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Armenia’s Former Prime Minister Sues Paylak Hayrapetyan for Slander

May 26, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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11:52, May 26, 2015

Tigran Sargsyan, Armenia’s former prime minister and presently its ambassador to the United States, has filed a one million AMD slander suit against businessman Paylak Hayrapetyan.

On March 24, Hayrapetyan appeared on the “shamshyan.com” website and accused Sargsyan or receiving US$7.5 million of his money via an off shore financial deal that dates back to 2009.

At the time, Hayrapetyan placed millions of his property as collateral at AmeriaBank for loans to invest in a grandiose Armenian government backed diamond project. But a large percentage of the loans were transferred to the bank accounts of companies registered in Cyprus. Stockholders in these companies Tigran Sargsyan, prime minister at the time, Primate of the Ararat Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Navasard Kjoyan, and a businessman called Ashot Sukiasyan.

Yerevan Police Detain Founding Parliament Activists Last Night

May 26, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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12:13, May 26, 2015

The Founding Parliament (FP) political opposition organization in Armenia says that Yerevan police last night detained a group of its activists who were affixing posters announcing a rally to be held on May 30 at Liberty Square.

The police say the activists were defacing public property (lamp posts), but the FP counters by saying that the street lamps are covered in adverts and other posters, often times affixed under the eyes of the police.

The FP claims the police assigned a detail of more than  100 cops and tens of patrol cars specifically designed to prevent the activists from getting the word out regarding the rally on Saturday.  

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Hetq Files Freedom of Information Suit Against Prosecutor General’s Office

May 26, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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12:47, May 26, 2015

The Investigative Journalists NGO has filed a Freedom of Information petition with Armenia’s Administrative Court that seeks to oblige the Prosecutor General’s Office to provide information in the case of Soghomon Kocharyan, who is serving a life sentence in an Armenian prison.

In November of 2014, Hetq wrote to the Prosecutor General’s Office asking that it be permitted to familiarize itself with various court documents of the 1995 trial and to take photographs. The office never got back to Hetq. In March of this year Hetq again wrote to the office. There was no answer to this request as well.

A preliminary court date has been scheduled for July 7.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Intestinal Flu Virus Hits Armavir Kindergartens: Sanitary Conditions Found to be Lacking

May 25, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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17:00, May 25, 2015

The No. 6 kindergarten in the town of Armavir has been closed for three days due to an intestinal flu outbreak that landed a bunch of kids, aged 3-6 in the hospital on May 18.

They all came down with the same symptoms – diarrhea, vomiting, fever and overall fragility. Also hospitalized were children from the No. 9 Armavir kindergarten.

No. 6 kindergarten Principal Anna Soghomonyan told Hetq that on May 18 several children were absent but that the school didn’t know the reason. The next day two children were hospitalized and diagnosed with intestinal flu.

Soghomonyan went on to say that a few other cases followed and that some of the parents thought their kids caught the virus by eating strawberries.

EU Summit ‘Step Forward’ For Armenia

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The European Union’s latest summit held in Riga paved the way for a new accord that will deepen its relations with Armenia, an EU diplomat and senior Armenian lawmakers said on Monday.

They pointed to a joint declaration that was adopted in the Latvian capital by leaders of the EU member states and six former Soviet republics, including Armenia, involved in the 28-nation bloc’s Eastern Partnership program.

“Summit participants welcome the common understanding reached on the scope for a future agreement between the EU and Armenia aimed at further developing and strengthening their comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest,” reads the document.

Another IT Facility Launched In Armenia

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Highlighting the rapid growth of Armenia’s information technology (IT) sector, D-Link Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer networking equipment, inaugurated its newly constructed research and development center in Gyumri on Monday.

The center is one of the three facilities of its kind operated by the Taiwanese IT group around the world. Its creation was made possible by an agreement which D-Link signed with the Armenian government in January 2013. The government provided the company with a plot of land in Gyumri for that purpose.

D-Link had opened software development branches in both Gyumri and Yerevan even before that agreement. It reportedly employed some 200 people in Armenia as of last year.

Finance Minister Again Denies Conflict Of Interest

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Armenia’s controversial Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian claimed on Monday that lucrative businesses linked with his family do not enjoy privileged treatment by tax authorities headed by him.

Khachatrian again dismissed suggestions that he is unfit to lead a genuine fight against widespread tax evasion because of extensive business interests widely attributed to him. “The public does not say that. It’s you who say that,” he told reporters.

In that context, the minister spoke of his “pride” in the track record of the Armenian State Revenue Committee (SRC). He pointed to a steady growth in the government’s tax revenue during his 7-year leadership of the tax collection agency. The SRC was incorporate into the Ministry of Finance when Khachatrian became finance minister in May last year.

The Relatives of Armenia’s Prime Minister Operate Outside the Tax Laws; I Propose that President Sargsyan Shops at Artashat Plaza

May 25, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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15:10, May 25, 2015

Question: What’s holding back the development of Armenia’s economy?

Answer: Because Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan appointed Hovik Abrahamyan as the country’s prime minister, a man who for years has declared himself beyond the law.

Today, Abrahamyan’s relatives enjoy such a privileged status as their illustrious sponsor and refuse to pay taxes on their business operations.

Hetq has already written that Artashat Plaza, a retail complex and supermarket owned by Abrahamyan’s son Argam in Artashat, doesn’t issue sales receipts to its customers. (By the way, Argam Abrahamyan is running for mayor of Artashat in next month’s election).

Baku Blasts EU ‘Double Standards’ On Karabakh

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Azerbaijan on Monday criticized the European Union for failing to explicitly voice support for the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Nagorno-Karabakh during last week’s summit in Riga with six ex-Soviet republics.

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement confirmed Baku’s dissatisfaction with references to the Karabakh conflict made in the summit’s concluding declaration.

“By trying to draft a compromise text on conflicts affecting some [EU] partner states, the authors of the declaration could not avoid something which is called double standards in the international practice,” charged the statement cited by the Trend news agency. “Azerbaijan expects the EU to express a clear and explicit position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

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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.