Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Armenian News ... A Topalian... Crime Bosses Rounded up!

RFE/RL Report
Armenian ‘Crime Bosses’ Rounded Up By Police
June 21, 2018
Tatev Danielian

The Armenian police reported two arrests on Thursday after raiding the homes of 
around three dozen men described as major crime figures.

A police statement specified the names as well as underworld nicknames of the 
individuals whose homes in Yerevan and other parts of Armenia were searched on 
Wednesday. It said law-enforcement officers found weapons, ammunition and 
“substances resembling narcotics” in some of them.

All of those men were then taken to police stations for further questioning. 
The statement referred to them as “thieves-in-law” and “criminal authorities,” 
terms commonly applied to crime bosses in the former Soviet Union.

A spokesman for the national police service, Zarzand Gabrielian, said two of 
them were placed under arrest. “They are Aleksandr Makarain nicknamed ‘Alo’ and 
Andranik Harutiunian nicknamed ‘Masivtsi Andik,’” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian 
service ( “The others were interrogated and released.”

Gabrielian added that the detained men have not been formally charged yet.

The police statement and a video attached to it said that the raids were 
sanctioned by courts as part of an unspecified “criminal case.” It did not 

The national police chief, Valeri Osipian, also declined to go into details 
when he spoke to journalists on Thursday. “Everyone in the Republic of Armenia 
must obey the laws,” he said vaguely.

Artur Sakunts, a veteran human rights campaigner, welcome the police raids, 
saying that they are part of the new Armenian authorities’ efforts to 
strengthen the rule of law in the country. “They are taking clear steps on the 
basis on the notion that the criminal underworld and its rules cannot be part 
of government,” he said.

Sakunts claimed that Armenia’s former leaders relied on reputed crime figures 
in falsifying election results. The latter will now be discouraged from any 
involvement in political processes, he said.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Minister Withdraws Resignation
June 21, 2018
Karlen Aslanian
Ruzanna Stepanian

Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mane Tandilian on Thursday withdrew her 
resignation which she tendered last week in protest against the Armenian 
government’s decision to complete a controversial pension reform.

Tandilian announced her decision after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian pledged 
to consider amending a new pension system that will become mandatory on July 1 
for all Armenians born after 1973.

Tandilian was one of the organizers of street protests in 2014 against the 
reform requiring those citizens to finance a large part of their future 
pensions through additional tax payments. The protests forced Armenia’s former 
government to make the new system, recommended by Western donors, optional for 
private sector employees until July 2018.

Shortly after Pashinian appointed her as minister last month, Tandilian 
proposed that this deadline be extended by one more year. The new government 
turned down the proposal, sticking to its predecessor’s plans. The only 
concession it made was to get the Armenian parliament to temporarily cut the 
new pension tax rate from 5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Tandilian cited the government’s stance when she stepped down on June 12.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Pashinian said that he did not accept 
the resignation. He said he and the minister have agreed to work together on 
“making that system more acceptable.”

“We need to dispel all doubts existing in the society and among ourselves in 
order to be sure that we are on the right track,” the premier told cabinet 
members. The new, partly privatized mechanism for retirement benefits needs a 
“very serious improvement,” he said without elaborating.

Shortly after the cabinet meeting, Tandilian wrote on her Facebook page that 
she will not resign after all. She said her ministry will draft amendments to 
Armenian pension legislation within the next two weeks. She expressed hope that 
they will be adopted by the parliament later this year.

The parliament, meanwhile, voted on Thursday to pass in the second and final 
reading a government bill that prompted the minister’s resignation letter.

Panorama, Armenia
June 21 2018
Armenian Helicopters ready to operate charter flights

Armenian Helicopters is already ready to carry out flights as the company has today been licenced by Armenia’s General Department of Civil Aviation (GDCA).

The air company founded in Armenia is set to operate charter flights through U.S.-manufactured Robinson R66 as well as European AIRBUS EC130T2 aircrafts in the near future both in the territory of Armenia and abroad.

The flights will enable the Armenian residents and foreign tourists to enjoy sights from a bird’s-eye view.

The company’s operation can boost Armenia’s aviation and the country’s attractiveness for foreign tourists, the civil aviation’s press service told
Armenian Helicopters also plans to invest around $10 million in the next three years and create new jobs.  

Arminfo, Armenia
June 20 2018
Baku attempts to take credit for Pashinyan's victory
Marianna Mkrtchyan. 

Baku tries to take credit for Nikol Pashinyan's victory. Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov is convinced that the Supreme Commander-in- Chief Ilham Aliyev brought down Serzh Sargsyan's government diplomatically, without using any weaponry, APA reports.

He also stated that the Azerbaijani military is trying by all means to defeat the enemy (Armenia). Hasanov also considers that Armenia has launched a massive information war against Azerbaijan. ''We all must put up a fight against the enemy. Armenian special service agencies are using social networking to cause us to lose our confidence.

Respected media representatives should beware of such provocations. I ask media workers to be careful. The media are a huge force. This force must join the fight against the enemy'', APA quotes Hasanov as saying.

Kent and Sussex Courier, UK
June 20, 2018 Wednesday
Audiologist James is jetting off to Armenia to give the gift of hearing
AN AUDIOLOGIST from Crowborough is returning to Armenia on his second hearing mission with Starkey Hearing Technologies.
James Owen, from Owen Hearing, on Croft Road in the town has been invited by Starkey to take part in the project.
Joining 14 other hearing audiologists from across the UK and Ireland - and a six-strong team from the hearing device manufacturer's European headquarters in Cheshire - James will travel 2,400 miles to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
James's visit is part of the worldwide Starkey Hearing Foundation initiative, which has provided over 1.9 million hearing devices in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to give the gift of hearing to those in need, helping them to achieve their potential. High-profile supporters include Richard Branson, Bill Clinton and Elton John.
An initial visit was undertaken last summer to carry out hearing screening tests and take ear impressions to identify recipients. Then in October, James and other audiologist volunteers flew out on phase one of the mission to fit over 1,800 people with hearing instruments - as well as counselling patients and supporting them with that all-important aftercare.
This month's visit will further build upon the work already undertaken.
James said: "I'm very pleased to be asked back to give the gift of hearing in Armenia.
"It is great to be involved in something that means so much more to the recipients who haven't got the facilities in the own communities.
"This is proof that the Starkey Hearing Foundation doesn't just visit once and leave with no support, it shows that what is given is for the long term with aftercare provided.
"When we last visited we fitted over 1800 people with hearing aids and that only scratched the surface. It's wonderful to be involved in continuing the support of the Armenian people."
According the World Health Organisation, more than 360 million people have disabling hearing loss, with the greatest number living in developing countries.
Unfortunately, less than three per cent can afford hearing aids or access to care.

The Independent, UK
June 21 2018
In the land of the massacres, the very last Armenians have been finally been found
Robert Fisk
Avedis Hadjian, author of “Secret Nation: The Hidden Armenians of Turkey”, sometimes appears out of breath, exhausted by his attempts to find his people’s ancestors and descendants
Following journalist and writer Avedis Hadjian across the mountains of eastern Turkey, through the snows and winds and those high villages which clasp to the rock of what was western Armenia before the Armenian genocide, is a bit like roaming the lands of Ninevah if Isis had won. Imagine the converted Christians clinging to their land under the clothes of Islam if Isis had not been destroyed, the Yezidi sex slaves sold into marriage but still passing on to their future children and grandchildren the fragments of a past life and an ancient language. For what was discovered by Hadjian in the fastness of Mush and Bitlis and Urfa and Erzerum and Marash was the bottom of the pond of history: the very last Armenians to survive in the land of massacre.
So deep is the pond that the author of this newly published book – “Secret Nation: The Hidden Armenians of Turkey” – sometimes appears out of breath, exhausted by his attempts to find his people’s ancestors and descendants, sometimes bravely failing because they will not talk or because they have just died. Perhaps it is because the light in the depths of the pond is of such cathedral-like gloom that historians have largely ignored Hadjian’s work; scarcely a review of this book has been published in Europe or America. Like the Armenia of the killing fields, it is as if it has never been.
In truth, we in the West have known of these “secret Armenians” for at least a decade, ever since Fethiye Cetin wrote of her Armenian-Turkish grandmother – inevitably the old lady was given a Muslim funeral for she was, as a Turk, a Muslim – and we all remember Hrant Dink, assassinated outside his newspaper office in Istanbul in 2007 because he remembered the Armenian genocide rather too much. But what Hadjian has done is to climb the tired old roads to the ancient villages of an unknown Turkey – to Garin, Van and Cilicia, where the survivors of the survivors, so to speak, of the first genocide of the twentieth century still exist.
They speak a kind of Armenian, those who remember the language of their race, and one of them even writes down the sounds of Arabic in Armenian script – he is quoting the Koran – which he does not understand. There may be up to two million of these souls, their identity as complex as their nationality; for who knows what identity is. Your religion? Your race? Your customs? Geography? A Turkish girl climbing a Christian Armenian holy mountain, Mount Maruta, frightened because her bag has flipped open to reveal an embroidered Armenian cross? Hadjian includes a coloured photograph of the girl in her long skirt, but with her light brown hair uncovered, the ghost of a lost people.
I’m still not quite sure why Hadjian, an Aleppo-born Armenian who has been an Argentinian Armenian since the age of two, traipsed up so many mountainsides. The Palestinians may dream of returning to lost lands, but the comparatively wealthy, cosmopolitan Armenian diaspora – most of the 11 million Armenians who are alive, descendants of those who survived the genocide of one and a half million of their people at the hands of the Turks (and of the Kurds, let us remember) – have no desire to re-settle in the old killing fields. For the places of massacre are well known to those forlorn people who still live there but who sometimes have only the memory of grandparents speaking in “a strange language” to hint at their family history.
In most cases, of course, it was the women who survived. And we know why. They were raped by Turks or Kurds or sold into marriage to Turks or Kurds or Arabs. The men were butchered with knives, roped together and thrown into rivers, tossed into gorges. So there is the mist of ancient dishonour over womanhood, although Hadjian does not speak of this in so many words. He finds a Muslim Imam of Armenian origin whose grandfather was killed in the genocide but whose uncle, a seminarian, converted to Islam. The imam speaks Kurdish, Turkish and Arabic but no Armenian, although he knows his history and claims he was not forcibly converted.
“The descendants of the people who massacred our family are still around,” he tells Hadjian. “We know them. We know the descendants of the people who murdered our grandfather Sahin. We lived among them. I would see them every day. We would see a dishonourable man like the one who killed Sahin every day. And yet, there was nothing we could do.”
Yet although he understood no Armenian, the imam knew the name of Sahin’s killer: Divan Erat.
At Argat, Hadjian visits the Ermeni Deresi, the “Armenians Gorge”, which is what it sounds like: the crevasse in which Armenians had been thrown to their deaths in 1915. There are no bones left. But there are memories of the dead, and Ibrahim, as he walks up the gorge, recalls what his parents said of his great-grandmother Zara, who was five when “she saw bandits decapitate her parents and her seven siblings”. Zara then fled through the mountains – a five-year old child, remember – to the village of Bahro, “seeing huge piles of corpses along the way.” Yet the descendants of the dead are kaleidoscopic. One family Hadjian meets are Armenian by ethnicity, Assyrian Orthodox Christians or Sunni Muslims by religion, Turkish by citizenship. Like the onion, he says, “peeling it to the end leaves you with nothing, for it is the aggregate of layers that makes the whole.”
Hadjian even finds one village, high in the sierras, where the enmity between Armenian-origin villagers and their neighbours continued into the 1960s with occasional shooting battles, even killings, completing a genocide that lasted – for them – half a century.
Hadjian has no final conclusions for his readers in this book, save for the observation that the survivors – including the frightened young Armenian girl on Mount Maruta – are not alone.
I’m not sure what that means. Survival keeps history alive, but I’m not sure it guarantees life in the future.

OC Media
June 21 2018
Age discrimination in Armenia: why women turn to plastic surgery to find work
by Armine Avetisyan

With high levels unem­ploy­ment, Armenians are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble to exploita­tion from unscrupu­lous employers. Given a lack of legal pro­tec­tions, employers are free to dis­crim­i­nate against female appli­cants based on their age or how they look. For some women, the only answer they see is to undergo cosmetic pro­ce­dures, to make them look younger in the hope of finding a job.

The streets of Yerevan are lined with beauty salons, where for a small amount of money, certain external cosmetic pro­ce­dures can be carried out. 

‘I carry out pro­ce­dures to enlarge the lips, lip liner tattoos, as well as smoothing out small wrinkles on the mouth, eyes, and forehead. I have many clients who visit me regularly’, says cos­me­tol­o­gist Shushan. According to her, some of her regular clients do not visit her by choice.

‘I have clients who com­pul­so­ri­ly come for a couple of pro­ce­dures twice a year; they should always be in good shape — that's a demand from their bosses. Their facial treatment is like buying a new T-shirt, they say that nothing “worn out” is accepted in their company, neither clothing nor faces’

If you are over 25 years old then you are too old

Thirty-one-year-old Alina was looking for a job for a long time. Upon grad­u­at­ing from uni­ver­si­ty, she left for Europe to work on volunteer projects in Poland. When she returned home, she struggled to find work. She says she couldn’t find a job because employers con­sid­ered her too ‘old’. 

‘I’m a trans­la­tor, I’m fluent in foreign languages, but it’s difficult to find a job in my pro­fes­sion in this city, so I decided to go for a job as a shop assistant at a store where I knew they had a vacancy. I applied. The director didn’t even care who I was, what kind of education I had, he just examined me and asked how old I was. I said 27. Then he replied: “Sorry, but you’re too old, you’re not right for this job” ’, Alina says.

Today, Alina works in an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion and says her friends are jealous of her, as despite her age, she has been able to find a good job.

A cleaning woman is needed, up to 25 years old, pretty, beautiful, without any complexes, to work in my own apartment. Salary- starting from 150,000 drams (AMD).

‘My 33-year-old friend can’t find a job anywhere. Everyone says she is too old and not good-looking enough. She’s only offered jobs as a cleaner’, says Alina. 

Being a woman is com­pli­cat­ed in Armenia; there are few places in the labour market for a woman past her late 20s, 25–27 years old is the limit. Beyond that, a woman is con­sid­ered to be useless by many employers. 

‘I came from Vanadzor [a city in northern Armenia] to Yerevan in search of work and thought I would find a job here; I couldn’t find a job within my pro­fes­sion in my hometown — I’m an economist. I came, began to search for work, and realised that it was totally useless to come to Yerevan’, says 38-year-old Lusine, who not being able to find office work, began to look for a job as a shop assistant.

‘I went to a few shops, but they told me: “sorry, we can only offer you a job as a cleaner” ’ 
Wanted: a saleswoman who looks like a model 

‘I have a small kiosk where I sell bags, and at the moment I have an adver­tise­ment looking for a tall sales­woman with long hair and thick lips, up to 25 years old. It's pleasant for me when a girl with this type of look works in my store. [A woman with] this kind of appear­ance also attracts customers’, says Arayik, a male resident of Yerevan who has not chosen a sales­woman yet. 

Ara Ghazaryan, an expert in inter­na­tion­al law from Armenia’s Chamber of Advocates, says that according to the Labour Code, there is no clear reg­u­la­tion pro­hibit­ing employers from dis­crim­i­nat­ing based on gender, appear­ance, or age. He says the only legal mechanism that could be cited is the Armenian con­sti­tution, according to which everyone is equal before the law and dis­crim­i­na­tion is pro­hib­it­ed.

‘We face dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of gender. There is only one point in the Labour Code in which dis­crim­i­na­tion is pro­hib­it­ed[…] unfor­tu­nate­ly, we do not have a specific law to combat dis­crim­i­na­tion [even though such a law] is very necessary in Armenia today’. 

According to Ghazaryan, not only is there no provision within the law to combat sex-based dis­crim­i­na­tion, but women will also go to great lengths to avoid voicing problems related to their employers.

‘A woman applies for a job. She is rejected for some reason or simply refuses the offer without men­tion­ing the reason. Often the employer exploits the fact that he has the right to decide who can work with him even though it does not mean that he will make an announce­ment and state that he is looking for attrac­tive, young girls [with perfect bodies]’, says Ghazaryan.

Demand for sexual services in return for employment

Twenty-nine-year-old Ani recently responded to an online adver­tise­ment for sec­re­taries up to 25 years old which offered a monthly salary of ֏200,000 ($410). She says she called the employer and said that though she was slightly older than the age limit, she has work expe­ri­ence and asked to be given a chance.

‘I went to the meeting with the director. He examined me from head to toe and even asked me to turn around for him. He thought for a few moments and said that despite my “older” age, I still looked fresh and could work. But he put several con­di­tions before me: I had to plump up my lips and be ready for free ‘com­mu­ni­ca­tion’ outside of work. He said he liked going out and that his secretary should socialise freely with him at night and sometimes kiss him with her thick lips. I just ran out of there’, says Ani.

‘I graduated from the Ped­a­gog­i­cal Uni­ver­si­ty. I am a linguist. After three years I still couldn’t find work so in the end, I decided to take a job as a waitress in a cafe as there was no other option. A week after I started, the café’s manager called me into his office and said he could make me a manager, but I had to earn it — he demanded I have sex with him in return. My face became com­plete­ly red, I just wanted to die of shame. Being a waitress does not mean being a pros­ti­tute’, says Gayane (not her real name).

‘Exploit­ing a woman’s vul­ner­a­ble situation, male employers sometimes offer them an intimate rela­tion­ship. This is very common in Armenia. But since we do not have a law reg­u­lat­ing this issue, and things are already com­pli­cat­ed for women, they are ashamed to speak about this problem, these cases do not go to court yet’, Ara Ghazaryan says.

There are 46,700 unem­ployed women reg­is­tered in Armenia. They make up two thirds of the total number of unem­ployed people.

Due to employers’ demands for female employees to have a certain ‘look’, beauty salons and cosmetic surgery clinics have become more popular in Armenia. Though there are no official sta­tis­tics, plastic surgeons report that every day, with surgery and cosmetic adjust­ments, dozens of young women are plumping up their lips, buttocks and breasts. To get the job, women are forced to transform them­selves.

This article was prepared with support from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Regional Office in the South Caucasus. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect the views of FES.

Daily Mail, UK
June 21 2018
Incredible moment Armenian fitness fanatic does push ups with only two fingers
-Narek Hakobyan, 29, can perform push ups using just his index finger and thumb
-Armenian fitness fanatic practices the stunt every morning to build up strength
-He said: 'I do the exercise every day, two or three hours per day from my home'
 This is the incredible moment an Armenian fitness fanatic performed push-ups with just two fingers.
Narek Hakobyan, 29, has perfected the stunt by practicing it each morning to slowly build up the strength in his thumb and index finger.
He said: 'I do the exercise every day, two or three hours per day. Mostly, I work out at home. I have one rest day on Sundays when I don't work out.
This is the incredible moment an Armenian fitness fanatic performed push-ups with just two fingers.
The video shows Narek performing a series of push-ups with his feet resting on a wood cupboard.
The stuntman does several reps before casually dusting himself off.
'I like to spend my free time by painting,' he said.
'I have always loved and practiced sports since my childhood.
'I have practiced different kinds of sports such as karate, boxing, weightlifting, swimming, running, all of these kinds of sports have been done so that l can strengthen all of my muscles and do interesting record-worth tricks.
'l was into the above mentioned sports for only several months, only karate- for about 4 years. I started to get seriously engaged in sports since 2012.
'Almost every day I exercise, work out two or three hours. I have rest only on Sundays.'
 Watch video at 

Daily Mail, UK
June 22 2018
Now THAT'S a man cave! Inside the 65ft-deep underground world dug out by a builder over 23 YEARS... using just a chisel and hammer

Levon Arakelyan, who was a builder by profession, spent 23 years crafting the 280-square-metre cave.

Today the hand-crafted cellar in the village of Arinj in Armenia is open as a museum 
New Zealand-based photographer Amos Chapple recently journeyed to the attraction to shed some light on it 

By Sadie Whitelocks for MailOnline

These fascinating photos show how one man painstakingly created a jaw-dropping basement under his house, using just a hammer and chisel.

Builder Levon Arakelyan spent 23 years crafting the incredible 65ft-deep, 3,000-square-foot subterranean space and he was even working on the project on the day he died in 2008, aged 67. He began working on itafter his wife, Tosya, asked for a cool space for her potatoes. He got carried away. 

Today the hand-crafted cellar network in the village of Arinj in Armenia is open as a museum and New Zealand-based Radio Free Europe photographer Amos Chapple recently journeyed to the attraction to shed some light on it. 

Mr Chapple said he decided to visit the unique basement after reading an article about it online.

Apparently Tosya no longer ventures into the cavern as she's scared of having a fall, so the cameraman went down there alone. 

Describing the cave, he told MailOnline Travel: 'I went and scouted the place out with the lights on. I then went back up and asked Tosya to switch all the lights off and I would work down there alone to take photographs. 

Today the hand-crafted cellar in the village of Arinj in Armenia is open as a museum and New Zealand-based Radio Free Europe photographer Amos Chapple recently journeyed to the attraction to shed some light on it

Over the years Levon continued to burrow 65 feet down, adding intricate detailing to the cave-like space

Some of the tunnels feature grand doorways, with Romanesque columns carved into the stone and there are perfectly angled stairs chipped into the rock.

'So being down there in the darkness was amazing - there was utter silence and darkness, and it was easy to get lost.

'At first though I was a little nervous - Armenia is earthquake-prone and in the deeper caverns the rock crumbled under my fingernails. 

'I tried to banish the thought of a collapse from my mind and just concentrate on photographing.' 

Levon would often spend 18 hours a day underground only emerging for a few hours to sleep before starting again. His wife Tosya (pictured right) now opens the quirky basement to visitors  

The walls of the cave feature a mix of hard and soft volcanic rock and the temperature remains around 10 degrees Celsius all-year round. 

Asked what the most interesting feature of the cave is, Mr Chapple said: 'It was impossible to photograph well, but there's a kind of portal above ground at the very top that runs down through all the levels. 

'You can stand in this back room of the house and look all the way down to the bottom level some 65 feet below you.'  

Levon started hammering out the basement in 1985 and over the years he continued to burrow, adding intricate detailing to the cave-like space.

Some of the tunnels feature grand doorways, with Romanesque columns carved into the stone and there are perfectly angled stairs chipped into the rock. 

Levon would often spend 18 hours a day underground only emerging for a few hours to sleep before starting again. 

The cave museum features the rustic tools used by Levon and the shredded boots he worked in. 

All of the earth removed during the excavation project was donated to local builders for use on construction projects. 

Mr Chapple said he only saw two other visitors to the cave while he was there and there was no entrance fee, just a suggested donation. 

Photos at 

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