Friday, July 29, 2005

Dear Friends:

This time our attorneys requested the Aug 2 hearing of our case to be postponed until Aug. 16. They understood from meetings they had that we would lose this round because none of the judges would be willing to name "Igityan the suspect." This is what we are now asking the court to do.

They are unwilling to do this because it is too specific and too direct, and without a directive from above, they are unwilling to take this step.

Thus, please -- if you have not yet done so, please write your own letter or something similar to what I sent you previously to President Kocharian, even if not to anyone else.

Also, please send this around to your email list. It will be so helpful if we get several hundred letters written; it might make a difference.

It is critical if we don't win this round, we have nowhere else to go.

Thank you.

PS I've attached both previous Action letter with the addresses. The
President's is the most critical:

There is a problem with the Prime Minister's -- the web site seems to be down.


- - - - - - - -

Dear Friends,

In light of the most recent postponement of our case in Armenia’s courts, we have decided ask for your support in another letter writing campaign. We want to let the government of Armenia know that not only are we determined to fight this case and demand justice, but we have the support of many people both in and out of Armenia. We are asking you once again for your assistance to help bombard officials of the Armenian government with emails demanding the just resolution of our case.

We are providing you with a sample ‘action letter’ below to which we hope you will add your own comments. Please paste this to the body of an email and send it to all the government officials whose emails we’ve listed below. We hope, too, that as you have done in the past, you will forward this email to as many friends, family, and colleagues as possible.

Although this case is about our investment, that investment was not for personal profit – a fact that makes the situation we find ourselves in even more intolerable. The buildings were to help support and expand our work in Armenia through the Armenian Health Alliance. By expropriating our property and dragging this process on for two years, the Republic of Armenia has violated terms agreed to in treaties signed with the United State which stand as international law. These violations, if they go uncorrected, are taken very seriously by the international legal community and by the United States government. Our case will set a precedent for future foreign investments in Armenia.

Support for us to fight this injustice has been enormous both in the Diaspora and in Armenia. One young Armenian wrote to us recently, "Your case tells me why I feel so unsafe in my country...." Another wrote, "Your case is the most important thing for me... if you lose, we all lose."

We are trying to keep the fight going for their sake. As a noted writer wrote in a recent commentary, "This case is no longer just about the Najarians..."

The next court hearing is August 2 at 12:00 noon. We need to exert pressure now to break the current stalemate.

Thank you as always. Your support is critical

Carolann and George Najarian

President Robert Kocharian: Head of the Press Office:
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan:
Justice Minister Davit Harutyunyan:
National Assembly Speaker Artur Baghdasaryan:
Prime Minister Markaryan:
Defense Minister Serge Sarkisyan (spokesperson):
Anti-Corruption strategy advisor: Bagrat Yesayan: adv_yesayan (This address is “adv_yesayan”)

Minister of Trade K. Chshmaritian:

(see below)

Letters can also be mailed to:
President Robert Kocharian
c/o Ambassador Tatoul Markarian
Embassy of the Republic of Armenia
2225 R Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Sample Action Letter: (Cut and Paste)


I am writing to express my grave concern over the apparent corruption which is preventing Carolann and George Najarian from receiving a fair and just hearing of their case – a case which involves the illegal expropriation of their property. It is time for this case to be resolved – fairly and with transparency according to Armenian and international law.

As an official of the government of Armenia, you must work to end the corrupt practices of the Armenian Prosecutor General's Office which have, in effect, led to the expropriation of their investments and are causing Armenia to lose face internationally. Armenia’s top law enforcement officials cannot be involved in unethical and illegal practices if Armenia is to be considered a Democracy. Foreign investors will only invest in a just, fair, and democratic Armenia.

If the Najarians lose their investments a few corrupt officials may gain, but the Republic of Armenia will lose.

A timely resolution of the Najarian case in accordance with Armenian and International laws will serve to upgrade Armenia’s image before world powers as a country committed to democratic process.

Thank you for your consideration.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yesterday morning an attempted I’m not sure what took place at my mother-in-laws house.

On my fiancé’s sister’s last night before returning to Europe, we stayed up all night and around 5:45 a.m. everyone other than me went inside the house to get a couple hours of sleep. I sat on the porch outside, as it was way too hot inside and rested my eyes.

Before I could doze off, I heard in the yard the sound of someone slowly walking on the dry grass.

When I lifted my head, the noise stopped.

As soon as I put my head back down, the steps began and were getting closer.

I got up out of my chair and went into the yard to investigate what could be causing the noise.

It was pitch dark and as I made my way into the yard, I turned on the recorder in my cell phone just in case it was an intruder and being that it was dark, I would at least document their voice when they cry out when I start to beat on them.

I got half way into the yard, looking towards the pomegranate trees that line the walkway to the outhouse.

Behind one of the trees (about 10 meters from where I was sitting), I spotted a curled up black creature and was not sure if it was an animal or a human.

I picked up a good size sharp rock and hurled it at the creature, but unfortunately my aim was a little bit off and I hit the edge of the tree, which gave out the sound you hear when a baseball bat smacks into a hardball (the bark is gone where I hit, as well as good dent in the wood).

The creature jumped to it’s feet and I went chasing after it yelling like a madman, “You bastard, I’m going to kill you!!!”

This young man who was dressed in black from head to toe answered me by yelling out, “I’m an officer.”

I repeated my call to him as I moved into to corner this beast, who in front of him was a 2.4 meter tall wall (a little over 7 feet) and behind him a raging lunatic, looking for his blood.

As he got to the wall, I thought I had him, but next thing I knew, like a frightened cat, he hurdled the wall and jumped as if he was diving into a pool of water.

Being that my adrenalin was rushing, but not so much to hurdle the wall, within a second, I made my way to the steel door that leads to the back street. By time I got there, the beast had vanished into the dark.

I ran back to the house and dialed “102” which is the number for the police. I kept dialing the number, but it would not connect.

I tried to call the mayor on his cell phone, but it was turned off.

I was not sure who to call and even tried to call information “109,” but that too didn’t work.

After about an hour, I remembered a phone number that rings in the operator’s room at the phone company, 2-13-99, and when they answered the phone, I was greeted by a friendly voice who congratulated me on my wedding and then gave me the number to the police station, 2-12-29.

I called the police and told them what happened.

Officer Bedrossian asked me why I had not called earlier and then said that in 15 minutes someone would arrive.

Fifteen minutes passed and sure as can be, officer Vasken, who is the police officer for one of the village areas showed up to see what had happened.

Officer Vasken said that we would have to wait for the detectives to arrive, who did within 10 minutes of his calling them on his cell phone.

Detective Allen found footprints in the soil on the other side of the wall and said that the guy took a hard hit coming down, so he could have possibly hurt his leg.

I downloaded the voice clip on my computer, which detective Allen opened up with Nero Express’s wave editor and cleaned up the suspects voice.

We determined that he had a Hayastan accent, thus was probably a conscript serving at one of the neighboring bases, maybe looking for some food or something that he could sell.

The police said that it would be hard to find the suspect and it was too bad I didn’t call them sooner, as there is no doubt in their minds they would have caught the guy if I had.

This afternoon I called Dosig, the head of the Martuni branch of Karabagh Telecom to find out why I was not successful in getting through when I repeatedly called 102?

Dosig told me that during the war, the phone company building was hit by rocket fire and the equipment that controls fire, police and hospital service does not work. He said that they have tried in the past to fix it, but have had no luck in doing so. He said that I should know that 2-12-29 is the phone number to call when I need the police.

I asked Dosig when they plan on fixing this service, as someone visiting from the outside could certainly not know to call 2-12-29 when they need police in Martuni and I would think that this is a minimum obligation that Karabagh Telecom should fulfill, being that they will still monopolize the telecommunication network in Artsakh for the next 26 years according to their unpublicized license agreement they have with the government thanks to the Prime Minister.

I told Dosig that I was going to write a letter to his Executive Director Ralph Eirikyan to find out when the emergency sercice numbers would be repaired.

Dosig got defensive and said that it would not be of any use to write to Ralph, as to make that system operative, the whole system for Martuni would have to be changed.

I not sure what to think of what Dosig told me, but I’m writing to Ralph, who knowing his devotion to Artsakh and it’s well being, will do everything possible to restore this lifesaving service that we should never be without.

It’s really too bad to bad guy got away, but I’m glad that there was no loss to report other than some sleep for me, who instead of getting to go to sleep after we sent off our guest, I got to stay up and deal with the police.

I’m going to drop Ralph an e-mail in a few minutes just to get the ball rolling. I’m almost certain he will do something to remedy this problem in a timely manor.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

It was a great wedding!!!

I had the best time and though I’m not a dancer, I danced almost every dance at the reception. To say the least, we had a great time!!!

We thought 250 people of those we invited were going to attend, but when all was said and done, the reception hall was packed with 350 people.

Of course there are always glitches in any planned event and the biggest glitch was the car coming from Yerevan that was to take the bride, which had problems with its brakes and made it as far as Stepanagert. The backup car was a Toyota Land Cruiser, which on the day of the wedding birthed a radiator leak. Nonetheless, the wedding took place and thanks to my friend Nazaret Berberian, he rented a Lincoln Town Car and sent it from Stepanagert to take the bride to the Church.

Our honeymoon officially started at 3 a.m., so please forgive me if I don’t log for a while.

I will post additional pictures later on.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Only 14 more hours before I find myself in Shushi saying “I do.”

And hour ago, I got everything done and though the wedding reception is going to be attended by a larger number of people than I was expecting and people are saying that big weddings are not as enjoyable than small ones, I know our wedding and reception is going to be great.

For the most part, all my guests and all her guest as people we both know very well, thus the guests we have invited are going to be there with all their heart and soul for both of us.

I guess that now that the time is nearing, I am actually getting excited.

Today we had a picnic at a spring in Jardar that is memorialized in my fiancé’s father’s name. This is the same place that we were engaged.

During our meal, one of my future in-laws asked me if I was going to drink it up at the wedding. Though I am capable of doing this, I thought about it and said no, I’m probably going to only take a couple of shots since when I get to the reception, I will already be drunk with joy and don’t need to drink to forget and become happy.

After saying what I did, my eldest sister-in-law said that it reminded her of what her father use to say and that was that when people would ask Saribek if he was going to get drunk, he would say that people get drunk to feel the way he always feels and if he got drunk, what kind of person would he become?

Anyway, I need to get to sleep now (I hope I can sleep), as I’ve got to get an early start in the morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Only three days left before my wedding day.

I’m in Martuni. Got in last night after taking care of all my work in Yerevan.

Today for the most part I was at home supervising a worker who cleaned my yards while I washed down all the concrete areas. In the heat it was fun playing in water all day.

I invited all my neighbors to the wedding. They are all coming. Now all I have left is 14 more people to call on, which the mayor has offered to do for me, so for the most part I am all done with the inviting.

Our original guest list was 398 people, but after crossing off 50 names, we had 60 people who could not make it, thus we are now at a very comfortable 288.

We worked on the transportation issue tonight and determined that of all the cars that are coming from Martuni to Stepanagert (which is where the reception will be), we will need about 50 seats. This we will do with a small bus and a minivan, which the mayor will take care of also.

Tomorrow I will be going to Stepanagert to do follow-up on shopping. My fiancé went today and reported to me that she felt the person making the wedding cake was over charging us. Our cake is to be a wedding tree, which has 6 cakes in it, each cake they want to charge us 6,000 dram for. From the size they will be, they are half the size of the 6,000 dram white creamy cakes that I usually get for birthdays from another place. So tomorrow, I will pay a visit to the store I always go to and if they will make the cake for what I suspect they will (half the price of the other place), I will cancel the order and go with my baker.

We have chosen our toastmaster for the wedding. It will be my friend Vahe, who came from the US with his wife Seta just for our wedding. This is one incredible man who during the war had sent so much aid from his own pocket that he ended up loosing his business, apartment buildings and really did a number to his health. He's one of those genuine people who is ready to give it all for his people and whatever he says and does, comes from the heart. His wife is also a great person, who supports her husband’s every choice and stands by him through thick and thin, as does his three children.

Anyway, I better get going as I have to get an early start on cleaning the rest of my house. The Srpazan who is going to marry us (the same one that performed our engagement last summer) is coming, along with a Fr. Michael from the English Anglican Church of Jerusalem, who will also partake in our wedding.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

LA Times, July 20

Couple Allegedly Bilked Medicare of $5.8 Million

By Monte Morin, Times Staff Writer

A Burbank couple accused of bilking the federal government out of $5.8 million in Medicare payments will appear in court today to answer to more than 119 felony counts, including grand theft, tax fraud and money laundering.

Sarkis Musoyan and his wife, Azatui Dilboyan, both 37, were arrested at their Scott Road home early Tuesday after an investigation into billing practices at four medical offices they helped manage in Los Angeles and Orange counties. According to prosecutors, the couple hired doctors and then submitted false Medicare bills for procedures that were never performed.

The medical offices were in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

Prosecutors allege that from July 1, 2002, to Nov. 30, 2004, the couple submitted fraudulent bills in the doctors' names. Much of that money was wired to accounts in Armenia and the United Arab Emirates, or converted to cash, prosecutors said.

Richard A. Moss, a defense lawyer representing Musoyan, said his client would plead not guilty. Dilboyan's defense lawyer, Leo Fasen, could not be reached for comment.

Moss said the medical offices were run by the physicians; the couple's management corporations, Queens Medical Management and American Professional Management, ran the business parts of the practice.

He described at least two of the doctors involved as "disgruntled individuals" upset with the management companies. Moss said the couple were aware of the district attorney's investigation for the past year.

Bail for Musoyan and Dilboyan has been set at $6 million each.

It was unclear Tuesday whether charges would also be filed against the doctors hired by the couple.

"We're still interviewing them," said Albert H. MacKenzie, deputy in charge of the Los Angeles County district attorney's Fraud Interdiction Program. "Some may have been naive … others were sort of dummies."

The arrests of Musoyan and Dilboyan were part of a pilot program targeting healthcare fraud, officials said
RFE/RL Armenia Report - 07/19/2005

Senior Official Linked To Plush Yerevan Hotel Resigns

By Ruzanna Khachatrian and Emil Danielyan

A senior Armenian government official resigned on Tuesday following press reports identifying him as the owner of a newly built luxury hotel in Yerevan.

Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Hayk Chshmaritian provided a confusing and bizarre explanation for the move, saying that it will guarantee continued foreign investment in Armenia. `I tendered my resignation so that investments in the Republic of Armenia continue,' he told RFE/RL.

Chshmaritian refused to specify just how his presence in the government could hamper those investments. He said only that he will issue a written statement explaining that. Asked whether he was forced to quit over the hotel-related reports, he said, `No, my resignation is connected with foreign investments.'

Chshmaritian, whose brother Karen is Armenia's minister of trade and economic development, was a little-known individual until last May's inauguration of the new five-star hotel called Golden Palace. Its opening ceremony was personally attended by President Robert Kocharian.

The extremely expensive property formally belongs to a company registered in Cyprus. The Yerevan weekly `168 Zham' quoted Chshmaritian last month as saying that he is its principal shareholder. Asked by the paper how he managed to raise millions of dollars spent on the hotel's construction with his modest salary, the official replied, `It's my problem.'

However, Chshmaritian on Tuesday firmly denied any connection with the hotel. `I didn't say such a thing,' he claimed. `I don't even know that paper and never gave it interviews.'

Golden Palace was built in one of Yerevan's largest public parks that has shrunk considerably as a result. The fact that it was allowed to be built in such a location is extraordinary in itself and suggests that powerful individuals are behind the business.

The construction took about five years and is known to have been overseen by Armen Avetisian, the controversial chief of the Armenian customs close to Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The latter was seen visiting and inspecting the hotel last month.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Another pimp in court
[July 11-18, 2005]

On June 20th, in the Court of First Instance of Yerevan’s Nork Marash and Kentron districts, with Judge Vazgen Lalayan presiding, the case of notorious Dubai pimp Lusine Hakobyan (aka Aisha) began. (See also: Dubai is Hell on Earth) Aisha is charged with the organization of prostitution, in accordance with the first part of Article 262 of the Armenian Criminal Code. This charge carries a possible sentence of imprisonment from 1 to 4 years.

Back in September of 2004, a special investigator for the Armenian prosecution, Aristakes Yeremyan, interrogated Aisha in Dubai . Armen Boshnagyan, Senior Prosecutor for the Armenian Prosecution’s Department of Trafficking and Illegal migration, read the statements that Aisha had given in Dubai . In this initial interrogation, she stated that she had several women working as prostitutes for her: “Besides R., V. and Kristine were also working for me,” she said. In court she did not deny her previous statements, but added that she had not been supervising the prostitutes, but was merely helping them. At that time, she also agreed to surrender herself to Armenian authorities within two months, which she did.

According to Aisha, she derived profit from the prostitutes by marking up her charges to them for food, rent, and clothes, but not from acting as their pimp. The four witnesses present in Dubai disputed Aisha’s claim. Three of them insisted that Aisha was their “cruel boss” and that all the money they earned from prostitution they gave to Aisha, because Aisha had their passports and they had no other choice. “In front of my eyes she ripped apart Armine’s passport, and that’s why I was afraid; she was threatening us. I admit I was a prostitute, but Aisha was my boss,” says R, one of the witnesses.

How did these women end up in this situation? R. for one, says that she was looking for a job, and went to Dubai . However, she couldn’t find one, and was thereby forced into the only job available: she became a prostitute. She worked for a time for the pimp named Anna (aka “Bulldog”) until she met Aisha. Later, when her situation became intolerable, R. surrendered to police. She was then deported to Armenia .

Another witness, V., was a student hard-pressed to pay her rent in Armenia . Therefore, she left her studies and decided to look for a job in another country, using her knowledge of computers and English. Through contacts made by her friends, she asked Aisha to send her a visa for Dubai. There, she was met by Aisha, who took her to her home, a rented house; so began her debt to Aisha.

However, V.’s job prospects in Dubai were no better, it seems. “Time went by and I still couldn’t find a job; finally, one day Aisha said ‘I don’t care, whatever you do, bring me money.’ Aisha suggested that I become a prostitute. I was so depressed; I didn’t know how I could do that. But when I first met her, she had taken my passport, saying that it would be safe with her. I had no other choice but to go to the streets. We went to discos and clubs (to get my clients.) I waited and waited for my debt to end, but it never did. It only grew. By my estimate, I made $60,000 -$70,000 for Aisha,” V. told the court.

V. remained in Dubai for 1 year and two months; she was a prostitute for one year. Every day, on average, she had two clients. Later, one of her clients, Mohammed, fell in love with V. Every month, he paid Aisha $4000 - $5000 for V., so that she would not have to take any other clients. Mohammed also promised to help V. in Armenia , so V. went to the police, staying for 21 days in the Immigration Service facilities and subsequently was deported to Armenia .

V. is now married, but cannot have children. “When I got pregnant in Dubai , Aisha gave me some drugs to make me lose the child. I felt very bad from these drugs. After three days of hallucinations, Aisha took me to a doctor, Olga, and I felt a little better,” remembers V.

In court in Armenia , Aisha denied the accounts of the witnesses, “I did not take their passports; they gave them to me themselves, to put them in my safe, and return to them in case of necessity. At night, they went to clubs, but I treated them very well, and never forced them to become prostitutes,” Aisha told Judge Lalayan.

However, during the initial investigation in Dubai , the report shows that Aisha stated: “V. couldn’t pay the rent or the money for the visa, so I suggested that she become a prostitute for me as R. had done”.

In another instance, another witness named M. went to Dubai , again on the advice of friends. She tried to find a job, but ended up as a prostitute, again for the pimp Anna(aka “Bulldog”). On the occasion of her mother’s death, M. returned to Armenia . But she returned to Dubai . This time, she received a UAE visa with Aisha’s help. “Aisha sent me the visa, and her mother, Hasmik, bought me the air ticket and took me to the airport for the trip to Dubai .”

She describes her experience with Aisha. “I had a period for one month, but she didn’t take me to a doctor, and forced me to work in that condition. She mistreated me badly and beat me. She left me on the street and I returned to Armenia without a penny. I was there for 1 year and 2 months. We agreed to split my earnings 50/50, but Aisha took everything, so I didn’t want to work anymore. I was living in a constant fear there,” M. recounts.

Another witness with a slightly different slant on this story is H. “I was a hairdresser working in Dubai . I dried Aisha’s hair several times. She was also helping by referring clients to me. Later, I moved into her apartment. I have complained to the prosecutors that she still owes me $5000. I had given the money to her mother in Yerevan on the condition that Aisha would repay the money.”

Aisha’s response to this demand by H. for repayment is that, in reality, it was H. who was the organizer of the trafficking of girls to Dubai . “H. brought the prostitutes to Dubai ; I never knew them before.” However, during the same interrogation session, Aisha seemed to forgot her earlier statement, saying that she met had met R. (one of the prostitutes H. would have brought to the UAE) on the streets of Dubai .

In addition, Aisha claims that the issues with H. over money arose because “H demanded $5000 for every prostitute, but I didn’t give H. the money (immediately). My intention was to make money on the prostitutes by marking up the cost of their visa, rent, and food. So I’d make money (repay H.) after a little time.”

During the investigation in Dubai , Aisha did not deny her wrongdoing; however, later in court she changed her account of the exact nature of what she had done.

“I am guilty in that I helped them get visas then they came to the Emirates, but I am not guilty on other charges. I did not force them to do prostitution, and I wasn’t their boss,” she repeatedly stated during the court proceedings. She says that in Dubai , “during the initial investigation” she admitted her guilt in contravening the first part of Article 262 of the Armenian Criminal Code.

In reviewing Aisha’s case, the prosecution took into account the fact that she has an underage child and had never been arrested before; they subsequently released her.

Aghavni Eghiazaryan

Saturday, July 16, 2005

These last few days have been really flying by.

Four days ago, I took a trip to Artsakh to pick up my car, which I have not been driving for the 10 months since the bearings the camshaft turn on where in questionable condition. At the time I could not find the parts needed in Yerevan and I figured what the heck, winter was nearing and taking taxis was a much more desirable method of transportation.

Anyway, Lavrent fixed my engine last week and after sending new tires from Yerevan, I went to pick up the car since there is much running around in Armenia to do for my wedding.

My mom arrived a couple of nights ago and my fiancés sister and her kids yesterday afternoon, which meant visits to the airport.

It’s interesting to compare my mom’s flight from London to my sister-in-laws flight from Moscow.

The London flight had very few people (I’m not sure if this was because of the recent events there) and the Moscow flight was packed.

My mom’s flight landed and she was out in about 20 minutes, where my sister-in-law took well over an hour to get out. Of course this was probably because of the difference in quantities arriving.

Seven more days until my wedding. Though I don’t feel this overwhelming excitement most do, I know on the day of the event, it will all kick in.

To think, we have known each other for almost 10 years and dated for the last 18 months. Now the wait is almost over and the time to start a family is just around the corner.

Today we will be meeting with our kavor (best man) to plan/coordinate the transport of the guests coming from Yerevan.

The weather in Yerevan is HOT!!! It’s great weather to do laundry, since within 30 minutes of hanging it out, it’s dry.

Thursday, July 14, 2005
July 13, 2005

Press Review

In an editorial, “Aravot” tries to explain why the few individuals convicted of pimping and trafficking Armenian women abroad for sexual exploitation usually get suspended jail sentences. “That mystery is very easy to resolve,” says the paper. “It is impossible to engage in a business which has a lot to do with getting a foreign visa. Armenian [crime] bosses are the middle echelon, while the pyramid is topped by our law-enforcers that signal to the caught pimps: ‘Don’t worry, we are with you. You will be prosecuted a bit, after which we will continue our joint business.’”

Wednesday, July 13, 2005



July 9 internet users were deprived of the possibility of visiting website.

The problem is that Friday evening the server was hacked. Presently the website is unavailable. `We do know who the hackers are and why they did it. Presently reconstruction works are being carried out. The site will start functioning in a few days', chairman of Investigating Journalists public organization Edik Baghdasaryan said.

To note, it's the first attempt to hack the website. According to Edik Baghdasaryan, recently publications about trafficking have been placed on the site, however the journalists hesitate on the real reason of hacking.

P.S. By the way, hackers could not remain indifferent about the survey of A1+. They got interested in the subject of the week and distorted the results of the survey.

Monday, July 11, 2005

This is a long read, but worth it.

Prostitutes of the world unite in Dubai

Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:07 AM ET

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI (Reuters)
- At a downtown Dubai hotel crammed full of prostitutes, a Russian lady caked in make-up boasts about all the rich clients she's been hanging out with of late.

"Shoo, ya habibi!" ("what's up, baby!") she purrs in Arabic in an effort to impress a prospective English customer. But he isn't having any of it and turns his attention to some of the other nationalities on offer.

"I think he prefers black," Katerina rasps in disgust, as the man falls into conversation with a group of Ethiopians.

Business is booming in freewheeling Dubai where everyone, including ladies of the night, is flocking to make his or her fortune amidst another surge in Gulf Arab petrodollar wealth.

The semi-autonomous city-state in the United Arab Emirates -- the scene of round-the-clock work on brazenly ambitious urban development projects -- is attracting a global mix of blue and white collar labor and realized 16.7 percent growth in 2004.

But unusually for the conservative Gulf region, it also has a vibrant nightlife serving its population of 1.6 million, most of them foreigners, with easy-access sexual relations for all.

Police said last year the UAE was considering imposing visa restrictions on women tourists, especially Eastern Europeans, to curb prostitution, which is officially illegal here.

Sara and Mariam, two Muslim sisters from Azerbaijan, prowl the city's bars by night looking for customers. They rarely have a problem.

Tonight they've made the trek from the neighboring city of Sharjah, where rents are cheaper than Dubai, to a nightclub where the city's cosmopolitan mix of men know there is a global-wide choice of partners for the night.

"Money -- in Dubai there's lots of money. Everybody talks about it where I come from," says Sara, decked out in give-away knee-length leather boots and a tight white top.

On earnings of $6,000 a month, with $600 paid to her Turkish pimp, she says it's an easy game for the sisters, who watch out for each other in case there is trouble. They are doing well in a country with a per capita income of more than $20,000.

"Our day jobs pay almost nothing, but we can make a lot of money at night. It's very easy for us here," says Mariam, who along with her sister has a low-paid professional job by day.


But there is another side to prostitution in the Emirates -- women lured by pimps to the country on false pretences who find themselves forced into selling themselves by night.

The State Department last month singled out the UAE as one of the world's worst offenders in human trafficking, partly because of women it said are forced into prostitution.

Alia, a 25-year-old from Kazakhstan, says she is one of them. A recent arrival, she earns about $1,000 a month but pays most of it on rent and her Kazakh pimp who has kept her passport until Alia's payments hit the $8,000 figure.

"I was tricked to do this. I thought I would be working as a secretary or something. I was ill for the first one and a half months from the shock," she says stoically, surveyeing the large array of competition filling the hotel bar.

"I was amazed when I first came at the number of girls here," she adds, before leaving the scene alone. One police official acknowledged the large numbers of prostitutes but said many of the complaints could not be taken seriously. Professional "Natashas," or Russians, say they have been duped only after arguments with their pimps over money, he said.


According to local charity group Valley of Love, there has been a rising number of women forced into prostitution over the last year. The networks are often run by Indians, the largest ethnic group in the cosmopolitan mix of the United Arab Emirates.

"There have been more than 150 cases in the last six months, while previously it was very few. Now people have come to know these things are happening," said its head, C.P. Mathew.

"They were forced or nearly forced into prostitution. Most of them escaped, and most of them were Indian. They come as babysitters, maids and salesgirls. Some will do whatever they can to get out of the situation," he added.

One such woman was Amali Wijiyatunga, a 25-year-old Sri Lankan maid who jumped out of a second-storey window when she realized she was being forced into sex for money.

Police found her broken and bloody on a downtown pavement earlier this year and took her to a hospital. Amali says Indian acquaintances had promised to help her after she went through a series of unpleasant employers in other UAE cities.

But things turned from bad to worse when she was taken to a Dubai apartment on the promise of help in finding better work.

"They wanted me to do a blue movie and I didn't know what to do. This is my life, I can't do this. So I jumped out of the window," she said from her hospital bed where she convalesces.

(Additional reporting by Odai Sirri)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

How long will this go on? Good people struggle to move one step forward toward positive progress and the corrupt/criminals/”leaders” for their own personal gain, drag us 100 steps back.

Is this a loosing battle? I really have ask myself if we are doing this the right way or not?

We have been trying to straighten things out here in Armenia, following the laws of humanity, yet those who are causing us hardship, claim to respect the laws of humanity, yet their actions clearly indicate that they DON’T respect any written laws. This including the people who have been entrusted to uphold the law.

So how do we struggle against such people?

When the Young Turk leaders were punished by the law at the time in 1919 and then the law somehow set those monsters free, the laws of humanity proved to be powerless over the laws of nature.

The trial on the 8th once again reminded me that the laws of humanity no longer work in Armenia (we have been seeing this happen since independence) and the laws of nature are the only working laws today.

This is evident as for the last year I’ve seen 3 trials against human traffickers (I personally attended 2 trials) and in every case, the guilty was set free even though the evidence presented called for a conviction under the written law that punishes traffickers.

The worst thing is that the Armenian government’s legal bodies are sending out a message that if you are a trafficker, you will get off with a slap on the hand, so don’t worry if you get caught.

For the victims, they become victimized a second time and understand that it is not worth their energy to seek justice against those who have done them wrong.

So what do we do when someone is beyond the law? How can they be punished?

All I know is that when the laws of humanity fail, the laws of nature eventually kick in.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Even the Court Supports the Pimp
[July 4, 2005]

See also: Armenians in the Dubai Sex Trade

On May 25 th, The Court of First Instance of the Kotayk Province, Judge Gagik Heboyan presiding, issued a decision that is a classic example of the support pimps receive in the Armenian legal system. These pimps have been selling Armenian women into sexual slavery in Dubai for years. But they are given a slap on the wrist by the courts, and released as soon as possible so they can get back to work.

This time, the court had received a request from the administration of the Abovyan prison to release notorious pimp Marietta Musayelyan before the end of her sentence. Why the prison sought an early release is anybody’s guess.

At the trial, Judge Hakobyan determined that, “Prisoner Marietta Musayelyan, who was sentenced on February 10, 2005 [actually, she was sentenced on November 3, 2004] to one year and six months in prison in the first hearing by Yerevan’s Kentron and Nork-Marash Court according to Paragraph 1 of Article 262, Paragraph 2 of Article 325, and Article 66 of the Criminal Code the Republic of Armenia. Her imprisonment began on November 5,2004 ; ten months and ten days remain until it ends.”

The court reviewed the request, hearing testimony from a representative of the prison and from the prisoner herself, and taking into consideration the nature of the crime, the character of the prisoner, and the fact that although the prisoner did break prison rules during her incarceration, she subsequently changed her behavior (after talking to the head of the prison), participated in cleaning of the premises, performed her chores properly, and regretted the crimes she committed, thus proving that she had learned her lesson.

Based on the above and in accordance with Articles 434 and 484 of the Armenian Criminal Code, the court granted the prison’s request. Marietta Musayelyan was released on parole, eleven months and ten before the end of her original sentence.

The decision could be appealed in the Armenian criminal and military court within fifteen days.

How did Judge Gagik Heboyan come to take such a favorable view of Marietta Musayelyan? That something that only he and the prison administration can answer. Who gave the order to send the case to court so quickly, and to release the pimp before she had served even half her time? The prosecutors alone could find that out, but only if they wanted to. They had fifteen days to appeal the court’s decision, but they did nothing.

Edik Baghdasaryan

Friday, July 08, 2005

Evidence points to the Armenian Prosecutor General’s office involvement in trafficking of human beings

Today was the last day of trial for Lucine Hagopyan, the notorious pimp who has admitted to trafficking of girls to Dubai and forcing them into prostituting themselves.

The head of the “anti-trafficking” department of the Prosecutor General’s office presented his argument, which instead of presenting the evidence to put Lucine behind bars for the crimes she herself admitted to, he recommended that she be given 2 years probation, stating that according to the evidence they had, no other law (#132) does not apply and there is no reason to retry the case.

You can’t imagine how disappointed I was to hear the prosecutor’s defense for Lucine. It was as if Lucine was his client, rather than the criminal that she is.

It’s very clear. The evidence was presented and a 5-year-old could tell you that what was presented could only be interpreted as trafficking.

In the closing argument that Lucine’s defense attorney made, he himself stated that Lucine obtained the visas for the victims and housed them. He added that those girls had been to Dubai before and worked as prostitutes, yet all the evidence that was presented during the trial, there never was any such statements other than from Lucine that his statement was accurate.

What the reality is and why the trial went as it did was that Lucine Hagopyan even before being arrested, had come to Armenia after being called to settle her issues with the Prosecutor General himself. This was based on her own testimony during the trial.

The information we had right after Lucine arrived to Armenia was that she visited with the prosecutor’s office and paid a $150,000 bribe to clear her “debts.”

We had visited with Lucine when we were in Dubai, but had not written about her as we were waiting for her (as well as others) to step foot on Armenian soil to print her story so the authorities would have no choice but pick her up and press charges.

I of course was hoping that they would charge her with 132, which hands the punishment of up to 8 years for trafficking, but Edik was sure that they would let her off since she paid such a large sum of money.

Last years trial of mother pimp Nano and her gang at least put them behind bars for a few months, probably because for the 5 traffickers, they only paid $300,000 to the prosecutor’s office ($60,000 each).

So what does all this tell me? It tells me that the Armenian government who is led by Robert Kocharian is corrupt and the reason why today we have 2,000 girls in the UAE and about 5,000 girls in Turkey is that our leaders are all prostitutes and can be purchased to do whatever the highest bidder wants.

Though I was hoping that this time the prosecutor’s office would do the right thing, I’m glad they showed their true colors and did what they do best and that is to help criminals like themselves continue to commit crimes against our people.

I’m also glad that OSCE and the US Embassy had representatives to monitor the trial, as when the Armenian government claims that they are doing what they can do combat trafficking and to be removed from Tier 2 watch list, the Department of State can do the right thing and they kick us down to Tier 3 and cut our aid.

When the trial was over and those of us observing the trial were talking, I made a comment about the prosecutor that he didn’t work well and his anti-trafficking department was just for show. As I said this, the prosecutor left the courtroom with he head hanging low.

The trial was also covered by Gentron Television, which tonight during the 10:30 p.m. news, talked about the verdict and basically implied how the prosecutor’s office is not combating trafficking as they should.

So in the end what happened? Lucine was given a 2 year sentence for pimping, but due to her being a single mother with a mother who is "ill", she will only have to serve a sentence of 1 YEAR PROBATION. She walked out of the court a free person.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The ancient Armenian pagan feast of “Vartavar” was once again observed in Armenia according to Onnik over at Oneworld Multimedia.

In Martuni, there was no one out with bucks of water to drench unsuspecting pedestrians, since for the most part, the people here have only heard of this day from friends and relatives living in Armenia.

Today we went to Adamyan’s dacha, which is found a few kilometers below Jardar, with my fiancé’s classmates for a BBQ.

Adamyan’s dacha was built during Soviet times when Jardar had an economic boom under the rule of Souren Adamyan, the president of the Jardar collective.

The dacha is situated on a hilltop, where there is a 500 ton reservoir/pool which was built to water the surrounding grape vineyards.

To say the least, the pool is huge, filled with spring water and frogs.

We swam and laid under the sun for most of the day.

I got very tired from swimming and also got sunburned, thus I slept for hours like a baby when I got home in the afternoon.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

It seems that General Ohanian has admitted to beating ARF-D’s Pavel Manukian. His reasoning was that Manukian had made offensive and slanderous statements.

Big deal Mr. General. If he made slanderous statements, then take him to court instead of showing what a barbaric animal you are.

I’m thinking that he was probably telling the truth for the most part and the good General didn’t want to have to face up to the facts and didn’t have an answer to what was being said to defend himself from the allegations.

Here is a reality check. First of all, legal actions have been started against the General and his top brass. How far it will be taken is another story, though I know the ARF-D will push hard to make sure things are taken all the way.

In the story below, you can read for yourself that Ohanian admits to the crime and if you ask me, he should be court-martialed to private and tossed out on his ass, along with the very uneducated animals who were also involved. This includes “generals” Vartan and Samuel.

The couple of lines that made me laugh were the ones from Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. Serzh thinks people should show more respect for the army’s top brass. I guess I have to ask why? Serzh and Ohanian need to learn that respect is not something that you give just because is a general (since most of our generals today in international terms are not really generals and pushed their way to the top), but something you earn.

If you ask me, there are very few top brass in the Armenian and NKR army that deserve our respect. Those very few people do not include Ohanian and Sarkisian. Feel free to quote me on that since I’ve always taken that position. In fact Ohanian always seems uncomfortable when I’m around him, as he knows very well how I feel about him and I've even pushed questions like the ones Pavel Manukian has, but he didn't have the balls to call me to his office and in fact ignored my requests to meet with him to talk about those issues.

It's now clear that Ohanian has no balls and is just a big bully.
Friday 1, July 2005

Karabakh General Denies Political Motives For Oppositionist’s Beating

By Emil Danielyan

Lieutenant-General Seyran Ohanian, the commander of Nagorno-Karabakh’s army, on Friday admitted taking part in the beating of a local opposition activist, saying that he could not “restrain” himself after hearing “offensive statements” by his former subordinate.

Pavel Manukian, a prominent war veteran affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), was hospitalized with severe injuries after being summoned to the Defense Ministry in Stepanakert on June 21. Manukian insists that he was beaten up Ohanian and other generals furious with his harsh attacks on the top brass of the Karabakh army. He voiced them during last month’s parliamentary election campaign in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Ohanian stopped short of denying Manukian’s allegations in a written statement sent to Karabakh and Armenian media. “There are values that can not be desecrated,” he said. “Nobody has such right, especially someone who is well aware of details of his comrades-in-arms’ combat background.”

“As an Armenian, as an Armenian soldier and as someone who bears the price of our Victory on his skin, I could not restrain myself when an attempt was made to slander our army and its command and my comrades-in-arms,” he added.

Manukian, who unsuccessfully ran for parliament on the Dashnaktsutyun list, publicly ridiculed the generals for their stated readiness to obey government orders to withdraw from occupied Azerbaijani territories surrounding Karabakh. He also questioned their moral integrity.

According to Manukian, Ohanian swore at Dashnaktsutyun during the beating and said the NKR leadership would not allow Dashnaktsutyun and other local opposition groups to win the June 19 election. Ohanian appeared to deny this, saying that he has never had problems with Dashnaktsutyun. “Attempts to attribute anti-Dashnak feelings to me or to link the incident to the elections are absolutely groundless,” he said.

Dashnaktsutyun, which denounced the election as fraudulent, strongly condemned the incident and demanded the resignation Ohanian and the other generals. The Karabakh authorities promised an “objective investigation” into the violence but it is not clear if they plan to sanction any of the top army officers.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian told reporters in Yerevan that the incident should not degenerate into a dispute between the Karabakh military and the influential nationalist party represented in Armenia’s government. “Every military commander, especially somebody like Seyran Ohanian, must exercise a great deal of self-control so that no provocation can make him lose his nerve,” he said. “In this regard, Ohanian apparently has a problem to solve.”

But Sarkisian, who himself commander Karabakh Armenian forces during the war with Azerbaijan, went on to stress that the Karabakh commanders must be treated with more respect.

(Photolur photo: Seyran Ohanian.)
For the last few months, if not for the last year, I’ve seen very little of Artsakh. I was too busy working on trafficking issues in Armenia, thus a bit out of touch with life here.

Today I got my first indication that things here have changed.

My first indicator so far has been the price of food products in my neighborhood store. There has been a price increase on some goods. This would be a good indicator of progress, that is, if salaries were increased accordingly.

It seems that there is a bit of discontent (I’m not sure how much outside my neighborhood) in regards to the parliament election. The elections were free a fair as far as people could tell.

The problem people have is that the government’s people are controlling the parliament and after the beating of the ARF-D candidate Pavilk Manoukyan, it seems that some in government are feeling “good” and are not shy or in fear of showing how powerful they are.

After that beating, the president was asked who will be next? He answered that there will be no more beatings.

Now the question is, who will be disciplined and will the defense minister resign? If the defense minister is no relieved of his power, then we do have a problem.

It seem to me that I need to re-establish my presents in Artsakh, as potentially, this place which was very democratic compared to Armenia when I was here full-time, could slide back to the days we lived when Samuel Babayan was in power. At least I can say and do what needs to be, without getting beaten and then given a cup of water that a war coward who was promoted to general spit in.

Well I’m off to get my hair cut at Nershic’s barbershop. I’ll get a good idea of what the mood is like from there.
I’m in Martuni!!!

It was a long trip with our taxi’s transmission acting up. No acting up is an understatement. Basically the 4-speed transmission didn’t have 4th gear.

On top of this, one of the passengers who happened to also be from Martuni, but was going to Stepanagert, had to stop in to pick something from some factory on the way which was suppose to take 5 minutes, but took almost an hour.

We got into Martuni 4 hours late.

Anyway, I here to take care of issues related to my wedding and once that is done, I’m back to Yerevan to meet guests at the airport.

Things in Martuni have not changed.

The wheat harvest is going strong, though it seems like the yield per hector is not all that great.

Just before the harvest began, the price of wheat was 90 dram a kilo. When the harvest began, it dropped to 50 to 60 dram a kilo.

The price of diesel is now up to 6,000 dram for 20 liters.

Last year, the price of diesel from what I remember was less than 5,000 dram for 20 liters and wheat was selling for 120 dram a kilo.

So this year the yield is less, the price of wheat is less and the costs are more. And what is even worse for me is that when the price of wheat is low, many people store their wheat to wait for the price to rise, though I’m told that they are selling as they have debts to repay and have no choice.

This is a bad year for wheat farmers and probably worse for Armenian farmers, as there is a good chance that the low price as been artificially set by a few people who are out to make a killing and are willing to sacrifice the common farmer, who is just trying to feed their family.