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Time for Armenia to Choose: Mining for Development or Systematic Plunder?

March 30, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Australia No Comments
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15:48, March 30, 2015

It is indisputable that different aspects of the mountaintop mining industry, especially the production and processing of useful metal mining, cause irrevocable damage to nature and human health, thus differing essentially from other types of human economic activity.

However, the companies engaged in these activities have been insisting for a long time that so called “sustainable” mining operations cause almost no damage to the environment.

Now that such a statement is hard to substantiate they have begun using the term “responsible” mining and the main idea of this is to disguise the real hazards and neutralize public criticism under the veil of economic growth, corporate profit and social programs. And all this is even more dangerous for countries like Armenia that have a small territory, population living under extremelydifficult social conditions and corrupt government.

Romania: Former Finance Minister Questioned over Picasso and Warhol Collection

March 30, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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18:00, March 30, 2015

Former finance minister Darius Valcov was interrogated by Romania’s anti-corruption agency on Friday after the discovery of a hoard of 101 works of art allegedly belonging to him.

The stash included three paintings signed “Picasso” as well as one “Andy Warhol”. Art experts are working to confirm their authenticity.

Prosecutors say the extraordinary collection had been hidden by four of Valcov’s friends, according to Deutsche Welle. It was uncovered during the raids on Thursday of several properties in the capital Bucharest and the southern town of Slatina, during a corruption probe into the former minister.

Valcov resigned on March 15 after being charged with accepting € 2 million (US$ 2.1 million) in bribes in return for helping a firm win public works contracts, during his previous role as mayor of Slatina.

Opposition Activist Stabbed At Gyumri Rally

March 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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An activist of the Armenian opposition movement Founding Parliament was stabbed at the weekend as government loyalists attempted to disrupt a rally held by it in Gyumri.

The group rallied about 300 supporters in Armenia’s second largest city in preparation for its upcoming campaign of nonstop protests in Yerevan which it says will be aimed at forcing President Serzh Sarkisian to resign.

The rally got off to a tense start, with a group of thuggish young men heckling speakers and quarreling with the small crowd that gathered in a central city square. Police officers at the scene stood by and looked on until the youths started hurling eggs.

Spectator Stabbed at “100th Centennial Without the Regime” Rally in Gyumri

March 28, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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18:49, March 28, 2015

A spectator at today’s “100th Centennial Without the Regime” rally was stabbed after he chased down a group of youths who were heckling speakers and throwing eggs.

The wounded man, later identified as Hrachik Mirzoyan, was taken to a local hospital with a wound to the lower chest.

The Founding Parliament issued a statement afterwards claiming that Mirzoyan knew his attacker.

Only a handful of Gyumri residents, mostly elderly men and women, showed up for the rally.

Several groups of local youths milled about and heckled the Founding Parliament speakers.

Police on the scene dispersed the youths who easily returned to Theater Square in central Gyumri.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

United States: Three Million Reward for Suspected Carder.su Kingpin and Accomplice

March 27, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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20:56, March 27, 2015

The US Department of State has announcedUS$ 3 million in rewards for tips that would help them arrest two alleged leaders of an online cybercrime syndicateresponsible for US$ 50 millionof financial losses worldwide.

Roman Olegovich Zolotarev, 29, andKonstantin Lopatin, 32, both Russian nationals, are suspected of running Carder.su, a digital crime forum where members from all over the world collaborated to steal identities and forge payment cards.

The Department of State has offered US$2 million for information that would lead to the capture of Zolotarev, alias “Admin”, the alleged kingpin of the transnational cybercrime gang.

Lopatin, alias“Graf”, is thought to have been the website moderator. US$ 1 million is offered for tips about him.

Yerevan Expects Chinese Support For Iran-Armenia Rail Link

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Top News No Comments
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President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday called for an “active” Chinese involvement in the realization of his government’s ambitious plans to build a railway connecting Armenia with neighboring Iran.

Speaking on the third day of his state visit to Beijing, Sarkisian said the 470-kilometer railway could be part of a transnational “Silk Road economic zone” which China would like to set up along a vast geographic area.

“In this regard, Armenia expects an active participation of Chinese companies in the construction of the Armenia-Iran railway,” he said in a speech at Peking University. “That will ensure the region’s even development, which is fully in tune with China’s ‘peace for development’ motto.”

Armenian Exporters Hit Hard By Russian Currency Meltdown

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Armenian exporters of agricultural products, processed foodstuffs and beverages to Russia are incurring growing losses because of the dramatic depreciation of the Russian ruble, an Armenian business association said on Friday.

According to the Union of Employers, dozens of such firms have stopped shipments to Russia in recent months following sharp decreases in their real revenue. The union’s chairman, Gagik Makarian, claimed that some of them, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are now on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Russian ruble has depreciated by almost half over the past year due to the combined impact of falling oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Russia. By contrast, the Armenian dram has lost less than one-fifth of its value against the U.S. dollar, making Armenian exports to Russia much more expensive.

Drop in World Copper Price Hurts Armenia’s Economy

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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13:24, March 27, 2015

By Seda Hergnyan

The international price of copper continues to fluctuate and the trend is downward. This doesn’t auger well for Armenia, so heavily dependent on the export of various raw materials.

In January 2014, the international price of copper stood at US$ 7,500  per ton. By January of this year it had dropped to $5,500.

While the price rose a bit in February it has dropped again this month. This comes against the backdrop of the overall softening economic  situation in China, a country that imports a great deal of Armenian copper.

The economic slowdown in China has been the focus of economic analysts. In a recent interview with Bloomberg News,  CGOG Futures analysts Yu Yi underlined that China’s demand for copper had decreased.

Armenian President Pays State Visit to China; Sectors of Cooperation Cited

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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15:18, March 27, 2015

During his state visit to the People’s Republic of China, Armenian President SerzhSargsyan today met with Li Keqiang, Premier of the PRC State Council and welcomed Beijing’s initiative to restore the Great Silk Road, a project in which Sargsyan said Armenia could contribute to.

In that context, the sides touched upon the possibility that Chinese companies could get involved  in the construction projects of the North-South Road Corridor in Armenia, the Armenia-Iran railway and a new nuclear plant.

The parties discussed a broad range of issues related to the deepening of bilateral relations in a number of mutually beneficial and promising areas and to utilizing the full potential of Armenian-Chinese collaboration for the benefit of the two friendly countries. Those areas include energy, transport, chemical industry, education, science, culture, agriculture, aviation, tourism, infrastructure development, as well as a number of other areas.

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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

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.