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Two Azeri Soldiers Found Dead On Armenian Border

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Armenia on Thursday allowed Azerbaijan to evacuate the bodies of two Azerbaijani soldiers who were found dead near Armenian army positions on the border between the two warring nations.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said the bodies of the two sergeants, Musa Musayev and Tural Yolchuyev, were found earlier in the day on “the opposite side” of the frontier protected by landmines. It said their repatriation was mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The APA news agency quoted a spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Baku as confirming that the Red Cross acted as an “impartial mediator in the humanitarian operation agreed by Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

Azeri Soldiers Missing ‘On Armenian Border’

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The Armenian army has expressed readiness to help military authorities in Baku locate and evacuate two Azerbaijani soldiers who reportedly went missing on Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia earlier this week.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that the two sergeants, Musa Musayev and Tural Yolchuyev, may have accidentally strayed into Armenia’s northern Tavush province from the Gazakh district in western Azerbaijan. It said it is investigating precise circumstances of their disappearance.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan insisted afterwards, however, that no Azerbaijani soldiers crossed the heavily militarized Armenian border in the area.

“I can’t confirm or deny that there was an attempt to cross the border because that is possible and there are such precedents,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But I can state for certain that we are holding no Azerbaijani servicemen.”

Profile of an Undercover Lobbyist for Azerbaijan

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A 1999 press release from the chamber at the launch of the Caspian Studies Program noted its emphasis on outreach to “help to shape informed policy”. The Kennedy School of Government’s parallel press release announced that the program would open with a panel presentation and discussion chaired by Graham T. Allison and featuring Ilham Aliyev, then the first vice president of SOCAR. Allison was and remains the Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a prominent foreign policy think tank based at Harvard. Aliyev in 2003 succeeded his father as president of Azerbaijan.

Allison appointed Shaffer director of the new program in 1999 on the basis of merit, according to a Belfer Center spokesman, though the position was not advertised. The then-primary listserv for academic and policy-related jobs related to Eurasia, which was hosted at Harvard.edu, does not list any such vacancy related to the Caspian Studies Program.

French Ex-Mediator Rules Out Azeri Control Over Karabakh

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Azerbaijan will fail to regain control over Nagorno-Karabakh despite its frequent threats of military action, a former French mediator in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks reportedly said on Friday.

“Only Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh and they don’t want a change in their status. Therefore, Nagorno-Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijan is no longer possible,” Armenian media outlets quoted Jacques Faure as saying during a NATO seminar in Yerevan.

Faure, who co-headed the OSCE Minsk Group together with U.S. and Russian diplomats from 2011-2014, said the Karabakh Armenians should therefore have a chance to gain international recognition of their de facto status through a “free expression of will.” “I personally hope that this will become possible,” he added.

Yerevan Downplays European Court Ruling On Karabakh

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Armenia on Thursday played down political implications of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling on an Azerbaijani lawsuit stemming from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian insisted that it will have no impact on international efforts to broker a solution to the conflict that are spearheaded by the United States, Russia and France. “The Minsk Group of the OSCE is the only structure with an international mandate to deal with the conflict’s resolution,” he said in comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

The ECHR ruled earlier this week on two lawsuits filed by Armenian and Azerbaijani former residents of districts around Karabakh who were displaced during the 1991-1994 war for the disputed territory. It said that Azerbaijan and Armenia violated the plaintiffs’ respective property rights and should eventually compensate them.

New Karabakh Army Chief Named

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Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian visited on Wednesday the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline east of Nagorno-Karabakh together with the new commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army.

Lieutenant-General Levon Mnatsakanian took over the Karabakh Defense Army in what amounted to a job swap with its previous commander, Lieutenant General Movses Hakobian. Earlier this week, President Serzh Sarkisian appointed Hakobian as deputy chief of staff of Armenia’s armed forces, a position held by Mnatsakanian until now.

Both generals were born in Karabakh in 1965. They commanded Karabakh Armenian units during the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan.

Armenia Pays Tribute To ‘Legendary’ Kerkorian

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Armenia’s current and former leaders on Wednesday recalled Kirk Kerkorian’s multimillion-dollar contributions to their country in messages offering their condolences on the death of the Armenian-American billionaire.

President Serzh Sarkisian referred to Kerkorian as a “great Armenian benefactor” who became a living “legend” thanks to his entrepreneurial and philanthropist activities. He singled out more than $220 million in economic assistance which the tycoon’s Lincy Foundation charity has provided to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The projects financed by the foundation gave new impetus to Armenia’s economy, significantly changing the face of our country,” Sarkisian wrote in a letter to the family of Kerkorian, who died on Monday night at the age of 98.

European Court Rules On Appeals From Armenian, Azeri Refugees

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has handed down its first rulings on lawsuits filed by scores of Armenians and Azerbaijanis displaced during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In two separate verdicts announced late on Tuesday, the Strasbourg-based court said both Armenia and Azerbaijan violated property rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. But it stopped short of ordering any material compensation to any of the plaintiffs for now.

One of the lawsuits was filed in 2005 by six former residents of Azerbaijan’s Lachin district straddling Armenia and Karabakh. They fled their homes in the face of advancing Armenian forces that occupied the district in May 1992.

Karabakh Armenian Athletes To Compete In Baku Games

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Two athletes from Nagorno-Karabakh will travel to Baku later this week to participate in the ongoing European Games there as members of Armenia’s national sambo wrestling team.

The wrestlers, Sose Balasanian and Ashot Danielian, are thus poised to become the first Karabakh Armenians to compete in a sporting tournament in Azerbaijan since the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1988.

Like many other residents of Karabakh, Balasanian and Danielian hold Armenian passports. They are also the reigning sambo champions of Armenia, the reason why they were included in the country’s national team. It is scheduled to depart to Baku via Tbilisi on Saturday.

A total of 25 athletes will represent Armenia in the games that began on June 12 and will end on June 28.

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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.