Saakashvili Visits South Ossetia Conflict Zone
TBILISI (ARMENPRESS)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili made an unannounced visit to the South Ossetian village of Eredvi early on July 19. "I came here to observe the situation in the conflict zone. We are capable of dealing with the forces of breakaway South Ossetia–but now it is important to maintain peace," Saakashvili told reporters.
A special center that seeks to coordinate the Georgian government’s activities in the breakaway region was recently established in Eredvi. "The President arrived here to encourage our soldiers," Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili–who also chairs the special center in Eredvi–told reporters.
Speaking about the Georgian troops–President Saakashvili said–"despite shots fired from the South Ossetian side–our soldiers keep patience and did not respond by opening fire."
Court of Appeals Upholds Spy Verdicts
YEREVAN (ARMENPRESS)–On Monday–an Armenian court of appeals upheld a lower court’s verdict–which found four Armenian citizens of Russian descent guilty of espionage. The court determined that the four–who were arrested in August 2002–had served as spies for Azerbaijan since 1993. Nina Shilina–who prosecutors targeted as the group’s leader–was sentenced to a 15 years prison term. Shilina’s husband–Edgar Filkov–received a 13 year sentence. Filkov’s brother–Aleskandar Gasparian–and cousin–Ivetta Filkova–each received 10 year terms. In addition–the courts also found Shilina guilty for the attempted bombing of a Yerevan hotel in 1993–an incident that security forces managed to avert. Another man–a former Armenian army officer–Arthur Oganezov–was sentenced to 18 months.
900 Karabagh High School Graduates Seek University Education
STEPANAKERT (ARMENPRESS)–Approximately 900 high school graduates from throughout Mountainous Karabagh will take Stepanakert University’s entrance examination on July 20. The country houses only one university.
The university–which has also received applications from students in Armenia–Russia–Turkmen’stan–Belarus and Ukraine–provides full scholarships to two hundred of its incoming students. Students at Stepanakert University can choose from the thirty areas of concentration the school offers.
Two Expeditions to Seek Noah’s Ark
MOSCOW (ARMENPRESS)–A Russian group began an expedition of Mount Ararat last Saturday. The organizers hope to prove that an object nestled amid the snow and ice is Noah’s Ark. The group will present the Turkish authorities an icon of George the Triumphant–who is thought to be the protector of Caucasian Mountains. The expedition marks Andrey Polyakov’s second attempt at locating the ark.
A joint US-Turkish team of 10 explorers also plan to tackle the mountain this summer in an attempt to uncover a mammoth structure of some 45 feet high–75 feet wide and about 450 feet long that was partly exposed during last summer’s European heat wave.
Explorers have long searched for an ark on the high slopes of Mount Ararat–where the biblical account of the Great Flood places it. In 1957–Turkish air force pilots spotted a boat-shaped formation in the Agri province. The government did not pursue the sighting–however. The entire area–including Mount Ararat–was placed off limits to explorers–after the USSR accused them of serving as US spies.
Armenia Takes Part in Rescuer/Medceur International Exercises
VILNIUS (ARMENPRESS)–Armenian rescuers joined some 400 military and civil agencies from 13 countries for the Rescuer/Medceur 2004 that began in the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda on Monday. The exercises are organized under NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and financed by the US armed forces in Europe. The program–which focuses on proper responses to human calamities–natural disasters and acts of terrorism–will come to an end on July 30.
Crimea Authorities Promise to Restore Spendiarov’s Museum
YEREVAN (ARMENPRESS)–The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the ambassador to Ukraine–Armen Khachatrian–recently paid a visit to the Crimean Autonomous Republic to discuss the possible development of economic–agricultural–health and education cooperation with Armenia. The sides also arranged for the restoration of both Armenian composer Alexander Spendiarov’s house museum and Yevpatoria’s Armenian church.
German Ambassador Bids Farewell to Karekin II
ETCHMIADZIN (ARMENPRESS)–The outgoing German ambassador to Armenia–Hans Wulf Bartels–visited Etchmiadzin on Monday to bid farewell to Catholicos Karekin II. In his remarks–Karekin II discussed the positive relations between Germany and Armenia and commended the ambassador for his contributions to their development.
Armenian Nuclear Power Plant to Shut Down for Repairs
METSAMOR (RFE-RL)–The Metsamor Nuclear power plant will be shut down temporarily on August 1. The plant–which produces 35 percent of Armenia’s energy–will be restarted on October 4. Metsamor is temporarily shut down once a year for prophylactic work. This time the reactor will be checked–a procedure that is conducted every four years.
Gagik Markosian–the director of the plant–said that the state of the metal casing of the reactor will be checked. "The reactor will be unloaded and we will check the casing of the reactor" The operation will be performed by the Czech company–"Skoda."The International Atomic Energy Agency helped us evaluate the technical needs. And we invited bids [from international companies] according to those needs," Markosian said.
Armenian Tennis Players Shine at Davis Cup
CHISINAU (ARMENPRESS)–Last week–eight nations participated in the Davis Cup–BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group IV–that was held in Chisinau–Moldova. The tennis players representing Armenia defeated their competitors from Botswana–Malta–Mauritius–moving on to place the country first in its subgroup.
Three Armenia’s Eligible to Compete for World Chess Cup
YEREVAN (ARMENPRESS)–At least three Armenian chess players–Vladimir Hakobian–Levon Aronian and Karen Asrian–will be eligible to compete for the World Chess Cup. The Cup–expected to begin in 2005–is a newly designed contest organized by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Depending on their rankings at next year’s European chess championship–additional Armenian chess players may be included in the World Chess Cup.