Happy New Year!!! Happy 2009

The bull’s coming! It used to be the symbol of plenty, prosperity and strength. Let’s hope, that amidst the looming global economic crisis, the bull will indeed justify it’s name.
Wish a very happy, prosperous New Year to you all! Wish you a Happy 2009!
Download the last – holiday episode of our podcasts from here or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.


George W Bush and the size-10, black, flying shoes

The 29-year-old journalist Muntazer al-Zaidy from “Al Badgadia” TV, threw his shoes at the US President George W. Bush at a press conference in Iraq. Even though the journalist missed his target, he did, however, become the center of attention throughout the world. The story of flying shoes along with the accompanying video circled around the Armenian blogosphere as well.
Reporter_arm was perhaps the first to react to the news.

Have you seen how a show is thrown at Bush in Baghdad, at a press conference? And Bush reacts with impressive agility, ducking down from the shoe thrown at him!

smbatgogyan shares additional details.
During a press conferenece the Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at Bush, shouting “It is the farewell kiss, you dog!” Let me note, that ‘dog’ is one of the very serious insults in Iraq, they call ‘dog’ those people who they truly despise. At any rate, we can state the following:
1. The Iraqi journalist had only a pair of shoes (which is a pity, otherwise it might have been more exciting).
2. Bush has very good instinct when it comes to avoiding objects hurled at him.
aramanoogian is upset about the fact, that the journalist missed his target:

Bush was uninjured thanks to his natural instinct as a Texan who jumps back when shoeing a horse or dodges flying shoes from his wife Laura.
As for the reporter, he should be hung from the gallows for missing his target twice.
I wonder if at future news conferences they will issue slippers to the attendees?

armish1informs, that a rich businessman from Saudy Arabia has offered to pay a huge amount – 10 million dollars for the shoes hurled at Bush. Unfotunately, armish1says, the fate of the shoes in so far not known. The journalist, on the other hand, will definately be tried in court.
Download the Armenian language podcast of this entry from hereor listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.


December 10

On December 10, the international human rights day, it started snowing in Yerevan – for the first time this winter.
The first snow did not impede the opposition to conduct a rally in Yerevan. A1+ blog has published the opinions of random passers-by about the status of human rights in Armenia. “While the elected people at official receptions celebrate “equal rights and equal opportunities, numerous citizens at home, in the street, everywhere face the opposite of those concepts. Passers-by in the streets evaluate the reality, the daily thoughts and their rights in a most pessimistic way. The general thought is, “citizens think that human rights in Armenia are being infringed at every step, and there is no area where an individual would feel protected,” is written in the blog.
Unzipped blog has also covered human rights, mentioning that there are about 70 political prisoners in Armenia on the human rights day. “The freedom of assemblies and rallies is restricted; TV is not free or is partially free. There are still banned television channels (A1+, Noyan Tapan.) The print media are free but they have no sufficient circulation for reaching the whole population. Armenian courts are not independent and a lot of judicial case hearings remind of theaters of absurdity. Pressures are imposed upon entrepreneurs, so that the opposition “gives in,” that’s how Unzipped presents the situation in gloomy colors. But the blog also sees positive developments in Armenia. “The best thing that took place in the area of human rights was launching the Ombudsman’s Institute. I would grant Armen Harutyunyan with the title Man of the Year.”
The blog Ditord has recalled that December 10 is the Karabakh independence referendum and constitution day, expressing an opinion that Karabakh, in the context of democracy and human rights protection, exceeds both Armenia and Azerbaijan that have been trying to appear as regulators of the Karabakh issue and noting that the only solution for the problem is the further improvement of human rights and democracy in Armenia and Karabakh.
Click here to listen to the audio file of the interview with Susan Solomon, a marketing analyst and an expert in public relations or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below:


Karabakh NGOs demand removal of old maps from Armenian TV

A group of 9 NGOs have appealed to the President of Armenia Serge Sargsyan, demanding the removal from weather forecast maps “the soviet borders of the “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast” (non-existent since the declaration of independence of the NKR) by the Public Television of Armenia in various broadcasts”, which, the authors of the appeal say, “insults the memory of our heroes, martyrs, as well as Armenian viewers in Armenia, NKR and Spyurk. ”
The undersigned (the list includes youth wings of Karabakh political parties – ARF, AJK and “Free Fatherland”, organizations like “Young political scientists club”, “Hayk’s Heritage” NGOs), have noted, that “The Constitution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) adopted during the national referendum in 2006 has drawn the sovereign borders of Karabakh’s land, for liberation of which the best sons of our nation shed their blood. The Constitution of the NKR has nullified the artificial and non-viable borders of former soviet “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast” – an enclave which borders were forced upon Armenians against their will.”


Today is Karabakh's Independence Referendum and Constitution Day

In connection with the anniversary of the NKR State Independence Referendum and the Constitution Day NKR President Bako Sahakyan has issued a congratulatory address to the citizens of the republic, where he has noted: “On very day in 1991 our people officially sealed their will to form free, independent and sovereign state. And it was not a coincident that 15 years later on this very day of 2006 the people of Artsakh once again expressed their resoluteness to further strengthen and develop independent statehood and on a nation-wide referendum adopted the basic of the country – the NKR Constitution. It has marked the irreversibility of our state policy to build democratic country, our commitment to the follow international norms and integrate with the civilized world.”
Remarkably, the tiny Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is often much more advanced in terms of democratisation, basic freedoms, culture to hold referendums and elections, than either Armenia or Azerbaijan, which assume the responsability to speak about the future status of Karabakh.
Joining in with my congratulations to the people of Karabakh, I want to also share my vision: the only way for Karabakh to remain independent and become internationally recognized, is to pursue further reforms and improvement of its fragile democracy. The only way, for Armenia to attain greater moral weight in speaking on behalf of NKR, is for Armenia to overcome its major problems with democracy and human rights, which were especially visible this year as a result of 2008 Presidential elections and the violence that followed afterwards.
PS: Coincidentally, today is also the International Day of Human Rights.


Killing of Armenian boy by police sparks rioting in Greece

The murder by police of a 15-year-old boy of Armenian descent in Athens has triggered the worst rioting in Greece over the past two decades.
Rioters have been attacking shops, banks, hotels and offices. Barricades were erected in central streets. Hundreds of young people were burning cars and clashing with police in Athens, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, and in several other cities.
Today Greek Prime Minister has called an emergency council to find ways to end mass protests.
The rioting started after the shooting between the police and a group of young people in one of the central districts in Athens on Saturday, as a result of which a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos who is of Armenian descent from mother’s side, was killed.
Greek authorities fear more unrest today as the funeral of the boy killed by police is to take place in Athens.
The circumstances of the shooting remain unclear, but two police officers have been arrested and charged in the shooting.

Armenia Diaspora

Russians becoming more hostile to migrant workers

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Activists from the youth wing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling party has held demonstrations against immigrant workers, demanding they return home and blaming them for Russia’s recent economic woes.

Russia is trying to prevent a deepening economic crisis from stalling an 10-year boom. But rising unemployment is starting to focus some discontent on more than 10 million immigrants who have flocked to Russia to find work.
Wearing white and red baseball caps, about 30 activists from Young Guard, a youth section of the Unified Russia party, gathered in the rain outside the Moscow office of the migration service. The group held similar protests across the country.
“Every second [migrant] should go home,” the group, mainly under 20 years old, shouted about migrants.
Activists held banners which said, “We will defend Russian citizens” and “Our country, our work.”
Putin, who is chairman of Unified Russia, told a televised question-and-answer session last week that quotas for foreign workers should be cut by half.
But Putin, who was president from 2000-08, also said most Russians would refuse to do the work immigrants traditionally do. He also warned against racism and called for tougher penalties for racist crimes.
Most of Russia’s migrants come from ex-Soviet states in Central Asia and the Caucasus and work in low-paid jobs in the construction and service industries. Many work illegally.

Russia has been becoming increadibly racist over the past years. With worsening economic outlook I would expect the number of racist murders and abuses of non-slavic looking people in Russia to grow. Unfortunately, this action by Putin’s own party activists is yet another signal to racists, fascists and skinheads of all types in Russia, that, despite all the ‘warnings to punish racists murders’, Putin is not really against anti-migrant demonstrations and actions. Knowing Putin’s totalitarian character, nobody will really beleive, that the protest actions by Putin’s own party were staged without Russian leaders approval. And this circumstance is what concerns me most of all. There are an estimated 2 million Armenians in Russia. Many of them are Russian citizens – but looking different from Russians has already proved fatal in Russia as has been the case with a number of racist murders in that country.

Armenia Personal

Just remember…

Nobody was spared. Everybody lost a dear one on December 7, 1988 in Gyumri… in Spritak… in Vanadzor… in the Earthquake zone.
I’ve come to regard the Quake as some sort of a turning point, dividing my life to pre- and post-earthquake lives. 20 years have passed since. I lived a whole different life in a different Gyumri – coming to view the Quake as a fact of life, as a part of my reality, a part of myself.
Today they’re spending 200 million Armenian drams ‘Marking the 20th anniversary’ of the tragedy. 200 million drams – to create great photo-opportunities for themselves and look as though they give a damn, and give medals to each other and to corrupt former-Soviet officials, who promised to rebuild the earthquake zone and never did it. Celebrating the 20th anniversary, as if there’s something to celebrate.
Watching all the fuss, all I want to do is shout: “Why don’t you all just shut up and let us quietly REMEMBER and think about our broken lives?!”

Armenia Diaspora Economy Society

Podcast: World Economic Crisis and the Telethon

Armenian bloggers become more and more concerned about the world economic crisis.

David_sand, for example, thinks that the consequences of the crisis in Armenia may even lead to mass disturbances.

If the financial crisis results in worsening the quality of life, which is already noticeable (although our politicians keep denying it,) or if the volumes of manufacturing and consuming get decreased because of crisis, even those political figures will have to persuade the people that the situation is even worse in the neighboring countries, or will go on denying the fact that the situation is getting even worse.

According to the blogger, denying that fact might lead to dangerous consequences, “People could get disappointed, and the expressions of that disappointment could be even worse than the events in March, 2008.”

However, some people even like the crisis. “The crisis is the best thing that has happened to me since I started working in the sphere of business,” writes Naysaykus, adding:

“The crisis has taught people to work by the sweat of their brow. For the first time in the whole post-Soviet history people started to understand the real value of money. Now there are just 2 employees in the company instead of 10 parasites, and their salaries have been significantly increased. That is, competent and hard-working people are paid better. Isn’t it good?”

The crisis has negatively affected Armenia, writes Korneliy Glas in his blog.

“Mining industry is in crisis. Lycos Company is getting closed. Despite that, the All Armenian Fund has managed to gather 35 million dram – twice as much as the last time. That’s the result of the crisis. Let’s admit that we are a strange nation.”

Ahousekeeper has also covered the telethon organized by Hayastan All Armenian Fund,

“35 million dollars have been gathered. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be gathered even as much as the last year. Whatever… yesterday I have heard a few times that “they eat all the money and people get nothing of it.”

“It turns out that dozens of schools, hospitals, clinics, apartment buildings in the disaster zone, roads and water pipelines have been constructed only for Serzh and the company”, the blogger complains.

Download the mp3 version of this post, including an interview with the media lawyer, blogger David Sandukhchyan, or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.


Online journalists now jailed more than those in any other medium

Reflecting the rising influence of online reporting and commentary, more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today than journalists working in any other medium. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, released today, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors. Online journalists represent the largest professional category for the first time in CPJ’s prison census.