by David Zenian A "serious" business meeting in post-communist Russia still involves a toast here and a shot of vodka there, but Western ideas are beginning to make inroads into an old culture where the term market-economy was nothing more than another capitalist concept. "People are demanding the best in products and services. I can no longer say take it or leave it because we have competition now, and if the customer is not happy, he will go someplace else," said Artur Bagryan who operates the only Armenian-owned Volkswagen car dealership in Moscow.
by Hrag Vartanian Orbelian is an American Russian success story. Born and raised in San Francisco to Armenian and Russian émigré parents, he was appointed musical director of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra (MCO) 10 years ago. His career is marked by some stellar achievements that reflect the level of his talent. At the age of 11, he performed with the San Francisco Symphony and later went to the Soviet Union on a music scholarship. After graduating from New York's Julliard at the age of 18, he began a successful solo career performing with most major orchestras.
by Hrag Vartanian Two Russian Armenian directors are among the recent wave of directors that have reiterated Moscow's role as a highly cultured movie making center. Living in one of the birthplaces of modern film, Balayan and Shahnazarov are two influential directors with strong poetic visions that continue to build on the Russian tradition. Born in 1941 in Nerke Oratag, Azerbaijan, Roman Gurgenovich Balayan was a theatrical actor in Armenia before becoming a director.
by Hrag Vartanian When Bulgarian Armenian, Philip Kirkorov, makes a public appearance, it is destined to appear in the Russian media as the public eagerly follows the comings and goings of one of the country's biggest pop idols. Based in Moscow for decades, he has won eight Russian Grammy's (called Ovations), received two Monte Carlo World Music Awards and he's made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most consecutive sold out performances (a 32 concert marathon at a 4,000 seat venue).
by Colin McMahon NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia—The last time we sat around Yuri Nemtsov's kitchen table in Nizhny Novgorod, a former Communist apparatchik had just been elected governor. The few local liberals still around were glummer than usual. The last of the independents at the local television stations worried that if President Vladimir Putin could meddle at the national TV networks, their own governor could install his team at the regional stations.
by Hrag Vartanian Frankfurter Allgemein Zeitung newspaper called him "A Patron Saint for Investors in Russia," not bad for 34 year-old Ruben Vardanian who heads the investment bank, Troika Dialog. Troika is considered one of the top credit institutions in Moscow and Vardanian's knowledge of the country's corporate world is supposedly unparalleled.
by David Zenian There is a bit of a rebel in every artist and no one knows this better than those who had to balance their art with the demands of a communist system where fame often started with party affiliation and the financial rewards that went with it. Big Brother, as some artists call the central committee of the Soviet Communist Party, kept a closer eye on writers and made sure they did not get in the way of the state propaganda machine. As for painters, actors and sculptors, the trend was to ignore those who put their art above the praise of the communist system.
by David Zenian Ashot Arakelovich Sarkisov no longer wears the uniform of Vice Admiral of the Soviet navy, instead, he leads a group of scientists working with their American counterparts to dismantle aging Soviet-era nuclear submarines—the same war machines he helped build. Dr. Lev Piruzyan is no longer on the "black list" of the Kremlin, and is busy in research and development of new drugs—free at last of the stigma of being pushed aside because of his alleged non-conformist views.
by David Zenian On a recent Sunday afternoon several hundred Armenians gathered at the main auditorium of the Itartass building in central Moscow for a talent show despite a snowstorm and sub-zero temperatures. The event was a success, but what made it special was more than just the festive mood, the flowers and the prizes given to the young musicians. It was an occasion for Moscow's growing Armenian population to meet, thanks to the efforts of Ara Abrahamian, a young businessman and the driving force behind the Union of Armenians of Russia.
by David Zenian More than two million Armenians now live in Russia, a country which has been home to generations of Armenians from as far back as late 1300 when traders, artisans and intellectuals traveled north from the Crimea and the Caucasus in search of a better life. Centuries of Armenian Life in Russia
by Hrag Vartanian When an opportunity knocks, David Yang opens the door. The 34 year-old Russian cybermogul heads two hi-tech companies that have helped make Moscow the silicon valley of the former Soviet Union.
by David Zenian The rules of engagement in Russian politics have changed dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade ago, but Arthur Chilingarov has climbed the political ladder to hold the position of Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, the 450-member lower house of the Russian Parliament.