Friday, 31 October 2008

Only in Georgia...

Matthew Collin posts this amusing photo (by Ana Iaseshvili) from Tbilisi which shows “Georgia's new Minister for Refugees making his preferences clear” in relation to the upcoming US presidential elections. While most people outside the US would prefer Barak Obama’s victory on 4 November, in Georgia - preferences are for John McCain.

No surprises here, as “George Bush remains a popular figure in Georgia" (photo).

Armenia-Turkey's "new climate": "extraordinary decisions" imminent?

Intrigue of The Day

(ARKA). Armenia is negotiating with Turkey on the opening of borders and establishing relations without any preconditions, said Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian at a press conference in Yerevan on Thursday.

"This means that establishment of relations does not depend on any preconditions, and there is no need to link this issue with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict", - he said.

In the meantime, Today's Zaman reports: “We need to be constructive and supportive. Everything has changed in the Caucasus. Everybody is ready to review old attitudes. In my visit [to Armenia], I presented a new climate. When there is a new climate, problems can be solved,” he [Turkey's president Abdullah Gül] said in response to reporters’ questions as to whether he expects concrete steps to be taken between Turkey and Armenia following his visit to Armenia in September.

At a reception on the occasion of the Turkish Republic’s 85th birthday at the Çankaya presidential palace, Gül said he is hopeful and expects new developments.

Gül broke a taboo when he visited Armenia to watch a soccer match between national teams of the two countries. Talks between officials of Turkey and Armenia, which have had no formal ties since 1993, are under way to re-establish relations. Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said this week that the two countries could announce “extraordinary decisions” at any time, emphasizing that there was no real barrier to efforts to normalize ties.

*/emphasis mine/

Halloween in Armenia: political prisoners... on the Northern Avenue

On Friday, 31 October 2008, 2pm, similar protest action of people wearing masks of political prisoners will be held in front of the prosecutor's office in Yerevan.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

BBC: “Georgia may have committed war crimes”

Is this the beginning of the end for Saakashvili’s regime?

In fact, that ‘beginning’ started 1 year ago... It's taking too long, too many devastations, too many lives...

The BBC has discovered evidence that Georgia may have committed war crimes in its attack on its breakaway region of South Ossetia in August.

Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting.

Research by the international investigative organisation Human Rights Watch also points to indiscriminate use of force by the Georgian military, and the possible deliberate targeting of civilians.

Indiscriminate use of force is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and serious violations are considered to be war crimes.

The allegations are now raising concerns among Georgia's supporters in the West.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband [normally a strong supporter of Georgia] has told the BBC the attack on South Ossetia was "reckless". He said he had raised the issue of possible Georgian war crimes with the government in Tbilisi.

The evidence was gathered by the BBC on the first unrestricted visit to South Ossetia by a foreign news organisation since the conflict. More...

Related - President Mikhail Saakashvili has denied that Georgia's armed forces committed war crimes during their attack on South Ossetia in August.

Revealed: "The Nature Minister’s Private House on the Shores of Sevan"

A few months ago, when the Armenian government was debating the permissible amounts of water that could be drawn from Lake Sevan, the press was full of reports that the agreed upon 360 million cubic meters of water to be extracted wasn’t needed for agricultural irrigation usage but rather to save the numerous property sites of government officials from the rising lake’s waters.

At the time, government officials and National Assembly Deputies labeled such allegations as ridiculous and without merit.

The private house pictured here on the shore of Lake Sevan, with its numerous annexes, belongs to Aram Harutyunyan, the Minister of Nature Protection. (The photo depicts only a portion of the private compound). Construction on the house began this year and renovation work is still continuing. The house is located on the road that leads from the village of Shorzha to the Artanish Nature Preserve, a few meters removed from the shoreline. Sources close to “Hetq” claim that one year ago the house site was a part of the Artanish Preserve lands and that it was detached from the Preserve’s boundaries after a decision passed by the government.

*Hetq Online

Bird hunting at the Sevan National Reserve in Armenia

*via Hetq Online

Monday, 27 October 2008

27 October 1999, Yerevan, Armenia (new video footage via A1+)

Chilling... RIP...

(Comments off)

Armenian Minority Rights Violated by the Georgian Authorities (new facts and statement)

The construction of wall around Norashen church /18.10.2008/

Statement by Yerkir Union of Non-governmental Organisations for Repatriation and Settlement

To All International Organizations, Embassies and Human Rights Structures Operating in Georgia

Despite international obligations assumed by the Georgian government for the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities in Georgia, despite numerous recommendations and appeals by international organizations, including the UN Human rights commission and human rights NGO-s to respect these obligations, the Georgian authorities continue to ignore and disregard issues of concern to the Armenian minority, contributing moreover, by a number of new steps, to the aggravation of tensions and the increase of discontent.

Within this context, the Georgian authorities have not only continued to disregard repeated demands by the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church asking to be handed over Armenian churches of Georgia and particularly the Norashen church in Tbilisi, confiscated in the soviet era, but have also tacitly encouraged and sometimes even actively helped hostile actions on behalf of the Georgian clergy which is actively embarked for a certain time now in the process of self-appropriation of the Armenian churches in Georgia. In this line of action, the Georgian authorities recently provided once again construction permits to the clergy of the Georgian church neighboring Norashen, allowing it to build around Norashen a surrounding wall carrying Georgian religious ornaments, considerably complicating in this way the access to the Armenian church.

Due to protest actions of the Armenian community of Tbilisi and to appeals emanating from Armenian Apostolic Church authorities, several Armenian NGOs, including “Yerkir” Organization, it was possible to temporarily halt in May of the current year the hostile activities of Georgian priests, but construction works around the Armenian Norashen church resumed on a wide scale a few days ago (see attached photos).

In addition to this hostile policy towards the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia, while dealing with the Armenian minority in their country, Georgian authorities continue to violate basic international human rights’ and democratic norms pertaining to this field. Thus, among other shortcomings within this context, they continue to maintain politically-motivated criminal charges against the political activists of the Armenian populated Javakheti region and their family members, lately arrested and imprisoned without real foundations.

Thus, Arthur Poghosyan, an activist of the political movement “Democratic Alliance “United Javakhk”, was recently sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment on the basis of fabricated charges. Another activist of the movement, Gurgen Shirinyan, has a search warrant issued against him by the authorities, while his father and aunt are detained and waiting trial. The leader of “United Javakhk”, Vahagn Chakahlyan, in turn, as well as his juvenile brother, are also in detention in Tbilisi, while their father, Rouben Chakhalyan, has been set free on bail.

Other issues which are a matter of concern for the Armenian minority still remain unresolved:
- the Armenian Apostolic Church continues to be deprived of a status of legal entity;
- the Armenian Minority in Georgia, particularly the part of it living compactly in the Javakheti region, continues to be under-represented in all spheres of public life;
- the Georgian central Government continues to enforce the laws obliging minorities to use exclusively the Georgian language in all fields of public activity, and particularly in the local administrations and local educational system within the context of regional self-government.
- posts in the local administration, educational sphere or any other post for the holders of professional diplomas continue to be contingent on the knowledge of the Georgian language.

Under the actual circumstances, while Georgia is still recovering with difficulty from the consequences of the recent armed conflict with Russia and is announcing the launching of a wave of democratization reforms and the enforcement of the rule of law, such a treatment by the Georgian authorities of its Armenian minority looks in fact much more irrational.

Taking into consideration the above mentioned facts, “Yerkir” Union calls upon the appropriate and specialized structures of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, as well as of all other concerned international organizations and human rights bodies, to take immediate and direct measures to restrain Georgia’s negative current behavior against its Armenian minority, to put an end to the political persecutions in Javakheti, and to facilitate the emergence of a solution for the Armenian community of Georgia, as far as its minority rights are the issue, and in particular, to ensure this result by obtaining from the Georgian authorities to:

1. Set free all political prisoners recently detained in Javakheti and withdraw all politically motivated criminal charges against them;

2. Implement the rule of law and guarantee the security of the Armenian population of Javakheti;

3. Ensure the freedom of faith in the country and register the Armenian Apostolic Church as a legal entity in Georgia;

4. Return all confiscated places of worship to their legitimate owners;

5. Allow by law the use of the Armenian language in all spheres of public life in the local administrations of all regions where Armenians represent a majority.

The international community must act now to avoid further aggravation of the situation and prevent the emergence of a new seat of conflict.

24 October 2008

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Disclosed: Madrid principles of Karabakh conflict settlement (updated!)

UPDATE (27 October 2008): Thanks to Ruben Muradyan who pointed out in the comments section below that the principles of Karabakh conflict settlement posted in this blog (with the reference to The Karabakh Deal blog) are in fact recommendations by the International Crisis Group. As I mentioned in comments section, they sounded very similar to what is allegedly referred to "Madrid principles". Also, Ter-Petrosyan's outline of "Madrid principles" during the rally which I copied an extract from in this post, was in line with that outline.

So here we are again. We still need to get access to the original document on "Madrid principles", which Serj Sargsyan said is available in Internet but which is impossible to find a genuine copy of.

OSCE Minsk Group Karabakh Conflict Report - Madrid


To the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan:

1. Agree before the 2008 elections on a document of basic principles making provision for:

(a) security guarantees and the deployment of international peacekeepers;

(b) withdrawal of Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh forces from all occupied territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, with special modalities for Kelbajar and Lachin;

(c) return of displaced persons;

(d) Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status to be determined eventually by a vote, with an interim status to be settled on until that time; and

(e) reopening of all transport and trade routes.

More... (source: The Karabakh Deal)

Below is the extract from Armenia’s opposition leader, former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan speech during the latest rally listing the basic principles of the proposed Karabakh settlement.

“Thus, it is perfectly obvious that we are standing on the brink of a resolution to the Karabagh conflict. It is also beyond doubt that the Madrid proposal, which the Minsk Group gave to the parties in December, 2007, and which is based on the idea of reconciling two principles of international law – the right to national self-determination and the principle of inviolability of territorial integrity – will be the basis of the new proposal. As for the essence of the resolution or the specific program, it will consist of approximately the following points:

1. Withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabagh;
2. Resettlement of these regions with Azerbaijani refugees;
3. Return of Azerbaijani refugees to the territory of Nagorno-Karabagh itself;
4. Provision of an overland link connecting Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia through the Lachin corridor;
5. Deployment of peace-keeping forces on across the borders of Nagorno-Karabagh;
6. Demilitarization of the territories that have been returned to Azerbaijan;
7. Lifting of the blockade of Armenia’s and Karabagh’s external communications, and reopening of the Armenian-Turkish border;
8. Definition of an interim status for Nagorno-Karabagh Republic;
9. Conduct of a referendum on the final status of Nagorno-Karabagh in some undefined, future date;
10. Provision of international financial aid for the restoration of the conflict zone.”

As I said before, these principles (November/December 2007) look very similar to the phased version (September 1997) of the conflict settlement (except added Karabakh referendum part) over which Ter-Petrosyan was forced to resign in February 1998. Although many concerned about the lack of clarity related to the principles and the principles themselves, RFE/RL notes that Ter-Petrosyan “did not specify whether he thinks Yerevan should go along with them. He said only that the Armenian side should have the mediators clarify when proposed referendum would take place and who would administer it. Ter-Petrosian had earlier described those principles as largely acceptable and stressed the fact that they are similar to a peace plan which he had strongly advocated while in power.”

Post deleted: (re alleged stabbing incident with Indian students in Yerevan)

Many thanks to all readers of my blog who made comments (Anonymous, Onnik Krikorian, Souren); also to all readers of my blog and my friends who were helping me to establish whether the incident happened and its circumstances.

However, as it was not possible to get confirmation of this story from other sources and taking into account the sensitivity of the subject matter, I decided to delete this post.

Thanks for your understanding!

Friday, 24 October 2008

"Burnt alive": new photo testifying of the Armenian Genocide revealed

The photo originally published in the “Album of refugees” in 1917.

The original photo found in 2008 by AGMI.

The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute reports:

Recently, the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute’s efforts towards collection of new data on the Armenian genocide have experienced great success with the enrichment of AGMI’s collection of documentary photographs. The most recent discovery is a photo testifying of the Armenian Genocide and in particular the massacres of the Armenian population in the region of Mush.

The photograph has been acquired by the AGMI and was captured by Russian soldiers on the Caucasus front in 1915. It portrays the remains of the Armenian villagers who were burnt alive during the massacres of Mush.

This photograph is one of a kind. It is one of the well preserved photos discovered in an album called, “Album of refugees” published in Tiflis (1917). The album is consisted from 62 unique photos that demonstrate the events of the Armenian Genocide. However, only a few of the original 62 have survived and most of them are in dire conditions.

Nonetheless, the authenticity of the “Album of refugees” is demonstrated through the validity and great condition of this unique photo. On the back of this picture is a quote in Russian stating; “Armenians burnt alive in Sheykhalan by Turkish soldiers”. Furthermore, the photo is marked with the number 74, which indicates the existence of a larger collection of photographs captured by Russian soldiers during WWI.

Hence, the AGMI is adamant in locating the remaining photos of this collection which will sturdily assist the Institute’s efforts to demonstrate the complete picture of the first genocide of the 20th century.

Another banned film - "Opera" by Tigran Khzmalyan. Watch it!

*via A1+

Film was banned by the Armenian authorities from showing at the Venice Biennale.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Armenia: Is this the light at the end of the tunnel?

Armenia’s incumbent president Serj Sargsyan signed a decree on forming the fact-finding team to shed the light on 1 March events, particularly the use of lethal force against opposition supporters and circumstances of death of at least 10 people. The team comprises equal numbers of the ruling coalition (2 representatives) and opposition: 1 representative from the only opposition parliamentary party Heritage, and 1 representative from Ter-Petrosyan led opposition political alliance. There will be also 1 representative from the human rights Ombudsman office.

Presidential decree (in Armenian)

This is the most important decision to come out from the presidential office in Armenia in the aftermath of 1 March events. First real step from the authorities to alleviate internal political crisis. First real step made by the Armenian authorities to meet Council of Europe demands, ahead of crucial visit of Commissioner for Human Rights Hammarberg towards the end of the year. First real step by the authorities following Ter-Petrosyan lead opposition announcement that they are calling off street protests in Yerevan. Not enough, but essential. Next step should be release of all political prisoners. (So far there has been no positive signs with this regard, but there is hope.) This will create a basis for political dialogue in Armenia and will at least partially clear up Armenia’s troubled international image. There is a lot at stake.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Press Freedom Index 2008: “Deterioration in the Caucasus”

*via Reporters Without Borders

"The most significant development in the former Soviet periphery is the deterioration in the Caucasus, where two of its three independent countries - Armenia (102nd) and Georgia (120th) - had major problems and introduced states of emergency. Several journalists fell victim to the sudden outbreak of war in Georgia."

The ranking

102. Armenia (77 - in 2007)
Turkey (101)
120. Georgia (66)
141. Russia (144)
150. Azerbaijan (139)
166. Iran (166)

Cognac of Peace?

Russia president Medvedev visits Armenia, quoting the press office of Armenia president, reports that “Dmitry Medvedev stopped in front of the Barrel of Peace in which the spirit of 1994 symbolizing the year of the cease-fire is aging. By the way, the barrel is called the Barrel of Peace because it will be opened on the day when the settlement of the Karabakh issue is finally reached.”

It seems to me that we are reaching the situation frighteningly resembling that of beginning 1998. In its essence, 'Madrid principles' (current working plan on Karabakh) = 'phased settlement' (1997). The main difference is the notion of referendum to determine Karabakh's final status. However, what we know so far about the "referendum" is so vague that unless it gets clearly stated and clarified - how, when, who... it will remain a meaningless notion. In any case, the question is: shall we expect no agreement and/or resignations? Effectively, we are in a déjà vu situation now.

Yerevan Brandy Factory presented a barrel of brandy to Russian president.

*photo - via

Picture of The Day: 'Atheist Bus'

"There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Buses with the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" will run in London from January.

BBC reports: The atheist posters are the idea of the British Humanist Association (BHA) and have been supported by prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins. [...]

Professor Dawkins said: "Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride - automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children.

"Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side.

"This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion." More...

*source of photo: Atheist Campaign

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Confirmed: Video on bullying in Azerbaijani army is genuine, “heroes” of video tape arrested

Remember I posted a video on Unzipped which shows evidence of horrific bullying in Azerbaijani army? Remember how officials from the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan were casting doubts on that video saying that it was staged to discredit the Azeri army etc. etc. Well, they can no longer do so. Moreover, new evidence is emerging to confirm the systematic nature of the problem.

20 October 2008

"Heroes" of video tape about violence in Azerbaijani army, posted in Internet, arrested

A criminal proceeding has been instituted into the case of the video tape, recording humiliating actions against conscripts by older soldiers, posted on the YouTube website.

Two junior sergeant of N Military Unit of the Internal Force of Azerbaijan, dislocated in Hajiqabul, have been arrested, reports Day,Az with reference to the Yeni Musavat newspaper.Thus, the arrested are junior sergeants Vuqar Aliyev and Eldeniz Rehimov. It has already been five days that they are kept in the Bail investigation facility.Commander of the military unit Hamlet Gurbanov and his deputy on educational works Beyler Eminov have been dismissed.The press service for the Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan confirmed this fact, saying that the commander of the military unit and his deputy were dismissed.It should be noted that a video tape recording humiliation of conscripts by older soldiers in Azerbaijani army has recently been posted on the YouTube video sharing website.

Below is Chronology of official lies.

7 October 2008

"This is a smeary provocation against the army. This video tape is a "good" play. It seems that by wearing the military uniform and recording this on the cell phone, someone tried to create a material about violence in the army. I do not think that those who recorded it and those who posted it on the website are people, who love the Azerbaijani army", said spokesman for Azerbaijani Defence Ministry Eldar Sabiroghlu commenting on the fact that investigation revealed “no such incidents inside the Azerbaijani army”.

8 October 2008

“Now Armenians try to use any, even insignificant, negative fact to throw shadow on Azerbaijan and its armed forces", said Mubariz Ahmedoghlu, head of the centre of political innovations and technologies.

14 October 2008

"All military units had been inspected by Safar Abiyev's order but the "heroes" of the videotape about violence in the army have not been found"

“All military units, controlled by the ministry, have been inspected by the order of Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Safar Abiyev", said spokesman for Azerbaijani Defence Ministry Eldar Sabiroghlu. He noted that the results of investigation proved that the "heroes" of this videotape do not serve in any unit of the Ministry and there have not been any case, which has been recorded on the videotape.

Friday, 17 October 2008

‘Time out’: Armenia opposition leader Ter-Petrosyan calls off street protests

Ter-Petrosyan speech in full (in English)
RFE/RL report on the rally

I have an impression that this decision was made via some behind the door mediations, and may constitute a part of the deal. In any case, I hope that the opposition will use this hiatus to strengthen its organisational potential, and perhaps come up with the previously discussed UK–style shadow cabinet or other new ideas. They could not carry on like this any longer. I also hope that Armenian authorities would be wise enough to use this hiatus to sort out internal matters (release of political prisoners, March 1 inquiry, electronic media freedom...). Only strong democratic Armenia with healed internal wounds would be able to respond to external challenges.

P.S. It’s very telling that government-controlled Public TV’s main information programme Haylur was pretty objective and even sort of sympathetic (for the first time) in its report from the opposition rally tonight.

'Collective wedding' in Karabakh: 687 couples, or around 1% of the total population, got married yesterday

687 couples got married yesterday in Karabakh in a ceremony sponsored by bussinessman of Karabakh origin Levon Hayrapetyan. This constiutes around 1% of the total population. WOW! :)

I wonder, did they get married because they actually love each other and wanted to get married, or because of financial incentives promised by the businessman? Anyway, certainly a potential boost to the demography of Karabakh.

*source of photo and numbers:, and IA Regnum

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Vote Obama

Armenians for Obama'08

Armenian police puts itself outside the law

Statement by Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia (Ombudsman)

On 14.10.2008, following an alarm-complaint for the urgent attention of the RA Human Rights Defender, the quick response group of HRDO, based on the instructions of the Defender, set off for Yerevan streets (Tumanyan - Mashtots crossroad), where the Police officers prevented the procession of opposition activists announcing the forthcoming permitted demonstration that will take place on 17.10.08.

At the time when the representatives of the HRDO reached the crossroad there were about 50 people gathered. They intended to make a procession assuming that there is no beforehand permission required. The Police, however, persistently prevented them from making procession; moreover, the organizers of the procession informed the HRDO representatives that Police officers in civil clothes at first took the megaphone out of their hands and then pushed people making them to leave the place.

Soon afterwards the Police permitted to make a procession, but then forbade using microphone, which is not required by the RA legislation. As a result a bigger crowd formed; people insisted on continuing the procession. The Police officers pushed them and made them walk towards Northern Avenue; at the same time the representatives of HRDO quick response group noticed that Police officers took away the second megaphone.

All the information mentioned above is fully recorded by the representatives of the Human Rights Defender’s Institution and consequently its reality can not be put under suspicion. Thus Human Rights Defender Dr. Armen Harutyunyan calls upon the Police to act in accordance with the RA Constitution and the RA legislation and stop restrictions of the constitutional rights of the RA citizens.

Resign or get sacked - this should be Poulsen's only 'choice' for Armenia's World Cup qualifying disaster

It was defeat after defeat. It was total lack of the spirit on the field. It was total lack of winner's mentality. It was disastrous performance throughout. Not only Jan Poulsen, Armenia national team head coach, must go, and must go now, but the head of Football Federation Ruben Hayrapetyan must answer for his vision and decisions made too.

Important day of my calendar – 16 October, Armenia

17 years ago, on 16 October 1991, we had the first and the only presidential election in modern Armenia considered as free and fair. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was popularly elected the first President of the newly-independent Republic of Armenia. All subsequent elections were flawed to various extent, and the last one (19 February 2008) had tragic consequences. It’s not personalities which matter to me this day. Forget about Levon or subsequent presidents. It’s free elections which I care about. It’s free elections which seem to me like hopeful memory from not so distant past. It was history in making which I participated in. Unfortunately, it did not transform into routine reality but remains a ‘history’.

Until we have in Armenia free and fair election again, this day will remain in my calendar as one of the most important dates to remember and to hope that one day it will become so routine that there will be no need to mark it.

Recommended –

It’s been a while that I started following news via Armenian news portal too. I recommend it for Armenian news, as well as interesting selection of international news from various fields.

Check out also’s Youtube channel.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Film which they did not want you to see: watch Tigran Paskevichyan’s “Expropriation”

This film tells a story of ordinary people who were deprived of their houses and property rights to make a way for the construction of the Northern Avenue and elite flats in downtown Yerevan. According to the report and various evidence provided, people did not get adequate compensation and the whole process was conducted in breach of Armenian legislation. They tried using legal ways – applying to the courts, but as it’s common in Armenia, no single case was decided by the courts against the authorities. This fact was specifically mentioned in "Expropriation" by Armenia’s human rights Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan.

Film has been banned from the main Moscow cinema in Yerevan despite an initial agreement to screen it.

As I posted earlier, another Sardarapat film by well known Armenian film director Tigran Khzmalyan suffered the same fate. You may read the full script of the documentary Sardarapat on Hetq Online. I wish we could watch Sardarapat on YouTube too.

Censorship should have no place in Armenia. Censorship should be (and will be) defeated.

Written by Tigran Paskevichyan
Directed by Karen Adamyan
via A1+

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, 10 October 2008

Scandal in Turkish army: Turkish air force chief attacked for directing anti-PKK operation from golf course

For decades Turkey's armed forces have been virtually beyond criticism in a country where the military sees itself as a defender of the modern secular state.

But its status is being questioned after a senior commander was pictured playing golf hours after 17 soldiers were killed in clashes with Kurdish militants.

General Aydogan Babaoglu, head of the air force, took part in a golf tournament in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya last weekend after reports emerged of a deadly attack on a military outpost in Aktutun, near Turkey's border with Iraq, by the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK).

He later claimed to have coordinated, the military's response from the golf course, which included air strikes against PKK bases in northern Iraq and ground manoeuvres inside Turkey. But he only returned to headquarters in the capital, Ankara, on Saturday evening, when the country was deep in mourning. More...

*source: The Guardian; photo - by Today's Zaman, via

French-Armenian oppositionist and Karabakh war veteran Sargis Hatspanian faces deportation from Armenia

He was in hiding after 1 March events. He decided to come back, to his family, to his children, back to Armenia. It’s Sargis Hatspanian I am talking about, French-Armenian Karabakh war veteran, supporter of Armenia’s first president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan. He is now ‘blockaded’ in his own flat and faces possible extradition from Armenia. Circumstances of his case remain unclear, legality and actions by the authorities – questionable, to say the least.

Sargis Hatspanian visited his family members for the first time since he went underground after the events of March 1, however the police surrounded his home 10 minutes later. “I think the only reason for that is because I supported Levon Ter-Petrosian,” told “A1+ Sargis Hatspanian. Police surrounded the house and said that Sargis Hatspanian has an illegal status in Armenia and must be exiled.
Here are just few questions need to be asked:

Is there any law in Armenia which prohibits foreign citizens from peaceful participation in political life and actions, or from expressing their political views?

Could this be considered a warning to the Diaspora to stay away from the internal politics of Armenia?

If he got relieved of Armenian residency by a decree or executive order of the former president Kocharyan, why he was allowed to enter the country via Yerevan international airport, without any problems?

Was ex-president Kocharyan’s decree - or whatever it was - lawful, as according to Armenia’s human rights Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan, a person cannot be deprived of residency (or deported) if he has underage children under his care?

That Kocharian signed a relevant executive order shortly before he left office was confirmed by officials at President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. Under Armenian law, such orders take effect only after the official notification of individuals affected by them. “I am absolutely not aware of that decision,” insisted Hatspanian. He said he has left and returned to Armenia since March and had no problems with immigration authorities. “I flew back to Yerevan as recently as on the night from October 6 to 7. They told me nothing at the airport,” he said. Armen Harutiunian, Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, said he is dealing with the case and already has questions to the authorities. “His residency permit was revoked by the president but he still managed to re-enter Armenia,” Harutiunian told RFE/RL. “If that is confirmed, we need to clarify how he entered the country without having the right to live there.” Harutiunian added that under Armenian law, the authorities can not kick out Hatspanian because he has underage children in the country.
Sadly, as Sarkis put it in his diary (which I posted on Unzipped in the immediate aftermath of 1 March events), “this year spring did not come to Armenia.”

To read full post with Sargis Hatspanian's diary (eyewitness account of 1 March events in Liberty sq) - click here.

Below is a video via A1+. Plainclothed police officers could be seen at the Hatspanian’s apartment door. One of them told RFE/RL that they will stay there “until Mr. Sarkis comes out.”

*photo of Sargis Hatspanian - by Onnik Krikorian/Oneworld Multimedia 2008

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Armenian Football Federation: playing games with the logo

Head of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) Ruben Hayrapetyan says “sorry” to Armenian fans for taking out the picture of Mount Ararat from the new logo of FFA. Many suspected that this move had been made to ‘please’ Turkish president Abdullah Gul ahead of his historic first ever visit to Armenia amid talks of “football diplomacy".

FFA president acknowledged that the change of the logo was a mistake and “apologised to all football fans and Armenian society”. According to Hayrapetyan, to get out of this situation, the Federation will introduce a new logo: «We are now working on a new logo, and I suggested depicting the image of Ararat there».

Video evidence of violence and bullying in Azerbaijani army

Power of YouTube

This should serve as a lesson to the Armenian army officials too: if you do not want to see similar videos from Armenia on YouTube or other internet sites, deal with the problem of bullying and violence in the Army NOW.

Is there violence in the Azerbaijani army? - VIDEO

It is seen from the material that the newly recruited are beaten by other soldiers.

After this video material about possible fact of violence in the Azerbaijani army appeared, the Defense Ministry held its own investigation.

Spokesman for Azerbaijani Defense Ministry Eldar Sabiroghlu said commenting on the fact that investigation revealed no such incidents inside the Azerbaijani army.

"This is a smeary provocation against the army. This video tape is a "good" play. It seems that by wearing the military uniform and recording this on the cell phone, someone tried to create a material about violence in the army. I do not think that those who recorded it and those who posted it on the website are people, who love the Azerbaijani army", said Sabiroghlu.

The spokesman noted that if this really happened, a person, who recorded this video, should have presented it directly to the Defense Ministry. He said if the defense ministry has not reacted to it, they would have been right to post this tape for public review.

Sabiroghlu announced that it is currently not late to appeal to the Defense Ministry, if there are real facts and proofs.

"It seems that someone benefits from the provocation against the army in order to create a negative image of it. It is possible to say that violence in the army has almost been eliminated and the Ministry is operatively reacting and eliminating the problem in any negative case. It is impossible to conceal anything in Azerbaijan and if it was real, the people would have long been informed about his fact. The website, on which this material has been posted, is free and everyone can post any material on it and the authors of the provocation used it against the Azerbaijani army", said Sabiroghlu.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Armenia: re-launch of presidential website

Via, today saw the re-launch of the revamped official website of The President of the Republic of Armenia. Spokeswoman for the administration claimed that all efforts has been made using modern technologies to transform the presidential website into user-friendly and “the best source of information.”

I can’t compare with the previous one as I visited that site in past only very few times. I do not even remember how it looked like. However, I remember my general impression back then that the president’s website looked unimpressive, lacking much functionality and effectively useless.

I tried accessing the revamped version today.

Unfortunately, it takes too long to load, at least from London. I saw only the very first page, and after few tries I gave up trying.

Anyway, have a look yourself:

It’s getting ridiculous: Armenian MPs want to have their own church on Baghramyan Avenue

Things are going from bad to worse in the ‘bright’ minds of Armenian MPs. This news could easily be considered among the most ridiculous news ever to come out from Armenia. Ironically, it comes from the head of parliamentary committee on science, education, culture, youth and sport. Well, it’s Armen Ashotyan - MP from governing Republican party - whose ‘creativity’ has no limits.

Currently, the discussions are underway on the possibility of building a church for Armenian MPs, said chairman of the parliamentary committee on science, education, culture, youth and sport Armen Ashotyan. «I have proposed to build a church back in 2005. The aim of this initiative - to bring the Armenian Apostolic Church closer to the official representative body, the National Assembly, and reiterate the distinctive mission of the Armenian Apostolic Church», - MP said at a press conference on Monday.

According to Ashotyan, newly elected speaker of the Armenian parliament Hovik Abrahamyan is engaged with the process and already raised the issue of church building. The likelihood of this initiative is very high, indeed. «Construction of the church on Baghramyan Avenue, where the residence of the president and the country's parliament building are located, is pretty symbolic.

As far as I am informed, orders have already been given out to prepare for the construction of the church», - said Ashotyan. […]

«I am confident that upon completion of this initiative it would be more comfortable to work in Armenian parliament», - he said.

What is next? Armenian patriarch as head of state elected by the National Ecclesiastical Assembly?

...and not only in Armenia.

Recent survey in Georgia shows that Georgians trust their orthodox church the most (91% of surveyed). It follows by independent media and human rights Ombudsman (no numbers are provided within the news report but I assume they came the distant 2nd and 3rd). The least trusted for Georgians are courts and the mayor of Tbilisi.

With this mentality and state of affairs, the future for the South Caucasus is not looking that bright, after all.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Armenian church: can't get enough?

There was building here. That building, as far as I remember, did belong to the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. (Years ago, I went to a foreign language course there.) It fitted nicely with Abovyan street. It probably needed renovation, from the inside, or may be outside too, I do not know, like any other old building. But this?.. Now the building is no longer there. It has been demolished. Instead, there are scenes of destruction there. The reason of demolition? Have a look at the picture again. Building up another ‘mini-empire’ by the Armenian church in the heart of Yerevan. As if they do not have enough buildings and churches. Well, that church was there for ages, but now they are building up something like office for the church or whatever.

And in general, during recent years, the face of my beloved Abovyan street in the heart of Yerevan has been gradually distorted by a number of ugly stores/constructions appeared right on the pavement.

Shame, really…

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Armenian oligarchs moving to France

Apparently, as Hetq Online reports, many Armenian oligarchs began transferring a significant portion of their capital to France. One of them, Hrair Hakobyan bought a castle in Cognac for 4.8 million euro in October 2007, and is setting up business there. He is the owner of Yerevan Champaign Wine Factory and other enterprises in Armenia.

1939 թվականին հիմնադրված Երեւանի շամպայն-գինիների կոմբինատը 1995թ. նա ձեռք է բերել շատ էժան գնով: Այսօր այդ ձեռնարկությունը Հայաստանի ամենախոշոր ալկոհոլ արտադրողներից է: Գործարանն արտադրում է գինի, օղի, կոնյակի տարբեր տեսակներ, կոկտեյլներ: Գործարանն ունի տարեկան 10 մլն շշալցման հնարավորություն: Իսկ թե այսօր իրականում որքա՞ն է արտադրվում` դժվար է ասել, քանի որ ալկոհոլային արտադրությունները Հայաստանում մեծամասամբ ստվերում են:

Շատընեյ դղյակը համարվում է Կոնյակ քաղաքի գոհարներից մեկը: Շաղանտ գետի ափին գտնվող Շատընեյ դղյակը շրջապատված է քառասուն հեկտար հողատարածքով, որից քսանմեկ հեկտարը՝ խաղողի այգիներ: Դա միակ խաղողի այգին է Կոնյակում: Դղյակի հարեւանությամբ օղեթորման գործարանն է, որը վերամշակում է կալվածքի բերքը:

Another Armenian oligarch - who is reportedly doing successful business in France - is the owner of Great Valley Brandy/Wine/Vodka Company, MP Tigran Arzakantsyan. He was repeatedly attacked in Moscow in 2006/07, with the latest incident in September 2007 when he got stabbed and shot at in a Moscow casino. Thanks to this background, he is under scrutiny of French media and officials.
«Գրեյթ Վելլի» կոնյակի գործարանի սեփականատեր Արզաքանցյանի նկատմամբ անցյալ տարի սեպտեմբերին Մոսկվայի կազինոներից մեկում մահափորձ ատարվեց: Այս դեպքից հետո Ֆրանսիայում սկսել են զգուշանալ հայ գործարարից.«... Տիգրան Արզաքանցյանի ներդրումները կոնյակի արտադրության մեջ մտահոգում եւ անհանգստացնում են կոնյակի պրոֆեսիոնալներին, դրանք նաեւ զգաստացնում են իշխանություններին, որոնք մտադիր են հետեւել նրա գործունեությանը Կոնյակում»,- գրում է «Կոնյակի երկիր» թերթը:

Անցած տարվա սեպտեմբերին Մոսկվայում մահափորձից հետո ԱԺ-ի նիստերին Տ.Արզաքանցյանը չի մասնակցում, սակայն դա նրան չի խանգարում Ֆրանսիայում իր բիզնեսը հզորացնելուն:

*source of photos –