Film Review: Life’s Astringent Taste Can Go Down Smooth

New York Times
April 1 2004

Life’s Astringent Taste Can Go Down Smooth

“Vodka Lemon” just might be the world’s iciest postcard film: you
will never be so happy to sit inside a cozy, theater as when you
watch the actors exhaling clouds of warm breath over the blindingly
white expanse.

But the thicket of relationships that the director, Hiner Saleem, has
created and weaves his cast and camera through is so invitingly
hotblooded and crowded with hilariously melodramatic incident that
the snowbanks are not nearly as forbidding as they initially seem.
Eventually the chilly air becomes a character; it has the astringent
sharpness of the title drink that everyone in the movie downs, and
complains about.

The picture, which will be shown tonight, tomorrow and Saturday as
part of the New Directors/New Films series, starts with an old man
being pulled across the snowy wastes on his bed, an image right out
of a dream. But Mr. Saleem’s gifts come from giving these outlandish
visual statements a grounding in the everyday reality that the
characters experience. He is headed to a funeral, and “Vodka Lemon”
charts the intermingling – marriages, death and sexual complications
– in an Armenian village. Like most of the other New Directors/New
Films offerings “Vodka Lemon” is set in a place that almost makes us
want to applaud for the sheer industry required to get a camera crew

Chief among the citizens is the wily Hamo, played by Romik Avinian.
With a grizzled jaw line one could scratch to start a fire, Mr.
Avinian dominates the picture as if he has finally grown into his
surly, direct charisma. This fine guarded actor anchors the
goings-on. After attending so many funerals, Hamo has begun a
flirtation with a much younger woman, the 50-ish widow Nina (Lala
Sarkissian). She feels a void in her life, and he simply recognizes
now as the time for both of them to move into a new adventure.

The ravaged and impoverished village also must cope with its own
deficits. The support system in place during Soviet rule is long
gone, with several residents fondly griping about the comforts, such
as they were, that the Soviets provided. There hasn’t been much
change; life in this flash-frozen community has gone from minimal to
Spartan, but nostalgie de la boue is still nostalgia.

“We have nothing left but our freedom,” one villager grouses. Mr.
Saleem understands that need is the central motivating force in the
villagers’ lives: for heat, food, emotional humidity and clarity.

Mr. Saleem’s layering does compensate for the lack of formal
structure, though the picture is provisionally set around the shock
waves caused by the imminent wedding of Nina’s granddaughter. But the
picture does not need an elaborately contrived plot. What it has
instead is a neighborly, fresh-air quality; all the doors in the
miniature snow-globe of a town are open, as is the chatter and
curiosity about everyone’s familial intrigues.

The movement from one conversation to another gives a likable freedom
to “Vodka Lemon,” and allows Mr. Saleem to set up a few running jokes
that combine quotidian absurdity with thoughtful melodrama, like the
opening shot of the old man, and a few other freakish outbursts that
have to be witnessed to be believed, and savored. It is an
intelligent gamble on Mr. Saleem’s part; he knows that if he’s not
going to satisfy audiences with convention, he should at least supply
a few entrances as detonation devices.

“Vodka Lemon” could be an Ice Capades version of a Beckett play, with
a group of seasoned though modest hammy actors in complete control.
Their affectlessness gives the movie an atmosphere of
hypothermia-laced surrealism, with shots of drama serving the same
purpose as the vodka; both keep the blood flowing. This movie has an
antic, mordant visual poetry that matches up with the rancor and
feeling in its population’s souls.


Directed by Hiner Saleem; written (in Armenian, Kurdish and Russian,
with English subtitles) by Beatrice Pollet; director of photography,
Christophe Pollock; edited by Theodora Mantzouru; music by Michel
Korb; production designer, Albert Hamarash; produced by Fabrice Guez.
Running time: 88 minutes. This film is not rated. Shown with a
six-minute short, David Licata’s “Tango Octagenario” tonight at 6 and
tomorrow night at 8:30 at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center,
165 West 65th Street, and Saturday at 9 p.m. at the MoMA Gramercy
Theater, 127 East 23rd Street, Manhattan, as part of the 33rd New
Directors/New Films series of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and
the department of film and media of the Museum of Modern Art.

WITH: Romik Avinian (Hamo), Ivan Franek (Dilovan), Zaal Karielachvili
(Giano), Lala Sarkissian (Nina), Armen Maroutyan (Romik), Astrik
Avaguian (Avin), Rouzana-Vite Mesropian (Zine), Témou (Azad) and
Armen Sarkissyan (Bus Driver).

Armitage gives Azerbaidjani troops in Iraq high marks

13:09 2004-03-29

US Deputy Secretary of State gives Azerbaidjani troops in Iraq high marks

A morning meeting between Azerbaidjani President Ilham Aliev and US Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage began with a one-on-one meeting, and was
later expanded to include other members of the respective sides. As reported
by the Azerbaidjani press office to a Rosbalt correspondent, during the
second round of talks, Ilham Aliev remarked on the accelerated evolution of
bilateral relations in all spheres.

According to Aliev, the United States is assisting Azerbaidjan in its
efforts to institute political and economic reforms. He also maintained that
the United States would offer similar assistance for the social and economic
development of the various regions of the country.

Aliev said that he hoped for the further bilateral cooperation of the two
countries in the military sphere. ‘Azerbaidjan belongs to the antiterrorism
coalition, and will continue to participate in the future,’ he said.

Addressing the conflict in Karabakh, Aliev noted that it would be resolved
with the participation of the OSCE, and in accordance with the territorial
integrity of Azerbaidjan.

Richard Armitage in turn gave high marks to the participation of
Azerbaidjani troops in the antiterrorism coalition. In his view,
Azerbaidjani soldiers are serving in an exemplary fashion in both Iraq and
Afghanistan. ‘We want a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Karabakh,’ he
said. ‘The Caucasus can become a good partner for the West in the future,
but in order for that to happen, peace has to be established in the region.’

It was notable that many journalists representing independent and opposition
media were not allowed to attend the meeting between Armitage and Aliev.

© RosBalt

California Courier Online, April 1, 2004

California Courier Online, April 1, 2004

1 – Commentary
State Dept. Offends Armenians
Calling the Genocide “Alleged”

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – UACC Chancel Choir Presents
Holy Week Cantata, April 8
3 – Diocese to Conduct Easter
Services at Ararat Home
4 – Matiosian Wins Emmy,
Golden Reel Awards
5 – Special Books Comfort Alzheimer Patients
6 –
1 – Commentary
State Dept. Offends Armenians
Calling the Genocide “Alleged”

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

In an alarming development on the eve of the 89th anniversary of the
Armenian Genocide and just months away from the upcoming presidential
elections, the Bush Administration has gone out of its way to offend and
alienate the large and influential Armenian-American community.
In the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003” recently released
by the US Department of State, the following two sections in the report on
Turkey refer to the Armenian Genocide:
Section 2: “In June, authorities arrested and indicted teacher Hulya
Akpinar for comments she made during a conference in Kilis Province on the
alleged genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.”
Section 5: “In April, the Education Ministry issued a circular urging all
schools to have their fifth-and seventh-graders prepare a one-page essay
arguing that allegations that the Ottomans committed genocide against
Armenians are ‘baseless.’ ”
Referring to the Armenian Genocide as “alleged” or “allegations” is
appalling. The last time the State Dept. used such denialist language was
back in 1982. Since then, successive administrations have used euphemisms
and other evasive terminology. By saying, “alleged,” the State Department
is in fact joining Turkey in denying the veracity of the Armenian Genocide.
It is highly ironic that this administration came to the White House with a
personal promise made by Pres. Bush that he would support the recognition
of the Armenian Genocide. During his term in office, the President has not
only broken his promise by avoiding the words Armenian Genocide in his
annual April 24 proclamations, but has allowed his top aides in the White
House, the Pentagon and the State Dept. to oppose any mention of the
Armenian Genocide by the U.S. Congress and state legislatures.
This is outrageous. Armenian-Americans will not forget the Bush
administration’s misrepresentation on this most important and sensitive
issue to all Armenians worldwide. In the next presidential election, no
self-respecting Armenian should vote for Pres. Bush nor contribute a cent
to Bush’s re-election campaign.
Please e-mail your complaints to the White House: [email protected];
and the State Dept:

Demonstration Against British Ambassador

The latest development on the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the
British Ambassador to Armenia, Thorda Abbott-Watt, is an announcement by
the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF) that a
demonstration will be held in front of the British Consulate in Paris (18
bis rue d’Anjou) on Saturday, April 3, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Similar
protests are expected on April 24 in front of British Embassies in several
other countries, including Armenia.
Last week, 14 Armenian organizations from a dozen European countries sent a
joint letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair requesting a public apology from
Amb. Abbott-Watt and urging the British government to take “all necessary
measures in order to prevent the recurrence of such shameless incidents in
the future.”
Dozens of Armenian and non-Armenian newspapers from around the world have
been covering the controversy revolving around Amb. Abbott-Watt. The Azeri
newspaper “Echo” published a lengthy commentary on this subject,
speculating on whether the British government would recall its Ambassador
from Armenia or “the diplomatic scandal will eventually end by the
Armenians quieting down all the fuss.”
A prominent newspaper in Armenia, Azg, published a commentary on March 27,
urging Armenians to boycott all events attended by Amb. Abbott-Watt. It
would be equally effective if Armenian officials and organizations do not
invite her to any events or conferences. If she is shunned by Armenian
officials and isolated from Armenian society, she would not be able to
carry out her diplomatic duties in Armenia. The British government would
then have no choice but to recall her back to London.
Meanwhile, more e-mails from hundreds of Armenians as well as non-Armenians
from several countries (including Armenia and the United Kingdom), continue
to be sent to the British Ambassador in Armenia:
Thorda.Abbo[email protected]; to Michael Jay, the Under-Secretary and Head
of the UK Diplomatic Service: [email protected]; and to Prime Minister
Tony Blair through the following web site:
(click on select a subject,
select “international affairs,” and then click on the “go” button), asking
the British government to withdraw its Ambassador as she can no longer
effectively carry out her diplomatic duties in Armenia. Please send copies
of your e-mails and any responses to the Armenian Foreign Ministry
([email protected]) and to [email protected].
To review articles and statements on this issue, please check the following
web site:

2 – UACC Chancel Choir Presents
Holy Week Cantata, April 8
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The United Armenian Congregational Church Chancel Choir
will present a Holy Week of Sacred Music, April 8, at 8:15 p.m. at the UACC
sanctuary, 3480 Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles.
The UACC Chancel Choir will perform the cantata, “The Seven Last Words of
Christ,” by Theodore Dubois.
The Cantata will follow the traditional Maundy Thursday supper and
communion service that will be held in UACC’s Paul Aivazian Hall, beginning
at 7 p.m.
The Choir of about 40 singers will be joined by soloists Nune Kartalyan,
Suzie Mazmanian, Raffi Kerbabian and Aren Der Hagopian, with Martha Sarian
as organist and H. Hrant Agbabian, Director of the Chancel Choir.
3 – Diocese to Conduct Easter
Services at Ararat Home
LOS ANGELES- Continuing a tradition of the Western Diocese of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, special Holy Easter Church services will be conducted at
the Ararat Armenian Home, 15105 Mission Hills Rd., Mission Hills on April
12, at 11 a.m.
Los Angeles area clergymen of the Western Diocese will participate in the
Church services.
4 – Matiosian Wins Emmy,
Golden Reel Awards
LOS ANGELES – After winning the prestigious Academy of Arts and Sciences
Emmy Award for Best Sound Editing on a Television Series, Mace Mationsian
also won the Motion Picture Sound Editors, Golden Reel Award for Best Sound
Editing in Television.
The Academy recognized the Chicago-born Mationsian for his work on the CBS
TV hit crime drama series, CSI.
The Golden Reel Award was presented to Matiosian for his work on CSI at the
Motion Picture Sound Editors Annual award banquet held at the Century Plaza
Hotel on Feb. 28. This was Mationsian’s seventh Emmy Award and ninth Golden
Reel Award.
Mationsian is currently the Supervising Sound Editor on CSI, the number 1
rated show on television.
He also recently completed HBO’s Carnivale series.
His credits include Hack, UC Undercover, Star Trek: the Next Generation,
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Others, Baywatch, McGyver and dozens of TV
movies and specials.
Currently living in Santa Barbara, Calif., Mationsian works in Hollywood at
the Todd AO Studios.
He began his career in sound at Ryder Sound Services in Hollywood, which
was owned by Levon Chaloukian.
5 – Special Books Comfort Alzheimer Patients
By Paula Lloyd
Neighbors Cityview
FRESNO -Margaret Magarian, 91, has one favorite book. It’s a think
scrapbook of family photos and memories designed by her daughter that she
reads over and over again.
The pictures and written memories comfort her mother, who has been
diagnosed with dementia, says Judi Magarian-Gold. The book also provides
hours of entertainment. “She says, ‘I’ve read them 100 times, but I sure do
love them.'”
Magarian-Gold and longtime friend Jan Lewis developed three paperback,
plastic com-bound memory books to give Alzheimer’s and dementia patients
and their families, or any senior, a way to record and preserve memories.
Sitting at the kitchen table of her Fresno home, Magarian-Gold opens the
first thick, hard-bound photo album she made for her mother.
Lewis and Magarian-Gold met in 1962 at California State University, Fresno,
where they earned teaching credentials. The two retired teachers have each
published educational materials.
They also have shared the joys and sorrows of caring for aging parents.
That experience, coupled with their teaching and writing skills, led to the
creation of the memory books.
Like Magarian-Gold, Lewis had also created a book for her mother, Opal
Lewis, who died in May at 84.
Magarian-Gold and Lewis also realized there wasn’t anything on the market
like what they wanted. “There are plenty of books, but no workbooks,”
Magarian-Gold says.
Memory books are helpful for Alzheimer’s patients, Lewis says, “because
long-term memory goes last.” Linda Hewett, co-director of the Alzheimer’s
and Memory Center, says the memory books “create a structured way for
family members and friends to talk with a person who has difficulty
communicating, who often doesn’tj remember what happened yesterday.
“I think they have hit on a really great idea,” Hewett says.
The books are purposely printed in a less-inexpensive format, to be more
accessible. “My Album of Memories,” a scrapbook-style workbook for pictures
and written recollections, and “Family History,” a workbook with questions
to spark conversations about family and friends, are each $12.95.
“Journal of Loving Memories,” a workbook for family and friends to share
their recollections, and a 2004 calendar with pictures drawn by
Magarian-Gold that seniors can color are each $8.95.
For details call (559) 431-8571 or 448-0555.
6 – Burbank Library Getting Hundreds
Of Donated Armenian Books
By Alex Dobuzinskis
Los Angeles Daily News
BURBANK — Burbank libraries will soon have more than 200 donated books
either about Armenia or written in Armenian for their international
collection, a community organizer said Wednesday.
The library’s acquisition of Armenian books comes at a time when the number
of Armenians moving into Burbank is on the rise.
Pharmacist Tamar Kekorian, the wife of Burbank school board member Paul
Kekorian, said about 100 books were collected at a book fair earlier this
month and other books have been collected in the meantime to bring the
total to more than 200. The goal is to collect 400 to 500 books.
“It’s such a tremendous project that we decided to stretch it over nine to
10 months so that we can actually accomplish it,” Kekorian said.
The books already collected are valued at more than $5,000, she said. The
books were donated by local residents, and some provided money to buy new
The first phase of the book collection focuses on books about Armenian
history and the Armenian genocide of 1915.
The next phase of the collection will involve the donation of children’s
books, some of them written in Armenian.
One of the books ready to be donated is by poet Hovhannes Toumanian, who
was born in 1869 and wrote a number of short, fablelike stories such as
“Nazar the Brave.”
Nazan Armenian, a member of the Armenian National Committee of Burbank,
said the book donation program is good for the libraries.
“It will drive more Armenian patrons to use the library,” she said.
Kekorian said she got involved in collecting books for the city after head
librarian Sharon Cohen approached her husband and asked for help in
obtaining more books about Armenia.
“I would like to encourage others to be involved in projects like this.
Because due to budget cuts, it’s very difficult for libraries to have the
kinds of collections that they would ideally like to have,” Kekorian said.
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Opposition Rally In Gyumri Disrupted By Violence, Arrests

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Sunday 28 March 2004

Opposition Rally In Gyumri Disrupted By Violence, Arrests

By Emil Danielyan in Gyumri

An anti-government rally in Gyumri on Sunday was effectively disrupted by
violence and arrests of opposition activists in a further ominous sign of
serious unrest awaiting Armenia.

The demonstration organized by the Artarutyun alliance degenerated into
scuffles between opposition supporters and a handful of other people who
denounced President Robert Kocharian’s foes. A resulting fistfight ended
with four Artarutyun activists in police custody, forcing the organizers to
cut short the protest to try to negotiate their release.

Stepan Demirchian and other leaders of the bloc blamed the “provocation” on
the local authorities and the central government and vowed to continue their
growing attack against the ruling regime.

“Today we are witnessing the agony of this regime,” an uncharacteristically
furious Demirchian told the crowd of more than a thousand people. “The
Armenian people can not tolerate the rule of such thugs.”

The trouble began minutes after the start of the rally when a group of
women, whom many in the crowd described as “prostitutes,” raised banners
slamming the opposition and voicing support for Kocharian. They were
immediately surrounded and jostled by angry opposition supporters trying to
tear up the banners.

The scuffles unfolded to a backdrop of firecracker explosions that were
apparently set off by other government supporters hidden in the crowd. The
noise intensified during Demirchian’s speech, resembling automatic gunfire.
Also, eggs were hurled to the podium from which the organizers addressed the
protesters. One egg hit an opposition lawmaker.

The opposition leaders, struggling to calm tempers, faced a more serious
disruption when electricity powering their loud-speakers was cut off.
Although the power supply was restored 20 minutes later, tension rose
further as a brawl broke out between some opposition activists and a man who
apparently tried to approach Demirchian.

Four of them, including Artarutyun leader Albert Bazeyan’s driver, were then
overpowered and driven away by police officers dressed in plainclothes.
Police said later that the man beaten by the oppositionists was also a
policeman, raising the question of why the security official tried to
interfere with the rally.

The organizers say the local authorities informed them in advance that they
“can not guarantee the security” of the gathering because of staff
shortages. However, the presence of plainclothes police called this
explanation into question.

“It shows that the provocation was organized by the authorities and they
will be held accountable with all the strictness of the law,” charged
another prominent member of the bloc, Victor Dallakian. “It also shows that
Robert Kocharian is pinning his hopes on prostitutes and egg-throwers.”

Dallakian and Bazeyan later met with the police chiefs of Gyumri and the
broader Shirak region to demand the release of their supporters. The lengthy
talks yielded no results as of late evening, with the police chiefs
insisting that the latter be punished for assaulting a law-enforcement
official. The opposition leaders countered that the alleged victim did not
wear a uniform and was trying to disrupt a peaceful demonstration.

“Instead of taking measures to arrest those individuals who provoked all of
this, they punish the opposite side,” Bazeyan complained. “If they want to
open criminal cases, they must primarily target us, the organizers of the

Bazeyan said the violent incident, the worst since opposition rallies in the
run-up to last year’s presidential election, will not deter the opposition
from launching its campaign of street protests outside the main government
buildings in Yerevan. Dallakian mentioned April 12 as the most likely date
for its start.

Artarutyun was given a major boost last week when another major opposition
group, the National Unity Party of Artashes Geghamian, decided to join the
onslaught. Demirchian stressed this fact in his speech.

The government, for its part, has warned that any attempts at an
“unconstitutional” overthrow of Kocharian. The Armenian leader, still
reeling from his controversial reelection in the 2003 poll, has recently
reshuffled his security apparatus in preparation for the opposition

An historical heroine; Turkey and the Armenians

The Economist
March 27 2004

An historical heroine; Turkey and the Armenians

Sabiha Gokcen, a Turkish aviator

A row over the ethnicity of a Turkish icon

WAS she Armenian? The question was on the minds of generals marking
the third anniversary, on March 22nd, of the death of Sabiha Gokcen,
Turkey’s first woman pilot and the adopted daughter of modern
Turkey’s founder, Kemal Ataturk. The generals denounced claims that
Turkey’s feminist icon was an Armenian by birth when they appeared
last month in Agos, a Turkish-Armenian paper in Istanbul.

Any such debate mocked national values and was not conducive to
social peace, fumed the top brass. Hrant Dink, Agos’s managing
editor, counters that it shows that Turks cannot confront their
identity and past. He has been deluged with death threats and mobbed
by ultra-nationalists ever since publishing claims by Hripsime
Sebilciyan Gazalyan, an Armenian, that Miss Gokcen was her aunt. The
official version is that she was an orphan from Bursa, in western
Turkey, who was adopted by Ataturk in 1925. Mrs Gazalyan says that
Ataturk plucked her from an orphanage in the south-eastern town of
Sanliurfa, where she was dumped after losing her father in the mass
slaughter of Armenians in 1915.

Armenians insist that as many as 1.5m of their kin were murdered by
Ottoman forces in what they term genocide. The Turks say at most
300,000 Armenians perished, in a conflict Armenians instigated by
allying with invading Russian troops. The few Turkish scholars who
have challenged the official line have been called traitors. Taner
Akcam, the only Turkish historian to have talked of genocide, had to
seek refuge in America after a string of Turkish universities refused
to hire him.

Despite the row over Miss Gokcen, Mr Dink argues that attitudes to
Turkey’s 80,000 Armenians are changing. The mildly Islamist
government led by the Justice and Development Party has nominated
several Armenians for local elections on March 28th. Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, the prime minister, vows to restore an exquisite Armenian
church in the eastern province of Van. There is talk of resuming
diplomatic ties with Armenia – so long as the Armenians drop demands
that Turkey admit to genocide.

GRAPHIC: A magnificent Turk – or Armenian?

Armenian premier replaces head of state property department

Armenian premier replaces head of state property department

Public Television of Armenia, Yerevan
25 Mar 04

One more staff change has been made in the Armenian government.
According to Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan’s decision, David
Vardanyan has been relieved of the post of head of the Department for
the Management of State Property.

Karine Kirakosyan, deputy head of the Armenian government staff, has
been appointed to this post.

Armenian leader replaces prosecutor-general

Armenian leader replaces prosecutor-general

Mediamax news agency
17 Mar 04


Armenian President Robert Kocharyan dismissed Aram Tamazyan from the
post of prosecutor-general today.

Robert Kocharyan has appointed Agvan Ovsepyan Armenia’s new
prosecutor-general, the press service of the Armenian president has
told Mediamax.

Agvan Ovsepyan has already occupied the post of prosecutor-general
several years ago.

Giving of your time, talent, and treasure

Armenian Church Endowment Fund (ACEF)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: George Kassis, Executive Director
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 54; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

March 17, 2004


When he first came to America from Jerusalem in 1959, Sarkis Bedevian was
just a student. He shared a small apartment with a handful of other recent
Armenian immigrants. They lived in a building that stood on the site that
is now the headquarters of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

He spent his time volunteering as the Diocese and the St. Vartan Cathedral
grew up around him. He stuffed envelopes, ran errands, whatever needed to
be done. Later on he would attend New York University, with the help of
scholarships from Armenian organizations, to study accounting and finance.

Today a success in business, Mr. Bedevian is still not afraid to roll up his
sleeves to help the Diocese and related Armenian organizations succeed.
Though his schedule is easily filled by his work as a developer and
syndicator for real estate investment projects, Mr. Bedevian continues to
give of his time, energy, and skills.

“Sarkis is truly a exemplary leader for this church and the Armenian
people,” said Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese.
“He understands that the organizations that keep our Armenian culture alive
here in the great nation of America are powered by the dedication and
support of volunteer leaders. He continues to serve at all levels of the
church, because this is his home.”

A strong supporter of his local community, Mr. Bedevian has been served his
parish, St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, for many years as parish council
chairman, a Diocesan delegate, and co-chairman of the parish’s community
center building committee.


Mr. Bedevian has also stepped forward to assume a variety of larger
leadership roles in the Diocese. A member of the Diocesan Council since he
was reelected in 2001, Mr. Bedevian was the Council Treasurer from 1982 to
1990. From 1988 to 2002, he also served on the Board of Trustees of the
Armenian Church Endowment Fund (ACEF), which is responsible for raising and
investing the endowments that provide an annual income for the Eastern
Diocese, local parishes, and a variety of other related organizations.

As a member of the ACEF Board of Trustees, Mr. Bedevian helped manage the
investments and promote the establishment of endowments. In the past few
years the board successfully steered the fund through the stock market’s
darkest days. The years 2000 to 2002 were the three worst years since the
Depression. However, with the board’s proactive planning, ACEF faired
remarkably well and rebounded from that dark time to hit historic highs. In
2003 ACEF distributed $2.7 million to recipient organizations. The fund has
grown now to $65 million.

Managing the fund is just one responsibility of ACEF Board of Trustees.
They must also encourage people to start new endowments. In the past six
years alone more than $25 million dollars have been raised as new
endowments. Not just encouraging others to give, Mr. Bedevian has
generously instituted an endowment with ACEF to benefit his local parish in
Fair Lawn, NJ, and St. Nersess Seminary.

“It is thanks to the guidance of ACEF Board of Trustees members such as Mr.
Bedevian, that the Armenian Church Endowment Fund has continued to grow and
go from strength to strength.” said George Kassis, executive director of
ACEF. “With their input, the money raised is soundly invested, ensuring a
sustained level of distributions through market ups and downs. ACEF ensures
support to our Armenian Christian ministry for generations to come.”

Other organizations Mr. Bedevian has served include the Diocesan Stipend
Committee, the Diocesan Auditing Committee, and since 1980 the St. Nersess
Seminary Board of Trustees. He has also been a commander with the Knights
of Vartan and an active member of the Armenian Assembly of America.


In 2002, Mr. Bedevian and his wife, Ruth, sponsored the construction of the
Mother Cathedral in Vanadzor, Armenia. They’re also benefactors of a youth
center, medical facility, and soup kitchen in Vanadzor.

For their dedication to their faith and selflessly giving, not only from
their business success but also of their time and skills, His Holiness
Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, bestowed the St. Gregory the
Illuminator medal — the highest honor of the Armenian Church — on Sarkis
and Ruth Bedevian in a ceremony in Armenia on May 24, 2002.

The Bedevians have three grown children: Peter, Debra, and Peggy.

— 3/17/04

# # #

International Games, 3 cities go for the gold

March 12, 2004
Noah’s Landing LLC
CONTACT: Anita P. Kazarian
PO Box 22168
Cleveland, OH 44122
[email protected]

Cost? $1.00

Three Armenian cities filed papers to participate in the Olympic
sanctioned 2004 International Children’s Games in the United States this
July. This will be the first time since the Games started in 1968 that
Armenia will compete.

Yerevan, Armavir and Artashat are forming teams of up to 30 children
each. If all 90 children come, “Going for and getting the Gold” is a
sure bet according to the ICG – Armenia Task Force.

Carmen Policy, the President and CEO of the Cleveland Browns football
team is the Chairperson of the Competitions. With the colorful opening
ceremonies taking place in the Cleveland Browns Stadium, media coverage
will be the largest in the history of these Games.

With three Armenian teams, the Tri-Color will wave proudly from July 29
to August 2 in the United States of America. The ICG -Armenia Task
Force is made up of volunteers from around the country to help bring the
children to the US for these Games.

They are confident that if each Armenian in the United States makes a
tax deductible donation of $1 all the three teams will be here to raise
the Armenian Tri-Color at the opening ceremonies and go home with gold.
And each Armenian American can proudly say ‘I made it happen!’

Once here, the ICG will house, feed and provide local transportation for
the children, their coaches and delegation head for the full time they
are in Cleveland for the Games.

All donations and expenses will be posted on a special link to
for further information telephone 216.932.8100 or
e-mail [email protected] To become a volunteer on the ICG – Armenia
Task Force for your community, write or call the above.


Adzharia Needs Cool Heads

Moscow Times, Russia
March 16 2004

Adzharia Needs Cool Heads

By Pavel Felgenhauer

The day after being re-elected President Vladimir Putin faced a
serious crisis in Georgia, involving Russian interests and Russian
troops. A long-simmering confrontation between the Georgian
government, now led by President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the tiny
autonomous Adzharian Republic in southwest Georgia seems to be edging
towards an armed confrontation.

Moscow has supported the separatist leaders of autonomous republics
in Georgia since the country became independent. During an armed
confrontation in South Ossetia in 1991-92, and a war in Abkhazia in
1992-93, the Russian military supplied separatists in both regions
with arms and munitions, and provided them with artillery and air

Officially the Russian authorities never acknowledged these facts,
but in private Defense Ministry officials admitted the high level of
Russian involvement. In 1994 in Abkhazia, a Russian Hind Mi-24 attack
helicopter pilot said, “In 1993, we were given orders to cover the
Russian insignia of our aircraft with dirt. We did bomb the

The Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts ended with the Georgians
defeated and cease-fires brokered by Moscow. Russian troops were
deployed to ensure that these regions stayed separate from Georgia.
Constant low-level guerrilla warfare has since continued on the
Abkhaz-Georgian cease-fire line, while South Ossetia has been

There are no proper border guards or customs posts on the Georgian
side of South Ossetia, because Tbilisi regards the area as part of
its sovereign territory. This has facilitated a massive trade in
contraband going through the Rokhsky tunnel highway connecting South
Ossetia in Georgia and North Ossetia in Russia. The North Ossetian
authorities, who believe South Ossetia to be an integral part of the
Ossetian nation, allow more or less free transit of goods and people
at the northern end of the tunnel without proper visas or customs

The Ossetians (unlike most North Caucasian nationalities) are
Christians and have historically been enemies of the Muslim Chechens
and Ingush. But while the Ossetians have strongly supported the
Russian war in Chechnya, most foreign volunteers (or mercenaries, as
the Russian authorities call them) reach Chechnya through Georgia and
then through Ossetia and the Rokhsky tunnel — through a hole in the
border Moscow itself helped create.

All attempts at a political solution to the separatist problems of
Georgia have failed during the last decade and now Adzharia is also
becoming an issue. While wars ravaged Abkhazia and South Ossetia,
civil war raged inside Georgia proper and hundreds of thousands of
ethnic Georgians were evicted from Abkhazia, Adzharia was peaceful.

The local population considers itself Georgian and does not aspire to
independence, though under centuries of Turkish rule most were
converted to Islam. Adzharia has been ruled by Aslan Abashidze, the
scion of a dynasty of princes that were the traditional rulers of
Adzharia for centuries.

While Tbilisi has often been in conflict with Moscow over the last
decade, Abashidze developed a good relationship with the Russian
military and the authorities in Moscow. The Russian military keep a
garrison in the Adzharian capital, Batumi — the rundown remains of a
Soviet motorized rifle division, now just over 3,000 men (mostly
local Adzharian recruits) and a couple of hundred pieces of heavy
equipment (tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery). Batumi
port, fully controlled by Abashidze, is used to supply other Russian
troops in Georgia and Armenia.

Moscow also fostered Abashidze as a possible pro-Moscow Georgian
national leader to replace Eduard Shevardnadze. The sudden rise to
power of Saakashvili foiled the ambitions of the nationalist siloviki
clan in the Kremlin to install “our man” in Tbilisi, and has put
Abashidze’s future in jeopardy.

This week Abashidze’s private army barred Saakashvili from entering
Adzharia. Saakashvili, in turn, demanded that Abashidze’s forces lay
down their arms and that control of Batumi port and customs be handed
over to Tbilisi. Over the coming days, Putin must act promptly to
stop Abashidze and his allies in Moscow provoking an armed conflict,
while also pressing Saakashvili to refrain from drastic action.

A war in Adzharia and the consequent destabilization of Georgia are
not in Russia’s national interests, a fact that some of Putin’s
cohorts do not seem to understand.

Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst.