am always ready to talk about my homeland and
to stay here, but I don't picture today's homeland
like this," says Zhanna Markosyan, 32, as
she packs her things and prepares to move to Moscow.
"How can we talk about homeland, when I
don't feel myself of full value in Armenia,"
Today Zhanna will leave Armenia because the family
has not found a suitable life. It will be the
second time in eight years that they have regrettably
left their homeland.
In 1995, disappointed with conditions here, the
family moved to Bulgaria.
But a couple years ago they begin hearing that
things had gotten better in Yerevan - new streets,
more jobs, an overall economic growth.
In Sofia, the Markosyans watched the public TV
channel of Armenia and became happy to see reports
of factories re-opening of jobs being created
and of a prospering Armenia. And so, about a year
ago, they moved back.
"But when we returned, it turned out that
they give a salary of 1,000 drams (about $2).
What can you buy at that amount to eat well? And
it's not worth talking about entertainment,"
she now says bitterly.
"What has been added in my homeland so far?
Nothing good," she says, "only restaurants
and night clubs. "
It is not unusual that a family leaves Armenia
due to economic hardship. But Zhanna's is a rare
case in which one has returned as life gets better
But not for all, she now says.
"When we left for the first time, we were
extremely disappointed with Yerevan. I always
become upset when I recall those unbearable years,
smoke of the stoves, darkness, deficit of everything,"
says Zhanna. "Our conditions were even more
unfavorable: we had no job, were hungry, and whatever
we could get was at three times as much price.
If we stayed, we would have starved.
"When they ask us why we left for Bulgaria,
my husband (Karen) jokes, 'I closed my eyes and
pointed my finger to a globe, and we left for
the place my finger touched'."
The Markosyans left with $980 they got for selling
their possessions in Armenia.
"At first we decided to go to Poland, but
that year Poland did not receive Armenians. Then
we were told that for Armenians it is good in
Greece, but our money was enough only to reach
Bulgaria," Zhanna says.
Seeing off his family to Bulgaria, Karen left
for Russia with an intention to join them a little
For five days Zhanna with a 2-year old child
on her hands, her mother and about 30 Armenians
of the same fate were traveling in a bus towards
the "unknown bright future:" The 3,500-kilometer
journey across borders of Georgia, Turkey and
into Bulgaria were hellish.
were terrible days," Zhanna says. "The
child fell sick of the constant run of the bus,
my shoe was torn off and I fell down with the
child. We were standing helplessly and crying."
And at last in the new country with a new life,
they had a new title: "refugees".
"At first they did not trust us and were
looking at us with mockery," Zhanna says.
"The landlady thought we were Albanians telling
that both words start with 'A', and for her it
did not matter whether we were Armenians or Albanians.
It was offensive.
"It is not true when they say that as soon
as Armenians leave Armenia they appear in paradise.
We had a lot of difficulties."
But eventually they were able to open a produce
market and life improved.
"The time had come to rise," Zhanna
says. "We had a car, domestic and technical
appliances. Those were the years when we were
able to make use of everything and feel good about
But then they were betrayed by their own, as
a group of Armenian thugs brought trouble to their
"They were sportsmen, weight-lifters, and
whoever did not obey them was beaten," Zhanna
says. "With their arrival everything was
over for the Armenians living in that district.
I never met such awfull Armenians.
"They did not beat us, but we suffered the
greatest loss. They robbed our house once and
the grocery twice. But we had no evidence and
were afraid that they would harm our child."
The family moved to another district of Sofia,
but were never able to set up a business again.
But then came hopeful news from Armenia.
"When we were returning to Armenia, the
Armenians of Sofia told us not to go back, because
we would be disappointed," Zhanna says. "But
at the same time they asked to inform them whether
it is good there. We told everyone by phone, 'No'."
And so today Zhanna will leave her son with his
grandmother and leave for Moscow, where Karen
has already gone for work. She says those who
stay in Armenia are "heroes".
"I am very sorry that after so much suffering
we haven't achieved anything yet, but we will
try as many times as it is needed for out goals
to come true," she says.