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Armenian politician blames ruling party for migration

April 16, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Karabakh No Comments
Armenian News

An Armenian public-political figure on Wednesday described the ruling Republican Party as a major driving force of deportation.
Ashot Manucharyan, a former member of the Karabakh committee, blamed the governing political force for the deterioration of the country’s living standards, which he said often causes people to migrate.
“When the Artsakh [Karabakh] movement was launched in 1988, and the Sumgait events [pogroms] followed, the central government blamed the movement’s activists for extremism, and they enforced different sanctions. And what happened was that we received a letter from the criminal authorities. They promised that no law would be breached in the country which was in an extremely hard situation then. We are again in a hard situation now, and again receiving a letter, but the message’s content is now different – the looting will go on,” he added.
Addressing the cabinet change that follows the prime minister’s replacement, the politician said he doesn’t think it will increase the society’s trust in the government or lead to any positive development at all.

Nigeria violence: 70 killed in major bus blast

April 15, 2014 Arts, Diaspora No Comments
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More than 70 people have been killed in two blasts that rocked a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, BBC News reported, citing officials.
The blast happened as commuters were about to board buses and taxis to go to work in central Abuja, the BBC’s Haruna Tangaza reports.
Eyewitnesses say there are dead bodies scattered around the area.
Suspicion immediately fell on the Boko Haram Islamist militant group, which has staged previous attacks in Abuja.
However, most of its attacks have been in the north-east of the country.
Abbas Idris, head of the Abuja Emergency Relief Agency, told the BBC that so far they have confirmed 71 people dead and 124 injured.
Police spokesman Frank Mba gave the same figures, adding that 16 luxury coaches and 24 minibuses had been destroyed.
Eyewitness Badamasi Nyanya said he had seen 40 bodies being evacuated; other eyewitnesses say they saw rescue workers and police gathering body parts.
The blast ripped a hole four feet deep (1.2 metre) in the ground of Nyanya Motor Park, some 16km (10 miles) from the city centre, and destroyed more than 30 vehicles, causing secondary explosions as their fuel tanks ignited and burned, the Associated Press news agency reports.
Ambulances have been taking the dead and injured to nearby hospitals.

Nagorno-Karabakh PM congratulates Hovik Abrahamyan

April 14, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Karabakh No Comments
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The prime minister of Nagorno-Karabakh has congratulated his new Armenian counterpart on taking office.
In an official address to Hovik Abrahamyan, Ara Harutyunyan has expressed hope that his rich experience and reputation of a politician will contribute to the further development and strengthening of cooperation between the two Armenian republics.
“Dear Mr Abrahamyan,
“I cordially congratulate you on being appointed the Republic of Armenia prime minister. The high level of trust by Armenia’s president and the governing Republican Party demonstrate that you can make great the experience and good reputation of a politician offer the best solutions to the vital problems facing Armenia.
“I am sure that your activities as a prime minister will be effective and fruitful and have one of their key pointers directed to the prosperity-building of Artsakh. Since the beginning of our independence, the Armenian authorities have been maintaining close practical and friendly relations with the second Armenian republic, offering their best assistance to its development and strengthening. I am hopeful that you will deepen that tradition to make your dialogue and cooperation with the cabinet and the other branches of Artsakh’s government more expanded and multi-faceted.
“I wish you the best success in the new position,” reads the address. 

Swimming in Reality: Photojournalist finds escape in innovating, collecting


The little fish swimming carelessly in what used to be Soviet brand “Minsk” radio adapter, “Horizon” and “Elektron” TV sets are unaware of the Soviet biography of their new homes. Even the pages of Soviet-time “Vokrug Sveta” (Around the World) covering the radio set cannot orient them to the unusual origin of their surroundings.

“’Minsk’ was made in 1930, Stalin epoch. People I know give those to me instead of just disposing of them, because they know I collect them. I take the radio set apart, clean it, sand it, assemble it back and change it little bit,” tells photo-journalist Hayk Biyajyan, famous mostly for his “Ciao USSR” and “Vanishing Memories” projects.

Young Teacher and Dancer Jailed for 5 Months for Helping His Friend

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11:15, April 14, 2014

Hetq continues its series on those who were arrested with Shant Harutyunyan last November with today’s spotlight on 24 year-old Sevak Mnatsakanyan.

A phys ed teacher, Sevak was also a member of a dance troupe and would go on regular expeditions throughout Armenia and Karabakh, learning and teaching other youth about Armenian history and culture. A real patriot, Sevak, his father says, could not stand by idle in the face of injustice.

End of the road for ‘dirty’ fuels – UN

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A long awaited UN report on how to curb climate change says the world must rapidly move away from carbon intensive fuels, the BBC reports.
There must be a “massive shift” to renewable energy says the 33-page study released here in Berlin.
It has been finalized after a week of negotiations between scientists and government officials.
Natural gas is seen as a key bridge to move energy production away from oil and coal.
But there have been battles between participants over who will pay for this energy transition.
The Summary for Policymakers on mitigation paints a picture of a world with carbon emissions rising rapidly.
About half of all the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since 1750 has been emitted in the last 40 years.
Rates have been rising fast since 2000, despite the global economic crash.
The report points to an increased use of coal in the decade from the turn of the millennium , “reversing the longstanding trend of decarbonization of the world’s energy supply”.
Driven by a global increase in population and economic activity, global surface temperature increases will be between 3.7C and 4.8C in 2100 if no new action is taken.
This is way above the 2 degree level, regarded as the point beyond which dangerous impacts of climate change will be felt.
However, the scientists involved in the report say this situation can be turned around.
“It needs a big change in the energy sector, that is undoubtedly true,” said Prof Jim Skea, one of the senior authors of the study.
“One of the biggest areas that’s important is getting the carbon out of electricity, so renewable energy, nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, that’s all part of the menu if we are going to make the transition to stay under the 2 degree target.”
It is not a simple task. To be sure of staying below 2 degrees, the amount of carbon in the air needs to be around 450 parts per million by 2100. To get there, emissions in 2050 need to be 40-70% lower than they were in 2010.
The IPCC says that renewables are a critical part of that pathway.
Since the last report in 2007, the scientists say that renewable energy has come on in leaps and bounds.
In 2012, renewables accounted for just over half of the new electricity generation added around the world.
The scientists stress that renewables are becoming economically competitive with fossil fuels and also offer a range of other benefits, including clean air and energy security.
“It certainly is the end for carbon intensive fuels that’s for sure,” said Jennifer Morgan from the World Resources Institute, who was a review editor on one of the chapters of the IPCC report.
“There needs to be a massive shift away from fossil fuels and investment needs to shift to going 100% clean as fast as possible.”
One of the surprising endorsements in the report is natural gas.
“Emissions from energy supply can be reduced significantly by replacing current world average coal-fired power plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle power plants,” says the summary.
The report describes natural gas as a “bridge” technology with deployment increasing before peaking and falling below current levels by 2050.
However many of the scenarios examined by the panel would still involve an “overshoot” of the target range.
To cope with this the world may need to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Combining carbon capture and storage with bioenergy is seen as one potential solution, but the report is lukewarm on these ideas, saying the “methods are uncertain” and are “associated with risks”.
Timing is everything, say the scientists.
“Delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer-term emissions,” says the summary.

Armenia’s Gyumri hosts ‘Renaissance’ festival

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Armenia’s Gyumri is hosting the 6th international festival-contest of musicians ‘Renaissance.’
This year, the festival is marking the 135th birthday anniversary of Armen Tigranyan, 140th birthday anniversary of Sergey Rakhmaninov and 20th anniversary of the Nagorno-Karabakh war.
The festival is aimed at advocating classical music, promoting friendship between performers from different nations and paving the way for new types of creative cooperation. In total, 2,700 performers from 33 countries are participating in the festival.
Raisa Mkrtchyan, who represents Gyumri, says that many of the participants have very beautiful voice.
“It is very good, but they should first of all perform songs by Armenian composers well. I am surprised at Armenian voices. Armenian air and water may account for that.”
Hmayak Durzaryan, a jury member for string instruments, has noticed an interesting change in people’s attitude this year.
“In previous years, both the participants and Gyumri residents used to be sad. We all were shedding tears when we heard the songs, recalling the earthquake. May be this is the reason why we have been able to overcome. But this year we have noticed a luster in people’s eyes.”

Referendum on constitutional amendments likely in late 2015 or early 2016

April 12, 2014 Armenia, Arts No Comments

A referendum on constitutional amendments is likely to take place in late 2015 or early 2016, according to Armenian Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Harutyunyan.

“I believe that holding it later would not be logical given the fact that parliamentary and presidential elections are to be held in 2017 and 2018, respectively,” he told a news conference on Thursday, adding that the planned changes should be made at least one year before the electoral period starts.

Earlier that day an ad hoc presidential commission headed by Harutyunyan unveiled its draft “concept” of constitutional reform at a meeting with President Serzh Sargsyan.

Armenian Villagers Buckle Under Weight of Bank Loans: Frost will Increase Emigration and Crime

April 11, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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14:15, April 11, 2014

The recent frost that struck Armenia at the end of March has hit rural communities the hardest. Residents of one village say because of the frost they are barely able to make their loan payments, adding that the frost could even lead to increased emigration and crime.

Zhora Ordoyan has been tending to his 4000-square-meter apricot orchard with his family since February. First, he hoed then fertilized land, hoping to get an abundant harvest this year. But, after last month’s sudden frost, he lost all hope. He goes to the orchard today too — but now to count his losses.

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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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10:24, March 14, 2014

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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


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


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


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.