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

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Чья бы мычала?! Jhangiryan and... human rights

So did I miss something? Where was the promised ‘breaking news’ during the opposition rally in Yerevan? Not that I expected any not alone ‘breaking’ news taking into account past experiences and trend... Same old speeches, no inspiration, no drive to move people, no real alternative. Disappointing. Boring.

And please, someone ask Jhangiryan to shut up. Former military prosecutor was himself accused in human rights violations and torture. And now he is ‘lecturing’ about human rights:
“For me the army is a most delicate subject, as I worked with the army for ten years and know about progress in army construction and all the aspects of army life. However, what we have been witnessing over recent months sometimes defies imagination of even experienced people. “I could never imagine that an Armenian soldier’s dignity and life might be so valueless that he would be regularly humiliated and beaten up and get pleasure from it [the Youtube video is meant],” Jhangiryan said. “It is criminal and permissiveness that is the real enemy,” he said.”

RFE/RL report, April 2007:
A court in Yerevan on Monday gave military prosecutors the green light to continue their investigation into mysterious killings of two Armenian soldiers that has been dogged by allegations of a cover-up and grave human rights abuses. [...]

The case against the now demobilized soldiers is essentially based on an April 2004 “confession” made by one of them, Razmik Sargsian. The latter retracted the testimony shortly afterwards, saying that it was extracted by force. The two other soldiers also claim to have been badly ill-treated in custody.

Sargsian insisted on Monday that he incriminated himself and his comrades after being brutally tortured by investigators, including Deputy Prosecutor-General Gagik Jahangirian, who led the probe in his previous capacity as Armenia’s chief military prosecutor. “Gagik Jahangirian personally slapped me when I was taken to his office,” he said. “He was angry because I was unable to raise my head and look him in the eyes due to the beatings. He cracked one of my teeth and dislocated my jaw.”

I CAN speak/write about human rights violations in the army. You, Mr. Jhangiryan, CAN’T. So, please, shut the f* up.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Pope's visit to the UK: Sinéad O'Connor and "Protest the Pope"

Ahead of Pope's visit to the UK, Sky News today reminded of the incident of 1992 when Sinéad O'Connor ripped into pieces a copy of a photograph of then Pope John Paul II while appearing on NBC's Saturday Night Live programme.
Wikipedia: On 3 October 1992, O'Connor appeared on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest. She was singing an a cappella version of Bob Marley's "War", which she intended as a protest over the sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, by changing the lyric "racism" to "child abuse." She then presented a photo of Pope John Paul II to the camera while singing the word "evil", after which she tore the photo into pieces, said "Fight the real enemy," and threw the pieces towards the camera.

There will be "Protest the Pope" march and rally in London this coming Saturday, along with other actions as part of the campaign against the State Visit of Pope Ratzinger to the UK which starts tomorrow. Campaigners protest Vatican's cover up of child abuse cases, as well as its stance on other human rights issues:
- opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS.
- promoting segregated education.
- denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women.
- opposing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, including universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.
- failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
- rehabilitating holocaust deniers and appeasers like bishop Richard Williamson and the war-time Pope, Pius XII.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Disgusting. New video allegedly shows bullying and violence in the Armenian army

UPDATE 23 September 2010Exposed online. First - denial. Now - confirmation. Sadistic officer in Armenia army arrested and faces up to 5 years in prison for abuse of soldiers

UPDATE 17 September 2010: Armenia MoD confirms that those depicted in army hazing video were identified and detained. More details to be provided.

UPDATE 16 September 2010: Video was removed from Dailymotion too, but available elsewhere, e.g. on YouTube. It keeps getting removed and reappearing again. What is more important is that according to the media reports, the sadistic officer on the video was identified, and soon Armenian MoD will make a statement. MoD refused so far to confirm media reports. Will keep you posted on developments.

UPDATE 12 September 2010: Video was removed from YouTube "due to terms of use violation", but re-appeared on Dailymotion.

This video was put on YouTube today and started circulating on Facebook. It titled (AM) Բանակի իրական դեմքը (‘The real face of the army’) and allegedly shows bullying and physical violence in the Armenian army. No description for the video is provided, and it’s not known when and where this video was taken. I can only assume it was taken via mobile phone.

Urgent investigation is needed to reveal the full details of this incident. What is depicted in this video is simply disgusting. This follows recent cases of “suicides” and non combat deaths in the Armenian army. Over the last couple of days there were more reports on “suicide” and non combat violence in the Armenian army.

This video is similar to previously emerged alleged photo evidence of beating in Armenian army as well as similar incidents in Azerbaijan (see here and here)

Yerevan - Baku taxi experiment: listening to the ‘enemy’ music

Good experiment. [This film was made as part of the project by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation supported by the British embassy in Yerevan.]

I can’t say that opinions expressed from both sides were surprising. They were mainly based on cliches and due to the lack of direct communication between Azeris and Armenians following Karabakh war. That’s the reason why social networks, blogs or offline meetings are so important, although they could be used for inciting hatred too.

However, I was mostly interested in taxi passengers’ reaction to playing Armenian music in Baku, and Azeri music in Yerevan. And it was not balanced in that there were more opinions recorded from the Armenian side than from Azeri side. I’d be interested to hear more reaction from Baku residents too. And in general, I’d like to see this music part of the experiment expanded. Would be also interesting to repeat the experiment on different settings. For example, the reaction of exchanging respective cuisine set in Yerevan and Baku restaurants etc.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

My pick of newly/recently launched Armenian online news outlets

Recently, there has been surge in numbers of Armenian online news outlets. However, many newly launched resources are simply copying each other, at times almost indistinguishable, whether by look or content, and carrying the same news stories from site to site.

For now, the most successful is that quickly became one of the main and popular sources of Armenia related news. I remember, up until a year or so ago, when I wanted to visit one site to know what’s going on in Armenia, the choice was obvious - A1+. Now it’s for me. Let’s see if they’ll keep it up.

Another interesting project which I’d recommend you to check out is the Armenian Version. With the writer and journalist Lusine Vayachyan & co on board, the ArmVersion is fresh, and regularly posts challenging stories tackling sensitive and relatively taboo subjects.

Still, there is need for independent journalism from Armenia that - as The Independent would put it - “free from party-political ties and proprietorial influence”. is still OKish, but sadly it shifted more towards providing daily news (like dozen others) rather than investigative journalism which it was famous for. - new online outlet by independent journalists’ network in Armenia

Last week my attention grabbed this newly launched project - by the Independent Journalists’ Network. As I learned, the former editors of are behind this project. It is available in three languages - Armenian, Russian and English. For now, they have a small team of journalists and translators working out of a rented apartment in central Yerevan.

Says Adrineh, the editor of the English-language version of the site: “The aim is to have news that's not pro-government and not pro-opposition. It's not about "who's side you're on" — it's about reporting the news, just the facts, objectively and without any other motives. The Independent Journalists' Network is the NGO and they/we are able to do the work we do because of funding from the Norwegian government. There's no other funding at the moment.”

Upcoming plans for include launching a Turkish-language version of the site and blogs section, both pending funding.

What I want to see on is independent and investigative journalism, with challenging stories, stories that I won’t necessarily find anywhere else.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Arcade Fire rock band + Google Chrome interactive video project “The Wilderness Downtown”. Yerevan experience

The Independent: "On August 30, rock band Arcade Fire, together with Google and artist Chris Milk, launched an interactive video set to the band's track "We Used to Wait." Called "The Wilderness Downtown," the online project makes use of Google Maps and Google Street View to incorporate images of the viewer's hometown into the video. Viewers begin the experience by providing their childhood address. The video experience then unfolds in multiple windows, taking viewers on a tour of their hometown to the tune of the Arcade Fire track. Users can also write a note to their younger selves in a tree branch-inspired font that is incorporated into the video. "The Wilderness Downtown" is optimized for Google Chrome and should also run on any browser that supports HTML5."

It worked great with my London address. Unfortunately, when I tried submitting Yerevan or more specific addresses in Armenia, the following notice came up: “Your address doesn't contain enough Street-View and/or Google Maps data to 100% enjoy this experience.”

Still, you may click this link to see The Wilderness Downtown project’s Yerevan experience:,+Armenia

Or go to the website and try playing with addresses and cities yourself.

You will have a chance to make postcards too. I did not have much time and made a simple one but from my heart :)

For more info about the project, visit Overall, pretty fun experience. Enjoy!