Armenian Currency Rebounds Strongly

The Armenian dram strengthened against the U.S. dollar by 16 percent on Thursday after weeks of depreciation that accelerated dramatically earlier this week amid turmoil in Russia’s currency market.

Armenia’s national currency traded at an average of 476 drams per dollar in the evening, up from 553 drams per dollar registered the previous night. The dram thus essentially regained its value lost since last weekend. Still, it was 13.5 percent weaker against the greenback than in the beginning of November.

The dram rallied strongly despite the apparent absence of increased monetary intervention from the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA). The CBA said in the afternoon that its latest daily hard currency offer of $4 million attracted no purchase bids from local commercial banks.

Public Transport Strike Widens In Yerevan

Dozens more minibus drivers in Yerevan refused to work Thursday on the second day of a strike action organized by their colleagues in protest against a sharp rise in the price of liquefied gas used by their vehicles.

The price went up by over 20 percent late last week following a sizable depreciation of the national currency, the dram. The fuel sold by liquefied gas stations is imported from Russia at a price set in U.S. dollars. The national distribution network, Gazprom Armenia, has not raised its retail prices so far.

The strike began in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district on Wednesday and spread to minibus routes operating from at least two other parts of the capital the following day. In the Nor Nork suburb, about 100 empty minibuses were parked along a street as their drivers rallied to demand a price cut.

PM Vows Action Against ‘Baseless’ Price Hikes

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Thursday ordered Armenia’s anti-monopoly regulators to crack down on businesses that he said have disproportionately raised the prices of key goods to cash in on sharp exchange rate fluctuations.

“In particular, yesterday there were sizable increases in the prices of sugar, flour and a number of other basic consumer products [imported to Armenia,]” Abrahamian said at a cabinet meeting which was attended by Artak Shaboyan, the head of the State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC).

“I am calling on you to treat these abuses with utmost strictness. The government will not tolerate baseless price hikes,” he told Shaboyan. He said the PSRC should submit its findings to the government on a daily basis.

Minibus Drivers Go On Strike Over Higher Fuel Prices

Dozens of minibus drivers in Yerevan went on strike on Wednesday to protest against a more than 20 percent surge in the price of liquefied natural gas used by their privately owned vehicles.

Gas stations in and outside the Armenian capital raised the price last week, citing the depreciation of the national currency, the dram. Their managers claim privately that the wholesale gas price is set for them by the Gazprom Armenia operator in U.S. dollars, meaning that its dram equivalent had to be revised upwards.

The retail gas prices in Armenia are officially set only in drams. Gazprom Armenia has so far not attempted to raise them because of the sharp weakening of the dram.

Latest Armenian News:

Walnut Lovers Beware: Gyumri Price Hits $28.45 a Kilo

December 19, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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17:26, December 18, 2014

If you’re shopping for shelled walnuts as appetizers for your holiday table, stay away from markets in Gyumri.

A month ago shoppers could purchase one kilo of the shelled nuts for 10,000 dram (US$18.97) a kilo. Today, they’re selling from 12,000 ($22.76) – 15,000 dram ($28.45).

A devalued Armenian Dram has led to retail price hikes of several food items.

Bread prices have also inched up in the past few days – from 130 drams a loaf to 150. Staff at a local supermarket told me they were willing to decrease the price of the staple if flour prices went down.

Mother Charged with Forcing Her Son to Beg on Yerevan Streets: Faces 7-12 Years Imprisonment

December 19, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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19:49, December 18, 2014

“All I want is to work and care for Eric. I’ll even clean toilets”

Lousineh Arakelyan faces a 7-12 year prison stretch if found guilty of ‘trafficking’ her three year-old son Eric.

Prosecutors say the 37 year-old mother had her son begging on Yerevan streets for money.

Mrs. Arakelyan is awaiting trial and has signed a legal promise not to flee.

“If they throw me in jail and take my child from me and put him in an orphanage, it would be best that I not live,” said Mrs. Arakelyan as she left the Erebouni and Noubarashen District Court.

Armenian Currency Rebounds Strongly

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian dram strengthened against the U.S. dollar by 16 percent on Thursday after weeks of depreciation that accelerated dramatically earlier this week amid turmoil in Russia’s currency market.

Armenia’s national currency traded at an average of 476 drams per dollar in the evening, up from 553 drams per dollar registered the previous night. The dram thus essentially regained its value lost since last weekend. Still, it was 13.5 percent weaker against the greenback than in the beginning of November.

The dram rallied strongly despite the apparent absence of increased monetary intervention from the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA). The CBA said in the afternoon that its latest daily hard currency offer of $4 million attracted no purchase bids from local commercial banks.

EU Unveils Fresh Aid To Armenia

December 18, 2014 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

The European Union allocated on Thursday about 10 million euros ($12.4 million) in fresh assistance to Armenia’s central and local governments as well as civic organizations.

The EU Delegation in Yerevan said it will finance 15 concrete projects ranging from human rights protection to poverty reduction and agricultural development.

“The EU remains committed to further engage with Armenia and to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest based on shared values,” the head of the delegation, Traian Hristea, said after signing funding agreements with governmental and non-governmental recipients of the aid.

Public Transport Strike Widens In Yerevan

December 18, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Top News No Comments
Thumbnail

Dozens more minibus drivers in Yerevan refused to work Thursday on the second day of a strike action organized by their colleagues in protest against a sharp rise in the price of liquefied gas used by their vehicles.

The price went up by over 20 percent late last week following a sizable depreciation of the national currency, the dram. The fuel sold by liquefied gas stations is imported from Russia at a price set in U.S. dollars. The national distribution network, Gazprom Armenia, has not raised its retail prices so far.

The strike began in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district on Wednesday and spread to minibus routes operating from at least two other parts of the capital the following day. In the Nor Nork suburb, about 100 empty minibuses were parked along a street as their drivers rallied to demand a price cut.

PM Vows Action Against ‘Baseless’ Price Hikes

December 18, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
Thumbnail

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Thursday ordered Armenia’s anti-monopoly regulators to crack down on businesses that he said have disproportionately raised the prices of key goods to cash in on sharp exchange rate fluctuations.

“In particular, yesterday there were sizable increases in the prices of sugar, flour and a number of other basic consumer products [imported to Armenia,]” Abrahamian said at a cabinet meeting which was attended by Artak Shaboyan, the head of the State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC).

“I am calling on you to treat these abuses with utmost strictness. The government will not tolerate baseless price hikes,” he told Shaboyan. He said the PSRC should submit its findings to the government on a daily basis.

Armenia’s National Football Squad Closes Year in 79th Place

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13:34, December 18, 2014

According to the latest FIFA rankings of national football teams released today Armenia came in 79th, a drop of two spots, with an overall score of 436.

In December 2013 Armenia was ranked 35th in the world. By January of the following year it had slipped to 38th place but jumped to 30th, its best ranking ever, just one month later. It’s been downhill ever since.

World champion Germany remains in first place followed Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain and Uruguay.

As for Armenia’s competition in the qualifying round in Group I for Euro-2016, Denmark was today ranked 30th in the world, Portugal (tied with France for 7th place), Serbia – 38th, and Albania – 58th.

Armenian Prime Minister: ‘We will not tolerate unjustified price hikes’

December 18, 2014 Armenia No Comments
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15:55, December 18, 2014

At today’s cabinet session, Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan stated that yesterday he met with representatives of the IMF and World Bank in Yerevan regarding the recent devaluation of the Armenian Dram and that they are fully backing the government’s measures to restore stability to the country’s financial sector.

Abrahamyan said that currency fluctuations had stabilized somewhat yesterday and that he was certain this trend would continue.

Nevertheless, he voiced concerns regarding price rises for certain comestibles as sugar and flour, and proposed that the SCPEC (State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition) continue its monitoring of these items and report back on a daily basis.

Hydro-Plants vs Tourism: Battle Lines Drawn in Armenia’s Syunik Province

December 18, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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13:32, December 17, 2014

Ruben Vardanyan, a wealthy businessman based in Russia who supports various tourism development projects in Armenia, is so concerned that the construction of two mini hydro-plants may adversely affect tourism in the country’s southern Syunik region that he has met with Armenia’s prime minister in an attempt to halt their construction.

This news was conveyed by a Hetq source close to the issue.

The two hydro-plants are being built in the Syunik communities of Tatev and Tandzatap by a company called Tatevi Anapat LLC which is 50% owned by Sourik Khachatryan, the governor of Syunik Province.

The affected areas fall within a region that the IDeA (Initiatives for Development in Armenia), co-founded by Vardanyan, has been actively promoting as a prime tourist zone in Armenia.

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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.

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Commentary

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.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article