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Saturday, 20 September 2008

Pro-government youth in ‘anti-smoking campaign'… Well, kind of…

When in Yerevan, I came across with this march (on 12 September 2008) by pro-government youth group Miasin [‘Together’]. As far as I learned, they are a product of pro-government MIAK party.

It seems to me they desperately try ‘playing cool’, to take up the initiative from other, more pro-opposition or independent youth groups currently on the horizon (making headlines from time to time, with certainly more creative actions - e.g., here, here and here). Fine. But...

Miasin’s march was poorly organised. They were walking along Opera and nearby areas shouting “Don’t smoke!” There was nothing creative in posters they held or the ways this supposedly ‘anti-smoking campaign’ is being carried on. In fact, they looked more like posters from a Soviet time anti-smoking campaigns, which no one was paying attention to. It looked more like an action to tick off before their sponsors that they do something than anything else.

Funnily enough, at least some of the most active girls marching ‘don’t smoke’ are pretty heavy smokers themselves…

Verdict: Not cool.

P.S. Apparently, they march pretty regularly. Below is Onnik Krikorian’s photo made on 5 September, a week before.

10 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

Been asking around various people I know, both pro-government and some of the more democracy-minded youth activists, and came up with the same answer. Even asked someone in Miak and her response was that they are not part of MIAK, but members are involved in supporting Miasin.

Regardless, I agree with your assessment. They have been created to try to attract youth to them rather than other initiatives. I'm told by someone in MIAK that Miasin are not political. Well, now they might not be, but I'm sure there are political motivations behind it and when the time is right...

For sure, given their matching t-shirts and the printed posters, there's money behind them. Also interesting to note that nearly all of them are young, female and mostly pretty. More lads at the football match, though.

Clever move by whoever is behind them, but not very subtle. Incidentally, I know of at least three such "demonstrations," but I've heard from others that there have been more.

Ani said...

Chuckle of the day: "nearly all of them are young, female and mostly pretty". They must have been reading your post on the "babe theory" ;)

Anyway, just like Russia, once again...

Onnik Krikorian said...

Ok, just did some searching and came up with this. Didn't see this incident, but heard about it and later told my friends in Bambir they should have steered clear of being used for political purposes.

In fact, I had been told by one of them they were due to play the next day on Northern Avenue and my response was for them not to. Any event on Northern Avenue is now political.

Still, didn't know it was Miasin that organized the event -- I had been told MIAK. However, as Levon Martirosian was the founder and former head of MIAK, the connection is now very definitely clear.

Northern Avenue: HAYKAKAN ZHAMANAK and ARAVOT report that on Friday evening, the MIASIN Youth Movement (managed by aide to President Sargsian, Levon Martirosian) organized a provocation against the participants of a hunger strike along Northern Avenue by bringing the “Bambir” rock group to the area and organizing a concert there, during which free bottles of beers were distributed. Newspapers report that after negotiations between LTP’s spokesperson Levon Zurabian and the coordinator of MIASIN, Erik Antaranian, the group removed their equipment and left. In a statement, the Popular Movement Center said that the participants of the sit-in strike voiced protest and demanded that the police prevent the violation of order, stop the distribution of alcohol, and prevent further events from occurring in the same area. The statement asserts however, that police did not “do anything to prevent the violation of social order and protected the wrongdoers.”

http://yerevan.usembassy.gov/mediareviews.php?d=14&m=7&y=2008

artmika said...

Agree, Onnik, and I was very disappointed that Bambir got itself involved in what obviously a politically motivated event. I thought they are better and above all this. Apparently, I was wrong.

Back then I did not pay attention to that MIASIN/MIAK thing. For me, it was MIAK, and effectively it still is...

Onnik Krikorian said...

Back then I did not pay attention to that MIASIN/MIAK thing. For me, it was MIAK, and effectively it still is...

Well, good point...

emma said...

Most of the young people in this group are members of Hanrapetakan and Baze and representatives of student councils. So better call them hanrapetakan/miak/miasin/baze etc, ie sort of concocted pro government mixture.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Was at the cafe we met at just before you left yesterday to grab a bite to eat before hitting the pub yesterday evening and Miasin marched down Abovian to Republic Square for the Independence Day concert. All they seem to be able to do is shout (this time "shnorhavor") and bang drums.

Still, have no problems in there being a pro-government youth movement, but would do think the people behind them be identifited. An associated issue, if Emma is correct (and it sounds quite plausible given what we know about Republican party control of Student Councils), is whether there is a level playing ground.

However, I've heard from one other new youth movement (not pro-opposition although some of its members are) that the universities are limiting and trying to curtail their activities. Obviously, you can't just allow Miasin to work in the universities and ban others for political reasons.

All becomes a little too much like Komsomol for my liking. We need free-thinking students and not ones whose participation might be more defined by better grades, employment opportunities after graduation.

Anonymous said...

Like Ani said, this is just like Russia. There they have Nashi we have Miasin. And it is very much a neo-Komsomol movement there and presumably one in Armenia as well...

Onnik Krikorian said...

What's interesting is that while we've had such groups before -- Baze and their role in previous elections springs to mind -- this time the government are using colored-revolution-style influences with this one. The name, the image, etc, and the same appears to be true for Nashi. Unfortunately, that's only on the surface.

Interesting story on Nashi, btw:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,514891,00.html

Anonymous said...

Baze was (is) a group of kids of high ranking officials or related who get together every year and have fun on the expense of the state budget.