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The Gentrified City

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11:21, July 18, 2015

By Vrej Haroutiunian

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Gentrification is therefore not simply the product of a capitalistorganization of space but of the specific needs of capital at a given time, and it is here that we must broaden our focus and look not at the rehabilitation of residential structures alone, but at the entire transformation of central cities

Smith &LeFaivre

The beginning of the twenty-first century marks a phase of extensive developmentin the center of Yerevan, as the country begins to stabilize after the Soviet collapse and financial investments increase.

Iranians In Armenia Look Forward To Sanction Relief

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Echoing the dominant mood in their home country, Iranian nationals living in Armenia welcomed on Wednesday Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement with six world powers which envisages the lifting of international sanctions imposed on Tehran.

They said the sanction relief would not only improve the economic situation in Iran but also help to strengthen its close ties with Armenia, the Islamic Republic’s sole Christian neighbor.

“The whole Iran is celebrating now,” Naser Etemat, an Iranian man, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I share the joy of my nation from outside Iran. That is wonderful news for the Iranian people,”

“We have to wait and see those changes,” cautioned Mohammad Ashraf, a young Iranian studying economics at an Armenian university. “Not much will change for Iranians. What will change is the world’s attitude towards to Iran.”

The Murky Business of an Israeli MP in Bulgaria

July 14, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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22:36, July 14, 2015

Israeli Deputy Speaker of Parliament Oren Hazan of the ruling Likud Party and several of his relatives have ties to a Bulgarian resort hotel connected to organized crime and to a casino in that hotel, an investigation by OCCRP partner Bivol reveals.

The Hotel Polyusi is located in the vicinity of Burgas’s Sunny Beach, Bulgaria’s most popular Black Sea resort, and the Casino Gold is on its first floor.

The hotel is owned and managed by men connected with two organized crime groups: the Security Insurance Company, called SIC; and Vasil Iliev Security (VIS) 2, whose past criminal activities are detailed in an extensive police report. Bivol’s research shows that between 2008 and 2013, the first floor where the casino is located was owned by companies owned and managed by Hazan’s father, Yehiel Hazan, and other family members.

Serbia: Drug Lord Šaric Sentenced to 20 Years

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21:54, July 13, 2015

By Bojana Pavlović, KRIK
Darko Šarić, convicted of organizing a criminal group that smuggled tons of cocaine from Latin America to western Europe, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.

Šarić remained in his cell and did not attend his sentencing. His two closest associates, Goran Soković and Želiko Vukanović, were sentenced to 20 and 18 years respectively.

Rodoljub Radulović, also known as “Miša Banana”, was sentenced to 11.5 years in absentia, as he remains on the run. Three others received between 5 and 10 months’ imprisonment.

Šarić’s lawyer, Radoslav Baćović, said that he will appeal.

Online Surveillance Firm ‘Hacking Team’ Gets Hacked

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22:03, July 8, 2015

Online hackers have released more than 400 GB of internal data, including staff emails and company documents, stolen from Hacking Team, a company in northern Italy that sells online spying software to governments and security services around the world.

It was named as a corporate “enemy of the internet” in 2013 by press-freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, after developing software that it says can circumvent certain encryption schemes.

The software is designed to remotely record every keystroke made on a target device, vacuuming up passwords and, in certain instances, capturing messages before they are encrypted.

On its website, Hacking Team boasts that it offers “total control over your targets. Log everything you need. Always. Anywhere they are.”

Russian Tycoon Moves To Karabakh

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A controversial Russian businessman, who had become one of the first Soviet multimillionaires, appears to have settled in Nagorno-Karabakh with his family after reportedly fleeing Russia for reasons that are not entirely clear.

German Sterligov, 48, seemed to confirm on Tuesday his surprise relocation to the Armenian-populated territory. He said he will explain it at a news conference in Karabakh next Monday.

Sterligov rose to prominence in 1990 when he founded, together with several other Russian entrepreneurs, the Soviet Union’s first commodities exchange at the age of 24. It served as a launch pad for a financial empire with offices in London and New York which he built in the following years.

4 Arrested Over ‘Shooting Attack’ On Armenian Governor

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Four men were arrested on Friday on suspicion of attempting to assassinate Suren Khachatrian, the governor of Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province who has long been notorious for violent conduct.

The National Security Service (NSS) service said the arrests were made in connection with the reported May 20 shooting attack on a car carrying Khachatrian.

Khachatrian, his driver and assistant claimed to have come under fire on the road connecting the provincial capital Kapan to Goris, the governor’s hometown also located in Syunik. None of them was hurt, even though photographs released by law-enforcement authorities showed their car riddled with bullets.

Deathbed Ramblings of Islamized Armenian Orphan to Granddaughter: ‘We ran from the Kurds and soldiers’

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14:35, July 3, 2015

In a weird twist of fate, it was the onset of Alzheimer’s that got Mrs. Ogyut, well past ninety, to recount fragments of her Armenian childhood; something she never mentioned to her family.

Slipping in and out of consciousness, Mrs. Ogyut repeatedly recounted one particular image from her lost childhood.

“They were in a tunnel and fleeing from the Kurds and soldiers who were firing at them. They were killing the parents,” Evrim Hikmet, the granddaughter of Mrs. Ogyut tells Hetq. “The she cries and the soldiers, hearing her cries, come and take her.”

This is the story that Mrs. Ogyut recounted before she died. She would also wake up and say that she saw her mother’s silhouette on the window.

Former Kotayk Governor Signed 90 Million AMD in Contracts with Companies He Owned

July 2, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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10:23, July 2, 2015

When Aram Harutyunyan was the Kotayk Provincial Governor (currently Chairman of Armenia’s State Committee of Water Economy), he funneled millions of AMD in state aid to companies he owned.

To be precise, Harutyunyan channeled 240 million AMD out of 731 million that the government allocated to Kotayk in 2014 targeting communities and the problems they faced.

Take the company Nairishin Ltd, in which Harutyunyan is a shareholder. It received a 35 million AMD contract to renovate the school in the community of Zovouni.

Harutyunyan wasted no time for the above contract. He was appointed Kotayk Governor in May of 2014 and he signed a contracted with Nairishin on July 18.

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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.