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Ukraine’s Former Agriculture Minister ‘Took Harley-Davidson as a Bribe’

August 8, 2015 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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21:10, August 8, 2015

Ukraine’s former agriculture minister and a member of right-wing nationalist Svoboda Party Ihor Shvaika is suspected of taking a bribe worth 250,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (US$ 11,835), Ukrainian authorities report.

Shvaika allegedly received a Harley-Davidson motorbike from the State Food-Grain Corporationin August 2014 for making decisions in the interest of the company, reads a Kyiv Pechersk district court ruling from July 29. The documents for the motorbike reportedly bear Shvaika’s signature. Police are working to confirm its authenticity.

In the meantime, the general prosecutor’s office has received documents from the Agriculture Ministry including official statements signed by Shvaika as well as his tax declarations for 2013-2014. Criminal proceedings have begun against Shvaika, who now faces charges of corruption and bribe extortion.

Artsakh Army Takes Countermeasures to Quell Azerbaijani Firing

August 8, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan No Comments
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13:32, August 8, 2015

Between August 2 and 8, Azerbaijan violated the Line of Contact ceasefire 900 times, firing more than 14,000 rounds, according to the Artsakh Defense Army (ADA).

The ADA says it took countermeasures to quell the Azerbaijani firing. 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Yerevan: Soviet Idealism to Soviet Reality

August 8, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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15:08, August 8, 2015

By Vrej Haroutounian

Previous Article

“You have the five-storey buildings, and then you have the multi-storey social and cultural demise of architecture Khrushchev era buildings. Those buildings show how little and unimportant you are, and how you’re just a part of something big… “

Yerevan Interviewee


Contemporary Yerevan is an expression of a multitude of ideas, ideals, and ideologies, and their manifestation, as an ideology, is produced, expressed and reacts to economic, cultural or political influences.

Lawyers Criticize Armenian Constitutional Amendments


About two dozen Armenian lawyers have launched a campaign against the proposed amendments to Armenia’s Constitution, discarding them as “a waste of resources” aimed at serving the interests of the ruling party.

The lawyers say they are currently involved in studying the 15 chapters of the new draft Constitution released by the expert commission drafting the amendments to expose what they describe as “dangerous points”.

Some legal experts working in European countries have also joined the campaign.

Lawyer Gevorg Gyozalian says they are not going to participate in any substantive discussion concerning the new Constitution and will not submit any proposals to the Constitutional Reform Commission as they believe that there is no need for constitutional changes in Armenia at this stage. They believe Armenia’s current problems are not connected with the Constitution.

Late November ‘Realistic’ Time For Constitutional Referendum

August 5, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Europe, Top News No Comments

A popular referendum on constitutional amendments may be held as early as at the end of November, according to a member of the expert commission working on the draft.

Vardan Poghosian believes this timeframe is “realistic” after the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) has released all 15 chapters of the new Constitution and is going to also publish the transitional provisions soon.

According to him, the full draft and not just parts of it will also be sent to the Venice Commission, which is an advisory body of the Council of Europe.

“We expect the Venice Commission to express its opinion on all chapters, and the final conclusion will be in October when the body’s plenary session is due,” Poghosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am).

Stay or Leave? – Aleppo’s Asmaryan Brothers Operate Agricultural Venture in Artsakh

August 5, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Business No Comments
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16:23, August 4, 2015

The August sun is scorching. No one can be seen working in the fields of Berkadzor, Artsakh, except for the extended family of the Asmaryan brothers

Vrej is operating the tractor, digging holes for grapevines. His brother Hovig, along with wife Isabel and eldest son Levon, are harvesting Persian peaches.

Hovig and Vrej Asmaryan moved from Aleppo three years ago, resettling in the village of Berkadzor in the Askeran region of Artsakh. They started a farm on 15 hectares of land where 3,000 fruit trees of ten varieties and other vegetables are grown.

“We were supposed to plant eleven varieties of citrus saplings on the banks of the River Arax, but couldn’t. They are still kept in the hothouse. Hopefully we will finally have a citrus field next year,” says Hovig.

Electricity Price Hike Protesters Demand Resignation Of Utilities Commission

August 4, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Top News No Comments

An Armenian civil group campaigning against rising energy tariffs is demanding that current members of the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) resign after the utilities body failed to reverse its decision approving a 16-percent hike in electricity prices from August 1.

Following street protests in Yerevan earlier this summer the Armenian government agreed to subsidize the price hike, but protesters believe it is still taxpayer money being used as compensation to the loss-making Russian-owned company that manages Armenia’s power grid.

Sixth Pan-Armenian Games Kick Off In Yerevan


The Sixth Pan-Armenian Games have opened in Yerevan, bringing together over 6,300 athletes from Armenia and Armenian communities abroad.

The Games, currently held every four years, are designed to foster closer relationships between Armenia and its far-flung Diaspora.

Armenia is an ethnically homogenous country that has a population of about 3 million. But twice as many ethnic Armenians are believed to live abroad. Most of them are descendants of survivors of the 1915 massacres in Ottoman Turkey that more than two dozen governments of the world as well as many historians recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Tumanyan’s Ice Box: A Must Have Item for the Hospitable Writer

August 1, 2015 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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16:59, August 1, 2015

Anna Babajanyan

One of the more interesting items on display at the Hovhannes Tumanyan museum is the icebox that once stored all types of food items that the famous writer served the numerous visitors that paid a call to his Tiflis abode.

Tumanyan, who resettled in Tiflis, cherished the meals he ate as a child in his native Dsegh.

Known for his hospitality, Tumanyan would have the ice box stocked with cold drinks, fruits and vegetables to serve his guests.

After visiting Tumanyan, the writer Vahan Teryan once wrote a small ditty about his impressions: “Anyone who hasn’t sat down for a party at Tumanyan’s palace has yet to see laughter, has yet to see the world.”

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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.