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June 12, 2009

1. Disbanded: Armenia's opposition cries foul as president terminates
experts' March 1 probe

**

2.** Finalized deal: Multi-million `Armenian-Russian trust loan'
triggers off sundry speculations

3. Executive vs. legislature: Timeout in tax law debate as government
bill meets opposition in parliament

**4.** **New excavations, new hotels, more tourists: Nagorno-Karabakh
gets ready for tourism boom this year

5. Weathering the Storm: the `cancer of corruption'**

6. Against revisionism: Turkish denial campaign loses in Massachusetts

7.** Crafts for living: A new center in Gyumri offers young people
training in skills demanded on market **

8. A story to tell: New book on Hamshen Armenians takes historical and
cultural tour**

9. Sport: Armenia U-21 suffers two defeats in opening qualifiers

************************************** **************************************

1. Disbanded: Armenia's opposition cries foul as president terminates
experts' March 1 probe

Gayane Abrahamyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

In what Armenia's opposition sees as an attempt to avoid the disclosure of
crucial circumstances in last year's post-election clashes, President Serzh
Sargsyan has terminated the mission of a five-member group tasked with
conducting an independent probe into the March 1-2, 2008 events.

Thus, after weeks of uncertainty and inaction, the Fact-finding Group of
experts officially stopped operating on June 6 following the president's
decision.

`By this order Serzh Sargsyan proved once again that he does not have the
political will to disclose the March 1 events and it is not in their
[authorities'] interest,' lawyer Seda Safaryan, a representative of the
opposition Heritage party in the Group, told ArmeniaNow.

The Group's establishment last October was hailed by the international
community as a positive development in the aftermath of Armenia's worst
street violence that left ten people dead and hundreds injured. The
authorities blamed the opposition for provoking unrest with far-reaching
goals of toppling the government and arrested dozens of opposition members
and supporters on various related charges, including coup charges. The
opposition has denied any attempt to seize power by force and instead point
the finger at the authorities accusing them of using police and army forces
to commit murders and thus suppress opposition demonstrations.

The Group established by a presidential decree consisted of experts
representing the government and opposition camps on a parity basis. One
member of the Group represented the Ombudsman of Armenia.

Still last November, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas
Hammarberg said Armenia had made no progress in terms of meeting the demands
of the two resolutions that the pan-European body had passed in regards to
the post-election political crisis in the country, however he hailed the
establishment of the Fact-finding Group as `the only progress.'

That progress, however, was hampered late last week.

The joint statement by the opposition Armenian National Congress and the
Heritage party says that `the authorities could take this step only in one
case if the facts collected by the Fact-finding Group were already
sufficient to unequivocally testify criminal complicity of high-ranking
officials among the former and current authorities in the March 1 events,
particularly in the killings.'

The shutdown process of the Fact-finding Group started when in April it
submitted to the National Assembly's Ad Hoc Commission conducting a probe
into the post-election unrest the first report on the circumstances of the
death of police officer Hamlet Tadevosyan on March 1 that law-enforcers said
had been caused by a hand-grenade thrown by a protester.

The report presented facts in an attempt to prove that Tadevosyan had died
not of an exploded hand-grenade thrown by one of the protesters, as the
Special Investigation Service claims, but from a hand-grenade he had on him
or was holding in his hand.

Safaryan says the evidence presented in the conclusion were quite weighty
and it `made the authorities panic'.

`They understood that Hamlet Tadevosyan's case would be followed by data and
facts on the other cases of murder, that is why they did everything to
liquidate the Group,' says Safaryan.

The operation of the Group was temporarily suspended on May 4, when two
members of the coalition and a representative of the Ombudsman declared that
they were taking a vacation, which was not, however, provided for by the
Fact-fining Group's statutes. At first they said they just wanted to take a
rest, and then reasoned it by saying that the atmosphere was very tense and
it was impossible to work.

According to the coalition representative Robert Avagyan, each meeting was
turning into mutual insults.

`I am handing to you the ANC representative Andranik Kocharyan for 24 hours
and Seda Safaryan [from the Heritage party] - for 168 hours, and if you can
get along with them, I am giving my word as a man I will return to the
Fact-finding Group,' Avagyan said back in May.

Explaining it by the tension in the Group Vahe Stepanayn, the Ombudsman's
representative, filed his resignation, although Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan
himself said he was ready to appoint another representative.

`The work of the Group will not be hampered, I am ready to send another
representative, however, the tension is so high that it would take a
gladiator to be able to work there,' said the Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, the opposition members claim that there is no tension and it is
all about the attempts to decompose the Group from within.

ANC representative Andranik Kocharyan says the Group was created under the
pressure of the international community and was disbanded under the
authorities' pressure.

`The process launched after our first report was a poorly staged performance
leading to the President's order,' Kocharyan told ArmeniaNow.

The accusations of pressure are denied by the Ombudsman's representative
Vahe Stepanyan, who says `no pressure was ever put on us'.

No matter what the reasons are, the Group not only the international
community had pinned serious hopes on but the families of the 10 victims of
the March 1 events as well, no longer exists. From now only there is only
the parliamentary probe into the March 1 events. The opposition ANC has no
representative in the parliamentary commission where decisions are made by
the absolute majority of the coalition.

Heritage party parliamentary faction member Stepan Safaryan qualifies the
disbandment of the Fact-finding Group as another action aimed at covering up
the March 1 events.

`The reaction following the report - nervous statements by the Special
Investigation Service (SIS) and the President's silence - come to prove that
the president's residence is at least of the same opinion that the Group
shouldn't work, shouldn't submit reports, and the reports should not
contradict the cases `investigated' and the testimony `collected' by the
SIS'.

The disbandment of the Group has left the families of the victims most
desperate. Alla Hovhannisyan, mother of Tigran Khachatryan who died on March
1 as a result of the so-called `Cheryomukha-7' (teargas canister) used
by
the police, says that one of the upcoming investigations was going to be on
the circumstances of her son's death and now `that one last hope has faded
away'.

`It is obvious that the facts found were not in the authorities' interest,
as for the Parliamentary Commission, we have no expectations from it. Our
only hope was the Fact-finding Group and now it's shut down,' Hovhannisyan
told ArmeniaNow.

Meanwhile, political analyst Garik Minasyan says the Group's fate was quite
predictable.

`The Group was created under a serious pressure from the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly, now that amnesty is on the agenda, it allows to
avoid the pressure and the time came to get rid of the Group whose
investigation may one day challenge the authorities,' the independent
analyst says.

******************************************* *********************************

2. Finalized deal: Multi-million `Armenian-Russian trust loan' triggers off
sundry speculations

By Aris Ghazinyan

News Analysis

During Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's recent visit to Russia, official
Moscow finalized the decision to extend a stabilization loan of $500
million to Armenia to be spent on overcoming the consequences of the global
economic crisis. This was declared in St. Petersburg by Russian Minister of
Finance Alexey Kudrin.

This news gave rise to speculations and interpretations of different kind on
the level of political analysts. Some analysts expressed an opinion that the
extension of such a loan suggests certain obligations Armenia would have to
take up towards Russia.

Opinions were expressed that the main goal of Serzh Sargsyan's visit was
not
the meeting with his Azeri colleague to discuss the Karabakh issue, but the
official voicing of Russia's readiness to provide that loan. Some have even
called that tranche `Armenian-Russian trust loan'.

It should be noted, however, that it is not quite true. Especially because
Russia declared its readiness to support not only Armenia, but other CIS
countries as well, among which Kudrin named Belarus and Kyrgyzstan with $2
billions and $1,5 billion loans respectively.

Political analyst Vardan Grigoryan, vice-president of the `National
Conscience' Fund, says: `Armenia has been under Russia's nuclear umbrella
since 1992. It is the shield that protects our country in case of any
large-scale aggression. The interference on the part of Russian army's
General Staff prevented the probable Turkish invasion during the hardest
years of the Karabakh war. Russia's direct or indirect investments into
Armenian economy exceed the total amount of all investments by other
countries. All these years Russia has been Armenia's strategic ally. I think
this short listing points to the fact that the relations between our
countries have been and stay on the highest qualitative level, and the talks
about the stabilization loan often are of speculative character.'

Moreover, Armenia has asked for a loan not only from Russia. It has turned
to the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development for the same kind of loan - as a countermeasure against the
global crisis. **

Since January 23 it's been known that the signing of such document was under
way. In March Armenia's Prime-Minister Tigran Sargsyan visited Moscow. He
stressed that $500 million is a serious sum for Armenia: `We are certain
that with the help of this financial assistance we will be able to overcome
all the negative effects of the world crisis,' said Sargsyan adding that
the
money will also be used for the creation of a favorable economic environment
for the 1,000 enterprises with Russian capital efficiently functioning in
Armenia today.

At first sight the Prime Minister's words seem a mere statement of the fact
that there are a 1,000 enterprises with Russian capital operating in
Armenia. However, the truth is that Tigran Sargsyan pointed out Russia's
interest in extending the loan to Armenia, because by assisting the Armenian
economy Russia is minimizing the risks for its capital working in Armenia.
And that, in its turn, means that by strictly defining Russia's interest
in
this loan deal, Prime Minister Sargsyan, in fact, dispelled the speculations
according to which Armenia appears as a `poor relative' in the issue of
stabilization loan.

It is worth noting the importance of emphasizing the mutual advantageousness
of the given loan agreement in terms of not only how it is perceived by the
Armenian society but also by that of Russia. At a time of acute crisis and
deepened social problems in Russia itself, people there, naturally, aren't
crazy about the fact that their country is assisting other countries, and
especially Armenia. This can be fraught with another wave of anti-Armenian
mood in Russia.

That is why it is highly important for the Russian's to know that the $500
million loan is not a humanitarian aid to the `poor Armenian state', but
rather a mutually beneficial deal between partners. So from that perspective
Sargsyan's statement was more than timely and to the point today, especially
given the fact that in Armenia too the Russian loan is not perceived
unambiguously.

Here the most popular hypothesis largely speculated upon is that Russia's
interest in extending the stabilization loan to Armenia is that in this case
it can, let's say, put political pressure on Armenia or `force it into
entering a `Ruble zone''. Hence, by emphasizing Russia's interest,
the Prime
Minister essentially demonstrated the groundlessness of the above mentioned
hypotheses.

`The loan agreement does not imply any terms other than financial. We have
the right to decide how to spend it and we are dealing with only financial
responsibility,' stated Sargsyan. According to him, the $500 million will be
managed so that it ensures economic growth in Armenia. In particular, it
refers to the implementations of programs aimed at creating new jobs.

******************************************* *********************************

3. Executive vs. legislature: Timeout in tax law debate as government
bill meets opposition in parliament

By Gayane Lazarian

ArmeniaNow reporter

The discussions over the Tax Package about making amendments in the laws on
taxing bureaucracy raised controversy in the Armenian National Assembly (NA)
early this week and were adjourned by 15 days.

The legislative package submitted by the government last month suggests
having a representative of the taxing body at a corporate taxpayer to
exercise control. The package was severely criticized by parliament members,
while speaker Hovik Abrahamyan announced that he would not put the package
to a vote.

`The bill is in the phase of political discussions. When NA deputies reach a
common conclusion, it will be adopted, or the Government will withdraw the
bill,' said the speaker.

Vahan Hovhannisyan, who heads the parliamentary faction of the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutyun, said the bill has a serious
political implication.

`And those who submit the bill must say that, you know what, it turns out
that till now we were wrong, that all the mechanisms included in the
Government's program do not work now. That's to say, the Government has
failed in the taxing policy,' Hovhannisyan said.

According to the draft bill, a [corporate] taxpayer must provide a taxing
representative with all the necessary conditions for work. Such
representatives must have the information and program systems of the
taxpayer at their disposal, as well as, must be provided with unimpeded
access to the place where management decisions are made.

A taxing body representative can be sent to a taxpayer to exercise there
control if the latter's profit from the previous year surpassed the figure
of four billion drams, or this business owner had 500 and more employees or
declared a taxing loss of about 50 million drams (about $135,000) or more
for two recurrent years, and in a number of other cases.

The Armenian Republican Party has 64 mandates in the National Assembly which
is just about enough to secure the passage of any government-proposed bill
in the 131-seat body. But the thing is that not only opposition deputies but
also those representing the ruling Republican Party (most of them are
businessmen) are against the bill.

NA deputy Karen Vardanyan, (son of the wealthy businessman Hrant Vardanyan)
is for the control over a major taxpayer, however not by those `2,000
bribe-takers (who currently work) at the Customs-Taxation Committee.'

`This is a communist style of controlling the economy. Whoever wrote this
draft wants to impress the economic growth of 10-12 years within a year, to
destroy it in a way that we do not manage to recover it later. What do we
need this economic terror for? It is senseless to act this way with major
producers especially during this heavy global financial-economic crisis,'
Vardanyan says.

Artsvik Minasyan, from the ARF faction, is sure that the submission of the
legislative package is an ill-considered step, and it is directed at
weakening the business sector. Minasyan considers it to be the expression of
monopolistic capitalism.

Armen Martirosyan of the Heritage faction, says that the Government
possesses the corresponding levers to bring business managers to the taxing
field, and there is no need to settle the issue by means of taxing body
representatives. He believes the bill is unacceptable and so the Government
must withdraw it.

Suren Karayan, Deputy Finance Minister, opposes the complaining NA deputies.
`The objective of the draft is simply to give the taxing bodies an
opportunity to control a taxpayer's sale, commodity turnover, volumes of
sale, and to respond to the mistakes of a taxpayer as soon as possible. This
would lead to the decreasing of shortcomings of taxing bureaucracy,' he
explains.

According to Karayan, taxing inspectors are not going to get acquainted with
technologies of companies or their business secrets; they are simply going
to control the taxing documentation.

Ara Nranyan, member of NA Committee on Economic Affairs, from the ARF
faction, told ArmeniaNow that inspectors will have no obligation or
responsibility; however they will have an opportunity to possess all the
information regarding a businessman's activity.

`If the taxing body already has different mechanisms to control a
businessman by means of checking, than now it wants to have an opportunity
to control a businessman's future activity. The taxing body will have a
chance to know what equipment a businessman is planning to buy, what
technologies he/she uses for the production, and some other details, which
have no connection with taxing obligations,' Nranyan explained.

He believes that this will lead to the spread of industrial espionage. A
representative of taxing body may not only `sell' this information to his
boss, who is also a businessman (because there are plenty of businessmen in
the taxing and customs bodies), but also to other business managers.

`This may become a recurrent anti-competitive tool. All the business
managers will be under control. Hence the monopoly construction of the
economy will get a pyramid shape,' he says.

According to Karen Vardanyan, no one is allowed to possess the commercial
secrets of a businessman.

`By means of the law they want to control not the violations but the
business. They want to have all the rights that an owner of business has;
however it is not possible,' Vardanyan says.

Vahan Hovhannisyan says that no one can persuade him that a representative
of the taxing body carrying out a policeman's function in factories is an
angel who will never be bribed.

`Those who were in the shade will keep on staying there. But those who were
trying to work honestly, become targets for attack under this mechanism,'
Hovhannisyan says.

`No one who wants our economy to grow and not go broke can vote for this
draft. This is an anti-state and wrong approach,' said Karen Vardanyan, from
the ARF faction.

This week making a speech in Moscow, in front of Armenian businessmen, Prime
Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan announced that there are 16,000
companies operating in Armenia. However, he said, the government was
interested in the activities of only 100 of them.

`We want to have our tax representatives in those companies. And these are
the very companies around which tough political disputes are held in our
country,' Sargsyan said. `The tax reforms, as well as the Taxing Package
submitted by the Government are part of the anti-crisis policy.'

**************************************** ************************************

4. New excavations, new hotels, more tourists: Nagorno-Karabakh gets
ready for tourism boom this year**

By Naira Hayrumyan

ArmeniaNow Karabakh reporter

The year of 2009 promises to be crucial for tourism in Karabakh with the new
programs the Nagorno-Karabakh government assigns for boosting tourism and a
presumably large flow of tourists this year in the country.

This year the Government assigned 40 million drams ($108,000) to the
development of the sphere, which is four times more as compared to the same
figure of the previous year. The Government announced that tourism is a
priority sphere of economy in Karabakh, and it provides funds for
reconstruction projects of historical monuments here. Amazing discoveries
are made as part of these projects.

For example, in the territory of Togh village, (Hadrut region) recently as
a
result of excavations the ruins of one of the most huge facilities belonging
to Melik Dizak (Dizak is current Hadrut) Eganu (Avan) prince palace of the
18th century. Archeologists plan to excavate the whole territory of the
palace-fortress, where monuments of various cultural periods are preserved.

The Government's decision to restore the palace was made this year when a
scientific-restoration workshop on protection of monuments was founded
within the Government.

An employee of one of Yerevan office's Aram Sargsyan is planning to have
his
vacation in Karabagh. `Most of my friends have already visited Karabakh and
after they return they tell of how fascinated they have been by what they
saw. This year we, the whole team of our office, plan to visit Artsakh with
our families,' he says.

Recently the number of tourists in Karabakh from Armenia, in fact, greatly
increased in comparison with the Diaspora. It is not an easy task, however,
to count them since there is no visa regime between Armenia and Karabakh.
But hotel employees say that the number of tourists increased. Many prefer
staying with their relatives, or they rent apartments, which are less
expensive than hotels.

`I give for rent my apartment for 20-25,000 drams ($53-67) per week. There
are all facilities, up to four people can live there. And in hotels they
should pay the same sum for a day,' says Elmira Avanesyan, a resident in
Karabakh capital Stepanakert.

One of the most attractive scenes for tourists in the Republic is Vank
village with a marvelous Gandzasar Monastery (13th century). It is being
equipped with modern amenities with the help of businessman from Russian,
philanthropist Levon Hayrapetyan, As Andrei Abrahamyan, General Director of
the `Ata Vank Les' LTD says, currently construction works of a racecourse
(corresponding to world standards) are carried out in the territory of Vank
village. The invited specialists are working on training corresponding staff
and breaking in horses. Very soon tourists can have horse rides to the Ruzan
Monastery located in high mountains.

The sights of the village is being cleaned and restored with the help of
young people; moss is removed from khachkars (Armenian cross stones),
recreational zones are being equipped with modern amenities. As Abrahamyan
says, routes for hiking will also be developed, hiking with overnight stops
is also planned, besides there will be car races, etc. On the invitation of
Levon Hayrapetyan specialists arrived in Vank village to organize training
courses for locals in English language, restaurant and hotel service
business, training for guides. `Extreme tourism has good prospects for our
Republic,' says Abrahamyan.

Tatiana Portnova was born and raised in Yerevan. She is a sport master.
Since 1997 she is a trainer at the Equestrian Federation of Armenia.
Portnova agreed to move to Karabakh to develop equestrian tourism here.

Tourists complain that the hotel complex is concentrated in Stepanakert. But
this year small hotels are open in four villages. These hotels are built
with the funds provided by an American-Armenian philanthropist George
Turpanjian. A huge hotel and tourist center are being built in Stepanakert.

Almost a dozen hotels are located in the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh.
One of them - `Armenia' can simultaneously accommodate 115 visitors.
Sometimes it is even hard to find a vacant hotel room in Stepanakert: the
number of tourists is really great. An average room costs 21-27,000 drams ($
57-73), suites - 55,000 drams (about $150), and family rooms - 60,000 drams
($160).

In 2009, the Government will assign 350 million drams (about $945,000) for
the renovation of monuments and cultural heritages. Renovations works will
be held in Amaras and Gtchavank, in Ptkes Berk Vank Church in Ulupap, in
Togh, Davidavank, in Askeran Fortress, Chankatag. Excavations will be
carried out in Azohskaya cave and in Tigranakert will be held. New monuments
are being added in this list all the time. A wonderful and beautiful
Khachkar (13th century) was recently found in the territory of Novrughlu
village, Aghdam region.

***************************************** ***********************************

5. Weathering the Storm: the `cancer of corruption'**

By Richard Giragosian

For many years, the challenge of corruption in Armenia has been widely
accepted as an indisputable fact. But there have been relatively few
objective studies actually assessing the state of corruption in Armenia. One
of the more notable exceptions to this lack of neutral analysis, however,
has been the work of the Transparency International (TI), a global civil
society organization leading a network of some 90 local partners and
affiliates in fighting against corruption.

In a recent report entitled the `2009 Global Corruption Barometer,' and
released on 3 June 2009, Transparency International revealed the findings of
a global public opinion survey (available at: www.transparency.org), which
found that some 54 percent of respondents believe that `the private sector
uses bribes to influence public policy, laws and regulations or, in other
words, captures the state.'

Such a perception was even more strongly held within the former Soviet
countries, with more than 70 percent of the surveyed pointing `to the
existence of state capture in their countries.' For this category, Armenia
was second only to Azerbaijan in sharing this perception of `state capture'
by corruption. Armenia was also identified in the report as be one of the
countries to be `most affected' by `petty bribery,' with some 46 percent of
respondents admitting that they or someone in their household `paid a bribe'
within the past year.

Yet at the same time, a majority of Armenians also expressed a desire to
sacrifice more to fight against corruption, even vowing to `pay more' to buy
from `corruption-free companies.' But such optimistic idealism was matched
by a realistic sense that the Armenian government was largely ineffective in
combating corruption, according to 48 percent of Armenians polled. Moreover,
one-third of all respondents named the judiciary as the most corrupt
institution, although a significant number of people also expressed the
perception that the country's public official and civil servants, as well as
parliament, were also seriously affected by corruption.

The `Cancer of Corruption'

In a broader sense, this specific report merely reveals a deeper
problem. Specifically,
the real problem centers on the challenge of corruption, not only as an
impediment to economic development and good governance, but as a factor in
weakening public confidence in the state and its institutions. And coupled
with an already entrenched political `crisis of confidence,' the more
fundamental relationship between the state and its citizens has become
infected by the `cancer of corruption.'

Over the longer term, corruption also weakens the state and its institutions
themselves, by undermining legitimacy and eroding credibility, encouraging
even greater mistrust of government policies. There are also negative
economic implications from corruption, as it denies the government essential
tax revenue necessary for vital social spending on education, health care,
and pensions, affirming that it is in no way a `victimless crime.' Thus,
from this larger perspective, it is corruption that poses one of the most
serious threats to Armenian national security and statehood.

But there are some important responses available to the Armenian state to
confront the `cancer of corruption,' although any such measures must be
bolstered by a sincere strengthening of the rule of law and require the
implementation of a careful combination of measures to enhance the
independence and accountability of state structures, starting with a focus
on creating and strengthening regulatory agencies and bodies.

In contrast to blanket measures endowing the state with more powers,
however, the fight against corruption must be carried out by oversight
bodies empowered to supervise privatization, the emerging securities markets
and to police the economy for monopolies, cartels or trusts. Such
regulatory bodies should be independent from, but accountable to the
government and governed by norms of transparency and strict oversight. But
in reality, the paradox in the Armenian case is the fact that the state
itself has already become infected with the cancer of corruption, thereby
questioning the viability of such an orthodox prescription.

And given the current reality in Armenia, such a policy prescription can
only be effective within a new context of `good governance,' reflecting the
prerequisites of transparency, ethics, accountability and competent
administration. While these prerequisites are notably lacking in Armenia,
it is clear that institutions matter, and judicial independence and
meritocracy over favoritism in governance are essential not only to cure the
`cancer of corruption' but to also forge a more durable democracy.

=85=85=85=85=85=85=85=85=85=85=85=85.

Richard Giragosian is the director of the Yerevan-based Armenian Center for
National and International Studies (ACNIS). `Weathering the Storm" is a
weekly column exclusively for ArmeniaNow.

************************************* ***************************************

6. Against revisionism: Turkish denial campaign loses in Massachusetts

Arpi Harutyunyan

In a major blow to Turkey's global campaign to suppress the truth about the
Armenian Genocide, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf ruled on June
10 in favor of the Massachusetts Department of Education allowing it to
continue teaching the facts of the Armenian Genocide, and other crimes
against humanity, in public schools across the Commonwealth as constitutionally
protected government speech, reported the Armenian Assembly of America
(Assembly).

`The Armenian Assembly appreciates the court's ruling in this matter. It sends
a clear message to Turkey and its revisionist allies that history cannot be
rewritten to further Ankara's state-sponsored denial campaign,' said
Assembly Board of Trustees Chairman Hirair Hovnanian.

Attorneys Rosenfeld and Assembly Board of Trustees Counselor Van Krikorian
presented the amicus brief before Judge Wolf. Rosenfeld and Krikorian
warned that if the court accepted the plaintiffs' First Amendment claims, it
would open the door for any extremist group, such as Holocaust deniers, to
challenge curriculum matters in court.

`This judgment sends a clear message that the federal court system cannot be
abused by genocide deniers to spread their lies across America's classroom,'
said MA Armenian National Committee (ANC) Chairperson Shari Ardhaldjian.
`We
welcome this decision and the powerful precedent its sets for the future of
genocide education here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and throughout
the nation.'

The court's ruling preserves the teaching of accurate history, which is part of
the official `Massachusetts Guide to Choosing and Using Curricular Materials
on Genocide and Human Rights,' prepared in 1999. In 2005, the Assembly of
Turkish American Associations (ATAA), along with others, filed the suit
against the Department of Education arguing that the Commonwealth violated
the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights by removing materials from

the curriculum that deny the events of 1915.

`This case is part of a larger strategy by Turkish American groups to use
the legal system to harass human rights advocates on issues relating to the
Armenian Genocide. The most recent instance is the lawsuit filed against the
Southern Poverty Law Center for articles detailing Turkish government
efforts to manipulate U.S. academia to deny that crime against humanity,'
stated ANC .

As ANC reported, in February 2006, the Committee joined the Armenian Bar
Association, Irish Immigration Society, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social
Action, and the NAACP in filing an amicus brief in support of the
Massachusetts Commonwealth's calls to dismiss the case. The Armenian
Assembly of America also filed an amicus brief.

The Assembly in its turn says that the Assembly immediately responded when
the suit was filed, hiring Duke University Law Professor Irwin Chemerinsky,
one of the nation's leading First Amendment experts, and co-counsel Arnold
Rosenfeld of the firm K&L Gates LLP. Over the past four years, the Assembly,
and others, challenged the ATAA at every turn by filing a series of
pleadings including an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief. The brief
was intended to assist the Court in bringing the case to a conclusion in
favor of the Commonwealth.

Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny noted that `the decision is
in keeping
with a growing trend toward teaching genocide prevention with nearly every
state, including Massachusetts, formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
We want to thank the office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts for not
backing down in this case.'

`In light of the fact that Turkey criminalizes honest discussion of the
Armenian Genocide, it is especially ironic that Turkish denialists turned to
U.S. courts in an attempt to twist freedom of speech in America,' stated
Van
Krikorian. `Even though the court viewed this case 'in the light most
favorable to plaintiffs,' it still ruled in favor of truth, history and the
U.S. Constitution. The sooner Turkey comes to terms with its past, the
better it will be for everyone.'

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7. Crafts for living: A new center in Gyumri offers young people training
in skills demanded on market

By Siranuysh Gevorgyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

A new center in Armenia's second largest city enables young people,
including those coming from orphanages, to learn skills and professions that
are currently in demand on the local labor market.

The Youth Development Center opened last week in Gyumri, Shirak province,
(about 120 kilometers to the northwest of capital Yerevan) and is named
after philanthropists Raymond and Ani Kouyoumjian. The center situated in
the city's Ani District and operates as part of the Our Lady of Armenia
Boghossian Educational Center, where the sisters of the Order of the
Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception work.

The Order of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception was founded
in 1847, in Constantinople. Its aim was to provide Armenian children with
religious-moral upbringing and education. The mission of the sisters in
Armenia started in late 1988, shortly after the devastating earthquake in
Spitak that caused vast destruction also in nearby Gyumri.

After just ten years of versatile activities in Armenia, in 1998 the sisters
founded Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center in Gyumri with the
help of donations provided by the Boghossian Foundation. The objective of
the center is to provide orphans or children who have only one parent and
those who are socially vulnerable and abandoned, with general education and
development. Up to now, about 200 teenagers have attended the Center and got
educated there.

Sister Arousiag Sajonian, superior from the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian
Educational Center, says that the idea of founding a vocational school and
a
sport complex came to her years ago.

`It was in 1991, when in Abovyan Street five young ladies from Gavar's
orphanage approached us and asked whether we could give them a job. And I
asked them what they could do. And they replied that they could do nothing.
And then I asked them about the level of their education, and they said:
`What education in an orphanage?'' tells Sister Arousiag.

She says that the very day she realized in what terrible state those
18-year-old young ladies were -- they had come out of the orphanage and did
not know what to do at all.

After some years Sister Arousiag visited a dormitory where children who were
from an orphanage lived.

`I saw their life there. The majority of young men end up in prisons, and
the majority of young ladies become prostitutes. I said to myself that it is
necessary to do something. But see how many years passed until this Center
became a reality,' she says.

The construction of the Youth Development Center started in June 2007, so
exactly two years later the construction works are almost over. The Youth
Development Center will serve as a vocational school and a sport-cultural
complex. The vocational school will annually provide about 80 young people
with education. They can study plumbing and electrotechnical work, cooking
and restaurant service, as well as computer design, and foreign languages at
the workshops of the Center.

`The main aim of the Center is to teach crafts to those children who are
poor and orphaned, who could not afford entering universities for some
reason,' Sister Arousiag says.

She has chosen the above mentioned professions carefully studying labour
market for two years, in order to find out which specialists will be able to
find jobs after they get an education.

`Many tell me that it is necessary to teach them only Armenian crafts, for
example, carpet making, etc. I studied the market very attentively and for
a
long time, I always attended Vernisage (a famous flea-market in Yerevan), I
spoke with saleswomen. And they told me that tourists mainly buy those
objects that need small space, that do not break, and as for locals, they
buy very few things. So, I thought that studying only national crafts,
students will later have problems connected with finding a job. Thus, we
decided to choose these four professions taking into consideration the
demand towards them in the market,' Sister Arousiag explains.

The Center will manage to become fully operational only next year, because
at the moment only the computer room is entirely ready. The great part of
the kitchen is also ready, and as for the workshops of metalwork and
electrotechnical work, they are still empty because of lack of necessary
funding.

`In January I turned to 15 organizations for help. I got a negative reply
from 13 of them (the main reason was the global economic crisis). So I do
not even hope that during the upcoming months I will manage to find money to
complete the construction works of the building and for equipping the
workshops,' Sister Arousiag says.

About $2 million have so far been spent for the construction of the Youth
Development Center's building. The great part of that money was donated by
Los Angeles-based spouses Raymond and Ani Kouyoumjian. The rest of the money
was assigned by `Armenianos' Foundation (in Switzerland), Renovabis
Charitable Organization (in Germany), as well as a number of individuals and
other organizations.

The teachers of the Center will be trained at the French Fondation
d'Auteuieorganization.
It has about 70 vocational schools in different towns of France. Orphaned,
homeless, or socially vulnerable young people study there.

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8. A story to tell: New book on Hamshen Armenians takes historical and
cultural tour

By Siranuysh Gevorgyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

The `Converted Hamshen Armenians' Dialect, Folklore and Art of Singing' -
materials and research' book designed for dialectologists, historians and
ethnographers will soon appear in the bookstores, as another endeavor to
display the veiled pages of existence of the unique Armenian group
containing both Christians and Muslims.

Sergey Vardanyan, the author of the book, studies Hamshen Armenians since
the 1980s, starting from origin to dialect, from history to folklore, and
believes that the history of Hamshen Armenian still has a lot to uncover.

Hamshen Armenians are the descendants of the Armenians living in the Hamshen
Province, now in Turkey.

Founded in the 8th century, by Hamam and Shapuh Amatuni princes, the Hamshen
principality was destroyed in 1489, 30 years after Turks occupied
Constantinople. At the beginning of the 18th century part of Hamshen
Armenians was forcedly converted into Islam, the greater part, however, left
the homeland in order to keep their Christianity.

Vardanyan said he had started research long ago, but it took him 2-3 years
only to prepare the book for printing. The 428-page book in Armenian has 300
copies; it consists and has more than 40 color and black-and-white photos.
Photos were taken in 1984 and 1987 when the author traveled in Central Asia.
(The book price is 4,000 drams, or about $10).

The author thinks that the book can be useful especially for linguists who
study dialects or Turkish language and also for Hamshen Armenians.

`Many Hamshen Armenians call me and ask the grammatical forms of this or
that word. They learn from me, I learn from them', says Vardanyan, 57.

The samples of dialect, folklore, art of singing of converted Hamshen
Armenians living in Khopa and Borchka provinces of Turkey's Ardvin State, as
well as those exiled from Ajaria to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 1944, as
well as Khopa's subdialect dictionary are involved in the book.

Vardanyan says that it is difficult to know the exact number of the Hamshen
Armenians because like all Armenians they are spread all over the world -
`your neighbor may be a Hamshen Armenian if you ask him about his origins.'

Vardanyan says now there are 22,000 Muslim (who speak Armenian) Hamshen
Armenians in Khopa and Borchka provinces in Turkey, some 100-200,000
Hamshentsi Turkish speaker and about 10,000 Christian Hamshentsi in Armenia,
and about 45,000 Christian Hamshen Armenians in Abkhazia.

Vardanyan got acquainted with Hamshen Armenians in 1969 for the first time
in Russian town Adler, on the beach of Black Sea. Then he traveled to
different counties and found out that Muslim Hamshen Armenians are also
spread in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In 1989 he published (the third volume)
of `Dzayn Hamshenakan' (Voice of Hamshen) collection of books. (The authors
of the first (1971) and second (1979) volumes were done by other
authors-Sero Khanzadyan and Andranik Zeytunyan.)

`And the dialectology materials collected by me were left unpublished, since
they needed to be completed, and I did not have an opportunity to leave for
Middle Asia again,' Vardanyan tells.

According to Vardanyan converted Hamshen Armenians speak a subdialect of
Hamshen dialect, which can be called Khopa's subdialect.

Vardanyan states with pity that Khopa's subdialect obtained features
peculiar to a dead language, because those who spoke that language were
isolated from their Christian and Armenian-speaking compatriots.

`The Armenian names of many objects and phenomena were removed the
vocabulary of converted Hamshen Armenians because of not being kept in a
written and classified form, but simply being passed orally. Only a few old
men remember them. The Armenian names of wild birds are forgotten, and they
call almost all birds `jinjukh' (sparrow). They do not remember the names of
many flowers, and call almost all of them `dzaghig' (flower). This
phenomenon is typical to Hamshen Armenians living in Central Asia, where
there are few flowers and birds,' he says.

Vardanyan is also the deputy chairman of the Hamshen Compatriotic-Charity
nongovernmental organization (NGO) founded in 1992 and since 2004 he is the
founder and editor-in-chief of the `Dzayn Hamshenakan' (Voice of Hamshen)
newspaper. The newspaper is published by 1,000 copies, and it is distributed
in Abkhazia, Krasnodar Krai of Russia, and a number of Diaspora communities
(where Hamshen Armenians live) free of charge.

He adds that almost 27 years passed since his first `Hamshen Armenians:
Known and Unknown' article was published. But unfortunately, he says, an
article with the same title can be written now as well, since Hamshen
Armenians continue to remain `known and unknown' at the same time.

******************************************* *********************************

9. Sport: Armenia U-21 suffers two defeats in opening qualifiers

By Suren Musayelyan

Soccer

Armenia's Under-21 national team suffered two defeats in as many games in
the current Euro-2011 qualifying round against the group's favorites
Switzerland and Turkey.

The 1-2 defeat in Switzerland last Friday was followed by a 2-5 home defeat
to Turkish coevals on Tuesday.

Football critics point out Armenia's poor goalkeeping and defense
particularly in the match against Turkey as the main reason for the crushing
defeat.

Armenia conceded an early goal and despite efforts in the first half to
close in on rival goal managed only several easily saved shots on targets
and several shots wide.

Turkish attack looked more menacing and eventually the visitors could score
again in injury time before the break.

The second half started with an Armenia foul in their own penalty box and a
red card for the offender. The confidently converted penalty gave Turkey a
more comfortable lead against 10-man Armenia.

In the 78th minute a Turkish player was also sent off for a poor tackle but
by that time Turkey was already 5-1 in front (Armenia's goal came from
Henrik Mkhitaryan).

Artak Dashyan then scored Armenia's second consolation goal several minutes
from time.

Armenia U-21 head coach Flemming Serritslev said after the match he was
disappointed with the result as were all players and coaching staff.

`It was a disaster for us... Turkey deserved that victory. The match clearly
showed the problems we have,' said the Danish specialist. `But I also would
like to say that there were some guys who didn't lose courage and kept
fighting.'

Serritslev's Turkish counterpart, on the contrary, did not conceal his
satisfaction with the match and the result. Hami Mandirali also said he was
thankful to the Football Federation of Armenia for `warm and hearty
welcome.'

`It was a match of two good teams. Armenia players managed to fight during
the whole match but technical mistakes didn't let them achieve a better
result,' the Turkish coach said.

Armenia's next opponent in the current campaign is Switzerland, at home,
on
September 4. (Ireland, Georgia and Estonia are the other teams involved in
the group).

(Source: Football Federation of Armenia)

Chess

A rapid chess match between the national teams of France and Armenia will be
held in Paris on 24-25 June, reports www.armchess.am.

The members of Team Armenia are Levon Aronyan, Vladimir Hakobyan, Gabriel
Sargsyan, Tigran L. Petrosyan and Artashes Minasyan. French team players
are: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, Joel Lautier, and Christian
Bauer.

The organizer of the match is French company Modd' Ailleurs (responsible:
Vartan Kaprielian) together with the Chess Federations of Armenia and
France.

Meanwhile, according to the same source, Armenian grandmasters Tigran L.
Petrosyan, Gabriel Sargsyan and GM Zviad Izoria (Georgia) scored 5 ½ points
out of 6 and shared the 1st-3rd places in the rapid tournament held as part
of Las Vegas Chess Festival. Petrosyan placed first and Sargsyan second with
tiebreak. The tournament had brought together 116 chess players. .

(Source: www.armchess.am)