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Ruling Party Admits Lack Of Consensus On Constitutional Reform

May 15, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

President Serzh Sarkisian has yet to drum up strong multi-partisan support for his controversial plans to amend Armenia’s constitution, a leading member of his Republican Party (HHK) admitted on Friday.

Sarkisian and the HHK have repeatedly stressed the importance of a “broad-based political consolidation” for the success of the planned constitutional reform. Sarkisian met with leaders of virtually all major Armenian opposition parties for that purpose in March. He urged them to submit proposals to a presidential commission tasked with drafting amendments to the constitution.

Only two of the five opposition parties represented in the National Assembly proposed concrete changes to the commission afterwards. One of them, Orinats Yerkir, made clear that it is against Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic, which seems to be favored by Sarkisian.

Governor’s Son ‘Not In Armenia’ After Fresh Violence

May 15, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

Armenian law-enforcement authorities claim to have failed to track down a notorious son of a regional governor after belatedly pledging to question him in connection with yet another violent assault allegedly provoked by him.

Tigran Khachatrian was reportedly among several dozen men who beat up and seriously injured two other local residents of his hometown, Goris, on May 2. Harut Zakarian lost vision in one eye while his elder brother Mushegh suffered a broken nose.

The brothers claim that the attackers were led by the 22-year-old Khachatrian, whose father Suren is the governor of Armenia’s Syunik province encompassing Goris. The governor, who himself has a long history of violent conduct, has insisted that his son is innocent.

New Player To Enter Armenian Mining Sector

May 15, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

The Armenian government has given the green light to the construction of a new metallurgical plant which officials say will create more than 1,000 jobs and recycle industrial waste from other mining enterprises generating much of Armenia’s export revenue.

The privately owned facility is to extract ore from several “tailings” dumps in southeastern Syunik province that mainly belong to the Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC), the country’s largest mining company.

The ZCMC’s principal shareholder, the German metals group Cronimet, signed last October a corresponding memorandum of understanding with the government and two other, little-known firms: VSEI Ventures Group and Alyotig. The latter is apparently based in Armenia, while VSEI might be connected with VS Energy International, a Dutch-registered holding company controlled by Russian and Ukrainian investors.

IT contests, designed for IT professionals and beginners

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17:07, May 15, 2015

Cloud-based Hackathon [YAN] 2015 and Seedstars Yerevan will take place in Vahakni residential community on May 28, 2015

Microsoft Innovation Center-Armenia, in collaboration with Microsoft RA and Seedstars World, is organizing a unique contest day for IT specialists, which will be interesting both for beginners and startups. The partners of the event are Hovnanian International, VivaCell-MTS, Technology & Science Dynamics and Sixt companies. Cloud-based Hackathon [YAN] 2015, designed for beginners and Seedstars Yerevan targeting startups will take place on May 28 at Ararat Valley Club in Vahakni community.

Armavia: Controlling the Armenian Skies

May 15, 2015 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

20:57, May 12, 2015

In Part One of this series tracing the founding and ultimate dissolution of Armavia Airlines, we wrote that in September 2002 Natalya Filyova (founder of Siberia Airlines) obtained a 50% shareholder of Armavia.

On March 14, 2003, Siberia, Armavia and the government of Armenia initialed three agreements.

According to one of them, the government issued Armavia exclusive permission for air route operations. This was a blow to the state owned Armenian Airlines which faced others problems starting in the late 1990s. Much was talked and written about the fact that the profitable air carrier faced numerous problems during the tenure of Robert Kocharyan, Armenia’s second president. (Kocharyan became president in 1998).

More Details Of Gyumri Family Massacre Emerge

May 15, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

Forensic tests have confirmed that the seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri were murdered at home in January by a Russian soldier currently kept under arrest, lawyers representing the victims’ relatives said on Thursday.

Citing DNA samples collected by Armenian investigators from the scene of the massacre, they said that all of the victims were shot or stabbed in their beds and that only one of them, Seryozha Avetisian, was able to put up some resistance.

The 53-year-old Avetisian, his wife, unmarried daughter, son, daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter were found dead in their Gyumri house early on January 12. His second grandchild, a 6-month-old baby, died of stab wounds a week later, adding to a nationwide shock and outrage caused by the mysterious killings.

Armenian ‘Rapid Reaction’ Troops Join Drills In Central Asia

May 14, 2015 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

An Armenian army unit was flown to Tajikistan on Thursday to take part in exercises that will be held there by a rapid reaction force of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The CSTO secretariat in Moscow announced that the exercises will take place near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan and involve 2,500 soldiers from all six CSTO member states making up the alliance’s Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF). In a statement, it said they will be backed by 200 tanks and armored vehicles as well as 20 warplanes and helicopters.

The participating troops reportedly include about 500 paratroopers from Russia.

EBRD Also Forecasts Recession In Armenia


The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has added its voice to forecasts that Armenia will fall into recession this year because of knock-on effects of Russia’s economic troubles.

In a report published on Thursday, the London-based multilateral institution financing business projects in former Communist states said the Armenian economy will contract by 1.5 percent.

The International Monetary Fund similarly forecast a 1 percent reduction in Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product in its World Economic Outlook released last month. It had earlier predicted a growth rate of 3.5 percent for the country.

The Armenian government publicly disagreed with the IMF projection, with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian saying that economic growth in the country will continue in 2015. Citing preliminary government estimates, Abrahamian said the domestic economy expanded by at least 2.5 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Chemical Plant Workers Step Up Protests


Hundreds of current and former employees of a troubled Armenian chemical giant began on Thursday a sit-in outside a key government building in Yerevan to demand more than one year’s worth of back pay.

They also want the Armenian government to help reactivate the Nairit plant that has largely stood idle since 2011.

The workers have pressed these demands during regular demonstrations that have been held in Yerevan for the last several months. Their representatives have repeatedly met with senior government officials, including Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.

The workers received only a fraction of their back wages as a result. Abrahamian declared in March that the government is not responsible for the rest of the company’s wage debt estimated at around $15 million.

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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.


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.