Tuesday, 30 June 2009

“Unpleasant TV” – who are the ‘judges’?

I am hardly a fan of Public TV in Armenia, especially its information policy and programming with its imposed or self-censorship. But when time comes of calling names, and the so called “experts union” think they can decide what I should watch, based on what they call “morality”, I become a staunch supporter of the Public TV. I cannot stand all sorts of ‘morality’ committees. I have a natural reaction of rejection towards them. Some call it allergy.

Funnily enough, they keep names of the ‘experts’ (or ‘judges’) secret. How convenient.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Re: Zaruhi Postanjyan

I’ve been following this tragicomedy involving nationalist and pro-government circles on the one side and Armenian MP Zaruhi Postanjyan, prominent human rights lawyer from the opposition Heritage party, on the other side, and could not help myself but wonder. How much we love targeting people instead of targeting problems?!

Nationalist and pro-government propaganda machine can’t get enough of condemning Zaruhi’s ‘treacherous’ behaviour. Here she is, an ‘enemy of people’, ‘enemy of Armenia’. How did she dare asking for Azeri and Turkish signatures under the statement condemning the state of human rights in Armenia and demanding the release of all political prisoners. Ironically, the same circles were pretty jubilant with Zaruhi Postanjyan’s stance re Karabakh and Turkey which is leaning towards more nationalist spectrum of the political field in Armenia. Ironically, among those still detained are Karabakh war veterans, and Turkish and Azeri MPs signed under the demand of their release too (!), which caused some ‘reaction’ back in Baku.

My only problem with those signatures not the fact that they came from Azeri and Turkish MPs, but I believe that only a person who recognises and criticises similar and (much) worse human rights abuses in his/her own country has the right to criticise others. I am not sure that this is the case re e.g. that MP from Azerbaijan.

Other than that, critics of Zaruhi Postanjyan are missing the point. If they think it’s shameful that the name “Armenia” is being used in Europe in relation to poor human rights record or being monitored by the Council of Europe, they should fight the roots of the problem, not the person who highlights it, whether with the ‘right’ or the ‘wrong’ signatures.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Bon Jovi and Iranian Armenian star Andy Madadian record musical message of solidarity with people of Iran

Twitter: Great video! Saturday video of Bon Jovi & Iranian-Armenian pop idol Andy Madadian singing "Stand by Me" #iranelection

MyDamnChannel: "On June 24, Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian went into an LA recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and American record producers Don Was and John Shanks to record a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran.

This version of the old Ben E. King classic is not for sale - it was not meant to be on the Billboard charts or even manufactured as a's intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian give voice to the sentiment that all people of the world stand together....the handwritten Farsi sign in the video translates to "we are one".

IANYAN: "Although Armenian, Andy has been a fixture on the Iranian music scene since the 80s. Andy joined Kouros in the late 80s and the two went on to release four successful albums until the duo split in 1992. Andy has been awarded the “Best Armenian International Singer” four times and is known as the “King of Pop” in Iran. His 2006 album, “City of Angels” won Best International Armenian Album at the Armenian Music Awards.

On July 21st, 2009, he will be performing at the half-time show during the Chelsea FC vs Inter Milan game at the Rose Bowl, a performance in which he canceled his tour for. Andy released his first Armenian language album, “Orere Seero” in 2003."

Michael Jackson tribute, in front of Thriller Live musical, London

Armenian journalists protest detention of bloggers and journalists in Iran

Group of Armenian journalists and photographers issued a statement protesting recent arrests and detention of their colleagues and bloggers in Iran, following disputed presidential election and post-election protests in Tehran.


*for Armenian version, see comments section below

Taking as a basis the “Reporters Sans Frontieres” humanitarian organization official website report per June 25 (, we would like to express our deepest concerns regarding the recent events in post-election Iran.

The arrests and detainments of Iranian mass media and cyber-space bloggers have launched on June 14; they are still being continued.

By acting apart from mass media companies which we are currently working for and by not politicizing our statement we are hereby taking the floor to express our protest against any action aimed at the oppression of Freedom of Speech; we are also calling for securing the Right to Freedom of Speech and other Fundamental Human Freedoms.

We, the Undersigned Armenian journalists and photographers are deeply worried about the fate of dozens of our colleagues and comrades in Iran.

We wish strength and patience to the families of arrested journalists, bloggers and photographers, who have no information about their relatives’ state. We hope for our colleagues to be freed at earliest possible convenience and to be able to continue their activity freely and objectively.

We are also concerned about hundreds of detained intellectuals and civilians in Iran.

Taguhi Torosyan
Karin Grigoryan
Seda Papoyan
Anahit Hayrapetyan
Sara Khojoyan
Sona Grigoryan
Nazeli Ohanyan
Vaghinak Ghazaryan
Anahit Minasyan
Ofelia Zakaryan
Nazik Armenakyan
Lusine Petrosyan
Nvard Manvelyan
Gayane Gevorgyan
Haykaram Nahapetyan
Lousine Musayelyan
Shushan Harutyunyan
Inna Mkhitaryan
Anjela Harutyunyan

Thursday, 25 June 2009

End of an era... RIP... Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Dies

TMZ: We've just learned Michael Jackson has died. He was 50. Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon and paramedics were unable to revive him. We're told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Armenia: partial amnesty. Not far enough

Political pisoners Aleksandr Arzumanyan, Myasnik Malkhasyan, Hakob Hakobyan and Suren Sirunyan were released from the court today. This decision was made ahead of upcoming PACE Monitoring committee hearings on Armenia and followed the presidential amnesty which was adopted on 19 June 2009. Unfortunately, it is not clear how (if at all) this amnesty will apply to those opposition activists/supporters who are on the run and in hiding now. Also, it became clear from the terms of declared amnesty that it will not apply to some political prisoners.

It is always welcome to see numbers of those detained on a politically motivated charges reduced. However, I will only truly welcome this news if Armenian authorities free all of them.

I said this again, but will repeat. It's with pain that I apply the term "political prisoners" to some of them, who could easily be charged with the human rights abuses when they were in power. However, today they have been detained/arrested for politically motivated charges, and I should call them as such, regardless my personal attitude. Having even one political prisoner is shameful for Armenia, deplorable and should not be tolerated.

"Free Aung San Suu Kyi"...

I made this picture yesterday in Brussels. This poster was on a prominent display at around European HQs there.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Armenian tattooist and Belgian girl. A truly bizarre story.

This story is so bizarre that deserves turning into film. Not that I want to defend that tattooist of Armenian origin, but the girl's version of the story does not make sense. She says that she "fell asleep" while tattooist doing his work, and woke up having a 56 stars on her face instead of requested three. Anyway, my work colleagues, who were unaware of tattooist's ethnic origin, did agree with me. Whatever the truth is, this is one of the most bizarre stories I've recently read.

*report and photos below, via British tabloid Daily Mail

The tattooist embroiled in a row with a teenage girl who claims he tattooed 56 stars on her face when she only asked for three has said he will help pay for them to be removed.

Rouslan Toumaniantz said today that Kimberley Vlaminck 'absolutely' agreed she wanted 56 stars tattooed on the left side of her face.

But now the 18-year-old is suing Toumaniantz, claiming she had asked him for only three stars - and had fallen asleep during the procedure, waking up to a nightmare in her Belgian hometown of Courtrai.

Toumaniantz - himself covered from head to foot in tattoos and piercings - said he would help pay for half of the treatment to remove the tattoos.

'I maintain that she absolutely agreed that I tattoo those 56 stars on the left side of her face,' he told newspaper La Derniere Heure. 'A witness, a woman who was present, has already been questioned by police, and she confirms it. 'But be that as it may: Kimberley is unhappy and it is not my wish to have an unsatisfied client. There is a way to remove the tattoos with the help of a laser. I accept to pay for half the cost.'

Toumaniantz claimed Kimberley was happy with the work when she left his shop in Coutrai but changed her mind when her father saw the stars. 'She's 18 years old, she's an adult,' he said. 'I don't regret it. To tell you the truth, this has given me some publicity.'

Kimberley is suing Toumaniantz for £10,000 after she paid £55 for 'the graffiti that has ruined my life'. She claimed the Toumanaintz misunderstood her French and English. She claims she fell asleep while he was doing his work... and awoke to 'this nightmare'. 'It is terrible for me,' said Kimberley yesterday. 'I cannot go out on to the street, I am so embarrassed. I just look horrible.' 'I think he didn’t understand what I wanted. He spoke only fractured English and French. 'But I explicitly said in my native tongue, French, and also in a little bit of English when he looked confused, that I wanted three little stars only near my left eye.'

Toumaintz, who runs the tattoo parlour called The Tattoo Box in Courtrai, said Kimberley was awake and actually looked in the mirror several times during the procedure to see how it was going. He said she knew 'exactly what she wanted'. 'The trouble all started when she went home and her father and boyfriend threw a fit. 'They are saying things now like I doped her or hypnotised her. What rubbish! 'She asked for 56 stars and that’s what she got.'

To remove the stars would require surgery costing £8,500. But even the most advanced laser techniques would, while removing the tattoos, leave deep white marks all across Kimberley's face. She has launched legal proceedings against Toumanaintz seeking damages, plus the money for the operation. He was questioned by police earlier this year but they decided it was a civil matter and that there was nothing they could do.

Jules Clocher, a Belgian psychologist, said: 'The trauma this girl must be feeling is indescribable. She feels like a circus freak - and no wonder, because she looks like one.'

Toumanaintz said from now on he will get written consent from clients before he begins tattooing.

Iran protests: Picture of the Day

In an apparent show of support for the opposition movement, six footballers playing for Iran's national team, including the captain, have appeared in a World Cup qualifier in Seoul, South Korea, wearing armbands in the green associated with Mr Mousavi.

*source: BBC

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Student protest outside Iranian embassy in Yerevan

Most of the Iranian students were wearing dark sunglasses and medical facemasks to at least partially protect their identity.

More photos, videos and info:

Frontline Club - Student protest outside Iranian Embassy in Yerevan

RFE/RL - Iranians Continue Yerevan Embassy Protests

A1+ - Gnome dictator

Related: A Fistful of Euros discusses parallels between June 2009 in Tehran and March 2008 in Yerevan - From Yerevan to Tehran?

*photo - Student protest outside Iranian Embassy, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Andranik Aleksanyan will represent Ukraine at Junior Eurovision 2009

The official Junior Eurovision Song Contest website reports that "Andranik Aleksanyan will represent host country Ukraine at the 2009 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The 11-year old won the national competition with the song Try Topoli, Try Surmy." Good luck, Andranik!

The contest will take place on 21 November 2009 in Kiev. The results of Armenian selection will be known by mid-July. Currently, Public TV of Armenia is accepting the applications from potential participants. Closing date of applications - 22 June 2009. For rules - see here.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Armenian soldier (Picture of the Day)

I am simply astonished by this photo. A masterpiece by Ruben Mangasaryan. Could not resist to re-post on Unzipped too.

*Source: Analyticon (thanks to Tzitzernak2 for the link)
Լուսանկարի հեղինակը լուսահոգի Ռուբեն Մանգասարյանն է, որ այս դրվագն անմահացրել է պատերազմի ժամանակ՝ Քարվաճառում: Մարտական գործողությունների կարճատև դադարի ժամանակ հայ զինվորը առիթը բաց չի թողել բնական տաք ջրում ցայվելու համար

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Alleged photo evidence on beating in the Armenian army

On 25 May 2009 posted a report on corruption in the Armenian army. Report ends with photos (below) which allegedly made via mobile phone and show how an officer was beating a conscript, presumably at one of the Armenian army bases.

Why no one is investigating these claims? Why no other Armenian media reports on this case demanding an investigation? OK, is a very recent addition to the growing number of Armenian online news outlets, people may not be aware of it yet, but some should have noticed it. When reports on video evidence of violence and bullying revealed re Azerbaijani army (see here and here), these cases got immediately publicised via Armenian news outlets too. And rightly so. Officials from the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan were initially casting doubts on that online evidence saying that it was staged to discredit the Azeri army etc. etc. However, they were eventually forced to open an investigation, and arrests were made.

So why is this silence about the allegations on our own cases?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Environmental protest action in Yerevan. Present were... president, prime minister, parliament speaker. Well, kind of :)

*via A1+

Picture of the Day - ArmeniaNow: "Beauty under Lock"

ArmeniaNow (photo by Nazik Armenakyan): "A beauty parlor in the center of Yerevan has been closed in the latest show of government clampdown on tax dodgers. A yellow ribbon reads “Winning receipts were not provided here” – in reference to cash register receipts which can bring the lucky owner from 5,000 to 5 million drams in the national lottery. A new law (January) stipulates that shop owners must give cash receipts."

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Armenia's first ladies ‘oppose’ mining project endorsed by their husbands

When I first read the news yesterday, I thought it's an intentional (and cleverly made) provocation - a made up story - by environmentalist in Armenia to use names of current and former first ladies to attract more attention and publicity to their cause. Today with all these photocopies of signatures and statements (as per above and below), if confirmed (see, I am still cautious, want to hear confirmations from the first ladies themselves), this could be the most hilarious news of the day.

UPDATE: (4 June 09) First ladies retracted their signature. (see also comments section below)

*via RFE/RL:

Armenia’s current and former first ladies have signed a petition against a controversial mining project approved by their husbands, ecologists strongly opposed to its implementation said on Wednesday.

The country’s leading environment protection groups and other non-governmental organizations have for years been campaigning against plans by the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori region. The Teghut deposit is estimated to contain 1.6 million tons of copper and about 100,000 tons of molybdenum.

The project, if implemented, will lead to the destruction of 357 hectares of rich forest, including 128,000 trees. Critics say that would wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s. [...]

The non-governmental Committee to Protect Teghut launched last month a fresh campaign against the mining project, collecting signatures in support of its stance. It said on Wednesday that a relevant petition addressed to Armenia’s president, prime minister and parliament speaker has already been signed by about 5,000 citizens, among them First Lady Rita Sarkisian and Kocharian’s wife Bella.

According to Mariam Sukhudian, a member of the committee, the two women agreed to sign the petition as they visited a public park in Yerevan on Tuesday. “We noticed Kocharian’s wife and the current first lady, Rita Sarkisian, there” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “One of our girls, Arpine, approached Bella Kocharian. As soon as she learned what the matter is, she took the paper and signed it. Rita said, ‘Is it about that copper-molybdenum thing?’ and signed it too.”

“We can say that, in a sense, they have joined our movement,” said Sukhudian. “We will scan their signatures and disseminate them through the Internet.” [...]