Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh has surpassed 250 days, and the situation has grown more dire than ever. While protests ensue globally and Armenian National Committee (ANC) activism continues to put pressure on foreign governments to end the blockade, only a few diasporan Armenians today find themselves actually in Artsakh, including some of my good friends who relocated to Artsakh after the 2020 war. Two of them have launched an English-language podcast to offer perspectives from on the ground as well as on the politics at play.
The Artsakh Podcast will take listeners inside the blockade with two diasporan Armenians. Gev Iskajyan, who served the ANCA and Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) for many years, moved to Artsakh in early 2021 to lead its ANC division and serve as a tie between the diaspora and post-war Artsakh. Iskajyan hosts the podcast alongside Hagop Ipdjian, who moved to Artsakh from Cyprus to promote growth and development through his organization, the Artsakh Support Body, and to work at the state ministry. They have combined their experience and education to provide insights to the diaspora on the state and preservation of Artsakh and Armenia while continuing their work within the country.
I traveled to Artsakh in December 2022 to host my annual Thanksgiving luncheon and ended up living there for the first two months of the blockade. I spent my time going to markets in Stepanakert to find food while Hagop and Gev worked, in order to prepare dinners that we would eat together daily. It was difficult to prepare a full meal, and we were already limiting ourselves to one meal per day, but we would do our best to use ingredients that were less popular among the local population. The early days of the blockade were filled with constant hope that the border would open, and rumors would spread that life would return to normal in a matter of days. I eventually left Artsakh on an auxiliary road, the usual hour-long trip from Stepanakert to Goris taking nearly 12 hours.
Gev, Hagop and I often discussed the situation on the ground and regional geopolitics. Their podcast has been a long time coming, given their experience and expertise. They have both given interviews and written press releases for various media outlets to get the truth out about the blockade. Yet this podcast is a good analogy of taking our fate and our story into our own hands.
The podcast is available on most platforms and has to date released two episodes featuring Artsakh Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan and former Artsakh Foreign Minister David Babayan, with many more interesting guests to come. Long live the Republic of Artsakh. Կեցցէ՜ Արցախը.
Tune in via any of the following platforms:
Apple Podcast: https://bit.ly/3OTrxBR
Amazon Music: https://bit.ly/3qLmCuH
Google Podcast: https://bit.ly/3YQQRg8