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Opposition Demands ‘Addressed By Government’

October 1, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian government officially responded to a list of opposition demands on Wednesday ahead of an unprecedented joint rally planned by the country’s leading parties challenging President Serzh Sarkisian.

The government claimed to have fully or partly met some of the 12 demands that were issued by the Prosperous Armenia (BHK), Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties as well as the Armenian National Congress (HAK) in June. It cautiously rejected the other ones, saying that their fulfillment is not feasible or requires more time.

Hraparak: South Caucasus Railways faces inspections over fares

October 1, 2014 Armenia, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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Armenia’s antitrust commission has launched inspections in the South Caucasus Railways amid businessmen’s complaints over increased fares, the paper has learned.
The decision, made by the company’s leadership about six or seven months ago, is said to have caused businessmen to decide on automobile transportation as an alternative.
A spokesperson for the company, Gayane Sahakyan, confirmed the report in comments to the paper. “The South Caucasus Railways is conducting large-scale inspections, particularly into the natural gas policies, the cargo and passenger transportation fares,” she said. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Parliament Majority Blocks Changes In Controversial Tax Law

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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The pro-government majority in Armenia’s parliament rejected on Tuesday an opposition bill that would delay the enforcement of controversial new taxation rules which have sparked angry street protests by small traders.

The National Assembly failed to make a quorum at an extraordinary session forced by the opposition but boycotted by its deputies representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The boycott meant that the assembly could not even debate amendments to an Armenian tax law that were put forward by the four main opposition parties represented in the parliament.

The law in question mandates a single turnover tax for small firms and individual entrepreneurs with annual revenues not exceeding 58 million drams ($140,000). Earlier this year the government pushed through the parliament amendments that cut the turnover tax rate from 3.5 percent to 1 percent.

IMF Again Lowers Armenian Growth Forecast

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The International Monetary Fund announced a further downward revision of its economic growth forecast for Armenia on Tuesday, singling out the fallout from Western economic sanctions against Russia.

“We have found here that growth is weaker than we expected,” said Mark Horton, the head of an IMF mission visiting Yerevan. “We thought that growth would be around 3.5 percent this year. But it looks like it will be possibly around one percentage point lower than that.”

The IMF predicted a year ago that the Armenian economy will expand by 4.8 percent in 2014. It forecast higher growth rates for the following years. The fund began revising these growth projections downwards in April amid Russia’s intensifying standoff with the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

168 Zham: Eurasian Union membership to strengthen Armenian tycoon’s monopoly

September 30, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business No Comments
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Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is expected to offer considerable advantages to Samvel Alexanyan, the businessman MP (Republican Party) who is known to be a major sugar importer.
His company, Lusastgh Sugar, imports raw sugar which appears on the domestic market only after undergoing appropriate re-procession procedures, says the paper.
It cites recents estimates by the Union of Informed Citizens, a civil society organization, which said in a report that the Eurasian integration process will not absolutely harm Alexanyan’s business. But the wording appears to be very mild, says the paper, noting that the customs duty which Armenia now pays for ready-made sugar is 10% or $60,000-$65,000 per ton against the $250 price which the country will pay in case of joining the Russia-led bloc.
The paper notes that such a considerable difference will essentially strengthen the businessman MP’s positions on the market (instead of causing him harm). 

Hong Kong Occupy Central protesters issue demands

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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A civil disobedience pro-democracy movement aiming to paralyze parts of Hong Kong with a massive sit-in has issued its demands, the BBC reports.
Occupy Central says it wants the Chinese government to scrap rules outlining the election of the next chief executive in 2017.
It also wants the resumption of public consultation on democratic reforms.
Thousands of protesters are camped outside government headquarters in central Hong Kong.
Occupy Central leader Benny Tai announced the launch of the campaign to the cheers of supporters on Saturday.
A statement said that Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung had “failed to deliver on political reform”.
“We demand CY Leung deliver a new report on political reform to the central government, which must adequately reflect the demands of Hong Kong people for democracy,” it said.
“If CY Leung does not respond, we will escalate our actions.”
The movement had originally planned to paralyze the central business district on Wednesday, but organizers brought forward the start of the protest and changed the location in an apparent bid to harness momentum from student protests outside the government complex.
Student activists had stormed into a courtyard of the complex late on Friday and scuffled with police using pepper spray.
Police said they made scores of arrests including prominent student activist leader Joshua Wong.
The BBC’s Juliana Liu in Hong Kong says that, even before Mr Tai’s announcement, thousands had arrived spontaneously to support the demonstration by students.
Those outside the government buildings plan to stay until they are forcibly removed, she says.
However, some students expressed unease that their protest was apparently being taken over by Occupy Central.
“A lot of students left as soon as Occupy made the announcement they were starting their occupation,” said university graduate Vito Leung, 24.
“I think they were really forcing it. This was always a separate student movement with similar goals but different directions. I don’t think it should be brought together like this.”
The protests at government headquarters followed a week-long strike by thousands of students.
Unrest began when the Chinese government announced that candidates for the 2017 chief executive election would first have to be approved by a nominating committee.
Activists have argued that this does not amount to true democracy.
Many of those who spent the night on the streets wore plastic raincoats and goggles in case police deployed more pepper spray.Riot police stood nearby.
“The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision to stay has touched many Hong Kong people,” Occupy Central said in a statement.
“Yet the government has remained unmoved. As the wheel of time has reached this point, we have decided to arise and act.”
At least 34 people have been injured since the protests began, including four police officers and 11 government staff and guards, authorities said.
One police officer suffered a gash after being poked by one of the umbrellas protesters are using to deflect pepper spray.

Japan’s SoftBank in talks to buy DreamWorks: source

September 28, 2014 Business, Diaspora, Film, Technology No Comments
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Japan’s SoftBank Corp (9984.T) is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA.O), the Hollywood studio behind the “Shrek” and “Madagascar” movie hits, Reuters reports quoting a well-informed source as saying.An acquisition of DreamWorks by SoftBank would make it part of a cash-rich Japanese communications and media company that, under founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son, has shown a willingness to take big bets on combining disparate businesses.The talks were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, which quoted an unidentified source as saying a buyout would value DreamWorks at $3.4 billion.The entertainment trade publication said SoftBank had offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a substantial premium to the stock’s Friday closing price of $22.36.Buying DreamWorks, which is headed by veteran Hollywood producer and film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, would make SoftBank the second Japanese technology company to buy a Hollywood studio, following Sony Corp (6758.T), which bought Columbia Pictures in 1989.SoftBank has recently cashed in on a share of its investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and dropped its pursuit of mobile carrier T-Mobile US (TMUS.N) in the face of opposition from anti-trust regulators in the United States.Last week, SoftBank booked a $4.6 billion gain on the share listing of Alibaba Group in New York (BABA.N). SoftBank retains a 32 percent stake, making it Alibaba’s biggest shareholder.SoftBank has significant stakes in other large listed entities, including U.S. mobile carrier Sprint (S.N), through which it had pursued a deal for T-Mobile, internet portal Yahoo Japan (4689.T) and online games maker GungHo Online Entertainment (3765.T).A SoftBank spokesman said the company had no comment on the reported talks with DreamWorks. A representative of DreamWorks could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Greek President to Pay Two Day State Visit to Armenia

September 28, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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13:00, September 27, 2014

Greek President.Karolos Papoulias will arrive in Yerevan on September 29 for a two day state visit at the invitation of Armenian President Sargsyan.

Papoulias is scheduled to pay his respects at the Tziternakaberd Genocide Memorial and will meet with top Armenian officials including the parliament speaker and prime minister.

The two presidents will discuss measures to strengthen bilateral ties between their countries.

A conference of Greek and Armenian businesspeople will also be held during the visit of the Greek president.

Papoulis will also visit first century Hellenic Garni Temple.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Armenia’s potential in IT sector not fully used as country remains blockaded – Synopsis CEO

September 27, 2014 Armenia, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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Synopsys Corporation’s chief executive says he regrets that the continuing blockade around Armenia prevents the country from making a full use of its potentialsin the IT sector.
Speaking to our correspondent on the sidelines of the ArmTech 2014 annual conference in New York, Chi-Foon Chan described the investments in the country as a very important part of their business, which he said would help replenish the company’s production cycle.
He added that the tools in Armenia do not have a practical application, with engineers often going abroad to find customers. Nonetheless, he expressed hope that they would manage to develop the IT industries in the country.
The Synopsys CEO further stressed the role of Armenia’s universities which he said train very good human resources who can collaborate with them in future.

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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

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.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.