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What is the future of democracy in Armenia? From elections to the constitution, from the press to the Dro trials, a look at the uneven development of new institutions. CATHOLICOS KAREKIN I's FIRST 100 DAYS and his new agenda. INTERNATIONAT


THE KURDS IN IRAQ are chronicled by Photojournalist Christoph Lingg .

GALINA STAROVOITOVA, thc Russian parliamentarian whose career resembles the roller coaster of Russian history, talks to AIM. AZERI NEWS SERVICE is launched by the BBC. ECONOMY


MIDLAND ARMENIA establishes international banking in the Caucasus. THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE DRAM are chronicled over nearly two years.

BREAD prices and availability have undergone dramatic changes. TETTERS






5 7


38 40




42 44 46 48 50







ffiwwffiWffimwW tfihe plane is leaving at 2:00 a.m. and taking with it the discs which include articles I and photos for the next issue of AIM. The staff has been working around the clock for several days to make the deadline. As the last touches are placed, the last caption added, a comma removed, ads verified, the electricity goes out. It is 6:00 o'clock on Friday in Yerevan, and the files have not yet been copied onto the portable hard discs

for transporting to Glendale.

FOURTH MILLENNIUM SOCIEIY A Not-forProfit, Public Bmefil Corporotion DI RECTORS


Now what? No problem. From the Gandzasar Theological Center which has become our temporary production headquarters, Zaven Khachikian and Areg Asatrian head to Patker Agency down the street, where photographer Rouben Mangasarian has Iight. The editor leaves to find the volunteer couriers and confirm the late evening rendezvous and pickup. By 9:00 p.m. the couriers have been confirmed, but the discs are nowhere to be found, nor are the design and production team. Telephones don't answer at either location. Which, of course, means nothing, since telephones vabshe don't answer. (A little Russian picked up along the way is useful if for no other reason than to show that you are vabshe--aenerally-serious about living and working in Yerevan.) Now what? No problem. They can only be in one of two places, and even if it is 10:00 p.m. and the doors are locked and the telephones don't answer, there is always another way. One can stand across the street, facing in the direction of the appropriate window and call out. Loudly. Shouting in public in any language at any hour is quite acceptable in Yerevan, and actually, rather practical. It works. Heads pop out. Discs are brought downstairs. Couriers receive envelopes and the discs for the August issue leave













The remaining editorial and production changes are made in Glendale and the magazine is printed and mailed after a four-month absence.





f.fere at AIM, it feels good to have found a way to continue to bring you news and I Iteatures on Armenian lile. The purpose and mission remain the same-trying to shed light on who and what, and to explain how and why. The presentation and format have been changed slightly to meet the financial challenges. A good part of the editorial and design work is being done in Yerevan to enable better coverage of local events more efficiently-and in a way that is financially feasible. Our dedicated and exceptional writers fiom throughout Europe and the US are still with us and we are ?,1


gratelul for their willingness to continue to voluntarily do what they do best: write,









explain, comment.

CA 91204, USA




Yerevutt stalJ Areg Asan'ian. Rubtn Aduntian,


Gohar Suhakiatt, Gltu:urian utrd Zuven Kfutchikian a ltoltulur tde into u tentpordr\


hlre lrut$loriled



AIM olJice.

Now what'l Dear readers. with some solid fundraising success by the Fourth Millennium Society. and with continued commitment of our dedicated and exceptional writers from throughout Europe and North America, we are happy to have lbund a way to continue to bring you news and features on Armenian lil'e. As has been the case since the beginning, it was not the large donors nor the rnajor organizations which provided tangible financial support, but our subscribers and lriends. Your patience and belief in thc mission of'this publication and its sponsors were the key to our new hope. We are happy to be nble to extend your subscriptions by six ntonths to tnake up fbr the missing issues and to thank you for having been so patient. As you read through this issue which is, fbr AIM, another new beginning, you will notice that although the presentation and fbrmat have been changed slightly to meet the financial challenges, our purpose and mission remain the same. Having moved a good part of the editorial and design work to Yerevan, we will be able to provide better coverage of local events, while continuing to find the funds to invest in the tough stories that make the Diaspora the complicated place in which we live. Now what? Dear readers, as we try to reinforce our financial base by appealing to subscribers and supporters around the world, we are counting on your new and renewed subscriptions. And, most of all, we thank you for your commitment to AIM and all that it stands for.





Executite Editor SALPI HAROUTINIAN GHAZARIAN Writers DruorreN, Mant


CucottaN. Gsorcr

Hrcwrar, Yrtevrr; ToNy

HAr-prN. l,oNDoN-,

just like the Jews do. And rightly


Jerrr SauurnaN, NrvYoar


Produrrion fuur; AwrueN


ZevrN Kmcsrmar Rouerr N[AucseruN

M iddlesex, Great


Hannes Sarkuni (Generations, Jan-Feb I 995)


with great pleasure. I'm presently working on my Master's degree in the education of gifted and talented children at Mc Gill University in Montreal. So, I took AIM to class and the professor showed Sarkuni's picture and spoke about him. I was really proud of being Armenian. Keep up the good work.

Editorial Axistaats Yrurvrr: (lorrrn Saumru. L()s AN(;r'r.ris:

Syrla l).\KasslAN, Atu{ PrMNr^N Assisrailt

RulrN Aoevras

Att Dircctot 'l



Direcror of Operations Sr:lr KouzounN Subscriptions



FEELING PROUD I read in the last issue of AIM about

Mxr u rrn Kr rrcrr lrr nraN, ZAVDN Kr rAcnrKrAN, Rousrr MNcasmr, YrrrrvrNt li>vor'l ruKoprAN, I-oNDoNt AnurNru Jonusrs, Perrsi Krvonx DyrNsr:zrrN, Los ANcELES; H,\RRY KoUNDAKJIAN,


Mihran Keheyian

Via e-Mail


MarLeting and Adwrtising Director AUNE K.


THANKS FOR BEING THERE I very much appreciated your letter to

Photo Arrltirist



Contributing Editors Snuavonrar, Rolelo

The Education of Ashot (Essay, Jan-Feb,


(inrcor Strrv,


1995), Salpi Haroutinian Ghazarian's pan-


egyric to her grandmother and condemnation of Ashot Bleyan, is commendable but hardly

Hrarr:s fcsrrrrcrnr^N, SusAN Pattrt, LoNooN Crorco BounsourrAN, NEw YoR( Aneu AnnasavreN, Yrnrvar


Editorial Consultant MrNrs KoJerar Editor Emeritus Crrenrrs NezenreN Founding Editor VannN OsxrrreN I n t ern

a ti



Rcpres en

ra t i


CANADA Rrzvrc; HaKrMrAN, 669i HENRr BouMss^ WEsr, MoNr(EAr., PQ, H4RrEr,'le rrruoNE t14.ll9.ztr7 UNITED ARAB EMIMfES SlRourr ARMENAGTAN, PO Box looo, Snrntarr Trrernrrour 97r.6.33r16I UNITED KINGDOM Mrsex OHANTAN, rotA MrLL HrLL RoD, AcroN, LoNDoN \,vl8ll_ TELEpHoNE 08r.992.462r





RuE JuLEs CuesDE, 94r40 ALFoRfl rLLE'fsLEpHoNE r.489ltoll ITALYPTTre BereNreN, VrA MoRlAcc^,6r A,{/t, RoME 6.995.r235 HONG KONG Jecx Msreu, Ru Az, u/F, BrocxA z6 K{ CuEUNG RD. KowooN BAy, KowooN TELEpTToNE 8t2.79t.9888 AUSTRALIA ArrnED M^RMRr^N. PO Box 92, MennneNos, NS\Vzr6o, Trrnuorc 02.897.r846i ARrrN Goc, 29 M^waRAvL FERNTuE (;uLLy, VrcroRrA lri6,'I'ErEp[oNr.


o).7 tz. )87



Did I read somewhere that Bleyan was born in Baku? Did I read somewhere that he visited Baku and announced that Karabakh rightly belonged to Azerbaijan? If the above is true, only the most naive will believe thatAshot Bleyan is a child psychologist who is promoting the welfare of Armenia's children by prohibiting mention of the Genocide in the schoolroom. A more interesting hypothesis would be to probe the possibility that Bleyan has property in Baku that he hopes to reclaim some day.

The one mitigating factor is that Bleyan can not do what he is doing by himself. He obviously is the point man who is willing to take the heat for the policy ofhis higher-ups.



Haig, MD

Dana Point, California A NOTETO OUR READERS Althoughr"Je rcadall



Bleyan should be treated with the utmost contempt and indignation by all Armenians, as his actions supported by President Levon Ter Petrossian can only be viewed as the actions of a traitor to his nation and to the I .5 million Armenians who were the victims of


the Turkish Genocide of 1915. As one Jewish historian from Israel said


recently in his interview with the editor of AGBU's magazine in Paris, "It is tragic,

staffing and resourcesdo notallowustoacknowledge everything we rcceive, Wewelcomeall communication. Wecan be rcacfi ed onlineat


Glendale,CA9lm$3793 Letterstothe Editormay beedited before puUiration.

when the Armenian Genocide is the victim of political games played in Armenia." He also mentioned that every Arrnenian child should learn its tragic history from an early



the readers at the beginning of your Nov/Dec '94 issue explaining the current situation al


I would like to


you that I, and I

suspect most AIM subscribers, have been very satisfied with what you have been able to do despite the fact that you are operating under serious financial constraints. We certainly do not begrudge you the occasional missed or combined issue. The only absolute that you readers will

demand is that the quality and voracity of


be beyond reproach. This goal being

met, all other concerns are secondary. If financial constrainls make it necessary to convert AIM to a bimonthly or even quarterly publication, I think your readership would understand this so long as quality is not compromised.

It is my sincerest hope thatAIM will remain a viable publication far into the future despite the constraints under which you operate. Your persistence and commitment to this publication are greatly appreciated by me and many others throughout the country and the world. James S.Touloukian, MD Bloomington, Indiana

AIM is a valuable asset to the Diaspora and to Armenians in the motherland. It is truly a good source of information about Armenians in the Diaspora and Armenia it-

CORRECTION The photos of the Bemard [rwis trial in Paris (on page 17 and in the lower right hand comer of the cover ofthe January-February, 1995 Issue) are by Paris-based photographer Jean Fitidjian. AIM regrets the omission of his name.

self. Despite the difficulties and the storrny years, you have been persistant in this great task of publishing the monthly AIM. As an Armenian living in The Netherlands, I truly cherish AIM. So, don't worry, if there are months of delay.

We are making a difference

tor the children of ArmeniA,..

Alexander Khossrovian Ane r sfoort,

T he N

e t

he r I a

n d


...but we need Uour help to continue, , â‚Ź;E jl a.â‚Ź.-.






Since 1989, the ACMF has sent almost $2 million in lifesaving supplies to targeted regions in Armenia, specifically: o Almost 500 tons of lsomil soy-based infant formula to Cumri, Coris, Stepanagert and Yerevan

o 40 tons of dry powdered

milk to Spitak, Dilijan, Coris, Cumri and yerevan

The ACMF soy-based infant formula program works! It's the reason why Dr. Roupig Khatchadourian, Chief of the Cumri Health Department, and Dr. Nelli Garabedian, Chief Pediatrician of Cumri, said Cumri lowest infant mortality rate in all of Armenia!

has the

Your support is making a difference in the lives of countless children. Thank you for making the difference!

fust $19 will feed a child for one month. $1t + for six months; $22S for a year. Please make your check payable to Armenian Children's Milk Fund. Mail it to: Po. Box 652 . Boston, MA 02179-0005

All contributions are tax-deductible. For information, call (617\ 491-2300. ACMF is sponsored by the Armenian Missionary Association of America, a blue ribbon, tax exempt humanitarian organization which has been active in direct relief efforts in 18 countries worldwide since 1918. lt is located at 'l 40 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652; telephone (201) 265-260712608.

mmanHLE Number of days it took for Azerbaijan to declare Karabakh's April 30 Parliamentary elections invalid: 2 Rank of Turkey among countries which represent a national credit risk: 9, afterlraq, Russia, Nigeria,Venezuela,Mexido, Argentina, BrazTl,Philippines Number of homes built in Gumri after the 1988 earthquake: 6000 Number of families still homeless: 19,500 Percentage of total fees actually collected by Armenian Government for irrigation water distributed in 1994: 50 Percentage change in Yerevan, {anuary-March, 1995 over the same in amount of milk production: +270 percent in meat production: -27 .7 percent; in egg production -27.4percent

periodin 1994:

Score by whictr -Gggrglq lost a i.uropean Soccer Qualifying Game to Germany, after the population of Tbilisi had been asked !o forego electricityfoi24 hours to enable lighting the


Number of Chechenya's 480,000 refugees in Ingushia: 150,000, in Daghestan: 68,000; in Siberia:7,000

Amount of debt for electricity usage



Febru ary , 1995 , by Yerevan's Erebuni


Drams, by the fine woolens factory: 375,104 Drams.



Amount of meat and dairy production in Karabakh in 1987: 394,000 tons milk, 104,000 rons mear, 12.4 million eggs; inl994: 3,840 tons milk, 676 tons meat and 148,000 eggs Number of major wars in 1994: 3 1, in 27 locations Number in 1993: 33, in 28 locations Number of Armenian Airlines flights to Tehran weekly: 1; to Beirut: Number to Novosibirsk: 2; to Sochi: 7


Percentage of total Armenian exports to Belgium:49.6;to Iran: 23. 8 percent

Number of families living in Yerevan: 240,000 1995 Yerevan City budger: $30 million

Amount of coal to be mined from

Jaju_r, n_e-ar

Gumri for use of local schools, hospitals:

50,000 tons

Total Armenian population of The Netherlands: 6,000 Percentage of women among 400 delegates who participated in the Catholicossate elections in Ejmiatsin: 4.7 Percentage of women among the 170 delegates who participated in the elections in Antelias: 0 Azg, Economist, SIPRI Yearbook


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' . "-".** -"r ? H";:,*t'4 ;ffiB& '*\d-' ONE SMALL STEP, ONE GIANT LEAP. In Aprit, a rurkish .''iir;;j;,..,i. , sc'holarJ'romHamburg,,Germany'TanerAkg'am,partit'ipotedintheW|liir,+:i{,l;,":..i,,i'.l:j+ ',,,iii,i,i,,,l,,,,,,,,,,;,;i;,:;,",,l',],,L,i,ii;,,,",:;',,:,;;;;,[;ii,,'ii,,ii,,,',,;,;;;rel|illliffi:.u;.6., ...t.:^t^


Jiom teJ't) a.t'ompanietl Gurbul Qapan (sixth Ji'om le.ft), mayor of Esenyurel, o re gion o.f I stanbul . Turke 7-, and seve ra I Armenian governme nt o.fti<'ials , ittcludirtg Senior Presidential Advisor Jirair Libaridian (.fourth .fiom left) and Yerevan Mayor Vahag,n Khachatrian (seventh.from le.l't), to place a flou'er at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Monume nt in Yerevan, in memory of the L5 million vit'tims of the Armenian Genoc'ide by the Ottoman Turkish government in l9l 5 . Not surprisingly, Qapan, the

first Turkish official to so ac'know'ledge the l9l5

Genoc'ide of Armeniatls, came in for some loud criticism at home, amid accusations that he was misled. Qapan's response: I knew where I v'as going.









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,\lll In early June, the foreign minister of Yugoslavia Vladislav lovanovich visited Yerevan where he held discussions with government officials on bilateral issues, the situation in the Balkans and the Karabakh conflict. Below, Joya.noyich, left, with Vice-President Gagik Harutunian, second from right, and Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, right.


By Arka I

nde pe nd e nt I nformation Age ncy



The First Chamber of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris decided against historian Bernard Lewis and fined him for denying the Armenian Genocide on June 21. In a case which was brought by a coalition of Armenian organizations, following an in-

terview with Lewis in Le Monde, wherein the well-known Islamicist had rejected the use of the term "genocide" for the events of 1915. the court demanded that the historian pay a nominal penalty of one franc to each of the two plaintiffs-a forum of Armenian organizations, as well as the Jewish Anti-

has agreed to a gas deal with a non-former Soviet republic. The deal begins with the construction of a 134-km-long gas pipeline later this year, and with gas delivery two years hence. The success of this agreement will mean Armenia will have secured 20 percent of its gas needs. Another 40 percent is de-

pendent on purchases from Turkmenistan which will reach Armenia through circuitous paths crossing Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Georgia.


five-year-old children in Armenia

Defamation League. Additionally, the court had demanded that Lewis, at his own expense, publish the court's findings in Le Monde, and instructed the historian to heretofore use the term genocide since it has been accepted by the UN in 1985 and the European Parliament in 1987. The court branded Lewis's efforts not as scholarship, but as revisionism and lobbying on behalfofthe government of Turkey.

have been immunized against polio as part of a program undertaken by UNICEF, and

As a result of continued negotiations between the governments of Armenia and Iran, Iran will ship liquid natural gas to Armenia, beginning immediately. This and other agree-

donia, Moldova, Netherlands, Romania and Ukraine met in Yerevan in early May to take part in an international conference on the "Role of Central Banks in the Development of Banking Systems in the Transitional Period." These countries, together with Armenia, represent a separate group within the IMF. The European Bank of Reconstrucion

ments were reached when Iranian Deputy

Foreign Minister Mahmud Yayazi visited Armenia in early June. However, the longterm agreement signed between the two countries is the more significant. According to Platt's Oilgram News, for the first time since 1966, Iran has agreed to sell gas to another country, and for the first time since the fall of the USSR, a former Soviet republic



the Ministry of Health, under UNICEF's

Middle East, Caucasian and Central Asian Republics MECACAR project. This immunization campaign is the second and final stage of the "To the XXI Century Without Polio" campaign. Representatives of the central banks of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Israel, Mace-

and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank also participated in the conference.

After yet one more explosion of the vital pipelines bringing gas into the Republic,


ARMENIAN SURVEY The fficial opening of the physical plant of the Metsamor Atomic station was held in late June , following a series of seismic tests of the plant and its vicinity by American and Armenian scientists. The energy-starved population has been told to expect as much as l2 hours of electricity by 1996, once the reactor begins operation thisfall. Present at the opening were President Levon Ter-Petrossian, center, and Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians (right).

Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Erving Bohie, mediated the prisoner exchange among Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh, during which Armenia turned over to Azerbaijan all 27 civilian detainees and prisoners who had been held in the Republic. On the

other hand, stressed Bohie, Azerbaijan returned only those 35 prisoners who had been visited by Red Cross delegates.

The remaining detainees who were not seen by Red Cross respresentatives are being labeled criminals by Azerbaijan. As for Karabakh, it has turned oyer 30 detainees since the beginning of the ceasefire a year qgo.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it

would suspend its participation in the Minsk Group process until Azerbaijan and the in-

temational community took steps to assure that such "hostile acts of terrorism" would be controlled. The 17th such explosion in three years took place on Georgian territory

number of the republic's embassies. Vice President Gagik Harutunian attended the ceremonies, together with Senior Ambassador to Europe, Armen Sarkisian, members of the Italian govemment and the Armenian-Italian community. On June 15, Harutunian also met


Loiji Skalfaro, president of Italy, to

rabakh conflict. According to observers, the opening of the airspace is a small step by Armenia's western neighbor toward the normalization of relations between the two countries. A more significant step would be the re-opening of borders which have been closed for the same time period, for the same

discuss political, economic, cultural and scientific collaboration between the two coun-



Armenian Prime Minister Hrand Bagratian signed three agreements with his Ukrainian counterpart, Yevhen Marchuk, in Kiev in mid-June. The two countries signed agreements on civil aviation and social protection for Ukrainian andArmenian workers in each other's countries.

Turkey announced in mid-May that it would re-open its airspace for travel to and from Armenia. This reverses a two-year-old ban imposed by Turkey as a result of the Ka-

A second round of meetings between high-level Armenian,lranian andrurkmen diplomats was held in Yerevan in early rune in preparationfor afinal meeting in Ashkha-

bad in late June, where a series of tri-partite agreements on trade, transportation, ommuni c at i o ns, e ner gy and financ e w e re s i g n e d.


in late May. The Foreign Ministry announce-

ment resulted in a declaration from Baku which denied any official responsibility. Following statements by the Minsk Group that they would study the problem and take steps to prevent similar occurrenqes, theAmenian delegation agreed to resume participation in the negotiations and was present at the Helsinki meetings of mid-June. The opening of the Armenian Embassy in Italy in mid-June brought to 23 the total





ft's going to take a long time to undo 70 I vears of Soviet rule" has become a lruIirr. Ironically. nowhere was lhat so evident as in the phenomenon of the recently held Parliamentary elections. Of all the former republics of the Soviet Union, Armenia is the only one where the Parliament actually completed its normal term, and the only one where the Communists did not come

back. Nevertheless. elections for the new

National Assembly's 190 representatives were surrounded by cynicism and powerful accusations. What surprised atl the players, frotn govemment to opposition, from observers to citizens, was the high voter turnout, especially given the general frustration which pervades the population. According to official figures, of 2, 189,804 eligible voters, 1,217,531 cast ballots-a percentage which leaves Americans envious.

There were more surprises:

a brand


women's political organization, whose name, Shamiram, was as great a subject of specu-

Tli'}IO *{SIBS ilrtlomE


]lrtloml DtmoGrstit


Conrur$ ftr{rt i$#

menian Democratic Liberals of Armenia (ADLA), each with its own slate of candidates, often vying against each other in the same district. An optimist might say this should be viewed as a positive turn of events, the beginning of a process where political parties will coalesce into a few, perhaps two,

HEI,I{ PARLIAMEI*IT A compromise

election law resulted in a l9O





as the group's origin and mission, and which barely made the registration deadline, pulled in more votes than the Communists or any of the other opposition groups, and came in second. The rest of the players were familiar. In one corner, there was the Armenian National Movement-the political party of President Levon Ter Petrossian and Parliament President Babken Ararktsian. The ANM, together with five much smaller parties formed the Republican bloc, espousing centrist liberal democratic principles, and entered the election campaign with posters and slogans. In the other corner, there was the Opposition, which consisted of l2 different political parties ranging from the Communists to the Ar-





manrber Parliament ol whom i5O were

elscted directly.


. i:.triJii u)lti pollttcal parties .: .' ' 29 Je:li: - : : :, ::hieCd On the



major parties, much like in the US. Others however would doubtless note that this coalescing of varied groups into two major sides resulted in a campaign which consisted of not much more than name-calling and generalizations, with little or no discussion of platforms or plans.

TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME Indeed, the opposition, which formed an

alliance of sorts at the eleventh hour, consisted of an unlikely union between such disparate elements as Paruir Hairikian, Vazgen Manukian, the Communists and the Armenian Democratic Liberals. The ADLA which ideologically belongs in the Republican Bloc, opted out for fear of being overshadowed by

the more powerful ANM. (Their local breakaway faction did indeed join up with the


Between them, 18 political organizations came up with over 2000 candidates for 190

:\Ii\l seats.



many local and interna-

tional observers at the 1639 polling sites throughout the country, it may be said that Armenia passed the test, democracy indeed triumphed and there was a peaceful transition from one administration to the next.

NOT SO FAIR From the outset, there was the foregone conclusion that the elections couldn't possibly be held freely or fairly. After 70 years of Soviet rule, neither the local citizenry nor the intemational community was convinced that the populace and the political sides were ready to "let the people speak." One local newspaper reported that in response to the explanation that thousands of independent observers (including representatives from the

UN and various international watchdog groups. as well as local opposition party members and supporters) would be monitoring the election process, one citizen retorted, "the observers have their own agenda and can't be relied upon." Seventy years of experience suggested that everything is pre-ordained and can't be affected. That, together with the

candidates, on the bases of allegedly false or insufficient support signatures.

All of these led to some international observer groups, including the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, to declare that "the elections may only be considered by international standards as generally free but not


BUT FREE However,


they didn't accomplish any-

thing else, the 1995 Parliamentary election marked several advances in the process of state building. First, Armenia indeed completed an entire parliamentary cycle and held scheduled elections. As the same OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation noted "the Govemment of Armenia must be congratulated for holding its first multi-party elections" and recognized this "as a first and vital step towards

democratic development." Second, officeholders realized, perhaps

both sides and everyone from the pro-government head of the Central Election Commission to Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) members and other potential delegates became victims of armed attacks and beatings al various times. Two main issues gave rise to the fairness issue. One was the six-month court-imposed ban on the activities of the ARF for being a political party that is funded and governed by sources outside Armenia. As a result, the ARF was not able to run a party slate. Nevertheless, there were over 40 candidates, who identifled themselves as ARF members, in the various districts, and over a dozen other

known ARF members who chose to call themselves independents. The other complaint was over the Central Election Commission's not registering several well-known and visible opposition members such as the one-time Karabakh Committee member Ashot Manucharian. as

lives, why didn't they?" Deprived of sufficient water, light and basic economic safeguards, she didn't want to hear that the government had managed to avert wars with several neighbors, had passed more than 600 laws, and had reduced the inflation rate from 50 to 2 percent per month.

Ararktsian, head of parliament and a delegate himself, explained. "This office used to belong to the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. If someone managed to walk into this room once in their lives, it was a story they could tell for a lifetime. Today, people can walk in here several times a week, complain, curse, and walk out. We are still undergoing these radical changes , but we have already begun to take them for granted. The major provisions for governance and statebuilding still need to be considered, discussed and passed. We need a National Assembly (as the new body is to be called) to think nationally and intemationally. Yet the electors have immediate, local needs," he


That, more than anything is what makes these elections different from those of 1991, when Levon Ter Petrossian was

deeply instilled Bolshevik belief that if you're not one of us, you must be one of them, set the tone for the political debate. Indeed, the opposition was so convinced that fairness was an impossibility, that over a year ago, they began insisting that a provisional coalition government must be formed to ensure fair elections one year later. The ANM, on the other hand, which was obviously going to come out on top, appeared unsure of itself and used state-controlled media and an existing govemment apparatus for overkill. An already strong Republican bloc was made stronger by overly enthusiastic bureaucrats protecting their incumbents and using questionable tactics to dissuade potential contenders, disallow others and discredit the rest. The frustration was felt on

could have done something to improve our

elected President in a charged, positive atmosphere. Then, the issues were if not

abstract, certainly more philosophical, more distant, completely national in scope. How could one disagree with a call

to struggle for unity, for clean air


healthy babies? Today, the issues are immediate and personal, economic and social, and therefore, it is almost impossible to agree, even under the best of circumstances, 1et alone in this atmosphere where the populace remembers the euphoria of 1991 and feels cheated that on the road to those ideals they are confronted with only doubts and

for the first time, that the people can indeed reject them. A lot of last minute campaign promises clearly expressed their understanding that the electorate must be convinced to vote for them. The OSCE report emphasized that "a multiple number of parties and points ofview were represented in the election and there appeared to be a definite choice between candidates." Third, the people felt, perhaps for the first time, that their opinion counted, since there were those out there trying to get their

vote. Feelings ofpower and helplessness came together, however. "For five years, they didn't do anything to help improve our lives, now they are promising us everything," explained one frustrated woman who had just heard five of her eight candidates make presentations in the courtyard of several resi-

dential units. "One is a head of a factory, the other a professor, and two of them are already working for the government; if they



a collapse of a social and economic order, and nothing immediate to replace it. Faced then with a frightening decline in the standard and quality of life, and with a corrupt bureaucracy that was somehow tolerable and understandable when the rulers were foreigners, but unacceptable when it is the former classmates or the neighbors down the street who are now making the extra bucks, everyone from petty merchants to well known artists curses the govemment. These two phenomena were indeed the opposition's strongest cards. It is this government which brought the economy to this level of deterioration they say, and to top it all off, they are corupt and must be replaced. It would seem that in the face of such inarguable everyday realities, the opposition should have had an easy ride through the elections. Unfortunately, the 13 registered parties and the rest neither individually nor collectively offered any serious, tangible, concrete, understandable prescriptions out of the current economic and social quagmire. It was this inability to find a way to unseat a


ARMENIAN SURVEY political party which had quite low ratings in the opinion polls that led the opposition leaders to such levels ofdesperation as a "call for revolution" as it did in late June in a demonstration before the Presidential Palace which attracted a few thousand cynical onlookers. When asked to stop, a taxi driver turned

to the customer and offered this political analysis. "Why do you want to go listen to them? They just want to get into power and they'll do the same things themselves." It was this absence of a viable alterna-

tive that threw the elections into the government's camp and gave them a comfortable majority in the new parliament. There is no doubt that it was also a vote of confidence, even ifby default, in LevonTer Petrossian.

A fed up populace voted its cynicism: "For five years, even if they fattened themselves up, they at least beat the Azeris, they're

opening the atomic power station, things aren't as bad as they were two years ago; why replace them now and give the new hungry ones the chance to experiment on us? These guys at least have some experience," appeared to be the philosophy which guided the


There is no doubt that by acclimation, the voters turned down the opposition. Perhaps in preparation for next year's presidential elections, the opposition parties will begin to prepare solid altematives and offer the voters choices. At the same time, perhaps those in office, whether elected or appointed,

will realize that the people will vote their conscience, despite the bureaucratic and other pressures placed on them. This will be the year that a


show whether Armenia has

democratic future.


A FUNNY WAY TO DO THINGS The election law itself and the accompanying regulations were the results of long

fights in parliament and many compromises. The first had to do with the size of par-

liament. From the old 260, this new Nawill be reduced to 190 seats, and the new Constitution calls for an

tional Assembly eventual



seats. Just as the last parliament, this one too not be a professional one. The next one,

however, will be, according to the Constitution. The major compromise was the type of election: direct vote for a candidate as in the US or voting for a party slates. The opposition wanted the party slate approach, thinking that party name identification and legitimacy would gain them seats and the dissatisfaction with the status quo would adversely affect the ANM vote. But without a

multi-party tradition with identifiable, recognizable ideologies and platforms, proportional voting for a party slate, countrywide, was not sensible, argued the administration. The compromise resulted in a 190-seat Parliament of whom 150 were elected directly,

from 150 districts. The remaining 40 seats were to be apportioned to political parties based on the percentage of votes they received. So, when the citizen-voter walked into his voting place on July 5, he or she was handed three sheets of paper. One was for the referendum on the Constitution, and in true Soviet fashion, if you wanted to vote YES on the constitution, the way to do it was to cross out NO. Circling YES, putting

The newest citizen votes.

exclamation points next to it or drawing smiley faces disqualified your ballot. The second piece ofpaper was the local election sheet: a different ballot sheet per each of Armenia's 150 districts, each one listing the regional candidates who numbered from one to 22. The third piece of paper was the same for all voters throughout Armenia. Thirteen

political parties vied for 40 seats. The parties receiving at least five percent of the vote received an appropriate percentage of the 40 seats for representatives oftheir parties. The voter had to cross out


and leave

untouched the party of his or her choice. There had to be an easier way. you say. Maybe, next time.

By Salpi Harcutinian Ghazarian

IN KARABAKH,TOO \ 7fountainous Karabakh held parliamentary elections, too. On April 30, 33 dis IYltricts elected 24 representatives in the first round, with an additional four in the second round, I 5 days later. International observers included German Bundestag

member Dietrich Mikhailov and other high-ranking politicians. All members of the parliament are full-time professional parliamentarians, each elected to represent a region of Karabakh. Those who live in far-flung areas are provided residences in Stepanakert. Teachers and physicians are the exception to the rule, however, since both professions are in short supply. Six of the parliamentarians, that is a full 21 percent, are women. Whether this is because an inordinate number of men are at the front, or because a conscious effort will be made to address the social and economic issues which directly affect women, is unclear. Nevertheless, it is clear, that a parliament that was busy fighting a war, will now be faced with new legislative challenges. It will be interesting to see if

Karabakh's legislaive activity proceeds in a direction different from that of Armenia's parliament.



By Armen Baghdassailan



THE, NEWLAWOFTHE, LAND It was a fore gone conclusion that the final much belabored draft of

the Constitution would be accepted by popular referendum in the July 5 elections. At the point , when the parliament decided to choose which of the first two drafts to put to the people's vote , it became clear that the question changed from what kind of consitutiton to: this one or none . None , of course , meant another one or two years of very public parliamentary theater. The people weren't interested. The fundamental argument revolved around the type of government for Armenia: presidential or parliamentary. Those who adyocated the parliamentarian form of government insisted that in these tough times, only a coalation government which brings together all energies can save the situation, and that is possible only through the parliamentary system. The counterargument was that because Armenia is going through tough times, and especially because the parties have not yet stabilized, and our internal life has become extremely politicized,for effective, active governance,the presidentialform is better. As evidence, the pro-presidentialfactionpointed to the parliament's (in)activity of the lastfour years. Further, they said presidential powers can always be offset by the legislature and the courts, and an even balance can be achieved. Finally, what passed by a vote of 828,370 or 68 percent of the votes cast and 37 .8 percent of the total eligible voters was a Constitution more similar to the French version than anything known to Americans. The text below is an outline of the key provisions.

Chapter 1 Principles of Constitutional Rule The people exercise their authority through free

elections and referenda. The state provides for the protection of human rights and freedoms. A multi-party system is recognized. The right to property is recognized. The state language is Armenian.

Chapter 2 Fundamental Human and Civil Rights and Freedoms No dual citizenship.

Everyone has the right to life, the right to defend personal and family life from illegal interference, to move freely and choose a place ol residence, to freedom of thought, conscience, and faith, to assemble, to public hearing by an independent and impartial court. National minorities have the right to preserve their traditions. A person accused of crime is considered innocent until his guilt is proved. Separate human and civil rights and freedoms may be limited temporarily during a military situation or in cases.

Chapter 3 The President of the Republic ls elected by the citizens lor a term of five years.

Can disperse the National Assembly and designate special elections. Appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister, the

Chiel Prosecutor. Appoints members and the president of the Constitutional Court.

ls the chief commander of the armed forces. Can be removed from office for state treason or other serious crimes.

ls succeeded, in an emergency, by the president of the National Assembly, then the Prime Minister Chapter 4

Cannot be employed elsewhere, with the excep-

tion of scientific, educational and artistic work. A delegate cannot be arrested or subjected to judical procedures without the agreement of the National Assembly. Consists of six permanent commissions The National Assembly's confidence vote in the Goverment must take place no later than seventytwo hours after placement.

The right to legislative initiative belongs to the delegates and the Government. Discusses only with the agreement of the Government draft laws which reduce state income or increase expenses. Certifies the state budget. Oversees the implementation of the state budget as well as the utilization of loans and credits By a majority ol overall votes, elects for the lull term of its powers the president o, the National Assembly. At the proposal of the President of the Republic declares an amnesty, ratifies or annuls international agreements, declares war. Appoints, at the proposal of the President of the Republic,the President of the Central Bank,the president of the National Assembly's Oversight

Chamber and members of the Constitutional Court.

Can terminate the powers of a member ol the Constitutional Court. By a majority of overall votes, expresses its no confidence in the Government. Can override presidential veto with a simple majority of votes. Chapter 5 The Government Consists of the Prime Minister and ministers. Presents the dratt state budget to the National Assembly for discussion at least 60 days prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. Provides for the implementation of a coherent linancial, economic, credit and tax policy, of the state's defense, national security and foreign policy .

The National Assembly Exercises legistative authority in the Republic. ls comprised of 131 delegates elected every four years. Cannot be dispersed for one yearfollowing elections, during a military situation or when the issue of the removal of the President of the Republic from office has been raised. Delegates must be at least 25 years old.

Chapter 6

Judicial Authority Courts of general competence are: tribunal courts of first instance, review courts and the

are the vice-presidents of the Council. lncluded in the Council are 14 members appointed for 5

years by the President of the Republic and of whom 2 are legal scholars,9 are judges, and 3 are prosecutors. The Justice Council proposes the candidacies for judges, presents proposals on giving agreement to the termination of the powers of a judge, subjects a judge to disciplinary liability. Judges and members of the Constitutional Court are permanent. A judge holds olfice until he reaches age 65 and a member o, the Constitutional Court until he reaches age70. Judges and members of the Constitutional Court cannot cccupy other state posts or perform other paid employment. The Constitutional Court is comprised of nine members, of whom the National Assembly appoints five and the President of the Republic appoints four. Decides on the suspension or prohibition of the activity of a political party in cases provided for

by law. The prosecutor's olfice of the Republic ol Armenia is a single centralized system headed by the Chief Prosecutor . The prosecutors office: Brings criminal prosecution in cases and by a procedure stipulated by law. Brings actions in court to delend state interests. Oversees the application of punishments and other means of constraint. The prosecutor's office operates within the realm of powers reserved to it by the Constitution on the basis of a law on the prosecutor's office.

Chapter 7 Regional Government and Local Sell-Government Administrative territorial units of the Republic of Armenia are regions marzer and communities hamainkner Local seltgovernment bodies and leaders are elected for a three-year period. The Government appoints and dismisses regional governors who implement regional policy. The city of Yerevan has the status of a region. The President of the Republic upon presentation by the Prime Minister appoints and dismisses the mayor of Yerevan.


Court ol Appeals.


The President of the Republic heads the Justice Council and is the guarantor ol the inde-

The Constitution's Adoption, Amendment

pendence of judicial bodies. The Justice Minister and the Chief Prosecutor



and Relerendum Chapter 9

Facilities lor Transition t5



Whofs to Judge? n the end,

both sides agree, it boils down

to one word----clections. For the Arme nian Revolutionary Federation (the ARF

or the Dashnak party), the six month


imposed on January I 3 was a cynical and authoritarian move by President Levon Ter Petrossian to knock his principal opponents out of the parliamentary elections in July. The ban would have expired in mid-July, a week after the elections-if the 105-year-old Diaspora-based party made efforts to reform its



structure to comply with Armenia's law on political parties not being governed from outside the Republic.


With the ruling Armenian National Movement deeply unpopular, the Dashnaktsutiun was convinced it was on the verge of a major breakthrough after struggling to establish support in Armenia since indepen-



For Ter Petrossian and his circle of advisors, however, the Dashnak leadership was actively involved through a secrel organization named Dro, in a treasonable campaign

to destabilize the republic and supplant the democratically elected rulers. His advisors insist the elections themselves were under threat and that the president acted with speed and severity to protect democracy in Armenia. Though its leaders are still not among those arrested, there is no doubt that the party itself is on trial.

"The decision was to arrest those involved in specific criminal acts. The rest is subject to further investigation and then the courts." said one official close to the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The Dro was set up by the decision of the Bureau. It was done with the knowledge of the Central Committee here. The party's finances and its formal structures had become a cover for a criminal body and the party had lost its political character."

The claims and counter-claims have served only to create an atmosphere of uncertainty. So far at least Levon Ter Petrossian's moral authority has given him the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, although there is scepticism about the existence of a covert and sophisticated underground terror organizat ion. the ARF is regarded principally as a "foreign" party among native Armenians and one with little relevance to contemporary life, a fact which the Dashnaks themselves find difficult to accept. Without the considerable financial support of Dashnaks outside Armenia, it is difficult to see how it would have been any stronger in electoral terms than, for

instance, Vazgen Manukian's National

}Democratic Union. The two strands to the allegations against the Dashnaks have yet to be conclusively connected. Although the individuals arrested have been charged with crimes ranging from drug trafficking to membership in armed bands to premeditated murder, it is the fact of their membership in the ARF and the documents concerning the party's alleged intimate relationship with the Dro that provided the

and human rights infringements. The ARF used all its Diaspora connections to solicit and receive condemnations by governments and international organizations, at least for what were seen as the excesses of the Arme-

platform for the suspension of the party.

prisoned in Armenia, and that indeed, he was kept in a prison hospital, because ofhis health needs. An independent commission conducted two autopsies and affirmed that there

Edward Mamigonian, one of eight state judges inArmenia's Court of Arbitration, and Hovannes Asrian, chief counsel to the parliamentary committee of human rights, have been studying the legal implications of the presidential decree through their Avangard Center for Humanitarian Research. They conclude that the decision and all the actions which flowed from it were ille-

gal and that as a result Armenia is sliding from the democratic path.

The president, they argue, usurped judi-

cial authority by banning the party, leaving the court with the choice of upholding his decision or provoking a bigger constitutional crisis by overturning it.

Now Armenia's president, police and courts were in a situation of mutually-reinforcing illegality in order to sustain their positions. Certainly, there are disturbing allegations against the authorities over the treatment of those arrested. The death of Ardavazt Manukian in jail in early May caused political turmoil as various international human rights organizations raised questions of civil



nian authorities in carrying out the order, even while acknowledging the threat to dometic stability. The government explained that Manukian was clearly ill even before he was im-

were no

visible signs ofphysical injury. This

did not satisfy those who insisted Manukian, although hospitalized, did not receive the necessary medical attention. Further. the ARF has said that it has reports that at least two of the detainees suffer from breakages as a result of being beaten. The def-endants' lawyers complain that they are not allowed access to the accused and that even when meetings are granted,

prison officials insist on being present




the confidentiality between lawyer and client. They say suspects have also been interrogated outside the presence

clear breach

of their attorneys.

Manukian's death in May and the subsequent resignation of the head of Armenia's

National Security Department, David Shahnazarian, again raised the political barometer, and again, the president came to the forefront of the discussion. In a closed session of parliament, Ter Petrossian soundly scolded the members of parliament andArmenia's in-



The ARF and Dro on Trial tellectuals for not reacting to the substance of the matter, which as he saw it, was the threat to national security and stability, the encroachment of terrorism and the use of Hambartsum Galstian's assassination as political fodder by the opposition. The president didn't convince the Dashnaks. "This is a political question not a criminal one," insists Vahan Hovanessian, Dashnak party leader in Armenia, who was among those arrested, released, and who is now barred from leaving the country. This fundamentally is what will have to

be proven during the trial. The Supreme Court, took charge of the the case on May 28 after the Prosecutor General signed the indictments againstthe I I defendants. Judge Edward Manukian was designated as the pre-

siding judge, who together with two citizen urors will constitute the court panel. Just as soon as it began, the trial recessed after several of the defendants demanded time to find new attorneys.

This first trial will involve those defendants who have been accused of the murders of Ashot Nersisian and his wife Nune, as well as Gagik Sahakian. Of the I 1 defendants two are Lebanese citizens, and one, the lead defendant Hrand Margarian, is a ciizen of Iran. A separate indictment is expected in the


The authorities use the same history to support their position that this pledge has proved worthless. Despite being by far the best-organized of the parties, they point to the Dashnaks' failure to win any of the byelections in the republic and their inability to increase the number of their deputies in parliament beyond l3 or 14. "They never adjusted to the reality of another independent Armenia, the birth of which had nothing to do with them. They never accepted democracy, I don't think they ever accepted parliament as the forum where we resolve things and elections as the vehicle for transferring power," said the government

that they are not independent. Like many others, his party plans to send its own lawyers to the court to monitor proceedings. In an argument repeated often by supporters of Ter Petrossian, this is an opportunity for the Dashnak party to put its house in order and become an integral part of democratic political life in the republic. Seyran Bagdasarian, the former head of the ARF faction in parliament, is dismissive of such talk, pointing out that the party is lrapped in a closed legal circle under which it is prevented even from meeting to discuss ways of complying with the court's requirements. On the other hand, party leaders Vahan

official. "There was a perversion of the party

Hovannisian, Ruben Hovsepian, Ruben Hagopian and others are frequently seen

before it came here, particularly in Lebanon, with involvement in terrorism and drug trafficking. They brought this structure here and then when you add intelligence gathering it's clear they were preparing a state so that when the time came they could replace the gov-

walking Yerevan streets together with other


commited similar damage to the country's

This senior official outlined a plot to

founding member of the Karabakh Commit-

destabilise the country in the run-up to the elections with the intention of discrediting democracy and portraying the government as weak and ineffective. The Dro. and therefore the Dashnak party, had drawn up a plan of assassinations alternatively of opposition figures and government officials, implicat-


ing the authorities in the deaths while

The dozens of observers and joumalists will listen expectantly as l9 volumes of evidence are presented by the prosecutors to establish guilt and association with Dro. As for the documents uncovered about the Dro, Hovannesian and others acknowledge that they have no way of knowing if they are forgeries. But he added: "It is possible that some people have created this se-

criticising them


of the assassination of Hambartsum

Galstian, former Mayor of Yerevan, and

cret structure and that



has really been

found. But the thing is these people have no connection with us." But for many, these sorts of theories serve only to further muddy an already murky situation and appear designed more to discredit the state investigation than to disprove the accusations. It was put to Hovanessian that part of the problem for the Dashnak party was precisely that so many people were prepared to believe it capable of setting up the Dro, given its rather clandestine history. "But the Dashnak Bureau has resolved that no such structures would be created on the territory of Armenia. We have decided and announced several times that we are going to fight for our ideology in Armenia only by parliamentary means," Hovannesian in-

as powerless to

maintain or-


"There were named individuals in the files and had not the president taken his initiative on the basis of his executive authority to stop the operations, they would have begun this process."

Only time will tell what the Supreme Court makes of evidence to support this accusation of a treasonable conspiracy. If it finds the accusation true, the political temperature in Armenia will rise sharply. If it dismisses the charge, Ter Petrossian will be discredited and the republic thrown into a crisis ol unimaginable proportions. It is a struggle of the highest stakes, a situation which causes intense concern to prominent figures on the sidelines. Vazgen Manoukian, one of the original Karabakh Committee and a figure held in high regard in the republic, fears the actions of the government have imperilled democracy in Armenia.

He personally doubts the accusations against the Dashnaks, but fears that whatever

decision the courts reach is unlikely to be accepted because ofa widespread perception



Dashnaks. Ter Petrossian's critics say that although he has been more subtle than Russia's Boris Yeltsin who used tanks and troops to reform his political landscape, Ter Petrossian has

democratic institutions and reputation. But ifthe evidence presented to the court proves overwhelmingly that the Dro as a ter-

ror organization exists in Armenia and is controlled by the Dashnak leadership, then the party faces oblivion both in the republic and the Diaspora-unless it undergoes the most fundamental shake-up.

To carry the stain of treason would be an inglorious end indeed for a party which had done so much throughout this century to keep alive the idea of Armenian statehood.


By Tony Halpin



ffillIIII lIF IHE PNESS The desk was empty and the room drained - exactly the kind of office you would expect to find an editor who had lost his newspaper. Which, since the closure of Ertir, the offrcial Dashnak party newspaper, is the position Hamlet Davtian has found himself in.

oflight, heat, and energy

Even as President levon Ter Petrossian was announcing the suspension of the Dashnaks, armed police and intemal security toops were

This may be unsurprising in a country where the practice of joumalistic inquiry and criticism has a pedigree of fewer than five years. The whole history ofjoumalism in the Soviet era was

of strict political control, a habit which merely multiplied with the arrival of pluralism. But the absence of any truly independent newspapers, dependent not on party but on the

stranglehold on the flow of ideas which the authorities are able to impose. While unaffected by the press ban, nevertheless he recognizes that it exposes all opposition newsppaers to the same potential threat. The ability of a court to ban newspapers which have not breached any provision of the press laws only highlights how ineffective Armenia's legal sys-

sealing offErftlr's offices and taking away computers, fiIes, and notebooks. The move was defended, not as an attack on press freedom, but on the Dro, which the au-

thorities insisted had infiltrated and comrpted every branch of Dashnak activity. Davtian, sitting in what has become a temporary headquarters for Dashnaks since being banished from their own building, is adamant however. He knew nothing of the Dro and suggestions that this paper was an instrument of its alleged terror campaign were "absurd." What he finds hardest to accept is that he is unable to say so in his newspaper. Pushed further, Davtian recognizes that his predicament is based more on the source of his paper's funds than anything it had written. He and his joumalists have received informal suggestions from govemment figures to start a new publication, as long as it was not the official or-



gan of the party.

But practically the invitations are meaning-

support ofreaders and advertisers, has meant that

less -- without finances they would find it impossible to start a newspaper and any new publication would almost certainly be bogged down in the registration process. In any case, it can be argued, why should they? The newspaper they had has been closed and the official views of the Dashnak party can no longer be read by the population. The impact on freedom of speech in Armenia is clear.

no voice has emerged to stand up for the principle of press freedom as something which govemment ought not to violate. Over at the offices of Hayastany Hanrap e t ut i un,lhe official govemment newspaper, Editor-in-Chief Aidin Morikian, acknowledges some unease at the ban. He regards Erkir as an inportant newspaper in Armenian life and has

"We are in

a very unequal position


complains Davtian. "The government through the mass media and state TV has begun a very strong anti-Dashnak campaign and we are not in a position to defend ourselves." While his right to publish has undoubtedly been damaged, with serious implications for other media in Armenia, it is hard to argue that Davtian exercised press freedom in any way that would be recognized in the West. Despite his assertion that it published only objective information, as the official organ of the Dashnaks its role was to peddle a mix of antigovernment propaganda and articles impressing the party line upon its readers. In this, it is not alone since every major newspaper in Armenia is affiliated with or controlled by one ofthe political parties. The notion of balance comes more from the competition of views than any intemal editorial processes.


friends who are now jobless because of the presi-

dential decree. He remains phlegmatic about the impact on

public opinion, however, believing that the absence of Dashnak opinion will have only a marginal effect on the faimess of the forthcoming elections. Other opposition newspapers have filled the information gap , he says, even to the extent of publishing work by forrner Erkir reporters. Hagop Avedikian, editor of Azg, the largest remaining opposition paper, agrees he has tried to offset the ban at least partly. But as a paper affiliated with the Armenian Democratic Liberals of Armenia (ADLA), it is not his task to present the Dashnak position and there is no

question of filling the gap. If Davtian and Morikian sometimes appear to be from the "old school" ofeditors, justifying the positions of their respective political masters, Avedikian seemes more concerned at the



tem continues to be, he


"The worrisome part is that these laws have already been operating for three years and I see no effort to improve them." The closure of papers with only the slightest connection to the Dashnaks was a clear vioIation of democratic rights, he said, butAedikian argued also that it was no secret that the party funded its official press. Without first proving their claim that the papers were being subverted by the Dro, the authorities had no grounds for silencing them. "As a professional joumalist, I can tell you that I don't like the style or spirit of the Dashnak

papers, their continuous pessimism. But their closure makes me worried for the future of democratic principles in Armenia." Which is not to say that he enjoys complete freedom from political influence. He readily acknowledges thatAzg is unable to criticize its own party. It has tried but the readers reacted as though this indicated problems with the ADLA, he said, rather than a normal process of debate. Avedikian believes that with the development of a free market will come a free press,

truly independent of party, earning its keep through advertising, and beholden to no one but its readers. Only then can the press play its proper

role. by Tony Halpin





If you ask even the most disgruntled readers whether there is freedom of the press in Armenia, the answer is a categorical yes. So long as the subject is not military secrets, it is difficult to imagine a diatribe that one of Armenia's 50 plus newspapers would not publish. Indeed, the opposition papers appear in endless competition to see who can poke the deepest jabs at the government, and the pro-government papers each seek to deliver the heaviest blows at the opposition. Just the fact that the papers complain endlessly about the absence of a free press is testimony to its existence. Even Golos Armenii. the Russianlanguage newspaper which is the suc-

cessor to the Communist Party

Komunist spent all its days cursing the government. It did so before its argument with the government-owned publishing center which prints most newspapers. It continued to do so after the president intervened and requested that the argument be postponed until after the elections in order not to leave the impression that the press is under governmental pressure. Nevertheless, it is clear that there

is a problem. Something is missing. And if the question is changed to whether there is a free press in Armenia, the answer then is probably the old American adage, that freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. The papers themselves, as well as opinions about them, are so acutely politicized that even those which con-

sider themselves "independent" are labeled otherwise by the rest. The only newspaper which has stubbornly resisted the label of one or the other side is Lragir-it was considered one of the Big Four in the days when the Armenian Revolutionary Federation's Ertrr (established in the summer of 1992 ranked with the ADL's Azg (which has been published since February 1991) and the government's own Hayastani Hanrapetutiun, a relative newcomer. established less than two years ago, and one of the most widely read. And since the widespead assumption is that even the big successful businessmen are highly politicized after all, only those who support the gov-

ernment and the authorities succeed in business and therefore can afford to

financially support an enterprise such as a newspaper, says popular wisdsrn-sysn those newspapers which attempt to survive with subsidies from independent business are suspect. Haykazn Ghahriyan is 28 years old and editor of Lragir. Formerly with the ADLA's Azg, he left to set up his own independent newspaper, free of political pressure. Speaking of the potential for truly free-therefore, financially independent press in Armenia, Ghahriyan comments, "Of course we can be self-sufficient and completely cover our expenses, we just have to feel confident enough to raise our prices. Rumors that this or that person is backing this paper are destructive, because as a result, people quit buying Lragir, and quit believing in the integrity of the paper." A well-liked and respected reporter, Hrair Zorian is in his 30s. He writes on economic and political subjects for Hayastani Hanrapetutiun, the successor to the old Sovetakan Hayastan, and in many ways the inheritor of the same style, Zorian, too, doesn't believe a free press exists, but certainly believes one is needed. "The person who sets up such a paper will be quite successful," Zorian says, while at the time concerned about the reading interests of a public who have become accustomed to articles which are more reminiscent of American talk shows, than Le Figaro or Liberation. Ghahriyan explains that when he has attempted to broaden the scope of coverage and include information about the region-from the Mlddle East to Central Asia, readers have resisted, and preferred to read something else. Readership preference also defines

the tone of the analysis and critique, say the editors. The public isn't ready

for serious commentary. Instead, they want to see in print the kinds of general

accusations and conclusions which they hear bandied about at meetings and on street corners. They are not ready to understand that you can support the government's one action and be critical of another, explains one editor who is branded as "government AIM, SEPTEMBER









" "People read our paper and they are confused, because nothing is black and white, and there are pro and anti government stories in the same issue." Tradition works against us, insists the same editor. There is no tradition of spokesman.

independence, therefore everyone tries to figure out whose side you're on. But

he and the other young, active

journalists are optimistic. They believe

that with time, and with the addition of other non-affiliated papers, and nonaffiliated writers, the public will learn to judge an article on its own merit.

By Armen Baghdasarian l9



A NE,W CHANCE, FOR UNITY he Catholicossal election that was


in Ejmiatsin, April 3-5 of this year, was an event of many historical firsts.

The National Ecclesiastical Assembly (NEA), the highest legislative body of the Armenian Church, convened for the first time in 40 years. The election took place for the first time in a free and independent Armenian Republic. For the first time in history, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia was elected Catholicos of All Armenians. The meetings of the NEA were spread over three days, under the chairmanship of Judge Dariel Barseghian of Armenia, who had the difficult task of chairing a meeting

of 400 Armenians from five continents, speaking different languages with various

"cultural" idiosyncrasies. During the first few hours, the Assem-

bly was in total

chaos. For most of the del-

egates. this was their first experience al a major pan-Armenian meeting. Nevertheless, after the first session, subsequent meetings proceeded smoothly. The issue of church unity was a dominant theme at this historic event. During the first session of the NEA, on April 3, President Levon Ter Petrossian addressed the Assembly. After a prepared introduction, he put aside his written speech and spoke candidly to the candidates. "Let us all admit that the current situation that exists in our Churchthat is, her division-is a national disgrace.

I do not

accept any justification, any argu-

mentation, from all those who have contributed to that division. I do not accept the false passions that caused the division. I do not accept the view that the Church in Ejmiatsin, which was regarded as subservient to the

Kremlin or the KGB, has

served our


worse than the Cilician See. Simply put, the Armenian nation, as in the past, so in this era as well, had become a pawn in the Cold War. Today, we have the opportunity-without the demands of foreign forces-for the first time, to solve our problems, ourselves: to solve the greatest problem that our Church

faces." On election day, April 4, one could feel the tense emotions of the delegates. This was history in the making. After almost l0 hours

of deliberations and balloting, Catholicos Karekin II of the Great House of Cilicia was elected the 131st Catholicos of All Armenians by the NEA. However, the entire process of his nomination and eventual election was eclipsed by the issue of church unity. Many had thought that with the election of Catholicos Karekin, there would come a de facto unity in the Armenian Church. But that did not happen.

Church Unity Contrary to popular perception, church unity does not mean the merger of the two Sees (Ejmiatsin and Cilicia) into one See. In the wake of the election, Khachig Babikian, Chairman of the World National Church Assembly of the Cilician See, told this writer in an interview in Beirut, that "there were a lot of irresponsible and uneducated discussions on this issue. For example, some people were saying now that Catholicos Karekin has come to Ejmiatsin, why do you need to have

an election for a second Catholicos in Antelias. Unfortunately, this is a very superficial and irresponsible approach to the is-



sue. This proves one thing: that those who speak in these terms are completely ignorant

of our national ecclesiastical history. This See has had its mission in our national life. It has existed and continues to exist in the daily lives of the faithful. It has importance. particularly in the Arab world, and elsewhere. This See-with its institutions and related bodies, with its Brotherhood, with its Theo-

logical Seminary-has become an essential entity in Armenian life." In essence, church unity-in its historical context-means going back to pre-1956 status of relationship between the two Sees, i.e., the Cilician See will return to its "his-

/\INI ARMENIAN SURVEY Atleft,KarekinI,sfirstvisittoKarabakh.Below,RussianSupremePatriarchA Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin I of Ejmiatsin, and the head of the Supreme Religious Council of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul Islam Allah Shukur Pasha-Zadei. During the meeting, which took place in early June in Moscow's Sviato Danilov Monastery,the three clerics signed the Moscow Declarationwhichreffirmed their conviction that the Karabakh conflict is not a religious one, and called on all sides to take advantage ofthe ceasefire and pursue lasting peqce.

Karekin I's Agenda After his election, Karekin I addressed the NEA and outlined his agenda for the immediate future. Among his top priorities he mentioned four areas: a) Celebration for the 1700th anniversary of the acceptance of Christianity as state religion in Armenia; b) Training of clergy and workers in the church to carry out the task of religious rejuvenation ofthe nation; c) Reinterpretation ofnational and religious identity of the Armenian nation; d) Financial stability of Ejmiatsin. Finally, His Holiness spoke about the urgency of "reform" in the Armenian Church. He said, "the reformation of the Armenian Church should be our goal, our target, our point of departure." He defined reform as "the preservation of an order that is alive, not an order which is just a structure. We need to reform the church in such a way that she will become an active and positive presence for the benefit of our nation."


Geographic Distribution of NEA Delegates for Ejmiatsin Elections

One of the difficulties facing the new Catholicos is the lack of adequate personnel in Ejmiatsin to collaborate with him in carrying out his new agenda. The administrative infrastructure of Ejmiatsin is in a dilapidated form. Some of the most basic administrative tools, such as telephones, faxes and computers, are in dire need of modemization. As such, the first task of the new pontiff is to recruit a team of able staff and modernize the administrative machinery of the Catholicosate.

The First 100 Days The Catholicos' first task upon election was a trip to the earthquake-stricken region

of northern Armenia, where he brought


message of hope and caring to a still home-

torical area of jurisdiction" which includes Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus. In the 1950s, due to the internal and external problems in the Armenian Diaspora, the Cilician See established counter diocese in the United States, Iran and Greece. Thus, the "division" in the church is on diocesan andjurisdictional levels. Until 1956, the two Sees had very good

the resolution of the diocesan divisions in North America, Iran and Greece- the first being the most controversial. High ranking officials both in Ejmiatsin and Antelias believe that, with the election of Karekin I as Catholicos of All Armenians, the modus operandi of the Armenian Church will change and in time, the issue of diocesan divisions

relations and complemented each other's

will be resolved. As Archbishop Ardavazt

work by sharing their resources and personnel. As Babikian stated, with the election of Catholicos Karekin, "there should be a very harmonious relationship between the Sees. That is the harvest that we will reap from these historic events." In practical terms, church unity means

Terterian, Locum Tenens of the Cilician See, stated, "The Cilician Catholicosate is always

an auxiliary

of Ejmiatsin. When there is a

need, we are completely ready to dedicate

our abundant service to Ejmiatsin. Our existence is forArmenia, for Ejmiatsin. This is our understanding of unity."



less and jobless population. This was followed by an official visit to Karabakh, the first by an Armenian Catholicos in decades. Karekin I's first official trip outside Armenia was to Moscow, where together with the religious head of the Azerbaijanis, he participated in talks on the spiritual welfare of the people in the war-torn region. However, the most watched trip of all was the return of Karekin I to Antelias, on the inevitable occasion of the election of his successor on the throne ofthe Cilician See. The Catholicossal election which took place in Antelias, Lebanon, on June 28 also had some historical firsts. For the first time in the history of the church, the Catholicos of All Armenians presided over the ordination and consecration ofthe new Catholicos, in the presence of the respective patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem. Just as in the case of the election in Ejmiatsin two




Catholicos Karekin I ( with rhe new,ly annointed Catholic:os Aram I o.t''the Holy See of C i lic'ia

ft"r I ' . a":{'

.:,, -'a,,


months earlier. the consecration ceremonies in Antelias were attended by ecurnenical and government represenatives from around the


As expected, the election of the new Catholicos in Antelias and its outcome was carE,fully orchestrated by the ARF. Since the mid-1950s the ARF has held a strong control on the Cilician See. The nomination and "uncontested" election of Archbishop Aram Keshishian-the candidate of the partyproved once more that the ARF continues to

have substantial control on the Catholicosate

comments. "He stressed the need to promote

of Cilicia.

the unity of the church, through collaboration with the Holy See of Ejmiatsin," af-

Catholicos Aram I,48, has been the prelate of the Diocese of Lebanon for l7 years. Like Karekin I. he too is active in ecumenical circles and is currently Moderator of the

World Council of Churches-his term of office ends in 1998. White the personal differences and feud between Karekin I and then

Archbishop Aram are a matter of public knowledge, church unity was a prevalent theme in all of Catholicos Aram I's public

firmed Catholicos Karekin I, who has espoused the same ideal for nearly a decade. It remains to be seen whether such discussion will trickle down to the rank and file clergy and members. For now, the prospects of church unity are not very bright. It is expected that the status quo of the Armenian Church will rernain the same in the next ltw years, with only some cosmetic changes. By Hrutch Tchilingirian I




CALL NO\f: r-8tB_246-7979

OR\TRITE P.O. Box 70793, Glendale Ca91209-3793 BY E-MAIL




oi nt Arme




exerc ise s pre ceded Rassta's

agreements with Georgia and Azerbai.iun

f,ormer president ol Azerbaijan. Ayaz I ' Mutalihov- was arrested and held for one day in early May in Moscow, by authorities checking identification papers. Mutalibov, who has been sentenced to death in Baku for "turning over" Shushi and Lachin to the Ar-

menians, was released and returned to his home outside Moscow, despite rumors that there was agreement between Russian and Azerbaijani authorities to secure his return to Azerbaijan. Another of Azerbaijan's expresidents, Abulfaz Elchibey is currently in semi-hiding in a village in Nakhichevan.

ing and finances. The Parliamentary Assem-

bly also agreed to establish mechanisms to deal with the aftereffects of natural and other

disasters and necessary safe havens. The PABSEC will meet again in Turkey, in November.

* fne lTth Summit Meeting of the Minsk Group took place in Minsk, Belarus, in late May. An international currency exchange commitee was established, the deadline for removing collective peacekeeping forces from Tajikistan was extended, and an agree-

uled rotation, and Armenia has assumed the

ment about the transportaion of specific loads and military material was signed. The Summit also addressed structural and financial issues dealing with the strengthening of a collective security system.

chairmanship for the next six months. Babken Ararktsian, who was president of



ttre Presidency of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) has undergone its sched-

Armenia's Parliament at the time of the rotation. will chair the organization as it pursues common economic goals in the region. At its June meeting in Moscow, the I I member nations accepted a series of important de-

cisions about regional economic integration as well as cooperation in the spheres ofbank-



On June l, Georgia reopened two Soviet-era radar stations, as well as a command post controlling the airspace around the capital, Tbilisi. This is part of a deal with Russia which will supply equipment and train personnel so that all other air defense systems left over from the soviet days can be reactivated. Russia also gains the right to main-



Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Boris Yeltsin of Russia

celebrate their agreement on the Black Sea Fleet (BSF)

tain military bases in Georgia and will cooperate in the securing of Georgia's border with Turkey. This comes at a time when negotiations between Russia and Azerbaijan are continuing on the placement of Russian bases in Azerbaijan. Russia will probably take on the administration of the radar station at Gabal, and Russian forces will participate in the securing of Azerbaijan's southem border.


The European Commission has found that

there is "innate instability in the (Caucasus) region" and has proposed negotiating comprehensive political and economic accords

with Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to help them overcome this instability. Concerned with the region's dependence on hu-

manitarian assistance, and the continuing effects of the wars in Abkhazia and Karabakh on the intemal affairs of Georgia and

of 'genocide and crimes againsthumanity.'The 87-year-old Noviks is accused of organizing mass killings and deportation of more than 100,000 Latvians to Siberia.


Following a very short moratorium in

the Chechen fighting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, a Chechen separatist group barricaded themselves in the hospital in the Russian city of Budennovsk, taking thousands hostage, demanding that Russian hesident Boris Yeltsin negotiate the end of the Chechen war with

Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudaev. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin intervened, secured the attackers' safe passage, after a high death toll which included seven Armenian residents.


fne Iranian Ambassador to Lithuania


Russia and Ukraine appearto have concluded the thomy problem of dividing up the Soviet Union's Black Sea Fleet. In what appears to be a final agreement, 18.3 percent of the fleet will pass on to Ukraine, and the rest to Russia, which will use the Crimean port of Sevastopol as its base. The majority of the population of the Crimean peninsula has expressed a preference for

reunification with Russia.

.3. The Foreign Ministry inAnkara announced the appointment of former



Moscow, Aykhan

Kemal as Turkey's representative to the Organization for Security and Coopera-

tion in Europe Minsk Group. Turkey sees this as an opportunity to partici-

pate more actively in the Karabakh negotiations.

Azerbaijan, it is considering a framework of cooperation on trade, aid and political mat-

and the Lithuanian Prime Minister held talks aimed at seeking closer ties between the two


ters, together with help for post-war reconstruction, food and humanitarian assistance.

countries. Trade between Iran and Lithuania

announced that hard currency reserves

totalled a mere $500,000

had risen from $2.5 billion to $8 billion, and therefore, a recurrence of last October's sudden drop in the value of the ruble was unlikely to occur this year.


Formerlafvian Secret Services chiefAlfons

Noviks went on trial in Riga in June on charges

in 1994. The Lithuanians are interested in a construction of an oil terminal at Butinge, and subsequent sales

of Iranian oil to Lithuania.



ttre Russian Ministry of Economy





Austrian Photojournalist Christoph Lingg joined Ithough a Free Republic of Kurdistan

.( l

was proclaimed with Arbil as its

capital soon after the end of the Gulf War, its lands are largely comprised of those parts of Iraq from which Saddam Hussein was driven by the Allied Forces. Kurdistan


Austrian doctors and nurses on a trip to Kurdistan

according to plan, in five years that should produce results and perhaps close to a million jobs. The refugees are still there, and still mis-

also claims territory from Armenia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. These countries all seem to think that most of Kurdistan's territories belong to it only in its imagination. But what is real enough in Kurdistan is starvation, war and misery. "We want to show them that the world knows about their or at least Austria -problems, and that we- support the Kurdish nation in these difficult times," said one member of the team of medical personnel who had given up three weeks of their holidays to make the trip. They brought with them hundreds of thousands ol dollars of medical equipment and medicine. They all know how risky the situation is for foreigners. Since the beginning of March, Hussein has announced a bounty of $ I 0,000 for the capture of foreigners in the region. Kurdistan has arrested two of three presumed murderers of the German journalist Lissy Schmidt, who along with a bodyguard was killed near Sulaimaniya in northeastern Iraq. The visit to the hospital in the northern city of Dohuk clearly demonstrated the problems awaiting the doctors. Compared to Western standards, the hygienic conditions are catastrophic. No normal operation has been performed here in seven months. Only the worst of emergencies are treated. There is a lot of Western medical equipment, but most of it is inoperable because there are no spare parts.

The problem is no different in the four hospitals of Arbil, the capital. There is no lack of staff but a definite lack of equipment and

medicine. They say the only Kurds who eat regularly are those whose relatives send them food or money from abroad. The bombing of Kurdish towns and cities by Turkey and Iran goes on regularly. Iraq, with an international embargo against it, has also imposed its own embargo on Kurdistan. As a result, there is a shortage of almost everything. Inflation is high, with the price of gasoline, for exarnple. increasing five to seven times in just a few days. A pound of meat costs nearly

half an average monthly salary. Of the 4500 villages which were destroyed by the Iraqis, only a handful have been rebuilt. There are only a few existing factories, but they aren't operating because of the West's embargo. The greatest economic progress has been in agriculture; if all goes 26



erable, living in camps, with no income except that which comes by selling the kerosene which international relief organizations have given them.




f Abdulla is five years old. He lost both ofexplod-

eyes and his right forearm because

ing mines. 'His father remembers.


was working

outside the house as he came running through the field, laughing. 'Look, papa, look what a funny-looking toy I have found.' It was too late. I wanted to yell at him to throw it away, but it was already too late." Exact numbers are hard to come by, but it is estimated that there are 15 to 20 million land mines, mostly of Czech or Italian manufacture, scattered throughout Kurdistan by

the former Iraqi police and military. Most mines are still to be found along the borders, but they are also in the mountainous regions,

having floated down through the melting snows and rainfall.

Rarely a day goes by that Dr. Salah

of the hospital at Sulaimaniya, doesn't see a mutilated child, farmer or shepherd. One day last spring, he saw 30 such cases. By walking through the hospital ward, one quickly realizes that the war continues in Kurdistan insidious war without vis- an ible opponents, a war against which there is no way to defend oneself, yet a war that conRasha, director



tinues day after day claiming victims and a war whose end is nowhere in sight. Ali Abdul Hassen, 27, is considered a great hero by the Kurds. He doesn't get paid for what he does, but he is celebrated as one of the few who risks his life to deactivate mines. A short while ago, he sacrificed his second leg; and as soon as he can get artificial limbs he vows he will continue ferreting out land mines.

The chairman of the Patriotic Union Kurdistan arranged a marriage for him to show his nation's gratitude. Sorrowfully, Hassen recalls his last visit from his threeyear-old daughter who said, "You are not my father, because you don't even have legs." Kurdish leaders say that for centuries their nation has been dreaming of having its own state, and now that they have one, of sorts, the world neither recognizes nor helps them.

Said Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, who has become a legend of sorts,"We are the orphans of the universe." But he expects that to change one day.


Text and Photos by

Christoph Lingg Vienna. Austria



IN SEARCH OF NE,WVALUES ussian Parliamentarian Galina Starovoitova Remembers the Beginning ofArmenia's Democracy Movement and looks to the future.Starovoitova first rose to prominence in the late 1980s as a human rights advocate and close associate

of Andrei Sakharov, then emerged as a pacesetter

in the campaign for democratic

reform. In addition, she earned special admiration in Armenia for championing the self-determination struggle of the Armenians

of Mountainous Karabakh. When the Russian Federation was established, Starovoitova served as a key adviser to President Boris Yeltsin on nationalities issues. Forced out of the government in mid-1992 by conservative opponents, she remained at the forefront of the democratic movement in Russia. Today, she heads the Federated Party

of Democratic Russia and is a prospective candidate for the presidential elections scheduled to take place in June 1 996. A native of the Ural city of Chelyabinsk, she grew up in Leningrad and was drawn to politics by events rather than ambition. For most of her career, she was a scholar at the Institute of Ethnography of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Starovoitova's research required that she travel extensively. In the mid-

1980s, she conducted field studies in Transcaucasia and developed expertise on the Karabakh Armenians.

AIM: What are the political prospects of the democratic forces in Russia? Starovoitova: The roots of democracy were not implanted immediately after the apparent victory of democracy in Russia. It was

a semi-victory, because the Communist nomenklatura retained power, and in many cases, is still in power in Russia. That is why many people who are looking for new leaders and a new system of values are disappointed. Considering that Russia's transition has been harder on women, how are women represented in Russia's political system? The few women in positions of power are responsible mostly for "soft" branches of the government, not for security-related spheres. They have no access to real decision-making. This is true despite the fact that women played a very important role in the 28

= ,;::::!


process of democratization and in electoral campaigns. The idea

f ffi



of promoting women to higher positions is becoming more attractive, especially since the be-

ginning of the Chechen war. People are disappointed in the behavior of male politicians. At the same time, I would like to underline that women are better prepared for the current tran-

sition than men. Even in


days of Soviet stagnation, wo-

men were forced to use their wits to find decent food, to place

their children in good schools. Women were naturally more resourceful, more entrepreneurial, more able to take initiative.

How has the disintegration of the Soviet empire affected the Russian self-image? It was a real crisis of ethnic identity for many Russians. Geography plays a very important

role in Russian ethnic consciousness. To some extent, it has replaced the idea of history in the Russian mind. At the beginning of this century, a Russian philosopher wrote about the power of space over the Russian soul. It was a very

insightful observation. When this ethnic space shrank, it was very painful and unexpected. Only now, four years after the breakup ofthe Soviet Union, have Russians started to touch, to feel, and to explore this new space as the ethnic territory of Russia.

Will Transcaucasia remain an area of vital interest for Russia, especially in light of the war in Chechnya? When I was an advisor to Yeltsin I gave several in-depth consultations not only to him but to Defense Minister [Pavel] Grachev and

the last Soviet defense minister, [Nikolai] Shapashnikov, especially after the latter surrendered the Soviet army's weapons depot at Agdam to Azerbaijani forces. I explained the significance ofthe Transcaucasus area for Russian interests, and as obedient pupils they listened to me on several occasions for up to an hour. I also personally acquainted Yeltsin with President [Levon] Ter-Petrossian and



kept Yeltsin away for half a year from Azerbaijani President [Ayaz] Mutalibov. I explained to Yeltsin and his assistants that the historical contradictions between Russia and Turkey could not be forgotten, and that

after the break-up of the Soviet Union,


Russia doesn't, then a third country such as

Turkey or Iran will try to gain dominance over this region as well as Central Asia. Russia, historically, has expended great effort to extend its political and cultural influence over the Transcaucasus. To just leave it, to just withdraw, is not reasonable. In the end, an empire has some responsibilities toward its former colonies, at least initiaily. Have Armenia's diplomatic efforts been perceived in Moscow as competent

and professional? Until the appointment of Yuri Mkrtumian as ambassador, Armenian policy in Moscow was not sufficiently active. I think the president of Armenia should visit Moscow more often than he visits Armenian commu-


INTERNATIONAL Top left : Starovoitova; Bottom left: Mayor Hambartsum Galstian in 1992, at the opening of theWomen's G y ne c ologic al C e nter in Yere v an ; Below: From the mass demonstrations

the nities abroad. The position of Armenia political, economic, and military situation is much more dependent on good relations between the Armenian leadership and the Russian leadership than on the meetings, demands, and requests of the Armenian Diaspora. Moreover, theArmenian embassy has not responded quickly enough to disinformation. I have often asked why they did not refute this or that statement in the mass media. The answer has been, "it does not mat-

ter." Initially, I thinkArmenia won the information war, but lately it has been losing.

Initially, it was a source of strength for Armenia. Armenia was the first of the former Soviet republics to fully follow the letter of the law regarding secession from the Soviet Union, even after the August 199 1 coup. Everything went very smoothly. After gaining independence, Armenia was initially successful in the privatization of land. On the other hand, a new constitution still has not been adopted. That is a great disadvantage. The parliament was never dissolved, unlike in many other republics. We also know all too



well about the return of censorship in the mass media. Few steps have been taken to improve the political system. As a result, many members of parliament have lost the respect of their constituents, often because they are busier with their private affairs than with their public duties. Also, many appointments to office are made on the basis of party affiliation, specifically membership in the

Armenian National Movement, rather than on professional qualifications.

Do you foresee a resolution to the Ka-

rabakh conflict? Unfortunately, I think in the near future we will see attempts to resolve the problem through the use of force, not through the process of negotiation. I have no illusions, unlike many of my friends in Armenia and Karabakh who think that they can keep these occupied territories as a bargaining chip in the negotiations and that Armenians will be forever successful on the battlefield. If we compare the resources of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the difference is quite sizeable. You visited Armenia in December for

the funeral of your close friend,

Hambartsum Galstian. What do you see ? One of my chief concerns is that too many Armenians have left Armenia. Many have gone to Russia, where they have pursued business to support their families. The other reason is perhaps even more important psychological disillusionthan economics - told me that even in the ment. Some people days of World War II it was easier to live than now because they were at least inspired by some great idea, that is, tighting against fascism. The difficulties were understandable. Now they do not have a common goal. They are disappointed in the leadership. This

What is the legacy of the Karabakh movement in Armenia? The legacy ol any mass movement is based on the moral legitimacy of its goals. It is very painful to watch divisions emerge among members of the Karabakh Committee friends who survived together even in - . prison

is true despite the fact that Levon Ter Petrossian still has support within his country, and he was probably better prepared than other activists to governArmenia. But people feel that there is no sense of morality in current policy. The most tragic thing is that Armenia has lost its intellectual potential. The majority of well-educated, capable young people have left Armenia and gone to the

What about the people of Armenia? What's left of the sense of empowerment generated by the demonstrations in 1988? People who I meet remember that as ancient history, a romantic period that was hope. They think they were too naive and hopeful at that time. Now they are rather disoriented and do not know where to find new values and new beacons. Unfortunately, the situation in Russia as elections approach is the same. We all should think together how to overcome the apathy and moral vacuum that affects our peoples.

full of

United States or Moscow or wherever. Most thought they were going only temporarily, for one or two years, but it is difficult once you have ajob and the advantages of a new life to go back for nostalgic reasons.

How does Armenia's political development compare to the other states of the former Soviet Union?



By Mark Matkasian Cranston, Rhode lsland





T-tor those who protested that Britain's Uiu. towards Aierbaijan was shown by Il-{ its relusal to open an embassy in Yerevan while maintaining one in Baku, further proof was added by the BBC's decision to launch AzeriJanguage broadcasting but not Armenian. But now that Britain is opening an embassy in Armenia, such protests may seem a little overdone. The head of the BBC's Central Asian and Caucasus service, Behrouz Afagh, is also anxious to dispel the notion that the choice ofAzeri as the only Caucasian language means that the BBC is ignoring listeners inArmenia----or Georgia. "The new service, launched in January 1995, broadcasts in Uzbek,Azeri and Russian,"

explains Afagh. "Our Russian-language programming is different from that provided by the BBC's Russian service, and is specifically targeted at the audience in the Caucasus and Central


Over coffee in the famous BBC canteen, Afagh explained whyAzeri was the only Caucasian language chosen. "The choice of languages is never an exact science," he said and cited the fact that there are about eight million Azeris in the former Soviet Union, with a further 12 million or so in lran." Other considerations included the political importance of the area generally, and especially for Britain. The British govemment (which funds the BBC's intemational broadcasting service department directly via the Foreign Office) and the BBC agreed that the Caucasus and Central Asia were important areas, said Afagh. Then came agreement on the three languages that would make the biggest impact on that region. "Launching an Armenian or Georgian [broadcast] service is a matter of money," he explained, adding that although he would like to see such service initiated, "we have a tight financial situation and it is unrealistic to hope

for them now."

Afagh-who is articulate, friendly

and open-is an Azeri from Iran, bom and raised in Tehran. His first language is Farsi, and he

freely admits that he speaks only "kitchen Azeri." He joined the BBC World Service in 1983 and became a producer

in its

broadcasting division, later working as


writer, mainly on kan,Afghanistan and Pakistan.When the BBC decided to set up the Central Asian and Caucasus division, he was chosen to head it. He describes the BBC's staffing policy: "All [of the staffl come from the area. We have Azeris, Uzbeks, a Kazakh, a Kirghiz, as well as freelance contributors here. around the world, and in the region.We have one regular stringer in Armenia, an Armenian who files both in Russian and Azeri-he speaks perfect



Azei. "One of the most important aspects for the a global view. They must be able to see events in a world perspective---or have the ability to learn. For example, in covering the Karabakh conflict, that would mean not just covering the conflict itselfbut reporting it in the context ofthe rest of the world." How does the new division ensure that there is no national or political bias, especially with stories as sensitive as the conflict over Karabakh? "We follow the BBC editorial approach," said Afagh. "We double check the news and verify it from independent sources. We have a very rigorous editorial approach, both in the coverage we give and in the selection of events. In the Karabakh conflict, we

BBC staffers is for them to take


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report from both the Armenian and Azeri sides----or if there are any other sides, such as

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Russian, or intemational, we take them into


equal consideration." The same, he went on, is true of internal political stories. "We talk to govemments, the opposition, academics, joumalists, and ordinary people. When the political situation is sensitive, we must be doubly sure we are balanced." As for the various govemments' response, "the govemments are part of our audience. We would be surprised if the govemments didn't monitor what we broadcast," Afagh acknowl-



cast less than Radio Liberty or Voice of America, just half-hour slots of each language

at present. But we rely heavily on quality, though without denying the quality of our competitors.There is also Moscow Radio, as well as local stations which are growing in number and sophistication. There are also broadcasts to the region from Turkey and Iran. They have their own market." It remains to be seen whether the target audiences in the Caucasus and Central Asia will tune into broadcasts that deliberately seek to



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The BBC hopes to increase its broadcasting range in the region by utilizing local transmitters. Afagh plans to visitArmenia in the near future to discuss the possibility with local officials, although he is well aware of the problems of electricity supply. "We would discuss the transmission on local services of our Russian programming for the Caucasus, the programming of the Russian service itself----or the English-language service if they want it." The BBC is aware that media competition, locally, is not minor. Afagh notes, "We broad-




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BANKING ONARME,NIA From left to right: Michael Geoghegan, General Manager of Midland Bank, Financier Vatche Manougian, and David Budd, Head of



President of the f t's one thing if the ! Republic's Central Bank says thatArmeInia can and should become a financial

center, not just for the region, but by international standards.

It's another thing when Midland Bank, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Shanghai Holding Company, the world's second largest

banking corporation with assets over $200 a subsidiary of its own in

billion, establishes Yerevan.

In a public announcement in June, the General Manager of Midland Bank, Michael Geoghegan, accompanied by Vatche Manougian, London-based financier, announced plans for the Bank's opening in mid-October.

Bagrat Asatrian, president of Armenia's Central Bank, commented, "The opening of Midland Armenia is in itself a positive assessment of the progress Armenia has made economically and the potential of its bank-

ing system." Indeed, Geoghegan agrees. "Never mind the fact that when I was six years old, I had an Armenian friend who always had more

money 32

in his pocket than I did. Thus, I

learned early on about Armenians'financial

abilities. The fact is that Armenia has


highly-educated population, and widespread,

financially strong Diaspora which can, through our bank, confidently find ways to participate in the financial development of Armenia and the region. That is why we made this decision." Midland-Armenia will affect all aspects o[ Armenia's financial life. As Vatche Manougian explains, Midland-Armenia's objective is the betterment of Armenia's banking system. That is why he, and the Lichtenstein-based Wing Estab-

lishment, which he heads, joined up with Midland Bank to undertake this venture. As Armenia's Ambassador to the UK, Armen Sarkisian, explained only half in jest, during a press conference, unlike philanthropy which eams you accolades and titles, coming to Armenia as a businessman and financier, is a thankless job. Nevertheless, it is the kind of long-term commitment that a newlydeveloping economy needs, not simply for its direct financial input, but because such investment speeds up the development of a financial culture.



Manougian explains that as a first priority, banking professionals fromArmenia will be trained in Yerevan, as well as Dubai and London. As such, these new bankers will be able to staff the 200-250 branches of Midland-Armenia which are expected to open throughout the CIS. Negotiations are already underway for the opening of a Midland-Armenia branch in Moscow. This is not the first foreign bank to set up operations inArmenia. One Iranian bank, two Russian institutions and a branch of the Ukrainian Inco bank have been operating in Armenia. However, Midland-Armenia will be the first bank based entirely on foreign capital. Its regulatory capital is $10 million. The parent company has over 3000 branches worldwide in 65 countries, including corresponding accounts with Wells Fargo Bank on the west coast of the US. The Wells Fargo connection will greatly facilitate the transfer of funds from the Armenian community in the US to individuals and businesses in Armenia.


By Hrair Zorian



fruffircI 'rPalpitation of the soul" is a compilation of Traditional Amenian Woodwind

Instruments with contemporary orchestration and


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Bagrat Asatrian, President of the Central Bank of Armenia

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November 1993. Armenia issued its national currency. the dram. The dram had I Ifew reserves to back it; as Parliament member Tigran Sargisian stated at the time it was issued, "The national currency ofany country is backed by the goods produced by that country." Given that output has fallen in Armenia by over 60 percent since its independence, Sargisian's statement is sobering. Given the dram's early history, the statement was also prescient. The dram is what economists call "flat money," or money by government decree. If a government can credibly commit to print no more than the existing amount of money, then it holds its value. However, there is little reason to believe the current government can provide that commitment. Before issuing the dram, the government had been able to issue ruble credits. The credit issued to state enterprises alone tripled in the first nine months of 1992. Enterprises in turn used the credits to bid for scarce resources, which were becoming scarcer under the economic blockade Armenia experienced. Prices thus rose. While in the ruble zone, the inflation caused

by the excessive credits was distributed across other former Soviet republics that were still using the ruble. With the introduction of the dram, however, Armenia had an unpleasant choice: It

either had to curtail spending, or



it would



THE UPSAND DOWNS OFTHE, DRAM have to find an alternative source of revenue. While some subsidies have been cut and some privatization has occurred in Armenia, additional cuts are unattractive. The budget deficit proposed by Finance Minister Levon

Barkhudarian at the beginning of the year

have constituted l2 percent of the economy's gross domestic product, even if its current tax reforms succeed. The budget deficit was twice this size a year ago. Armenia's tax system is quite inefficient, relying far too heavily on profits taxes left over from the Soviet days. Its consumption (VAI) tax rate was 28 percent and the flourishing black market provided easy escape from its grasp. The government imposes a social security tax of 37 percent on employers and an income tax of 30 percent on employees. People routinely avoid these taxes, which drives the government to rely on rais-


ing revenue by other means-creating money, for example. This leads to inflation and a decline in the purchasing power of the dram. In a country so heavily dependent on imports, sharp depreciation of the dram is very harmful.

Armenia's inflation rate over the first eleven months of 1994 was approximately 400 percent and its exchange rate versus the US dollar dropped by 543 percent over the same period. In terms of the purchasing power of the two currencies, the dram has depreciated therefore by about 30 percent. Part of this depreciation stems from the subsidized prices Armenia had maintained until recently. As Armenia ends its subsidies and integrates its economy into the world price system, periodic bursts of inflation will occur. It may be in anticipation of these future increases that the dram has depreciated in real terms against the dollar.

In September, the International Monetary Fund agreed to loan Armenia approximately $22 million through its Systemic Transformation Facility (STF), to help manage the exchange rate. Since that time, the dram has traded in a narrow range of 4 1 0 to 430 drams to the dollar. The loan provides reserves to theArmenian Central Bank to buy all drams offered for sale by the public. It could not do so without it since the blockade cut off hard currency eamings from exports. And more recently, the IMF approved another $27 million as an STF loan, and $69

million one-year Stand-By loan. These will help the govemment to sustain the current exchange rate, since it will raise the level of

reforms in was 1992 when the government had sufficient support to withstand the criticism that such moves bring. With the parlia-

half month

mentary elections over and the presidential election still a year away, perhaps such reforms can now take place. Which reforms? The STF loans, the Stand-By loan, combined with reserves built up over the last year, give Armenia more than 100 percent backing of the currency at the current rate of 420 drams to the dollar. With this backing, the Central Bank can take the drastic step of stating that it will fix the ex-

Armenia's reserves to a two and import equivalent.


Despite all this however, the Central Bank will not hold the exchange rate there indefinitely; its president, Bagrat Asatrian has suggested atarget of 500 drams to the dollar. That would require however holding the

inflation rate next year under 20 percent. Failure to do so will lead to a run on the dram by currency traders who guess that the bank will retreat from the target of 500 drams to the dollar. Eventually, the central bank will run out of money. The recent debacles in Russia and Mexico provide ample evidence that defense of the exchange rate requires much more than a large pool of reserves. As long as the central bank has the ability to depreciate the currency, speculators will trade in anticipation of the depreciation and pressure the reserves of the bank.

Reform is hard in any case,but Armenia's political instability renders it especially difficult. Reform means cutting subsidies, increasing the efficiency of the tax system, and cutting off the black market. All of these involve short-term pain for the public, and they will repay the policymaker with retribution at the poll. The time to put these AIM, SEPTEMBER


change rate. To make that believable, one can

privatize the Central Bank, as currently done in Estonia or Hong Kong. Its charter would bind this private central bank, or "currency board" to issue no more drams than it can back by its hard currency reserves. The board can invest the dollars in the US Treasury market. Any profits earned may be split between the board and the government. By privatizing the central bank, the goverment would commit to not use the printing press to pay for its spending. Ifthe government does not privatize the bank, no one will believe the government's commitment because people will expect further money creation and further depreciation of the dram.


By King Banaian Claremont, California 35



The final liberalization of bread prices on.lune I was approved by the Armenian governntent as the last stage in a program which began in December, 1994. The bread voucher rationing system that was in force since November 1993 was also canceled by mid-June. The voucher system had been necessary because, under blockade, Armenia could profide for only one-fourth of its daily bread needs. This led to long and toilurous bread lines and even required military security Jot' those delivet'ing flour and picking up the .finished produt't , so important a part of the Armenian diet and soc'ialfabric.

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THE IMF AGREES TO STAND BY f T 71th the final liberalization of prices \A/ for bread and various communal Y V se*ic.s, the Intemational lVlonetary



Fund approved a 12-month stand-by credit of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of about $69 million forArmenia. together with a second drawing of about $27 million under the systemic transformation facility (STF), to support the govemment's 1995-96 economic stabilization and reform program. The STF is a temporary financing facility designed to provide assistance to member countries facing balance of payments difficulties arising from severe disruptions in their traditional trade and payments arrangements. Armenia joined the IMFon May


Since then, ithas continuedtoface formidable challenges, facing economic uncertainties beyond the country's control. Nevertheless, the IMF found that given the govemment's "daring and difficult reform measures," there was noticeable economic improvement. Already in the early part of 1995, stabilization was taking hold and there were signs of a pickup in economic activity. This was reassuring after a cumulative fall in real gross domestic production (GDP) of nearly 60 percent during

1992-93. As the decline in output turned around. real GDP growth registered more than five percent in 1994. As a result of restrictive fiscal and monetary policies in the last quarter


1994, monthly inflation declined from nearly 50 percent in the lrst half of the year to 27 percent in the last quarter, to two percent in the first quarter of 1995. The IMF, through the STF drawing and the stand-by credit, aims to support the principal objectives of the 1995-96 sconomic program which is to establish conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth and a recovery in living standards. Another objec-

tive is to ensure that the Central Bank of Armenia's gross extemal reserye position is fuither bolstered, to a level equivalent to 2.4 months of imports by the end of 1996. These stabilization objectives are to be achieved through a further improvement in public finances and implementation of an appropriately tight monetrry policy, according to the govemment, which plans a sharp reduction in cunent expenditure, and a curtailment of capital expenditure. The legal framework will continue to be improved tkough the adop-

tion of bankruptcy and collateral laws,


with a new land code scheduled to be adopted by the end of September 1 995. At the same time, theWorld Bank is work-

ing closely with the govemment to identify the most vulnerable groups, with the aim of providing at least a temporary safety net. Text and Photos


by Zaven Khachikian Yerevan, Armenia

ay Mark Ofigorian Yerevan, Armenia





In the Beginning Was the Word Father Mesrop Aramian, in the Gandzasar Center (below) and the 13th century Monastery of Gantsasar in Karabakh (right)

7Tth. Monastery of Ganlsasar is in Karabakh, about 250 miles from I!

remains ignorant of the research and scholarship which has for centuries earned us a unique place in Christendom," explains Aramian. The center is out to right that wrong. To do that, they have rejected every traditional approach to publishing familiar to

offices are designed around a series of

ticated computers are linked to each other, and to a powerful Macintosh that allows for quick, clean desktop publishing. A bright, quiet working environment, where visitors are the only ones whose voices carry, and where breaks are taken on schedule, for I 5 minutes, during which employees walk up

Yerevan. But sitting at the center of 20th century Yerevan, seemingly eons away, in a building which houses book publishers, press agencies and a company that bakes bread, is the Gandzasar Theological Center. The bright, white, sparkling clean

working stations, equipped with sophisticated Macintosh computers.

The name is not a mistake. What Gantsasar and other monasteries did for centuries-teach, research and write-the Gantsasar Theological Center is doing with

computers. Under the auspices of Karabakh's Prelate, Bishop Parkev Martirosian, Father Mesrop Aramian, the center's president and his staffhave, since 1991, prepared and published religious works. Not all of them are by theologians. Some are colorful activity books for children; others are pamphlets on the meanings of holy days and popular sernon themes.

But the theological works are, of course, at the heart of the center's mission.

"Not only was our population deprived of the contents of our rich theological literhture for decades, but the westem world, too,


Armenia and the Diaspora-light, sophis-

self-supporting stairs to a loft equipped with a sofa, a microwave oven and some recreational reading material. "I know that our greatest resource here is our staff and our associates," explains Aramian. "They are the ones who have the knowledge and the

commitment to produce quality publications." And the results? "Just the first series of the Armenian Theological Library already includes 30 volumes of patristic literature from the third through the llth centuries. Some of them are medieval Armenian theological texts never before published. These are in the AIM, SEPTEMBER


original Classical Armenian. Those works which had already been published are translated into modem Armenian, according to the traditional rules of orthography and presented together with analyses and introductions. "We also plan to publish in English and German in order to make the contents of these works known to scholars," continues Aramian.

For popular consumption, Gandzasar of volumes including pocket prayer books, the catechism, textbooks and The Gantsasar Review, the firstArmenian theological publication ever, according to Aramian. The Center's work goes beyond publihas published a series

cation. The Zatlk orphanage, under Gandzasar's auspices, was opened in 1993 and has received funding and support from the Austrian Caritas organization. On the walls, one sees stylized reproductions of medieval scribes in Armenian miniatures, and of course, enlarged posters of the opening line of the first book of Genesis, and which obviously serves as the

Center's guiding statement: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God, and God was the Word."



Mining the Archives he

transition from an authoritarian so-

ciety to an open one is a scholar's dream. Archival material that was once inaccessible becomes an open mine. In

1990, Sandro Behbutian, Head of the Republic's Archives Commission, went digging. The result is a 350-page volume published in 1994 in Yerevan entitled Vaveragrer H ay E ke ghetsu P atmutian I D ocume nt s from Armenian Church History, I92I -I938l . The volume offers nearly 200 documents, mostly correspondence, written by or to clerics, from the beginning of the Soviet period through 1938, "the year when the Communist authorities succeeded in closing

all working monasteries in Armenia,"

Behbutian explains. The complaints from various churchmen throughout the Soviet Union and the west address financial problems, the need for re-


construction and upkeep of churches, especially in Karabakh and the occupation and

destruction of churches. When viewed together, the documents present a picture of the ongoing and losing battle between the Armenian Church, on the one hand, and the Communist authorities on the other, out to suppress the powerful institution. Among the more unusual inclusions is a

ments selected for this volume were from KGB archives heretofore unavailable to

1925 letter to Catholicos Gevorg V from

the Catholicos to Archbishop Yegishe

scholars. Ejmiatsin's own copies were destroyed long ago. All post-1955 documents, however, are still available in the archives of the Mother See, according to Behbutian. Behbutian is currently working on a sec-

Tourian of New York, extolling him for his position on the use of the tricolor flag, and deeming unconstitutional the Diocese decision to remove him from his position. A graduate of the Gevorgian College of Eimiatsin, Behbutian explains that the docu-

through 1955. Publication ofcourse depends on the availability offunding. Publication of the first volume was secured through the efforts of Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian of New York.

Deaconess Nune Sargsian, who had fled Shushi and sought refuge in Ashkhabad, asking for assistance. There is also a letter from

ond volume which will cover the years


Who Shall Save Their

ff I

between the Mother Church and

Armenian Evangelicals and Catholics

still exists in Armenia, even as the state and the church continue to battle what they view as the continuing encroachment of various non-Armenian cults. In September, 1994, and again in April, 1995, reports of serious harassment ofHare Krishna, Jehovah's Witnesses and others by uniformed officers spread through the Wesr ern press. Human rights activists pressured the Armenian govemment to condemn such actions. The Interior Ministry issued a state-


ment of apology. Meanwhile, violence against the Armenian Missionary Association and evangelical churches in Yerevan sparked furtherdiscussion of freedom of religion and the role of non-Apostolic Armenian churches in evangelical and missionary work in Armenia. Following a meeting of the Armenian Evangelical World Council in May, a very positively formulated resolution acknowledged the Armenian government's expression of regret and thanked Catholicos Karekin I for his efforts to ameliorate the situation.


Nevertheless, evangelicals are concerned about the apparent intolerance toward those who do not belong to the Mother Church.





uaroutinian chazarian 39


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WINNING PALMS ast spring, the international

film world

was startled by the first movie





Moscow graduate student in hippie dress. Ladoni (Palms) was taken to the Berlin Intemational Film Festival by scouts who saw it screened at the Moscow Film Institute (VGIK). No sooner had it won the Wolfgang Staudte grand prize at the Forum than its director, Artur Aristakisyan gave away the $4,000 award to fellow students and struggling artists back home. Two months later, Palms was selected for the 37th Annual Film Festival held in San Francisco. Out of 209 films from 50 countries, it gamered the Satyajit Ray Awardfor young, exceptionally promising filmmakers whose aesthetic vision follows in the tradition of the great Bengali director. When festival director Peter Scarlet handed the award trophy and a $ 10,000 check to the 3 I year-old Aristakisyan, he gently suggested that he use the money "to finance an even more wonderful film, if such a thing is pos-

Aristakisyan, right, and a frame from his award-winning film Palms, below, showing a street urchin in the

filmruaker's home town of Kishinev, Moldova.

sible." Beginning in 1986, Aristakisyan spent six years directing, photographing and writing the tender but unflinching portrait of a dozen beggars in his home town of Kishinev, the capital of Moldova. He used a hand-held l6-mm camera and shot without sound. Aristakisyan recalls, "for months I hung around with them, and they got used to me like you get used to a stray dog." The blind, legless beggars who lived in shanties in the swampy, decrepit old quarter of Kishinev "told me everything-their dreams, fantasies, they showed their wounds to me." Aristakisyan's impoverished lifestyle resembled that of his subjects-his initial attempt to enroll at the legendary Moscow Film Institute was unsuccessful, because he

background. Throughout Aristakisyan's 140-minute, black-and-white epic, his indelible characters transfix us with their humility and kinship with one another. ForAristakisyan, these are not ordinary beggars. "They live this way out of love, as a kind of freedom, and we have a lot to learn from them. You can only be a visionary when you (tre onthe edge like them." In his poetic voice-over narration, the director speaks to his unbom son on how best

had no permanent address. Once he was admitted, he sold his clothes, books and possessions to finance his diploma film. Even the homeless beggars gave him money for film stock. To Aristakisyan, outstretched palms both receive and offer charity. From birth to death, his film says, humanity is linked by the touching of hands. The sweeping choral crescendo from Verdi's "Requiem" meshes perfectly with an introductory excerpt from the silent film Quo Vadis where Christian men, women and children in 28 A.D. are being thrown to the lions

to live life: "People fear poverty but their salvation lies in


by Roman soldiers, to provide historical 40




By Janet Samuetian New York, New York


MYTHICAL REALITIES mll Kazaz creates mythologically grounded figures within a realm of half-light. His themes are a blend

pieces - they are separate works and, like his sculpture, also examine imaginary relationships.

prevail. Kazaz's characters are original,

enough to stand on their

acutely observed, and marvelously refreshing-especially considering how well

possess a

of sensual mysticism and provocative introspection-beauty, love and valor

worn this territory is. Although often

Sharp and powerful own, Kazaz's figures

lyrical free-

dom and lightness that

to Western classical figurative tradition, his sophisticated and culturally diverse aesthetic psychology produces a living

make his work inseparable from those artists associated with the great figure drawing tradition.

rather than mummified iconography, not form frozen in time but archetype dancing

Kazaz works intuitively, starting in one place and

to our collective internal rhythms. Once

often winding up in

you recognize his anti-formal dances, the classicism becomes transparent. Kazaz straddles the creative philosophies of two world cultures, East and West, bodies in constant flux. He twists conventions together. Iridescent Arabic

another area completely.

obscured by the appearance of conformity

Usually set


manuscript illuminations romp with Western compositional restraints-emotion and color confronting line and form. These

myth-shrouded figures push us around, disturb our choices and decision, without slick faddism. They attach themselves to something deep within each of us, and, like cartographers, provide maps for our humanity.

Early on, Kazaz abandoned the stiff realist paradise of his academic Sovietstyled art school training as well as the West's formalized penchant for abstraction and conceptualism. He sees both systems as obsolete and not helpful to the human catharsis within society. He also disclaims

any connection to the self-centered poli-

tical appropriateness advocated by much

of today's criticism. His disembodied

approach to figurative sculpture brings us to the fringe of human nature. At first glance, each piece has the appearance of classical representation, they

are about life-serious, enchanting, and

somehow transcending our terrestrial utilitarian mortality by edging towards divine inspiration. Yet, upon closer inspection, this isolated poise, cloaked in familiar

classical vernacular, lies ruptured by incessant layers of baroque fidgeting and ornamentation. Emil Kazaz's outlandishly provocative

drawings are not studies for sculptural

of pastel washes,

atmospheric and sketchy backgrounds, his

asymmetric dabs

characters have breadth and are vigorously three dimensional-as if cast in stone. He pays close attention to the development of volume and mass by using broad, easy, and

emphasize Kazaz's clean and spirited

dignified groupings of raucous lines instead of outlines to imply form. These irregular shapes, accentuated by AIM. SEPTEMBER


approach to drawing.


By Joe Lewis Los Angeles, California








T Tistorian RoubenAdalian, who is also JJ tne son and srandson ofsurvivors of I ltn. Armeniin Genocide, has spent


the better part of the past eight years assembling the documentation on the Genocide that is contained in the US National Archives and the Library of Congress. The results are the 37,000 pages of documents that have been published by Chadwyck-Healey in a 396-microfiche set entitled ?, e Armenian Genocide in the U.S. Archives, 1915-1918-1he most


the violence inflicted on Armenians by

Turkish Nationalist forces from 19181923, but he distinguishes this violence, which included massacres, from the Genocide, seeing it rather as an attempt to terrorize Armenians into fleeing Turkey. The current term for this is that hideous phrase, "ethnic cleansing." Similarly, he describes the massacres of I 894- I 896 and I 909 as attempts, not to eliminate the Armenians as in 1915, but to put them in their "place." The documents on the Genocide come

from many sources, ranging from Ameriofficials, to records of the War and Navy departments, the Commission to

can consular

Negotiate Peace, Near East Relief, the American Red Cross, and the papers of US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and President Woodrow Wilson. Documents include diplomatic cables, consular reports, eyewitness testimony, survivor testimony, intelligence reports, relief assistance records, newspaper accounts, and personal appeals. Among the many subjects covered are: de-

portation, massacres, mistreatment of women and children, forced conversions, the Young Turk regime and its ideology, resistance to genocide, and relief efforts. Indeed, as Adalian says, the "entire process by which the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was made the victim of a policy aiming to destroy all vestiges of its existence in Armenia and Anatolia can be traced through these documents."


There is also contained within the

perience has proved to be useful, namely: What is the structure, the esthetic form of this work? What tradition is the author influenced by and concerned with, and what influence or impact has the author had or will he have? Finally, how does this work stand apart from the contemporary scene; what is its uniqueness, if any? The subtitle of Hagop Karabents'Rerzrn andTiger implies that it is made up of "short stories." But what we really have here is a hybrid forn which would surprise an Ameri-

documents the story of the first large-scale American effort at humanitarian aid.

can critic unfamiliar with Armenian and Middle Eastern literary traditions. The ma-

An indispensable 476-page "Guide and Index" provides both name and subject access. Thus, one can readily locate all of the documents that describe, for example, the events in a particular location, or on subjects such as deportation policy, confiscation of property, orphanages, and resettlement of survivors. Many Armenians may be able to learn more about their families since the documents contain thousands of inquiries by Armenians in Turkey and by their relatives in the United States, both during and after the massacres and deportations: attempts to locate a particular family, requests for funds, information about reclaiming one's property. The reason that these are contained in the Archives is that the State Department acted as a substitute post office

jority of these short pieces do have

comprehensive collection of documents in the world on the genocide set into motion by the Young Turk regime in 1915. Adalian has also included materials on

Then a scholar and critic of litera-

during the war, relaying messagei and funds to the extent possible.

Adalian has accomplished a monumental task, both in documenting the Armenian Genocide and making those documents accessible to anyone. A copy of the collection is not cheap; it is slightly over $4,000, but given its importance and the vast resources it makes available, The Armenian Genocide in the U.S, Archives belongs in every university library and in Armenian centers around the world.



Roget Smith



the com-

of the traditional short story,

such events, characters and dialogue. But here they are combined with other features that are virtually absent from the American short story, namely allegory and meditative monologue. As a result, there is a surreal quality to some of the best pieces, while the less successful ones buckle under the burden of mixed styles and symbolism. as narTators,

Karabents experimented with hybrid forms because such experiment gives vigor to artistic practice and also because he wanted to combine traditional features of Armenian writing with the American short story. These combinations are very ambitious and modestly successful. They involve adaptations of the work of Samuel Beckett, especially Waitingfor Godot,the style of whose

absurdist dialogues Karapents' tragicomic buffoons Marcos and Kiracos emulate in their

own tragicomic dialogues; and of Raymond Carver, whose justly famous "What we talk about when we talk about love" Karapents echoes both in some titles like "When we say that which we never tell and cannot say" and in several dialogues. What is theArmenian tradition in which Karapents can be located? The short answer is, none. He did not aspire to be the Krikor Zohrab or Shahan Shahnour of our time. He took very great risks because he believed that both his own and Armenian American life

Hakob Karapents, Return & Tiger and other short stories, Translated by Tatul Sonentz-Papazian (Blue Crane Books, Watertown, M?., 1995), 142 pages.







Hakob Karapents was afriend with whom I corresponded about books and Armenian life for many yeqrs; yet I think his memory would be better seryed iJ'l did not write as a fi"iend but as a literary critic, w r it e s K hac hi g Tololyan.

Tromloted by


and art needed new, hybrid, synthetic forms.

True, the influence of two very dissimilar artists can be discerned: one is, oddly and unexpectedly, Avetik Isahakian's philosophical poem, Abu Lala Mahari, some of whose melancholy allegory, mixed with moralism, gets into the meditations here. The other presence is that of William Saroyan, who is spe-

cifically evoked by Karapents, and with whom Karapents' narrator identifies because both lost a parent when young. But despite these occasional influences, Karapents is an original. He has no clear ancestors. Whether his influence will engender literary descendants is a difficult question. Some authors influence younger authors in their lifetime:

Vahe Oshagan's poetry comes

to mind.

Karapents has not had such influence. His individuality is of a different kind. The stories and meditations collected here are most successful in conveying a persistent sense of melancholy solitude, though their author lived in close contact with admiring friends. The solitude is due to earlier breaks which later love and friendships cover up but do not heal. The book's first piece,

"My father was to tell me something,"


wisely placed, because the frank and painful account it gives of repeatedly intemrpted and never completed communication between a father and son is at the core of the book, and provides its psychological model. It establishes Karapents as an explorer of the themes which Marc Nishanian has magisterially identified as the axis of much diasporan writing: the catastrophic break that keeps repeating itself.

This break has many forms in the book.

It is the break

between Armenia and the Di-

aspora (Karapents mentions that his father fought to build the first Republic of 1918192O and was forced to flee from it). The break between a son and a father whom pain silences (Karapents'father lost not only Armenia but his wife when their son was very young). The break between a father fated to live under narrower Persian horizons while the son leaves for America, a second diaspora. The autobiographical narrator describes father and son "surrendering to alienation before reaching each other; before being in communion; before getting to know one another." The son leaves never to return, for such

return is impossible. "Is he ever coming back? Who has ever come back?" the narrator asks, and later adds: "It's always that way.

They all go somewhere, never to return to their place. Upon return, the place is unrecognizable." Memories of rupture and the knowledge that return is impossible haunt Karapents' text. They are embodied in the form of the tiger of the title story. This tiger is both the threatening, shadowy fear lurking in the dark forest of the mind, as in William Blake's famous poem, and an imagined companion (as in the cartoon strip "Calvin and Hobbes"). Incidentally, one of the endearing characteristics of Karapents' prose is his attempt to conjoin and juxtapose not

The break I have mentioned is re-enacted

under many guises: between friends like

Marcos and Kiracos; between lovers; between acquaintances such as the Karapentslike character who reaches out to, but cannot

connect with Jimmy Jackson, a Black man whom he aspires to befriend. Karapents' autobiographical narrators are unable to forget the past and their origins.

Throughout, Karapents' characters exist in pairs. One is always in the role of the father but also the father-land, the lost homeland, while the other is separated from it by a loving yet painful alienation, condemned to diaspora. The model of all these failures to bridge the gap is the distance of the son from his father. It is a separation which is always painful but also energizing and em-

powering, because it drives the artist to renewed attempts to fathom it and to attempt to bridge it. At the end of the first story, he writes of his father: "I am what he was; I am what you all are; only now I understand my father." Tatul Sonentz-Papazianuses the word "only" very well at that juncture. Karapents means that "only now,when it is too late to tell him, do I understand my dead father." But he also means that there is still something positive that has happened, after all the failures: a lot did not change , only (herein the sense "but") now I do understand my father. That is a resonant claim.

only theArmenian andAmerican but also the high culture of Anglo-American civilization and its quotidian, routine pleasures, found so

often in urban life and the media.




By Khachig Tototyan 43




One of g,oalie Harutiun Abrahamian's many saves during the first ArmeniaSpain g,ame, held in May in Yerevon's Hrazdan Sports Stadium.



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WHOLE, NEW BALL GAME Tt had been a long time since so many I peopte had crowied into the Hrazdan Isports

Stadium. The occasion was one of

playing by the Spanish, and in part thanks to

excellent handwork by goalie Harutiun

ropean Union Football Association, and this makes possible the advancement of football


in Armenia.

the European Championship Qualifying

in June, the Spanish sent the Armenians home

Not only will Armenia's national team benefit from this membership, but so will club teams such as Shirak, the Armenian champion, which will play in Poland onAugust 8. On August 10, Ararat will play in the European Club Cup against Poland. Prior to


that game,

Abrahamian and the national team had

matches-this one against Spain. Flags

one more chance to score a victory. This time,

waved. Children danced. The national anthem played and the band saluted the president and his cabinet. Spectators drank cold beer and ate salted sunflower seeds purchased from the hundreds of vendors lined up along the entry. They cheered, cursed, offered advice, and now and then, forgot the name of the new national team-Hayastan- and instead

sloppy playing by the Armenian side gave Macedonia a 2-2 tie inMay even after a halftime score of 2-0. In the game played in Spain

repeated the old, familiar "Ararat." Since 12 of the national team's 22 players are from Ararat (and another five from Shirak) the

mistake went unnoticed. In the end, Armenia's loss (0-2) was seen as a victory of sorts by devoted observers

Belgium on October 7, Armenia will doubtless get knocked out ofthe European Cham-

who were worried that the loss would greater. It



part because of sloppy

These together with two losses to Cyprus (0-0,0-2) and one to Belgium (0-2), and with

it will play friendly games in France against top club teams, an opportunity that the Armenian teams have not had

only four games to go in the preliminaries-

for several years.

twice against Denmark on August l6 (in Yerevan) and on November 11, against

of the Soviet system left a gap that is just

Macedonia again on September 6 and against

pionships next summer. Never mind, say the devotees. The best part is that Armenia has now joined the Eu-

being filled. The European connection will begin to make possible the development of youth training schools and camps, such as Ararat has just started. The European presence will also force forward the upgrading of football facilities, such

as the

Hrazdan Stadium.







L955 -1995



As in other social spheres, the collapse


HAIGAZIAN celebrates



For news about your alma mater and more information about participating in the celebrations, clip and send the attached address coupon to:

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of 19


ARA PARSEGIAN ON THE OFFENSE "Everything was going great guns" for Ara Parseghian during his golden years. Then, last fall, the legendary Notre Dame football coach [16qrn for having - of Indiana into two molded the Fighting Irish number one finishes in national college football chapionships- and his wife Katie were hit by what Parseghian described as "a bolt of lightning." Three of their four grandchildren were diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Disease Type C, a rare, incurable childhood disease of which there are only 600 known cases. NPC is a genetic disorder that keeps cholesterol from being properly metabolized in the spleen, liver and brain. At present, it is almost always fatal. The coach and his son and daughter-

in law came up with a game plan. They formed the Notre Dame, Indiana-based Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation to find a cure. Ten years ago, Parseghian said, there would have been no hope. "But with the advancement in genetics, 95 percent of chromosome 18, where the defective cell that causes NCP is, has been mapped out. We specifically have an opportunity to find the defective cell, and test enzymes to help in the metabolism of the cholesterol. "The way one research scientist put it to me, normally it would have taken ten years to map the five percent left of chromosome 18. We'll have three or four scientists working on it fulltime by June. "It's possible that tomorrow one of the scienrisrs will find the defect. But the estimate is it will take a year." At the same time, another approach is also being taken. Different herbs and compounds are being tested on the group of cells that have the defect before it is actually isolated. This work is being done with computer


future. The research may also, as the foundation's literature declares, "help thousands of adults fighting heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's Disease and other disorders that appear to be related to the metabolism of cholesterol." It isn't that Parseghian doesn't know about pain and struggle. He never knew his grandfathers; in fact most of his family disappeared in the 1914-1915 Genocide, he says.

Growing up


Akron, Ohio, "I listened

I absorbed enough to get a of the disaster of it. But my attitude

to the stories sense

has been

to face


challenge when confronted

with it." Parseghian has had experience with tragedy before. He was national chairman of

Karapetian has worked ertensively an

independently to identity and compile th nqmes ond locations of over 2000 Armenia mo nume nt

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and a longtime board member. Ara and Katie's oldest daughter suffers with multiple sclerosis, as does Ara's sister. The disease is not always fatal, but Katie's afflicted brother died of it. the


By Ara Piranian

Parsegian with son, Michael, in 1963

s out


de Arme

hard to pick up a map ol Karabakh ft'swithout seeing Samvel Karapetian's ! Iname in the

credits lor either cartogra-

phy or research. Trained neither in map-making nor in computer design, Karapetian is responsible for over a dozen maps of Armenian historical sites and monuments-none of them in Armenia. "There are plenty of experts who have

been working on Armenian historic landmarks. It is the architectural remnants on his-

toric Armenian lands which need to be accounted for," he explains, from his home in Yerevan, which is also a library and work space.

His grandfather was from the Archesh region of Van, and Karapetian's interest in Armenian monuments developed from an immediate curiosity about his father's roots.

models and the help of pharmaceutical

He has never traveled to Western Arme-


nia, but has wandered extensively through Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, studied

Parseghian knows that the battle is not yet won. Realistically, the two girls, who are only 3 and 6, and whose symptoms are not yet as severe, have better odds of surviving because of the work of the foundation than does their brother Michael. But he said that while the foundation's work may not be able to benefit Michael in time, it certainly will benefit children in the



the terrain and the monuments, and photographed and charted ancient Armenian in-

scriptions and newly-discovered monuments. Among his unique studies are the

inscriptions gathered from the left bank of the Kur River, and compiled in a volume that still waits publication by the Archaeology and

Ethnography Institute.







.i, ,T


He is not a cartographer, exactly, he explains. He utilizes existing physical maps to place and identify sites. He is not a librarian, either, but he has compiled an index of newspaper sources on various monuments. In the 1980s, Karapetian worked with

Last fall

Lily Vorperian was


by the National Endowment for the Arts

for her lifelong work in the craft of

Armenian embroidery. She was one of eleven American folk artists to receive a National Heritage Fellowship during ceremonies in Washington D.C. National

the Monuments Preservation Commission. There was no financing for the many and difficult travels which such work requires.

only $10,000 fellowship and are selected

He turned to the Germany-based RAA (Re-

on the basis of authenticity, excellence and

search on Armenian Architecture) which

significance within a particular artistic

helps finance his travels, film and other nec-

tradition. Despite her familiarity with eighteen other regional Armenian embroidery styles, Marash embroidery, known for its difficult

essary expenses. Karapetian's work is a worthy addition to the RAA archives, which con-

sist ofphotographic and architectural information on thousands of Armenian churches, forts, monasteries and other monuments in historic Armenia. Karapetian's most recent work is a map of Armenian historical sites and monuments in Georgia. Adetailed listing of over 600 such locations was the result of years of research and travel.

His work is also evident in


Gharabagh volume of the Documents ofArmenian Architecture series, as well as in the many brochures RAA prepares about various well and little known historic places in and around Armenia.


By Gohar Sahakian

Heritage Fellows are awarded a one-time-

and complex stitchery, rich color combinations and intricate designs, is Vorperian's expertise. The bold patterns characteristic of Marash work are built from clusters of squares or crosses which in turn are created with interconnected herringbone stitches.

Vorperian has made Marash embroidery her life's work. She has practiced her craft since the age of twelve when she first leamed to embroider from

hours a day, with some pieces taking up to

six months to complete. In a recent

interview with the Los Angeles Times, Vorperian says, "I want to tell the world through my work that the Armenian people are very much alive and we are creating in velvet, in silver and gold." Beyond keeping a tradirion alive by

reproducing the demanding standard

patterns, Vorperian creates her own designs

by devising variations on the Marash style. Recently,

her pillows, tablecloths and wall hangings are also adorned with khatchkars,

the Armenian alphabet and lines from

Armenian poetry. Folklorist Susan Auerbach says of Vorperian, "not only is her workmanship in a complex technique superb, but her intricate designs bring Marash work to a new aesthetic level, while still keeping to traditional forms. Marash embroidery is the vehicle through which she expresses her creative energy and vision, as well as her passionate cultural pride."

elderly refugee women who visited her family's home in Aleppo.



Vorperian's motivation has only grown. Waking up at 5 a.m., she works about eight




By Sylva Dakessian


YSffiy ffi



"W *T{s r$*sffiXiw$t" rNrrf' *dl#s Iffill


While their parents argued, this year's high school

graduates celebrated. They took their last examinations and hit the streets of Yerevan eyen as the

traditional "Last Bell" rang. Meanwhile, their parents and teachers were at odds over whether to institute an annual $150 fee



eyertheless. thousands o.f them N

had just .finished

paying $500 to $1000 fctr tutoring in two

sub jec'ts.

Photographer Rouben Mangasarian has been a

photojournalist since 1984. Over the last seven o.f those years, he has beconte know,n as the "war photographer" and his shots from the war in Karabakh have appeared in dozens of publications fromL'Express ro AIM. No more, says Mangasarian. Betu,een the ceasefire in Karabakh and the upv,ard turn in Armenia's economy, now he makes a living shooting football games, such as the Armenia-Spain game of the European Championship Qualifying Matches.







A 700-year-old khac'hkar nov' stands at the entrance oJ a 50-year old institution. At the United Nations in New York, a l3th century khachkar, originally Ji'om the Monastery of Geghard, wqs presented to the UN in a special ceremony attended by UN General Secretary Boutros Boutros Ghali. On the occasion of the organization's 50th anniversary this year, Arntenia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Alerander Ar:oumanian ntade the prescntatittn and the c'onnection between old and new, betw,een old peoples and new, stales.

The works of two installation artists from Armenia formed the Armenian Pat,illion

at the 46th Art Biennale of Venic'e, open through October 15. Curated by Sonia Balassanian, the pavilion was one of only two from the CIS country. Garen Andreassian's Reality, Process, Control and Samuel Baghdassarian's Accident/ Experience demonstrated that Armenia, "a countt'y with a long and splendid artistic

tradition still has something vital to contribute to our emerging world culture," commented Balassanian in the exhibit's 32 page catalog,ue.





ffiWWWffi ffiffiffiffiffiffi-ffi ffiffiWK Dear Mom, Yesterday was April 24 and I decided to go to where the Karabakh soldiers are bur-

ied. It is a little outside the city. I went in the morning and it was a really surreal ex-

perience. At the bottom of the hill, it was all green and there was a small lake. I walked up a windy road following some other people. When I got up to the top, it was odd to see how dry and rocky was the hilltop. You couldhear alonely dudukplaying. There weren't many people up there, but there were a lot of graves.There were many more graves being dug, getting ready for more people to come and join. I don't kow why I decided to come here and not Tsitsernakaberd. Lena had sent me a book called Rise the Euphrates and it started out with the Genocide. I was full of the book in my head and that really set the tone for my walk. Back in the city, it was odd how everything else, including Yerablur, seemed so far away. This moming, I was talking with Joe. He's a professor from Indiana and he's here doing some research and teaching. These past few days he hasn't been feeling well and has been really depressed. He was even

looking for a counselor from the university or the embassy. (I was really amazed that no one has any mental health support systems, even with all the foreigners here.) I felt bad for Joe. He's just not able to cope. He has intemalized everything he sees and

feels guilty about a lot of what he sees around him; he feels that he hasn't accomplished anything ormade any changes, and has let everyone down, includng himself.

I don't know why I'm telling you all this, but it struck me today, what is it that makes some people survivors and others not.

More next week. Love to all. Keep sending me their news. It helps me feel connected.

Lots ofhugs, G.


Dear Sis, Since some version of this letter may also end up with Lynn, I better be careful what I say. But, as I sit here, I really think there are more stars here than Arizona even. of course the fact that the Azeris just last night blew up the only two lines bringing natural gas into the country helps. The streets and buildings are so dark-the only thing between me and heaven are the top lights of the taxis across the street. That and my flashlight as I walk across pitch-black, deserted intersections. Even the flashlight distinguishes me from the rest of the citizenry, The locals are so used to dark that they have acquired night vision. They can maneuver stairs, potholes, everything without the need for a flashlight. You can get used to anything they say. They have. I haven't. I haven't yet figured out that there is no such thing as a quick dinner here. The rice and lentil pilaf that was our last resort at home is the product of great planning here. You can't always find rice in the stores. And when you find it, often the grains are small and crushed-the guaranteed road to mush that no one will eat. when you do find the rice, it must be washed. But that's nothing compared to what you have to do to the lentils. The Istanbul-Armenian poetZahrad has a poem about lentils and words: the process of diligently cleaning, separating, discovering, discarding, refinding. That's what you have to do for about an hour to two cups of lentils before you can start on what other people consider a quickie Middle Eastem favorite. The first time I unwittingly began this process, I got so caught up I didn't have the patience to listen to the local version of a precinct-walker who wanted me to sign a petition to get his guy on the ballot for the upcoming elections. The candidate's name I don't even remember, but I haven't forgotten that he's the president of Armenia's Millionaires Club. Would-be or real, I don't know, but neither would surprise me. The number of brand new, sparkling, gorgeous Mercedes, Jaguars, BMWs and fancy Japanese cars hasn't ceased to surprise me. Local plates, too. These aren't summer visitors. I'm tempted to say "summer visitors like us." Is that what we are? The kids keep hoping that's the case. When we get back home is the beginning of every other paragraph. But just yesterday one of them said, look, when we come back, we need to go to a better school. Aha! So we are coming back? I always knew it, now they're thinking that way too? It's funny that schools are the focus for them. These are the kids who wouldn't play hooky even to go to Disneyland, now waking up with stomachaches, headaches, and every other kind of disease, just to avoid the principal, comrade whatsHerName. I know you think the Comrade days are over, but this woman still lives them. The kids' yuppie westem Armenian names weren't good enough for her. She sat down to actually think of alternativesl One of the very caring and able teachers on her staff called me in one day to see if I was aware that the kids were having trouble adjusting. She understood that Russian wasn't the only class that would give them trouble. After all, their kitchen Armenian has never included the requisite vocabulary for Botany or Ancient History classes. So, tell me, how do you say piston, stamen and food chain in Armenian? Thank God the idea of little comer grocery stores (a Ia Greenwich village) has made it. once a day one of the kids gets thrown out of the house to go buy something useful. Bread, cucumbers, cheese, rice. Yesterday it was Boric Acid for the ants who sublease from us. We live on what has to be the busiest comer in Yerevan. Upstairs from the Children's Art Museum. Next door to the Puppet Theatre. Across the street on one side is Levon Travel. On the other side is a permanent row of taxis whose drivers know our entire life story. They probably also know the color of our underwear since we're on the second floor, and our windows don't have curtains. You know why I miss the washer-dryer? Not for the convenience, but for the privacy. The balcony clothes line on the other hand, says more about our lives, than hours over coffee and goodies. You can write and tell me what happened to oJ Simpson. Not that it matters here.

Love, 50





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The Future of Democracy - September 1995  

Armenian International Magazine | The Future of Democracy - September 1995

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