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Mexicoleaks: Journalists Fired After Joining Whistleblowing Alliance

March 17, 2015 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

21:00, March 17, 2015

Mexican news reporter Carmen Aristegui has been fired after publicly supporting new anti-corruption whistleblowing alliance Mexicoleaks

Aristegui, an investigative journalist known for revealing the First Lady of Mexico’s purchase of a lavish mansion from a state contractor, was presenter of a morning news show for MVS Radio. 

She and her investigative team joined Mexicoleaks as one of eight organizations to whom whistleblowers can direct anonymous tips using a securely encrypted website.

Two members of Aristegui’s team were fired last Friday for publicly joining the Mexicoleaks alliance without official MVS approval. According to the Guardian, the broadcaster claimed this constituted a violation of trademark protocol.

Their sackings sparked protests last Thursday, along with an online petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures.

Dashnaks Insist On Radical Constitutional Change

March 17, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Asia, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will throw its weight behind President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional reform only if it envisages Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic, a leader of the opposition party said on Tuesday.

Artsvik Minasian said Dashnaktsutyun has already submitted a list of 28 concrete proposals which it believes should be incorporated into a package of draft constitutional amendments that are expected to be put on a referendum next year. He singled out a switch from the existing presidential to the parliamentary system of governance.

“If our proposals are not accepted or if the system of governance doesn’t change, if our basic approaches are … not incorporated into the final version [of constitutional amendments,] we will consider such changes meaningless, illogical and unsustainable,” Minasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Andorra: Authorities Take Over Bank in Money Laundering Storm

March 17, 2015 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

14:20, March 17, 2015

Andorran authorities have taken control of Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) after the US treasury named the bank a “primary money laundering concern”.

The Andorran lender is alleged to have pushed hundreds of millions of dollars through four US banks at the behest of clients who obtained it through organized crime, corruption and human trafficking.

The affair has led ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade Andorra’s credit rating. Three managers at the bank have been arrested, including CEO Joan Pau Miquel Prats who was taken into custody Friday. The bank’s board was suspended.

The US treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said last Tuesday that the bank’s customers included third-party money launderers working on behalf of criminal organizations from Russia and China, as well as a group siphoning funds from a Venezuelan state oil company.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Four Held over Suspected Plot to Supply Bomb to Sweden

March 17, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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14:28, March 17, 2015

Bosnian police have arrested five suspects who allegedly built an explosive device for export to Sweden to be used in a terrorist attack.

Tomorrow a court in Bosnian Court approved the pre-trial detention of four of the five suspects, who were arrested Friday.

Their arrests were part of the police operation ”Benelux”, carried out by the Bosnian Intelligence Agency in cooperation with Dutch and Swedish police forces.

The suspects are Bosnian citizens Enver Dzanko, Adis Ramic, Amar Sljivo, Zeljko Malenica anda Swedish citizen of Lebanese origin, Abdel Salam.

Bosnian border police arrested Salam, Dzanko and Ramic as they tried to cross the border to Croatia with a home-made remote-controlled explosive device hidden in their vehicle. At the same time, police arrested Amar Sljivo in Sarajevo.

Armenian FM Hosts Reps of the Preparatory Committee for Ministerial Conference of Francophonie

March 17, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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15:20, March 17, 2015

Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian today received members of the Preparatory Committee for the 31st Ministerial Conference of Francophonie which will take place in Armenia his fall.  

The committee is headed by Ousmane Paye, Special Envoy of the General Secretary of the International Organisation of La Francophonie Countries.

Welcoming the guests, Minister Nalbandian stressed that it is a great honour for Armenia, an active member of the Francophone family, as well as a great responsibility to host delegations from 80 states at the Ministerial Conference of Francophonie.

Edward Nalbandian expressed hope that the Ministerial Conference will be organized and held on the high level through close cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Secretariat of International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Bosnia’s Radoncic Accused at Kelmendi Drug Trial in Kosovo

March 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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12:04, March 17, 2015

By Valerie Hopkins in Pristina

Bosnian politician and media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic allegedly claimed to have the final word on any assassinations or other illicit activity conducted by alleged drug dealer Naser Kelmendi, a court heard.

Witness Sejla Turkovic testified at the court in Pristina on Monday that Radoncic told her that he had the right of approval over Kelmendi’s actions.

Radoncic features prominently in the 49-page indictment against Kelmendi, who is charged with being the head of a major trafficking ring ferrying drugs from Afghanistan to western Europe, with the Bosnian capital Sarajevo as the hub.

Radoncic heads the political party Union for a Better Future, and served as Bosnia’s Minister of Security from 2012 to 2014.

Ter-Petrosian Party Reaffirms Opposition To Constitutional Reform

March 16, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Monday pledged to “do everything” to scuttle a sweeping constitutional reform planned by President Serzh Sarkisian, insisting that it is aimed at extending his rule beyond 2018.

In a statement, the party led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian urged Armenians to turn an anticipated referendum on constitutional amendments into a vote of no confidence in Sarkisian and launch a “nationwide process” of regime change.

“Our task will be to explain to the people that a yes vote would mean supporting the establishment of a dictatorship and extension of Serzh Sarkisian’s rule,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s parliamentary leader, told a news conference. He stood by HAK claims that Sarkisian wants to transform Armenia into a parliamentary republic in order to stay in power after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018.

EU, Armenia Mull New Accord

March 16, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The European Union and Armenia are currently discussing a new deal that would serve as an alternative to their cancelled Association Agreement, a senior European parliamentarian said on Monday.

“The new agreement that is now being discussed is not an Association Agreement,” said Heidi Hautala, the co-president of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly comprising lawmakers from EU member states and ex-Soviet republics involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

“It’s a special agreement which, as far as I know, does not even have a name yet. We have to understand what Armenia needs,” Hautala told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during a Euronest session in Yerevan.

Address by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian at the Euronest PA Committee on Politicial Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy

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17:17, March 16, 2015

Dear Members of Parliaments,

I thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of Euronest.

Armenia highly appreciates comprehensive and multilayer cooperation with the European Union in such areas as democracy, the rule of law, protection of fundamental freedoms, joint programs on sustainable development and good governess, etc. Great importance is attached to the parliamentary dimension of this cooperation. 

Dear Members of Parliaments,

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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.