Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pashinian: The KGB has lost. Pt. 2.

You can say whatever you like about Nikol Pashinian, but even his detractors will admit that the man definitely has a pair. Would Presidents Chickenshit Present and Chickenshit Past act so macho if they were in Pashinian's position, daily making complete fools out of a couple of leguminous dictators without an entourage of body-guards?


Pashinian: The KGB has lost, the KGB must be torn down. Pt. 2.
Paykar! April 28, 2008.

KGB revanchism

Serzh Sargsyan became the head of National Security in 1995 after Davit Shahnazarian. By strengthening his position in this capacity and getting ready for the the change in government that was coming in 1998, Serzh Sargsyan began to liberate himself from the cadres of Davit Shahnazarian and replaced them with former KGB personnel, called professional cadres. These are the same people in whose rooms now hang portraits of Felix Dzerzhinski. In any case, those at the NSS with Shahnazarian (there weren't many of them, and Shahnazarian did not engage in a war of personnel at the NSS, only making politically important changes) were not professionals, but they understood that Armenia is an independent country: they had fought for that independence; in the same way, the first generation of Dzerzhinski's Cheka were not particularly adept at carrying out operations, but they had fought for the creation of that country, the country whose interests their organization was supposed to serve. And, incidentally, Davit Shahnazarian became the head of Armenia's special services only after it became clear that that organization intended to continue serving Moscow as before and did not want to pursue the goals of the President of independent Armenia. I became aware of an incident that took place during Serzh Sargsyan's tenure at the NSS through an article about the now-former head of the committee in charge of Customs, Armen Avetisyan. But it is only a small episode in the long history of the corruption of the NSS. The pinnacle of that corruption was the crime of October 27, 1999. Let us remember that up until the creation of the Secret Service, it was the NSS, itself, that was responsible for the protection of high-level diplomats, and aside from the victims of October 27th, those murdered during Serzh Sargsyan's tenure at the NSS include Supreme Justice of the R.A. Henrik Khachatryan, Vice-minister of the Ministry of Defence Vahram Khorkhorian, and head of the Interior Ministry Ardzrun Margaryan. During the same time period, a group of people surrounding Serzh Sargsyan collected the primary capital, becoming millionaires.

And when it became necessary for Serzh Sargsyan to quit his post as the head of the NSS, and when the Kocharian government had regained its secure position, the national security system received its final, deadliest blow. The special services (as well as the police) were removed from the system of government services and were turned into a service close to the government [i.e., they became tools for Kocharian], founded on corresponding laws. What this change meant was that the head of that organization was no longer going to be a minister [answerable to the people, other ministers, courts], but a boss--no longer a political figure, but a representative of the status quo. And if we take into consideration the fact that the NSS had by that time been filled with individuals who prayed in front of the image of Dzerzhinsky, who were hermetically sealed from the independence of Armenia and self government, and who considered and still consider their ideals and themselves as belonging to the KGB, it will become clear that Armenia de facto remains without a national security system. Today we have an organization made up of saldaphons [1] that is oblivious to the imperative to create a national and independent government and is ready to take orders, only. In this way, the NSS was reduced from a government institution to a senseless tool, becoming one of the main pillars of the criminal government.

1. Armenian սալդաֆոն from Russian салдафон?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Poem finds Music.

I posted the translation of Pashinian's poem on April 7th, and I am reposting it below. In it, he called for the poem to be set to music. Now it has, by Lav Eli. The singer is Gor Mkhitar's khnami, his sister's husband to be exact. In Armenia there is no six degrees of separation, but two; three degrees, maksimom. They have another song on their My Space page called "Spring has Come" that's kind of Blind Faith (one of my favorite songs) meets patarak (another favorite). Did I mention that strangely wonderful things are coming out of Armenia these days?

--------

Here is a poem by opposition leader Nikol Pashinian, a man who is very much respected in Armenia even by people who aren't firm supporters of Levon Ter Petrossian. Today, he is in hiding; if he weren't, he'd be in jail awaiting trial on false charges brought up by the Prosecutor General, Aghvan Hovsepian, who, it turns out, has a side job as a mafia Don. [update: I'm not sure if he's in hiding or under danger of arrest anymore because in the article from 4/28 below, he mentions having met with the NSS]. I wrote this intro on 4/7] The opposition movement's leaders are not only politicians, but intellectuals. Kocharian, on the other hand, wouldn't recognize a poem if it pitched a tent on his nose and started a campfire.

Pashinian makes a reference to a certain "singer, songwriter friend." I wonder if that friend is Ruben Hakhverdian who has publicly criticized the present criminal government.

Note that Pashinian's advice regarding how to read the poem doesn't apply to it in translation: Armenian poems follow a different meter that fits the polysyllabic nature of the language better. It would be nearly impossible to preserve the meter in a translation and not distort the meaning of the poem in the first place, even if one wanted to try such a thing. It could be put into English meters, but to do that right takes a luxuriously long time, weeks, if not months. It is worth noting, however, that the meter of "STRU-ggle, STRU-ggle, TILL the END" is similar to "pay-KAR, pay-KAR, min-CHEV VERJ." A happy coincidence.


The rhyme scheme is ABAB. But if people want to get an idea of the rhythm of the original, per stanza, this is usually the meter of the original, where "-" is a stressed and "." is an unstressed syllable and "~" is the regular "medium" stress on the last syllable of Armenian words:

-..~ -.~ , -..~ -.~
-..~ -.~ , -..~ -.~
-..~ -.~ , -..~ -.~
-.-.-.- (.) .-.-.-

The unstress mark in parenthesis is the pause he recommends. The first three lines each have 14 syllables, divided into two sets of seven syllables. And that is generally the logic of the poem that I've tried to preserve: each set of seven syllables is an independent idea. The last line of each stanza takes the six septa-syllabic ideas of the stanza and grounds them, so to speak, in the "Now." What some would call the "matrix" of the poem is this "Now," which has many implications that I'll leave to the reader to have the pleasure of unpacking. I do need to add that I've used "at once" and "now" to translate the Armenian Հիմա, because, while "at once" works for harvesting, dancing, and so on, it doesn't work when it comes to one of the ideas, dying. It's quite a sophisticated and beautiful poem, in my opinion, and yet another example of the extraordinary work coming out of Armenia today. And, again, readers should keep in mind that the goal of the present translation is to capture the logic of the poem, not its beauty, its rhetorical structure, in shorthand. You simply have to read it in Armenian for that.

Update: I didn't realize this before, but "հիմա," or "now" or "at once" if one wants to preserve the rhythm, is one of the things that the people were actually chanting in front of the French embassy. I heard it in the background in a video taken there either during or shortly before the police attacked (they didn't attack anybody at that particular location, but everybody outside).


NIKOL PASHINIAN

Below I present my poem about the arrival of Spring [garnanamut] dedicated to our movement. I hope that it merits the attention of my singer-songwriter friend, and that he will try to write a stirring and inspiring song for these words. I recommend that the reader come to a short pause before the "now"s when reading the poem. The poem's rhythm requires this.

TO THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING

Bonfires of freedom, in the city of freedom,
Multitudes of warm fists, confronting the stinging cold,
We've been born in the springtime, spring is what we've sown
Our crop is bountiful, already: "At once, at once, at once."

Those are our wounds singing, pining for the fatherland,
We have shamed our Stone [foundation], lost it inadvertently,
But spring is coming, and again we are blooming,
The spirit of dancing has taken us, already: "At once, at once, at once."

Tents of brotherhood, in the warm bosom of Tumanian,
Day will not break today, daybreak's twilight will linger on,
They chop our hope to pieces, they wound our spirits,
We have risen in revolt, already: "At once, at once, at once."

Human barricades, the collision of spirit and fear,
The bullets behave toward us like a long-missed brother,
The hearts of eight brothers no longer beat,
The martyrs gasp, "Now, now, now."

In the maw of the prisons struggles our living breath,
Our voice cannot be chained, our song will not die,
On the street of freedom are there unwavering warriors,
"Struggle, struggle, until the end": "At once, at once, at once."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pashinian: The KGB has lost. Pt. 1.

Nikol Pashinian: The KGB has lost, the KGB must be torn down
Paykar! April 28, 2008.

When my friend Mikael Hairapetian announced during an "Impeachment" coalition meeting last year that it is essential that the building in Yerevan on Nalbandian Street formerly belonging to the KGB and today belonging to the NSS [National Security Service of the RA] be demolished and a big hole be left in its place, some people thought the idea strange.

The last ten years, however, have demonstrated the wisdom of this idea--not in the sense of the building's physical destruction, but the destruction of [what it stands for]. It has been none other than the NSS that has been the flag-bearer of the political persecutions and the tyrannous repressions of recent years, and in order to understand the meaning of those activities, it is first indispensable to grasp the internal content of this organization and its tendencies, become familiar with its ideals, and become aware of the hidden portions of its mode of operation. And in order that I avoid abstractions in discussing this matter, it would be worth it [for me] to present concrete scenes to the reader. As you have already learned from my wife Anna V. Hakopian's article, the efforts carried out against Opposition activists include the active involvement of lieutenant colonel Karen Manukian, head of one of the operations divisions of the NSS. I know the latter personally and have been in contact with him regarding the cases of attacks on our paper's staff members, on two of which cases he has worked. He impresses one as a "Hi, how are you?" regular kind of person. But what is his workaday worldview? Felix Dzerzhinski [1] stares at us from a wall in his office. But this isn't a regular photograph, but an image printed with an ordinary line printer. At this [low] resolution, the image is blurry, but in this case that blurriness is on purpose--to lend the image a mythic quality. Note that Felix Dzerzhinski was the founder of the KGB that, in his time, was called Vecheka [2]. Note also that the KGB has been one of the most beastly, anti-human organizations in the history of mankind, whose mode of operation can be compared only to the Gestapo of the Nazis, and it was because of the false accusations leveled by none other that the KGB that millions of innocent people, Soviet citizens, perished.

But Dzerzhinski is not the only one hanging from the walls of Manukian's office. There are similar portraits in the offices of many NSS-ers, and those are not merely pieces of paper, but expressions of an ideology, a psychology. I became convinced of this after listening to a certain expression made by the very same Manukian: While addressing a youth who happened to be in his office, in my presence, the lieutenant colonel of the National Security Service of independent Armenia said, "Even America was not able to fool this organization, and you thought you could?" Clearly, "this organization," that not even the US has been able to fool, is the Soviet KGB.

I'm sure you will agree that such a statement could not have been made accidentally. It reflects the entire mentality of a certain environment and a certain system, a system that considers itself the progeny of the KGB, a part of it, its child. The comical part is, however, that the system is called the "National Security Service of the Republic of Armenia." The functionaries of this important organization who today attend to the issues concerning the so-called independence and security of Armenia have failed to notice a few "insignificant" issues, such as, for example--Armenia's becoming independent. Thus, in their "uninformed" state, they naturally need to consider themselves followers of the KGB, and they need to see their system as part of the great Soviet KGB--the same KGB that has been the executioner of tens of thousands of Armenians, including the idealogical father of the party led by Serzh Sargsyan, Grikor Nzhdeh. The KGB of Soviet Armenia, incidentally, was subject to the regulation of the Armenian Communist Government only to the extent that Moscow allowed it to be. And, today, it is no accident that Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkissian have to get approval from Moscow before before being able to resort to violent force. And if Russian special services want to hire anyone from the NSS, regardless of the person's rank, they can do that with the greatest of ease, because the environment of the NSS, its morality, and its psychology are not only conducive to such a thing, but encourage it in that direction. The numerous NSS agents in Armenia will hand over our country's government secrets to Russia, carry out the missions of Russia's special services, and in the end not consider themselves traitors. The KGB man has to the serve the progeny of the KGB, which is the FSB, no? And, there's no doubt: that's how agents of the NSS behave. And what Levon Ter-Petrossian says is true: the problems in Russian-Armenian relations are not in Russia, but in Armenia.


1. Felix Dzerzhinski founded Cheka, the secret police in the early Soviet period that later became the KGB and is now the FSB.
2. Vecheka, same as Cheka, not Vesenkha. Thanks to Nazarian for pointing this out.

Pashinian: The Regime of Mercenaries

Another Pashinian jab to Kocharian's kidney. Pashinian so totally cleans up the floor with Kocharian that I am reminded of Gokor vs. Mr. Mayeda.

The Regime of Mercenaries
April 17, 2008

In the evening of February the 3rd or 4th, 1998, while speaking about the President of the Republic of Armenia's (RA), Levon Ter-Petrossian's, resignation, Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation (RF), made an interesting statement. He said he had spoken to Levon Ter-Petrossian days before the resignation and offered him help, but the President of Armenia had refused it.

As you have no doubt guessed, the occasion for remembering this ten-year-old news is Serzh Sargsyan's public thanks to Putin, President of the RF in Moscow, for, to put it in Serzh Sargsyan's terms, the assistance he extended to him and Robert Kocharian during the pre-election and post-election periods. Serzh Sargsyan virtually thanked Putin for his assistance in the business of acquiring the RA and killing its citizens. These two, at first glance unimportant, examples clearly reveal both the situation that Armenia finds itself in today, and the alternative that it has.

In the last ten years the people in power have often sang the praises of the state and its gains and used them against opposers; in reality, however, they've been interested in the preservation of their own power and wealth, only. And in all this time they've but reduced the state to a common outpost [Russian: форпост]. On one occasion, Kocharian stated that the EU is not a politburo [1]. It turns out that Kocharian left his statement half finished: he should have completed the sentence by stating that, for him, the politburo remains in Moscow, as always. This [statement by Kocharian] is basically a verification of the tragic truth that [the mentality of] a man who has led Armenia for ten years has not grown beyond that of a provincial factory's party-committee [Russian: партком]. And, in spite of this, his entourage has decided to count him as one among the rank of cosmic leaders. What can be said about this? History will itself decide whether to remember or not remember Kocharian. And if it remembers, where will it place the emphases in the remembrance? Let us note, however, that history does not remember or remembers with contempt those leaders who ask for the assistance of others against their own people. And, by the way, Serzh Sargsyan shares this honor and glory equally [with Kocharian].

P.S. When Levon Ter-Petrossian characterized the movement that he leads as a national liberation movement, some thought it an exaggeration. Clearly, however, the Kocharian-Sargsyan leadership is playing the role of a mercenary whose purpose is to keep Armenia and the Armenian people in a state of brokered occupation.

1. Meaning the EU as a political entity transcending individual states does not control them, the states.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nikol Pashinian: While drinking Courvoisier

In this article published in Paykar! a couple of days ago, on April 25th, 2008, Pashinian takes up Serzh Sargsyan's recent efforts to try to look like a crusader against corruption through news stories--read, commercials--on Armenian state TV. Pashinian blows the story wide open by relating the history of Sargsyan's relationship with Armen Avetisyan, who is at the heart of the charade as the head of Customs whom Sargsyan recently fired. He fired Avetisyan ostensibly because of corruption, but the real story behind it is much, much different.

[Note: The picture below is of Armen Avetisyan, and it's from Panorama.am.
]


Nikol Pashinian: While drinking Courvoisier

Gevorkovian theater's worthy actor, Serge Sargsyan, commenced his post-election guest performances [Russian: гастрол?] from the Armenian Customs Service (ACS), which is close to the government. The dismissal of Armen Avetisyan, the chairman of the ACS for the last 8 years, served as the occasion for Sargsyan's meeting with the customs officials. During the meeting he unleashed invectives upon them and said that the ACS is ruled by wretched habits--bribery and corruption. There was but one purpose for his visit: to show the public that an unprecedented formidable struggle against corruption has begun. And yet, if Serzh Sargsyan's "custom's performace" was a drama to the viewers who are uninformed, to the viewers who are informed it was nothing if not a comedy.

On first glance, [the Sargsyan-at-Customs] story can make a favorable impression: Here is Serzh firing Armen Avetisyan who has turned Customs into a criminal establishment. In reality, however, Armen Avetisyan was not fired because of any wrong-doing, but because of ill health. Armen Avetisyan has spent most of the last year undergoing different treatments in various countries; keeping him in his post would have amounted to sadism. And, generally speaking, in order to understand this event, it is necessary to know who Armen Avetisyan is. Serzh Sargsyan has often said to the people in his circle that he, Sargsyan, who does not have a son, sees Armen Avetisyan as his own. And Armen, for his part, has naturally not refused such "high-level fathering"; his entire career is tied to just Serzh Sargsyan, himself.

The public first became aware of Avetisyan during the change in government that took place in 1998. During that time, Serzh Sargsyan was the head of the State Security Department and Minister of Internal Affairs [National Security], and Avetisyan was the head of the State Security Department's branch dealing with economic crimes. The Gharabagh clan, who had taken the first steps toward the seizure of the government, had huge financial ambitions. The clan's leaders needed to gain independence, be given business markets. And it is difficult to imagine a better tool for achieving this than the State Security's department for investigating economic crimes. Under Armen Avetisyan's "benign" hand, representatives from the business world would turn up in State Security detention rooms and leave only after paying the price of surrendering a part of their business interests and conceding the interests of this Gharabaghtsi [1] or that individual enjoying Serzh's sponsorship. And this is how the Gharabagh clan's economic network was established. Armen Avetisyan became the clan's and Serzh Sargsyan's darling: he directed rivers of money toward his chiefs. After October 27, 1999 [2], Serzh Sargsyan was forced to resign from his post as head of the State Security Department. And, despite the fact that Armen Avetissyan continued in his post at the SSD, in reality he did not answer to its new head, Carlos Petrossian, but to his spiritual father, Serzh Sargsyan. Naturally, this situation did not appeal to Carlos Petrossian, and he did everything he could to make Avetisyan's life unbearable. But then came May 2000: Aram Sarkissian [3] was dismissed from his post as Prime Minister, Serzh Sargsyan was appointed Minister of Defense, and although Carlos Petrossian was able to defended his [own] post, Armen Avetisyan was appointed Chairman of the Armenian Customs Service.

When Vazgen Sarkissian became Prime Minister [June 1999], he dealt serious financial blows to the Gharabagh clan, eliminating, specifically, a series of monopolistic positions that the clan held in several market sectors. And, here, Armen Avetisyan as head of Customs had a job to do: to make it impossible [4] for [businessmen] to be able to import into Armenia those types of goods the monopolies on which Serzh had gifted to the representatives of the brotherhood. Naturally, the man at Customs solved this brilliantly. In effect, for a few bags of sugar for preserves from Sadakhlo [river between Georgia and Armenia], the occupants of Bagratashen would be subjected to criminal treatment and be charged with customs fraud, while cars worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars would become tax-exempt through ridiculous prices, if, of course, they belonged to the people you know all too well. Perhaps many readers have been confronted with the situation where, in the course of bringing 2-3 cellphones from other countries for their families, they have been accused of customs fraud and forced to hand over the "contraband" to customs in order to avoid paying illogical sums in taxes. And this is how Avetisyan would protect the untouchability of Kocharian's business [his son now has the cellphone monopoly in Armenia]. Naturally, under these conditions, Avetisyan himself became untouchable. He quickly became one of Armenia's richest individuals. He wears suits worth 10-30 thousand dollars, lives an immoral life, and drinks the world's most expensive spirits. A few years ago he "lit up" with Putin's people on two bottles of "Courvoisier" cognac worth $7000, and for the penultimate New Year he bought for his family's New Year's table 20 bottles of $800 and 20 bottles of $1000 cognac. And the interesting thing is that he purchased these items from "Duty Free," meaning from the tax-free network.

But it is possible that the Armenian people will not be able to put him on trial. It is said that he is sick, not with hepatitis, a belief whose supposition is accepted, but with another sickness, one which people don't talk about out-loud. God's punishment is far more severe than man's punishment could possibly be.

P.S. First President of the R.A. Levon Ter-Petrossian has counted Armen Avetisyan among the columns holding up the criminal government.


1. "Gharabaghtsi" means person from Gharabagh.
2. October 27, 1999, is the day gunmen entered parliament and killed 8 parliamentarians. See very graphic video here.
3. Aram Sarkissian is unrelated to Serzh Sargsyan, but Aram Sarkissian is the younger brother of Vazgen Sarkissian who was killed in the parliamentary massacre of 10/27, mentioned above; he was the Prime Minister, in fact. It is rumored that Kocharian and company were behind the massacre. Note that they killed one brother and forced the other brother out of parliament within the span of one year. Both were Prime Ministers.
4. Pashinian uses an expression here: "the hen with its wing and the snake with its bellybutton." Since hens can't fly and snakes don't have bellybuttons, I've translated this as "to make it impossible."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Japanese study of the Armenian genocide.

AZG Armenian daily reports that a collection of essays on the Armenian genocide has been published in Japan by the scholar Hirohosi Sekawa (this is a transliteration of a transliteration), a professor at the University of Aichi Sangyo*. The article notes that Sekawa first heard about the genocide twenty years ago during a UN report on human rights. He began researching the event and published a number of articles on the subject. Aside from this book, he has published another one called "The Entirely Forgotten Armenian Genocide" in 2004. He visited Armenia and conducted research at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in 2002. More power to professor Sekawa.




*I looked it up, and I couldn't find a city called Sangyo in Aichi prefecture in Japan. There is a university in Kariya, however. UPDATE: Looks like there is an Aichi Sangyo University in the city of Okazaki-shi in Aichi prefecture. Thanks to Ani for finding that out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Documentary about March 1st.

A documentary was put out about a month ago about the events of March 1st. A1 has put out a translation of this documentary linked to below. It is the best documentary about the events on that day to date.

The last 30 seconds of part II, to which I have linked below, is a clip of probably one of the finest moments of Armenian history in the last 1,000 years. A more inspiring clip, I can't imagine. A heady, heady moment, captured.

Note that it is Nikol Pashinian that is carried on the people's shoulders to the dais.

See all 5 parts. The originals are here. The translations are here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt. 6.

This installment wraps-up Pashinian's analytical essay. Here, he continues to debunk the government's legitimacy by consistently eating through its main support beams with the ferocious patience of a robotic-termite infestation. He also rebuts the accusation that the Opposition is "full of hatred." People living in the US will no doubt be familiar with this particularly sly and pernicious attack, having heard it ad nauseam, and I'm glad he addressed it. Like Clinton and McCain, the Kocharian horde says one thing, does another, and blames what it is doing on its opponent; and like Obama, Pashinian patiently and clearly tells the truth to the people, slowly and steadily gains their trust and support, and gives them hope.


Nikol Pashinian's Analytical essay: up until March 1st, and beyond. (Pt. VI)

A few questions and conclusions

Kocharian's decree announcing a state of emergency has a huge legitimacy deficit. The Constitution states that a state of emergency is declared when there is the danger of an immediate threat to the constitutional order. What was the danger threatening the constitutional order on March 1st? The only danger was that the police and the army had transgressed the boundaries of the law and turned into a huge, armed, criminal gang. To the contrary, it is Kocharian's sanctioned state of emergency, itself, that threatens the constitutional order: the opposition is in jail or in detention, newspapers and political parties are in effect shut down, processions and demonstrations are outlawed, the first president is under house arrest, the people are not informed, and the central streets of Yerevan are being monitored by tanks and soldiers bearing automatic rifles. And so then, a question: Is there such a law [justifying the state of emergency] in Armenia? Of course, there is not. In that case, what does it mean? It means that Kocharian has done something (defined a state-of-emergency regime that is legal) for which he is not authorized by the Constitution or the laws. [You,] Aghvan Hovsepian, this is government take-over, and not those laughable tales that you invent with the help of the perchance talentless writers Levon Ananian and Razmik Davoyan. But this is not all. Who has given Robert Kocharian and Seyran Ohanian [chief of staff of Armenian Armed Forces from Gharabagh, appointed MoD under Serj Sarkissian] the right to use the army against a civilian movement and station tanks and soldiers in the streets of Yerevan and to fire upon the people? Cite the law that sanctions anyone to do such a thing. Why were weapons of war used against civilians--why weren't rubber bullets used, at least?

Because Hrand had noticed correctly: to Kocharian and Serj, the people standing in the plaza were not fellow civilians, but enemies. And they typify those enemies as either Armenian citizens, or citizens of Yerevan. And, incidentally, in one of his conferences, Kocharian permitted himself such an expression: "All I have to do is go 'Boo!' and these residents of Yerevan will run away." He was disappointed: they didn't. It became clear after the events of March 1st that the Serjokocharianic government and the Armenian people are genetically incompatible. And the first president's formulation that either Serj will have to leave the country or the people will have to go is as accurate as it is severe.

About hatred
The government is constantly rattling the drums, announcing that our movement is filled with hatred and that hatred was being preached during the assemblies as well. It is not difficult to disprove this ridiculous assertion. In our processions during the final days, a tradition had sprung up: whenever the procession's participants would come across the police, they would greet them and the people watching the procession from the balconies with fervent applause; whether or not those balconies belonged to slave-monitoring, private, or government-oligarch establishments, they would send them a warm greeting and receive an answer in response. This is, of course, a sign of hatred, the people's mutual hatred of--Rob and Serj.

The people at Freedom plaza would dance and rejoice, literally celebrating their rebirth and taking care of one another. And it is truly disgusting to hear official [state] news say that people had been payed-off to stay at the plaza. With regard to food, I don't know their names, but I remember the faces of tens of people who brought food--hot tea, yogurt soup, bread--to the plaza and distributed it to the people. And, yes, the organizers distributed food as well, because one person would bring $100 worth of food to Freedom plaza, and another would bring the $100, itself, and ask the organizers to use it to take care of the needs of the round-the-clock [sit-in] action. Some people brought medicines, [others] firewood, and [others] warm blankets. And, incidentally, every day at daybreak, Freedom plaza would get cleaned-up and be put into order. And the headquarters of Central precinct was not able to realize trash collection for one day. All of that was done through the means available to and with the help of the assembly participants.

About the organizing of disorderly behavior
From the beginning, Levon Ter-Petrossian defined the founding principle of our struggle--no violence. The February 20th assembly, meaning the first assembly after the elections, was filled with tension. People wanted to seek a solution through force. But Ter-Petrossian resolved that aggressiveness to song and dance in a marvelous way--through celebrations. For ten days there were celebrations at Freedom plaza, complete with the lighting of fires, music, singing, and dancing of Armenian dances. Because of these celebrations, the thievocracy came to hate the people all the more and would repeatedly send envoys to Freedom plaza, not allowing the celebrations to die out. During the ten days of assemblies and processions, not one disorderly or distasteful event took place. The people had arrived at an emotional and spiritual balance. And had the impudent and illegal police violence not taken place, the celebrations would have continued without any distasteful events.

About government take-over
The accusation that the Office of the Prosecutor General is trying to level against us is simply comic. The clause in the Armenian Lawcode is called "Government take-over." Even a schoolboy understands that the origin of this accusation lies with Robert Kocharian and Serj Sarkissian, who have not been elected president of the country, but have taken over the government belonging to the president and the people. In doing so, they have come to a criminal agreement with the Central Electoral Committee, the Precinct Election Commissions, the county directors, and the mayors. The Constitutional Court is likewise an important link in this criminal agreement, perhaps the most pitiful one: cognizant of the law, but weak, spineless, and devoid of pride--a gathering of delicate coquettes.

Did we expect [what happened], by any chance?
For ten years people have been talking about how Kocharian's government is a criminal and murderous government. People asserting such views have mounted the dais [for all that time]. And the first president, who is leading the movement, systematized and in toto presented the governing body's criminal being. That is to say that anything can be expected from such a governing body. In that sense, the events following March 1st were, of course, expected and able to be foreseen. Only, each one of us hoped that there remained in government some trace of reason and morality. Incidentally, we were aware as well of the alarm that was sounded in the internal forces, the police, and the army at daybreak on March 1st, at 5 AM, just like we were aware of the one on February 29th, in the evening.

What is going to happen?
Kocharian and Serj proved that which needed proving: the preservation of their government is a catastrophe for Armenia. The preservation of their government means the loss of Mountainous Gharabagh. The movement must continue with a new momentum. In plazas across Armenia, assemblies must take place, and, in the streets, processions, for as long as the thievocracy has not been overthrown. The struggle must be continued--inside the prisons, in freedom, and underground.

P.S. The Republic of Armenia's first president, in the course of naming the key figures in the thievocracy, forgot to mention His Majesty, head of criminals.

Nikol Pashinian

via Unzipped.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt. 5.

Nikol Pashinian's analytical essay: Up to March 1st and beyond. Pt. V

In the beginning they were shooting into the air, but a few moments later the first demonstrator died, and the citizens understood that the army has come to crush them. Then began the real battle: armed with sticks and pipes, the boys were protecting, not their right to hold assemblies, but their right to live, a right against which had turned out the Armenian army, who with its Kalashnikovs and grenades was firing into its own people.

During this time I was continually near the megaphone. With a group of friends, we were trying to tell the people some things to avoid a panic. Then, nearby the microphone, they started singing liberation songs and reciting poetry, and then the shooting stopped. We found out that the demonstrators had pushed the army back up to Leo street, up to Amirian street, from the side of Mashtotsian.

A brief pause ensued, then news arrived of lootings and vandalism. It was clear that this was the morning scenario's late execution, because if the rank-and-file members of the assembly had [wanted to vandalize shops], a target better and less protected than Andranik Manukian's "Metropol" restaurant or Gagik Dzarukian's cognac factory could not be found. The looting was indispensable to the government as something that they could broadcast through "Armenian News" the next day. Incidentally, "Armenian News" has not to this day said that the protesters were fired upon and that the one doing the firing was the army.

A little later, news arrived that the next attack on the protesters was coming, and this time with tanks. The Republic of Armenian's first president, Levon Ter-Petrossian, who had been under house arrest this entire time, exhorted the participants of the assembly to disperse. We had found out by then that a state of emergency had been declared and that there were many wounded people, and in this environment*, it was quite fitting that a just attendant of the Armenian Apostolic Church [recited] a resounding "Our Father" through the megaphone. Incidentally, at Freedom plaza, too, "Our Father" would often be heard, and the people would pray; this time, however, tears filled the eyes of many near the French embassy.


UPDATE: Thanks to nazarian for helping me out with
ֆոն.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt. 4.

Someone should start accepting donations to the Bring the Concept of Paragraphing to Armenia Fund. I mean really. The paragraph is conceived of so broadly that if an Armenian sits down to write the history of human civilization from, say, Sumer to today, he'd write that gargantuan tome in three paragraphs: the ancient world, from the Hellenes to Erasmus, and the Modern period. That's it--three paragraphs.

Paragraphing this way helps keep
together all ideas that are related; in Pashinian's essay, the principle that guides the paragraphing is chronological, because the analysis mentioned in the title of the essay, the break-down, is chronological; hence, each paragraph is one of the pieces the time-line breaks down into. That's exactly how it should be, especially the way Pashinian does it. But because I'm already organizing these installments by the same principle, and because large paragraphs just don't look right in English, I've decided to break them down further. In the original, everything below is one paragraph.

In this part of the essay, Pashinian focuses on the 1/2 day or so of preparations the people had time to undertake before the soldiers attacked them near the French embassy. To me, there is a very important clue in this account as to what this event means and where things are going. Sovereign is he who declares a state of exception. We have two states of exception declared here, in this part of the history. On most levels things are a bit muddy, but on this level things are as clear as the cool water from the springs of Aragatz: Pashinian is the real king, or the dauphin, rather, in this chapter of Armenian history, not Ter-Petrossian, who is more like a Merlin. Pashinian and Kocharian are on a collision course.


Nikol Pashinian's analytical essay: Up to March 1st and beyond. (IV)

You understand: They made no demands; they simply beat [the people] and that was that. This news spread throughout Yerevan, and the people came together in front of the French embassy, tired of being beaten and themselves not aware of how the power relationship [ratio] was changing. They blocked the path of the water-cannons with a few trolley-buses, while the police began to muster.

There began a string of ridiculous proposals: to move the assembly to the train station nearby, close to "Dynamo" stadium, and finally to the Matenadaran ["Place for manuscripts." Research Institute/depository of ancient manuscripts]. But a question arose, "Why?" The reason could have been given that near the French embassy the assembly was getting in the way of mobility; however, so many people were gathered there that streets would have ended-up being closed no matter where they went, even Freedom plaza; [this was] especially [true] in the case of the Matenadaran, which the police were insisting on, because [had the assembly moved there] Mashtotz would have been shut down, as well as the connection to Koriun street and even Moscow street, and possibly the intersection of Sayat Nova - Baghramian - Mashtotz streets. In other words, streets were going to be closed no matter what, so why were the police insisting that we move? Because they had received the beating that was their reply [comeuppance]: the path for the water-cannons and other equipment had been blocked. They had to get the people into a wide-open area in order to be able to shatter them to dust. A provocateur would have broken the windows of a couple of stores on the way, and that would have served as the formal excuse for the use of force. This scenario did not come to pass, and then news reached us that the police had begun to retreat from the French embassy area.

This seemed like good news at first, but another bit of news arrived almost simultaneously: the army had been brought to Yerevan from different places, among them Gharabagh, live rounds had been distributed to the soldiers, and the orders had been given to fire into the protesters with those live rounds. I was on the way to the French embassy when I heard this news. I didn't want to believe that Kocharian and Serj would fire into the people, but I had absolutely no basis to doubt such a prospect.

The spectacle at the French embassy surpassed all of my expectations, primarily with regard to the number of people present, but it was also noticeable that the number of provocateurs was not small, either. Some of them would approach and make provocative suggestions. It got to the point where I had to get a little rough with a few of them.

The decision was unanimous: We were going to stay near the French embassy and wait for the first president. But armed groups of soldiers who had orders to fire into the people were approaching from the other side. What to do? It was necessary to single-mindedly take care of the safety of the assembly's participants. The first issue was the following: to keep the [crowd control] devices from entering the protester's arena. Several of the access points to the area near the French embassy had already been closed before my arrival, and there were buses and a few police "Valis's" in the center of the area. We transported those cars to the area's entry points and made barricades out of them. And it should be noted that all of the private cars that were to be found there at that time have [since] exited the area without trouble; the bus that I mentioned had been used to bring soldiers to the area. During this time, buses and vehicles belonging to the city were entering the area from several different directions, and the drivers were joining the barricade makers. The entry points to the French embassy area were now closed.

But this did not guarantee the safety of the assembly participants. Using a megaphone, I told the people the following in precise terms: "We are not preparing to attack anyone; but if they attack us, we will defend ourselves." What was the reason for this stance? The activities of the government were already outside the bounds of the law and were now out of control ["bezpredl" Russ. bez-not predl-boundary?]. We could neither retreat in the face of what is not lawful, nor allow them to kill our wives and our mothers like animals in front of eyes--or kill us like animals in front of the eyes of our wives and mothers. And this is when I told the men to take up sticks and stones for the sake of self defense. Meanwhile, the soldiers approached [us] from two directions, from the vicinity of Shahmurian and the "Fish Market."

The most important part of this entire story is that they had no demands. What did they want in the morning, what did they want in the evening, and what did they want now? All of this has remained a mystery. And, incidentally, the soldiers had arrived before Kocharian's declaration of a state of emergency, and, in general, how was the rank-and-file protester to know that a state of emergency has been declared? These are important subtleties that characterize the events' legal character, or more accurately, illegal character.

And then, fusillades and shots were heard in the dark of the Yerevan night. Not a person retreated in area of the French embassy. A large group of youth ran toward the "Fish Market," whence the shots and explosions had been heard coming.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt 3.

This part of Pashinian's essay covers the police attack on March 1st, its dispersal, and the spontaneous decision taken by the people to reassemble in front of the French Embassy. It also covers the legal side of the event.


Nikol Pashinian's analytical essay: Up to March 1st and beyond. (III)

There needed to be a formal reason for the use of force, but there wasn't any. The government's claim that the assemblies taking place were illegal because they had not been condoned by the mayor's office were categorically not serious. The Republic of Armenia's law regarding "meetings, assemblies, processions, and demonstrations" provides for the possibility of assemblies and processions being conducted that don't have mayoral approval, and we were making use of just that provision. Hence, [they could not] use the "illegality" of the assemblies as [justification for] the use of force.

But what really happened is the following. At daybreak on March 1st, at around 6:20 AM, baton-wielding police carrying shields and wearing helmets surrounded the protesters in their tents. While [the police] were arriving, some of the people in the tents were awake, and this includes the first president. Ter-Petrossian suddenly approached the microphone and said the following: "Assembly participants, this is Levon Ter-Petrossian speaking. Please do not have any contact with the police. If they have come here, it means that they have something to say to us. Come, let us listen to what they want." A thirty-minute pause ensued--an absolute silence. And all of a sudden the police attacked from the Toumanian statue side. No demands, nothing. They were beating [the protesters], administering electric shocks, and not telling [us] what it was they wanted. I am specifically pointing this out because their modus operandi contradicted not only logic, but law: Regarding "meetings, processions, demonstrations, and assemblies," the laws of the Republic of Armenia say that if a decision is made to use force to end and disperse a demonstration, the organizers must first be made aware and a reasonable period of time must be given for the demonstration to be dispersed. However, if the organizers refuse to call an end to the demonstration, then the police are required to twice announce through a PA system, so that the demonstrators are made aware, that force might be used against them. They did none of these things. To boot, no one asked any of us for permission to search [the tents]; had they asked, we would have granted it, because, of course, we knew very well that there were no weapons in the tents. And even if a weapon had been found in a tent, that [discovery] could not have had an impact on the all-day demonstrations, because in whomever's tent a weapon is discovered, that person must be called to account, and that [discovery] must not impinge upon the right of assembly belonging those who do not have weapons. (And let me add that the assembly's groups that were in charge of keeping order were continuously finding cocktail molotovs, metal pipes, and clubs, which, as it turned out, were being planted there by the HSS's [Homeland Security Service] and police department's agents provocateurs.) In short, from the moment the use of force commenced, the protectors of justice put themselves outside of the law. A big fight broke out in Freedom plaza. The demonstrators were protecting themselves with the firewood brought for the nightly campfires or directly with their bare fists. It was apparent that under those circumstances it was not possible to hold out against the police, whose numbers were roughly equal to the number of demonstrators in the plaza at that time. And the police, of course, were armed with everything necessary for that type of confrontation. The fight lasted about 30-40 minutes. Many were immediately arrested, and many retreated while continuing to fight, and the fight moved almost all the way to Republic square on Northern street. As for the first president, a group of about 20 immediately isolated him at the start and took him toward Tumanian's statue [photo of LTP there]. A few of our boys took me from Freedom plaza to a safe place. And this is how 2008's first Spring daybreak turned out. But this was only the beginning of the treacherous and bloody events. The events that followed showed that the Serjokocharianic-tyranny issue was truly not only about the dispersal of the assembly at Freedom plaza, but about violent beatings and the return of the people to their former state of slavery. After the events in the morning, the people, some of them quite unaware of what had happened, arrived at Freedom plaza for the usual gathering. They found Freedom plaza surrounded and, naturally, grouped together nearby, and all of a sudden the police attacked them with their clubs and subjected them to a brutal beating.

It's clear that it is a police force, but please admit that a policeman does not have the right to directly attack you and beat you with a baton or give you an electric shock. The policeman must first tell you what he wants and establish the legality of his request. And yet, on March 1st, we were continually getting news that the police had beaten several groups of people on Mashtots street, on Northern street, and so on. And then these beaten, wounded people decided to gather in front of the French embassy. But here, too, they started to beat them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt. 2

The elections were on the 19th, after which there was a ten-day long, round-the-clock sit-in at Liberty Plaza, which was violently broken up on March 1st, with 9 deaths in the surrounding areas. In this installment, Pashinian is talking about that ten-day period of the sit-in, after the elections and before the violent break-up.


Nikol Pashinian's analytical essay: Up to March 1st and beyond. (II)

And so the movement was growing, and Liberty Plaza was all in a storm. Every day from 3 PM to 9 PM--an assembly. Daily processions would take place that were stunning in size. The singing and dancing would begin at 9 PM, although the assembly would have numerous musical interludes throughout the day. And in order for the extent of the action to be comprehend correctly, it is necessary to point something out. One must not measure the round-the-clock actions in the manner of regular assemblies, which have a beginning point and an end point and are attended by people intending to participate from beginning to end. It is not possible to participate in a round-the-clock assembly in this manner because a person can't stay at the assembly for 24 hours a day. That is to say that a round-the-clock assembly has a fluid form: Some would arrive at midnight, intending to stay until morning; some would arrive in the morning and stay until they went to work; some would arrive in the intervening period; some after work; some would go home after work, eat, and participate in the assembly only afterward. With all this, Liberty Plaza was packed from at least 2:30 PM to 10 PM, an unprecedented extent. These assemblies became a singular source of rehabilitation for our people. Many opinions have been expressed in the last years: that our people are not ones to struggle, that our people are broken, and that our people have been sold-out. But during the days of the assemblies, I saw dozens of times how citizens, seeing the plaza packed with people on a daily basis, would say, "I bear our people's pain" [see below *]. This is one of our important successes that we still retain at this hour. The people regained their respect for themselves, and this is what terrified the Kocharian-Sargsyan couple most of all. They thought that they had decisively deprived the people of their self-respect and pride and that it was essential that they quickly contain the progress of the events and their similarly unpredictable course. Kocharian and Sargsyan needed to prove to the people that they are nothing and that they do not have the right to think for themselves, and they began again with the base act of driving [transporting] people to the assemblies.

This time around the citizens were being driven [to Sargsyan's assembly at Republic Plaza] to protect Serj Sargsyan. And there took place in Yerevan's Republic Plaza an assembly that is unprecedented in human history. It was unprecedented, not because people had been driven there and coerced into listening to Serj Sargsyan give a speech, but because they'd strung barbed wire across all the exits in order to keep people from fleeing the assembly--the president "elect's" assembly. But the people overcame this trial as well, and the people left Republic Plaza and came to Freedom Plaza chanting, "Levon! Levon!" At this point, Kocharian and Sargsyan were forced to, literally forced to, reveal their most important "customer," Artur Baghdassarian [head of the Rule of Law party]. But this likewise backfired, and Rule of Law party supporters began joining the hundreds of Republican Party [Kocharian's and Sarkissian's party] and Prosperous Armenia party supporters in Freedom Plaza who had declined to go hear [Baghdassarian] talk. A very important event had taken place. That which we had to laboriously explain to the people was no longer in need of an explanation. Artur Baghdassarian has been the servant of the thievocracy since the beginning--their fifth, spare, tire. But along with the revelation of Artur Baghdassarian was revealed something even more important: there is no opposition in the Republic of Armenia besides that composed of the forces gathered around Levon Ter-Petrossian--all the rest are servants to the government. This determination was made more forceful by the situation of the movement headed by Ter-Petrossian. By appropriating Artur Baghdassarian, the government wanted to prove that the public in Freedom Plaza represented a minority of the population. But people had voted for Little Artur who were opposed to the Serjokocharianic regime and felt betrayed. In any case, this exceedingly vulgar "secret weapon" was necessary for Kocharian to create an environment for the use of force [i.e., it would be acceptable]. The government's hope that the detentions and arrests, the spreading of terror, and the spreading of lies through the Armenian news would break the spirit of those gathered at Liberty Plaza vaporized into thin air. There remained but one distinction--power; otherwise, the use of Baghdassarian as a secret weapon had afforded the people's movement a decisive momentum.


* Or "May I bear our people's pain." tsav tanel is a frequently used (sometimes every other word) expression of endearment that's difficult to translate well. In terms of sentiment, its something like "I feel your pain," except in addition to the empathy expressed by that sentiment is the declaration of the willingness to take on the pain. It also means as many different things in different contexts as the Italian-American "forget about it."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Armenian protest song.

I picked this up from Tzitzernak.

It is a very heart-felt, clear-sighted, and honest, not to mention completely informed, criticism of Kocharian, Inc. He's right about many things, but about this especially: that March 1st will never be forgotten. It is about the pain in the hearts of Armenians turning into intense anger, directed against the immediate perpetrators but, in the last instance, toward the ones who enabled those perpetrators. The last shot is of the globe: It blames international forces, ultimately. And he's right. This is a global problem. And this is a very astute Armenian fusion protest song. I love it. I came across it half an hour ago, and I've replayed it seven times already. Regretfully, I don't know the artists name, but maybe he doesn't want his name to be known, and under today's conditions in Armenia, who would blame him.

"Then you tell me, 'Don't curse,'
Why? Is my tongue tied?"

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt 1

This is Nikol Pashinian's analysis of the opposition movement afoot in Armenia. It is the best analysis that I've ever read of what happened to transform the movement from the small one it was to a raging phenomenon threatening to overthrow the government, written from a person inside, indeed, central, to the movement. The essay is nice and long, with plenty of details, asides, and room for developing ideas, so I'll be translating it in parts. I anticipate 4 or 5 installments. It's an absolute adventure and a pleasure to be walked through the history of the movement by an intellectual of Pashinian's caliber. In this installment he talks about when the moment of transformation occurred that changed the entire character of the movement into a genuine people's movement, as well as the reason behind the participation of young Armenians upon their meeting Ter-Petrossian, when they had been absent in the beginning of the movement. It also drops a tasty psychoanalytic morsel about the character of the Kocharian camp's way of doing things. I'm fairly certain that it was posted on Paykar on March 16, 2008. Enjoy.


Nikol Pashinian's analytical essay: Up until March 1st and beyond. (I)
What happened on March 1st, 2008? Could the leaders of the opposition have foreseen what happened? What is going to happen now?

Hayastantsis are concerned with these questions more, perhaps, than any other [questions]. And these questions become all the more urgent with the government's vulgar sermons* as their backdrop, because these are not even sermons, but a betrayal of a contempt the government harbors toward it's own people or, more correctly, it's own slaves. But let us turn to our questions and try to find their answers.

Even before the elections, it was noticeable that the first president's, Levon Ter Petrossian's, movement is an exceptional one in the history of the third government. This has been the first Armenian political movement since the National Movement of 1988 that has had a progressive but easy course. All other opposition movements after independence, on the other hand, have suddenly caught-afire and just as suddenly become extinguished. On the day that the sermons regarding the Armenian general elections began, the movement led by Ter-Petrossian had already had four months to campaign publicly. This was preceded by a period of rather thorough strategic deliberations. (We won't even mention the first president's ten years of experience and reflection). These references are significant not only as descriptions of the situation [that obtained]: That situation [in turn] beares witness to the fact that this [movement] is not a rote political flare-up, and one should not expect it to die the usual death. Perhaps the government understood this, as well. And since the political and, indeed, nation-wide movement was formally connected to Levon Ter-Petrossian's being declared a presidential candidate, the Kocharian-Sarkissian pair decided to end the elections quickly, giving Serj Sarkissian 53% of the vote. This did not have the government's desired effect, and the people were further angered by that type of behavior. But the government did not arrive at the necessary conclusion from this [backlash], and continued with its premeditated plan. Indeed, the theivocracy does have an imprudent tendency to carry through its fixed ideas [idees fixes] to their very end. After Ter-Petrossian's speech on September 21st, all the television stations began flinging mud at him, yet what Ter-Petrossian had to say nevertheless progressively became more and more understandable and acceptable to the people. The categorical anti-sermons continued; Ter-Petrossian's popularity continued to grow. The anti-sermons grew increasingly vulgar; Ter-Petrossian's popularity grew all the more quickly. I am describing this process in order to show that this thievocratic government is primitive to an extreme degree and has not mastered variety in its solutions. I am reminded of Tigran Levonian's comparison. During an interview, he compared the Kocharian-Sarkissian pair to a crocodile. It is a very fitting comparison: however terrifying a crocodile is, it is a very primitive animal and has only two or three moves in its arsenal. The same is true of the thievocratic government, which only knows how to buy, terrorize, and eliminate...oh, and how to cry crocodile tears.

And so, when it became clear to the government that the perverse falsification of the elections had created a wave of protest, they decided to take the next step. The Central Elections Committee (CEC) announced the final results, according to which Serj Sarkissian was the winner in the first round. The results were made public at a time when the round-the-clock gatherings at Freedom Plaza were already into their fifth day, and the numbers of the participants were progressively growing. By manipulating the CEC, the thievocratic pair hoped to instill in the people a feeling of hopelessness in the coming struggle, as if [since] the struggle was for Levon Ter-Petrossian's presidency and the CEC had made it final that Serj Sarkissian had been elected president [then the struggle had lost its purpose]--meaning, "Protest all you want." At this point it became necessary for the first president to say something. Ter-Petrossian approached the microphone and calmly announced, "The CEC's announcement has no bearing on our struggle; the struggle continues." To speak truthfully, I consider this to have been the people's movement's most important stage. Here, the movement underwent awe-striking metamorphoses. This is now a struggle carried out, not in the name of having one or another candidate win the presidency, but in the name of freedom, in the name of respect, and in the name of civility. This is a struggle in the name of the future. Truth be told, we conceived of the struggle in exactly those terms from the beginning. But there weren't just a few skeptics [regarding the occurrence of a transformation], either. For me, the symbol of that great transformation became an odd bit of news: my friends told me that an "anti-Levonite" tent had appeared in Freedom Plaza. At first glance, this was troubling news: Perhaps they'd come to incite false-flag violence. But the explanations of the tent's occupants convinced us that we were on the right track. The stance of the "anti-Levonites" was the following: We're here not to struggle for Levon Ter-Petrossian's election, but in the name of our freedom and our rights; we've come to use Ter-Petrossian, as he, himself, has advised, as a tool for freeing ourselves from tyranny. This was truly an important change. Ter-Petrossian had been able to form a truly pan-national people's movement. The next important change was the activation of the youth. The invitations to assemblies made by Armenia's first president in the months of October-December were discouraging in terms of youth participation. The majority of the participants were over 35.

The assemblies after the elections, however, belonged to the youth, and this lent a terrifying power and energy to Freedom Plaza. And Ter-Petrossian, for his part, was a true revelation for them. The students present had either never seen Ter-Petrossian or didn't remember him. Representations of him were limited to those in official sermons [state propaganda]. But then the youth saw in him a completely different person: an erudite intellectual, a matchless rhetorician, an unwavering warrior for the cause, a loved papa, a fantastic conversationalist, and a man who, despite having been the nation's founding president, doesn't eschew breaking into dance right in front of his people's eyes, doesn't eschew even doing, as he puts it, "the jaggy-jooggy" to cheer-up the youth. And, finally, a man who spends the night at Freedom Plaza [with the people] and, in the morning, greets the people standing next to him by dancing the kochari with them. And the youth, who no longer expected anything good from their government, saw the nation's founding president in a completely new light, as a living human being, as a great leader, and as a friend in the struggle. And they began to believe in the future, began to believe in themselves, began to believe in the Constitution, according to which he is the leader of the country. And, by the way, when Ter-Petrossian remembered the "Struggle, struggle, until the end" slogan during his first assembly, many considered it old and useless. But now that slogan is the most favorite one among youth, and its famous remix is at the top of the hit-shkerti [charts].

*By "sermons" Pashinian means the propaganda campaign undertaken by the Kocharian camp against Levon Ter-Petrossian, a very vulgar and nasty one, indeed. There's an hour-long documentary called "Who is Levon Ter-Petrossian" on YouTube, aired on Armenian state television, that is a good example of what he's talking about: it is so over-the-top in the number of lies it tells about Ter-Petrossian and so overtly seething with hatred that it's impossible to watch. The only political ads that I've seen on American TV that are even remotely comparable--and I do mean remotely--are the swift-boat ads about Kerry preceding the '04 elections. Rush Limbaugh is perhaps a better example, especially during periods when his Oxycontin withdrawal symptoms have surmounted his mind and he has gone off on one or another pathological rant about the "lib'rals." Otherwise the "sermons" are standard Stalinist propaganda combined with an infantile lack of professional self-restraint. Sad, but true. It makes the viewer feel sorry for the narrator who is obviously so ethically and, probably, financially compromised that he doesn't mind making a complete monkey out of himself passively mouthing ridiculous lies on national TV.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Let's rain on Serj's parade!

This is absolutely delicious. I found it in the comments section of Unzipped's blog (anonymous 4/8 19:37); I can't source it otherwise.

----

People of Armenia,

Tomorrow at 10 PM, we're all going to participate in Serj's parade in Republic plaza and RUIN IT.

We're going to go there as regular participants, listen to the music, and wait until sunset.

At around 11-11:30, after one or another song ends, we'll start chanting in unison, "Serjik, Go Away," "Freedom," "Free, Independent Armenia," and "Struggle, Struggle, Until the End," and with that ruin Serjik's opportunism.

Many of the other participants will join us. You can believe it.

People, an opportunity to gather and make our voices heard that is better than this cannot be imagined.

They, with their lack of foresight, are giving us a gift. And we will ruin their opportunism.

We ask you to please spread this news widely.

LET'S RUIN IT ACTION!!!

WE'RE GOING TO WIN!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pashinian: "To Spring." A poem.

Here is a poem by opposition leader Nikol Pashinian, a man who is very much respected in Armenia even by people who aren't firm supporters of Levon Ter Petrossian. Today, he is in hiding; if he weren't, he'd be in jail awaiting trial on false charges brought up by the Prosecutor General, Aghvan Hovsepian, who, it turns out, has a side job as a mafia Don. The opposition movement's leaders are not only politicians, but intellectuals. Kocharian, on the other hand, wouldn't recognize a poem if it pitched a tent on his nose and started a campfire.

Pashinian makes a reference to a certain "singer, songwriter friend." I wonder if that friend is Ruben Hakhverdian who has publicly criticized the present criminal government.

Note that Pashinian's advice regarding how to read the poem doesn't apply to it in translation: Armenian poems follow a different meter that fits the polysyllabic nature of the language better. It would be nearly impossible to preserve the meter in a translation and not distort the meaning of the poem in the first place, even if one wanted to try such a thing. It could be put into English meters, but to do that right takes a luxuriously long time, weeks, if not months. It is worth noting, however, that the meter of "STRU-ggle, STRU-ggle, TILL the END" is similar to "pay-KAR, pay-KAR, min-CHEV VERJ." A happy coincidence.


The rhyme scheme is ABAB. But if people want to get an idea of the rhythm of the original, per stanza, this is usually the meter of the original, where "-" is a stressed and "." is an unstressed syllable and "~" is the regular "medium" stress on the last syllable of Armenian words:

-..~ -.~ , -..~ -.~
-..~ -.~ , -..~ -.~
-..~ -.~ , -..~ -.~
-.-.-.- (.) .-.-.-

The unstress mark in parenthesis is the pause he recommends. The first three lines each have 14 syllables, divided into two sets of seven syllables. And that is generally the logic of the poem that I've tried to preserve: each set of seven syllables is an independent idea. The last line of each stanza takes the six septa-syllabic ideas of the stanza and grounds them, so to speak, in the "Now." What some would call the "matrix" of the poem is this "Now," which has many implications that I'll leave to the reader to have the pleasure of unpacking. I do need to add that I've used "at once" and "now" to translate the Armenian Հիմա, because, while "at once" works for harvesting, dancing, and so on, it doesn't work when it comes to one of the ideas, dying. It's quite a sophisticated and beautiful poem, in my opinion, and yet another example of the extraordinary work coming out of Armenia today. And, again, readers should keep in mind that the goal of the present translation is to capture the logic of the poem, not its beauty, its rhetorical structure, in shorthand. You simply have to read it in Armenian for that.

Update: I didn't realize this before, but "հիմա," or "now" or "at once" if one wants to preserve the rhythm, is one of the things that the people were actually chanting in front of the French embassy. I heard it in the background in a video taken there either during or shortly before the police attacked (they didn't attack anybody at that particular location, but everybody outside).


NIKOL PASHINIAN

Below I present my poem about the arrival of Spring [garnanamut] dedicated to our movement. I hope that it merits the attention of my singer-songwriter friend, and that he will try to write a stirring and inspiring song for these words. I recommend that the reader come to a short pause before the "now"s when reading the poem. The poem's rhythm requires this.

TO THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING

Bonfires of freedom, in the city of freedom,
Multitudes of warm fists, confronting the stinging cold,
We've been born in the springtime, spring is what we've sown
Our crop is bountiful, already: "At once, at once, at once."

Those are our wounds singing, pining for the fatherland,
We have shamed our Stone [foundation], lost it inadvertently,
But spring is coming, and again we are blooming,
The spirit of dancing has taken us, already: "At once, at once, at once."

Tents of brotherhood, in the warm bosom of Tumanian,
Day will not break today, daybreak's twilight will linger on,
They chop our hope to pieces, they wound our spirits,
We have risen in revolt, already: "At once, at once, at once."

Human barricades, the collision of spirit and fear,
The bullets behave toward us like a long-missed brother,
The hearts of eight brothers no longer beat,
The martyrs gasp, "Now, now, now."

In the maw of the prisons struggles our living breath,
Our voice cannot be chained, our song will not die,
On the street of freedom are there unwavering warriors,
"Struggle, struggle, 'till the end": "At once, at once, at once."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Paykar: Hunger Strike.

DECLARATION - 4.1.08
We, the representatives of political opposition forces in the recent elections, imprisoned on false charges regarding our beliefs and political activities, declare ourselves political prisoners, and announce, in protest, a hunger strike with an undefined endpoint and with the following demands:

--the declaring illegitimate the results of the presidential elections of February 19th, 2008.
--the commencement of an independent international investigation to expose and punish the criminals responsible for the bloody crimes of March 1st.
--the release all political prisoners.
--the cessation of the pursuit of a single-party system.
--the safeguarding of access to information, assembly, freedom of speech, and other human rights.

These demands are directed to the present government, their international accomplices, and independent governments who through their efforts, or lack of efforts, aid the criminal takeover of the government that is taking place in Armenia, today.

Vladimir Arakelian
Marzpetuni Aivazian
Sayad Hovanessian
Armen Grikorian
Shmavon Galstian
Yura Simonian

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hatspanian: Spring didn't come. Pt. 2.

This is the second part of Sarkiss Hatspanian's chronicle. My opinion about its authorship is that he probably did write it. It has a certain, unmistakable quality, style-wise, that belongs to the Armenian school of writers in the France of the 1920s and 30s that Hatspanian is no doubt very familiar with. There are passages in his writing, for example, where he strings together present participle, continuous action verbs set in the past that evokes a dream-like quality so distinct that only people with his background could have written it. And as far as I know there are no other people like that there who, on top of that, would be aware of all the details about the war, the protest, and Armenia in general that he as a long-time resident is privy to. So, yes, he wrote it.

But the literary quality not only helps establish the piece's authorship, it puts the piece's status as a chronicle into question. I'm not saying that what it says happened, didn't happen. On the contrary, I don't think there is one made-up thing in there. What I am saying is that, strictly in terms of identifying its genre, you can't call it a chronicle because it is also a work of art. It's a work of art in its plotting, which follows the classical realist novel's progression from an initial, happy state, to something happening that throws everything into disorder, to some meaningful occurrence (the hero or heroine "learns something" as the middle class always likes to point out on yahoo book reviews) that resolves the conflict and re-establishes some kind of stability, good or bad. Hatspanian's anticipates a tragic end, but has to stop with him on the way to his fate because, of course, the piece is a chronicle, too.

It's also a work of art in its characterization: he takes one essential thing about a person and characterizes them that way: the young men saying they'll defend him but being a little naive, ironically so; L.T.P. shown walking with and talking to the people; the soldiers falling on their knees after they're allowed to stop beating (and it's particularly significant that they kill a young man, just like themselves); the shefs, ignorant, mean spirited, and pathetic. The figurative language that it uses sparingly is quite beautiful, too; when he describes the sun dimming, for example (I mean the description is beautiful, not the event, of course), or when he talks about the desire to be freed from the earth where the sacrifice has taken place, an idea which has philosophical implications.
I'm not saying Sarkiss Hatspanian is another, I don't know, Balzac (or maybe he is more than a Balzac--such a judgment can't be based on one short piece), but he has taken a moment in history and pointed out its essential meaning, very artfully and very elegantly. Not everybody can do that, and that is why this piece is special. And again, everything it says happened, happened, and, too boot, he is willing to testify in a court of law.

There is a kind of inspiration in the air, driving Armenians to realize extraordinary things, in politics, in art, and in daily life. Hatspanian's piece is one of its results. And, yes, I think Levon Ter Petrossian has been a key part of this rebirth. The conditions necessary for this Renaissance that is about to flower take a very long time to develop. L. Ter Petrossian is not responsible for them; he, himself, in fact, is their product. What he did do, however, is pull the trigger, particularly through his speeches--just like Obama. The coincidence is rather amazing, but we'll get to that.


On March 1st, Spring didn't come to Armenia -- (pt.2 of translation)

It was around 5:40 AM on March 1st when the Internal Police, who had (likely) surrounded Freedom Square, attacked the people. They were all wearing helmets (casque) and carrying batons in one hand and long, thick shields in the other. Between every five or six policemen was one who was carrying a firearm instead of a baton and shield. The shots that were fired were so chaotic and disorderly, you couldn't understand what their purpose could be. They kept firing tear gas [canisters] at us. They were endowed with gas masks, but [not] the poor people who were doubling-over and writhing on the ground with their eyes closed and streaming tears. And they were beating and beating barbarously the people lying on the ground, beating them to death. In that chaos, I heard someone's voice from afar: "Don't beat [her], brother, that lady is pregnant." The speaker's voice took on an inhuman quality, "Don't hit her, man, the sister's pregnant!" The voice had already turned into an animal's howling; it transformed into an inhuman yelp and suddenly stopped. Motionless bodies lost in blood were lying everywhere. I was on the floor, grunting from the pain of the blows I had received. They had encircled the people (hardly several hundred of them) and were beating them with abandon. The disorderly shots continued intermittently. I was trying to ascertain from the sound of the shots what type of firearm was being used, but I was unfortunately unable. Tracer bullets were regularly flying through the air. The huge, powerful projectors (projecteur) pointed at us from several different directions were blinding the people's eyes.

The peaceful demonstrator's of the gathering were kneeling or lying on the ground with their eyes closed; if they were still physically capable of it, they were swinging their legs or fists in the air.

The blows delivered to particularly the heads of the innocent and defenseless people were so barbarously severe that it seemed hardly likely that they would survive them. They kept beating and beating the bodies lying on their backs on the ground and long-since motionless, delivering blows to their noses, their mouths, their hearts.

Suddenly I heard a voice from afar. "That's enough boys, stop the beating. There are many who've been killed," he shouted. Two of the soldiers who had mercilessly beaten the young man lying just beside me threw down their batons, fell to their knees, and began sobbing. Their batons were completely covered in blood. One of them bent over toward the ground where the kid they had beaten was lying motionless and listened to his heart. In a halting, sobbing cry, he exclaimed, "Listen, man, he's dead. He's not breathing, man. He's died. We're murderers now!" His friends nearby were pulling him away, but he kept on screaming, "We're murderers now, man. We killed a person."

I was lying on the ground breathless and motionless, following the goings-on there with one eye. They were already carrying them away. Mixed in with the screams and the sounds of cars were also the grunts of the barely breathing and severely wounded. Blood has an odd smell to it. The smell of the motionless body beside me, lying on its back and awash in blood was reaching my nostrils. What happened in Liberty Plaza was a massacre, a POGROM [emphasis in original] directed against its own people, ordered and realized by the (illegal) government of the Republic of Armenia. I have been a witness to the massacre and I am ready to testify in any neutral trial (if one ever takes place), in order that everybody in the whole world learn the truth.

"Where is he? Have you found the Frenchman?" Lying on the ground, I heard a distant voice say. I'd closed my eyes. The one asking the question was doubtless one of the chiefs, one raised in corruption to arrive at adulthood with his infantility preserved, used only to reducing his defenseless countrymen to pitiful beings, and ignorant of any moral values or human feelings--a miserable, pathetic "Shef," no doubt.

Fat-bellied, and fat in the neck [big bully], he was a person who lived off of the people, the only one among those tens, hundreds, or thousands of people that was the type of person to whom not even the future of his own children is sacred. I simply felt pity for these "Shefs"; in me, there was only the feeling of pity.

"Find him, man. Find that dog of a French whore," ordered the same voice. Ay, "Shef"-jan, if you knew that I am standing in this plaza, cold, hungry, and sick, for your children, too, for the children and grandchildren of the thousands of government functionaries like you, you would doubtlessly feel ashamed before me and my children. Perhaps you don't now understand, but you are going to understand in a short while, the moral meaning and value of the steps that I have taken.

I was very romantic, living in the inner world of art: I still believed in man, and the Armenian man at that. They say, "Hope dies last." But the last, the end, had already come, and here I was still living with hope. It suddenly occurred to me that those internal army forces who orchestrated this inhuman assault [on us]--must have already killed L. T. Petrossian, too. Yes, without a doubt, the country's elected president had certainly been killed. This was the government's final base act, I argued within myself, believing my supposition. "Wherever people, there a problem; you eliminate the man, and the problem is eliminated." This is how Talaat Pasha dealt with our ancestors in 1915. Now the victim was L. T. P., and the executioners, the (illegal) government.

[Thinking to himself] The end.... If they have killed president Ter Petrossian, then its the end. Armenia will find itself in the Middle Ages, the tyrannous dictatorial order will become permanent, and those who are not even the masters of one-third of the Armenian alphabet will become the rulers of my children. The sun will fade in the Armenian heavens, and the light of daybreak will be defeated by the darkness.

It has come to an end. Yes, it has come to an end, therefore, the chant of hundreds of thousands, "Struggle, Struggle, until the end." L. T. Petrossian's murder was certain. A man who only a short while ago was reciting Charentz in this very plaza and looking into our eyes: "Let no sacrifice be demanded except mine; let no shadow approach the noose...."

My supposition of the government's murder of L. T. Petrossian had turned into a conviction. I was taken over by the desire to be freed from the earth of the sacrifice [the place where the sacrifice took place and its host, in a sense], from everything having to do with earth, and to calmly and easily float up into the sky. It was as if it had all been a nightmare (cauchemar). It was as if my legs, my hands, my head, my whole body were not lying on the floor. I felt lighter in my spirit, and my body no longer felt any weight...it was as if I had become a winged creature, flying, like a balloon, an airplane, higher and higher into the sky.

Below was blood, motionless bodies, brutalized people and individuals. The police were grabbing them by the arms and legs and taking them and throwing and pushing them into the cars. All of a sudden, I tried to raise my left arm and began attempting to yell out, "I'm here. The Frenchman is here." Several police gathered around above me. One of them extended his hand to me, and I turned over on my back. I whispered in the policeman's ear, "The Frenchman is not the dog of a French whore, but a man raised on the clean milk of an Armenian mother." I continued, drained of strength, like a condemned man saying his last words, "I know that your 'Shef's are going to kill me. Please tell my little children that this year Spring did not come to Armenia. Their father did everything for it bloom. But, alas, evil was getting in the way of even nature." I was asking the policeman who was staring at me, stupefied, "Did you hear me, did you understand, brother?" He was squeezing my hand tightly and nodding, saying, "Yes." While adjusting myself on the bench, I was sobbing and crying, and repeating with a hoarse voice and halting phrases:

"This year, Spring did not come to Armenia."

Sarkiss Hatspanian

March, 5, 2008
"Freed Warriors"
Armenia