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Baku Blasts ‘Pro-Armenian’ Reports Of Soldier Deaths

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Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry condemned on Wednesday domestic media reports that more Azerbaijani soldiers have died in recent days, saying that they play into Armenia’s hands.

“Some local online media outlets are spreading from unknown sources incredible information amounting to rumors about casualties sustained by our Armed Forces,” the ministry said in a statement cited by the APA news agency.

It said that information “serves Armenia’s interests” and is aimed at “casting a shadow on Azerbaijan’s military achievements.”

“The [ethnic] origin of some persons, who serve the Armenian interests by circulating officially unconfirmed, exaggerated and often untrue news reports, is starting to cause suspicions,” the ministry added, apparently threatening to accuse them of being of Armenian descent.

Azerbaijan: Aliyev Family, Friends Cruise Aboard SOCAR Super Yachts

September 2, 2015 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Business No Comments
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09:59, September 2, 2015

BY IGGY OSTANIN (BELLINGCAT) AND LORENZO DI PIETRO (IRPI)

Friends and family of President Ilham Aliyev make free use of two luxury yachts worth US$ 59 million that are owned by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), the organization charged with managing the country’s oil wealth for its citizens.

That means the yachts deprive Azerbaijani citizens of about US$ 12 million per year in oil profits—the amount experts say such yachts typically cost to run. That’s in addition to the US$ 2,000 worth of fuel per hour that the yachts consume.

It’s not the first time SOCAR has been so accommodating to the Aliyevs. The First Family previously used SOCAR to register their US$ 25 million London mansion.

Opposition Party Sees Government Concession On Constitution

September 1, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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President Serzh Sarkisian will likely drop one of his most controversial draft constitutional changes regulating the conduct of parliamentary elections, the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) said on Tuesday.

BHK leaders claimed to have received such assurances from two members of a presidential commission that put forward amendments envisaging Armenia’s switch to a parliamentary system of government.

The commission members, Hrayr Tovmasian and Vartan Poghosian, began fresh consultations with virtually all parties represented in the Armenian parliament on Monday just days after their leaders held talks on the matter with Sarkisian. The talks followed the publication of what was supposed to be the final version of Sarkisian’s constitutional package. They highlighted the president’s apparent readiness to make further changes in the draft in order to muster broad-based political support for the constitutional reform.

Azerbaijan: Khadija Ismayilova Sentenced to 7.5 Years in Prison

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17:41, September 1, 2015

Khadija Ismayilova, who is known for her investigative reporting on corruption in Azerbaijan, was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison today by the Azerbaijani authorities.

Ismayilova, a senior reporter for OCCRP and Azadliq Radio (the Azerbaijani branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), was found guilty in Baku’s Court of Grave Crimes of charges of embezzlement, tax evasion, abuse of power and running an illegal business – charges human rights groups say are politically motivated.

She was acquitted of the charge of inciting former colleague Tural Mustafayev to attempt suicide. Earlier in the trial, Mustafayev recanted his accusations against Ismayilova, which he said were made under pressure.

According to Khadija’s mother, Almira Ismayilova, Ismayilova laughed as the verdict was announced.

OSCE Representative and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights condemn sentencing of journalist Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan

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17:58, September 1, 2015

STRASBOURG/VIENNA, 1 September 2015 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, today condemned the sentencing of Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

“The charges brought against Ismayilova, and the trial, are unjust; they constitute yet another clear signal that the authorities are continuing to silence critical voices in Azerbaijan,” Mijatović said. “I reiterate my call on the government in Azerbaijan to stop targeting journalists.”

“Khadija Ismayilova pays for her courageous work as investigative journalist in a country where critical voices are muzzled one after the other. This sentence strikes yet another blow to respect for human rights and adherence to democracy and the rule of law in Azerbaijan,” Muižnieks said.

Armenia: The Dark Years of Independence

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10:38, September 1, 2015

By Vrej Haroutounian

Previous Article

We clearly remember flying into the Yerevan airport in May of 1993. Except for several lights on the runway, the capital city of the Republic of Armenia was dark. There were no streetlights. Not a single house was illuminated by an electric light bulb. We didn’t even see the headlights of automobiles. From the air, Yerevan looked like it must have appeared in the Middle Ages.

Miller and Miller, 1993, p.97

Armenia in 1991, after 70 years of Soviet rule, became independent and Armenians celebrated their new-found freedom.

Azerbaijan Blacklists Maestro Marciano Over Artsakh Visit

September 1, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan, Music No Comments
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10:46, September 1, 2015

Gianluca Marciano, Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Tbilisi State Opera & Balle Theater and Artistic Director of the Al Bustan festival in Beirut, has been blacklisted by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs because he will be travelling today to Artskah for the premiere of Verdi’s Requiem.

Marciano was invited to attend the performance by Armenia’s First Lady Rita Sargsyan.

Several days ago Marciano told reporters that he was not at all concerned about being blacklisted by Baku and that the program in Artskah was a cultural one that spoke of peace.

Baku Hints At Green Light For Armenian Soccer Star

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The authorities in Baku signaled on Monday that they will not deport or arrest Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenia’s most famous football player, if he arrives in Azerbaijan to play in his German club’s upcoming match against an Azerbaijani team.

Mkhitaryan’s Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s strongest sides, and Azerbaijan’s Qabala were last week drawn together in Group C of the UEFA Europa League, a major club soccer tournament. The first of the two games between them is scheduled to be played in Azerbaijan on October 22.

Journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s Final Statement to Azerbaijan Court

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17:27, August 31, 2015

The following text is from Khadija Ismayilova’s statement given today to Azerbaijan’s Court of Grave Crimes in Baku.

Ismayilova was able to read all but the last few sentences of her statement in court. She received three warnings after the prosecutor complained that she was not sticking to the essential elements of her case. The judge eventually left the courtroom to begin sentence deliberations, according to an observer in the courtroom.

Ismayilova is an investigative reporter for OCCRP and Azadliq Radio (the Azerbaijani branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) who is on trial for charges including embezzlement, tax evasion, running an illegal business, and inciting a former colleague to attempt suicide.

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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.