Armenian Reporter – 9/1/2007 – front section

PO Box 129
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
Tel: 1-201-226-1995
Fax: 1-201-226-1660
Email: [email protected]

September 1, 2007 — From the front section

To see the printed version of the newspaper, complete with photographs
and additional content, visit and download the pdf
files. It’s free.

1. Fourth Pan-Armenian Games end with Yerevan in top place (by Armen Hakobyan)
* See you again, Armenia!

2. Children of Armenia Fund opens newly renovated school in Lernagog
(by Elyssa Karanian)

3. From Washington, in brief (by Emil Sanamyan)
* Five ambassadors to discuss U.S.-Armenia relations
* Karabakh’s progress featured in the Washington Post
* Long-delayed European monitoring of Caucasus monuments canceled
* Turkey demands American Jews "back down" on Armenian Genocide

4. Abdullah Gul elected president of Turkey

5. Armenians, Jews seek unity at Boston State House (by Ara Nazarian)

6. Marcos Grigorian, 83, artist and collector, dies (by Vincent Lima)

7. Raffi Hovannisian proposes Karabakh recognition by Armenia

8. Lessons for future Pan-Armenian Games (by Armen Hakobyan)

9. Impressions from the closing ceremony of the Pan-Armenian Games (by
Elyssa Karanian)

10. Clouds of uncertainty cast a shadow over the fate of the Genocide
Memorial grounds (by Armen Hakobyan)
* Part 2: The City Administration surprises the Academy of Sciences

11. New skills, new jobs, new hope in the earthquake zone

12. From Armenia, in brief
* They have cleaned out Haypost
* Lori province prosecutor murdered
* African swine fever in Armenia
* AGRC also goes to the Russians

13. Living in Armenia: Crazy things that happen in small countries (by
Maria Titizian)

14. Letters
* Kudos to a master photographer (Ruth Thomasian)
* Menace 2 culture (Avedis Frandjian)
* A big bravo (Harry L. Koundakjian)
* Covering offenders is offensive (Martha Saraydarian)
* A matter of language? (Avedis Kevorkian)

15. Editorial: A Pan-Armenian spirit

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

1. Fourth Pan-Armenian Games end with Yerevan in top place

* See you again, Armenia!

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — Shant Keurjekian from Los Angeles was one of more than
2,500 participants of the 4th Pan-Armenian Games. He says that these
games were an unforgettable experience for him. It’s the first visit
to Armenia for our 22-year-old compatriot. Although the La Crescenta
basketball team for which Shant played lost and was left out of the
medal race, he was still in high spirits.

"This visit to the homeland was something very special. My parents
were born here. We walked a lot and saw where our parents are from.
Something has changed in me: after I visited the homeland and saw
where my parents had grown up, where my roots are…. I don’t want to
go back. I have already extended my visa, because I have enjoyed my
stay here. I like Yerevan very much. I went to Sevan, Etchmiadzin;
these are wonderful places. I went to the Armenia-Portugal (1:1)
soccer game, and I am really excited and also proud that our team
played a great game," Shant Keurjekian says, adding that in October he
is planning another visit to Yerevan, because he promised his aunt to
be the godfather for his two-and-a-half-year-old cousin, Alex.

There is no doubt that there are many similar Armenian stories,
tying together participants from distant lands. However, even the best
things must come to an end. It is not surprising therefore that
during the closing ceremonies which took place on August 26, late into
the evening, participants in the 4th Pan-Armenian Games were
celebrating and bidding farewell to each other. Most of all they were
enjoying the concert at Freedom Square.

* Prime Minister honored

Prior to the concert, during the official closing ceremony which took
place in the Opera Hall, the final prizes of the games were awarded.
First, the World Committee of the Pan-Armenian Games awarded Prime
Minister Serge Sargsian with the Sign of Honor order for his
significant contribution to the organization and realization of the
Pan-Armenian Games. Receiving the award from Albert Boyajian, a member
of the Executive Committee, Mr. Sargsian promised that he will
continue to ensure that "Armenian sport conquers new heights."

Then it was the prime minister’s turn to congratulate the
participants and award them prizes. The Los Angeles men’s volleyball
team received the Fair Game prize, while Istanbul was awarded with the
Best Delegation prize. The men’s basketball team from Cairo took the
award for Competitive Spirit and Tolerance. During the basketball
match with Cairo, the Yerevan team had demonstrated unsportsmanlike
behavior and started a fight, as a result of which our compatriots
from Cairo sustained injuries. As punishment, the Yerevan team was
disqualified and removed from the competition.

As it turns out this was not only a sporting awards ceremony. Gayane
Tunyan was recognized as the "beauty" of the 4th Pan-Armenian Games.

* "To be able to keep our nation’s flame lit"

After the official ceremony there was a spectacular fireworks show out
in Freedom Square showcasing magnificent colors bursting out in the
Yerevan sky, reflected in the windows of newly built buildings. It was
a fantastic start to the outdoor concert, which created a whirlwind of
celebration and spontaneous dancing. Young athletes from Buenos Aires
and Sidney, Fresno and Akhalkalak, Istanbul and Tehran, Montreal and
Vanadzor, Beirut and Stepanakert celebrated together.

We spoke with several participants to find out what they feel and
what importance they attach to this all-Armenian sporting event.

"Certainly, all of us are happy. I hope that these games will take
place every year and not only once every four years. They bring the
youth closer together; we are able to come and visit our homeland. It
was well organized, but I hope that next time it will be better," said
Khoren Galanian, the head of the Cairo delegation.

Kirak Boyajian, our 22-year-old compatriot from San Paulo, Brazil,
whose indoor soccer team won fifth place in the competition, said: "We
had some disagreements with the referees. Apart from that, we are
having a great time. These are some of the most beautiful days for us.
These games granted us friendship — between us and other teams. These
games are very important to us, they are important to Armenia as well;
they will let us keep our nation’s flame lit and live our lives as
Armenians with renewed force. I want to come here one more time, apart
from the games, to enjoy Armenia more freely."

An athlete from Vanadzor, Armenia, Anna Kochinyan, who participated
in these games for the second time, said that her biggest dream came
true: she came in first in the 200-meter race. But not only that: "We
met our friends and were happy that we can keep in touch with them. It
is very important that our competitors from the diaspora come to
Armenia and we can meet and make friends with them. It has a great

Lucia Tokatrian from Buenos Aires, who has participated in all the
Pan-Armenian Games, mentioned that this time their delegation was much
bigger. It is evidence of a rising interest in the games, in spite of
the distance between Argentina and Armenia: "I feel that we,
Armenians, sometimes have difficulties in communicating, in terms of
language, but the most essential thing is that you can feel the spirit
and make new friends. Besides, I met many friends, whom I had become
acquainted with in 2003, and it is something very important for me,"
Lucia said.

Shant Ghazarian from Montreal participated in the indoor soccer
match: "We lost, but it’s okay. Maybe next time we will be able to do
better. I cannot explain my feelings in words. Here you meet all kinds
of Armenians and you see how different we all are. The main thing is
that Armenians come together. These games bring Armenians from abroad
to their homeland. All Armenians eventually have to return to Armenia.
People here are very hospitable. The only thing is that there has to
be more implementation of the law in the city — it is very difficult
to drive here, and very dangerous to cross the streets."

Anna Teleshova from Yerevan, who came in fourth place in the
400-meter race, also mentioned the importance of the unification of
Armenians: "During these games Armenians unite, and this is a good
thing. And it is good that Armenians join their hands in their
homeland. The most important thing is that young people get acquainted
with each other and with their homeland. However, it would be good to
also create opportunities to communicate with each other in an
organized way apart from the games."

Arbi Mkrtchian from Sydney, celebrating third place with his
basketball team, seems to continue the same thought: "We are happy to
come to Armenia and to compete in Armenia. We made so many Armenian
friends from different places. Four years is a very long time, it must
be more frequent. It’s a great thing that Armenians from all over the
world come to Armenia."

Basketball players, by the way, will have an opportunity to meet
more frequently. The vice-president of the World Committee of the
Pan-Armenian Games (WCPAG), Roland Sharoyan announced that
pan-Armenian soccer and basketball matches are planned for 2009.

* The top five medalists are
Team – Gold – Silver – Bronze
Yerevan – 36 – 22 – 19
Vanadzor – 4 – 8 – 4
Gyumri – 3 – 0 – 3
Glendale – 2 – 3 – 1
Stepanakert – 2 – 4 – 5

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

2. Children of Armenia Fund opens newly renovated school in Lernagog

by Elyssa Karanian

YEREVAN — The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) on August 27 opened a
newly renovated school in Lernagog, one of six villages in the fund’s
Model Cluster project.

"There was an old building here," Garo Armen, founder and chair of
COAF, said, "with no health room, no bathrooms, nothing, and the
ability of teachers to teach and students to learn was severely
hampered by this. By improving the standards here, we will be able to
mine greatness."

The Lernagog school is the second to be completed in the six
villages that make up the model cluster: Karakert, Lernagog, Argina,
Dalarik, Myasnikyan, and Shenik. Some 300 students, ages seven to
seventeen, will attend school there starting today.

"We will continue to encourage the work of this fund and of similar
endeavors in Armenia, specifically for rural areas. If we are to have
a prosperous Armenia we must focus on areas of rural development,"
Prime Minister Serge Sargsian told the assembled guests. "The role of
charitable organizations such as this is enormous." Mr. Sargsian
awarded Dr. Armen a medal of honor in recognition of his leadership in
rural development.

The Model Cluster initiative is an extensive rural development
program. It seeks to improve standards in each village, and to
revitalize the capacity of the communities to sustain themselves.

To make the communities sustainable, COAF ensures that the necessary
infrastructure is in place and builds the capacity of villagers
through training programs and vocational courses, led by local and
diaspora experts alike. These programs cover infrastructure, the
economy, and community development.

The plan, Dr. Armen explained, is for each village in the cluster to
have an "epicenter." The epicenter might be a women’s center in one
village and a youth club in another. A recently created inter-village
system of public transportation is intended to foster relations and
partnerships among the villages in the cluster.

"You must understand that these villagers lack the very basics of
life," Dr. Arpie Balian, COAF’s country director in Armenia said. "The
downward spiral of infrastructure deterioration and the rural
communities’ deprivation from basic services has had a significant
bearing on the magnitude of poverty. We must do more such projects.
The need to revitalize rural Armenia is extremely urgent."

The governor of Armavir province, Ashot Ghahramanian, praised COAF’s
accomplishments. He presented Dr. Balian with a special proclamation
in recognition of COAF’s work.

* Elation at the opening

The mood at the opening ceremony and surrounding celebrations was
festive. COAF board members, participants, teachers, and students
alike were elated.

"There are no words to describe how happy I am," said Ruzzana
Lazarian, a math teacher at the school. "I am in a wonderland. I’ve
been here for 16 years. I could never have imagined I would be able to
teach in such a school."

For many years, teachers and students in Lernagog were subjected to
freezing cold classrooms, outhouses, and leaky roofs that let rain
drop onto their broken desks. Now, in a renovated school with gas for
heat, toilets and sinks with running water, and beautiful furniture
designed and built by local community member Levon Yengibaryan,
students are excited to begin the school year.

"I look forward to school starting this year, for the first time,"
said Mary Markaryan, age 15. "The gym is my favorite. I love soccer
and physics. With the new school there is a beautiful place for me to
do both."

Even some of the younger children understood the impact of the new
facility. Lilia Akimyan told her mother, "I love the grandness of this
school the best."

In the new gymnasium, standing over two tables overflowing with
food, guests had the chance to read about COAF’s projects, past and
present. The 28 teachers were recognizable not only by their
red-framed name tags, but by their beaming, pride-filled smiles.

* An exemplary template

The Model Cluster project is the first comprehensive rural development
program of its kind in Armenia and, according to COAF’s website, it
has been recognized by international aid agencies as "an exemplary
template of sustainable development."

Since 2004 two schools have been completed, in Karakert and
Lernagog. Two more, in Shenik and Dalarik, are planned for handover in
December. Although construction on the Lernagog school is complete,
there will be site development in the surrounding area in 2008. Also,
2008 will see the renovation of the remaining two blocks of the school
building into a kindergarten and a health clinic.

Actress and writer Nora Armani was inspired by the event. "Children
are the future and when a country is in transition like this it can be
very hard to change mentalities," she said. "But when you reach the
children when they’re young, then you have a very good chance of a
much better future. COAF it is."


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

3. From Washington, in brief

by Emil Sanamyan

* Five ambassadors to discuss U.S.-Armenia relations

The Library of Congress on September 28 will host a unique event on
the first fifteen years of official relations between the U.S. and

"United States — Armenian Relations, 1991-2006: A Conversation with
our First Five Ambassadors," is part of the Library’s Vardanants Day
lecture series, and will for the first time bring together five former
U.S. envoys to Armenia: Harry Gilmore (1993-95), Peter Tomsen
(1995-98), Michael Lemmon (1998-2001), John Ordway (2001-4) and John
Evans (2004-6). The lecture will take place from 9 a.m. to noon in the
Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the Madison building of the

To learn more about the event, the lecture series, and the library’s
extensive Armenian collection, read an interview with its Armenian
specialist and event organizer Dr. Levon Avdoyan in the forthcoming
September 8 issue of the Armenian Reporter.

* Karabakh’s progress featured in the Washington Post

Last weekend the flagship newspaper of the nation’s capital featured a
rare report about the progress made in Nagorno-Karabakh with the help
of Armenia’s Diaspora.

The article titled "War-torn region gets a lift from Armenian
exiles" was written by Reuters Armenia correspondent Hasmik Lazarian
and published by the Washington Post and other U.S. dailies on August
26. The story notes the "unlikely boom" that Nagorno-Karabakh is
enjoying "thanks to the patriotism of Armenia’s foreign diaspora."

Among those mentioned in the story are Jack Abolakian from
Australia, Vartkes Anivian from the U.S. and Armand Tahmazian of Iran,
all of whom have successfully invested in Karabakh. The Armenia Fund’s
annual fundraising for infrastructure projects in Karabakh was also

In a letter to the Washington Post, Nagorno-Karabakh’s
Representative to the U.S. Vardan Barseghian welcomed the coverage and
called for greater U.S. engagement with Karabakh.

* Long-delayed European monitoring of Caucasus monuments canceled

A group from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
(PACE) has canceled a long-delayed trip to the Caucasus intended to
assess the state of historical monuments there, the Armenpress news
agency reported on August 28.

Edward O’Hara, a member of Britain’s House of Commons, who was
expected to lead the effort this month, cited "last-minute problems
regarding entry into Nagorno-Karabakh and the lack of detailed program
for all but the Georgian part of the proposed visit." Mr. O’Hara had
been preparing for the trip for well over a year.

In recent weeks, Azerbaijani officials have insisted that Mr. O’Hara
and others enter Karabakh from Azerbaijan via the heavily mined Line
of Contact instead of the usual route through Armenia.

On August 29 the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Vladimir
Karapetian said that both "Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh had given the
O’Hara delegation their agreement regarding the mission" and blamed
the cancellation on Azerbaijan.

Mr. Karapetian noted that Armenia had initiated the idea of visits
to the region by PACE, as well as the European Parliament and UNESCO,
following the destruction of the medieval Armenian monuments at Old
Julfa (Jugha) in Azerbaijan-controlled Nakhichevan.

Azerbaijan has since declined a visit by a group from the European
Parliament, which condemned the Old Julfa vandalism in a special

* Turkey demands American Jews "back down" on Armenian Genocide

Following the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s change of position on the
Armenian Genocide on August 21 (see the August 25 Armenian Reporter),
which came about as a result of unprecedented Jewish-American and
Armenian-American pressure, senior Turkish officials have threatened
repercussions for relations with Israel, Jewish and Turkish media

Israel itself does not use the term genocide, although its embassy
said in a statement published in part by the Turkish Daily News last
week that Israel "has never denied these horrible events . . . the
high number of victims and terrible suffering which the Armenian
people endured."

Still, Turkey’s ambassador to Israel Namik Tan told the Jerusalem
Post on August 27, that "Israel should not let the [U.S.] Jewish
community change its position [and use the term genocide]. This is our
expectation and this is highly important, highly important."

The comments came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
spoke with Israeli President Shimon Peres, and the latter called
Abraham Foxman of the ADL regarding the issue.

Following those conversations, Mr. Foxman has been playing a
balancing game between Jewish-American calls for genocide affirmation
and the Turkish government’s denial.

Over the weekend, Mr. Foxman sent a letter to Prime Minister Erdogan
to "express deep regret for any pain we have caused to you and the
Turkish people," TDN reported on August 29.

But in an article published by the Jewish Advocate on August 27, Mr.
Foxman reiterated ADL’s new position that it "will not hesitate to
apply the term genocide in the future." On the same day the ADL head
reinstated the organization’s New England director Andrew Tarsy whom
Mr. Foxman had fired last week for publicly questioning ADL’s previous
avoidance of the term genocide.

At the same time Mr. Foxman remains opposed to the congressional
resolution on the Armenian Genocide, a position questioned by senior
ADL members and one that the organization is expected to discuss at
its November 1 national meeting.

The House Resolution 106 currently has the backing of 226 of 435
House members.

Mr. Foxman has cited concern for several thousand Jews still living
in Turkey as one of the main reasons for his position on the

While Turkey’s ambassador in the U.S. Nabi Sensoy told the Jewish
Telegraph Agency (JTA) that he was "disturbed" by the claim and said
that the "Turkish Jewish community is . . . an integral part of the
Turkish community," he did not explicitly rule out a backlash.

Israel’s consul in Istanbul Mordehai Amihai expressed hope that "the
Turkish population can make the distinction between the State of
Israel, the organization (ADL), and the Jewish population of Turkey,"
reported last week. But Turkey’s envoy to Israel, Namik Tan argued in
the Jerusalem Post interview that the "[Turkish people] cannot make
that differentiation."

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

4. Abdullah Gul elected president of Turkey

The Turkish parliament elected Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul the
country’s president on August 28.

The election came following the July 22 electoral success of the
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan and in spite of concerns expressed by the country’s
military and secular nationalist establishment.

Mr. Gul became the first conservative Muslim to be elected to the
position. AKP first nominated Mr. Gul last May, but at the time his
candidacy was blocked by the military and secular opposition, who fear
losing further ground to AKP and claim the party wants to undermine
the country’s secular regime.

A day before Mr. Gul’s election the Turkish military chief General
Yasar Buyukanit issued a statement alleging, in an apparent reference
to AKP, that "centers of evil systematically try to corrode the
secular nature" of Turkey, Turkish news agencies reported. The general
pledged that "the military will . . . keep its determination and
guard" what it sees as Turkey’s core interests.

AKP has promised to adopt a new constitution guaranteeing more
personal freedoms and bring the military under greater civilian

The military’s actions are constrained by AKP’s popularity, which
remains high both domestically, where after presiding over years of
economic success it was rewarded at the July polls, and abroad, where
it is seen as trying to reform Turkey and bring it closer to Europe.

Among those congratulating Mr. Gul on his election were Armenia’s
President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The
latter expressed hope that Mr. Gul would make a "contribution to
bringing peace and prosperity to the region," Armenpress news agency

– Emil Sanamyan

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

5. Armenians, Jews seek unity at Boston State House

by Ara Nazarian

BOSTON — A Jewish-Armenian solidarity gathering was co-hosted by
State Representative Rachel Kaprielian and Boston City Councilor
Michal Ross on August 30 at the front steps of the Massachusetts State
House. The event attracted 70 or so citizens who demonstrated their
support for this cause.

The gathering was held days after the national leadership of the
Anti-Defamation League reversed its earlier position and recognized
the Armenian Genocide. Pressure to do so had come from Mr.
Kaprielian’s constituents in Watertown, Mass., where the town council
had voted to discontinue its participation in the ADL’s antibigotry
program because of the ADL’s refusal to recognize the Armenian
Genocide. The New England Region of the ADL had likewise broken with
the national leadership on this matter.

The ADL remains under pressure to support the Armenian Genocide
resolutions in Congress.

Among those present at the gathering were Rabbi Ronne Friedman of
Temple Israel Boston, Rev. Gregory Haroutunian of the First Armenian
Church of Belmont, Father Rafael Andonian of the Holy Trinity Armenian
Catholic Church, Armenian Genocide survivor Asdghig Alemian, Holocaust
survivor Israel Arbeiter, former chair of the Democratic National
Committee Steve Grossman, State Representative Peter Koutoujian, and
Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations
Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston.

The speakers emphasized the need for unity, love, and friendship
among Armenian-Americans and Jewish-Americans as two ethnic groups
that have borne the brunt of inhumanity of man against man in recent
memory and share a common spirit. They also emphasized that political
expediency with short term gains in mind cannot and must not be used
as an excuse to ignore the cause of social justice for all mankind. To
deny the truth, even in innuendo, is akin to taking part in the
terrible crime that befell upon Armenian and Jewish people.

Ms. Kaufman spoke of JCRC’s firm stance on the recognition of the
Armenian Genocide from as early as 2005 and an urgent need to divest
from countries that sponsor acts of genocide or deny previous acts of

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

6. Marcos Grigorian, 83, artist and collector, dies

by Vincent Lima

YEREVAN — Marcos Grigorian, the influential Iranian-Armenian artist,
died here on August 27. According to the preliminary findings of the
medical examiner, the cause of death was heart failure.

Mr. Grigorian, who was 83, had a history of heart problems and had
had open-heart surgery twice, his friend Karen Avanessian said.

On August 6, Mr. Grigorian had been attacked by two masked men in
his Yerevan apartment. The assailants had beaten him, broken some of
his teeth, and burned his legs with cigarettes. He had been
hospitalized and released.

After his release, he was staying in an apartment provided by a
friend, Mr. Avanessian said. On the evening of the 27th, Mr.
Avanessian tried to gain access to the apartment with a key; finding
that Mr. Grigorian’s key was in the lock from the inside, he enlisted
the help of the police, who broke the lock and found Mr. Grigorian on
the floor. He had died earlier in the day.

Marcos Grigorian will be buried today in Yerevan’s Pantheon,
alongside Armenia’s most famous writers, composers, filmmakers, and

Mr. Grigorian was divorced. He was predeceased by his daughter
Sabrina and a sister. He is survived by a nephew, who has arrived in
Yerevan for the funeral.

* Artist and teacher

Marcos Grigorian was born to an Armenian family on December 5, 1923,
in Kropotkin, in the Krasnodar region of Russia. His family moved to
Iran in 1930.

He studied in the early 1950s in Rome at the Academy of Fine Arts.
It was studying, painting, and working in Rome, on the Via Borghese,
that he was happiest, said Michael Carapetian, a close friend and
architect based in Venice.

He returned to Iran in 1954, "to profoundly influence the
development of modern art in Iran as a teacher at Tehran’s Fine Arts
Academy," according to Gregory Lima, who wrote about his work in
Tehran’s Kayhan International daily over the years.

In 1956, he first participated in the Venice Biennale, where his
work was recognized as a Jury Selection. He represented Iran in the
1958 Biennale, after which he founded the Tehran-Venice Biennale.

"He was an influence on such diverse major talents as Sirak
Melconian and Parviz Tanovoli," Mr. Lima said. "His own ‘Earthworks’
received international acclaim."

The Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired one of Mr. Grigorian’s
"Earthworks" in 1965. By that time Mr. Grigorian had moved with his
daughter to Minnesota, where he taught at the Minnetonka Center for
the Arts. He now moved to New York City, where he continued to create
and show his work.

He resumed teaching in Iran in 1970, moving back and forth between
New York and Tehran.

In New York in 1980, he established the successful Gorky Gallery on
Madison Avenue.

* Back to his roots

His daughter died of a heart attack in 1986. The death of his daughter
"destroyed him," Mr. Carapetian said. Mr. Grigorian engaged in a long
malpractice struggle with the hospital in which his daughter had been
treated. "Finally, he decided to get back to his roots and came to
Armenia. He brought his big collection of Iranian art with him and
gave it to Armenia in the name of his daughter Sabrina," Mr.
Carapetian added.

The collection is housed temporarily in a small space at the Museum
of Literature in central Yerevan. In the last years of his life, Mr.
Grigorian tried to establish a permanent home for the collection.

Meanwhile, he bought a house in the Garni area, where he tried to
establish an arts center. He sold the Garni house last month. Two
masked men broke into his Yerevan apartment and demanded the proceeds
of the sale, around $50,000. They did not realize that the funds were
to be paid to Mr. Grigorian by wire transfer.

"They attacked me while I was still sleeping in my bed," Mr.
Grigorian told the Armenian Reporter in his hospital bed on August 13.
"While I was asleep they repeatedly hit my head. With me in an
unconscious state, they dragged me to the living room. I awoke just as
they were tying my hands to the chair.

"My teeth were shattered and my lips and gums were torn. I’m lucky
that the wound on my head is not deep, but I still lost a tremendous
amount of blood. That night [of the attack] my clothes were soaked in
my own blood."

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

7. Raffi Hovannisian proposes Karabakh recognition by Armenia

YEREVAN — Raffi Hovannisian, member of Armenia’s National Assembly
and leader of the Heritage Party, introduced a bill on August 28 that
would formally recognize the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The
Karabakh republic is not formally recognized by any state.

The move was dismissed by Armenia’s Foreign Ministry as untimely.
"The recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia has always been and
remains in Armenia’s diplomatic arsenal. That must come at a time when
it can be maximally effective and can help achieve a lasting
resolution. That time has not yet come," Vladimir Karapetian,
spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Armenian

Stepan Safarian, another member of the Heritage delegation in
parliament, said a deadlock in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks is a
major reason for the bill’s circulation, RFE/RL reported.

The bill goes to the parliamentary committee on foreign relations,
which is chaired by Armen Rustamian of the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation. Mr. Rustamian said the Heritage Party "must take into
consideration state interests and not obstruct the negotiating
process," RFE/RL reported.

* Hovannisian defeated in by-election

The ruling Republican Party’s Khachik Manukian handily won the 15th
electoral district’s seat in Armenia’s National Assembly. The vote had
been extremely close in the May 12 nationwide election, and a
by-election had been called for August 26. The district encompasses
the city of Talin in Armenia’s west.

Mr. Hovannisian had entered the race even though he is already a
member of the National Assembly, holding one of the six seats the
Heritage Party won on May 12. Had he won the new seat, he would have
ceded his original seat to the next person on the Heritage Party list.
However, he won only 3.4 percent of the vote.

In the May 12 election, Mr. Manukian had won 17,677 votes, according
to the Central Electoral Commission. Mnatsakan Mnatsakanian, the mayor
of Talin, had won 17,515 votes. In the party vote on the same day,
Heritage had won 2,022 votes, coming in fourth place. Nonetheless, Mr.
Hovannisian had expressed confidence that he would prevail in August.

In the by-election last week, according to the new Central Electoral
Commission, Mr. Manukian won 16,121 votes, Mr. Mnatsakanian 10,067,
Gurgen Shahinyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, 7,248, and
Mr. Hovannisian 1,220 votes.

The electoral commissions include members of each political party in
parliament, including the Heritage Party.

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

8. Lessons for future Pan-Armenian Games

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — Roland Sharoyan, vice-president of the World Committee of
the Pan-Armenian Games (WCPAG), met with journalists at a press
conference on August 28. He spoke about the significance and future of
the Pan-Armenian Games.

In particular he said: "The Pan-Armenian Games have a significant
role and place in Armenian life. These games are a sports festival and
the most practical event in terms of deepening and strengthening ties
between Armenia and Diaspora."

He mentioned also that these games bring to life the motto of the
WCPAG, "Unity through Sport."

However, Mr. Sharoyan could not avoid having to answer some tough
questions. He acknowledged one of the most significant failings of the
committee: "Our biggest failing was that Moscow was represented by
only five athletes. It is a failure on behalf of all the organizers.
This issue has been discussed at length at the meeting of the WCPAG,
and all those who were responsible for this issue were reprimanded,"
Mr. Sharoyan said. Moscow has one of the largest Armenian communities
in the world.

It turned out that some heads of delegations and trainers also "did
not perform well." If they had, then the men’s Yerevan-Cairo
basketball match would not have turned into a brawl just as the game
began. Another fight took place during the Stepanakert-Istanbul soccer
match. Mr. Sharoyan, however, mentioned that "the greatest number of
altercations took place during the Third Games, in six different
sporting events. This time there were only two disputes — basketball
and soccer. However, the question is fully justified." He advised
reporters that this question was also raised at the WCPAG executive
board meeting, and his personal opinion is that violators not only
have to be severely punished, but disqualified and deprived from the
right to participate in the next games.

In several sporting venues the conditions of the buildings were
shameful. For example, in the volleyball court at the Physical Culture
Institute, there was no place for the spectators to sit and watch the
game. Most had to line up against a wall, being careful not to get hit
by an athlete or with a volleyball. In the gymnasium of another venue,
the rotted wooden floor in the spectators’ section was shaking, giving
people the impression that they were on a sinking ship. That
impression was enhanced by the colorful water stains on the walls.

So, what is the reason for these poor conditions, when the Minister
of Sport, Armen Grigoryan, ensured everyone, a day before the start of
the games that all the venues were completely ready?

Mr. Sharoyan attempted to answer this question. He mentioned that
after the minister’s initial statements, it became clear that one of
the venues was not going to be ready and at the last moment they were
forced to hold some of the matches in less than desirable locations.
Mr. Sharoyan went on to say that the minister was misinformed
regarding the readiness of the premises. However, he didn’t know if
the person responsible for this misinformation had been punished.

Approximately 70 million AMD ($210,000) were allotted from the state
budget for the preparation of the 4th Pan-Armenian Games, including
renovation of the sports venues.

According to Mr. Sharoyan, for the past three years WCPAG has been
considering the possibility of building a special sports complex
specifically for the games. However everything rests with securing the
necessary financing.

With regard to the future of the Pan-Armenian Games, Mr. Sharoyan
stated that they are planning to add more sporting events in the Fifth
Pan-Armenian Games in 2011. "There will most likely be a marathon
introduced and we also have a proposal for fencing. It can be beach
volleyball, darts, and maybe even equestrian sport."

There are plans to organize a Winter Pan-Armenian Games in the near
future. The 2008 session of WCPAG will make a final decision in that

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

9. Impressions from the closing ceremony of the Pan-Armenian Games

by Elyssa Karanian

YEREVAN – I never thought this day would come: Sunday, before the
start of the Fourth Pan-Armenian Games closing ceremony in Yerevan, I
got to play my "I’m with the press" card for the first time. It didn’t
work. No one seemed impressed, especially since I didn’t have an
actual card! Apparently you need an invitation to get into these

I tried everything — begging, bribing, flirting, even sneaking my
way in — but to no avail. I suppose, if nothing else, I could report
on the efficiency of the security personnel at the event. Kudos!

From Freedom Square, outside of the Opera House, I was able to watch
the festivities from one of two screens that had been set up for the
live musical show after the ceremony. I was excited at first —
looking forward to seeing the teams on stage, donning medals, shaking
hands, and posing for photos.

As it turned out, the closing ceremony was a well-planned,
spectacular show, complete with the crowning of a Miss Pan-Armenian
Games, huge bouquets of roses, gold confetti, and politicians. The
disappointing reality, however, was that such a major, global event
for Armenian diaspora athletes was closed with a ceremony that largely
lacked attention to the players themselves.

Furthermore, all the planning for the week of sports seems to have
gone into the closing ceremony alone. The schedules for the games
themselves were impossible to find and the few in existence were
almost entirely inaccurate; not even the official website was up to
date. For those more dedicated fans, such as myself, though, who asked
anyone who appeared to have even a modicum of a clue, the games were
accessible and more than worth the effort to locate.

The energy from the scene outside of the Opera Hall was comparable
to the excitement that ran through the games all week long. Buzzing
with players, families, friends, and fans, the square was dotted with
heads for as far as I could see. The men from the San Paulo soccer
team were like celebrities — sporting yellow and green wigs, banging
tambourines, and singing in Portuguese with their arms around each
others’ shoulders. The Glendale girls smiled and posed for pictures
with their fans as the sky-blue-shirted, flag-toting Jerusalem soccer
team told stories of their single win.

Diaspora Armenians from 26 countries were bobbing throughout the
square, proudly wearing the colors of the Armenian flag and
interacting in the true spirit of the games. It was a relief to see
that at least the players were dedicated to maintaining the
interconnection and high standards of sportsmanship that have come to
characterize the games. "Everything this week — family, friends,
parties, curfews — everything was based around the games," said
Glendale basketball player, Lara Kadehjian. "That’s why we’re here."

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

10. Clouds of uncertainty cast a shadow over the fate of the Genocide
Memorial grounds

* Part 2: The City Administration surprises the Academy of Sciences

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — The Armenian Reporter contacted the city for clarification
about their initiative to take over the grounds of the Genocide
Memorial. In the course of conversations with our correspondent, some
city officials mentioned that the National Academy of Sciences made
the request to hand over the Genocide Memorial park lands and
Botanical Gardens (which also belongs to the National Academy of
Sciences) to the city.

The response that we received from the Information and Public
Relations Department of the Yerevan city administration is not much
different: "The question of transferring the territories adjacent to
the Genocide Museum and all of the Botanical Gardens to the
jurisdiction of the Yerevan city administration was raised by the
President of the National Academy of Sciences Radik Martirosyan. The
issue is still being discussed. Therefore Yerevan city administration
hasn’t presented any draft proposals."

The director of the Armenian Genocide Museum, Hayk Demoyan, stated,
however, that not only is he familiar with the first and second drafts
of the government decree signed and put into circulation by Mayor
Ervand Zakharyan, but showed them to our correspondent. Moreover, it
was the head of the Ecological Department of the Yerevan city
administration Avet Martirosyan, who as early as July 23 announced at
a press conference that a draft government decree was being prepared
that was going to solve the question of the jurisdiction of the
Botanical Gardens and the Genocide Memorial park lands. He told
journalists that the current disastrous state of the Botanical Gardens
can be explained by the limited financial resources of the National
Academy of Sciences. Moreover, the situation, according to Avet
Martirosyan, is a result of not only limited finances, but also the
lack of professional staff. Mr. Martirosyan also informed journalists
that 103 hectares of the Genocide Memorial Park are maintained by only
5 employees, and the head of the Planting Department is a builder.

Mr. Demoyan says these allegations are completely false.

At the same press conference, the head of the Ecological Department
of the city administration stated: "We will increase the number of
employees and funding in order to improve the territory." (Azg daily,
July 4). The question remains as to why it isn’t possible to simply
grant these funds to the Botanical Garden or the Genocide Museum for
the same purpose.

We next turned to the National Academy of Sciences for further
clarification. The president of NAS Radik Martirosyan was out of town
but the secretary of the NAS, and member of the presidium, Babken
Harutunyan was available to answer our questions. The first question
we asked was what was the position of the presidium of the National
Academy of Sciences on the Genocide Memorial Park.

"At the August 3 session of the presidium of NAS [ten days after the
official statement of the city] we discussed that issue and came to a
decision that it is imperative to leave at least 35 hectares of the
territory adjacent to the Genocide Museum under the jurisdiction of
the Museum, with the remaining 68.8 hectares passed to the authority
of the city, but ensuring it receives a special status, so that there
will not be any inappropriate construction carried out."

Mr. Harutunyan added: "By taking this decision, the presidium of NAS
by no means advocates the idea that the Genocide Memorial Park can
become a construction site for various restaurants and so on. On the
contrary, the presidium decision states that the park must have a
special legal status (as a National Park), as part of our national
wealth, which has to serve Yerevan as a green zone and a recreational

In fact, the secretary of NAS confirmed that the issue of the
Genocide Memorial Park was put on the agenda of the presidium session
after and because of the worrying statements of city representatives.
"The problem is that we read in the press that the city administration
was going to take these lands back. We were surprised by the fact.
Eventually the issue was placed on the agenda."

So, were the statements made in the press the reason for this issue
to be discussed at the NAS presidium?

"I’m inclined to believe that these published statements about this
territory adjacent to the Genocide Museum really were the reason for
this issue to be discussed," Mr. Harutyunyan stated.

However, was the NAS presidium or NAS president Radik Martirosyan
the initiators or the ones to raise the issue of giving the park
territories to the city administration?

"I can only say this. If the city administration accuses, and I
cannot find another word for it, the NAS in person or the NAS
president that way, then I think that the decision of the NAS
presidium will demonstrate our position and the letter we have written
will confirm it," he continued.

We asked the secretary of the NAS to comment on the Yerevan city
administration statement in which it is stated that the issue was
raised by Radik Martirosyan himself: "I just want to express my
surprise and anger that a person such as the president of NAS was
accused. He would never come up with such a personal initiative. This
is for sure. Besides, all they needed to do was to show the decision
of the NAS, and say, ‘Look, the NAS has begged us, groveled at our
feet to come and take these territories.’ Don’t you think that if they
had that kind of proof, they would show it? They would certainly show
it. You can’t just accuse NAS in something that it has nothing to do
with," Mr. Harutyunyan states.

During his student years Academician Harutyunyan took part in the
planting of trees in the Genocide Memorial Park himself. Taking that
fact into consideration, we asked Mr. Harutyunyan his own personal
view about all this as a concerned citizen.

"I think that the original government decree to join the adjacent
park to the Genocide Museum in 2004 was absolutely right. And we have
to preserve that legal status. I have stated my opinion in the NAS
presidium session. I haven’t voted for that decision, but if the
decision is passed, I must comply with that," Babken Harutyunyan said,
at the same time noting: "However, as far as I can tell, much work has
been done by the Genocide Museum to give that park a decent look. I
also know that there are serious plans. The most important is that
they have repaired the water pump, which was out of order for years,
and now the park has normal irrigation. I have visited the park many
times before it was given to the museum, and I can’t say that the
state of it was perfect and that it got worse after the park was given
to the museum.

"On the contrary, there were many dead trees, irrigation was awful,
the trees had dried out. Now, I want to understand, when the Genocide
Museum has such serious plans, when the museum together with the
diaspora wants to solve the problem of protection and development of
the park, what has the city administration got to do with it? To tell
you the truth, I can’t see what they are saying. I can only speak as a
citizen of the Republic of Armenia. Dzidzernagaberd isn’t anyone’s
property. It is the property of the people; it is the property of our
state. Let’s cherish it like it’s the apple of our eye. The green
zones in Yerevan are receding anyway. I think that it will be best if
the park is left under the management of the museum. I think that all
those serious changes that have been made by the Genocide Museum
administration provides us with hope and the right to say that in the
future we will have an excellent recreational zone for our citizens."

It is expected that the government will take a decision concerning
this issue in autumn.

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

11. New skills, new jobs, new hope in the earthquake zone

* FAR’s Gyumri IT Center honors its first graduating class

Gyumri, Armenia — A few years ago, it would have been difficult to
imagine a functioning, up-to-date information technology center
existing anywhere else in Armenia but Yerevan. But today, the city of
Gyumri has a center of its own: the Gyumri Information Technology
Center (GITC). Just as importantly, the Gyumri facility has graduated
its first class of trainees — all 17 of whom hail from Gyumri and
Shirak province.

The Fund for Armenian Relief established GITC in 2005 as a joint
venture with two private individuals, Patrick Sarkissian and Zabel
Vassilian, and two IT industry companies, Enterprise Incubator
Foundation and Shirak Technologies LLC. From the outset, its goals
have been to train adults for advanced real-time high-tech jobs, to
attract IT companies to the earthquake zone (thereby creating jobs),
and to develop the appropriate infrastructure to support an IT hub in
Shirak province.

Qualified specialists and professionals from Yerevan and the
Armenian diaspora have been invited to teach at GITC. These experts
shared their extensive knowledge with GITC’s students, who ranged in
age from 22 to 45 years old.

Initially, GITC’s curriculum offered only electrical engineering,
supplemented by advanced English language courses. But based on
feedback from Armenia’s IT industry, a new department focusing on web
technologies was added last year. As a result, GITC has become a
unique establishment in the republic, producing universal IT
specialists — whose credentials and specialties are relatively rare
even in Yerevan.

Nine of the 17 GITC graduates are already employed. Meanwhile, the
very existence of GITC has prompted two Yerevan-based IT companies
with international affiliations to open branches in Gyumri. It’s a
testament to GITC’s reputation that other companies are exploring the
possibility of doing the same.

* The most important things

On July 17, GITC’s first graduation ceremony was held at FAR’s Ounjian
School in Gyumri. Attending the ceremony to honor the graduates were
parents, professors, lecturers, guests from Yerevan, representatives
from the municipal government, and local media. GITC’s executive
director Narine Petrosyan opened the ceremony by extending a warm
welcome to all and congratulating the first graduating class on their

Keynote speaker Dr. Yervant Zorian, the renowned Armenian-American
IT specialist, awarded the diplomas. In remarks, Dr. Zorian -who as a
member of GITC’s Scientific Council has an appreciation of GITC’s
significance in the larger context of Armenia’s development —
welcomed the initiatives of foreign companies expanding to Gyumri.
"The most important thing is the revival of Gyumri, as well as the
spiritual empowerment of Armenians," he said, offering his list of the
three essential objects of devotion: family, birthplace, and national

Vardouhi Joulhakyan, one of GITC’s first graduates, confessed that
two years earlier she had decided to continue her education in Yerevan
and then perhaps abroad. "However, now there is no such need. In my
mind, the greatest accomplishment of GITC is the renewed belief among
the youth for a bright future in Gyumri," said this promising young

Bishop Michael Adjapahian, Primate of the Shirak Diocese, blessed
the ceremony and congratulated all the graduates and their families.
In his speech, Bishop Adjapahian stressed the importance of the IT
Center, populated with so many outstanding young people, and its
impact in Gyumri and the surrounding province.

"This is a new beginning in Gyumri. May it be fruitful and
effective," said Bishop Adjapahian. "Strong belief goes along with
devotion, while initiating something new. This center is an expression
of great faith in the future."

For information on the Fund for Armenian Relief and its numerous
projects, contact FAR via e-mail at [email protected], or on the web at
web at

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

12. From Armenia, in brief

* They have cleaned out Haypost

YEREVAN — Haypost has a history of 15 years, but it has been a
history of theft and stealing.

This statement was made by the general director of Haypost, Hans
Boon,during an August 29 meeting with heads of departments within the
administrative structure of the company and heads of postal outlets
throughout the country.

At the same meeting, Mr. Boon announced that after an internal
investigation, it has been determined that over the course of the past
5-7 years there have been systematic violations with regard to the
operation of service vehicles.

In his words, these violations have cost the company almost 2
billion AMD ($6 million at the current exchange rate). This amount was
accumulated after false remittances for gas and repairs and
maintenance of the service vehicles by some employees and officials.

Haypost Trust Management has applied to police to further
investigate these allegations and proceed accordingly. During this
meeting it was announced that five heads of departments, including the
fleet management department head, have been fired. The company is
attempting to create an image of transparency and accountability.

On November 30, 2006, Haypost, which is the national mail operator,
was placed into the trust of the Dutch Haypost Trust Management, which
is owned by Dutch Postbank. The trust management company was created
by Dutch Postbank specifically for this purpose and signed a five year

* Lori province prosecutor murdered

YEREVAN — The prosecutor for Armenia’s northern province of Lori,
Albert Ghazarian, was shot and killed in the early hours of August 25
by an unknown assailant. The death of Mr. Ghazarian, 56, was confirmed
by Sona Truzian, press officer for the Prosecutor General of Armenia.

Mr. Ghazarian was on his way home in Vanadzor when someone fired a
Russian Makarov pistol four times at approximately 12:25 a.m. Ms.
Truzian said. Mr. Ghazarian took four shots in the back, shoulder, and
neck, and died.

A Makarov pistol and four shells were found at the scene of the crime.

Mr. Ghazarian was married and had a son.

Armenia’s acting Prosecutor General, Mnatsakan Sargsian, personally
went to the scene of the crime, where he was joined by Armenia’s
deputy chief of police. An investigating team has been assembled.

Mr. Ghazarian had been appointed prosecutor on March 26, 2006. Until
then and since 1999, he had been deputy prosecutor for Lori. He served
as regional prosecutor for Stepanavan, in Lori, from 1997 to 1999, and
before that as district prosecutor for Gugark, in the Stepanavan

Ms. Truzian confirmed that investigators are pursuing more than one
theory of the cause of the crime, and that a work-related motive is
among them. To date no one has been arrested and the police have no
active leads.

* African swine fever in Armenia

YEREVAN — After initial reports of pigs dying off mysteriously, it
has been confirmed that African swine fever has swept into Armenia
from neighboring Georgia, where tens of thousands of pigs have already
died. According to the Armenian veterinary service, a total of 657
pigs have died and another 517 have to be destroyed.

ASF is a rare, highly contagious disease that affects pigs and is
very resistant to physical and chemical inactivation. The disease
causes fever and results in very high pig mortality. ASF does not
affect humans.

According to Armenpress, experts say that new hotbeds of the disease
have appeared and in an effort to contain them police and veterinary
services have set up roadblocks outside affected villages to enforce a
quarantine that was put into place. According to the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the U.N., there is no vaccine and the only
way to contain ASF is through stamping out policies and strict
quarantine. Even with all these efforts, animals continue to die and
their carcasses are being found in rivers and roadsides.

Tissue samples of the sick animals were sent to laboratories in
Russia and Great Britain. On August 27 it was officially confirmed
that the outbreak was indeed AFS and as a result Russia has banned all
imports of meat from Armenia.

* AGRC also goes to the Russians

The press secretary of Russian Prominvest Corporation announced that
the sale of Ararat Gold Recovery Company (AGRC) shares will be
finalized after September 10. AGRC is currently owned by Anil Agarwal,
president of Vedanta Resources.

According to local news sources, 82.4 percent of the shares of AGRC
will go to the Georgian Madneuli Stock Company which is a sister
affiliate of Prominvest Corporation, a Russian financial and
industrial conglomerate. The same sources cite that the Russian
company paid 86 million U.S. dollars for AGRC.

As previously reported (August 18 Armenian Reporter) the deputy
prosecutor general of Armenia, Gagik Jhangiryan on August 2 filed a
legal action with the Economic Court of the Republic of Armenia. The
suit requested that the company’s license to mine gold in Armenia be
rescinded. The suit also called for the court to expropriate from AGRC
4 billion AMD for tax evasion, liabilities, and VAT fines and an
additional $10 million in penalties for improper operation of the
mine, and that AGRC had concealed 1.5 tons of extracted gold. The
deputy prosecutor general also requested that the company’s assets and
bank accounts be frozen. However on the appointed day of the court
hearing neither side appeared and the session was canceled.

Sona Truzian, the press officer of the Prosecutor General’s office
told the Armenian Reporter that as the new buyer of APRG was required
to pay the fines of the previous owner and therefore the deputy
Prosecutor General had decided not to pursue the lawsuit.

Prominvest Corporation belongs to the former energy minister and
former member of the Russian Duma, Sergey Generalov.

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

13. Living in Armenia: Crazy things that happen in small countries

by Maria Titizian

"What a country. The crazy things that happen here. You know, when I
was a kid, one afternoon a boulder fell on a boy, and killed him on
the spot. Right in our backyard. We all shared a backyard, all these
buildings shared one backyard, and there was a slope running along the
edge of it, like a hill, with stones and boulders And the boulder fell
on this poor kid and killed him…. I sometimes think there’s a reason
for all these freak accidents. Some message. A message from above….The
place is dangerous.

"Another guy I know got eaten alive by bees. In my high school two
kids drowned and one girl died when a branch fell on her during a
hike. I swear, it’s weird. Those sorts of things happen everywhere,
you just don’t hear about them. We’re a small country, so we hear
about every death. We hear, and we also remember. We feel bad, and we
remember…. Also people here are careless. They drive like they’re
homicidal and on amphetamines. They think they have to be tough, so
they aren’t self-protective. They don’t avoid bees and they swim where
there aren’t any lifeguards. The city doesn’t clear boulders. We don’t
look after ourselves, that’s the problem. We’re too arrogant and vain
and we’re obsessed with being tough. Maybe we’re also suicidal."

This is a passage from the novel Look for Me written by Edeet Ravel.
She’s not Armenian and she’s not describing Armenia but she might as
well be. Ms. Ravel was born on a Marxist kibbutz near the
Israeli-Lebanese border and what she was describing was the Israeli
state of mind.

And it got me thinking about the parallels we share with other
"small countries."

Every murder, every accident, freaky or otherwise, every attack,
every rape, every drowning, every death is felt and is mourned. I
have grudgingly come to accept that violence is inescapable and
accidents which could easily be prevented continue to plague this
society because of carelessness and ignorance.

It’s true, violence exists everywhere. It is brought to bear
collectively and individually. It is expressed in the desperation of a
lost and floundering generation. It is expressed by those who feel
they have nothing left to lose.

But as a collective entity, as a people, as a nation we never had to
own up to the violence. We believed that since we didn’t create the
conditions which fostered violence, therefore we did not have to
answer for it. Never needed to. After all, we were always living in
someone else’s country, never our own. It was the reflection of a
society for which we felt no direct responsibility.

But in Armenia, the violence is ours to own. It exists of our own
volition. And it seems to be on the increase. According to a 2006
Armenian Police Service Report, while there was a decrease in the
incidents of attempted murders, there was an increase of murders in
the republic (75 murders in 2006, 55 murders in 2005). I’m not sure
what this means, but it appears that murderers are getting smarter and
more efficient. Robberies have also been on the rise: 3,261 in 2006
compared with 2,624 in 2005.

According to this same report, rape or attempted rape has decreased
dramatically — 24 cases in 2005 compared with 10 cases in 2006. A
critical element that is not factored into the equation when the
police publish these reports is that in the overriding majority of
cases women are not reporting the rape. In a country of 3 million
inhabitants, it’s hard to believe that there has only been 10 cases of
rape. Women don’t report largely due to fear of repercussions and
cultural stigmas surrounding rape. My 18-year-old daughter witnessed
the brutal beating of a young woman by a man, most likely her husband
or boyfriend, in his big, black SUV a few days ago on a busy street.
Her friends commented that the woman, who was receiving blows to her
head, must have done something to have brought on the beating. You
see, the victim is responsible and everything is justifiable.

One of the main areas of focus for police was gun-related crimes. In
2006 alone, there were 180 recorded instances of illegal possession of
guns and 126 instances of illegal possession of explosives. Not
surprising when any number of oligarchs have a personal army of
illiterate, untrained, armed bodyguards who are more than willing to
put their toys to use.

Police say that as a result of this increase in crime they are
overworked, and this has affected the number of cases that they have
been able to solve. In 2005 for example, 84.5 percent of crimes were
solved, whereas in 2006 only 79.2 percent of all crimes were solved.
With violent crimes, their track record is even worse: only 71.6
percent of crimes solved.

Living in Armenia, you don’t need these statistics to know that
there is crime here. So what was the point of all these depressing
statistics? To prove that we have crime and violence in Armenia? The
point is to emphasize that this country, like any other country on the
planet has its fair share of robbers, murderers, con artists, and

What we need to address is the tendency that we have been witnessing
of a steady increase in the incidents of crime. We’ve had enough
"messages from above."


Our attitude toward safety are lax at best. Children don’t wear
helmets when they ride their bikes. No one wears seat belts in a
country where driving greatly increases your risk of dying. Older cars
don’t even have seatbelts. Young infants are held in their mother’s
laps while they sit in the front seat of cars, while toddlers can be
seen standing up in the back seats. There are even those fathers who
place their child on their laps while negotiating the treacherous
streets of Yerevan behind their steering wheels. Pedestrians don’t
look when they are crossing the street. Construction workers are not
given helmets or other protective gear while they build the buildings
where we choose to live.

The dilapidated condition of elevators has at last become a source
of concern for city officials who are now struggling to renovate or
replace several thousand of them. Apartment buildings are falling
apart along with their balconies, which have become a serious threat
to the population. Manholes are left uncovered and in the darkness of
night can swallow a human whole or trap the tire of any car. Traffic
lights don’t work. Pedestrian lights don’t work. Stray dogs traveling
in packs are not dealt with. Meat is sold in unhygienic conditions,
oftentimes exposed under the sun where flies and humans battle to find
the best cuts.

This past year 22 people have already drowned, most of them having
perished while on fishing trips and the rest while swimming. According
to the Armenian Rescue Service those who drowned were swimming in
areas where, of course there were no lifeguards.

Safety, health, hygiene — these are issues that the state needs to
regulate, implement, and enforce. Sadly, even if regulations exist,
they are rarely enforced and educational programs geared toward
raising awareness are nonexistent.

I wonder where everyone has gone? Perhaps to Lake Sevan for a fishing trip?

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

14. Letters

* Kudos to a master photographer


Having read your profile of Harry Koundakjian (Arts and Culture, June
30), I wanted to extend my congratulations to the master
photojournalist, on the occasion of his retrospective exhibition in

Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives was pleased in 2004 to
work with Harry to create this exhibit. Project SAVE served as
curator, which included selecting photos, researching and writing
captions, and purchasing exhibit-quality photo enlargements.

The exhibition premiered in the exhibit gallery of the Armenian
Library and Museum in Watertown, Mass., with Harry and his lovely
wife Aida and daughter Lola present for the opening. During the
exhibit’s run, Harry also participated in a public program with
journalist Steve Kurkjian of the Boston Globe and photographer Garo
Lachinian, formerly with the Boston Herald.

Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives extends its best wishes to
Harry and Aida.

Very truly yours,
Ruth Thomasian
Watertown, Mass.

The writer is executive director of the Project SAVE Armenian
Photograph Archives ().

* Menace 2 culture


A few weeks ago you published an article wishing a happy birthday to
the singer "Armenchik" (Arts and Culture, Aug. 4) — who my opinion
produces the most vulgar genre of music among the musicians working
inside and outside our homeland.

I have absolutely no problem in wishing another human being a happy
birthday. What troubles me is that Armenchik, through his
over-saturated emotionalism and sugar-coated words, lacks art. His
so-called "poetry" and "enlightenment" will produce a generation of
music lovers who will never have the opportunity to appreciate real
music and art.

Nobody is asking our artists to create works on the level of Komitas
or Yekmalian. But please: Armenchik’s songs are arguably the cheapest
thrills ever made available in the arena of Armenian music. The
Armenian Reporter in my opinion should make more of an effort to
introduce its readers to artists whose work will stand the test of

And one final request, directed at my Armenian sisters and brothers:
Please choose wisely; choose good music; choose quality.

Very truly yours,
Avedis Frandjian

* A big bravo


I want to give you a big "bravo" for your exposé of the four Armenians
who wanted to become multi-millionaires in California, quickly and

I have heard that there are over 10,000 citizens of Armenia who are
in prison there — for various different reasons, but mainly for
having broken the laws of their host state.

Keep up the good work. Cheers to your group of editors,
correspondents, and all.

Very truly yours,
Harry L. Koundakjian
New York, N.Y.

* Covering offenders is offensive


I find it very offensive and it serves no purpose to report the
various crimes being committed by fellow Armenians, most of which
occur in California. The Armenians in California already get this
information on Armenian TV and in their daily papers.

In general, I find the paper to be very stuffy, more like the New
York Times than a community Armenian newspaper. There is a saying that
goes, "If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it." Too many things that have
been "fixed" were not broken.

Very truly yours,
Martha Saraydarian
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

* A matter of language?


Perhaps the answer to Vigen Guroian’s problem about "The Orthodox
presence in America" (Aug. 4 and 11), is a matter of language.

Since the word "Protestant" in the collective "Protestant, Catholic,
Jewish" includes all the "protestant" sects and traditions ranging
from the Baptists through to the Evangelicals, why not include the
Church of Rome (which is, after all, an "orthodox" church) under the
title "Orthodox," so that the collection will now read "Protestant,
Orthodox, Jewish" or, chronologically, "Jewish, Orthodox, and

Of course, the Church of Rome may not like the idea of being
returned to the fold of "orthodoxy" which it left, as a schismatic
church, in 1054; but it would resolve, very neatly, the matter of the
role of the Orthodox churches in America.

Very truly yours,
Avedis Kevorkian
Philadelphia, Pa.

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

15. Editorial: A Pan-Armenian spirit

The Fourth Pan-Armenian Games brought young Armenians from all over
the world together in Armenia for two exciting weeks.

Some of our staff in Armenia — Associate Editor Maria Titizian,
correspondents Armen Hakobyan and Betty Panossian-Ter Sargssian, and
intern Elyssa Karanian — spoke to dozens of athletes from all over
the world. Some were young people on their first visit to their
ancestral homeland. Some were the children of recent emigrants. Others
had been to Armenia before, perhaps for earlier Pan-Armenian Games.

The visiting athletes’ impressions varied.

A man from Brazil was not impressed with the refereeing. But he
added, "These are some of the most beautiful days for us. These games
granted us friendship — between us and other teams."

A woman from Argentina complained of language barriers: "I feel that
we, Armenians, sometimes have difficulties in communicating," she
said. But, she added, "The most essential thing is that you can feel
the spirit and make new friends."

A man from Los Angeles had no complaints. He was especially thrilled
to have experienced the Armenia-Portugal soccer match in Yerevan,
which happened to coincide with the games, and in which the Armenian
team managed to hold its own against the top-ranked Portuguese team.

A man from Montreal was outraged at the way people drive in Yerevan.
Indeed, every time a pedestrian survives crossing a street in Yerevan,
it is a small miracle. But he added: "The main thing is that Armenians
come together."

We agree. The main thing is that Armenians come together. And what’s
more, that they discover the challenges faced by the Armenian nation
as well as the exhilaration of being part of a pan-Armenian gathering
in the homeland.

This is true of participants from Armenia as well as visiting
participants. The games help them see the reality of the larger
Armenian world beyond Armenia.

The participants in the games have made connections with fellow
Armenians across the globe. Most will probably sustain these
connections and come to look at Armenian affairs from a global rather
than strictly local perspective. As they remain active in their local
communities, they will bring this healthy perspective to their

We were especially touched by stories of visiting athletes who went
out beyond the games and found ways to get involved in Armenia. The
Glendale team chose a school and helped renovate its gym and bought
sports equipment for it.

Another group of athletes kept themselves busy visiting orphanages
in Yerevan, kindergartens in neighboring villages and towns, and
handing out basketballs, volleyballs, American footballs, and soccer
balls to random people, mostly young children. Their group played with
the kids, taught them basketball techniques, and introduced them to
American football.

The Pan-Armenian Games are a beautiful expression of the
pan-Armenian spirit. Kudos to all the athletes and their sponsors for
making them possible.

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

Please send your news to [email protected] and your letters to
[email protected]

(c) 2007 CS Media Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved