Category Archives: Yerevan

Living On The Streets

Homeless Karabakh war veterans Robert and Gor, Yerevan, Armenia © Onnik Krikorian 2004


Although this blog was meant to start in January 2012 there always seems to be something to post about before then. So with the New Year almost upon us, it’s perhaps only right to think about those less fortunate than ourselves. For example, although some things have changed for the better in Armenia since I’ve been here, poverty levels remain high, and for rough sleepers in the Armenian capital, known locally and somewhat derogatarily as bomzh, the situation is still very dire indeed.

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Poverty in Armenia

Squat, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian 2004


Although this blog will mainly be a personal account of life living in Armenia since 1998, it will also take a look back at key issues which still affect the country today. One of those issues is poverty, a topic I covered extensively from 2000 to 2006. Back then, the Armenian Diaspora was largely ignorant of such problems and not least because of the new construction work evident in the center of Yerevan. However, that was just a fascade to the real situation for many Armenians, and especially those with large numbers of children.

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Coming Soon in 2012

In October 1998, after being offered a job with the United Nations, I decided to relocate from London to Yerevan, the Armenian capital. In June the same year I had already made my second visit to the country to document the Yezidi minority and it was then that I had been offered the position. Some four years after first setting foot in the Caucasus to photograph the 1994 ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh, having worked on the Kurds in Turkey since then it seemed time for a change for both personal and professional reasons.

London-Armenians warned me against the move, however, saying that it wouldn’t be long before depression set in after witnessing first hand the poverty, corruption and insular world-view that has defined much of the country’s post-Soviet development.

They were right, and eventually my first book, Armenia: Poverty, Transition and Democracy was published in 2004 by the Gomidas Institute following the controversial and bitterly disputed re-election of Armenian President Robert Kocharian in February/March 2003 and Georgia’s Rose Revolution at the end of the same year. Even so, the publisher had suggested another title. Rather than a collection of articles and photographs, the idea of my first-hand account of my experiences in the country, published as Down and Out in Yerevan, was floated about.

The time was not right then, but a few elections and even a war in neighboring Georgia later, it is now. Chronicling a country crippled by economic collapse, political and economic corruption, conflict, and closed borders with two of its four neighbors, this blog will be frank, honest and pull no punches. Coming soon in January 2012.

Onnik Krikorian

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