Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A rainy day in April...

iRemember: 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide...

An Armenian folk song ('At the Break of Dawn', compiled by Arusyak Sahakian), arranged by Ayşe Tütüncü, well known pianist/musician from Turkey [you may read her interview with Bianet here], and performed by 42 Turkish musicians. In memoriam April 24.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

PR deceit: not real but ‘fake Gallup’ commissioned to conduct exit poll for Armenian parliamentary election

There was a big PR by government controlled Armenia TV channel that they have signed up with the Gallup to conduct exit poll for upcoming Armenian parliamentary election. All the main headlines implied that the world renowned US company will conduct exit poll in Armenia, thus putting behind it its reputation.

Even with the ‘real’ Gallup, I would have concerns re polling, as taking into account local circumstances, it is very important who conducts the polls in the field. If it’s one of discredited sociological groups in Armenia, then even with the best Gallup methodology, I would not trust their results. revealed, however, that it’s not ‘real' Gallup that is going to conduct the exit poll and pre-election survey, but the ‘fake’ one.

This is a ‘real’ Gallup:

This is a ‘fake’ Gallup: former “Gallup International Association”. Kancho Stoychev who signed the agreement with the Armenia TV is their Vice-President (Bulgaria). [] Despite name change [“Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research”], they still contain references to “Gallup” within their website.

According to one Wikipedia reference, [US-based] Gallup Inc. and [Switzerland-based] Gallup International Association (GIA) were involved in a legal dispute over the use of “Gallup” name. In 2010, GIA merged with the market research company WIN (Worldwide Independent Network). They are currently called “Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research”.

It’s the US-based company, not the Swiss one, that is famous for Gallup Poll.

This is not what we will be getting for Armenian parliamentary election.

Civil protest? More like a mob rule against organiser of Azeri film festival in Armenia

After previous unsuccessful attempt, the Azerbaijani film festival - this time in Armenia’s second town Gyumri on 12 April - was yet again cancelled amid ‘campaign of terror’, police inaction and safety concerns, as the organiser explained.

Unfortunately, like two years ago, we witnessed similar level of nationalist hysteria.

Along with other medium, anti-Azerbaijani film festival Facebook page was set up full of hatred and with open calls at life of the organiser Georgi Vanyan.

Below is a screenshot of just one such example, with a description of ‘murder plot’.

Notorious mayor of Gyumri used the occasion to spearhead the nationalist parade against the film festival.
@onewmphoto: Poor Gyumri. Noted for its architecture & humor in the Soviet era, devastated by the 1988 earthquake, & now the fiefdom of Vartan Ghukasian
This was a campaign of bullying, intimidation, hate speech, direct death threats, psychological and physical abuse towards someone who you do not agree with. This was not a ‘civil’ protest. More like a mob rule.

Video of attack demonstrates this clearly.

As one of my Facebook friends commented on his page: is this how civilised and cultured people need to react to showing of film? “Do these protesters realize how insecure and weak they appear? So shameful...”

As I mentioned re relevant circumstances two years ago:
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.
Once again, freedom of speech lost in Armenia. Once again, state structures in Armenia failed to protect constitutional rights and freedom of their citizens. There were no winners.

*Recommended reading:

Armenia: Nationalist Threats Against Local Activist

Armenia: Support for Georgi Vanyan

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sign of our times: ‘Facebook flag’ at Armenia opposition rally

*picture - © PanARMENIAN Photo / Tigran Melkonyan

This is an incredible picture. The ‘Facebook flag’ was seen waving at Armenia opposition rally. A sign of how Facebook (or Internet, in its broader social context) became a symbol of alternative reality for many in Armenia (and Diaspora). A medium where discussions are held, news are exchanged, actions are initiated and coordinated. A reality facilitated by the lack of independent free TV in Armenia, as well as alternative voices breaking through the limits and barriers of ‘formal’ media via blogs or similar platforms. This, in turn, boosted the development of online media, including traditional media outlets’ increasing online presence, and more prominently on Facebook. A virtual country attached to the offline one, with increasing presence of politicians and activists of various levels and interests, with possibilities to influence and being influenced.

We may love or hate Facebook, but with its increasing influence on political and social life in Armenia, the factor of ‘Armenian Republic of Facebook’ or ‘Facebook Republic of Armenia’ is difficult to impossible to ignore.