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Journalist Tatul Hakobyan to Head Newly Formed ANI Foundation for Armenian Studies

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18:04, January 2, 2015

Tatul Hakobyan, who is a journalist and a specialist on the conflicts in the Caucasus, will co-ordinate the activities of the newly-established ANI Foundation for Armenian Studies.

“ANI is being set up at a time when a gap is being felt in objective and comprehensive publications on the domestic political life, demographics, the economy, border communities, the region, and Homeland-Diaspora affairs in Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). We aim to fill that gap with our work,” Hakobyan said.

ANI will prepare reports on current issues pertaining to Armenia’s domestic and foreign policy, economy, agriculture, as well as the Diaspora – including communities in the former Soviet Union – Armenia-Turkey relations, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The centre will organize conferences, round tables, releases of relevant books, and various other projects related to Armenian Studies.

Azeris Sentenced In Karabakh

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A court in Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday sentenced one Azerbaijani man to life imprisonment and another to 22 years in prison on charges stemming from the murder of an Armenian teenager which led to their high-profile arrests in July.

In a verdict condemned by Azerbaijan’s government, Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Quliyev were convicted of illegal border crossing and arms possession, espionage and kidnapping. Askerov, who was jailed for life, was also found guilty of killing Smbat Tsakanian, a 17-year-old Armenian resident of the Kelbajar district sandwiched between Armenia and Karabakh.

Robust Growth Reported In Karabakh

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Economic growth in Nagorno-Karabakh has averaged about 10 percent annually in the past several years and will continue unabated in 2015, according to the authorities in Stepanakert.

Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh prime minister, made upbeat macroeconomic forecasts on Thursday as his cabinet pushed through the unrecognized republic’s parliament its budget for next year envisaging a sizable increase in public spending.

The spending target of 88.1 billion drams ($192 million) is based on a projection that the Karabakh economy will expand by 9 percent in 2015.

“A real GDP increase of 9 percent in 2015 and rapid growth in following years are expected to result from the development of energy, agriculture, light industry, food processing, mining, information technology and other sectors,” Harutiunian told lawmakers, according to the Artsakhpress.am news agency.

Fresh ‘Azeri Incursions’ Foiled In Karabakh

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Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed military on Thursday claimed to have foiled two overnight commando raids on its frontline positions which it said were attempted by Azerbaijani forces.

In a statement, the Karabakh Defense Army said the Azerbaijani incursions were launched at two sections of “the line of contact” southeast of Karabakh. It said the attackers used hand grenades and other “offensive weapons” before being repelled by Karabakh Armenian troops.

“The Defense Army’s frontline detachments … inflicted losses on the enemy’s special forces and compelled them to retreat to their starting positions. The Defense Army suffered no casualties while confronting the enemy,” added the statement.

New Armenian Mining Giant Inaugurated

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Overcoming fierce resistance from environmentalists, a private mining company has officially launched production operations at Armenia’s second largest copper deposit that will significantly increase output in the main export-oriented sector of the Armenian economy. 

Vallex Group inaugurated at the weekend an ore-processing plant which it has built at the Teghut forest in the northern Lori province as part of a $380 million project to mine copper and molybdenum there.

President Serzh Sarkisian underlined the Armenian government’s strong support for the controversial project with his presence at the opening ceremony. It took place just three weeks after the government gave the final green light to a British company planning to develop untapped gold reserves of Armenia.

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Another Activist Attacked In Yerevan

December 22, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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Yet another anti-government activist was beaten up in Yerevan late on Saturday one day after publicly defying violent reprisals which a senior Armenian police official has threatened against individuals offending President Serzh Sarkisian.

Vaghinak Shushanian was attacked and injured by unknown men in the city center. He posted photographs of his bloodied face on the Internet before receiving medical aid in hospital later in the evening.

“Two young men approached me and said, ‘Was it you, bastard, who swore at the president yesterday? So take it,’” Shushanian said on Monday. “They toppled me before I could respond and kicked and punched me for about two minutes.”

Armenian Family Repatriated From Azerbaijan

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An Armenian couple and their three young children unexpectedly returned to Armenia on Friday almost five years after fleeing to Azerbaijan in dramatic circumstances.

Yeghishe Gevorgian, his wife Ruzanna, two sons and daughter were escorted by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as they crossed the Azerbaijani-Armenian border in the morning. The repatriation was agreed with relevant authorities in the two warring nations.

Gevorgian drove his family to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave in January 2010 through a heavily militarized border checkpoint located about 50 kilometers southeast of Yerevan. The Armenian military said at the time that its soldiers manning the Yeraskh crossing, closed to traffic ever since the start of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, did not fire on Gevorgian’s old van because it carried the children then aged 3, 6 and 7.

Another Oppositionist Attacked In Yerevan

December 12, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Film, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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An Armenian opposition lawmaker was beaten up late on Thursday, the latest in a series of violent attacks on prominent participants of recent anti-government demonstrations staged by three major opposition parties.

Aram Manukian, a veteran politician affiliated with the Armenian National Congress (HAK), was assaulted outside his apartment block in Yerevan. Manukian, who had a black eye and other visible facial injuries, described the attacker as a middle-aged who said nothing while throwing punches.

Manukian required medical examination and aid. He was also questioned by police later in the evening. Nobody was arrested in the following hours.

Other senior members of the HAK were quick to arrive at the scene of the incident. They accused the Armenian authorities of ordering the violence.

Armenia Ranked World’s Third Most Militarized Nation

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Armenia has become the third most militarized country in the world after Israel and Singapore due to the unresolved the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to an annual survey conducted by a German think-tank promoting peace.

In its 2014 Global Militarization Index ( GMI) released this week, the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) rated “the weight and importance of the military apparatus” in 152 states. Its resulting rankings are based on comparisons between their defense spending and Gross Domestic Products and health expenditure as well as the ratio of their military force to the size of the population.

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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.