Sunday, 19 May 2013

Armenia - Russia Eurovision war

I watch Eurovision for the show, for the costumes, for songs, for its weirdness, ridiculousness, for occasional talent, for the ‘gay factor’, for all the comments exchanged (online or offline), especially on Twitter, for Eurovision parties. But one of my most favourite parts of the Eurovision is the voting announcement by countries. This is a show in itself. No less entertaining, than the actual show.

This is the best time when you can observe all the country alliances, people’s preferences, cultural ties, politics, and all the subtle or not so changes in relationships.

Traditionally, as “strategic partners”, Armenia and Russia exchange top marks, the likes of minimum “8”, but more like “10” or “12”. Up until recently, this has been a fair reflection of the situation on the ground, taking into account the Soviet legacy and ties, big Armenian Diaspora in Russia, and the influence of Russian pop culture in Armenia. However...

With Armenia moving closer towards Europe, effectively rejecting new post-Soviet Russia (Putin) sponsored economic/political alliance, and the recent hike in (Russian) gas price in Armenia, the impossible happened: ‏

@unzippedblog: Headline of the day. Only 7 points from #Armenia to #Russia #Eurovision #gas
@unzippedblog: Headline of the day (2). Only 2 points from #Russia to #Armenia #Eurovision #war 

Finita la “strategic alliance”, Eurovision way.

As for the Armenia entry Dorians, all I wanted to say I have already said in my previous post. Same applies to the final. In my opinion, they are the most talented Armenian entry so far. But they were robbed a chance of any high place or win because of the choice of song. Lack of PR added to the expected outcome. Just one last example. Only yesterday I found out that they have a Twitter account @dorians_am that was so not publicised that at a time of pushing the “follow” button, they had only 70+ followers (!). And this was on the day of Eurovision final. You got the picture.

I particularly want to praise the host Sweden for putting an excellent show and stage for the Eurovision. Plus, we had both gay women and gay men kisses during this Eurovision. Thumbs up to Sweden for spreading the message across. My “douze points” for you.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Despite odds, Armenia rock band Dorians makes it into Eurovision final

Today was the Eurovision semi-final where Armenia is represented by rock band Dorians. I feared the worst.

Dorians - one of my fave Armenian rock bands. Still remember them performing in Yerevan as an "opening act" for Serj Tankian concert. That was the first time I saw them live, and here is my impression, as I posted in my Yerevan Diaries:
Dorians - more than an opening act
Absolutely loved Dorians. Always liked them via their YouTube clips, but now that I managed to enjoy their performance live, I am 'officially' their fan. Top class rock performance, in line with best young rock groups elsewhere.
So you could imagine how happy I was to learn that they have been selected to represent Armenia in Eurovision 2013.

However, I believe the choice of song (Lonely Planet) was wrong. It's a bit boring song and doesn't allow Gor and Dorians to show their full potential.

There was also scandalous lack of PR from organisers, Armenian Public TV and Armenian media outlets. Article on published today headlined as Lack of Official Media Support for Armenia's 2013 Eurovision Entry.

I warned about this in past repeatedly:
On 20 April I tweeted: Since 11th April no Google Alert re #Armenia #Eurovision entry Dorians. Less than a month to go. PR #fail
On 22 April I tweeted: Don't say I didn't warn you.Scandalous lack of PR turns #Armenia entry Dorians into #Eurovision #fail.Song doesn't help either.Wake up call. 
As if there was a campaign of intentionally sabotaging Dorians.

But well done Gor and Dorians. You went through to the Eurovision final despite that song, and despite the lack of PR. Because of your talent.

You are so unlike the majority of contemporary Armenian pop stars, and so unlike the majority of Eurovision performers.

That's the reason why I like you, and will support you during the final.

Good luck!!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Armenia: in need of REVOLUTION

This was the end of #armvote13: the process that started with the 2008 presidential election, with another wave post February 2013 election, only to finally die out on the 5th of May Yerevan election.

From year to year, from election to election: same process, same violations, same sh*t... and same (plus/minus the level of bizarreness) outcome. Non-ending story of f*-ed Armenian elections.

I became convinced that with current ruling regime in place, no change is possible via election. But it’s not just a matter of the authorities.

Even accounting for massive electoral fraud, the numbers received by main opposition parties are so small (even compared with previous elections) that should ring an alarm bell and serve them a food for thought. Armenian opposition could collectively write a bestseller: “How to lose electorate”.

True, Armenia has changed since 2008. With the use of online social networks, and particularly Facebook, and some influential offline actions, the voice of civil society and human rights activists is louder and more influential than it was ever before.

In addition, Diaspora is becoming (finally!) more aware and involved in current day Armenia issues, such as democracy, corruption, human rights. And unprecedented in numbers Diaspora observer mission during Yerevan election is a good sign that needs to develop further.

Ironically, European observers with their robotic “in line” and “improvements” concluding remarks, became a part of the problem. Not only they completely discredited themselves, by becoming a laughing stock among Armenian citizens, but turned into an obstacle to progress by effectively legitimising fraudulent elections.

Instead of flirting with the authorities, EU (and USA) should stand firm and demand - unequivocally - systematic changes in all fields of life. Not improvements. But radical changes. And without all these blackmail talks that this move will push Armenia more towards Russia. Armenia will steadily turn into ‘Russia’ without such changes anyway.

In the meantime... people are leaving the country. Armenia is being increasingly deserted of its potential. As @Golden_Tent rightfully pointed out on Twitter, “for the next 4 years, all voting in Armenia will be done with feet and one-way tickets.”

Armenia needs revolution. Revolution of minds. Cultural revolution. Sexual revolution. Revolution that will change the regime in Armenia before using such democratic means as election. Revolution that will swipe out the factor of “թաղի տղերք” [“neighborhood guys”] that became so defining in this and all other elections.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Will Yerevan election bring what Armenia presidential election fails to achieve?

Here we are. Less than a day before crucial Yerevan council and mayor election. This could either be the ‘official’ end of the process started with #armvote13 presidential election in February or its transformation to a different level, if opposition takes control of Armenia capital.

Low numbers for recent rallies of main opposition parties, including HAK (Armenian National Congress party) and ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, are indicative of general mood of disillusionment in political processes in Armenia. Obviously, I am not even considering here any attempt at comparison with gatherings by ruling Republican party, as we all know that people go there by orders rather than voluntarily.

*Hope* for free and fair election may only materialise if the election observers from all opposition parties and civil society stick to their promise of putting aside party or other differences for the task of proper monitoring. In this sense it was good to hear ex-president Ter-Petrosyan calling for the same. However, whether this will turn into reality remains to be seen. Also, good to see so many election observers lined up for the 5th May election.

*Hope* for change will come if silent majority decides to vote and cast their protest vote, just like they did during presidential election in February, despite disillusionment in political parties. We will know about it in a matter of less than 24 hours.

Opposition mayor will be a huge contribution to changes in Armenia. Having Republican party 're-elected' means that we will not witness any substantial changes in the following 4-5 years, only cosmetic ones.

On a personal sympathy level, among all candidates I support Armen Martirosyan for the position of mayor, although quite a few young people in opposition HAK list are also highly sympathetic to me.

So I would urge anyone to go cast their vote and vote for either #barevolution movement “Barev Yerevan” bloc, headed by Armen Martirosyan of opposition Heritage party (of presidential challenger ex-FM Raffi Hovhannisyan), or opposition HAK party lists.

[for a good roundup of Yerevan election process, read Yerevan’s May 5 Election: Stakes and Specifics by Tamara Voskanian in Asbarez]