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Government of Armenia Received $450 Million in Grants from EU and USA in 2007-2014

August 31, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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13:16, August 31, 2015

The Union of Informed Citizens continues its investigation of foreign grants received by the Armenian government. Here, we present the sum amount of the grants received by the government in 2007-2014.

During the last 8 years, the Armenian government received grants equal to approximately 542 million USD from foreign states and organizations. We know this from the state budget reports for the last 8 years.

The government received the highest amount of grants in 2011, which is related to sharp increase in funding through EU projects and the “Millennium Challenge” program of the United States. That year the European Union provided grants of unprecedented scale – more than 57 million USD, only within the framework of “Macro-Financial Assistance” and “General Budget Support” programs.

Armenian Army Medics Trained By U.S. Instructors

August 29, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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In what a senior U.S. diplomat called on Friday a manifestation of “strong American-Armenian partnership,” U.S. military instructors have trained the first group of teaching personnel for the Armenian army’s new paramedic school.

The 12 Armenian trainers of military medics completed a three-month training course conducted by six U.S. officers with a graduation ceremony near Yerevan attended by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ohanian said the course has been a “great opportunity” for Armenian military personnel to learn new skills and techniques for providing first medical aid to soldiers wounded in action. “You will now pass on your experience and knowledge to our future paramedics,” he said.

Hungary Launches ‘Border Hunter’ Units to Block Refugees, Bulgaria Takes Fright

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22:45, August 26, 2015

Hungarian police will send special border patrol units to its southern border with Serbia to stop a stream of predominantly Syrian refugees from entering the country.

Today the chief commissioner of Hungary’s police force, Karoly Papp,announced plans to establish six special teams made up of a total of 2,106 officers equipped with helicopters, horses and dogs.

The units, called “border hunters”, are to start work on September 15, and will standby for deployment to the Serbian border.

According to the Guardian, government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said that next week Hungary’s Parliament would debate whether to also deploy the army to the southern border.

Azerbaijan: Ismayilova’s Lawyers Seek Acquittal in Closing Statements

August 26, 2015 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe No Comments
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17:08, August 26, 2015

Lawyers for investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova asked for her acquittal at a hearing in Baku today,Azadliq Radioreports.

Ismayilova, an investigative reporter for OCCRP and Azadliq Radio (the Azerbaijani branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), is on trial in Baku’s Court of Grave Crimes for charges including embezzlement, tax evasion and inciting a former colleague to attempt suicide – charges human rights groups say are politically motivated.

In his closing statement Ismayilova’s lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev asked for Ismayilova to be cleared.

Her other lawyer Fariz Namazli said the court had distorted witness testimonies and failed to prove her guilt, and called for the judge to reopen the part of the trial in which evidence is given and examined.

European Body Seeks Changes In Armenian Constitutional Package

August 25, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian authorities have pledged to make “considerable changes” in their draft constitutional amendments in response to objections voiced by the Venice Commission, officials from the Council of Europe body said on Tuesday.

The three legal experts visited Yerevan just days after President Serzh Sarkisian formally approved a package of amendments drafted by a state commission that was formed by him two years ago. It would turn Armenia in 2018 into a parliamentary republic with a largely ceremonial president and a much more powerful parliament and prime minister.

“We had discussions in which we made concrete points,” one of the visiting Venice Commission experts, Christoph Grabenwarter, said of their talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and members of the presidential commission on constitutional reform. “We got the answers that these concrete points will be taken on board.”

Armenian Oligarch Avoids Prosecution For Fresh Violence

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Ruben Hayrapetian, a controversial government-linked businessman heading the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA), will not be prosecuted despite admitting beating up another entrepreneur, law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan said on Tuesday.

Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said it will not press criminal charges against Hayrapetian because of his “reconciliation” with the injured victim, Arsen Avetisian.

The development is certain to reinforce a widely held belief in Armenia that influential tycoons close to President Serzh Sarkisian and notorious for violent conduct enjoy de facto immunity from prosecution owing to their strong loyalty to the ruling regime.

Mortar Fire Reported Near Karabakh

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Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on Monday accused each other of firing mortar shells and claimed to have killed several enemy soldiers in the latest truce violations along “the line of contact” east of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Karabakh’s Armenian-backed military said it took “retaliatory actions” at the weekend after its frontline troops came under mortar fire from Azerbaijani army positions. Citing unspecified “reliable sources,” it claimed to have killed at least four Azerbaijani soldiers and wounded 15 others. A statement by the Defense Army did not specify the type of weapons used by its soldiers in “the exchange of fire.”

Armenian Troops Join CSTO Drills In Russia

August 24, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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An Armenian army contingent is taking part in military exercises in northwestern Russia simulating a joint response by Moscow and its ex-Soviet allies to an imaginary armed conflict in “the Eastern European region.”

The drills, which began on Sunday in the Pskov region close to the Baltic states, have brought together more than 2,000 troops making up a rapid reaction force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led alliance of six ex-Soviet states. They are reportedly backed up by 200 tanks and other armored vehicles as well as 40 Russian warplanes and combat helicopters.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry did not specify the number of participating Armenian troops in a statement that announced their departure to Pskov on Saturday. A military source in Yerevan said the contingent comprises no more than 100 soldiers.

Uzbekistan: More Karimova Associates Arrested in Corruption Probe

August 24, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe No Comments
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15:50, August 24, 2015

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has reported that Uzbek authorities have arrested nine more suspects in their investigation into corruption surrounding Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova.

The broadcaster’s Uzbek service said that two senior figures at an Uzbek Coca-Cola bottling plant were among those arrested, and reported that Karimova had once controlled the local Coke bottling business. The radio said Swiss authorities had already investigated two businessmen in the industry on suspicion of money laundering in 2012, although they were later released and allowed to return to Uzbekistan.

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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.

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.