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EBRD Also Forecasts Recession In Armenia

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has added its voice to forecasts that Armenia will fall into recession this year because of knock-on effects of Russia’s economic troubles.

In a report published on Thursday, the London-based multilateral institution financing business projects in former Communist states said the Armenian economy will contract by 1.5 percent.

The International Monetary Fund similarly forecast a 1 percent reduction in Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product in its World Economic Outlook released last month. It had earlier predicted a growth rate of 3.5 percent for the country.

The Armenian government publicly disagreed with the IMF projection, with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian saying that economic growth in the country will continue in 2015. Citing preliminary government estimates, Abrahamian said the domestic economy expanded by at least 2.5 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Chemical Plant Workers Step Up Protests

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Hundreds of current and former employees of a troubled Armenian chemical giant began on Thursday a sit-in outside a key government building in Yerevan to demand more than one year’s worth of back pay.

They also want the Armenian government to help reactivate the Nairit plant that has largely stood idle since 2011.

The workers have pressed these demands during regular demonstrations that have been held in Yerevan for the last several months. Their representatives have repeatedly met with senior government officials, including Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.

The workers received only a fraction of their back wages as a result. Abrahamian declared in March that the government is not responsible for the rest of the company’s wage debt estimated at around $15 million.

Opposition Sticks To Local Election Boycott

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Citing a culture of electoral fraud, Armenia’s main opposition parties have not fielded or endorsed any candidates in local elections that will be held in two dozen towns and villages next month.

By contrast, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), is looking to retain its overwhelming control of local communities across the country. Its candidates are vying for virtually all of the mayoral posts and local councils that will be up for grabs on June 7.

In recent years, the HHK’s sole major challenger in local elections was the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of Gagik Tsarukian, a wealthy businessman. The BHK has stopped, however, posing a serious threat to President Serzh Sarkisian since Tsarukian was forced to step down as party leader and retire from politics in March. It will have no candidates in the upcoming polls.

Opinion: Foundation and Collapse of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)

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12:13, May 12, 2015

Ashot Yeghiazaryan,Doctor in Economics

From the viewpoint of political realism, the Eurasian Economic Union is a project by which Russia tries to raise its power and influence in the post-Soviet area. But it’s already a dead project, yet not born, which proves that all Moscow’s efforts towards reintegration of the post-Soviet area are doomed to fail.

Factual Failure of the EEU at Astana Summit

There is no doubt, that foundation of more or less serious integration unite in the post-Soviet space is only effective if the Ukraine, along with Russia, takes part in it. But the Ukraine has chosen the way of integration with the EU: Moldova and Georgia also signed an Association Agreement with the EU. As a result, even the free trade regime has been put under doubt in the CIS area.

Five Cigarette Companies Among Armenia’s Top 20 Taxpayers

May 12, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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12:36, May 12, 2015

Two of the largest cigarette producers in Armenia are Grand Tobacco and International Masis Tabac.

In the first quarter of this year Grand Tobacco paid 2.528 billion (US$ 5.261 million) in taxes, up from 1.733 billion AMD in the same period last year.

International Masis paid 1.374 billion AMD (US$2.859 million) in the first quarter of this year, up from 1.287 billion AMD last year.

Masis Tobacco, another cigarette producer owned by Grand Holding, paid 120.8 million AMD in taxes, 320 million less than last year.

Cigarette production in Armenia is taking off. According to the National Statistical Service, 2,891,000 cigarettes were produced in Armenia in the first quarter of 2015 – up 28.4% over the same period last year.

Azerbaijan: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Baku Bureau Finally Closed

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21:02, May 11, 2015

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Baku office has officially closed.

Azeri authorities raided the bureau in December 2014,interrogatingemployees and seizing computer equipment.

The premises were sealed off to staff, although the media service continued working from outside that office.

The owners of the office space, which formed part of a business center, reportedly asked RFE/RL not to return. RFE/RL had operated from the premises since 2006.

Prosecution investigator Sanan Pashayev allowed staff to enter the office on May 6 to clear out their possessions, according toPanorama.

The RFE/RL Baku team will continue its work in Prague, according to recentreports.

The closure is part of a wider trend of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media outlets finding themselves unable to continue operating in Azerbaijan.

Pilot Project to Modernize Yerevan’s Street Lights

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13:15, May 11, 2015

Armenia today signed a loan agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD) for a pilot program designed to update Yerevan’s street lights.

The ERBD will provide $4 million to modernize Yerevan’s street lighting system by introducing new energy-efficient technologies.

The EBRD’s sovereign loan will be on-lent to the Street Lighting Company owned by the city of Yerevan. The loan is expected to be complemented by a capital grant of up to $2 million from the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P). Technical cooperation for project preparation was financed by the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the EBRD’s own resources.

Khadija Ismayilova’s Plight told in PEN American Center’s Cartoon Tribute

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21:07, May 8, 2015

As the glittering PEN awards ceremony came to a close on Tuesday, a set of cartoons flashed onto the screen.

At the end of the night, postcards were handed out to members of the audience bearing the same cartoons.

The pictures all told aspects of the story of a journalist from Azerbaijan. Khadija Ismayilova had just been presented with PEN’s Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write award – in absentia, since she was unable to attend the ceremony herself.

A determined investigative reporter who worked to uncover corruption in the face of a vicious government crackdown on civil society, Ismayilova was jailed in December in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Son of Armenian Prime Minister to Run for Mayor of Artashat

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15:05, May 8, 2015

Argam Abrahamyan, son of Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, has tossed his hat in the ring for mayor of the town of Artashat.

The younger Abrahamyan will appear on the June 7 ballot as a candidate for the ruing Republican Party.

The prime minister has always wanted to see his son get the local post, and rumors to that effect have been circulating behind the scenes for years.

Argam, like other Abrahamyan family members, operates a number of businesses.

To see the extent of his holdings see the following Hetq article.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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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.