BAKU: Armenian intelligence behind officer’s Budapest killing

Azeri analyst says Armenian intelligence behind officer’s Budapest killing

Assa-Irada
17 Mar 04

BAKU

Commenting on the killing of Armenian officer Gurgen Markaryan by
Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov in Budapest, the director of the
Centre of Political Innovations and Technologies, political analyst
Mubariz Ahmadoglu, said today that the incident was the result of work
carried out by Armenian intelligence. He said there was sufficient
evidence to substantiate this theory.

According to the analyst, in addition to dealing a blow to
Azerbaijani-NATO relations, the killing has had an impact on
Azerbaijan’s international authority. Therefore, the Armenians are
capitalizing on the incident to put forward theories that Nagornyy
Karabakh cannot be part of Azerbaijan for genetic reasons.

The Armenians are concerned that many international organizations are
no longer taking Armenia seriously and are reluctant to believe
it. For this reason, the theory that Armenian intelligence has tried
to play a trick on Ramil Safarov seems quite probable.

According to Ahmadoglu, it would be right to treat the issue more as a
political and interstate one.

Armenian ministers told to make their relatives behave, says PM

Armenian ministers told to make their relatives behave, says PM

Hayastani Hanrapetutyun, Yerevan
18 Mar 04

Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan says he has told ministers
to “influence” their relatives to keep them out of criminal
incidents. Interviewed by the Armenian government newspaper, the PM
condemned the recent gunfight near a restaurant where the Armenian and
Georgian presidents were dining. (The son of the minister for town
planning is accused of involvement in the gunfight.) Dismissing the
opposition’s claims that they will overthrow the authorities in April,
Markaryan said that the government had tackled the tariff problems
raised by the opposition. The following is an excerpt from Gayane
Gasparyan’s interview with Markaryan published in Hayastani
Hanrapetutyun on 18 March and headlined “`Republican Party of Armenia
alongside law and state,’ Andranik Markaryan says”; subheadings
inserted editorially:

Ministers told to make their relatives behave

[Hayastani Hanrapetutyun correspondent] Rumours are circulating that the
police chief has been dismissed because of the recent incident not far
from the Aragast restaurant [the town planning minister’s son is
accused of firing a gun nearby when the Georgian and Armenian
presidents were in the restaurant].

[Andranik Markaryan] The dismissal of the police chief is ruled out,
as a change of job or dismissal in this system is not connected with
this incident.

[Correspondent] How do you assess the incident? What really took
place?

[Markaryan] Naturally, I assess the incident negatively. The judicial
structures are dealing with this case and I do not want to interfere
in their business.

[Correspondent] How do you assess the fact that the children of some
top officials and members of the government find themselves in such
situations from time to time?

[Markaryan] I assess it negatively. I told the ministers during
government sessions to influence their relatives in order to rule out
such incidents.

[Correspondent] Did the sons of other members of the government
participate in the incident?

[Markaryan] No, they did not.

[Correspondent] Recently during one of the news conferences about
ArmenTel, Justice Minister David Arutyunyan said a government
reshuffle cannot be ruled out.

[Markaryan] I have always said this is a dynamic process. You will
know when a change takes place.

Proposed bill on return of deposits not a victory for Orinats Yerkir

[Correspondent] In a recent TV broadcast of “Khorirdanakan zham”
[Parliamentary Hour] the chairman of the National Assembly said that
the committee on deposits will submit a draft law to the National
Assembly and deposits will be returned. Does it mean that agreement
has been reached within the coalition on the deposits?

[Markaryan] There is agreement that a draft law will be made. There is
no other agreement yet.

[Correspondent] Do you think that the agreement on submitting the
draft law on the return of deposits was a victory for Orinats Yerkir
[Law-Governed Country Party]?

[Markaryan] No, I do not think so. Orinats Yerkir with its 20 deputies
could not force us take such a decision.

[Correspondent] There is a view that the term for submission of the
decision has been delayed in order to close down the problem.

[Markaryan] Time will tell.

Impossible for opposition to overthrow authorities today

[Correspondent] How do you assess the results of the ministers’ visits
to the regions? May programmes be changed as a result of these visits?

[Markaryan] Naturally they may. If there are urgent problems and sums
have been allocated to tackle them in the budget, but the process is
not managed well, changes may take place.

[Passage omitted: funds allocated to flood clear-up]

[Correspondent] The opposition is confidently announcing that in April
it will overthrow the “regime”. Will they manage to do this?

[Markaryan] This is their business. I do not know the techniques used
by them, but I think that it is impossible today.

[Correspondent] When will it be possible?

[Markaryan] In 2008.

[Correspondent] When members of the government visited the regions,
the people were very tense. Do you predict social revolt?

[Markaryan] I do not think that this year the living conditions of the
people are worse than in previous years. I also visited the
regions. The main discontent concerned the consequences of the
floods. The government responded to the problem immediately. I hope
that in future after floods we shall have definite compensation
mechanisms.

Social revolt is impossible. The government has resolved the problems
raised by the opposition: the increase in tariffs for electricity,
water and gas. In particular, the government did not allow the
increase in the tariffs to lead to the worsening of people’s standard
of living, we gave compensation in the form of subsidies.

[Correspondent] Was it planned that the visits of government members
to the regions should coincide with the dates announced for opposition
meetings?

[Markaryan] No, it was not. We visit the regions from time to time. A
group visit will be by the end of the year. We have adopted the
following policy: ministers should undoubtedly have contacts,
especially with the population of those regions where programmes are
being implemented.

[Correspondent] If the opposition acts according to the constitution
and their rallies are well-attended, in that case where will the RPA
[Republican Party of Armenia] be?

[Markaryan] We shall be alongside the law and the state.

Budapest murder result of “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan -Armenian MP

Budapest murder result of “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan – Armenian MP

Novoye Vremya, Yerevan
16 Mar 04

The murder of an Armenian officer by an Azeri lieutenant in Budapest
was the result of anti-Armenian “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan, one of
the leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun
has said. Vahan Ovanesyan, who is also a deputy speaker of the
Armenian parliament, said that the Azerbaijani authorities and
opposition had competed with one another to be more anti-Armenian in
the recent election campaign. He said that Armenia should fight for
democracy in Azerbaijan, drawing international attention to what is
going on in the Azerbaijani media. The following is an excerpt from
Naira Manucharova’s report in Armenian newspaper Novoye Vremya on 16
March, headlined “It is strange but we should fight for democracy in
Azerbaijan”; subheadings inserted editorially:

Recently our politicians and public figures have been making loud
statements concerning the nationalistic, chauvinistic and racist ideas
being propagated in Armenia. Stemming from these statements,
anti-Azerbaijani passions are being inflamed in the country: a
particular case – the murder of an Armenian officer in Budapest – is
being globalized and the official assessment is casting a “shadow” on
the whole Azerbaijani nation. To what extent are such statements
authorized? The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Vahan
Ovanesyan, comments on this and other problems.

Democratic development hampered by stress on style over substance

[Vahan Ovanesyan] The statements made by some politicians and public
organizations should be assessed in two ways. First, they are trying
to create the impression for the world community (allegedly favourable
for Armenia) that there are very democratic institutions here, whose
activity meets European and Western standards and perceptions of
democratic values, and that they are priorities in public opinion. The
second aspect of these statements is more transparent and is evidence
of an incomplete understanding of such ideas as nationalism,
chauvinism and racism. And here we are coming up to a revision of a
philosophical issue, how correct a form of the fight for democracy has
our society chosen? Unfortunately, the development of democracy on CIS
territory and, in particular, in the South Caucasus region has
proceeded in a crippled way.

Those who teach us democracy, mainly Western and European
organizations, focus on its external display. This applies as much to
Armenia as to Georgia and Azerbaijan. Just superficial displays are
taken into account. For example, they monitor in detail the way in
which ballots are put into ballot boxes… The scrupulous, almost
microscopic, study of the external side of democracy leads to
dissonance. Society starts fighting for the provision of these
external signs, while the substance of democracy goes to the back
burner and is very often forgotten.

For this reason, when, for example, explaining what the free press is,
few people are interested in what this free press is
publishing. Western organizations pay great attention to retention of
political prisoners in Azerbaijani prisons, the breaking up of
opposition demonstrations by the police, but they absolutely ignore
the fact that for many years hatred of the Armenian nation has been
accumulating in Azerbaijani society. What is written in Azerbaijani
newspapers may not be considered a sign of a free society. But this is
not taken into account, this is taken into account only if a newspaper
or TV channel is closed or their rights are violated. Just because of
this dissonance some of our officials think it their duty to make
absurd statements about Armenian chauvinism and racism.

Armenians cannot at present live alongside Azerbaijanis

[Novoye Vremya correspondent] It is known that these statements call
for poli tical restraint as well as refer to the “unacceptable”
statements of the officials of the country and members of the
governing coalition…

[Ovanesyan] As for the official assessment of the incident in
Budapest, I am absolutely sure that in their statements Armen
Rustamyan and Galust Saakyan, as well as the president of the country,
refer to the incident’s very serious political consequences. All of us
were speaking of this and the president spoke out in the most precise
way: “What happened in Budapest shows that in the foreseeable future
there can be no talk of Armenians and Azeris living side by side.”
That is, we are making political conclusions, speaking about the
substance of democracy. Let us imagine that there was no conflict in
1988 and refugees from both sides remained in their places. Let us
imagine for a moment that Armenians remained in Sumgait [Sumqayit] and
Baku and participated in the presidential elections of 2003. If the
Azerbaijani police were beating their compatriots so severely, what
would happen to the Armenians if they tried to express their own
viewpoint, which differed from the “central” one, or if they had their
own candidate for president? It is evident that we would be
annihilated, not as political opponents but as an ethnic group, not by
means of batons but axes.

>From the pseudo-democratic statements of some domestic functionaries
an ill-wisher may make a direct and very dangerous conclusion for
Armenia: if we do not complain about the behaviour of Azeris, ordinary
people or the elite, in that case there are no factors to prevent
Karabakh being within Azerbaijan. Armenian civil society seems to
support that idea. But who returns Karabakh? If not the people, in
that case the authorities. In fact by means of such statements [former
President Levon] Ter-Petrosyan’s idea about the party of war that
allegedly came to power in Armenia, is supported. But there is still
danger: as it is impossible to imagine that somebody in Karabakh
shares this viewpoint, but the viewpoint exists in Armenia, in that
case one more wedge is driven between Armenia and Karabakh.

Ovanesyan proud of Karabakh victory

But if we put aside the political prism and try to assess this from
the human and civilian point of view, in that case people who let
themselves make such statements, make us ashamed of our victory. But I
cannot and do not want to be ashamed of it. I am proud that in 1915 my
people resisted the Turks and Kurds, who were carrying out genocide,
and while dying took such a big number of enemies with them that till
today they say that representatives of their peoples were also
killed. I am proud of those Dashnak teams which in 1918 in Baku did
not let another genocide be carried out. I am proud that the Dashnaks
are still hated and feared in Azerbaijan. I am proud of those refugees
who were leaving Baku fighting and resisting. I have a relative who
defended himself by shooting and in this way managed to take his
mother to Georgia.

[Correspondent] In that case you are a nationalist…?

[Ovanesyan] Of course I am. I am proud that in the Karabakh war we
killed 25,000 Azeris and only 5,000 Armenians were killed. I am proud
that my friends and I took part in that war. And my son is also proud
of this. And if they again start the war, they should know that the
score will be the same. And I am not proud of this secretly at night,
I am openly proud of this. I think there is nothing shameful in it. It
is in this way that any nation is educated. There is already no time
when they could kill us unarmed and defenceless.

[Passage omitted: Azeris still try to kill Armenians when they are
sleeping]

No racism in Armenian society

[Correspondent] To what extent does the definition of “Armenian
racism” correspond to the generally accepted definition?

[Ovanesyan] Racism has never existed in Armenian society, in the same
way that it did not exist in our neighbouring countries – Byzantium
and the Arab caliphate. Racism is a later idea.

[Passage omitted: Ovanesyan expounds on racism]

Armenians do not consider the Azeris and even the Turks as
racists. They understand very well, and it is historically proved,
that if a little Azerbaijani or Turk is educated in a healthy and
normal society, in that case he will not hate Armenians. There is not
an Armenophobe gene. Armenophobia is not a gene but upbringing. And
Armen Rustamyan and Galust Saakyan and I are fighting for an Armenian
not to be presented in Turkish and Azerbaijani society as an enemy and
a potential subject for outrage. When they stop considering us in this
way, then our attitude will also change. But one cannot demand that we
be the first to change our attitude. Whoever committed a crime should
always make the first step to reconciliation.

[Passage omitted: Armenians do not hate Turkic nations; they have good
relations with the Middle East, Muslim nations.]

Budapest murder result of “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan

[Correspondent] Why has this mood worsened during [Azerbaijani
President] Ilham Aliyev’s tenure?

[Ovanesyan] I was predicting this. When the election campaign started
in Azerbaijan, the authorities and opposition started competing with
each other in anti-Armenian moods. At that time the “level” of
anti-Armenian military expressions raised sharply. Neither the
authorities nor the opposition could boast of anything else…

[Correspondent] The oil pipeline and its goods lie in the future.

[Ovanesyan] The fight against corruption is in the lacklustre
distance. An elementary problem: they talk about one million refugees
(in reality there are fewer, but their number is big). If they settled
those refugees in flats taken from Armenians, the problem would be
settled. But as those flats were mainly good ones, the Azerbaijani
elite occupied them, not only Aliyev’s elite but also [late President
Abulfaz Elcibay] Elchibey’s, which is in opposition today. That is,
the Azerbaijani elite inherited what they took away from the Armenians
and did not share this with these unfortunate people. But they have to
say something to these people. For this reason during an election
campaign anti-Armenian slogans and hysteria become the core of any
political speech. The brutal killing in Budapest was the result of
this intensive propaganda and brain-washing. But this is one
display. Imagine how many people in Azerbaijan have such hatred. In
this sense Ilham would not be allowed to behave in any other way, even
if he inherited a little of the wisdom of his father, who managed to
find the will within himself to stop the bloodshed and not to start it
for 10 years. The bitterness of society and the increasing severity of
the official position are obvious. We should take this into account
and not make ill-considered statements which may be used against us.

Armenia must prepare for diplomatic war

[Correspondent] What is your prediction in this context?

[Ovanesyan] We should act in two areas. First is a symmetrical answer
to Azerbaijan. When our neighbours speak about 20 per cent of their
territory and one million refugees, we must show what those
territories are. We can answer this at the legal, judicial and moral
level, common to all mankind. Moreover, we should fight for the
democratization of Azerbaijan. It is strange, but this is our task. We
should always draw the world’s attention to what is taking place in
Azerbaijani propaganda, the press. This is a task for our public,
human rights organizations, but not a “witch-hunt” in their native
land.

In fact, two societies existing in different time layers, have
clashed. Of course Armenia is not yet in the 21 century, but it is at
least in the 20 century. In Azerbaijan a tribal society exists,
whereas Armenian society, though with difficulty, is trying to
integrate into Europe. In this sense we are at different stages of
development. In this situation it is impossible to live in brotherly
unity. Nobody has ever tried to force societies that are at different
levels of civilization to live together.

I think it is not likely that in the near future Azerbaijan will go
for a direct military conflict. Though no scenario should be ruled
out. We should prepare seriously for new diplomatic fights. They are
really inevitable.

EU official calls on Armenia, Turkey to improve ties

EU official calls on Armenia, Turkey to improve ties

Arminfo
17 Mar 04

YEREVAN

If Turkey wants to become a European Union member, it should fulfil
all the requirements of this organization and normalize relations with
Armenia, the chairman of the European Parliament’s committee for
constitutional issues, Ursula Schleicher, told a news conference
today, devoted to the results of the sixth session of the commission
for Armenia-European Union interparliamentary cooperation.

She said that both sides should show the political will to normalize
Armenian-Turkish relations. Schleicher noted that both Armenia and
Turkey were attempting to normalize bilateral relations. She believes
these countries should start communicating at a higher level in order
to normalize ties. The agreement that was signed on the results of the
sixth session of the Armenian-European Union cooperation commission
called on Turkey “to gradually start unblocking the border” and remove
obstacles on the path to trade cooperation with Armenia.

The European Union called on the Armenian and Turkish governments to
create the conditions for establishing friendly relations. The
document also pointed out the need for dialogue between Armenian and
Turkish academics to “overcome the tragic experience of the past”.

Armenia attempts to help arrested citizens in Equatorial Guinea

Armenia attempts to help arrested citizens in Equatorial Guinea

Arminfo
18 Mar 04

YEREVAN

The Armenian Foreign Ministry is taking diplomatic measures to render
legal assistance to six Armenian citizens arrested in Equatorial
Guinea on 8 March on charges of attempting a state coup, the Armenian
Foreign Ministry press service has told Arminfo.

The source said that the Armenian envoys in Russia and the USA had
already met their Guinean colleagues. Taking into account the fact
that Armenia has no diplomatic mission in Equatorial Guinea, the
Armenian Foreign Ministry asked the diplomatic representations of
friendly third countries for help in this issue.

OSCE chairman’s remarks give no prospect of Karabakh settlement

OSCE chairman’s remarks give no prospect of Karabakh settlement – newspaper

Aravot, Yerevan
18 Mar 04

Text of Tigran Avetisyan’s report in Armenian newspaper Aravot on 18
March headlined “Is the NKR ignored?”

Today it may be reasonably said that the OSCE, which took the role of
key mediator in the Karabakh settlement, has finally and
unconditionally recognized only Armenia and Azerbaijan as the parties
to the conflict. Yesterday during a joint news conference of the OSCE
chairman-in-office, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, and
Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan, journalists asked the same
questions in different ways. The goal was to clarify how Mr Pasi sees
the role of the NKR in the negotiating process on its destiny. All was
in vain. Replying to all the cunning and not so cunning questions, the
OSCE chairman-in-office said almost the same thing: “The problem may
be settled only by the efforts of Armenia and Azerbaijan.” The only
exception in this “strategy” was that Solomon Pasi reported on his
meeting with the NKR president, Arkadiy Gukasyan, saying that he is
well informed about the fears of the Karabakh party.

As for the rest of Pasi’s remarks on the NKR conflict settlement, they
were as old as the conflict itself. Let us present some of them: “In
Azerbaijan as well as in Armenia I have seen a great desire and
readiness for a peaceful settlement,” “The OSCE cannot offer a ready
prescription to the parties to the conflict, it can only support
them,” etc.

As for the Armenian foreign minister, the latter was not original in
his answers either. They again touched on the decision of the new
leadership of Azerbaijan to start the negotiations from scratch and
Oskanyan again said that there had been definite agreements and if
Azerbaijan intended to start everything from a blank sheet, in that
case it should negotiate with the Karabakh party. Vardan Oskanyan
confirmed the information published in the Azerbaijani press that on
29 March he and his Azerbaijani counterpart would meet in Prague with
the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen. “At that time we shall try to
clarify once again from what point Azerbaijan intends to continue the
negotiations,” the Armenian foreign minister said. It seemed that in
trying to justify the naive and predictable answers of Solomon Pasi on
the format of the negotiations, Vardan Oskanyan said that in the end
there is truth in his words and “each of you can draw his own
conclusion”.

Let us try to draw our own conclusion. Taking into account Arkadiy
Gukasyan’s statements immediately after his meeting with the OSCE
chairman-in-office that without the participation of Karabakh the
problem will never be settled, as well as taking into account that
today the key theme of conversation between Armenia and Azerbaijan has
turned to zero, in that case we can give up for lost the possibility
of an NKR settlement for a long time.

Armenian parliament rejects anti-smoking bill

Armenian parliament rejects anti-smoking bill

AP Online
Mar 18, 2004

Armenia’s parliament rejected Thursday a bill that would have
restricted smoking in public places and sales of tobacco to minors.

The bill _ which would have banned smoking in government buildings,
hospitals, schools and universities and restrict it in cafes and
restaurants _ got just 41 votes in the 131-seat parliament, falling
short of the simple majority it needed for approval.

Most parliament members are smokers.

Authorities of Equatorial Guinea Can Execute Armenian Citizens

AUTHORITIES OF EQUATORIAL GUINEA CAN EXECUTE ARMENIAN CITIZENS

YEREVAN, MARCH 18. ARMINFO. The authorities of Equatorial Guinea can pass a
death sentence on the 17 detained foreigners by charging them with
participating in a conspiracy aimed at assassination of the country’s
President. Among the detainees are six Armenian citizens.

The BBc News reports that the citizens of Angola, South African
Republic, Germany, Kazakhstan and Armenia have been charged with
unlawful purchase of arms and violation of the immigration laws in
Zimbabwe.

The authorities of Equatorial Guinea call the detainees “mercenaries”
and claim that they intended to stage a coup in the country, in
cooperation with an identical group that was simultaneously detained
in Zimbabwe. A Government official stated that the 17 foreigners can
be sentenced to death. The detainees deny all charges as trumped up.

The RA Foreign Office reports that it is taking diplomatic steps to
help the Armenian citizens. The RA Foreign Office applied to the third
countries for assistance in this matter.

Melkonian: Students lead condemnation of closure plan

Students lead condemnation of Melkonian closure plan

Cyprus Weekly
Friday, March 19, 2004

A HURRIEDLY-written placard read: “WHAT TURKEY FAILED TO DO IS BEING
DONE NOW” as shocked students, many of them openly weeping, refused to
go back to their classrooms at the Melkonian Educational Institute in
Nicosia on Tuesday.

Instead, they poured out into the schoolyard and surrounded the marble
monument over the twin graves of the Melkonian Brothers, shouting
“unfair” and “cruel” whilst another placard came into view which
simply said: 1915-2004.

The spontaneous protest, extensively covered by local and worldwide TV
channels, came minutes after teachers and students were called into
the school auditorium to be told by the Headmistress, Ani Lachinian,
that the AGBU Central Board had decided to close down the school in
June next year. The shock news came almost 80 years from the day when
the first group of orphans of the Armenian Genocide, graduated from
what was to become the most important centre of “Hayabahbanoum” in
Europe and the Middle East.

The students drew themselves together to sing the Cyprus and Armenian
national anthems and the Melkonian school song to the sound of drums
which members of the school band had brought out. A third grade child
of mixed parents was numbed. She said: “I can’t describe what I
feel. I want to throw up”. Soon, other placards in Armenian, English
and Greek appeared saying: “Stealing the future of students is a
crime”, “Ataturk would laugh at us”, “This is a second genocide”.

Another placard read: “In Gordon We Trusted But Now We Are Busted”
(referring to the AGBU envoy Gordon Anderson). TV reporters on the
scene said Anderson refused to comment and indicated that a statement
would be released by a Cypriot advertising and public relations
company. A parents meeting on Wednesday developed into heated
discussion as angry reaction messages arrived from neighbouring
countries. The meeting was followed by a candlelight vigil by students
at the memorial of the founder brothers.

“We wanted to do this outside the main gate but we couldn’t,” said a
student from abroad. This was confirmed by Headmistress Lachinian who
said: “They were told not to demonstrate outside the school’s
boundaries. If they do they automatically become sanctionable. As
boarders they can only go outside with permission.” Both the parents’
union and the alumni, however, interpreted this as a threat of
expulsion, and warned students accordingly.

Cypriot Armenians said they planned to stage a demonstration on March
24 against the closure of the school, while the Melkonian alumni hope
to take legal action both on the island and in the USA.

“It is not just a matter of the sale of the land and the flight of
some 80 million dollars to the US in violation of a 1926 will by the
founders,” a spokesman of the alumni said. “It’s also abuse of the
rights of Armenian children who are being deprived of their human
right to a fair education based on their cultural heritage,” adding
that the AGBU Central Board had refused to discuss ways to save the
school because their main aim was “to take the money and run”.

“The ultimate objective is to lay their hands on the land and take the
funds out of Cyprus,” Shavasb Bohdjalian, head of the alumni, told
local journalists.

Since the controversy began, the Armenian community has managed to
have the Melkonian declared a listed historical building and has
persuaded the Forestry Department to file an application to declare
the wooded area in the grounds as a protected forest. Legal action is
now being considered, Bohdjalian said. If there is a case, it is
likely to be fought in the Cyprus and American courts, he said.

In a paid advertisement that appeared in local papers 10 days ago,
Gordon Anderson, the American representative of the AGBU, said that
“several options are being considered” to accommodate the 200 or so
students at other schools so that they can gain an education “that
will have an Armenian component”, though he would not elaborate. In
its 15 March announcement the AGBU said that “after extensive
deliberations and thorough assessment” the Central Board had resolved
“unanimously” to discontinue the school in June 2005.

“The Melkonian Educational Institute, as a significant and historical
institution within AGBU, has been a concern of the Central Board over
many years. This decision is based largely on the Board’s conclusion
that MEI no longer meets the challenge of its mission in the present
context of the Armenian world,” the AGBU said. It added that the
Central Board fully recognised and honoured the continued legacy of
the Melkonian Brothers, and “is determined to perpetuate their memory
through new educational programmes to be implemented within and
outside Cyprus, in line with the spirit of their donation to AGBU”.

However, the alumni said the AGBU’s talk of co-operating with other
institutions, research centres, and even universities was a public
relations gimmick.

The move by the AGBU, which said only three months ago that the 78
year old school was not for sale, has incensed the 3,000 strong
Armenian community on the island as well as Armenians in Lebanon,
Syria, Greece, Bulgaria and other countries who send their children to
the school.

Masis der Parthogh, vice-chairman of the alumni, pointed out that the
Melkonian had been a haven for decades for Armenian children in times
of war and upheaval throughout the Middle East.

“We and the parents’ association were plannning to help bring children
from war-torn Iraq. This plan obviously has been killed.”

In an extensive report to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, one-time Vice
President of the AGBU Haygachen Ouzounian said, inter alia: “It will
be the most tragic move made by the AGBU, and will cause the most harm
to our nation. Those determining the current policy of the Central
Board will be subject to severe indictment by our people in the court
of history”, he said.

Ouzounian, one of the early graduates of the Melkonian, blamed the
Central Board for the decrease in the number of boarding students. The
school, he said, could accommodate up to 350 boarders but this was the
thwarted by the Central Board, who hiked the fees to such that
Armenians from East Europe, the Middle East and Armenia could not
afford.

Last month, Armenian Representative Bedros Kalaydjian headed a
three-member delegation to New York in an effort to persuade the
Central Board to stay the execution of any plans to either close down
or sell the Melkonian.

“The Central Board came up with a number of arguments but failed short
of any commitments. In fact we felt that we are being clearly
ignored”, he said. He added the Cyprus government had promised full
support.

Police Say Ethnic Crime Groups in Moscow Do Not Support Terrorists

POLICE CHIEFS SAY ETHNIC CRIME GROUPS IN MOSCOW DO NOT SUPPORT TERRORISTS

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moscow
12 Mar 04

Moscow police officials have rejected suggestions that the capital’s
ethnic criminal groups finance terrorists as this is not in their
interest. A newspaper article provides overview of main ethnic
criminal gangs in Moscow. The following is the text of report by Petr
Verigskiy and Ilya Zubko, headlined “Moscow’s criminal ethnic
communities” by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on 12
March. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Moscow is controlled by ethnic criminal groupings, most of which were
set up by former residents of the North Caucasus and
Transcaucasus. Ethnic gang members committed more than 4,300 crimes in
the capital city last year. Yesterday (11 March), staffers of the
Moscow GUVD (Main Directorate of Internal Affairs) UBOP (Directorate
for Combating Organized Crime) spoke about police efforts to
counteract ethnic criminal groupings.

“We cannot say that a particular ethnic criminal grouping in Moscow
occupies the leading position or is the most powerful,” Andrey
Bolshakov, chief of the First Operational Investigative Unit of the
Moscow GUVD UBOP, stated: “In addition, a considerable number of
crimes committed by members of these groupings have a latent character
and are directed against their fellow countrymen. Members of various
diasporas are, so to speak, stewing in their own juice and prefer to
sort out their internal problems without anybody’s
help. Specialization of gangs from Caucasus

Naturally, it is pointless to speak about the specific number of
members of particular criminal groupings: Gangs do not issue
membership cards to their members. However, one can state that each
gang set up based on the ethnic principle has its own
“specialization.”

According to police data, the Azeri gang is the largest criminal
grouping operating in Moscow. Its members, in particular, control drug
trafficking in the capital. More than 30 Azeri organized criminal
groupings currently operate in Moscow, mostly on the local
markets. The groupings are also involved in currency exchange frauds,
car thefts, and trading in stolen cars.

One of the oldest groupings – the Armenian one – “tackles” contract
murders and controls hotels and the gambling business. Some groupings
do not shun armed robberies and thefts.

The Georgian-Abkhazian grouping has the largest number of so-called
“kingpins.” The Georgian-Abkhazian conflict had absolutely no impact
on the ethnic unity of these two groupings. Its members specialize in
robberies, thefts, extortions, and financial frauds.

Chechen criminal grouping “goes beyond rules”

The Chechen criminal grouping is considered the most odious in
Moscow’s criminal world. The point is that this grouping does not
recognize the peculiar code of the criminal world set by “kingpins”
and always “goes beyond rules.” The Chechens’ activities are very
diverse and include extortion, kidnapping, arms trade, drug
trafficking, and control of banks, hotels, casinos, entertainment
centres, and markets. This organized criminal grouping is more unified
than any other gang.

Asian gangs

The groupings comprising guests from Asia – Chinese and Vietnamese –
are among the most “closed” ones. The Chinese associate exclusively
with members of their narrow circle and promptly transfer profits to
their homeland.

The Chinese grouping is divided into several smaller groups based on
the territorial principle: “Beijing,” “Harbin,” and “Shanghai” (the
“Beijing group” is considered the cruellest one). Members of the
Vietnamese organized criminal grouping, just as the Chinese, mostly
control the activities of their fellow countrymen legally residing in
Russia. Both the Chinese and the Vietnamese also trade in precious
metals and often get involved in the sale of “slaves” to the European
countries through Russia. The peculiar features of the Asian gangs are
very strict discipline, implicit obedience to leaders, and mutual
protection. Apprehended members of the “brigades” are sometimes so
scared of their leaders that they categorically refuse to testify.

Criminals transcend ethnic barriers

“Criminal groupings divided Moscow’s territory a long time ago,”
Yevgeniy Guzar, a section chief in the Moscow GUVD UBOP stated. “The
criminal war that was waged in the 1990 is over. Nevertheless, the
division of the spheres of influence continues all the time. New
people come and demand their spot under the sun. Curiously, ethnic
animosity is no longer as important as in the past. We happened to
detain Slavs and persons from the Caucasus, Armenians and Azerbaijanis
who jointly committed crimes. They place the lust for gain and profit
above all.”

Police reject links between Chechen terrorist and criminals in Moscow

Many people say that Chechen gunmen, for instance, are provided with
money by their fellow countrymen living in Moscow. In particular, some
people believe there is a link between the ethnic criminal groups and
the terrorist attack in the Moscow subway. Investigation officers
categorically reject these claims.

“It is disadvantageous for the groupings operating in Moscow,
including the ones from the North Caucasus, to support terrorists,”
Yevgeniy Guzar stated with confidence. “They have their families and
businesses here, and there is no guarantee that they will not be
damaged during terrorist attacks. Naturally, members of the diaspora
support their relatives in the hostilities zone. However, what
happens to the money after that is a different story. In any case we
do not have any information that they are intentionally ‘feeding’
terrorists.”