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Canadian Businessman Sentenced For Corruption

October 7, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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21:55, October 7, 2014

Cuba has sentenced Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian to 15 years in prison on corruption charges.

Tokmakjian was found guilty of bribing Cuban officials, damaging the Cuban economy, currency trafficking, fraud and tax evasion. A Cuban court valued the damage Tokmakjian allegedly inflicted on the economy at US$ 91 million, reports Reuters.

The Canadian businessman is the president and founder of the Tokmakjian Group, a large transportation company in Canada, which has done business with Cuba for 22 years. In JulyOCCRP reported that Tokmakjian claimed he had been falsely charged, after speaking out against corruption in Cuba.

Passenger Traffic at Zvartnots Airport Up 16% in September Over 2013

October 7, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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11:38, October 7, 2014

According to Armenia International Airports CJSC, passenger traffic at Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport showed a 16% rise in September when compared to the same month in 2013.

197,602 passengers entered and departed the airport last month in comparison to 169,776 in September 2013.

(Armenia International Airports CJSC, owned by Argentine businessman Eduardo Eurnekian, was granted a 30 year concession by the government of Armenia to run Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport)

Source: HetqOriginial Article

A Fraud In The Family

October 7, 2014 Armenia, Business, Georgia No Comments
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16:23, October 7, 2014

By Eka Gulua

The renovated building meant for refugees at 7 Tashkent Circle in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia, is home to 35 families. But it’s the wrong 35 families.

Just ask Lamara Mikia, who lost her own home in the Abkhazian city of Ochamchire in 1993 when Georgians were forced to flee the country’s Abkhazia region during a bloody civil war.

Mikia told a reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) that for the past 21 years, she has lived as an internally displaced person (IDP) in a decrepit former kindergarten used for refugee housing in the western Georgia city of Poti.

Government Offers Concessions To Traders


The Armenian government moved to make concessions to scores of angry market traders on Monday in response to their continuing street protests against new taxation rules introduced by it.

Prime Minister Abrahamian instructed Finance Minister Gagik Khachatrian to draft relevant legal amendments after holding two more meetings with leaders of the traders in the space of several hours. Khachatrian also met them separately.

The four representatives of the protesters announced after the talks that they reached a compromise agreement relating to recent changes in an Armenian law on turnover tax, which is levied from businesses with annual sales of up to 58 million drams ($140,000). The latter pay no other taxes.

Greece: Rugby-Loving British Fugitive Sentenced After Being Caught Watching Game

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18:01, October 6, 2014

An English drug smuggler has been sentenced to prison after being caught watching a rugby match at a pub in Athens, Greece.

Kevin Hanley, 52, was sentenced on Sept. 30 at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales to more than 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking, according to the UK National Crime Agency (NCA).

Hanley and his girlfriend Chrysi Minadaki, 45, were arrested at an Irish pub in Athens on July 6 2013,according to Greek Reporter. They had been on the run since November 2012, when police raided the apartment of their accomplice John Fowler, 58, and confiscated 20 kg of cocaine, 15 kg of cannabis, 15 kg of amphetamine, and US$ 3.4 million in cash.

Fighting Ebola: American argument against African travel ban

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In the wake of the revelation that the Dallas man infected with Ebola flew on United Airlines flights from Liberia to Liberia, more than a few people have seized on a blunt response: ban flights from West Africa.Texas Representative Ted Poe, a Republican, has written to the Centers for Disease Control asking it to recommend travel restrictions. Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, has called for a 90-day ban on travel from Ebola-touched countries to the U.S, Bloomberg Businessweekly reported.The White House is resisting those calls, and that’s the right thing to do. Restricting travel to and from the affected region will have little impact on the already minimal risk to Americans from the Ebola virus while further worsening the situation in West Africa. And the history of the global fight against infection has demonstrated that we shouldn’t raise the drawbridge or run away, but fight disease wherever we find it.Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infections. Quarantine was first used against the plague bacillus in 14th-century Europe. The case for plague quarantine was a lot stronger 600 years ago: It was pretty much the only potentially effective public health strategy at the time (neither prayer nor pogroms had the desired impact). The Black Death still exists—there were four casesof human infection in the U.S. in 2012—but we now have a vaccine against the disease. It can be treated with antibiotics, and sanitary and housing conditions in the 21st century are considerably higher than in Europe in the 1300s. The plague bacillus led to the deaths of tens of millions in the 14th century; it kills a few hundred people worldwide each year today. 

Opposition Trio Continues Regional Rallies


Three leading political parties at odds with President Serzh Sarkisian rallied hundreds of supporters in the southern town of Ararat on Friday as they continued to prepare for a joint anti-government rally in Yerevan.

The largest of those parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), appeared to have moved closer to publicly demanding Sarkisian’s resignation which is sought by its more radical opposition allies, the Zharangutyun and Armenian National Congress (HAK) parties.

“A unique situation has emerged in Armenia: the authorities are alone and there is infighting in their ranks … We must fully take advantage of this opportunity,” Armen Martirosian told the rally in Ararat. Both he and HAK speakers at the rally said that regime change is a necessary condition for meeting challenges facing the country.

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.

Liechtenstein: Prosecutors Investigating Bulgarian Bank Owner

October 3, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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21:55, October 3, 2014

Authorities in Liechtenstein are probing possible money laundering by a Bulgarian businessman who already faces embezzlement charges in his home country.

Tzvetan Vassilev, 55, is the chairman and majority shareholder of Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), which was Bulgaria’s fourth largest bank by assets before late June, when a run of customers seeking to withdraw their savings drained its reserves.

The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) assumed control of CCB on June 20 and temporarily froze customer accounts for an independent audit. BNB later extended this three-month period of “special supervision” until November.

Vassilev, who was indicted in Bulgaria for misappropriation of funds, has now come to the attention of investigators in Liechtenstein. “Proceedings were initiated after a Liechtenstein bank made a report at the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) according to due diligence law, and the FIU passed on this notification to us,” Prosecutor General of Liechtenstein Robert Wallner told Reuters.

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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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Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

Image 56686.jpg

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.