Sunday, 21 August 2016

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RFE/RL Report
Armenia Wins Its First Olympic Gold In Two Decades
August 16, 2016
Suren Musayelyan

Greco-Roman wrestler Artur Aleksanian won in the 98-kg final at the
Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, on August 16 to bring the first
Olympic gold medal to Armenia in 20 years.

The 24-year-old native of Gyumri defeated a Cuban opponent, Yasmany
Daniel Lugo Cabrera, 3-0 to earn an Olympic title, which is only
second in the history of Armenia's participation in Olympic Games as
an independent nation.

The country's only other Olympic gold was achieved by another
Greco-Roman wrestler Armen Nazarian at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta,

Aleksanian, a two-time reigning world champion, revealed a T-shirt
that he sported with the image of an Armenian soldier who died
heroically during a brief war with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh in
April as he participated in the medal ceremony.

"I am happy to win the first gold medal for Armenia after a 20-year
interval," Aleksanian said afterwards as quoted by the press service
of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia.

"I dedicate my victory to the Armenian soldiers who defend the borders
and all those who fell in the war," added the fair-haired athlete
affectionately dubbed "Polar Bear" by his fans.

Another Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler, Mihran Harutiunian, fell short
of a gold medal in a disputed 66-kg final bout, bringing a third
silver medal to Armenia at the current Games.

Weightlifters Simon Martirosian and Gor Minasian earlier won silver
medals in men's 105 and +105 kg weight divisions.

As of August 16, Armenia is 36th is the Olympics medal table led by
the United States (28 gold, 28 silver and 28 bronze medals).

By contrast, four years ago, at the Olympic Games in London, Armenian
athletes won only one silver and two bronze medals.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, who has been in Brazil to support
the country's Olympic athletes, acknowledged during an August 13
meeting with them that they often have to compete against
representatives of larger and stronger sporting nations, which he said
makes Armenian victories "even more so valuable". At the same time,
the head of state implied that small nations like Armenia are
particularly sensitive in terms of both achievements and setbacks in

"You have a lot of fans, but your first fans are the citizens of
Armenia, your coaches, the Olympic Committee# The most important thing
is that you can fully demonstrate your skills," Sarkisian said,
according to his press office.
Simon Martirosyan Wins Armenia’s First Medal at Rio Olympics
Martirosyan Wins Silver in Weightlifting (105 kg)
August 15, 2016 

Simon Martirosyan (b. 1997) became Armenia’s first medal winner at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after winning a silver in men’s 105 kg weightlifting on Aug. 15. Martirosyan lifted a total of 417 kg, and placed second only to Ruslan Nurudinov of Uzbekistan, who set an Olympic record with a total weight of 431 kg. 

Martirosyan has previously won a gold medal at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics and a bronze medal in the 2016 European Weightlifting Championships. 

A record number of 33 athletes are competing for Team Armenia in the 2016 Olympic Games; it is the most since 32 athletes participated in the 1996 games in Atlanta, Ga.—Armenia’s first post-independence Olympic Games.
Some Azerbaijanis demand lynching Chunayev for losing to Armenia’s Arutyunyan in Rio
The loss by Greco-Roman wrestler Rasul Chunayev, who represented Azerbaijan at the 2016 Summer Olympics that are held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will seem to cause big trouble for him in his country. 

Chunayev’s semifinal loss Tuesday against Armenia’s Migran Arutyunyan has become the main topic of discussion in Azerbaijan, according to news agency of the country. 

Azerbaijani users of social networking websites have been divided into two respective camps. Some have severely criticized the Azerbaijani athlete, and these criticisms have often turned into insults, whereas others defended and supported him. 

A “very smart” criticizer even suggested signing a letter of demand that the wrestler be stripped of his Azerbaijan citizenship. 

In addition, calls have been made toward lynching Rasul Chunayev upon arrival at the airport. 

RFE/RL Report
Russia Replaces EU As Armenia's Top Trading Partner
August 12, 2016
Emil Danielyan
For the first time since the mid-1990s, Russia surpassed the European
Union as Armenia's number one trading partner in the first half of
this year, official Armenian statistics show.

The National Statistical Service (NSS) reported this month that Russia
accounted for 26.4 percent of Armenia's foreign trade in that period,
compared with the EU's 25.3 percent share in the total.

The NSS said that Russian-Armenian trade grew by 12.4 percent to
almost $600 million on the back of a near doubling of Armenian exports
to Russia. Armenia's first-half trade with EU member states was up by
less than 2 percent.

The EU became Armenia's largest trading partner just a few years after
the break-up of the Soviet Union. It has since been the South Caucasus
country's main supplier of industrial equipment, cars and some
consumer goods. Europe has also been the principal destination of key
Armenian export items such as base metals and refined diamonds.

By the late 1990s, the EU was already generating roughly one-third of
Armenia's commercial exchange with the outside world. NSS figures show
that this proportion remained largely unchanged in the following

By contrast, Russia's share in Armenian foreign trade steadily
declined, standing at only 11.5 percent in 2004.

These trade patterns began slowly changing in 2012 amid rising
Armenian food exports to Russia and falling international prices of
copper and other non-ferrous metals, the single biggest source of
Armenia's export revenue. President Serzh Sarkisian's controversial
decision in 2013 to make his country part of a Russian-led trade bloc,
instead of signing a far-reaching free-trade deal with the EU, appears
to have only accelerated that trend.

Russia's commercial significance to Armenia kept increasing even after
a sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble caused trade between the two
countries to shrink by 18 percent last year. A fall in Armenia's trade
with the EU was even steeper.

According to the NSS, EU exports to Armenia collapsed by more than 30
percent in 2015, reflecting decreased consumer spending in the
country, which was in turn caused, in large measure, by falling
remittances from Armenians working in recession-hit Russia.

RFE/RL Report
Karabakh Leader Backs `Reasonable' Compromise
In Conflict Settlement
August 15, 2016
Ruzan Kyureghian
Nagorno-Karabakh -- Bako Sahakian, the President of breakaway 
Nagorno-Karabakh region speaks during a news briefing in Stepanakert, 
April 7, 2016 

Bako Sahakian, the president of Nagorno-Karabakh, believes it will 
take a "reasonable, fair and adequate" compromise to settle the 
long-running Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over the status of the 
region now controlled by ethnic Armenians. 

"We are prepared for [mutual] concessions if they do not disturb our 
country's security, if they are not creating opportunities for our 
adversary to launch new attacks against us," Sahakian said in an 
interview with the online newspaper of the French Parliament. 

According to the Karabakh leader, it was the "Armenophobic ideology" 
of the government in Baku that had paved the way for the outbreak of 
fresh hostilities and new loss of life in Nagorno-Karabakh earlier 
this year. 

More than 100 Karabakh Armenian soldiers, combatants as well as 
civilians were killed in four-day clashes in early April in which 
Azerbaijan also admitted dozens of casualties. Loss of life at the 
heavily militarized line of contact between the conflicting sides 
occurred albeit at a much smaller scale before and after the brief 

"A new round of talks aimed at solving the Karabakh problem will open 
if Azerbaijan honors the 1994 ceasefire agreement, if Karabakh rejoins 
the negotiations and the psychological barriers caused by Azerbaijan's 
revanchist policy are overcome," the Karabakh leader stressed. 

"Azerbaijan should be able to give up its chauvinistic policy towards 
the Armenians of Karabakh and its futile gamble and commit itself to 
respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of other peoples." 

Azerbaijan refuses to conduct direct negotiations with Karabakh's 
ethnic Armenian authorities despite the fact that Stepanakert was one 
of the signatories of the Russian-brokered truce 22 years ago. 

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham 
Aliyev, have met twice since the latest escalation of tensions in 
Karabakh to try to revive their peace talks that until then were 
conducted around the so-called Madrid principles - a set of proposals 
presented to the conflicting sides by Russia, the United States and 
France as the three nations co-heading the Organization for Security 
and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group. 

The principles that have not yet been agreed by Armenia and Azerbaijan 
basically envisage an interim status for Karabakh with an opportunity 
of a referendum at some future date in exchange for the return of the 
territories surrounding Karabakh to Azerbaijani control. The peace 
proposals ensure the right of all internally displaced persons and 
refugees to return to their former places of residence and suggest 
international security guarantees, including a peacekeeping operation. 

The latest Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting was hosted by Russian President 
Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on June 20 and was followed by 
speculations in Armenian media that Moscow was seeking to persuade 
Yerevan to agree to territorial concessions to Azerbaijan in exchange 
for much vaguer guarantees than even those offered under the Madrid 

This, according to some Armenian observers, fitted the pattern of 
Moscow's growing ties with Azerbaijan and its purported aspirations to 
see the oil-rich Caspian nation join its post-Soviet integration 
project - the Eurasian Economic Union - of which Armenia has been a 
member since last year. 

Officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert have dismissed the 
speculations. Addressing senior members of his government as well as 
leading representatives of the Armenian society on August 1, President 
Sarkisian reiterated that he excluded unilateral concessions in the 
resolution of the Karabakh conflict. 

"Karabakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. Never. I repeat once 
again: it is out of the question. I have dedicated my entire adult 
life to this. To get to the solution acceptable for my nation, I have 
always been prepared to sacrifice any post and my very life. It is 
like that today, it will be like that tomorrow," Sarkisian stressed. 

In his latest interview, Karabakh's Sahakian expressed his conviction 
that the international recognition of the region's independence from 
Azerbaijan will continue in the near future and will be more 
successful than before, which, according to him, will have a positive 
impact on stability in the South Caucasus. 

Since 2012, seven American states, one Australian state and the 
parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community of Spain have passed 
bills and motions in favor of Karabakh's independence from 
Azerbaijan. No UN member state, however, has recognized Karabakh's 
independence to date. 

British Journal of Photography
Aug 16 2016
Yosuf Karsh: An Armenian Refugee’s Pursuit of Greatness in Portraiture
Written by Tom Seymour

There is a brief moment when all there is in a man's mind and soul and
spirit is reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is
the moment to record," once said Yosuf Karsh, who is about to have his
first major London exhibition in 30 years at Beetles + Huxley.

Born in Armenia in 1908 to Christian Armenian parents, Karsh’s early
childhood was defined by the atrocities committed by Turkey against
the Armenian population at the start of the twentieth century.

His father was forced into hiding to avoid arrest and, in 1921 the
Karsh family were able to escape to Syria, accompanied by a donkey and
no belongings.

The course of Karsh’s life was changed when his uncle, George Nakash,
wrote to the family from Canada asking for help in his photography
studio. Karsh was sent on the 29-day trip from Beirut to Halifax in
the second-class deck to join his uncle in Sherbrooke, Québec.

His uncle recognised that the boy had a natural talent for photography
and sent him to join his friend and fellow portrait photographer, John
H. Garo, in Boston.

Garo encouraged Karsh to attend evening art classes where he studied
the Old Masters, specifically Rembrandt and Velázquez, and learnt to
utilise composition and lighting to portray a sitter to their best

In 1931 Karsh left Boston for Ottawa, with the hope that the capital
would afford him more opportunities to photograph dignitaries and
international visitors.

Fascinated by ‘greatness’, Karsh aimed to capture the essential
character of his sitters, photographing in a 60-year career names like
Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo
Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Joan Miró, Audrey Hepburn, Albert Einstein,
Fidel Castro and Martin Luther King.

A highlight of the exhibition is Karsh’s iconic wartime portrait of
Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Taken in 1941, whilst Churchill was
visiting Ottawa, the portrait was a career-defining break for Karsh.

Churchill refused to discard his cigar. Karsh responded by forcibly
taking the cigar from the politician’s mouth, managing to capture the
glare of the world’s most famous politician of the time.

Published worldwide by newspapers and magazines, the photograph
established Karsh’s international reputation and was one of the most
reproduced photographs in history.

On show will be Karsh’s 1951 portrait of Princess Elizabeth; his
portrait of Fidel Castro whilst Prime Minister of Cuba in 1971 – a
sitting fuelled by Cuban rum and Coke; Pablo Picasso in his ceramics
gallery in 1954; actress Audrey Hepburn in Paramount Studios in 1956;
playwright George Bernard-Shaw in 1943 when he was almost ninety;
Grace Kelly in 1956 when she was newly engaged to the Prince of
Monaco; Ernest Hemmingway in 1957, who requested to wear a sweater for
the sitting as he had seen Karsh’s portrait of Einstein in a sweater;
and Jacques Costeau in 1972.

By the time the Karsh studio closed in 1992 after nearly 60 years of
business, he had photographed every Canadian prime minister since
Mackenzie King, every French president since Charles de Gaulle, every
British prime minister since Winston Churchill and every U.S.
president since Herbert Hoover.

Gallery director Giles Huxley-Parlour says: “Karsh’s determination to
succeed, and thus his uncompromising focus on quality, on technical
innovation, on good manners and old-fashioned charm combined to create
images of singular power and longevity.”

Yosuf Karsh is exhibited at Beetles + Huxley from 20 September to 15
October 2016

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