Different figures given for Armenia opposition Saturday rally

Different figures given for Armenia opposition Saturday rally

Interfax news agency, Moscow
10 Apr 04

YEREVAN

Two opposition parties held a rally in central Yerevan on Saturday [10
April] which was one in a recent series of meetings to demand the
removal of Armenia’s leadership.

“The current Armenian regime is doomed as it is impossible to keep
power by force,” the leader of the Justice party, Stepan Demirchyan,
told the meeting, whose number of participants was put at about 20,000
by the organizers but at a maximum of 2,500 by the law-enforcement
agencies.

It was announced at the rally, organized by the Justice and National
Unity parties, that there would be an opposition procession on Monday
along the street in Yerevan where the presidential residence and
parliament stand.

Opposition leaders told the rally that several dozen opposition
activists had been detained since Friday and that the arrests were
illegal.

A police spokesman told Interfax that “there have been arrests of
citizens for breach of peace but not for participation in an illegal
rally.” He said he could not name the exact number of those arrested.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Armenia expects no change in Karabakh talks with new US mediator

Armenia expects no change in Karabakh talks with new US mediator

Arminfo
9 Apr 04

YEREVAN

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan has said that the
replacement of the US co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group on the
settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict will have no impact on
the talks. This was announced by Vardanyan in an interview with an
Arminfo correspondent.

According to him, the individual’s degree of activity and persistency
of his actions is important. “But, on the whole, I think that there
will be no specific changes from the political viewpoint,” Vardanyan
said. He added that the new OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman would
continue the policy which to some extent reflects the foreign policies
of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Azeri media end protests against opening of Turkey’s border

Azeri media end protests against opening of Turkey’s border with Armenia

Azadliq, Baku
10 Apr 04

Azerbaijani journalists continued their campaign of protests against
the possible opening of the Turkish-Armenian border in Ankara
yesterday. Our correspondent Sahla Abusattar, who took part in the
campaign, reported that first the journalists visited the grave of
[founder of the Azerbaija ni Democratic Republic in 1918-20] Mahammad
Amin Rasulzada. Then they held a news conference for Turkish
colleagues at the journalists’ centre.

At a meeting with the ninth Turkish [former] president, Suleyman
Demirel, the journalists said that the Azerbaijani people are
concerned about the possible opening of the border. Demirel said in
turn that although such reports appear from time to time, Turkey will
never change its policy on Azerbaijan and the border will not be
opened until our country’s problem with Armenia is settled.

[Passage omitted: Demirel calls for dialogue between the Azerbaijani
opposition and authorities]

The journalists have finished their protest and left Ankara. They are
back in Azerbaijan today. [Passage omitted: the paper will publish
detailed reports on the journalists’ trip to Turkey]

Some 100 Armenian opposition activists detained after rally

Some 100 Armenian opposition activists detained after rally

Azg, Yerevan
10 Apr 04

Large numbers of people packed Freedom Square in downtown Yerevan
yesterday. According to independent sources, from 10,000 to 15,000
people were there. [Passage omitted: repeated details of the rally]
The event, though, was quite an interesting show for those who like to
watch, as well as for journalists who looked for an extra chance to
snatch an interesting story. The policemen seemed quite nice to
journalists after the 5 April rally when the journalists were
physically harassed by unknown men believed by many to be anonymous
law enforcers, hence the cameras and recorders were flashing
everywhere.

Anyway, while for some the rally was a matter of life and death, the
contrast amid the people in the first lines of the crowd and those in
the last seemed incomparable. An elderly woman uttered in a heartfelt
squeaky voice “Kocharyan, go away!”. This was supported by teenage
shouting. They were waving flags and anti-government posters in front
of cameras. These sounds were funnily accompanied with laughter of
groups of well-fed young men standing just several lines behind the
elderly woman.

Although the authorities have “installed” their men in the crowd, it
was not only them who were indifferent towards what’s going on. As the
last line of the crowd were thinning at the end of the square towards
the green territory where the open cafes are situated, one would have
difficulty to say who is who there.

Next to several Europeans gazing quite keenly at the crowd with their
digital cameras working non-stop, there was a long haired Armenian
from abroad with a bottle of cola in his hands. A little further three
beautiful ladies were pushing their way through the crowd, in an
obvious attempt to attract the attention of young men. At a cafe next
to the square one would have a great difficulty finding a vacant table
to sit at. All the cafe tables were occupied, mostly by plump men who
helped themselves to beer and salty peanuts, watching the
demonstration and discussing politics from a comfortable angle.

Though the law-enforcers seemed to be tolerant of journalists, the
harshness was yet to be displayed. The lower-rank policemen in
civilian clothes were tracing down the most active members of the
opposition on orders from their bosses standing further away on
sidewalks going round the Opera and Ballet Theatre’s green
area. Having received a wink, three sporty men twisted the hands of
one activist and rushed him out of the crowd and forced him into a
Soviet Gaz 2106 vehicle which immediately drove off at high
speed. This, though, was the debut of the mass arrests.

By 2300 an estimated 100 activists were detained. However, there were
people who came here with the sole purpose to help oust the current
authorities from their posts. Among the protesters were people from
all over Armenia [Passage omitted: names of areas from which
protesters came and that rallies to continue until the president
resigns]

Armenian web site says 30 demonstrators arrested

Armenian web site says 30 demonstrators arrested

A1+ web site
10 Apr 04

The leaders of the united opposition – [ex-Prime Minister] Aram
Sarkisyan, [Justice bloc leader] Stepan Demirchyan, [National Unity
Party chairman] Artashes Gegamyan, MPs Smbat Ayvazyan, Albert Bazeyan
and Arshak Sadoyan and representatives of the political council spent
the night with participants in a sit-in on Freedom Square [central
Yerevan].

According to various calculations, between 500 to 1,500 people were on
the square. Although the police said that 10 people were detained
after the rally yesterday [9 April], we have information that 30
people were taken to police stations. As soon as a participant in the
sit-in moves away from the crowd, he immediately finds himself first
in an unknown vehicle and then at a police station.

The head of the Armenian police press service said yesterday that two
Makarov pistols had been seized from protesters. According to
representatives of the opposition, the two people holding the pistols
are not their supporters, and if someone went to the meeting with MPs
with the pistols, let they be punished in accordance with law.

Incidentally, we learnt today that refuse collection vehicles had been
instructed not to remove rubbish from the square.

Armenia protesters seek confidence vote on leader

seattletimes.com
Nation & World
Saturday, April 10, 2004, 12:33 A.M.
World Digest

Armenia protesters seek confidence vote on leader

YEREVAN, Armenia – About 20,000 demonstrators massed in the capital of
ex-Soviet Armenia yesterday to demand the resignation of President Robert
Kocharyan.

Demonstrators answering the call of two opposition parties poured into
Freedom Square.

Participants said they wanted to hold a nationwide confidence vote on
Kocharyan’s administration, which remains beset by a failure to resolve a
protracted dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory populated by ethnic
Armenians but assigned to mainly Muslim Azerbaijan in Soviet times.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

SCS: Shoghaken Ensemble

Santa Cruz Sentinel
Style
April 10, 2004

Shoghaken Ensemble

The nine-person group showcases traditional Armenian song and dance, taking
the listener to another time and another place. Since its creation in 1991,
the band has aimed to revive traditional Armenian folk music and preserve it
from foreign influences. The group includes two of Armenia’s most renowned
folk dancers – the brother and sister duo Hasmik and Aleksan Harutyunyan,
who mesmerize audiences with love songs, lullabies and folk dancing.

WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHERE: Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz.

TICKETS: $40 gold circle, $25 adults, $20 students and seniors with ID, $12
UCSC students with ID.

DETAILS: 459-2159 or

www.road-to-armenia.com/music/music.html.

Feasting on Easter in Armenia

ArmeniaNow.com
April 09, 2004

Inside view: A local looks at life
By Julia Hakobyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

After this weekend when the Christian world will celebrate Easter, the
greatest Christian holiday, our friends and my family will mark the end of
Lent by indulging in a feast.

Though gluttony is considered a sin in the Christian religion, this is what
we promised ourselves if we manage to survive the 48 days of fasting.

We arranged the menu of our feast on February 23, when the fasting started.
The menu included barbeque and vodka for men, chocolate cake and wine for
women, and a lot of white salty cheese-the loved and divine ingredient of a
traditional Armenian meal.

The initiators of the meal adventure were of course the females, the wives
of our friends and me.

As Christians we knew that following the rules of Lent not only had
regulations about food, but meant giving up smoking, sex, hard drinks,
gambling — in other words, anything that can distract from fasting . Also
while fasting, people should be tolerant, merciful, in memory of Jesus
Christ who resisted 40 days of Satan’s temptation.

Spirituality aside, what was more important is that we also knew that the
vegetarian food might help us to lose weight. As Armenian women we
apparently have had some problems with weight.

Our arguments such as slender waist and refined souls however did not
inspire our husbands who told us that we were slim enough and there was no
need to fast. I don’t know if they believed so, but the thing was that
Armenian men are badly meat addicted. And they were scared to death of the
idea to survive more than 40 days without meat. Besides, as men they do not
care as much about their weight, though they are not slim at all. And those
few who care are not ready to sacrifice themselves for giving up their
paunch.

After weeks of negotiations the women’s insistence prevailed over men’s
dissatisfaction. Though none of us were gamblers or drunkard, but are,
though, chain smokers, we agreed to concentrate our fasting mainly on
keeping to a diet.

So, the four married couples, novices to any kind of diet, surrendered to
the revived Christian tradition. My husband ate twice more all the week
before Lent and, just in case, drank and smoked more than usual.

My sister, the veteran of fasting, shared with us the recipes of the fasting
cuisine, and then the culinary abstinence started.

The first week was the most dramatic. Our husbands were blue and depressed
and were complaining that they could not fall asleep because of being
underfed.

We have been calling each other 10 times a day to update news and to see if
our husbands are alive. Our friend Suren became the first violator on the
first week, (but only once) when he got sick and asked for chicken broth as
a cure.

The most controversial meal was the breakfast. Usually for breakfast we have
sandwich with cheese and ham, or eggs, or pancake with sour cream. We
survived our mornings eating the apricot and peach jam and praising the
Ararat valley and our mums who made the canned fruits in summer.

I was cooking all the day long, making several kinds of salads and vegetable
soup. My husband circled Easter, April 11, with a red marker on the wall
calendar and said that during childhood he never was so inpatient for Santa
Claus as now waiting for Easter.

Then someone advised us to watch the Lenten cuisine show by Shokhakat TV run
by the Diaspora Armenians. We liked the program a lot and learned to make
pancake without eggs and milk, to make dolma without meat and khachapuri
without cheese.

On the third week of fasting my husband confessed that he enjoyed the
spinach soup and stewed vegetables. The next week he said the preserved
foods compensate for cheese and the following week he discovered that if you
have a strong enough imagination, mushroom can taste like meat.

Those of our friends who were not fasting were looking at us like on heroes.
Many of them confess that they wanted to fast too, but they broke the fast
after one day.

Now as only two days remain till Easter, I can say we learned to enjoy our
fasting and now we preparing to celebrate Easter. We have bought dye-stuff
to color eggs and will have on that day the traditional Armenian Easter
dishes: pilaf with raisins, cooked fish and stewed green.

Our friends are happy and alive. We are going to have the Easter course in
the morning on Sunday and then we will go out for a picnic to fulfill our
food promise.

So, if you see that day people uncontrollable and irrepressible eating and
drinking, don’t think they are gluttons. They might be simply fasting
survivors, who, like us are proud we marked the oldest Armenian tradition.

By the way: None of my friends, nor I, lost a single ounce.

Rejected maestro returns to rally opposition

ArmeniaNow.com
April 09, 2004

Conducting a Challenge for Change: Rejected maestro returns to rally
opposition

By Gayane Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow arts reporter

After leaving Armenia and vowing to never return, veteran conductor Ohan
Duryan has returned to lend his name to the movement of political opposition
afoot in Yerevan.

Two years ago Duryan left in anger, when Ministry of Culture officials
revoked his “life time” contract as chief conductor and musical director of
the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet.

The 80-year old conductor who has performed world wide has since signed a
five year contract with the Moscow Symphonic Orchestra. Rosiyskaya Gazeta
newspaper in Moscow called him “one of the world’s greatest conductors”.

The conductor’s bitter departure from Armenia was punctuated by him refusing
his Mesrop Mashtots and Movses Khorenatsi awards – the highest honors the
State bestows on a civilian in Armenia.

He has since spoken out harshly against the regime that he believes betrayed
him. And he has written letters to the president that have gone unanswered.
But Duryan says his return to join the opposition is not an act of
vengeance.

“I am above it,” he says. “Even though I was greatly hurt by the
authorities, I am not out for revenge. They will get their punishment from
above.”

Duryan says his return is an act of patriotism. He recently attended a
meeting of intellectuals where he challenged compatriots to lobby for a
change of power.

“I am an artist and I don’t do politics, however the arrogant activity of
today’s government and the miserable state of the people cannot leave me
indifferent,” he told Armenianow. “I cannot stay silent, that’s the reason
why I joined the opposition and I want to help them. That’s why I appealed
to the president himself asking him to address his conscience and to see
whether it is possible to rule a country with weapons, tanks, guns,
barb-wire — with beating innocent people who wanted to reveal (ballot)
falsifications, with terrorist acts. The president, the head of the state in
general, has to count with his conscience and do what his conscience tells
him.”

Following his own conscience, Duryan is in the mix of a movement that puts
him at odds with the government. He says it also has landed his name on “a
list of dangerous people”.

According to Duryan the situation is not pleasant for other artists as well,
but not all of them keep to their principles.

“There are devoted people among the opposition, however there are also many
of those who are obsessed with power mania,” says Duryan. “I respect those
intellectuals who remained at their positions, like Silva Kaputikyan
(poetess), Gohar Gasparyan (singer), Tigran Levonyan (singer), Vladimir
Abajyan (actor), Khoren Palyan (musicologist). These are people who did not
abase themselves to please the president and get some benefits.”

The press secretary for the Justice Bloc, the parliamentary representation
leading the opposition, says Duryan’s stand is significant.

“People were really waiting for the words of their favorite artists. It is
of great importance for society and it of course has great impact,” says
Ruzanna Khachatryan.

Duryan says that his wounds have healed somewhat by his return, and that his
main concern is from seeing his countrymen in difficult conditions.

“Those who cannot put up with the situation leave. Did we proclaim
independent Armenia in order to empty it from Armenians? About a century ago
there was a genocide, but now the emptying of Armenia is no less a
genocide,” he says.

On March 25 the Chairman of the National Assembly Artur Baghdasaryan met
with Duryan and during the meeting he said that it was everyone’s mistake to
treat the world known conductor that way.

“I shall do everything to correct that mistake. We’ll see what we can do,”
said Baghdasaryan, during a televised interview.

Minister of Culture Tamar Poghosyan has so far been silent.

“I don’t know that woman. If she wants to meet me she’s welcome to invite
me,” Duryan says. “Anyway, I don’t have a position anymore that can be taken
away. I have nothing to loose. Today, I only have a hope that the opposition
will be firm in their position, and the scum who are in power will leave
without bloodshed.”

Adjusting: Teacher becomes the student of rural ways in city life

ArmeniaNow.com
April 09, 2004

Adjusting: Teacher becomes the student of rural ways in city life

By Vahan Ishkhanyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

In all of her 54 years, Russian language teacher Silva Martirosyan has
never known rural living. She lives in the town of Tchambarak and for most
of her life “farming” was a matter of going to the market.

But a lot of lives continue to change as Armenia moves from what it was to
whatever it will be.

Silva ties Yeghnik’s “fly swatter” then starts the process.
Sometimes city girls learn country living. Sometimes teachers become
milkmaids.

Silva and her husband live on the second floor of a four-storied apartment
building in Tchambarak, about 80 kilometers northeast of Yerevan. And their
cow, Yeghnik, lives in the garage out back.

“I was always afraid of cows,” Silva says. “But it is not possible to live
only on a salary anymore, so we had to start keeping a cow. Butter, milk,
sour cream, matsun. All is ours and we get that thanks to that cow.”

Every morning at 7 o’clock, before going to teach, Silva goes into Yeghnik’s
garage-turned stable, changes into to her “cow” clothes – the ones she
leaves in the stable because she doesn’t want the smell of cow tending to
follow her to the classroom.

Before starting to milk she ties the cow’s tail in a bow to keep Yeghnik
from swatting dirt into the milk. Then she puts a special board under the
cow so that white milk pail doesn’t touch the dirty floor. Then she covers
the bucket with gauze to protect the milk from dust and hair in the dirty
stable. Finally she starts pulling on Yeghnik for the payoff that makes it
all worthwhile.

The stable is reached below the garage.
“Before I used to milk this way,” Silva demonstrates her first steps of
becoming milkmaid very awkwardly pinching the cow’s udder. “Later I became
more experienced. Nobody taught me I learned to milk by myself, slowly. But
anyway I don’t get skilled. If a professional milkmaid had been here she
would have already finished milking. I milk slowly as my hand gets tired.”

She pauses to rest her hand, then, with a deep sigh she finishes the ritual
task, explaining that if she doesn’t get every drop of milk, the cow will
not feel well.

If Silva is sick, her husband takes over the milking. He is a teacher, too.
And not as good a milker as Silva.

When she is in the house she empties milk into another bucket once again
filtering it through gauze. And at 9 o’clock she is already in school. “I am
never late,” she says.

In the evening at 7 o’clock she repeats the entire process once. Every day
she gets 10 liters of milk. In summer when Yeghnik goes grazing with a herd
Silva will get 15 liters of milk from her.

The chore of cow-tending also includes cleaning the stable. Silva’s husband
installed a water pipe and a sewage drain. Cow dung is removed and laid I
the yard to dry. When the couple run out of firewood, they burn the manure
for fuel.

Out of “cow clothes” and up the stairs with the payoff.
Yeghnik is their second cow. They slaughtered the first one when it got old
and couldn’t give milk anymore.

This year Armenia is reducing the number of teachers nation-wide. Silva
fears becoming one of those effected by “optimization”.

“What can I do in that case?,” she asks. “I would like to keep one more cow
but we have no possibilities to buy. The cow maintains a family.”

Silva has two sons who live in Russia. And her daughter, a student in
Yerevan, is fed from Silva’s skills as a milkmaid.

The town-woman teacher has learned to make sour cream using a separator and
a friend’s father taught her how to make cheese, using a special device her
husband made. She also churns butter from a mixer also made by her husband.

During Soviet times two plants were functioning in Tchambarak: a cheese
plant and a plant making parts for radio. After privatization, the parts
plant is closed and the cheese factory works at reduced production.

A final strain makes the milk ready for use
Residents of Silva’s building are former workers of the plant, state
employees and teachers. For being able to exist many of them keep different
animals in their garages such as hens, sheep and cows. When it becomes warm
about 90 cows will be taken to pastures from the district where Silva lives.

“Before moving to Tchambarak I was living in Dilijan,” says Silva, who has
been a teacher for 35 years. “We have always been intellectuals. We used to
travel through the entire Soviet Union. But now we cannot even go to
Yerevan. And if we had no cow then we wouldn’t be able to live and exist at
all.”