South Ossetians Haunted By War


2010/05 /20 12:43:57 GMT

Two years after Georgia and Russia went to war over the disputed
territory of South Ossetia, the BBC’s Tom Esslemont finds that South
Ossetians remain on edge, and are reluctant to put down their weapons.

We were standing in an overgrown churchyard when we heard the
explosion. Then came another noise.

"Whoosh!" went the rocket, about 300m (1000ft) away, before detonating
in a hillside.

After a few seconds of steely silence there came a crackle of gunfire –
a brief "Pah-pah-pah-pah" reverberated around the valley.

Initially I suggested we move away, though it seemed we were at a safe
distance, but when I looked at my taxi driver, Nodar, he did not seem
to be alarmed. In fact he had hardly even noticed the explosion.

"Huh, what? Oh that – that was just a training exercise," he said.

"Nothing to worry about."

Utter destruction

This was my introduction to South Ossetia – a landlocked, disputed
territory, home to around 30,000 people and cut off from Georgia
proper by a volatile boundary line.

I had just driven down the territory’s only entry/exit point – the
highway from Russia, South Ossetia’s umbilical chord – snaking its
way through a deep, wooded valley past peaceful cottages.

Then, by contrast, I passed the scene of utter destruction. Thousands
of ruined houses destroyed by the conflict in 2008 between Georgians –
and Russians and Ossetians.

Now I could see a fast-flowing river cut a photogenic gorge through
the town of Tskhinvali against the backdrop of grey, pockmarked,
Soviet buildings.

Everywhere, it seems, the gaping scars of war remain unhealed and
society remains paralysed in a state of readiness for another conflict.

On our way into Tskhinvali we were stopped by another vehicle, a grey
Lada with dark windows and no number plate.

Two men got out. A tall, mean-looking man in jeans, the other a
friendlier, more jovial-looking, rounder guy. The tall one seemed to
be in charge. He flashed a tatty, pink identity card at us, claiming
he was from the local KGB.

Piercing glare

He was not in the mood for hearing about who we were so there was
no time to tell him we were fully accredited with the de facto
authorities. And with a quick piercing, glare he jumped in our car
and escorted us to his compound.

" I was expecting the usual three-hour interrogation, but it appeared
they had actually made a mistake "

On countless occasions while travelling in the former Soviet Union I
have been stopped by the employees of the local security department –
the local KGB apparatchiks – either for filming something they did
not want me to shoot – or simply for just being there.

This time I was expecting the usual three-hour interrogation, but it
appeared they had actually made a mistake.

"Wait a minute," said the tall KGB official, as we arrived at the
compound. "Is this Esslemont?"

At that point another, more garrulous man approached us, arms aloft.

He must have been the tall man’s boss. The official received a short,
sharp rebuke and we were released. No interrogation. And, for the
first time in my life, I received an apology from a security agent.

This hold-up, I was later informed, is part of the "war mentality"
South Ossetia is beset by.

‘Lost generation’

I was discussing it with Nodar, now in his late thirties. He used to
be a soldier.

Nodar, like most men over 30, wears military fatigues every day. He
is part of South Ossetia’s lost generation, who spent their most
formative years fighting against the Georgians in the 1990s and who
have never really known any different.

Now Nodar and his friends spend the evenings sitting around campfires,
reminiscing about the "wartime days".

"I’m always ready to fight," he says.

Then he proudly shows me the video on his mobile phone of the moment
South Ossetian militia had fired at a Georgian tank during the war.

The post-war period in South Ossetia has brought an uneasy peace. The
authorities recently started a weapons amnesty, confiscating the guns
which are not properly registered.

This has not gone down well with Nodar and his friends – people who
have owned a gun for their whole lives and feel happier taking the
law into their own hands than leaving it to the authorities.

Cycle of conflict

Grecia, a former gunmaker – does not approve of the South Ossetian
authorities. Sitting on an upturned box, his pale complexion warmed
by the orange glow of the fire, he tells me the authorities are scared.

"They are worried about unrest coming from within South Ossetia and
so that’s why they’re rounding up the guns," he says.

Grecia, Nodar and other out-of-work militia put this all down to a
paranoia in South Ossetia, a situation they have got used to. Its
roots lie in the cyclical nature of conflict, that has struck the
region since the collapse of the USSR.

As they roast juicy legs of chicken and fatty lamb on the open fire,
they tell jokes – good old Russian "anecdotes" – poking fun at members
of other ethnic groups in the Caucasus and beyond – the Chechens,
the Circassians, the Armenians, the Turks.

As I sat listening to their conversation, it struck me that what
is happening in South Ossetia is nothing new. The Caucasus has been
fought over for centuries, the Ottomans, the Persians and the Russians
have long squabbled over this fertile, mountainous land.

And the people – now and through the centuries – have always been
stuck in the middle.

How to listen to: From our own Correspondent

Radio 4: Saturdays, 1130. Second weekly edition on Thursdays, 1100
(some weeks only)

World Service: See programme schedules

Download the

Listen on

Story by story at the

Noune Karapetian To Present Her Children’s "Tsapik, Tsapik" CD In Ye


May 18, 2010 – 20:54 AMT 15:54 GMT

Noune Karapetian, a graduate of Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan, who
is now living in Boston, U.S., will present her children’s "Tsapik,
Tsapik" CD in Yerevan on May 20.

She is performing with opera companies (Opera Boston, Granite State
Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera), choruses (Chorus Pro Musica, New
Bedford Choral Society) and in concerts (at the Armenian Embassy in
Washington D.C. in Montreal, Toronto, in Florida, etc).

Noune is also a licensed "Kindermusik" teacher and taught children
aging 1-7 for many years.

"After I had my twins, I was looking for quality recordings of
Armenian songs for the very young children. The selection was very
limited. That was the reason I embarked on this project. This CD is for
my children and all the Armenian children of the world. It includes
old beloved folk songs like "Arev, Arev", "Kerin Yekav Mer Baky",
"Andzrev", and also songs that I wrote myself. Action songs like
"Te Karogh es", where child sings and acts all the actions with the
music, a lullaby, a song "Klorik em, tmblik" for the development of
the fine motor skills," Noune says.

BAKU: Azerbaijani FM: All International Observers In So-Called "Parl


May 19 2010

Azerbaijan will declare all international observers in the so-called
"parliament elections" in the Nagorno-Karabakh persona non grata.

"The so-called "parliament elections" to be held by the separatist
regime of the Nagorno-Karabakh are illegal and all international
observers wishing to observe the course of these "elections" will be
declared persona non grata. The Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan’s land
and anyone, who visited the area without Azerbaijan’s permission, is
declared persona non grata, and later he can not visit Azerbaijan,"
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov told Trend

The Nagorno-Karabakh’s Separatist regime will hold parliamentary
elections May 23.

The Armenian media reported that the former OSCE Special Representative
for South Caucasus and present representative of the Paris office
of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, Maurice Bono will
observe the "elections".

The Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry earlier made a statement on so-called
"parliament elections" in the Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Any kind of elections in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic
of Azerbaijan may be recognized as fair and free once the expelled
Azerbaijani population takes full, direct and equal part in their
conduct in lawful and democratic environment equally to the Armenian
population of the region. Holding such elections will be possible
after the withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces, normalization of
life in the region, creation of necessary conditions for restoration
of the dialogue and cooperation between the Armenian and Azerbaijani
communities of Nagorno-Karabakh," the statement says.

"Conduct of such "elections" gravely violates the relevant provisions
of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the norms and
principles of international law, since they are held in absence of
the original Azerbaijani population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region,
and, therefore shall have no legal effect whatsoever," the ministry

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988
when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian
armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992,
including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The
co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France, and the U.S. –
are currently holding the peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four
resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the
occupied territories.

"If any individual is going to monitor the "parliamentary election"
in the Nagorno-Karabakh – it is his/her right, but the fact that
the former EU Special Representative for South Caucasus, a person
once endowed with quite a lot of power, who was supposed to deal
with the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and the stabilization of situation in the South Caucasus,
causes surprising and doubt that he was ever objective while occupying
this post," Azerbaijani political scientist Fikret Sadikhov said.

That’s why for so many years we are fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh
problem, namely diplomats such as Bono and others like he, took a
one-sided position and supported separatism in Azerbaijan and were
not interested in resolving the conflict and deoccupation of the
Azerbaijani territories, he said.

"In fact, it is a real reflection of the reality, which Azerbaijan
faced for many years, trying to solve this prolonged conflict
situation", Sadikhov said.

Resumption Of Military Actions In Karabakh Improbable, Alexander Arz

Karen Ghazaryan

18.05.2010 16:33

"Russia and Turkey are now solving an issue of long-term military
cooperation, where Armenia might become a bargaining chip,"
representative of the Armenian National Congress, ex-Foreign Minister
of Armenia Alexander Arzumanyan told a press conference today.

History proves that Armenia has always suffered as result of
Russian-Turkish agreements.

Congress Alexander Arzumanyan says the possibility of resumption of
hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh is small. Much depends on the balance
of forces in the region, according to him.

"I don’t think the sides are interested to break the balance achieved
during the past years," he said. "Hostilities are possible in case
the talks reach a deadlock," Arzumanyan said, adding that restoration
of the PACE subcommittee on Nagorno Karabakh is inadmissible either
for Armenia or for the OSCE Minsk Group.

Nune Yesayan Is Not An Internet Lover


Famous Armenian singer Nune Yesayan has never dreamed of participating
in Eurovision Song Contest.

"I have never taken part in any contest. Unnecessary intrigues and
excitement hinder me," said Yesayan at a press conference today.

At the same time she mentioned that she had no idea about the songs
presented at the Eurovision 2010 Song Contest except Eva Rivas’s
Apricot Stone.

"I am not a lover of the internet," said Yesayan, adding she does
not have profiles in various websites, such as

"And the ones that exist [on or on other social
websites] are not mines," said Yesayan.

Noisy Diplomacy


Turkey, which after the suspension of the ratification process of the
protocols by Armenia promised to carry out "silent" diplomacy, from
time to time, carries out "noisy" diplomacy. Last week, the Turkish
foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu issued an ambitious statement about
Turkey’s will to carry out a psychological revolution in the region.

He stated that the region is to be changed so to enable a car from
Kars pass through Yerevan, Kelbadjar and arrive in Baku. Today,
the Turkish Hurryiet, citing its sources, wrote that the Turkish
prime minister will try in Baku to "persuade" Azerbaijan to agree
with Armenia’s surrender of 2 regions, instead of five. In addition,
if previously, they dwelt on Aghdam and Fizuli, now they dwell on
Kelbadjar and Fizuli.

Why did Turks decide to leave Aghdam to Armenians considering the map?

Kelbadjar and Fizuli is what connect Karabakh with Armenia and Iran.

"Cutting" these regions out from the map of Armenia, a big lock is to
be posted on Karabakh and left. Besides, again according to the map,
if Turks need a road taking from Kars to Baku, it is enough to open
an admission point on their border and one- on the border of Armenia
with Azerbaijan. Karabakh with Kelbadjar will be left far apart.

Evidently, all this bluff connected with two, three and five regions
pursues only two goals: to convince Armenians of the inevitability of
territorial concessions, and second- to manage to seize something for
Azerbaijan. There are only two problems for the opening of regional
communications – closed Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbaijani
frontiers. Moreover, it is not Armenia to keep them closed. And so for
transportation in the region, and pipes, the authorities in Ankara and
Baku just need to open the borders. So, the psychological revolution
is to be carried out in Baku and Ankara.

Two Contracts Signed Between Governments Of Armenia And Czech Republ


MAY 17, 2010

YEREVAN, MAY 17, ARMENPRESS: Within the framework of the working visit
of the Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer to Armenia two contracts have
been signed between the governments of the two countries – contract
"About the air transport between the governments of the RA and
Czech Republic" and "About accepting back the people living without
permission". Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said today at
the meeting with the reporters that in this phase the two countries
are highlighting the development of legal-agreement field. Assignments
will be given to the relevant institutions to prepare another several
concrete contracts for cooperation in cultural, educational, tourism

"This is the second meeting with Jan Fischer during the passed 10
days. It was an exclusive opportunity to discuss with the Czech
prime minister those main directions of cooperation which have big
potential," Tigran Sargsyan said. According to him, the Armenian-Czech
business forum held today in Yerevan will disclose the directions in
which the private sector of the two countries may cooperate.

Representatives of 11 companies from Czech Republic arrived in Armenia,
from Armenia more than 30 businessmen were participating.

Tigran Sargsyan said that the parties at the same time registered
the interest over Armenia’s cooperation with Czech partners within
the framework of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

Jan Fischer noted that he is very glad to be in Armenia. According
to him, it is a good opportunity to clarify the cooperation directions.

"Czech is open for cooperation. We welcome the interest of Armenia in
the Czech market. The business forum is a very important event. It
creates an opportunity to find edges for interesting partnership,
connected with the technologies, transport, tourism and other spheres,"
Jan Fischer said. Czech is also open for cooperation in the sphere
of science.

The Czech prime minister also highlighted the cooperation with Armenian
within the framework of EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

Affaire Khalafian : Les Medecins Legistes Appuient La These Du Suici


17 mai 2010

Le service special d’investigation (SSI), enquetant sur la mort
recente d’un homme en garde a vue, semble appuyer les revendications
de la police selon lesquelles il s’etait suicide.

Dans une declaration ecrite communiquee vendredi 14 mai, le SSI a
declare que les experts legistes ont conclu que Vahan Khalafian a
pu se poignarde a mort lors de sa garde a vue au poste de police
de Tcharentsavan.

Khalafian et plusieurs autres hommes ont ete arretes le 13 avril,
soupconnes d’avoir vole pour 1,5 millions de drams de marchandises. Le
jeune homme de 24 ans a ete retrouve mort quelques heures plus tard.

La police armenienne a fait valoir qu’il n’avait pas ete maltraite
lors de l’interrogatoire et qu’il s’etait suicide. Le SSI a remis en
question cette version des faits et a arrete deux policiers en les
accusant de torture.

Les medecins legistes qui ont examine le corps de Khalafian ont
confirme qu’ils ont trouve deux coups de couteau mortels sur le ventre.

Ils ont affirme que la nature de ces blessures et leur " localisation
anatomique " donnent a penser qu’ " il est possible que V. Khalafian
se les aient infliger lui-meme ".

Les experts ont egalement trouve de nombreuses blessures sur
differentes parties de son corps. Mais ils ont declare qu’aucune
n’etait mortelle.

La famille de Khalafian accuse la police d’avoir inflige ces deux
coups de couteau en faisant valoir qu’il ne pouvait pas se poignarder
a deux reprises et a tout simplement ete torture a mort.

Les medecins legistes ont declare que seul l’un des coups de couteau
est susceptible d’avoir ete mortel.

Le SSI n’a pas precise vendredi s’il a deja tire une conclusion quant
a la cause precise du decès de Khalafian. " L’enquete se poursuit ",
conclut la declaration.

Il n’a pas non plus indique s’il a reussi a localiser les deux autres
hommes en garde a vue avec Khalafian a Tcharentsavan le 13 avril,
liberes le lendemain. Norayr Chili et Arayik Arakelian ont quitte
l’Armenie quelques jours plus tard.

BAKU: Azerbaijan, Turkey produce multi-spectral camouflage for mil

Azerbaijan, Turkey produce multi-spectral camouflage for military equipments

12 May 2010 [18:16] – Today.Az

Turkish Oztek Company and the Ministry of Defense Industry of
Azerbaijan has launched production of multi-spectral camouflage for
tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipments to prevent their
detection by radars and thermal cameras, Ahmet Oztek, Chairman of the
Company’s Board of Governors said.

The joint production began last year, said Oztek. `I hope our joint
production will be developed. We are doing serious job on developing
production of such equipments in Azerbaijan to meet needs of
Azerbaijan and to export the goods abroad’.

Oztek said a part of multi-spectral camouflage produced in Baku was
already delivered to the customers. The chairman said Oztek’s
multi-spectral camouflage was cheaper, of better quality and more
sustainable than same goods produced in the European countries’.

`The radars, thermal cameras and night vision devices can not detect
the multi-spectral camouflage we produce. Our products have different
characteristics’. Oztek said his company had several other projects
with Azerbaijan, but he didn’t give details.