Chess: 21st Linares Tournament

The Observer
March 14, 2004

Escape: CHESS

By Jon Speelman

The 21st Linares tournament finished last Friday March 5th, as many
readers will undoubtedly already know, in outright victory for
Vladimir Kramnik on 7/12.

I left you last week with Kramnik half a point ahead of Gary Kasparov
and Peter Leko and just the last round remaining. Kramnik agreed a
draw quite early as Black against Veselin Topalov in an unclear
position and Leko followed soon thereafter, making no serious effort
against Alexei Shirov. This left just Kasparov in play, Black against
Francisco Vallejo Pons and uncharacteristically for the man, though
all too consonant with his bad form in Linares, Kasparov got a very
dangerous looking attacking position but failed to convert. The final
outcome was that Kasparov and Leko were second equal on 6.5/12;
Teimour Radjabov and Topalov made 6/12 and Shirov and Vallejo were
last equal on 5.

Linares is always the showcase for the top players and it was
disappointing that just 9 of the 42 games ended decisively. Indeed,
the winner himself, Kramnik was the worst ‘offender’ with his games, I
believe, averaging just over 26 moves. However, he explained later
that in Wijk aan Zee, where he had a dreadful time, he had become
tired towards the end and therefore decided to conserve energy in
Linares; and his meta-strategy undoubtedly worked, albeit mainly
because of Kasparov’s lapses.

A profusion of draws is tough on both spectators and sponsors and it
has led to a chorus of disapproval and even calls for modifications in
the rules: I’ve seen respected sources suggesting either 3 points for
a win and 1 for a draw; or that draws by agreement be banned till move
50. But however high its profile Linares was a single tournament and I
feel that there has been something of an overreaction. Either
modification would lead to a seismic change in tournament practice
and, as in ‘real life’, panic legislation should be avoided at all

Four of the eight decisive games involved Radjabov and although he
made just 50 per cent he was to my mind the star of the
tournament. Seventeen just two days ago, he is young and strong. But
youth certainly doesn’t inoculate you against the potentially damaging
psychological effects of playing day in day out against the world’s
elite; and he showed terrific inner strength, not to mention chess
ability, to recover from a lousy start.

The only loser in the first six rounds (!), Radjabov reached the half
way mark on ‘minus two’ having been defeated by Leko and Shirov. In
the second half he rode his luck a little notably against Kasparov
(see below). But Radjabov kept going and clawed his way back to parity
with wins in his last two games against Vallejo and then Shirov.

Gary Kasparov (Black)

Teimour Radjabov (White to play

After a fairly drawish looking opening, Kasparov had outplayed
Radjabov who was now fighting a desperate rearguard action. Battle

51 b6 g3 52 b7 g2 53 b8Q If 53 Nxe2 Rxe2 Black is threatening to queen
with check which forces 54 Ra1 Rb2 55 Rg1 Rxb7 56 Rxg2 Rd7 cutting the
king off and winning

53. . .Rxb8 54 Nxe2 Rb2 55 Ng1 Rf2? Too elaborate. After the simple
55. . . Rb1 56 Nh3 g1Q+ 57 Nxg1 Rxg1 White can’t play 58 Kd4 because
of Rg4+. It’s far from obvious that, say, 58 Ra6+ doesn’t help. But
endgame databases confirm that Black wins by force; and since White
now draws rather easily it had to be tried perforce.

56 Ra6+ Kf5 57 Kd4 Rf1 58 Ke3! Clearly this is what Kasparov missed
when playing 55. . .Rf2?. Now if 58.Rxg1 Kf2 defends and Black has no
way to improve on this so the draw was agreed.

Alexei Shirov (Black)

Teimour Radjabov (White to play – diagram above right)

In a serious time scramble Shirov had jettisoned the exchange but
managed to activate his king. Luckily for Radjabov it was now move 41
and so he had time to collect his thoughts before playing

41 e5+! This is what White wants to play because if he can force the
exchange of rooks then that will hugely help his cause. However, it
required serious calculation in view of 41. . .Ke3 which loses but
only just: 42 exf6! Re2+ (if 42. . .Kxd4 43 f7 Re2+ 44 Kd1 Kd3 45 Ra1
Rd2+ 46 Ke1 Re2+ 47 Kf1 Kd4 48 Kg1!; or 42. . .Rxh2 43 Re4+ Kxf3 44
f7) 43 Kd1 Rf2 44 Re4+! (44 f7? loses for White to Be2+! 45 Kc2 Kxd4
46 f8Q Bxf3+ followed by a discovered check and . . .Rxf8) 44 Kxf3 (or
44. . .Kd3 45 Ra1) 45 Rc2! Rf1+ 46 Re1!.

42 Rd2! Rxd2 43 Kxd2 Although the passed a pawn is annoying, White now
has very good winning chances and I don’t see an obvious improvement
for Shirov in what follows:

43. . .Kf4 44 Rc3 a5 45 Ke1 a4 46 Kf2 Bd7 47 Rc4+ Kg5 48 Rd4 Be8 49
Rd5+ f5 50 Kg3 h4+ 51 Kf2 Bf7 52 Ra5 Bb3 53 Ke3 Bc2 54 h3

White would prefer not to fix a pawn on a white square but in this
case it helps to force the enemy king back.

54. . .Bb3 55 f4+ Kf6 56 Kd4 Bc2 57 Ra6+ Kg7 58 Ke5 Kf7 59 Ra7+ Kg6 60
Ke6 Bb3+ 61 Ke7 Kg7 62 Ra5 Bc2 63 Rc5 Be4 64 Rc1! Forcing the king to
the h file after which the rest is fairly straightforward.

64. . .Bd5 65 Rg1+ Kh6 66 Kf6 a3

67 Rg6+ Kh7 68 Rg7+ Kh6 69 Ra7 a2 70 Kxf5 Bc4 71 Kf6 Bb3 72 f5 Bc4 73
Ra4 Kh7 74 Kg5 Kg7 75 Ra7+ Bf7 76 f6+ Kg8 77 Kxh4 Be6 78 Kg3 and
Shirov resigned.

) 2004 Guardian Newspapers Limited

ARKA News Agency – 03/15/2004

ARKA News Agency
March 15 2004

RA President Robert Kocharian congratulates RF President Vladimir
Putin with re-election

Boris Spasski: I did not expect such a negative reaction of Baku on
international tournament in Stepanakert

Delegation of Armenian Parliament to leave for Poland tomorrow

Karabakh NGO Center of Civil Initiatives continues monitoring of
penitentiary organizations

Three deputies of the Republica party not to participate in the RA NA



YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/. RA President Robert Kocharian
congratulated RF President Vladimir Putin with re-election,
President’s press office told ARKA. The letter of Kocharian says:
`Sincerely congratulate Your with confident victory at the elections
of the President of Russia Federation. On March 14, Russia made its
choice towards stability, democracy and prosperity’. Kocharian said
that in Putin, Russia sees the leader who can bring the country to
sustainable development, defending national interests. According to
Kocharian, Armenia highly estimates big personal contribution of
Vladimir Putin in deepening of Russian-Armenian friendly relations.
Armenian President assured his Russian colleague in readiness of
Armenian authorities to continue efforts on improvement and expanding
of cooperation between Armenia and Russia. L.D. –0–



STEPANAKERT, March 15. /ARKA/. `I did not expect such a negative
reaction of Baku on international chess tournament in Stepanakert’,
10th World Champion Boris Spasski told ARKA in Stepanakert.
Commenting the tournament Spasski said that the youth is very
talented and their game is of very high level.
Talking about perspectives of chess development in Nagorno Karabakh,
Boris Spasski noted very promising youth sector.
The idea of holding the International Chess Tournament in Nagorno
Karabakh occurred to the Armenian Chess Academy and the NKR
Government five months ago.
The International Chess Tournament is devoted to the 75th anniversary
since the birth of the 9th World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosyan.
Azeri MFA made a statement with discontent with conduction of
tournament in Nagorno Karabakh. L.D. -0 –



YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/. Delegation of Armenian Parliament, headed
with the Speaker Arthur Baghdasarian will leave for Poland tomorrow
on the invitation of Marshal of Poland Seym Marek Borovski, RA NA
told ARKA. During the visit, Armenian delegation will meet with the
President of Poland Alexander Kwasnevski, Marshal of Poland Seym
Marek Borovski, the chairmen of the commission on external relations
and European Commission of Seym Eji Yaskernia and Eji Chepulkovski,
Marshal of Senate Longin Pastushyak, Prime Minister Leshek Miller,
Foreign Minister Vlodzimej Chimoshevich. Besides, Armenian delegation
will meet with the head of Poland delegation to PACE, Deputy Director
ODIHR/OSCE and Rector of Chief Economic School of Warsaw. L.D. –0–



STEPANAKERT, March 15. /ARKA/. Karabakh NGO Center of Civil
Initiatives continues monitoring of penitentiary organizations,
Director of Organization Albert Voskanian told ARKA. According to
him, certain changes took place in the system this year. `First of
all, the name of Reformatory Establishment-1 (former Shushi prison)
has changed to Department of prosecution of criminal punishments of
NKR Police. Besides, all jalousies were removed from the windows of
hostels of the Department, which corresponds to international
standards’, he said.
NGO Center of Civil Initiatives was created in October 2002.
Organization deals also with search of missing and former prisoners
of war and hostages. L.D. –0–



YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/ Three deputies of the Republica party will
not participate in the RA NA work, according to the Chairman of the
Republica opposition party, the deputy of Justice bloc Albert
Bazeyan. He noted that he was speaking of himself, Aram Sargsyan, and
Smbat Aivazyan. `We will not participate in the Parliament’s work,
until the RA President retires and special elections be held’, he
said. According to the Chairman of Justice bloc, the present
Parliament cannot function normally and needs dismissing. `It’s to no
purpose to participate in the formal work of the Parliament, where
the majority of it votes by the President’s order’, Bazeyan thinks.
He noted that `mandates will be returned only in the case they can’t
be used for the further struggle’.
Justice and National Unity opposition Parliamentary factions
consisting of 23 deputies boycott the RA NA work because of the
refusal of the Parliamentary majority to include the bill on
amendments to be made in the law on referendum into the agenda. The
bill stipulates for conducting referendum of trust to the Government
of the country. A.H. –0–

Bulgarian news agency review of Bulgarian press for 15 Mar 04

Bulgarian news agency review of Bulgarian press for 15 Mar 04

BTA news agency, Sofia
15 Mar 04

Text of press review in English by Bulgarian news agency BTA

This press review has not been edited for content, nor have personal
names and party names, abbreviations, etc. been amended. If you have
any questions, contact Caversham editors on 86064.

Sofia, 15 March:


There will be early parliamentary elections in the autumn, says Roumen
Ovcharov, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP), quoted by “Troud”. The political spectrum is in
the process of restructuring; all players, including the coalition
partners of the ruling Simeon II National Movement (SNM), are
reconsidering their strategic partnerships, he further says.

“24 Chassa” refers to Ekaterina Mihailova of the United Democratic
Forces (UtdDF) who says that a Grand National Assembly should be
convened because the incumbent government can no longer rule for it
has exhausted its credit of confidence.

“We will launch consultation on the dissolving of the 39th National
Assembly at the beginning of April,” says Union of Democratic Forces
(UDF) MP Vassil Vassilev before “Monitor”. UDF’s task is to
consolidate the right-of-centre forces in the name of Bulgaria, he

* * *

“Standart News” writes that Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
recommended to reduce the number of the SNM deputy floor leaders from
six to three.

* * *

Only the parties having hard-core electorate will be presented in the
next parliament, writes “Sega” in connection with the establishment of
the Novo Vreme parliamentary group, consisting of breakaways from
SNM. “The dangerous thing is that the political elite does not take
into account the emerging of diverse interests in the Bulgarian
society,” the paper also writes.

* * *

The Union of Democratic Forces has remained without financing and its
leader Nadezhda Mihailova is seeking urgently assistance from the US
and Great Britain, “Sega” says. UDF has no money even for salaries and
the debts accumulated equal tens of thousands of leva. “Sega” also
writes that Mihailova has renewed talks with UDF’s main external
sponsor, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Talks were also allegedly
underway with Britain’s Conservative Party and the US Republicans and
Democrats. The funds would be utilized by the Democratic Alternative
Foundation, registered a year ago by Mihailova’s aides.

* * *

“24 Chassa” writes that BSP will refer the deal on the sale of the
Bulgarian Telecommunications Company to the prosecution authorities
due to doubts over its provision concerning the licensing of a third
GSM operator. The paper explains that the Communications Commission
will decide whether a third operator can be licensed without a bidding


The papers keep on covering the March 11 bombings in Madrid. The
Bulgarians’ death toll has risen to four people. Bulgaria will
commemorate the blasts victims with a three minutes’ silence and
wailing sirens at 13:00 hrs on Monday. “4th Bulgarian Victim in
Madrid”, “Last Tribute to the Dead”, read front-page headlines in
“Troud” and “24 Chassa”, respectively.

After Spain, Al-Kaida’s next target will probably be Italy, “Troud”
writes referring to a video cassette, seized by the police in
Madrid. The tape showed a man saying that the terrorists’ next targets
will be Italy, Great Britain, Japan and other US allies in the war in
Iraq. “Bulgaria was not mentioned among the future targets,” “24
Chassa” writes. “Al Kaida claimed the responsibility for the Madrid
bombings ,” says “Bulgarska Armiya”.

* * *

The body retrieved from the sunken ship Hera has not been identified
yet, “Troud” writes. The Cambodian-flagged vessel sank in a storm off
the Bosphorus on February 13. Its 19 crew included 17
Bulgarians. “Some of Hera’s seamen will remain at the bottom of the
sea forever, “Troud” writes. The identification procedure will be held
Monday or Tuesday at the latest, a representative of the Bulgarian
Consulate in Istanbul reportedly said.

* * *

The Gaddafi Foundation will hold the hitherto Libyan justice minister
for the prolonging of the trial against the Bulgarian medics and for
other omissions and violations, the special correspondent of “Troud”
and “24 Chassa” in Benghazi reports. Six Bulgarian health
professionals are charged with contaminating some 400 Libyan children
with HIV. A hearing of the case is scheduled for Monday. “Vizh” and
“Monitor” write that the defendants’ Libyan lawyer Osman Bizanti will
not attend the March 15 hearing because he is undergoing some
treatment in London.

* * *

“Money Win Over Morality,” writes “Sega”. The report of the interim
municipal commission, charged with checking the Sofiiski Imoti
company, fully justifies it, the paper writes. Sofiiski Imoti is
allegedly even praised for alleviating the municipality by alienating
real estates and providing compensations for owners. The report was
drafted by Stanimir Zashev, municipal councillor of the Gergyovden-Dem
Party-Popular Union coalition. “Sega” recalls that Sofiiski Imoti’s
most scandalous deal was the purchase of a 90-sq.m. plot in Sofia’s
posh neighbourhood, Lozenets.

* * *

The dismissal of Bulgarian National Television (BNT) Director Kiril
Gotsev would be an extreme measure, says Electronic Media Council
member Stefan Dimitrov before “Sega”. Gotsev is accused of signing a
deal, that is detrimental to BNT. Asked why he has become one of
Gotsev’s strongest advocates, Dimitrov says that every structure stops
operating efficiently upon the appointment of an acting director. Only
the death would remove me from BNT, says Gotsev quoted by “24
Chassa”. “I am the first person in the world accused for a
non-existing contract,” he further says.

* * *

If the Bulgarian State Railways disburses its subsidy of some 80
million leva earlier than planned, all discounts for pensioners and
students will be removed. “Sega” writes this referring to Deputy
Transport Minister Nikola Yankov. The paper recalls that as of 2003
the discounts for these two groups of the population were reduced from
50 to 30 per cent.


The dailies report on the departure of Foreign Minister Solomon Passy
on a tour of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in his capacity as
Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE). Passy left for the Caucasian region regardless of the
tension, writes “Troud”. “24 Chassa” quotes Bulgaria’s top diplomat as
saying that he is aware of the risks. Passy joins the dialogue for
peace in the Caucasus, “Pari” writes.

The Oligarchs are finished

Agency WPS
What the Papers Say. Part B (Russia)
March 15, 2004, Monday


SOURCE: Sobesednik, No. 9, March 10, 2004, p. 8

by Oleg Roldugin

A new trend was observed in our antiquated economy last year. Russian
oligarchs cast aside their sham patriotism and declared a total
sell-off of their assets in Russia. And this was by no means the
result of tycoons fearing for their fortunes due to the moldering
YUKOS affair. On the contrary, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s arrest actually
slowed down the hasty flight of money from Russia.

Stephen Jennings, CEO of the Renaissance Capital investment bank, has
expressed a curious opinion: there will be no more oligarchs in
Russia. He explained this to us as follows: “Over the next three
years, or five years at most, all of Russia’s oligarchs will either
sell off their property and leave the country, or transform their
companies into joint enterprises. Most companies are ready for sale
right now, if a suitable offer is made.”

The series of sell-offs was started by one of Russia’s largest
companies – the Siberia-Urals Aluminum Company (SUAL), owned by that
keen Faberge collector Viktor Vekselberg. In January 2003, Vekselberg
sold a 23% stake to the Fleming Family (Britain) and hired a
foreigner as chief executive.

This example proved contagious: everyone started selling. By February
2003, the Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) announced the formation of a joint
enterprise with British Petroleum. Then Malik Saidulaev decided to
bow out of Russian Lotto in favor of his partners. Alexander
Smolensky sold the O.V.K. Banking Group to the Interros holding
company for $200 million. Roman Abramovich said farewell to Aeroflot
and his stake in Russian Aluminum; he also announced the merger of
his Sibneft oil company with YUKOS. And a rumor spread that Oleg
Deripaska was seeking a buyer for Russian Aluminum.

Russia hadn’t been this attractive to investors since 1913. Foreign
moneybags scented the opportunity to secure Russia’s national riches,
primarily natural resources, at a tasty price.

“For our political elite, the transfer of strategic enterprises into
foreign ownership is not a question of principle, and everyone knows
it’s easier to do business with foreign companies,” said Mikhail
Khodorkovsky at the time, as he started negotiations with
ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil. However, Khodorkovsky miscalculated –
he was not permitted to sell YukosSibneft after all.

The outcome of the court case against Khodorkovsky and Co. is not yet
clear, but it has already played its role. Other business tycoons
have taken the hint. Abramovich is no longer selling Sibneft,
apparently; Deripaska has also backed away, though he hasn’t yet
broken off contacts with Alcoa. Even David Yakobashvili, the
politically neutral chairman of the board of Wimm-Bill-Dann, has
retreated: the dairy king’s negotiations with Danone (France) have
not resulted in a deal.

All the same, this doesn’t mean the period of major sell-offs is
over. On the contrary – it’s just getting started.

Mikhail Fridman, head of the Alfa financial-industrial group,
commented on the trend: “We are not professional managers, and we
ought to make way for the professionals.”

Stephen Jennings of Renaissance Capital also considers that although
the people who have risen to the top of the Russian business world do
have many talents – stealing and looting – they do not have
management skills. And that means the time has come for an influx of
experienced business executives from abroad.

And vice versa. Our oligarchs will be flocking to the West.

As this paradise of money descends on them from various sources,
Russian oligarchs aren’t only spending it on their beloved selves;
they are also investing it in their own projects abroad. Following
the wise council of one well-known hero from the movies, they prefer
to strike the hot iron without going too far from the cash register:
in other words, they’re buying assets in former Soviet nations (the
Baltic states and the CIS).

Take Oleg Deripaska, for example. Three years ago, Ukrainian Aluminum
(UkrAl), controlled by Russian Aluminum (RusAl), bought one-third of
the Nikolaevsk Alumina Plant, the largest producer of raw materials
for the aluminum industry in the CIS. Ukraine was delighted at first,
since under the terms of the deal the buyer was supposed to build a
new processing plant near Kharkiv. However, according to Mikhail
Chertkov, head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, nothing has yet
been built there.

Now the State Property Fund of Ukraine says it has been cheated, and
is pushing for the agreement to be annulled. Rumor has it that Oleg
Deripaska himself flew to Kiev two months ago, attempting to get an
audience with President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine; but Kuchma did not
deign to receive the Russian tycoon, who has the status of a
“Yeltsin’s Family oligarch.” What’s more, the Interior Ministry of
Ukraine has launched an investigation into the forgery of some
documents; rumor has it that senior executives from UkrAl and RusAl
are implicated.

It is hardly surprising that Russian businesspeople, no matter how
honest, are not well-liked abroad.

For example, in May 2003 an auction was held in Latvia to sell part
of the state’s stake in the Savings Bank, Latvijas Krajbanka – and it
led to a scandal. The winner – Doxa Fund Ltd., registered in the
British Virgin Islands – was immediately accused of “dishonest”
behavior at the auction; and Doxa is linked to companies associated
with Alexander Mamut and Roman Abramovich. This is neither nice nor

Perhaps if Russian oligarchs go into the Baltic states with open
takeover intentions, or with none at all, they might get a more
friendly reception? Not in the least. YUKOS only hinted that it was
seeking to establish control over the Ventspils Nafta oil terminal in
Latvia, but this did nothing to make either the company or
Khodorkovsky more popular. Rather the reverse – the Latvians started
talking of a New Russian invasion.

The situation is similar in Lithuania. Friendship with aviation
tycoon Yuri Borisov, whom the special services suspect of having
contacts with Russian organized crime, cost President Rolandas Paksas
an impeachment vote, even though Lithuania generally has nothing
against substantial Russian capital (YUKOS and LUKoil have divided
Lithuania’s oil sector between them).

Neither are our semi-state-owned giants, like RAO Unified Energy
Systems and Gazprom, falling behind in conquering the wide expanses
of neighboring countries. Their subsidiaries are scattered across
many former Soviet republics. And the mobile phone networks look set
to expand into the CIS as well. It is rumored that the cellular
communications monopoly in Armenia will be none other than Megafon,
“in which Liudmila Putina, wife of the Russian president, indirectly
owns some shares” (quote from PanArmenian.Net). Megafon itself
modestly denies any such courtships in the Trans-Caucasus. Still, it
may have even more ambitious plans.

When capital flight from Russia is discussed, it’s usually in
reference to money being transferred to offshore tax havens. This is
true, but it’s not the whole story. The offshore zones only serve as
a transit point; from there, the money flows on either into the
pockets of its owners or into the economies of other countries.

The abovementioned investment abroad involves sums that are by no
means miserly. For example, six weeks ago LUKoil added another 795
gas stations to the 1,300 it already owned in the United States.
Vagit Alekperov purchased them from ConocoPhilips for $265.75
million. What’s more, no one can work out why he did it, since
LUKoil’s profits from this project in America are minimal. According
to one theory, Alekperov is courting the favor of President Bush,
seeking to get his share of the action in Iraq. Mideast oil is of
great interest to LUKoil. Sources at LUKoil say the company has
ambitious plans to launch a joint venture in Saudi Arabia. For the
time being, however, LUKoil is content with gas stations in America.

Besides this example, there are many other “Russians” doing business
in the United States. Unlike the owners of LUKoil, however, most are
distinguished by a suspicious degree of modesty. A source from a
leading radio station in New York reveals the reason: “Among our
advertisers who seem to be 100% American are quite a few
representatives of Russian capital. However, they downplay their
origins. Most likely, they’re only in America for the purpose of
laundering their ill-gotten gains.”

Such accusations can be heard in other countries besides the United
States. Take Mikhail Chernyi, for example – the original founder of
Deripaska’s aluminum empire. Chernyi heads so many companies that he
doesn’t even know the exact number of them, as he admits. And this
was the person Bulgaria dared to expel for bribe-giving in 2000 –
disregarding the fact that Chernyi and his partners (according to the
Bulgarian media) controlled Mobitel, Bulgaria’s only GSM operator,
and the Naftex petroleum trading group, and a number of metals
enterprises, and the Technology Industry group, engaged in developing
and marketing innovative technologies. Not to mention Levski-Spartak,
one of Bulgaria’s first division football teams.

After moving to Israel, Mikhail Chernyi ran into problems there as
well. The Israeli authorities suspect him of being the shadow
financial backer of a deal aimed at acquiring shares in the Bezek
telephone company. The investigation has been under way for over
three years, and Chernyi is still bound by a written undertaking not
to leave Israel. However, this isn’t preventing him from acquiring
assets in other countries.

Some parts of the Cote d’Azur have virtually turned into Russian
ghettos. For example, in 1997 a ten-hectare plot of land on the Cape
of Antibes was purchased for $14.5 million – apparently by some
“friends of Yeltsin,” whom the police immediately started
investigating on suspicion of corruption.

Over the past few years, Monaco alone has expelled over a hundred
Russians suspected of unlawful business dealings. The most prominent
was Vladimir Ponomarenko, a former KGB colonel. He was charged with
tax evasion to the tune of 38 million francs and sentenced to three
years in prison, but the chekist managed to flee to Canada.

It isn’t hard to see why even those proprietors of factories,
newspapers, or shipping who behave sensibly in the West still feel
somewhat uncomfortable. Lawful Russian business abroad is a rare
phenomenon. Whether in Russia or beyond its borders, the tycoons
prefer to stay in the shadows. And of late the oligarchs have shifted
to acquiring art objects en masse – buying up the works of Flemish
masters, or Faberge eggs, by the dozen. Why not? The profits are
almost the same as those from law-abiding business dealings, and it’s
a much safer investment option. Even if his company is confiscated,
an oligarch would still be able to keep his eggs.

Translated by Pavel Pushkin

ASBAREZ Online [03-15-2004]


1) Georgia Blockades Ajaria, Presents Ultimatum
2) Armenian Political Parties Call for Stability in Georgia
3) Tessa Hoffman Questions Competence of UK Ambassador Abbott-Watt
4) Soccer-Stadium Clash Leads to Rioting In Syria; 14 Die
5) Kocharian Congratulates Reelected Putin

1) Georgia Blockades Ajaria, Presents Ultimatum

POTI (AFP/Interfax)–Georgia has imposed an economic blockade on its
region of Ajaria in a bid to make leader Aslan Abashidze recognize the central
government’s authority.
The move was the latest step in an escalating armed standoff, sparked early
Sunday when armed supporters of Abashidze barred Georgian President Mikhail
Saakashvili from entering the coastal territory.
Tbilisi says unauthorized armed groups are operating on the territory of the
region on the Black Sea coast, and has vowed to bring Ajaria back under
control, in time for March 28 parliamentary elections.
Abashidze charges that Georgia’s new leadership will use the election to oust
him from power.
Tensions heightened as Russia, which has a military base on Ajarian
warned Georgia of “grave and unpredictable consequences” if Ajaria comes under
Georgian ministers said Monday they had no plans to send the military into
Ajaria, but there were still fears the crisis could erupt into armed conflict,
with Ajaria’s leader warning that Tbilisi’s stance was leading the country
toward bloodshed.
Abashidze confirmed that a state of emergency has been declared in the
autonomous republic, and a curfew introduced.
Abashidze avoided giving a direct answer to questions about the
possibility of
mobilizing the republic’s population, but said: “I am not hiding the fact that
the entire republic is ready to defend its region.”
The situation in the nation has been stable for 13 days, but the Georgian
president’s actions may disrupt the balance, Abashidze said. “One’s ambitions
should not be above the interests of the state,” he said.
The local opposition–supporters of Saakashvili–has been banned from holding
pre-election rallies in Batumi, Abashidze said.
“We have warned them and will take the corresponding measures. If they
try, it
will end badly,” he said
Saakashvili gave Abashidze a deadline of Monday evening to recognize the
government’s authority over his region or face unspecified consequences.
Starting on Monday morning, Saakashvili ordered the closure of Ajaria’s Black
Sea port, and its border with Turkey, and cut-off the region’s road and rail
links with the rest of Georgia.
He added that criminal charges would be brought against Ajaria’s leaders, and
their bank accounts frozen.
“We are dealing. . . with an attempt to stage a mutiny against Georgia, and
this is an armed mutiny,” Saakashvili told reporters from his crisis center in
Poti, a coastal town just north of Ajaria.
“Georgia is facing a clear threat of disintegration…. No major cargo will
enter or leave (Monday) from the territory of Ajaria.”
But the 36-year-old leader said he still favored a peaceful resolution of the
crisis, adding that “not all the resources for dialogue have been exhausted.”
The blockade is likely to deal a devastating blow to Ajaria’s economy, which
depends on income from the transit of goods across its territory.

2) Armenian Political Parties Call for Stability in Georgia

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Concerned over recent political tensions in the autonomous
region of Ajaria, Georgia, representatives of Armenia’s political parties
called for a peaceful dialogue between Georgia’s central authorities and
Adjaria’s leaders in resolving the brewing conflict.
National Assembly Vice-speaker and Armenian Revolutionary Federation leader
Vahan Hovhannisian, said that although the problem is an internal issue, any
clash in the region is undesirable. Noting that Armenia’s biggest concern is
Georgia’s stability, Hovhannisian expressed worry about the country’s ethnic
Armenians: “The roads connecting central Georgia with Adjaria go through
Armenian-populated regions; clashes could, therefore, affect Armenian

3) Tessa Hoffman Questions Competence of UK Ambassador Abbott-Watt

International Law expert, historian, and chairman of Germany’s 1915 Genocide
Recognition Commission, Dr. Tessa Hofmann, responded to UK Ambassador to
Armenia Thorda Abbott-Watt’s recent statement categorically denying the
Armenian Genocide.
The Azg newspaper reported that Ambassador Abbott-Watt, during a January 20
press conference in Armenia, stated: “Great Britain accepts that the events of
1915 were mass killings [of the Armenian population], the responsible for
are the Turks. I see no problem calling it brutality. It shouldn’t have taken
place even in the course of war. But, I do not think that recognizing the
events as genocide would be of much use.”
In the following March 11 letter to UK Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw, Hofmann condemns the Ambassador’s comments
questions Abbot-Watt’s competence to serve as UK Ambassador to Armenia.
“It has been brought to our attention that the UK Ambassador to the Republic
of Armenia, Mrs. Thorda Abbott-Watt has repeatedly denied the genocide of 1.5
million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the years 1915-16.
Mrs. Abbott Watt mentioned `mass killings` and `brutality,` but ignored that
half of the victims died during death marches or exile in desert areas from
starvation, exhaustion, and epidemics. The UN Convention on Genocide describes
such circumstances as `deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’ (Art.
2, c)
Mrs. Abbott Watt is wrong in publicly doubting that the case of the Armenian
Genocide did not correspond with the definition and categories of the UN
Genocide Convention. She may not know that the author of this convention, Mr.
Raphael Lemkin, drafted it on the empirical base of both the Armenian and the
Jewish Genocide as case studies during WW1 and WW2.
Mrs. Abbott Watt may also be ignorant of the joint statement of May 27, 1915,
in which the governments of Britain, France, and Russia warned the Ottoman
government to hold its members personally responsible for the crimes committed
on the Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire. In this statement, the
of the Armenian population were categorized, under the terms of contemporary
law, as a crime against humanity and civilization.
Mrs. Abbott Watt is obviously not qualified as a scholar of genocide
Otherwise, she would know that the denial of genocide is considered as an
integral part of the crime and its final stage. Sadly, Mrs. Abbott Watt
contributes to the crime of denial, thus keeping painfully alive the trauma of
the Armenian nation and upsetting all others, who are aware of the
of genocide denial.
As an international NGO, which is focusing on the recognition of denied
genocide crimes, we urge you to re-consider whether it is advisable that Mrs.
Abbott Watt, who is ignorant of basic facts of legal history and international
relations and who makes repeated incompetent and offensive statements, may
continue her diplomatic career in a country where half of the population
descends from survivors of genocide.”

4) Soccer-Stadium Clash Leads to Rioting In Syria; 14 Die

DAMASCUS (Reuters)–About 14 people have died in the northeast Syrian city of
Kameshli in rioting sparked by fighting at a soccer match on Friday.
As panicked fans tried to escape, a stampede resulted, injuring and killing
the victims, witnesses said.
State-run Syrian Radio reported the deaths as it began live coverage of the
match, which was quickly called off.
One witness said visiting fans also shouted slogans that offended Syrian
Kurdish supporters of Kameshli, a town near the Iraqi border that has a large
Syrian Kurdish population.
Police surrounded the stadium and fired shots in the air, but it was not
whether they had been able to stop the fighting. Officials were not
available for comment.
Hospital officials said four of the injured had bullet wounds, including an
11-year-old boy who had been shot in the stomach.
Visiting fans threw sticks and stones at the Kameshli supporters, witnesses
said. “We had nothing to defend ourselves with because we were not expecting
this, so we had to run and there was a stampede,” a witness said.
The stadium clash led to rioting yesterday by Syrian Kurds living in the
About nine people died and up to 40 needed hospital treatment. The rioting
spread to nearby Amouda, Ras al-Ain, and al-Hassaka, where buildings were also
Sources close to government said they believed certain Kurdish politicians
were turning the issue “from a soccer-match riot into an issue of a political
dimension,” a reference to demands by some 200,000 Syrian Kurds who are not
recognized as citizens.
The Hairenik weekly newspaper contacted the Armenian Prelacy in Kameshli to
confirm the status of the Armenian population in the region. The Prelacy
reported that stability had been fully restored on Monday, and that all
Armenians there and in sounding areas, are safe.
Kurds make up some two million of Syria’s 17 million large population. But
Syrian officials avoid reference to Kurds as a distinct minority and stress
importance of national unity.

5) Kocharian Congratulates Reelected Putin

YEREVAN (Reuters)–President Robert Kocharian joined government leaders around
the world on Monday in congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his
widely anticipated landslide reelection in the weekend presidential ballot.
“On March 14, Russia made a firm choice in favor of stability, democracy, and
prosperity,” Kocharian said in a message to Putin, publicized by his office.
“Armenia highly appreciates your huge personal contribution to the deepening
of the allied Russian-Armenian relations. Success has been obvious in the
spectrum of bilateral ties. Let me assure you of our readiness to continue
efforts at stepping up cooperation between Russia and Armenia.”
Kocharian’s positive reaction was echoed by his political allies. “Putin’s
reelection means an internal strengthening of Russia, which is definitely good
for Armenia,” said Vahan Hovhannisian, leader of the governing Armenian
Revolutionary Federation.
Hovhannisian, at the same time, noted that Yerevan will need to display
“greater flexibility” in maintaining simultaneously good relations with the
West and its main strategic ally, which has been more assertive towards its
former Soviet satellites under Putin.
Some Armenian opposition representatives expressed concern at the tightening
of Putin’s grip on power. Shavarsh Kocharian, a senior opposition lawmaker,
deplored “the absence of a real alternative” in the Russian election. “This is
extremely undesirable for Armenia as well, because Russia has substantial
influence on Armenia and would naturally, like countries under its influence,
develop in a similarly authoritarian way,” he said.

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California Courier Online, March 18, 2004

California Courier Online, March 18, 2004

1 – Commentary
United Kingdom Should Recall
Its Ambassador from Armenia

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Steve Sarkisian Will Coach
Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks
3 – DSA Screening of Documentary
Benefits Projects in Armenia
4 – UCLA AGSA Hosts Academics to Discuss
Current Research in Armenian Studies
5 – Schwarzenegger Names Deukmejian
To Head State Prison Reform Panel
6 – Boghosian’s ‘One Woman Show”
Opens At Harvest Gallery, March 26
1 – Commentary
United Kingdom Should Recall
Its Ambassador from Armenia

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

A lot has happened in the short two weeks since we disclosed in this column
that the British Ambassador to Armenia, Thorda Abbot-Watt, made the
offensive remark that the Armenian Genocide was not a genocide. Hundreds of
Armenians and non-Armenians alike from around the world continued sending
indignant e-mails criticizing the Ambassador as well as the British
government for their denial of the Armenian Genocide. In the last few days,
we received many more copies of such e-mails. Here are brief excerpts from
some of them:
“Your denial is a disgrace to you and your government. Over centuries,
British diplomacy has practiced in lying, deception, and disregard of
historical truth. I trust you will do the honorable and apologize profusely
or failing that, leave Armenia and never return, as you are no asset to
Armenia or to humanity in general,” Mihran Keheyian.
“I think it would serve better to peace-loving Brits and Armenians alike if
you packed up and left Armenia. As a matter of fact, I have a suggestion
for a replacement for you: her name is Baroness Cox,” Levon Habeshian.
“As an Armenian citizen, I wish to express my dismay at the statement you
made recently in Armenia on the Armenian Genocide…. Upholding truth or
morality is clearly not an essential part of your job description. But,
needlessly, publicly restating your government’s position in Armenia seems
to me to go well beyond the customary cynicism of foreign policy. Indeed,
your statement is also a breach of the most elementary rules of courtesy
and hospitality…. I can only hope, therefore, that you will very soon take
the next opportunity to correct your gross lack of grace and style,” Lilia
“My stomach dropped as I read your comments on the Armenian Genocide. I
experienced disbelief that you would not only uphold your government’s
morally lacking stance of not taking sides, but go a step further into the
realm of genocide denial. In some countries that is a crime, though
unfortunately, Armenia is not one of them…. You could have had the decency
to simply ask any Armenians you work with in your very own offices what
happened to their own families…. The Genocide is a simple fact, and your
ignorance on the topic, whether real or feigned, is inexcusable. If you
want to continue representing your people in Armenia, you should apologize.
If not, you should have the decency to leave,” Raffi Kojian (born in
Ethiopia thanks to the Genocide you refuse to recognize, raised in Orange,
California, and moved to Armenia in 1999).
“[Your] words reflect an amazing lack of tact and sensitivity as to be
unbelievable for anyone, let alone a diplomat…. If that is what you think
about the Armenian Genocide, you should have turned down the post, or, as
Jacques Chirac said in another context, ‘perdre une bonne occasion de se
taire,’ ” Armen Kouyoumdjian.
“Your comments denying the Armenian Genocide do such violence to the
survivors and their children, grand-children and great grand-children. You
pick at their wounds and ridicule their sorrow,” Matthew Der Manuelian.
“How can you be so close to the Dzidzernagapert Genocide Memorial Monument
[in Yerevan] and have the guts to desecrate the memory of the 1.5 million
innocent victims? How dare you? I think your only salvation is to publicly
apologize to the Armenian people and ask for forgiveness,” Hratch Simonian.
“You have insulted the memory of my ancestors who fell victim to a
monstrous crime perpetrated by the Turkish government. I am not surprised.
Your mercenary interests are far from human decency and dignity. I believe
the only honorable thing to do for a ‘diplomat’ like you, if there is any
honor left, is to leave Armenia very swiftly. I would not even accept an
apology from your putrid mouth,” Dr. Stepan Simonian.
“I was appalled to read your recent quote and denial of the Genocide…. I
urge you to do some homework on the Armenian Genocide, if you are ignorant
on the subject, and apologize to the Armenian people. Should you not be
prepared to do so, then frankly, my Dear, you should consider leaving
Armenia,” Lena Majarian (Australian Armenian living in Yerevan).
“It is preposterous that we should not be prepared to denounce a crime for
fear of upsetting the criminal,” Paul Hampartsoumian.
“I would hope – fervently – that the memory of those who suffered in early
20th century Ottoman Turkey should not be sacrificed at the altars of
contemporary politics and historical revisionism,” Audrey Selian.
“I was enormously disturbed and offended to read of remarks you made
concerning the Armenian Genocide…. This denial of history is unforgivable
and unconscionable. Your comments are the fuel that contemporary and future
genocides are created from. You must apologize, and you must begin to
educate yourself about the history — documentation of the Armenian
Genocide is not hard to find,” Eileen Claveloux.
“That any Ambassador residing in Armenia should have the temerity and nerve
to even imply that what happened to the Armenians in 1915 was not a
genocide – when everyone from the United Nations to university scholars
have affirmed what any Armenian whose own family was killed already knows –
is beyond reckoning. My advice is that you apologize to the Armenian people
and then pack your bags and resign. In fact, it is remarkable to me that
the Armenian government has not already formally asked for your
resignation. As a last note, that a representative of the British
government – a country which has over the centuries been complicit in
colonialism and exploitations of the worst kind – would display her
ignorance and insult another people and their history in such flagrant
terms, is even more galling,” Christopher Atamian.
“Your statement has reinforced your government’s stance on the issue, but
it has also caused much pain for the survivors of this great calamity,”
Alex Sardar.
“TARC…commissioned a legal analysis by an independent legal counsel…. This
groundbreaking study…concludes unequivocally that the events in question
‘include all of the elements of the crime of genocide as defined in the
[UN] Convention, and legal scholars as well as historians, politicians,
journalists and other people would be justified in continuing to so
describe them,’ ” Alexander Arzoumanian, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
of Armenia.
“The Ambassador’s statement on the Armenian Genocide is absolutely
unacceptable for the citizens of Armenia as well as all Armenians worldwide
and incompatible with the position of a foreign diplomat credentialed in
the Republic of Armenia. We appeal to her to make a public apology for her
statement, otherwise terminate her diplomatic activities in the Republic of
Armenia,” students at Yerevan State University.
In a letter addressed to Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs, Dr. Tessa Hofmann, the Chairperson of the
Berlin-based “Working Group Recognition – Against Genocide, for
International Understanding,” wrote: “As an international NGO which is
focusing on the recognition of denied genocide crimes, we urge you to
reconsider whether it is advisable that Mrs. Abbott-Watt, who is ignorant
of basic facts of legal history and international relations and who makes
repeated incompetent and offensive statements, may continue her diplomatic
career in a country where half of the population descends from survivors of
Meanwhile, in a lame attempt at damage control, Amb. Abbot-Watt sent the
following standard response to all those who had e-mailed her: “I am sorry
that my Government’s position on how we refer to the events of 1915-16
causes you personal distress. Please accept that we understand why
Armenians feel so strongly about what happened, and have ourselves always
condemned the massacres. We extend our sympathy to the descendants of all
the victims and our assurance that what happened will not be forgotten.”
Her response, needless to say, did not satisfy anyone. Many readers sent a
second e-mail to her expressing their irritation and displeasure. Here are
some excerpts from their e-mails:
“It appears that you are quite a character! Your government has found the
perfect spot for you (Armenia) to exercise your right of free speech, while
mysteriously avoiding a slap on your wrist, if not your face. I am puzzled
as to why you have not been summarily thrown out as a persona non grata. If
I were the President of Armenia, I would have done just that, especially
now that you have become the darling of the Turks,” Hovsep Fidanian, Ph.D.
“I would dare you to stand up in the middle of Tel Aviv and say a Holocaust
did not take place — it was just a massacre. You are either ignorant or
worse yet, knowingly committing a moral crime. God help you Ms.
Abbott-Watt,” Levon Habeshian.
“Thank you for your prompt, but unconvincing reply,” Dr. Hagop Bessos.
“The notion that the historical record is ‘not sufficiently unequivocal’
maligns history and historians everywhere…. Those who are ‘equivocal’ on
this matter are simply sympathizing with state terror and murder. Armenians
worldwide will not forget your callous disregard for the lives lost and
maimed across generations,” Anahid Kassabian, Associate Professor, Fordham
“Thank you for your ‘cookie cutter’ response,” Nader Rastegar. In response
to his follow-up e-mail, asking specific questions about the British
government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, Amb. Abbott-Watt responded:
“I am sorry. I lack the resources in a small Embassy to enter into a
lengthy debate. I understand, and respect, the position you hold. It does
not, however, accord with ours, for which I would, ideally, like your equal
respect and understanding.”
“When you state that there is not enough empirical data to prove genocide
and that historians are still debating the issues, you and your government
have assumed the role of deniers…. You call one of the most astute
statesmen of the 20th century, Mr. Winston Churchill, a fabricator since he
called what happened to the Armenians a holocaust, long before the word was
applied to the Nazi quest of ‘the Final Solution.’ …I have much training
and experience in international conflicts, and have yet to discover that
denial of the truth leads to reconciliation,” Moorad Mooradian, Ph.D.
“While I understand the need for regional cooperation and the need to look
to the future, you must also accept that your failure to accept a known
injustice as Genocide and a crime against humanity is a major obstacle to
such endeavors,” Onnik Krikorian.
Scores of readers also sent critical e-mails to the Armenian Foreign
Ministry urging the Armenian government not to remain silent in the face of
the British Ambassador’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. Here are excerpts
from some of their e-mails:
“How can our officials accept such lies and misinterpretations by the
Ambassador? Please don’t hesitate to throw the Ambassador out of her
office. Take action and throw her out of Armenia so the other Ambassadors
to Armenia witness this and understand that Armenians can not be insulted,”
Tony Topsakalyan.
“I would like to see a more robust response from the Armenian Foreign
Ministry and government regarding the despicable statements from Amb.
Abbott-Watt and consider expelling her form Armenia forthwith. It is about
time that your response to such serious matters be more in tune with the
facts and public opinion rather than be so tame and defensive. We don’t
need Great Britain to give us lectures on genocide and historical facts.
She is no asset to Armenia nor to humanity in general,” Mihran Keheyian.
“This very improper statement should be officially condemned by the
Armenian government so other Ambassadors in Armenia would think long and
hard before making similar statements in the future,” Ara Manoogian.
“An insult of this nature must not be tolerated no matter who says it. I
would strongly demand that you expel her from Armenia,” Dr. Stepan
“I write to request that you expel the British Ambassador immediately. Her
statement displays a blatant disregard for the lives lost in the Genocide
and for her host country, Armenia. She should not be allowed to insult the
dead and the survivors in this way,” Professor Anahid Kassabian.
“We appeal to the Foreign Minister of Armenia to put pressure on the
British Ambassador through diplomatic channels so that she would issue a
public apology, and failing that, we appeal to the Foreign Minister of
Armenia to send a note of protest to the Foreign Ministry of the United
Kingdom, and if need be declare the British Ambassador persona non grata,”
students at Yerevan State University.
Swiss-Armenian organizations issued a joint appeal demanding that: “the
Armenian Parliament and Government adopt all necessary legislative and
diplomatic measures to prevent, in the future, others from making such
offensive statements against the memory of the Armenian nation; and that
the British Ambassador in Armenia, Mrs. Thorda Abbott-Watt, apologize
publicly for her statement and officially retract them; if she refuses, the
Ambassador should be declared persona non grata in the Republic of
Armenia,” Armenian Community of Neuchatel-Jura, Armenian Ladies Association
of Geneva, and Switzerland-Armenia Association.
In an unexpected development, while Armenia’s Foreign Minister continued to
maintain his mystifying silence on this matter for the past two months,
Pres. Kocharian inadvertently became the first Armenian official to comment
on this controversy, when students at Yerevan State University, during a
question and answer session on March 10, asked him for his views on the
British Ambassador’s statement. The President said that while he did not
condone those who deny the Genocide, he thought it would be naïve to think
that the Ambassador of a country that did not recognize the Genocide could
say anything else. Then, contradicting himself, the President said that the
British Ambassador could have avoided the issue altogether and could have
provided a vague answer. He said that Ambassadors representing other
countries that do not recognize the Genocide approach this issue with more
caution. Pres. Kocharian also said that Great Britain is not a country the
Ambassador of which could simply be kicked out, because Armenia would then
find itself in a diplomatic deadlock.
His foreign policy aides must not have properly briefed the President.
Rather than cautioning foreign diplomats that the Armenian government would
not tolerate such offensive remarks on the Armenian Genocide, the
President, unintentionally, seemed to be giving advice to them on how to
sidestep the Genocide issue. By stating that the British Ambassador could
not be easily expelled, the President has overlooked a series of other
options available to him ranging from its current position of inaction to
expulsion. Regrettably, the Armenian government’s lack of any kind of
response projects an image of weakness to the Armenian public and the
international community.
In other developments, Erik Grigoryan, the President of the Club of Young
Diplomats of Yerevan State University, in collaboration with the Noyan
Tapan news agency, just set up a web site, , that will
post the latest developments on this issue as well as all letters,
articles, and other relevant documents. The Club issued a press release
calling on the British Ambassador to apologize for her statement and urged
the Foreign Minister of Armenia to take a more resolute stand on this
Send your e-mails to British government officials in London asking them to
recall their envoy from Yerevan, since Amb. Abbott-Watt could no longer
effectively carry out her diplomatic duties after having insulted all
citizens of her host country. Send your e-mails to: Michael Jay, the
Under-Secretary and Head of the UK Diplomatic Service:
Mich[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.
Please continue sending e-mails to the British Ambassador:
Tho[email protected] and to the Armenian Foreign Ministry:
[email protected]. Please send me a copy of your e-mails and
any responses: [email protected].
2 – Steve Sarkisian Will Coach
Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks
OAKLAND, Calif. – Steve Sarkisian, most recently quarterback coach to 2003
National Champion USC where he also tutored the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner
and NFL No. 1 overall pick, will operate in the same capacity for the
Oakland Raiders.
Sarkisian, 29, handled quarterbacks at USC for the past two seasons.
Last year, he tutored Matt Linehart, who was named Pac-10 Player of the
Year – only the second sophomore to win the award, John Elway being the
first in 1980 – as USC went on to win the National Championship. The
previous year, Sarkisian coached Carson Palmer, the NFL’s top overall pick
in 2002 who won the Heisman Trophy and the Unitas Award en route to setting
Pac-10 career records for passing yards and total offense. He was offensive
assistant at USC in 2001 and in 2000 was quarterbacks coach at El Camino
Junior College in Torrance (Calif.) where his quarterback, Robert Hodge,
earned All-American honors.
As a senior in 1996, he led the nation in passing efficiency (173.6, the
seventh best mark ever) as the Western Athletic Conference champion Cougars
went 14-1 and won the Cotton Bowl.
He was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1996 and a second-team
All-American. As a junior, he was All-WAC and led BYU to the WAC title.
Against Fresno State that season, he set an NCAA game completion percentage
record when he hit 31-of-34 passes (91.2 percent).
3 – DSA Screening of Documentary
Benefits Projects in Armenia
LOS ANGELES – The Organization of Developmental Services for Armenia (DSA)
showed the award-winning documentary “Khachaturian” on March 13, at the
Glendale Cinema, with a Gala Reception, Silent Auction and Dinner following
the screening at the Brandview Collection in Glendale.
A highlight of the benefit dinner was guests of honor, Dr. Robert Lawrence
Kuhn and Dora Serviarian Kuhn, the Executive Producers of the film which
was released as a Kuhn Foundation Film.
The success of this event will provide much needed resources for DSA
projects in Armenia. The most recent accomplishment was the delivery of
four ambulances distributed to various hospitals in Armenia.
In the past year DSA renovated the kitchen and cafeteria at the Children’s
School #154, (Grades 1 to 10). In addition, a gas heating system was
installed, providing heat throughout the school for the first time.
Another achievement was at Primary Pre-School #301 for children ages 1 to
7, where DSA renovated bathrooms, the Nurses Facility which was collapsing,
plus installing a new roof.
DSA also completed a request for staples of sugar, pasta, butter and rice,
for the Psychiatric Hospital in the Sevan Region.
The DSA has also furnished and set up Computer labs at five different
schools in Armenia. DSA also renovated the Library at the Vartanantz Asbed
DSA is a 501C-3 non-profit organization and registered NGO in Armenia.
4 – UCLA AGSA Hosts Academics to Discuss
Current Research in Armenian Studies
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA Armenian Graduate Students Association held the
second annual international Graduate Student Colloquium in Armenian Studies
at UCLA on Feb. 20. It drew numerous academics and students from UCLA as
well as local universities who enjoyed presentations on themes from
Classical Literature, the Contemporary History and Politics of
Transcaucasia, Modern Literature, as well as Armenians and Education Issues
in the US.
“I found putting the colloquium together to be a most rewarding experience
and the day itself was not only informative and academically stimulating,
but exciting as well,” remarked Ani Moughamian, a UCLA graduate student in
the School of Education and Project Director of the 2004 colloquium. “We
really brought a great group of students together from so many different
places and it was a thrill for me to see how successful the colloquium was
this year in terms of scholarship and camaraderie between students.”
“It was a pleasure to be able to attend such a wonderful event. The AGSA
members did an excellent job and the colloquium has developed in so many
ways since last year. I can only expect its continued growth in the coming
years and the UCLA AGSA is happy to provide the foundation for the creative
and ambitious graduate students of this and future organizing committees,”
commended Haig Hovsepian, Executive Officer of the UCLA AGSA. He also
expressed his thanks to Dr. Peter Cowe (Professor and holder of the
Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Language and Literature) for his participation
in the organizing committee. “Dr. Cowe helped make the 2003 colloquium a
reality and continued to provide a professional experience for the 2004
organizing committee in its efforts to put together a quality event.”
The first panel of the morning session featured Andrea Scala (Austria) and
Lilit Hovsepyan (Armenia) who presented their works regarding texts by John
Chrysostum and Gregory of Narek, respectively. Andrea hails from the
Armenology community of Italy where, since submitting his abstract in
response to the 2004 call for papers, he received his degree from the State
University in Milan. For Lilit, it was the first time presenting her work
in an academic conference outside Armenia. She happily relayed that “… it
was a good chance to come into contact with other people [in the field], to
make friends, and learn much about the students and educational system at
UCLA.” She also noted that her participation in the colloquium and the
colloquium itself has received positive support and feedback from her
colleagues in Armenia. She looks forward to more graduate students
presenting their work in the coming years.
Leading off the second panel of the day, Ohannes Geukjian (Peace Studies –
University of Bradford, UK) presented a paper on the historical and
territorial dimensions of the conflict in Artsakh. He was joined by Asbed
Kotchikian, a political science doctoral student from Boston University,
who delivered a lecture on the perceived roles of Russia and Turkey in
Georgian and Armenian foreign policy.
“I was excited both about the geographical range of participants in this
year’s colloquium as well as the diversity of disciplines which they
represented within the broad field of Armenian Studies,” expressed Dr.
Peter Cowe. “This is a real indication of the growth and expansion of our
field and is very stimulating.”
His sentiments were echoed by Talar Chahinian, a UCLA graduate student in
the Department of Comparative Literature, who presented her work on
French-Armenian writers in the years immediately following the Armenian
Genocide. “It is very exciting to see graduate students from different
countries and across various disciplines coming together… The colloquium
did a great job of providing a forum for these different voices and also of
providing a space for community building among the participants.”
Talar was joined by fellow UCLA graduate student Tamar Boyadjian (Near
Eastern Languages and Cultures) who presented her latest work exploring the
use of natural imagery by late-19th and early-20th century Armenian poets.
Rounding off the third panel on modern literature was Karen Gharslyan of
the Bryusov State Linguistics University (Armenia) who compared the
literary perceptions of Giambattista Vico and James Joyce as it related to
the Biblical Flood, Noah and his descendent, as well as the role of the
Armenian people in this beginning of humanity.
Though the day’s program was nearing its end by the end of the fourth
panel, the question and answer session that followed was no less energetic
than those that preceded it. Artineh Samkian who presented on the topic of
language use in Armenian private schools expressed her appreciation of the
dialogue between academics in the audienc
e. “I received some important comments and constructive criticism that will
help me to better shape my project in its ‘final’ state.” Artineh, UCLA
graduate student in the School of Education was joined by Ani Moughamian
and Yeprem Mehranian (University of Massachusetts, Amherst). Whereas Ani
presented data on the literacy achievement of Armenian-American learners of
the English Language, Yeprem delved into the issue of the search for
identity and the negotiation between that of being Armenian and American.
Ramela Grigorian, a graduate student from the Department of Art History at
UCLA noted that a number of this year’s participants had indicated that
they would be returning to their home institutes and students as well as
colleagues to excitedly inform them about the colloquium and the active
Armenian studies community. “How wonderful that a symposium like this has
the power to inspire! I do hope to see more members of the community attend
the conference next year!”
With only a week to rest, the organizing committee is already back to work
and is in the process of drafting the next year’s call for papers. The UCLA
AGSA looks forward to February 2005 and hosting the next Graduate Student
Colloquium in Armenian Studies.
5 – Schwarzenegger Names Deukmejian
To Head State Prison Reform Panel
By Don Thompson
SACRAMENTO (AP) – Former Gov. George Deukmejian will chair an independent
review panel
charged with finding ways to “turn around the crisis of confidence” in
California’s youth and adult correctional systems, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger said last week.
Panel members said they plan a report by June, including recommendations on
prison closures and the future of San Quentin, the state’s oldest prison
that sits on prime development land.
Critics noted “Iron Duke” Deukmejian, who held office from 1983-91, helped
build the state’s prison system into the nation’s largest during a
law-and-order administration.
That system has become Schwarzenegger’s biggest unexpected policy crisis
since he took office after October’s recall election, diverting attention
from his attempts to rein in the state’s massive budget crisis.
A federal court-appointed monitor found that a prison employee “code of
silence” protects wrongdoers and punishes whistleblowers, and recommended
the Department of Corrections’ former director be charged with contempt of
A series of scathing national experts’ reports criticized the California
Youth Authority as a cruel version of the adult prison system, unable to
meet its responsibility to rehabilitate children before it’s too late.
There are no boundaries on the panel’s recommendations, including
sentencing changes, said Joseph Gunn, who was named the panel’s executive
director. Gunn was executive director of the Los Angeles Board of Police
Commissioners and co-chaired the independent review panel that investigated
the city’s Rampart police corruption case.
He said Schwarzenegger is concerned the youth authority is “set up for the
1950s and not the 2000s, and maybe they have to be brought up to modern
Schwarzenegger said Deukmejian’s experience as a legislator, state attorney
general and governor makes him the ideal chairman.
“George Deukmejian presided over one of the biggest prison-building
programs in the history of the world, and that’s no exaggeration. His
record on prison reform is not good,” countered Rose Braz of the sentencing
and prison reform groups Critical Resistance and a new coalition called
Californians United for A Responsible Budget.
“We know what kind of reforms are needed” after years of audits,
investigations and reports by experts and blue ribbon panels, Braz said.
“What we need now is the political will to do it.”
6 – Boghosian’s ‘One Woman Show”
Opens At Harvest Gallery, March 26
LOS ANGELES – Anahid Boghosian’s “A One Woman Show” opens with an artist
reception on March 26, from 6 to 10 p.m., at the Harvest Gallery, 938 North
Brand Boulevard, Glendale.
She brings tremendous presence to her stills with influences from the
greats combined with a distinctive signature flare, her Armenian heritage.
Boghosian exploits perceptions of sexuality, sensuality and its
contradictions. “Life is full of contradictions. It is our job to make
sense of them within our lives,” says Boghosian.
Boghosian continues to discover and push the boundaries by exploring
different concepts, materials, and views thus, creating a truly unique
“A One Woman Show” will be on display from March 26 to March 28 at the
Harvest Gallery.
For general information about the exhibit, call Harvest Gallery at
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A Writer At Large: In Search Of The (Live) Lost Chord;

A Writer At Large: In Search Of The (Live) Lost Chord;


March 7, 2004, Sunday
By Tim Marrs

In Seville recently for the Womex Conference, I fled the official
conference showcases and sought out La Carboneria, a bar I remembered
from years ago. Its signless wooden door in a back alley was marked
only by a row of parked bicycles and a few people exiting as we

You enter an extraordinary room, the high-vaulted central chamber of
what was once a charcoal-maker’s workplace. The walls are covered with
old bullfight ***** faded photos of flamenco singers, abstract
daubs with a Fifties air about them and relics of the craft of turning
wood into fuel. In a corner of the room by a fireplace, a woman
dressed in scarves and a long, flowered skirt and accompanied by a
guitarist sang coplas, a flamenco-esque song form from the
Forties. The crowd was mixed by age and type and paid attention to the
music rather than chatting. Through the far door is a large shed with
rows of benches, a long bar and a small stage. The back door opens
onto a huge hidden garden sheltered by palms and banana trees with
more tables, chairs and a bar. When the coplas finished, an Armenian
trio with clarinet, oud and percussion started in the shed, a
belly-dancer joining them towards the end of their set. By that time
the place was packed and the crowd was younger and hipper. It seemed
to have become more fashionable than I remembered from prior visits
listening to young flamenco rebels jamming after hours, but it had
retained its eccentricity and its atmosphere. It has also, like the
rest of Spain, kept its wilfully egalitarian ethos: the bartender
scrupulously insisted on returning the loose change I left on the bar.

As I sat sipping my ginda, I pondered why no equivalent exists in
London. Our past gets ploughed under by changing trends and rising
real-estate values. Clubs soar upwards on a tide of tribal fashion
then disappear. The Jazz Cafe was a great little joint in Stoke
Newington before it moved aspirationally to Camden Town; now it’s a
cog in the Mean Fiddler machine. The original Mean Fiddler in
Harlesden, for that matter, was once a pretty good place for live
music, but has long been closed. Momo tries to create the equivalent
atmosphere, but it is too relentlessly hip, exclusive and small to
match the democratic flavour of La Carboneria.

It sounds odd to say London isn’t a great city for music. Kids come
from all over the world to go clubbing here. But most London musical
destinations are in thrall to the world of DJs, or the shifting sands
of popular fashion, or both. Dancing, if it is done, is to recorded
music. And to be fair, London has raised the club-DJ scene to a level
of sophistication and up- to-dateness easily the equal of New York or
Paris. But the dance hall or venue with memories of years of great
nights of live music clinging to its unfashionable wallpaper is not to
be found.

There’s Ronnie Scott’s of course, but for decades that has been a kind
of landing strip for American, Cuban or other foreign jazz artists of
international repute. “The Old Place” lasted for a while as a haven
for local jazz talent in the original Gerard Street basement, but
walking through Chinatown now, you are hard pressed to remember which
stairwell once led down to its grimy but soulful rooms. The Pizza
Express jazz venues are good, but adhere pretty closely to the jazz

One problem is that there is no native London musical tradition you
can dance to. You could never imagine a local version of the Mid-City
Rock ‘N Bowl, for example. As the name suggests, this is a bowling
alley, located in a strip mall in an unfashionable district of New
Orleans. Most nights, the lot is full and cars prowl the murky side
streets looking for a place to park while queues form at the foot of
the stairs. Once you gain entrance, you find yourself in a gigantic
hangar where the rumble of bowling balls blends with the clatter of
pins and the creaking of automated machinery re-setting the
lanes. It’s a good bowling alley, one of the best in the city, and in
excellent unaltered condition. Which means it reeks of the Fifties,
even down to the barmaids’ and waitresses’ tight little blue jackets,
pleated mini- skirts and black ankle boots. Murals on the wall
celebrate the Pelicans, the city’s minor-league baseball team, and
their sponsoring local beer.

But what sets Mid-City Lanes apart is the huge dance floor between the
bar and the bowlers. The space is about 30 lanes wide, with a stage at
either end for the busy nights when two groups alternate until two in
the morning. Week nights, they tend to have zyedeco or cajun bands,
with R&B or Latin music on the weekends. The roar of the lanes is
curiously supportive of the music, like a drone that never goes out of
tune. There are two-step lessons for the newcomers at 7pm on Wednesday
and Thursday evenings. By 11, the place is heaving, with dancers of
all races, ages and classes mixing it up and girls sitting on the
banquettes in hot dresses waiting to be asked. Couples come and bowl a
few frames, drink a few beers, eat some fried chicken, then have a

London’s closest equivalent to the democratic mileu of Rock ‘N Bowl is
the DJ Gaz Mayall’s Rockin’ Blues which has made its home in various
dives over many years. I remember running into an ex-girlfriend at a
dinner party 20 years ago who wanted me to take her, her Tory minister
husband and their friends out dancing after the meal. We ended up at
Gaz’s listening to early reggae and R&B while the minister rubbed
shoulders with a party of skinheads at the next table toasting one of
their number who was shipping out next day for the Falklands.

In later years, Jerry Lyseight, Max Reinhardt and Rita Ray opened the
legendary Mambo Inn which specialised in Latin and African music and
would present live bands in one of the rooms of the glorious
rabbit’s-warren that is Brixton’s Loughborough Arms. But it died at
the end of the Eighties, leaving Gaz to carry the roots torch
alone. Bricks and mortar are a problem in a prosperous place like
London. Seville and New Orleans are wonderful cities, but one has very
strict preservation orders to protect the old quarters from
development and the other is too poor to grow. Both recognise that
preserving their past is a better economic plan than developing it.

It sounds as foolish to accuse London of having no sense of history as
it does to accuse it of having no good music. But think about it – in
Seville and New Orleans, the past comes right up to the
present. London’s past is safely preserved in architecture from
distant centuries. Punk clubs? All closed. Murray’s Club, where
Stephen Ward first danced with Christine Keeler? Long gone. Eel Pie
Island, home to trad, skiffle, the blues, and finally The Who and The
Stones? No preservation order saved that century-long mecca of
decadence from the weeds. And don’t get me started on Battersea Power
Station …

Readers who may have gone along with me thus far would quickly turn
the page were I to suggest that London ought to preserve its own
native musical past the way those other cities do. What would that be?
The country dances brought into sweaty city dance palaces that Charles
Dickens so admired? The big dance floors and the equally big bands of
the Forties? Clearly, there is no chance of that. What, come to think
of it, is London’s musical culture? Cockney Music Hall?

No, London is a chameleon city, turning absorbed styles from across
the Atlantic into something it can call its own. Eric Clapton and Mick
Jagger did America’s white blues wannabes one better, as did Zep, Roxy
Music, The Clash, Britpop and Radiohead with their Transatlantic
equivalents. But these groups were primarily turns. They didn’t meet
kindred souls at after-hours clubs and jam. English pop groups work
out their act and then show it on a stage for kids their own age or
younger. Its whole point is to violate whatever tradition is
around. There is no undercurrent of musical texture seeping up from
London’s earth. Unless you count reggae and calypso – but the question
of why there has never been an established venue here for live West
Indian music is another subject entirely …

Bordeaux has a reputation as an up-tight bourgeois city. The beauty of
its 17th century river-front buildings is chilly and severe and the
place reeks of money and respectability. Spending time in the
countryside nearby, I despaired of ever having a Bordelais laugh. One
day I was sipping a pastis and idly thumbing a copy of Sud-Ouest when
I spotted a small notice announcing the Kocani Orchestra, the Balkan
brass band who appeared in Emir Kosturica’s films Underground and Time
of the Gypsies. Where on earth could they be playing in Bordeaux?

Many wrong turns later, I found myself in what resembled a scene from
one of those films. On the dingy far bank of the Garonne
Christmas-tree lights were strung along a chain-link fence between two
forbidding warehouses beside a disused railway line. The signs
announced two names, take your pick: La Guinguette and Chez
Alriq. True to guinguette tradition, it has tables, a dance floor and
a stage under the trees by the river. The bar and restaurant are
inside a crumbling workshop. You fetch your (excellent) food from a
counter and enjoy the summer breeze off the river. In winter, there’s
a stage at one end of the workshop and the tables crowd together
around a dance floor.

And behold, here was the Bohemiam Bordeaux I had been searching for:
art teachers, overgrown moustaches, charity-shop fashion, mixed-race
couples, teenagers hanging out contentedly with their parents
… Alriq’s wife, Rosa, greets and looks after the bar and the
musicians, and together they create an admirably louche
atmosphere. Every night there is music: cajun, musette, jazz, Latin,
gypsy, flamenco, tango. Never a DJ, always a band.

The atmosphere generated by live musicians playing danceable music is
impossible to replicate with recordings. People behave differently
towards each other. Electronic beats have the effect of hardening
manners to match the punch of the rhythm tracks. Watching the music
take shape in front of your eyes and touching your dance partner
softens people. At least that is my experience.

London does have a market for this musical agenda. The audience for
real musicians playing real music with a bit of history is satisfied,
to a degree, by our public spaces. We are lucky to have people like
David Jones of Speakout, Bryn Ormrod from the Barbican, David Sefton
of the South Bank (head-hunted and now running Royce Hall in Los
Angeles) and Andy Wood from Como No. They manage to parade a series of
concerts and musical events not just onto the formal stages but into
the foyers of the Barbican and the Festival Hall where there is room
for dancing. Mambo Inn’s Max and Rita now run the periodic Shrine and
try to blend their beats with live music in imaginative ways. The
Lyric Hammersmith fills time between plays with imaginative music
programming. The crowds at these events show that there would
certainly be an audience for a London guinguette. Maybe someone should
bring Eel Pie Island back to life.

I ran a club once: “UFO” Friday nights in a Tottenham Court Road
basement. Pink Floyd were our resident group, there were light shows
and Kurosawa movies at 4am, Yoko Ono cut a paper dress off a naked
girl on a stepladder with amplified scissors and it became the centre
of the annus mirabilis of 1967. History has memorialised it as the
cradle for groups like the Floyd, the Soft Machine and Arthur Brown.

But we used to present jazz, theatre, folk and the uncategoriseable
avant- garde as well. The openness of the programming was part of the
point. When my partner, Hoppy, was jailed and I found myself running
it on my own, I made the mistake of trying to keep it at the centre of
the new scene instead of maintaining its original free-form spirit. In
trying to become a commercial succes, it lost its way and
disappeared. (Having police and skinheads busting and beating up our
crowds probably didn’t help much, either …)

New York has recently lost both The Bottom Line and Village
Underground, but still boasts the Tonic, Joe’s Pub and The Knitting
Factory. Moscow now has great live venues, led by the quirky
Jao-Da. LA has Largo, Paris La Java, Cafe de la Danse, Divan du Monde,
Amsterdam the venerable Milkveg and Paradiso. Here, Stuart Lyon’s
Sunday nights at Ronnie’s carry on, while the admirable Kashmir Klub
has lost its lease. The Jazz Cafe, Spitz, 12-Bar, Cargo and Borderline
have their merits, but you wouldn’t send an out-of-town visitor to any
of them for the crowd and the ambience.

Is there room for a place in London with the Bacchanalian spirit of
Eel Pie Island, the agape booking policy of Chez Alriq, a dance floor
as big and springy as Mid-City Rock ‘N Bowl and the atmosphere and
cheap drinks of La Carbonaria. Well, I am certainly not going to open
one. But if someone is brave enough, he or she can count on my buying
a round on opening night.

Armenian Deputy Speaker Unhappy About “Crisis of Tolerance”


Yerkir, Yerevan
5 Mar 04

March “Parliament deputy speaker urges government, opposition to start

Yerevan, 5 March: Speaking at the National Press Club on Friday (5
March), National Assembly Deputy Speaker Tigran Torosyan said there
was a “crisis of tolerance” in Armenia.

“There is no serious polemic in Armenia today,” Torosyan said, hinting
at the pro-government and the opposition parties. “Both sides are
avoiding polemic.” The deputy speaker called on both sides to sit at
the negotiating table to correct the situation. “Both sides should
realize that this is the only way,” he said.

Torosyan also pointed to the need for fair elections. The speaker
described the opposition’s boycotting of the National Assembly as
“parliamentary bargaining” and “pressure on parliament”.

Government Change “Inevitable” in Armenia – Ex-Official


A1+ web site
March 5, 2004

A change of government is inevitable, the people’s hatred has matured,
Paruyr Ayrikyan, leader of the National Self-Determination
Association, said today. To secure the change of government, Paruyr
Ayrikyan considers the united action of forces in and out of
parliament as an important factor.

However, Ayrikyan fears that forces, which aim to reverse former
authorities and opportunities, may come to power.

As for the absence of a leader, Paruyr Ayrikyan suggested, if the
opposition does not come to power, that a two-year interim government
be selected to guarantee the conduct of fair elections provided it
itself cannot be elected.

Hungarian Lawyer to Defend Azeri Officer Charged w/Armenian Murder


ANS TV, Baku
March 8, 2004

(Presenter) Lawyer Adil Ismayilov who will assist the defence of Ramil
Safarov (Azerbaijani officer facing charges of killing an Armenian
serviceman during NATO courses in Hungary) arrived in Baku today. He
met Safarov in a police department in Budapest. Ismayilov is now ANS
TV’s guest. Mr Ismayilov, who is the lawyer who will defend Safarov
and how do you assess him from a professional standpoint?

(Ismayilov, in studio) I want to take this opportunity to congratulate
all the Azerbaijani women on 8 March, on my behalf and on behalf of
Ramil Safarov. I especially want to congratulate his mother on
bringing up a courageous man like Safarov.

As for your question, I was in Budapest and a contract was signed
there with a lawyer. His name is (?Zalay Peter). I personally,
together with the lawyer, met Safarov. The lawyer was introduced to
Safarov and he agreed. From now on, the lawyer will be defending his

(Presenter) How experienced is the lawyer? Has he come across similar
cases? Is he experienced enough?

(Ismayilov) The lawyer was born in 1948 and is a police colonel. He
used to work as a police investigator. He became a lawyer several
years ago.

(Presenter) So are you satisfied with his level?

(Ismayilov) During this short period we had only two or three
meetings. It is impossible to say something definite, but at any rate,
I reckon that he has enough experience and knowledge.

(Presenter) You have met Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General (Zakir
Qaralov) and Defence Minister (Safar Abiyev). What are your

(Ismayilov) Upon returning from Budapest, I met some state officials,
including Abiyev, Qaralov and his first deputy Ramiz Aliyev. During
those conversations I got the impression that the state is directly
interested in finding a positive solution to this issue. As far as I
know, this issue is being addressed at the highest level, at that of
the president.

(Passage omitted: Ismayilov refuses to detail the case before the
trial starts)

(Presenter) What is his condition?

(Ismayilov) He is very well, if one may say so. I visited him in
prison. His morale is high. I believe that this morale has to be
maintained at this high level. His condition must be regularly checked
and we need to regularly visit him. As far as I know, a delegation of
the Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General’s Office will visit him soon. Such
measures need to be taken.

(Passage omitted: Translator found for Safarov)