Thursday, 30 April 2009

Breaking news: Armenia Today news agency coordinator beaten and shot at in Yerevan early morning

Breaking news:

Reports that coordinator of Armenia Today news agency, lawyer and human rights activist Argishti Kiviryan beaten and shot at in Yerevan 5 o'clock morning local time. No other details known.

*Via Armenia Today and Regnum

*UPDATE: in comments section, photos - Hetq Online

Monday, 27 April 2009

Joke of the Day: Dashnaktsutyun is... ‘opposition’

They’ve got to be kidding...

Nationalist ARF Dashnaktsutyun party bears its ultimate share of responsibility for whatever happened in Armenia since they became the ruling coalition member. Quitting the coalition – as was announced today, and rumoured few days ago - do not spare them of that responsibility. They had the opportunities to put forward their objections or policies. Even if (theoretically) they were unable to do so or got ignored, for whatever the reasons might have been, they preferred to remain in the coalition up until now, enjoying all the benefits it could provide them.

And what a convenient time Dashnaks chose to show off that they are the party of ‘principles’, to flesh up their muscles as a ‘national’ party with ’national’ ideas, and, of course, in ‘opposition’ to the ‘treacherous’ government. Just in time for Yerevan municipal election, and in preparation for the next presidential election.

Unfortunately, genuine anger and deserved widespread criticism in relation to timing and the secretive nature (as of today) of the so called Armenia – Turkey ‘roadmap deal’ is being exploited by some circles, and not only Dashnaks, to stir up their nationalist agenda. I cannot see how nationalism could be an answer to the challenges we face. It will never solve our problems, but rather will exacerbate them.

Dashnaks are so out of touch from contemporary realities. They are so last century.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Obama 'recognised' the Armenian Genocide... for Armenians only

As expected, after that 'historic Armenia - Turkey normalisation', Obama backed away from his campaign promise, and referred to the Armenian Genocide as "one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century" and "Meds Yeghern".

In Armenian, Meds Yeghern means genocide, but only in Armenian. Better than nothing, of course, but still not quite the G word. No surprises, though...

Effectively he recognised the Armenian Genocide for Armenians only (who understand the meaning of "Meds Yeghern") but not to the outside world.

Below is his statement in full:

The following is President Obama's statement on Armenian Remembrance Day:

Ninety four years ago, one of the great atrocities of the 20th century began. Each year, we pause to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were subsequently massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The Meds Yeghern must live on in our memories, just as it lives on in the hearts of the Armenian people.

History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight. Just as the terrible events of 1915 remind us of the dark prospect of man's inhumanity to man, reckoning with the past holds out the powerful promise of reconciliation. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts.

The best way to advance that goal right now is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward. I strongly support efforts by the Turkish and Armenian people to work through this painful history in a way that is honest, open, and constructive. To that end, there has been courageous and important dialogue among Armenians and Turks, and within Turkey itself. I also strongly support the efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize their bilateral relations. Under Swiss auspices, the two governments have agreed on a framework and roadmap for normalization. I commend this progress, and urge them to fulfill its promise.

Together, Armenia and Turkey can forge a relationship that is peaceful, productive and prosperous. And together, the Armenian and Turkish people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity.

Nothing can bring back those who were lost in the Meds Yeghern. But the contributions that Armenians have made over the last ninety-four years stand as a testament to the talent, dynamism and resilience of the Armenian people, and as the ultimate rebuke to those who tried to destroy them. The United States of America is a far richer country because of the many Americans of Armenian descent who have contributed to our society, many of whom immigrated to this country in the aftermath of 1915. Today, I stand with them and with Armenians everywhere with a sense of friendship, solidarity, and deep respect.

Hrant Dink Agos weekly employees marked 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in an intimate ceremony in Istanbul

In an intimate ceremony, around 20 people from an Armenian bilingual Agos weekly of assassinated Turkish Armenian editor Hrant Dink commemorated 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Istanbul at Hrant Dink’s tomb.

*via Jean Eckian and Nouvelles d'Arménie

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Is Turkey bluffing re 'reaching deal' with Armenia?

What kind of 'roadmap' is this if reportedly opening the border is "out of the question"?

Is this Obama directed PR?.. again?.. to prevent using the G-word on 24 April?

Well, let's see what Armenia Foreign Ministry will have to say tomorrow...

Turkey says accord reached with Armenia on roadmap
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - A foreign ministry statement says Turkey and Armenia have made solid progress toward reconciliation and reached agreement on a roadmap to normalize ties. The statement issued late Wednesday says the two countries have reached a framework agreement that satisfies both sides. A senior government official, however, said opening the Turkish-Armenian border, closed in 1993, is "out of the question." He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to media.

Serj Tankian and... my Gay Armenia blog

Thank you so much to iddewes!! I am very touched, indeed... You know, I am a big fan of Serj, and happy to hear that he seems nice in real life too… :)

Via iddewes (+ videos):

...I did manage to get in to see Screamers at the Amnesty International centre. I was a bit worried because I'd heard that Serj Tankian would be there and I thought there would be loads and loads of SOAD fans there, and they always overbook there. [...]

Well the film was very good, anyway, yes it was quite a bit about SOAD but also about the genocide [...] and then there was the Q and A with Serj, the filmmaker Carla Garapedian and two people from Amnesty; quite interesting to listen to them too of course. And then I finally did get to meet Serj at the end. I'd been texting Artmika that he was there but I'd been too shy to speak to him or take a photo - Artmika texted back 'forget about shyness, you have to get a photo!!' - ok so in the end my excuse for going up to him was not to say I admired him or anything like that but to tell him about Artmika's Gay Armenia blog! So yeah Artmika he knows about it now! He was very nice and did actually seem quite interested to hear about it and asked if Artmika lived in Armenia, etc.

So that was good too...I'd have been disappointed if he'd turned out to be an arrogant jerk, but he really wasn't like that at all. :) [...]

Full details: Unzipped Gay Armenia

*photo - via Independentmusic

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Armenian police in math trouble

Armenian parliamentary opposition Heritage party youth group marched today and picketed the US embassy in Yerevan calling Obama to follow his campaign pledge and recognise the Armenian Genocide. The action passed without major incidents except...

Armenian police tried to 'ban' the march on the basis that there were 150 people there, thus the need for official sanctioning of the action (according to the law, for any public action with more than 100 people). In reality, there were only 50-60 people there. It took quite some time for the Armenian police to make proper calculations, with the help of journalists.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Russia: Inflatable Army

ITN: The Russian military has been blowing up its own tanks and planes - but it's all part of the plan.

Commanders are using inflatable dummy jets, tanks and rocket launchers to fool potential enemies.

Here in the countryside some 50 kilometres northeast of Moscow, a factory is supplying the ageing Russian military with tanks that won't fire.

Fake shows of strength using decoys are nothing new, but they used to made out of plywood, rubber or plastic.

A blow-up tank weighs just 35kg and can ben carried into position by hand by two soldiers.

Yuri Stephanov of manufacturers Rusbal said: "This is the way to save money. In case we have a conflict situation we don't need to engage in sabre-rattling and send our real military hardware to pretend we have exercises or troop movements. We can just put these dummies in place and they will be spotted by unmanned spy planes."

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Armenia - 'Internet heaven'? (Russia president Medvedev)

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev praises wimax Internet coverage in Armenia. He says that the whole country is covered (as opposed to Russia), and it is possible to drive from one place to another and watch TV via high-speed Internet. (source)

Не отрекаются любя

Happy bday, Alla!

Obama, Turkey, and I

I never thought that PR could be so overwhelming.

It was like a huge show, like a Hollywood movie, or some would say a rock concert.

I decided to make this post only after this wave went down a bit.

I felt that I am under attack by all those media reports which forced me to choose between the Genocide recognition and rapprochement with Turkey. I refuse to consider such choice. I do not think they are mutually exclusive.

I am neither encouraged nor discouraged by Obama’s words. It was OK speech. You could not have expected more at that moment, at that time.

I do not buy “it’s not a right time” argument. Due to its geographical location and regional geopolitics, Turkey will always be a country of strategic significance. If we follow “it’s not a right time” argument, there will never be a “right time”. Just because there are strategic interests, a country cannot be free of human rights abuses, current or past, and especially the most extreme level of it – Genocide. Sadly, and not only with regards to Turkey, putting ‘strategic importance’ before human rights is widespread. Call me naïve, but I did (and still do) support Obama hoping that human rights and (at least relatively) ethical politics will be brought back to the global politics. Obama’s first steps in presidency proved that he is the man for the job to make changes. Therefore, the only right thing to do for Obama is to follow his pre-election pledges and recognise the Armenian Genocide.

Let’s put it this way: I will be very disappointed if Obama won’t stick to his promises, and I will be very disappointed if recent positive signs in Armenia-Turkey rapprochement fail. I am not convinced that recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US will have a long term negative consequences. US are as important to Turkey, as Turkey to the US. Although not on the same scale, but France’s recent example proves that countries move on for more practical purposes. On the other hand, having secured the US formal recognition will perhaps help many in Armenian Diaspora to recover from a ‘Genocide identity’ and start focusing on more pressing needs for Armenia, that is human rights, regional peace, economy etc. (vain hopes?) Well, I do not know how these all will develop, but Turkey could have done much more if serious in normalisation of relationships without bullying tactics, with opening the border in the immediate aftermath of Russia-Georgia war (this could have an important humanitarian explanation).

Human rights abuses and crimes against humanity can never be considered as an internal matter of countries. It’s in a large part due to the external pressures, and the ‘threat’ of US recognition, that Turkey’s official position shows signs of changes. Of course, changes boosted internally too… Hrant Dink, intellectuals… In any case, for me, the most important and positive signs are Turkey’s internal developments, where Armenian question is becoming a less of a taboo, and increasing number of voices question the official line. While external pressures could damage this trend, they could also help in understanding that to avoid external pressures and manipulations they have to clean up this issue internally.

I have to say, I am supportive of Armenian government’s general position in relation to rapprochement with Turkey. (I do not know all specifics to be more precise) Armenian side did whatever possible to do to pave the way for reconciliation despite Turkey’s official refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Armenian officials were more than clear that they are for rapprochement without any preconditions. This is the only right and acceptable thing to do. Tying the opening of the border and reconciliation with other issues, such as Karabakh, is not only contra-productive, but aims at sabotaging the whole process.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Yerevan mayoral candidate - Gagik Beglaryan, PhD (!)

Apparently, Gagik Beglaryan (nicknamed Chorni (Black) Gago), Yerevan mayoral candidate from the ruling Republican party, has PhD degree (its Armenian equivalent - “Kandidat Nauk”).

He ‘defended’ his thesis on local governance in 2004. Although news outlet states that this fact was mentioned in his official biography, this is not quite true. I could not find any mention of his degree on a Republican party website.
Born in 1964 in Yerevan.In 1985 graduated from the Yerevan Institute of National Economy, obtaining a qualification of economist.In 1985-1987 served in the Army.Since 1987 worked in different branches of economy.1993 was elected deputy of the first convocation of the Supreme Assembly of the RA.Since 2002 is the Chief of Kentron community of Yerevan.Since 2006 is a member of the Republican Party of Armenia.Since 2006 is a memeber of RPA board.Married, has two children.
This info was not available within his bio when he was appointed as Yerevan mayor too (link).

But this is not the whole story.

Guess, who was his scientific supervisor? The answer is... one of our chief sociologists Gevorg Poghosyan, president of discredited Armenian Sociological Association, which conducts various election or politics related exit polls and opinion surveys, frequently under the umbrella of reputable international agencies.

I am so going to trust his surveys for Yerevan municipal election.

*photo - via

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Armenian pro-opposition blogger detained?

UPDATE: Aramazd has now been released, his notebook was 'detained'. New developments, if any, in comments section below.

I assume it's him. This is the only news that came out, as of now. Aramazd Ghalamkaryan is opposition activist. His blog is at

He is also managing website.

Via Hetq Online:

Apartments of Nikol Pashinyan’s Friends Searched
[ 2009/04/11 14:15 ]
important society

Today, employees of the Special Inspection Service (SIS), searched the apartments of Aramazd Gharamkalyan and Karo Simidyan and took the two men down to the SIS offices. Mr. Simidyan’s computer was also “brought in” for questioning. “Hetq” was informed of this news by the HAK (Armenian National Congress) headquarters.

In turns out that Karo Simidyan’s son is a friend of Nikol Pashinyan, chief editor of the “Haykakan Zhamanak” newspaper, who has been in hiding ever since the March 1st events of 2008. HAK also believes that Aramazd Gharamkalyan was also detained because he too is a close friend of Pashinyan.

“Hetq” hasn’t ben able to get through to the SIS for comment. Vahe Kostanyan, the SIS press secretary told “Hetq” that he had been dismissed from his job one month ago and that the post has yet to be filled.

Zhirinovsky at “Tashir” Armenian Music Awards – OMG!

The 4th Armenian music awards ceremony “Tashir 2009” was held on 4 April at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. It’s one of the headlining dates in Armenian pop music calendar.

I am not going to discuss the show itself, except for in P.S. below. You may find many video clips on a YouTube channel. What I am disturbed with was the ‘performance’ of Zhirinovsky there.

Why on earth such an odious Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Wikipedia ) was invited and had a speech devoted to the Armenian cause there? Was this a music show or what? Can’t we just have a nice Armenian music entertainment show, celebrating in this case a pop music, without involving politics, especially coming from Russian nationalists? Did the organisers actually think that just because Zhirinovsky delivered a ‘devoted’ to the “Armenian Question” speech full of hate to other nations and chauvinism would do any good to publicising our issues? He sounded more nationalistic but extremely fake (!) than those coming from some Armenian circles. I felt nauseous after watching his speech (video). Can’t some people understand that Zhirinovsky & co do not give a shit about Armenian problems, instead promoting their very own specific agenda. The PR-ed affiliation of such people with the Armenian issues could do only harm to their international perception.

P.S. Inga and Anush Arshakyan presented their Eurovision entry Jan Jan (Nor Par) at Tashir ceremony too. That was one hell of a messy choreography (video). Urgent attention needed.

Friday, 10 April 2009


'This was a year of opportunities', says Serj Sargsyan at a press conference to mark the first year of his presidency.

No, Mr. Sargsyan, this was a year of lost opportunities.

*photo - IA Regnum

Thursday, 9 April 2009

OSCE observers will not monitor municipal (aka mayoral) election in Yerevan. Do we care?

Well, I do not. In past, I considered their presence an important tool for monitoring elections and thus contributing to the democratisation of Armenia. Now, looking back at the work of OSCE observers over the years if not decades, I am convinced that their presence did absolutely nothing for improvements of the election process. They have been monitoring all the main elections in Armenia. Have we noticed any improvements as a result? No. Quite the contrary. Their presence and preliminary ‘conclusions’ legitimised all sorts of electoral misconduct.

What we need are internal mechanisms and understandings that we have to conduct elections right. Otherwise, we will get one flawed election after another, even if invite European monitors for every single electoral district out there.

This news inspired my post.

Musical Bridge - concert in Yerevan

Now about something very positive. A friend of mine, American composer (and not only) Marilyn Bliss - one of the brightest persons I know - will present her work as part of the concert programme in Yerevan including works of American and Armenian composers. I wish I am in Yerevan on 13 April, and not only because of my friend's factor. Sounds like an exciting programming for those who love classical music. Recommend it.

Aram Khachaturyan Concert Hall
Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra
13 April 2009, 7 pm


Concert Program

Matthew Fields - FIREHEART
(for 6 performers)

Elizabeth Bell - ANDROMEDA: Concerto for piano and orchestra
Hayk Melikyan (piano)

Hayg Boyadjian - ARMENIAN SUITE
(for orchestra)

Marilyn Bliss - HUATZU HILL
For soprano and chamber orchestra
Gayane Gegamyan (soprano)

(for chamber orchestra)
Conductor: Ruben Asatryan

There is this nice piece by a local US newspaper about Yerevan concert.

Lexington Minuteman - ‘Armenian Suite’ to premiere … where else but Armenia
Lexington composer Hayg Boyadjian’s symphonic composition “Armenian Suite” will receive its first public performance in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, on April 13 at the famous Aram Khatchaturian Concert Hall.

The concert will also include works by three American composers: “Fireheart” for chamber ensemble by Matthew Fields; “Huatzu Hill” for soprano and chamber orchestra by Marilyn Bliss; “Andromeda” concerto for piano and orchestra by Elizabeth Bell; and also a work by Armenian composer Edward Sadoyan, “Threes Words About Armenia” for chamber orchestra.

Featured will be the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ruben Asatryan, the soloists will include soprano Gayane Gegamyan and pianist Haik Melikyan.

Soprano Gegamyan has premiered many works by Yerevan-Armenian composers, and also works by Boyadjian (among others three German text songs for soprano and piano written especially for her), and she has also sung songs by Bliss.

Pianist-composer Melikyan is a musician of renown in Armenia and Europe for his performances of contemporary music. He has performed in Yerevan works by Marilyn Bliss, and in June 2008 he premiered Boyadjian’s first movement of his large fourth piano sonata at a solo concert at the Komidas Hall in Yerevan.

Bliss will travel to Yerevan for this April concert, she traveled for the first time to Yerevan a few years ago where she had a solo concert of her compositions from which she returned very much impressed, about the music, and about the city.

Boyadjian’s “Armenian Suite” was originally written as a commission piece for trombone and piano in 2005. A version for two oboes and piano followed, and later on came the present version for symphony orchestra.

“Armenian Suite” has been recorded by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Oberg and is due to come out soon on Opus One CD Recordings, and will be available on, as are Boyadjian’s other recordings.

Obama's home state becomes 42nd to recognise Armenian Genocide

The home state of US president Barack Obama - Hawaii, becomes 42nd (out of total 50 US states) to recognise the Armenian Genocide.

The Armenian National Committee of America reports that "The measure, which was adopted unanimously on the day of the President’s trip to Turkey, declares April 24th as a "Day of Remembrance in Recognition of and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of 1915." The "Aloha State" proclamation makes Hawaii the 42nd state to recognize the Armenian Genocide." (Full text of the Hawaii proclamation is available here.)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Serj Tankian and others urge president Obama to stand by his pledge and recognise Armenian Genocide

*I will post my personal reflections on the issue - Obama, Turkey and I - in couple of days. I will explain why I kept 'silence' during the last few days over Obama's visit to Turkey and related developments.

**Serj Tankian, Tom Morello and others talk about Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide and urge President Obama to stand by his pledge for recognition.

A1+ journalist beaten up by a notorious police chief amid reports of new detentions of opposition supporters in Yerevan

Just what we needed to 'mark' the first anniversary of Serj Sargsyan presidency in Armenia. Reports of detentions of number of opposition supporters in Yerevan, and reports that a journalist of independent/pro-opposition news outlet and banned TV station A1+ David Jalalyan was beaten up by a notorious police chief nicknamed "Bazaz". A senior opposition representative Levon Zurabyan was briefly detained too.

A1+ reports: "A1+'s journalist David Jalalyan was been beaten up by the Chief of the Patrol Division, Robert Melkonyan (nicknamed "Bazaz") in Northern Avenue minutes ago. David was attacked the moment he was trying to shoot policemen pushing and beating the participants of political walks. Robert Melkonyan hit David on the face and in the stomach. Some other policemen joined in the beating shortly afterwards. After rendering first aid an ambulance car took David Jalalyan to hospital from A1+'s editorial office. A1+'s President Mesrop Movsesyan says he will be consistent and will get his way through justice: all criminals will be punished."

*photos - via A1+

Monday, 6 April 2009

James Russell’s commentary on Charents homoerotic poetry and more

... We are lucky that never before published homoerotic poetry by Armenia’s cultural icon Yeghishe Charents did not reach Soviet style 'Charents specialists', and thanks to James Russell and some others we now have Charents unzipped. (For more background info, read Yeghishe Charents unzipped – nation’s favourite gay poet)

There were stormy discussions in Armenian literary circles following a publication by Inknagir magazine of gay-themed poems by Charents. In response to this ‘controversy’, with the kind permission of the author, I posted on Unzipped: Gay Armenia a copy of James Russell’s letter to the readers of Inknagir magazine. James Russell is a professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of number of Armenia related works, covering history, religion and literature. He has a special interest in the great Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents.

Read it here.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Alekper Aliyev: "I defend homosexual romanticism over war romanticism"

I defend homosexual romanticism over war romanticism. It is acceptable when two men kill each other, but is it a sin when they sleep together?

Alekper Aliyev, author of Armenian-Azeri gay love story Artush and Zaur (Hurriyet)

*Other selected quotes - Unzipped: Gay Armenia
**Original article - Hurriyet