Archive for March, 2006

IYC observed Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections

March 30, 2006

IYC monitors gathered again for the 3rd time to observe Ukrainian elections. This time the group was not so big if compared with the previous 2 missions, when the group consisted of more than 100 people. Only 30 people were chosen for the mission.   

A little information about the agenda we had, which was very heavy if pleasure. We started off on March 24 at 7pm from the airport Zvartnots. The flight Yerevan-Zaparojiye lasted 3 hours. Then on a bus we were transferred to
Dnepropetrovsk. When we settled down at the hotel “
Dnepropetrovsk” it was already 2am. On March 25 we had a briefing  which lasted from two to six. Two long-term observes, one from
Armenia, the other from
Kirgizia, have been observing the pre-election process more than a month ago. They informed us about the political situation, the amendments brought about the electoral codex and many other things. Later we had a meeting with the taxi drivers who would be our personal drivers the whole election day. After the election day, March 26, we had a meeting to hand in the minutes and to have a discussion about finding ways to carry out more effective and progressive observation. On march 28 we left for
Yerevan early in the morning and at  8pm the airplane landed at Zvartnots airport. (more…)

Back to observation !

March 22, 2006

It’s not accidentally that I linked to “It’s your Choice”. The thing is that I’m also volunteering for the largest observation mission in Armenia IYC and also represent the Erebuni youth branch. Incidentally that’s the NGO Tim Russo over at  Democracy Guy has worked with and jots down his recollections in his blogsite.

It’s Your Choice is a nonpartisan NGO and the largest domestic election monitor in Armenia with 4,000 volunteers, and offices and chapters in all Marzes and 12 communities of Yerevan. IYC’s mission is to

  • Promote transparent elections and democratic processes in Armenia;
  • Establish true self-governance and accountability within the government;
  • Encourage citizen participation in community governance; and
  • Provide objective, reliable and timely information to Armenian voters.

    I’ve been volunteering for IYC since 2000 helping them to organize mock elections at schools, but my first observation mission was in 2004, as soon as I ran my 18 years. Since, twice I’ve served as a short- term observer for the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations’ International Observation  Mission during the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Elections.  I served as a long–term observer during Nubarashen and as a short-term observer during Erebuni and Malatia-Sebastia local governing institutions’ elections, as well as during  the elections of Constitutional Amendments.

    And now IYC is going to observe the coming Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections, which will hold on March 26. I’m hurrying to say that I’m also involved in the group consisting of 30 monitors. . I don’t want to jump the gun with my predictions, but on my coming back I will let you know about the situation governing there during the elections. I hope this one will be more democratic than the previous two ones which were totally rigged. It’s even kind of funny but the Ukrainian Election code allows more falsifications than that of Armenia. They have a house-poll and absentee voting  system and the immense part of fakes occurs mainly in this respect. Besides the counting process is not held by counting the ballots one by one, as is the case in Armenia, but filling the substance of the ballot box on a table and sorting them all together, and many ballots disappear or are changed during that mess. I can mention a row of suchlike cases, but even summing it up, Armenians are much more keen at elections, better to say at its falsification…

    Though I’m glad to take part again in Ukrainian Elections, I pity a great deal that because of this mission I lost the chance to participate Tong-Il Moo-Do workshop in Georgia which is from March 20 to March 30. I’ve been waiting for it since May when it was first held in Armenia and though I haven’t practiced for 3 months I intended to get a higher belly. But I hope there will be another workshop-training and I’ll have chance to take part in it. Wait a post  about it later.

    For the moment, I’m awfully busy with my studies, especially that I have to pass all the seminars and lectures beforehand, in order not to gain debts on my shoulders when I  return. This is my last post for a while. The schedule is supposed to be very heavy and I don’t think I’ll manage to find time for blogging anything. I’ll be back in a week if everything turns out all right and we don’t stick in the airport, as was the case with Georgian observers on the way to Byelorussia.

    For now, wish me good luck and God speed!

    Nothing has the price of life…

    March 18, 2006

    As I promised in my previous post I want to shed a light on the story of  the girl who committed a suicide leaving after her only obscurity and vagueness.

    It was 5th of December. There was nothing unusual in the day when I got up in the morning and took my way to the University. When I entered the auditorium it was 8:25 and only one student was there. Then three more students came in along with our lecturer. The lesson began and that was the day appointed for the seminar. One of the girl was answering the lecture when the charwoman rushed into the auditorium and asked whether anyone had a valerian as the charwoman of the seventh floor  was in a shock learning that someone has fallen down from the floor she was responsible for. She calmed us down saying that the person who did it was not identified and was supposed to be a stranger. That moment the dean assistant came in warning us not to look from the windows, as it would have a deep impact on our psychosis. But as far as I was burning with impatience to see what was going outdoors, I hastened to open the window, but hearing my coursemates shouting at me I closed it managing to have only a slight glance at the person laying on the ground with his face on it. That very moment one of the girls cried out “Where is Rusik? Her purse is here”. (more…)


    March 15, 2006

    Today I got on a van and heard a music coming from somewhere. As it was noisy I assumed it was played in the passing–by car. But later, I couldn’t believe my ears… Barry White was played in the van!!!… The van driver was listening to Barry White music. That really amused me and I started smiling, but I chucked it then when I noticed that a woman was observing me with her penetrative eyes. But, anyway, I was so much delighted and amazed that finally I found a van shofer (driver) who was listening to Barry White instead of some low-quality and tasteless singers like Tatul, Gagul, Saqul or whatsoever… 

    There’s a progress…huh? 🙂 


    March 14, 2006

      I think still everyone remembers the case with the  girl who on December 5  committed a suicide falling down from the 7 th floor of the university. So, she was my course mate. But now I wouldn’t like to discuss  her matter, it’s a sad story and perhaps I’ll talk about it some other time, in the nearest future, so that you’ll know the real story from a person who has studied with her for 4 years, and not from the nasty rumors. Anyway,  yesterday we visited her  mom. Of course now she is depressed, if considered in addition that she was her only child, she doesn’t have husband and some two or three relatives support her. And now her only aim is constructing her grave yard. She told us that the whole money that she gathered and would be spent on her daughter she is going now to waste on making her tomb the most beautiful in the cemetery.

    I did some rude calculations.  When a person dies first thing to do, after taking the corpse to the morgue,  is ordering a coffin. The average price of coffins begins from 100$ to thousands of dollars, depending on what class person is the deceased and what coffin it deserves. Then comes buying some new clothes and shoes, ordering the picture. Let’s take the average amount to be 150$.More... 

    Then the late, already in the coffin, is brought into the house and the so called ponikhida (wake) process begins.  The relatives, friends, neighbors, people that you know and don’t know  come to present their condolences. Weeps, sobs and rumors are heard in every corner. But then,  on the  funeral day, which is usually the following day of the wake, after some traditional customs, the coffin is  taken to the graveyard and is left into the earth. And the next step, which is one of  the most awful, stupid and hectic customs, is laying the table on which some 15 minutes ago the coffin was placed. Even If not considering it another nonsense ceremony called “hogehangsti hats” ( bread for the deceased’s spirit peace), at which they spend another amount of money to feed a group of  people who wait not as much for the funeral to finish as for the opportunity to eat, ( is it because they really starve?), what a revolting attitude is it?

    Just imagine that scene: the  late is still in the house, but the housewives, who are supposed to be in grief, have to think of  more important details, for example, watch the dishes not to overburn or overboil, or cut the bread or vegetables, or fill the plates with salads and such staff to make everything ready and as soon as the crowd goes, to manage to lay the table.’s disgusting .. Moreover, corps usually have some microbes and the place should be freshened up after it’s taken away. I wonder how the food doesn’t stick in their throats. 

    And this food-gorging scene is repeated for several times: on the following day of funeral, it’s known in Armenia as “Egnahogh”, on the 7 th day, known as “yot”, and on the 40 th day, known as “qarasunq”.

    So, did you manage to add these expenses?

    Now, we approached to the next step: construction or decoration (call it as you want) of the grave. The grave areas in Armenia are very expensive, although the state prices are lower, but who cares, every owner quotes his price. The avarage is 200$. So, my coursemate’s mom bought the area for her daughter’s grave for 600$, paying an additional price for not letting another grave to be constructed on this one, because they are situated too close to each other. Though I agree the area is big for one grave, but some more graves are supposed to be added within some years. Then she paid 1200$ for surrounding it with cement and more 15.000$ for the tomb stone and carving some statue or cross stone.
    In this case let me say this is a luxury, it is much too much. The goner doesn’t feel it and perhaps he wouldn’t like it. Then who is it done for? For the others to mention how you respected or loved her? Again, for the public opinion? Or “gna meri ari sirem” (die to be loved)? And the result is that today there are  nearly no free areas in the graveyards and they develop far away the cemetery borders. Also, there are no people who groom the graves and as a matter of fact they are dark, terrible, scary, deprived of  grass and trees, unlike many other countries, where the cemetery can be considered to be a playing garden for children.

    After we accepted the cremation, I wonder where are they going to make their stunning graveyards? Near their houses? Hmmm…

    Yet, this is the tradition and I doubt whether it  will vanish some day. I think you also managed to do all the calculations and we can come to the conclusion that if you are poor or not rich enough DON”T  YOU DARE  DIE…

    Winter recollections

    March 11, 2006


    Though it is spring now and I'm late with this picture, I felt like posting it. It's in Tsaghkadzor.


    Armenians play Korfball

    March 10, 2006

    If someone happens not to know this game I’ll describe it briefly, you can find information  about it here.

    Korfball is a Dutch game and it is being  played in Armenian since 1990s. Korfball is a mixed team sport, that combines the best of basketball and netball. The sport originates from Holland. Due to it being mixed, it is the most social sport in the world and this has accounted for its rapid growth, especially within Universities.
     This is the only game where both boys and girls play together in the same team. Each team consists of 4 lads and 4 girls, half in attack and half in defence. Attackers become defenders and vice versa, after of two goals have been scored. It can be played inside (most often) or outside on grass (mainly in the summer). The Korfs (baskets) are 11.5 feet high and as you can't run with the ball, scoring takes quite a bit of practice. The baskets are higher than those of basketball. There is no bouncing in korfball , only passes and no more than 2 steps are allowed.

    Korfball’s origins can be traced back to a Dutch schoolteacher, Nico Broekhuysen.
    Inspired by a game he had played during a summer course in Nääs, Sweden, Broekhuysen devised the game of korfball in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in 1902. He called it korfball after the Dutch word for basket, ‘korf.’Originally the Dutch korfball association concentrated almost entirely on improving its own organisation and little attention was paid to the internationalisation of the sport. It was only after the formation of the International Korfball Federation in 1933 (comprising the Dutch and Belgian associations) that the further development of korfball came to be seriously considered. Korfball was, however, demonstrated at the Olympic Games of 1920 (Antwerp, Belgium) and 1928 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).In the first half of the century, the underlying philosophy of korfball often appeared to be too progressive: namely that korfball is played by both sexes on equal terms. But times have changed considerably. We approach the twenty-first century in an era of greater parity between the sexes and, as the only mixed team sport, korfball both satisfies and confirms this trend. Hence, it has embarked upon a rapid expansion, taking korfball further into the Americas, Eastern Europe and South East Asia .Korfball has developed during the twentieth century from an Amsterdam school activity into a truly international sport. Recent progress has been particularly remarkable. The growth in Central and Eastern Europe is spectacular. Korfball in these countries is spreading rapidly and the overall level of korfball skills is improving dramatically. On the international level countries like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have ceased to be marginal.Korfball featured in the World Games (a multi-sport competition with about 45 sports disciplines) from 1985 onwards. World Championships have been held since 1978. In 1991 Chinese Taipei became the first non-European country to win (bronze) World Championship medals and four years later the World Cup competition was for the first time held outside Europe, in India.By remaining true to its twin principles of coeducation and co-operation, Korfball is gradually establishing itself around the globe. The IKF is committed to this expansion.

    For the rules click here.Now…Great news!!!
    The first youth world championship of korfball is going to be held from  March 18  to 20  in Holland. 11 teams will be vying with each other and a group consisting of 16 young people will represent Armenia. Another wonderful news is that 4 of them are from the school where I have finished. Incidentally I know them from my school basketball league, when I was still studying there and time to time  was practicing basketball with them when the coach was absent. After finishing  school I practiced korfball at Polytechnic Institution hall for about a year. No, it was not Polytechnic's team, just we were practicing in its hall. Our team members were real professionals ( not including me, though out of modesty I play well). Most of them had participated in many championships and had successes. But unfortunately or fortunately I got trauma and perhaps that was in the neck of time and I left it.
    Now I am more than happy to learn  that the children once I used to teach  basketball now practice korfball and moreover, they are going to participate in the 1st youth world championship.   Having passed special examination these 16 young people are chosen from different schools and teams all over Yerevan and there are 2 guys from Charentsavan. One or maximum 2 pupils are chosen from the same group, and the only exception is with these 4 pupils – two girls and two boys. These 16 children have got acquainted less than  a month ago and  they've been practicing together since that. Of course that's a short time for understanding and studying each other and for creating a team spirit. But they are very keen at it and I hope they'll make it. What makes korfball different from basketball is that the individual can not lead the game alone as is the case in basketball. It is totally based on team work, without which no goals can be achieved. I also hope that they will reach that unity and come back with victory. To be realistic, I don't think they'll take 1st, 2nd, or 3rd places, but at least  let's hope that they also won't take  first places from the end.

     They are leaving tomorrow. Let’s wish them  good luck and God speed!!!

    To my mom

    March 7, 2006

    Today I was looking through my old papers and stumbled upon a writing which remembered me one of the most wonderful days of my life.

    It was 4 years ago, in 2002, when I was passing my school final exams. The first exam to pass was Armenian language, a subject that I never have had any difficulties with. We sat in the huge auditorium and started writing the test. Teachers were passing through the rows as if answering pupils’ questions connected with technical part of the test, but in reality they were helping them.  Last point of the test was writing a composition. Two variants were offered- “Proud” and “If I were a painter”. I had to choose and write on one of them. So, having an intense longing for philosophy I started discussing what proud is, its advantages and disadvantages, so long and so forth. Later my teacher of language came up to me, read my writing and affirmed that I can write it in my fair copy. I was about doing it, when my mother, who is a teacher and was also in the examination board and all that time was helping other pupils but me, appeared above my head, looked through my composition and said angrily: “What is this? Couldn’t you write anything better? I will not admit this, write the other title”. I looked at my mom as if asking her not to ask it, because I had only 20  minutes left  till the end of the exam. But her decision was too firm and I did what I had to do. Later, when she came home late at night she said: “What did you do? You made  the whole examination board cry while checking your paper.” Then she smiled, stretched her arms and hugged me tenderly.
        What do you think I could write after such a strict maternal  look? I was in a loss that moment and only her strict look was attached in front of my eyes to which I will always be so grateful. That is the same look, also filled with endless love, which always lightens my mind and leads me out of all the difficult and decisive situations.


    Եթե նկարիչ լինեի…
    Եթե նկարիչ լինեի, կվերցնեի վրձինս ու կնկարեի մորս աչքերը: Կնկարեի նրա աչքերի կապույտ խորությունը, որ ծովինն է, թռչունների դայլայլը, որ երկնքինն է, կանաչ դաշտերը, որ գարունքինն են: Թե նայեիր մորս աչքերին, դու էլ կուզենայիր նկարիչ լինեիիր, որ նկարեիր նրա աչքերի թախիծը, որով պարուրված է նրա ուրախությունը, բարությունն ու հեզությունը:
    Բայց… Ոչ, համոզված եմ, որ ներկապնակում այդ գույները չկան: Ես կընտրեի ամենապարզը` գծանկարը, այդ նուրբ ու երազկոտ, հուսառատ ու ժպտուն աչքերն ավելորդ գունավորման կարիք չունեն: Սակայն, նկարելիս կհանեի աչքերի մոտ հավաքված մանրիկ կնճիռները, որոնք անգութ տարիների հետքերն են: Դուրս կշպրտեի արցունքապարկը, որ էլ չթացվեին այդ աչքերը: Կջնջեի աչքերի թախիծը և այդ խորունկ աչքերում կավելացնեի անմար մի ժպիտ: Կբորբոքեի այն երբեմնի անմար կրակն ու փայլը, որ միշտ լուսավորել է իմ ճանապարհը: Սեր կներշնչեի նրա առանց այն էլ սիրով լի աչքերին: Ու դա դեռ բավ չէր լինի: Աչքերի խորին խորհում կթողնեի մաքուր մի անկյուն և այն կլցնեի հույսով, հավատով: Իսկ բարություն…. Չէ, ես դա չեի ավելացնի, նրա բարությունը կբավի ինձ էլ , մարդկությանն էլ:
    Չէ, ես նկարիչ չեմ, բայց կնկարեմ մորս աչքերը, կնկարեմ իմ ուզած ձևով և վերջում կավելացնեմ.
    « Ժպտա միշտ, մայր իմ, ժպտա, ծիծաղիր հավիտյան, վարակիր քո ծիծաղով մյուսներին էլ, ինձ էլ վարակիր: Թող որ փարվեմ քեզ հավիտյան ու ես էլ երջանկանամ քո ծիծաղի ներքո: Ես սիրում եմ քեզ, մայր իմ»:



    If  your mother is somewhere near, turn to her and tell her how deep your love is. If she is far away, find her now, and let her know how much you love her. Thank her for giving you birth, for bearing the pain while delivering you, thank her for the sleepless nights she spent rocking your cradle and guiding your sound sleep, for the days she spent at your bed maintaining you and taking care while you were ill, and providing an endowment for your health.

    Thank her for inspiring you and giving precious advice when you were in low spirits, for protecting you with her chest, for being so kind, for the efforts she put in you.

    Thank her for who you are, thank her for loving you. And if you have ever hurt her with your careless actions, apologize for that, though be sure that her maternal heart  has forgiven you long ago.

    … And don’t forget to shower her with embarrassments, kisses and flowers every day.

    Մայրս` ձեզ համար
    Խեղճ, անշուք մի մայր,
    Ինձ` նշխար մի երգ,
    Ինձ` մի տիեզերք,
    Ինձ աշխարհ բերած
    Մի նշխար աստված:



    My flu

    March 5, 2006

    Fuuu…. I got flu. I hope it’s not the one we afraid so much. Still I don’t make animal and chicken sounds, and there are no feathers on my body, which means there’s a hope to survive. I should have listened to my grandma warning me not to sit at the computer for such a long time, because she had heard that dangerous viruses are transmitted via internet 🙂  One of the latest jokes connected with bird flu ( yea, other people think hard to stop this disease and we create new jokes): 

    – Have you heard that Bryusov University is going to be closed? 

    – Why? 

    – It’s said to be a bird flu there ( tsti gripa). 

    Here you had to laugh. For those who understood- hahaha!!! 🙂 

    And another one: 

    The birds are said not to fly to Armenia because the taxes on the board are too heavy 🙂 

    I guess I must drink many, many cups of tea.. that’s not a chicken syndrome, right? 



    Black presents

    March 2, 2006

    Several days ago I was in the car going to my friend’s house, which is in Monument. While going up the road, I couldn’t again resist the sorrow and not to shake my head on the view of the empty place of dismantled Kukuruznik. Still holding a grudge against suchlike destructions, I was kept in my thoughts. As  the car moved on another shocking scene caught my eye.

    The fact that last summer some “smart” people decided to place a naked Roman soldier on top of Cascade stairs, near the Eternal Fire symbol, was not enough. Now they decided to limelight its wondrous body installing several floodlights at it’s feet, thus making it glitter even in the gloom. Instead , the symbol of Eternal Fire, which is situated some 3 meters away from this roman creature, is totally veiled in darkness and but for its height it wouldn't be noticeable at all.
      Besides, at the bottom of Cascade another creature have been occupying its place for several years. It's the well known black cat statue, which in Armenia is associated with unfortuna and the so called “nafs”, that is to say, when someone puts an evil eye on a person. Some Armenians call the cats  ‘God's handkerchiefs”, the others believe that if a cat crosses your way you are going to suffer a misfortune.  If we trust this, perhaps that is the purpose that Armenians have ill-luck. (more…)