Top Armenian Taxpayers Pay Less In First Half of 2015

Despite assurances from the Armenian government about continuing economic growth in the country the top local taxpayers paid some 15 percent less in taxes in the first half of this year than they did during the same period in 2014. 

Whereas in January-June last year the largest 1,000 taxpayers paid a total of $801.6 million in taxes, the same figure reported for the corresponding period of 2015 is $678.7 million.

Analysts question the ability of the government to ensure the expansion of the economy this year in conditions of decreasing taxes paid by leading businesses.

Armenian Police Replace RFE/RL Equipment Damaged In June 23 Violence

The Armenian Police have compensated RFE/RL’s Armenian Service for its expensive equipment that was damaged by officers during last month’s breakup of a civil protest in Yerevan.

The Service’s internet-based Azatutyun TV was providing live coverage of an overnight sit-in in central Baghramian Avenue in the early hours of June 23 when its reporters and cameramen were attacked by police officers who had earlier dispersed a group of activists protesting rising electricity prices.

The officers, in particular, broke the reporters’ mobile phones and smashed a camera that was used for the live streaming of the protests. The cameraman was also forced to surrender the camera’s memory card.

Armenian Activists Set To Continue Rate Hike Protests

Activists gathering in the central square of the Armenian capital, Yerevan, this week are going to continue their protests against electricity price hikes that they originally planned to end on Thursday night.

They say they have decided to stay put in Republic Square because several hundred

New Armenian Constitution ‘Outlaws’ ‘Spontaneous’ Rallies

Civic activists and opposition members in Armenia consider the proposed amendment to the constitutional article on freedom of assembly to be an attempt by the authorities to eliminate the notion of “spontaneous” gatherings.

In contrast to the current article in Armenia’s set of basic laws that clearly establishes that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of peaceful and unarmed assembly”, some restrictions are proposed under the new amendments. 

Thus, one of the changes calls for “notification” of outdoor assemblies “within a reasonable timeframe”.

Some leading law experts in Armenia also view this provision as potentially “dangerous”.

Ara Ghazarian, a specialist in international law, says that thus the new Constitution, in fact, leaves no room for so-called spontaneous rallies.

Latest Armenian News:

Annotating Yerevan

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18:01, July 30, 2015

Tina Bastajian is a media artist and researcher born in Los Angeles and based in Amsterdam. Currently she is a lecturer of documentary film at Amsterdam University College and of media and culture at Webster University, Leiden. Among her works are “Jagadakeer… between the near and east” (2001), “A tree once grew on Pushkin” (2009), “Coffee Deposits: Topologies of chance” (an interactive documentary in collaboration with Seda Manavoglu, 2010). Last week Tina Bastajian started a workshop at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies called “Geolocated Storytelling”. Hetq spoke with Tina about the project and related issues.

What is ‘geolocated storytelling’ all about?

US: Global Magnitsky Act Passed to Senate

July 30, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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21:13, July 30, 2015

A United States bill which would allow authorities to bar corrupt foreign officials and those responsible for human rights abuses from entering the US and using its financial institutions has moved a step closer to possible adoption.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) voted unanimously to pass the Global Magnitsky Act to the Senate floor for a vote, Senator Ben Cardin announced via Twitter on Wednesday.

The law would expand the act passed by the US Congress in 2012 allowing for Russia-specific sanctions to apply globally. The bill was passed by the SFRC to the Senate last summer, but it progressed no further at that time.

Romania: Record Heroin Seizure ‘Biggest Since the Nineties’

July 30, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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21:21, July 30, 2015

Romanian authorities have seized 333 kilograms of heroin from two trucks they say were headed towards Hungary.

According to chief organized crime prosecutor Daniel Horodniceanu, it is the largest seizure of heroin since the 1990′s.

Prosecutors say an international heroin trafficking ring tried to transport the heroin, with an estimated street value of € 40 million (US$ 43 million), through Ukraine to Romania on its way to Western Europe.

It is thought the heroin originated in Afghanistan, with the likely final destination of the Netherlands. On Wednesday, police said that the previous day they had stopped a truck driven by a 60-year-old man at the north-western Satu Mare border crossing.

Top Armenian Taxpayers Pay Less In First Half of 2015

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Despite assurances from the Armenian government about continuing economic growth in the country the top local taxpayers paid some 15 percent less in taxes in the first half of this year than they did during the same period in 2014. 

Whereas in January-June last year the largest 1,000 taxpayers paid a total of $801.6 million in taxes, the same figure reported for the corresponding period of 2015 is $678.7 million.

Analysts question the ability of the government to ensure the expansion of the economy this year in conditions of decreasing taxes paid by leading businesses.

Armenian Police Replace RFE/RL Equipment Damaged In June 23 Violence

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The Armenian Police have compensated RFE/RL’s Armenian Service for its expensive equipment that was damaged by officers during last month’s breakup of a civil protest in Yerevan.

The Service’s internet-based Azatutyun TV was providing live coverage of an overnight sit-in in central Baghramian Avenue in the early hours of June 23 when its reporters and cameramen were attacked by police officers who had earlier dispersed a group of activists protesting rising electricity prices.

The officers, in particular, broke the reporters’ mobile phones and smashed a camera that was used for the live streaming of the protests. The cameraman was also forced to surrender the camera’s memory card.

"Shame, Shame": Nairit Plant Workers Again Demonstrate for Back Wages

July 30, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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12:06, July 30, 2015

Several hundred disgruntled Nairit chemical plant workers again demonstrated in front of the Government Building in Yerevan demanding that they be paid back wages owed them.

One demonstrator, chemical engineer Anahit Manukyan, told Hetq that only 600-700 of the plant’s 2,270 employees had been paid as of yesterday as promised.

“They told us to sign a contract, which was very demeaning, but we signed nevertheless because each employee is being blackmailed. They told us that if we didn’t sign, we wouldn’t get paid. People need that money so they signed. But they still haven’t paid us. Today we are asking why are they deceiving us yet again,” Manukyan said.

Foreign Grants Received by Armenia’s Ministry of Culture

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12:30, July 30, 2015

The “Union of Informed Citizens” has already presented the international grants Armenia has received in the agriculture sector. Continuing this series, we are presenting the international grants provided to Armenia’s culture sector.

The data provided by the Ministries of Culture and Finance of Armenia in response to our inquiry show that organizations functioning under the RA Ministries of Culture and Finance received grants totaling US$ 4,060,180 during 2005-2014.

By Projects

In terms of the amount of financial assistance, 1st place goes to the National Cinema Center of Armenia SNCO. The Center (a State Non-Commercial Organization) has received more than 3 million Euros in assistance from different countries for shooting 10 films.

French Ambassador Charpentier: Sale of Orange Was a Business Deal

July 30, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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16:22, July 30, 2015

Newly appointed French Ambassador to Armenia Jean-Francois Charpentier told Hetq that it was too early to estimate what impact the sale of Orange Armenia would have on overall foreign investment in Armenia.

“The only thing that I can state now is that Orange, despite being the primary French investor, isn’t the only one. There are other companies operating here,” said Charpentier.

When asked why Orange, so successful elsewhere in the world, faced problems here in Armenia, and if he had talked to company management, Charpentier said he hadn’t.

“I am not the one who should be answering questions related to a private company. I would advise you to direct such questions to Orange management,” was Charpentier’s response.

Acceleration Program of Microsoft Innovation Center offers unique opportunities to Armenian startups

July 30, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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19:58, July 30, 2015

Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia has started the application process for Acceleration program, targeting startups with innovative solutions. Based on the success stories of previous program rounds, Microsoft Innovation Center has incorporated various innovations into the program, targeting early-stage startups. During the 12-week intensive program, the startups will work on taking their idea to market, powered by workshops and coaching from the curriculum partners and having access to business resources and investors.

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Featured Books

Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

Armenians often wish for a tale about the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath that would make a blockbuster film and draw attention to their cause. John Balian’s new book, Gray Wolves and White Doves (CreateSpace/Amazon.com), may be that tale.

 Largely autobiographical, this atmospheric novel is presented through the eyes of an innocent young boy trying to make sense of the world as he grows up amid repressive conditions in Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey during the 1960s and 70s.

 This fast-paced, multi-layered narrative takes readers from Hanna Ibelin’s (a.k.a. Jonah Ibelinian’s) close-knit family life in the perilous Asia Minor region of Palu to terror and tragedy while en route to Syria’s Kamishli, to a bleak existence on the mean streets of Istanbul.

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

Teaneck, N.J. and Belmont, Mass. –  An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian-American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country.  The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

Turkish writer and publicist Ahmet Insel labels the initiative of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party to pray namaz on the ruins of Ani as provocation.

In an interview with “A1+,” the publicist said the initiative was supported only by a small percentage of Turks.

“They offered namaz in Ani in protest against Christian rites carried out in Trabzon and Akhtamar. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli said if Christians are allowed to pray inside museums, similarly he can pray namaz in Armenian churches,” said Ahmet Insel.

The Turkish writer arrived in Armenia to participate in a book festival. Presentation of Armenian version of Dialogue sur le tabou arménien (Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou) co-authored by Ahmet Insel and Michel Marian was held during the festival.

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA –  KFI 640, a popular news/talk radio station hosted by Bill Handel on September 23 aired a live interview with Michael Bobelian, the writer of a new book titled  Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice

The book chronicles the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recounts a people’s struggle for justice in the face of a century of silence and denial.

During the interview, which was aired during the prime morning time slot, Bill Handel addressed both the efforts within the United States to ensure that the US government appropriately acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s ongoing denial.

Handel, a well known and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, has discussed the Armenian Genocide during past shows.

Commentary

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.