Sunday, 31 May 2009

Armenia: travesty of democracy No…

Another farce, another very well and brutally choreographed theatre play called ‘election’ passed in Armenia. I cannot believe I wasted my Sunday following this travesty of democracy. I cannot believe, having the all past/present examples and pretty practical working brain, I still did hope that something could be better this time. But then again, I am optimist by nature, and every time, despite every sign, trying to find something positive, even if there is none out there. The most troubling for me is that I kind of became used of it. This did not cause a feeling of outrage inside me which would normally be the case in similar situation. That’s what scaring me most.

Anyway, I am coping below my twitter updates just for the record, to get a feel of the day. I did not change anything, did not correct typos. I am copying exactly as they appeared on my Twitter page, where you can find their original versions:

· To follow 'official' #Armenia Central Election Commission 'live' results re #Yerevan mayor election: 24 minutes ago

· New prelim.res: some changes in No.2 (now - ruling coalition member BHK) and No.3 (now - opposition ANC) #yerevan #armenia 40 minutes ago

· Prelim res.: Ruling HHK is way ahead, opposition ANC and coalition BHK very close to each other. The rest - small numbers. #yerevan #armenia about 1 hour ago

· Surprise-surprise. First very preliminary results: ruling HHK No.1, opposition ANC No.2 and No.3 coalition member BHK #yerevan #armenia about 1 hour ago

· Hetq: not clear why A1+ web site is blocked. Possible reasons - hacker attack or too many visitors. #yerevan #armenia about 1 hour ago

· RT @onewmphoto US journalist says opposition and govern. HHK neck&neck in Malatia-Sebastia vote count until wads of ballots for HHK #yerevan about 2 hours ago

· 'Opposition will win if manage to monitor the vote count' - Levon Zurabyan. That's a big & key IF... #armenia #yerevan about 2 hours ago

· A1+ just uploaded a brief news report re some election violation on its youtube channel #yerevan #armenia about 2 hours ago

· Opposition youth movement @himaarmenia reports that most popular pro-opposition A1plus Internet site was blocked. #yerevan #armenia about 2 hours ago

· 'Banditism not election' in Malatia-Sebastia district - opposition rep (Arminfo) #yerevan #armenia about 2 hours ago

· @GoldenTent I can open E-channel, but A1+ still down #yerevan #armenia about 3 hours ago in reply to GoldenTent

· RT @caucasusreports #Yerevan elections: Vote-counting abuses reported in some Malatia-Sebastia precincts #armenia about 3 hours ago

· Preliminary voter turnout for #Yerevan mayor leection - 52.85% #armenia about 3 hours ago

· From "civilized" to "shameful": The assessment of local observers re #Yerevan mayor election. #armenia about 4 hours ago

· @GoldenTent same here cannot access A1plus for last half hour or so #Armenia #yerevanabout 4 hours ago in reply to GoldenTent

· First reactions on #Yerevan election by some observers and bloggers #armenia about 4 hours ago

· Widespread violations reported by Heritage party in #Yerevan Malatia district too with party rep calling to annul el. outcome there #armenia about 4 hours ago

· #Armenia opposition Heritage party reports on widespread ballot stuffing just before voting closes, in Davitashen #yerevan (Radio Liberty) about 4 hours ago

· #Armenia Prosecutor General office calls media reports on election violations and fraud a "false rumours" #yerevan about 4 hours ago

· New series of reports by @himaarmenia about ballot stuffing, incluidng some allegedly in presence of US ambassador. #yerevan #armenia about 5 hours ago

· RT @reporter_arm Election fraud (karusel) in Shengavit, #yerevan #armenia (video evidence) about 5 hours ago

· 'Hot' news of the day: Prosperous #Armenia party MP Zohrabyan slaps head of local election district over violations by the latter #yerevan about 5 hours ago

· #Armenia political prisoners cast their vote for #Yerevan mayor election (video) about 5 hours ago

· Tensions rise In #Yerevan amid election fraud claims. #armenia about 6 hours ago

· RT @onewmphoto "...Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count them decide everything" Stalin about 6 hours ago

· #Yerevan mayor election - less than 1 hour to go till vote count starts, which in past tend to be one of the most violation-prone.. #armenia about 6 hours ago

· RT @onewmphoto Good 2 c @himaarmenia (#Armenia opposition youth group) use Twitter as election violation reporting tool... #yerevan about 6 hours ago

· As of 6pm local time, voter turnout for #Yerevan mayor election - 41.66%. #armenia about 6 hours ago

· Details re journalist of #Yerevan daily 168zham and Transp. International observer assaulted; ballot stuffing #armenia about 7 hours ago

· ARF Dashnaktsutyun reports on few attempts of votig using fake passports #yerevan #armenia about 7 hours ago

· Report: journalist of #Yerevan daily 168zham and Transp. International observer assaulted at poll. st. 8/05 No details @himaarmenia #armenia about 7 hours ago

· More reports on various #Yerevan election violations, including ballot stuffing, via @himaarmenia #armenia about 8 hours ago

· All #Armenia pro-opposition newspapers will issue a special editions tomorrow re #yerevan election. (via about 8 hours ago

· Midway through: High voter turnout amid reported bussing of people from provinces. #yerevan #armenia about 8 hours ago

· Reports on clashes between ruling coaliton Republican and Prosperous #Armenia party members over #Yerevan mayor election about 8 hours ago

· Arminfo&FB: Progovernment OYP rep offered #Armenia opposition Heritage #Yerevan election observer Ioannisyan selling protocol of violations about 8 hours ago

· Hundreds bused to #Yerevan on polling day. #armenia about 9 hours ago

· Lines of mini-buses outside #Armenia Football Federation office, pres. - MP Hayrapetyan #Yerevan. Reportedly from Gyumri about 9 hours ago

· RT @ armenialiberty As per 2pm local time, ~ 30% have casted their votes for #Yerevan mayor election #armenia about 9 hours ago

· Residents of #Yerevan 9-16 district told me that local ruling party people drive old people to polling st & 'help' them to vote #armenia about 9 hours ago

· Numerous violations observed during #Yerevan mayor election reported by Caucasus Reports project #armenia about 10 hours ago

· Gyumri mayor (ruling Republican party member) organizes convoy of "voters" to #Yerevan #armenia about 10 hours ago

· Lines of mini-buses outside a poliing station in #Yerevan (photo evidence) - clear violation of #Armenia election code. about 10 hours ago

· The most common violation re #Yerevan mayor election so far seems to be related to busing people from regions to the capital. #armenia about 10 hours ago

· #Armenia political prisoners were allowed to cast their vote at #Yerevan mayor election. about 10 hours ago

· Reports: pro-opposition newspaper CHI journalist Veziryan & 2 others beaten by MP Sargsyan bodyguards #yerevan #armenia about 10 hours ago

· Via @himaarmenia & @arsentg reports of at least 2 separate incidents of beating pro-opposition #Yerevan election observers. #armenia about 11 hours ago

· Numerous similar to @himaarmenia #Yerevan election violations esp. busing people from other places and regions reported by @arsentg #armenia about 11 hours ago

· #Yerevan mayor election as criminal chronicle via @himaarmenia: reports on busing people from regions, bribes, ballot stuffing, open voting about 11 hours ago

Follow crucial Yerevan mayor election news as/when they happen

On 31 May Armenia related news outlets and various Internet resources will have a special working schedule to cover crucial Yerevan mayor election - “local elections of national importance”, as rightly indicated by BBC Russia.

Below are my recommended sources to follow news as/when they happen during the election day.

Online news outlets:

Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) - Armenia
Hetq Online

Twitter updates:

I will post updates on my Twitter page As/when necessary, blog entries will appear here on Unzipped too.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Final pre-election rally by Armenia opposition in Yerevan. Very different type of music. Appropriate one.

Finally, very different and appropriate type of music being played at pre-election mayoral campaign rally in Yerevan, where musicians had actually something substantial to say (not your usual la-la-la), and delivered their messages on freedom, change and democracy via music and songs.

Videos below of Mher Manukyan & friends playing at final pre-election rally by opposition Armenian National Congress (Levon Ter-Petrosyan).

Third video is an interview with Mher by Onnik Krikorian.


Kim Kardashian in support of gay rights and equality: "Shame on You, California!"

My respects to our very own "Armenian Princess" (that's how she describes herself on her Twitter page) Kim Kardashian.

For details - Unzipped: Gay Armenia

*photo - via Kim's Twitter page

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Nikol Pashinyan Yerevan election message on Public TV of Armenia (!)

Armenia opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) used its pre-election air time on Public TV to air one of its prominent members, newspaper editor Nikol Pashinyan Yerevan election message. Nikol Pashinyan is still on the run and hiding since 1 March 08 violent crackdown on opposition in Armenia.

You may watch the video of Nikol’s 2 mins message on E-channel.

*picture - via E-channel

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Just do it, Mr. President

"1 March was everyone's defeat". "We should start with the new page." This is from Armenia president statement re 28 May national holiday First Republic Day.

Yes, it was a defeat. Yes, we need a new page. You know what to do, Mr. President. For the start - free political prisoners, ensure free elections. Just do it.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Parajanov, Charents and Hrant Dink on… Dashnak posters in Yerevan. Have they (Dashnaks) lost their mind? reports about posters in Yerevan by ‘opposition’ turned ‘former’ ruling coalition member nationalist ARF Dashnaktsutyun party. They say that these posters have nothing to do with the upcoming mayoral elections in Yerevan, but rather a reflection of party’s position in relation to Armenia - Turkey rapprochement, with typical Dashnak-style slogans.

That’s not the bizarre bit. Dashnak posters are illustrated by famous Armenian faces from the field of arts, literature, sport etc. Guess who they posted there?

If some choices, like the actor Sos Sargsyan, raise no doubts, photos of the composer Tigran Mansuryan and chess player Levon Aronyan are misleading. Mansuryan never been known to be fan of Dashnaks, and chess player Levon Aronyan, when contacted by, expressed his displeasure of using his photo without his permission or prior knowledge. tried to find out – unsuccessfully! - from the party itself, whether they obtained the consent of the people depicted on the posters, or whether those very people support(ed) Dashnaktsutyun ideology?

The most hilarious examples are not the above ones. Among others on Dashnak posters are… Parajanov, Charents, Hrant Dink… (!!)

Parajanov who belongs not only to Armenian culture, but also Georgian, Ukrainian, and reflected Azerbaijani culture in his works too. Not quite the nationalist figure Dashnaks would like to portrait. In fact, as far from it, as one can get...

Charents who was in a complete opposite to Dashnaks camp, and who infamously wrote anti-Dashnak poems…

Hrant Dink who was a champion of Armenia-Turkey reconciliation…

Is this the way Dashnaks trying to re-assert their newly declared ‘opposition party’ credentials? Based on lies? As rightly points out, this is a totally failed attempt by the party, to put it mildly.

*poster - via

Film depicting garbage coming out of (Armenian) TV screen - winner of One Minute One Shot film festival in Yerevan

"Television" by Arevik Avanesyan (2009) was named as a winner of One Minute One Shot film festival in Yerevan. The film depicts garbage literally coming out of (Armenian) TV screen.

*For more details of the festival and award winning films at One Minute One Shot - see Hetq Online (in Armenian).

Saturday, 23 May 2009

'Breaking news': Gagik Beglaryan 'started'... blogging

Yerevan mayoral candidate from ruling Republican party Gagik Beglaryan, nicknamed Chorni (Black) Gago, 'started'... blogging. Why so late, I wonder, considering that the elections will be in a week time. Not that we'll be missing much. Most comments so far are in line with "hargeli Gagik Beglaryan duq iroq shat lavneq". (example)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Angelina Jolie to adopt an Armenian baby?

I’ve read reports in tabloids that Angelina Jolie is up for more adoptions, which reportedly caused tensions between her and Brad Pitt. But until today I had no idea that Anglenia’s latest preference for adoption is Armenian baby.

Here is what LA Gossip Examiner reports:

Angelina Jolie to adopt an Armenian baby
27 April 2009

Angelina Jolie is going to adopt an Armenian baby with or without Brad. Officials in Armenia would neither confirm nor deny Angelina’s adoption efforts but the Armenian rumors have been strong for a long time. One of the reasons Angelina wants to adopt from Armenia is because there is a lot less “red” tape and the adoption process can be a lot easier. She also believes an Armenian child will fit in perfectly with her African, Cambodian, and Vietnamese babies.

Angelina’s upcoming Armenian adoption has not gone down well with Brad; he wants to adopt from India. Although it would be great for Angelina and Brad to adopt from an orphanage in America, I’m not the type to pit children in different countries against each other. Something tells me, however, that an alien baby is definitely a possibility in the near future.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt - Still pretending to be in love
21 May 2009

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt put on an act of togetherness Tuesday night at the Cannes Film Festival. They were there to celebrate Brad Pitt’s upcoming WWII flick, Inglorious Bastards. The film received bad word-of-mouth from the screening, which means that there needs to be major editing done for this film to be a hit. However, that wasn’t the biggest problem.

Several insiders say that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are not getting along anymore and have simply grown apart. Some people think Angelina’s possible adoption from Armenia is causing problems while others believe that the upcoming tell-all book from their former bodyguard is also causing rifts. Brad also is not fond of the way Angelina has been treating two dogs, Bingo and Angel, on the set of her new film Salt. Even though their breaking up would make a lot of jealous people happy, let’s hope they stay together for the sake of the kids….and the gossip columnists!

*photo - Getty Images, via LA Gossip Examiner

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Rats become 'Dish of the Day' in South-East Asia

ITN reports:

Soaring meat prices in Asia mean many households are serving up rat as a tasty alternative to pork.

Heavy rainfall in the Mekong Delta has sent the rodents scurrying from their holes into the traps of Cambodian villagers, who are exporting them by the tonne to Vietnam.

More than 35 tonnes of rat meat is now said to be crossing the border every day.

"Just my family alone exports one tonne or around 700 to 800 kilogrammes to Vietnam," said rat meat trader Te Lah.

Rat meat was eaten regularly in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s and, when the price of other meat soared last year, poorer households reverted back to it.

Live rats, some as large as piglets, are selling for around $1 (66p) per kilo and dead ones - used for feeding crocodiles in Vietnam - for $0.37 (24p) per kilo.

Cambodians eat them sir-fried, grilled or in soups and rat is increasingly becoming a common dish at home for many in the rural areas.

"Rats can be cooked as Tom Yam, various types of soup, fried with lemon grass or just fried like this," said Cambodian farmer Chan Pheakdey Ratha.

"It is delicious and I eat them almost everyday," said Tuy Kimchheng.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Armenia and Georgia join EU statement condemning homophobia

Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union
on the International Day against Homophobia on 17 May

Brussels, 15 May 2009

In the context of the International Day Against Homophobia, the Presidency of the Council on behalf of the European Union reaffirms the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The European Union rejects and condemns any manifestation of homophobia as this phenomenon is a blatant violation of human dignity. It considers that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is incompatible with the basic principles on which the EU is founded, and it is and will remain committed to the prevention and eradication of discrimination based on the six grounds mentioned in Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which include sexual orientation.

We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of death penalty on this ground, the practice of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention, denying the right to peaceful assembly and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health.

We urge the States to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties and that such human rights violations are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice.

The European Union welcomes the ever increasing support to these principles in the world and recalls in this context that 67 States from different regions condemned violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the General Assembly Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of 18 December 2008.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

European Union

*Thanks to Gay Caucasus for the link.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Armenia: Reports on serious clashes between ruling Republican party and its main coalition partner Prosperous Armenia party members

Incidents happened in 2 Yerevan districts re mayor election campaign. Reported by Haykakan Zhamanak daily, as well as Public Radio. Clashes, beatings, injured, detained. More details to be known later, I suppose.

Scandal of the Day

(sorry, in Armenian only, for now.)

«Հայկական ժամանակ». Կացնահարել են
11:27 • 13.05.09

Օրաթերթի տեղեկությունների համաձայն` երեկ իսկական ճակատամարտ է տեղի ունեցել ՀՀԿ-ի ու ԲՀԿ-ի միջև, որի արդյունքում կան ձերբակալվածներ և տուժածներ:

Կացնահարել են

Երեկ սկանդալային դեպքեր են տեղի ունեցել Քանաքեռ-Զեյթուն և Դավիթաշեն համայնքներում։ Բախվել են հանրապետականներն ու ԲՀԿ-ականները, ինչի արդյունքում Քանաքեռ-Զեյթունի թաղապետ Արայիկ Քոթանջյանը ծեծի է ենթարկվել։

Մեզ հաջողվեց ճշտել, որ երեկ առավոտյան Արայիկ Քոթանջյանի 18-ամյա որդին մտել է ԲՀԿ-ի՝ Ահարոնյան 67 հասցեում գտնվող նախընտրական շտաբ և ծեծի ենթարկել շտաբի պետ Սամվել Հովհաննիսյանին։ Ավելի ուշ Ծառուկյանի տղաները մտել են ՀՀԿ-ի՝ Մոնումենտում գտնվող շտաբ, որտեղ այդ պահին գտնվել է նաև Քանաքեռ-Զեյթունի թաղապետը, և բոլորին, այդ թվում՝ թաղապետին, ծեծի ենթարկել։ Ըստ ականատեսների՝ «սպեցնազը» ձերբակալել է Ծառուկյանի տղաներին։

Երեկ ՀՀԿ-ԲՀԿ բախում է տեղի ունեցել նաև Դավիթաշենում, ինչի արդյունքում հանրապետականներից մեկին կացնահարել են։


Monday, 11 May 2009

Video evidence: Armenia opposition activists attacked in Avan district of Yerevan

Opposition Armenian National Congress activists were attacked today in Yerevan's Avan district while distributing leaflets for 13 May local rally as part of the mayoral election campaign. It was the second attack in two days. Below is a video evidence detailing the attack, as well as three injured women's testimony who were hospitalised. Reports point out at ruling Republican party local members as those responsible for the violence. Some additional details - here.

RIP: "European Movement in Armenia"

It’s almost impossible to shock me. Well, never say never, as they say. Today is one of those exceptional moments. I am speechless. No words.

RFE/RL reports that “The Armenian affiliate of a renowned pan-European non-governmental organization [The European Movement in Armenia (EMA)] on Monday proclaimed Gagik Tsarukian, a controversial tycoon and politician, Armenia’s “best European of the year” for what it described as his promotion of European political culture in the country.”

If you think you've read the news, think again.

Keep reading: “In a statement, the EMA paid tribute to Tsarukian for “spreading European traditions in Armenia’s political and public fields” and assisting in a “generation change” in the local political arena. It also praised his “active participation” in the Armenian parliament’s committee on European integration. The EMA, some of whose projects are funded by the European Union, did not specify just how the former arm wrestler has contributed to Armenia’s democratization and closer ties with Europe.”

Read the rest of the story...

*photo - RFE/RL; /emphasis mine/

Friday, 8 May 2009

Ոստիկանություն ունենք, աշխարհը չունի...

Quote of the Day

RFE/RL: Armenian law-enforcement authorities are doing their best to stop periodical attacks on local journalists mostly critical of the government, a senior police official claimed on Friday. Colonel Hovannes Tamamian, head of the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations at the national police service, also said he believes the authorities should go as far to allow Armenian reporters to carry guns.

“I believe that an educated and clever person must have the right to possess a weapon,” he said, answering a question from a female journalist. “Let a criminal know that a girl like you has a gun that she can take out and fire from. I am not against that.”

Tamamian was speaking at a news conference held less than two days after the beating of a prominent television journalist, the second such incident in just over a week. Both Nver Mnatsakanian of the private Shant TV and Argishti Kivirian, editor of the Armenia Today news agency, were attacked by unknown assailants just outside their Yerevan homes. Kivirian suffered particularly severe injuries and was hospitalized as a result.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Independent banned TV station A1+ launches news channel for mobile phone users in Armenia

For the first time ever in our country, independent (pro-opposition) banned TV station A1+ launches news channel for mobile phone users in Armenia. Twice a day - 2pm and 6pm local time, news will be updated. For details, see video below. Well done, A1+! Yet another example of breaking state imposed censorship via the use of modern technologies in Armenia.

Orhan Pamuk visits family of murdered Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink at their home in Istanbul

Truly, Quote of The Day by Orhan Pamuk, via Hurriyet:

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk visited the family of murdered journalist Hrant Dink at their home in Istanbul yesterday, stopping to make a few statements to reporters on exiting the Dink home.

Pamuk, who told reporters that words could not even describe his sorrow, said "In a sense, we are all responsible for his death. However, at the very forefront of this responsibility are those who still defend article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Those who campaigned against him, those who portrayed this sibling of ours as an enemy of Turkey, those who painted him as a target, they are the most responsible in this. And then, in the end, we are all responsible."

*Thanks to L.P. for the link.

Monday, 4 May 2009

A guide to the wall in Baku: 'Sexual Revolution' or 'Death to Israel'?

*via Frontline Club

Well, not as historic as the Berlin wall, but still interesting one with graffiti across all spectra of political scale. Slogans vary from "Sexual Revolution" and "Our Fatherland is USSR" to "Death to Israel" and "F@#$ Bush!". With an English guide by the members of local OL! movement!.

Armenian police 'in action' at opposition pre-election Yerevan mayor campaign rally

Live reporting by Onnik Krikorian

‘I am a European’

I do consider myself a European, and my vision of Armenia is that of Europe.

I wish this Quote of the Day by Armenia president Serj Sargsyan is true:

“Armenia wants to live according to European laws.”

“Every Armenian considers him/her-self a European, regardless of whether the Europeans think so or not."

Армения хочет жить по европейским законам, заявил президент Армении Серж Саргсян участникам неформального сбора молодых политических деятелей Европы. “Мы хотим изменить правила нашей жизни, и жить по европейским канонам, но вместе с этим внести в эту общую гамму свой собственный оттенок ”, - сказал президент в ходе проходящего 1-3 мая в армянском курортном городе Цахкадзор сбора. Президент добавил, что Армения вошла в различные европейские структуры и добровольно взяла на себя обязательства, которые обязана выполнять. Саргсян также отметил, что любой «армянин чувствует себя европейцем, независимо от того, считают так европейцы или нет”.
Sargsyan will be in Prague on 7 May for the official launch of the Eastern Partnership – new EU initiative of closer ties with its Eastern neighbours, including Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Poster in Goris, Armenia

It’s been more than a year since the last presidential election in Armenia, but you may still spot this poster in Goris.

*photo - by M.B.