Ambassador Karmirshalyan presents credentials to King of Spain

Ambassador Karmirshalyan presents credentials to King of Spain

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19:40, 5 September, 2019

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 5, ARMENPRESS. Ambassador of Armenia to Spain Vladimir Karmirshalyan delivered credentials to King Felipe VI of Spain, ARMENPRESS was informed from the press service of the MFA Armenia.

During the conversation following the solemn ceremony of delivering credentials, Felipe VI congratulated the Ambassador on the occasion of delivering the credentials, wishing him productive activities. The King of Spain hoped that the Ambassador will contribute to the realization of the existing huge potential of developing relations between Armenia and Spain. King Felipe VI of Spain hoped that the recent political changes of Armenia will have a positive impact on the future strengthening and expanding of Armenian-Spanish bilateral relations.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain Josep Borrell was also present at the meeting.

During the conversation the sides referred to a number of issues of bilateral agenda.

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan




Artsakh’s President receives Chief of General Staff of Armenian Armed Forces

Artsakh’s President receives Chief of General Staff of Armenian Armed Forces

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21:19, 5 September, 2019

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 5, ARMENPRESS. President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan received on September 5 Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia Artak Davtyan.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the press service of Artsakh President’s Office, issues related to army building and cooperation between the two Armenian republics in that sphere were discussed. Defense Minister of Artsakh Karen Abrahamyan was also present at the meeting.

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan




Asbarez: Step by Step We Reached Mt. Ararat’s Summit

BY ADROUSHAN ANDY ARMENIAN

Forty-seven of us gathered in Yerevan, Armenia. Diverse backgrounds from 12 different countries, but one common objective: to summit Mount Ararat.

It took us a torturous 16-hour bus ride to cross both borders of Georgia and Turkey and arrive in Dogubayazit, where we spent the night prior to our hike.

After six hours of hiking, we reached Base Camp One at 10,500 feet — that’s where the singing and dancing from our 5 a.m. bus ride continued.

The following morning, we started our ascent to Base Camp Two at 13,800 feet. With limited space, and almost 90 people — as we shared the camp with two other groups — we were left with very little room to pitch our tents in the small and rocky area.

We napped right after dinner in order to wake up at midnight to start our final ascent to the summit with our headlamps glaring and canteens full of tea. We reached the beautifully shining, snow-covered Mount Ararat summit at 7 a.m., at an altitude of 16,850 feet.

We celebrated at the summit for an hour. After the initial emotional moments of hugging each other, the group gathered to dance the Armenian “Kochari.”

This summer held a record number of climbers, estimated at 2,000 people. Of the 2,000, 60 percent were Armenians.

We wish that, one of these days, and hopefully soon, Turkish authorities declare Mount Ararat a “Free Mountain” so people — young and old — could climb the Biblical mountain with no government restrictions.

Adroushan Andy Armenian is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Las Vegas.




Asbarez: Sona Van’s ‘Libretto for the Desert’ is Now Available Online

Sona Van (left) with actress Beata Pozniak

LOS ANGELES—Award winning Hollywood actress Beata Pozniak has narrated the most famous work of Armenian-American poetess Sona Van, who speaks about the Armenian Genocide and the phenomenon of war and violence to the English-speaking world. The presentation ceremony of the audio version of the book “Libretto for the Desert” took place at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, CA.

In “Libretto for the Desert,” Van’s subject is the Armenian Genocide, also known as the Great Catastrophe. Her parents and grandparents were driven into exile due to this horrific event. Van’s poems reflect a personal connection to this history, as well as the universality of loss, persecution, and intolerance.

Sona Van addressing attendees at her audiobook presentation

Van is the winner of numerous international prizes and medals, including the Homer – European Medal of Poetry. “Libretto for the Desert” has come a long way. It has been presented around the world including China, Kenya, Republic of Africa, Russia, India, and, recently, at the Medellin of South America during the world’s largest international poetry festivals and presentations. This book has been translated in 23 languages worldwide.

Van uses poetry as her instrument, saying it is “the most useful tool to rescue compassion, empathy and tolerance — to find common ground for a dignified coexistence and mutual survival of the human species in an otherwise endangered universe.”

A scene from the presentation of Van’s “Libretto for the Desert”

“For me, the words life and happiness cannot be separated, because one becomes meaningless without the other. I declare war as personal enemy of women since it operates on our sons’ young blood and muscles, taking away our God-given right to be happy. Therefore, the women have the strongest motive to kill the war machine. I hope that this audiobook will help me connect with more women with the same passion to stop the war machine. I believe the collective female power is the most potent and least utilized force, and if properly used it can totally change the world. In the present era, when we are all so helplessly hooked to digital web and social media, the audio book technology offers the most powerful alternative to reading. Audiobook technology must be appreciated, because it takes us back to the roots of poetry as an oral tradition,” stated Van.

In 1994, actress, poet, and activist Beata Poźniak introduced the first bill in the history of U.S. Congress to officially recognize International Women’s Day in the United States. In her work, Poźniak is drawn to strong female characters, both on-screen and in the audiobook world. Her roles, which have ranged from the first female President of the world on television to Catherine the Great, are a testament to her values as a human rights activist.

Sona Van during an interview at the Grammy Museum

“Sona Van is a wonderful person, a wonderful poet. I love the power of the words with which she builds her poetry. It is universal and can appeal to different generations. It is crucial that many generations will listen and read the book ‘Libretto for the Desert,’ and the audio book is the most suitable one for the modern generation. It is essential to see that a woman of strong character speaks up with the voice of another generation. Her words mean so much, and I am so glad that I gained her trust to narrate her extremely powerful words that touch many people. I loved the images, and they stayed with me for a long time. What is nice about Sona’s book: that the poetry is dedicated to the victims of genocide and war for many people from around the world. I am a victim of war in Poland by the soviet regime at that time. My parents also went through the second World War so there are many stories there, and we are here to pass on the message through the power of word. We hope, that it will never ever happen again, and I think women have that power,” noted Pozniak.

This moving audio experience is the result of a profound collaboration of friendship and philosophy between author, Sona Van, and narrator, Beata Poźniak. The women are the recipients of the 2019 International Maria Konopnicka Prize, which promotes literature and cultural achievements of outstanding women. Van and Poźniak are women’s rights activists, and their strong stance against war and genocide is paramount in guiding their lives and creative endeavors. The two met in New York through a mutual Armenian poet friend, and as Poźniak describes of her experience reading Van’s poetry, “I kept hearing a voice full of pain and anguish, but also hope. The vivid images wouldn’t let go of me. This is when the idea came about to create an audiobook.” The result is a powerful, sensory experience where voice and language combine to fully envelop the reader.

Sona Van (left) with Columnist Harut Sassounian

Based on this book by Sona Van, world-renowned Armenian musician Vache Sharafyan wrote his music for the orchestra called “Requiem for the Desert,” which became one of the cornerstone illustrations of the audio book. The world premiere of this requiem will take place this fall in Yerevan, Armenia.

Harut Sassounian, a publisher and editor-in-chief of the California Courier, highlighted the political role of art: “It is wonderful that art tells about our Genocide. It is an easier way to convey our history of Genocide and the demand for justice rather than our political work.”

Sona Van signing copies of her audiobook

Sona Van’s “Libretto for the Desert” is now available on online bookstores, including Amazon, Audible, and Blackstone Library.

An Exceptional Trip to Brussels, Belgium

The Armenian marching band from Yerevan in Brussels’ “Grand Place”

BY CATHERINE YESAYAN

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore.”—Anne Lamott

The quote above resonates with me, because writing is my excuse to travel. For the last seven years, I have traveled and done some exploring with a focus on Armenian culture in different countries. This time my travels took me to Brussels, Belgium.

If it were not for my interest in Armenian culture, I most probably would not have considered a visit to Brussels. I stayed there for four days, and, I must say, it was the most fruitful visit — in terms of gaining knowledge about the Armenian community there — when compared to my previous trips. In Brussels, I connected with several young individuals who were directly involved with the Armenian community.

Catherine Yesayan at the Armenian Apostolic Church in Ixelles, Belgium

Prior to leaving for Brussels, I contacted the daughter of a friend of mine, hoping to get some leads on the Armenian community in Brussels, where she lives. She explained that, although she has no contact with the Armenian community, she receives a monthly newsletter about local Armenians. She was able to give me an email address from the back of the newsletter, which was incredibly, and helped me plan my trip accordingly.

Before I elaborate further about my trip to Brussels, I’d like to tell you about the remarkable history behind the Armenians of Belgium.

Through preliminary internet research, I learned that, in the annals of history, it was recorded that as early as the 4th century, Armenian priests, merchants, and intellectuals had arrived in Belgium.

Similarly, in the ancient Belgian religious records, there’s a reference to a Saint called Servais, as the first Armenian bishop to visit the town of Tongres, which is east of Brussels.

From the year 1340, Armenian merchants were authorized to sell carpets in Brussels. Armenians had their own trading centers, as well. They imported cotton goods, spices, perfumes, and other materials from the Orient. They also exported European goods to markets in the East. The record of their presence continues well into the 15th century.

Starting from the turn of the 20th century, some Armenians in Belgium were involved in the diamond trade and they were primarily based in the city of Antwerp, which processes 84 percent of the world’s mined diamonds.

Another notable aspect of Armenians in Belgium was that they once held a monopoly over the tobacco industry. Davros, Arax, Marouf, and Enfi were the only cigarette brands made in Belgium. Behind each of these names were Armenian families, mostly immigrants from Turkey, who had settled in Belgium at the turn of the century.

Catherine Yesayan with Harout Chahinian at the Hay Taad office

Today the exact number of Armenians in Belgium is unknown, but it’s estimated to be about 30,000.

I arrived on a Saturday afternoon by an express train from Paris to Brussels. I had booked a room in Ixelles, where the Armenian Apostolic Church is located.

My host helped me find the exact location of the church on a map, and she gave me directions on how to get there. The next morning, I walked to the church.

The church, which was a 15-minute walk away from where I was stating, was almost full to its capacity — perhaps 200 people. It was a “full throttle” service. There were about six or seven deacons and altar servers. An eloquent choir accompanied the sacraments.

After the liturgy, attendees lined up to share communion and receive a small piece of the blessed bread. To me, the true devotion of the whole parish was evident. Afterwards, everybody was invited to gather at the community room for refreshments.

I had arranged to meet with Karen Tadevosyan, the President of the Armenian Center in Brussels after the service. He arrived as we had planned and drove me to the Armenian Center, called “Hay Doun.”

Karen had arrived from Armenia in 1997 in his early 20s. Now, in his 40s, he’s adjusted to life in Belgium. He’s married and has two daughters.

Catherine Yesayan with Father Zadik Avedikian

The Hay Doun was located on the other side of the town. It took us a little over an hour to visit the center and return to Ixelles, where we met with the Reverend for a late lunch.

On the way, Karen spoke about the Armenian community and their activities. He explained how, in 1921, a small number of Armenians of Belgium came together and formed a society, unrelated to any political party, but with their own parliamentarian rules. Today, the rules are still in effect.

Among the activities of the Armenian Society is the celebration of the Independence Day of Armenia from the Soviet Union on September 21. Every year, on that day, the Society invites a musician from Armenia to perform in Brussels. This year, Armenian Duduk Master Harutyun Chkolyan is invited to perform. Chkolyan is famous for his stylings on the duduk, and other Armenian and Near Eastern wind instruments such as the zurna, ney flute, and clarinet.

Armenians have had another independence day, which occurred a hundred years ago, in 1918. In fact, that was the first independence of Armenia since the Middle Ages. However, it only lasted two years, until it was overcome by the communist regime in 1920.

To celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia, last year, the Society arranged an Armenian festival, and also a concert at the City Hall — the historical main square of Brussels, the “Grand Place.” As a highlight, they had invited the girls marching drum band from Yerevan to come perform. To facilitate that, they accommodated 18 girls into different homes.

The symbol of Brussels is a statue of a naked little boy named Manneken, urinating into a fountain’s basin. That day, as part of the celebration, the statue of Manneken was draped with an Armenian traditional outfit. Today, the costume is kept at the Brussels’ museum.

“The celebration of the 100th anniversary and the performance of the marching drums were exceptional,” said Karen.

Catherine Yesayan in front of the building of European Commission, which is near the Hay Taad office

On our way to the Hay Doun and back, we talked about many aspects of Armenians, which I have narrowed down. I’ll start by stating that today’s Armenians arrived to Belgium in different waves.

The first wave was at the turn of the 20th century, to flee the atrocities of the Turkish government. The second wave was in 40s and 50s from the Middle East. Another surge happened in the 70s and early 80s, which included Armenians of Istanbul. Then, in the 90s, Armenians from Armenia arrived.

The Armenians from Armenia have established several businesses. Among them are five Armenian grocery stores and two pizzerias. The pizzerias are Pizza Sako and Pizza Lilo, which recently was awarded as the best Pizza place in Brussels.

In Brussels and other cities, there are seven Saturday Armenian language schools. In the higher education system, there are about 200 Armenian students.

Although it was a Sunday, and there was no traffic, it took us 20 minutes, to reach the Hay Doun. Karen said the first Hay Doun opened its doors in 1960, in Ixelles.

Catherine Yesayan with Karen Tatevosyan at the Khachkar in Ixelles, Belgium

This new center was inaugurated in 2013. “They had bought the center For 800,000 euros and had spent two years to remodel it. Today, the center is worth two million euros,” Karen said.

The first floor encompasses a small auditorium, a restaurant, and a library with a multitude of Armenian books. There’s also a banquet hall which accommodates about 300 people — a source of income for the center.

The second floor is occupied by the Sevan Armenian language school, which was founded in 1984. The school runs classes on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The language school has 90 students and four classrooms. The kindergarten occupies two rooms, which are furnished with colorful furniture.

Both Eastern and Western Armenian are taught at the school. Every year, they have their end of the year “handless” concert.

Besides the usual reading and writing in Armenian, the kids learn about Armenian history. The older children have opportunities to learn oratory skills, and they have chess classes, too.

Once a week, Gandzag Armenian dance school uses the Center for their dance practice. There are two other dance groups in Brussels. Also, on Saturdays, Armenians have two hours of radio time in Brussels.

After visiting the Hay Doun, Karen and I returned to Ixelles to meet father Avedikian for a late lunch at a nearby restaurant. I had the opportunity to ask him about the church, which was inaugurated on May 6, 1990.

He said that there are four to five hundred active members at the church. The design of the church is influenced by the Church of Sourp Khach on the Island of Akhtamar, in Lake Van in Turkey.

“For the last five years, the students of Brussels’ architectural school have visited the church to observe the architectural features, especially the exposure of light and the character of the inside arches,” noted Karen.

From l to r: Lori Mahmourian, Nicolas Tavitian, Catherine Yesayan

After a pleasant lunch Karen drove me to the Henri Michaux Square, in Ixelles, to see the Khachkar (stone-cross) that was erected there as a tribute to the Armenian Genocide.

He said, “Every year on April 24, Armenians and some dignitaries gather at that square, to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. After the remembrance ceremony at the square, the delegation meets at Saint Michael Cathedral, one of the most important landmarks of Brussels, and from there with loudspeakers in their hands, and tricolor Armenian flags, they march to the Turkish embassy and demand justice.”

As part of commemoration of April 24, an annual concert takes place at the Hay Doun.

The following day, I dedicated my morning to a walking city tour, which was fantastic. I found myself in the city’s famous square called “Grand Place,” which is considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe. Since I was a child, I had seen this ornate square in pictures. Being there in person was sensational.

Later in the day, I met with Lori Mahmourian and Nicolas Tavitian. Both individuals are part of the “Committee of Armenians of Belgium,” which runs the Armenian Society and publishes a monthly Newslettter/Bulletin, called HAY. This is the same bulletin that my friend’s daughter referred me to for leads in Brussels.

The Hay Doun plaque

Lori and Nicolas are, respectively, fourth and third generation Armenians in Belgium. Lori speaks little Armenian, and yet she’s so enthusiastic about her heritage. She’s an urban planner and works on preservation of historic buildings in Brussels.

She told me that her mother and younger brother are taking private lessons to learn Armenian. Her father was the president of the “Armenian Society” for a few terms.

Nicolas is the current President of the Armenian Society. His grandparents arrived at the turn of the 20th century from Turkey. He talks in the Western Armenian dialect. Very recently, Nicolas visited Turkey, where he climbed Mt. Ararat.

On my last day in Brussels, I went to see Harout Chirinian at the office of “Hay Taad” of Europe which was situated in close proximity to the building of the European Commission. The initials for the office are E.A.F.J.D which stands for European Armenian Federation of Justice & Democracy.

Harout walked from his office to the metro station to greet me. He was born in 1988, in Lebanon, and received his higher education in France.

Before coming to Brussels and becoming the PR officer of the EAFJD (since 2017), he was the President of AYF France, which is called “FRA Nor Seround.”

EAFJD is an advocacy group and the main interlocutor of the EU institutions, promoting Armenian issues. Their main activities are as follows:

1. International Condemnation, Recognition & Reparations of the Armenian Genocide.
2. The Strengthening of EU-Armenian ties.
3. Defending the fundamental rights of the people of Artsakh and their right for self-determination.
4. Breaking the isolation imposed by Azerbaijan to Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
5. Promoting Parliamentary diplomacy between the European Parliament and both Armenian republics, mainly by inviting members of the European Parliament to visit Artsakh.
6. Fostering democracy in Artsakh by organizing, among other things, Election Observation Missions
7. Coordinating the activities of the Committees for the defense of the Armenian Cause in Europe.

Mannekin, the symbol of Brussels, wearing an Armenian costume

The office in Brussels has been around since 2002. Each year, they welcome a number of young interns from Armenia to work at the office so they can learn about the relations of the EU and Armenia.

The Armenian community was beyond my expectation. I was truly delighted to meet all these young individuals who were so deeply connected to their roots and ancestry.

Brussels is the capital of the European Union. In addition to politics, it is also known for its “dreamy” chocolates, warm waffles, and cartoons. Yes, I learned that the comic series Tintin and the Smurfs originated in Belgium, by Belgian artists.

It’s only fitting here to tell you that, while I was in Brussels, I heard that Arman Nur’s sculpture of “The Fly” was touring the world and it was in Belgium at the time I was there.

The massive — human-size — sculpture of “The Fly” made its debut at the 2017 Florence Biennale, winning the prestigious Lorenzo il Magnifico Gold Medal.

Armand Nur was born in 1971 in Yerevan. Today, Nur is widely regarded as one of Armenia’s most innovative artists.

The sculpture was exhibited at Art Nocturne Knocke, in Knokke-Heist in (West Flanders) Belgium, beginning on August 10. The place was about one and half hours outside of Brussels, by the beach. Art Nocturne Knocke is one of Europe’s most important art and antiquities fair.

Unfortunately, I learned about the exhibition on the last two days of my stay in Brussels. If I had only known ahead of time, I may have been able to make arrangements to go see “The Fly!”

This was a rundown of my trip to Brussels, which proved to be more than successful. I hope you enjoyed spending your precious time with me.

ANCA-WR Completes Community Road Trip Through the American Northwest

GLENDALE—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region undertook a five-city, four-state community road trip through the American northwest to organize meet and greets and ANCA360 presentations for the community, as well as to hold meetings with community organizations and Congressional offices during the August Recess month. ANCA-WR Executive Director Armen Sahakyan and Government Affairs Coordinator Serob Abrahamian, joined by community activist and author Liyah Babayan, visited Armenian American communities in Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Boise, ID; Twin Falls, ID; and Salt Lake City, UT.

“Grassroots activation and development is a strategic priority of the ANCA Western Region,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian. “Our organization’s regional coverage transcends 19 states and close to 30 chapters. In the coming months, we will pay particular attention to our communities outside of southern California, visiting them regularly and equipping them with the necessary knowledge and tools to undertake effective advocacy on the local, state, and federal levels to advance the Armenian Cause.”

The road trip commenced on Sunday, August 18 with a visit and presentation at the Holy Resurrection Armenian Apostolic Church in Seattle. ANCA-WR representatives provided an ANCA360 presentation, discussing the wide-ranging activities and initiatives of the organization, and answered questions from the audience. Liyah Babayan discussed her new book, “Liminal: A Refugee Memoir,” which documents her family’s survival story of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Soviet Azerbaijan and their journey and adaptation to life in the United States as refugees in the early 1990s. A short video about the local church and Washington community is available on the ANCA-WR Facebook page.

“Seattle, Portland, Boise, Twin Falls, and Salt Lake City personify the mosaic of Armenians from all over the world — speaking multiple languages, scattered from the motherland by persecution, planting seeds of unity through faith, culture, and identity,” stated Liyah Babayan. “My love for my people deepened as I witnessed how they rebuilt communities out of absolutely nothing, even with the geographical disadvantage and disconnection from the greater diaspora in California.”

The following day — joined by local community leaders — delegation members met with the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA-9) as well as the office of Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7). Some of the legislative items in focus included the co-sponsorship of the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice resolution H.Res.296, Artsakh Travel and Communication resolution H.Res.190, National Defense Authorization Act supporting the security of Armenia and Artsakh, etc.

The next destination was Portland, OR, where local community members congregated at the St. Kevork Armenian Church for a meet and greet and an ANCA360 presentation. Some traveled for over three hours to be present at the gathering and the subsequent presentation. Earlier that same day, delegation members and local priest Rev. Mashdots Keshishian met with Representative Blumenauer’s office (D-OR-3) as well as with the Catholic Archdiocese of Oregon to discuss the priorities of the local Armenian American community. A short videoabout the local church and our Oregon community is available on the ANCA-WR Facebook page.

Idaho stops included Boise and Twin Falls, where community members and leaders convened to discuss the local priorities as well as plans for political advocacy in the Gem State. Both communities have erected Armenian Genocide memorial monuments, commemorating the innocent martyrs of this international crime against humanity. A video about the Armenian Genocide memorial monument in downtown Boise is available on the ANCA-WR Facebook page.

ANCA-WR staff and Liyah Babayan met with the leadership of the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University to discuss matters pertaining to foreign policy. Joined by local community leader Mark Abajian, the delegation then met with Christian Welp, the Director of Diocesan Services at the Catholic Diocese of Boise as well as with the office of Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID-1).

The road trip concluded in Salt Lake City, Utah with an informal community get together at a local coffee shop. Delegation members, joined by local community leaders, met with Jean Hill, the Director of Office of Life, Justice and Peace at the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City as well as with the offices of Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT-4) and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).

ANCA-WR Road Trips will continue in the coming months to other areas of the vast Western Region. Stay tuned for details.

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.

Revisiting an ARF Member’s Murder 18 Years Later

A murder of an ARF member in Paplavok

A witness at the time of the murder, whose testimony was thrown out, says he is willing to submit his testimony again

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The murder case was officially closed in 2002. However, the brutal beating death of Javakhk resident and Armenian Revolutionary Federation member Poghos Poghosian at a popular Yerevan café on September 25, 2001 and the subsequent trial of one of then-president Robert Kocharian’s bodyguards, Aghamal Harutunyan, who received a suspended sentence for involuntary manslaughter, has not faded from memory.

Late on the evening of September 24, 2001, Poghosian and his friend Stepan Nalbandyan were at the popular Aragast Café, known as the Paplavok jazz club in Yerevan when Kocharian and his entourage of heavily-armed bodyguards entered the café accompanied by Charles Aznavour. Upon their departure, Poghosian reportedly approached the Kocharian entourage and said “What’s up Rob (Privet Rob),” (short for Robert). Minutes after this encounter, seven Kocharian bodyguards, among them Harutunyan, who is known as “Kuku,” stormed the café’s subterranean lavatory where they allegedly beat Nalbandyan and Poghosian, who was later pronounced dead.

At the time of the trial, the ARF in Armenia called the official investigation “flawed” and said that the evidence in the case was not properly being examined.

Steve Newton is the British witness whose testimony was thrown out in 2002 because it was in English

British citizen Stephen Newton, who at the time was working on European Tacis project, was also at Paplavok that evening and witnessed the brutal beating of Poghosian and Nalbandyan.

Newton offered his testimony in a lengthy statement, which later was thrown out by Mnatsakan Martirosyan, the presiding judge of “Kuku”’s 2002 trial, because he said it was in English. He forwarded his testimony to several international watchdog organization, one of which, Human Rights Watch, closely monitored the case.

“Although dozens witnessed as the bodyguards began to beat Poghosian on the terrace of the Aragast café, fear of retribution and a resulting conspiracy of silence have starved the investigation of reliable testimony,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement in December 2001.

Newton is back in Armenia and in an interview on Wednesday told Azatutyun.am that he would be willing to submit his testimony again, if prosecutors were interested in reexamining the case. He also said that the day after the Paplavok event, the UK Ambassador at the time arranged for him to leave Armenia for Romania, since he feared for his life.

“I stood up and ran to the toilet, entered, and as I went down the stairs I saw a powerfully built, 35-40 year-old man beating Stepan Nalbandian. He thumped Nalbandian in the head. He held Nalbandian’s collar with his left hand and was about to thump him again with his right fist. I put my hand up to the assailant’s face and shouted `Stop this’. The assailant looked me straight in the eyes and stopped beating Nalbandian. He brushed past me up the toilet steps and went out and I went two meters forward to see the feet of Poghosian protruding from the toilet cubicle. I approached closer and saw Poghosian lying on the floor, face up, next to the toilet. It was clear to me that Poghosian had been very badly beaten around the head, probably kicked, and a large lump on his left temple, about the size of a thumb, indicated a possible blow from a pistol or similar blunt instrument. The skin all around his eyes was puffed and swelled up like that of a boxer after a fight in which he has taken a lot of hard blows to the face. In fact, because of the swelling you could hardly see Poghosian’s eyes, and the swelling of his face generally made it about twenty percent larger than normal. It was a sickening, terrible sight, the memory of which I still find deeply disturbing. Poghosian was still just alive at this point – frothing in his mouth, and making gurgling, rasping noises. Because he was wearing clothes I could not see any other injuries on him, nor could I see the back of his head. I do not recall seeing much blood. I told the guards, who all appeared shorter than the man who had been attacking Stepan Nalbandian on the stairs, `You have killed him. Get a doctor to this man now,’” Newton said in his statment.

Aghamal Harutunyan, also known as “Kuku” received a suspended sentence for killing Poghosian

“The guards were joined by people from the President’s office, who entered from outside. About five of these new people appeared. They were young men. I recognized them as belonging to the president’s staff both because some were wearing special radio earpieces, and because I knew at least one of them by his face. They shouted phrases to the guards that included the repeated word: `Britanski! Britanski!’ I suppose they were telling the guards that I was British and that they should leave. I shouted that the man (Poghosian) needed medical attention, as he was unconscious. The President’s men spoke to me in English. One of them said to me: `Don’t worry. We will deal with this. You should leave now’. Very keyed up, distrustful of their motives, and not wanting to leave Poghosian alone with his tormentors and their friends, I replied: ` I am not leaving here until you bring an ambulance and …(because I could not think of anything better at that point) the British ambassador.’ During this verbal exchange the guards who had been involved in the attack left the toilet,” added Newton in his deposition.

On Thursday, Arevik Khachatryan, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Prosecutor General’s office said that her office was examining the details of Newton’s claims in the press. Last September, Andranik Poghosian, the victim’s brother called on officials to reopen the case.

ANCA-WR, ARS-WUS meet with LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger

ANCA-WR and ARS Western US leader with LA County Supervisor Katheryn Barger

GLENDALE—Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region and the Armenian Relief Society – Western US met with the Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and members of her staff to tour the ARS Social Services headquarters in Glendale and learn more about the critical services they have been providing to the local community for decades.

“As the largest grassroots advocacy organization in the western U.S., the welfare and safety of the Armenian American community is one of our top priorities, and we try to bridge the relationship between community organizations and government offices to address these issues,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “We are proud of all the work that the ARS has been undertaking for over a century both in the Diaspora as well as in the Homeland providing critical services to our people, and we greatly appreciate that Supervisor Barger understands the difficult issues facing our community, from homelessness to mental health, housing to employment, and other challenges. We thank Supervisor Barger and her team for taking the time to learn more about the ARS Social Services program and to consider the growing funding needs that these vital services require.”

A scene from the meeting with Supervisor Barger

“The Armenian Relief Society serves our community with resources in education, social, career, and family services, cultural and language engagement, and humanitarian aid,” said LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “It was a pleasure to meet their team and see how they’re engaging residents of all ages with diverse needs.”

ARS Social Services Director of Operations Talar Aintablian led a tour of the facilities and gave a comprehensive presentation of the wide-ranging programs and initiatives – all provided free of charge to the community – that the center undertakes in offering critical support to a broad demographic, ranging from youth mentorship to English language classes for the elderly. The parties discussed avenues to support this important mission and how to expand the reach and the breadth of the services provided.

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.

168: Armenia announces starting lineup for EURO 2020 qualifier against Italy

12:13 | September 5 2019
Category
Sport

Armenia head coach Armen Gyulbudaghyants has announced the starting lineup for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Italy due in Yerevan tonight.

The Football Federation of Armenia had earlier said they expect a fully packaged stadium as all tickets have been sold out.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is expected to arrive in Armenia to watch the match at the stadium.

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168: Government approves VAT exemption for imports of new cars

Category
BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The Government of Armenia has approved a bill on granting VAT exemption to importing companies for the imports of up to 4-year old vehicles from January 1, 2020.

The law will be in force until December 31, 2020 if passed in parliament.

The move aims at encouraging the import of vehicles which have lower omissions and to mitigate the effect of new rates that will come into force as part of the EEU customs rates.