California Courier Online, June 17, 2004

California Courier Online, June 17, 2004

1 – Commentary
Azeri Student Responds
With Effusive Apologies
By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Russian Paintings
Sale Begins June 30
In West Hollywood
3 – Western Prelacy Executive and
Religious Council Elect Officers
4 – Mesrobian School Team Named
CIF State Scholastic Champion
5 – Armenia Marriott Opens Doors
As Five-Star Branded Hotel
6 – Smacking a Sister Can Sometimes be a Good Thing
1 – Commentary
Azeri Student Responds
With Effusive Apologies

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
In contrast to the obscene and threatening e-mail Rauf Zeynalov (an Azeri
university student) had sent on April 30th to Garen Vrtanesyan, the web
master of an Armenian web-site, he sent in response to our last week’s
column an e-mail full of regrets and apologies.
In his e-mail addressed to the “readers of The California Courier,”
Zeynalov repeatedly expressed his regrets for offending Armenians. In fact,
in his letter, the word “apology” appears 12 times and the word “sorry” 4
times. Here is his lengthy and rambling letter:
“I am writing in order to ask for apology for a recent incident happened
with an e-mail I send (sic) to Ms. Karen [Mr. Garen] Vrtanesyan. First of
all, I would like to ask for sincere apologies to everyone who has been
affected and hurt from my letter. I understand that a lot of people are
hurt because of my words, and I am ready to apologize to everyone, and I
hope one day I will have your forgiveness. With this letter, I ask for
apology of all readers of The California Courier, and for apology of
everyone that has been harmed from my words.
“Second, I would like to explain the situation and why this incident
happened. At the time of writing the letter to Vrtanesyan, I lost myself
due to my emotions and I forgot that the language I was using should never
be used. As everyone knows the Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and
Armenia has resulted in death of lots of innocent people from both sides.
And during these conflicts, as a resident of Karabakh, we lost our
relatives, house, and assets and became a refugee in Baku, Azerbaijan. We
have been settled in a hostel in the capital of Azerbaijan, with four
family members. All of these problems made me very emotional and when I
read an article in about an Azerbaijani soldier, I
became victim of my emotions when I was writing to Vrtanesyan. All of
these reasons that I have mentioned above made me quite emotional and made
me forget what kind of language I was using in my letter to Vrtanesyan.
“But after analyzing the case deeply, I understood that whatever the
reasons are, I should not use that type of language with anyone. So I would
like to ask my sincere apologies. I am not such type of person who is using
that kind of language and I would like to say that the language type which
was used by me was only and only result of my emotions for that time. In
order to prove myself and to show that I am not that kind of person, and I
am really sorry for being victim of my emotions, I would like to apologize
to Vrtanesyan and to all readers of The California Courier. The incident
that happened with Vrtanesyan was due to losing myself in my emotions for
very short time. I regretted writing that letter immediately after I send
(sic) it, but it was too late, because a lot of people were hurt from my
action. I want to ask sorry (sic) to everyone, and I hope that everyone
accepts my apologies.
“I am really aware of my action, I am really aware of the damage my actions
caused, and I would like to ask once more apologies of everyone, for using
slang type of language in my letter to Vrtanesyan. I am extremely sorry for
my action and I would like to say that I am also ready to ask for apologies
to every individual.
“I understand that my letter has affected many people. Therefore, I am open
to ask sorry (sic) to every person and every community that has been
affected from my letter, which, I emphasize, was written in a moment when I
was victim of my emotions.
“Again I want to ask my deep apology to everyone for the incident, and I
can assure everyone, that not only this kind but also any kind of incident
will never happen again. I hope you will accept my apologies very sincerely
and will take them into consideration.”
It is not very often that we get a letter of apology from a Turk or an
Azeri for sending an offensive or threatening e-mail message. While we
commend Zeynalov for apologizing and recognizing his mistake, we are
dismayed that he uses the Karabagh conflict as an excuse for his
inexcusable action. We cannot overlook the fact that his apology may be an
attempt to have his suspension from the American University in Bulgaria
reversed and is trying to save his full scholarship from Soros Foundation’s
Open Society Institute. His contention that he “regretted writing the
offensive e-mail immediately after sending it” does not hold water. He sent
an apology six weeks later, only after realizing that it was in his best
interest to do so.
Finally, a psychoanalyst should evaluate and treat Zeynalov to ensure that
he is totally rid of his demons, before he is readmitted to the University,
and before Armenians can forgive his hate crime.

2 – Russian Paintings
Sale Begins June 30
In West Hollywood
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – A one-day sale of Russian paintings will take place
June 30 at the “Crystal” Restaurant in West Hollywood, organized by Zaven
Torossian of the Noreks Fine Art and Antique Trading Co. The exhibit and
sale will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Paintings include Russian impressionists from the 1930s through the 1980s,
and post war Soviet paintings from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Included in the one-day sale will be paintings from Pushkarev, Abramov,
Frolov, Starshinov, and many famous academicians whose artworks and
biographies are listed in many well-known publications including British
art expert Matthew Cullern Bown’s “A Dictionary of 20th Century Russian and
Soviet Painters, 1900-1980.”
“We have a certified file on each artwork and then provide a certificate of
authenticity and provenance from an acknowledged expert,” Torossian said.
“We are continuously expanding our number of clients throughout the world,”
he added.
The sale will be held only on June 30, at the restaurant which is located
at 7901 Santa Monica Blvd., (corner of Fairfax).
For more information, call Torossian at (818) 766-8317.
3 – Western Prelacy Executive and
Religious Council Elect Officers
GLENDALE, CA – The newly elected Religious and Executive Councils of the
Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America held their
first meetings on June 1 at the Prelacy.
The Religious Divan was elected by the Council meeting in the morning, and
presided by Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
The following members were elected unanimously for the positions in the
Religious Divan: Rev. Fr. Viken Vassilian, Chairman, Rev. Fr. Ardag
Demirjian, Secretary; and advisors, Very Rev. Fr. Vrouyr Demirjian, Rev.
Fr. Hrant Yeretsian, Rev. Fr. Vazken Atmajian, Rev. Fr. Vahan Gos-danian,
Rev. Fr. Razmig Kha-chadourian, Rev. Fr. Khoren Babooshian, and Rev. Fr.
Nareg Pehlivanian.
Holding its meeting the same evening, the Executive Council also elected
its officers. The meeting was also attended by Khajag Dikijian, member of
the Central Executive Council of the Catholicosate of the Great House of
The new Prelacy Executive Officers are: Hrayr H. Balian, Chairman, Hagop
Der Meger-dichian, M.D., Vice Chairman, Hagop Yedalian, Secretary, and
Vahan Bzdikian, Treasurer. Ad-visors are: Armand Keosian, Esq., Arsen
Danielian, Esq., Sahag Arslanian, MD, Peklar Pilavjian, Jack Gahuejian,
Boghos Sas-sounian, and Garbis Bezjian.
4 – Mesrobian School Team Named
CIF State Scholastic Champion
PICO RIVERA, CA – Armenian Mesrobian High School earned its fourth CIF
State Scholastic Championship with the highest team grade point average in
girls’ basketball, in competition with 1600 other California schools.
Mesrobian also claimed their 8th and 9th CIF Southern Section Academic
award during ceremonies held last month at Angels Stadium in Anaheim in a
pre-game program.
5 – Armenia Marriott Opens Doors
As Five-Star Branded Hotel
BOSTON – Representing the largest US direct investment to date in the
Republic of Armenia, the historic Hotel Armenia, located in the heart of
the republic’s capital, Yerevan, will open its doors as a branded 5-star,
world-class hotel on June 14, following a multi-million dollar restoration.
The brainchild of a Boston-based group of American and other “Diaspora”
Armenians, the launching of the 225-room Armenia Marriott Hotel, Yerevan,
is a stunning accomplishment. The owner-investors defied all odds to manage
the privatization process, luring critical investment dollars and
instituting “best of” practices previously unknown in this Caucasus-region
nation, once a part of the Soviet Union.
Formed as a labor of love and ethnic pride, AK Development, the investor
group behind the Armenia Marriott Hotel, Yerevan, won crucial support from
the international financial community on a scope never before seen in
Armenia and helped pioneer the way for future investment there.
It is the first project in Armenia to receive funding through the Overseas
Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). AK Development, which paid $10.4
million for the hotel and attendant office and development parcels, secured
this funding for the $42 million project following a more than two-year due
diligence process.
Additionally, hotel operator Marriott International has participation on
the lending side, with $1.3 million of subordinated debt and a $3.75
million interest guarantee.
The seeds for the hotel project were sown when an earthquake struck Armenia
in 1988, causing 25,000 deaths and generating a worldwide humanitarian
response. A number of prominent American-Armenian business and community
leaders united to aid relief efforts. With Armenia’s independence in 1991,
and its difficult transition in the following decade, a group of these men
and women sought a more permanent way to aid their ethnic homeland. Their
goal: a trailblazing investment that would stimulate a newly emerging
market economy and become a model for future foreign investment.
Hotels were among the first to be privatized by the Armenian government. In
1997, the Hotel Armenia was offered for sale with several key stipulations.
Primary among them was that the winning bidder affiliate with an
internationally recognized hotel brand.
AK Development was formally created in 1997 to acquire and restore the
hotel. The investor group was represented by East-West Financial Services
of Washington, D.C., under the leadership of Carl Bazarian, and won the
bid, along with some key concessions from the Armenian government. Chief
among these were all licenses needed for hotel operation, the allowance of
foreign currency accounts and credit card charges, and a “non-compete”
agreement preventing interference with hotel business.
The investors closed on the property in August 1998, with additional
financing secured by early 2000 and renovations begun in 2001.
Crucial to the project’s success has been Marriott’s willingness to manage
operations and undertake a training program before the brand was in place.
Since the hotel remained open during renovations, Marriott installed an
interim team to manage the hotel “as-was” and almost immediately began
training the local workforce. Sixteen Armenian employees were sent abroad
for intensive management-level training, 14 of whom have returned to work
at the hotel. Marriott also helped other existing employees upgrade their
The Armenia Marriott Hotel, Yerevan, boasts 225 spacious guestrooms,
including 23 suites; approximately 14,000 sq. ft. of flexible banquet and
meeting space; five restaurants; fitness center and shops. Guests enjoy
access to modern services and conveniences, including guestrooms equipped
with remote-control TV, phones with voice mail and multiple data ports;
24-hour room service; concierge service and full business center.
AK Development’s managing partner is Paul Korian, of Massachusetts, a
founding management team member of Staples. Other investors are: Gravestar,
Inc., a Cambridge-based asset management and real estate development firm
led by Deborah Ciolfi and representing Carolyn Mugar, a leader in
Armenian-American causes; siblings Charles M. Talanian and Gail Talanian
O’Reilly, owners/operators of commercial and residential properties in
Boston; brothers Nishan and Kevork Atinizian, partners in a shopping mall
and other real estate ventures in Cambridge, Mass,; the Hotel Armenia
Holding Company, a Seattle-based investor group with interests in
Caucasus-region businesses; the Oruncakciel family, Los Angeles-area real
estate developers; and Zareh Zarikian, a Venezuelan businessman who
operates hotels and other businesses in South America.
For reservations, call Marriott toll-free 1-800-228-9290 in the US and
6 – Smacking a Sister Can Sometimes be a Good Thing
By Serge L. Samoniantz

WHITTIER, Calif. – Normally, when an older sister smacks the back of a
younger sibling, swift punishment inevitably follows.
Except when the slap in the back saves the child from choking on a piece of
candy. In that case, you rightfully get a medal of honor from a girl scout
troop, and plenty of media attention.
Nicolette Tosounian, 10, of Whittier, Calif., was honored last week by her
girl scout troop, Girls Scouts of the Spanish Trail, in a ceremony captured
on video by a news crew from Los Angeles’ KCAL-TV station and aired last
week on prime time.
Nicolette and her sister Dominique, 5, were on an Easter weekday outing
with the girl scouts troop #759 to the Wild Animal Park in San Diego,
accompanied by grandparents, Henry and Nadia Ajemian of Monte-bello.
Waiting for one of the trams, grandmother Ajemian noticed that Dominique
was having difficulty swallowing. Before the grandmother could move, when
Nicolette, remembering first-aid lessons from the girl scouts, rushed over
and slapped her younger sister in the back repeatedly until the offending
candy flew out of her mouth and hit the ground.
“And then, my sister went over and stomped on the candy with her foot,
until it was all broken up,” a smiling Dominique told the KCAL reporter on
Last week, Beverly Drane-Fowler, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Spanish
Trail, Troop 759, presented the Medal of Honor to Nicolette for her quick
reaction to her sister’s situation.
The local Red Cross also honored the young girl with a certificate of
achievement. Other honors and recognitions are forthcoming from the city of
La Habra and the city of Whittier.
The Tosounian sisters both attend Jordan Elementary School in Whittier.
Nicolette will be entering 5th grade in Fall 2004, while Dominique will
start on First Grade.
Proud parents are Antranig Tosounian, a police officer with the city of
Montebello, and Lily, a young mother of three girls.
The latest addition to the family is Aleena, born just last year.
Of the three siblings, the youngest is too new to know that her oldest
sisters is a quick-thinking little hero, and the other one just very lucky.


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