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: [...]