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Armenian Exporters Hit Hard By Russian Currency Meltdown

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Armenian exporters of agricultural products, processed foodstuffs and beverages to Russia are incurring growing losses because of the dramatic depreciation of the Russian ruble, an Armenian business association said on Friday.

According to the Union of Employers, dozens of such firms have stopped shipments to Russia in recent months following sharp decreases in their real revenue. The union’s chairman, Gagik Makarian, claimed that some of them, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are now on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Russian ruble has depreciated by almost half over the past year due to the combined impact of falling oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Russia. By contrast, the Armenian dram has lost less than one-fifth of its value against the U.S. dollar, making Armenian exports to Russia much more expensive.

Armenian President Pays State Visit to China; Sectors of Cooperation Cited

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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15:18, March 27, 2015

During his state visit to the People’s Republic of China, Armenian President SerzhSargsyan today met with Li Keqiang, Premier of the PRC State Council and welcomed Beijing’s initiative to restore the Great Silk Road, a project in which Sargsyan said Armenia could contribute to.

In that context, the sides touched upon the possibility that Chinese companies could get involved  in the construction projects of the North-South Road Corridor in Armenia, the Armenia-Iran railway and a new nuclear plant.

The parties discussed a broad range of issues related to the deepening of bilateral relations in a number of mutually beneficial and promising areas and to utilizing the full potential of Armenian-Chinese collaboration for the benefit of the two friendly countries. Those areas include energy, transport, chemical industry, education, science, culture, agriculture, aviation, tourism, infrastructure development, as well as a number of other areas.

$4,110 Dinner: Estonia’s Honorary Consul to Armenia Is Also in the Catering Biz

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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16:15, March 27, 2015

Last October 3, the Yerevan Municipality spent 1.938 million AMD (US$4,110) on a reception to mark Teacher’s Day.

A contract was signed with Aries Catering for the 400 person reception.

On December 25, Aires also catered a New Year’s gala for the municipality at a cost of 1.722 million AMD ($3,650). This was a somewhat smaller affair for 350 guests.

Aires Catering was established in 2003 by Aires Ltd., a company now non-operational according to Armenia’s State Corporate Registry.

This company is owned by Avetik Ghukasyan, Estonia’s honorary consul to Armenia since 2002. The address of the consul is the same as that of Aries Catering.

Paralyzed Ex-Soldier Denied Funding For Treatment

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A demobilized Armenian soldier who was gravely wounded in action three years ago risks remaining paralyzed for the rest of his life after the Armenian military has refused to finance his further expensive treatment abroad.

Gevorg Yeghiazarian has been mostly confined to bed ever since an Azerbaijani sniper’s bullet hit his spine in December 2011. He was briefly able to sit and move around in a wheelchair in 2012 after undergoing five-week treatment in Israel, which cost Armenia’s Defense Ministry $70,000.

Citing a lack of funds, the ministry subsequently refused to allocate $56,000 needed for the second phase of his recovery at an Israeli clinic. With Armenia lacking the kind of sophisticated medical facilities that are required for such treatment, Yeghiazarian’s condition has deteriorated since then. The former conscript is now not only confined to bed but also barely able to speak and can breathe and eat only with special tubes.

Mainstream Opposition To Shun Anti-Government Protests

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Armenia’s leading opposition parties represented in parliament made clear on Friday that they will not join nonstop anti-government protests in Yerevan planned by another, more radical opposition group.

One of them, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), condemned the Founding Parliament movement for timing the start of its campaign to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey to be marked on April 24.

Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, Armen Rustamian, said the Founding Parliament’s declared drive to oust President Serzh Sarkisian could overshadow the centenary commemorations and undermine the Armenian campaign for greater international recognition of the 1915 genocide.

Rustamian also urged the Armenian government to take “preventive” measures against leaders of the extraparliamentary group. “What if they organize an explosion? Shouldn’t they be caught?” he told reporters.

Situation Remains Tense Along Artsakh – Azerbaijan Frontline

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan No Comments
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09:30, March 26, 2015

The Artsakh Ministry of Defense reports that the situation remains tense along the frontline with Azerbaijan.

The ministry says that Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire some 140 times last night, firing over 1,700 rounds of various caliber weapons.

The ministry says that Armenian forces responded by neutralizing Azerbaijani gun emplacements. 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Central America: Journalists Launch New Database of Controversial Figures

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Business No Comments
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17:38, March 26, 2015

Journalists in Mexico and Central America have created a groundbreaking new database compiling information on leading controversial figures, or persons of interest to the media, including persons involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other organized crime activities.

The major project builds on OCCRP’s ongoing ”People of Interest” initiative, whose aim is to provide a free-of-charge tool for anyone wanting access to information on organized crime figures that is otherwise difficult to obtain.

It includes data on judiciary files, properties, businesses and the personal relationships of more than 300 of the most important names linked to organized crime in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salavador and Costa Rica.

AGBU’s Upcoming General Assembly in Yerevan to Tackle Armenia-Diaspora Relations

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13:31, March 26, 2015

On April 4, 2015 more than 300 delegates of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) will participate in the 88th General Assembly at the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) in Yerevan, Armenia.

The event will give the delegates the opportunity to reassert their commitment to strengthening relations between Armenia and the diaspora, as well as rediscovering Armenia’s cultural treasures and its potential for development.

The 88th General Assembly is aimed at creating a discussion platform and giving participants greater insight into AGBU’s undertakings. As part of the General Assembly, three panel discussions will be held between April 1 and April 3.

“The 100 Years, 100 Facts Project” Charges Ahead in Turkish, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian

March 26, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Turkey No Comments
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21:59, March 25, 2015

The 100 Years, 100 Facts Project has launched the Turkish version of its website – “100 Yıl, 100 Gerek” (100yil100gercek.com) – raising the total number of languages to six.

Portuguese was the first language into which this year-long online educational initiative was translated(100anos100fatos.com.br), thanks to volunteers at the Brazilian-ArmenianPortal Estao Armnia, who began to work onpresenting the one hundred entries on Armenian history and culture back when the website went liveonApril 24, 2014. More volunteering from a group of French-Armenian students led by Artem Asryan launched a French version online in early 2015 (100ans100faits.fr). Argentine Debora Babiszenko took on the task in late February of translating 100 Years, 100 Facts into Spanish (100anos100hechos.com). Finally, the website has recently also been made available in Russian (100let100faktov.ru) thanks to the efforts of the Sevan Community.

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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.