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Major Armenian Party Hints At Support For Constitutional Changes

August 26, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Just months after threatening street protests against President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional reform, the Prosperous Armenia Party (HHK) said on Wednesday that it is ready, in principle, to back far-reaching amendments drafted by his administration.

The leadership of Armenia’s second largest parliamentary party, until recently headed by businessman Gagik Tsarukian, made this clear immediately after a meeting with Sarkisian.

The meeting was part of his fresh consultations with the country’s leading political groups aimed at drumming up support for Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic envisaged by the draft amendments. They began less than a week after the amendments were formally endorsed by Sarkisian and sent to the Armenian parliament for approval.

Armenian Oligarch Avoids Prosecution For Fresh Violence

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Ruben Hayrapetian, a controversial government-linked businessman heading the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA), will not be prosecuted despite admitting beating up another entrepreneur, law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan said on Tuesday.

Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said it will not press criminal charges against Hayrapetian because of his “reconciliation” with the injured victim, Arsen Avetisian.

The development is certain to reinforce a widely held belief in Armenia that influential tycoons close to President Serzh Sarkisian and notorious for violent conduct enjoy de facto immunity from prosecution owing to their strong loyalty to the ruling regime.

Uzbekistan: More Karimova Associates Arrested in Corruption Probe

August 24, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe No Comments
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15:50, August 24, 2015

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has reported that Uzbek authorities have arrested nine more suspects in their investigation into corruption surrounding Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova.

The broadcaster’s Uzbek service said that two senior figures at an Uzbek Coca-Cola bottling plant were among those arrested, and reported that Karimova had once controlled the local Coke bottling business. The radio said Swiss authorities had already investigated two businessmen in the industry on suspicion of money laundering in 2012, although they were later released and allowed to return to Uzbekistan.

Court Rules On High-Profile Shootings

August 21, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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An Armenian court on Friday fined a senior army officer 120,000 drams ($250) in connection with a 2013 shootout outside the home of Suren Khachatrian, a controversial provincial governor, which left his brother dead.

The court in the southeastern Syunik province run by Khachatrian found Colonel Artak Budaghian guilty of threatening to kill the governor and his family members during a bitter dispute that ended in bloodshed.

Budaghian was seriously wounded while his businessman brother Avetik killed in the incident that occurred outside Khachatrian’s villa in Goris, a town in Syunik, in June 2013. Khachatrian’s elder son Tigran and one of his bodyguards were arrested in the following days on charges of shooting the brothers. But they were cleared of the murder charges and set free two months later.

Government To Renationalize Armenian Film Studio

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The Armenian government plans to renationalize the country’s largest and oldest film studio due to the failure of its Armenian-American owners to revive film production there with large-scale investments promised by them.

The government moved to regain control over the moribund Armenfilm studio earlier this month, exactly ten years after it was sold to CS Media, a company co-owned at the time by U.S.-Armenian philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian and his business partner in Armenia, Bagrat Sargsian. CS Media paid about $800,000 for the Soviet-era studio and pledged to invest roughly $70 million in it over the next decade.

The money was supposed to be mainly spent on refurbishing Armenfilm’s rundown facilities and providing it with state-of-the-art filmmaking equipment.

Injured Businessman Makes Peace With Powerful Attacker

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An Armenian businessman who was beaten up and hospitalized last week said on Thursday that he has accepted a “reconciliation offer” made by Ruben Hayrapetian, his presumed attacker connected to the government.

The development is a further indication that Hayrapetian, the wealthy and controversial chairman of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA), will avoid prosecution for yet another violent incident widely blamed on him.

Arsen Avetisian, the chief executive and majority shareholder of the Air Armenia airline, suffered serious injuries during an August 15 meeting with Hayrapetian. He claimed to have been assaulted by the notorious tycoon’s bodyguards.

Ruling Party Figure Blames Government For Bankruptcy

August 20, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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A prominent member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Thursday accused tax authorities and Gagik Tsarukian, one of the country’s richest men, of deliberately causing the collapse of his biggest business.

Ashot Aghababian spoke after an Armenian court declared bankrupt a big clothing market in Yerevan and the adjacent Hrazdan football stadium owned by him. The court acted on a lawsuit filed by market personnel demanding payment of their back wages. Aghababian claims to be unable to pay those wages because his once lucrative business has essentially stopped generating revenue.

The market’s troubles began after it was raided by tax officials and fined 60 million drams ($125,000) early this year due to alleged tax evasion. Aghababian rejected the accusations, challenging the punitive measure in court.

U.S. Ambassador Visits IT Infrastructure Development and Implementation Department of the Armenian Ministry of Finance

August 19, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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19:09, August 19, 2015

On August 19, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard M. Mills, Jr. visited the IT Infrastructure Development and Implementation Department of the Armenian Ministry of Finance in the company of Deputy Minister Vakhtang Mirumyan.

The Ministry has recently procured up-to-date hardware and software for its data center in Zeytun as part of USAID’s technical assistance to the Government of Armenia to modernize the country’s electronic tax administration system.

Open Call Wrap-Up: 190 fFarmer Groups Submitted Applications as Part ENPARD Armenia Project

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19:14, August 19, 2015

A total of 190 applications were submitted as part of the the European Union’s ENPARD project “Producer Group and Value Chain Development”.

An open call was announced to select farmer groups engaged in the production and processing of high value agricultural products, such as buckwheat and lentil, milk and high value cheese, fruits and berries, non-traditional vegetables, honey, and other products.

The deadline for applications was 15 July 2015. Applications were received from 6 target regions of the Republic of Armenia: Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik, Aragatsotn, Kotayk and Vayots Dzor.

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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.

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.