Saturday, May 29, 2010

Soon it may be illegal to sit... at all, anywhere in Armenia

UPDATE: On May 29, Vardges Gaspari was taken into police custody (from RFE/RL, Arm. only). I have not yet seen any more information of his further detainment or release, though there were initial assurances by police that he would be released quickly.

With the completion of the underground parking lot under Liberty Square, the Square itself is now open, has been open, for a few days.
And on May 28, a small group of opposition activists, including Vardges Gaspari (known for his sit-ins) and Tigran Arakelyan (both former political prisoners), Vladimir Karapetyan of HAK and others of the HAK youth, chose to express their basic and supposedly 'protected' rights of freedom of speech, expression, and gathering.

But that is not protected in Armenia. And especially not in Liberty Square.

Just how scared must this regime be, that it seems within minutes not only police, but red berets, had swarmed around those sitting, and had starting not only arguing, but grabbing, pushing and shoving those seated and walking around. There are two videos that I've seen (a1plus and rfe/rl).

The number of police and red berets that are present is unbelievable. And the more people sit, the more the police and red berets become agitated, trying to remove them, and even trying to provoke the protesters, with grabbing, twisting and shoving. One segment shows a police officer repeatedly pushing Tigran Arakelyan, whose clearly visible hands are not even near the policeman. When they threaten to arrest Vardges Gaspari, he offers them his wrists - they clearly don't know what to do with that response, and later, he lays down, holding his protest sign to his chest. The police and red berets are unable to actually explain WHY they are trying to remove the protesters, unable to answer what law is being breached by having individuals sit on the ground, except for one time, when a red beret says "because it is an 'action' [political action or act]".

Vladimir Karapetyan points out to one of the police, that one month ago, we gathered, and there were no problems. We gathered, many people, and there was no problem. The policeman is completely confused, and says when? April 6, Karapetyan answers. Which of you [police] were here? Not a single one of you, because you were at home, with your families and children. And everything was normal, calm. Because there were no police. The response: a moment of a befuddled blank look, and then back to... You have to leave this area.... Back to playing the broken record they're ordered to... For those who don't remember, that's when FIDH was in Yerevan, and ended up joining the peaceful protest.

I watched the video, and wondered, where oh where is my Bazaz? I thought maybe he was trying to hide in the shadows, until I paid closer attention. Early in the a1plus segment, Vladimir Karapetyan gets shoved by someone, and then says "Mr. Melkonyan..." And, in fact, it is he, my Bazaz, stomping around like a rooster who has had too much coffee, ordering the removal of this person, shoving that person, yelling at this policeman, grabbing another protester... more stomping, and ordering of more backup ("Get ten people and come over"), and more stomping.

Bazaz, jan, no brown suit (that you were wearing that day), or black, or grey, or even pink, can mask your essence, can hold back your true feelings, so you may as well wear your army fatigues or police uniform. But, if you're going for a new look, may I suggest a pink silk shirt with white cuffs and collar, I hear it is all the rage in Yerevan these days.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Armenia's Oligarchs - New Pokemon Characters, or, Agents of Insanity?

Haykakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times) recently had an article called "They tried to fabricate a criminal case against Levon Ter-Petrossian." The picture that went with it is the one I've posted here.

What is notable here, aside from the article itself, is the immediate reaction to the photograph itself. The armenian version of the article had the following as the first comment (which is echoed in a later one as well):

Հարգելի խմբագրություն.....սրա նկարը մի տպեք... ՄԵՂՔ ԵՆՔ։ Նորմալ մարդիք եք...սադիստությաուն մի արեք, այս ԱՆԱՍՈՒՆԻՆ քիչ տպագրեք, միայն սրա լկտի տեսքից մարդ հոգեկան խանգարում կստանա։

Which translates roughly into:
Dear editors... don't post this guy's picture... HAVE SOME PITY (ON US). You're normal people... don't be sadistic, print few [pictures] of this dumb brute, just the sight of his depraved look is enough to cause psychiatric problems

Blogger Svejk notes in the article comments and on his blog that the picture reminds him of some cartoon he can't quite remember, and later realizes that it reminds him of Pokemon characters. It does kind of look like this one, which I found on the web:

So, for anyone who was considering doing an informal survey of what people think of these guys... you've got a good place to start right here:

These guys may be shoo-ins for the next, newest, and bestest ever Pokemon characters, now from the Caucasus...

So powerfully crazy and crazily powerfuly that just a look drives you insane!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cosmonauts wear pink

I was about to comment on today's Dodi Gago Cosmonaut article in HZH - it seems others made the connection as well...
Someone please tell why and how on earth (no pun intended) an oligarchic party leader who is part of the ruling coalition of what is basically a police state got a medal named for a cosmonaut, and that for:

"making large personal contributions to help keep the reputation and fame of cosmonautics high in CIS countries"

The best part in the article is:

"According to some unspecified information, Gagik Tsarukyan is building a spacecraft in the basement of his palace in Arinj which he will present to “NASA” (USA) for free, and thus will be the first man to go to Mars. Quite seriously."

As GoldenTent noted on Twitter, "Now we know where he buys shirts!"

And as Nazarian pointed out in the comment in the prior post:
"It's the distinctive color pattern of the outfits that the Armenian cosmonauts wear.
Հայ կոսմոնավտները վարդագույն են հագնում:"

Hey, maybe he didn't want to be a Human Rights lawyer when he was younger. Maybe he wanted to be a cosmonaut, and still does!

Really... what is going on here???

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oooow, it hurts my eyes!!!

I just can't get enough of this picture. I saw it first on Haykakan Zhamanak/Armenian Times, almost fell out of my chair, and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Dodi Gago's shirt has bored a permanent hole in my memory.

Its not just the pink, not just the fact it is so shiny it creates a glare, or the white collar and sleeves, or the subtle light and dark pink stripes in the fabric (apparent only to those who take the time, and care enough, to look). Its all of it.

It's that a man, who is a well known oligarch and businessman, per rumor involved in various type of questionable activities, the leader of a political party, and not a petite man at that (the only thing petite might be the height of his neck, but not the width), is wearing that shirt.

There are all kinds of styles out there, and I dont have a problem with any of them. And all over the world men wear pink regardless of sexual orientation, that's not the issues either. Like I said, its all of it together.

Maybe its because deep down I'd like to believe that despite all evidence to the contrary, he has a delicate soul; that deep down he hates big brawn and truly appreciates fine art; that he dislikes big business and wants to live as a hermit with a vow of silence in the mountains of Armenia; that he likes to watch rainbows and kittens, and would never think of hurting an animal; and that he secretly hates the position he is in and dreamt of being a human rights lawyer when he was a young boy.

On Civilitas, Oskanyan, and Meghri...

Now, I've put up a number of posts in the past about my, shall we say skepticism, regarding Oskanyan, and Civilitas. Putting aside the rampant rumors that Oskanyan wants to, and wanted to, run for president, I've commented mostly on the "irony" of the organization, Civilitas. That is, the selective mutism of the organization regarding the true issues in Armenia today, from the existence of political prisoners, to beating of youth, to the eviction of individuals from their homes, just blocks from the posh Civilitas office- not to mention the absolute silence regarding protest walks that happened just under Civilitas' nose on Northern Avenue. I suppose it is much more comfortable to sit in a nice chair and have a nice debate about what needs to be done and then write a memo about it, but ignore the hard realities that exist... especially when Oskanyan helped create them. Remember, Oskanyan had quite the position of power during Kocharyan's regime, culminating in being his voice, his face, during the March 1 events.

So what's new? There is a blog called Septemberi21, written by Vahagn Ghukasyan, which just recently touched on this topic (Ghukasyan has written a number of booklets, one of which I have the pleasure of owning, on the actions of the corrupt Armenian regime, including October 27).

Ghukasyan, among others, finds himself the recipient of emails from Civilitas - emails with nice, narrative opening letters inviting the recipient to follow links to statements or websites about the activities of Civilitas. And, Ghukasyan's post explains WHY he refuses to follow these links. Civilitas is associated with Oskanyan, he writes, and he considers Oskanyan a traitor. A traitor because of his double-speak, his hypocrisy, and his lies, regarding the potential trade of Meghri, and just how seriously it was considered during the time of Kocharyan-Oskanyan...

...[and this part I'm adding in myself] double-speak, hypocrisy and lies that were a means to an end, to a deal that would serve not the Republic of Armenia, not Nagorno-Kharabakh, not the citizens of Armenia or of NK, but a deal that would serve a corrupt few who had taken Armenia hostage, for their own personal gain...

On another tangent, the list of board members has some interesting names on it. I wonder, did those honorary board members do their research, before joining?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Armenia's Police Reality: Twilight Zone meets Kafka

Arthur Sakunts is a human rights defender who has been very outspoken about the Khalafyan murder. So it is not surprising that the SIS is now trying to blame Sakunts for spreading misinformation to the press.

This just gets more and more ridiculous. From the big-mouthed Alik Sargsyan (follow mention of him on twitter! #nonuthinalik) who can't even offer proper condolences or an apology, to the persistent claim that it was suicide - with all fingerprints wiped off of the knife, no stab wounds in Khalafyan's shirt, two stab wounds to the stomach, magical knowledge and access to a kitchen knife in the room at the police station, knife marks on Khalafyan's chest, and bruising all over his body - and they still want to call it a suicide, to the hasty departure of two of Khalafyan's co-arrestees out of Armenia.

Forced Suicide, maybe. But forced suicide is still Murder, and maybe its even worse.

At the rate this is going, next thing you know they'll be trying to blame Sakunts for what happened to Khalafyan. I'm sure the regime is just looking for any excuse to quiet Sakunts, and throw him in prison (they've done it before - but that's no surprise).