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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Grieving for Gyumri

The first time I went to Armenia, we undertook a journey full of fun and unexpected adventures. We toured bars in Yerevan, I almost burned down our host’s neighbors (via Chinese lantern), we got lost and ended up at Azeri-Armenian border with machine guns pointing at us.
We drove through snowy Alpine zones, eating carrots bought from local Molokan village, we listened to Tsoi and read names of towns that did not exist: Leninakan, Kirovakan…
And somewhere on our way back, we stopped at Gyumri. After obtaining interesting directions from the locals (so if you are looking for the fish canyon,  you go right, then left, then you flip the car upside down and then go left; but the fish canyon you are looking for does not exist), we drove by Russian army buildings and came upon fishing farm to eat a fish dinner.
The fish canyon works like this: you order a fish by kg-s, you take a table and they kill it nearby (murdered my desire to eat it). It was interesting new experience for us. The fish farm was located at foothills of old castle. Peaceful sunset was disturbed only by hatchets beheading fishes of different kg constitution.
After forcing fresh fish down my throat, we hurried out of the town before it got dark- we still had to find our way back home. As I have mentioned, that scenario did not work out (apparently all road signs were abducted by the aliens) and that’s how we ended up in a military zone. Needless to say, we quickly moved away from the wrong border and continued our quest for the motherland.
Last week, a horrible tragedy happened in the same Gyumri, quiet and little town, dusty town, with streets growing silent after sunset. A Russian soldier escape from the Russian army base, walked into one of the houses and killed a whole family; only smallest member, an infant survived.
The soldier was caught and is now detained at the army base.
Armenia is in uproar.
They demand to bring this soldier to Armenian court; meanwhile, Russian side wants Russian trial- the guy broke Russian law first, by deserting the army. Russian officials do not make statements, do not apologize, just say general nonsense like “the crime must be investigated”. Nobody addresses heartbroken, angry, grieving people, who stage protest after protest, hoping for justice.
In addition, Russian side made an official statement only on January 18, while events took place on January 12.
I guess nobody in Armenia believes that he will be tried justly if he leaves the country.
I don’t know how the whole affair might end, who blames whom, what were the reasons, is Russian army in Gyumri beneficial or detrimental.

The wounded baby died yesterday.

P.S. self-portrait against gorgeous Armenian background

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