Thursday, July 31, 2003

Wow!! What a great day and what an intellectual rush I had tonight.

I had the honor to sit with some of Martuni�s old intellects to talk about past and present politics. We also touched on who is what and how they got to where they are. This is a really hot topic and something I feel everyone really needs to have a good understanding of so a common understanding can be found among the people in power and the people who are effected by what the people in power are doing.

Much of what I was hearing really gave me quite a bit of hope to what our future may be like and they convinced me that among the greater population here in the Martuni region, there are common bonds and a united understanding when it comes to the desire of law, order and fairness.

The intellects made it clear that they are in this for the long haul and it�s everyone�s responsibility to participate in making our country what it can and should be.

They paid me a compliment and told me that I am a real Communist. They say this is a compliment, as a Communist is viewed as being someone who believes in law, order and fairness.

Before tonight, I was under the impression that our people lacked an understanding of what right and wrong is, or believed that right and wrong no longer had a place in our society today. I was feeling that people had lost hope that things would get better, as I have been hearing the word �anarchy� being used over and over again when referring to the government and many of the �businessmen� who have privatized most everything the former system had built for us.

After tonight, I've come to realize that the people here understand that anarchy is wrong, right is right and wrong should no longer be tolerated. Someone recently mentioned to me that change can't come from a powerful leader or force, change can only come from a powerful society that wants change.

I believe that I am living within that powerful society that really wants change and I�m predicting that just as the Artsakh movement to free ourselves from Azeri rule was started and carried out by many people from the Martnui region, this change that everyone is in need of will also start here and I hope infect the rest of Artsakh and also Armenia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Today was a bit warmer than yesterday. It would have been great if my swimming pool was finished, but due to having so much work, I don't have time to oversee any construction on the house right now.

Since Der Hova brought up the subject of a lack of public swimming pools, I wanted to share with you the desire that the school principal of the larger school here in Martuni told me when I was visiting the summer day-care program today.

He said that they have a swimming pool that was destroyed during the war that they would like to repair, asking me if I could find a sponsor?

We went to look at the pool that I honestly didn't even know existed, since it is located to the far end of the school property and is surrounded by weeds. It's very small in terms of what one would find in the states, but it is a pool and for not much money can be repaired.

I told him that he should put together a proposal without any prices and I would put it out to bid to get a real figure of what it will cost. I can tell you were not looking at much money (maybe $400, if that).

He said that we would have a plaque put up near the pool, so the kids would know that someone cared to do something for the community here.

He then went on to tell about how if I could find someone to do a real big renovation job on the school itself, he would rename it after the donor.

I put my foot down and said that a plaque is one thing, but to name a school after someone just because they have money, is a very sensitive subject, especially for the message it sends out to the people here.

I gave him the example of a school in Arshan that was named after a girl who was killed in a car accident in California back in 1994. Not to be disrespectful to her or her family, who happen to be old friends of my father�s family from the old country, but I saw the faces of the people present when they unveiled the bust of her in front of the school.

I looked among the villagers, who were truly grateful to the girls family for their help, but could only think about the young people they knew who were killed in the war, but since those victims parents could not afford to donate $35,000 towards the construction of a school, their child will not have the honor of having a school named after them. I mentioned this at the time to the mayor of Martuni, who was with me and all he said was that I'm very perceptive.

I went on to tell the school principal that if I'm involved with securing funds for his school, the donors will have to be happy with a nice plaque and a letter of thanks.

As for renaming schools, I feel that if a school here should be named after anyone, it should be someone whose name is found in Armenian history and was known for doing something positive for our nation, preferably in the field of education, science, the arts or religion.

So the principal is going to work on a proposal and I'm going to find a donor and maybe even I'll find a local donor for this project, in my lessons of teaching the natives that they too can be of help to our community. Maybe this can even be a community effort where we get a bunch of people to each donate $1. I like that idea the best. I know 400 people that would give $1 without even thinking twice.

And while I'm on the subject of donation, I got my first donation for the extension of the summer day-care program. It came from the merchant I mentioned yesterday who was in Stepanagert. He is giving for sure 50,000 dram and said that if I find that people are not willing to help, he will increase it to 100,000, but stressed that this is a good opportunity to teach people here to give and to also see who on my list would risk not giving. BTW, this guy is in no need for this lesson, as he's known for his giving free flour and other food items to many needy families in Martuni for at least the last 10 years. Personally I was not going to ask him, as I know how much he already gives, but with the former police chief gone and my knowing the former regional minister will say that if it was for his village, he would give, I went ahead and asked him.

Another good news item is that the wedding season is starting and business at the Sylva's Beauty Salon is hopping. I guess this is also an indication of a good harvest, meaning that people now have money to spend. I guess it also does not hurt that we are the only salon in Martuni that has air-conditioning.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Okay, now that I got the 5 nice happy logs out of the way, it�s now time to let off a little bit of steam.

Like I said, in the last 5 days, things have been quite nice and there seemed to be only a few social and economic issues that came up, but nothing really worth backtracking and writing about.

Today I ran into the assistant Martuni prosecutor, who told me he was on vacation and upon his return, he received my complaint about the fish farm and the illegal fishing that took place back in May.

I followed him to his office and we talked about what had happened.

He told me that I should not be too positive that the people involved will openly talk to him and agree to be witnesses. He said the people here don't care too much for the law and in most cases will just act stupid and in the end, not provide anything of use.

We called my fish farm manager Slavik, who came right over and without too much asking, told everything that he could, which in itself was all the evidence we needed to prosecute the culprits.

Then we called Arthur, the guard that was involved with the stealing of the fish and allowed the fisherman to fish without checking with us first. He too said all that he had to and didn't conceal what happened. He even admitted that he did steal, knowing it was wrong.

After Slavik and Arthur left, the assistant prosecutor sat back in his chair and told me that he was very impressed and was not expecting Slavik or Arthur to be so honest with him. He said that I was lucky to have Slavik working for me and it was clear that both Arthur and Slavik respected me, as what they did today was very uncommon here.

The assistant prosecutor went on to say that irregardless of what Nelson the fisherman says, he is looking at a very stiff punishment, as the law on hunting, when animals are multiplying is very strict and must be upheld at all costs.

Slavik and Arthur will return tomorrow to sign statements so that they can next call Nelson the fisherman to come an tell his side of the story.

As for my internet connection, it's now working at 12,000 bps, but it's constantly freezing up or getting cut off. This makes it hard to log or check e-mail. One good thing is that last night I was able to download all 259 messages from my KT e-mail account without being cut off. It only took 5 hours to do.
Oh lookie here, it's log number 5 of Ara's positive, life is good logs that I promised. Okay, let's not waste any time and get this over with.

Today was another great day, though today was a bit hotter than yesterday with warm winds offsetting the temperature change.

My day started a little bit late, as I had to wait for the people from the phone company to come check my Martuni phone line, which has had a bit of excess noise. I noticed it yesterday and mentioned it to my general manager last night, who immediately called the phone company. They came out this morning and fixed the problem. What great service, though I can only imagine what my general manager said to them to get them to act this fast.

I went to the summer day-care program to see how things were going and talk about extending the program with the sponsorship of the local well to do people. They loved the idea and warned me that not everyone will be willing to give, but added that with the right words, I just may be able to get the tightwads to loosen up a bit and teach them that a little helping hand gives one a good feeling.

I went to see the head of the tax office here in Martuni, who happened to be at the Mayor's house. He told me that he thought it was a good idea, but felt that this effort should be coordinated via the regional minister, who in his words said had the power to call 20 people and order them to give. I told him that when someone gives, they should not be ordered, but should do it because they want to. The mayor kept out of it when the head of the tax office wanted the mayor to side with him and just give a "I guess so" answer, but from his tone, it was more a no, I don't agree with you.

I went to visit one of the well to do merchants and learned that he had left for Yerevan yesterday and would not be back until the 5th of next month. His son Armen was home and is the one that manages things when his father is not around. Armen told me that he would talk to his father tonight or tomorrow, but was sure he would give something.

The other well to do merchant that I know for sure will give whatever I ask for was in Stepanagert, so tomorrow he is on my list of people to visit and get to make his donation.

Unfortunately, the former chief of police, left for Russia 2 days ago for a vacation. He was a for sure thing, as he has always given. Too bad.

In between this, I had a meeting with the assistant prosecutor, but since maybe this part of the day could be viewed by some as negative, I'll save this story for the next log.

A quick stop in at the stone factory to see how thing are was in order and then I made my way home, forgetting to stop at the store to get a tube of toothpaste, which I will do later on tonight, when the sun goes down and it starts to cool off a bit.

Well I hope you liked the last 5 logs, which I did my best to conceal from you the not so happy side of life here, which I can�t say there was that much of during the last 5 days.
Today was another pleasant day in Martuni. Not too hot.

The harvest continues and it seems like it will be going for a while longer since there is a shortage of combines (these are the machines that cut the wheat).

I�ve learned that the city of Martuni has not one combine and that there are a good number of them which were brought in from Goris and Sisian to try to alleviate the demand.

Someone told me that a new Japanese made combine can be purchased in Armenia for $10,000 and compared to the old Soviet made ones, it uses less fuel and can cut and gather up to 80% more. Something for someone to think about maybe investing in. This would be a huge help to the people here and also make the investor some money. Any takers?

My dogs are growing fast and the dog that I've kept at my house I was bushing tonight and noticed that her collar that I purchased her when I was in Yerevan earlier this month, she has already outgrown. Since I separated the two dogs (taking one to the stone factory), the one I kept at home is eating like a pig and growing very fast.

This evening I went to Rosa Myrig�s house for dinner. During our meal, we watched a concert on the Russian channel on their little black and white t/v. Rosa Myrig was translating the songs for me and telling some of these artists have been around for ages. Hurant added that in the old days, when someone sang, they stood on stage with their hands to their side, but now, those same people are dancing all over the stage while they sing. Things have really changed from the way it use to be 25 years ago.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Today was quite uneventful. Other than a couple of visits to summer day-care to see how things were going, I kept close to home writing and cleaning.

I�ve been working on a book about my experiences here in Artsakh for some time now and had set a goal for publishing this book by November 2003.

Most of the stories that will make the book are ready (since for the most part I wrote them as they were happening), but I'm still having problems deciding the format, meaning how do I present these stories?

Should I have chapters that centralize each subject, or should it just be a free flowing book that the reader does not know what the following story will be? My friend Jeff K. some time ago told me that all my stories seem to have a beginning, middle and end, so to just putting them in random order should be fine. I was thinking maybe it would be best to present them in chronological order. I still don�t know, but I guess I have to decide something soon since November is just around the corner and it will take at least a month to get them printed, meaning the deadline is October.

I also need to contact some of the people who are in a few of the stories since some of the subject material is quite sensitive and a bit personal.

I'm thinking it would be wise to print a very limited number of copies so in the worst case if they don't sell, Mama Manoogian can send them off as x-mas gifts to friends and relatives where they can collect dust and the pages can turn yellow in the lucky recipients bookcase.

I guess the biggest problem at this point is that I have way too much material and I really don't know where to start cutting things down so I don't go over my 350 page limit?

This is too overwhelming to think about. I think I need a break and take a nice long walk.
Can life in Armenia get any better? Well it has plenty of room for improvement and let me tell you some improvements that have taken place today.

I got a call from Karabagh Telecom telling me that a team has come out to once again work on the main cable.

Tonight when I got home, my connection didn't seem to be working, but after a couple of calls, they got it up and running and for the first time in 3 months (I think it's been at least this long), I had a 12,000bps connection.

I was told that they are going to be working on the main cable tomorrow also and the problem should get resolved once and for all.

Unfortunately the connection is still not stable enough so I can download my e-mails from my KT e-mail account. It's up to over 200 messages, most of which are Groong digests. I guess this will just have to wait a bit longer.

Today at summer day-care, I was talking to the director about life here then and now. After our conversation, he told me that I am truly a Communist. This was said in a complimenting way, as true Communists are very honest and law abiding.

We are now planning an outing for the kids and it looks like our destination is going to be Avo's spring, where there is a swimming pool.

I think on Tuesday I'm going to meet with the regional minister, former police chief and one of the well to do business persons here in Martuni to see about them making that donation I was talking about the other day.

Well I'll be up a little bit late tonight, as I'm doing laundry and since it's summer (though the weather these last few days has been quite cool), I don't want to forget to dry the laundry before mold sets in and then have to rewash it.

Oh, I was at the Mayor's house tonight for a beer and we were watching an Armenian television show which is like Candid Camera (a hidden camera show) and this guy was asking people if they were for or against it (never telling the people he was asking what they were for or against) and guess who was one of the people being asked? Our very own Lena. She just ignored the guy and kept on walking. Lena, do you remember some older white-haired guy with a professional video camera under his arm asking you if you were for or against it?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I just got an e-mail from one of our readers to tell me:

My wife told me that there was an advertisement for a TV program on Saturday and Sunday at 10.30pm on Channel Armenia. Apparently, it's going to deal with the issue of children's homes in Armenia and the fact that most of the children are not orphans.

As Channel Armenia can be received by satellite in the Diaspora (and I think you get in Karabagh and therefore I assume, Martuni) you might want to advertise it in one of your logs.

BTW, this log is not part of my 5 logs to talk about the good stuff going on in Armenia, it's just a FYI log so if you get Channel Armenia, you can watch this program.
Today I was stuck at home writing for the first half of the day and the second half was going to be spent cleaning my house, as for the next week I will be devoting my time to oversee the summer day-care program that our friends at the St. John's Armenian church in San Francisco are sponsoring.

At 2:30 PM I got a call from my accountant telling me to come over to eat lunch with her father and the workers doing some remodeling on her house. I was to busy and told her it was not necessary. She insisted and I told her the soonest I could come would be in a half-hour.

As I left the house, my neighbor called me over to give me a bottle of strawberry preserves that a little old lady from the next street over had left for me the night before when I was not home.

When I got to my accountant�s house, lunch was over, but my share was kept warm and her father made me a salad and her mother we to the store to get me a cold beer.

During my lunch, her father talked with me of the old days here in Martuni and made sure I ate more than my stomach could hold.

I got a call to go to Stepanagert to meet with someone, but since this is one of my logs that is not to talk about the dark side of life here, I will not tell you anything about this subject.

I finished my lunch and headed to Stepanagert at 4 PM.

As I entered Aghdam, I was waved down by a friend who is from Martuni and is working for the summer in Aghdam, growing watermelons.

I stopped the car after passing him and as I backed up the car, he picked up a large watermelon and started to run towards my car.

He opened the passenger's door, greeted me with the standard hello and placed the watermelon on the front seat, thanked me for my friendship and sent me on my way.

I got to Stepanagert and before going to my meeting, I went to a couple of butchers and purchased 16 kilos of beef bones for my dogs.

Then I went off to my meeting and after the meeting, I went to the Hayarpetyan/Thomasyan house for dinner, where I gave to them the watermelon I was gifted earlier in the day.

As we waited for dinner to be cooked, my friend (the one that the cops interrogated 2 Monday's ago) and I went to a toy store to purchase some kick-balls and a couple of checker sets for the summer day-care program.

On our way back to his house, we drove passed the Mayor's office and coming from the President's building (the Mayor's, President�s and Prime Minister's building are next to each other) was a friend of mine who works at the President�s press office. I stopped the car to say hello and after him asking me if I got married yet and me telling him no, but he can be sure he will get an invitation and he telling me that at my wedding he would like to say a few good words about me, he invited my friend and I for dinner at his house. I apologized and told him that we were expected to dinner and it would have to be another time.

We returned to my friend's house and had a great meal and conversation. After watermelon and a cup of tea, I headed back to Martuni, where I stopped off at the stone factory to drop of half the beef bones for one of my dogs.

I know this log must have sounded boring to some of you, but for the most part, my personal life here is filled with these kinds of stories. For that reason I like my life here and have no plans on trading this great life for life in some foreign country. The only thing I feel needs to be changed around here is the system so everyone enjoys life here as much as me and that�s what we are attempting to do now.
I think that it's not at all silly or unfair to write long logs about people giving things for free and people going out of their way to do something nice for another person. Since I too believe we needed a break from the darker side of life in Armenia and to prevent Madlene from throwing herself off the Kevian Bridge (Arthur and Ozzie can thank me later), I'm committing the next 5 logs (not counting this one) to document the less talked about side of life here in Armenia. The side of life here that prevents me from packing my bags and moving to some other part of the world and dropping the "ian" from my name part of life.

For those wondering how to measure positive progress here in Armenia, here is one way.

This year the US H.R. 2800, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, EXPORTFINANCING AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004 will provide only $70 million in aid to Armenia (though President Bush and I had requested that it be $20.5 million less, but as always no one seems to be listening to what we have to say).

In past years US aid to Armenia has been much higher and by being higher, there was less of an incentive for Armenians to learn how to fish.

Our goal should be to eliminate this need from the US all together.

Though this does not directly relate to life in Armenia, I want to point out what aid our neighbors are to get from the US in 2004 to show how much worse off they are (though I�m a believer that we should never compare ourselves to others and only measure good and bad from what we know good and bad really are).

- $2.6 billion in military and economic assistance to Israel as well as $50 million to support the resettlement of Jewish refugees.

- $1.9 billion to Egypt and over $450 million to Jordan, both critical allies of the United States.

- $35 million for Lebanon to support the American educational institutions and the excellent USAID mission there (in an attempt to win over the people, though in my opinion this is a waste of good tax dollars that should be sent to Israel instead so they can drop more bombs in Lebanon in an attempt to try ascertain the same goal, though this too would fail).

So you see, in respect to US aid, Armenia is doing better than it was in the past and like I said, less is good in this case.

Now if we could get USAID to fund a program to build public toilets throughout the country, things will really be good!!! Maybe I should submit an unsolicited project to them and Raffi can be our cheerleader behind those thick tall walls to get it approved.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Today was a fabulous day!!! Though this was suppose to be one of the hottest days of the year, it was overcast and very pleasant.

The harvest is going well and it looks like this year and the years to follow will be good years for farmers. I'm also happy to see that this year, more of the common people took the risk to plant and for the most part came out making a profit.

I fully agree with what Madlene has written in her log about things one day getting better and that there are thousands of people who are working towards a better future. As positive as that may be, in order for us to really fix things so those dark days don�t revisit us, we have to recognize the good and bad in a very public way and not sweep anything under the carpet without reconciling. This is the only way I see we can really heal and make sure what we are seeing today will not happen again in the future.

Though I would like to see an economically rich Armenia, for me an Armenia without corruption and with good working laws would satisfy my expectations and something I�ve been devoting all my energy and resources towards realizing. I know this expectation of mine is possible, as I am often reminded of the Armenian saying that goes, "the apple does not fall far from the tree" and like Madlene and many people believe, "We will turn this into an amazing place and we will do it soon." With such a positive outlook, how could we not realize our dream of a fair, free and independent Armenia!!!

Monday, July 21, 2003

Though I dislike writing about the dark side of life in Armenia and Artsakh, it seems that following the presidential and parliament elections, things are getting worse as those elected and appointed officials in power are abusing their authority in the worst possible ways.

When I was in Yerevan, I was talking to a friend who he and his brother had leased a stone mine from the forestry service in Yerevan and entered into a 10-year agreement to allow them to mine for stone.

He was telling me of all the equipment they had purchased worth tens of thousands of dollars and the countless hours they put in to their mining operation to had finally in the month of June started to excavate good quality stones.

The day following our meeting, I learned that my friend and his brother were contacted by someone in the Armenian army telling them they had 24 hours to vacate the stone mine, as the army, who has a military academy next to their mine, had privatized their land and were planning on expanding the academy.

Since we know generals at the ministry of defense and other government officials in high places, a few phone calls were made to find out how someone who has a legal agreement with the government could be given 24 hours notice to vacate land, years before their agreement expires?

It seems that someone from the department of defense went to see the mayor of Yerevan on the 23rd or 24th of June and requested to privatize the land in question and was given title to that land the following day (this in itself is legally impossible).

The mother of my friends had asked one of our friends in the ministry of defense for a meeting with the minister to discuss this issue and was told he was out of the country and was due back on July 7th.

On July 9th, we made a call to our contact at the ministry of defense to see what had become of our request to meet with the minister and were told that the minister does not want to meet with anyone in regards to this subject and that it has been decided that the academy will be expanded and the minister himself is in on this deal.

When asked what will come of the stone mine, we were told that the army will work it for their own use.

So here is just another example of Armenian democracy at work. Every government official out for themselves and their pockets at the price of someone trying to make an honest living in the homeland.

In all the Armenian history I�ve read, I can�t say that we have ever experience so many acts of treason and abuse of power by such a wide range of our leaders, leaders who I can clearly document are traders to our developing nation.

In the past 5 years I�ve been hearing people talk about the need for revolution, but in all these years have I never felt that revolution could take place here, not until recently.

When blood starts to flow in the recently renovated street of Yerevan (on a very small scale, it has already started), Armenians from all over will come to realize that the energy spent on getting the Armenian genocide recognized (as important as this is) should have been spent on preventing the recent self-inflicted Armenian genocide which it taking place right now in the motherland.

It�s still not to late to centralize our resources and for those that share my concerns, please e-mail me and let�s do something to prevent a real tragedy from hitting our homeland. Trust me, it can be done, but has to be done now.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Today was a very relaxing day.

I was invited to a picnic at a village 7 kilometers outside of Stepanagert, where a private lake is found. The lake is about 20 smaller than my lake, but what makes it such a nice place is that it is surrounded by a forest.

I guess what also made the picnic fun was it was with a family who I am very close with and had written about the other night, telling you about my friend being hauled down to the police station, being accused of defacing a wall in the mayor of Stepanagert's neighborhood.

So when we arrived to the lake, it was overcast and had started to sprinkle. Overcast or not, my friend, his brothers and I made our way out on a platform that has a water-gate at the end of it to see how deep the lake was.

Next thing I know, everyone was stripping down to their underwear and starting diving into the water.

When I dove in, the first meter of water was warm, but below that level was ice-cold.

I swam practically the length of the lake and one thing I noticed was I was floating on the face of the water, like you would in salt-water. It was great to swim, but from all the sporting activities I�ve done, this one takes the most energy.

We got out and joined the others at our resting area where a couple of rope-swings had been installed to keep us busy.

I won't drag this log out with telling you about the food, but all I know is I have to have put away few kilos, before I laid down under a tree for a nice long nap (this of course after spraying myself with deep woods off).

So it seems that my friend�s mom, Larisa Hayapetyan went to the police station the day following last Monday�s interrogation to find out what they wanted from her?

She said that they immediately started to apologize and telling her that it was all a mistake and they were looking for another Larisa Hayapetyan, who happened to be from the same village she was from, but lives near the shoe factory.

As far as Larisa knows, she is the only Larisa Hayapetyan in her village and we can only guess that someone defaced a wall near the mayor�s house and the mayor was probably asked who could have done this and he suggested the Thomasyan/Hayapetyan family, as when they dragged in my friend, they started to ask him about letters to officials and so on. If course of that other Larisa who we know does not exist was also on the list to get a house, then maybe that�s why they asked my friends all those questions.

So now my friends mother is preparing another letter to the president and the mayor to see why they didn't get a house since they were in first place on one of the lists and also to ask why her son was pulled down to the police station and they conducted an illegal search of their house.

I also what to know who that other Larisa is, as if she does not exist, you can be sure heads will roll. Does this mean I'm pissed? You bet and this time I'm going to make sure that someone ends up getting fired and someone does the right thing and resigns from his "elected" post. And to think, the mayor told me in our meeting that all he wants is law and order. Well now I'm going to make his wish come true.

The mayor should have done his homework as to who Larisa Hayapetyan is and knows before he pulled this latest stunt. Besides me being a close family friend, her daughter-in-law's mother is a former judge and now a legal expert for the government in the department that reviews complaints of illegalities in the legal system (and was present during the illegal search and pointed out to the police that they don't have a search order) and Larisa's first-cousin is Artsakh's minister of law (though they don't refer to this office as a ministry, he is the head of overseeing the legal system). Ouch!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2003

What Raffi N. wrote about in his last log about "orphanages" in Gyumri had to bother our readers a little bit. For those that were not too disturbed by Raffi's findings, let me add some very relevant information.

According to Dennis Loze, Project Coordinator for Mission East's Mosaic Program in Armenia, 85% of children residing in Auxiliary Boarding Schools are falsely diagnosed with having mental or physical challenges.

Due to economic hardships at home, parents pay doctors to provide a false diagnosis, which enables them to enroll their children into residential institutions.

As for the new orphanage that will enable 30 children to live in the palace that Raffi saw, this could in fact be a new institution that is being established to help "vulnerable families" lighten their load and put their children at risk of being registered at some later date as "orphans" and then adopted by people in the West.

This would also be another orphanage that people like the Armenian facilitators Gagik Dumanian and Hasmik Hambarian would search for possible "orphans."

Take in consideration what Jan Barlett, the woman who in June adopted a 6 year old girl from Gyumri told Jennifer Smith: "What I plan to do is take pictures of children at Gyumri who are adoptable. I know of people here in Iowa and Arkansas who are interested also. If you decide you want to see pictures just let me know. Of course I will be with Hasmik and Gagik, so they will be very aware of the children that are available."

One other bit of information that Jan shared with Jennifer was that: "Mariam is 6 and in an defective child's home, although nothing is wrong with her." And in another message said: "By the way there is nothing wrong with her [Mariam], many children are stuck in these types of orphanages with misdiagnosis. If they do not get adopted their future is bleak. For example in the blind school, there are children who can see just fine."

These statements confirm Dennis Loze's claim of 85% of children found in Auxiliary Boarding Schools are falsely diagnosed with having mental or physical challenges.

Another role that Hasmik and Garik played in Jan's adoption of Mariam was to find Mariam's mother and convince her to relinquish her parental rights so Mariam would be adoptable and have a more promising future in America with Jan and her husband Chris. Jan wrote to Jennifer: "So once the paper work is cleared up for Mariam and we choose her then the adoption is finalized." In a later message Jan wrote: "As for Mariam, it is going great! Our paperwork went straight through and we had approval in a month. Our challenge was to get Mariam registered as an orphan so she could be adopted. H & G are tending to all of this now. The delay is that Armenia just had their presidential elections and there will be run offs on March 5. Apparently there have been citizen complaints and the courts are tied up. We had hoped for H & G to go to Gyumri, where Mariam lives, this week. Once the committee in Gyumri approves of her status then the papers come back to the government adoption committee for approval and then the president signs the adoption."

On top of all this Jan believes and informs Jennifer that "H & G AREE VERY ETHICAL."

When I take everything stated above and what Raffi said about the new orphanage and all the information I have, here is what I suspect could happen.

The "orphanage" that will house 30 normal children from vulnerable families will become a place where people from the West can find normal children to adopt.

When need be, people like Gagik and Hasmik will work to convince the parents who are living in deplorable condition to relinquish their parental rights. For the sake of their children and a promising future, the parents sign the papers so their child can then be sold to the highest bidder in the West.

For those readers who are still not convinced or effected by what Raffi and I have written, then you may want to check out this article I came across printed in the Armenian Weekly that confirms much of what we�ve said. It is titled "Suffer the Children." (

By the way, I had not logged this, but a week before the article about adoptions was printed, I visited Gagik and Hasmik at their office on Victor Hambardzumian Street (which was very nicely furnished and very Western looking) to consult with them about doing a genealogical study of my roots. It was clear that they are educated (Jan said that they both have Ph.D.s) and were easy to talk to.

If I was looking for someone with communication skills to convince someone who would never consider relinquishing their parental rights, the people I would hire is Gagik and Hasmik and for that reason they are very dangerous to vulnerable families who are trying to keep their families together and improve their lives.

For those people and organizations interested in helping vulnerable families who are at risk of relinquishing their parental rights out of desperation, please e-mail me and let's formulate a plan to help create an social and economic environment that can sustain the families and not the "orphanages."
This is not a good sign. Five logs in a row from me. Where are the other loggers?

Today was a full day of work and a trip to Stepanagert.

One of my many tasks included a visit to the main Artsakh bank to find out why they are charging so much for wire-transfers?

I met with the assistant director and told him that ever since they switched German banks, the service fees rocketed and equated almost 8% on my last transfer, compared to the 1.5% I was being charged before.

The assistant director gave me an alternative way of transferring funds which charges a flat $7.50 plus .5%. Why I was not given this option before is beyond me and I'll have to let our branch manager of the Martuni division of the bank know about it so others who are having money sent from abroad can enjoy this advantage.

I went to Rosa Myrig's house for dinner and after a nice conversation and tea, I stepped out on the porch to leave and was greeted by a bunch of grass hoppers who were attracted by the porch light.

Rosa Myrig and Hurant started to stomp them saying that tomorrow they will feed the critters to their turkey. Though I'm not into stepping on insects of any kind, I felt that bad karma will not come to me since it's not like we were killing for the sake of killing, we were doing it to feed the turkey.

As I walked home in the dark, I turned back a few times to watch the two of them running around the porch, smacking away.

In my e-mail today there was an announcement for a job opening that is right up my ally. The US Embassy is hiring a receptionist/security guard at the main gate.

I could picture myself greeting the visitors and doing my best to talk them out of leaving Armenia and encouraging then finding a reason to kick them off the compound.

One thing is for sure, whoever gets that job is going to be very busy, as according to some recent statistics released, the US Embassy has interviewed some 5 million people who applied for an exit visa from Armenia.

As for the math, it seems that there were quite a few people who were turned down and after the standard period of time, they once again applied.

As for the money spent for said interviews, that comes out to some $2.5 billion dollars of non-refundable service charges our people paid into that small embassy in Armenia.

Think about this one. By the US Embassy talking in $2.5 billion just on interviews, all the aid, loans and other services that the US government has "given us" were in fact paid for by our local population and the US tax-payers have in no way paid out anything to us. That also means that part of the Armenian Assembly's work has been to get the US government to give back some of the money it has shaken down our people for over the last decade.

After all this, we still owe them over $1 billion for "loans" that the World Bank knowingly gave to corrupt officials that we, the people, the ones expected to pay back said loans most probably didn't even benefit from.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Today I went to visit the school where the summer day-care program is and to tell the director that we have secured the funds to extend the program.

He was very happy, thanking me and the person who donated the money to realize this work.

I had gone to see him with the mayor and as we finished our meeting, the director asked who is going to tell the regional minister that the program will be extended and why?

The mayor said that he and I would go over right now to tell him.

The mayor called and told the regional minister that we request to meet with him and after telling him why, he told us to come right away.

It has been quite some time since I've last visited with the regional minister and if I recall the last time, it was not a friendly meeting to which I had made my traditional demands and a warning of "if you can't fulfill my request, don't be mad at me later [for what I will do]."

Well the meeting was quite cordial and he thanks whoever made a generous contribution to our children.

During the meeting I asked the regional minister how his fields faired during the harvest?

He told me that it was a good harvest and went on to elaborate that one of his 40 hector fields had a yield of 600 tons of wheat and the other 40 hector field 960 tons. Some mention was made that the former chief of police had even a better harvest and the former regional minister faired even better.

I did the math in respects to the regional ministers 80 hectors of wheat and knowing what the going rate of planting and harvesting and the minimal selling price for wheat these days are, I figured that after paying his property tax (that is if he pays the full amount required), he should have seen an $11,000 profit from this harvest.

After our meeting it came to me that the above mentioned persons and one other very well to do business man here in Martuni, are doing quite well from harvesting the liberated lands surrounding the city of Varanda (former Fizuli) and are only able to do it because a good number of the fathers and mothers whose children are now attending the summer day-care program spilled their blood and lost their lives in the process of liberating said land.

So I have decided that after I deliver the money for the extension of the summer day-care program, I'm going to meet with the 4 people who had a great harvest and ask each one of them to donate 100,000 dram so we can once again extend the program an additional 10 days.

I'll explain to them that this will be good for everyone and a chance to show everyone (here and in the Diaspora) that they are ready to share their good fortune and show their appreciation to the families who made the greatest sacrifice in the liberation struggle.

Do I smell a Disney ending to this story?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A little while ago I returned from Stepanagert, where I met up with Raffi, who is on a visit to Artsakh.

We went out for pizza and did a little catching up, since the last time I very briefly saw him was at Artbridge when I was in Yerevan.

After taking Raffi to his hotel, I called a friend to see how he was doing.

His sister answered the phone and told me to rush over right away, as my friend had earlier in the night been taken to the police station and interrogated. I rushed over to see my friend and listen to his story.

It seems that a few hours before my arriving to his house, the police had come by looking for his mother Mrs. Hayrapetyan (this is the woman who had written a letter to the president about her housing situation and I had accompanied to see the mayor about said issue a few of months ago).

Since Mrs. Hayrapetyan was not home, my friend asked the policemen what they needed from her and in turn they asked who he was?

After identifying himself, they radioed to their station and were given instructions to bring my friend to the station.

At the station, my friend was taken to the second floor and was detained for 2 hours being asked questions of his whereabouts on Sunday and asking about letters to government officials including the president in respects to receiving a house.

They went on to accuse my friend of spray-painting some nasty comments on the wall in the neighborhood or maybe even the building the mayor lives in.

My friend denied everything they were alleging and said that he was not alone at anytime on Sunday.

They asked him about his father�s car and when he told him what kind of car it was, they said that they have a witness that saw him with his fathers car at the scene of the alleged crime.

While still in custody, they sent a policeman back to his house to search this storage unit which is under his house for a spray-paint can that would prove he committed the crime. When arriving there, the policeman radioed back to the station to have my friend sent there to open the storage area.

My friend arrived and opened the storage for them to search, which they did with the use of a match to illuminate the area.

After their search, which it should be noted was done illegally, since they didn�t have a search warrant (even here in Artsakh, a request to search must be accompanied by a search warrant), they were unable to produce the evidence they were hoping to find.

And what was this whole fiasco really all about?

Well it seems that the President has decided who will get housing in the "projects" (as Hagop B. refers to the 11 story building which was primarily paid for by a wealthy Diaspora-Armenian), and tough Mrs. Hayapetyan was the first on one of the many lists I saw in the Mayor's office months earlier for those eligible for housing, the Thomasyan/Hayapetyan family were not one of the lucky ones to receive a place in the "projects."

I guess there were others who got cut from the list also and someone out of frustration went to the Mayor�s house or neighborhood and vented their frustrations.

As a proximate result, not only did my friend and his family just maybe get the short end of the stick when it came to not getting a house, but to add insult to injury, my friend's basic human rights were violated tonight by the Artsakh police.

I personally am angered, disappointed and insulted at what has happened and would have felt a little bit compensated if at very least, the police had apologized for their error, instead of them telling my friend when they let him go that they will produce a witness to back their story. Of course if they do this, you can be sure I will be there to make sure that the witness is credible and not another one of these people who will provide testimony for the sake of the people in power to get a job done at the expense of someone who in fact is innocent of the crime they are being accused of committing. We have seen this in the past and you can be sure I wont tolerate this kind of thing of happening if I know such a violation is being attempted.

BTW, if this log does not read well, I will edit it when I�m wake, as right now I'm dosing off.
First and foremost I want to send out a big thanks to our reader who made a $517 donation for the summer day-care program. Your generous contribution is much appreciated and will really make a difference in the lives of 50 children of martyred persons and their families. It also sends out a message to everyone here that as hard as times are in the world, people in the Diaspora understand that the �Armenian liberation struggle� is a partnership that the Diaspora believes in and is always ready to participate in. Additionally, it sends the message that the people here have not been forgotten and the sacrifices they have made for said struggle are recognized in a positive way.

When I came home from the factory to do some work around the house, I got a call from the people at Karabagh Telecom informing me that they have resolved my phone-line problem and wanted me to try my internet to see how well it now works.

First thing I noticed before even trying the internet was the line quality sounded the same as it did a few weeks ago and I could now even hear cross-talk (something I have never had before).

Knowing that the speed and quality of my connection had not changed, I played along and tried my connection. I really was not impressed at the 9,600bps connection and immediately called back the person who felt that they had finally resolved the connection problem.

After talking to a few different people, including one woman who had the nerve to think that maybe it was my computer as being the problem and I should have a specialist look at it, my cup of patience ran over.

I called the head of the Martuni division of the phone company to inform him that we have a problem, as they worked once again on the main cable and felt that they had resolved the problem.

He gave me the number of the person in charge of the cable workers and said that at very least before I take this problem to the top, call him and give him one more chance.

I called Mr. Robert M. who in our conversation told me that before the phone company was privatized, he was the managing director.

I repeated for the 4th time today that I was not happy with the service that I had subscribed to and the quality I had a year ago no longer exists.

I reminded him that the company he works for is required to a very least maintain the existing phone system at the same level of quality it was when they took it over and only make improvements. In the case of the Martuni cable, this was clearly not being done.

He told me that it was not fair to say they have not made improvements in their service, as before, we didn�t have a cellular phone system. I snapped back at him and told him that the cellular phone system is an important addition, but the majority of the population can�t afford such service and it�s the land-line system which most people can afford to use and that is now in worse condition than it was before the phone service was privatized.

He told me that he would talk to his crew when they return to the office in Stepanagert and see what more they could do to improve the system.

He did say to me that all they could secure in any case was a connection for me of 9,600bps as they had made changes to system.

I asked him why such a slow connection, since the time I first subscribed to the service 2 years ago until last winter, I usually had a 24,000bps connection and that�s what I expect to have in the future since anything less would be a drop in the quality of service and a violation of their agreement they signed with our government.

I closed with a longwinded speech of if they don�t have the resources to fix the cable, then I would help them obtain the needed resources by calling their top person and also the appropriate people in government, informing them of their minimal obligation to us.

After getting off the phone with Robert M., I try to log on to post the above text and what happens? Well for one thing, my computer using the newly repaired line can�t even connect to Stepanagert. So I get back on the phone to call Stepanagert and also Martuni to see about getting me at least a connection of 9,600bps so I can work a bit.

After 5 hours, I finally get a connection that I was able to post this log with.

I�m now thinking along the line of maybe a petition we can circulate throughout the region to be signed by a few thousand people would get someone attention, as I know for sure I�m not the only one not happy with the service we have been getting.

Oh what a pain in the butt this kind of stuff is. I sometimes wish that issues like this would not cross my path, as when they do, I feel obliged to do something about them and by doing so, I spread myself out thinner and thinner. Either I need to start turning a blind-eye to such issues, or I need a staff so I can get faster and results. Oh what a pain that�s going to be managing so many people.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Last night as I walked home in the star-lit streets from the internet cafe, I passed a couple of women who were headed in the opposite direction. One of them called out to see if the person in the dark passing them was me.

The women informed me that the owner of the radio station that Monte's brother gave an interview to a month earlier sent word to her that he wanted to see me.

The other woman who is a pediatrician at the Martuni hospital asked me if I knew someone who could sponsor 10-days of summer day-care for 50 children who are the children of martyrs of our liberation struggle.

It seems that these 50 children are presently attending a 10-day summer day-care program sponsored by the Artsakh government and are the children who the government could not afford to send off for a summer vacation at a summer camp in the pine valley of Dzaghgatsor, Armenia.

The doctor said that she was very impressed with this program that is going now, as she put it, "it's taking the kids off the streets and instead of them falling out of trees and getting bitten by snakes, they are getting 3 meals a day from 8 AM to 8 PM and are kept busy with fun activities."

I asked her how much is needed for this 10-day program to be extended the additional 10 days she is proposing and she said 300,000 dram (about $517).

As I walked home that night, all I could think about was the price that was paid for the freedom we have today to walk the streets of Martuni at any given hour.

I guess the heaviest price for having the night sky being lit by stars as appose to tracer-bullets and other such projectiles was paid for by our children who lost their father or mother and in some cases, both.

If there is anyone interested in sponsoring 50 children for 10 days and can afford to make a one-time US tax-deductible donation that will defiantly have a positive effect on our children here in Artsakh, please contact me and also for reasons of time (since I still don't have easy internet access), send Mama Manoogian a copy of your message at, as she is the one who will receive your donation that will be wired here.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

What a great life I have. I say this as I feel good about what I'm doing and feel like living here really gives me the freedom to do what is right without anyone really standing in my way.

Though this life is somewhat of a double-standard, meaning that what I can get away with, the natives in most cases can't.

For instance, today while driving my dump-truck (I usually rent a smaller truck, but since were having such a good harvest, all trucks were already rented) to pick-up some gravel for some cement work at the factory, I was kind of unjustly waved down by the Stepanagert traffic police, who were conducting a "sting" in Martuni.

Of course since I know the law and knew for sure all they were interested in was shaking down a working stiff with a truck for a bribe, I ignored their request for me to pull over and continued to drive.

I made my way to a depot that sells cement and no sooner that I arrived, did the traffic police car pull up. Out of the passengers seat of the car emerged a familiar traffic cop who sometimes works at the Lachin boarder.

I walked up to him as my workers loaded cement up on the truck to see how he was. After a few minutes of small talk, the unfamiliar cop in the drivers seat asked me why I didn't stop?

I asked him what the offence was for him to even consider stopping my truck, knowing this was all about a bribe?

He said that in my truck there were too many passengers, to which I told him that the chief of police long ago told me that I can have as many passengers in the cab of the truck, just so long as I don't allow people to sit on the roof or bed (which my driver a year ago had done), which even common sense equates to danger. I said he could contact the chief to confirm this amended Martuni law.

The unfamiliar cop asked me for my documents, which I agreed to produce, at which time the cop I knew said it would not be necessary.

Mind you, I understand that he was just "doing his job," but I also knew for sure from the past that all this was about is how much he could shake the common person down.

As soon as the traffic police pulled away, one of my workers asked me if I paid a 500 dram bribe (the minimum going rate these days). I told him I don't pay bribes of any kind and then went on to use a few choice words (in Turkish) to describe my feelings toward bribe-takers. We all laughed, since very rarely do I use foul language (though lately such language is on the rise).

I'm still an economic stimulator to the Martuni internet cafe since my land-line is still not working as it should.

I called the head of the Martuni division of Karabagh Telecom today to see what the latest was on our connection.

It seems that they will once again be sending a crew to work on the main cable and I should not feel too bad (though I do), as it's not just my connection, but everyone's Stepanagert line that is in horrible shape including the main line, meaning anyone who calls outside of Martuni from a land-line.

He went on to tell me that he can't give me a solid date as to when it will be fixed and added that if he was the one doing the work, I could be sure that he would do everything in his power to remedy the problem fast.

Not to stretch this log out too much more, but I want to point out to you what goes on in this internet cafe in Martuni.

Instead of porn, as one would expect the youth of most places in the word to surf, what is popular here is chat.

When I came into the cafe, a saw familiar faces of the 23 to 30 year olds at one computer (I was at the other) and them chatting with some Azerbijani sitting at some computer in who knows what part of the Islamic world.

The 30 year old was outraged that they didn't know where Karabagh was and then later learned that they knew all about Karabagh and just didn't want to recognize it.

Him and is buddies, many of who are former Minister of Defence Samuel Babayan's elite forces were making threats to what I would guess was probably some college student that if given the chance could keep.

On the one hand it was comical to see these bare-handed bone-breakers slamming down on the keyboard when pounding out their treats, but on the other hand I was saddened at the hate these very genital youths had towards someone who they personally didn't know, but knew they are an enemy to our nation. Though I don't fault them for this hatred, since even I saw with my own eyes what the Azeri's did to us, but there is a side that I think everyone has wishing we could all just get along and live in peace.

Just a quick note on the latest scandals to hit the US. Something about the war on Iraq and the threat of weapons of mass destruction that the CIA admits was in fact misinformation that should have never been reported. A little late I would think since that is the information that triggered the war. Also the report of the female solider who was not captured, but was in an accident and was taken to an Iraqi hospital for treatment and then "rescued" from said hospital. I'm not sure if this I just Russian news propaganda, but everyone here in Martuni is talking about it and believes it to be true.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

It's great to be home!!! I guess I really missed this place and though it's not Yerevan with everything one needs, it's home.

Today I met with the head of the Martuni division of the phone company (Karabagh Telecom).

It seems that my phone connection that is a direct line to Stepanagert that I use for internet has a chronic problem that for over11 months they have not been able to fix.

At the time when the problem hit its high was in winter and I was told that from the wet weather, the cable was damaged and when things dried up, it would resolve itself. At one point I was also told that the main cable had been damaged to the point that it needed to changed all together.

I figured that it was unreasonable to ask them to make any changes being that it would be very difficult to replace the cable when the ground was muddy and so on.

Well after returning from Yerevan, I found my connection to Stepanagert at its worst ever and figured that winter is over and since KT is privy to their cable problem, then they should have been ready to change it the first chance they got when things dried up.

The head of the phone company told me that they had sent out a crew who worked on the cable for 5 days and resolved the problem. I told him that if they think the problem is resolved, then we have a very serious problem.

I gave the head of the Martuni division of KT 3 days to correct the problem. If the problem is not solved in that time frame, I will have no choice but to take more drastic measures and push the government who signed into the deal with KT giving them a 30 year monopoly on telecommunications in Artsakh, to make good on the deal they signed into KT, which includes at very least maintaining their service, which in this and other cases they clearly have not done.

One other thing I should mention is that the new internet system they have installed in Martuni is not a satellite connectin as I was lead to believe. It seems they are using the cellular system that they relay back to Stepanagert's internet connection. To say the least, it is very slow to run everyone off of one 24k connection. I mean when I first got internet and the land-line was normal, I had a 24k connection to myself, so you can just imagine what 24k split among a dozen people is like.

Well it looks like for at least the next 3 days, I'm going to be an economic stimulator to the internet cafe here in Martuni.

As for the weather, it was great today. CLEAN AIR and not too hot!!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Yesterday while in the internet cafe, I had the privilege to interact with some youths visiting Martuni from Yerevan.

Yerevan Youth 1(YY1): (speaking to Martuni Youth who was using computer): You mind if I use the headphones of your computer to listen to something?

Martuni Youth (MY): Will it effect what I'm doing?

YY1: No.

MY: Okay, go ahead.

Yerevan Youth 2 (YY2): Hey, don't get upset and what's with the nasty tone of voice (this question directed to MY)?!

MY: I didn't use a nasty tone.

YY2: Yes you did and it was uncalled for.

MY ignores YY2.

YY2: It's not like we asked you for something in that tone, so don't talk to us that way.

Ara: He didn't use a nasty tone and I thought it was a very normal tone.

YY2: I was not talking to you, I was talking to him!

Ara: Well I was talking to you and don't know what your problem is, but he was using a very normal tone when talking to you and as far as I can see, you are not using a normal tone with anyone.

YY2: No, his tone was not normal and I didn't care for it.

Ara: Well I found his tone to be normal.

MY: So where are you from (trying to change the subject to ease tentions)?

YY2: Gomidas [Yerevan].

MY: Are you in the Army?

YY2: No, just here on vacation.

MY: That's good.

YY2: Where are you from (asking me)?

Ara: America (I would have said Martuni, but I could already see that this guy was picking a fight with me and the "A" word always has a calming effect on such people).

YY2: America? I have relatives in Los Angeles.

Ara: That's nice.

So the youths of Gomidas lost interest and went outside.


What I've noticed is that the people of Martuni are very kind and warm to visitors and even when they are being attacked, it's as if they at first don't know they are under attack, since here in general, people don't bully each other here.

So here walks in these punks from the streets of Gomidas, Yerevan, looking for someone to start some kind of confrontation with and the Martuni youth was polite and when need be, ignored the antagonistic strangers.

Of course, the "American" has to always intervene and from the get go talks rudely to the street punks of Gomidas to put a stop to their "fun".

I guess one of the things I like about Martuni and after being in Yerevan for almost a month is that the people here are so much purer and a bit naive (in a nice way), than the street hardened youth from Yerevan.

For me, I felt the purity I cherish so much being under attack and for me to stand up to these guys who were clearly larger than me physically was not even something I had to consider. It also didn't hurt that the room was filled with muscle that in a fight would have defiantly sided with me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I'm back in Martuni after sending Seta and her son off.

I have never stayed in Yerevan this long ever and I know that staying in Yerevan is not good for my health.

I saw everything I didn't want to see, like police stops, hospitals and the likes.

What was good about my stay was my friends that I had not had time in the past to see.

So now I'm back home and when I got here, my internet connection was not working (and is still not). So I had to come to the only internet cafe in Martuni to check my mail and log.

The local youth are right now standing over my sholder watching me type and are impressed with the speed I can type. Only problem is this keyboard that is not working well (a few keys you have to slam down on).

Anyway, Yerevan was very hot when we left and if the weather is the same in Yerevan today as it was when I left, then the weather here is much better. Nonetheless, I have my A/C going as in some ways I'm just not use to this kind of weather or just like too much to feel comfortable.

They started to cut wheat here in the Martuni region and it looks like the weather up until now has worked out so most will not loose any money in their investment and I get the feeling from the good harvest we are having, the price of wheat will be low and we will probably have a surplus, which is good.

Anyway, I need to get going as there are others waiting to use this computer.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Well it looks like my stay in Armenia will be yet again extended, as I have to finish getting things in place for the adoption assistance program we are implementing.

Our Nagorno-Karabagh registered NGO will be partnering with the Monte Melkonian Fund, which will defiantly ease the work for me as they already have an established office in Yerevan were perspective persons wanting to adopt can come and meet with our attorney who will be handling the adoptions at no cost to the new parents.

I wanted to share with you a little bit of fall out I got from

A very interesting debate is going with that group on the rights and wrongs of paying bribes to adopt from Armenia. It seems that there are moral people out there and just didn�t know they were feeding into a system that we are trying to rid ourselves of.

Anyway, here is a message from a woman named Angela Bedrossian, who my attorney in the states has advised me to sue for slander, defamation of character and mental anguish.

From: "hyechick8"
Date: Wed Jul 2, 2003 11:32 pm
Subject: Ara Manoogian / International Fees

Hi Michelle,

It's plain and simple. This guy, Ara Manoogian, is an Armenian-
American living in the Karabak area. He had some "problems" back
in the states and fled to live in Hyestan. To supplement his
income, he purportedly arranges adoptions of infants from the
Karabak area for high fees.

Trust me, if you list your name and e-mail address here, he will
contact you looking to "sell you a baby". If you are an Armenian
couple, the fee is sort of reasonable. If you are a non-Armenian,
he will "arrange things" but for a much higher price.

He is currently trying to "shut down" the "competition" in Armenia.
There are several other legitimate facilitators / agencies that
operate in the country. They provide excellent service and assist
institutionalized children in finding loving homes. (in the USA,

He has approached several members of our Yahoo group and offered to
handle transactions for them for exhorbitant fees. In the interim,
he has attempted to ruin the reputations of all of his "competition"
operating in Armenia.

He thinks nothing of the children, he just wants the CA$H.
As my medzmama used to tell me. "Follow the Money".

He tells everyone that Armenian children are "better off rotting
away in dilapidated orphanages, than to be given to non-Armenian
families". Great attitude, huh? Screw the loving families that
would take in these poor children. UNLESS they give HIM the CASH

(this includes OLDER children and children that have severe
disabilities. these children would most probably be considered un-

Follow the Money !

Ara Manoogian and his cronies are a bunch of thugs.
The words "Fake, Phoney, Fraud" come to mind when I hear his name

Take care and don't despair,
Angela Bedrossian

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Today I met with the Minister of Social Security.

We discussed adoptions in Armenia and I told him of a program that I will be implementing very soon that will help natives to adopt orphans. In the program we will also be working to promote the adoption of children with physical and mental challenges.

He told me that his ministry will cooperate in everyway possible and provide us with any information we need so our program will be successful.

From this point on, all adoptions in Armenia and Artsakh we will be closely monitoring to make sure that they are done properly.

I�m looking forward to meeting with the adoption committee to see who they are and also put them all on notice as to how they need to observe the law and work accordingly, or else be ready to answer for their actions.

As for the weather in Yerevan, today was very hot and smoggy. I think the time is nearing that I must return to my home in Martuni, were I have air-conditioning and clean air. I guess I'm home-sick :(

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

U.S. Develops Urban Surveillance System

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer

The Pentagon is developing an urban surveillance system that would use computers and thousands of cameras to track, record and analyze the movement of every vehicle in a foreign city.

Dubbed "Combat Zones That See," the project is designed to help the U.S. military protect troops and fight in cities overseas.

Police, scientists and privacy experts say the unclassified technology could easily be adapted to spy on Americans.

The project's centerpiece is groundbreaking computer software"


How sad this whole situation is. The US has made so many enemies throughout the whole world and even in their own country that instead of reconciling and trying to figure out why they have this problem, they are making more complicated mouse-traps.

When ever I read such articles and hear stories of what life is like now in the West, I really feel very good about the move to my country, where as bad as things could be, in the end when all is said and done, it's mine.

The weather today was great and I met up with Jeff K and Hagop (Jack) from Australia for some ice-tea and conversation.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I'm still in Yerevan as due to Seta's son and his illness, they had to delay their departure by a week.

The good news is that after taking her son out of the hospital, we started to feed him a type of yogurt called "Narineh", which was invented in an Armenian laboratory back in 1949.

A couple of nights ago, we noticed that his temperature was going up and we knew from the night in the hospital that when we force-fed him water (which was no fun for any of us), that did help. Also was helpful in the hospital was something they added to his IV to bring the temperature down.

So here was this kid sitting on the bed not wanting to drink water. I pulled out the bottle of Panadol (sp?) and asked Seta if she thought he would drink a little since it is intended to bring down the temperature. She said probably not.

She left the room to get something and the next thing I know, he is asking me for water. I gave him the water bottle, which he unscrewed the cap and began to drink. I almost cried from joy.

The days to follow and his appetite for "Narineh", of which he is now eating 1.5 liters of this stuff a day, caused him to start gaining weight (he lost 20% of his body-weight while he was sick), not to mention eradicated all his bowel problems and vomiting.

On top of all this, his energy level is incredible. Today he missed his afternoon nap (even though Seta and I needed one) and as we were napping, he was playing non-stop.

Anyway, enough about "Narineh" and it's incredible effects, though in the near future I'll be writing more about it.

Now for a little bit of bad news.

The trolley lines are being ripped out a record speed and today I heard that one of the reasons they are being removed (though I think this is just a weak excuse to justify what they are doing) is that they are removing them to sell them at $80 a ton so they can pay pensioners their monthly pensions.

You know I was thinking of other ways they could pay pensions rather than ripping out infrastructure.

The first one that comes to mind is to get these well connected business people, like that guy that was related to Vano S., who had some huge tax debt that Kocharian when he was elected forgave him for 90% of it. Anyone remember that one?

I mean if your going to destroy unneeded infrastructure I would think you could pick some other government owned structures to disassemble and sell off like the Parliament building and all the parliamentarians. Or how about sell of the fleet of government registered imported cars? I think selling off the Presidential rest-house of Sevan could cover at least a years worth of pensions.

Anyway, I'm really not too happy with the way our "elected" and "appointed" officials are mismanaging things these days and I would hope that they would really reconsider their chosen policies, as I would certainly hate to see a repeat performance of what happened in October of 1999 (which looks to be nearing again).