Cyberwar Chronicles: Another Hack-Attack on Armenian Websites

Uzogh reports, that that there has been another hack attack by Azerbaijani hackers on a number of Armenian Websites hosted on the Web.am server. Web ISP is one of the largest Internet Service Providers in Armenia. I have always been quite skeptical about the quality of web-hosting services the company provides, however, today my skepticism turned into open rage when I discovered, that the Echannel blog, which I am administering, was also among the websites affected by this new hack. Further updates from Kornelij Glas and Uzogh tell us, that the Web ISP have closed the holes on their servers exploited by hackers/script kiddies initiating the attack, who according to Uzogh hang out at the SecurityLab.az forum. This is not the first such attack this year, in fact, both Kornelij Glas and Uzogh, as well as Oneworld Multimedia have covered earlier attacks against Armenian websites. It seems more like a Cyberwar, then anything else, although this year it has mostly been one-sided, pushed by the Azerbaijani hackers. The way attacks have been conducted so far speak more about poor Internet Security practices on the Armenian side, then of any special hacking skills of the attackers. Moreover, from what I know of the Azerbaijani websites, paying them back with the same coin should not be very difficult. This however, leads to an important question – which is the best, most reasonable response to these attacks? And what could be done to end them. As Uzogh rightly noted during our phone conversation, there is no point in going after and hacking the website of say Zerkalo newspaper in Azerbaijan. That won’t do the attackers of the Armenian websites any harm, and will instead escalate the situation even further and cause some decent, hard working IT manager sweat for hours to try and fix the problems and errors. But then, we can’t just sit back and do nothing, can we?
PS: Here’s the list of webpages known to be affected by this attack (the crossed over links have been already fixed):

http://banks.am/eng/efeler.htm
http://auto.am/ceasar/images/editorial/a.php
http://elections2007.am/ru/efeler.html
http://levonabrahamian.am/engine/pics/efeler.html
http://armilmed.am/img/work/efeler.html
http://xorenaci.am/chat/uploaddir/efeler.htm (DNS не отвечает)
http://ayl.am/upload/image/efeler.htm
http://arenicountry.am/arm/images/efeler.htm
http://vaykgroup.am/ru/efeler.htm
http://www.izoton.am/images/ins/efeler.htm
http://artbymovses.com/prog/gallery/1/efeler.htm
http://atp.am/img/part/efeler.htm
http://phoneshop.am/warez/efeler.htm
http://noy1877.am/images/efeler.htm
http://araratcement.am/xmbagrelcement/model_admin/model_images/efeler.htm
http://echannel.am/blogs/wp-content/uploads/efeler.htm
http://chessacademy.am/Temp/efeler.htm
http://acsti.am/book/images/efeler.htm

Russian Mobile Operator MTC Interested in Acquiring VivaCell

Yerkir-Media reports that the Russian Mobile Services Operator MTC is interested in Armenia and the probability of buying “K-telecom”(i.e. Vivacell) is very high, according to the statement made by the President of MTC Leonid Melamed after the board meeting of the company held on September 4th.
Russian experts have estimated “K-telecom’s” price at 500-600 million US dollar. Even with my utter disappointment with the US Dollar exchange rate as of lately, I have to admit this is a huge figure, and VivaCell is well worth it.
Following the purchase of Armentel by Russian Vimpelcom this heightened interest towards the Armenian telecom market may result in leaving the whole of Armenia’s telecommunication industry in the hands of Russians. Is it good or bad for us? Well, I guess it is good, as Russians have cash, a lot of it, and looks like their interested (or maybe President Putin is artificially stimulating that interest?) in the Armenian market. And while Russian companies are far from being world leaders in providing high-quality telecom services or pioneers in technological innovation, the initial steps undertaken by VimpelCom make it look much better then the Greek OTE, the previous owner of Armentel. Still I have this gut feeling, that giving only one country – and especially a country like Russia renowned for its use of economic levers to reach political results, full control of a strategic resource like the telecommunications sphere, is dangerous… very, very dangerous indeed!

Traffic Accident on Yerevan-Gyumri road

[A1plus | 16 July, 2007] A Mersedes car with 45 ՏՕ 005 number has hit a tree, then the metal electricity tower around 21:10, on July 15, which has caused the death of 5 of 7 passengers, while the 2 others have been taken to Gyumri hospital after Gyulbenkyan.

[Yerkir-Media | 16 July, 2007] also carries the sad news with a video update. As I personally travel this road nearly every weekend, I have to state, that this year only I’ve eye-witnessed 4 accidents on that road. The problem with the highway is that, while it was built back in the 70s, when cars were a relative rarity, nothing has been done to expand/widen it to meet the demands of the day. While the officials keep saying, that 18-20,000 new cars are entering Armenia every day, and while all the road infrastructure in Yerevan is under reconstruction, nobody has been talking even about any remote plans to expand the key road which connects Armenia with Georgia and is one of the three main import-export highways for the country. As the amount of cars, including large trucks carrying goods back and forth increases, the only sensible solution would have been to build a second road along the old one, and organize traffic on one direction on each segment. Even with that the amount of traffic would be very high, but at least the number of traffic accidents would decrease, and lives would be saved – which is all that matters after all, isn’t it?

Armenia-Turkey Relations: is there anything to be done?

While the lingering bitterness of the 1915 Armenian Genocide underlies much of the tension between the modern states of Armenia and Turkey, several key factors have served to exacerbate relations between the nations over the course of the ensuing century[1]. Throughout the Cold War the Armenia – Turkey border has been the meeting point of Soviet and NATO forces and the fact that it must be closed forever has become a fact of life for both societies throughout the past century. The fact that it was open for a short while only to close again in 1993[2] as part of Turkish sanctions[3] against Armenia and its continuous support of Turkish ally Azerbaijan, with which Armenia is engaged in what seems like an endless conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh independence, has further strengthened the perception that the border will never be opened again among Armenians. In fact, not only Armenian observers, but also official Baku, Heydar Aliyev in particular have claimed more then once, that Baku holds the key to Turkish-Armenia relations[4].

From the Turkish perception on the other hand, it must be noted, that in the 1970s, a guerrilla organization, calling itself the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia[5], took to assassinating Turkish diplomats in several European countries. These killings contributed to stoking resentment of ethnic Armenians among Turks, while inciting nationalistic sentiment in Turkey, a feature of the state reflected today in its persistent campaign to deny or rationalize the 1915 massacres of Armenians. The 2007 assassination of Armenian intellectual Hrant Dink by a Turkish nationalist, and the ensuing scandal in which his killer was exalted as a hero by some government officials while in police custody[6], served as a stark reminder of just how egregious the historical-political tensions remain even today.

Generations after generations have grown with the mentality that the two nations are the deadliest of enemies, and nothing has been undertaken to update the mindsets of the two nations and bring them in sync with the current realities, which are: Armenia and Turkey are neighbor states, and will remain so for the centuries to come. In the Globalized world, where international efforts to face the Millennium Challenges are atop political agenda of most powerful states; where human value and democracy have been declared as the leading principles not only by the international community, but also and especially by the Modern Turkish and Modern Armenian states; the only way forward for all the states in the South Caucasus, the gateway to the island of peace, democracy and prosperity – the European Union, is cooperation, dialog and mutual understanding. Recent EU accession talks with Turkey[7] have highlighted the need for improved relations between Turkey and Armenia and a variety of recent geopolitical developments have put pressure on the two countries to resolve their differences[8]. Official efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey have not resulted in any significant progress towards a border re-opening[9].

It is mostly businessmen on both sides of the border, especially in the regions of Kars in Turkey and Shirak in Armenia, who speak about the importance of border opening, plus some NGOs, who are inspired by a recent round of grants from the Eurasia Foundation(which is naturally pushing for US interests in the region). On the whole however, we have been seeing the negative attitudes grow in both societies especially since the assassination of Hrant Dink. Today more and more often we are seeing publications about the dangers Turkey represents for Armenia, like the one about Dr Khachik Ter-Ghukassian, where in an interview with the PanARMENIAN.Net the Professor of International relations and politics of the Universidad de San Andrés in Buenos Aires is looking at the military-strategic partnerships Turkey is developing with Georgia and Azerbaijan and shifting the focus in its foreign policy to Northern Iraq.

If Turkey’s succeeds in realizing its plans Armenia will be isolated from the world, according to him. “Curiously enough, such state of things is not convenient for the U.S. which insists on opening of the Armenian-Turkish border. However, normalization of relations without preconditions is a dangerous tendency. Turkey doesn’t open the border proceeding from political reasons: the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Armenian Genocide and absence of fixed border with Armenia. The only legal basis for demarcation of borders is the Sevr Treaty. No agreement signed after Sevr, namely the Kars and Moscow treaties, do not have juridical effect, since the signatory powers stopped their existence as elements of international law. The Sevr Treaty was signed August 10, 1920. Borders with independent Armenia had to be marked by a neutral mediator, namely the United States, according to it,” he said.

“At that we should not forget that Turkey has always been the biggest danger for the Armenian people. This opinion should be shared by the whole nation, both in Armenia and Diaspora. On the other hand, opening of borders can tell on Armenia’s economy. Georgia, where the local industry was destroyed because of the abundant flow of cheap Turkish goods, can serve as an example. Certainly, Armenian economy can’t compete with the Turkish, but we will have an outlet to the world, at least. Although, we are not ready to make a reality of the scenario we will be offered,” he said.

Casting a sober view on the latest developments, I have to acknowledge, that all the beautiful talk about neighborhood, EU integration, possibility to coexist peacefully together and to mutually benefit from bilateral trade seem to fly out of the window once you consider all the latest developments in the region and growing tension not only between the main Caucasian states: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, but also big boys like US, Russia, EU, NATO, Turkey and Iran. So is there anything to be done? Or do we really need to do anything? Today, as I’m writing these lines, I am becoming more and more pessimistic. Turkey indeed represents the greatest danger for Armenia, and even my open-mindedness and unbreakable belief in the importance of Western vector of development in Armenian foreign policy and support for growing EU/NATO integration don’t seem to help here.

 

Bibliography


[1]Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus”, By Svante E. Cornell, Published 2001, Routledge, ISBN 0700711627, Page 302-303

[2] http://www.globalheritagefund.org/news/GHF_in_the_news/economist_ties_that_divide_june_17_06.asp

[3] “Central Asia and the Caucasus: transnationalism and diaspora” By Touraj. Atabaki, Published 2005 Routledge, ISBN 0415332605, Page 89

[4] “Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus”, By Svante E. Cornell, Published 2001, Routledge, ISBN 0700711627, Page 304

[5] Minorities in the Middle East: a history of struggle and self-expression, By Mordechai Nisan, Published 2002, McFarland & Company, ISBN 0786413751, Page 177

[6] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6335633.stm

[7] “Turkey and the Eu: An Awkward Candidate for EU Membership?”, By Harun Arikan, Published 2003, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., ISBN 0754634337, Page 122

[8] “Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty”, By F. Stephen Larrabee, Ian O. Lesser, Published 2003, Rand Corporation, ISBN 083303281X, Page 106

[9] “Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus”, By Svante E. Cornell, Published 2001, Routledge, ISBN 0700711627, Page 304

2007 Quality of Life Index: Armenia 84th, Georgia 84th, Azerbaijan 130

Via Sticky Artz I came across the The Quality of Life Index 2007 by InternationalLiving.com according to which the following 10 countries are the best places to live in considering Cost of Living, Leisure & Culture, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Risk & Safety, Climate indicators. Continue reading “2007 Quality of Life Index: Armenia 84th, Georgia 84th, Azerbaijan 130”

R. KOCHARIAN: ARMENIA'S ACCESSION TO NATO TO REDUCE COUNTRY'S SECURITY LEVEL


Looking at the Foreign and Economic policies carried out by President Robert Kocharian’s administration it’s hard to even think about the possibility of Armenia’s accession to NATO. However, the question was asked to the President at a press conference yesterday, and the response was:

 “The issue of Armenia’s accession to NATO is not on the Armenian foreign policy agenda presently, but we are willing to develop the cooperation with this structure. We already have the Armenia-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan.
In joining a military bloc, Armenia should consider whether its security level is increased, Kocharian said. He pointed out that Armenia’s accession to NATO will reduce the country’s security level and that the current format of relations between Armenia and NATO is the best one.” /ARKA, 26 June, 2007/

Of course! That’s all I can add!

Nagorno Karabakh Progress?

Now that the parliamentary elections are behind us the international community is once again turning to what is perpaps the number one problem in the regions – unresolved frozen conflicts and in particular, Nagorno Karabakh, says Onnik Krikoryan looking at the latest developments on way of conflict resolution examining RFE / RL, Today.az and Eurasia Daily Monitor.

No surprise to discover that mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were in Yerevan earlier in the week before moving on to Baku. According to RFE/RL’s report posted on the day of their departure, the OSCE Minsk Group mediators have said they hope that the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will meet on the sidelines of a summit to be held in St. Petersburg on 10 June. Continue reading “Nagorno Karabakh Progress?”

"Hello God! The mayor of Gyumri speaking here…"

Գյումրու քաղաքապետ՝ Վարդան ՂուկասյանSad and hilarious – the interview of the mayor of Gyumri on Shant TV on May 23rd was undoubtedly the single most sensational event of this week – even now, 3 days later it is one of main topics for discussion in the streets and blogosphere likewise. Uzogh, Narjan and Kornelij Glas seem to have enjoyed it most. The mayor, Vardan Ghukasyan spoke for about half an hour, making a complete fool of himself. It is hard to explain what exactly was so bad about the interview, but trust me, it was really really bad. As a true Gyumretsi I have no words – I am embarrassed 🙁 Uzogh had tried to make the copy of the interview video available online, luckily it was deleted from Google videos… although I have to admit it was funny enough to be enjoyable once you were able to forget about the fact, that the guy was actually quite fairly elected to his post Continue reading “"Hello God! The mayor of Gyumri speaking here…"”

Armenian Watergate Passes Unnoticed

When the “Golos Armenii” newspaper published the article entitled “Around the table in Marco Polo” about allegations, that Artur Baghdasaryan has been negotiating with a representative of the British Embassy in Yerevan with the intention of blackmailing the results of the upcoming Parliamentary elections and the Public TV picked up the topic and widely advertised it as the “first campaign scandal” I wasn’t really surprised – I mean, what kind of elections can go without scandals anyway? I was especially interested to read the opinion of Armen Badalyan, an expert in political technologies published in this article at E-channel, where the expert says it might even have been organized by Artur Baghdasaryan himself: Continue reading “Armenian Watergate Passes Unnoticed”

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