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Armenian Environmentalists in Uproar Over Government Plan to Replant Endangered Flora at Amulasr Gold Mine

October 24, 2014 Armenia, Business, Europe No Comments
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18:02, October 23, 2014

Environmental groups in Armenia are in an uproar over a July 2014 government decision they say will allow a mining company to remove and replant endangered flora species and thus circumvent Armenian domestic law and the country’s international obligations to protect and preserve such plants.

At issue is the Amulsar Gold Project, backed by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD), located in the south of Armenia.

The environmentalists claim that Resolution N 781-N, adopted by the Armenian government on July 31 2014, contradicts existing laws and was passed specifically to facilitate the launch of the US$426 million Amulsar Gold Project, the largest of its kind in Armenia.

Tsarukian Coy About Next Opposition Move

October 24, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Gagik Tsarukian on Thursday declined to clarify the purpose of ongoing anti-government protests staged by his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and its two opposition allies.

It thus remained unclear whether he will add his voice to opposition calls for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation at their next major rally on Friday.

“You all should come to tomorrow’s rally. You’ll be there and hear what we say,” Tsarukian said as he was confronted by reporters outside a sport arena in Yerevan.

Asked whether he will join the leaders of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun party in demanding immediate “regime change” he said, “I’m not going to answer any questions today.”

Abrahamian Claims Good Governance In Armenia

October 23, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Wednesday defended the Armenian government’s track record and dismissed opposition claims about a political crisis necessitating “regime change” in the country.

“Do you see any issue with which we cannot deal?” Abrahamian told reporters in the parliament. “We are governing very well and even trying to utilize our potential by 100 percent, and we are going to govern even better and more effectively soon.”

“I see no grounds for regime change,” he said. “You can’t just call [for regime change,] there have to be grounds for that. I see no, as you put it, government crisis. What I see is that the government is on the contrary actively working.” The government’s chief priority is to improve the socioeconomic situation in Armenia, he added.

Romania: Forest Agency, Officials Investigated For Corruption

October 22, 2014 Armenia, Business, Culture No Comments
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21:21, October 22, 2014

The Romanian Anti-Corruption Office (DNA) raided offices and businesses connected to the Romanian state forest authority, Romsilva, on Oct. 15 over allegations of bribery and corruption.

Those under investigation include Adam Craciunescu, the head of Romsilva, and Ilie Sarbu, the former Minister of Agriculture and father-in-law to Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

At issue are allegations that the accused helped sell forest lands fraudulently re-appropriated after the fall of Communism. Romanian law states individuals can reclaim ownership to forest if they can provide certain inheritance documents, but the system has been plagued with large-scale fraud.

Opposition Leaders Meet Ahead Of Key Rally

October 22, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News 1 Comment
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Opposition leaders Levon Ter-Petrosian, Gagik Tsarukian and Raffi Hovannisian met again late on Wednesday to discuss preparations for the next anti-government rally that will held by their political parties in Yerevan on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Tsarukian, Iveta Tonoyan, declined to give details of the meeting. She said only that the three leaders discussed “organizational issues” related to the rally.

Tsarukian, who leads the influential Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), held separate talks with Ter-Petrosian on Tuesday.

The talks appear to be part of efforts by the BHK, Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) party to work out a plan of further joint actions aimed at achieving “regime change.” They hope to do so in time for Friday’s demonstration in Yerevan’s Liberty Square.

UK: Police Intercept Stolen Cars At Ports

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17:17, October 21, 2014

In ports across the United Kingdom, shipping containers may conceal stolen vehicles destined for other countries. A recent operation by British authorities seized many of these vehicles before they could be smuggled overseas.

A crackdown codenamed “Operation Toyer” recovered 44 high-end vehicles and SUVs, including BMWs, Range Rovers, Audis, and a Porsche Cayenne. The haul also included Scania trucks and a Komatsu hydraulic excavator, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Police said the vehicles were destined for Africa, Cyprus, France, the USA, Malaysia and Burma. The stolen goods, which also included a container of parts from 29 stolen BMWs, were worth nearly US$ 2 million.

Armenia’s Membership in the EEU: Raises More Questions Than It Answers

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19:01, October 17, 2014

Babken Der Grigorian

In response to Harut Sassounian’s article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia 

Upon reading Harut Sassounian’s latest article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia”, I have been compelled to write a response addressing its shortcomings and inaccuracies, increasingly common also within the broader narratives regarding Armenia’s accession into the EEU in the Armenian community.

On September 3, 2013, after Armenia completed nearly three years of negotiations with the European Union on an Association Agreement, which included years of European-funded legislative reforms, President Serzh Sargsyan was summoned to Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Trial Begins For Ex-UBS Banker Accused Of Hiding $20 Billion In US Assets

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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21:13, October 16, 2014

A former top executive of Zurich-based UBS AG, a Swiss financial services company, faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit tax fraud if convicted in a trial that began Oct. 14 in Florida.

Prosecutors say Raoul Weil, once the third-highest ranked official at UBS, oversaw an offshore private banking business that managed more than US$ 2 trillion worth of assets.

In 2008, US authorities charged Weil with hiding US$ 20 billion worth of taxpayers’ money in secret offshore accounts. In 2013 he was arrested at a luxurious hotel in Bologna, Italy while on vacation with his family. He was extradited to the US, where he pled not guilty, reports Reuters. 

US: Liberty Reserve Founder Pleads Not Guilty

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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21:15, October 16, 2014

The founder of Liberty Reserve, a digital currency payment processing company that prosecutors say criminals used to launder US$6 billion of illicit profits, has pleaded not guilty in the US District Court in Manhattan, according to ABC News.

Prosecutors say that Arthur Bodovsky, 40, created an internet banking system the criminal underworld used to conceal their profits from authorities. Budovsky renounced his US citizenship in 2011 after establishing Liberty Reserve in Costa Rica – a country that does not regulate online businesses. Court documents state that he moved his business there following a 2006 conviction related to Gold Age, Inc., an unlicensed money transmitting business in the US.

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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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Commentary

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.

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.