Sunday, 23 September 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... Exhibition opens in the world-famous Metropolitan Museum

Armenia at the Metropolitan Museum, New York:
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Arminfo, Armenia
The "Armenia!" Exhibition opens in the world-famous Metropolitan Museum in New York
Yerevan September 18
Alexander Avanesov. 

In the world-famous Metropolitan Museum in New York on September 22 an exhibition "Armenia!" Will open, where exhibits from the Museum of the History of Armenia, Matenadaran and Etchmiadzin will be presented.

The Minister of Culture Lilit Makunts, the director of the Museum of the History of Armenia Grigor Grigoryan, the director of the Matenadaran Vahan Ter-Ghevondyan and the director of the Museums and Archives of the Holy Echmiadzin Astghik Karapetyan stated this at the July 18 press conference. The exhibition is devoted to the artistic and cultural achievements of the Armenian people from the adoption of Christianity to the 17th century. The exhibition will feature 140 exhibits, including 34 exhibits from the Museum of the History of Armenia, 20 exhibits from Etchmiadzin and 28 manuscripts from Matenadaran. There will be exhibits, which will be exhibited for the first time.

Minister Makunts noted that the exhibits were also provided by the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, the fraternity of the St. Hakobyan Church, the Mkhitarist Congregation, the Galust Gulbenkian Museum and other museums. Makunts stressed that before the opening press conference will be held for the international press, there will also be interviews that will increase interest in this important event. The curator of the exhibition is the Byzantologist Helen Evans, who worked in Yerevan for many years. The charity companies donated money to the event. The exhibition will last until January 13, 2019.


Arminfo, Armenia
Sept 19 2018
In Tavush, a serviceman-contractor of the Armed Forces of Armenia, Haykaz Matevosyan, was killed by an enemy bullet
Marianna Mkrtchyan. 

A serviceman of the contract service of the Armed Forces of Armenia, private Aykaz Babkenovich Matevosyan (born in 1980) was killed in the Armenian- Azerbaijani state border by an enemy bullet.

As the press service of the Armenian Defense Ministry told ArmInfo, the incident occurred on September 19 at around 1.30 pm local time. "According to the preliminary version, Matevosyan received a deadly gunshot wound in the neck area as a result of the enemy's shot, on the responsible territory of one of the military units of the RA Armed Forces located in the north-eastern direction (Tavush region of the RA), on the way to the hospital, - the RA Defense Ministry message reads.

The Armenian Defense Ministry expressed condolences to the relatives and friends of the deceased.


JAM News
Sept 21 2018
Armenia celebrates Independence Day

The 27th anniversary of the country's independence was met with a new government in power and a number of innovations for this year's festivities 

Armenia is celebrating its independence today. The country withdrew from the Soviet Union after an absolute majority vote 27 years ago.

A referendum on secession and the creation of an independent state was held on 21 September 1991. Ninety-nine per cent voted in favour thereof. The Supreme Council proclaimed Armenia as an independent state two days later. The first president of independent Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, was elected soon after in October the same year.

Armenia became a member of the United Nations in 1992. The first country to recognize its independence was Lithuania. The first years of Armenia’s independence saw a war with Azerbaijan and severe economic problems.

Independence Day was celebrated countrywide, with the main festivities held in Yerevan. The central part of Armenia’s capital was almost completely closed off to cars. Exhibitions and concerts took place on two stages in the main square and children decorated the square with their drawings.

Additionally, at least 10 concert stages have been set up around the city. The political leaders of the country were expected at the Republic square by evening time and it was planned for all three Armenian presidents to participate in the event. However, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan turned down their invitations.

The new government added a ‘Selfie Hour’ with celebrities to the itinerary, announced in advance by the Minister of Culture Lilit Makunts. Though Makunts did not specify what celebrities would make an appearance, the event piqued the interest of many nevertheless.


Public Radio of Armenia
Sept 21 2018
Queen Elizabeth II sends congratulations on Armenia’s National Day

On the Independence Day of the Republic of Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has received a congratulatory message from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The message reads, in part: “It gives me great pleasure to send to Your Excellency my congratulations on the celebration of your National Day, particularly in the year in which Armenia celebrates the centenary of the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia, together with my best wishes for the good fortune and happiness of the people of Armenia in the coming year. At this time I reflect on the close historic ties between our countries, and look forward to our ongoing friendship and cooperatio


RFE/RL Report
Trump Hails ‘New Era’ In Armenia
September 21, 2018
Emil Danielyan

U.S. President Donald Trump has praised mass protests that led to regime change in Armenia in May and said his administration stands ready to help the new Armenian government implement sweeping reforms promised by it.

“Armenia has much to celebrate this year,” Trump wrote to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in a congratulatory message on the 27th anniversary of the South 
Caucasus country’s independence marked on Friday.

“A peaceful, popular movement ushered in a new era in Armenia, and we look forward to working with you to help you execute the will of your people to combat corruption and to establish representative, accountable governance, rule of law buttressed by an independent judiciary, and political and economic competition,” read the message publicized by Pashinian’s office.

“I look forward to further strengthening the partnership that began between our countries one hundred years ago,” it said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly saluted “remarkable changes” in Armenia. “The peaceful popular movement that transformed the government has 
ushered in an exciting new chapter of Armenian history,” he said in a written statement on the country’s Independence Day.

The U.S. State Department closely monitored the Pashinian-led protests that brought down in late April Armenia’s previous government headed by Serzh 
Sarkisian. During the political crisis it repeatedly urged Armenia political factions to embark on dialogue.

Trump expressed Washington’s readiness to work with the new authorities in Yerevan on “the many areas of mutual interest” when he congratulated Pashinian 
on becoming prime minister in May. Pashinian said afterwards that he would like to “strengthen and expand” U.S.-Armenian relations.

The two leaders chatted briefly at a NATO summit in Brussels in July. Pashinian hoped to hold his first talks with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York which he will address next week. Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian said on Thursday that such a meeting is extremely unlikely.

Pashinian campaigned for Armenia’s withdrawal from a Russia-led alliance of ex-Soviet states and closer ties with the European Union when he was in opposition to the Sarkisian government. However, he ruled any change in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy orientation immediately after coming to power.

Both Trump and Pompeo also stressed the importance of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “The coming months bring opportunities to 
resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which would create even more possibilities for U.S. –Armenian cooperation,” said the U.S. president.

For his part, Pompeo urged the conflicting parties to “resume intensive negotiations as soon as possible.”

The U.S. as well as Russia and France have long been spearheading international efforts to broker a compromise solution to the Karabakh dispute.


PanArmenian, Armenia
Sept 20 2018
Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II not resigning: Mother See 

The head of the information department of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, father Vahram Melikyan has refuted media publications, alleging that the Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, is resigning.

According to a news story, Karekin was to retire due to health issues under an agreement he reached with the Armenian authorities.

Father Vahram said, in particular, that all the governments in the 27 years of independent Armenia have shown “proper respect for the Armenian Apostolic Church and appreciated the special role of the Church and the Catholicos of All Armenians in maintaining statehood, national unity and solidarity.”

As reported earlier, lawmaker from the Republican Party Mihran Hakobyan is proposing to ensure the security of the Catholicos by law.


168.am
ECHR issues judgment over Armenian March 1 victim, demands government to pay over 20,000 Euros in damages

The European Court of Human Rights has released its judgment over the Saghatelyan versus Armenia case, and held that the Armenian government was to pay Saghatelyan 15,600 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage and EUR 5,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

“The case of Mushegh Saghatelyan v. Armenia (application no. 23086/08) concerned an opposition activist’s allegation of a politically motivated crackdown on 1 March 2008 following a wide-scale protest against the presidential elections. He complained in particular that he had been ill-treated by the police, that his arrest had been unlawful and that the entire criminal case then brought against him had been fabricated. He had eventually been convicted for assaulting two police officers and illegally carrying a knife,” the ECHR said in a press release.

The court ruled that there have been violations of the following four articles of the Convention:

Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment)
Article 5 §§ 1 (c), 2 and 3 (right to liberty and security)
Article 6 (right to a fair trial)
Article 11 (freedom of association)


Institute for War and Peace Reporting, UK
Sept 21 2018
Armenia Holds First Election Since Velvet Revolution
Municipal vote heralded as sign of great political change within the country.
By Suren Deheryan

Yerevan is set to go to the polls to elect a new mayor in Armenia’s first major electoral test since a so-called velvet revolution toppled the government earlier this year.

There are 12 factions competing in the September 23 city council elections, spurred by the resignation of former mayor Taron Margaryan who had spent seven years as the Republican Party representative.

Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, who led the anti-government protests and replaced former premier Serzh Sargsyan after he stepped down on April 23, has taken an active role in campaigning for his My Step Alliance list.

Political analyst Mikael Zolyan said that it was crucial for Pashinyan's party to do well in the election to prove that he actually did command public confidence.

"This will also end speculation from some members of the Republican Party that the revolution was a concession to an aggressive minority, whereas the silent majority continues to support the former authorities,"he said.

"It is a very important election for Armenia, as this is the first time when the citizens will make a choice after the revolution, and we hope this will be the first free election without rigging, bribery and other manipulations,” agreed Mikael Zolyan, a political analyst and associate professor at University of Languages and Social Sciences of Armenia, adding that it would be particularly significant as around 40 per cent of  Armenia’s population lived in Yerevan.

The mayor is elected through a secret ballot during the first session of the 65-member council. If one party recieves more than 50 per cent of council seats, the head of its list becomes mayor.

According to official data, 853,390 people are eligible to vote in these elections. There are 979 candidates nominated by 12 factions running for 65 seats on the council, three times more than ran in the 2017 race.
Levon Barseghyan, head of the Asparez Journalists' Club, believes that this renewed interest is a sign of great political change within Armenia.

“One of the reasons for such activity is that many parties that didn’t try to participate in previous elections now see a better opportunity,” he explained. “The other reason is that these elections are linked to the forthcoming parliamentary elections and there is great momentum for some political forces to use the council election campaigns to raise their ratings and public profile.”

The lists of three political parties are headed by women, which is rare in Armenia’s heavily male-dominated political culture.

Lawmaker Naira Zohrabyan, of the Prosperous Armenia Party, heads the party list for the Council of Elders and has her eyes set on the top job pf mayor.

"I think I am one of the most influential politicians in Armenia,” Zohrabyan, a former journalist, told IWPR. “I would like to see a lot of women leaders, because there are fewer conflicts in the countries which are led by women. In this regard, I welcome the participation of the other two women candidates and wish them success.”
Another major change is that, for the first time in 25 years, the Republican Party refused to run in the municipal elections.  

Its previous candidate Margaryan was re-elected twice as mayor, most recently in 2017. However, he was accused of failing to live up to key pledges such as improving the city’s public transport system and prioritising environmental issues.

"It would have been tremendously risky for the Republican Party to participate,” Barseghyan said, arguing that for years the incumbents had been able to exploit administrative resources and vote manipulations to ensure their success.

This time, he anticipates a mostly fair and transparent fight, which risked drastically reducing their vote share, he continued. “A small percentage [of the vote] would become a timebomb for their participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections.”

The main opponent of Pashinyan's My Step Alliance is Prosperous Armenia, led by influential billionaire Gagik Tsarukyan. It has consistently been the second most powerful force after the Republican Party over the last decade and most often part of the ruling coalition.
Zolyan said that it was crucial to see how much support Prosperous Armenia, Luys Alliance and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, known as Dashnaktsutyun, won in these elections.

Although they were part of the current government, he noted that these parties “joined the revolutionary wave at the very end when it was clear that a revolution would take place.

“These forces have their own interests in these elections, and probably Dashnaktsutyun and Prosperous Armenia will not remain in the coalition after success in the next parliamentary election.”

As far as Pashinyan’s party was concerned, Zolyan said that the municipal elections could make or break its future success.

"If  - unexpectedly  - the My Step Alliance get few votes, I don’t rule out that the current government coalition will collapse and Pashinyan will remain without his supporters in parliament,” Zolyan said. “But it is unlikely, since these forces have always backed the incumbent, and in my opinion the My Step Alliance will win a convincing victory, and these forces will forget the sharp rhetoric they used in their pre-election campaigns against each other and try to find a common language with Pashinyan's team.”

Suren Deheryan is the founder-editor of data-news website Ampop.am and a former IWPR Armenia editor. 

RFE/RL Report
Western Watchdog Condemns Police Raid On Armenian Media Outlet
September 19, 2018

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the Armenian police for searching the offices of a news website as part of a criminal investigation into leaked phone calls between two top law-enforcement officials.

“The search of Yerevan.Today’s premises and the seizure of its equipment constitute grave violations of the principle of the protection of journalists’ sources, which is guaranteed by Armenian legislation and the European Court of Human Rights,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“We regret that the police did not seek a less intrusive and more proportionate way to achieve their legitimate goal,” he added in a statement released late on 
Tuesday.

Officers of a special police unit and the Investigative Committee confiscated several computer hard disks when they raided the headquarters of the Yerevan.Today online publication on Monday.

The seven-four search stems from a wiretapping scandal that rocked the Armenian political scene last week. Unknown individuals posted on the Internet the audio 
of two recent phone calls between the heads of two other Armenian law-enforcement bodies. The latter discussed an ongoing inquiry into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

The Investigative Committee said law-enforcement officers searched this and five other locations in a bid to ascertain “the method of the secret recording and dissemination” of the sensitive conversations. It claimed that Yerevan.Today posted the scandalous audio on its website earlier than other Armenian media outlets.

The website editor, Sevak Hakobian, strongly denied that, calling the police actions “irresponsible.” He said that the search all but “paralyzed” Yerevan.Today’s activities.


RFE/RL Report
11 Charged With Vote Buying In Yerevan
September 18, 2018
Anush Muradian

Eleven persons, including a senior local government official, have been charged with buying votes for the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in last year’s 
municipal elections in Yerevan, it emerged on Tuesday.

The criminal case stems from irregularities that were reported by the opposition Yelk alliance on eve of the May 2017 elections won by the HHK and its top candidate, Yerevan’s incumbent Mayor Taron Markarian.

Yelk representatives found scandalous documents in a trash bin outside an HHK campaign office in the city’s Arabkir district. Most of them purportedly detailed vote buying operations by government loyalists, including sums of money and guidelines on how to buy votes.

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) claimed to have conducted an inquiry. It closed the criminal case in August 2017, citing a lack of evidence.

The SIS launched a fresh probe shortly after one of Yelk’s leaders, Nikol Pashinian, swept to power in a wave of mass protests that brought down Armenia’s HHK-led government in May.

According to a senior official from the law-enforcement agency, Davit Kostandian, SIS investigators have found compelling evidence of vote buying in favor of the HHK. Kostandian said that the illegal operation was led by Hrayr Antonian, the head of a department at Yerevan’s municipal administration, and Stepan Sahakian, the executive director of a supermarket chain owned by an 
HHK-linked businessman.

The SIS official claimed that Arabkir residents were paid 10,000 drams ($21) each for pledging to vote for the HHK and Mayor Markarian. He did not specify how many votes were bought in this fashion, saying only that Antonian and Sahakian claim to have spent 48 million drams and 15 million drams respectively on vote bribes.

Neither man could be reached for comment on Tuesday. Kostandian said they and the nine other suspects have pleaded guilty to the accusations. Markarian, who 
resigned as Yerevan mayor under government pressure in July, has not yet been questioned by the SIS, added the official.

Another document found by Yelk in 2017 contained the names of police officers who pledged to earn the HHK a particular number of votes. The document was allegedly faxed from a telephone number belonging to the Armenian police.

Kostandian said that all of those policemen have been questioned by SIS 
investigators. But he declined to elaborate.

Vote buying was widespread in just about every major election held in Armenia in the last two decades. The HHK, which is headed by former President Serzh 
Sarkisian, was accused by its opponents and media of heavily relying on the practice in the last parliamentary polls held in April 2017.Observers from the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that they were marred by “many credible reports” of vote buying.

The new Pashinian-led government has pledged to prevent vote buying in the snap mayoral elections that will be held in the Armenian capital on Sunday. Earlier 
this month it pushed through the parliament legal amendments that significantly toughened punishment for the illegal practice.


Public Radio of Armenia
Sept 20 2018
British architects leading calls to save Armenia’s Zvartnots Airport

British architects are leading international calls to save Terminal 1 of Armenia’s Zvartnots airport, one of the jewels of Soviet crown, which now looks like a monolithic space-city straight out of science fiction, according to the Daily Mail.

After it was built in the 1970s, more than 2,500 passengers crowded through the country’s most modern airport terminal every hour. For them, it was the height of luxury with a restaurant high up on the central control tower and views across to the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Leading British architect Tim Flynn says the airport is an outstanding piece of architecture. His London-based international practice has had an office in Yerevan for 14 years.

And he hopes that the new government in Armenia which came to power after May’s Velvet Revolution will decide Zvartnots is a historical building worth preserving. He warns, however, that the longer it’s left to crumble away, the chances of saving it diminish.

“I realize the new prime minister has a lot on his plate, but I hope his conscience will lead to a change of plan. Whatever you think of the old Soviet Union, the buildings from this period were extraordinary and adventurous, a piece of history,” the Daily Mail quotes Flynn as saying.

Clem Cecil, of SAVE Europe’s Heritage and director of London’s Pushkin House, the Russian cultural centre, said: ‘The Zvartnots building is a classic of its kind – it should be saved. It was built in a period when Stalin’s grip had been broken and Soviet architects were experimenting with international influences.”
“Zvartnots is very cutting edge and reflects the excitement of the times. The problem is it’s been under-appreciated and vulnerable. The fact there’s a growing effort to save it is good news,” she noted.

"ART for ART’s sake" Gateway to Heaven team

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Check out a few exclusive photos from scenes of "Gate to Heaven" in the framework of "ART for ART’s sake" initiative.
Armenian artists Serkhach, Avetis Khachatryan and Abgar Khachatryan's works on the stills enhanced the scenes of the film giving it a unique touch to Gate to Heaven’s filming process in Artsakh. The Khachatryan family joined the making of the film with this wonderful initiative to make it a one of a kind project.
The initiative will also help with funding of "Gate to Heaven'''s film project. Soon Gate to Heaven’s European shooting will begin in Vilnius. How about the perfect art work for your home! Acquiring these exclusive artworks, will make you proud and will bring a smile to your face. And remember it will also help us in this Artsakhian film project!
Let's promote peace through art by joining the "ART for ART’s sake" initiative.
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«ԱՐՎԵՍՏԸ հանուն ԱՐՎԵՍՏԻ» նախաձեռնության շրջանակում, հայ նկարիչների՝ ՍԵՐԽԱՉԻ, ԱՎԵՏԻՍ ԽԱՉԱՏՐՅԱՆԻ և ԱԲԳԱՐ ԽԱՉԱՏՐՅԱՆԻ կտավները, ռեժիսոր Ջիվան Ավետիսյանի «Դրախտի դարպասը» ֆիլմի արցախյան նկարահանումների փուլում յուրհատուկ ոճ և հմայք հաղորդեցին որոշ տեսարաններին:
Առջևում ֆիլմի Եվրոպական նկարահանումներն են, որոնք իրականցվելու են Լիտվայում։ «Դրախտի դարպասը» Ֆիլմին ուրույն գունագեղություն հաղորդած այս նկարները ձեռք բերելով, Դուք ոչ միայն աննկարագրելի ջերմություն կնվիրեք ինքներդ Ձեզ և Ձեր սիրելիներին, այլև Ձեր ուղղակի մասնակցությունը կունենաք կինոարվեստի միջոցով Արցախը միջազգային հանրությանը ներկայացնող «Դրախտի դարպասը» ֆիլմի աշխատանքներն ավարտին հասցնելու համար անհրաժեշտ ֆինանսական բացը լրացնելու հարցում։
Խաղաղությունը կերտե՛ք արվեստի միջոցով, միացե՛ք «ԱՐՎԵՍՏԸ հանուն ԱՐՎԵՍՏԻ» նախաձեռնությանը:
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