10 January 2022: Week to Week by Armenia Media with Shahen Araboghlian

By Shahen Araboghlian – Armenia Media | Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Week to Week / ՇԱԲԱԹԷ ՇԱԲԱԹ

By Shahen Araboghlian – Exclusively for Armenia Media

Hey there, I’m Shahen, and it’s awesome to meet you! Starting this week, I’ll be recapping your Armenia-related news on a weekly basis, exclusively for ArmeniaMedia. A little background info about me: I’m a Graduate Program Scholar in Multimedia Journalism at the Lebanese American University, and I’m currently based in Yerevan, Armenia.

Let’s get straight to it – what happened in Armenia this past week?

100 Armenian and Many Other CSTO Servicemen Deployed in Kazakhstan, at Kazakh Government's Request

Image caption: 100 Armenian Servicemen to Serve in Kazakhstan Under CSTO Deployment (Armenia MoD)

Things have been bleak in Kazakhstan, with fresh protests taking over major parts of the country, demanding the resignation of current government officials. The largest city of Almaty has seen the largest crowds, with Reuters reporting dozens of rioters and more than 18 security forces killed, with 2,000+ detained across the country.

How would this concern you? Mere hours after his Christmas Eve address, RA Prime Minister Pashinyan, following a phone call with Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev, announced the CSTO will be sending peacekeepers to Kazakhstan on basis of threats to Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and national security. Armenia is currently heading the CSTO – short for Collective Security Treaty Organisation – a Russki version of NATO. According to a statement released by Armenia’s Ministry of Defense, 100 Armenian servicemen were sent to Kazakhstan as part of the CSTO operations amassing a total of approximately 4,000 personnel.

Who is Ruben Rubinyan? He’s To Head Turkey Normalisation Talks in Moscow Next Week

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Image caption: Ruben Rubinyan to Represent Armenia in Normalisation Talks With Turkey (Rubinyan’s Facebook page)

Ruben Rubinyan, a current Armenian MP and Deputy Chair of the National Assembly, will be heading normalisation talks on behalf of Armenia as soon as January 14. A Pashinyan loyalist from the get-go, Rubinyan partook in the 2018 pre-Velvet Revolution marches and – based on his public Facebook profile – is old friends with current high-ranking government officials.

Rubinyan is among the founding members of the Civil Contract political party, has two Master’s degrees, and entered the political arena in 2018. His official parliament resumé offers a diverse background, from Yerevan to Kraków and London. There’s a two-year gap in 2017 and 2018 titled “scientific activities,” explained by when he was granted a Hrant Dink Foundation Fellowship. The Fellowship offered him research opportunities at the Istanbul Policy Center and Kadir Has University Center for International and European Studies in Turkey. When confronted about it during a legislative session, he claimed he does not hide his research experiences in Turkey.

Hungary Cozying Up with Armenia?

Image caption: Hungary Seeks to Strengthen Ties With Armenia (from Armenian Weekly, 2012)

It wasn’t long ago when Hungarian authorities extradited axe-murderer Ramil Safarov back to Baku after he’d killed an Armenian serviceman in his sleep at a NATO training seminar. Hungary’s extradition was condemned by US, UN, and Russian government officials. Former RA president Serzh Sargsyan cut diplomatic ties with Budapest in protest of the extradition. In 2014, though, both countries’ MFAs expressed readiness to re-establish proper diplomatic communications.

In a bid to enhance bilateral relations, Hungary has stepped its game up as of late. In a single day last week, Hungary mediated to help successfully return five Armenian POWs from Azerbaijan and announced a major donation of 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Armenia.

News Updates Worth Mentioning

It’s been a pretty eventful week for Armenians as the world kicked off the new year ahead. Here are some headlines worth mentioning:

  • Sevan Nishanyan (or Nişanyan), a Turkish-Armenian writer, was arrested in Greece last week. In 2014, Nishanyan was sentenced to a little more than 16 years in prison for criticising the Turkish government but escaped after serving three years. He was recently declared to be a persona non grata by the Greek authorities, with fears of extradition to Turkey, until the Armenian Embassy in Greece announced that Nishanyan was released and had to leave Greece in two weeks’ time. Nishanyan holds dual Turkish and Armenian citizenship.

  • Armenia starts to locally produce the Russian Sputnik Light COVID-19 booster vaccine.

  • The Turkey trade ban was lifted in Armenia, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Economy.

  • Plastic bags are now officially banned in Armenia, smoking indoors to follow suit in March.

  • COVID-19 health passes to be implemented starting next month, with most spaces of leisure to require vaccination proof or recent negative COVID-19 test results.

Multimedia Corner

Image caption: Jinj Releases Cheat Code, Fully Made in Armenia (Jinj YouTube Channel)

Below are some links to really cool Armenian multimedia content I came across this past week:

  • Learn: Armenian miniature art has been a major part of our nation’s heritage and the vast majority of the art form has revolved around Christian symbolism. To wrap up the holiday season, read how Armenian medieval art depicts Christmas in this listicle on h-pem.

  • Listen: Cheat Code by Jinj. The song’s mostly in French, performed by French-Armenian repat Sevana Tchakerian (formerly Collectif Medz Bazar) and Gor Tadevosyan (of famous local band Lav Eli). The music video is fully made in Armenia. Read more about the duo here.

  • Watch: A group of young Armenian repats has set out to revitalise Karaberd, a small village in the northern Armenian province of Lori. Their plan is to construct small bungalow-like vacation homes for community-sharing getaways. You can watch a short report on their activities here, and support their Indiegogo fundraiser here.

  • Read: History of Forgetfulness by Shahé Mankerian. School principal and director of mentorship at the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA), Mankerian sets a war-torn Beirut as the background of his newly-published poetry book. Poet Laureate Emerita Thelma T. Reyna writes “his [Mankerian’s] gut-punching poems relive for himself as well as for us the horrific shredding of humanity that war, especially civil war, inflicts.” You can purchase the book here.