Sunday, 28 August 2016

Armenian News...Artur Aleksanyan first medal since 1996

Araxie, a subscriber to Armenian News, has pointed out that 

the gold medal that Artur Aleksanyan was the first one since 1996!
Armenian neighborhoods of Aleppo come under rocket attack, 
no casualties reported
26 Aug 2016 

The Armenian neighborhoods of Aleppo came under rocket attack of the opposition militants on Wednesday, Arevelk reports, quoting its sources in Aleppo.

According to the source, the rockets fell in the area adjunct to the Armenian Evangelical Church in Aleppo. Head of the Armenian Evangelical community of Aleppo, Rev. Harutyun Selimyan confirmed no fatalities were reported.

He said there were children taking exams at the school at the moment of the attack. “They were lucky to survive,” Rev. Harutyun Selimyan said. He added, however, that the attack had caused serious material damages.

Other districts of Aleppo were also targeted by militants. Six were killed, dozens were wounded. 
Armenian brothers are among Forbes ranking of richest families 
of Russia

The family of Mikhail Gutseriev, Founder of BIN Group, tops, with a net worth of $9.8 billion, the 2016 ranking of the richest families of Russia, whichForbes business magazine has publicized.

Russian Armenian Sarkisov brothers are ranked sixth in this list.

They own more than 60 percent of the shares of Insurance Company Reso-Garantia.

The brothers’ real estate abroad accounts for the bulk of their wealth.

The Sarkisov’s net worth is estimated at $1.4 billion.
Money from sale of MFA former building to be used for repairing 
Yerevan streets

The money, which was received from the sale of the building
that also housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Armenia,
will be allocated for the repair of streets in capital city Yerevan.

The respective decision was approved at Thursday’s Cabinet session.

This amount, which totals approximately US$4,886,000, will be used for
filling up the cracks on and the current repair of Yerevan streets,
and maintenance of the external lighting network of the city.

In its stead, however, the Armenian state budget will allocate the
same amount to the reserve fund.

The building was sold to Tango construction company, whose proprietor
is Argentinean Armenian billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian.

Aside from purchasing this building, the company also built a new
government building complex, at its expense in downtown Yerevan, for
the MFA and four other ministries of Armenia.
Recent years have seen a steady decrease in the number 
of teachers in Armenia – both in government-run and in 
private schools. 

Specifically, 40,715 teachers worked in Armenia’s government-run schools in 2011-2012, 39,566 in 2012-2013, 38,483 in 2013-2014, 37,560 in 2014-2015. That is, annual staff reduction involved about 1,000 teachers. In 2015-2016, 35,975 teachers worked in Armenia’s government-run schools.

Vestnik Kavkaza
Armenian families are still living in containers dating to a 1988 quake
August 25, 2016
By Dan Carsen 

Back when Armenia was still a Soviet republic, it suffered an earthquake so devastating the USSR actually asked the United States for help.

It was in December 1988. Tens of thousands died and some half a million were left homeless. After local authorities realized how overmatched they were, shipping containers full of relief supplies flooded in.

So, picture desperate families, a harsh Armenian winter, and shipping containers everywhere. An immediate solution presented itself: People moved into the containers. They were better than freezing to death, but not much better. They lacked heating, cooling, plumbing, windows and wiring. Desperate people burned toxic quake debris and trash to cook and keep warm.

The situation was supposed to be temporary. For all its faults, the Soviet Union did provide housing for many. But soon the USSR went the way of so many of its crumbled Armenian buildings. Regional conflicts flared up and new nations struggled to adapt to a completely different economic system. Some of the struggles continue, and today, there are still families living in those same shipping containers.

Armenians call them domiks , Russian for “little houses.” In the hard-hit city of Gyumri alone, roughly 10,000 people — men, women, children, generations — still live in them. The domiks were barely habitable to begin with. Though some have improvised insulation and jerry-rigged wiring, they’re generally worse than they were before. After almost 30 years, they’ve rotted and they’re increasingly unstable. Life in the domiks today

Only tremendous effort and ingenuity keep the domiks from being fatally cold in winter and ovens in summer.

As I learned through interpreters, many of the domik families share a similar story: High unemployment drove a breadwinner to work abroad, often in Russia, but for reasons X, Y or Z, the money stopped coming.

Domik resident Melina grew up in and out of orphanages. She and the other residents only wanted their first names used in the story. Melina says she and her two children face a choice between having money for necessities and having their husband and father around. Artyom, a laborer who grew up in a domik, had been working in Russia but came back to his family when that opportunity dried up. Now he can’t find work, and they’re in debt. Melina says they just want their daughters to grow up healthy and have a chance at a comfortable life.

But between the various environmental factors and other symptoms of poverty, “domik kids” are sometimes stunted, often sick, and even more often ostracized at school.

And yet when I visited a cluster of domiks behind a gas station in Gyumri this summer, the families living there welcomed me into their homes.

One reason is that I’m traveling with Vahan Tumasyan. Through the Gyumri-based Shirak Centre aid group, he and others have been bringing domik residents firewood and food and have helped register them with authorities, so they’re officially “people” (with addresses).

There’s no real pattern to where the domiks are, except that they’re generally in undesirable spots, sometimes on land contaminated by defunct Soviet industrial plants. There are single, isolated domiks and there are larger clusters. Regardless, their inhabitants are basically squatters.

All this points to another reason — besides the generally welcoming culture — why we were invited in: When Tumasyan brings outsiders through, the domik families know they might get a new apartment.
“Twenty-eight years later the shipping containers have rotted, and they’re just awful, awful living conditions, especially for the children,” says Peter Abajian, director of the Paros Foundation , a small nonprofit working with the Shirak Centre to get the families into better housing. (Full disclosure: Abajian is married to my wife’s cousin.)

“Their parents have lived in them first and grown up in them,” he says. “And now these children are living in them. These kids have sort of lost track of what a normal life should be.”

The nonprofit partnership provides the money and paperwork needed to get families who sign agreements and meet other criteria into decent apartments. The groups also tear down vacant domiks, providing work, distributing salvageable materials and firewood, and improving the neighborhoods.

But even as Abajian hustles to raise funds from the Armenian diaspora, the numbers are daunting: It costs roughly $20,000 to move a family from a domik to an apartment. Do the math, and that’s a $50 million problem in Gyumri alone, far more than the nonprofits take in.

So the Paros Foundation is trying something else, too, with an eye toward the long term. 'Looking forward'

“The domik kids don’t need arts and crafts,” Abajian says. “They need a meal so they can think, so they’re not starving, so they can do some homework.”

They need other things too, which is why the Paros Foundation created Debi Arach — “moving forward” in Armenian, a year-old youth center in Gyumri meant to improve domik kids’ prospects through a holistic approach. It serves a total of 140 kids aged 6 to 17 in two groups that each come three times a week.

Housed in a rental building that used to be a restaurant and hotel, Debi Arach has computers, classes to reinforce school lessons, and vocational training. As Armenia modernizes, demand for IT experts is outpacing supply. Much of the training at Debi Arach is geared toward computer careers. “The promise is it will get you to a level where you’ll take care of your family, you’ll be able to rent a home and live a normal life here in Gyumri,” Abajian says.

In addition to its eight teachers, the center has a nurse, a psychologist, and maybe most importantly, places where kids can safely bathe and eat healthy food.

When the center started serving meals last year, Abajian says, students didn’t touch the salad. “It turns out they didn’t know what it was. They know bread. They also didn’t know how to sit at a table and eat together, so the teachers sat with them and created this family atmosphere they don’t have in the domiks. And most of them didn’t know how to use the bathrooms because a lot of their schools don’t have bathrooms either.”

Another thing domik kids lack is private space.

“So we’ve made sure that each kid has a locker here,” Abajian says. “They can store clean shoes to wear when they come. We’ve provided summer shoes and winter boots to make getting here easier.”

At the end of a long day of renovations on the building and coordinating a visit from an American student service group, I ask Abajian why he does this.

“It’s the kids, absolutely. We have to try to save them.”

(another example of the propaganda war with one-sided 
arguments that do not mention the principle of self-determination,
again originating from an Israeli source) 

Washington Times
Aug 24 2016
An ‘unfrozen’ conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
Without clarity by the West, another war in the Caucasus is 

Recently, one of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy functionaries made
another outrageous statement on the status of the Azerbaijani region
of Nagorno-Karabakh. Evgeniy Satanovsky, the head of Russian Institute
of the Near East, visited the separatist region (in contravention of
international law) in mid-June and declared: “As I understand it, the
issue that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, in terms of military logic
and from the standpoint of practical politics is completely closed.”
In an interview to the Azerbaijani news site, he followed
up with “Azerbaijan can grind any number of [its] people; it can use
for this purpose any amount of time and money, but it makes very
little sense, frankly. Unless, of course, [the Azerbaijani leadership]
does wish that the war spilled directly onto the territory of

This is an important view of those close to the Kremlin and expresses
Russia’s persistent disregard for international law. It is galling in
the context of Russia’s membership in the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, the group tasked with
resolving the now not-so frozen conflict, and given Russia’s repeated
assaults on the territorial integrity of its neighbors. This should
raise international concern and calls for a diplomatic response from
Washington and the other members of the Minsk Group. Given this caused
a major destabilization in the South Caucasus, critical for Western
Europe’s energy security, it is imperative to put Moscow on notice
that the West is aware that the hostilities unleashed by Armenia could
not have transpired without at least their tacit approval.

Compounding this, a serious escalation of the military conflict over
Karabakh in April prompted Armenian nationalists to raise the specter
of recognition in an attempt to unilaterally change its international
status. Armenian deputies initiated a bill to recognize independence,
and the country’s president indicated he recognizes the independence
of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In the aftermath of hostilities, Yerevan set the stage for recognition
of Karabakh as a possible scenario as a deterrent to further
Azerbaijani military successes, but later seemingly in retreat and
under international pressure, emphasized the negotiation process, and
Armenia’s “hope for a peaceful settlement.” Meanwhile, Baku responded
that recognition of the separatist regime would cause a new war. On
May 3, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated:
“Recognition of the Armenian illegal regime established in the
occupied territories of Azerbaijan, will mean the end of the official
Yerevan negotiation process within the OSCE Minsk Group. In this case,
Armenia will no longer retain a mandate to negotiate within the
framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. It will be a challenge to the
international community.”

Azerbaijan will no longer hold any negotiations with Armenia over
Karabakh if it dares to provide official recognition of its
independence in defiance of the international community. In addition,
Turkey’s government unequivocally supported Baku’s position.

Let us look at the hard facts and clarify the status of
Nagorno-Karabakh as an illegally occupied territory by the
Armenia-backed military forces. This territory has only been
recognized by other illegitimate states that exist under Russia’s
security umbrella, namely Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the
Transnistria. This is a clear demonstration of Moscow’s involvement
stirring trouble in this sensitive region.

The U.N. Security Council, U.N. General Assembly, the Council of
Europe and other international organizations do not recognize the
self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. All these international
bodies have repeatedly expressed support for the territorial integrity
of Azerbaijan. This position is enshrined in the relevant resolutions
of the United Nations: Resolution 822 (April 30, 1993), Resolution 853
(July 29, 1993), Resolution 874 (Oct. 14, 1993), Resolution 884 (Nov.
12, 1993), U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh;
Statement of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (OSCE, 17.03.2008);
General Assembly adopts resolution reaffirming territorial integrity
of Azerbaijan, demanding withdrawal of all Armenian forces (U.N.,
14.03.2008). In addition, the U.N., NATO, EU, Council of Europe,
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization of
Islamic Cooperation, and Organization for Democracy and Economic
Development do not consider elections held there to be legitimate as
Nagorno-Karabakh is illegitimately held territory.

In March 2008, the member states of the U.N. with 39 votes “pro” and
seven “con” and 100 abstentions, adopted a resolution recognizing the
existence of the Azerbaijani “occupied territories.” The U.N.
resolution demands “an immediate, complete and unconditional
withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories of
Azerbaijan.” Russia, the United States and France voted against the
resolution. These three countries serve as co-chairmen of the OSCE
Minsk Group.

If the members of the trans-Atlantic community (the United States and
France) continue their “muddle through” approach toward this
“unfrozen” conflict, another war in the Caucasus is inevitable.

• Alexander Murinson is a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center and
Bar Ilan University.

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