In Karabakh, tobacco is a new area in agriculture, and, given the good weather conditions, is a very profitable business. However not everything has been going smoothly for the last two years.
To Harvest but Not to Smoke
While the conflict in Syria stopped many things, for these two brothers, in particular, it was a motive to start something new. They moved to Karabakh, and established a new "exotic" branch in the local agricultural sector.
Citrus of the "Black Garden"
Many refugees take on the status when they’re only children. We spoke to refugees from Azerbaijan who are now over 30 and have left their homes when they were quite young. We also met refugees who have recently fled Ukraine and Syria and are still children (4-10 years old), trying to navigate to a new homeland before they even reach adulthood.
One life - Two homelands
A 57-year-old nurse, Marsela Sargsyan, once a week visits the 50 elderly under her supervision, whose addresses she has learnt by heart. As usual, she knocks on the doors and enters the houses (the lonely elders usually don’t lock the door). Sitting on the nearest chair to the door a nurse starts examining. Very often the elders don’t want her to leave. Forgetting about their complaints they start to tell her endless stories. One of the nurses say that besides the medication, the elderly first of all need to have a conversation. It is already 12 years since “Hanganak” NGO has been functioning in Stepanakert, Karabakh, with the help of the American “Armenian Women's Welfare Association.” They help the lonely elderly people by providing medical and social help. Medical services are provided by 5 nurses and 1 therapeutist.
Treatment with Home Delivery
Before the Karabakh war home carpet weaving was very popular. In recent years, this handicraft has started to revive after a decade-long slump during the post war period. Now it’s a source of stable income for at least 150 women, as well as a trendy activity.
From Tradition to Fashionable Occupation
More than 20 years later, the Generation born during and after the Karabakh conflict in the ‘90s had to participate in yet another war themselves. It was the four-day April war of 2016, between Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh forces, during which the generation of independence fought in the same trenches with their fathers. This is a photo-story about some of them, who died in that fight.
Generations of The War
A visit to Karabakh dramatically changed a Jordanian-Armenian young man’s plans. Amid an era of technological advancement and high standards of service, he realized an interesting idea of a cafe with his friend, which would enable simple, cordial, human interaction.
A Spider Web That Connects People
Among the large variety of transportation means - luxury SUVs, modest sedanes and modern convenient minivans, etc - one can notice distinguishable yellowish and round small buses that move people from place to place in Armenia. Produced over 50 years ago in the Soviet Union, these cars, called PAZ, serve the needs of the people till today. Piruza Khakapyan and Nazik Armenakyan take us on a journey from Artik to Yerevan in one of the few remaining PAZ buses, which are still in use. Even though it is not the only means of transportation, villagers see it as the safest one, since they trust the driver. The latter, 52 year old Farhadi has been driving this bus for already 20 years. When he started, there were many other PAZ buses in Armenia, like in other Post-Soviet countries. During the journey which lasts for almost three hours, the yellow 'Pazik' transforms into a public space where people share their stories and worries.
The Yellow Buses of the Past
Nina Avanesyan grew up in Mehmana, a Greek village, as the tiny settlement was known in Nagorno Karabakh. She is one of the 200-odd Greeks who used to live in the region where the first settlers arrived in the early 1800s. In the early 1990s when the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out over Nagorno Karabakh’s push for independence from Azerbaijan, the authorities gave ethnic minorities the opportunity to move to their fatherlands, and in 1992 most of the Greek community who lived mainly in the northern area of Martakert, left. Nina and her family stayed on - today she is one of the last Greeks left in Nagorno Karabakh.
Nagorno Karabakh’s Last of the Mohicans
When the daily “Samkhretis Karibche” (Southern Gate in Georgian) closed down its Armenian language section for lack of funds, work prospects for Rima Gharibyan, Aghunik Ayvazyan, Kristine Marabyan, and Shushanik Shirinyan looked grim in Akhalkalaki, a town of less than 10,000 in southern Georgia. The highly conservative region of Samtskhe-Javakheti does not offer an array of possibilities for journalists, and even fewer for female reporters, and it is in dire need of an Armenian-language outlet to cater with the local population - the 2014 census showed that over 90 percent of the population is ethnic Armenian. The four women joined forces with two other journalists, Ani Minasyan and Julieta Tonakanyan, and in late 2014 founded Jnews.ge, a web-based media outlet which aimed at filling the information gap.
On Being Women Journalists in a Conservative Society
When the Soviet Union went into meltdown, brewing tensions between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the mainly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno Karabakh of the then-Socialist Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, exploded into open conflict. Around 25 years since the 1994 ceasefire that put on hold the bloodshed, the territory has languished in a state of “no war, no peace.” Claimed by Azerbaijan but de-facto independent since the mid-1990s, the landlocked mountainous region remains internationally unrecognized albeit strongly supported by the Republic of Armenia - yet over the last three years the frozen conflict, as the confrontation with Azerbaijan is labelled, has been more about fire than ice.
Nagorno Karabakh, The presence of war in everyday life
Mikael Arustamyan is a teenager on a mission: becoming a mobile game programmer. Such is not at all impossible in today’s world, but challenging, if you are from Mkhitarashen, a village of 100 people in western Nagorno Karabakh. The dream came within reach in 2015 when TUMO, the free-of-charge Yerevan-based Centre for Creative Technologies, opened a branch in Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabakh’s main city. Since then Mikael dutifully travels once in a week to attend classes. “I started to attend the classes because I wanted to learn robotics. Later I moved on to studying programming and went deeper into this sphere, especially in mobile programming,” explains an enthusiastic 15 year-old who, alongside a team of three, developed Save The Bomb, a mobile game where players have to safely remove bombs and overcome challenges to move onto the next level. The game, available on GooglePlay online, draws from everyday, as mines dating back the conflict with Azerbaijan of the early 1990s still dot the region’s hills.
Raising Digital Kids in Nagorno Karabakh
It was a kids’ game like any other - a mysterious object unearthed in the hen coop, children trying to understand what is was, a hammer to break it. Then, an explosion and it all went dark for six-year old Artak Beglaryan. It has been dark ever since. It was the 7th of April in 1995, when that landmine left Beglaryan blind - barely one year after the ceasefire that stopped the open warfare in Nagorno Karabakh, unexploded devices still dotted the region. Now 29, Beglaryan has turned the loss of his eyesight to his advantage as he grew resilient and has become who he is today - though maybe not the person he would have loved, or tried, to become when he was a child.
Bright Love, a Tale from Stepanakert
It’s been touted as a way to strengthen security and contacts with the outside world. But for 35-year-old beekeeper Vahram Sargsyan, Nagorno Karabakh’s new, 320-kilometer-long highway to Armenia matters for another reason, too – it’s a boon for his bee business. Until this summer, Karabakh residents had only one real option for long-distance travel – a twisty, two-lane mountain highway that passed from Karabakh to neighboring Armenia via the Berdzror city (Lachin Corridor), a narrow strip of land that unites the territory with its main ally.
Nagorno Karabakh’s Road to a Better Life
A village of 30 people was not the frontline Veronika Shahnazaryan and Narine Vardanyan had planned for as rookie reporters. Yet when they visited Vaghazin in the summer of 2017, they realized that a frontline can also be a run-down village school. Teaching the 10 pupils in the isolated hamlet of Vaghazin, about an hour and a half to the west of the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Shushi, was a challenge they decided to embrace, notwithstanding the challenges.
Vaghazin’s Village School: A Different Frontline
Roughly two years ago, 16-year-old Arpine Avanesyan got what she describes as “the best present” ever for her birthday. It was not what most teenagers might want -- parental consent to attend a military academy.
Karabakh: Female Cadets in a Military Academy Built for Males
From a distance, the three sappers all look the same – high boots, trousers with deep pockets, a special helmet, protective visor and gloves. Many locals in Nagorno Karabakh, a relatively traditional society, assume they are men. But these are women, and, like men, when they head into potential minefields, they are doing so to help their families survive.
Nagorno Karabakh: A Mother in the Minefields
The military WILIS (a Russian-made SUV) rushes through the borderline dusty road followed by a trail of endless cloud. There is the line of contact between Karabakh and Azeri armed forces on the one side of the road, while on the other side there are the Armenian military positions.
Faith in God in the Army
Yelena who in 2013 left her native town of Askeran and moved to Pyatigorsk, a city in Russia’s northern Caucasus where her husband’s family lives, says that outside Nagorno Karabakh, Armenians and Azerbaijanis live peacefully side by side. As memories of the war hunted her, it was a difficult learning curve.
Nagorno-Karabakh: Two Wars, Two Mothers
Since she was born, Zina Khachatryan's life has been marked by two seasons: the one with her father and the one without him. Now 13, the teenager from the southern Georgian region of Samtskhe–Javakheti, estimates a total of six and half years spent with him -- half of her life.
Armenians’ seasonal matriarchy in Georgia
When Mery Chalyan’s father fell ill along with the worries for his health came the anxiety of how to cover for his medical bills. Then 28, Chalyan decided to travel to Russia seeking for a decently-paid job she could not find in her native Nagorno Karabakh. It was 2014. By then, fellow Karabakhi Marietta Mnatsakanyan had been back from her seasonal work on the shores of Ukraine’s Azov Sea and decided never to leave again -- to look after her ailing mother.
Nagorno Karabakh, Women, and Seasonal Work
“For us, creating means living. We even avoid buying some things so that we have the money for our artistic work,” says Satenik Hayiryan.
Karabakh’s Frontline Artists
Heads turn when 46-year-old Mher and 45-year-old Raul Babayan walk down the street with their flamboyant clothes and hairstyles. The two brothers stand out from local men in their home city of Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh.
Dancing Ballet Alone in Nagorno-Karabakh
This is the story of a woman and her daughter who are challenging Karabakh's patriarchal society.