Podcast: more on the red-apple and a bit of barcamp

The new episode or the Armenian Blogosphere podcast is now available for download as a 1.3 Mb mp3 file as well as for listneing online – just click the player icon below to start playback.

This episode contains a review of some of the most interesting blog-posts on the issue of the much discussed red-apple, which stirred a surprising amount of emotion around the Armenian blogosphere – compiled by Reporter_arm, journalist, editor of E-channel and one of the authors of the Armenian Observer blog.
The episode also contains an interview-introduction to the first ever BarCamp in Armenia to be held on April 17-19. Note, all of you reading this are formally invited, just register on the www.barcamp.am website.

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.

Armenian bloggers hail Obama, with slight reservations…

“Did my small part today”, American citizen Nazarian writes, having voted for Obama,”The polls opened at 7 am. There were people who had been in line since around 6 am. Some of the poll workers said that people came over at 5 am. I was there at quarter past seven and the whole thing took less than an hour with half an hour of wait outside”, the blogger describes his voting experience.
Unzipped is inspired: “They proved that impossible is possible in America. They proved that ‘American dream’ exists”,he says, meanwhile, warning of possible disillusionment,”Expectations are so high of him that chances to get disappointed are very high too. Beginning of new era, or so I hope.”
Political scientist Artashes Boyajian believes in Obama campaign motto – “Change we can believe in!”, he says, “The world needs a positive and respectful attitude from America, for a change”, Artashes goes on to explain. “Let this be a victory of intelligence over arrogance, of responsibility over recklessness, of decency over shameful fear-mongering!!!”.
Pigh is original, as always -“Friends, why is it that you’re taking Obama’s election with such joy”, writes the blogger, known for his Republican political outlook and coincidentally, bearing the name Pigh, which stands for elephant in Armenian,”What, do we all care for the rebirth of powerful America?”
“IMHO”,the blogger goes on to say, “the brave-little-soldier Mccain and silly Palin would quickly bring the “global stronghold of democracy” to its logical end. Our Armenians, instead, are so joyful! So joyful! All our office looks like at Easter holidays.” And don’t hope that Obama will deliver his campaign pledge and recognize the Armenian Genocide, Pigh warns at the end, thus explaining his reservations on Obama victory.
Throughout the US election campaign and especially more so in the recent weeks, there were speculations in the Armenian blogosphere, that Obama is only the result of skillful PR. Uzogh, however, disagrees. “One thing I can see from Obama’s stance is – morality. He tries to show (and personally, I am convinced in it), that he cares about all the values, which are important for all the people, regardless of their being black, white or whatever. You can call all this – dirty PR and hold me for a naive romantic. Well, I guess we’ll have to live and see for ourselves”.
“It comes as no surprise that Armenian-Americans who supported Obama–most likely the vast majority of them although there’s probably no way to say for sure–are ecstatic about his being elected as president. He has made several promises to the Armenian-American community, most notably to recognize the Armenian Genocide. In a press release issued by his campaign Obama for America it clearly states his dedication to recognition”, Christian Garbis has written, reflecting on the overall excitement with Obama’s election among Armenians. “Even if he does not live up to this promise, it would not be his fault. He would not be the only president to refrain from doing so–in recent memory both President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said similar things as campaign pledges. The US State Department policy has always been one favoring Turkey’s interests, and Armenian Genocide recognition has never been one of them”.  At any rate, Christian concludes, “Obama will nevertheless embrace and instill change internally in the US and also around the world. I can’t wait to see him visit Armenia one day”
Download the Armenian language podcast of this post, also featuring an interview with LiveJournal blogger Aovin, from here or listen to it online, by clicking the player icon below.

Serzh Sargsyan's inauguration, 40 day observence and the baloon festival

‘”Many things happened yesterday. Among those probably the most important was Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration. For a lot of people though the important was that 40 days have passed since the deaths of 1 March riots.” – Armenian Patchwork

While it depended on the political orintation of the bloggers, to decide which of the events taking place yesterday was the most important for them, with the area around Yerevan’s Opera in almost total lock down, prime minister Serge Sargsyan was inaugurated as president in a ceremony and military parade that few citizens could even remotely get close to – so many of them were only able to cover the protest actions, rather then the grand inauguration ceremony. Raffi N at “Life in Armenia” has more:

Today was the official swearing in of Mr. Serge Sarksian as the new President of the Republic of Armenia. It really felt like an important event because ALL the streets were blocked… lots of police escorts…

Photos: © Artur Papyan / The Armenian Observer blog 2008
Onnik Krikoryan, a British photojournalist, reports how he was prevented from photographing the inauguration ceremony, despite showing press passes and the fact, that the event was held in a public area.

Prevented from covering that event, as was the case for almost every other photographer in Yerevan, there was always the opposition memorial to the eight killed during post-election clashes on 1 March occurring adjacent to the French Embassy. Somewhat unfortunately for Sargsyan, not only did 9 April mark the day of the start of his presidency, but it was also the traditionally observed 40th day after the deaths.


Photo © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
And while Ogostos (ru) is looking at the moral aspect of holding lavish inauguration ceremony while so many people are mourning the death of their relatives and the memory of March 1 riots is still so vivid, Ahousekeeper (am) is amazed at just how shortsighted the Armenian authorities are to hold the inauguration 1) on the 40th day of memory of March 1 deaths, which is traditionally observed as a day of mourning in Armenia, 2) to block the Republic Square, the opera and several other streets, as a result making eveyone, regardless of their political orientation to curse the authorities 3) to stage “stupid” events in the republic square, which the “Levon supporters will try to interfere with”

It is natural, that celebrations are held on the day of president’s inauguration.
It is also quite frequent, that the opposition uses that day to stage protest actions and bring to the attention of the international community the problems of the country.
All of this happened today in Armenia. News agencies are reporting, that protest actions took place also outside of Armenia.

The protests, however, are not likely to affect the situation anymore, Mark Grigoryan writes in this analytical piece(ru), Serzh Sargsyan has become the President of Armenia, and that is now a fact. Nevertheless, there were 8 simulteneous protest actions in Yerevan, Bekaisa(ru) reports, including actions in front of the 1) RA Constitutional Court 2) Central Electoral Commission 3) OSCE office in Yerevan 4) European Union 5) US Embassy 6) Russian Embassy 7) French Embassy 8) Prosecutor’s office. Protests took place also in Kapan, Syunic region, as well as Kiyev, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia – in front of the RA Embassies.
Ahousekeeper also reports, that opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian supporters attempted to disrupt the baloon festival staged in the Republic square this evening, but were prevented from doing so by police forces, who quickly rounded them up. The blue sky festival did take place, and the Armenian Patchwork has photos to prove it.

Photo © Anush Babajanyan, Armenian Patchwork 2008
And while Akunamatata_ser(ru) is rejoicing and greeting everyone with the first day of Armenia’s new president’s coming to power and the start of the regime, built on fear, offences and blood, with an uncertain present and future, Nazarian(am) is paying tribute to those who died 40 days ago (Grigor Gevorgyan, Arman Farmanyan, Hamlet Tadevosyan, Gor Kloyan, Zaqar Hovhannisyan, Davit Petrossian, Tigran Khachatryan, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan). Notes From Hairenik on its turn is contemplating on Serzh Sargsyan’s chances to bring change to Armenia:

President Sargsyan has a lot to do in a short amount of time. He has to win over the confidence of the vast number of citizens who have no faith in him whatsoever and who regard him as being a petty oligarchic-tyrant.
[]
he has to prove that he can surpass in leaps and bounds everyone’s expectations and, most noteworthy, ensure that the downtrodden—namely those living in far-off rural parts of Armenia—start living better, fruitful lives. []Cracking down on corruption is something that is high on most everyone’s list of things for him to do. But seeing as the mayor of Yerevan—the one who has thrown the city into transportation mayhem with ludicrous, ill-planned road projects that are rumored to be money-laundering schemes—will apparently remain in office there is already cause for suspicion.

F5 blog(am) is even more sceptical – the new president won’t be able to change anything it speculates, while Unzipped is finding it even hard to beleive, that Serzh Sargsyan will be able to stay in power for long:

You just can’t stick to the power relying on a physical force. Well, you may for a while, but only for a while. No lasting solution could be based on force and violence. There is no alternative to democracy in Armenia.

Some bloggers are more pragmatic though – Martuni or Bust!!! is quite sure of the opposite:

Though there are still many unanswered questions regarding the legitimacy of the election which landed him the post of President and the events that followed that he was directly behind, I really believe that as usual and in a very short period of time, most will forget what happened and it will be business as usual.

The Podcast of this post, made by the Echannel.am team is available here.

Armenian Elections: Bloggers also Facing The Challenge of Choice

Despite rapid political developments and political campaign pouring onto the Armenian voter from all sides, many people haven’t yet made up their mind about which presidential candidate to support. The situation is similar offline – that is to say in real life, as well as online – in the virtual reality of Internet diaries. «Which is the right thing – having a stance, or not?», Christina is asking in her «One day…» blog, further explaining:

I can’t decide on my stance for the upcoming presidential elections. I want a change – but I don’t see anyone, who could show me – a regular person with mediocre abilities and feelings, the way to those changes.

Artashes Boyajyan has written a couple of really interesting posts, asking why would anybody want to vote for either Levon Ter-Petrossian or Serzh Sargsyan, after taking an unbiased look at the failures of both candidates during their time in power, when it comes to key state-building issues like:

  1. building a democratic state, with institutional separation of powers and functional checks and balances;
  2. establishing (in reality, not on paper) a basically fair and transparent system of economic regulations;
  3. promoting the rule of law and the respect for dignity and essential rights of Armenian citizens.

An interesting attempt at portraying the pre-election scene in Armenia was undertaken by the Armenian Patchwork blog – publishing photos of various candidates’ posted political posters:

Political Posters© Photos by Anush Babajanyan, Yerevan, 2008
In his JLiving notes blog David Sand describes the pre-election race on television, mostly commenting on the newscasts of the Public TV of Armenia and remarking, that per his impression, all candidates are given equal attention. Continuing along these lines, the blogger writes:

Baghdasaryan’s campaign is rather colorful, he speaks a lot, although often on unrelated issues, keeps promising growth in pensions, incomes and other material goods. [] The fact, that such announcements are simply absurd, are perceived perhaps by only a few people. Geghamyan keeps throwing dirt at Ter-Petrossian, at the same time advertising his glorious anti-crises program less and less. Vahan Hovhannisyan’s speeches are boring, but perhaps some people find them interesting? [] Vazgen Manukyan’s speeches are very interesting, but obviously more then half of the voters do not understand him.
[]
The coverage of Ter-Petrossian’s campaign sounds more like а criminal newsreel. First some freedom-fighter was beaten[], yesterday was an even bigger brawl in Artashat with a rather contradictory coverage as to who initiated and who suffered from the fight.

Onnik Krikoryan keeps following the election trails, photographing all important rallies. His second blog – Armenian Election Monitor 2008 also features English language press and blog reviews, covering all aspects of election related developments. Last week Onnik Krikoryan posted about Serzh Sargsyan, Artur Baghdasaryan and Vahan Hovhannisyan rallies.

Serge Sargsyan Komitas 018 ARF-D Liberty Square Rally 009


Photos by Onnik Krikoryan © Oneworld
Multimedia
2008
At any rate, there is still one week to go before the elections, and the undecided voters, still have time to make up their minds. As for now, Christina is calling on to everybody to be more reserved:

I don’t know, really don’t know… hatred and evil are clashing like waves in this little piece of land, and their rage is acquiring the force of a tempest. Hatred closes you eyes, puts your target in front of you and all your creative talents are wasted on efforts to destroy it. Spare those efforts…

The Armenian language version of this post is available at the Echannel.am along with its Audio variant, which will be broadcast by Radio Hay this Saturday.

Bloggers Love Media – Media Love Blogs, so Who Loves More?

Armenian blogs have always been attentive towards Mass Media, although you can’t really call it love, in part because there’s not much to love in the Armenian Mass Media these days. As to the newly demonstrated love of the Armenia media towards Bloggers, Ahousekeeper has very rightly noted:

“Aravot” newspaper has discovered the Armenian Blogosphere. Talking to Uzogh, and later, searching through our journals, they have come to the conclusion, that Armenian Bloggers “don’t like political games and disdain homosexuals”. So now you know what questions journalists are most interested in, don’t you?

And while some Bloggers appreciate the fact, that the Armenian media have finally entered the 21st century, others are wondering, why, of all issues discussed in the Blogosphere, the Aravot journalist had been so interested only in Bloggers’ attitude towards homosexuals? At any rate, despite the strange conclusions made by the journalist and obviously “provocative” headline, it was a pretty good article, the Armenian News Blog has concluded. Let us remind once again, that A1+ and Radio Hay are the two media who love Bloggers more, and loved them earlier then others. Both of these media outlets already have set up their own blogs. A1+ blog is located at http://a1plus.blogsome.com, and Radio Hay blog is at http://www.radiohay.am.
Coming to the “reciprocal” love of Bloggers for the Armenian media, here’s what we read on Ogostos‘s journal about ALM TV company – a TV company – widely regarded among the more educated young group of the population in Armenia, as a disgraceful TV channel, which could only be laughed at:

The “ALM” channel went on air on metric frequency, which means – it was broadcast all over Armenia.
A most incredible TV channel was thus created in the world. Different from all others. Television, who’s owner has the right to do everything. He can broadcast 24 hours of a party held at the “ALM” for New year if he likes. Or, if he likes, he can show a boy singing 24 hours of traditional Yezidi songs. He can talk politics 24 hours in the most awkward key… if he likes. And if he likes, he can announce to the whole wide world “darned Yezdis, I invite them here to sing, and in return, they don’t vote for me! this means, they won’t sing on my channel any more!”.

One more interesting Mass Media discussion was started on Uzogh’s blog. The blogger had placed a news video from the Haylur news program of Public TV of Armenia, covering the recent pre-election meeting of Levon Ter-Petrossian with voters in the town of Talin, during which a man from the crowd was beaten up by the supporters of the presidential candidate, in response to his yell: “Talin people are not supporting you!”.

The blogger had asked other Armenian Bloggers working in the sphere of media, what they thought about the news item, and whether it was ethical or no. In response, Mark Grigoryan had come up with a detailed analyses, pointing out that:

Generally speaking, the material could have been done much more professionally. I think, that the Public TV of Armenia, undoubtedly, should provide news coverage of much higher quality than that.

The other respondents to Uzogh’s inquiry also noted, that the news item wasn’t balanced enough.
To conclude, we can state, that while the Armenian Mass Media are just doing the first steps towards discovering the Armenian Blogosphere, the Bloggers, on the contrary, have been talking the crap out of the Armenian mass media for quite some time now, and looking at the current trends in pre-electoral media coverage in the country, looks like they’ll have much more to dwell upon in the coming week or two.

The audio version of this article will be broadcast on Radio Hay FM 104.1 on Saturday, 11:00

Politics — The Driving Force Behind Blogs?

Last week, the main topics discussed in the Armenian blogosphere were the election manifesto of former president Levon Ter-Petrossian and the presidential election in neighboring Georgia. It’s no wonder that many are now wondering, including bloggers themselves, if politics isn’t the driving force behind blogs in Armenia.
“Before the last parliamentary election, the Armenian blogosphere gained serious strength and politics became the driving force behind blogs,” wrote local analyst Samvel Martirosyan on his new Armenian-language blog [ARM]. The blogger is already widely known for his Russian language blog, Kornelij Glas [RUS].

On the one hand, the upcoming elections had the same effect on the Armenian network. On the other, the development of blogs introduced a fresh (for Armenia), but not pleasant “novelty.” Continue reading “Politics — The Driving Force Behind Blogs?”

Armenian Bloggers Protest Against "Week of Azerbaijan" in Armenia

A group of Armenian Bloggers, including: Uzogh, Pigh, Aerial_vortex and Akunamatata_ser carried out an incredible public campaign yesterday, protesting against the implementation of the “Week of Azerbaijan” in Yerevan, organized by Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives (CCPMI) with the support of the UK Embassy in Armenia. At the opening ceremony of the event, which took place in the Mkhitar Sebastatsi educational complex headed by Former Minister of Education Ashot Bleyan, the group of mentioned Bloggers rushed to the speaker – head of the Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives (CCPMI) Georgi Vanyan and presented him with pieces of soap. This symbolic gesture, which is highly offensive and contains elements of bitter sarcasm, was carried out as a form of protest, for implementing this action, which according to blogger Pigh – posted in the video below, is quite untimely, doesn’t contribute to the promotion of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in any way, and is only seen by the Bloggers as a way for Mr. Vanyan, to launder grant money – even at the price of hurting his country’s interests.

It has to be noted, that the announcement last week about the implementation of the “Week of Azerbaijan” in Armenia stirred a lot of emotions, and was seen mostly as a highly negative and useless initiative.
I have already stated my position somewhere on Uzogh‘s blog – and I want to reaffirm again, that I am fully supportive of the views expressed by Mr. Pigh, that this initiative is pointless, does not promote anything, except the interests of ‘earning grant money’, and that the UK Embassy in Armenia should give careful consideration, of what exact type of activities to support, and what is the point, after which the activities become counter productive.
On a related note I have to state, that this has been the most widely publicised initiative so far, which brought massive media attention to the understanding of blogging, and promotion of blogging – as a form of civil activity in Armenia.

Video via Uzogh:

A Couple of Top Tens

The trip to Istanbul last week and the need to catch up with the lost time kept me away from blogging last week. However, reading through a whole week’s worth of accumulated blog posts proved a worthy task. At that, I want to announce, that I’ll be starting to post my list of most active and most interesting blogs every week. This is of course subjective and unreliable, and I’m doing it mostly for me, as well as “promoting” by hyperlinking, the blogs which I think are very active, and tell them I appreciate all the hard blogging they’re doing.

So, here’s come’s Observer’s Top Ten List of Active Armenian blogs.

  1. ArmenianHouse.org
  2. Oneworld Multimedia
  3. Happy Alone
  4. Aramazd
  5. Kornelij Glas
  6. ЖЖитейские записки
  7. Blogian
  8. Hyelog
  9. Дневник Больного Дизайнера
  10. Марк Григорян

My new rss client: the GreatNews feed reader also follows on what blogs I visit more often, so here’s another Top Ten of Blog’s I’ve Found Most Interesting This Week.

  1. ArmenianHouse.org
  2. aramazd
  3. Oneworld Multimedia
  4. A1plus
  5. The uncharted zone
  6. ALS Movement
  7. Blogian
  8. nazarian
  9. Kornelij Glas
  10. Մի օր…

With all due subjectivity :))))

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