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US Sanctions on Russian Banks Won’t Affect Armenian Subsidiary, Claims VTB Armenia

July 31, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan No Comments
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14:03, July 31, 2014

VTB Bank (Armenia) CJSC claims that the sanctions recently applied by the United States on three Russian state-owned banks won’t affect clients in Armenia.

The sanctions applied by the US on July 29 on the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank), the Bank of Moscow, and VTB prohibit US citizens or companies from acquiring joint stocks, dealing with debt carrying maturities longer than 90 days or with new equity at these three banks. In other words, American companies and citizens are prohibited from providing loans to these banks. 

Recall, VTB Bank JSC’s largest stakeholder is the Russian government (with a 61% share); in second place is Norges Bank (the Central Bank of Norway, with 4.3%), while third place is the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (with a share of around 2.9%).

Russia Slams U.S. ‘Threats’ To Armenia

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Russia condemned the United States on Thursday for warning Armenia against business dealings with Russian firms that have been sanctioned by Washington as well as the European Union.

The Russian Embassy in Armenia reacted to the “thinly veiled threats” to the Armenian government and business community just hours after a statement on the matter released by U.S. Embassy in the country.

“We express concern over American attempts to complicate the work of Russian business in the Republic of Armenia,” the Russian mission said in a statement. “All Russian companies present in Armenia, including the VTB Armenia and Areksimbank banks, are under its jurisdiction, operate within the framework of the country’s legislation, make profits and pay taxes in Armenia, and employ a considerable part of the population.”

Two Artsakh Soldiers Killed Repulsing Azerbaijani Incursdion

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12:34, July 31, 2014

The Artsakh Defense Army reports that two of its soldiers died from wounds received when their frontline unit repulsed an incursion by Azerbaijani forces earlier today.

The official communiqué says that the Azerbaijani unit retreated after sustaining heavy losses.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Double Whammy: European Court Hits Russia with $2.6 Billion Payment Demand in Yukos Case

July 31, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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12:44, July 31, 2014

Just days after some shareholders in the former oil giant Yukos won a $50 billion settlement in The Hague, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has awarded Yukos shareholders another 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in compensation, according to Reuters.

Shareholders had argued that Russia had unlawfully seized it after imposing bogus taxes and via a sham auction.

The Strasbourg-based court said Russia should also pay 300,000 euros in costs and expenses, plus any tax.

Yukos had sought compensation of just under $38 billion, according to the ruling. This was based on a valuation by a specialist energy firm, according to a source close to the claim.

Kylie Minogue to perform at Glasgow 2014 ceremony

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Kylie Minogue will perform alongside Lulu, Deacon Blue and Dougie MacLean at the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.The Hampden finale will begin at 21.00 on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the end of track and field events, BBC News reports.More than 2,000 volunteer performers will also take part in the ceremony, organisers confirmed.They promised to bring the curtain down on an “amazing games” with “a night out not to be missed”.Hampden Stadium will be transformed with more than 160 tonnes of staging, 3,000 props and 454 flags.About 40,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony which will be broadcast live on the BBC and in 71 Commonwealth nations and territories.Kylie Minogue’s performance will represent the Games’ transfer to her native Australia in 2018. 

Department of State’s religious freedom report not unbiased – opinions

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The US Department of State’s 2013 Religious Freedom Report on Armenia is estimated as biased and untrue by religious circles and national minority representatives.
What particularly raises controversies is the allegation that minority religious groups face discriminations against the backdrop of wide privileges granted to the Armenian Apostolic Church.
“Religious organizations are obliged to preserve and protect their own belief instead of engaging themselves in soul hunting. Nobody prevents them from pursuing their own belief. Such a statement could have been made only by individuals, circles and groups that are interested in destabilizing of Armenia and contributing to the Armenian nation’s internal splitting. What is mentioned there is absolutely untrue,” Archimandrite Komitas Hovnanyan told Tert.am, expressing his strong disagreement with the findings.
He said he is more than convinced that increased privileges to religious organizations are a major national security threat. “There are, so to say, religious minorities whose propaganda is based on plans to split the state institution. The youth, for instance, are called upon to avoid serving in the military, using weapons or protecting their country,” he noted.
Commenting on what the report described as privileges to the Armenian Apostolic Church, Mr Hovnanyan said, “The Armenian Apostolic Church does not actually have any privileges at all. It just follows that the publications on the Armenian Church contain no wrong records. The history of Armenian church is taught in schools by secular [teachers] not priests,” he added.
Hovnanyan said he believes that countries publishing such reports pursue specific interests, adding that Armenian state in turn is obliged to protect its own interests in such circumstances. “We must not let anyone speculate the concepts of freedom of conscience or speech by distorting their meaning. Freedom of conscience implies freedom of individual, not violence and coercion into adopting a belief of which the nation is not a follower,” he added.
Alexander Amaryan, the president of the Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Sects, agreed that granting wide privileges to the non-traditional religious groups is a threat to national security.
“All the data the Department of State publishes in the report are provided by local rights institutions which submit biased reports in an effort to extort grants. No other country is as tolerant as Armenia, as the laws here never place restrictions on religious organizations,” he added.
Amaryan said he thinks that restrictions exist in Europe not in Armenia, adding that the national churches in all countries enjoy certain privileges. “They all have begun assisting religious organizations and later complain about intolerance. That’s a bluff,” he said, describing the findings as an attempt to exert pressure on the Armenian authorities.
Aziz Tamoyan, the president of Armenia’s Yezidi community, also disagreed with the allegation that ethnic and religious minorities experience discrimination in the country. “We are free; nobody prevents us from preserving our national holidays and traditions. On the contrary, we here have our own schools, and it is thanks to Armenia that our culture develops around the world,” he said, adding that the Armenian Apostolic Church demonstrates respect for the Yezidis’ traditions.
“Why doesn’t [the United States of] America care about the disappearing Yezidi and Asyrian populations in the north of Iraq? Let them think of measures to prevent their Yezidis from changing their religion, as they are physically exterminated by Muslims,” Tamoyan noted.
The Jewish community’s president, Rima Varzhapetyan, also denied the reports about restrictions or violations against minority groups in Armenia.
Asked whether the community is concerned about the privileges granted to the national church, Varzhapetyan replied, “The Armenian Apostolic Church has always proven that it is very tolerant and progressive.”
According to Avetik Iskhanyan, Chairperson of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, the report is based on objective evaluations.
“Religious tolerance is really quite a serious issue in Armenia, as the media all the time conduct a one-sided propaganda. In secondary schools, the history of Armenian church is taught in an effort to conduct an anti-propaganda against other religious organizations. The children who receive such kind of education develop intolerance to other religious organizations,” he noted.
Asked whether it isn’t normal that the Armenian Apostolic Church has privileges as opposed to other religious groups, Ishkhanyan said, “International standards allow for granting privileges to a church, but that should not amount to a discriminatory attitude to other religious organizations. Our laws give the Apostolic Church monopolistic rights,” he added.
Asked whether higher privileges for other religious organizations would not be a national security threat, Ishkhanyan said he thinks just the other way about. “Religious intolerance is a real threat to Armenia’s security, as it splits up the nation on religious grounds,” he noted.
“Representatives of other religious organizations are oppressed in Armenia, because they never see themselves as full-fledged citizens. This is really a national security threat, because identifying an Armenian with the Armenian Apostolic Church really splits up the nation.” 

Ukraine parliament rejects premier’s resignation

July 31, 2014 Diaspora No Comments
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The Ukrainian parliament rejected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s resignation on Thursday after approving legislation he said was needed to boost spending on the army and avoid a default, The Globe and Mail reported.Yatsenyuk had tendered his resignation last week after lawmakers failed to support his proposed budget amendments at the first attempt. On Thursday, he was applauded by the deputies after they backed the amendments in a new vote and then voted overwhelmingly to block his resignation. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Uptrend in Armenia’s fruits, vegetables exports

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Armenia’s fruits and vegetables exports have totaled 27,370 tons against 37,000 tons in the corresponding period last year, Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture Robert Makaryan told Tert.am.
Grapes exports totaled 2,620 tons, and apricot exports 1,700 tons.
Potatoes exports totaled 19,443 tons, cabbage and cauliflower 1,493 tons, greens 731 tons, beet and radish 653 tons, pepper 60 tons, and beans 22 tons.
Mr Makaryan pointed out an uptrend in exports of fruits and vegetables, except for apricots.
Armenia mainly exports fruits and vegetables to Georgia, Russia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Source: TertOriginial Article

Haykakan Zhamanak: Apartment prices up in Yerevan

July 31, 2014 Diaspora No Comments
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The paper has cited the latest statistics by the State Committee of Real Estate Cadastre, which reveal an increase in the prices of houses in Yerevan.
The statistics particularly show that the prices of apartments increased by 1.3% in January-July compared to the same period of last year. As for the private houses, they are 0.5% more expensive, says the paper.

Source: TertOriginial Article

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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.

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Commentary

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.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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

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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.