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A Family Affair: Business Interests of President of Armenia’s National Assembly

February 24, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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12:32, February 24, 2015

While Armenia’s National Assembly President Galust Sahakyan has consistently declared that he isn’t engaged in business, he has conveniently hidden the fact that his wife and sons (also in government) are.

It would be the apex of naivet to believe that Sahakyan lives merely off his government salary or that his family members, due to sheer due diligence alone and without abusing their personal contacts in government, have become owners of various companies.

Ever since 2011, Sahakyan (who was appointed speaker of the parliament in April 2014, has only listed as revenue his government wages and pensions when filling out the financial disclosure forms he’s mandated to file.

Watchdogs Urge EU Representative to Speak Up Over Azerbaijan Crackdown

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22:11, February 23, 2015

International groups are asking Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union’s representative for human rights, to challenge Azerbaijani authorities this week over the jailing of a number of political activists and journalists.

Lambrinidis begins his visit to Azerbaijan today, Feb. 23.

In a statement  released by the non-governmental organizations Human Rights Watch, the International Partnership for Human Rights, and Front Line Defenders, the groups contend that the Azerbaijani government has clamped down on public debate by harassing journalists, raiding their offices, and passing laws to restrict the funding of independent media outlets that receive foreign support. 

Italian Researcher: Armenian and Azerbaijani Migrants in Turkey Both Want to Make Money

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09:42, February 23, 2015

Hetq talks to Italian sociologist Fabio Salomoni, a faculty member at Koç University’s Social Sciences and Humanities, who began to take an interest in Turkey in the 1990s.

Salomoni has also focused on the plight of Armenian and Azerbaijan migrants in Turkey and his latest paper on the issue is entitled “Just Beyond the Border: Azerbaijani and Armenian Migrants in Turkey.”

Referring to the southern Caucasus, Salomoni argues that the only reason the world is interested in the area was the Karabakh War, despite the fact that some one million migrants left Armenia during those years and probably an equal number from Azerbaijan.

What are the differences, if any, between Armenian and Azerbaijan migrants residing in Turkey?

New Artists for Peace Music Video with Ken Davitian Kicks Off Stop Racism Campaign

February 23, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe, Music, Video No Comments
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11:42, February 23, 2015

A new music video featuring an impressive line-up of celebrities hits YouTube this week, hoping to go viral in the hope of stopping racism around the world. Created by FMS Media, in association with Artists for Peace, The Final Game is the first in a series of Stop Racism campaign music videos, aiming to change global perceptions.  

The music video features vocals from Devon T, Rina Cervantes and Kantana, the latter who has worked with dancehall sensation Beenie Man. Also appearing in the tongue-in-cheek video is US actor Ken Davitian who is well known for big screen roles in Borat, The Artist and Meet The Spartans . Artists from a range of different backgrounds and nationalities have come together in the making of The Final Game to highlight intolerance and racism around the world.

Leak Reveals US and UK Spies Hacked Mobile Phone Data in Bulk

February 20, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe, Sports No Comments
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British and American agencies have harvested encryption codes that allowed them to access the voice calls and messages of millions of mobile phone users around the world, The Intercept revealed Thursday.

The US’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) worked together to hack Gemalto, the world’s largest producer of the SIM cards used in mobile phones and credit cards. The Netherlands-based company works with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and 450 other providers around the world, producing two billion SIM cards per year.

Documents leaked to The Intercept by whistle-blower Edward Snowden contain information from the 2010 theft of three months of encryption data, during which NSA and GCHQ’s joint operation, titled the Mobile Handset Exploitation Team, collected millions of encryption codes.

Armenian Ruling Party Looks Adamant On Tsarukian Ouster

February 20, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Armenia’s ruling party has given more indications that it is keen to see embattled opposition leader Gagik Tsarukian quit politics despite his apparent retreat following a showdown with President Serzh Sarkisian.

After a meeting of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) executive body late on Thursday David Harutiunian, a senior member of the party and minister-chief of government staff, confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) that Sarkisian and Tsarukian did meet earlier this week. He declined to give any details of the meeting, though.

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Ter-Petrosian Appeals For ‘Moral Support’ To His Embattled Ally

February 20, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Asia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian has called for “popular assistance and moral support” to his embattled ally in the wake of a massive government crackdown on tycoon Gagik Tsarukian and his political party.

After several days of a tense standoff with President Serzh Sarkisian and his ruling Republican Party of Armenia, Tsarukian, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), on Wednesday bowed to apparent government pressure that included detentions of his loyalists and inspections of their businesses. In a statement released that day he publicly called for a “peaceful way” of settling disputes.

Armenian Ruling Party Sees Possibility Of Cooperation With Embattled Ex-Ally

February 18, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) does not exclude the possibility of cooperating with its former coalition partner, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), on certain issues despite their recent confrontation that appears to have been resolved now.

President Serzh Sarkisian, the leader of the HHK, and his top opposition critic, BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian, fell out over the need for a constitutional reform earlier this month, with their conflict aggravated by an exchange of personal accusations at different levels.

Sarkisian, apparently infuriated by Tsarukian’s “ultimatum” to give up the constitutional reform process or face large-scale street protests, lashed out at him at a meeting of senior HHK members on February 12. In a speech full of derogatory descriptions of Tsarukian, including his infamous “Dodi Gago” nickname, Sarkisian described the man as “evil” for the country and effectively ordered his expulsion from Armenia’s politics.

Tsarukian Beats Retreat Amid Government Crackdown

February 18, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian has signaled his readiness to settle problems “through peaceful, lawful and political means” after reportedly meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday in a bid to mend fences following an acrimonious exchange of accusations over the past few days.

Sarkisian, apparently enraged by Tsarukian’s “ultimatum” to give up the constitutional reform process or face large-scale street protests, lashed out at the BHK leader at a meeting of senior members of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on February 12. In a speech full of derogatory descriptions of Tsarukian, including his infamous “Dodi Gago” nickname, Sarkisian described the man as “evil” for the country and effectively ordered his exclusion from the local political process.

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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

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.