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March 20, 2009

1. Dialogue and Intrigue: Yerevan forum and visits between
leaders focus spotlight on Armenian Genocide recognition

2. Mayor's Race: May 31 another LTP v. Serzh?

3. Job Hazard: Attacks, surveys show increase in violence against

4. Business Culture: ë-Telecom continues Corporate Social
Responsibility in Karabakh

5. Bench Talk: Prices of medicine on minds of retirees facing dram drop

6. Digestible Success: Vanadzor dairyman creates new food supplement

7. No Faking!: Minister orders that public concerts stop using taped vocals

8. Waiting for Word in Kapan: Miners worry whether Canadian
owners will restart mine

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

By Aris Ghazinyan
Armenianow reporter

A weekend conference in Yerevan brought together more than 30 Armenian
and Turkish Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) on the initiation of
the Turkish side and sponsored by the British Embassy in Turkey.
According to Artak Kirakosyan, Civil Society Institute NGO
representative, although there are no diplomatic relations between the
two countries, trade relations are more active, and relations on the
level of public organizations are in the intermediate stage between
diplomatic and trade relations. "The visit of the President of Turkey
Abdullah Gul to Armenia (last September) was the green light for the
societies of the two countries to come closer."
Regardless of the issues discussed at the forum, the very fact of
holding the meeting is noteworthy in this case. It is perceived
against the background of activation of the Armenian-Turkish dialogue,
which is in the interests of the current authorities of Armenia and
Turkey's interest is also manifested in the striving to fit the issue
of the Armenian Genocide recognition into the narrow frame of
bilateral dialogue. This is particularly visible today, when the
situation is more favorable than ever - and when, just this week, a
new resolution on the issue was raised in the US Congress (see "New
Chance for US to do the Right Thing").
It comes, too, as US President Barack Obama has announced an
early-April trip to Turkey.
Before he was even a candidate for presidency, Obama had supported
recognition. In August 2005, when he was a member of the Foreign
Affairs Committee of the US Senate, he dispirited Azeri journalists
announcing in Baku that he was one of the few American senators to
sign the petition to George Bush about the necessity to recognize the
Armenian Genocide.
Azeri journalists labeled him "a good-for-nothing" politician.
However, Obama called the genocide "a historical fact" and stated that
mass extermination of civilians in the course of military clashes is
In 2006, he, a senator for the state of Illinois, announced the
importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide again and called on
the Turkish government to stop campaigning the denial of this crime.
Obama called the Armenian Genocide "the most terrible tragedy of the
20th century" brought about by the Turkish government.
The Senator also stressed that "it's time to start telling the truth,
which in some systems is a hindrance to people's careers." It was
taken as a reference to American Ambassador to Armenia John Evans who
was recalled from Yerevan because of a statement he made in which he
described Turkey's crimes as "genocide". Obama had sent a letter to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which he condemned her removal
of Evans.
Obama's views are likewise shared by his Secretary of State, Hillary
Clinton who, as senator from New York supported HR106, an earlier
resolution pressing the US to join other countries in condemning the
1915-23 acts as "genocide".
In general, an unprecedented situation has taken shape, including the
fact that for the first time the Jewish lobby may take at least a
neutral, if not "pro-Armenian" position, following a recent squabble
between Turkey and the Jewish community.
It was in this very period that a stage of radical activation of
Armenian-Turkish contacts began. Turkey is very seriously considering
this issue, and it is not surprising that Barack Obama will visit
Ankara exactly in April. No wonder the visit of the Turkish Foreign
Minister Ali Babajan is planned to take place in Yerevan exactly in
April. It is clear that a simple chronological coincidence is out of
the question. The coincidences are too many....
"Turkey is making every effort to hinder the process and is
doubtlessly interested in show-off activeness in the Armenian-Turkish
dialogue," states Armen Ayvazyan, Head of "Ararat" Strategic Research
Center. "That's exactly why Turkey has come up with the initiative of
the forum in Yerevan."
A Turkish delegate to the forum Aka Ataman stated in an interview to
"Liberty" radio station that "the communication of Armenian and
Turkish societies will eventually grow into natural relations between
Another conference participant Geka Kelench pointed out that there are
distinct problems between the two nations. "We have gathered here to
find a solution to those problems. And to do that, it is necessary
not to focus exclusively on the past, but also to look ahead. We need
to discuss what we can do in the future by joining our efforts."
An interesting announcement was made on March 16 by Kiro Manoyan, the
Head of "Hay Data" Central Office and ARF "Dashnaktsutyun" political
expert. He made a supposition that "in the spring of 2009 a certain
Armenian-Turkish agreement will be signed." In his opinion, this is
seen from the announcements made by the Turkish Prime-Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan and President Gul.
"I don't suppose such a document will be signed before April 24, even
on the basis of the results of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babajan's
visit to Yerevan. Turkey will wait and use the opportunity of signing
an agreement with Armenia as a factor forcing Barack Obama to abstain
from using the word "genocide" in his annual address to the Armenians
of the world," said Manoyan.
One way or another, little time is left to wait. It is evident that by
the end of April the picture concerning the prospects of the
development of Armenian-Turkish relations will considerably clarify.
***************************************** ***********************************

Gayane Lazarian
ArmeniaNow reporter

The cards of the authorities and the opposition in the Armenian
political sphere are rearranged before the Yerevan Mayor's Elections.
Each side is making its own diplomatic step and it waits the response
of the opposite side.

It has been known since last year that the Republicans would be
represented in the contest by current mayor Gagik Beglaryan. But the
race took on a new tone this week when opposition leader and former
President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan entered the race.

"These are not going to be average elections. We are going to have the
second round of the Presidential Elections," says Coordinator at the
Armenian National Congress Levon Zurabyan.

Republican Armen Ashotyan is confident that even though Levon
Ter-Petrosyan is running for Yerevan's Mayor, the candidate of the
Republican Party will win.

"This confidence is determined by the Parliamentary Elections 2007 and
the Presidential Elections 2008, as well as by the recent Local
Self-government Elections," says Ashotyan. "Our chances are higher in
spite of the fact who is nominated - Levon Ter-Petrosyan or U.S.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza."

What does this step of the opposition mean, and is the first President
of Armenia planning to work as a mayor in case of victory?

"Levon Ter-Petrosyan's involvement in our list first of all speaks
about our determination. It shows how highly we evaluate these
elections. As for the question whether Ter-Petrosyan would work as a
mayor or not, yes he will work as long as the constitutional order and
democracy are restored in Armenia," says Zurabyan.

Political scientist Yervand Bozoyan highly evaluates the position of
Yerevan's Mayor, stating that currently Yerevan is half of Armenia,
and the upcoming elections are, in fact, political.

"The Local Self-government Elections are considered to be political in
any country. It is after the local elections when the decisions about
political rearrangements are made. The Local Self-Government Elections
provide a special base for the further State Elections," the political
analyst told ArmeniaNow. "In our country people always understood
'district quarrels' while hearing about the Local Self-Government
Elections. But this is only how we perceive them, in fact, those
elections are rather political."

Bozoyan considers Ter-Petrosyan's participation in the Mayor's
Elections to be positive, he thinks that within this format the
Elections obtain a political nature. According to Bozoyan, this step
made by the Armenian National Congress should make the authorities
think everything over.

"If the authorities do not nominate a political figure they will fail
at the Elections. I cannot say anything bad about Beglaryan, he is
simply a 'district-level figure' and he does not stack up to
Ter-Petrosyan, and Beglaryan cannot compete with him. If Beglaryan
wins, the authority pyramid system may collapse," he says.

Galust Sahakyan, Head of the Republican Parliamentary faction, is sure
that Gagik Beglaryan cannot but be elected Mayor of Yerevan.

"We are president, and we will remain to be president, we are mayor,
and we will remain to be mayor. We are ready to compete with any
political team," he says.

It was expected that at the Yerevan Mayor's Elections the oppositional
parliamentary and non-parliamentary (those who do not have factions in
the Parliament) forces would join and submit a united list. However,
the scenario of the Presidential Elections is repeated, and everyone
decided to participate separately. Up to now the 'Heritage' Party has
not announced who is going to head their list.

A few days ago Zurabyan stated that the opposition should create a
united front against the current regime.

"Currently we have a united opposition, and there is only one missing
element for its final unification," he says implying the 'Heritage'

"We believe that we have nominated a more competitive, a more
victorious list, which could be for the both sides, and our suggestion
was not accepted. Still we do not manage to have a united list, maybe
we will keep on running separately; nevertheless, we will manage to
find spheres of cooperation, since we have lots of things to do
together," says Anahit Bakhshyan, Chairwoman of Heritage Party Board.

The list submitted by 'Heritage' Party is headed by Armen Martirosyan
(from 'Heritage'), Levon Ter-Petrosyan is in the second place, and
Raffi Hovhannisian/ is the third one. The Armenian National Congress,
however, stated that it has Levon Ter-Petrosyan first in its list, and
Stepan Demirchyan is in the second place, and the representative of
the 'Heritage' Party is only in the third place.

Leader of the 'Heritage' Party Raffi Hovhannisian states that yet long
ago they are for wise and productive settlements of problems, and they
do not look for recurrent short-term unifications. Hovhannisian does
not have preconceived approach towards the lists and nominations.

"Many did not expect that the first President of the country, who last
year participated in the Presidential Elections, would participate in
the Mayor's Elections, too. I can only greet his decision, and other
participants', too, hoping that they would give the citizens of
Yerevan an entire opportunity of choice," says Hovhannisyan.

Levon Zurabyan is sure that if the authorities do not falsify the
Elections, the Pan-Armenian Movement will win.

Bozoyan explains that it will be hard to do falsifications in this
election - which is scheduled for May 31.

"First of all there are no villages in Yerevan, there are no village
heads, who are generally the authors of falsifications. All the
elections showed that it is harder to falsify in Yerevan than in
villages. It was clear during all elections that the great part of the
voices for the authorities was obtained in villages. And I am
surprised how calm our authorities are: if they do not change
Beglaryan they would have a problem," says Bozoyan.

If the opposition wins in the Mayor's Elections, later, according to
the law, the Mayor will appoint the 12 community heads of the capital
city. It means that important sources of administrative influence
would be passed to the opposition. According to Bozoyan, this way the
state authoritarian system would partly collapse.

"If the authorities exchange Beglaryan with a political figure, and if
the authorities win, then again our public will gain. Since the Mayor
becomes equal to a president, I mean, the pyramid system in Armenia
collapses in any case," says Bozoyan. "But the pyramid will not
collapse if a 'district' figure wins a political one. Even though I do
not imagine how it may happen, because the administrative resource is
very little to help such a person (Beglaryan) reach success," says

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

Gayane Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
Journalistic organizations warn that "the profession of a journalist
became dangerous in Armenia," and they assure that the numbers of
attacks and violence against journalists rose significantly in spite
of the high-ranking officials' condemning announcements.

The latest incident was last week when Gagik Shamshyan,
photojournalist of 'Aravot' (morning) and 'Chorrord Ishkhanutyun'
(forth power) newspapers, was severely beaten by security guards of
Yerevan State Brusov Linguistic University, while entering the
university without permission.

Shamshyan was beaten unconscious, was taken to the emergency
department of Nairi Medical Center where he was diagnosed with injury
of urethra.
"After the scuffle when I left the building of the University, I saw
some police offers standing nearby; I asked them why they did not
interfere. If the opposition did something similar you would catch
them, wouldn't you? They told me that they are not from the Center's
Police Station, and they advised me to go to the Center's Police
Station," Shamshyan tells ArmeniaNow.

In 2008 Shamshyan was subject to about ten violence cases, his photo
camera was broken seven times, five criminal cases were filed, and
none of the cases resulted in anyone being punished. (Among Armenia's
press corps, Shamshyan has a reputation of a photographer who often
provokes scandals aiming to appear in various international reports.)

In 2009 this is already the forth violence against Shamshyan, the
previous three were at courts. The photographer was tugged; twice his
clothes and winter coat were torn. But this time the injury and insult
were too significant.

"They were beating at my genitals; it was black in front of my eyes
because of the pain. At the beginning I thought that I urinated
because of the hit, but then I saw that I was bleeding; and later I
came into conscious at the hospital," tells the photojournalist adding
that the insult was even stronger than the physical pain. He says he
was insulted because the police officers did not interfere, and the
Rector of the University announced that he was beaten for hooliganism.

According to the announcement made by the Rector's office, "the
incident is the not the consequence of Shamshyan's professional
duties, but rather his hooligan actions."

The photographer who was subject to violence, rejects this accusation,
saying that he was doing is professional duties, and when they started
abusing him, he answered them the same way.

Nevertheless, human rights' defense and journalistic organizations
announced that "no matter under what circumstance the conflict
occurred between the journalist and the University's security guards,
the cruelty committed by the latter cannot be justified."

The RA Ombudsman mentions that the cases of violence against
journalists increased recently, and they became regular.

"The reason for all these things happening now is the lack of
punishment for the previous similar cases," says Ombudsman Armen
Harutyunyan while visiting the injured photojournalist in the

The annual report on 'Violations of Mass Media and Journalists' Rights
in 2008' states that in comparison with the period of 2003 elections,
in 2008 elections the violence cases and pressures increased about
three times.

"We compared 2003 and 2008, since both were years of elections, and
when the inner political situation is tense, as a rule, the attacks at
Mass Media increase, but 2008 was unprecedented for its great amount
of violence cases, pressures and even censorship," says Ashot
Melikyan, Head of the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of

According to Melikyan, in 2003 the cases of physical violence against
journalists were seven; in 2008 18 cases are registered; and
"pressures and hinderance of journalists' work" increased about twice,
from 25 in 2003, to 48 last year.

"This is because there is no punishment, no one bore responsibility
even in cases when those who were responsible were known," says Mesrop
Harutyunyan, expert of the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of

Opposition journalist Lusine Barseghyan was subject to violence twice
in 2008: one was on February 19, 2008 (the day of the Presidential
Elections in Armenia), at the polling station, by the chairman of the
commission, who was charged with the crime, however, he paid a fine of
about $800 for committing physical injury, and he was set free.

On August 11, 2008, Barseghyan was attacked and severely beaten at her
house, sustaining a hemorrhage, several fractures, and concussion of
the head.

"My case and the other cases have not been revealed, simply because
they do not want to reveal them; they understand very well that the
clients of all those cases are the representative of the authorities,
and that it is because of the articles about them that I and others
were subject to violence," says Barseghyan.

A few days after Barseghyan's incident, on August 18, 2008, Hrach
Melkumyan, acting director of Radio Liberty Yerevan's office, was
attacked and beaten: this case is not revealed either.

And on November 17, 2008, three unidentified people beat Edik
Baghdasaryan, President of the Investigative Journalists NGO
(non-governmental organization) and editor of Investigative
Journalists' Hetq (trace) Online. One of the attackers hit him on his
head with a stone, as a result of which he got a concussion.

RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan visited Baghdasaryan in the
hospital, condemning the incident, and President Serzh Sargsyan
assigned a strict task to police officers to "reveal the authors of
the attack as soon as possible and call for responsibility all those
who are guilty."

Soon one of Baghdasaryan's attackers - Karen Harutyunyan - was
revealed. However, the journalist says it is more important to find
the client (who paid the attackers, it is supposed) of the beating.

"If the clients are not found, I believe that there is no need to
punish that guy at all. It is known that those who do the 'black' part
of the job are always found," Baghdasaryan told Hetq (trace)
electronic newspaper.

International organizations periodically write about pressures upon
journalists and press: the index of the Mass Media situation,
registered by the French 'Journalists without Borders' Organization,
in 2008 worsened significantly: among 173 countries Armenia is the
102nd, whereas a year ago it was in the 77th place.
******************************************* *********************************

By Naira Hairumyan

Karabakh Telecom Company has signed an agreement with the government
of Karabakh to allocate 600 million drams (about $1.3) for health
care, as part of the communication company's Corporate Social

K-Telecom, which established in Karabakh in 2002 has - like its sister
VivaCell in Armenia - introduced CSR there. The communications giant
has built playgrounds, sponsored numerous cultural events and has
championed the cause of hiring the disabled.

The executive manager of "Karabakh Telecom" Ralph Yerikyan says it is
not charity at all, "the company just returns part of the profit to
the population."

In 2008 the company allocated the same (in dollar value), which was
used to buy equipment for Stepanakert maternity hospital. This year
the money donated will be used to build a new wing of the hospital in
Kashatag (former Lachin) and to continue the construction of a
hospital in Martakert.

In February the Public Committee on Economic Competition Regulation in
Karabakh made a number of decisions, according to which rates were
decreased for a SIM-card: from March 1, instead of 8 thousand drams
(about $22), the citizens of Nagorno Karabakh pay 2,000 (about $5.40)
to have the card connected. From March 1, the rate per minute is 40
dram - instead of the previous 44. And since March 1 the cards of
K-Telecom work on the territory of Armenia as well.

The prices for mobile services in Karabakh are relatively expensive,
but the charity activity of the company compensates in the eyes of the

"The connection here is very expensive. We are only consoled by the
fact that Karabakh Telecom implements immense charity projects. The
results are evident - playgrounds for children, expensive medical
equipment, water pipes, schools. I am ready to pay more for the phone
service, as long as the money is used for public benefit," says
52-year old Sergey Sargsyan.

Karabakh telecom finances were used to build 12 children's playgrounds
in 5 towns of Karabakh - Stepanakert, Shushi, Martuni, Martakert and
Hadrut. Hadrut region was also given an ambulance, a water carrier and
a garbage collecting truck. Garbage collecting trucks were given to
Martuni region, ambulances - to Askeran and Kashatag regions, 2 buses
- to Karvachar region, financial aid was given to Shushi region, and
the Rescue Service of Nagorno Karabakh was given an ambulance.

Motivated by this very principle of charity, the wealthy who once
lived in Shushi used to build thetares, hospitals, and water mains -
including a merchant's donation that equipped Shushi with drinking
water in 1896. Likewise, a hospital was also built in 1891 and is
today still called "Zhamgaryan", in honor of the donors.

During Soviet years citizens lost the habit of public charity, as
everything was provided - and expected to be - by the State. K-Telecom
is actively trying to restore the tradition, and it is the only
company in Karabakh which implements programs within framework of
"Corporative Social Responsibility"

In 2008, 64 charity projects were implemented in Karabakh, totaling 4
biilion dram. ($10 million) The money is mainly provided by foreign
philanthropists, and only a tiny amount - by locals. It is notable
that in 2009 Karabakh Telecom may become the first on the list of
tax-payers in Karabakh (for several years Drmbon copper-mining complex
was number one, but it has dramatically decreased mining due to the
economic crisis). Last year K-Telecom paid about $2 million in taxes,
behind Drmbon's $7.2 million.

As a whole, the state budget of Karabakh is clearly aimed at the
public needs. According to Welfare Minister Narine Azatyan, expenses
aimed at the social sphere prevail in the spending of the state
budget: 51.9 percent (in 2008 - 47.9 percent) of the total amount of
budget spending. The expenditures only in the social welfare sphere
are 15.9 billion dram ($43 million) or 27.2 percent (in 2008 - 25.9
percent) of the total spending. Compared to 2008, the expenditures in
the social sphere increased by 2.4 billion dram ($6.9 million) or 17.4
percent, and the total spending from the state budget by 11.5 percent.

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

By Karine Ionesyan
Special to ArmeniaNow

A park bench near Yerevan's Cascade complex has become debate central
for a group of retirees who gather as weather permits to discuss and
debate current events.

Since March 3 the hottest topic has been the economic crisis,
compounded in Armenia by that day's severe depreciation of the dram,
which slowly continues to sink.

A recent visit found the old men comparing notes on prices of
medications - a common and crucial concern for them all. The men, like
all consumers here, face the unpleasant reality of a currencly
devaluation in tandem with an increase in the cost of goods, that
equates in some cases to a 25-30 percent increase at the cash

Analgin, Áskofen, aspirin and other such frequently used drugs have
become 20-30 dram (0.06-01 cents) more expensive, the prices of
well-known drugs that bring the temperature down, such as Coldrex,
Theraflu have increased by 50 dram (0.16 cents), the prices of pain
relievers: Solpadeine and Nurofen have gone up by 400 dram (1.33
dollars). In the case of more expensive drugs the increase in the
prices is more evident. If in the past one pack of blood pressure
medicine cost 2000-4500 dram ($6.66-15), today it costs 2600-5700 dram

"I used to get a 40,000-dram pension ($133 at a 300 dram exchange
rate) and spend it all on drugs - one was eye medicine, the other -
for blood pressure, and the other one was an eye medicine as well,"
says 81 year old Sos Babayan. (For example, the price of one pack of
Preductal MR for blood pressure has gone up from 4700 dram to 5700
dram. (From $15-$19 at a 300 dram exchange rate)

"There are so many of them that I cannot remember what they're called.
Yesterday I went to a drug-store and saw that the prices had gone up.

Babayan lives alone, his son is working in Russia and helping his
father to buy food and pay the utilities. Babayan will now have to pay
48000-52000 dram for medicine each month.

"And I mainly buy bread and potatoes to be able to live," the old man says.

Another old man, 77-year old Hamazasp Poghosyan also used to get a
40,000-dram pension (133$ at the rate of 300 dram per dollar) and
spent 30,000 dram (100$ at the rate of 300 dram per dollar) monthly to
buy drugs. "I have two sons who are chemists in Philadelphia. If it
were not for them, my wife and I would be lost," says Poghosyan, who
used to be a trader. Now he will have to pay 36000-39000 dram for
medicine each month.

"All prices have been raised, because the importing companies have
raised their prices," said one pharmacy shop keeper. "Naturally, our
drug-store cannot sell at lower prices."

The companies importing drugs, such as AlphaPharm, ArgoPharm, Arnika,
Deghabaza Yerevan, NataliePharm and others also refuse to give any
information to reporters. On the whole, according to the latest
surveys conducted by the RA state committee on economic competition
protection, 67 companies in Armenia import drugs for commercial sales.

In its March 6 session the same committee instituted proceedings at
four markets on the suspicion of unjustified increase of the prices,
creating artificial defict, and making anti-competitive agreements
using the return of the 'floating exchange rate' policy as a pretext
to raise the prices of vegetable oil, butter, household appliances,
and drugs.

"We cannot name specific drug-stores, or specific people, because the
case is still in the phase of ivestigation, and we don't publicize
such data,"says Armine Udumyan, the press-secretary for the the RA
state committee on economic competition protection, "We can only say
that those guilty will definitely be punished by having to pay a
penalty equalling 2 percent of the previous year's profit."

Armenian economists think that this committee is not working correctly
- it begins to register only when the prices already go up, without
taking preventive measures. They say that the public must be informed
about who has pocketed their money to avoid forming a negative

"I consider today's increases in the prices at the drugs market
unacceptable. By raising the prices in the sphere of drugs, as well as
in the other spheres, a number of monopolists became 30 percent richer
in just a few days," thinks Artsvik Minasyan, economist and Armenian
Revolutionary Federation member.

Minasyan suggests encouraging local production in the sphere of drugs.

This week the National Assembly was supposed to discuss the 15-percent
increase of the customs' duty, which was naturally going to affect the
prices of imported goods, including drugs. Now the RA government has
cancelled the decision and has temporarily postponed the discussion of
the issue.

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

By Naira Bulghadaryan
ArmeniaNow reporter

A new lactic acid product, designed to aid digestion and preventing
gastric diseases has appeared at pharmacies in Vanadzor early this

Created by local milk and dairy engineer-technologist Hamlet Hakobyan,
a new product called "Bifilact", is a food supplement rich in
pro-biotic bacteria. Besides easing digestion it prevents minor
gastric discomforts and protects against some infections.

Cow's milk provides the foundation for Bifilact. The milk, after being
fat-removed, is enriched by bacteria called Bifidobacterium. As a
result, a mass occurs, like yogurt. Bifilact is similar to "Narine", a
product that is a staple of Armenian medicine cabinets and has been
produced here since Soviet times. Hakobyan explains that the
difference between his new product and the long-tested and popular
Narine, is that Narine contains bacteria called Acidophilic, while
Bifilact, besides Acidophilic contains Bifidobacterium. Both bacteria
are adopted better to the human organism than the cow milk, that's why
these products are popular worldwide in dietary and clinical

In preparation to make and market the product Hakobyan studied
Japanese, Canadian, and European practices in of the production of
food enriched with biological additives.

"It's high time for Armenia to develop that sphere," says Hakobyan,
who took a loan to launch the productions. Hakobyan says Bifilact was
put on sale after the appropriate laboratory tests. Currently six
people work on getting 'Bifilact' in Vanadzor and producer hopes that
their number will increase by the rise in 'Bifilact' volumes.

The production currently turns out about 20-100 cups (standard-size
plastic cups like, for example sour-cream) per day filled in 200-gram
plastic cups, selling for about 70 cents - about the same as Narine.
"We sold 15 cups during two days," said the clerk of one of the
pharmacies, adding that she was surprised how fast the new product was
consumed. She said doctors were recommending it to their patients.

Svetlana Mesropyan, pediatrician from Vanadzor, believes that this
type of food is necessary to eat every day, yet not permanently.

"It is necessary to take it for 2-3 months, prescribed by a doctor,"
says the pediatrician, who thinks that the new product's role in
healing intestinal infectious diseases is great; besides, it is good
for digestion for people of all ages. ( Like Narine, Bifilact also can
be used without doctor's prescription.)

Doctor Karen Adamyan states that the food materials containing
Bifidobacterium prevent not only diseases, but also they regulate
digestion, and raise the resistibility of an organism.

"Over years a human body is being contacted with the external
environment and it absorbs various types of harmful microbes, whereas
the bacteria called Bifidobacterium, which has protective importance,
is lacking in a body," says Hakobyan.

Because of the lack of Bifidobacterium a person becomes vulnerable
towards different diseases; and food, with biological additions, helps
a person evade those diseases.

Six workers are producing Bifilact, and are planning to not only
enlarge the production and its geography, but also to produce liquid
Bifilact filled with fruit tastes.
****************************************** *********************************

By Siranuysh Gevorgyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

The long-standing practice of lip-sync public concerts may be coming
to an end on the order of Armenia's Ministry of Culture.

Minister Hasmik Poghosyan has issued an order that performers should
perform live renditions of their material when appearing in concerts
supported by the MOC, in halls under the ministry's jurisdiction, or
by any of 82 cultural organizations supported by the ministry.

If followed, the order would radically change the common practice of
performers using recorded music for pantomimed performances.

Gayane Durgaryan, Head of the Public Relations at the RA Ministry of
Culture, told ArmeniaNow, that the order aims to "regulate the sphere,
protect the rights of the audience (who pay money to attend concerts)
as well as raise the quality of live concerts and events."

Due to the minister's order, the organizers of other concerts and
events (non-state) must provide information on whether the concerts
will be live or lip-sync.

Many representatives of Armenian show business applauded Poghosyan's
order, announcing that in many cases the audience would easily
differentiate the good singer from the poor one. Others believe that
it is not always possible to provide live singing in Armenian concert
halls, besides, the tickets for live concerts would have higher

Composer Armen Martirosyan thinks that it should have been done long before.

"We should not have let our culture collapse eventually and then
decide to take steps," says the composer. "The Armenian audience was
deceived for years; I mean the artists tried to create an illusion by
their movements and dances pretending as if everything is happening at
that moment, on the stage," says Martirosyan, adding his belief that
only five-seven percent of the audience can differentiate taped music
from live singing.

Singer Zaruhi Babayan says that the Minister's order should not have
referred only to the state concerts and events, since the public
opinion about this or that artist is created during the private
concerts; and consequently, it is decided who the leader of the art of
singing is.

Artavazd Bayatyan, musician and director of 'Ardzagank' (echo) radio
station, believes that Armenian singers are not ready yet for that

"If a singer performs by live orchestra and live singing, then the
least expensive thicket would cost no less than $50. Besides, the
bills for renting halls are already very high, and artists have to
rent the halls for a day or even a few hours. In case they manage to
rent the halls for a couple of days, they would mange to get the
appropriate sound. And we have very few concert halls, and they are
always busy," says Bayatyan.

Bayatyan thinks that one day or few hours for rehearsals are not
enough to get a perfect live sound.

He also says that there are not many good sound technicians, who could
provide high-level live concerts.

Ruzanna Sirunyan, director of the Philharmonic Hall, assures that the
live singing will not cause raising ticket prices, nevertheless, she
believes that it is not fair to pay 60,000 drams (about $167) to an
artist who sings live for two hours (Sirunyan talks about opera
singers). This is about how much opera singers should be paid which in
her opinion will have its impact on the price of the concert.

Singer Shushan Petrosyan says the order is justified.

"I am surprised at such a passionate response. If we give ourselves
the right to call us 'stars,' we must be able to sing. We have to
sing, what else we should do," she says.
******************************************** ********************************

By Sara Khojoyan

Thousands of Kapan residents have nothing else to do but wait and
hope, while in far-away Canada, (6,380 miles )at "Dandy Precious
Metals" company that owns the copper molybdenum complex, they have
been discussing for 2 months to decide if the complex is going to
reopen or not. The main source of employment and economic activeness
in the town with 40,000 residents - the rock mining complex of Kapan
has not been functioning for 5 months now.

At the beginning of November Robert Falletta, the General Manager of
the Deno Gold Mining company exploiting the complex announced that
that they are temporarily suspending the mining of non-ferrous metals
as a result of the global economic crisis.

The temporary suspension, according to the information provided by
"Deno Gold Mining," has made 148 out of 1,526 employees unemployed,
as since mid-November the research department has been closed and
contracts with the employees have not been prolonged.

"60 percent of foreign employees have been laid off as well. And 40
percent of the current 1,200 employees (480 people) are on compulsory
home leave and are paid 2/3 of their salary," says the PR person for
the company Rubina Ter-Martirosyan.

However, other figures are presented at the provincial employment
center in Kapan.

"More than 700 people are on compulsory home leave, 275 have already
been laid off," says Head of the Center Ruben Poghosyan, "Besides
that, I was informed by Robert Falletta, the General Manager of "Deno
Gold Mining" company, 250 employees will be dismissed even if the
complex continues to function. "

Ter-Martirosyan does not offer any comments on the figures presented
by the provincial employment center, and she also denies the claims of
many of the ex-employees of the complex and those on compulsory home
leave concerning the non-normative activity of the complex.

Armen Khachatryan, air-ventilation engineer at the mine, points out
that the department of air-ventilation and quality control at the
complex have been closed , without which it is forbidden to work the
mine, and technical sciences Ph.D. Samvel Gasparyan claims that the
complex worked with technical violations, for instance, the mined
stones were not weighed.

Referring to the above claims, Ter-Martirosyan says that the
air-ventilation department is being renovated, the quality control
department has moved to the premises of the factory, and the mined
stones have always been weighed.

In these days of suspense, the activity of the complex is commented on
by everybody in Kapan, and first of all by the Mayor. Artur Atayan
points out that "Kapan mining complex had worked in worse conditions,
for instance, in 2000, when 1 ton of copper cost 1,700 dollars."

"Now a ton of copper costs 3,400-3,500 dollars and, in the opinion of
the experts, this is quite a high price for working the complex. The
executive manager agrees with me that it is possible to work in these
conditions, but he also has to manage the complex," Atayan says.

While for many of the residents it is not clear why "the so-called
crisis" does not affect Kajaran complex, but affects them, the
management of Deno Gold Mining company points out that everything
depends on the decision of the board of directors of the owner - Dandy
Precious Metals company.

"Unlike Kajaran complex, we have not turned to the government for
support; we are waiting for our investors to make a decision. If it is
positive, we will most likely work the open mine, where research work
has been conducted for more than a year, because it is less costly, in
that case we may turn to the government for a loan," the company's PR
person explains.

Ara Markosyan, Deno Gold Mining financial manager, in his turn, points
out that they are making every effort for the board of directors to
make a positive decision. "For the past few weeks we have doing all we
could to prove to our investors that working the complex will generate
fewer losses than stopping will. "

At the same time, they also admit at the complex that in the past two
years there has been incorrect distribution and spending of the
invested finances. Markosyan, who has been employed since October
2008, informs that in the past few months the distribution of finances
has been revised, which will allow decreasing unjustified additional

According to Markosyan, they have already revised contracts with
foreign suppliers importing the materials necessary for the production
at higher prices, they have revised the sums allocated for renting
apartments for foreign employees (the rent prices were close to those
in Yerevan), and 60 percent of foreign employees were dismissed, and
so on. There were working about 50 foreign employees from different
countries such as USA, Great Britian, Astralia, Uzbekistan and 30 of
them have been fired.

The life of the residents of Kapan, however, goes on, expecting
positive decision from Canada, because they cannot survive otherwise.
Suren Tumanyan, Chairman of the Craftsmen's Union of the complex
points out that even those who have not lost their jobs and get 2/3 of
their salaries, don't manage to bring the money home, "the bank takes
it" to pay off loans.

"We are in a very bad state, people at least used to smile before, now
you cannot see anything but concern on their faces," Tumanyan says.

Some of the employees of the complex even consider it a weak
justification that the decrease in the prices of non-ferrous metals is
conditioned by the crisis in the world market.

"Today they are saying the prices have gone down, but when the prices
were high, we did not feel that on ourselves, there was increase in
the salary, now that the prices have gone down, why should I lose my
job?" complains Onik Sargsyan, Head of the Shift at the complex.