Notes From Hairenik
May 3, 2007

The temperature seems to be warming up now hovering at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit/21 degrees Celsius. Now that the spring rains are hopefully dying down, the latest storm having arrived last night, the cafés are all opening up in confidence, many of them swishier than ever. Every year despite the fact that during the month of April it for the most part rains constantly, there is fear that the apricots will be washed out. A few years back the crop was affected by an unusual amount of rain coupled with untimely freezing temperatures in some areas, effectively driving up the price of apricots by three times or more. I haven’t heard much concern so far, however, which means that people are not worried about it or no longer care one way or another. Spring brings heightened apathy it seems.

The political climate is pretty boring, even as we approach the parliamentary elections to be held on May 12. The Republican Party of Armenia is being very arrogant in its confidence that it will by far win the majority of seats. Prosperous Armenia also feels it will win a sizable share, but seems to be more humble in its claims as its leader, Gagik Tsarukian, who is arguably the richest man in Armenia, is a fairly down-to-earth guy. He promises that everyone will be prosperous once they work together to build a prosperous country, whatever that means, and many people seem to be buying into it. The ARF-Dashnaktsutiun had another rally yesterday in front of Moscow Cinema claiming that it promises to raise the minimum wage and the average monthly pension amount once it is elected, which the Republican Party effectively pooh-poohed, claiming that it cannot happen until 2012 since the government spending budget does not allow the funds for such increases. I admit I rather liked the orange, blue, or red tee-shirts that the ARF supporters were wearing with the party slogan “Our Old Friend Is Dashnaktsutiun” printed on them. I asked a guy how I could get one and I was told that I have to go down to one of the campaign offices—maybe they only give them to people pledging to vote for the ARF or something. But I can probably manage to talk them into giving me one by using the patriotic line of myself having returned to the fatherland.

I have been trying to gear up for the elections hoping to participate as a monitor representing It’s Your Choice (, as they were recruiting Diasporan Armenians especially for the task. However, despite having written to them several times and calling a line that no one seems to answer, I essentially gave up hopes of becoming one, especially when I went to an informational meeting that was cancelled at the last minute—an cancellation notification email wasn’t sent out and there wasn’t even a sign posted on the IYC office door alluding to the fact, which I found to be very odd. But I heard through the grapevine that all the monitor candidates had already been pre-selected amongst the Diasporan Armenian clique that lurks about here. And it seems that Transparency International is actually behind the monitoring program, not IYC, then personal connections also come into play, and so forth. Unfortunately I have never been part of the in-crowd in social circles, so no monitoring opportunities for me unless some kind of diplomatic miracle happens.

Exploring the regions hasn’t been possible in the last couple of weeks due to a mysterious short-circuit draining my Niva’s battery down completely over the course of 5-7 idle days. Since I drive on average about once a week, this situation has caused me some grief, especially on May Day when I was itching to leave the city on a gorgeous afternoon. I have been trying to use this car battery charger/air compressor that I bought over a year ago to give it a boost, but it seems I have to leave it connected for a few hours. Once I get the Niva running I will be off like a dart to an electrician I know who hopefully will diagnose and solve the problem. I met him a year ago when I had another power drain problem that no one could determine the root of except him—it turned out that one of the previous owners had installed an alternator for a Lada Zhiguli 2101, which is essentially a pure Fiat. Nivas use the same parts as the 2106, so there was definitely something screwy.

But so far, an overall dull, rainy spring. Hoping for some excitement soon enough.

Anonymous armen said...
You're wrong about any "social circle" selection for diaspora monitoring. has had several training sessions and i belive they wanted all the training done at least two weeks before the elections. I'm aware of several armenians from Iran and the US participating, non of whom know each other.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Well, my source is pretty reliable, so I am sticking with that information as being fairly accurate. There is no excuse for my having been overlooked in the selection process, especially when I showed eagerness to become a monitor a good 40 days before the elections. I know this blog is somewhat well read in the Armenian blogosphere, and quite frankly I was expecting that someone would have approached me to serve as a monitor since I discuss political issues from time to time, not to mention I am a resident of Armenia.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
I know of one Iraqi Armenian Doctor now living and working in Armenia who was also ignored, or at least that's what he says he feels has happened. He's also quite upset by the fact.

One reason I've heard privately was that Middle Eastern Armenians are "too politicized," but this guy says he's not and certainly isn't a member of any political party.

Interestingly, I think some of those who were accepted have a long history in the United States with the ARF and I'd be interested to learn whether they are active members or not.