Eurovision: Armenia: Sevak Khanaghyan releases Qami’s teaser; official music video to premiere on 21 March

ESC Today

by Sanjay (Sergio) Jiandani

The 2018 Armenian Eurovision representative has released the official teaser of his Eurovision entry Qami.  The official music video will be premiered on 21 March.

Sevak Khanaghyan was crowned the winner of the  2018 Armenian national final Depi Evratesil and will represent Armenia at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon with Qami.

Check out Qami’s official teaser

Armenia debuted at the Eurovision Song Contest in Athens in 2006 and is yet to win the competition. Sirusho and Aram Mp3 retain the country’s best results to date, both having achieved a 4th place in the Grand Final respectively in 2008 and 2014.

In 2017, Armenia launched a national selection Depi Evratesil in order to select its Eurovision act and entry for Kyiv. Artsvik won the Armenian national selection and flew to Kyiv with Fly with me, where she placed 18th in the Grand Final.

Armenia is set compete in the First Semi-final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest on 8 May.

Sports: Europa League: Mkhitaryan stats in Arsenal clash against Milan, Armenia has presented Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s statistics in the match against Milan.

Accordingly, the captain of the Armenia national football squad made three shots on the opponent’s goal and one of them went toward the goal, he made 50 assists with 80-percent accuracy, the 29-year-old midfielder made one key pass, stole the ball four times, made one interception fouled once, and he was fouled twice.

As a result, his overall rating was 6.89 out of 10.

As reported earlier, Arsenal defeated Milan 4-1 and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was substituted in 69th minute.

Book: Defying Erasure: Armenian Photographers in the Middle Eastern Photographic Imagination

The Armenian Weekly

Two recent books from the Beirut publishing house Al Ayn’s “Photographes du Moyen Orient” (Collection Traces) help to fill in cultural lacunae in the Middle Eastern world—gaps created by a crushing succession of colonialism, war, competing ideologies, and refugee camps. Entire traditions have been suppressed or destroyed and individual families have suffered the same fate. These conflicts have also impeded a richer understanding of the wealth of artistic talent present in this region of the world.

Now, perhaps for the first time, the public-at-large and critics can both learn something about the work of two talented photographers, Karnik Tellyan and Hovsep Madénian, both Lebanese-Armenians.

(Photo: Karnik Tellyan)

Armenians have contributed in remarkable numbers to the world of photography, from Ara Güler in Turkey and Yousuf Karsh in Canada to contemporary artists closer to home in the United States such as Ara Oshagan, Nubar Alexanian, and Scout Tufankjian. In the Middle East, as Christians and enterprising businesspeople in a Muslim society that shunned working with images and such new technologies, it is not surprising that in the early and mid-20th century, Armenians rose to play a crucial role in this field. From Turkey to Lebanon and Iran, Armenians were at the forefront of the development and expansion of still photography—portraiture in particular. Tufankjian, in fact, recently mused in an interview that perhaps because of their experience of persecution and migration, Armenians have been especially drawn to a medium that seeks to emphasize a certain sense of existence and reality—a proof of their and their community’s existential existence and survival.

The cover of Karnik Tellyan (Al Ayn, 2017)

The cover photograph of Karnik Tellyan (Al Ayn, 2017) displays a gorgeous mastery of the black-and-white craft medium. At first sight, we see what appears to be a group of children skating in a large circle holding hands. We cannot make out any of their faces—combined with the snow and the exquisite quality of the paper, the whole almost glows with an ethereal feel. It turns out upon closer inspection that the children and their chaperones are merely out on a winter outing and wearing shoes—not skates. The blurred quality of the photo and the wonderful juxtaposition between the all-black clothes worn by everyone in the photograph and the snowy white surroundings, as well as the geometric nature of the composition (both front center and in the background) arrest the viewer’s gaze. Accustomed as we are to stock images of the Middle East (war, desert oases, harems) it surprises as well: a winter kaleidoscope that might just as well be in the Alps or Vermont.

Tellyan’s life story is so full of last-minute escapes from disaster and almost vaudevillian episodes, that it seems almost like a Hollywood slapstick story involving a persecuted immigrant—one, who travels the world escaping death, surviving only to make money and then lose it all through no fault of his own, then finally rises to the top of his chosen profession and establishes studios in three different parts of Beirut. Born in Kayseri in 1904, he escaped the Great Crime or Medz Yeghern and eventually settled in Lebanon. In the ensuing years, he was hired by the German leader in the field, Agfa. He shot several highly-regarded documentary films in Germany, as well as portraits pictures for the military and wealthy families of Iran and Iraq, and then worked again in Eastern Europe and Germany. While in Germany he barely escaped Hitler’s minions and moved on to settle in Lebanon. There, he founded a family and continued his innovations—which were many—until 1985, when the studio closed amidst the corruption and moribund economy that followed in the wake of the so-called Lebanese Civil War.

(Photo: Karnik Tellyan)

Tellyan discovered entirely new ways of developing film and was so meticulous, that even his German employers marveled at his work ethic and precision. An essay by the ethnographer and artist Houda Kassatly, which follows on a long biographical sketch of Tellyan’s life, informs us that much of his archives were lost after the closure of his studio: pictures and material were simply thrown out or incinerated by family members and employees who did not realize the ethnographic and historical-artistic value of his photos.

So this book is a rare gift indeed: Pictures of farmers harvesting watermelons; of proud Druze tribesmen; or simply beautifully jagged water filled cliffs—Tellyan captured the essence of these places and people with rare skill. Working 12 hours a day, six days a week, he shot a film on Dervishes in Konya and another on an ethnic minority in Serbia, the Vlachs. His output was prolific even during a certain period in his life when he had to grow tomatoes and other agricultural goods in order to support himself.

But fast-forward to the 1960s and 70s, and Tellyan would be famous throughout Lebanon and the Fertile Crescent. And the photographer was endowed with quite a personality: When Greek priests on Mount Athos refused to be filmed, he simply recruited local boys, dressed himself and the boys as clergymen, and recreated supposedly authentic religious ceremonies.

Hovsep Abraham Madénian, also known simply as Saro, was also a refugee of the Armenian Genocide. Born in 1915 in Hadjin, he and his family barely made it from Adana down to Lebanon. After studying at the Armenian Seminary in Antelias and teaching at the Shalieh School in Syria, Saro would return to Lebanon where he became renowned for taking the most dazzling of portraits: Glamorous Lebanese women mainly, posed to look like Hollywood starlets (others mimicking Greek goddesses), wedding portraits, but also family and community pictures that chronicle early Armenian settlements in Greater Beirut and surrounding towns.

(Photo: Saro)

But Saro, who passed away in Lebanon at the age of 97 in 2012, was more than a “mere” portrait photographer, though his great talent was—as in the case of Karsh—precisely to lift portraiture to an art form. Saro was also at the forefront of several colorizing processes and techniques. And he was certainly not hesitant to make a yellow shirt more yellow than a canary or a lipstick red even more vibrant than in real life. Some of his portraits seem to portray preternaturally Technicolor worlds, such as the ones that 1950s American Pop and interior decoration also depict. In a move that would today seem peculiar, he also did not hesitate to add in a missing limb on a Palestinian soldier, simply drawing or painting it in. The past, erased, was being re-established.

(Photo: Saro)

One goal of photography for Saro was to make the subject beautiful—and his bright portraits were prized seemingly by all. It is difficult to understand today, in an age of endless selfies, how important a role portrait photographers played in the cultural and business lives of entire communities once upon a time. As Kassatly notes in Saro (Al Ayn, 2015), Madénian was also different in that his studios were located in towns outside Beirut—in Bikfaya and the Tarik El Jdideh neighborhood near the Palestinian refugee camps. As she relates, he took photographs of some babies simply au naturel, naked as the proverbial day they were born, while others he attired in tiny intricate cowboy outfits, hat, holster and revolver included. It’s a marvel that he pulled off such kitsch.

(Photo: Saro)

The cover of Saro (Al Ayn, 2015)

Ever the multimedia artist, Saro would sometimes outline his future creations beforehand in charcoal drawings. One photograph of a Bedouin provides a gorgeous ethnographic record of clothing as well as facial features and hair/mustache styles; another is obviously a recreation, the man pictured tall with exaggerated smile and large sash around the waist, the whole bathed in a glowing, greenish tint.

In Saro’s hands, the studio became a stage and any tool at his disposal would be used to create a finished work of art—in a sense, absent the play with gender and narrative traditions, he is more in the line of an early Cindy Sherman than say Avedon, to put things in a contemporary American context.

Kassatly’s biographical and erudite text also provides us with names of other Armenians who paved the way for the art form in the Middle East and whose work we also know very little here in the West. The most famous of these include two Jerusalem monks by the names of Krikorian and Garabedian; Halladjian in Haifa; and Guirogossian, Varoujian, and Sarafian in Beirut.

It’s a breathtaking task to think of the difficult but fascinating work still to be done in bringing them and others to the fore. So much talent, so many critical trails yet to follow.


Purchase copies of Kanik Tellyan and Saro at

Sports: Armenia’s State Doping Program has had Disastrous Consequences for Weightlifters – Investigation

“The government doesn’t take the matter seriously."

Armenian weightlifter Tigran G. Martirosyan, who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics but was stripped after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. A new investigation has revealed the extent of Armenia's doping program. (photo: Wikimedia Commons, Kari Kinnunen)

Rocked by doping scandals, Armenian weightlifters have been banned from competing in international events since October 2017. A new investigation by the Hetq news agency reveals the true extent of Yerevan’s doping program, and its cooperation with Russia.

Since October, Armenia – along with eight other members of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) – was given a one-year suspension after its athletes tested positive for illegal drug use. The violations were found after samples taken during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games were retested.

Armenian weightlifters Tigran G. Martirosyan, an Olympic bronze medalist in 2008, and Hripsime Khurshudyan, a bronze medalist in 2012, were both stripped of their medals as a result.

Controversially, Armenia had been using the same drug testing laboratory as Russia, another country mired in sporting scandal. In 2015, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) declared that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was no longer in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code, and suspended it. Russia also was banned from competing under its own flag at this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Armenia’s equivalent organization ARMNADO (Anti-Doping Agency of Armenia) – which began operating with WADA certification in 2009 – has pointed to budget shortfalls as part of the problem.

“The government doesn’t take the matter seriously,” said ARMNADO’s Director Areg Hovhannisyan in an interview with Hetq. “They should give us enough money so that we can decide who to test and when.”

Under WADA regulations, ARMNADO is obligated to test athletes regularly and without prior notification. However, based on its current budget, the sports regulator can only afford to conduct 32 doping tests per year.

Hetq also revealed that the weightlifting federation had been providing athletes with performance enhancers free of charge. Some purchased the drugs themselves.

Athletes also were advised on when it was safe to take the drugs.

One athlete told Hetq: “In my case, I didn’t have the money to buy vitamins. But I had 1,000 dram (about $2) to buy enhancers. They were cheap and sold in drugstores.”

In 2016, the head coach of Armenia’s national weightlifting team Pashik Alaverdyan tried to downplay the severity of the issue.

“Everyone was using those drugs. But 100-120 days before doping tests, you had to be clean. (IOC president) Thomas Bach came and said: ‘I have investigated and discovered that I can catch someone if they have used drugs in the previous 400 days.’”

In its conversations with former athletes, Hetq also discovered that former Federation president Samvel Khachatryan (2006-2012) allegedly ran a doping program.

“The buying and selling of drugs began at the time of Samvek Khachatryan,” one athlete told Hetq. “[He] didn’t force you to use, but you had no choice. If you didn’t use, someone else would. And he/she would take your place on the team.”

In December 2017, the International Weightlifting Federation fined Armenia’s weightlifting federation $50,000 for the violations.

In addition, an IOC Inquiry Commission update last year stated:

“Seventy-five medals have been withdrawn and most of them have been redistributed to the athletes who deserve them. Even if, for them, it is not the same feeling as receiving their medal in an Olympic venue just after the competition, it is a way to render justice to clean athletes.”

One issue not addressed, however, is awards from the state. The two Olympic bronze medal winners, Tigran G. Martirosyan (2008) and Hripsime Khurshudyan (2012), had each been awarded 10 million drams (about $20,800 in 2018) by the Armenian government. There have been no plans announced to reallocate these funds to athletes uninvolved in doping.

Armenian sports officials continue to blame the former management of the weightlifting federation, Hetq found.

Sports: Arsenal: This many people can’t be wrong about Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Arsenal: This many people can’t be wrong about Henrikh Mkhitaryan
by Josh Sippie
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has some fluffy numbers since joining Arsenal, but some still doubt. Can so many people actually be wrong about him though?
Arsenal put a task on Henrikh Mkhitaryan when they signed him, and that task was to replace Alexis Sanchez. Given the falling out of the Chilean, it got progressively easier, but earlier in his North London career, such a thought would have seemed impossible.
Thus far, Mkhitaryan has replaced him to a tee. He has two goals and five assists in eight appearances and has showcased a defensive work-rate that’s to die for.
Yet there are still some doubters. People are out there saying that the numbers are masking what has been a fairly “adequate” landing with the Gunners. No doubt a hat trick of assists against Everton helped inflate the numbers, but I’m not basing my assessment of Mkhitaryan off of the goals and assists, which he has proven can come in ample quantity.
RELATED STORY: 5 Things Learned Against AC Milan
I am basing it off of what I’m seeing and what so many others are seeing too. Aside from the few naysayers, there has been so much praise for Mkhitaryan, but the two that have spoken most recently about him are Arsene Wenger and AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso.
Both have highlighted how he continues to improve and show just how special he is as a player and, to me, to have an opposing manager sing your praises after you had your way with them, that is something special.
Mkhitaryan’s numbers are great, but it’s the style of his play that I don’t think could fit any better into the void that Alexis left. Alexis was selfish, a ball-absorber who would forget that he had team mates and try to do everything himself. Although occasionally capable of doing it all himself, those times didn’t outweigh the chances he would miss.
Mkhitaryan possesses a lot of the same faculties as Alexis. He can go at it himself and has fantastic feet and a penchant for pestering the opposing goal. And yes, he can be loose at times, like Alexis.
But in the upgrade department, Mkhitaryan is a clean sweep from where we were to where we are now. He is a perpetually positive influence on the pitch who, even at his worst, will continue to push on and try new things.
Yes, he has been a bit untidy at times, but this comes as part of the territory of learning a new system. He is only going to get better, as Gattuso pointed out.

Sports: Armenian team reveal squad ahead of friendly matches

Panorama, Armenia
Sport 21:02 16/03/2018

Head coach Artur Petrosyan has announced the squad, as the national team is set to hold a training camp ahead of friendly two planned matches in Yerevan.

As learnt from the website of the Football Federation, the list includes 13 names from international leagues, Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Arsenal, Gaël Andonian from Olympic Marseille, Edgar Malakyan from Stal Ukriane, Varazdat Haroyan from Ural, Russia, among them.

Marcos Pizzelli will miss the training camp as he recovers from a knee injury.

To remind, Armenian national team will play two friendly matches in Yerevan with on Estonia on March 24 and Lithuania on March 27.

Azeri statements shouldn’t remain unanswered by int’l community, says deputy FM


Deputy Minister of foreign affairs of Armenia Garen Nazarian expects the reaction of the international community on the Azerbaijani statements.

“Official Yerevan has already responded to this statement, and our task is for these statements not to remain unanswered by the international community”, the deputy FM told reporters, commenting on Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s infamous statement where he made territorial claims for Yerevan.

The deputy FM was speaking to reporters after the opening of the 14th session of the Public Administration Reforms panel of the Democracy, Good Governance and Sustainably first platform.

Asked by reporters why the CSTO didn’t give an appropriate response to the Azeri statement, Nazarian said: “We are working in the direction of CSTO and other international structures as well”.

Agreements reached in Lebanon: PM Karapetyan gives instructions to Cabinet members


Agreements, including in the field of commercial cooperation, have been reached during Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan’s official visit to Lebanon.

During today’s Cabinet meeting the PM said a number of meetings with the Lebanese top leadership, as well as businessmen, representatives of the banking system and the Armenian community were held on the sidelines of the visit.

Based on this PM Karapetyan tasked the ministers of Foreign affairs, Economic development and investments, Energy infrastructures and natural resources, Agriculture, Territorial administration and development, as well as the executive director of the Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA) to take measures in a month to implement the agreements reached during the visit and submit proposals to the government staff on boosting the activities of the Armenian-Lebanese intergovernmental joint commission, preparing the next session, as well as to discuss actions aimed at creating the Armenian-Lebanese Investment Fund.

“Here it’s necessary to clearly define the deadlines with the businessmen with whom we have agreed to organize visits”, the PM noted.

Armenian honey already has free access to European market – Ambassador Piotr Świtalski


Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, is impressed with the Armenian government’s recent initiatives aimed at ensuring food safety.

During the opening ceremony of conference titled ‘Digital Solutions for Food Safety’, the EU Ambassador congratulated the Armenian government for the efforts made in the fields of protection of consumer rights and food safety.

“We are impressed by the number of initiatives, level of ambitions demonstrated by the government led by Prime Minister Karapetyan over the recent months. We, as a European Union, are ready to assist these efforts as the issues of the protection of consumer rights play an important role in the Armenia-EU agreement. There are concrete programs, we are getting out of the circles of the World Trade Organization and this process is in full accordance with Armenia’s membership to the EAEU. This is a bilateral useful process, and we are ready to provide concrete support to these efforts”, Piotr Świtalski said.

The Ambassador expressed confidence that within the frames of assistance and cooperation the EU can propose concrete steps in the new financial package. This, according to him, is the development of technical capacities, exchange of experience, as well as assistance to implementation of concrete actions. “I hope the assistance will lead to necessary results. I am confident that the government’s respective steps will contribute to increasing the export volumes to the EU market. The Armenian food is very tasty, we know that, it’s just necessary to create a necessary circle that will provide guarantees, will ensure not only the food’s taste, but also its being safe and secure. A new Armenia-EU certified procedure has been introduced in February, and I am happy that the Armenian honey already has a free access to the European market. I hope the same will apply to the crayfish and other goods in the near future”, the EU Ambassador noted.

Azeri activists protest against Aliyev regime in Washington rally (video)


Azeri activists held a protest rally March 14 outside the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington D.C..

The activists were protesting against the dictatorial regime of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani Azadliq news agency reported. “This is our first step, but this will continue. Our goal is to make our voices hear in Azerbaijan,” one of the activists said.

The protesters were wearing masks and holding posters saying “Resist Aliyev”, “Freedom to the people of Azerbaijan”, “Same Dictator Different Century” “Protect Human Rights”.

The activists also addressed the hundreds of political prisoners currently jailed in Azerbaijan, demanding Baku to immediately release them. The activists, who have fled Azerbaijan due to oppression, criticized the state-sanctioned pressures against their families back home and demanded the resignation of Aliyev’s government.

“In addition of Ilgar Mamedov, Afghan Mukhtarli, Giyas Mamedov and Gyozal Bayramli, there are more than 200 political prisoners in Azerbaijan. As people living abroad who love their country, we too express our discontent and demand the release of all political prisoners [in Azerbaijan],” they said.

Voice of America asked the protesters why they are wearing masks, and the activists said it is a precaution in order to protect their families in Azerbaijan.