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“We seek to build the kind of country great maestro Aznavour was dreaming about” – Anna Hakobyan

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s spouse Anna Hakobyan, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the My Step and City of Smile charity funds, visited on September 19th the city of Yaroslavl in Russia to participate in a joint celebration of the 28th Armenian Independence Day and the 95th anniversary of birth of the late Charles Aznavour in the Fyodor Volkov Russian Academic Theater, Hakobyan’s Office said in a news release.

Armenia’s Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toghanyan, Armenia’s Honorary Consul in Yaroslavl Vahagn Khachatryan, Vice President of the Union of Armenians of Russia Herman Ananyants, Yaroslavl Oblast Adminisration Head Ilya Balanin, French envoy to Russia Paul Bertrand Barets, Yaroslavl Oblast lawmaker Tigran Ghazaryan, My Step foundation executive director Hovhannes Ghazaryan and many others were in attendance of the event.

In his remarks Armenian Ambassador Vardan Toghanyan thanked Yaroslavl Governor Dmitry Mironov and Armenia’s Honorary Consul Vahagn Khachatryan for organizing the concert and noted that this is the first time when the Armenian Independence Day is celebrated in Yaroslavl and not in Moscow.

“This concert is also dedicated to the 95th anniversary of birth of our genius countrymen Charles Aznavour. A man who had dedicated his whole life to French culture but was with his life and spirit ties to his historic homeland Armenia. A man who with his cheerfulness and stability proved to humanity how one should serve his fatherland and people,” Toghanyan said.

Anna Hakobyan delivered remarks at the event and thanked for the invitation to visit Yaroslavl, one of the oldest cities of friendly Russia.

“I am very happy to be in this city which has a history, culture and architecture of a thousand years. On my way here I was pleasantly surprised to see the many architectural buildings which convey one of a kind character and colors to the city. It is no coincidence that Yaroslavl’s historic center is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. The city truly amazes with its beauty, comfortable streets and buildings. Today I managed to be at the Rostov Kremlin, with the grandeur and beauty of which I am greatly impressed.

Dearest friends, I would also like to express gratitude for organizing the concert dedicated to Armenia’s Independence Day and the 95th anniversary of birth of Charles Aznavour. In the distant year of 1991 the Armenian people expressed their will through a referendum to live in an independent, free and democratic country. And during all these years the Armenian people strived to create a democratic society where all their inalienable rights and freedoms will be protected. One and a half year ago it was possible to carry out a velvet revolution of love and solidarity. And today the Armenian government is working painstakingly to build a stable and institutional democratic state. The government’s goal is for any Armenian regardless of their residence location to associate themselves with an economically developed and free, democratic country. And today all of us must bring our contribution in this responsible work of building New Armenia. We seek to build the kind of Armenia the great maestro Charles Aznavour was dreaming about. I am especially happy that today’s event is dedicated to one of my most beloved performers, chanson-legend the great Charles Aznavour, who enjoys respect, love and admiration not only among Armenians but all over the world. The maestro is always in our hearts as long as his music is playing, and it is eternal. Being one of the most recognizable artists in the world Charles Aznavour had great contribution in the restoration of the Armenian settlements which were affected by the 1988 earthquake. Numerous charitable programs were carried out through the great crooner’s efforts in both Armenia and outside its borders. And today this charitable activity is continuing the Aznavour Foundation through its educational, social and cultural programs. Dearest friends, I am happy to see you all here today, to realize that the Armenian community of Yaroslavl not only succeeded in preserving Armenian identity but also completely integrate in the city and oblast’s life. I would like to thank our Russian friends for the sincere attitude towards the Armenian community which has become an inseperable part of the oblast during the years. I was happy to know that we have such an active community where the Saint Gevorg Church is functioning, also the Armenian Sunday school, a youth organization, a dance group and even Armenian football teams – Ararat and Artsakh,” Hakobyan said.

Hakobyan also presented the activities of the My Step and City of Smiles foundation to the audience.

“The mission of My Step foundation is to contribute to building a healthy, educated and inclusive society where everyone will have a chance to discover and realize their potential. We seek to create the kind of environment where every citizen will be responsible for their own and public welfare. The foundation is carrying out projects in the cultural, educational, environmental and social protection sectors. The City of Smile foundation’s goal is to provide free medical treatment to children and young people up to 25 years of age having cancer in Armenia. 223 children have become beneficiaries since the creation of the foundation. In August of this year alone the foundation supported 99 children in receiving medical treatment, medicine and laboratory tests,” Hakobyan said. Later on the same day Hakobyan participated in an official reception given on behalf of Consul Vahagn Khacharyan. Hakobyan also visited the Rostov Kremlin on a cultural trip during the visit.