Observers Top-Ten List of Armenian Blogs in Armenian

For strange and mysterious reasons, despite years of existence of a very lively Armenian blogging community, the predominant languages of Armenian bloggers have been Russian and English, rather then native Armenian. The picture has started to change over the recent month however, a range of blogs writing in Armenian have sprang up, and one can now get a variety and diversity of opinion and information reading only Armenian language Armenian blogs. Needless to say, that I’m very happy to see such a development, and want to present here a number of links to some really excellent Armenian Language Blogs. Read them, comment them, encourage them:

Radio Hay Interested in Blogging

Radio Hay radio-station, broadcast in Yerevan on 104.1, is getting really interested in blogging and Blogosphere. The radio company started out by broadcasting the radio program made by the Internews based on my article: “Levonator and Serzhadevil in Focus of Bloggers’ Attention” last Saturday, January 26th, 2008. The second issue of the program will be broadcast on Saturday, February 2, 2008, based on the article: “Democracy is when idiots vote…“, in their 11:00 o’clock program dedicated to the 2008 Presidential elections.

Radio Hay have also launched a blog – dedicated to the 2008 Presidential elections, featuring news, polls, a portfolio of documents related to elections, links to useful resources. As I’m closely involved with helping set-up this blog, you’re welcome to submit any comments about it here, on this blog, or at the blog on Radio Hay server.

For broadcast frequencies of Radio Hay in other regions of Armenia check out the following list:

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Watch Out! Propaganda Blogs or Observer's Blacklist of Campaign Blogs

Recent trends and developments in the Armenian blogosphere, whereby a range of extremely intolerant propaganda-blogs have sprang up, and have started attacking all and everyone around in the blogosphere – have taken the fun away from blogging. Instead of being the enjoyable personal hobby it once was, blogging now is increasingly becoming a risky business, a hostile environment, where you risk being attacked and harassed for your views.
Of course there was the trend, where “patriots” were attacking “liberals” in the blogosphere, and people were grouping together according to personal linking-disliking long before all these propaganda blogs had sprang up. But before – that was all a natural process, it was as any society works, and people were blogging, because they liked it. Today, as we see an increasing number of blogs, whose authors are blogging, not because they like to, but because they are assigned the task of posting all kinds of propaganda pieces by pro-Levon or pro-Serzh forces, including State Security services, I wonder, if they can be considered blogs at all? The way I see it – they are more like campaign posters or propaganda leaflets. At any rate, here is a list of blogs, which I have blacklisted so far, as they fall under the classification of non-blogs, or propaganda blogs, or agit-blogs – call them the way you like it:
There are some 3-4 more, about which I have suspicions, but will not post here, until I have more evidence of them being commissioned to write by Levon’s team or Serzh’s minions. In fact, I have no such evidence about these ones either. But – these are the more suspicious ones so far. And I’m sure you have noticed more of these, so please kindly let me know about them in the comments section of this post. As to the rest of the REAL bloggers out there – my suggestion is let’s ignore all these fake blogs, these empty shells, because once the campaign is over, they will be gone, and we will stay. And we will feel ashamed for being artificially dragged into this whirlpool of black PR using blogs. Dear blogger-friends – beware! The Big Brothers are watching us!

Rally in Istanbul Marking 1 Year Anniversary of Hrant Dink's Assasination

Armenian journalist, editor of Armenian newspaper AGOS – Hrant Dınk was kılled ın Istanbul on 19th January 2007.
Today I took part in a rally in Istanbul, marking the 1 year anniversary of Hran’t Dink’s tragic assasination. There was very little I understood, but the atmosphere was sad and angry. The wave of people – perhaps 80-100,000 was flowing like an endless river, blocking the street in front of the AGOS newspaper office. People were demanding justice and uncovering the true motives of the organizers of the assasination.
I know very little about Hrant Dink even today, despite all that has been said and written after his murder. I know Hrand Dink’s views earned him enemies among the Armenian diaspora, Armenian community in Istanbul and in Armenia itself. I know he was a champion of Turkish – Armenian reconcilliation, and he was an exceptionally brave man.
As an Armenian taking part in the rally, I was there only because Hrant Dink is Armenian, and was killed, from what I understood, exactly for his nationality.
However, for those thousands of people protesting in the street, he was much more then an Armenian. Yesterday I also I found out, that he is one of the symbols of Turkey’s future. Yesterday I also understood, that Turkey’s future is bright, if it could trigger such a major rally a year after the murder of the Armenian journalist, because people really care about what’s happening with their country and their citizens – regardless of their nationality.

Hrant Dink – brave man – farewell to you. Rest in peace.

More photos on my Web Album, YouTube video here. 

Elections Manifestos for Serzh Sargsyan, Arman Melikyan and Vazgen Manukyan Made Public

Days after Levon Ter-Petrossian made public his election program (now also available in English), other candidates started to move. At the moment of writing the following candidates have published their elections programs:

  1. Serzh Sargsyan, prime minister and the main contender for the presidential post as several polls are suggesting has published his program on the Serzh Sargsyan Official Website. The English version of the program is still not available, although a placeholder page exists.
  2. Vazgen Manukyan’s program was posted on his website yesterday, the text is also available as an MS Word document. No English version here either.
  3. To the best of my knowledge, Arman Melikyan doesn’t have a website so far, but his program is posted at the Elections website of A1plus and is available split into Part I and Part II.
  4. Vahan Hovhannisyan’s program is available from his website, but to the best of my knowledge, it is not the officially published and promoted one.
  5. Artur Baghdasaryan’s program is supposed to be here, but the link points to a blank page at this point.

The rest of the candidates: Artashes Geghamyan, Tigran Karapetyan, Aram Harutyunyan have not done any attempts to make their programs public so far, not even failed ones like in the case of Artur Baghdasaryan. Still, the official pre-election campaign starts Monday, so they have time.

A1plus Has Launched Official YouTube Channel

Leading Armenian Online News resource – A1plus has launched an official YouTube Channel at address, where news, videos, archive materials and exclusive videos, not published even on the main A1plus website will be made available. The first video uploaded so far is a funny one. At the Press Conference Levon Ter-Petrossian gave on January 11th, days after the publication of his pre-election program, the Regnum correspondent starts a question to the First President, starting with the words: “Mr President, when you are elected…” and then suddenly sneezes. This triggers a wave of laughter, because Armenians believe, that sneezing indicates truthfulness of a statement, hence, she seems to be confirming, that Ter-Petrossian will be elected. Well, I guess it takes more then a sneeze to become the President of Armenia, but the video is excellent anyway. Thanks to A1plus for making it available.

Amidst Global Decline in Freedom, Armenia Again Partly Free in Freedom House Report

On January 16, Freedom House released the findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, the year 2007 was marked by a notable setback for global freedom. The decline was most pronounced in South Asia, but also reached significant levels in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite great political tensions and increased pressure on Armenia in 2007, the country retained its status of a Partly Free country, whereas the neighbouring Azerbaijan and even the “coloured” Georgia saw disturbing declines.

I am still skeptical about the methodology and checklist questions used to compile this research, especially as none of the prominent media experts I know seem to have been approached by the Freedom House to provide answers and expert opinion, or at least to validate the findings. However, the scope of the survey is simply amazing, and despite reasonable doubts, more or less accurate. Overall 193 countries were considered in this report. Of this number, free countries constitute 47%, partly free countries – 31%, not free countries – 22%.

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