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Endangered Bonobo Chimp Imported to Armenia Goes Missing: Preliminary Investigation Drags On

January 24, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe No Comments
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10:30, January 24, 2015

An endangered bonobo primate has disappeared from the Jambo Exotic Park in Armenia’s Tzoraghbyur village.

The park’s founder, Artyom Vardanyan, claims that the animal, listed in the international Red Book of endangered species, died last month.

All such animals can only be imported with special permits and must be kept in special conditions.

The importer of the bonobo and many other endangered animals is a company called Zoo Fauna Art. A criminal case of contraband was launched against company director ArturKhachatryan a year ago and is still on-going.

Hetq asked the ministry of finance to provide information about the criminal investigation and whether it has revealed any wrongdoing.

Turk Sentenced In Armenia’s Biggest Drug Trafficking Case

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In the largest drug trafficking case in Armenia’s history, a Turkish man arrested in Yerevan a year ago has been convicted of smuggling 850 kilograms of heroin into the country and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

A court in the southeastern Armenian town of Goris also gave this week a 17-year prison sentence to the Georgian driver of a heavy truck in which Armenian customs officers deployed on the Iranian border found the Class A drug.

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) announced the separate arrests of the driver, Avtandil Martiashvili, and Turkish citizen Osman Ugurlu in January 2014. The NSS described Ugurlu, 41, as “one of the organizers” of the unprecedented drug trafficking operation. It said the drug was hidden in the truck’s “specially-fitted cache” installed in Turkey.

Armenian Oppositionist Warns Of Recession

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Russia’s deepening economic troubles could drag Armenia into recession this year, a prominent Armenian opposition figure said on Wednesday, dismissing government forecasts of continued growth.

The Armenian government expects the domestic economy to expand by 4 percent this year despite the unfolding recession in Russia, a key trading partner. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have come up with more modest growth projections: 3.3 percent.

The London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which has invested more than $1 billion in business projects in Armenia over the past two decades, has worsened its outlook for the country and now expects zero growth there in 2015.

EU Official Opens Door To Armenian Association Agreement

January 21, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The EU commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement has opened up the possibility of the European Union and Armenia signing an association agreement without its free-trade component.

Speaking on Tuesday after a meeting in Brussels with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Johannes Hahn said that the EU “should make best possible use of the already existing association agreement which we negotiated and safeguarded for future reference.” Hahn added that it needs “to be adjusted in order to reflect the new context but the substance of its political part I hope should be kept.”

The EU and Armenia started negotiations on the agreement, including a free trade pact, in 2010. Yerevan was ready to sign it before the government shelved its plans in the autumn of 2013 and opted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union instead. 

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.

European Union Contributes € 77.5 Million to Finance Development & Reforms in Armenia

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Europe No Comments
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14:04, January 16, 2015

On January 16, the Prime Minister’s Office of the Republic of Armenia and the EU Delegation to Armenia held a ceremony on the launch of eight EU – Armenia Financing Agreements, intended to assist development and reforms in Armenia.

The new actions entail an EU contribution of € 77.5 million (44 billion AMD).

The eight agreements will support progress in some of the main areas of bilateral cooperation – from agriculture and regional development, through capacity building for the implementation of EU programmes, support to migration and integrated border management, anti-corruption and civil service reforms, to water supply improvement, Yerevan metro rehabilitation and nuclear safety.

Albania: Former Dictator’s Grandson Arrested In Drug Sweep

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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22:51, January 16, 2015

Albanian police have arrested 11 people including Ermal Hoxha, grandson of former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, on suspicion of drug trafficking and firearms possession, as part of a major organized crime sweep.

On Wednesday Jan. 14, police raided premises in Elbasan, 40 km south of the capital city Tirana,where they seized 19.5 kilos of pure cocaine, as well as a stash of firearms and equipment used to manufacture drugs.

The sweep, dubbed “Operation Xibraku”, is the culmination of several months of investigation.Police said they acted on intelligence received from German authorities to identify suspects and monitor their activities.

Turkish Media Crackdown Prompts EP Concerns

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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00:10, January 17, 2015

Attacks on media freedom by the Turkish government are the subject of much concern within the European Parliament (EP), according to a document detailing members’ concerns over crackdowns on journalists, especially those covering corruption issues.

According to an EPpress releasedated Jan. 15, members from all EP political groups have condemned recent aggressive state actions aimed at suppressing journalists.

These actions include the recentarrestsof journalists covering the aftermath of a 2013 corruption probe which involved evidence against former ministers of the ruling AK Party. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called the corruption probe anattempted coup, and issued agag orderto prevent its coverage.

Russian Businessman Charged With Bribery By US

January 9, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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18:56, January 9, 2015

A Russian national who owns a US-based consultancy has been indicted for paying US$3.5 million in bribes to gain funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD) for his Russian and UK clients.

A grand jury in Philadelphia charged Dmitrij Harder, 42, the former owner and president of Chestnut Consulting Group Inc.,with conspiracy, money laundering and violation of the Foreign Corrupt Pratices Act. According to the indictment, Harder and his associates paid bribes to senior official Andrey Ryjenko at the London-based EBRD between 2007 and 2009.

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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

Image 58171.jpg

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.