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From Army General to Affluent MP: Manvel Grigoryan Hides Income, Doesn’t Pay Taxes

September 16, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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15:28, September 16, 2014

Rouben Vardanyan  
Kristine Aghalaryan
Edik Baghdasaryan

Armenian MP Manvel Grigoryan, a gregarious former general in the Armenian Army, owns and operates 35 separate pieces of real estate just in the village of Arshalouys (Armavir Province).

He represents the majority Republican Party in parliament and sits on the Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs Standing Committee. 

Generasl Manvel’s assets consist of buildings, private homes, factories, natural gas and gasoline stations, resort areas, a restaurant, a sauna, a horse track, tens of hectares of grape and apricot gardens, hothouses, a market, animal stables, wheat fields…You get the picture – he’s loaded.

And these are just the businesses and properties registered in his name. An almost equal number are registered in the names of other individuals.

Long-awaited industrial park opens in Armenia’s Gyumri

September 13, 2014 Armenia, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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The plan to turn Gyumri into a technological center can now be considered a reality in part, as Armenia’s second largest city on Saturday launched its industrial park in a ceremony attended by high-ranking guests.
The initiative is part of a larger project aimed at making Gyumri an industrial center equipped with modern technologies, says Bagrat Yengibaryan, the director of the Enterprise Incubator Foundation.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for Armenia in terms of training high-quality human resources and making investments based on them. International organizations’ presence in Gyumri will, in turn, help create a highly-paid workforce which will have its impact on raising not only the education level but also the living standards,” he told reporters covering the event.
The ceremony was attended by President Serzh Sargsyan, Minister of Economy Karen Cshmarityan, Mayor of Gyumri Samvel Balasanyan and many other guests.
In his speech, Minister Cshmarityan said that the Armenian Government works consistently to promote the continuing growth of IT and High Tech industries (which it has declared a priority trend).
“Considering Gyumri’s role in the economy of Armenia, the existing potential of technological development, the presence of corresponding physical infra-structures and educational institutions, as well as the technological traditions, the Armenian Government made a decision to found a technological center here. I am confident that the center will play an essential role in the training of quality specialists, the improvement of the business and investment atmosphere and the solution of the socio-economic problems in Gyumri. It will also boost the sector’s development,” he noted.

Nicole Kidman’s father ‘collapsed and died in Singapore hotel restaurant’ in front of shocked guests minutes after his exercise

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Nicole Kidman’s father died of a heart attack inside a Singapore hotel restaurant shortly after completing his morning exercise, the Daily Mail reports.The Sydney psychologist is believed to have collapsed when he was inside the Wheelhouse restaurant at the Tanglin Club – a private hotel he had been staying at while visiting his daughter Antonia and six grandchildren.A doctor and guests at the hotel who were present tried to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived and he was taken to hospital, The Straits Times reported.Police confirmed that a man in his 80s died at Tan Tock Seng Hospital about 10am and were now investigating the exact cause of death.A friend of the family earlier confirmed that he had suffered a fall, but did not know any other details.Nicole’s publicist and long-time friend of the Kidmans, Wendy Day, told Daily Mail Australia that the ‘family is in shock and is grieving’ and is yet to make any statement regarding the well-respected Sydney psychologist’s death.Dr Kidman was visiting his daughter, Antonia, and his grandchildren who live in Singapore and suffered the fall after eating breakfast.’The family is in shock and is grieving…I think that some time and privacy is needed to deal with this shock and tragedy,’ she said.She confirmed that Dr Kidman suffered a fall in a hotel room in Singapore, but that was all the information she had at hand.A hospital source was reeling from the shock of the news. ‘We don’t know how to deal with this at the moment or how to digest the fact he’s gone,’ the source told News Corp Australia.Dr Kidman was a clinical psychologist at Royal North Shore Hospital and a director of health psychology at the University of Technology Sydney.UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said in a statement that Dr Kidman contributed a lot as a colleague and a researcher during his 43 years of service.’It is with great sadness that we learn of Dr Tony Kidman’s sudden passing. During his 43 years at the University of Technology, Sydney, Tony has contributed greatly – as a colleague, as a researcher, and as a health practitioner,’ he said in a statement.’Tony will be missed by all at UTS. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.’The Royal North Shore Hospital was not immediately commenting on Dr Kidman’s death, while a woman at the Kidmans’ home declined to comment when approached by Daily Mail Australia.She said she didn’t feel ‘comfortable’ saying anything to the media yet.A Sydney business owner known to the family, said: ‘The Kidman family are regular customers for our shop.”With respects to the family, we are not really comfortable with commenting on what has happened to Antony.’A police spokesperson told Reuters they were investigating the death as ‘unnatural.’He declined to give details, but the term ‘unnatural death’ in Singapore often refers to falls or other accidents.Network Ten reported earlier that Dr Kidman was visiting Nicole’s younger sister Antonia who lives in Singapore with her husband Craig Marran and her six children.As well as his work as a clinical psychologist, he has done research into the psycho-social impact of diseases, including breast cancer.He also ran community service seminars on aspects of mental health, was a regular speaker on radio and television and wrote for academic journals and the general public.He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2005 for his contributions to clinical psychology.The family was last seen together in Sydney back in January for Dr Kidman and his wife, Janelle’s 50th wedding anniversary.In June this year, a beaming Nicole Kidman, 46 walked the red carpet with her father and husband Keith Urban at the Swisse Celebrate Life Ball in Melbourne.In one of his last public statements, Dr Kidman wrote of the pointless pursuit of happiness.In the article titled ‘Forget happiness, search for meaning’, Dr Kidman wrote about the importance of striving for achievable goals in life, with a focus on being contented with what you have rather than on a life of material wealth. 

Government Sees No Direct Impact From Russia-West Sanctions

September 10, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business, Europe, Top News No Comments
Armenian News

Armenian businesspeople will not be directly affected by Western economic sanctions against Russia even after Armenia joins the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian insisted on Wednesday.

“In terms of working in the customs union, we see no problems,” he told reporters. “Our entrepreneurs will remain free to choose their partners for importing and exporting goods, of course while taking into consideration Armenia’s obligations stemming from international conventions and various UN resolutions.”

“We will not place any restrictions on our entrepreneurs,” said Chshmaritian.

In late July, the United States urged Armenia and other countries to avoid doing business with Russian companies subjected to U.S. sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. The Russian Embassy in Yerevan condemned the “thinly veiled threats.”

Ter-Petrosian, Tsarukian Discuss Joint Rally

September 9, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and businessman Gagik Tsarukian met on Tuesday to discuss preparations for an upcoming joint anti-government rally planned by their political parties and two other groups critical of President Serzh Sarkisian.

A joint statement released by Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) said the two men also reaffirmed their strong opposition to sweeping constitutional amendments planned by Sarkisian.

“The sides also stressed the importance of making, within the framework of the [opposition] quartet, joint visits to regions before the rally with the aim of informing the people about and rallying them around issues on the common agenda,” read the statement. It gave no other details.

US: Former Virginia Governor And First Lady Convicted For Corruption

September 6, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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18:49, September 5, 2014

The former governor of Virginia and his wife were both found guilty on Sept. 4 of using the governor’s position to obtain gifts and loans.

Bob McDonnell, 60, was convicted on 11 of 13 counts of wire fraud and obtaining property under color of official right, according to the US District Attorney of Eastern Virginia. Maureen McDonnell, 60, was convicted on nine of 13 counts of wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right and obstruction of an official proceeding.

The McDonnells were found guilty of having solicited and obtained more than US$170,000 in payments and gifts from Star Scientific, a nutritional supplement corporation, and Jonnie R. Williams Sr., its CEO, in exchange for arranging meetings with government officials and university researchers to promote Star supplements and encourage research studies that would legitimize the company’s products. Maureen McDonnell was also convicted of obstructing a grand jury investigation.

Gyumri Medical Center Director: Invasive Cardio Treatment Might Cease if Patients Continue Avoiding Paying

September 5, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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12:37, September 5, 2014

Now that cardiologist Karen Mikayelyan has moved to Gyumri, Shirak residents with coronary ailments no longer have to travel to Yerevan or abroad to receive stent placements and angiograms.

As of May 1, patients can get such invasive procedures done at the Gyumri Medical Center.

According to Center Director Armen Isahakyan, this wasn’t the case even though the hospital had all the necessary medical equipment for such procedures.

‘We had the equipment from the day the hospital opened, but we lacked a specialist,” Isahakyan told Hetq.

Since moving with his family from Yerevan, Mikayelyan has performed some forty coronary stent procedures and thirty angiograms.

Russia: Lawmaker Seeks To Add Sex, Promotions To Anti-Bribery Law

September 4, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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16:43, September 4, 2014

A legislator has submitted amendments to the Criminal Code of Russia that would classify non-cash services, such as promotions and sexual favors, as a form of bribery.

The proposal by Oleg Mikheyev, a deputy in the State Duma, would make non-cash bribes punishable with fines from US$ 680 up to US$ 13.6 million,according to the state-ownedRossiyskaya Gazeta.

“The Russian economy is losing hundreds of billions of dollars due to corruption,” Mikheyev, a member of the Socialist party A Just Russia, toldRossiyskaya Gazeta. “This represents not only direct losses to the government, but also business barriers that are created by officials. I believe this situation must be radically changed.”

Armenia ranks 85th on World Economic Forum index

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Armenia ranks as the 85th country on the World Economic Forum’s latest Competitiveness Index.
The ranking methodology is based on 12 main pillars: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods and market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.
The list for 2014-2014 includes 114 countries. Leading states are Switzerland, Singapore, the US, Finland, Germany, Japan, Hong King, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Armenia’s neighbors, Iran, Turkey Georgia and Azerbaijan, rank the 83rd, 38th, 69th and 45th, respectively.
Russia has climbed to the 53rd position (the index was elaborated before the latest sanctions against the country). Tajikistan, which is the 91st on the list, has the lowest ranking among the post-Soviet countries.
Yemen, Chad and Guinea are at the bottom of the index.
The full index can be accessed here>>>

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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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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


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.