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OCCRP Reporter Detained in Moscow, Banned from Russia until 2020

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22:35, May 26, 2015

OCCRP journalist Stevan Dojčinović has been detained for 20 hours in a Moscow airport without explanation, deported, and banned from entering Russia until 2020.

Dojčinović was due to give a lecture at the Faculty of Journalism in the Russian city of Voronezh.

But as his passport was scanned at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on May 13, an alert appeared in the computer system and the border guard told Dojčinović to sit down. After an hour’s wait, police arrived and took him to a room for questioning.

Dojčinović said that in the interrogation room a portrait of President Vladimir Putin bearing the words “Our Commander in Chief” hung alongside a long table. Officers presented Dojčinović with a document in Russian which he was asked to sign, while another police officer filmed the proceedings.

Armenia Police Sign $314K Contract for Promotional Films and Videos

May 23, 2015 Armenia, Film, Video No Comments
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11:50, May 23, 2015

Armenia’s Police Department has placed an order with Armenia Public TV to produce fourteen 26 minute films in a series entitled “My Army”.

The TV station will also be producing a 16 part series for the police on Yerevan detective stories.

The Police signed a 150 million AMD (US$314,260) contract with Armenia Public TV last March to produce the videos and films.

The contract states that the “My Army” series is tasked with “Depicting the powerful reality of Armenia’s armed forces and to show the Armenian and international public the technical and physical resources of our army and the fighting spirit of the Armenian soldier.”

What Prospects will the Venice Golden Lion Award Have for Armenia?

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19:00, May 12, 2015

On May 9, Armenia won the Venice Biennale 2015 Golden Lion award for Best National Participation. The pavilion curator for Armenia was Adelina Cuberyan von Furstenberg, who curated around the theme of “Armenity.” The chosen name wasn’t a random one—it comes from the French term Arménité, which is used by French-Armenian youth to portray the survivors of the Armenian Genocide. 

The Armenian pavilion is installed on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice, and 18 artists represent Armenia. Von Furstenberg described the group as a “transnational” assembly. The only representative from the Republic of Armenia is sculptor Mikayel Ohanjanyan, although he currently lives in Italy.

Atom Egoyan: 100 years ago today, the Armenian nightmare began

April 25, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Film, Turkey No Comments
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16:05, April 24, 2015

The following is adapted from a speech delivered outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto, marking the centenary of the start of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 1915.

One hundred years ago, my grandparents could never have imagined the calamity that would befall them. They watched in horror as their lives were ripped away, as their families were murdered before their eyes.

The next hundred years would see an unfurling of atrocities the likes of which humankind had never before experienced — state-orchestrated murder on a scale unimaginable before the toxic combination of modern science, sophisticated weaponry, and twisted ideology. We can now understand that the Armenian Genocide should have been a warning call.

Five Minutes with Serj Tankian

April 20, 2015 Armenia, Film, Music, Turkey, Video No Comments
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22:19, April 20, 2015

By Jason Sohigian, An exclusive for Hetq Online 

This virtual interview was conducted with artist/activist Serj Tankian just as he was about to hit the stage with System of a Down in Moscow. The band has been on the road as part of the Wake Up The Souls tour to raise global awareness of the Armenian Genocide. Tankian and his bandmates have been featured in numerous interviews about the tour including Reddit, Rolling Stone and NPR. 

System of a Down arrives in Yerevan on Thursday for their long-anticipated first-ever performance in Armenia. The free outdoor concert in Republic Square will be streamed on the worldwide web on April 23rd, making it their most widely viewed performance of all time. The band has a huge global following with 20 million fans on Facebook alone, so this is expected to be a huge multimedia event raising awareness of the Genocide. 

OCCRP Launches 1st Documentary: Feud Between Kremlin Connected Businessmen

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Business, Film No Comments
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17:35, April 17, 2015

Today OCCRP launches “Killers Inc.,” its first independently produced investigative documentary. The film is the result of a two-year, multi-country investigation examining a violent feud between businessmen connected to the Kremlin, and the criminal groups and assassins-for-hire tasked with settling their scores.

On the evening of March 20, 2012, Gherman Gorbuntsov, a controversial Russian banker living in self-exile in England, entered his apartment in East London. As the door closed behind him, an assassin shot the banker multiple times. Gorbuntsov lived, barely, but the question of who ultimately sent the assassin pointed to Gorbuntsov’s Russian past, and the Kremlin-connected businessmen he once considered his partners.

New Street Photography Book Chronicles the Legacy of Bourj Hammoud

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12:41, April 16, 2015

Beirut Neighborhood Became Home to Thousands of Armenian Genocide Survivors

On the occasion of the Armenian Genocide Centennial and the 40th anniversary of the start of the Lebanese Civil War, filmmaker and documentarian Ara Madzounian is releasing a book of original photographs that chronicles Bourj Hammoud, the Beirut suburb which became home for Armenian Genocide survivors.

Madzounian, who was born in Bourj Hammoud to parents who survived the Armenian Genocide, has been at the helm of scores of Armenian and non-Armenian multimedia projects around the world. His resume includes directing films, documentaries, producing popular music and telethons and performing theatrical productions.

Kim Kardashian Starts Landmark Trip To Armenia


Kim Kardashian, the world-famous U.S. reality TV star of Armenian descent, began on Wednesday a first-ever visit to Armenia that will put her ancestral homeland under an international spotlight.


Armenia – Kim Kardashian and her sister Khloe arrive at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport, 8Apr2015.

Kardashian arrived at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport together with her husband, American rapper Kanye West, daughter North and sister Khloe. They were accompanied by camera crews from a U.S. broadcaster that will film several episodes of the reality series “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”

No official meetings or press conferences are planned during the high-profile trip timed to coincide with the 100th century of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. Kardashian and her family members are expected to visit the genocide memorial in Yerevan.

International Conference – The Armenian Genocide Legacy 100 Years On

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12:34, April 8, 2015

On March 5-7, 2015, 22 experts gathered for a conference at The Hague Institute for Global Justice to look at the legacy of the Armenian Genocide from the perspective of law, humanities, media, arts and letters, politics and education.

Speakers focused on the influence that the 1915 Genocide and its denial have had on research and practice in their disciplines. The conference was organized by Alexis Demirdjian (Centennial Project Foundation), the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) and the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies (USC IAS).

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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.


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.