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The City of Socialist Man

July 1, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Culture No Comments
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15:41, July 1, 2015

By Vrej Haroutounian

(Article 3)

“Our cities became socialist from the very moment of the October Revolution, when we expropriated the bourgeoisie and socialized the means of production”

Lazar Kaganovich

Older Yerevan residents have a way of remembering city life in the good old days of the Soviet Union.

Aliyev Family Owns Some of the Best Hotels in Baku

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10:55, June 29, 2015

BY KHADIJA ISMAYILOVA 

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has spent billions on capturing the world’s attention to the European Games in his Caspian seaside capital of Baku. He has spared no expense, including slapping plastic facades on tired buildings, building new roads and booking megastar Lady Gaga for the Opening Ceremonies. The best hotels are booked solid.

In its two-week run, the first-ever competition played host to and showcased 6,000 athletes and 3,000 officials and support staff from 50 countries.

While taxpayers ultimately foot the bill for this, two privileged citizens have been massively enriched by the games: the president’s daughters.

ATP Honors Genocide Centennial by Launching ‘Living Century Initiative’

June 29, 2015 Armenia, Arts No Comments
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14:34, June 29, 2015

Armenia Tree Project has initiated a new campaign called the Living Century Initiative, which enables Armenians to plant trees in remembrance of the Genocide.

“Through the Living Century Initiative, we are establishing 10 forests in northern Armenia that are aligned with the major Western Armenian communities that were devastated by the Genocide,” explains Executive Director Jeanmarie Papelian. “We are inviting Armenians from around the world to sponsor trees in living memory and in honor of their relatives and ancestral communities. LCI provides an opportunity to plant the new Adana, Kharpert or Marash forest, or wherever your family roots may have been.”

No to Plunder, No to Maidan

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13:30, June 26, 2015

 By Markar Melkonian  

Whether or not the demonstrators understand it, they are repudiating the generation of pro-Western leaders who long ago set the stage for the privatization of the energy sector in Armenia—and of the public transport system, agriculture, and pensions, too.  

No Soviet-era poster of square-jawed mechanics marching arm-in-arm with women in overalls could better depict the struggle of the have-nots against the haves than did yesterday’s smart phone photos of demonstrators on Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan. 

Teenagers and 20-somethings lock arms in a nightlong vigil.  A young woman stands up to a phalanx of shields and cops in full battle dress.  Protesters huddling against a water cannon give the cops “the finger,” while others pull themselves under the prow of an armored van, too close for the water cannon to hit them. 

Two Azeri Soldiers Found Dead On Armenian Border

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Armenia on Thursday allowed Azerbaijan to evacuate the bodies of two Azerbaijani soldiers who were found dead near Armenian army positions on the border between the two warring nations.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said the bodies of the two sergeants, Musa Musayev and Tural Yolchuyev, were found earlier in the day on “the opposite side” of the frontier protected by landmines. It said their repatriation was mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The APA news agency quoted a spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Baku as confirming that the Red Cross acted as an “impartial mediator in the humanitarian operation agreed by Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

Armenian Leader Off To Brussels Amid Growing Protests At Home

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President Serzh Sarkisian flew to Brussels on Wednesday evening to attend a meeting of European politicians, continuing to avoid public statements on nonstop street protests in Yerevan against a rise in electricity prices in Armenia.

The protests seemed to be gaining momentum one day after the Armenian authorities tried to quell them by dispersing and arresting young activists camped out on a major street in the city center, just a few hundred meters from the presidential palace. All of them were set free by Tuesday evening.

Azeri Soldiers Missing ‘On Armenian Border’

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The Armenian army has expressed readiness to help military authorities in Baku locate and evacuate two Azerbaijani soldiers who reportedly went missing on Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia earlier this week.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that the two sergeants, Musa Musayev and Tural Yolchuyev, may have accidentally strayed into Armenia’s northern Tavush province from the Gazakh district in western Azerbaijan. It said it is investigating precise circumstances of their disappearance.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan insisted afterwards, however, that no Azerbaijani soldiers crossed the heavily militarized Armenian border in the area.

“I can’t confirm or deny that there was an attempt to cross the border because that is possible and there are such precedents,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But I can state for certain that we are holding no Azerbaijani servicemen.”

Syunik’s Kornidzor Village: Once Fertile Fields Lie Fallow

June 24, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Culture, Video No Comments
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13:54, June 24, 2015

Mariam Matevosyan

Residents of Kornidzor, a village of some 1,300 souls in Armenia’s southern Syunik Province, say they had bountiful fields in the Soviet era and that agriculture was their main source of income.

Today, they lament the fact that most of their fields remain uncultivated and overgrown.

Community head Arkadya Khachatryan says that the village used to supply the entire are with vegetables. Now, he says, produce amounts have fallen, partly due to the fact that it cannot be sold. Most of the produce is sold in neighboring Artsakh.

1,043 hectares of the community’s 1,224 hectares of cultivable land is in private hands. The rest is leased. Wheat, barley, potatoes, and recently peas and chickpeas, are the main crops. A fledgling hothouse sector has always started.

Turkey: Smugglers Caught With Cesium, Gems On Georgian Border

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19:59, June 23, 2015

Border guards at the Sarpi checkpoint between Turkey and Georgia Friday detained two Georgian nationals for allegedly carrying 1.2 kg of cesium, a highly radioactive substance that can be used to build “dirty bombs.” 

The suspects were also carrying a mercury-like substance, and nine gemstones in their luggage. The pair were caught after setting off the alarm on an x-ray body scanner.

Turkish press reports that the confiscated materials have a market value of roughly US$ 2.5 million. Dirty bombs work by disseminating radioactive material like shrapnel over a wide area.

Cesium can also used for scientific, industrial, and medical purposes. The seized chemicals were delivered to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

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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.