Armenian Reporter – 7/28/2007 – community section

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July 28, 2007 — From the community section

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1. In the shadow of the gas chambers, poetry offers a glimmer of light
* At Auschwitz and Sarajevo, Peter Balakian recalls the poet-victims of genocide

2. Andranik Teymourian is becoming a power player in world soccer (by
Antranig Dereyan)
* From Iran’s national team to England’s Premier League

3. Charlie Keyan, farmer and philanthropist, dies at 81 (by Paul Chaderjian)
* "A no-nonsense person who said it as it was"

4. Kevork Hovnanian pledges $500,000 to adopt a village
* Supports Rural Poverty Eradication Program
* FAR names Yerevan office after founder and life chair

5. Students are learning Armenian at Arizona State and then heading to
Armenia for immersion (by Allison Waters)

6. Crime Beat: Living the American Dream with medical fraud (by Jason Kandel)
* Couple sentenced to jail
* Son-in-law faces sentencing Monday

7. Crime Beat: Artur Solomonyan convicted in federal weapon-smuggling
case (by Jason Kandel)
* Faces 50 years in prison

8. Love, trust, companionship, canine style (pawed by Lory Tatoulian)
* Interspecies tenderness between dogs and Armenians

9. Marc Nichanian will be a visiting professor at Haigazian University
* Taught for years at Columbia

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1. In the shadow of the gas chambers, poetry offers a glimmer of light

* At Auschwitz and Sarajevo, Peter Balakian recalls the poet-victims of genocide

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, Poland — On Saturday, July 7, Peter Balakian
brought his poet’s voice to the first in a weeklong series of events
surrounding the biennial gathering of the International Association of
Genocide Scholars (IAGS).

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp in southern
Poland where a million Jews, a hundred thousand Poles, and countless
others were exterminated during World War II, he gave a reading of
poetry that dealt with the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.

"Because Auschwitz is Ground Zero for the Holocaust of the Jews of
Europe, it is a sobering place to read or speak," said the author of
the prize-winning books on the Armenian Genocide, Black Dog of Fate
and The Burning Tigris.

The-two day conference was sponsored by the IAGS — the major body
of scholars who study genocide — and the Auschwitz Jewish Center.
Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at Emory
University, and Michael Berenbaum, former president of the Spielberg
Foundation, were keynote speakers.

Mr. Balakian read poems from noted European Jewish poets Paul Celan,
Primo Levi, Nelly Sachs, and Dan Pagis; from the Polish poet Czelaw
Milosz; and the Armenian poet Vahan Tekeyan, as well as one of his own

In his prefatory remarks Mr. Balakian discussed the role poetry can
play in the aftermath of trauma and violence, and pointed to a poem’s
ability to offer "insight and imaginative depth about the event," as
well as "a slice of vivid and often sensuous memory." The poem, he
said, "leaves us something to hold on to in the face of such chaos, as
its particular language rings in our head. The poem is a nervous
system of words that captures something about the event."

"As Hitler was speaking to his military advisors and rallying them
to their next goal of taking over Poland, he used the example of the
Armenians to remind them that history remembers only the winners: ‘Who
today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?’" Mr.
Balakian said, referring to the famous statement Hitler made eight
days before invading Poland.

"Hitler’s statement also reminds us that memory is a moral issue,"
added Mr. Balakian, "and that the Armenian Genocide, which had been
committed with impunity by the Ottoman Turkish government, was an
instructive example of how a group of people could be exterminated."

Mr. Balakian went on to say that without the long history of
Christian anti-Semitism, it would not have been possible for the Nazis
to have mobilized their demonic scheme to annihilate the Jews. "I feel
as a Christian I must acknowledge this dreadful sin in Europe’s
Christian past," he said.

On Monday, July 9, at the opening of the IAGS conference in
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Balakian gave another poetry
reading, along with the Kurdish poet Choman Harde and the Bosnian poet
Abdullah Sidhart. The scholars group also made a pilgrimage to
Srebenica, to witness the 12th anniversary commemoration of the
massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnians there in 1995.

The conference was the seventh biennial meeting of the International
Association of Genocide Scholars. It was hosted by the Institute for
the Research of Crimes against Humanity and International Law of the
University of Sarajevo.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans on July 12 received
IAGS’s Raoul Wallenberg award. (See the July 14 edition of the
Reporter, page A2.)

Peter Balakian’s most recent book of poems is June-tree: New and
Selected Poems 1974-2000; he is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar
Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University.

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2. Andranik Teymourian is becoming a power player in world soccer

* From Iran’s national team to England’s Premier League

by Antranig Dereyan

BOLTON, England — In a part of the world where soccer is the king of
all sports, an Armenian is standing out in one of Europe’s best

Andranik Teymourian — born March 6, 1983, in Tehran, Iran — is
more than just a 24-year-old soccer player who plays midfield. He has
made European soccer history on three levels.

First, he has become only the second Armenian player ever to be
selected for the Iranian Senior National Soccer Team. The first was
Andranik Eskandarian, in 1978, a legendary player in Iran and later
the U.S. (and the father of Alecko Eskandarian, who currently plays
for the U.S. Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake).

Second, Teymourian is the only Christian player on the Iranian national squad.

Third, on a club level (that is, apart from his involvement on the
national team) Teymourian is the only Armenian player to play soccer
in England’s Premier League. He played for the Bolton Wanderers this
past season on a two-year deal.

Teymourian started his youth career in Iran with the Armenian
football club "Ararat" 1998; he then moved on to the Keshavarz club in
2000, and a season later he moved to his final Iranian youth club
team, Esteghlal Javan, leaving it in 2003 to start his professional
career at age 20.

He has played on every level of Iran’s national teams — divided
according to age as the under-15, under-17, and under-23 teams. At the
age of 22, Teymourian was one of the few players to play for the
under-23s and the senior Iranian team in the same year, going back and
forth between the two teams as he was needed.

His professional career started in the Iranian Premier League with
the Oghab club. In 2004 he left that club to play for his final
Iranian club team, Aboomoslem. He accumulated six goals over two
seasons in his two clubs.

* Eye-catching World Cup performance

A highlight of Teymourian’s national team career came during last
year’s World Cup 2006 in Germany.

Teymourian made international headlines at the time be being the
only Christian player on his team. Teymourian said the distinction
didn’t bother him. "I am very happy that as a Christian I am playing
for a Muslim team. I will put all my abilities at the disposal of the
nation and the team," he told The Associated Press during the World
Cup team press conferences.

At the same press conference, Iran’s head coach Branko Ivankovic
praised Teymourian’s devotion and level of play. "He is a wonderful
player. Very serious, very committed, I can rely on him to fulfill any
task. He will definitely play a big role on the national team for many
years to come," Ivankovic told The AP.

As it happened, Teymourian played exceptionally well during Iran’s
time in the World Cup. With hard work and good technique, he patrolled
the midfield for Team Iran. He proved hard to get by, and a strong
tackler. When he got the ball, he quickly passed to the forward line
and out of his defensive half. In the process, he gained notoriety and
respect in the eyes of an international audience.

One person whose eye was caught by Teymourian’s play was Sam
Allardyce, then head coach of England’s Bolton Wanderers.

"Andranik is a talented player and somebody who I believe will be
able to adapt to the tough demands of the Premier League," said
Allardyce to Sky Sports when the signing of Teymourian became final.

Compared to the game in Iran, English soccer has a faster pace and a
different style, and Teymourian needed some time to acclimate himself.
But when he got used to the English style after a couple of months in
the country, Teymourian became a solid defensive midfielder for the
Wanderers, and even scored two goals in one game against Premier
League rival club Wigan Athletic last February.

After five months in the Premiership, he told Sky Sports Channel: "I
could have carried on playing in Iran, and there would not have been a
problem. But I wanted to come over to Europe and show everyone what I
could do. There are a few players from my country in Germany. But no
one has really made it in England, which is a big incentive for me."

Andranik Teymourian is still young, but he’s already a great example
of Armenian determination. Whether playing in Iran or England, he
carries the Armenian torch with pride. As an Armenian he’s garnered a
lot of "firsts" — but with any luck, he won’t be the last.

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3. Charlie Keyan, farmer and philanthropist, dies at 81

* "A no-nonsense person who said it as it was"

by Paul Chaderjian

FRESNO, Calif. — Charles J. Keyan, philanthropist, educator, athlete,
coach, businessperson, and farmer, died on Monday, July 23, after
suffering a stroke. The Fresno native will be laid to rest today at
the Ararat Cemetery in Fresno.

Less than three months ago, Mr. Keyan donated $685,000 to Fresno’s
Armenian Community School, allowing the school to buy a much-needed
two-acre parcel in Clovis.

In announcing the unexpected and large donation, Principal Rosie
Bedrosian said the school board had decided to change the name of the
school to honor Mr. Keyan.

"We were hoping that he would attend the opening of school this
September and the official beginning of the Charlie Keyan Armenian
Community School," said School Board president Randy Baloian. "Sadly,
he passed away without seeing that."

Mr. Baloian says that the School Board, students, teachers,
Principal Bedrosian, and parents are very disappointed that Mr. Keyan
did not see first hand how his donation had already benefited the

"Because of his health condition," said Mr. Baloian, "he wasn’t able
to visit Fresno so that we could honor him in person.’

* Fresno State

After graduating Fowler High School, Mr. Keyan enrolled at Fresno
State and majored in physical education and history, coached track at
the private San Joaquin High School while still in college, and earned
his teaching credentials in 1948.

"Mr. Charlie Keyan was a major benefactor of the Armenian Studies
Program at Fresno State," said Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian of
California State University, Fresno, also known as Fresno State. "In
2004 he established a $100,000 endowed Keyan Scholarship Fund, the
interest of which provides for five scholarships annually to students
studying in the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State."

Mr. Mugrdechian says Mr. Keyan’s lifelong goal was to help young
people who needed financial assistance to attend college and complete
their education. The Armenian studies professor says Mr. Keyan was
devoted to the Armenian people and to education.

"He had been assisted when he was in college," said Mr. Mugrdechian.
"Mr. Keyan spoke to many of the students who had received his
scholarship. He encouraged them to complete their education."

* Community School

When Charlie Keyan made his first donation to the Armenian Community
School of Fresno, it was because of a referral from Mr. Mugrdechian.

"Charlie came into some money through investments and wanted to
donate to different Armenian institutions," said Mr. Bedrosian, the
principal, in an interview three months ago.

"He had donated to Mesrobian School in Los Angeles, and he was in
touch with the prelate, Mousegh Mardirossian. He had called up Fresno
State, since he was an alumnus of Fresno State and donated money for
Armenian Students Association scholarships."

The telephone conversation between Mr. Keyan and Ms. Bedrosian
resulted in a $100,000 scholarship fund, which the philanthropist
actively monitored, calling the school regularly to see how the
recipients of his scholarship were doing.

In late May, when talking to the Armenian Reporter about his
intended donation of $685,000, Mr. Keyan said the donation had come as
a result of one of his calls to ask about the welfare of the students
receiving his scholarships.

"Charlie called out of the blue," said Ms. Bedrosian. "He said, ‘Hi,
how are you? Do you still have my scholarship money? Is it still in
the Fund or have you spent it like everybody else does?’ And I said,
‘Yes, Charlie, we still have your scholarship fund.’ He wanted the
names of the kids who get his scholarship, so he could call them

Ms. Keyan continued the phone call by asking Ms. Bedrosian for an
update about the school. Ms. Bedrosian told him that they had a bit of
a problem and that the school did not have a place to move to for the
next school year. She told Mr. Keyan that the school had been renting
its facilities, and the landlord wanted to move them out to renovate
the property.

Mr. Keyan asked the principal what the school was planning to do,
and Ms. Bedrosian told him that they had found a location that would
cost around $700 thousand. They were trying to buy the property.

"Charlie called out of the blue," says Ms. Bedrosian. "He said,
‘Hi, how are you? Do you still have my scholarship money? Is it still
in the fund or have you spent it like everybody else does?’ And I
said, ‘Yes, Charlie, we still have your scholarship fund.’ He wanted
the names of the kids who get his scholarship, so he could call them

Mr. Keyan continued the phone call by asking Ms. Bedrosian for an
update about the school. Ms. Bedrosian told him that they had a bit of
a problem and that the school did not have a place to move to for the
next school year. She told Mr. Keyan that ACS had been renting its
facilities, and the landlord wanted to move them out to renovate the

Mr. Keyan asked the principal what the school was planning to do,
and Ms. Bedrosian told him that they had found a location that would
cost around $700 thousand, and they were trying to buy the property.

"How about if I help you out?" Mr. Keyan said. "How about six?" he continued.

"I asked, ‘Six?’" remembers Ms. Bedrosian. "’What do you mean six?’
I asked him. ‘Six hundred dollars or six hundred thousand?’"

Mr. Keyan said 600 thousand, and Ms. Bedrosian thought she was
hallucinating. "I said, ‘I can’t believe that. That’s great. That
would be really mean a lot to the kids and the community.’"

That phone call was what Ms. Bedrosian calls "the light at the end
of the tunnel." Since then, the new property was purchased by the
school, and the community celebrated at a July 1 groundbreaking

* Character

"Charlie was extremely generous and outspoken, with very clear ideas
of what he wanted," said Dickran Kouymjian, Director of the Center for
Armenian Studies at CSUF. "He almost out of nowhere contributed a
major sum to our Armenian Studies Program, because, he said, he had
heard so much of its good works."

Dr. Kouymjian says Mr. Keyan was the kind of supporter, a former
Fresno State graduate and athlete, who deserved more than just a
letter of thanks. That’s why Dr. Kouymjian went to meet Mr. Keyan in
Palm Springs, near where Mr. Keyan lived.

"It must have been 2003 in the spring, because the Album of Armenian
Paleography, a major and beautiful study of the history and
development of Armenian writing, had just been published by Aarhus
University Press in Denmark," remembered Dr. Kouymjian. "The book took
almost a dozen years to prepare by Professors Michael Stone of the
Hebrew University, Henning Lehmann of Aarhus Univresity, and myself.
It is a large and very expensive folio volume that comes in an
impressive slip box. I decided that Charlie deserved a copy."

Dr. Kouymjian remembers that Mr. Keyan arrived in a big van, fitted
with ramp and wheelchair. The men talked about Fresno and Palm Springs
and Mr. Keyan’s various land and building projects, "and a lot about
Fresno State and its Armenian Studies Program, to which he was really
very attached.

"Like another benefactor of our program, the late Henry Kazan of
Florida," said Dr. Kouymjian, "Charlie was a no-nonsense person who
said it as it was, though his language was not as ‘colorful’ as
Henry’s. They were both unselfish men in their 90s who knew just what
they wanted and when they finally said yes to a project or donation,
the money came immediately, no provisions, no elaborate negotiations.
Charlie Keyan, like Henry Kazan, was a man of great integrity,
character, and generosity."

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4. Kevork Hovnanian pledges $500,000 to adopt a village

* Supports Rural Poverty Eradication Program

* FAR names Yerevan office after founder and life chair

NEW YORK — Kevork Hovnanian has pledged to donate $500,000 so the
Fund for Armenian Relief could adopt the village of Zankakadoon in the
Ararat region of Armenia.

The money will go toward providing infrastructure upgrades and
supplies to the village — the hometown of Armenian poet Baruyr Sevag.
The village adoption is part of the Rural Poverty Eradication Program
being conducted by the Armenian Foreign Ministry and the Armenia Fund.

Mr. Hovnanian made the pledge in a June 29 meeting with Foreign
Minister Vartan Oskanian, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the
Diocese and president of FAR, and FAR Board chair Randy Sapah-Gulian.

On the same day, a ceremony was held opening the newly renovated FAR
office building in Yerevan, which was named in honor of Kevork and
Sirvart Hovnanian. The ceremony took place during a joint tour of
Armenia by the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church
of America (Eastern) and the Board of Directors of the Fund for
Armenian Relief (FAR).

"Through the leadership of Mr. Kevork Hovnanian, FAR has
accomplished many things," said Archbishop Barsamian. "FAR was
established under the umbrella of the Diocese as we responded to the
call of Catholicos Vasken I, of blessed memory, following the
devastating earthquake. We have been helping in Armenia, and will
continue to be in Armenia, through FAR because it is part of the
mission of the Armenian Church to help others."

More than 100 guests attended the dedication service on Friday, June
29. Participants included leaders of the Armenian government,
representatives from other nonprofit organizations, officials from the
U.S. Embassy, and beneficiaries of FAR programs.

Catholicos Karekin presided over the event. Also attending were
other clergy leaders from Armenia, including Archbishop Navasard
Ktjoyan, vicar of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese.

The Catholicos began the event by blessing the building and offered
his appreciation to FAR and Kevork and Sirvart Hovnanian for the work
they have done to help the people of Armenia. Mr. and Mrs. Hovnanian
then unveiled the plaque naming the facility, FAR’s main office
complex in central Yerevan, after them.

Archbishop Barsamian noted that the success of the organization in
bringing hope, opportunity, and empowerment to the people of Armenia
has much to do with the spirit behind its founding.

"Mr. Kevork Hovnanian answered the call to serve the people of
Armenia following the devastating earthquake, and with the support of
the Diocese and countless donors, he built FAR into an organization
that is giving the Armenian people the tools to shape their own
future," he said. "It is through his leadership and the participation
of many dedicated board members that FAR has become a vital part of
Armenia’s future. And today, this building is a sign not just of Mr.
Hovnanian’s continued stewardship, but that FAR’s work will continue
to shape lives for years to come."

Foreign Minister Oskanian told the assembled guests that the newly
renovated building was a testament to FAR’s commitment to staying in
Armenia and working for a strong future. "FAR has faith in Armenia’s
rebirth," he said.

"Me and my family, and my FAR family, we will continue working for
our nation and the people of Armenia," Kevork Hovnanian said during
the celebration. "We want to see a prosperous and happy Armenia. Our
compatriots who, for whatever reason, have left Armenia looking for
opportunity, we want to see them return to this great nation, and find
a prosperous country where they can apply their skills."

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5. Students are learning Armenian at Arizona State and then heading to
Armenia for immersion

by Allison Waters

TEMPE, Ariz. — This summer ten students from around the country are
in Arizona, braving 100-plus degree days, spending hours a day sitting
in a classroom and countless hours more studying at home, all for a
chance to learn the Armenian language. Six students will follow up
with a three-week practicum in Armenia.

Each summer at Arizona State University (ASU), in Tempe, the
Melikian Center’s Critical Languages Institute (CLI) offers classes in
Beginning and Intermediate Armenian.

This years’ beginning class has six students, with different
backgrounds and different reasons for wanting to learn the language.

There are a few students of Armenian heritage, and others who claim
to be Armenian at heart. Meero Harootunian, of Glendale, Calif., is of
Armenian decent, the second in his family to take the course. When
asked why he registered for the class, he replied, "I didn’t know how
to write Armenian, and I also need credits." Harootunian added, "And I
have to because my mom is making me."

"True," Meero’s mother, Sophia Harootunian, agrees. She says she
encouraged both her sons to take the class. They both knew enough
Armenian to speak with their father and mother, and when older-son
Gevork took the class, "he even knew writing and reading pretty well,
but I wanted them to learn more and accomplish more Armenian," she

* The Melikian Center

The program is made possible through the generosity of Gregory and
Emma O. Melikian.

In 2001, the Melikians established the Melikian Fund, an endowment
to support the study of Armenian language and culture at ASU, where
all four of their children attended college.

Earlier this year, the Melikians contributed an additional $1
million to ASU to fund the expansion of international programming at
the university’s Russian and East European Studies Center, which is
now known as the Melikian Center. In acknowledging the Melikians’
significant contribution, ASU president Michael M. Crow stated: "This
major contribution from the Melikians brings the study of Eurasia and
Eastern Europe into ASU’s wider scope of global engagement that
already includes important programming in China and Mexico. Programs
like these are at the heart of ASU’s global engagement efforts."

The Melikian Center includes the Critical Languages Institute, whose
mission is to "conduct research and provide training in some of the
less commonly taught languages and cultures of Eastern Europe and
Eurasia." CLI summer classes are tuition free. Students pay only a
$400 registration and processing fee. Financial aid is also available,
as well as ASU fellowships for some languages, including Armenian. In
addition to the summer program, the CLI offers summer practicums
abroad, and yearlong study-abroad programs as well.

ASU junior Erin Hutchinson first became interested in the program
after hearing from a friend of a friend that "the program was really
good, the teacher was amazing, and Armenia was a great place to
visit." She took the classes for two consecutive summers, and then
spent almost a year studying in Armenia. "Emma and Greg Melikian give
some really generous scholarships, which made it really possible for
us to do it."

* Intensive study

The eight-week intensive summer courses cover an entire year’s worth
of academic work — eight academic credits.

The beginning Armenian class has been taught for the past four years
by Yerevan State University English professor Siranush Khandanyan. A
native Armenian speaker from Sevan, Armenia, Ms. Khandanyan says she
loves teaching the beginning class because she loves seeing the
transformations that take place within each of the students. "It’s
really very exciting for me. Most of the students don’t know anything
in Armenian, like any words, letters, nothing. . . . At the end I feel
a kind of pride in my students because I see that they’re able to

In addition to teaching the summer course at ASU, Ms. Khandanyan
also developed and directs the three-week long CLI practicum in
Yerevan. She was the head teacher from 2004 through 2006. "When I see
students here speaking, it’s really exciting. But when I see them in
Armenia, its very encouraging and rewarding for me."

The courses teach Eastern Armenian. In the beginning class, the main
focus is on everyday conversations and communication. Students learn
the alphabet, prepare dialogues, and make presentations. By the second
week, students are already working on short stories, and by the end of
the first month, they are able to write reports and short
compositions. Each Friday there is an exam covering all the material
learned that week, followed by a cultural activity. The activities
range from watching movies and music videos, to learning traditional
Armenian dances.

Though students’ reasons for taking the class vary, there is one
factor that each of them has in common: a love, enthusiasm, and
sincere passion for Hayastan. Ms. Khandanyan says of her students,
"Each of them has their own motives and reasons, but the thing that
I’m really very happy with is that all of them seem really very
interested. And no matter what reasons or motives they have, all of
them have organized a kind of ‘Team Hayastan’ and I feel that they are
really very encouraged and place a great deal of importance on their

Perhaps this enthusiasm stems in part from their instructor. Former
student Gevork Harutunian said Ms. Khandanyan was what he remembered
most about the class. "I thought she knew a lot," he said. "She was
very knowledgeable, very enthusiastic, and very eager to help. She is
a very sweet woman." After taking the beginning class, Gevork went on
the following summer to take the advanced course and the practicum.

* Advanced study

The advanced class is taught by Gohar Harutjunyan, a native Armenian
speaker from Yerevan, and an assistant professor of English at Yerevan
State University. Ms. Harutjunyan is on her first visit to the States,
and it is her first time teaching the advanced course.

Much of what is covered in the advanced class is an extension of the
first-level class. The students read and reproduce texts, learn more
vocabulary, and learn more complicated grammatical structures.
However, in the advanced course there is more emphasis on speaking,
mainly on discussion.

Like the beginning students, the advanced students have an
enthusiasm for the course as well. "I give them a topic and they
prepare it at home, and they come the next day and we discuss and we
do it in Armenian," Ms. Harutjunyan said. "When we discuss, it seems
to me that they are really very interested. They want to know how
everything is in Armenia."

This year, six students will participate in the three-week practicum
in Armenia. The practicum starts immediately after classes end,
running from July 30 through August 17. Students attending the
practicum get a valuable opportunity to experience the culture and
language firsthand. And they receive two additional credits. The
practicum also helps participants to bridge the gap from the beginning
course to the advanced course.

The program is clearly making an impact, drawing in students with no
previous ties to the Armenian community and giving students of
Armenian descent a way to expand their comprehension and
understanding. It is a rare and valuable opportunity. Thanks to the
Melikians, these students have a place to channel their enthusiasm.


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6. Crime Beat: Living the American Dream with medical fraud

* Couple sentenced to jail

* Son-in-law faces sentencing Monday

by Jason Kandel

LOS ANGELES — More than a decade ago, Konstantin and Mayya Grigoryan
came to the United States, the land of opportunity, where they worked
to buy medical clinics, a restaurant, and a $661,500 home in Altadena,
a gated community nestled in the hills above Pasadena.

But they did it through fraud, a federal court has found.

They were indicted in a federal health-care fraud case in 2004 and
were sentenced after being convicted of leading what authorities
called a Russian-Armenian organized crime ring that paid kickbacks to
doctors, recruiters, and patients, and defrauded the U.S. government
out of $20 million over five years.

A criminal complaint unsealed in March 2006 outlines the scheme in
which they paid kickbacks to recruit patients and submitted fraudulent
bills to Medicare on behalf of medical service providers.

The government calls the plot a beneficiary-sharing or
patient-rotating scheme in which "marketers" steal Medicare
beneficiaries’ identification numbers and sell those numbers to
cheating Medicare providers.

The Grigoryan scheme, which began in 1997 and operated through 12
Los Angeles-area medical clinics, exemplifies a "widespread" problem
in Southern California, said Assistant United States Attorney Bruce
Searby, who prosecuted the Grigoryan case. The U.S. Department of
Justice, which said it made fighting health-care fraud a top priority
in 1993, said the crime drains billions of dollars from Medicare and
state Medicaid programs, hurts taxpayers, and threatens the quality of
health care.

Attorneys for the Grigoryans either declined to comment or did not
return calls.

But court records outline the rise and fall of the Grigoryan family.

Mayya grew up in a Jewish family in Bershad, Ukraine, where she said
in court papers her family faced harsh anti-Semitism. She studied at
the Institute of Food Industry in Moscow, where she met Konstantin.
Both earned chemistry degrees. They got married and had a daughter and
a son.

While Ms. Grigoryan worked at a winery, Mr. Grigoryan served in the
Soviet Army, eventually becoming a colonel.

They enjoyed their work, but "there were limits to their
professional advancement," wrote Kenneth I. Kahn, an attorney who
represented Ms. Grigoryan, referring to her being Jewish and Mr.
Grigoryan’s being Christian in the formerly communist republic.

They came to the U.S. in 1994. Mr. Grigoryan worked construction
jobs before working at a medical lab as a technician. He used his
earnings from that job to open his own health clinics and labs,
bringing in his son-in-law, Eduard Gershelis, a former dental
technician, as a business partner.

They set out on an elaborate plan to recruit doctors and staff
members and applied to be providers of Medicare services so they could
be reimbursed by the government for medical tests and other services
they would purportedly perform on elderly and poor patients, court
papers show.

They hired Filipino- and Armenian-speaking people to fan out across
California and "recruit" patients. These "recruiters" would pay these
patients cash or give them gifts of nutritional supplements if they
would agree to visit their clinics and undergo unnecessary medical
tests and sign off on paperwork without having any tests done, records

The group could make thousands of dollars from a single patient —
billing Medicare for ultrasounds, blood counts and pulmonary work even
if the tests were not needed. Once the patients came to a physician’s
office, the group billed the government using the patients’ Medicare
identification numbers and would reuse those numbers again and again
— even if those services were not needed. In many cases, no tests
were even performed, records show.

They also billed for services they didn’t deliver, and covered up
their tracks by creating phony invoices.

The couple siphoned off about $2 million through shell companies to
Swiss bank accounts, for their "retirement," court records show.

With other money they bought residential and commercial real estate
and a condo.

But it wouldn’t last. Patients began complaining about bills for
medical equipment and services they never received and visits to
offices of doctors they never saw.

Claims began being denied by Medicare once the government discovered
that patients’ account numbers were being overbilled, records show.

Arrests were made. The ring was cracked.

The case was unsealed in March 2006. The Grigoryans, Mr. Gershelis,
and others were charged with conspiracy, health-care fraud, Medicare
kickbacks, making false statements to a Medicare Part B provider, and
money laundering.

Mayya Grigoryan, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.
Konstantin Grigoryan, 57, and Mr. Gershelis, 35, pleaded guilty to
conspiracy and signing a false tax return.

At a hearing in federal court in Los Angeles on July 16, Mr.
Grigoryan was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in federal prison.
His wife was sentenced to three years. Both will serve 85 percent of
their sentences, prosecutors said.

Mr. Gershelis is expected to be sentenced July 30. He faces a
maximum eight years in federal prison. The U.S. government has seized
$2.2 million the Grigoryans had in Swiss bank accounts.

Jerry Mooney, Mr. Gershelis’ attorney, said his client was a victim
of circumstances, who came from a "culture and a place where, in order
to succeed, one had to beat the system, and the government was sort of
the opponent to manipulate because corruption was the order of the

********************************** *****************************************

7. Crime Beat: Artur Solomonyan convicted in federal weapon-smuggling case

* Faces 50 years in prison

by Jason Kandel

LOS ANGELES — A 28-year-old Armenian man with connections to Glendale
and the San Fernando Valley was convicted along with five others this
week of plotting to smuggle Russian rocket-propelled grenade
launchers, shoulder-fired missiles, antitank missiles, and other
high-powered military weapons to an FBI informant posing as an arms
trafficker with terrorist ties.

Inside a federal courtroom in Manhattan, Artur Solomonyan, his
partner Christiaan Dewet Spies, and three others, including men from
Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia, were also found guilty of
illegally trafficking in machine guns and assault weapons delivered to
Los Angeles, Florida, and New York.

Mr. Solomonyan, who also had a home in Brooklyn, and Mr. Spies, a
South African national, each face up to 50 years in prison. They are
scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14. Twelve other defendants have
already been convicted of firearms trafficking offenses in connection
with the case.

Mr. Solomonyan and Mr. Spies, both living in the United States
illegally, maintained through their attorneys throughout the trial
that their clients were entrapped, lured by an informant who promised
to get them green cards if they delivered on their promise of
obtaining military weapons.

Seth Ginsberg, an attorney for Mr. Solomonyan, said his client came
to the United States seeking religious asylum in the late 1990s and
was a Scientologist.

But court documents said Mr. Solomonyan and Mr. Spies, 35, were
tired of making small change as car thieves and health-care cheats.
They were "opportunists" and "money makers," "willing to sell weapons
to anyone for a price," prosecutors said in court.

Prosecutors alleged the plot began in December 2003 and ended during
an FBI sting in March 2005 before the men could pull off their plans
to smuggle heavy weapons from Armenia and Chechnya.

The case was made through thousands of intercepted phone calls —
some in Afrikaans, Armenian, and Russian — and recordings by the
informant who wore a wire during conversations he had with the
ringleaders. The men spoke in code, referring to weapons as cars,
SUVs, condos, and toys, records show.

At an early meeting in New York, Mr. Solomonyan told the informant
he imported products from Russia and could use his ex-KGB contacts
overseas to get surface-to-air missiles, stingers, assault rifles, and
antipersonnel mines delivered to ports in two months or less. He once
boasted that he could smuggle enriched uranium, which prosecutors say
was unlikely.

Court records suggest Mr. Solomonyan could be brash, but also insecure.

"This deal was very important to him," records show. He wanted to
make a good impression on his newfound client for whom "money was not
a problem."

But Mr. Solomonyan, then 26, also fretted that the informant
wouldn’t take him seriously because of his age. Spies reassured his
partner that he had nothing to fear. He was trusted and serious and
knew what he was doing.

But he had a hard time pulling it off. Persuading his contacts to
help deliver the heavy weapons proved difficult.

"Everyone in Armenia was being checked out and the phones were being
listened to," an unidentified contact in Armenia told Mr. Solomonyan
according to an outline of a call recorded June 11, 2004.

Eventually, though, Mr. Solomonyan and Mr. Spies found a willing
dealer in Fort Lauderdale who would come through.

While trying to arrange the overseas military weapons deal, Mr.
Solomonyan and Mr. Spies sold the informant eight weapons — including
an Israeli Uzi, SKS fully automatic assault rifle and AK-47s, all
delivered to Los Angeles, New York, and Florida storage lockers,
clandestinely rented by the FBI, records show. In a storage locker in
Manhattan, agents discovered one weapon hidden inside a Gap bag.

The informant paid nearly $6,000 cash for the weapons. And the FBI
secretly wired Mr. Spies $3,900 for more.

The assault weapons and machine gun were a good start, but the
informant grew frustrated when the promise of high-powered military
weapons seemed to be falling through. So he set a two-week deadline
that threw Mr. Solomonyan into a fit.

Mr. Solomonyan told Mr. Spies the informant would "see what it means
to play." He "won’t forget me for all his life. He’s gonna remember me
for a while. . . . I’m not joking, you’ll see. I’ve got a couple of

The case came to a head after Mr. Solomonyan and Mr. Spies gave the
informant a username and password that allowed the FBI to look at a
Russian e-mail account with 17 digital photos the FBI confirmed had
been shot in February 2005, each showing a catalogue of military
weapons, records show.

The photos were of two SA-7b Strella surface-to-air heat seeking
anti-aircraft missiles, a Russian AT-4 Spigot anti-tank guided missile
and launcher, a 120 mm mortar launcher, Russian 73 mm recoilless
anti-tank guns, and fully automatic AK-74 and AKS assault rifles.

On March 14, 2005, Mr. Solomonyan and Mr. Spies met with the
informant in New York and the FBI swooped in to make the arrests. Mr.
Solomonyan and Mr. Spies never got to pull off their big weapons deal.

******************************************* ********************************

8. Love, trust, companionship, canine style

* Interspecies tenderness between dogs and Armenians

pawed by Lory Tatoulian

LOS ANGELES — Who knew that interspecies compassion could run so deep?

Throughout the epochs of social, scientific, and political advances,
dogs have been endemic in our human experience; our canine cohorts
have accompanied us as we traversed our way through ups and downs of

We have anthropomorphized dogs, celebrated dogs, made dogs apart of
a religious pantheon; we have even blurred the lines between pet and
family member.

For instance, the fu dog is an eminent symbol of happiness and good
fortune in Chinese religion and folklore.

Remember Laika, the Russian dog who was the first living creature
from earth to go into space on Sputnik 2? Or Nixon’s dog Checkers, the
famous cocker spaniel that was used as an alibi to cover up suspicions
of illegal campaign contributions.

And who can forget Lassie, America’s celebrity dog that won the
hearts of all Americans with her tricolor coat and super canine

Like any Hollywood celebrity who has made it, a television series is
simply not enough for the collie.

Lassie now has endorsed her own brand of dog food called Lassie
Natural Way. Although dogs not hold a prominent spot in Armenian
cultural representations, they are an integral part of Armenian
societies both in the homeland and the diaspora.

* Happy birthday dear puppy

Pam Esserian can be considered the paragon of a dog enthusiast.

She spoils her dogs with the best health care, chewey treats, and
even throws them doggy parties.

Just last week Pam threw a birthday party for her two dogs Zed and Chichi.

Zed is an adorably plump cockapoo; and Chichi, an energetic and
playful pup, is a mix of bichon frise and poodle.

Pam, who lives in a high-rise condo in the heart of downtown San
Diego, points out that throwing a doggy birthday party is not only a
way to celebrate the animal years of her pets, but also a great way to
bring together friends with dogs who live in her urban community.

"I invited all my friends from the neighborhood to the party and
everybody responded positively," she says.

"If I would have just had a regular old cocktail party, it probably
would have nor been that well attended. Every parent of a puppy will
make sure their baby gets a certain amount of extra social attention."

Pam explains that dogs can be the matrix in which new friends can be
made and social circles can expand.

While most people revert to their computers these days for
socializing, dog culture can still be the best conduit for humans to
meet new friends and stay in touch with old ones.

"A whole professional and social network becomes established. I’ve
met great friends," says Pam. "My tennis doubles partner, neighbors I
never knew I had. My community has mushroomed out to the extent that I
have got myself into a wonderful investment fund in India all because
of our dogs."

Pam explains that her doggy birthday party for Zed and Chichi were
full of birthday paraphernalia.

"We had balloons, squeaky and chewy stick party favors. There were
seven dogs here at once. They were so well-mannered and sat politely
next to their parents. I found a couple of little puddles here and
there after the party, but nobody got into trouble."

Not only does Pam make sure her dogs have an active social life, she
also makes sure that her dogs are receiving the best health care.

"Nutrition for them is very important. My guys have a naturopathic
doctor. Zed takes nine vitamins a day, and Chichi takes about four to
five vitamins. I sometimes also treat them to chicken pilaf to go with
their organic diet. Just a little Armenian treat."

* Out East

On the East Coast, Lisa Kopooshian’s half German shepherd and black
Labrador is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.

Lisa spotted her dog one day when she was watching her local TV news
station and the Humane Society was showing dogs that were left without

"I saw the face of this dog and my heart just melted," she says. "I
had a dog for ten years and her name was Beautie. When the Humane
Society was mentioning her age and breed, they also said her name was
Beautie, and I just knew I had to adopt her."

Lisa believes her dog possesses the resiliency of Armenians.

"My dog is an Armenian dog because she is a survivor of Hurricane
Katrina. She has an amazing animal strength. She went through a
horrible beginning, and now she is doing great. She’s a sweet and
gentle-hearted dog."

Not only does Lisa think that her dog possesses Armenianesque
sensibilities, but she uses an Armenian repartee to communicate with
her dog.

"I take Beautie to the dog park Monday through Friday for two
hours," says Lisa, "and I always ask her if she wants chooreeg
(water). A non-Armenian woman who also brings her dog to the park has
begun asking her dog in Armenian if she also wants chooreeg."

Not only does Lisa communicate with Beautie in Armenian, she feels
that she embodies the archetypical Armenian mother when she is
relating to her dog

"I become like an Armenian mother, and I go to my dog, instead of
waiting for the dog to come to me. I am constantly asking my dog, do
you want chooreg? Are you hungry? I am like mother ape, picking at
her, sniffing her neck. I even kiss her like an Armenian mother."

Lisa has also nurtured her dog like a doting Armenian mother.

"I got her when she was only six months old after Hurricane Katrina,
so when she first came home, she was petrified of people, and I
trained her to make her comfortable with her environment. My friends
and family say, ‘It’s just a dog,’ and I respond by saying, ‘No, it’s
my child.’ My emotional connection to her is like a child."

Lisa has taught her dog to identify family with their Armenian names.

For instance Beautie recognizes Lisa’s sister as "Morkooyr," which
means aunt in Armenian.

Lisa also has little Armenian pet names for Beautie, like Hokis-Mokis.

Lisa wishes there could be dog training classes in Armenian, but as
the classic Armenian saying goes, the more languages you know, the
more of a person you are; in this case, the more of a canine you are.

"Unfortunately, when you take a dog to a training class, it’s in
English. But it’s important that Beautie knows the English commands.
Although my father is really annoyed with me, he says the dog should
be "speaking’ Armenian. My father communicates in Armenian with
Beautie by using typical Armenian hand gestures and movements."

Not all dog lovers dress up their pets and throw birthday parties.

* A sensitive guardian

In the last 40 years, Pasadena resident Setrak Kopoushian has owned
several dogs.

He’s had many breeds such as Siberian huskies to German shepherds,
but Setrak notes that his favorite dog was a little poodle he had
named Lucky.

Setrak expresses the joy Lucky would bring into his family’s home.

"With all the big and agile dogs I have owned over the years, the
poodle was my very favorite," he says.

"I loved to train him, and he was a smart dog with a hyper
temperament. I trained him to jump, clap, tumble, do tricks. He
couldn’t really protect or guard anything, but he was fascinating and
old. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks."

Like many other Armenian owners of dogs, Setrak speaks to his dogs
in Armenian and makes Armenian food a staple in their canine diet.

"My dogs will eat anything Armenian and they love it, like dolma,
humus, pilaf, kebab. You name it, they’ll eat it. That is why they are
such strong dogs, because they eat the right foods — Armenian food."

Setrak is proud of his current dog, a Siberian husky named Aspro.

Aspro got his name from the German word for snow, because his coat
is as white as snow, even though Setrak considers his dog to be a part
of the Armenian family.

Aspro serves as a gatekeeper for the Kopoushian family, profiling
all who enter and notifying the owner by distinct howls and barks if
it is a familiar guest or a stranger.

Setrak says it’s almost like setting a different ringer on a cell
phone for a person you know or anonymous person.

"When I’m inside the house, I know from the dog’s bark if it’s a
friend, relative, or stranger at the door. When my son comes home, I
know from the particular sound of the bark that it’s my son. If it’s a
family friend, there is yet another discernable howl. If it’s a
stranger, my dog becomes pugnacious and starts barking very loudly.
This is a signal that an unrecognizable person is approaching."

Aspro is not only a canine alarm system, but his vigilance makes him
an excellent guardian.

Setrak explains, "When my daughter was pregnant and came over to
visit, Aspro was acting like her bodyguard, never leaving her side.
It’s like he had an animal instinct or mammalian response to protect
her, because he knew that she was carrying a child."

* A vocation

Some people not only have dogs as pet, but they make dogs their vocation.

Hilma Shahinian owns a popular pet-sitting and dog-walking business
in Los Angeles called "I Stay, U Go."

It is an in-home pet-sitting business, where pets are given the best
care in town.

For the ten years that Hilma has had the business, she has
established a clientele that not only trusts her with their pets; they
trust her with their house keys.

"We feed them, change their water" says Hilma. "Even if there are
pets that can’t sleep without their owners, I Stay, U Go has overnight
sitters that don’t mind being a substitute snuggler."

Hilma’s compassion toward animals is not only emotional; she has the
training that validates her expertise.

Before she established her business, Hilma was a full-time
California State humane officer and a veterinary technician.

What makes I Stay, U Go a unique business is that Hilma also knows
how to care for pets with special needs.

"I do a lot of special-case dogs or cats who need specialized
medical attention such as insulin injections, hydration, any kind of
oral medication or wound treatments. I don’t necessarily advertise the
business that way, but I have quite a few pets that require this type
of attention."

Hilma cares for 250 pets in her business. Only about five of her
customers are Armenian.

"The thing is Armenians usually have a good number of extended
family members that will take care of the pets if they leave town."

She jokes, "the Armenian clients that I have are probably the ones
that don’t trust their own relatives to care for their pets."

************************************* **************************************

9. Marc Nichanian will be a visiting professor at Haigazian University

* Taught for years at Columbia

BEIRUT — Haigazian University announced that Marc Nichanian would
join the university as a visiting professor in the Armenian Studies
department, for the 2007-08 academic year.

Dr . Nichanian, who holds doctoral degrees in mathematics and
philosophy, chaired the Armenian studies program at Columbia
University in New York from 1996 to 2007. He taught courses on
philology and modern and classical Armenian language, as well as
seminar courses on modern Armenian literature, Armenian
historiography, philosophy, art, and politics.

Dr. Nichanian’s publications include Ages et Usages de la Langue
Armenienne (1989), Complete Bibliography of Hagop Oshagan (1999, in
Armenian), Writers of Disaster (2002), Charents: Poet of the
Revolution (2003), Art and Testimony: Around Egoyan’s Ararat (2007, in
English), La Perversion Historigraphique (2006), La Revolution
Nationale (2006), and Le Deuil de le Philologie (2007).

When Columbia had selected Dr. Nichanian, the former holder of the
university’s Armenian studies chair, Nina Garsoian, circulated a
petition against the decision to hire him, scholars who signed the
petition confirm. She favored candidates who avoided the modern era.
The petition failed. In recent years, however, the Near Eastern
studies faculty at Columbia has been the target of a smear campaign by
anti-Arab groups. In this context, the university administration has
been reluctant to grant tenure to members of that faculty, including
Dr. Nichanian, according to two scholars with first-hand knowledge of
the situation.

Haigazian University in Beirut is a liberal arts institution,
operating on the United States model of higher education. The
university serves the Armenian diaspora through its rich Armenian
Library and rare manuscripts, public lectures, bachelor degree in
Armenian Studies, and the Armenological Review, a yearly literary

*************************** ************************************************

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS