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:

Armenia – a World Chess Superpower!

“The Armenian chess team is again the strongest in the world. Armenian chess players beat the Chinese team with the score 2.5:1.5 at the World Chess Olympiad held in Dresden, thus retaining the Champions title. Armenia had first gained the title in 2006.” A1plus blog has commented on the national team’s victory, adding – “It turns out that our tiny Armenia is in fact a Chess Superpower. Well done our boys…”
The 2008 Chess Olympiad was constantly in the center of Pataphysicus blog’s attention, which kept its readers updated with the latest news and analyses on the course of the games. The blog had special coverage on the 11th – final round of the Olympiad – providing fresh updates nearly every 20 minutes. No wonder that at 17:50, it was one of the first to announce with joy: “Armenia is the Olympic Champion. Congratulations to us all”.
Over the next hours Armenian bloggers flooded the internet with congratulations and highlighted the names of victorious generals of bloodless chess-wars: Levon Aronian, Vladimir Hakobian, Tigran Petrossian, Gabriel Sargsian.
Naysaikus also noted the victory of Geogian women’s team. “We are the best among men, Georgians – among women. Together we can claim the title of “world’s smartest piece of land”, the blog has remarked.
The victory of Armenian chess team has a greater significance for Infernoarm in terms of internal political developments in Armenia. The Armenian society, deeply divided by bitter political confrontation and post-election violence as a result of 2008 February presidential elections,l had not been so united for months. The Olympic gold, for once, made many forget their differences. “We won, despite the March 1 violence and all the negative developments in the country throughout the past year. Perhaps this is one of the reasons, why this Olympic gold is more valuable than the previous one. We were waiting for ourselves. We were able to withstand. We won the fight against ourselves”,- Infernoarm has commented exactly on this aspect of Chess victory. So has Nazarian, noting: “There is a depressing deficit of good news coming out of Armenia. But fortunately we sometimes come across occasions that should be celebrated.”
At least one Armenian blogger – Macbeck, has taken time to visit the scene of Olympiad in Dresden. The blogger has posted photos and brilliant comments, showing the Armenian team at play on the 10-th, pre-final round of Olympic games, which were recognized by many as the best, most vivid coverage of this years Chess Olympics. This Russian langauge entry by Macbeck is a must for those, wishing to get the feel of what its like to be at the center of Chess Olympic games and warrying, along with players and trainers and fans, for the victory of our national team.
Download the Armenian language Podcast of this entry or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.

Blogs warn of more attacks on Armenian Norashen Church in Tbilisi

Blogs were the first to blow the whistle about the fresh attacks by Georgians on Armenian church – St. Norashen in Tbilisi. The traditional media tailed the blogosphere in disseminating the information and providing analysis.

The posts and comments started rolling in the blogosphere after Vesta’s post:

“Today, on November 16th, father Tariel Sikinchelashvili, along with several workers, started to demolish the graves of Tamamshyanns placed in the backyard of Norashen church. The crowd of frustrated Tbilisi-Armenians demanded that tombstones be returned to their original locations”.

The blogger, who had eyewitnessed the developments, has further written.

“Following the arrival of the representatives of Armenian church in Georgia and the Armenian MP in the Georgian Parliament, the Georgian priest claimed, that he had temporarily moved the tombstones and that his intention had been to clean-up the churchyard”.

Journalist, blogger Karine Ter-Sahakyan is surprised with the stance of Georgian-Armenian community and the Armenian Apostolic church.

“What exactly are the head of Georgian Armenian church and the Armenian advisor of Georgia’s president Van Bayburd busy with? Whenever you ask them – nobody treats Armenian’s better than the Georgian authorities.”

Another journalist-blogger Mark Grigoryan is drawing parallels and asking questions.

“I want to particularly stress the fact, that it is hard to imagine something like this happening in the capital of “much hated by Armenians – Turkey”. And here, look, in the “brotherly Georgia”… what a shame! I am appalled by the silence of Georgian public.”

The blogger Gost-474-90 says s/he had been the most pro-Georgian Armenian blogger, until recently. “The story of Norashen church this time was the last straw” – the blogger says.
Download the mp3 version of the Armenian blogosphere radio program containing the blog review above along with an interview with Georgian-Armenian blogger Athanatoi or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.

Podcast: Armenian Internet Diplomats on Karabakh Resolution

Armenian blogs did not greet the signing of declaration between presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia at the “Main Dorf” castle near Moscow, although this was the first document to be signed by the two sides of the conflict – Armenia and Azerbaijan. The bloggers were concerned by the absence of the third side – the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Download the podcast for a blog-roundup on the topic as well as an interview with Armenian journalist, blogger Armen Sargsyan from here 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.

Podcast: Criminal Chronicles

This week’s blog roundup reminds more of criminal chronicles than anything else. At any rate, we have invited Christian Garbis of “Notes from Hairenik” blog for an interview to give you and incentive for listening to this podcast, which would otherwise be only about killings and violence in Armenia.
“5 corpses, 8 wounded in two days”, Samvel Martirosyan is observing. Reporter_arm has more detailed accounts of the killings in Lori region on October 24: “Shots in Spitak and Stepanavan. Looks like a criminal argument in Spitak. Four died. There was an attempt to kill the mayor of Stepanavan with a sharp object. He shot and wounded the offenders”.
Unidiana has eye-witnessed the murder that took place in Yerevan on October 26th: “A car dashed into our backyard in broad daylight. The backyard is usually full of playing children. Shots started coming from within the car… kids were hiding anywhere they could find”.
As a result a 43-year-old man died, one more person was wounded, Kornelij Glas writes, and then “There is another case. On the night of October 25th Kentron police department was notified of sounds of argument and shooting near the “Tsghotik” restaurant”.
“5 unkown people have attacked the house of Armen Avetisyan – former head of RA State Taxation agency on October 25th” Reporter-arm is informing of yet another criminal act, to finalize accounts of the week, full of violence and killings.
Ogostos is sarcastic – commenting on the remarks of Cheif Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepyan, who said there’s a correlation between abolishing the capital punishment in Armenia and growth in the number of killings, the blogger says.”Right, so it’s again the God damned Europe who doesn’t let us solve our problems?”.
The A1plus blog is commenting on one of the darkest days in modern Armenia’s history. “On October 27, 1999 around five armed people, headed by Nairi Hunanyan, dashed into the NA meeting hall and shot 8 people dead. The court process on the “27” case that lasted around three years, didn’t provide answers to the posed questions and didn’t expell doubts, that the terrorists had outside support”.

Download the 1.62 Mb Podcast from here or listen online, by clicking the player icon below.

Podcast: Karabakh not for sale

Artak Kirakosyan, HIMA blog and Uzogh have commented on the halt of rallies announced by Levon Ter-Petrosyan on October 17 rally in Yerevan.
Unzipped has established a link between Russian president Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to Armenia and recent talks of Karabakh resolution based on “Madrid Principles”.
Pigh has also commented on the rumours, that the Karabakh resolution plan currently on the table of negotiations has a provision on surrendering a number of territories under control of Armenian forces. “Not for sale”, the blogger has commented sparking a flashmob throughout the LiveJournal community.
Download the 25th episode of Armenian Blogosphere podcast from here or listen online by clicking the icon below.

Podcast: football, censorship and more…

Football dominated the Armenian blogosphere this week. Virtual discussions focused on the two games of the Armenian football team – both ending in crushing defeats for the Armenian team. Belgium-Armenia 2:0, Bosnia-Armenia 4:1. The scores are painful for the Armenian blogers: Aerial-vortex and Reporter_arm have shared their views.
Life in Armenian Diaspora blog has reflected on Armenia’s football diplomacy in relation to Turkey and the news on the plans to build a new railway connecting Armenia to Iran.

This is great news, as it only has one rail line functioning at the moment, and that is from unreliable Georgia. [] But what is clear is that a new line through Iran is vital for Armenia’s survival and options. Until Armenia has an outlet to the sea, they need to be able to not depend on Turks and Georgians for transportation. The Turks will finally realize that Armenia does have another option and that they’ve missed a big opportunity by not opening the border much earlier. Now Armenia will not be beholden to Turkey’s whims and preconditions. Ever. Or that’s the idea anyway, and they’ll know it. At this point, even if Turkey throws the border gates wide open, the rail project should go ahead.

Unzipped has posted Tigran Paskevichyan’s 10 minute documentary – “Enstrangement”, which was prevented from being screened at Yerevan’s “Moscow” cinema theatre days after another film – by Tigran Khzmalyan this time was also denied the chance to be displayed on the same cinema screen. “Censorship should have no place in Armenia. Censorship should be (and will be) defeated.” – Unzipped says and I so wholeheartedly agree!!!
Pigh is making first steps in the sphere of developing blog-documentaries 🙂 He has posted a photo of the ancient stone with inscriptions estimated to belong to 782 B.C. and used as solid proof to the fact, that Erebuni-Yerevan, the capital of Armenia was found 2790 years ago. As Yerevan celebrates it’s incredible age on October 12 (Rome was found dacades later, on 753 B.C), Pigh posts an extract from Urartu King Argishti’s inscription: “With the Greatness of God Haldi, Son of Menua Argishti found this powerful fortress and gave it the name Erebuni, for the power of the state of Biainili”. Anyway, considering the blogger’s name is also Tigran and the attempt is somewhat ‘documental’, stakes are high his blog will also be banned 🙂
Anyway, the Podcast of all of the above and more, including an interview with the extreemly prolific blogger 517design (who has recently started also a new English language blog – Armenia Discovered)  can be downloaded from here.
You can also listen to the Podcast online by clicking the player icon below:

Podcast: The global crisis as seen on the blogging week

The 23rd issue of “Armenian Blogosphere” Radio Program is out and can be downloaded from here. The program brings comments by bloggers on the decline in global markets and shift in US and Russian policies in the Caucasus.
Athanatoi has detected warming of Russia-Turkey and Russia-Azerbaijan relations seeing dangers for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in this shift of Russian intersets. Mark Grigoryan on the other hand, has interviewed American co-chairman of OSCE Minsk Group – Mathew Bryza, and notes, that first time ever a co-chair speaks to an international media outlet and states, that the Karabakh conflict should be settled based on the principle of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. “This indicates a shift of US approach to the Karabakh conflict”, Mark Grigoryan thinks. Kornelij Glas comments on the fall of Russian stock indices and decline of oil prices below $89. Nazarian compares the US and Russian economies and sees no reason for Russian speculations about the downfall of US economy and perceptions on takeover of the US interests in the world by Russia.
Back to Armenian realities. Following the President’s address to the nation from the Parliament, Uzogh has found a fundamental difference between President Serge Sargsian and his predicessor – Robert Kocharyan. While “Kocharyan sees the state as a political system”, the blogger remarks, “Sargsyan sees it as an economic one”. Mark Grigoryan looks at the speech from another perspective – the President didn’t say anything about 1) Armenia-Turkey relations 2) Karabakh conflict 3) Georgia-Russia conflict 4) Events of March 1st. “So it turns out the president didn’t say anything on the most important issues?”, the journalist-blogger asks?
This podcast also features an interview with wonderful Armenian blogger and writer Byurie.

Podcast: the week in the Armenian Blogosphere

The Armenian blogosphere this week was diverse and watchful – bloggers covered everything happening in the country: Onnik Krikorian has shared his impressions of the September 26 opposition rally, Christian Garbis has written about the blessing of Holy Muron, Uzogh, Office Zombie and Naysaikus comment on the district mayor’s election of Yerevan’s Kentron community, Nazarian is speculating on the impacts of US Credit Crush on Armenia, Pigh has filled his blog with photos of Southern Armenia, having just returned from a trip South, 517design has test-drived through a newly opened major road designed to ease the traffic in central Yerevan.
The program also features and interview with Iranian blogger Aliasghar Ramezanpoor, who talks about censorship in Iran and makes a number of very interesting revelations.
Download the 22nd issue of the “Armenian blogosphere” radio program from here or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below:

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