Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Obituary (The Telegraph): Michael Hagopian - "Film maker who sought to prove that the Armenians had suffered Genocide"

Only today, reading The Telegraph, I learned this... RIP, Michael Hagopian...

Below is his Obituary as it appears in The Telegraph.

Michael Hagopian

Film maker sought to prove that the Armenians had suffered genocide

Michael Hagopian, who died on December 10 aged 97, survived the massacre of Armenians by the Turks during the First World War and went on, as a documentary film maker, to campaign for the killings to be recognised officially as “genocide”.

According to historians, between 1915 and 1918 some 1.5 million Armenians died in a series of wholesale massacres and deportations which took place amid the chaos of war and the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey maintains that the deaths (which it estimates at 300,000 Armenians and about as many Turks — many of them victims of famine and disease) occurred within the context of a civil war sparked after Armenians, backed by Russia, rose up against the Ottomans. It remains a crime in Turkey to portray the killings as “genocide”.

Hagopian was determined to refute the Turkish claims. Among several documentaries, The Forgotten Genocide (1976), the first full-length feature on the killings, involved nearly 400 witness interviews and 20 years of research and received Emmy nominations for best documentary writing and production.

The River Ran Red (2008) told how hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forced into the Syrian Desert, where most of them died of starvation, and was voted best international historical documentary by the New York International Film & Video Festival in 2009.

To date, 20 countries have officially recognised the events of the period as genocide. Earlier this year a resolution to that effect was narrowly approved by the American congressional Foreign Affairs Committee. On several recent occasions, however, similar resolutions have been adopted by the committee only to fall short of endorsement by a vote of the full House.

In 2007, for example, a committee resolution branding the massacre of Armenians as genocide was greeted by a jubilant Hagopian as a sign that “representatives in Congress now realise the Armenian community has a lot of political power”. But in the end support for the bill ebbed away as Ankara recalled its ambassador to Washington and politicians within Congress feared that ties to Turkey – whose airspace was a crucial corridor to supply US troops in Iraq – would be irreparably damaged. Turkey is again lobbying America to prevent any vote in the present instance.

The son of a prominent physician, Jakob Michael Hagopian was born on October 20 1913 in the ancient Armenian town of Kharpert, in what was then the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). One night in June 1915, after his parents heard that Turkish soldiers were on the rampage nearby, he was hidden in a well behind their home. “To save my life, [my father] placed me in it, hoping the Turks would not find me, that by a miracle I would survive,” Hagopian recalled in 2001. “He had great faith in Providence.” The soldiers did not come that night. But when they did several days later, the family was spared because his father had treated local Turks.

The family remained in Turkey until 1922, when they fled to the United States. They lived in Boston before settling at Fresno, California, in 1927.

After studying Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, Hagopian took a doctorate in International Relations at Harvard. He then served in the US Army Air Forces during the war before teaching at several universities, including the American University of Beirut, where he began teaching himself to make films. He later took film classes at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In 1952 he founded his own film production company, initially making films about the cultures of the Middle East, Nigeria, India and the American Indians. In 1979 Hagopian founded the Armenian Film Foundation, which was dedicated to preserving the visual and personal histories of the witnesses to the massacres.

Hagopian wrote, directed and produced 17 films about the Armenians . As he recalled in Voices From the Lake (2000): “I remember my mother saying, 'You can kill a people, but their voices will never die’.”

Michael Hagopian is survived by his wife, Antoinette, and by a daughter and three sons.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Armenian + Emo = Armo?

Related: Degradation and stupidity. Police in Armenia hunts down perceived emo teenagers, confiscates ‘weapons of mass destraction’, oh, sorry, souvenirs

*via Gawker

Armenian Police: Emo Music Can "Distort Our Gene Pool"

A full-blown panic over emo music has taken hold of the Armenian capital of Yerevan, after a 15-year-old "emo" kid committed suicide. The Chief of Police warns that kids being into emo music will somehow produce a generation of mutants.

Here's how EurasiaNet describes the reaction of the Armenian Chief of Police:
No law prohibits people from being emos, but police have left little doubt that their tolerance for emo fans is in short supply. In a December 6 interview with the newspaper Hraparak, Armenian Chief of Police Alik Sargsian commented that "emos are dangerous" and can "distort our gene pool."
"I do not like emos, in fact. I absolutely don't like them. I do not understand or accept them," said Sargsian.
Some Armenian scientist should probably do a study where they expose rats to three Fallout Boy EPs a day and see what happens.

(thanks to Walter (& Katy) for the title of my post)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Outrage as Armenia Fund Telethon promotes homophobia

UPDATE 29 April 2011: VO.X frontrunner Aram Rian has re-edited and replaced the controversial portion of the band’s "I Love Armenia" music video, by removing the reference to homosexuality as “perversion”. We have reached a mutual understanding with the group and consider this matter resolved as dialogue has taken place. We no longer have reason to believe either Aram Rian or VO.X is homophobic, and we wish them success in their future endeavors.
UPDATE 7 December 2010: Contrary to Twitter and Facebook reactions, the Executive Director of Armenia Fund, Inc. and the Executive in Charge of Production for Telethon 2010, officially denied that VO.X music video was aired during the Telethon 2010 (see comments section on Unzipped: Gay Armenia)

Think of donating to Armenia Fund?

Think again!


Read my post on Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Spotted: Armenian cookery book at Lebanese restaurant in London

Was having an early dinner with a friend of mine at a pleasant Lebanese restaurant in central London. And look what we've spotted there. An Armenian, well, mainly Middle Eastern, cookery book by Arto Der Haroutunian. It's only after, digging further into his name, I realised that he is one of the brothers who founded the Armenian restaurant in Manchester (UK).

Pay attention how they indicated "drinks" in Armenian translit: "Khumichk" :)

I can't judge about the quality of recipes but wish there were more illustrations inside.

Space-themed Christmas, Carnaby street, London

Saturday, 20 November 2010

We are the champions. Vladimir Arzumanyan makes Armenia winner of Junior Eurovision 2010

Amid all the depressive news coming these days from Armenia, I SO WANTED some positive news. So I decided to try my luck with the Eurovision, the Junior one. Children are our hope, with their sense of freedom, creativity and individuality, well, unless Armenian police is of different opinion, that is. Not that it matters.

Below is how the events unfolded, as per chronology of my Twitter notes.

I started morning with the reminder, most of all to myself. I did not follow the national selection process nor the build-up to the Junior Eurovision. But when I watched the video of Armenia entry’s song and performance this morning, things became clear to me: a star was born.
Today is Junior #Eurovision. 12 yrs old Vladimir Arzumanyan to represent #Armenia. He has all qualities for pop star !!
Then I decided to ditch my initial plans for a night out and have a more quiet evening at home watching the Junior Eurovision. Boy, I so did not regret it:
Junior #Eurovision live
Could not hide my excitement as I genuinely believed that this year’s Armenian entry is a spot on:
#Armenia is No. 10 at Junior #Eurovision. GO Vladimir Arzumanyan!
And one more general observation:
Sooo difficult to criticise children at Junior #Eurovision... You can't go with the adult Eurovision bitchiness :)
Then it was No. 10. And my first impression immediately after the Vladimir’s performance:
Impressive #Armenia performance at Junior #Eurovision. He is so cute, voice was not very strong but he feels the stage perfectly, he is a star
And before the voting results being announced:
Have to say, regardless of voting results, this was #Armenia strongest entry to Junior #Eurovision since Arevik.
Conclusion to the night was a fireworks. This is how I reacted when it became clear that Armenia won the Junior Eurovision:
OMG!!!! Yes! Yes! Yes! #Armenia - winner of Junior #Eurovison!!! Well deserved. Well done, Vladimir!!!
And the last bit, albeit too optimistic :
If only we have someone to match Vladimir for the main #Eurovision contest, #Armenia would be a double winner. How wonderful it would be !!!
Below is an extract from Vladimir’s first press conference after winning the contest:

[...] But what does he want as a present for his victory? Well, putting into his words - "I want a brother, my mother promised me that if I'd win!"

Now, after winning the biggest music contest for young singers, he still doesn't think of himself as a star. "Stars are only in the sky, I'm only human," Vladimir told the press. [...]

Cute! Cute! Cute!

*picture - Reuters

Friday, 19 November 2010

Degradation and stupidity. Police in Armenia hunts down perceived emo teenagers, confiscates ‘weapons of mass destraction’, oh, sorry, souvenirs

Over the last few weeks, reports from Yerevan indicated that police started targetting young people who look different from what they consider a ‘normal look’ and intimidating them, to put it mildly. Yesterday they went further and briefly detained 6-7 people, mainly girls, who they perceived to be part of “emo movement”. There are reports of police violence during detention. (Read also (RU) here and here)
ArmInfo: The press service of the police has told ArmInfo that the girls were detained by a group of police guards, who noticed that one of them was holding a "sharp piercing object." Later the policemen found one more object [this implying that the girls were frisked - edit.]. Presently, the police are identifying the detainees. The "sharp piercing object" was in fact a souvenir - a skull with two sword-like blunt-ended sticks. Such a souvenir can be found in many local shops but for the police it looked like a dangerous weapon. Following this logic, if you happen to buy a knife in a shop you may well spend night in a police department.
This all began a month or two ago when quite a few Armenian media outlets started systematically publishing sensationalist articles and reports linking virtually all teenage or youth suicides in Armenia to emo. Needless to say that in most, if not all, cases, they had no evidence whatsoever to support their claims, except for wild speculations. “Слышал звон, да не знает, где он.” This was accompanied by highly publicised ‘angry students’ letter to authorities demanding the clean up of one particular downtown tunnel from traces of ‘emo graffiti’. The tone of that letter and media reports, followed by various interviews/press conferences mixing emo with the religious sects - you got the picture - created an image of emo teenager as a ‘threat to national security’. Familiar wording, isn’t it?

And how easy. Nobody cares why those young people commit suicides. Finally, they found an easy solution. A new ‘enemy of nation’. To ‘neutralise’.
ArmInfo: ArmInfo has already reported that the Armenian Police started serious operative measures aimed at identification and actual neutralization of teen-fans of the global informal movement and subculture EMO. A reliable source told ArmInfo that the Police leadership charged all the departments for minors to start operative measures and draft the list of all the EMO fans in the country. [...]
Однако, не смотря на то, что некоторые, в том числе и полицейские чины Армении, считают культуру <эмo> деструктивной до такой степени, что готовы идти на антиконституционные <профилактическиe> мероприятия против детей 12-17 летнего возраста, на самом деле это не так. "Эмо" само по себе не несет ничего плохого, а наоборот старается донести до людей идею, что помимо материальных ценностей в жизни человека должны быть и ценности духовные. Видимо это последнее обстоятельство и беспокоит власть предержащих, так как в корне противоречит насаждаемой в стране культуре погони за длинным рублем.
Конечно, как и в любом неформальном молодежном движении - хиппи 60-х или панки 80-х прошлого столетия, эмо - не без изъянов и крайностей разного характера, присущих детям трудного переходного возраста, но заниматься этим должны психологи и заниматься крайне тонко, чтоб не калечить психику детей. А проблема эта отдана на откуп тем, кто по долгу службы привык иметь дело с потенциальными уголовными элементами. Что из этого получится догадаться не сложно. Благодаря подобной <дальновидной> госполитике, мы завтра можем стать свидетелями случаев побоев, массовых избиений и насилий в отношений <эмо> со стороны <нормальных>, по версии государства, подростков.
In reality, this is a pretty organised attack towards youth, or anyone for that matter, who look and behave differently, different from what is perceived to be ‘normal’, ‘acceptable’ look or behaviour.

I am trying to find words to describe police actions. Whatever comes to my mind is an understatement. On one hand, I am outraged. On  the other hand, reading and hearing of ‘brave’ Armenian policemen ‘neutralising’ teenagers make me burst into laughing. That’s how ridiculous they look like. But as ArmInfo rightly pointed out, such actions could lead to much more tragic consequences by inciting hatred towards anyone who looks different...

I wanted to say that Stalinist methods are well and alive in Armenia, but it’s not just this. This is a perfect example of total degradation and stupidity of Armenian police and those who are in charge of it. Plus, their “вседозволенность”.

Not only what they do is unlawful, but they are pushing teenagers further deep underground, and risk created a contra-reaction that would be very difficult to deal with.


Glad to see that many Armenian bloggers expressed their outrage with the police actions and solidarity with perceived or real emo followers. “I am emo” - statements you could read in a number of blogs (example).

With such actions, Armenian policemen made a total mockery of their profession. That Armenia police chief Alik Sargsyan is stupid is not news. That he & co totally lost their mind is a worrisome development. R.I.P., Armenian police.

*photo - Nazik Armenakyan / 
Emo in Yerevan: Eccentric and emotional teenagers challenge society (ArmeniaNow)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Real life horror: human rights experts uncovered systematic abuse in Armenia’s psychiatric hospitals

Since Soviet times, mental health institutions (or psychiatric hospitals) have always been associated for me with the word “repressive” where the notion of human rights is non-existent and clinical indications can be easily manipulated for non-medical purposes. One may have hoped that since the end of Soviet system things would change for better. One would be wrong.

As the report cited by the Open Society Foundations - Armenia blog indicates, human rights experts uncovered systematic abuse flourishing in Armenia’s psychiatric hospitals. “Their reports read like horror stories, detailing the lives of people left to the mercy of fate.”

This unacceptable and shameful state of affairs must end. Now.

Sanctioned Abuse in Armenia’s Hospitals

November 11, 2010 | by Anahit Papikyan

No one likes to be sick or go to the hospital, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Most people in Armenia are not familiar with the concept of “patient’s rights.” What they do know, however, is that when it comes to health care, everyone has the right to be treated in a safe environment, free of abuse, harassment, and neglect. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always extend to people living with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems.

Armenia ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1993 and adopted a mental health law that is in line with international norms. Nearly two decades later, however, we see that what the government agreed to is far different from what is actually happening in psychiatric hospitals throughout Armenia.

The Open Society Foundations–Armenia supported a group of human rights experts to visit and monitor conditions inside psychiatric hospitals. Their reports read like horror stories, detailing the lives of people left to the mercy of fate:

“A male nurse beat a patient who tried to run away. Even in the presence of the monitoring group he continued to abuse the patient.”

“One of the patients was tied up for two days. The hospital staff informed us that they gave food and water to the patient, but the monitors didn’t witness it.”

“Many patients are subjected to physical abuse, they are forced to clean the rooms and wash toilets, take care of other patients… do the work that the clinic staff should do.”

“In the yard of a hospital, under heavy rain, a barefoot patient washed the car of a hospital employee.”

Listening to these reports, we have to ask: Are medical professionals causing more trauma for their patients rather than providing actual treatment? Do hospital employees see people with mental health issues as problems and not as patients?

The government of Armenia should take measures to close these abusive institutions. People with mental health disabilities should receive care within their communities, not be locked away as though they are criminals. Community-based housing is an affordable alternative to large, abusive institutions. And people are able to live in freedom near their families.

Our government leaders in Armenia need to get serious about their commitments and fulfill the promises they have made.

Turkey and Van at the World Travel Market in London

There was a prominent display of Van and promotion of tourism to the region as part of the Turkey pavilion at the World Travel Market in London.

British run travel agency was promoting travel to eastern Turkey, as well as Armenia and Georgia. In their brochure, along others, they write about Armenian cultural heritage in the region, monasteries, Aghtamar and Lake Van, Mt Ararat etc.

I also picked up an official “Tourism Guide of Van” produced by the governorship of Van, in association with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Turkey. They repeated the word “heritage” quite a few times in their brochure, with the indication of various cultural influences, pictures of churches and khachkars ('cross-stone') but in contrast with the previous brochure, they failed to mention a single word about Armenian heritage there.

Read also: Charming Karabakh at the World Travel Market in London

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Charming Karabakh at the World Travel Market in London

Despite reports that Azerbaijan would protest and try preventing Karabakh’s representation at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, Karabakh did have its small separate pavilion right next to Armenia at this prestigious annual world forum. Moreover, I have to tell you, despite its very modest size, Karabakh’s representation was cosy, very warm, nicely designed and much more interesting than Armenia or Azerbaijan for that matter. The only thing I did not like in their design were those little crosses inside the letters, although they were not too pushy and I noticed them only while looking at pictures.

Karabakh’s corner at the WTM was a kind of place where you’d like to get in for a cup of tea or coffee, or a glass of wine or so, have a friendly chat. It really felt very warm, welcoming and comfortable. Charming - that was my first reaction as I saw it.

Armenian pavilion was unremarkable, with a tiring design (looks better in photo than in reality). There were ethnic and church related pictures all around, but ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to show what modern Armenia looks like. People (members of the delegation) were friendly, helpful and cheerful. That’s a plus.

Weirdly enough, looking at the main information stands at the WTM that show companies/countries represented there, you could hardly, if at all, find any indication of Armenia or Karabakh representation.

Azerbaijan’s pavilion was unremarkable as well, and kind of tasteless. Putting on the top of it this weird map of Azerbaijan with the empty space to indicate Armenia, and with the inscription “territory occupied by Armenia” was inappropriate and totally out of place.

The coolest design among South Caucasus countries was that of Georgia. You could feel modernity there, and you could actually see it from afar.

In tomorrow’s post - Turkey and Van at the World Travel Market in London. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Protest action in front of Iranian embassy in Yerevan to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from being stoned to death in Iran

Few Armenian activists gathered today in front of the Iranian embassy in Armenian capital to protest what seemed to be an imminent stoning to death of Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for “infidelity” after her husband’s death (!) Despicable is an understatement here.

This action was to coincide with similar actions worldwide.

However, the embassy employees and security did not allow protesters to stage their action with posters and stones, some - symbolically red-coloured. Nevertheless, Armenian activists, albeit for a short while, managed to put posters and stones in front of the building.

The main question that bothered the embassy employees and security was:”Which political party do you represent?”

The ambassador himself declared that there are many imprisoned women in Iran, as well as in Europe, ‘why do you care for this particular woman?’. He apparently did not understand what “human rights violation” means.

*video and pictures - by Mamikon Hovsepyan

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Multi-talented Armenian artist Karen Grigoryan to “Silence Against Noise” with his first London exhibit

I first heard of Karen Grigoryan last year when he staged an exhibit in Yerevan to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Artist, songwriter, producer, film director and TV host. If you think this is more than enough for one person, think again. Add to this his degrees... in political science and European studies.

Karen Grigoryan will present 40 works (20 photos & 20 graphic works) from his different collections, including "NO AIDS", "Silence" devoted to the Armenian Genocide, "Portfolio" and "Interval". This is his first exhibition in London.

Btw, while in London, Karen will be meeting British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood to interview for an Armenian IQ magazine.

Another interesting detail. The exhibition will be live streaming via artist’s blog at

Below are details of the exhibit for your diary.

Date: 10 November 2010, 7pm.
Menier Gallery
51 Southwark Street
London SE1 1RU
Nearest tube: London Bridge
Located in Bankside, minutes from Borough Market and the Tate Modern.
Read also: Riot, nudity... a very Armenian day in London gallery by artist Karen Grigoryan

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Nationalists gone hysterical in Armenian sector of Facebook over Azeri Film Festival in Yerevan

It’s funny how Armenian nationalists, self-proclaimed propagandists or ‘defendants’ of Armenian interests (whether in Armenia or Diaspora) are all up in arms to express their “outrage” when Armenian writers, artists, or anything Armenia related get threatened, abused and discriminated against in Turkey or Azerbaijan. They are all up in arms to “protest” and “expose” discrimination and abuse directed at few brave Turkish or Azeri voices who express different to the ‘accepted’ views in relation to Armenia, Karabakh or the Armenian Genocide.

But look at the nationalist hysteria that was generated and going on after the event’s page was set up for the Azeri Film Festival in Yerevan, Armenia (see poster above and FB page). Many of the most vocal and repetitive haters are those born in/around early 90s, a so called ‘lost generation’, who probably saw this as a chance for self-affirmation or whatever.

I am not going to repeat totally sh*tty language they use to show off how ‘patriotic’ they are and how ‘treacherous’ the organisers or supporters/attendants of the film festival are.

I strongly believe that art, and culture, do not recognise borders. Even if countries are at the state of war. Art, and films, are the best way for ordinary people to get to know each other better, to break the ice, even or especially in case of closed borders. There is also internet, of course, and meetings outside the national borders.

I have no problem if there are people who protest the idea or the fact of the festival. It’s their right. But do it in a (at least remotely) civilised way, without engaging the lowest possible denominator of nationalist/racist crap, personal attacks and threats to individuals. There is a fine line when freedom of speech gets transformed into something that should be considered within the frames of legal/criminal code. Many have already crossed that line.

And they pour tons of hatred, slander, nationalist crap and threats towards (among others) one of the brightest and the bravest souls in contemporary Armenia, writer and activist, and dreamer Lusine Vayachyan, who happened to help the organiser to set up the event’s page in Facebook, and supports the idea of film festival. Vayach, you have my respects. If only we have more dreamers in Armenia...

It’s an unfortunate reality that ‘treacherous’ Armenians become heroes only after their death. R.I.P., Hrant Dink...

*Recommended reading:

Azerbaijan Film Festival in Yerevan Sparks Hatred and Xenophobia

Armenian Writer Threatened for Facebook Page on Azerbaijan Film Screenings in Yerevan

No Enemy Nations, Only Regressive Societies and Governments: Ara Nedolyan

Intolerance Hidden Under Veil of Patriotism is Dangerous: Opinion

Hatred and Xenophobia is Alive and Well

Monday, 25 October 2010

'Stop violence’ with... violence. P.S. re recent abuse and violence scandals in Armenia

Starting with the case of that Nubarashen school pedophile teacher, then army and school abuse videos, and then the highly publicised recent domestic violence case, what I noticed - not infrequently - that some people, even among ‘stop violence’ campaigners, in the heat of emotional debate call for lynching of those suspected in abuse or violence.

Yes, it’s understandable that emotions may run high, and things may be said (but not meant to) in the midst of heated debate or as an immediate emotional reaction to horrific crimes.... But you simply can’t fight violence with violence. This will not solve any problems. Instead, it will ensure a vicious circle of everlasting violence.

Let’s take a very recent example of domestic violence in Armenia, that rightly resulted in an outrage, and petition was launched (I supported and signed it) calling for law against domestic violence.

In total, there were 3196 signatures with/without comments, now passed to the prime minister.

A friend of mine disturbed by certain comments posted on the petition 'Armenia Must Pass Domestic Violence Legislation', compiled a list of all of those signatories (28 in total) who "wished bodily violence and death upon the husband and/or mother-in-law of Zaruhi Petrosyan".  He rightly pointed out that “we need to prevent domestic violence, not practice lynch mob rule”. 

It is also disturbing that a person (e.g. petition signatory 3179, screenshot below) would use a slanderous and bigoted term about a sexual minority group to express his anger over a domestic violence issue. This ‘injustice by injustice’ approach totally devalues his own signature.

Thankfully, 28 comments make up less than 1% of the total number of signatories.

Interesting geographical distribution of such comments: 22 of the 28 comments came from California(!); 2 from Armenia; 1 from Turkey, Australia each; and 1 from the states of Wisconsin and Florida each.  As friend commented, “Americans seem to be the most 'stop violence with violence' a country where the death sentence is practiced regularly, but I am not sure about in California....”

Below are just few selected extracts to demonstrate the point.
No. 3,152 They should be thrown in jail and beaten so it's a lesson to others.
No. 2,787 I would beat the living hell out of this prick and set his mother on fire!
No. 2,763 That man and his disgusting mother should be beaten the same way and crushed to death.
No. 2,553 Maybe it's not only time to sign a petition, maybe it's time to personally fight back. Go get your bats and your guns, grab your pots and your pans, they work too, and turn around and do what Madea says. Beat them back!!
No. 2,406 This mother and son should be charge with first degree murder and death penalty sentense for them they should hang in middle of town
No. 1,815 Put a piece of cloth in his mouth take him toYerevan city square and pull his nails in front of the public then hang him
Or, for example, No. 484:
In the past, I heard of Arab females being stoned to death and even seen a true story about it "The Stoning of Soraya M". But I never heard an Armenian version of it. I can't believe beating an individual to death still occures with a mother-in-law having to be the main suspect.
Saying that, and presumably considering it deploring, she then continues:
It's sad to say, but in my personal opinion I believe she should get beaten the same way and let along to die. Don't only stick a dirty peice of cloth in her mouth, but stick in up her ass. The mother-in-law as well as her xangarvats son need to die exectution style. The best method for these types of people is Iranian style "stone to death".
Rule of law, education, trainings, changes in law, and similar measures... that's what I'd like to see instead.

*Thanks to T.S. for help in preparing this blog post.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Armenian neo-nazi vandalised Holocaust memorial in downtown Yerevan

This is disgusting, and a reflection of leniency towards such hate groups in Armenia: neo-nazi, anti-semitic, homophobic...

Since its installation, this memorial has been repeatedly vandalised.

And this is happening in a country that suffered the 1st Genocide of the 20th century...

*picture - by Photolur, via A1+

Sunday, 17 October 2010

YouTube ‘epidemics’ in Armenia: new school abuse video emerged

After animal abuse, army abuse and school abuse videos that were widely distributed in Armenian online circles and subsequently reported by printed media and reacted by officials, putting evidence of irregularities on YouTube becoming increasingly THE way of exposing things in Armenia.

It’s not even a week passed since the video exposing physical and verbal abuse at one of the most prestigious schools in capital Yerevan was resulted in effective dismissal of the teacher and pledges from the Ministry of Education to “do everything possible to safeguard the rights of children”, and prevent such cases in future.

Perhaps being encouraged by its effectiveness, yesterday new video emerged showing teacher’s physical abuse towards pupils (YouTube link). I have to admit, my first impression was that students making fun of teacher, as the video clearly shows that they are laughing at and enjoying the recording experience.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that this may be set up by pupils, there are no excuses for teacher to behave like that.

Video was uploaded on 14 October 2010 and does not provide any description.

However, a Facebook friend of mine says that his brother saw this video before and recognised his former teacher. According to him, the video was made in school No. 129, and the teacher’s name is Lena Abgaryan.

Now if only those who put the videos on YouTube learn writing appropriate titles and description, and put relevant labels...

Twitter scandal in Russia: Kremlin serves ‘salad with live earthworms’

How this is even possible??? What happened to Kremlin ‘standards’? Seriously, serving salad with live earthworms at a dinner to honour German president?!
AFP: A Russian official was branded an "imbecile" by the Kremlin after spotting an earthworm in his plate of salad at a reception for the German president and posting a photograph on Twitter.

Tver region governor Dmitry Zelenin posted a photograph of the small red worm on the edge of a plate of salad on Twitter late Tuesday at a Kremlin reception for German President Christian Wulff and his wife.
"The beef came with live worms," Zelenin wrote, cited by Russian media, adding that, "That's an original way to show that the lettuce leaf is fresh."

But the Kremlin did not relish the joke. The Kremlin's top foreign policy advisor, Sergei Prikhodko, said he regretted that there was no rule on "firing governors for imbecility" in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday evening. He slammed the governor, 47, saying that: "I won't even talk about (his) irresponsibility and stupidity."

Zelenin -- who is a member of the ruling United Russia party and is in charge of a important region northwest of Moscow -- later deleted the posting.

The Kremlin kitchens are being checked after the incident, a spokesman for the presidential administration, Viktor Khrekov, told RIA Novosti on Thursday. He cast doubt on the photograph's authenticity, however. "A preliminary analysis of the photograph shows it does not match the location nor the table settings at this official event," Khrekov said. The photo simply shows a white plate on a cream patterned cloth. Zelenin also posted a photograph of the chandeliered dining room.
Bloggers jokingly compared Zelenin to the sailors of Battleship Potemkin, immortalised in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film, who mutinied in 1905 after they found maggots in their meat.
Poor governor who tweeted the pic. He is now facing ridicule by people in president administration and prospects of being fired.

Familiar mentality, isn’t it? It’s not the Kremlin chef or whoever responsible for the meal are “imbeciles” but the governor who spotted the worm.

Mood: amused

*picture - via Telegraph

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The first and the only presidential election in modern Armenia considered as free and fair


16 October 1991

Levon Ter-Petrosyan was popularly elected the first President of the newly independent Republic of Armenia on 16 October 1991.

This was the first and the only presidential election in modern Armenia considered as free and fair.

I will keep this anniversary in my Calendar until Armenia citizens regain their right for free elections. Not on paper, but in practice.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Breaking: Dozens of people from Armenian-American organised crime group arrested in New York and LA over major health insurance fraud

WOW. Just reported via @BreakingNews. I am, however, amused with the nickname of the detained "high-level organized crime figure from the former Soviet Union who allegedly gave protection to members of the group": "vor" (meaning "ass" - rude conversational in Armenian, or “thief"/"thief-in-law” - in Russian) - "The vor, Armen Kazarian, was based in Los Angeles."

*picture - Robert Terdjanian, by AP, via Voice of America / Armenian Service

Dozens Arrested in Medicare-Fraud Scheme

The Wall Street Journal


An Armenian-American organized crime ring based in New York and Los Angeles allegedly bilked a federal health-care program for tens of millions of dollars using stolen doctor and patient identities, law-enforcement authorities said in indictments unsealed Wednesday.

Dozens of people were arrested including a "vor"—a high-level organized crime figure from the former Soviet Union who allegedly gave protection to members of the group. The vor, Armen Kazarian, was based in Los Angeles.

The group, known as the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization, was taken down as part of a nationwide health-care fraud sweep that included arrests in Ohio, New Mexico and Georgia. In New York, prosecutors charged more than 40 people in schemes that allegedly fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $100 million and receiving $35.7 million in payments.

It was the latest in a string of Medicare fraud busts nationwide by the Department of Justice over the past three years. In July, authorities announced charges against 94 people in separate schemes, including one involving Russian immigrants in Brooklyn, that allegedly submitted $251 million in phony billings.

The Armenian group allegedly stole the identities of doctors and patients, including thousands from the Orange Regional Medical Center in upstate New York. The names were allegedly used to file reimbursement requests from Medicare for procedures that weren't performed at 118 nonexistent clinics in 25 states.

According to one of the indictments, some of the fraudulent Medicare billings were from a forensic pathologist, who normally does autopsies, supposedly for office visits; an ophthalmologist billing for bladder tests; an obstetrician billing for skin tests.

The charges filed Wednesday include allegations of racketeering, health-care fraud, identity theft, money laundering and bank fraud. Prosecutors said members of the Armenian group allegedly used threats of violence to collect money they were owed. One alleged leader of the group, Robert Terdjanian, allegedly threatened to "disembowel" someone who owed him money.

FBI agents arrested 20 people in New York early Wednesday and others were taken into custody around the country, said Richard Kolko, a spokesman for the agency's New York office. Lawyers for the defendants could not be immediately identified.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Historical record: Armenia tops group rank in EURO 2012 qualifying

I am putting this screenshot from the UEFA website for historical record. For me, to remember that even if for a short while, Armenia topped the group rank in EURO 2012 qualifying, after stunning victory over Andorra 4:0. Also, to hope that may be one day this will become a steady reality.

Are we witnessing the revival of Armenian football? I may only hope so.

*see also: Pics of the Day: Germany's Merkel vs Turkey's Erdogan, Armenia vs Slovakia - EURO 2012

Monday, 11 October 2010

Video shows physical and verbal abuse by teacher allegedly at one of elite schools in Yerevan

YouTube video in circulation today shows physical and verbal abuse by one of teachers allegedly at an elite school (named after Pushkin) in downtown Yerevan.

I thought that such behaviour by teachers is a thing of past. Apparently, not. And if we believe the video description, this incident allegedly took place at one of the most prestigious schools in Armenia.

No more info is available as of now. Interestingly, this video was uploaded on 7 May 2010, but became known today thanks to its circulation on Facebook.

I can only say that I am so glad that school children in Yerevan started embracing modern technology to fight cases of abuse by teachers. I am so in favour for children using mobile phones. Well done, guys.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Pics of the Day: Germany's Merkel vs Turkey's Erdogan, Armenia vs Slovakia - EURO 2012

Hilarious pics of Germany's Angela Merkel vs Turkey's Erdogan after defeat of Turkish football team in EURO 2012 qualifier. Could not stop laughing :)))

*via (via Milliyet)

And at last, something to celebrate for Armenian football fans. Armenia beats pretty strong by international rankings Slovakia 3:1 in EURO 2012 qualifier.

My favourite reaction came on Twitter via @ArmComedy:

From now on Armenian #football team is all about smashing stereotypes and prejudice! Armenia-Slovakia. 3:1

Here is hoping...

*Yahoo Sport / Getty Images: Gevorg Kasparov (R) of Armenia vies with Miroslav Stocvh (L) of Slovakia during their Euro 2012 qualifying match in Yerevan on October 8, 2010. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINOSYAN

*Yahoo Sport / Getty Images: Marcos Pizzelli (R) of Armenia vies with Radoslav Zabavnik (L) of Slovakia during their Euro 2012 qualifying match in Yerevan on October 8, 2010. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINOSYAN

*Yahoo Sport / Getty Images: Robert Arzumanyan (R) of Armenia vies with Kamil Kopunek (L) of Slovakia during their Euro 2012 qualifying football match in Yerevan on October 8, 2010. AFP PHOTO / KAREN MINASYAN

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Civil society against domestic violence in Armenia (open letter, call for action and latest video report)

I remember when relatively recently the Women's Resource Centre wanted to put posters in Yerevan to highlight the problem of domestic violence and indicate hotline for those affected to call, the Yerevan municipality refused to allow it by claiming there is no such problem in Armenia. Typical mentality. Let's pretend that we do not have such problem, let's not talk about it, otherwise it may affect our image... Instead of facing up the problem and developing effective means to tackle it. In the meantime, cases, like the one below, keep happening...
Open Letter by Society Without Violence

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Dear friends,

As you are already informed, on October 1, 2010 in Masis town a shocking murder was committed. A 20 year old Zaruhi Petrosyan was killed by her husband and mother in law as a result of torture and physical violence.

The link and video materials provided by are the vivid evidence of the inhuman tortures and treatment that Zaruhi Petrosyan underwent during her life-time, violence which brought to the death of 20 year old young woman.

Unfortunately, the cases of physical violence are not rare in our reality, and in some context the indifference of the society and unfair attitude towards violence victims can lead to such irreversible losses.

As a women’s rights NGO members, we call Human Rights organizations, activists, interested people, mass-media and international organizations to be observant, to highlight this case by every possible way of dissemination, to provide the publicity and transparency of the case investigation and the trial for reaching the fair judgment of 20 year-old woman’s murderers.

Otherwise the stereotypes, that such crimes are inter-family issues, that such cases do not deserve to be in the public’s and law enforcement bodies’ attention will have more and profound roots in our society.

With our silence we will allow such crimes to be justified and guilty people to avoid the punishment determined by law. In other words, by our silence we will have more innocent victims.

If you are interested in the participation of the discussion on this case, please do not hesitate to contact by the following e-mail:


Society Without Violence
Women's Resource Centre calls for 'Time for action' against domestic violence in Armenia, and asks interested people to join the cause by calling the centre on 51 91 68 (local phone number).

According to the latest news, Zaruhi's husband is detained and charged with 'causing severe bodily harm in a cruel manner'.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Ridiculous being of the Ministry of Diaspora in Armenia

First, we most certainly do not even need such a Ministry. I am not entirely sure what this ministry supposed to accomplish. All the functions of the ministry could and should be successfully done by other relevant government bodies. Just because we have the “Ministry of Diaspora” does not provide with any more significance to Armenia’s relations with the Diaspora. This is simply blah-blah-blah.

But wait... Apparently there is one strategically significant task of national importance that the ministry must accomplish. A beauty contest. Proudly announced by the Minister Hranush Hakobyan herself.

When government (any government) is involved in organising a beauty contest it surely is making a laughing stock out of itself. Any criticism or mockery of such decision would be an understatement.

But wait, here is the most hilarious part of the announcement. Apparently, not only potential all-Armenian beauties will be judged by their, well, look, but also... by morality... I wonder how the judges will decide whether the contestant is ‘moral’ enough or not to suit the requirements. Using gynaecological chair?

Truly, the winner of this pan-Armenian beauty contest must receive as a prize the “Red Apple”.

Zara - Karmir Khndzor (‘Red Apple’)

P.S. Quote from Lragir (AM):

[...] Իսկ առայժմ որոշել են, եւ Հրանուշ Հակոբյանն այդ մասին ասել էր, որ մրցույթին մասնակցողները բացի արտաքին տվյալներից, պետք է նաեւ իրենց վարքուբարքով պահպանեն հայ կնոջ կերպարը:

Սա թերեւս այն է, ինչը առանձնահատուկ հմայք է տալու “Միսս հայ” մրցույթին եւ այն տարբերելու է աշխարհում ընդունված գեղեցկության տարատեսակ մրցույթներից: Բանն այն է, որ եթե մասնակիցների չափանիշ է հայ կնոջ կերպարի պահպանումը, ապա գեղեցկուհիները բեմի վրա պետք է ցուցադրեն բուրդ չփխելու, խալի թափ տալու եւ լվանալու, լվացք անելու, փողոց ավլելու իրենց ընդունակություններն ու շնորհքը: Ժյուրին էլ պետք է գնահատի, թե հատկապես որ գեղեցկուհին է առավել նրբագեղ կատարում այդ ամենը: Հետո բեմի վրա կհայտնվեն պայմանական սկեսրայրներ, սկեսուրներ, ամուսիններ, տալեր, տեգոր կնիկներ: Նրանց մասնակցությամբ կմեբադրվեն հայ կնոջ առօրյայի հատկանշական դրվագներ, եւ այդպիսով մասնակիցները ցույց կտան, թե որքան են իրենք հեզ, խոնարհ, դիմացկուն, աննկուն, համբերատար, նաեւ հնարամիտ, խորամանկ, քանի որ օրինակ տալերի կամ տեգոր կնիկների հետ հարաբերություններում հայ կինը սովորաբար մի կողմ է դնում իր ավանդական հեզությունն ու խոնարհությունը եւ տալիս անցնում է հայ տղամարդուն: [...]

Sunday, 26 September 2010

TV in Turkey breaches ethical norms in depicting Armenia athlete’s sufferings from injury during World Weightlifting Championship

When I first watched Turkish TV report on world weightlifting championship where Armenian weightlifter Ara Khachatryan got seriously injured, I was horrified with the camera focus showing sufferings of the athlete. It was as if this was done deliberately to show his pain in all its graphical details. This is unacceptable under any circumstances. Considering Armenia-Turkey relations, such incidents have even higher levels of sensitivity. rightly argues that this was a breach of ethical norms and compares the way Turkish TV depicted the incident with the similar one by Chinese TV during Beijing Olympics.
Armenian weightlifter Ara Khachatryan (85 kg) was seriously injured in his elbow during the 2010 World Weightlifting Championship in Antalya, Turkey. However, the TRT (Turkish state television) grossly violated the code of professional ethics by showing close-up picture of the Armenian athlete, who was crying with pain.

Generally, in such cases TV rules stipulate shifting to long shot. Besides, the organizers did not provide shields that are usually used in such situations. World remembers the incident that occurred with Hungarian athlete during the Beijing Olympics when Janos Baranyai (77 kg) got similar injury. Let’s compare the Turkish and Chinese broadcasting of two incidents.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Exposed online. First - denial. Now - confirmation. Sadistic officer in Armenia army arrested and faces up to 5 years in prison for abuse of soldiers

When we first exposed the video, they said it was ‘fabricated’ without even preliminary investigation. In an initial statement by MoD there were even threats to those who made and disseminate the video with partly successful but inevitably unsuccessful attempts to erase the video from the Internet.

“The Ministry of Defence of Armenia strongly condemns preparation and deliberate dissemination of such materials aimed at discrediting and diminishing the reputation of the armed forces of Armenia.”

Speaking before the parliament, Minister of Defence Seyran Ohanyan called the video a “disinformation”. “It’s a disinformation about our army, and I do not believe what was captured on that video has really taken place”, he said. Some pseudo-patriotic circles immediately pointed fingers towards the ‘enemy side’.

However... Only hours after the Minister’s statement, sadistic officer was identified and detained, and we received an official confirmation of the authenticity of the video.

In its latest statement, “the Armenian Defense Ministry officially confirmed on Wednesday the identity of an army officer who was arrested last week for abusing his soldiers and is now facing up to five years in prison.”
The arrest followed the circulation of an amateur Youtube video that shows a uniform-clad man hitting and humiliating two army conscripts during what looks like a picnic. The footage caused public outrage, prompting the Armenian military to order an inquiry.

The Defense Ministry initially questioned its veracity and said those who posted it on the Internet are keen to “discredit” the Armed Forces. Subsequent media reports said military investigators tracked down the officer shown in the clip. He was identified as Major Sasun Galstian, deputy commander of an army unit deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In a written statement, the ministry said Galstian was arrested and formally charged last Friday under an article of the Criminal Code dealing with abuse of power committed by servicemen. It carries between two and five years’ imprisonment.

The ministry statement also identified the two soldiers allegedly mistreated by Galstian, saying that they both will be examined by forensic medics. It said the video was shot in July on a mobile phone belonging to another serviceman, in the presence of his father and brother.
I’d like to re-cite this comment made under my initial post by Ara Manoogian, who re-uploaded the video on YouTube (after it was removed) and consequently faced threats of violence and demands to remove the video:

"I not only think we have a problems with violence in the army, but we have a bigger problem with people willing to face the realities that exist in our nation today, thus presumably an unwillingness to face them head on and deal with them."

So true.

What is the most important and key here is to eradicate and fight the root cause of the problem. We all know very well, without the need of videos to prove, that bullying and hazing do exist and widespread in the armed forces and need urgent intervention. Emerging videos or reports simply highlight this disturbing reality and should be taken as a call for actions. Status quo is a violation of human rights of servicemen and consequently a real threat to the national security of Armenia.

While current developments may be considered as a victory for online activists who exposed and distributed the video in the first place, this will only become a real victory for all of us, including MoD, if Armenian officials face up the widespread problems of corruption and abuse in the army and initiate radical reforms to ensure that similar displays of sadism as well as “suicides” and non combat deaths are prevented and dealt with. In the world of Internet, cover up is an outdated concept.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Dita Von Teese at London's Erotica 2010

Erotica is a major annual showcase in London of all things erotica-related, with stalls, shows and exhibits to fulfill your sexual fantasies.
Erotica is designed to appeal to all adults. Our primary target audience is couples and ladies (we go out of our way to make single ladies feel comfortable) but of course we’re happy to welcome gentleman too. Adults of all sexual orientations and preferences are welcomed to Erotica.
This year famous American burlesque artist/model/actress with Armenian roots (read my previous postings) Dita Von Teese will be performing at Erotica with her The Opium Den show.
Dita is bringing her most opulent show, The Opium Den, to London in November as part of Erotica 2010. Erotica 2010 takes place at Olympia in London on November 19th, 20th and 21st. Dita will be performing at 6pm each day. This will mark the UK debut of The Opium Den show. In addition to the performance there will also be a book/photo signing session each day.

*picture - via

Monday, 20 September 2010

A message from Serj: New solo album by Serj Tankian - "Imperfect Harmonies" - to be released 21 September

Serj Tankian announced today that his new solo album - "Imperfect Harmonies" - will be released tomorrow, 21 September. Interestingly, with a nice coincidence (I am not sure if Serj chose this date intentionally), on 21 September Armenia celebrates its Independence Day which is one of my favourite holidays.

Below are two music videos from the upcoming album and a message from Serj.

Borders Are

Left Of Centre

A message from Serj:

Ahoy Friends, Fiends and Friars :

I am extremely excited to announce the release of my new solo record, "Imperfect Harmonies" on Tues Sept 21st.

It represents a whole new sound, one that is a result of my musical experiences starting from System, to my 1st solo record Elect the Dead, to the orchestral Elect the Dead Symphony, to the present. It is an adventurous departure, some may say, from what I'm known for. Maybe it is.

But if there are any whom I consider as adventurous musical fiends as I, it is you, the friends and fans of System Of A Down.

After all, when System released our self-titled debut in 1997, it is you who understood us, not radio, not MTV, and certainly not the music industry.

Check out the link below to listen to some music and watch a couple of videos from 'Imperfect Harmonies':

If you like what you hear, come join me later today at 7PM PST at where we'll be doing a live video/audio stream of the whole 'Imperfect Harmonies' album from the studio where the live orchestra was recorded. I'll be doing a live video chat after the album playback is finished and answer some questions from all of you.

Thanks for listening.


*picture - via Serj Tankian's blog