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Sex Ed a Taboo in Armenia: If Taught at All, It’s by Phys Ed Teachers, Some 80 Years Old

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15:45, February 27, 2015

By Karine Aghajanyan 

Sex Ed is the process of educating people about sex, but in Armenia it is not as simple as that.

There is a lack of sex education structure. Both society and government do not think it is an essential part of civilized society. Thus, I wanted to understand where the shame and silence surrounding it comes from.

Traditionally, adolescents in many cultures were not given any information on sexual matters since discussions of these issues have been considered taboo. Given that Armenian culture and society are very conservative, this is a huge taboo surrounded by fear and misconceptions.

Russian Senator Slams Pro-EU NGOs in Armenia

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A senior member of the Russian legislature has reminded Armenia of the Ukrainian experience, stressing that having a large number of non-governmental organizations advocating integration with the European Union is “unacceptable”. 

At a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the International Affairs Committee at the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, at the same time expressed a hope that Armenia will “manage to avoid Ukraine’s experience of facing a choice” between Eurasian and European integrations.

Two years ago Armenia was on track to sign an association agreement with the European Union as part of the Eastern Partnership Program that also involved Ukraine and four other former Soviet nations. But in September 2013 under apparent pressure from Moscow authorities in Yerevan made a U-turn opting instead for integration with the Russian-led customs union.

Armenian Opposition In Limbo After Government Crackdown

February 27, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Business, Top News No Comments
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Armenia’s major opposition parties remain vague on their immediate steps after Prosperous Armenia (BHK), admittedly the most influential of them, came under huge government pressure earlier this month.

The BHK led by tycoon Gagik Tsarukian dramatically toned down its criticism of President Serzh Sarkisian and his government after suffering the consequences of what appeared to be a crackdown unleashed by the head of state.

Sarkisian and senior members of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) lashed out at Tsarukian on February 12 after the BHK leader effectively presented them with an “ultimatum” – to give up controversial plans for a constitutional reform or face sustained street protests seeking to oust the current administration.

Amnesty International World Report: 2014 a ‘Year of Regression’

February 26, 2015 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe No Comments
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21:37, February 26, 2015

Amnesty International’s report for 2014 has condemned the response of the international community to worsening human rights abuses across the globe.

Amnesty, which released its annual report yesterday, said last year marked a nadir in the global state of human rights that was not due simply to a stalling of progress, but a “regression”.

The report is highly critical of Azerbaijan’s government over its silencing of critics, particularly the currently-jailed OCCRP and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty journalist Khadija Ismayilova, whom Amnesty has named a prisoner of conscience. Ismayilova was targeted by authorities after publishing investigations into corruption amongst the oil-rich country’s political elite.

Armenian Mining Exec – International Investors Interested in Gegharkounik Gold Fields

February 26, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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10:00, February 26, 2015

Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection has given the green light for International Gold to conduct geological studies around the Tzarasar goldfield in Armenia’s Gegharkounik Province.

The area in question is 7.5 kilometers southeast of the Verin Shorzha village and 20 kilometers from the town of Vardenis on the shore of Lake Sevan.

Mher Simonyan, the sole shareholder of the recently established company, also serves as its director. Simonyan represents several international mining concerns in Armenia. He also served as director of Aratta Mining which conducted exploratory studies in the regions of Verin Shorzha, Koghasar, Jil Aregouni and Makenis.

Armenia Considers Tax Advantages For Large Exporters

February 26, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Asia, Business, Top News No Comments
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A government-drafted bill setting a considerably reduced profit tax rate for large-scale exporters has sparked debate in Armenia after reaching the National Assembly this week.

In an effort to attract more foreign investment, the Armenian government last month unveiled its plans to cut the tax from 20 to just 2 percent for manufacturing companies annually exporting at least 50 billion drams ($106 million) worth of goods other than metals and ores.

An elaborated bill setting the export volume threshold at $40 billion drams (about $84 million) and envisaging a 5-percent corporate profit tax was put on the agenda of this week’s four-day session at the National Assembly.

Armenia Again Slams Turkish ‘Preconditions’ For Normalization

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Armenia has rejected the latest Turkish demand to end “the occupation of Azerbaijan” before the diplomatic protocols signed between the two countries in 2009 can be implemented.

The kind of precondition to official Yerevan was reiterated by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who paid a visit to Baku this week.

At a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, Cavusoglu also claimed that “the whole world knows about the precondition to Armenia” and that Yerevan “has failed the test of sincerity”. He said that the recent decision by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to withdrawal the protocols from the parliament is, therefore, “of no importance”.

Armenian Defense Chief Attributes Relative Border Calm To ‘Improved Observation System’

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Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian has put down the relative calm recently observed at the border with Azerbaijan as well as along the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh to improved observation systems put in place by Armenian armed forces.

Speaking at a press briefing in Yerevan on Wednesday, Ohanian also partly attributed reduced tensions to a more active negotiation process conducted recently.

“It can be said that the border situation today is relatively calm because the Armenian Army and the Defense Army of the [unrecognized] Nagorno-Karabakh Republic have for years worked on improving their combat duty services,” the Armenian defense minister said. “Today we have improved our observation system, which makes it possible to conduct observations, detect, locate [the enemy], make decisions and implement them more efficiently.”

Ismayilova Convicted, Fined in Yet Another Case

February 24, 2015 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe No Comments
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17:29, February 24, 2015

In a closed-door trial on Monday, a Baku court convicted investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova of libel and fined her 2,500 Azerbaijani manat (about US$ 2,417), according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Ismayilova, an RFE/RL journalist and OCCRP partner, has been detained in Baku since Dec. 5 pending the outcome of several cases filed against her in recent months. She denies all charges, which human rights groups have denounced as politically motivated.

Her lawyer, Elton Quliyev, told RFE/RL that he would appeal the court’s ruling. The crime carries a possible sentence of three years in prison.

The Monday ruling stems from a complaint filed last year by former opposition activist Elman Hasanov, called “Turkoglu” in reports, who says she defamed him in statements on her Facebook page.

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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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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.