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Presidential Financial Watchdog Has Revenues Far Exceeding Official Salary

April 28, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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13:59, April 28, 2014

Hovhannes Hovsepyan heads the Presidential Oversight Service (POS) in Armenia, a watchdog agency answerable directly to the chief executive and tasked with routing out all manner of official misconduct, abuse of power and financial corruption.

Hovsepyan, like all state officials in Armenia, is required by law to file a financial disclosure. Lusineh Mkrtchyan, who heads the press desk at the POS, told Hetq that Hovsepyan has been filing the disclosures since 2002 and that he reported US$1.5 million in revenue the first year.

In 2013, Hovsepyan declared 131.2 million AMD (US$317, 252) and US$400,000 in revenue. His salary was 3.4 million AMD (US$8,225).

Armenia’s New Prime Minister Speaks French…Sort Of

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17:04, April 26, 2014

A French-Armenian approached Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan on the street today in Yerevan and greeted him saying ‘bonjour’.

Not missing a beat, Abrahamyan, who was hurrying to the parliament, responded in kind.

The man then asked the newly appointed prime minister what he’d be doing for Armenians in Europe. Abrahamyan said that Armenia intended to continue its cooperation with European Union countries, adding that joining the Russian-led Customs Union wouldn’t prevent Yerevan’s ties to the EU.

The French-Armenian continued to pepper Abrahamyan with questions in broken Armenian. The prime minister confessed that he didn’t understand the man’s queries.

Where Yanukovych And His Rich Hunting Buddies Hung Out

April 27, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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19:43, April 26, 2014

By Anna Babinets, Natalie Sedletska and Oleksandr Akymenko

“We’ve survived, though we are outlaws.”

This line from a Russian gangster song became the unofficial anthem of the presidential hunting club whose members were a who’s who of the Ukrainian ruling elite including presidents, billionaires and others during the rule of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Kedr hunting club occupies nearly 100 hectares (250 acres) of protected forest adjoining Yanukovych’s billion-dollar Mezhyhirya residence. That land has been returned to the state after the former leader fled to Russia, where he is dodging mass murder charges filed by the new Ukrainian government.

The club land is being leased from a limited liability company named Dom Lesnika, which is closely connected to Mezhyhirya and Yanukovych.

Government Again Discusses Pension Reform With Opposition

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Armenia — Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian (L) meets with with businessmen, Yerevan, 18 April, 2014

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Kurchenko May Have Tried To Transfer Assets To Russia

April 25, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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15:13, April 25, 2014

By Anna Babinets, Slidstvo.info.

Prosecutors believe Serhiy Kurchenko, a crony of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, may have cost the state treasury $1 billion through various illegal schemes.

Now the nation is in danger of losing some of his property that officials were hoping to claw back.

Kurchenko was a high-flying billionaire tycoon, making his fortune by the age of 28 for reasons nobody could explain. Now he is a fugitive from justice, believed to have been the front man for Yanukovych or his son. He disappeared on Feb. 19, two days before Yanukovych fled office and ended up in exile in Russia.

Reaction to Erdogan: West encouraged, locals unmoved by Turkish PM’s statement

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By many accounts, this week appears to have signaled a new stance by Turkey on the events in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and beyond when the Armenian Genocide was carried out, and has forever been denied by modern Turkey. When on Wednesday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a speech expressing condolences to those who “shared pain”, it was read by many in the West and Europe as a softening of Turkey’s staunch denial.

Stefan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy wrote on his Twitter page “We encourage Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement about Armenians. Reconciliation is a key value to EU. We hope this spirit will take a continuous nature.”

Sarkisian Reaffirms Plans For Closer Ties With U.S.

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Armenia remains committed to stepping up its cooperation with the United States in various areas, President Serzh Sarkisian told visiting members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.
 
The 4-member congressional delegation headed by Ed Royce, the pro-Armenian chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, arrived in Yerevan late Wednesday on a three-day visit involving meetings with Armenian officials, businesspeople, pundits and civil society members. It also took part in official ceremonies marking the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
 
Sarkisian praised the U.S. lawmakers for their participation and again thanked the United States for its large-scale economic assistance and “active engagement on issues vital to Armenia.” “Serzh Sarkisian assured the U.S. Congress members that Armenia is determined to continue deepening and developing Armenian-American bilateral relations,” the presidential press office said in a statement.
 
According to the statement, the meeting focused on Armenia’s foreign policy priorities and “regional issues and challenges.” It did not elaborate.
 
In a July 2013 letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, Sarkisian said that U.S.-Armenian relations are now closer than ever before and serve as a “strong prerequisite” for Armenia’s security and economic development.
 
He sent the message less than two months before unexpectedly deciding to make Armenia part of a new Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. John Heffern, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, said afterwards that Sarkisian’s U-turn will have no fundamental impact on U.S.-Armenian ties.
 
“We want to strengthen Armenia economically,” Royce told reporters after the talks with the Armenian president. The Republican congressman said that he and his three colleagues, all of them Democrats, are exploring ways of facilitating U.S. investments in the Armenian economy.
 

The Yerevan of Tomorrow

April 24, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Business, Film, Music No Comments
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17:21, April 23, 2014

Christian Garbis

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a discussion called Yerevan Spring sponsored by Yerevan Productions at the Armenian University of Armenia (AUA). Although the event was poorly attended, the invited speakers gave considerable insight as to what Yerevan currently offered to the global community, and the general consensus to summarize was “not much.”  But the one thing that troubled me was that in reference to Yerevan through words and images they seemed to be talking solely about Kentron, specifically its hub, ignoring its other thriving districts altogether.

Italy: Citing Mafia Financial Troubles, Jailed Boss Says “Get A Real Job”

April 24, 2014 Armenia, Business, Video No Comments
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18:46, April 23, 2014

Italy’s economic crisis is hitting the Sicilian Mafia as well, say law enforcement officials in Palmero, Sicily.

According to the Independent, jailed Cosa Nostra boss Giovanni Di Giacomo was caught on video complaining that his men were only able to extort around US$ 7,000 to US$ 9,000 a month from business and hotels. 

In the secretly taped conversion, he allegedly says that many businesses are changing management or shutting down, and those who cannot or are unwilling to pay for “protection” are calling the police rather than giving in to threats from organized crime.

The senior figure of the Porta Nuova clan was recorded saying that it “might not be worth the bother” and suggesting that getting “a real job” may be better for young Mafiosos.

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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

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.