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Armenian Assembly of America appoints Arpi Vartanian as regional director in Armenia

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23:48, April 19, 2015

The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) is pleased to announce that Arpi Vartanian will fill the newly-created Regional Director position in Yerevan, Armenia effective immediately.

 Since 1994, Vartanian has been a long-time supporter of Assembly activities. She has served the Assembly in a number of capacities, both in Yerevan and in Washington, DC. Some of those positions included Country Director, Acting Executive Director (in Washington), Armenian American Action Committee (ARAMAC) & Internship Program Director, and NGO Center Director. 

The Armenia regional office will work closely with Assembly headquarters in Washington, DC and the Assembly’s other offices in Los Angeles, California and Boston, Massachusetts to implement these changes. As previously announced, the Assembly is rebuilding its capacity as the most effective voice for Armenians in our nation’s capital.

Father Doesn’t Blame Doctors for Death of Six Month Old Girl: Just Wants the Truth

April 18, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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11:38, April 18, 2015

A blessing turned into tragedy for the Davtyan family in the Shirak Province village of Mayisyan.

When Hetq visited the family last June, Vesmira was already a mother of five and expecting twins in September.

Narek and Nareh, a boy and a girl, arrived into the world on September 26.

Little Nareh died six months later, on March 14, 2015 at the Gyumri Mother and Child Hospital after being diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus.

Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, head of the Shirak Province Dept. of Health and Social Insurance, told Hetq by phone that Nareh underwent a battery of tests at the hospital in Gyumri, including an MRI scan. But Vesmira isn’t convinced and wants to know exactly what her daughter died from.

Nazik Armenakyan’s “Survivors” Photo Exhibit Opens on April 21 in Yerevan

April 18, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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14:04, April 18, 2015

Nazik Armenakyan’s “Survivors” photo exhibit opens on April 21 at 5pm at the Sargis Muradyan gallery (Isahakyan 17) in Yerevan.

The exhibit, creates over the past decade, showcases archival photos, eye witness accounts, and portraits of Armenian Genocide survivors.

It underlines the importance of photography in understanding the events of 1915 and their repercussions on individual identity.

The exhibit will run until May 2 and will then travel to Gyumri, Vanadzor, and Dilijan.

An album highlighting 45 photos will be published in May.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

OCCRP Launches 1st Documentary: Feud Between Kremlin Connected Businessmen

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Business, Film No Comments
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17:35, April 17, 2015

Today OCCRP launches “Killers Inc.,” its first independently produced investigative documentary. The film is the result of a two-year, multi-country investigation examining a violent feud between businessmen connected to the Kremlin, and the criminal groups and assassins-for-hire tasked with settling their scores.

On the evening of March 20, 2012, Gherman Gorbuntsov, a controversial Russian banker living in self-exile in England, entered his apartment in East London. As the door closed behind him, an assassin shot the banker multiple times. Gorbuntsov lived, barely, but the question of who ultimately sent the assassin pointed to Gorbuntsov’s Russian past, and the Kremlin-connected businessmen he once considered his partners.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Country’s ‘Most Dangerous Organized Crime Group’ Jailed

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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01:02, April 18, 2015

A court in Bosnia and Herzegovina has delivered a prison sentence of 40 years to an organized crime kingpin who murdered five people including a pregnant woman, whom he buried in decorators’ plaster.

Zijad Turkovic, 49, was found guilty of murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, banditry, endangering the public, possesion of weapons and explosives, extortion, and money laundering.

At a hearing yesterday, the court also sentenced four other members of Turkovic’s gang on related charges. In total, the judge ordered the defendants to serve combined prison sentences of 95 years.

Government Loyalist Threatens More Violence Against Oppositionists

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

A supporter of President Serzh Sarkisian accused of beating up an Armenian opposition parliamentarian struck a defiant note as he went on trial in Yerevan on Friday.

Arshak Svazian said he is ready to assault anyone who would publicly insult Sarkisian. “Because he is my president commander-in-chief,” Svazian told reporters outside a district court in the capital. “Whoever swears at my president will be punished in the same way.”

Svazian, 41, stands accused of assaulting and injuring Aram Manukian, a parliament deputy from the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) outside the latter’s Yerevan home on December 11. Manukian spent more than a week in hospital as a result.

Karabakh Party Joins European Alliance


A political party represented in Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership on Friday became an associated member of a coalition of European parties seeking independence or greater self-rule for various regions across Europe.

The European Free Alliance (EFA) accepted the integration into its ranks of the Democratic Party of Artsakh (AZhK) at a meeting of its General Assembly held in Germany.

The move strongly criticized by Azerbaijan came less than a year after an EFA delegation paid a fact-finding visit to Karabakh. The head of delegation, Miguel Martinez, said after the trip that the EFA “looks forward to working closely with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the future.”

Armenia To Introduce House Arrest, Community Service

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments

The Armenian government plans to introduce next year house arrest and community service as legal alternatives to imprisonment of criminal suspects and convicted individuals, a senior official revealed on Friday.

Deputy Justice Minister Suren Krmoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that electronic monitoring of such persons will be another major provision of amendments to Armenian criminal legislation which the government hopes to push through the parliament this autumn.

“The state is embarking on these reforms in order to reduce the number of incarcerated people,” Krmoyan said. “Arrest and short-term imprisonment should be applied in exceptional cases where there are no effective alternatives.”

He added that the reform is strongly supported by and coordinated with the Council of Europe.

EU Confidence In Armenia ‘Restored’

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments

Armenia has succeeded in reinvigorating its relations with the European Union after its unexpected decision in 2013 to join a Russian-led alliance of former Soviet republics, a senior EU diplomat said on Friday.

Traian Hristea, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, said the Armenian government has restored EU’s “level of confidence” in it with its efforts to negotiate a new major accord with the 28-nation bloc.

“I think that we have made a lot of progress between the [2013] Vilnius summit and what we expect at Riga,” he added, referring to an EU summit that will take place in Latvia’s capital next month.

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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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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.