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Heritage Party Issues Statement in Support of Prominent Armenian Businessman Arrested in Moscow

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15:36, July 30, 2014
The Heritage Party today issued the following statement on Levon Hayrapetyan, an Armenian businessman who wasarrested in Moscowrecently and charged with embezzlement and money laundering.

“According to the press, the health of Armenian businessman and public figure Levon Hayrapetyan, who is in the Matrosskaya Tishina detention facility, drastically deteriorated — a man, who always stood at the source of state building of the Republic of Artsakh and to date contributes with his patriotic work to overcoming the serious challenges faced by the Armenian people.

BP sees profits rise but warns of Russia sanctions risk

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BP has warned that further sanctions against Russia could affect its business as it posted a rise in second quarter profits, the BBC reports.BP said that sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis have not affected the oil giant so far, but could do so in the future.The warning came as European ministers were due to meet to discuss bolstered measures against Russia.Sanctions “could adversely impact our business”, BP said.BP has around a 20% stake in Russian energy giant Rosneft.”Any future erosion of our relationship with Rosneft, or the impact of further economic sanctions, could adversely impact our business and strategic objectives in Russia, the level of our income, production and reserves, our investment in Rosneft and our reputation,” BP said.The company’s second quarter replacement cost profits, which strip out volatility in oil prices, were $3.2bn (£1.9bn), up from $2.4bn in the same period last year.”I think in the short term they’ll be looking in particular at the effect [sanctions are] going to have on technology transfer to Russia,” said Russian oil economy expert John Lough.”But I think, more broadly, this is of course a cloud on the horizon for BP, because the crisis in Ukraine seems to be escalating rather than de-escalating,” he told the BBC. 

Diaspora Tycoon Slams Armenian ‘Monopolies’

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A prominent Armenian-American businessman sounded alarm bells on Monday over what he sees as a lack of competition in Armenia, saying that it could spell serious trouble for the country’s economy.

Vahak Hovnanian singled out the monopolization of lucrative imports of goods by “a handful of people” close to the government. He declined to name any of them, though.

“That could have deadly consequences for the economy,” Hovnanian warned in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I maybe going to extremes but I want people to take note.”

“The monopolies must be broken up,” he said. “Competition is what drives countries forward. There is no competition here. We can’t move forward in this way.”

One Family’s Odyssey: To Belgium and France, and Unwillingly Back to Armenia

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10:03, July 28, 2014

All of five year-old Davit’s toys were left behind in the Belgian town of Kortenaken.

That was the day Belgian officials told Davit’s parents that they were sending the family back to Armenia. Taking only the essentials, the family fled across the border to France.

“We didn’t want to come back and were ready to go anywhere but Armenia,” Marieta Aslanyan told Hetq. The mother gave birth to three children in Belgium and a fourth in Armenia.

Travelling to the French border town of Lille, the family was forced to sleep in the halls of a hospital and other public places.  But the family soon gave in.

Harvesting almost over in border villages of Tavush, says regional governor

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The wheat harvesting is almost over in the border villages of Tavush despite the continuing cross-border shootings and a recent attack against an ICRC car, says the regional governor.
“There is, of course, tension in the border villages, the shootings starting mainly in the harvesting season. Our neighbors are simply more aggressive this year,” Hovik Abovyan told Tert.am.
He said their earlier agreements with the ICRC Yerevan office did not work to prevent gun attacks. “The Red Cross was in the Tavush region on July 26; it was in the vicinities of Chinari and had a preliminary with Azerbaijani counterparts, but that wasn’t of help. They started shooting Red Cross vehicles and agricultural equipment,” he said, adding that the village suffered no material or human loss as a result of the armed violence.
Abovyan said the village’s population continues harvesting the crop despite the existing danger. “We’ll collect the entire [harvest], without leaving any grain in the valley,” he added.
Speaking of government privileges, Abovyan said their residents are exempt from the property and land taxes. “Discussions for granting new tax privileges tp the entire region’s border towns and villages are now under way, so the question will be addressed at the National Assembly’s upcoming session. If businessmen work in border areas, they will be exempt from taxes; [they will pay] only the income tax, without any duty to pay value added taxes,” Abovyan added. 

Ukraine to keep western companies out of gas industry

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Ukraine’s parliament has rejected allowing EU and US companies to buy up to 49 percent of oil and gas company Naftogaz, and also said they were against liquidating the national energy monopoly, Russia Today reports.
Kiev rejected splitting the company in two, a measure encouraged by the West in order for Naftogaz to comply with Europe’s third energy package, which doesn’t allow one single company to both produce and transport oil and gas.
The bill proposed creating two new joint stock companies in order to conform to the package, “Ukraine’s Main Gas Transmission” and “Ukraine’s Underground Storages.”
The proposal sought to meet the requirements of EU legislation and strengthen Ukraine’s energy independence.
Earlier in July, the Ukrainian parliament passed a first reading of the bill that would have allowed Western companies up to a 49 percent of Ukraine’s Gas Transportation System (GTS).
There had been rumors the state would sell off at least 15 percent of Naftogaz in a public offering, however, the conditions in Ukraine’s capital and equity market aren’t strong enough to get a high enough price.
The changes was rejected because of the large monopoly and influence Naftogaz has over the Ukrainian market, the country’s political scientist Alexander Ohrimenko, told Russian business daily RBC. 

Hayrapetyan Charged with Embezzlement, Money Laundering

July 25, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Business No Comments
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22:12, July 24, 2014

Levon Hayrapetyan, the native Artsakh businessman arrested in Moscow on July 15, has been officially charged with embezzlement and illegal money laundering by a Russian investigative body according to ITAR TASS.

Hayrapetyan, 65, has pleaded not guilty.

A Russian court has issued a three month pre-trial detention order for Hayrapetyan and has placed a freeze on his shares in Bashneft, a Russian oil company, that are worth some US$8.5 million.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

"Russia Draws Armenia in Latest Russian-Turkish Dalliance," Says JirairSefilian

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14:37, July 25, 2014

Pre-Parliament member, Karabakh War veteran JirairSefilian spoke with Hetq about the ongoing delays in Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as the arrest of prominent Moscow-based Armenian businessman LevonHayrapetyan. 

Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union was postponed again. Prime Minister HovikAbrahamyan recently announced that Armenia will become a full member of the EEU on January 1. In your opinion, why is Armenia’s membership regularly delayed — do Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan not want Armenia to join the EEU? 

Wikipedia blocks ‘disruptive’ page edits from US Congress

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Wikipedia administrators have imposed a ban on page edits from computers at the US House of Representatives, following “persistent disruptive editing,” the BBC reports.The 10-day block comes after anonymous changes were made to entries on politicians and businesses, as well as events like the Kennedy assassination.The biography of former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an “alien lizard”.One staffer said they were being banned for the “actions of two or three”.Edits from computers using the IP address belonging to the House of Representatives have been banned before, following similar acts of vandalism.The latest block comes after rogue edits were brought to light by a Twitter feed, @congressedits, which posts every change made from the government-owned address.One of the acts highlighted was an alteration to the page on the assassination of John F Kennedy, which was changed to say that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting “on behalf of the regime of Fidel Castro”.An entry on the moon landing conspiracy theories was changed to say they were “promoted by the Cuban government”.Another entry, on the Ukrainian politician Nataliya Vitrenko, was edited to claim that she was a “Russian puppet”.The biography of former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was revised, describing him as an “alien lizard who eats Mexican babies”However the edit that finally brought administrators to ban anonymous edits from the House IP address was made on the entry for media news site Mediaite, describing the blog as “sexist transphobic” and saying that it “automatically assumes that someone is male without any evidence”.Mediaite had previously run a story on the rogue edits from congressional computers.Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, told the BBC that the incident did not surprise him, and vandalism has “always gone on and it always will”.But he said that the @congressedits Twitter feed may have been counter-productive.”There is a belief from some of the [Wikipedia] community that it only provoked someone – some prankster there in the office – to have an audience now for the pranks, and actually encouraged them rather than discouraged them.”He added: “Maybe someone at the House of Representatives better think about their IT staff – they might be hunting them down this very moment.”Earlier this year, the BBC discovered that the phrase “all Muslims are terrorists” was added to a page about veils by users of UK government computers.That followed a report by the Liverpool Echo which found that insults had been added to the entry for the Hillsborough disaster.Wikipedia allows any user to make changes to a page, even anonymously.However, the changes are policed by volunteers, known as Wikipedians, who can reverse false edits, and even impose bans on users who continually flaunt the site’s editing rules.Wikipedians have been warning editors from the House of Representatives since March 2012, and moved to block the address for one day earlier this month.On Thursday, the IP address was blocked for 10 days, but one staffer protested that they were being punished for the actions of a few.”Out of over 9,000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range based on the actions of two or three?”Some of us here are just making grammatical edits, adding information about birds in Omsk, or showing how one can patch KDE2 under FreeBSD.”Another user from the Hill was quick to dismiss suggestions that the rogue edits were made by elected officials.”I think the probability is near zero that these disruptive edits are being done by a member of Congress.”
 

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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.