Sunday 23 December 2012

CNN: Stateless gay Armenian man stuck in American Samoa in real life "The Terminal"

UPDATE 16 February 2013: Good news: stateless gay Armenian will be allowed entry back into US

*Via CNN and Huffington Post

In the movie "The Terminal," actor Tom Hanks plays a man who suddenly finds himself stateless when his country ceases to exist. New York’s JFK Airport becomes his only home.

That movie was loosely based on a true story, but for Mikhail Sebastian being stateless is a dilemma that is all too real. Sebastian is stateless.

He is an ethnic Armenian born in Azerbaijan in what was the Soviet Union. He was forced to flee when the Soviet bloc began to crumble in the 1990s. He tried to take refuge in Armenia but eventually wound up in the newly independent nation of Turkmenistan. But Sebastian is gay and homosexuality is illegal there. So once again, he had to search for a home.

He came to the United States and was allowed to stay as a “stateless person.” There was only one catch: Since he still held the passport from the Soviet Union, a place that no longer existed, he could not travel outside the United States – a tough reality for a man who loves to travel. So Sebastian set out from his home in Los Angeles to too many parts of the United States, including the American territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Last December, he was allowed to fly to American Samoa – a U.S. territory in the South Pacific – for a brief vacation. But while Sebastian was there, he took a short side trip to Western Samoa, not realizing that it is a separate and independent nation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement deemed that self-deportation and so for the past year, Sebastian's been trapped in limbo, unable to leave American Samoa and return to the United States.

Sebastian says his only wish this Christmas is to get back home to Los Angeles.
“It’s horrible here, it’s hot, it’s making me sick, I can’t stand it anymore” Sebastian is quoted as having told GlobalPost over Skype. “I just want to go home.”

Among Sebastian's advocates is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) office in the United States. "There’s a big gap in the legal structure of the United States when it comes to stateless people, and Mikhail has fallen right through it,” spokeswoman Charity Tooze told GlobalPost in October.

xox with Santa: Merry Christmas !!

*Soho, London

From London with love,

x Mika

Thursday 20 December 2012

"F*ck gender", "Down with the Patriarch": activist video from Georgia

Absolutely loved this. Great example of multimedia activism tackling issues of gender identity, homophobia, religion, freedom...

We need more of this in the South Caucasus and beyond.

A must see.

"Painting activism", Tbilisi, Georgia
Film by Lasha Kavtaradze and George Gogua, 2012

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Pic from inside the toilet (Brussels)

*Pic from inside the toilet, restaurant, Brussels

Brussels: pics

Few pics from wonderfully weird Brussels.

*For World AIDS Day
*For chocoholics, like me :))
 *Flyer: "A queer night of fresh dances, songs, poetry & dicks"
 *Grand Place

*'Free Pussy Riot'

Saturday 1 December 2012

World AIDS Day 2012 - pics from Yerevan, Armenia

Pictures from the World AIDS Day 2012 event in Yerevan, organised by the Advocacy Group on AIDS (PINK Armenia, Women's Resource Center; Positive People Armenian Network; Real World Real People), with participation of well-known Armenian actors, singers, showbiz reps, club scene stars, to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS. This event was followed by film screening, discussions and after-party.

For more pictures: visit

 *with DJ Vakcina and Sofi Mkheyan
 *with Nazeni Hovhannisyan
*with Sos Janibekyan

Sunday 25 November 2012

Anti-discrimination legislation under discussion in Armenia amid discontent of local human rights groups with the Ombudsman office

On the occasion of the International Day of Tolerance, 16th November, PINK Armenia organised a round-table discussion aimed at developing and advocating for anti-discrimination legislation in the Republic of Armenia.
“Armenia has joined and/or ratified all the main international tools to eradicate discrimination. Nevertheless, the problem of discrimination has never been discussed consistently, and there are no effective legal mechanisms to prevent and punish discrimination against individuals. It is important to shape operational mechanisms in this context to prevent discrimination, intolerance and xenophobia, as well as to respond appropriately to such manifestations”, mentioned the head of PINK Mamikon Hovsepyan. (PINK Armenia press release)
Representatives of the Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Office informed that they have already prepared a preliminary draft of the anti-discrimination law while stating the necessity and importance of this legislation.

It was bizarre to learn that the Ombudsman’s office has already prepared or in a process of finalising a draft anti-discrimination legislation without consultations with the local NGOs working in the filed. This resulted in heated discussions at the round-table.

As far as I learned, Ombudsman’s office reassured that the draft anti-discrimination law will be inclusive (inclusive of sexual orientation too). However, until I see it, I won’t be certain that this is indeed a comprehensive law. Also, Ombudsman’s office should use the word “consultation” to its full meaning and not just a mere formality.

On the other hand, while welcoming these developments, I have doubts that with the current parliament such legislative initiatives have a chance to pass, unless they are set as precondition by the European Union and European organisations to further develop ties with Armenia.

Saturday 17 November 2012

"You are beautiful..." (spotted on Park Avenue, New York)

"You are beautiful, no matter what they say"...

*Niki de Saint Phalle: Les Trois Graces (Park avenue, NYC)

Friday 16 November 2012

Srđan Dragojević, director of Parada: "I didn't know Armenia was so homophobic"

"I can't remember the last time I laughed AND cried so hard in one film." On her blog post Watching Parada and Not in Armenia, Adrineh shares personal impressions of the Serbian film Parada after watching it in one of the European capitals as part of the film festival. Towards the end of the screening, she also managed to exchange few words with the director of Parada.

[...] The other thing that broke my heart was a sentence uttered by the director, Srđan Dragojević, who I was lucky enough to exchange a few words with after the screening. When I asked him whether he knew that attempts to screen in the film in Armenia were unsuccessful as a result of pressure and protests, he said he knew, but "I didn't know Armenia was so homophobic". He then seemed to liken Armenia to Russia by adding the film will "probably be banned in Russia". Not. good. news. at. all. I tried to explain that things in Armenia had ballooned only in recent years, but I only had two minutes of his time as he was rushing off somewhere else, and I wasn't able to get into any more details. He did mention, however, that German embassies in countries where human rights is an issue were given directives to screen the film. Yes, you read that right: "where human rights is an issue"... [...]
For background to the story, read:

Yerevan Press Club, NGOs: Parada film cancellation 'blatant rights violation' and indicator for EU re Armenia commitments

EU head says LGBT people in Armenia are “the most vulnerable” while hatemongers celebrate “victory”... over cancellation of gay rights film screening

Puppets attack Germany embassy and the EU office in Armenia

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Vladimir Shakhidjanyan: "Is it possible to understand homosexuality?"

Interesting way of "explaining" homosexuality and why gay people should be accepted as equals by society by prominent Russian psychologist of Armenian origin Vladimir Shakhidjanyan.

Just one quote here (RU):
Какая разница, какой ты - голубой, розовый, зелененький, красненький, светленький. Любые цвета хороши, кроме коричневых (коричневый - это фашизм, это скверно), а всё остальное допустимо.
For the rest, watch the video (RU). He questions: "Is it possible to understand homosexuality?" by addressing some of the common prejudices still prevalent in Russia and other ex-Soviet states.

*thanks to K. for the link to the video

Thursday 25 October 2012

Yerevan Press Club, NGOs: Parada film cancellation 'blatant rights violation' and indicator for EU re Armenia commitments

For background: 

EU head says LGBT people in Armenia are “the most vulnerable” while hatemongers celebrate “victory”... over cancellation of gay rights film screening

Puppets attack Germany embassy and the EU office in Armenia

The Yerevan Press Club shares the indignation of Armenia's non-governmental organizations who disseminated a letter on October 23 condemning another refusal to host the screening of the film “Parada”. We consider the obstacles raised for such public events as a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression.

It has been only a year since we appreciated that the practice of refusing provision of premises for political motives has almost stopped. And today, the Armenian society faces yet a new, not less disgraceful challenge - an artificial restriction on disseminating information about issues of diversity and personal freedom.

After 20 years of gaining independence and proclaiming democratic development as the main path for nation building, the Armenian state is still unable to ensure the protection of its’ citizens’ rights from intolerance and xenophobia. The “fearfulness” of the management of the halls, which refuse the film screening, can be explained by nothing less than this. In this regard, one should remember the inaction of law enforcement bodies towards the attacks against the “Asparez” Journalists' Club of Gyumri and the Vanadzor Branch of Helsinki Citizen's Assembly, who in April 2012 provided their halls for showing films, “disliked” by some people.

It is inadmissible for the authorities, who strive for European standards of constituting the state and public life, to pander to those persons and groups, who assume the right to ban, threat, exercise violence and who dictate their own visions of what others should and should not do. 

Yerevan Press Club
October 24, 2012

Below is a statement of NGOs (AM, via PINK Armenia):

Հասարակական կազմակերպությունները հանդես են եկել համատեղ հայտարարությամբ` ուղղված ՀՀ վարչապետ Տիգրան Սարգսյանին, Հայաստանում ԵՄ պատվիրակության ղեկավար Տրայան Հրիսթեային, Հայաստանում Գերմանիայի Դաշնային Հանրապետության արտակարգ և լիազոր դեսպան Ռայներ Մորելին: Անհանգստության առիթ է հանդիպսացել սերբական «Պառադա» ֆիլմի ցուցադրման խափանումը:


Արդեն իսկ երրորդ վայրը ևս` Կոնգրես հյուրանոցը, հանրությանը անհայտ ճնշումների արդյունքում պաշտոնապես հրաժարվեց հյուրընկալել «Պառադա» ֆիլմի ցուցադրությունը, որը վերաբերում է Սերբիայում ԼԳԲՏ (լեսբուհի, գեյ, բիսեքսուալ, տրանսգենդեր) անձանց իրավունքների հիմնախնդիրներին: Այս ֆիլմի ցուցադրությունը հանդիսանում է Հայաստանում Եվրոպական Միության պատվիրակության և Գերմանիայի դեսպանության նախաձեռնությունը: Ֆիլմի ցուցադրությունը մասն է կազմում այն միջոցառումների, որոնք Եվրամիությունն անցկացնում է 2012թ. Մարդու իրավունքների պաշտպանության օրվա շրջանակներում՝ հանդուրժողականության և ոչ խտրական վերաբերմունքի թեմայով:

Ցանկացած ժողովրդավարական, սոցիալական, իրավական պետություն մարդու իրավունքների նման ոտնահարումը, մասնավորապես արտահայտման ազատության իրավունքի ոտնահարումը, որը ներառում է անկախ պետական սահմաններից ցանկացած միջոցով տեղեկություններ և գաղափարներ փնտրելու, ստանալու, տարածելու ազատությունը, պետք է համարի անթույլատրելի: Սա հստակ սահմանված է ՀՀ Սահմանադրությամբ և ավելի ընդգծված մի շարք միջազգային փաստաթղթերում՝ համաձայն որոնց ՀՀ-ն ունի մի շարք պարտավորություններ պաշտպանելու յուրաքանչյուր անձի հիմնարար իրավունքներն ու ազատությունները, ինչպես նաև ունի պոզիտիվ պարտավորություն՝ ապահովելու այդ իրավունքների արդյունավետ իրականացումը: ՀՀ-ն Եվրոպական հարևանության քաղաքականության շրջանակներում ստանձնել է պարտավորություններ ամրապնդելու մարդու իրավունքների և հիմնարար ազատությունների նկատմամբ հարգանքը, որոնք հանդիսանում են ՀՀ-ԵՄ համագործակցության հիմնարար սկզբուքները: Ավելին, սույն բարեփոխումների իրականացման համար ՀՀ կառավարությունը ԵՄ կողմից ստանում է համապատասխան աջակցություն, այդ թվում ֆինանսական:

Մենք` քաղաքացիական հասարակության ներկայացուցիչներս, անհանգստացած և վրդովված ենք ՀՀ-ում մարդու իրավունքների ոտնահարումներով, խտրականության և անհանդուրժողականության տարածմամբ: Մենք պահանջում ենք, որպեսզի ՀՀ կառավարությունը ստանձնի իր պարտավորությունները և երաշխավորի սույն միջոցառման իրականացումը և դրա անվտանգությունը, համապատասխան դահլիճ տրամադրի ֆիլմի հանրային ցուցադրության, և հանդիսատեսի անխոչընդոտ դիտման համար:

Մենք գտնում ենք, որ ՀՀ իշխանության կողմից ձեռնարկած քայլերը կամ անգործությունը ԵՄ համար պետք է հանդիսանա ցուցանիշ, թե որքանով են իր տրամադրած աջակցությունը և միջոցները ուղղորդվում ՀՀ-ում մարդու իրավունքների իրավիճակի բարելավմանը: ԵՄ-ն պետք է հետամուտ լինի իր իսկ տրամադրած միջոցների նպատակային բաշխմանը և ՀՀ կողմից հանձն առած պարտավորությունների կատարմանը, որոնք բխում են Եվրոպական հարևանության քաղաքականության հիման վրա որդեգրած ԵՄ-Հայաստան փոխադարձ հանձնառությունից` ապահովելու ժողովրդավարություն և մարդու իրավունքների պաշտպանվածություն, օրենքի գերակայություն և համընդհանուր այլ արժեքներ:

Հանրային տեղեկատվություն և գիտելիքի կարիք ՀԿ
Կանանց ռեսուրսային կենտրոն ՀԿ
Հելսինկյան ասոցիացիա ՀԿ
Սեռական բռնության ճգնաժամային կենտրոն ՀԿ
Կանանց աջակցության կենտրոն ՀԿ
Իրավունքի գերակայություն ՀԿ
Հելսինկյան քաղաքացիական ասամբլեայի Վանաձորի գրասենյակ ՀԿ
Լրագրողներ հանուն մարդու իրավունքների ՀԿ
Երիտասարդները հանուն ժողովրդավարության ՀԿ
Բաց հասարակության հիմնադրամններ-Հայաստան
Ժուռնալիստների «Ասպարեզ» ակումբ ՀԿ
Շիրակ կենտրոն ՀԿ
Նոր Սերունդ ՀԿ
Երաշխիք քաղաքացիական հասարակության կենտրոն ՀԿ
Շահխաթուն ՀԿ
Իրական աշխարհ, իրական մարդիկ ՀԿ
Թրանսփարենսի ինթերնեշնլ հակակոռուպցիոն կենտրոն ՀԿ
Հայաստանի հելսինկյան կոմիտե ՀԿ
Դեմոկրատիան այսօր ՀԿ
Էկոլուր տեղեկատվական ՀԿ
Հույս ՀԿ
Գորիսի մամուլի ակումբ ՀԿ
Քաղաքացիական ազգային նախաձեռնություն ՀԿ
Համագործակցություն հանուն զարգացման ՀԿ
Իրավունքների պաշտպանություն առանց սահմանների ՀԿ
Համագործակցություն հանուն ժողովրդավարության ՀԿ
Խոսքի ազատության պաշտպանության կոմիտե ՀԿ

Tuesday 9 October 2012

EU head says LGBT people in Armenia are “the most vulnerable” while hatemongers celebrate “victory”... over cancellation of gay rights film screening

For background: Puppets attack Germany embassy and the EU office in Armenia
Unfortunately, both venues - The Club and Yerevan Puppet Theatre, despite the initial resistance and “voice of reason” by the head of latter - eventually gave in to homophobic blackmail by hatemongers.

This was yet another reflection of steady regress in Armenia in relation to rights, tolerance and diversity, despite reported “progress” towards European integration.

The head of EU delegation in Armenia Traian Hristea said that the reaction towards gay rights -themed film screening indicates that LGBT people in Armenia are “the most vulnerable”. And this is despite Armenia formally joining European anti-homophobia agreements.

Both Germany ambassador and the EU head in Armenia reiterated their determination to hold public screenings of the film.

In the meantime, activists launched petition in support of the initiative by the Germany embassy and the EU office in Armenia. You may read and sign the petiition here (bilingual -Armenian and English):գերմանիայի-դեսպանատուն-ցուցադրել-parada-ֆիլմը

Homophobic hate groups and individuals in Armenia were congratulating each other today with the... “victory”, without even realising how total losers they are if they celebrate a “victory” over... film cancellation.

Չեմ սիրում “պարտված” կամ “հաղթանակած” տերմիններ օգտագործել, բայց ստեղ անհրաժեշտա: Իրանք չեն հասկանում, որ պարտված են, հենց մենակ նրա համար, որ “հաղթանակ” են համարում ֆիլմի ցուցադրման տապալումը: [my summary of the day in AM]

Sunday 7 October 2012

Puppets attack Germany embassy and the EU office in Armenia

Ladies and Gents, prepare your popcorn. Tragicomedy continues. [Warning: poor quality, one star max]

Here we are at it again. Season No... Another bout of hysteria from the same groups and individuals who attacked Diversity march (such as Hayazn union), who justified DIY bombing and so on and so on... Real life puppets ruled from certain known circles.

“Gay” is a new drug for them. They get high whenever they see or hear or read “gay”. Or shall I say try “gay”?! How X-rated :)

Now they got new ‘lifeline’ in the form of screening of gay rights -themed film based on Serbia events - The Parade (“Parada”). The screening is sponsored and organised by the Germany embassy and the EU office in Yerevan to facilitate awareness of human rights.
Կցուցադրվի միասեռականների իրավունքների մասին պատմող հայտնի «Parada» ֆիլմը 
PanARMENIAN.Net - Հայաստանում մարդու իրավունքների կարևորության գիտակցության ամրապնդման նպատակով Երևանում Գերմանիայի դեսպանությունը և ԵՄ պատվիրակությունը կազմակերպում են հանդուրժողականության և խտրականության բացառման թեմայով միջազգային ճանաչում գտած «Parada» ֆիլմի ցուցադրությունների շարք: Այն սերբական դրամա է, որն արծարծում է Սերբիայում միասեռականների իրավունքների նուրբ խնդիրը: Ֆիլմի առանցքային թեման Բելգրադում միասեռականների հպարտության շքերթ կազմակերպելու երկրորդ փորձն է այն բանից հետո, երբ առաջինը 2001թ. ավարտվել էր բռնությամբ: Ֆիլմը կցուցադրվի՝ հոկտեմբերի 8-ին և 10-ին` ժամը 20.00-ին, «Ակումբում», Թումանյան 40, 0010 Երևան, հոկտեմբերի 15-ին և 16-ին` ժամը 20.00-ին, Երևանի Հ. Թումանյանի անվան պետական տիկնիկային թատրոնում, Սայաթ-Նովա 4, 0001 Երևան: 
They plan a protest action (or plural) in front of the Germany embassy, will try to disrupt the screening of the film in the Club and at the Yerevan Puppet Theatre.

Funnily enough, quite a few of those joining the protest started inadvertently publicising the film and... actually watched (!) it. Even if they won’t accept it, watching such film alone will have an educational impact on them. Even if on a very-very deep subconscious level.

I should congratulate the embassy of Germany in Armenia and the EU office for success of the event that has not even started yet. Never before there was such an awareness of gay rights -themed film in Armenia.

And finally, a voice of reason from the director of Yerevan Puppet theatre Ruben Babayan. He doesn’t quite understand the fuss over the scheduled screening. He said that the Puppet theatre is not just for children (responding to laughable accusations that ‘gay propaganda’ film is being screened at ‘children theatre’), reminding that the Golden Apricot film festival and other screenings are being held there. I’d add some pretty hardcore metal music fest too. He then suggested that following the logic of protesters we should cancel films by Parajanov and Visconti or books by Nabokov too: “Do we want to turn this country into Iran or simply realise that it’s a matter of tolerance, feature film and art?” Voice of reason, indeed.
Հովհաննես Թումանյանի անվան տիկնիկային թատրոնի գեղարվեստական ղեկավար Ռուբեն Բաբայանի համար անհասկանալի է այն աղմուկը, որը բարձրացել է միասեռականների իրավունքներին նվիրված Parada ֆիլմի ցուցադրության կապակցությամբ: «Դա գեղարվեստական ֆիլմ է, որը մասնակցել է տարբեր փառատոնների: Նույն ձևով կարծում եմ՝ կարելի է չեղյալ հայտարարել Սերգեյ Փարաջանովի, Լուկինո Վիսկոնտիի ֆիլմերի ցուցադրությունը կամ՝ Նաբոկովի գրքերը: Դե, պետք է որոշակի սկզբունք ընդունել և որոշել՝ կամ մենք այս երկիրը դարձնում ենք Պարսկաստան և հրճվում ենք դրանով, կամ մենք պարզապես հասկանում ենք, որ կա՝ հանդուրժողականություն, գեղարվեստական ֆիլմ ու արվեստ» - –ին ասաց Ռուբեն Բաբայանը՝ ի պատասխան հարցի, թե հնարավո՞ր է, որ թատրոնի ղեկավարությունը չեղյալ համարի վարձակալության պայմանագիրը: [...]

*pictures - via The Parade website 

“Anti-fascist” Armenia deputy speaker Sharmazanov? Huh? I do not think so

 When couple of months ago, I wrote about Armenian politicians and state officials supporting and encouraging anti-gay terrorism, Global Voices linked to my post under the headline: Armenia: state sponsored fascism? This was a spot on headline and terrifying at the same time. 

Let's consider another example from the recent events re people fleeing Syria to Armenia. It turns out that if your wife is non-Armenian, your family is not allowed to enter Armenia using simplified Syria related visa rules. There were subsequent reports that the whole family is in fact not ethnic Armenian but rather Assyrians. So what???

Writer and journalist Vahan Ishkhanyan, writing on his blog, mentioned of other examples of Armenians in Diaspora applying for residency in Armenia being required to "certify" their Armenian ethnicity in a... church (!!)

I am all questions now. Since when Armenian apostolic church became a "verifying" or "certifying" body for Armenian ethnicity? What about mixed families? What about people of other ethnicity who happened to reach Armenia while fleeing (in this case) Syria? What about international, including refugee related, conventions Armenia is a signatory of? When will we stop this 'pure blood' nonsense?  Wtf is going on?

Armenia deputy speaker of parliament and spokesman of ruling republican party Eduard Sharmazanov recently lashed out at Azerbaijan and accused the Azeri authorities in conducting a “state sponsored fascism”, following pardoning of axe-murderer Safarov and turning him into a national hero.
Շարմազանով. «Ադրբեջանում պետական մակարդակով իրականացվում է ֆաշիզմի քաղաքականություն» 31 օգոստոսի, 2012
Հանցագործ Ռամիլ Սաֆարովին Ադրբեջանին արտահանձնելու հունգարական իշխանությունների քայլն առնվազն տարակուսանք եւ վրդովմունք է առաջացնում, քանի որ պարզ էր, թե Ադրբեջանում ինչ էր սպասվելու այդ մարդասպանին: Իսկ ինչ վերաբերում է նրան ներում շնորհելու Ալիեւի որոշմանը, ապա այս քայլը եւս մեկ անգամ ապացուցում է, որ Ադրբեջանում պետական մակարդակով իրականացվում եւ խրախուսվում է հայատյացության եւ ֆաշիզմի քաղաքականություն: Կարծում եմ՝ այս մարդասպանին ներում շնորհելու Ադրբեջանի ապշեցուցիչ քայլը չպետք է անարձագանք մնա եւ դատապարտող գնահատականի արժանանա միջազգային հանրության կողմից: ԱԺ փոխնախագահ, ՀՀԿ խոսնակ Էդուարդ Շարմազանով (source:   
Seriously? Sharmazanov??? 

The very person who supported anti-gay terrorism and encouraged neo-nazi style violence against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity in his own country has no right to condemn fascism in another country.

I can do it. He can't.

In her piece [Բացե՛ք ձեր աչքերը, մհերներ ու շարմազանովներ], contemporary writer Violet Grigoryan expressed perfectly what I wanted to say too.
[...] Ու երբ Շարմազանովը, ի պատասխան Ալիևի հայտարարության, թե Ադրբեջանի ու Հայաստանի միջև անդունդ կա, փորձում է այդ անդունդն ու տարբերությունը նկարագրել իբրև թե՝ «Այսօր Հայաստանում խրախուսվում են ժողովրդավարական արժեքները, իսկ Ադրբեջանում՝ ռասիզմն ու ֆաշիզմը», պիտի հիշեցնել նրան, որ ով` ով, բայց ինքը Հայաստանի այն պետական պաշտոնյաներից էր, որ DIY վառելն ու վառողներին պաշտպանելը համարում էր ազգային արժեքներին հավատարմություն, այսինքն` խրախուսում էր ֆաշիզմը (  
Խտրականության հողի վրա հանցագործությունները` լինեն ազգային, կրոնական, թե սեռական, Շարմազանովի վկայակոչած ժողովրդավարությամբ շատ երկրներում դատապարտվում են նույն հոդվածով ու փոքրամասնությունների միացյալ ջանքերով: Եվ եթե Շարմազանովն ու իր նման մտածողները ոչ թե խրախուսեին միասեռականների հանդեպ գործված հանցանքը, այլ դատապարտեին, Հունգարիայի դեսպանատան դեմ էթնիկ ատելության ու ռասիզմի դեմ բողոքող ցուցարարները մի քանիպատիկ շատ կլինեին, քանի որ նրանց կմիանային Հայաստանի այն ակտիվիստները, ովքեր դեմ են ֆաշիզմին ընդհանրապես` լինի սեռական, թե ազգայնական խտրականության: Կմիանային նաև սեռական փոքրամասնությունները, որոնց ներկայացուցիչներից շատերը Սաֆարովին հերոսացնելու դեմ իրենց բողոքն արտահայտում էին սոցցանցերում, բայց ամենայն հավանականությամբ զգուշացան միանալ այն խմբին, որոնց մեջ կային DIY-ը վառելը արդարացնողներ ու բազմազանության ցույցի վրա հարձակվողներ:  
Այնպես որ, բացեք ձեր աչքերը, մհերներ ու շարմազանովներ, մի լղոզեք ու մի խրախուսեք հանցագործությունները, դրանով մի կողմից վիրավորում եք զոհերին, տուժածներին ու նրանց մերձավորներին, մյուս կողմից` խոչընդոտում եք, որ Հայաստանը դառնա ժողովրդավարական արժեքների շուրջ համախմբված քաղաքացիների երկիր: [...]

Thursday 27 September 2012

Challenges faced by Armenia's LGBT people to be discussed at "Armenians and Progressive Politics" conference in New York

"The Armenians and Progressive Politics" conference focusing on Armenia at 21 (referring to the 21th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union) will be held at Columbia University on 28-29 September 2012. []

For the first time, head of PINK Armenia Mamikon Hovsepyan will participate in the conferences to talk about "LGBT Rights in Armenia – Silenced Reality." He will be on the "Emergence of Social Movements, NGOs, and the Rise of a New Identity Politics" panel. The following is the abstract of his talk (via Armenians and Progressive Politics FB page):

In the shadow of societal and institutional discrimination, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Armenia face tremendous struggles in achieving equality, both at the personal and organizational levels. Although the Armenian government has signed and ratified most of the UN, Council of Europe and OSCE covenants, treaties, and other instruments, including a partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union, in practice, those commitments have not been met with regard to human rights pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Armenia, homophobia is widespread and deeply ingrained in society. Visibility of the LGBT community is limited. Individuals face discrimination and human rights violations in virtually all spheres of society due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Most seriously, LGBT individuals can be bullied in educational institutions or become victims of psychological and physical abuse while serving in the Armenian army.

Hate crimes and their promotion are supported by the majority of society and politicians, under the pretext of “patriotism” and “Christianity.” As a result, extremist groups of young people and their sponsors have deliberately spread misinformation to disrupt Armenia’s diversity march, considering it a gay parade, and have subjected its participants to violence. This spring, a fascistic group bombed a bar patronized by supporters of diversity and multiculturalism. This talk will examine these profound challenges faced by Armenia’s LGBT community.

Reported hate crime: trans sex workers beaten by group of youth in downtown Yerevan cruising park

Local media reported Armenia police press release that group of youth attacked [“beaten up”] trans sex workers in downtown Yerevan cruising park (Kom aygi, or pleshka) on 25 September 1.10am. Attackers being questioned by police. Motives of the attack were not explicitly stated in the press release. However, the way the info was presented implies homophobic hate crime. No more details are known, as of now.

Interesting to point out the following: 1. police formally reported the incident. 2 police used acceptable non-discriminatory wording to refer to gay people in Armenian “նույնասեռական”, even though the victims may not necessarily be gay per se, but rather trans sex workers. 3. victims of the crime reported the incident to the police.

What would be more important to find out, however, if the attackers will get formally charged with the crime and persecuted according to the law. This will be a testimony of changes, if any.

Sunday 23 September 2012

“Brotherhood” - “Ախպերություն”

I was watching “Brotherhood” film (2009, dir. Nicolo Donato) the other day.

The storyline immediately resonated for me with the recent events in Yerevan surrounding firebombing of gay friendly DIY bar. “Brotherhood” is “Ախպերություն” in Armenian. Here is what this film is about:
Brotherhood explores what happens when you add same-sex attraction to the already volatile world of neo-Nazis. Dismissed from the army after allegedly making a pass at a fellow soldier, young Lars soon falls in with a gang of gay-bashing neo-Nazis. Although the group is initially wary of this new figure, Lars proves that he is a fast learner and rises quickly through the ranks while simultaneously developing closer bonds with the other members, especially the sexy Jimmy. It is soon apparent that the two are far more than 'blood brothers' and confronting these sexual longings threatens to jeopardise their very lives.  
They will resort to hate and violence to suppress their inner fears and desires. They will indulge in neo-Nazi crap so that to have at least some kind of 'aim' and 'meaning' in this life, to make themselves 'important'. Because of their own vulnerability, they will easily be manipulated by others. But the only outcome this inevitably leads to is self-destruction. It’s pretty tragic, in fact. For all the sides involved. And the society, as a whole. Sounds familiar?..

Read also:

Underage "fascists" employed for psychological terror towards DIY bar in Yerevan

Neo-nazi attack Diversity march in Armenia capital Yerevan calling it "gay pride"

Neo-nazi thugs indulge in same-sex 'action' as they attack Diversity march in Armenia capital

This piece by Sona Abgaryan “STANDART” (AM) posted on Գրողուցավ provides almost anatomical dissection of similar types in Armenia:
Quote (1): "Հետևող լռության մեջ հիշում եմ կոնսերվատիվ, բթամիտ ազգայնականին, որի համար կենդանի լինելը մեծ պատիվ կլիներ: Նա հրճվում է մարդկային ողբերգություններից և սնվում է արտաթորանքով: Նա խոսում է անցյալից, որովհետև դա նրա ներկան է: Նա թաքցնում է իրական պատճառները հայրենասիրական տեքստերի մեջ:"  
Quote (2): “Փողոցում հանդիպում են նաև երջանիկ մարդիկ, որոնք «Թոփ 10»-ի համար հաղորդագրություններ են ուղարկում և քվեարկում են լավագույն հայ երգչի օգտին: Նրանք չարացած ռոմանտիկներ են: Նրանք ասում են մի բան, մտածում են այլ բան, ուզում են մեկ այլ բան և անում են լրիվ ուրիշ մի բան: Անխիղճ լիբիդոն բռնել է նրանց կոկորդից և խեղդում է, սպառնում է ոչնչացնել ավանդույթները: Այդ պացիենտները ամենատարածվածն են մեր օրերում: Նրանք շատ են սիրում խոսել հայրենիքից, պատերազմից, շրթներկից, շորերի գներից, բոմժերից, գոմիկներից, ամուսնության գաղտնիքներից, խոհարարական հմտություններից, անբարոյականներից, սրբություններից, աղջիկների կուսաթաղանթից, ծովից-ծով Հայաստանից… Նրանց դիագնոզը դեռ պարզ չի, պայմանական նրանց ասում են երջանիկներ: Դա միակ հիվանդությունն է, որ պաշտոնապես համարվում է ընդունելի:”

Monday 17 September 2012

Independent news back to mainstream TV in Armenia. BUT... along with homophobic editor

I am glad to see that independent A1+ TV’s flagship news programme is back on air (on its rival ArmNews!). Since its (decade-long) closure, I keep saying that until A1+ is back I won’t believe that things are changing in Armenia.

I know that homophobic editor of Aravot daily Aram Abrahamyan (Armenia Homophobia Hall of Shame) has been part of A1+ in past and present (online). Now, with the revival of news programme, it’s disappointing to see that the editor who advocates homophobia is part of the project too.

I wrote about A1+ in one of my very first posts after I launched Unzipped blog:
"(for years) They tried to ban A1+ TV, they sort of succeeded, but they was not able to ban A1+, for me - the symbol of free speech in Armenia. A1+ continued its live online. [...] If one day I switch on TV and see A1+ station live, I will understand that I probably live in different Armenia, in better Armenia, in Armenia which can be transformed to a country where I would prefer live in..."
Well, not quite a transformation yet. A small progress - probably.

As long as Aram Abrahamyan is part of the project, these changes will remain illusive for me.

International Hrant Dink Award names PINK Armenia ‘Inspiration 2012’ recognising its work for LGBT rights

On Hrant Dink’s birthday - 15 September, the Hrant Dink Foundation presents annual International Hrant Dink Award. The Award is "presented to people who work for a world free of discrimination, racism and violence, take personal risks for their ideals, use the language of peace and by doing so, inspire and encourage others. With this award, the Foundation aims to remind to all those who struggle for these ideals that their voices are heard, their works are visible and that they are not alone, and also to encourage everyone to fight for their ideals."

Since 2010, in addition to the grated awards, the International Hrant Dink Award ceremony salutes “Inspirations” - “those people, organizations, initiatives and projects that we support wholeheartedly, those that make us happy for sharing the same world and walking the same path”.

This year PINK Armenia was named among “Inspirations”. PINK Armenia is truly an inspiration for many of us. One of the very few groups in Armenia keeping THE hope alive that one day Armenia will turn into a country closer to my dreams.

Big congrats, PINKies !! Well deserved.

List of “Inspirations” is pretty awesome this year, including groundbreaking group of Families of LGBT from Istanbul.
Before the awards presentation, Inspirations, a group of people and institutions from Turkey and from all corners of the world who multiply hope for the future with the steps they take, were saluted with a film acknowledging their achievements. The Inspirations of 2012 included the resistance of villagers of Bil’in, a Palestinian village in the West Bank; the Romedia Foundation in Hungary who work for the rights of the Romani people in Romania; HOPE NOT HATE, an initiative from the UK that fights racism; PINK Armenia, an organization that works for LGBT rights in Armenia; Masa Mirkovic, director of ‘New Generation’ in Bosnia Herzegovina, an organization that supports children who are victims of violence; Triveni Acharya, an activist and journalist from Mumbai who works to prevent human trafficking; Mark Kabban, a Lebanese American immigrant, who works towards the social integration of immigrant children; Dr. Benjamin LaBrot from the United States who develops healthcare projects for remote parts of the world; James Kityo from Uganda, who develops innovative public health and shelter projects; the Initiative for Solidarity with Arrested Students in Turkey; the ‘My Body, My Decision’ campaign of Bianet, a media organization from Turkey; the solidarity organization Families of LGBT from Istanbul; the ‘Van, You Are Not Alone’ Campaign, organized in the aftermath of the Van earthquake; and The Mad Waves Outside initiative from Turkey that sends books and stationery to political prisoners.

*/emphasis mine/* 

Thursday 13 September 2012

Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY) demands resignation of Hungary PM Viktor Orban over axe murderer Safarov fiasco

September 12, 2012

The Board and members of the Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY) would like to officially state their dismay concerning the Hungarian government’s extradition to Azerbaijian on August 31st, 2012 of former Azerbaijan Army lieutenant Ramil Safarov, who had already served eight years in a Budapest jail for killing Gurgen Margarian in 2004. As has been widely reported in the press, Margarian, an Armenian officer who was a fellow participant in a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise, was hacked to death in his sleep with an ax by Safarov.

The Hungarian government originally stated that it transferred the prisoner to Azerbaijan on the understanding that he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in his home country. It is difficult to take such a statement at face value, given the fact that Ilham Aliyev, the dictator who runs Azerbaijian, has referred to Armenians in only the most vile of terms and continually threatened to destroy Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh by military means. In later statements it seems that Prime Minister Orban may have known all along that Margarian would be pardoned once in Azerbaijian. Not surprisingly upon his arrival in Baku, Lieutenant Safarov was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, restored to military duties and promoted to major. He was also given an apartment and awarded back pay for his time in prison. In the press, Safarov has been hailed as a national hero when he has perpetrated a hate crime, pure and simple.

The pardoning of Safarov sets back the quest for peace in the Caucasus, as it is a direct provocation to the Republic of Armenia.

The United States, the United Nations and other international organizations and governments should apply all available pressure on the Azeri government to honor its agreement with Hungary and return Safarov to where he belongs for the rest of his life—a jail cell. We also second the motion of the Hungarian opposition party for the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban—who has admitted to approving Safarov’s transfer to Baku—to resign immediately.

Read also: Epic shame for Hungary as axe murderer Ramil Safarov extradited to Azerbaijan to be pardoned and turned into ‘national hero’

Saturday 1 September 2012

Rainbow tree, Yerevan, Armenia

Enjoy!! ;))

*Abovyan & Sayat-Nova crossroad, downtown Yerevan, Armenia. Picture - by Mamikon Hovsepyan

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Tuesday 31 July 2012

London 2012: Olympic games

*as spotted in official London 2012 store

Pay attention to poster for Paris 1924 (!).

More London 2012 Olympic coverage - on Unzipped.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Gay Scots MEP Blasts Armenia On LGBTI Rights Record

13 July 2012
Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament has blasted potential accession state Armenia for its failure to adequately protect and support its LGBTI community.
Alyn said:
"Armenia is keen to become an EU member, but at present, their human rights record just doesn't cut it.  The EU is about improving human rights and safeguarding personal freedoms as much as it is about anything else and Armenia has no protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual oerientation or gender identity.
"I'm delighted that the European Commission has now made it crystal clear that there is no leeway for countries that want to join the EU - protection of minorities is non-negotiable and respect for rights, including gay rights is an absolute condition of EU membership.
"If Armenia wants to join that organisation of nations and take advantage of all the benefits that brings then it will have to start coming up with some advances in rights protections.  Prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity would be a start and then recognising that gender reorientation isn't something alien but giving people the ability to live in a degree of comfort might be a decent next step.  I realise that recognising same-sex partnerships is a big step for any nation - look at the long and winding road we've walked and are walking in Scotland - but there are steps that really are basics for simple decency in the modern Europe.
"I agree with my Austrian colleague Ulrike Lunacek that we have to have co-operation instead of confrontation, openness instead of fear.  Armenia can walk towards a more inclusive society as it walks towards the friendship of nations that is the EU but it must walk that way.
"While we're lecturing them, though, we should look to our own nation and make sure that we're making progress, the hypocrisy of telling others they should do better while standing still ourselves would be shameful.  Armenia may be some way behind us at the moment but that doesn't mean we're perfect.  I think we've made some progress and I'm looking forward to making a whole lot more."
Read also: 

Gay rights is EU entry criterion, Brussels says to Armenia

'Never Hide' / Ray-Ban

I remember having a pair of Ray-Ban glasses during my teenage years :))

Nice ad campaign by Ray-Ban: "Never Hide". Thumbs up.

Gay rights is EU entry criterion, Brussels says to Armenia

A very clear message to Armenia (and not only).

*via EU Observer

BRUSSELS - The European Commission has said in a written note that respect for gay rights is a legal criterion for EU accession.

It cited the 1993 so-called Copenhagen criteria for EU eligibility and article 2 of the EU Treaty, which prohibit discrimination against "minorities."
It also cited articles 10 and 19 of the EU Treaty and article 21 of the European Charter on Fundamental Rights, which explicitly forbid discrimination on grounds of "sexual orientation."
"Rights of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people thus form an integral part of both the Copenhagen political criteria for accession and the EU legal framework on combatting discrimination. They are closely monitored by the EU commission, which reports annually on the progress made by enlargement countries with regard to the situation of the LGBT community," it said.
The commission note was sent to EUobserver in response to a question born of an interview with an Armenian cleric.
Armenia, a deeply Christian country where church teaching has more authority than in many EU states with Christian roots, is keen to become an EU member.
Homosexuality is not against the law. But according to a recent study by the Brussels-based rights group Ilga-Europe, it scores better only than Moldova and Russia in terms of legal protection of LGBT people in Europe.
Armenian law does not prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. It does not recognise any form of same-sex partnership and has no provision for legally changing one's gender, the study says.
Its legal edifice is reflected in popular feeling.
A small pro-toleration rally in the Armenian capital on 21 May saw police struggle to keep counter-protesters at bay, who yelled slogans referring to gay people as a disease and as a threat to children.
Three priests came to speak to media, one of whom recalled the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to justify anti-gay views.
Counter-protesters the same night vandalised one of Yerevan's few gay-friendly bars.
For his part, Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, an ecumenical officer at the Armenian catholic church, made no bones about the situation.
"It's not in our culture to accept homosexuals. I mean, we don't reject the person, but we reject the sin and this is our freedom as Armenians. Our culture does not accept this," he told EUobserver in a recent interview in Etchmiadzin, the official seat of the Armenian church.
He said Armenia upholds basic human rights, but gay rights are a "secondary" issue where difference of opinion should be permitted.
"We have our cultural differences which should be respected ... These are questions on which you don't have consensus also in Europe. Europe is not just western Europe. For instance, Poland is a strong Christian country, or Romania or Bulgaria, or Serbia - Armenia is closer to these countries in its understanding," he explained.
EU entrants in some cases negotiate opt-outs from EU laws or transition periods for implementing sensitive parts of the rulebook.
But for Ulrike Lunacek, an openly lesbian Austrian Green MEP who co-chairs a European Parliament gay rights group, this does not mean countries can choose which values they adopt.
"Accession of a country will not be possible if certain LGBTI [the I stands for 'intersex'] rights are not put into law and into practice. Non-discrimination in the field of employment, for instance, has become part of the acquis," she said, citing an EU directive on non-discrimination from 2000.
"Protection of Pride marches has become a recurrent monitoring theme in the commission's progress reports on enlargement countries," she added.
She noted that EU institutions should work with conservative countries on the Union's fringe rather than putting up barriers, however.
"That is what the EU also stands for: co-operation instead of confrontation, openness instead of fear ... And that is another good thing," she said.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Armenia LGBT rights record to be scrutinised before UN Human Rights Committee

Review of Armenia at UN Human Rights Committee to begin on Monday 16 July 2012.

PINK Armenia in cooperation with the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, ILGA-Europe and the George Washington University Law School International Human Rights Clinic has prepared and submitted a shadow report focusing on "Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People in Armenia" for consideration at the 105th Session of the Human Rights Committee. (ILGA-Europe)

This is the first time such a comprehensive LGBT report has been submitted as part of the review of Armenia human rights commitments before the UN.

Human Rights House Network reports that the hearings of this and other Armenia related issues will take place on 16-17 July. You may follow live broadcast here:

To access LGBT Report in full - follow this link. Below are selected key summary extracts.


The purpose of this report is to highlight the widespread and systematic human rights violations experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Armenia. These violations have become all the more concerning in light of the recent upsurge in violent attacks against the LGBT community, and speech inciting such attacks in the month of May 2012. In particular, the report draws the attention of the Committee to the following breaches of the Covenant:

Background summary
• The State of Armenia remains deeply oppressive toward LGBT individuals, as reflected by public officials’ statements against the LGBT community.
• The Armenian State fails to protect LGBT individuals from public stigma and hate speech because it has failed to enact laws that criminalize hate speech, including against LGBT persons.
• Individuals in Armenia are subject to discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity by both State and non-State actors, including in access to education, employment opportunities, and healthcare.
• Though inadequate reporting makes exact numbers uncertain, local human rights groups report an alarming number of non-combat deaths in the army each year, including deaths of LGBT individuals. Gay and bisexual men serving in the army may be particularly at risk. The Armenian State fails to adequately prevent, investigate, and/or prosecute incidents of gender and sexual orientation-based killings, including against LGBT individuals.
• Gay and bisexual men in Armenia suffer cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment while serving in the army or detained in prison. In some instances, the State is responsible for this abuse or fails to adequately prevent, investigate, and/or prosecute incidents of violence toward LGBT individuals.
• The Armenian State refuses to recognize the gender identity of transgender persons. By denying transgender individuals appropriate identity documents, the State withholds from them the status of legal personhood.

The State of Armenia must adopt legislative, administrative, and judicial measures to ensure respect, protection, and promotion of, and minimize violation of, human rights without any distinction based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. To that end, the Human Rights Committee should recommend:

1. Armenia should adopt anti-discrimination legislation that condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
2. Armenia should take appropriate measures to end all discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity by adopting comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. In particular, the State party should introduce a comprehensive system of laws that criminalize hate speech and discourage statements by public officials that foster discrimination against LGBT people.
3. Armenia should take action to end all violence committed against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the Armenian army or who are detained in prison. In particular, the State party should protect LGBT persons from discrimination, physical and mental torture, and degrading treatment. The State party should revise the military code and put in place measures to fully investigate alleged crimes on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and where appropriate, ensure that such crimes are properly prosecuted and punished.
4. Armenia should take appropriate measures to ensure that all persons have the enjoyment of their rights and are entitled to access basic services, such as education and employment, without discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In particular, the State Party should pay special attention to undertake these efforts outside of the capital city of Yerevan.
5. Armenia should take steps to improve its public health campaign to end discrimination against LGBT persons infected with HIV/AIDS.
6. Armenia should adopt appropriate laws that permit transgender persons to legally transition, and to receive identity documents that reflect an individual’s identified gender.

Question to the State party
1. What is the State party doing to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity?
2. What is the State party doing to address hate speech and homophobic statements by public officials, which are detrimental to the full exercise of the right to freedom of expression?
3. What is the State party doing to protect individuals from physical and mental torture, and degrading treatment on grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, particularly in the Armenian army and among detainees?
4. What is the State party doing to legally recognize sex and name that reflect the individual’s gender identity in the case of transgender people?

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Disgrace for ARF Dashnaktsutyun in Armenia as party promotes anti-gay terrorism supporter MP Artsvik Minasyan into ruling board

 “Հին ընկերները”... չեն փոխվում 

So all these talks that ARF Dashnaktsutyun has changed, that they oppose violence and homophobia were bankrupt. Not only they didn’t reprimand anti-gay terrorism supporter MP Artsvik Minasyan, by allowing him to take a seat in the Armenian parliament and represent the party... This is bad enough. Now it’s been reported that Artsvik Minasyan has been elected into party’s ruling board in Armenia.

Instead of punishment - praise and promotion.

Truly and sadly, some things (and some parties) do not change.

Big FAIL to ARF.
Here is a reminder of what ARF Dashnak MP Artsvik Minasyan said after sponsoring bailout for firebombers of gay friendly DIY bar in Armenia capital Yerevan.

[about firebombers] they are “normal people, normal persons; the investigation will reveal to what extent the violation they committed endangered public safety”.

[about DIY owner] “people like Tsomak destroy Armenian society”.

[about justifying anti-gay terrorism] He then went on further to justify arsonists, saying they acted in accordance with the "context of our societal & national ideology, in the right way" (!!).

Read also:

MPs of ARF Dashnaktsutyun party bail out neo-nazi attacker of DIY bar. Dashnak MP Artsvin Minasyan supports arson attack, effectively encouraging terrorism in Armenia

ARF Dashnaktsutyun must "send a strong message", or else is tarnished with this "heinous act" (re neo-nazi attack on DIY and Dashnak MP in Armenia supporting hate crime)

Disgraced Armenia MP from ARF Dashnaktsutyun Artsvik Minasyan calls for fight against gays as “threat to national security”

ARF Central Committee in US condemns hate crime in Armenia as more local Dashnak MPs endorse firebombers and encourage anti-gay violence

Disgraced ARF Dashnaktsutyun MP Artsvik Minasyan, who endorsed anti-gay attackers and violence, approved as member of ARF parliamentary group in Armenia