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Russia’s Eurasian Ambitions, Tools and Ways of Leverage

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15:58, July 3, 2015

By Anush Sedrakyan, Political analyst

The 21stcentury has drastically changed the epoch’s face, and new challenges came forward. Before the 21stcentury a relative equilibrium had been dominating in geopolitical field: technologically developed countries were powerful by their modern technologies, while countries providing raw material – by their resources. However, technological progress changed this balance.

Russia’s place and position in Eurasian partnership

Russia perceived sharp after-effect of geopolitical transitions very late, especially when post-Soviet countries started active negotiations with the EU, as well as with the USA.

1. Military  security zone. Russia is flatland; its security zone can’t be restricted by any natural barriers, i.e. by mountain ranges. To defend its own zones of influence Russia has only one guarantee, i.e. deploying military bases.  West-oriented Ukraine (in European part) and Georgia (in South Caucasus) have reduced Russia’s security zone.

Armenian Parliament OKs Russian Loan For Arms Supplies

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The National Assembly formally allowed the Armenian government on Thursday to borrow $200 million from Russia for purchasing new and advanced Russian weapons for Armenia’s armed forces.

The parliament overwhelmingly ratified a relevant Russian-Armenian agreement that was signed in Yerevan last Friday.

The Russian “export credit” carrying a 3 percent interest rate is repayable in 13 years, with a 3-year grace period.

“We are acquiring a new type of weapons which the Armenian armed forces have not had in their arsenal until now,” Deputy Defense Minister Ara Nazarian said, presenting the agreement to lawmakers.

Azerbaijan: Four Meydan TV Reporters Slapped with Travel Ban, Placed on ‘Blacklist’

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22:13, June 30, 2015

Just two days after the European Games closed in Azerbaijan, four journalists say they were barred from leaving the country and told they were placed on a government “blacklist.” 

 

The four reporters for OCCRP partner organization Meydan TV – Ayten Alakbarova, Şirin Tire Abbasov, Natiq Cavadli and Elnur Muxtar – were stopped at the border while travelling to the Republic of Georgia.

Officials reportedly told the reporters that they had been placed on a government “blacklist” but gave no explanation as to why they were not allowed to leave.

No official comment has yet been made by Azerbaijani authorities regarding the incident at the border.

Aliyev Family Owns Some of the Best Hotels in Baku

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10:55, June 29, 2015

BY KHADIJA ISMAYILOVA 

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has spent billions on capturing the world’s attention to the European Games in his Caspian seaside capital of Baku. He has spared no expense, including slapping plastic facades on tired buildings, building new roads and booking megastar Lady Gaga for the Opening Ceremonies. The best hotels are booked solid.

In its two-week run, the first-ever competition played host to and showcased 6,000 athletes and 3,000 officials and support staff from 50 countries.

While taxpayers ultimately foot the bill for this, two privileged citizens have been massively enriched by the games: the president’s daughters.

Two Azeri Soldiers Found Dead On Armenian Border

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Armenia on Thursday allowed Azerbaijan to evacuate the bodies of two Azerbaijani soldiers who were found dead near Armenian army positions on the border between the two warring nations.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said the bodies of the two sergeants, Musa Musayev and Tural Yolchuyev, were found earlier in the day on “the opposite side” of the frontier protected by landmines. It said their repatriation was mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The APA news agency quoted a spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Baku as confirming that the Red Cross acted as an “impartial mediator in the humanitarian operation agreed by Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

Azerbaijan: Prosecutors Complete Investigation Into Case of Jailed Journalist Khadija Ismayilova

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23:01, June 24, 2015

The criminal investigation into the case of jailed investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova has been completed by Azerbaijani prosecutors.

 

Ismayilova has been held in pre-trial detention since her arrest last December when a court ruled to hold her for two months pending inquiries by the authorities.

Her detention has since been extended a number of times. According to Azerbaijani press, the Sabail District Prosecutor’s office has finally completed its probe into the allegation that Ismayilova incited an acquaintance to attempt suicide.

The development means that her lawyers will now have access to the authorities’ evidence against her.

Azeri Soldiers Missing ‘On Armenian Border’

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The Armenian army has expressed readiness to help military authorities in Baku locate and evacuate two Azerbaijani soldiers who reportedly went missing on Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia earlier this week.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that the two sergeants, Musa Musayev and Tural Yolchuyev, may have accidentally strayed into Armenia’s northern Tavush province from the Gazakh district in western Azerbaijan. It said it is investigating precise circumstances of their disappearance.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan insisted afterwards, however, that no Azerbaijani soldiers crossed the heavily militarized Armenian border in the area.

“I can’t confirm or deny that there was an attempt to cross the border because that is possible and there are such precedents,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But I can state for certain that we are holding no Azerbaijani servicemen.”

Forged in Fire: The Making of an Investigative Reporter

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The more she uncovered and reported, the more the government tried to close off the access to key information. When that didn’t stop Ismayilova, the threats of personal attacks began — outrageous, demeaning and humiliating attacks.

Ismayilova told them she wouldn’t stop, so they followed through by releasing hidden camera video of her most intimate moments.

Next they arrested her on what her employers, supporters and leading journalism organizations consider to be ludicrous, trumped-up charges.

Nearly a decade earlier, it had been the assassination of another journalist that awakened the then-28-year-old reporter and inspired her to devote her life to exposing corruption, consequences be damned.

From Mongolia to Antaramej: The Difficult Road to Becoming a Citizen of Armenia

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At first they would say “You’re a Mongolian”. Then, when I started to speak Armenian, they would say, “No, you’re Armenian”, recounts Varsik.
Bayandolgor (Bayina) Oyunchimeg, a woman from Mongolia, and her two children live in the Antaramej village in Armenia’s Gegharkounik Province. Fourteen years ago she married Hrahat Yeritsyan in Mongolia. Hrahat was a construction worker in Ulan Bator. Their two children, Varsik and Arshak, were born there.
Hrahat has a heart ailment and doctors advised him to live at a lower elevation than found in Mongolia. In 2011, the family relocated to Armenia. Hrahat is a native of the village of Martouni, but there was no place to live there. They found a dilapidated house in Antaramej, renovated it, and moved in. Hrahat Yeritsyan died this year from a heart attack.

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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

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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.