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The video about an Azerbaijani walking in Yerevan is outdated, there is no evidence that it was filmed by an Azerbaijani

The video about an Azerbaijani walking in Yerevan is outdated, there is no evidence that it was filmed by an Azerbaijani

The video circulated on the Internet today, purportedly shot by an Azerbaijani, Telman Qasimov, casually strolling through the yard of an apartment building at Komitas 5A in Yerevan, is outdated.  In an interview with the Azerbaijani media outlet 'Minval,' Telman Qasimov stated that he was born and resided at the address Komitas 5A for 17 years. After relocating to Azerbaijan in 1988, he revisited the location 35 years later, capturing footage of the yard and apartment. According to his Facebook profile, he was born in 1971. According to his interview, he left Yerevan in 1988 and returned to document it 35 years later, that is, this year.  Infocom visited Komitas 5A in Yerevan and compared the surroundings with the video footage. We are releasing photos that clearly demonstrate the disparity between the content of the video and the present-day appearance of the yard and the building. The footage reveals several alterations: the entrance door to the building has been replaced, the balcony on the second floor underwent reconstruction, the water fountain featured in the video has been removed, and the garage doors received a fresh coat of paint. According to the building's residents, the water fountain in video was removed this summer, specifically in August.  The building's residents have pointed out that the replacement of the front door and the renovation of the balcony took place approximately two years ago. This suggests that the video was filmed at least two years prior to the current date. However, Telman Qasimov, in his interview, creates the impression that the video was recorded after the forced deportation of the Artsakh people on September 25, 2023. He specifically emphasizes, 'Imagine that, even now, not all displaced persons from Karabakh have been accommodated and provided with housing. Many of them still continue to sleep in cars. These people are wandering the streets doing nothing. During my time there, I witnessed this. And while I was there, they turned off the electricity twice.' Telman Qasimov is not discernible in the video. The video has been edited. Specifically, segments where the videographer's reflection could potentially be seen on car windows have been removed. The claim that Qasimov personally filmed the video lacks confirmation, as both the speaker's voice and the video could have been edited and synchronized seamlessly. Did an Azerbaijani live in the Komitas 5A building? Building residents recall that until the 1990s, an Azerbaijani named Telman, resided in their building. His mother's name was Zemfira, referred to as 'Zemfir xala' (Aunt Zemfir).  The building's fifth floor, where the Azerbaijani claims his residence used to be, consists of three apartments. In the video, the speaker mentions names such as Lida and Rosa, identifying them as former neighbors. Specifically, he points to the apartment on the left side of the floor as his own. The current occupant, interviewed by Infocom, states that she has resided there for a long time and learned from neighbors that an Azerbaijani lived there in the 1980s, subsequently selling the property to an Armenian. Another neighbor adds that the Azerbaijani resident left in 1988-89, engaging in a house exchange with an Armenian in Baku. It is important to note that Telman Qasimov is identified as one of the leaders of the 'environmental activists' who blocked the Lachin corridor. According to information released by the Tatoyan Foundation, Qasimov is alleged to be a military officer with a strong aversion to Armenians and serves in a special military intelligence unit. Evidence surfaced on his social media accounts, displaying connections with the extremist nationalist group 'Gray Wolves,' known for its terrorist activities. Qasimov has also shared a photograph featuring Ramil Safarov, the individual responsible for the brutal murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan while he was asleep, wielding an axe. Update: As of December 6, the National Security Service of the Republic of Armenia has released a statement revealing that Telman Qasimov obtained the mentioned video in November 2017 from a dual citizen identified as 'A. K.,' who originally recorded footage of the building where Qasimov claimed to be 'born and raised.' The NSS asserts that Qasimov appended his voice to the video through editing, six years after its initial recording." Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
20:33 - 05 December, 2023
"Mom, call Vardan": Goris Welcomes Displaced Nagorno-Karabakh Residents

"Mom, call Vardan": Goris Welcomes Displaced Nagorno-Karabakh Residents

As we traversed Vayots Dzor, traffic thickened, and the presence of ambulances and trucks hinted at our approach to Goris. Strolling through rain-formed puddles, we arrived at the building that, just a week ago, had been the drama theater. There is a big blue bus in front of the building. Agony and fatigue emanate from the faces of the people visible through the window. In my mind, I find solace in the barrier before me, grateful that it shields me from getting closer to the weariness etched on people's faces. A child, around four years old, nibbling on a piece of bread, emerges from the building and is on the verge of crossing paths with volunteers bearing food. "The taxi has arrived. Are all of you ready?" A Red Cross staff member escorts a family of eight, engaging in playful banter with the children and bidding farewell like a caring relative as they board the vehicle... "Move back, make way for this car!" the policeman shouts, using a commanding hand gesture to guide people and clear the path. A two-year-old child in a red coat wanders around. "Is she by herself?" People exchange glances. As we attempt to find our bearings, a mother, cradling another baby in her arms, guides the little one by the hand, and they pass through the barrier. An elderly woman stumbles and ends up in a puddle up to her ankles. I wonder if she has an extra pair of shoes; she was wearing slippers. While I stand on the sidewalk, trying to absorb my initial impressions, my attention is captivated by a 5-6-year-old girl in a red hoodie, standing in front of a White Ford. The family of Gohar is from the village of Haterk, Martakert. "On September 20th, accompanied by our relatives, a group of 25 people, we embarked on a journey to the airport. We spent five days there, and then they [the peacekeeprs] helped us to cross the Hakari Bridge," recounted Ruzanna, Gohar's mother. She mentioned that they had cattle and were able to slaughter some for meat and take with them. That's how they lived until they reached Kornidzor. When I inquired about their reception at the airport, she appeared surprised and asked, 'Who, the Russians? It is an open field, we went there by car, slept in the car, lived by ourselves'. According to her, five soldiers were killed in the village. "There is still a 19-year-old child who couldn't be brought out. He has four sisters. As we were departing the village in our cars, the mother of the deceased kept glancing back, as if hoping to catch a glimpse of him following us. She can't believe that her son died." Tears welling in her eyes, Ruzanna adds, "She's still waiting for him to come." One of her family members also passed away, her husband's cousin, a young 19-year-old soldier. She explains that they are making efforts to transport the body to Armenia with the assistance of the Red Cross. They are waiting for other family members to join them to go to Yerevan. And what's next? "Then I will go to Pyatigorsk, my daughter is there. And then in the end people will leave Armenia as well as they left Artsakh." Ruzanna with Gohar I approach the girl who stands alone under a wall and ask, "Who are you with?" Babo (grandmother). While I'm attempting to identify Nare's grandmother, I notice a woman on the right side of us, diligently trying to corral the kids who are enthusiastically chasing a stray dog. Gohar's family loses their home for the second time. They fled from Shush to Stepanakert in 2020, now Goris, then... "probably Russia, we have family there." Aren, Alen and Nare In front of the Goris Hotel, men smoke anxiously. They don't talk to each other, don't talk to strangers. The hotel corridor bustles with activity. A child is gleefully bouncing on a sofa, savoring chocolate with all ten fingers. The man pulls fruits, sweets, and juices from the bag, sharing them with both children and parents waiting in line. The girl with short, curly hair can barely contain the aid packages she's received in her small hands. "Could you please give me a bag?" she requests, turning to me with a warm smile. "I'm Larisa," she introduces herself, then introduces her brother. "And this is Artyom." Larisa's family emigrated from Yeghtsahogh, although Larisa herself proudly notes that she is from Shushi. "She was born in the maternity hospital of Shushi," her mother corrects. Yeghtsahogh is now completely empty. "On the 20th, at one o'clock in the morning, we took the children out, brought to the Russian post. Our village was completely evacuated, including the neighboring villages -Hin Shen and Mets Shen. We didn't take anything with us – no clothes or anything. The head of the village gave a car to evacuate people. We went out, the Turks followed us into the village," she says. At the Russian checkpoint, according to Susan, residents of three villages were accommodated and provided with food, and then escorted to Kornidzor. At the checkpoint, they did not pass inspection, they did not leave the cars, only passports were checked.Susan with Larisa and Artyom. Susan's family has no relatives, neither in Goris nor in Yerevan. She mentiones that she can't live in the city. She's uncertain about the next destination, but she's determined not to go to Russia. "I want to settle in a village, secure a job, and raise my children." A man from the side interjects, "Wouldn't you consider living in Meghri? I invite you." "Meghri? Isn't that close to the Turks?" she questions. "It is. What if I relocate there and they launch another attack?" The hotel corridor is gradually emptying out. Video footage of the fire at the Stepanakert fuel depot has already been released. On the sofa, a woman cries out with longing and repeats once more, "Mom, I'm calling, he's not answering, please call Vardan." I quietly leave the hotel. Time outside has stopped. Men are desperately smoking, as if in the same position as an hour ago. My ears are still ringing. "Mom, call Vardan". Victoria Andreasyan Photos by Anthony Pizzoferrato
12:58 - 26 September, 2023
Endless nights and uncertain waiting: Arsakh citizens at the base in Goris

Endless nights and uncertain waiting: Arsakh citizens at the base in Goris

The road from Yerevan to Gori is unusually quiet, especially for us journalists, who always find a topic to "make noise". Now that noise has only one name - Artsakhtsi (Artsakh Armenian), and one address -  Artsakh, but words have no meaning, they are not enough. The intelligible silence is broken by the incomprehensible news coming from official sources every now and then, and the hymns of Sargis, our cameraman, become more heartbreaking with each subsequent news. - Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!... he sings something that we had to repeat a lot in Goris. In Goris, there is the gathering station, where the people of Artsakh who were displaced from their homeland to Armenia and registered in Kornidzor, come. They come endlessly, one after another, like the snow that starts suddenly when the flakes fall quickly, get down to the ground, and barely rise. Now those flakes fall down on our hearts and become stones. They fall down and become heavy forever.    The base of Goris is crowded, and frankly speaking, there is not even enough place to shed a tear. Cold-hearted, we work, photographing people who seem to have put decades of life in a suitcase, packed everything they had wrapped it in cars, rushing here and there, getting on a bus, and hearing the vague voice of one of the organizers. - People going to Gegharkunik, get off quickly, you will go by another bus. - Who was going to Vayk? Get on the bus! People get off, people get on, and the buses take them to their new addresses. People come down, people wait, and who knows how people don't go crazy... *** I notice a girl standing alone in the uncertain waiting. I approach and ask, are you from Artsakh? She firmly says yes. I ask if she'll agree to speak a few words. She agrees to talk but without cameras. 22-year-old Amalya Arushanyan is a linguist from Haterk village, Martakert region. I apologize for the painful questions and ask her to remember September 19, the day of the last attack of Azerbaijan. - Would you like me to be as honest as possible? As a citizen of Artsakh, now it is not difficult for me to recall all that because it has already become normal, - says Amalya, and tears are falling from her eyes, - No, I lied, it is difficult. At the time of the attack, Amalya was at her workplace, at school, and the students told her the news that the enemy had attacked the neighboring villages, but Amalya didn't believe it, she thought it was just another thing that would pass. Then, when the voices reached them, there was nothing left but to go down to the shelter of the school. "Then our relatives came and took us home, whoever they could, they took them... Then the day came when there were more shootings. My little sister was in a very bad condition, she had health problems... Then night came, during the night the sky was not black at all, it was red because they had organized all this in a very professional way, they were coming from all directions, and our army was in a very bad, disorganized state... Then once the plane hit, we didn't sleep at all that night, there was no communication, and we couldn't find out about our brothers who were on the frontline... All of us were scared and entered the shelter, it was not safe there, nowhere was safe. The morning light  never came for us that night, it stayed dark like that." *** Amalya says the next day, when it was officially reported that an agreement was reached to stop the fire at 13:00 with the mediation of the Russian peacekeeping troops, it did not stop.  "It was after the so-called "ceasefire"  that I lost my brother, whom we forcefully brought here to take with us so that his grave does not remain there," she says, holding back the tears. - Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! *** The day after the attack, Amalya was transferred to Stepanakert. I asked if she was with her whole family. "With all my relatives," she answered. "We went to the airport, where the Russian base is located, thinking that we were close to the Russians there, there would be no attack, but the military base is near the Askeran regiment, they were also attacking the Askeran military unit there, we were still afraid, but already kind of indifferent. it was fear without emotion, we had already got used to it, do you get it?" she says, looking at me with eyes as green as the mountains of Artsakh and filled with water. And I don't know where to look when everywhere you turn, it's the same tragedy. The family stayed at the airport for 2 or 3 days, Amalya says it seemed like a long time, but she doesn't remember clearly. "There was constant news that it's over or that someone was slaughtered in the village, that azeris have entered, put up the flag... You know, that desperate situation where you can't get in touch with anyone... It was only in the area of the military base that there was a connection, thanks to the Russians. There was no light at all in Stepanakert... That uncertain situation was generating both truth and lies." The next day, when the fire really stopped, the Arushanians decided not to return to the village. "No one wanted to go back, enter Haterk, or stay in the territory of Artsakh, because that is suicide or voluntary slavery," she says. "It was very common for us at the checkpoint, we saw both Turks, Russians, and Armenians. They didn't thoroughly and deeply examine the car. As far as I know, they didn't look at the documents. They opened the door and looked, and that's it. Maybe there was actually a device there. I don't know if he was checking," Amalya says, adding that she heard that the group is thoroughly checked when a weapon is found with one of the people. The family barely took food, clothes, and beds with them, but there are people, says Amalya, who didn't make it or didn't want to. "For example, my grandmother, an elderly woman, has seen a lot in her life. She said: "Why am I taking it, what should I do? Last time, during the 44-day period, I took my clothes and shoes, what happened?" Amalya says, in any case, she doesn't remember her home in a sad way . She remembers it with pain, but not in a sad way. She remembers it beautifully and with love. "So far, we have been in the blockade for 274 days, which has brought many difficulties, and all this has not allowed us to accumulate or create happy moments, but I don't remember being sad in our house, I even took pictures of our house when I went out, our yard, our cars, because we left a lot of things there." I asked if they have closed the door, and she says that her father did not let them, so that when the enemy comes, they don't break it or do damage.  "But if you think very deeply, my father is a 50-year-old man, he gave his whole life to build a house for us, now he has left everything behind and will have to start again, and it's not even from scratch, I don't even what I should call it." I asked if they have any problems at the moment that need to be solved urgently, and she said "Yes", adding that they know the solution to the problems, but there's only one problem, the solution of which is not in their hands because Artsakh no longer exists.  "With God's will, I don't know how powerful the Armenian army will be to be able to take back all that, but we will be so strong and conscious... We don't love our nation, we have to love ourselves to be able to win, we have to put our hope in ourselves to be able to win, and it's not the Russians who keep us, nor the Americans, we are the ones who keep us, and I'm sure it will be in 50 or 60 years, if RA is smart, we will definitely take everything back: the Shushi tank, the "We are our mountains" statue, the Karvachar mountains, our church, and our crosses, which were placed in every village. Everything," says Amalya, assuring us that we did not lose either this battle or the 44-day battle, our boys fought until the end. Amalya does not talk about the future, she says that it is up to her father to decide. Before that, she had planned to open a language center in the village, and she was about to do it, but now she's on the Goris-Vayk road, waiting to be transferred there. Until then, they will have to wait for long, as the International Committee of the Red Cross brings her brother's body.   Milena Khachikyan
11:58 - 26 September, 2023
Science against Viruses: A Look Inside the Laboratory of Antiviral Drug Discovery

Science against Viruses: A Look Inside the Laboratory of Antiviral Drug Discovery

As a biology student, Hovakim Zakaryan developed an interest in stem cells; these are undifferentiated cells with a unique ability to differentiate into a variety of specialized cell types. In the early 2000s, he faced challenges in locating any groups or laboratories dedicated to stem cell research within Armenia's scientific institutions. He eventually discovered a lab at the Institute of Molecular Biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, which was researching regular cells and viruses. Hovakim developed an interest in viruses while he was working at that lab. His experience studying viruses at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Virology in Germany and the Centre for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa in Spain led to a greater interest in this field of study. Upon his return to Armenia, Hovakim established the Research Group of Antiviral Defense Mechanisms at the Institute of Molecular Biology, where he and his colleagues began researching the antiviral properties of novel chemical compounds. The research group consisted of three members at the time it was formed. They were looking for antiviral drug candidates against African swine fever virus․ The team expanded over time. In 2020, it achieved the status of a laboratory and was renamed the Laboratory of Antiviral Drug Discovery. The team now consists of eight members, from undergraduates to Ph.Ds. Let's explore the Laboratory of Antiviral Drug Discovery; read the article here. Author: Anna Sahakyan, Video by Roman Abovyan, Photos by Roman Abovyan, Sargis Kharazyan, and Julietta Hovhannisyan  
23:17 - 05 September, 2023
"I don't want my children to starve, to be subjected to genocide, I want to live in Artsakh, to build our Homeland" [Blockade from the inside]

"I don't want my children to starve, to be subjected to genocide, I want to live in Artsakh, to build our Homeland" [Blockade from the inside]

Liana Voskanyan, a mother of six, residing in Stepanakert, must juggle multiple jobs to meet their needs. Amidst the blockade, it becomes exceptionally challenging. Due to the closure of the road connecting Artsakh with Armenia, the father of Liana's children, is in Yerevan and unable to join the family. Liana shoulders the responsibility of caring for her children: three boys aged 15, 11, and 9, two girls aged 13 and 3, along with a six-month-old newborn named Avetis, all on her own. Tragically, her mother passed away during the 44-day war, and Liana has lost contact with her mother-in-law. Despite her mother-in-law's disapproval of her sixth child's birth, Liana resolved to bring the boy into the world. "I hold deep affection for our Homeland, and we've endured numerous sacrifices for its sake. I'm driven by the desire to contribute to my nation, and that's why I chose to welcome another boy into the world," expresses Liana. The children's father mentioned that upon his arrival in Artsakh, he intends to relocate the family to Yerevan. However, Liana does not share the same sentiment. "We won't be leaving Artsakh," she firmly declares. Liana with her children   Liana, an actress with 28 years of service at the Stepanakert Drama Theater named after V. Papazyan, now also works at a bakery and provides makeup services in order to meet her financial needs. The cost of living in Artsakh is high. "I'm currently employed at a bakery, baking lavash just to ensure we have enough money for basic necessities. Grocery stores are almost devoid of essential items; they mainly offer products like cognac, vodka, vinegar, and perhaps lighters. Occasionally, there might be fruits and vegetables available, but their prices are exorbitant. It's a hit or miss situation – sometimes I can afford to buy them, while other times it's simply not feasible. We didn't have oil or washing powder at home for two days. While food is a vital concern, lifestyle factors are equally significant. Maintaining cleanliness for the children is crucial in warding off numerous illnesses. Unfortunately, there's a scarcity of basic items like soap, dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, and even toilet paper. It's probably simpler to list what is available for purchase than what isn't," Liana notes. Currently, her employment at the bakery allows her to purchase two days' worth of bread. However, as per her observations, many people find it challenging to endure the queues. Some experience deteriorating health conditions, even fainting. Some request to hold their place in line as they step aside to eat something, returning to avoid worsening their condition. Some even leave money to secure their spot, ensuring they don't miss out on obtaining bread. At present, locating fruits and vegetables in the markets has become a daunting task. Finding even one or two kg of tomatoes or cucumbers is increasingly unlikely. In contrast to the previous year, the price of a kg of meat has doubled, reaching 7000-7500 drams.  Currently, there is a complete absence of public transport in Artsakh, and fuel is also unavailable. Like everyone else, Liana commutes to work on foot every day. In the presence of larger vehicles, people are hesitant to board due to the overwhelming overcrowding, making the idea of commuting in such conditions possible. When power outages occur during the day, Liana rushes back home to ensure she has sufficient time to feed her children, prepare meals, attend to laundry, and subsequently returns to work.  Despite all these challenges, Liana remains resilient and hopeful. "I hold a strong belief that Armenians residing in Armenia will unite and take a stand, enabling us to overcome obstacles together. Amidst the recent surge of animosity and division, this could potentially serve as a significant test for us to introspect and regain our unity. I don't want my children to starve, to be subjected to genocide here, I want to live in Artsakh, to build our Homeland. Despite the viewpoint of some Armenians that regards Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, it's essential to recall that Artsakh was once a province of Greater Armenia. The less we remember our history, the more we stand to lose." Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023,  the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh, his whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicine. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade. Photos are from Liana Voskanyan's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
16:20 - 10 August, 2023
"It's truly unbearable to be captive on your own land; everyone wants to live, yet the possibility of life is uncertain" [Blockade From The Inside]

"It's truly unbearable to be captive on your own land; everyone wants to live, yet the possibility of life is uncertain" [Blockade From The Inside]

"The word "blockade" encapsulates the most challenging aspect of this situation. It's an immensely challenging feeling when profound reflection leads you to realize that you're held hostage within your own home," Ani Lazaryan,17, from the village of Vank, Martakert region, Artsakh describes her feelings. I've spoken with many people about the daily hardships and the inhumane conditions under the blockade in Artsakh. Ani, in fact, can not share anything new, so our conversation revolves more around the people and her psychological state. She conveys that the feeling of being captive on your own land is simply unbearable, yet at the same time, it's a reality that's difficult to accept. Ani is an aspiring translator and a member of the Artsakh Youth Union of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation "Dashnaktsutyun". She is currently in her senior year and spends most of her time at home. She has had to postpone her classes because public transport is not functioning, and there is a lack of fuel to travel to Stepanakert. My interlocutor, who appears to be quite sensitive, has also authored a book about the war titled "Them." The blockade, of course, brings about inconvenience in the most essential aspects of life, but the most intolerable aspect for Ani is to do nothing. "What should be done?" I ask. "If we are talking about the population of Artsakh, then we are literally shackled, probably powerless to do anything now. In Artsakh, every resident now sleeps and awakens with the sole purpose of queuing up again tomorrow. In general, I have thought a lot about this question and, I have always hesitated to give a clear answer. From my perspective, the collective endeavor in this matter is very great, and every individual can contribute to our nation through their efforts. Regrettably, such assistance is currently lacking. People's behavior is vastly different when they have plenty, and even more distinct when they have nothing." Ani emphasizes that the blockade is truly devastating, as everyone desires to live, yet the possibility of life itself is uncertain. "Countless queues stretch ahead, with the number of people impossible to tally. Amidst these lines, we stand, awaiting our turn, carrying the hope that our path to brighter days will soon unfold. Living in the village is somewhat manageable, but it's even tougher for those in the city who struggle to maintain a decent lifestyle," Ani says adding that she has never joined the queues, partly because she felt she might get lost in the crowd. "The line of people stretched from the city's beginning to its very end."   bread queue Ani recalls a poignant and bittersweet moment she witnessed while waiting for a friend one day: two elderly people were walking hand in hand to purchase fruit. However, by the time they crossed the street and reached the store, all the fruit had already been sold out. "With fruit in short supply, just a single apple remained. The seller gave it away the elderly people. Leaving the store with a mix of desperation and fleeting smiles, they exchanged a glance and sighed. Yet, their smiles returned, perhaps because they still held onto that single apple... it left a profound impact."  The First Karabakh war, the April war, the 44-day war... without even having time to heal from these wounds, now comes the blockade. "Is it destiny, or is it simply a game being played with us?" Ani asks. "When my peers and I were thinking about studying abroad and building a bright future, now we are thinking about how to somehow survive. It's a struggle for survival. Living in Artsakh and fighting for life despite the blockade is a testament to courage. Please, let's not be indifferent; let's ensure the world doesn't erase us from the face of the earth..." Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023,  the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh, his whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicine. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade. Photos are from Ani Lazaryan's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
13:48 - 08 August, 2023
A mother of five from Artsakh prepares sweets using the last remaining ingredients at home and shares them with neighboring children. [Blockade from the inside]

A mother of five from Artsakh prepares sweets using the last remaining ingredients at home and shares them with neighboring children. [Blockade from the inside]

For so many days I have been conveying the story of the blockade to the readers through the voices of our fellow Artsakh residents, repeatedly emphasizing that there is no food, no electricity, no gas, no water at times, no fruits, no vegetables, no medicines, no transportation, no childhood, all due to the closure of the only lifeline that connects Artsakh to Armenia for over seven months by Azerbaijan. Under these conditions, those who have managed to save something are nearly depleting their reserves and those who still possess something are attempting to share it with their fellow compatriots. Lusine Sahakyan from Stepanakert, a mother of five, is cooking sweets and sugar cubes using the remaining sugar at her home. She then distributes these treats to the children in her neighborhood and her neighbors. At one point, Lusine had a small confectionery production. However, she temporarily paused it when her children were born. During the blockade, when the road was not completely closed yet, she managed to buy supplies again to resume her confectionery efforts. Until June, she could still manage to cook, but since June 15th, no products have entered Artsakh from Armenia at all. Lusine made the decision to conserve some of her supplies: a small amount of sugar, a bit of flour, a little salt... Today, the situation has reached a point where people use what they have saved. As my interlocutor explains, she can't sell the products. "I worked for a couple of months, then the roads were closed. There were times when there was no salt, no sand, and even the flour quality was poor. Due to the scarcity of products, I chose to wait and avoid using the last remaining supplies. Then I began sharing with others. I even gave a cup of sugar from the entire bag. A mom of an eight-month-old child asked for sugar. She offered to pay, but I refused to take money. I couldn't accept it. I gave it to the child to ensure they have something," says Lusine, with her voice reflecting deep care and compassion. Lusine Sahakyan Then she baked cupcakes and shared them with the children in the neighborhood. She even took a bag with her when she went to the dairy and waited in line. "At six in the morning, we joined the queue at the dairy shop where 350 people were already waiting. People had been sitting and waiting in line all night. However, I returned empty-handed as I couldn't bear to witness such scenes. A child even fainted. I took the cupcakes with me in case there would be children in the queue. As expected, there were several kids standing nearby. I handed the bag of cupcakes to the children and told them to share with eachother and eat so they wouldn't faint." In the outskirts where Lusine resides, the situation is slightly more manageable. She mentions that the central areas are experiencing dreadful queues, and there are individuals who can't endure it – they're lying on the ground with their children. Lusine sends me a photo of an elderly woman seated on a stone, clutching two pieces of bread in her hands. The elderly woman endured the scorching heat and walked for an extended period, making her way to the bakery. She patiently waited in line from midnight until dawn.  Yesterday Lusine made sugar lollipops, shared with children, and made sugar cubes for the elderly․  Lusine, who is employed at the Ministry of Social Development in Artsakh, has coordinated with the orphanage director to deliver sweets to the children in the orphanage in the upcoming days. "I decided to confirm the exact number of children and prepare cupcakes and sugar cubes to deliver to them. They need it more since others might have more options to find stuff. When people tell me to save it for my kids, I answer that I'm one of you, I can not sell but give away," says Lusine, who continues to treat the neighboring children with sweets.  Lusine grows some vegetables in the garden, where she still manages to harvest some tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes, although it's not a limitless source. Currently, bringing goods from the villages to the city has become impossible. Lusine's children no longer like pasta, like many other children, they require vitamins and proper nutrition, which has become increasingly challenging to obtain. Her children are 17, 16, 9, 6, and 4 years old.  Lusine's father participant in all Karabakh wars. He participated in all the wars to defend Artsakh and was seriously wounded during the first war. Lusine recalls that in the nineties, when her father participated in the liberation of Karvachar, he called his brother [Lusine's uncle] on her birthday and said that they should definitely celebrate his daughter's birthday, as he might not be able to return...Lusine refused, saying that she wouldn't have a single birthday without her father present. "A few weeks ago, my father was told this story, he wasn't aware of it before. Tears welled up in my father's eyes. I remember those days, my uncle was speaking to my father from the outside, and I overheard my father saying that they should celebrate my birthday every year no matter what. After that I didn't like my birthday. Later, my father returned triumphantly, yet wounded and covered in blood, I witnessed that. Now, I can't congratulate... What kind of victory is it? But I hope that I will be able to congratulate him on that day again," Lusine says, and I recall that on the night of November 9, this thought lingered in my mind. I was contemplating how I would congratulate my father on May 9. Shortly after my father died and now I stand in silence by his grave on that day. But I give Lusine hope, assuring her that she will have the chance to congratulate her father on that day again. "I hold onto hope that God will guide us through this, and even if countries remains silent about the situation, we trust that God sees everything. We must continue to love and support one another, coming together to resist and persevere. We are ready to face hunger only to stand on our land, as this is our unwavering goal. We hold onto this hope," Lusine says. Despite having the option to leave the country, they have chosen to stay, determined to continue living in their homeland. Lusine's father-in-law lost his life in the Karabakh war. His family fled from Baku as refugees. In the late 80s, they arrived in Spitak, but their arrival was marked by the earthquake. Miraculously escaping from the rubble, they managed to reach Artsakh. Afterwards, his father went to war and died. "My husband says that his father came here and gave his life for this land, so he can't imagine leaving now. It's a tragic story...but we don't want to leave." Currently, their family is in the process of repairing the house and organizing the basement. Lusine says that no matter what they should have well-maintained shelters, as one can never predict if another war might erupt. Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023,  the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh, his whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicine. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade.   The photos are from Lusine Sahakyan's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
19:53 - 07 August, 2023
"When we are in our own country, we endure whatever comes our way; the crucial thing is that we live here as Armenians, bread and hunger, though difficult, are not the primary focus." [Blockade from the Inside]

"When we are in our own country, we endure whatever comes our way; the crucial thing is that we live here as Armenians, bread and hunger, though difficult, are not the primary focus." [Blockade from the Inside]

As I write this article, I am situated 328 km away from Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh. From here to Rome, the distance is incredibly vast and beyond measure. I could travel to Rome, a place where fewer individuals share my memories compared to Stepanakert. However, the route to Artsakh, only 328 km away, has been inaccessible for over seven months now. Artsakh is under blockade. However, it's not just Artsakh; the roads aren't blocked solely in their direction. The roads are obstructed for us as well. Why is it possible for me to travel to Rome but not to Stepanakert? Maybe if I were in Artsakh now, my heart would feel more at ease. However, this is not my story. This short piece is about my colleague, Tatevik Aghajanyan, who resides in Stepanakert, as well as to all those living in Artsakh, who steadfastly uphold the principle of self-determination. Tatevik Aghajanyan hails from the Khnushinak village, Martuni region, and currently resides in Stepanakert. The blockade weighs even heavier here than in the villages, as at least there people can cultivate gardens and obtain a modest harvest. Amidst the challenges of daily life and living conditions, there is an added layer of sadness stemming from being separated from loved ones. For over a month, Tatevik has been unable to visit her hometown due to the lack of transportation and fuel. Even when vehicles have managed to arrive from the village recently, it was risky to travel back to village with them: what if they would completely run out of fuel. My interlocutor works and lives in Stepanakert. A handful of berries from the village Communication issues are also prevalent in Artsakh. Maintaining communication with relatives through phone calls is not always feasible. Power outages not only impact electricity but also lead to issues with water supply. "Water pumps struggle to keep up with pumping water, resulting in periodic interruptions in the water supply. This happened after the war as well. The children come down to take water from the fountain in small bowls," sahres Tatevik, whose journalistic perspective has keenly observed numerous events unfolding outside.  While the blockade weighs heavily on the people, Tatevik is confident that the people in Artsakh are resilient and steadfast. It is just the scenes that are hard to witness.  "I was deeply moved when I saw a woman with tears in her eyes, observing the people waiting in line for bread. It's unfortunate that people have to wait for hours just to get a piece of bread," says Tatevik, noting that many choose not to go for bread, as waiting in line for hours under the scorching sun is incredibly challenging.  "It's somewhat easier for me to manage without bread since I'm alone and there are no children at home. If there's no bread for a day, I don't consider it a major issue for us. However, for those with multiple children at home, it's extremely challenging... Especially for those residing in Stepanakert, as they are unable to receive food supplies from the villages. I do not know how much longer this can last." Prior to the complete blockade, people were provided with coupons for purchasing goods, which have now become obsolete in the face of scarcity Tatevik believes that people have become more attentive to one another now. "One of my co-workers got sick, and despite everyone being aware of the scarcity in the shops, everyone brought something from home to give to her. They understand that there's insufficient food at her home as well," Tatevik shares. There are no flowers anymore so people gather what they have that can be of help and give one another.  The "bouquet" for Tatevik's Birthday Questions and discussions regarding medicines, proper nutrition, and essential supplies are becoming repetitive. The response remains consistent - there are none. So I ask Tatevik: what empowers you to persevere through these challenges? "I cannot living anywhere else. While in our own country, we endure. We will persist as much as we can. The crucial aspect is that we live here as Armenians; bread and hunger, though difficult, are not the primary focus," Tatevik responds with conviction. Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023,  the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh, his whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicine. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade.   The photos are from Tatevik Aghajanyan's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
18:17 - 06 August, 2023
"I will sleep hungry, I won't even eat sweets, but in exchange, I expect to live in my motherland, Artsakh" [Blockade from the inside]

"I will sleep hungry, I won't even eat sweets, but in exchange, I expect to live in my motherland, Artsakh" [Blockade from the inside]

Life seems to have stopped in Artsakh. Just like in the cartoon "Ice Age" when everything was frozen, it's kind of like that atmosphere. There is no movement, people cannot even move from one place to another. This is how the 22-year-old resident of Hatsi village of Martunu region, Tiruhi Gasparyan tells about the blockade of Artsakh. She tries her best to recall heart-warming moments. There's light inside the people, she says, everyone tries to help each other. "They share what they have, there is no egoism, and we all care and think about the people around us. Perhaps, that is what gives us the strength not to break down and be patient, not to give up, but to fight." Tiruhi Gasparyan Tiruhi has graduated from the Artsakh State University, Faculty of Tourism. For 2 years now, she has been working as a tour guide in the summer, and permanently in the Artsakh office of the National Armenian Educational and Cultural Union. Before the Artsakh blockade, she was also engaged in candle-making. Her candles had even got abroad, although she says, the blockade affected this as well. However, Tiruhi does not like to whine even in the most difficult situation. And that trait has also been strengthened thanks to this process, the growing care for each other. She tells that whoever has lots of cigarettes, shares with others so that they all smoke. It's strange, isn't it, that smoking is harmful to health, but who thinks about it at this crucial moment? Smoking is harmful, but there's a proverb (Armenian) that says getting into trouble with a friend turns into a wedding, so maybe friendship prolongs life. There is neither normal food nor sweets in Artsakh. If someone has a piece of chocolate or a piece of candy, they divide it into ten parts to make sure everyone gets a part. And on birthdays, instead of a cake, they put candles on a watermelon and knock on a relative's door at midnight. "We also give watermelon to the anniversary, soon watermelon will become a cult fruit for us, it saves us in any situation," Tiruhi jokes, "watermelon instead of bread, another watermelon instead of cake, watermelon instead of sweets..." We don't even talk about bread queues, everyone already knows that Artsakh people stand in line for hours for a piece of bread, not even knowing for sure whether they will get it or not. Except that it is more difficult in Stepanakert, at least people in the village have stored flour, they bake bread themselves. They also grow some fruits and vegetables in the gardens. This is how Tiruhi tells and immediately adds: "Actually, the situation is not that good, I just don't like to whine. I may stay hungry, the important thing is to be in my land." They have almost completely run out of tea, coffee, salt, and such things. Tiruhi says when she noticed that the supply of tea was getting little, she and her friend gathered plants and wild berries from their forest to make tea. Tiruhi recalls a warm memory from the days of the blockade when they visited the Amaras monastery as a group. "There is a kind old man there, the guardian of the monastery." Before the group entered the church to light a candle (I left early), we talked with him about various topics and walked around the monastery garden. He took out a sharp tool from his pocket and collected vegetables from the garden, saying: "Take it home to eat. You can even marinade it". On their way, they were also given warm, freshly baked bread in the village of Chartar. Tiruhi shows the photo of that day. In the conditions of regular lack of gas and electricity, people often have to cook on a wood stove in the heat of summer. At least they can do that in the village, but I wonder,  how do the residents of the Stepanakert do? Tiruhi keeps her mindset positive. She says it saves her in every trial. "Thanks to that trait, I am able to stand up again in very difficult situations and to have a positive influence on the people around me. I'll sleep hungry, I won't even eat sweets, convincing myself it's a diet of cutting down the sweets. But in exchange, I expect one thing: to live in my motherland - Artsakh. Trials and difficulties are also for humans. I love life, so I also love fighting for it. My only fear is the loss of my homeland and relatives. Nothing else matters". Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023, the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops, in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was being transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh. His whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicines. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade. Photos are from Tiruhi Gasparyan's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
13:42 - 05 August, 2023
"The fact of Artsakh not being part of Azerbaijan is of greater importance than concerns about food." [Blockade from the inside]

"The fact of Artsakh not being part of Azerbaijan is of greater importance than concerns about food." [Blockade from the inside]

"The situation in Artsakh is deteriorating not just day by day, but hour by hour," says Zhanna Arzumanyan from Stepanakert. For someone who was born, raised, and currently resides in the capital of Artsakh, the thought of leaving their homeland is unimaginable. Even in the face of escalating hunger, medication shortages, and a challenging blockade, she prioritizes the fundamental right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination. "Either we defend ourselves or we'll be displaced, and it seems that self-determination does not happen without deprivation," she says. Zhanna Arzumanyan Arzumanyan notes that the cases of fainting are increasing, as well as among children and diabetics. Getting to medical centres became nearly impossible given the lack of fuel, and even if one manages to reach there, the medicines are often depleted. "Within two days, there might be nothing left in Artsakh at all. The only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia was completely closed in June, and during this time people used what they had stored, which is noraml," Zhanna says, worried that children are already showing signs of vitamin deficiency, and the impact of inadequate nutrition is becoming evident. "In these conditions, children's rights are violated, they are not having a normal childhood," Arzumanyan says, noting that her 13-year-old grandson sold his bicycle to buy coffee and cigarettes for the soldiers, although they've already run out of coffee. The boy bought a pack of cigarettes from one place and a block from another, and is waiting to send them. "Instead of enjoying childhood, children grow up prematurely..." Like everyone else in Artsakh, she receives bread with a coupon. Early in the morning, before the sun comes up, she has to go and wait for her turn to get at least a piece of bread. Zhanna's worried that Armenians lack unity now. "All of us must come together for one idea, hold hands and get out of this situation. I'm talking about unity among the entire Armenian nation, not only in Artsakh. We have to put all stereotypes aside, all political viewpoints and get down to serious business, because we don't reach anything by calling or writing posts and letters. Maybe we will get there tomorrow, but we need more serious steps today." Zhanna Arzumanyan, a member of the Artsakh Chamber of Advocates, knows that the difficult path they have gone through gives them strength."Several wars, so many young lost lives, so many feelings... How to leave Artsakh? How much blood has been put on this land so that Artsakh remains Armenian... Artsakh should not be part of Azerbaijan, and it's more important than thinking about food." Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023,  the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh, his whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicine. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade.   The photos are from Zhanna Arzumanyna's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
23:56 - 04 August, 2023
"So that our "bread" doesn't turn into "хлеб" (Russian for bread): Grandmother from Artsakh wants her grandchildren to grow up in the homeland

"So that our "bread" doesn't turn into "хлеб" (Russian for bread): Grandmother from Artsakh wants her grandchildren to grow up in the homeland

I enter the house of my neighbors to bid farewell as I'm moving from the village to Stepanakert. And I decide to record my conversation with Zabel, who was my grandmother in Artsakh for two years and the only woman who was allowed to get angry with me when I didn't eat well or didn't leave the house for days. Zabella Adamyan is a resident of Mokhratagh village, Martakert region, Artsakh. Many years ago, following her marriage to Donik, she relocated here from the Zaglik community of the same region. She has three children, lives with her husband, son's family - three granddaughters. Donik, Zabella's husband I enter the house the moment they are discussing how to get to Martakert to buy shoes for school-age grandchildren. There is no alternative to walking 8-9 km to the regional center, because they will not find a car, and there are only a few pairs of children's shoes left in the city, so they should buy them so that the girls won't be without new shoes come September. Zabella notes with pain that during the years when her children were the same age as her grandchildren now, it was the period of the first Artsakh war. Even if shoes could be found, they didn't have money to afford them. His children took turns wearing the same pair of shoes. Now, after all these years, when it seemed they had established a somewhat wealthy life, they have money but there are no shoes. In terms of food, the situation is less extreme compared to Stepanakert.  "Thank God, currently our family is not facing the problem of starving. At one point we used our coupons to buy food, there is still some. Our small garden is full of vegetables: beans, potatoes, zucchini, greens. However, adults often refrain from eating to ensure there's enough for the children. We bought a kg of candy back then, and now we give one piece a day to children, we don't eat so that it lasts a little longer," says Zabella. She recalls facing numerous challenges in the past, where a single piece of candy had to be shared among three children. As a result, she's become more cautious and has saved some sweets to ensure her grandchildren don't experience the same hardships. Zabella's yard "It's a pity there is no fruit, we are short of fruits. There is none, because most of it came from Armenia, but whatever was growing here, a hailstorm swept away the entire harvest," she says. As for her one-year-old granddaughter, due to the scarcity of baby food, she is mostly given what the rest of the family eats, or they slaughter a chicken and use the meat sparingly, reserving it mainly for the baby. Zabel notes with sadness that at times, her other granddaughters express a desire for meat soup, but they feel compelled to ensure there's enough left for their younger sister. Zabella's granddaughters and my best friends, Mane and Meline Azerbaijanis have never lived in Mokhratagh village, where my neighbor currently resides. The village was exclusively inhabited by Armenians. However, in her native Zaglik village, both Armenians and Azerbaijanis used to live alongside each other. "Our village and a Turkish village, Umutlu, were an international community. A Turk would always be appointed as the leader, and the one carrying out all the heavy work would be an Armenian. Once, instead of my mother, we went to pick corn seeds. We worked quickly, we probably collected fifty kg in one day, and the Turks came with a mattress, sat down, and collected a handful of corn. At the end of the month, we see that the Turks have received more money than we did. We have always suffered in every way, whereas the good work was theirs," Zabella recalls, adding that the school was also international, where the director was a Turk, the military instructor, and the PE teacher were all Turks. They would not appoint Armenians. "Our Armenian school was a single-story building with several small classrooms. Theirs was an adjacent, two-story big school. We would always feel the difference. We were not afraid of each other, at that time there was no such thing as being afraid of Turks, we lived with each other, but we have always felt that we were treated differently. For example, If an Armenian would offend a Turk, the next day they would either steal the livestock or harm your children at school, they would definitely do something," she says. She does not deny that they were neighbors with Azerbaijanis, they had acquaintances who would visit for both joyous and somber occasions, but she also recalls this story: "In the 90s, a doctor from Haterk was kidnapped and taken away. And there they had clearly told him that on the day of the Armenian Genocide, they should take an Armenian's head and put it in front of their mullah. We were kids, and we would hear that an Armenian disappeared from time to time in different places, and, we did not know what was happening. Then women from Haterk kidnapped people from Omon, took Russians as "captives", and released that doctor. Later he told all this and that's how we learned what the Turks did." She also remembers that it was especially difficult to deal with fanatical Muslims. "We had a Turkish acquaintance, we went to his son's party, and my mom was supposed to be the cook. An old lady came and said they wouldn't eat a meal cooked by an Armenian. Mom said they should make their own meal then. But the younger generation was not like that. Although it was not customary for them to eat pork and fish, coming to our house, they would ask my mom to cook some fish." I don't even manage to interrupt my beloved grandmother when she answers, preventing my expected question. "Not now, at present, living together is entirely impossible, and it's difficult to even envision. No integration, they only want our land, they don't want us. Living with them, being a part of them, is simply not feasible." Zabella Adamyan holds onto the hope that they will remain in their homes and continue to be the rightful owners of their land. "There are people who are thinking about leaving, they sell their goods, and we buy them," she chuckles bitterly and notes that the children must not forget the language of Karabakh. "In the 90s, when we had to flee, my children were around the same age as my grandchildren are now. While all our relatives went to Russia, I did not want my children's language to change. We stayed in Armenia and returned to Artsakh. In the same manner, I don't want my grandchildren to live elsewhere, so that... our bread doesn't turn into "хлеб" (Russian for bread)," concludes my beloved babo (grandma) from Artsakh. Astghik Keshishyan
21:57 - 04 August, 2023
"My grandmother has cancer,  we can't get her to Stepanakert, and we have run out of medicine" [Blockade from the inside]

"My grandmother has cancer, we can't get her to Stepanakert, and we have run out of medicine" [Blockade from the inside]

Blockade....day unknown.  Following hours of patient waiting, the family of seven was handed a solitary loaf of bread yesterday. "We didn’t have bread for breakfast. My elder brother stood in the queue, returning with just one loaf. What good does one loaf do for a family our size?" says Alyona Sayiyan, a 19-year-old resident of the Martakert City of Artsakh who lives with her two siblings and soldier parents. Alyona describes the situation in Artsakh as dire. Bread alone proves insufficient; there is no fuel, fruits and vegetables. "Due to the power outages, bakeries don’t have enough time to bake bread, hence lines get formed. Someone goes, waits patiently, and secures their ration. Others, less fortunate, repeat the cycle over and over until they obtain their share of bread a little bit later. However, today coupons were distributed, and people were reported that the store now receives bread for precisely the number of families who make purchases there," says Alyona with the hope that this arrangement can potentially reduce the need to endure hours of waiting in lines. Also, as she notes, a record will be made on the calendar indicating whether the family obtained bread on that specific day or not. Alyona expresses her concern about the upcoming winter, foreseeing heightened challenges. "In the past, engines operated, communication flowed, and flour could be transported from the city. However, with winter approaching, the situation will likely become considerably more challenging." Compared to Stepanakert, in Martakert the situation is not yet catastrophic in terms of food, because people have their yards, where they grow potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and greens. Yet, unfortunately, medical supplies are running dangerously low. It seems that over the past few days, people have exhausted whatever supplies they had. On top of this, Alyona's grandmother is grappling with serious health issues. "My grandmother is ill, she’s fighting cancer, and getting her to Stepanakert is proving extremely challenging. The medications she requires are exorbitantly expensive. At a certain period, the initial batch of medicines arrived through the Russian peacekeepers, but that supply has now depleted. We need to take her to the city for a CT scan to assess the disease's progression and determine the necessary treatment. However, the lack of fuel and transportation, coupled with the exhaustion of CT materials, is a major hindrance," Alyona discloses. Alyona and her grandmother have deliberated on the option of seeking assistance from the ICRC to facilitate a transfer to Armenia. Yet, she's plagued by worries that if they do leave for Yerevan, they might not be allowed to return. Worse yet, there's the unsettling possibility of abduction by Azerbaijani forces, as they've recently apprehended two other citizens of Artsakh. "My grandmother's perspective is that it's preferable to remain with her family rather than embark on a journey with uncertainty about the ability to return. She lived through the 90s in Artsakh and experienced the wars of 2016 and 2020, alongside her grandfather, a veteran of the first war." Access to hospitals has become increasingly challenging, leading some people to skip their prescribed treatments. This could potentially result in a rise in mortality rates over time. "Children are visibly losing weight due to vitamin deficiencies," Alyona points out. She recalls that one of the most heart-wrenching incidents during the blockade, one that shook the community to its core, was the tragic passing of two children from Martakert. "The incident deeply affected most of us. I used to run into those children frequently while commuting to Stepanakert... We were deeply affected by it. We often worry that we might not be able to provide something for our child tomorrow, given how exceedingly tough the situation has become..." Alyona recalls a period during the blockade when she managed to transport a few liters of milk to Stepanakert. The memory of seeing several elderly people at the store, unable to access dairy, left a lasting impact on her. She finds herself pondering why people haven't exerted more effort given the hardships they've endured. Alyona’s family owns an animal farm, hence during the blockade, she took the initiative to attend courses and has already commenced milk production, which she views as a silver lining amidst these challenging times. Alyona made a significant decision during the blockade. She got engaged and together with her fiancé, they decided that their children should be born and live in Artsakh. Alyona emphasizes that they've gone through several wars, overcome countless obstacles, and now, they can't simply give up. While she had contemplated studying abroad at one point, the recent war underscored that Artsakh needs for people. Alyona is currently pursuing her studies at Shushi University of Technology, specializing in veterinary medicine. Although she originally aspired to become a food safety expert, there was no such faculty at the university. This circumstance did not depress her though. She is committed to excelling in her chosen field, recognizing the vital need for her expertise in Artsakh. Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, the Lachin Corridor. On April 23, 2023,  the Azerbaijani side closed the Hakari bridge on the Artsakh-Armenia border, which was in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Lachin corridor, thus deepening the humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15 of this year, Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transportation through the Lachin Corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients to Armenia a few times. On July 29, Azerbaijan kidnapped a 68-year-old citizen from the ICRC-mediated patient who was transferred to Armenia from the checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and took him to an unknown place. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen kidnapped another citizen who tried to go to Armenia on foot from the village of Hin Shen in Artsakh, his whereabouts are also unknown. Artsakh has almost completely run out of essential products and medicine. Coupons intended for buying food months ago are now useless because the stores are empty. People go out only to get bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, public transport does not work at all, and private cars rarely move. The gas supply is regularly interrupted, and electricity is cut off. In Artsakh, 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are under total blockade.   Photos are from Alyona Sayiyan's archive Hayarpi Baghdasaryan    
01:26 - 04 August, 2023
Surviving Adversity. Anush Andryan's Family Confronts Blockade, Malnourishment, and the Fear of Their Child's Cancer Reactivation [Blockade from the Inside]

Surviving Adversity. Anush Andryan's Family Confronts Blockade, Malnourishment, and the Fear of Their Child's Cancer Reactivation [Blockade from the Inside]

Due to the 44-day war, the extensive family of Anush Andryan lost their house in Taghaser village of Hadrut region, Artsakh. Anush, her husband and six children currently live in Stepanakert, in a guest house allocated by the state. Today, because of the blockade, Anush's children are malnourished and the health of the 9-year-old girl, who has survived cancer, is at risk. To ensure her recovery goes smoothly, it's crucial to conduct regular medical checkups and provide the necessary PET/CT examination, which can only be conducted in Armenia or another country. Nvard during her treatment "My daughter has serious health problems, and that's our primary concern. She had a malignant tumor that was successfully treated in Yerevan, and currently, she's under close observation. While there are CT facilities here, the medical team insists on a PET/CT scan, which unfortunately isn't accessible in Artsakh, and we can't take her to Yerevan. We can find PET/CT services in Armenia or Georgia, but they are not available here in Artsakh. Her tumor is of the type where cell activity is shown only during checkups. My daughter is now in the conservative stage but the lack of proper nutrition is worrisome. She needs essential vitamins, and it's crucial to ensure she receives proper food, as any nutritional deficiency may trigger the tumor's reactivation," says Anush, the mother of 9-year-old Nvard. She notes that through the mediation of ICRC, it's not possible to take the kid to Yerevan alone, as people are not transported without the accompaniment of an adult. Anush doesn't have any relatives in Artsakh to leave her five children with while she travels to Armenia for an uncertain period of time. Her husband is a soldier in the Armed Forces and is on duty, making it difficult for him to be with the children regularly. Anush with her children "The situation is absolutely dire. We spend hours in lines just to buy something for our children to eat. There is no meat most of the time, or if there is, it is too expensive, 5000 AMD and even more for 1kg. We wait in lines the whole day and there is nothing in the shops, absolutely nothing. You can't find even yogurt or sour cream on these hot days, this is the situation we live in. Can you imagine that we don't even have salt anymore? We survive on boiled potatoes or beans as there are no other options available. My children are very upset; my youngest one yearns for candy, but we can't find any. Sweets, a simple pleasure, are now a luxury we cannot access," says Anush, and after our call immediately shares a photo of kids gathered next to her. The youngest daughter, Mane, is 7 years old, Alvard is 12, Gor is 13, Edmon is 16, and Mkhitar has just turned 18. He will be drafted into the army and the family is waiting for the notification. From left to right: Alvard, Nvard, Mane, Edmon Throughout the entire day yesterday, Anush was unable to buy bread. She endured waiting in line until 10 PM and was the 500th person in line (people are issued numbers on paper to buy bread).  "I couldn't get bread until ten at night, and then I passed the paper to my seven-year-old daughter, who waited for an hour. Luckily, with the help of some kind people, they managed to provide her with a small amount of bread, and she brought it home," Anush says, noting that the process of baking and distributing bread has improved slightly, allowing them to buy a small quantity of bread now. In the past few days, the production of bread in Artsakh has reduced, driven by a notable rise in its demand. Flour mills that produce flour from harvested wheat are facing challenges due to the high humidity of the wheat caused by recent precipitation. This has resulted in a slower flour production process and the need for additional drying work. However, the Village and Agriculture Support Fund of Artsakh has assured that emergency measures are being taken to address the bread shortage, and the situation will be gradually resolved. Nvard, a mother of six children, is deeply concerned about her kids’ emotional well-being, too. She reveals that her children get scared every time they hear loud sounds. "Just yesterday, a person in the bread line couldn’t get bread, so he vented his frustration by firing a machine gun in the square. My children were terrified, thinking another war had erupted. It's a terrible situation...That man is a father of several children eagerly waiting for him to return home with bread. Frustrated by his inability to get bread, he took the steps he did… For a brief moment, even I thought that a war had started. Given the age of my young children, how they couldn’t get frightened because of the gunshots?   The conversation ends with bitter sighs. Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia - the Lachin corridor. On April 23, 2023, the Azerbaijani side blocked the Hakari Bridge on the Artsakhi-Armenian border, an area under the responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Lachin corridor. This action further exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint has been established on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15, Azerbaijan has imposed a complete ban on all humanitarian transportation along the Lachin corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients from Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia on a few occasions.  On July 29, Azerbaijan abducted a 68-year-old citizen, who was being transferred to Armenia with the mediation of the ICRC for treatment, at a checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and transported him to an unknown location. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen abducted another citizen who was attempting to travel on foot from the Artsakh village of Hin Shen to Armenia. As of now, his whereabouts remain unknown.   Essential food and medicines are almost completely depleted in Artsakh. The coupons issued months ago for purchasing products have become worthless, given the emptiness of the stores. People go out only to buy bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, resulting in the complete halt of public transport. Private cars rarely operate due to the scarcity of fuel. Gas supply experiences periodic interruptions, there are frequent power outages. A total of 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are currently under a complete blockade in Artsakh. The photos were provided by Anush Andryan Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
18:04 - 03 August, 2023
"As the queue reached me, the bread had already run out. I bought watermelon to eat instead of bread" [Blockade from the inside]

"As the queue reached me, the bread had already run out. I bought watermelon to eat instead of bread" [Blockade from the inside]

Anna Manasyan in the photo Anna Manasyan, a 21-year-old resident of Martuni, Artsakh, has been unable to return home for three weeks. Currently, there is no public transport available in Artsakh, due to the lack of fuel, she has been stranded in Stepanakert. However, at least she has a job and, for now, a place to stay in Stepanakert. "It's really bad," Anna says, and a moment of silence follows on both sides of the phone. Today, Anna waited in line for an hour to buy bread but, unfortunately, was left with nothing in the end. "It's hard to put into words, the situation in the city is terrible, really bad, there's nothing left. Today, I stood in line for an hour, and when my turn finally came, the bread had already run out. They hand out numbers up to 200 written on papers. You wait for so long and the queue can reach number 100 and the bread might already be sold out by then. Now, they even give people dough for the bread they couldn't manage to bake so that at least people can bake at home," says Anna, who was told to go for bread again at 3 p.m., but she finds it extremely challenging to walk as the bakery is located far away from her current location. "There was no bread, so I bought a watermelon to eat instead of bread. At least it's sweet," says Anna without any additional tragedy in her tone. If, by any chance, they come across a car with fuel, Anna's mother sends some vegetables from Martuni, and they share everything they have with her roommates. Anna adss that at least people have gardens in villages, from which they manage to get a small harvest. Otherwise, there is almost nothing left in Stepanakert.  "In Martuni, at least everyone has their own garden, and if someone doesn't have something, others pass on their harvest to help. Maybe someone has flour, and they bake bread and share it with others. However, in Stepanakert, with its large population, there is nothing left. The city is lacking vegetables, and the situation is dire. If someone from the villages manages to find a "Pazik" car (a type of Soviet bus) and brings a box of tomatoes, it will be gone in half an hour; there are so many people, and it won't reach everyone," Anna explains. Today, in the bread queue, Anna witnessed a particularly poignant episode. She shares that there were two women, one slightly older and the other younger, with children. Anna shares the emotional encounter, saying, "The woman was saying, 'If I can buy at least a loaf of bread, I'll take it home and divide it so that the children can at least have something to eat.' The other woman responds, 'How about you?' to which the first woman replies that she hasn't eaten bread for two days. 'I share bread, so that the children can eat twice,'" Anna adds, expressing how deeply upset she was witnessing this conversation. One day, Anna and her friend were uncertain about what they could eat for that day, however, they found a pizza dough in one of the shops. "We placed the dough in the oven and warmed it up slightly, so we could eat it as if it were bread. There is no meat, there are no other products. Whatever is left, is very little, people are left with barely enough to sustain themselves for 10-15 days in their homes. Nowadays, many shops have already closed, and there is not even a café to take the children and eat something," Anna shares. She adds that as adults, they try to take it easier, but it's heart-wrenching that the children's desires cannot be fulfilled, and the parents are unable to find what the kids need. The most essential medicines have already been depleted. Yesterday, Anna's friend finally found a car to go to the village. She had to take her grandmother's blood pressure medications with her, but unfortunately, they couldn't find it anywhere in the city despite searching extensively. "There are very few medicines left, and the daily medications that elderly people require are no longer available." Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia - the Lachin corridor. On April 23, 2023, the Azerbaijani side blocked the Hakari Bridge on the Artsakhi-Armenian border, an area under the responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Lachin corridor. This action further exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint has been established on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15, Azerbaijan has imposed a complete ban on all humanitarian transportation along the Lachin corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients from Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia on a few occasions.  On July 29, Azerbaijan abducted a 68-year-old citizen, who was being transferred to Armenia with the mediation of the ICRC for treatment, at a checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and transported him to an unknown location. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen abducted another citizen who was attempting to travel on foot from the Artsakh village of Hin Shen to Armenia. As of now, his whereabouts remain unknown.   Essential food and medicines are almost completely depleted in Artsakh. The coupons issued months ago for purchasing products have become worthless, given the emptiness of the stores. People go out only to buy bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, resulting in the complete halt of public transport. Private cars rarely operate due to the scarcity of fuel. Gas supply experiences periodic interruptions, there are frequent power outages. A total of 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are currently under a complete blockade in Artsakh.   Photos are provided by Anna Manasyan  Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
22:40 - 02 August, 2023
"Whenever we have candy, we divide it into five parts so that everyone gets a share." [Blockade from the inside]

"Whenever we have candy, we divide it into five parts so that everyone gets a share." [Blockade from the inside]

Due to the 44-day war, the village of Taghavard in the Martuni region of Artsakh got divided, with Azerbaijanis occupying various positions along the border passing through the village. Despite the unabated sounds of gunshots, the residents continue to live in Taghavard as it is their home. They cultivate the land in front of the enemy, not knowing whether the next bullet, whistling through the air, will find them or not. Despite the challenging and perilous circumstances, 23-year-old Mary Alaverdyan cannot help but long for her village. It has been two weeks since she could not return home from Stepanakert because, on the other hand, the blockade reveals its cruel and inhumane nature. I'll write "blockade", you can comprehend the various words associated with it. Mary works in Stepanakert, but due to the lack of fuel and non-operational transportation, finding a car to visit the village has become impossible. On the contrary, while everyone in the village has their own garden and collects a certain amount of harvest, there is hardly any food left in the city. The shops are completely empty, with nothing left to buy. The only remaining food items are potatoes, occasional eggs, and pumpkins. People now only leave their homes to buy bread, but unfortunately, there is not enough bread being baked to meet everyone's needs. Previously, it was possible to bring crops from the villages, but now it is not happening due to the lack of fuel. There are no dairy products left at all," Mary says, noting that the situation in bread queues is worsening, and the lack of cars makes it challenging for people to access bakeries. The situation in the villages is relatively less difficult because people can manage to obtain bread and make better use of the harvest from their gardens. Mary Alaverdyan "Even the coffee is about to run out," Mary says with a gentle smile that can be felt through the phone. "Whenever we have some candy, we divide it into five parts to ensure everyone gets a share," she says. According to Mary, in the evenings, while walking around Stepanakert, they see many people carrying children in their arms. This sight gives them hope to endure till the end and gather the strength needed to overcome this challenging time. She says that there have been numerous wars with countless victims, and considering the people and children living in Artsakh, it would be unfair to simply give up and leave.  Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia - the Lachin corridor. On April 23, 2023, the Azerbaijani side blocked the Hakari Bridge on the Artsakhi-Armenian border, an area under the responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Lachin corridor. This action further exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis. An Azerbaijani checkpoint has been established on the Hakari bridge. Since June 15, Azerbaijan has imposed a complete ban on all humanitarian transportation along the Lachin corridor. After that, the ICRC was only able to transport patients from Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia on a few occasions. On July 29, Azerbaijan abducted a 68-year-old citizen, who was being transferred to Armenia with the mediation of the ICRC for treatment, at a checkpoint near the Hakari bridge and transported him to an unknown location. On August 1, Azerbaijani servicemen abducted another citizen who was attempting to travel on foot from the Artsakh village of Hin Shen to Armenia. As of now, his whereabouts remain unknown.   Essential food and medicines are almost completely depleted in Artsakh. The coupons issued months ago for purchasing products have become worthless, given the emptiness of the stores. People go out only to buy bread. Artsakh has run out of fuel, resulting in the complete halt of public transport. Private cars rarely operate due to the scarcity of fuel. Gas supply experiences periodic interruptions, there are frequent power outages. A total of 120 thousand people, including 30 thousand children, are currently under a complete blockade in Artsakh.   Photos are provided by Mary Alaverdyan  Hayarpi Baghdasaryan
20:44 - 02 August, 2023
When the smallest thing starts to mean something significant: The everyday life of separated Melkumyan sisters in blockaded Artsakh

When the smallest thing starts to mean something significant: The everyday life of separated Melkumyan sisters in blockaded Artsakh

For about 7 months or 231 days or 5544 hours, the Melkumyan family, residents of Mokhratagh village, Martakert region, Republic of Artsakh, has been separated. Because of the illegal closure of the Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan, 17-year-old Nare lives with her mother, Narine, and grandfather, Albert, in Mokhratagh, and her sister, 19-year-old Mane lives in Yerevan (where she moved to study) with her father, Aram. 7 months or 231 days or 5544 hours. I repeat, trying to imagine what kind of test it is for a person who has lived his whole conscious and unconscious life in the same family, under the same roof, under the same sky. Astghik Keshishyan, my long-time friend, a journalist, and now Nare's teacher of Armenian language and literature, is also facing the same problem. More precisely, a "former" teacher, as she moved to Mokhratagh with the two-year "Teach Armenia" program. The term of the program has ended, but not the problems. For almost 2 months, Astghik has not been able to return home. In the midst of helplessness and despair, together we tried to find the strength to tell about the people left here and there in the corridor due to the blockade, their daily life, and their feelings. So we decided to start with the family of her student. She's there in Mokhratagh, I am here in Yerevan. For the first time, the family celebrated the New Year separated Nare that lives in Mokhratagh, says that on December 12, when she learned about the closure of the road connecting Artsakh to Armenia, she did not think that it would last so long, and assumed it would be over in 3-4 days. "At the beginning of the blockade, I wasn't so desperate, because I still didn't have a general idea about all this, but in the meantime, I realized that we don't have the opportunities that the children have elsewhere, even in Armenia." Nare Melkumyan Her sister Mane, who moved to Yerevan to study, had the same hope, considering that the Azerbaijanis had closed and opened the road before that. "It kept getting longer all the time, and I couldn't have imagined that I would celebrate the New Year in Yerevan. Since it was already the holidays, and I thought I would go to my relatives, I bought Christmas gifts for everyone", tells Mane, adding that she's kept the gifts wrapped until now, hoping that she returns home and finally gives them." The Christmas presents   According to the sisters, it was the first time that their family celebrated the New Year separated.  "It was terribly sad. We celebrated it online, somehow trying to complete each other through online communication, but it's not what it should be... My mother also sometimes gets very discouraged, I try to calm her because when I see that she is down, I get even more down. We comfort each other, trying to give optimism to each other," says Nare from Artsakh, adding that the longing is already suffocating, because they are a very affectionate, a very good family, and being separated is very difficult. The siege taught me to value my relatives even more Nare, who's in the 12th grade, tells that a lot has changed for her during these 7 months.  "I started to think more about life, how different people's lives can be, how much things can change, how the tiniest thing can start to seem significant to us, and we can become happy from the smallest thing. For example, in the beginning, when they wouldn't bring fruits yet, one of the teachers sent mandarins with mom, and I wanted to jump like a little child, or even some Kinder, which I love very much, they bought it for me, I became happy. Before the blockade it was normal, we were not happy about it, now everything is of great value to us." Mane too feels such changes in her life. She is a student of the Yerevan State Medical University and had moved to Yerevan months before the siege. Initially, she lived alone, but in December her father came on business, and when the Azerbaijanis closed the road, she stayed with her daughter. "At first I was very calm, I didn't take it very hard that I live alone, because I knew that I can always go to my homeland or my family members can visit me, but then, when I realized I can't, it started to get more and more difficult because of the longing. I constantly talk to my relatives, and I like to make videos with our old pictures and videos. I watch them all the time in hopes to see them again." Mane Melkumyan   However, according to Mane, the blockade also taught certain lessons. "Perhaps the only good thing during this time is that we started to value our relatives more, to love more, say about it more, miss, and wait because before that we were maybe a little less emotional, we didn't often say it, but now we emphasize it more." The older sister says that she and her father support their mother and sister, and they support them back."We try to support each other, but my sister and mother probably take it harder, cause they are more sensitive, I try to be stronger, to give them hope," says Mane, reminding that hope dies only in the end. It's the hope that keeps them alive. "My father is also trying to be stronger, mostly he is silent, he doesn't say anything, he doesn't even talk about the war, but, of course, he feels a lot of pain, seeing all this, but as a man, he tries to be by our side." First question: what did you eat today? Mane talks to her family on a daily basis, and the first thing she asks is what they ate today. "Sugar, salt, flour, you can't buy all that in the village, or they are available at such prices that it is difficult to get them... In terms of harvest, although this year was not so good because the seasons were not good, the people of the village have the opportunity to create and grow their own crops, cause it is more difficult in the city." Nare with her grandfather Albert Nare says that in the beginning of the siege when they still had food coming to the village, they could buy things with coupons and live on them, but now no goods are coming at all, and the situation in the village is bad. "Recently, they only bring watermelons and similar things, but there is no product that you can buy, not even in the village, nor in Stepanakert. Though I haven't gone to bed hungry yet, we still manage to live as a family, but I'm a big sweet tooth, maybe I'm missing sweets when browsing Instagram, I constantly see cake or sweets that we don't have here, and that I want a lot, but there is none. We try to bake something at home." Nare's friends help her to get distracted from all this. "I spend time with my friends, we organize some things in the village, we go out, it motivates, and at that moment you start to forget what is happening around you, I just try to be happy with them, to break away from reality." Nare's pictures As for her part, Mane tries not to panic, not to cry too much, but she says she couldn't hold her emotions back on her birthday as for the first time she was without her mother and sister. "My father had to work and I was going to be alone. Everyone said I should go somewhere with my friends and celebrate it, but I said "No, I won't celebrate it." My relatives living in Yerevan made a surprise, they came that day so that it wouldn't be so hard, but it wasn't that same anyway, because it was hard without my mother, my sister, and my homeland."  The biggest dream - peace Mane says that when she moved in September, the first thing she started to miss was her village and her homeland. "I was constantly talking to my relatives, and I didn't miss it that much, but I missed my homeland, my village the most, I always wanted to see its nature, our home... Yes, I miss my homeland the most." According to Mane, the situation of Armenians in Artsakh is so bad now that it is not okay for Armenians to be indifferent to it. "I want all of us not to be indifferent to our motherland, because all this that is happening in Artsakh may happen in Armenia one day, and that is much worse, we need to be a little more vigilant, love our homeland a little more, and not just love with toasts, but invest a small part of ourselves in our homeland, and then maybe something will change", says Mane, reminding the periods of the history and hoping that if now it's bad, maybe a time will come when everything will be fine and everyone will be happy. Mane's desk The question about the biggest dream does not take long to think about. Independently, far from each other, the sisters mention the same dream with the same words. "Peace is needed not only in Artsakh, but also in Armenia, and in general, in the whole world. If there is peace, everything else will happen over time," says Nare. Mane adds: "We need peace all over the world, if possible." If the road opens one day Nare says that if she suddenly reads the news that the road has been opened, she will probably not believe it at first. "It has become a kind of unbelievable news for all of us, but after checking, I will collect a couple of clothes, and finally we will go to Yerevan." Mane, in turn, plans to return to her native village. "I know that I won't be able to stay for a very long time because I am studying in Yerevan, but it is very important for me to see everything for at least 1-2 days because, after the war, there is a constant fear in me that I may not see my home, my homeland, just as now we cannot see a part of our homeland." Future plans related to Artsakh Nare will finish school this year․ She wants to become a designer, for which she started attending classes. However, it has great difficulties. "On the first day, I was thinking a lot about how I should get to Martakert and then go to Stepanakert from there. Somehow we managed to find a person who was going to Martakert, I went with him, and I went to Martakert with him several more times, as well as by bus, but the question of coming back was very difficult because there were no taxis, I mean, there were, but they wouldn't come to the village, as they worked in the city because of the lack of the fuel. I went like that for a month, sometimes I stayed in Stepanakert, in order not to have to go all the time. For a week, I haven't been going as I'm trying to continue training online, but during the day, especially when there are power outages, I get very upset, that darkness brings a kind of sadness, and I start to think more about the situation, more despairing thoughts come," says Nare, half-joking, and half-serious at the same time, adding that when they light a lamp or a candle, the evening becomes romantic. According to her, the blockade has no other positive side. During the power outage Nare was not motivated at first, but she says that she tried to pull herself together, to think that what she is doing is for her future, and the plans for that future are related to Artsakh. "To study and become a designer is in my plans. Of course, I know that I won't be able to study here, because there is no opportunity to get good knowledge here, and the fact that my father and sister are in Yerevan is an excuse for me to study there too... But I don't want to live there, because this is my home, I grew up here, I will live here, I never wanted to leave it, even when I go to another place for a few weeks, for example, Stepanakert, I feel a great longing for my house," says Nare. While Mane is on vacation, she is trying to find a job in Yerevan, and is engaged in self-education to fill her free time. Apart from that, the youth of Artsakh in Armenia have created an online group called "Kids far from home", they participate in demonstrations and rallies together. Mane says she doesn't know if it will help or not, but she will at least be sure that she did something for her homeland and was not indifferent. "I'm surprised that people say - what are they doing, it won't help anyway. Yes, I agree. There were rallies in December, we participated, the youth of Artsakh organized it, but I realized that it didn't help. Now I can say that it won't help anyways so I'm not doing it. But still there is hope that maybe someone will pay attention." Mane is being honest - after the 44-day war, she thought about living in Yerevan, she thought that the war would start again in Artsakh, but about a year ago, everything changed. Now she wants to live only in Artsakh. "I realized that I want to study in Yerevan, come and go because this is my homeland, and I love Yerevan, I love Armenia, but I imagine my life, my goals, my mission in Artsakh, I imagine that I will become a doctor, I will go to Artsakh because very few people go to Artsakh, and in fact, Artsakh always needs a doctor," says Mane, knowing with certainty that she will be one of those doctors who will live in Artsakh and help their compatriots.   Milena Khachikyan Astghik Keshishyan Photo: the Melkumyan family    
16:35 - 31 July, 2023