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Turkey Says Armenian Step To Withdraw Protocols ‘Wrong And Unfortunate’

February 18, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Top News, Turkey No Comments

Ankara will remain committed to protocols signed between Turkey and Armenia aiming to normalize bilateral relations, a Turkish Foreign Ministry representative has said after Yerevan recently decided to withdraw the 2009 protocols from the Armenian Parliament.

In a statement issued on February 16, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said he had asked Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakian to send the protocols on the normalization of ties and the establishment of diplomatic relations with neighboring Turkey back to him since “the Turkish government has no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols, and continues its policy of setting preconditions.”

Sarkisian also said that on the eve of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey during World War I, “the policy of denial and rewriting history” is getting a renewed impulse in Ankara.

Romania: Prime Minister’s Brother-in-Law in EU Embezzlement Probe

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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22:39, February 17, 2015

A company owned by the sister and brother-in-law of the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta was among 14 locationsraidedby anti-corruption officials Tuesday morning.

According toMediafax Newswire, prosecutors suspect that several companies includingSC Exfin Ltd, which is runby Ponta’s brother-in-law Iulian Hertanu and his wife Alexandra, were involved in embezzling an estimated US$ 2 million from a European Union-funded project.

The sum represents 54 percent of the overall budget of a program to improve sewer infrastructure in the mountain town of Azuga, Prahova.

Investigators searched the company headquarters and raided the Hertanu family home. The companies are also suspected of tax evasion to the tune of approximately US$640,000.

Amulsar: even "responsible" mining is destructive – Dr. Anahid Shirinian-Orlando

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Technology No Comments
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17:31, February 17, 2015

Lydian International Limited company, registered in an offshore zone, presented a document entitled “Amulsar Project, November 2014″ to Armenians in the Diaspora. This document is superficial, misleading and incomplete. This is what thinks Anahit Shirinian-Orlando, an environmental scientist-engineer living in Los Angeles, who says No to mining at Amulsar.

There is a complete absence of any hydrological study. For example, there is no assessment of how the mining operation will affect the quantity and quality of the water of Vorotan River, of Arpa River, all the small streams on the slopes, as well as the Spandarian Reservoir.

Founding Parliament Calls for Establishment of National Liberation Movement in Armenia

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Arts No Comments
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18:20, February 17, 2015

Arguing that the current intensification of the domestic situation in Armenia proves that the regime is incapable of dealing with the systemic crisis and is attempting to complete the monopolization of authority and the economy by establishing political authoritariasm and a “one oligarch economy”, the Founding Parliament (formerly the Pre-Parliament) has called for the immediate creation of a national liberation front.

The Founding Parliament, in its communiqué, goes on to say that the forces who have become the target of the regime are equally incapable of thinking and working towards overcoming the crisis and are similarly inclined to hand over the natural and human resources of Artsakh and Armenia to foreigners in exchange for assuming the role of a colonial regime and getting a portion of the pie.

$100 Milion Scandal: Rolls-Royce Accused of Bribing Brazilian Oil Company Petrobras

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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20:12, February 17, 2015

British engineering firm Rolls-Royce has been accused of bribing state-controlled Brazilian oil company Petrobras for a US$ 100 million contract.

According to the Financial Times, former Petrobras employee Pedro Barusco told police that Rolls-Royce – which manufactures the gas turbines that power oil platforms – gave him at least US$ 200,000 in return for facilitating the US$100 million deal. His testimony was contained in 600 pages of documents released by a federal court in Brazil this month. Barusco, a key source in the case, struck a plea bargain in November.

Russia: Oligarchs Dodging Sanctions

February 17, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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21:40, February 17, 2015

Companies linked to blacklisted Russian oligarchs are avoiding Western-imposed sanctions by exploiting loopholes, the Economist has revealed.

The newspaper reports that the Russian insurance company Sogaz, originally established by the energy giant Gazprom, is providing cover to a number of sanctioned Russian companies. Sogaz itself should be subject to sanctions, since 51 percent of the company formerly belonged to Abros, a wholly owned subsidiary of the sanctioned Bank Rossiya.

However, a week before Bank Rossiya was black listed in March 2014, the bank transferred 2.5 percent of its shares to a subsidiary of Sogaz called Sogaz Realty. A legal loophole then ensured that Sogaz would not be penalized, since no single sanctioned company now controlled more than 50 percent of it.

Karabakh Mediators On New Regional Tour


International mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continued their efforts to promote a peaceful solution to the protracted conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh as they paid fresh visits to Azerbaijan and Armenia this week.

On the second stop of their regional tour in Yerevan on Tuesday, the United States, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met with the country’s leadership, including President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

While the mediators appeared to have brought no new proposals with them to the region, Ambassador James Warlick, the American representative in the group, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) that their tour was “another opportunity to talk”.

Sarkisian, Tsarukian Reportedly Meet Amid Domestic Political Tension


Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his former coalition partner and current top critic Gagik Tsarukian are said to have met on Tuesday less than a week after “completely” falling out over the domestic political process.

The information about the meeting of the two was confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) by Aghvan Vartanian, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), which appears to have mediated the talks. Vartanian did not report any details of the meeting that was not confirmed by either Sarkisian’s or Tsarukian’s offices as of Tuesday evening.

Another ARF leader Armen Rustamian only voiced cautious optimism, saying that “ice is melting”.

Diasporan Volunteer’s Journey in Armenia: Los Angeles Firefighter Paramedic Teaches First Aid in Villages

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Video No Comments
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12:37, February 17, 2015

By Jamie Kolar

It’s January, I’m standing on a platform in Yerevan waiting to board an 8 am train to Gyumri.

It’s cold and I brought along my Thermos coffee mug, an American habit that makes me stand out in a country where coffee isn’t a morning caffeine fix but rather a social drink to be enjoyed with others.

I am on my way to bring donated medical equipment to the Gyumri Ambulance Service, something I have been doing since the summer of 2013 when I first started volunteering at the ambulance company teaching emergency trauma care.

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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.