Quite a stir has developed in response to Susan Sach’s article–Young Armenia’s Puzzle over Their Homeland–published in both The New York Times and International Herald Tribune–and was rerun in Asbarez on December 11.
It all began with an announcement on an Armenian internet-forum on November 4–about a New York Times journalist who had arrived in Armenia to find out how the Armenian youth live. "She just wishes to communicate in a natural environment," read the posting.
For Sachs–the natural environment was apparently a smoky corner of the Red Bull bar–a favorite hangout for university students. The meeting was planned and conducted there.
Participants met Sachs–talked about a variety of issues–then forgot about her fairly soon.
The peace broke in the December 9 issue of the New York Times–bearing the rather depressing title: "For Young Armenia’s–A Promised Land without Promise." The article was also reprinted in the International Herald Tribune under the title "Young Armenia’s Puzzled Over their Homeland."
Sachs–incidentally–works as an Istanbul correspondent for The New York Times.
Zara Amatuni–21–one of the students who participated in the forum–is quoted in the article as saying–"We can fit in anywhere?The only place we can’t is Armenia."
Amatuni–however–surprised when the article hit–said Sachs "omitted all the good that was said and left only what was interesting to her. I said I would do my best to stay here because it is my country. Moreover–a lot of improvemen’s have already taken place. But she did not publish that statement." Amatuni–who has been debating about the article on www.armcb.com forum–said the worst part is that Sachs agreed with her on every point–but later convoluted the story and chose to ignore the central topics covered during their discussion.
In her attempt to depict totally desperate Armenian youth who are ready to seek a future anywhere but in Armenia–Sachs introduces 22-year-old programmer Viktor Aghababov–who plans to travel to Moscow in search of better luck–revealing that his monthly salary is $650.
To the average American or European who has no idea about the cost of living in Armenia–the figure is dismal. In reality–however–a $650 salary in Armenia is more than enough to maintain a relatively high standards of life–especially for a twenty-two year old.
Aghababov simply calls the article a "provocation," and questions why Sachs did not report that all the participants particularly expressed that Armenia is developing.
The interviewees–who say they did not know their photos and names would be published–say their rights were violated and plan to submit a letter of complaint to the New York Times editorial office.