in the future.

According to the 1994 HRWH report, page 109 to 110 reads:

In an interview with the American-Armenian publication AIM, [Robert] Kocharian [Chairman of the Karabakh Defense Committee] stated that, "We should be completely be assured that the territory returned will not be used as a base to commence military action." Consequently a "land for peace status" relationship has formed.

The Karabakh Armenians repeatedly claim they do not intend to hold most of the territory they captured outside of the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh. (page 110) According to Foreign Minister [Arkadii] Gukasyan, "Captured territory is also an object of the negotiations. We don't have any claims to the territory in Azerbaijan and are prepared to view this question in the context of all the rest..." In February 1994, Defense Committee Chairman Kocharian commented that, "Each side could now benefit from negotiations: Azerbaijan could get territory and we could get the recognition of the status of the NKR”

The Karabakh Armenians, however, seem unwilling to return certain territories, like Lachin or Kelbajar for the band of Azerbaijani territory that separates Karabakh from Armenia on the west. At its narrowest part, the city of Lachin, only about ten kilometers separate NKAO from Armenia. Defense Chairman Kocharian has stated that, "Concerning the question, 'All or not all of the (captured) territory', then the Lachin corridor or the Lachin region should be the subject of special discussion during the negotiations. Lachin is the only connection linking us with the outside world....Kelbajar also has a special status and we shouldn't consider conditions for its return to be the same for the return of Agdam or Fizuli."

Friday, January 26, 2007


YEREVAN, JANUARY 26, NOYAN TAPAN. The State Tax Inspection adjunct to the Armenian government published the list of 300 biggest tax paying companies by the results of 2006. The Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Enterprise tops the list: the total amount of taxes and duties paid by this enterprise makes more than 32 bln 805.5 mln drams (over 78.8 mln USD). The next three places are occupied by the following companies: ArmenTel which provides public services - 20 bln 257.3 mln drams, ArmRusgazprom - 13 bln 733.4 mln drams, and mobile phone communication operator K-Telecom - 9 bln 412 mln drams. Electric Networks of Armenian is in 8th place - about 5 bln 250 mln drams.

Flash (about 9 bln 400.5 mln drams) and City Petrol Service (over 8 bln 784.8 mln drams) - the companies mainly engaged in fuel import - are in 5h and 6th place respectively of the 2006 Big Taxpayer List, while cigaratte importing Pares Armenia is in 7th place (7 bln 53.7 mln drams). Salex Group, a company that imports and sells foodstuffs, is in 9th place (more than 5 bln 80.4 mln drams), and local cigarette producers Grand Tobacco (about 4 bln 438.3 mln drams) and International Masis Tobacco (about 4 bln 238 mln drams) are in 10th and 11th place respectively.

By last year's results, the biggest taxpayer in electricity generation sector was the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (12th place), in production of alcoholic drinks - Yerevan Brandy Company (15th place), car import - Armenia Lada (16th place), banking sector - HSBC Bank Armenia (27th place), food production - Grand Candy (33rd place), beer, juice and soft drink production - Yerevan Beer (35th place) and in constriction sector - North Island (62nd place).

Monday, January 22, 2007

They Went to Make Artsakh Strong

[January 22, 2007]

“If you want to taste suffering, come and live here for a few days,” said teacher Khanum Zakoyan.

The Kashatagh region in Nagorno Karabakh has caught the attention of several Diaspora organizations (See: Is It All Hopeless?)

On New Year's Eve, the Shahan Natali Family Foundation launched the program "From Hand to Hand" in Kashatagh. The aim of the program is too ease the condition of poor families in villages throughout the region, solve electricity problems in some of the villages, and by drawing Diaspora attention to the region, demand that the Karabakh government develop and implement a policy regarding resettling the liberated territories.

“The program's aim is not only to help families in dire conditions, but to spread awareness among the population of Karabakh. Ordinary Karabaktsis do not know what is going in the liberated territories. They understand the strategic importance of these territories, but they never imagined what they saw in the villages we visited," said Ara Manukyan, who represents the foundation.

With money collected in United States, the foundation distributed New Year's gifts to the children of Haykazyan and Hale, and provided monetary support to 16 families. The money was distributed by 16 visitors who came from Stepanakert, Shushi, and Martuni.

Ira Khachatryan from Martuni, who lost her husband and two sons in the war, was shocked to see young children sleeping without a bed and blankets. "If I had known I would have brought several blankets with me," she said.

The children of Haykazyan saw Santa Claus for the first time, and the day turned into a special holiday for them. The villagers gathered and celebrated New Year with the visitors.

The village of Haykazyan was founded in 1997; at the time there were 60 families living there. (See: Nine Years with No Electricity)

Today there are only nine families left.

"The situation is bad. I'm amazed that people can live like this. This is heroism. I met with the Minister of Karabakh's Territorial Government and Infrastructure Development, Arno Tzaturyan, to discuss this situation. He said that the people should leave. I replied that No, we would help so that people stayed there. I had a feeling that the government is doing whatever it can so that people will leave, " Ara Manukyan said.

"First, those people who can't serve the nation have to leave. We must promptly provide the population with most vital necessities, such as electricity, power, education. We must have a program on resettlement of the liberated lands, and the current Karabkh government does not have one and doesn't want one. In November Arkady Ghukasyan promised in Los Angeles to make changes within a month. These changes didn't happen, and it seems they won't happen in the future. The Diaspora and the people of Karabakh have to force the government to do its job,” Ara said.

"Living conditions are bad, houses are falling down, if it continues like this the village will be empty," said Armen Chmoyan, head of the Haykazyan village administration.

"The villager has land, but no equipment to cultivate it, but this doesn't bother the powers that be. We constructed a small lake next to the Vorotan River, but it was left unfinished, since there is no money. We could breed fish. If the government would help us a little, with one million drams, we would have already finished it, " said the village head.

"We've lived here for eight years, but nothing has changed. We barely survive. If only they paid a little attention—a little bit, we don't want much—we would do the rest. At least install electricity. For women, electricity is the most important thing. We heat the iron in the oven, and wash clothes by hand," said Gyulnara, a teacher of geography and history. She has three young children.

"We fixed up the house. It was falling apart. We keep livestock, cultivate the land. We didn't receive any help from the government. There is not even a store here. To buy food we have to go 55 kilometers to Goris or 80 kilometers to Berdzor, so we can buy sugar or soap. We can't sell what we produce either. If we take meat to Goris, it costs us 500 drams per kilo,” Gyulnara said.

"If you want to know the taste of suffering, come and live here for a few days, " added teacher Khanum Zakoyan.

Her husband Gevorg Martirosyan is the director of the Haykaz Khachatryan elementary school. The school has 45 students, some of whom come from the neighboring villages of Hale and Janfida the Sanasar and Zinavan army bases.

"I said, It's the land of our grandfathers, we liberated it with blood, let's settle there. We came, and they said in the fall there would be electricity. Nine years have gone by since then, and there is no electricity. When we came, they gave teachers 40,000 drams and said, go and build your houses. My relatives say, Gevorg is crazy. Why is he staying there? " says Gevorg Martirosyan.

"Why are we punished this way? We have a right to live too, don't we?” asked Khanum Zakoyan. “We are a family of teachers, we came from Gyumri to strengthen Artsakh, but every year they lie to us that they'll bring electricity. We are now doctors, shoemakers – we do everything, but we are not going to live forever, are we? I am a mother of five, and now we have to light candles and sit together. For who and for what are we sacrificing our lives?”

Edik Baghdasaryan

See also: Arkady Ghukasyan: “I See Serious Problems in Kashatagh”

Haygazyan Unplugged #3 – Impressions

The following are testimonials from the people from Martuni who went with us to Haygazyan and Hale villages on June 6th to distribute the collected aid for our Hand-To-Hand program.

For those of you who are just joining us, you may want to scroll down this log to the June 20th and 21st logs that consist of 22 video clips documenting our work. After that view the comments and impressions from the natives below.

Haygazyan Unplugged clip #23:

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Turkey moves forward with it’s plan realize their dream of a greater Turkey

With all going on my life, the following story I missed that was posted on Sassna Dzrer.


According to a variety of media reports, construction of the controversial railway linking Turkey and Azerbaijan, via Georgia, will begin by no later than July 2007.

Georgian Economic Development Minister, Giorgi Arveladze, is quoted as saying that an agreement on the details of the new rail link was reached this past Sunday in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

The 285 kilometer project, which will take an estimated two and one-half years to complete, will start in Kars, Turkey and end in Baku, Azerbaijan. It will bypass Armenia completely and will not utilize the old Kars - Gyumri railroad.

Neither the United States nor the European Union will finance the project which is estimated to cost some USD 400 million. Turkey and Azerbaijan will pay for most of the construction costs, with Georgia later paying for these loans through transit fees.

Matthew Bryza, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs commented on the railway agreement by stating that,

"Of course, we would like the railway, which connects Turkey with Baku, to pass through Armenia, since it reflects our policy. Second, from economic point of view it is more expedient to connect Turkey and Georgia through Armenian territory. But we cannot make decisions on that issue. Investors themselves push forward investment plans, which are more profitable for them. If Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia want to construct a railway, of course, we cannot object. But we do not particularly support that project. We hope that in near future we will see such a transportation scheme, which includes all the countries of the region ."

The one comment so far reads:

“All throughout history the commencment of railway construction tended to be a prelude to war. A fine case in point, WW1... Berlin-Constantinople-Baghdad.”


I have to agree with the comment and would state my concern with what the criminal governments to the West and East of us are doing, which is once again preparing for war against us. And to the North of us is the legendary Christian whore of the Caucasus Georgia, who will hop into bed with anyone who will give them a little economic gratification for their tricks.

I’m also bothered by the U.S., who once took a very strong stance on this issue, stating that it goes against all they believe in and will cause instability in the region and now simply state officially that “…we can not object.”

If the U.S. is so concerned with stability in the region, then instead of rewarding Georgia with economic aid and kissing their asses, put your foot down and sanction them for going contrary to your wishes. In fact do the same for Turkey and Azerbaijan, as it's obvious they have money to build a railway and don't need the millions you give them year after year.

I hope someone at the Armenian Assembly and the Armenian National Committee in Washington D.C. will pick up on this latest development and act accordingly.

Report: Teen admits killing journalist

By BENJAMIN HARVEY, Associated Press Writer

The teenage boy suspected of fatally shooting an ethnic Armenian journalist confessed during initial questioning that he killed the man, a local prosecutor told a state-run news agency on Sunday.

Ahmet Cokcinar — a prosecutor in the city of Samsun, where the boy was caught — told the Anatolia news agency that the teenager confessed to killing Hrant Dink.

Ogun Samast, who is either 16 or 17 years old, was caught Saturday after police acted on a tip from the boy's father after his picture was broadcast on Turkish television, senior officials said.

Samast was caught on a bus as he was apparently traveling from Istanbul, where the shooting took place, back to his hometown of Trabzon, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said.

Dink, the 52-year-old editor of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, was gunned down outside his newspaper's office on Friday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Samast was arrested with the gun believed to have been used in the killing. Video footage showed paramilitary police at the Samsun bus station inspecting a pistol and then placing it into an evidence bag.

Guler said Samast's father had turned him in.

Most Turks assume Dink was targeted for his columns saying the killing of ethnic Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century was genocide. Nationalists consider such statements an insult to Turkey's honor and a threat to its unity, and Dink had been showered with insults and threats.

Turkey's relationship with its Armenian minority has long been haunted by a bloody past. Much of its once-influential Armenian population was killed or driven out beginning around 1915 in what an increasing number of nations are calling the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians died but vehemently denies it was genocide, saying the overall figure is inflated and the deaths occurred in the civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Samast was caught after television stations across Turkey broadcast on Saturday a purported photograph of him caught by a security camera about two blocks from the scene of the crime in Istanbul.

Guler said earlier that Dink's secretary had identified the young man in the photograph as the same person who had requested a meeting with Dink the day he was killed, the Anatolia news agency reported. The man said he was a student at Ankara University, Guler said.

The request was refused, and the secretary said she saw him waiting in front of a bank about an hour before Dink was killed, Anatolia reported.

Guler said Samast was born in 1990, but did not release his exact age. He said the teen was being brought back to Istanbul for questioning along with six other suspects from Trabzon.

Police were investigating whether the teen acted alone or had ties to a group.

The suspect's uncle Faik Samast told private NTV television that he didn't think his nephew was capable of acting alone.

"He didn't even know his way around Istanbul," Samast said. "This kid was used."

Threats and violence against Turkish editors and reporters is not uncommon. Well-known journalists commonly receive police protection and travel around Istanbul with bodyguards. Dink was alone when he was killed.

Guler rejected accusations the government did not do enough to protect Dink.

"Because he didn't request protection, he didn't get close protection," he said Saturday. "Only general security precautions were taken."

Mourners held a vigil at the spot where Dink was gunned down. Many in the crowd, which included Turks and members of Istanbul's small Armenian community, had pictures of the slain journalist pinned to their chests.

"We're here to pay our respects," said Sabri Nas, 47, an Armenian-Turk. "We are against this violence, whatever the motivation."

A Pale Blue Dot

On October 13, 1994, the famous astronomer Carl Sagan was delivering a public lecture at his own university of Cornell. During that lecture, he presented this photo:

The photo above was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it sailed away from Earth, more than 4 billion miles in the distance. Having completed its primary mission, Voyager at that time was on its way out of the Solar System, on a trajectory of approximately 32 degrees above the plane of the Solar System. Ground Control issued a command for the distant space craft to turn around, and, looking back, take photos of each of the planets it had visited. From Voyager's vast distance, the Earth was captured as a infinitesimal point of light (between the two white thick marks), actually smaller than a single pixel of the photo. The image was taken with a narrow angle camera lens, with the Sun quite close to the field of view. Quite by accident, the Earth was captured in one of the scattered light rays, caused by taking the image at an angle so close to the Sun. Dr. Sagan was quite moved by this image of our tiny world. Here is an enlargement of the area around our Pale Blue Dot and an excerpt from the late Dr. Sagan's talk:

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Haygazyan Unplugged #2 - Aid Delivery Day

The six video clips in my previous log are from our initial visit to Haygazyan Village in the Kashatagh region. The following are from our visit on January 6, 2007 with Santa and his helpers, when we delivered the collected aid from our Hand-To-Hand project. Again due to a not so great connection, I’m going to upload them little by little and add them to this post, since it’s very important for you to see what is going on, so keep checking back and scrolling down.

Haygazyan Unplugged clip #7:

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Haygazyan Unplugged

The following video is the raw unedited footage from our visit to Haygazyan Village in Southern Kashatagh. Since I don’t have the greatest internet connection, I’ll be uploading it little by little.

Haygazyan Unplugged – 30 December 2006 - clip #1:

Haygazyan Unplugged – 30 December 2006 - clip #2:

Haygazyan Unplugged – 30 December 2006 - clip #3:

Haygazyan Unplugged – 30 December 2006 - clip #4:

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Another victim of the Armenian Genocide

Today in Turkey, Hrant Dink was shot dead by an unknown assassin.

Hrant was well known for his outspoken views on the Armenian Genocide and was constantly being harassed by the Turkish Government for his “insulting Turkishness.”

Though I never had a chance to meet Hrant, my parents knew him as he was an admirer of my grandfather Shahan Natalie.

All I can say is that though my efforts have been more on nation building and not Armenian Genocide recognition, these kinds of senseless killings motivate one to look closer to and work towards ascertaining the recognition we deserve so such senseless violent acts will no longer happen.

This assassination will bring much needed exposure to the United States to show who Turkey really is, where it looks like the Genocide will finally be recognized by the government. This killing will probably be the deciding factor some who were undecided on to vote or against Genocide recognition.

Once the Genocide is recognized by the United States Government, it will be time to pursue restitution. My family who was once the ruling royal family in Armenia has many prime real estate holding that were stolen from us in down-town Istanbul as well as other parts of present day Turkey. You can be sure that we will reclaim those lands and buildings and send a message to those who think that killing us will scare or stop us from ascertaining what is rightfully due us.

The punk and those like him or her who killed Hrant or think killing us will change things is only shooting themselves in the foot, as we will not give pursuing our claims and in the end the only one to loose will be YOU!!!

Hrant, you will be remembered for all you did for our people and we will all be thinking of you when Turkey finally and officially recognizes the Genocide of our people.

Turkish-Armenian editor shot dead in Istanbul

Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:59 PM GMT

By Paul de Bendern and Ercan Ersoy

ISTANBUL (Reuters)
- A high-profile Turkish-Armenian editor, convicted of insulting Turkey's identity, was shot dead outside his newspaper office in Istanbul on Friday.

Hrant Dink, a writer and journalist and a frequent target of nationalist anger, was shot by an unknown assailant as he left his newspaper Agos around 1 p.m. British time in central Istanbul, the paper said.

"Hrant was a perfect target for those who want to obstruct Turkey's democratisation and its path towards the European Union," Agos writer Aydin Engin told Reuters.

Broadcaster NTV said Dink been shot three times in the neck and police were now looking for a 18 or 19-year-old man.

CNN Turk television said two men had been detained in connection with the shooting.

The attack is bound to raise political tensions in would-be EU member Turkey, where politicians of all parties have been courting the nationalist vote ahead of presidential elections in May and parliamentary polls due by November.

Protesters at the scene chanted "the murderer government will pay" and "shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism".

Television footage showed his body lying in the street covered by a white sheet, with hundreds of bystanders gathering behind a police cordon.

"This bullet was fired against Turkey ... an image has been created about Turkey that its Armenian citizens have no safety," said CNN Turk editor Taha Akyol.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it "forcefully condemned" the "loathsome attack".

Last year Turkey's appeals court upheld a six-month suspended jail sentence against Dink, a Turkish-born Armenian, for referring in an article to an Armenian nationalist idea of ethnic purity without Turkish blood.

The court said the comments went against an article of Turkey's revised penal code which lets prosecutors pursue cases against writers and scholars for "insulting Turkish identity".

The ruling was sharply criticised by the EU.


Dink was one of dozens of writers who have been charged under laws against insulting Turkishness, particularly over the alleged genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One.

Turkey denies allegations that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide. It says both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks were killed in a partisan conflict that raged on Ottoman territory.

But the government has promised to revise the much criticised article of the penal code amid EU pressure.

Dink was editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish and Armenian newspaper and one of the most prominent Armenian voices in Turkey.

"I will not leave this country. If I go I would feel I was leaving alone the people struggling for democracy in this country. It would be a betrayal of them. I could never do this," Dink said in an interview with Reuters last July.

Tensions have been growing ahead of presidential elections amid a rise in nationalism.

Turkey's powerful secularist establishment fears the ruling AK Party, which controls parliament and has roots in political Islam, will elect Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as president.

Secularists, including powerful army generals and judges, fear Erdogan -- a former Islamist -- would try to erode Turkey's strict division between state and religion if elected president.

Erdogan denies he or his party have an Islamist agenda.

Armenian-Turkish journalist shot dead

Staff and agencies
Friday January 19, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

An Armenian-Turkish journalist who was tried repeatedly in Turkey for speaking out about the mass killing of Armenians at the start of the 20th century was shot dead today outside his office, police said.

Hrant Dink, a 53-year-old Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, was shot three times by an unknown gunman by the entrance of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, according to TV reports.

"Dink was shot in front of the office and he is dead," an employee of the weekly paper was quoted as telling the AFP news agency.

Mr Dink had received threats from Turkish nationalists who viewed him as a traitor for describing as genocide the killing of Armenians between 1915 and 1917. The issue is bitterly disputed between Turkey and neighbouring Armenia, which have no diplomatic relations.

As editor of Agos, Mr Dink was one of Turkey's most prominent Armenian voices.

In October 2005, he was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for writing a newspaper article that addressed the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians.

The European Union had raised the issue of Mr Dink's treatment as a possible barrier to Turkey's EU entry.

Armenia wants Turkey and other nations to officially label as genocide the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. Turkey says the dead were victims of the first world war.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hand-To-Hand on Artsakh T.V.

I finally have a semi-decent connection, thus I’ve uploaded the Artsakh T.V. program Homeland-Diaspora, which aired on January 9, 2007 and reports on our project Hand-To-Hand. It’s in 2 parts since YouTube is limited to 10 minute videos.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Monday, January 15, 2007

Notorious Pimp Changes Name


[January 15, 2007]

As we have reported earlier, Amalya Mnatsakayan (Nano) and Marieta Musayelyan – both notorious pimps – took new groups of women to the United Arab Emirates in November 2006 (See also: When They Get Out of Jail, the Pimps Go Back to Work).

Amalya Mnatsakanyan is wanted by Interpol and had been arrested by UAE police on March 10, 2004 and deported. According to UAE law, Amalya Mnatsakanyan could no longer gain entry to the country. Her retina scan was stored in the computer database of the UAE Migration Service under persona non grata.

So how did Amalya Mnatsakanyan return to Dubai?

Her partners in Dubai bribed workers at the UAE Migration Service, who then deleted her retina scan from the computer database. She falsely registered a marriage in Yerevan and changed her last name to Matulyan. She then left for Dubai from Moscow, under the name Marieta Matulyan.

The two pimps continue to subject Armenian women to sexual exploitation in Dubai. Three women managed to escape from their clutches there – Armine from Hoktemberyan, Arpine from Etchmiatsin, and Dinulik, a refugee living in Yerevan. The mother of one of these women had handed her over to Nano for a sum of 800 dollars, even though she knew the fate that awaited her daughter. One of the women had sent us a note through one of our sources in Dubai, seeking help. In her letter, A wrote, “We, the slaves, hostages and servants who work under Nano and Marieta in Dubai, request and beseech all law enforcement bodies as well as persecutors' offices, security organs, newspaper editorial boards, officials in the fight against trafficking and other organizations, to save us from these two cruel executioners and to rescue us from this swamp so that we, who have been tricked, can come back home.”

The author of the letter also wrote about how she had been tricked and taken to Dubai and about the suffering that she had been subjected to at the hands of the two women and the Arabs serving them.

Here are the pictures of the women – Amalya Matulyan and Marieta Musayelyan.

P.S. Since Hetq has been banned by the UAE government (See: Hetq.am Banned in the Emirates) we have had to send this article and pictures to the police in Dubai by email.
Respect for their country's law must obligate the UAE police to arrest and convict the women, sentencing them to either imprisonment or deportation.

P.P.S. In the first days of January the women who escaped from the pimps turned to the Police Department of Dubai and reported that their passports had been taken by the pimps. On January 4, the Dubai police has arrested Amalia Matulyan and Marieta Musa y elyan.
In UAE they will either stand trial or will be deported to Armenia. But in Armenia these pimps who ha ve been convicted several times before will most likely be set free.
Edik Baghdasaryan

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NKR presidential election

by Kristine Khanumian

Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan,
10 Jan 2007 p 3

A presidential election will be held in the NKR [Nagornyy Karabakh republic] in the summer. Who are the potential candidates for president? Despite his numerous statements, incumbent President Arkadi Ghukasian [Arkadiy Gukasyan] continues to remain the No 1 candidate.

The second candidate may be the parliament speaker, Ashot Ghulian [Ashot Gulyan]. It has been repeatedly mentioned over the past two years that in order to retain power, the authorities will do everything possible not only to nominate Ghulian's candidacy but to ensure his victory as well. Ghulian, who is considered to be a politician "put forward" by Ghukasian, started his political carrier after taking over the post of NKR foreign minister from Naira Melkumian [Naira Melkumyan]. However, before the parliamentary election in 2005, he became education, culture and sport minister.

This replacement could seem nonsense at first sight, but things are not that simple. Before that, Armen Sarkisian [Armen Sarkisyan], member of the Dashnak party [the Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun, RFD] held the post of education, culture and sport minister. However, as a result of disagreements between the authorities and the Karabakh wing of the ARFD, Sarkisian was dismissed from the post and replaced with Ghulian. Ghulian's appointment to the post had its own goal: after local government elections (as a result of which opposition representatives gained victory), the authorities wanted to take "revenge" and unite their forces. The army and the police apparently were behind the authorities but a powerful system like education had been neglected.

After Ghulian's appointment to the post of education, culture and sport minister, DPA-fication (Democratic Party of Artsakh [Karabakh], established at the initiative of the incumbent regime) started in the Nagornyy Karabakh republic. The result was that the army, the police and the education system ensured the victory of the Democratic Party of Artsakh in the election. Ghulian was elected member of parliament under the proportional representation system and assumed the post of speaker of parliament. People also say that Ghulian is supported by top officials and businessmen who are natives of Askaran [town in
Nagornyy Karabakh].

The head of the National Security Service, Bako Saakian, is considered to be the No 3 candidate to come to power in the NKR. Many people in Karabakh have heard about him but few have seen the results of his activity. People say that when Saakian was foreign minister for a short period of time, he implemented serious reforms in the system. However, he was not given an opportunity to work for long. Saakian took part in almost all state events but preferred to remain in the "shadow". People say that his supporter is in Yerevan.

It cannot be ruled out that Ghulian and Saakian will put forward their candidacies in order to get as many opposition votes as possible in favour of the authorities.

Potential candidate No 4 is Deputy Foreign Minister Masis Mailian [Masis Mailyan]. He is known as an official who has outlived many ministers and has not been in the foreground that much until recently. He has become active only recently as a result of which his rating has very much gone up.

Candidate No 5 is the leader of the RFD - Movement-88 parliamentary group and former education, culture and sport minister, Armen Sarkisian. Certainly, he is not considered to be as strong as the rest of the candidates, but let us not forget that he is a member of the RFD and this may have a serious impact on the results of the election - certainly, if he puts himself forward.

“Free” Education in Armenia is not Free

The other night my wife and I went to dinner at the house of some people in Yerevan we have known for a couple of years. These are common people just getting by and have a son who is in his senior year of high school.

The mother was telling me of the difficulties they are having in with the school and how the director of the school has bluntly said to all the parents how much money they will have to pay so their children will graduate. She said this year will cost her about $500 (which she is not sure where she will get) so her son will graduate and receive his Adistat, which is an official record of his grades. This is a document that is required for her son’s entrance into the university.

I asked her about her other son who is 11 years old and how he is learning. She said that some times he gets frustrated with his lessons, as the books that are now being used have made simple subjects much more complicated. She said for instance math is no longer 1 plus 1 equals 2, but 1 plus 26 divided by 3 minus 9 plus 1 equals 2. Her son’s math teacher said that the government has intentionally complicated learning to discourage children from learning and according to the teacher today’s government is creating an illiterate/retarded (debil) population that they can control. The math teacher has on his own resorted to teaching from books that were around before independence, which can still be found at used bookstores. One other thing that is a financial hardship and frustration is the notebooks the school requires the students to buy. The teachers admit that they are not needed or used, but the ministry of education orders the teachers to tell the students to buy them as someone in power is printing and profiting from their sale.

We need people in the educational sector to review the books being used today. In addition to this, the ministry of educations “business” practices need to be put into check as demanding money for education that the government is required to provide to its population for free is certainly not acceptable.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Acts of Civil Obedience – Putting an end to Corruption in Armenian

The Armenian and Artsakh governments are infested with corrupt officials that the majority of the active Armenian nation at one time or another has fed these people, making it profitable to remain in power.

By people paying bribes to ascertain services or buy their way out of trouble, or in the case of the Diaspora, blindly supporting benevolent projects in Armenia without demanding accountability, have made it profitable for those in power to fight for the seat they occupy.

Instead of a revolution to overthrow the Armenian and Artsakh governments and replacing them with persons who we can’t guarantee will not be worse than those presently running the country, it would be more effective to start a civil obedience campaign to stop feeding into corruption.

If the Armenian population and Diaspora stopped cold turkey paying bribes or blindly supporting benevolent projects, the majority of those who live from the income of bribes or misappropriation of funds intended for benevolent projects would have to resign their posts and/or implement a viable system so their salaries could be increased to a living wage and not require supplementation.

Of course this is not a fix-all to our problems. In the beginning it will be very difficult for the natives who are use to buying their rights and would initially be denied their needs by not paying bribes, but eventually if everyone bought into being obedient and not paying for their rights, things would level out and the real civil servants would occupy government posts and serve the people.

I am also in favor of not punishing those who take bribes, but to punish those who give bribes. Once the common citizen sees that it is not profitable paying bribes and in fact is a criminal offence, it should become common place not paying under the table and following the law. And of course I’m most in favor of punishing those that clearly are trying to buy their way out of a criminal offence they have committed, like drunk driving, violent crimes or defrauding the government.

The question for me now remains on how to implement a civil obedience movement in Armenia? It should also be asked why the “opposition” does not implement such a movement now, since theoretically it does not take financial means to make it happen, nor do they have to be the government in power. In fact there is no reason why the Diaspora can’t be involved in implementing such a movement. How about we print and distribute a one page flyer to the entire population?


Noyan Tapan
Jan 11 2007

Vahan Aroyan arrested on December 28 2006 in the village of Lusarat is not connected at all with the Consolidation of Armenian Volunteers public initiative and has never taken part in the organization's meetings. Armen Aghayan, temporary coordinator of the Consolidation of Armenian Volunteers, made such statement at the January 11 press conference.

In his words, employees of the National Security were well-aware that "Vano is a great lover of arms and he accumulated the arms and ammunitions found on December 28 in the years of war." In A.Aghayan's words, the whole village, as well as law enforcement bodies knew about arms kept at V.Aroyan. "National Security Service officials knew that Vano and Zhirayr Sefilian were friends and used this circumstance for confirming absurd accusations ascribed to Zhirayr by means of Vano's arms," A.Aghayan said.

He also emphasized that though Aroyan, his arms and his being acquainted with Z.Sefilian were used by the Security Service against Sefilian, the Consolidation of Armenian Volunteers almost excludes that Aroyan is a Security Service agent and deliberately contributes to prolonging Sefilian's arrest. "Vano's arms mean nothing and are only a cause for continuing the persecutions," A.Aghayan concluded.


Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan,
10 Jan 2007 p 1

"Arkasha and the mess he made"

Trustworthy sources have said that NKR [Nagornyy Karabakh republic] President Arkadiy Gukasian has decided to run for president for a third time. Although the NKR constitution adopted on 10 December [2006] gives him such a legitimate opportunity, in this case the point is that Gukasian himself stated many times that he was not going to run for president for a third time as this contradicted the NKR's interests.

However, it has become clear today that the incumbent president of Karabakh does not understand very well the interests of the country he rules and is not so much of an honest man. One should confess that the incumbent NKR president and his retinue understand the discomfort of the current situation very well. For this reason, some people across the Armenian diaspora are twittering that the NKR's interests require Gukasian to stay on the post of NKR president for a third term.

Vahe Karapetian, a rich Armenian living in the USA, started this campaign when he said during the 2006 telethon that he will do everything possible for Gukasian to remain on the post of NKR president. The president of the Pan-Armenian Congress, Ara Abraamian, went on with the campaign by saying that in conditions where the Karabakh conflict has not been settled, it is simply necessary for Gukasian to remain on the post of president. Andranik Migranian, Russian political expert close to Abraamian, recently said on Karabakh Public TV that they should ask Gukasian to take the post of president for a third time as his departure may negatively affect the Karabakh [peace] talks.

According to our source, such statements were made at the desire of the NKR authorities and personally Gukasian. Nobody asked Gukasian to state that he was not going to put forward his candidacy for a third time. At present, it turns out that he regrets making such a statement. This is the best option, and the worst is that Gukasian deliberately made such a statement for the NKR constitution to be adopted without any fuss.

Anyway, it is also clear that Gukasian could not have made the decision to run for president on his own. Undoubtedly, [Armenian] Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who has gained a devoted partner in the shape of Gukasian, has played a big part in this. The activeness of the Russian Abraamian-Migranian pair makes us think that some Russian circles also played a big part in this decision [being made].

Here, very much important is the process in which owing to the efforts of known forces, the Karabakh resolution issue has turned from progressive fighting into clan fighting and Armenia and Karabakh will get the image of mafia - mojahedin states.

Friday, January 12, 2007

European Court Faults Yerevan In Landmark Ruling

By Ruzanna Stepanian

RFE/RL Armenia Report - 01/11/2007

In a first-ever ruling relating to Armenia, the European Court of Human Rights on Thursday declared illegal the arrest of an Armenian opposition activist who helped to organize an anti-government demonstration more than four years ago.

The landmark judgment will raise fresh questions about the legality of hundreds of similar arrests that have accompanied the Armenian government's controversial crackdowns on the opposition in recent years.

The plaintiff, Armen Mkrtchian, was detained by the police along with several other members of the radical opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party after actively participating in an unsanctioned rally in Yerevan on May 14, 2002. He was released after being fined a largely symbolic 500 drams ($1.5) under Armenia's Soviet-era Administrative Code.

Mkrtchian took his case to the Strasbourg-based court in November 2002, arguing that the Armenian authorities can not sanction anyone for attending street protests in the absence of a law regulating the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly.

Armenia enacted such a law only in 2004. Until then, the Armenian government invoked Soviet-era regulations that required government permission for the holding of rallies and other public gatherings. Mkrtchian and his lawyer insist that those can not have a legal force in modern-day Armenia.

A panel of seven European Court judges, among them Armenian Alvina Gyulumian, unanimously accepted the 35-year-old oppositionist's arguments, ruling that his brief detention violated a key article of the European Convention on Human Rights which takes precedence over all Armenian laws and government directives. Yerevan signed up to the convention when it joined the Council of Europe in January 2001.

The Strasbourg court cited a lack of `domestic provision which clearly stated whether the former USSR laws remained or did not remain in force on the territory of Armenia.' Its did not impose any penalties on the Armenian state, saying that the `finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant.'

Mkrtchian, who did not seek any material compensation, said he is fully satisfied with the ruling. `The main purpose of my application was to show our judges and rulers that they must honor their obligations to the Council of Europe,' he told RFE/RL. `They will now be more vigilant. I have kind of cleared the way for similar legal challenges against illegalities committed in our country.'

The Armenian Justice Ministry, which fought the government's corner in Strasbourg, declined comment. A spokeswoman said Justice Minister David Harutiunian is too `busy' to immediately react to the development.

The Armenian authorities used the Administrative Code to arrest hundreds of opposition supporters and activists during the presidential elections of February-March 2003 and the April-May 2004 opposition campaign of street protests against President Robert Kocharian. Many of them were sentenced to between five and fifteen days' imprisonment in closed overnight trials condemned by local and Western human rights groups.

The Council of Europe has repeatedly criticized the practice of so-called `administrative detentions,' leading the authorities in Yerevan to abolish it last year.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back Behind Bars

The December 18, 2006 article titled When They Get Out of Jail, the Pimps Go Back to Work has an interesting twist.

Amalya Mnatsakanyan and Marieta Musayelyan who thought by paying off the Armenian authorities were free to return to Dubai and work. WRONG!!!

The two of them were picked up by the Dubai police and though I'm not sure what waits them, I am hoping they will stand trial there in Dubai and get a life sentence, since if they return, they will be set free.

Hetq.am has an article about this in Armenian and as soon as it is translated into English, I will post it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hand-To-Hand had success beyond my wildest dreams!!!

Tonight at 8:15 on Artsakh television aired a new show called Hayrenik-Spurk (Motherland-Diaspora) and had their segment featuring Hand-To-Hand!!!

Bravo Artsakh television for showing the reality of what is going on in Haygazyan and Hale villages!!!

So not only are 16 people we took with us from Martuni in tune with what is going in Lachin, but thanks Artsakh television all those who had their televisions on tonight know the deplorable conditions their fellow Armenians to the South are living and that the Diaspora also know and are ready to work with the populous with addressing the problems we are facing.

I’ll be posting on the internet the program as soon as I can get a decent internet connection so you can see for yourself how the issue was presented in Artsakh. I was also told by the people at Artsakh television that the show will also most probably air on Armenian television in America in the near future. I was not expecting such coverage.

Director of All Armenia Fund not happy with recent post on MOB

Yesterday morning I got a call at 10:46:05 from a very upset Minister of Territorial Administration, Armo Tsaturyan. According to him, he got a call from the director of the Armenia Fund regarding our Haygazyan update (see MOB’s January 8, 2007 log).

Armo seemed to be in a panic over what he was told I wrote about the problems with the Armenia Fund and the misrepresentation of donations from Kirk Krikorian, Cafesjian and Vahe Garabedian, totaling $4.5 million. Of the many things Armo told me during our January 7, 2007 meeting that lasted for 1 hour and 20 minutes, he admitted to know about the $1 million from Vahe Garabedian not being part of the fund, saying that Garabedian has his own fund and went on to say he was surprised as to how much the Armenia Fund had raised, as the government for the most part believed that the Diaspora during the November 2006 Thanksgiving day telethon would not make many contributions. Of course from what we now know, at very least, $4.5 million of the reported contributions were not made to the Armenia Fund and this was just a scam perpetrated by the President of Artsakh to motivate the Diaspora to give. There is a good chance that they didn’t raise the whole $9.1 million balance as there were other large donation that may not exist. In addition to this, my research following the telethon indicates that most of the donations from Artsakh and Armenia were not from willing donors (as in the past), but forced out of common people who work for the Armenian and Artsakh governments and money was automatically deducted from their salaries.

So no one accuses me of being rude, I would like to take a moment to welcome the director of the All Armenia Fund to Martuni or Bust. I would like to take the liberty to speak for the majority of our readers and say that we are honored that you take what is posted on MOB seriously (this implied by your need to call Armo to complain to him about what was posted on MOB) and also hope you take the information posted here into consideration when formulating your future plans, as what you have done during the last telethon is a really embarrassment to all of us. Also it is not becoming of the director to terrorize Armo for speaking the truth about your dishonest actions.

Though I would guess that Armo’s days as a minister are numbered, since his comments of executing all the corrupt officials and business persons who have high jacked our economy, need to audit past work in Lachin and Antranik Markaryan being the reason for our inability of removing the present day regional minister of Lachin, I want to say that those person in power like Armo really do gave me hope that there are people in government that have had enough with all the corruption and are ready do what needs to be done to make things right, even if that means lining up those that are causing hardship for the greater population and shoot them down (though I think this is a bit extreme).

In the 1 hour and 20 minute meeting, Armo spoke to my heart, echoing many of the things I have posted in the past on MOB. I really liked his interpretation of how people in government skim funds and how there really needs to be a limit to how much they skim.

If Armo is dismissed from his post (which I hope he is not), he will be another example of what happens to someone who wants to really serve the people, speak his mind as an Armenian and in the end for speaking the truth is destroyed by those that are at the very top.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Haygazyan Update

I had a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Territorial Administration Armo Tsaturyan regarding the electrification of Haygazyan, Hale and 2 other neighboring villages.

The Mayor of Haygazyan was to join us, but due to circumstances beyond his control he was unable to attend.

The meeting went well I would say and though Armo may seem to present himself as a concerned civil servant, the fact that he has to answer to those who are not concerned makes him quite ineffective.

Armo wants the electricity run to the villages and said that the budget for Lachin has not yet been finalized. He will work so that the villages will get electricity.

I told Armo that we were going to go forward with raising funds for electrification and if within a reasonable amount of time the government has not accomplished this task, we would do it ourselves. Of course if the government does bring power to the villages, then we would use the money raised for projects that will create self-sustainability for the people living there.

Armo and I discussed many things including the Armenia Fund telethon. I told Armo about misrepresentation of donations and he said that he knew of $1 million, but didn’t know that $4.5 million fell under this category. He said he and others in government were waiting this year for the Diaspora not to give due to all the problems with the Armenia Fund, and were surprised that it was a record year.

Our meeting lasted about an hour and one of the many topics we touched on was the money allocated for building houses for Lachin and Kelbajar. Armo said that he had requested an accounting of how the money was spent and was told that he was crazy and there was no need. I told him of my monitoring for building projects and said that the $3,500 houses in fact cost less than $800 each to build. He said that this was a problem and skimming will happen, but there needs to be a limit.

Anyway, Armo and I will be communicating in the near future to get an idea of what timeline they will have for electricity for the 4 villages and if it is reasonable, we will let them do it. If it is not or if they don’t meet their commitment, then we will do it with our own hands and at the same time have another gage to measure the real costs of this kind of work.

Oh, Armo showed me a letter with many signatures from Armenians all over the world. He did comment that there was an inaccuracy in the letter and that was that we have never had more than 12,500 people at any time living in Lachin. The petition states that 20,000 was the peek according the various sources. Other than this inaccuracy, he didn’t refute what was written. He did say that there are complication in removing the regional minister. I later on found out from other sources that in May of 2006, it looked as the regional minister was going to finally be removed and on the eve of this grand event, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Antranik Markaryan came and made an announcement that as long as he is around, the regional minister will stay.

Anyway, this much for now to report. As you can see from what we know so far, we have lots of work to do.

These pictures are worth 1000s of words – Our visit to Haygazyan

Infant mortality rate up in Artsakh

In the medical sector in Artsakh, we are facing a shortage of Gynecologists. Outside of Stepanagert, we only have 3 Gynecologists. One is in Hadrut, one in Martuni and the other in Madakert.

As of right now, the Martuni Gynecologist is sick and is found in Yerevan. There is no one covering her post, thus if you were to give birth today, you would have to drive 60 kilometers down a bumpy road to Stepanagert, or worse, a 40 kilometer bumpier shorter road to Stepanagert via Nungi.

It seems that the birthrate is up in Artsakh, but the proper amount of medical services does not meet the need.

I would think that this issue should be a priority as our future growth will come birthing the next generation and the preventable mortality rate should be addressed.

I’ve also learned while looking into this issue that the city of Martuni lacks many basic diagnostic equipments and due to this, people who have fallen ill who if they knew what illness they had would not have been moved and transported down that bumpy road to Stepangert, some are said to have major complication due to this.

I’m not sure if we have readers out there who is qualified to address this issue, but if you are or know anyone that is, please pass this information on to them so they can contact me.

I will also go out on a limb here and say that if this is the condition in Artsakh, then things are worse in the regions of Armenia proper and in our liberated territories we recently saw with our own eyes and documented that they are in the worst condition in terms of medical services.

Armenian energy monopolists defraud Armenian populous of $36 MILLION per year in natural gas sales

Those who monopolize natural gas in Armenia are cashing in on the artificial devaluation of the U.S. Dollar in Armenia.

First let’s establish that natural was being purchased in US Dollars for $56 per 1,000 cubic meters. Of course there are distribution and operation cost and for argument sake we will estimate that the total cost to the Armenian supplier at $58 per 1,000 cubic meters. Armenia purchases 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually and using the total cost estimate given, paid $58 million.

A couple of years ago when the dollar was worth 550 Drams, the price to the consumer for natural gas was set at 51 Drams per cubic meter. This equated to $0.0927 per cubic meter. This meant that natural gas was being sold to the consumer at a 60% markup, with annual sales at $92.7 million, leaving hefty profit of $34.7 million.

Following the start of the sudden devaluation of the Dollar, the price of gas to the Armenian suppler almost doubled to $110 per 1,000 cubic meters. Again for argument sake we will estimate that the total cost including distribution and operational costs increased to $112 per 1,000 cubic meters, costing the Armenian supplier $112 million annually.

With the present day value of the Dram at 362 to the Dollar, the price per cubic meter of natural gas was set to 65 Drams, this equating to $0.18 per cubic meter to the consumer. This means that the supplier of natural gas is still selling at a 60% markup, and now, selling to the end user for $180 million annually, profiting $68 million, an increase in profits of $33.3 million from when the Dollar was worth 550 Drams.

According to various estimates, based on Armenia’s economic state and world markets, one US Dollar should be worth 450 Drams. This means that natural gas at the price in Drams presently set should cost the consumer $0.144 per cubic meter, bringing the annual sales to $144 million, and bringing the profits close to what they were before the artificial devaluation of the US Dollar at $32 million.

If what is being stated above is accurate, then the Armenian public is being overcharged annually $36 million. This may not sound like much to some for a country of 3 million, but if you consider that the same scenario holds true for propane, gasoline and diesel fuels, then we are talking about HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF U.S. DOLLARS being “legally” overcharged to the Armenian public.

The energy monopolist are for the most part fellow Armenians, many who claim to be patriotic and thinking of the peoples well being. If they are so patriotic, then they should mark up natural gas by 20% and be happy with a $10 million annual profit, since the same people also control propane, gasoline and diesel fuels and make much more from their sale.

One of the energy monopolists at a press conference a while back when asked about the sudden drop of the value of the US Dollar in Armenia was quoted as saying that “in the future it will drop slower,” indicating that he and his cronies have control over what direction the value of Armenian currency will take.

And who are the monopolists of energy in Armenia? Well for starters the President of Armenia, Robert Kocharian and Minister of Defense, Serj Sarkissyan, hold a very large share of the energy sector. The others are for the most part Armenian mafia figures and members of Parliament. These are also the same people who were behind the ripping up of the electrical transportation system we had in Yerevan to make us more dependent on the imported fuel they control.

A friend of mine told me that this artificial devaluation of the dollar has put Armenia out of the race for claiming their share of product exports, since the dollar can’t buy what it can in China for instance. Armenian exports are down in 2006 by 30% due to the artificial devaluation of the dollar.

In short, so a few people in power can make a few million dollars, they have artificially devaluated the dollar and destroyed many of Armenia’s export markets. I know a few people who were exporting from Armenia and dealing in U.S. Dollars, who are now closing up their factories that were employing many people in Artsakh. A can and bottling factory was offered to me in Stepanagert the other day due to the owners death and the bank foreclosing on in the days to come due to their inability to being able to pay the $600k loan which is at 18% interest annually. One of their markets was the United States and with the devaluation of the U.S. Dollar, they could no longer profit what they were from those sales, thus were unable to cover their loan. I have one friend who instead of making a 30% profit, is now having to supplement his operation by about 8% to cover his operating costs in order to honor a contract he has signed into with a company in the United States. Because his market buys and sells in U.S. Dollars, once the contact he is loosing money is completed and after loosing thousands of dollars, he will be closing down his operation and Artsakh and we will loose more much needed jobs here.

Bravo Robert and Serj. You once again have shown your true patriotic colors and how incompetent and/or crooked you both are. Shame on you!!!

In all fairness, for the first 3 months of this year, the price of natural gas to the consumer has been reduced to 59 Dram per cubic meter, this bring it closer to the 52 Dram price it presently should be based on what it use to be. If the price remains at this level, then the Armenian public will only be getting ripped off for $19.3 million annually in sales of natural gas.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Our project Hand-To-Hand was a great success!!!

Yesterday at Noon, Father Christmas and his helpers rolled into the village of Haygazyan and spread joy to 26 very deserving children. What an incredible moment, all caught on video and pictures. If we only accomplished this much, Hand-to-Hand could have been considered a success.

Our whole crew made their way down to Pasha’s house with Father Christmas, as the family of 11 children could not all make their way up to the school where the gifts were delivered, so of course Father Christmas went to them to spread the joy he is so famous for spreading.

After Pasha’s house, we made our way to the neighboring village of Hale, where we visited a few houses to deliver monetary aid. It was quite a moment and a real eye-opener for Santa’s helpers, who consisted of 13 people from Martuni, 2 from Shushi and one from Stepanagert.

I have to tell you that I’ve never seen such extremes. Those that have people living abroad and are receiving a little bit of help actually have semi-comfortable living conditions. Those that don’t, really do live in extreme poverty. For those of you who don’t believe that extreme poverty exists in Armenia, I invite you to see for yourself that it really does and I hope that as soon as I have a decent internet connection, I can download some video.

One family we visited live is what I would call a room that you would not keep animals in. They have a mentally challenged son who is I’m guessing 13 years old. The family of 4 live in this maybe 10 foot by 12 foot room with a door and a window that is covered in plastic. The walls and ceiling are covered in soot and the floor is dirt. Really deplorable. And on top of this, like all of Hale and Haygazyan has no electricity.

Oh and one thing I would like to add is that our plan for bring in electrical generators failed. We looked high and low for them in Yerevan, but found that such a quantity of generators does not exist and we would have to order them. So we went back to our original plan of giving each family $130, which with the advice of the President of Parliament, we exchanged the money to Dram (Armenian currency) as exchanging dollars where the people we are helping are found is a very challenging task.

I’m not going to drag this log out since there really is so much to write, but will say that the feast we had during and after our work was to die for. It was our crew and most of the village in one large room. We all sat together and shared a meal to celebrate the birth of Christ. The toasts were right on the money and everyone was having a grand time. After the singing and dancing, we made our way to our cars and headed back towards Martuni.

Today I’m in Stepanagert where my Monday meeting with the government has been changed to today. It seems that with the holiday and everyone being off for so many days from work, this Sunday is a work day.

Armen the Mayor of Haygazyan will be joining me in the meeting we will have with the government to discuss the electrical situation and let the government present their plan and see where we will have to pick up the slack.

The people of Haygazyan and Hale on video send their many many many thanks to all those that participated in this noble work. I hope in the next couple of weeks I can put together a video presentation with subtitles to send to all the donors so they can see with their own eyes and proudly share with their friends what they have done to help some very deserving people in our liberated territories.

Shnorhavor Sourp Tzenoont to all.

And for those of you who still want to help out, this project will continue for the whole year, so please read about our project and make your donation.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tomorrow we will be paying a visit to Haygazyan village in the most Southern part of Lachin.

I was in Stepangert yesterday as I had a meeting with the President of Parliament, Ashot. For years he has been my contact person in government only because he understands what I am saying and can get me a meeting with right people in just matter of minutes. Ashot is what I would call one of a few people at the top who really think about the people.

Ashot and I discussed a number of issues, the most important being the condition of Lachin and the need for major change. I told Ashot of our upcoming visit to Haygazyan and Hale villages to help the 16 families who remain there.

I told Ashot that once we assess the situation on the ground and can formulate a clear picture of what needs to be done to complete the task of electrification in the shortest period of time, we are going to work very hard to raise the funds in the Diaspora and carry out the work ourselves.

Ashot called the Prime Minister and briefed him as to what we were doing and our plan to help the people finally obtain electricity in their villages. The PM instructed Ashot to put me in touch with the people who are responsible for electrification so I can meet with them to see what they have planned so we don’t duplicate their work. Ashot gave me the name and number, which I called and was told that they are always in and whenever I want to meet to call. We will meet on Monday and I will invite the Mayor of Haygazyan to be present at the meeting, so he can not only interject where needed, but can report back to the people in the village.

I have to tell you that I know the assistant to the person in charge of who I am to meet with and will tell you that he is a distant relative of mine. My great-great-grandfather on my father’s side left his village in 1850 at the age of 11 after having a fight with his oldest brother. He headed for Tbilisi and ended up settling in Dilijan. Arnold’s mother as well as Arnold is a distant cousin. Arnold is also one of the PM’s yes-men (that’s how he has kept his job this whole time) and for the most part what I will hear in the meeting on Monday will be empty promises, thus whatever we do will have to be everything needed figuring the government will not provide anything for the electrification of Haygazyan and the 4 neighboring villages.

I’m now off to do some shopping for tomorrow. I’ve spoken to the Mayor of Haygazyan who said that for our celebration of the birth of Christ, the villagers will be fishing and they will also slaughter a couple of pigs. We will bring with us the bread, wine, salt, rice, vodka, beer, soft-drinks, Jermuk and all the other fixing for our meal together.

All the gifts for the 26 children have been wrapped in Christmas paper, with each one of their names written on them. Of course this is going to be the highlight of the visit, seeing the paper flying everywhere when the kids open up their gifts.

While I was in Stepanagert, I went to the internet café that is behind the President’s building and downloaded all the hetq.am stories in Armenian regarding Lachin and printed out 20 copies to give to all our “employees.” I’ve already given 3 of our 16 employees’ copies and I can tell you that not one of the have heard of what is going on in Lachin.

While in Stepanagert I had a by-chance meeting with a longtime activist who if he can, will also be joining us on the 6th to see with his own eyes what is going on. He had heard about many of the problems, but was not sure what could be done. I told him about our project that deals with law issues and he agreed like many that if the law worked for the benefit of the people, many things here and in Armenia would change for the better.

Well I better get going. I’ve got lots to do until tomorrow.