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Anti-Government Activists Sentenced

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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A court in Yerevan on Friday handed prison sentences ranging from 1 to 7 years to a prominent political activist and 11 other men who were arrested while clashing with riot police during a violent anti-government demonstration last year.

Another, 15-year-old defendant, who avoided pre-trial arrest, received a suspended 4-year sentence on the same charges of “hooliganism” which Armenian human rights campaigners and some opposition groups regard as politically motivated.

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Armenia – Activist Shant Harutiunian and his 15-year-old son Shahen stand trial on what they consider politically motivated charges, Yerevan, 8Sep2014.

The defendants led by Shant Harutiunian, a veteran nationalist activist, were among several dozen protesters who tried to march towards President Serzh Sarkisian’s offices in what their flamboyant leader called a “revolution of values.” Police used force to stop the crowd armed with sticks and homemade stun grenades from approaching the presidential palace after rallying in Yerevan’s Liberty Square to denounce a government which they consider corrupt and undemocratic.

Government Refuses To Compensate Crime Victims

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian government caused the opposition minority in parliament to withdraw on Friday a bill that would require it compensate victims of violent crimes and their relatives.

The bill sponsored by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) is primarily aimed at compensating the families of ten people killed in post-election violence in Yerevan in March 2008.

Eight of those victims were supporters of HAK Levon Ter-Petrosian who took to the streets in to protest against alleged vote rigging. The two others were interior troop servicemen killed in vicious clashes with opposition protesters. Nobody has been prosecuted in connection with those deaths to date.

Armenian president visits Armprodexpo exhibition

October 17, 2014 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan visited on Friday the Armprodexpo exhibition at the Yerevan Expo exhibition complex.
Armenia’s leader toured the pavilions, got familiarized with the activities of the Armenian companies displaying their products and services at the exhibition. The companies’ representatives informed President Serzh Sargsyan of their programs and development prospects.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Sarkisian Slows Down Constitutional Reform Process

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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President Serzh Sarkisian appears to have delayed a key decision in the controversial process of constitutional reform initiated by him, citing the need for “additional discussions” with Armenia’s main political groups.

Sarkisian received on Wednesday a detailed “concept” of the reform from an ad hoc constitutional commission which he set up a year ago. He was expected to discuss it with major parties and decide later this year whether the commission should start drafting concrete amendments to the Armenian constitution on the basis of its recommendations.

Sarkisian’s press secretary, Arman Saghatelian, said on Friday that the decision will not be made before next February. “Given that some issues discussed in the concept have a pronounced political component, additional political discussions and a greater political consolidation are expected in connection with them,” Saghatelian told tert.am.

Zhoghovurd: Bonuses in government sector cut as budget remains empty

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora No Comments
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Following the rise in their salaries in July, employees of Armenia’s government sector do not get bonuses any more, the paper has learned.
The situation is said to have dispirited many, as it promises no increase in their annual income.The paper says that the heads of the different government agencies, to whom public servants turn with complaints, cite the empty budget as the reason for not giving them an extra pay. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Italy: Two Tennis Players Suspected In Match-Fixing Probe

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Australia No Comments
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21:10, October 16, 2014

A pair of Italian tennis players face corruption accusations after intercepted Internet and phone conversations indicate they fixed tennis matches, reports Associated Press.

The recorded conversations, first reported in Italian media Oct. 15, add to the evidence that judicial investigators in the northern Italian town of Cremona have been collecting as part of a match-fixing probe into soccer.

In a 2007 Skype conversation between Daniele Bracciali and an accountant, Bracciali allegedly discussed losing a match in Newport, R.I. against American player Scoville Jenkins for € 50,000 (US$ 63,000) per set, reports Tennis Now.

Investigators also have a 2011 phone conversation, in which an unidentified betting parlor owner said he made an agreement with Potito Starace to throw the 2011 Casablanca final against Pablo Andujar. Starace lost the match against Andujar.

Trial Begins For Ex-UBS Banker Accused Of Hiding $20 Billion In US Assets

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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21:13, October 16, 2014

A former top executive of Zurich-based UBS AG, a Swiss financial services company, faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit tax fraud if convicted in a trial that began Oct. 14 in Florida.

Prosecutors say Raoul Weil, once the third-highest ranked official at UBS, oversaw an offshore private banking business that managed more than US$ 2 trillion worth of assets.

In 2008, US authorities charged Weil with hiding US$ 20 billion worth of taxpayers’ money in secret offshore accounts. In 2013 he was arrested at a luxurious hotel in Bologna, Italy while on vacation with his family. He was extradited to the US, where he pled not guilty, reports Reuters. 

US: Liberty Reserve Founder Pleads Not Guilty

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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21:15, October 16, 2014

The founder of Liberty Reserve, a digital currency payment processing company that prosecutors say criminals used to launder US$6 billion of illicit profits, has pleaded not guilty in the US District Court in Manhattan, according to ABC News.

Prosecutors say that Arthur Bodovsky, 40, created an internet banking system the criminal underworld used to conceal their profits from authorities. Budovsky renounced his US citizenship in 2011 after establishing Liberty Reserve in Costa Rica – a country that does not regulate online businesses. Court documents state that he moved his business there following a 2006 conviction related to Gold Age, Inc., an unlicensed money transmitting business in the US.

Armenia’s accession to Eurasian Economic Union means no censorship – expert

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Asia No Comments
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Although many people draw parallels between the Soviet Union and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan believes that Armenia’s accession to the EEU does not mean censorship as the EEU is an economic alliance.“True, all this has its political aspect, but it is a foreign policy aspect rather than a domestic political one, and the other member-states have no motives for practicing censorship in Armenia,” the expert said.As to the possibility of inclusion of such subjects as the history of Kazakhstan or Belarus in Armenia’s school curriculum, Mr Iskansaryan said:“I do not think so, but some teaching of other states’ history would be good. We have to date been a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but we do not know Turkmenistan’s history nor have we studies Kyrgyzstan’s history as a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member. So are we going to study Kazakhstan’s history as an EEU member.”With respect to the draw parallels between the Soviet Union and the EEU, Mr Iskandaryan said:“The Soviet Union is impossible to re-form. On the other hand, the Soviet Union is not a swearword. It was a state that existed in a specific political situation.” 

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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

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.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.