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Italy: $14 Million In Assets Seized After Mob Money Laundering

March 13, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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22:31, March 13, 2014

According to Italian prosecutors, organized crime figures manipulated the bid process for a high-speed railway project related to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, as well as a more recent tourism development project in northwestern Italy.

On Tuesday, the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA) announced the confiscation of US $14 million in assets belonging to Ilario D’Agostino and Francesco Cardillo, who were sentenced to 15 years in jail last June 13 on money laundering charges.

Prosecutors say the two laundered money for a powerful ‘Ndrangheta clan led by Antonio Spagnolo in the town of Cimin, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

Liquor Ads Again Allowed On Armenian TV

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In a move condemned by the opposition minority in Armenia’s parliament, pro-government lawmakers have essentially repealed a legal ban on advertising strong alcoholic drinks on television.

Armenian TV stations have for years been allowed to advertise only beverages such as wine and beer containing limited amounts of alcohol. Under amendments to a law on advertising passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday, they can now also air commercials promoting vodka, brandy and other types of distilled liquor after 10 p.m.

Several deputies from the ruling Republican Party (HHK) who initiated the amendments claimed that their main aim is to shore up the broadcast media which they said is struggling to survive. They estimated that hard liquor ads will enable broadcasters across the country to earn 1 billion drams ($2.5 million) in additional revenue each year.

Armenia To Introduce Tax Breaks For IT Startups

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The Armenian government on Thursday moved to offer small information technology (IT) companies significant tax breaks which it hopes will give a further boost to one of the most dynamic sectors of Armenia’s economy.

The government approved a package of draft legal amendments that would exempt newly established IT firms employing up to 15 people from profit tax for three years. The bill also envisages a preferential income tax rate for their employees, equivalent to 10 percent of their gross wages. The minimum payroll tax rate in Armenia is currently set at 24.4 percent.

Why Armenia’s Gagik Tsarukyan Will Never Be Georgia’s Bidzina Ivanishvili

March 13, 2014 Armenia, Business, Georgia No Comments
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22:28, March 12, 2014

The politically active segment of society torments itself with this question: Will Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukyan (pictured, right) become the Armenian Bidzina Ivanishvili (pictured, left)? First President of the Republic of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian, the person behind this puzzle, is convinced that only Tsarukyan could be the Armenian Ivanishvili, and Tsarukyan, it seems, is beginning to seriously believe this. For several days now, his party has been in active consultations with representatives of opposition political parties. After such meetings, the participants say they are discussing how to lift the country from its current poor socioeconomic situation, among which, it seems, the option of regime change is not included. 

Uzbekistan: First Daughter Investigated For Money Laundering

March 13, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business No Comments
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16:15, March 13, 2014

Swiss authorities are investigating Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, for money laundering.

The Swiss public prosecutor’s office said it has expanded its original investigations into four people linked to the Karimovs into the “possible irregularities” in Uzbekistan’s telecommunications marketreports Reuters.

First daughter Gulnara Karimova

So far, authorities have frozen more than US $910 million related to the investigation.

Karimova, a 41-year-old businesswoman whose pop star stage name is “Googosha,” was the Uzbek ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva from December 2008 until last year. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

According to BBC, Karimova has been under investigation by Swiss authorities since September 2013, and her villa outside of Geneva was searched just weeks after she lost her diplomatic immunity.

China: Victims Claim Anti-Corruption Probe Employs Torture

March 11, 2014 Armenia, Business No Comments
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18:02, March 11, 2014

Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, thousands of citizens have been punished as part of a countrywide anti-graft sweep. However, according tothe Associated Press (AP), in some cases the Communist Party’s extrajudicial means of extracting confessions involves torture.

In their annual report to the National People’s Congress on Monday, China’s chief justice and prosecutor said that fighting corruption and terrorism will be the judiciary’s top priority this year, reports theSouth China Morning Post.

Dozens of high-ranking government officials and businessmen have already been arrested.According to Bloomberg, many of those targeted are associated with Zhou Yongkang, a retired member of the highest governing body in China, the Politburo Standing Committee.

Armenia’s cabinet discusses Doing Business 2013

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Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan chaired a discussion of the process of improving the Doing Business 2013.
Armenia’s Minister of Economy Vahram Avanesyan presented the details and relevant agencies’ analyses.
They presented reports on the reasons for delayed implementation of measures.
The premier instructed the organization of roundtables with the participation of parties concerned to inform the public of the steps to improve the Doing Business indicators.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Roadmap for power change?: PAP to hold political consultations with ANC

March 11, 2014 Armenia, Business, Georgia No Comments
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Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) leader Gagik Tsarukyan plans to hold consultations with the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) on a roadmap to forming a common political and economic agenda. This was announced by ANC parliamentary faction head Levon Zurabyan, who did not rule out that a meeting between ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan and PAP leader Tsarukyan could also be held in the future.

At the March 1 rally Armenia’s first president Ter-Petrosyan was quite warm in referring to Tsarukyan, as he compared him to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who managed to implement a soft power change in Georgia. Ter-Petrosyan expressed confidence that some layers of the state apparatus, as well as large businesses now tend to embrace the idea of radical changes.

Ter-Petrosian Allies In ‘Productive’ Talks With Tsarukian

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Close associates of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian held what they called “productive” talks with Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian on Tuesday, saying that it will lead to closer cooperation between their parties.

Tsarukian gave a far more cautious assessment of the meeting, however. He said through a spokeswoman that there are still “visible differences” between the BHK and Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK).

“We consider the meeting very productive because we reached agreement on very important issues,” the HAK’s parliamentary leader, Levon Zurabian, told reporters after the meeting held at the BHK headquarters.

“It is evident to both of us that this meeting laid the groundwork for deepening our cooperation. I don’t exclude that there will be much more meetings in the future,” said Zurabian. He did not rule out the possibility of Ter-Petrosian meeting with Tsarukian soon.

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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.

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10:24, March 14, 2014

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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.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

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Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.