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Watchdog Condemns Azeri Treason Charges Against Journalist

Armenian News

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned authorities in Baku for charging a prominent Azerbaijani journalist with high treason over allegations that he spied for Armenia. 

The Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General’s Office said on Monday that Rauf Mirkadyrov “was recruited by the Armenian secret services in 2008 and supplied Yerevan with information on Azerbaijan’s state secrets.”

In a statement, the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Nina Ognianova, called on Azerbaijani authorities “to drop these trumped-up charges and stop abusing the law to silence independent reporting on the country.” She said Azerbaijan is “quickly becoming one of the leading jailers of journalists in the Eurasia region.”

Opposition Armenian MP comments on authorities’ arguments

April 22, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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Armenian National Congress (ANC) parliamentary group member Hrant Bagraryan has commented on the latest data on economic growth in Armenia by the National Statistical Service.He left the following message on his Facebook page:“Armenia’s acting minister of economy stated yesterday that an unfavorable situation in Russia accounts for the lower economic growth in Armenia. I consider such ‘explanations’ a gross economic and political blunder. Just four months ago, the ex-premier linked the lower economic growth with a lower global economic growth. And it turns out not to be so.“And now they are putting it down to Russian economy. Is things are so bad, why are we joining the Customs Union? They claimed we were joining to ensure better development. Is it honest to shift the responsibility for their own failures onto Russians? Of things go on like this, we can say that either Russian economy, or European economy or the world economy is ailing.” 

Russia accuses Kiev of flouting accord

April 22, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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Russia’s foreign minister accused the interim authorities in Kiev on Monday of flagrantly violating the international accord reached last week aimed at defusing the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the New York Times reported.The foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, leveled the accusations as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived in Kiev in a show of support for its increasingly besieged government, which the Kremlin regards as a product of a Western-backed coup that seized power in late February after months of protests.“Before giving us ultimatums, demanding that we fulfill demands within two or three days with the threat of sanctions, we would urgently call on our American partners to fully accept responsibility for those who they brought to power,” Lavrov told reporters. He said all attempts to isolate Russia through sanctions or other tactics would fail, because Russia is “a big, independent power that knows what it wants.”He rejected accusations that Russia is covertly manipulating events in eastern Ukraine and subverting the accord reached in Geneva on Thursday among himself, Secretary of State John Kerry, and representatives of Ukraine’s interim government and the European Union.“The authorities are doing nothing, not even lifting a finger, to address the causes behind this deep internal crisis in Ukraine,” Mr. Lavrov said. The Geneva agreement, he said, “is not only not being fulfilled, but steps are being taken, primarily by those who seized power in Kiev, that are grossly breaching the agreement reached in Geneva.”Lavrov blamed the interim government and its sympathizers for the killings of three people in a shootout at a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine on Sunday. “The fact that extremists started to shoot at unarmed civilians is unacceptable,” he said.Read full news story here. 

Armenian-Turkish protocols not to Armenia’s detriment – Eduard Sharmazanov

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The Armenian-Turkish protocols, which are still on the agenda of Armenia’s Parliament, have not caused any damage either to the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide or to Armenia’s foreign policy, Spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), Vice-Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament Eduard Sharmazanov told Tert.am.According to him, it is by means of the Armenian-Turkish protocols that Armenia proved to the world its being a more reliable and predictable state.“In contrast to Turkey, which proved to be a state violating agreements in the 21st century in the eyes of our international partners – because it claimed it was willing to establish relations without any preconditions, doing so before the United States, Russia and the European Union (EU), but Armenia was allegedly setting preconditions,” Sharmazanov said.“Although we have the moral right to set preconditions, we have shown we are not following this course because it is not a civilized or democratic course. We have caused the entire world to see Turkey’s real worth,” he said.As a historian, Sharmazanov noted that Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has made a number of conceptual speeches on the Armenian Genocide and its recognition.As the centennial of the Armenian Genocide is nearing, Armenia’s political forces – irrespective of their political views – must, hand in hand with the Armenian Diaspora, do their best for the event to be marked at a higher level.Denying genocides is tantamount to committing them, Sharmazanov said.With respect to the opposition forces’ statements that the Armenian-Turkish protocols have caused damage to Armenia, Sharmazanov said:“I am citing facts, whereas opposition members are voicing their opinions. And it is no coincidence that former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited Tsitsernakabert [the Memorial to Armenian Genocide victims in Yerevan] and noted that the ball was in Turkey’s court.” 

Russian outrage at Ukraine killing

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Russia’s foreign ministry has expressed outrage at a fatal shooting incident in eastern Ukraine which it blamed on Ukrainian nationalists, the BBC reports.
Russian state media reported that five people were killed in a gun attack on a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian activists near the town of Sloviansk.
Ukrainian officials said one died in a clash between “two groups of citizens”.
The incident comes as pro-Russian groups continue to occupy government buildings defying a deal to leave.
Ertogrul Apakan, who heads the special mission of the Organization for Co-operation and Security in Europe in Kiev, said his deputy would be in Donetsk to try to get them to comply with an agreement reached on Thursday to ease the crisis.
Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US agreed during talks in Geneva on Thursday that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave.
But the separatists’ spokesman in the city of Donetsk said that the Kiev government was “illegal”, and vowed they would not go until it stepped down.
TV pictures showed what was described as the aftermath of an attack on a pro-Russian checkpoint at about 01:00 local time (22:00 on Saturday GMT), including the body of a man under a cover.
The BBC is unable to verify the footage. However, a Reuters journalist at the scene reported seeing two bodies in a truck.
Daylight Reuters TV footage of the scene shows several burnt-out vehicles.
The Russian foreign ministry said the Ukrainian far-right group Right Sector was behind the attack. A business card with the name of its leader Dmytro Yarosh appeared in the unverified Russian TV pictures.
“Russia is indignant about this provocation by gunmen, which testifies to the lack of will on the part of the Kiev authorities to rein in and disarm nationalists and extremists,” it said in a statement.
Right Sector said in a statement on its Facebook page that it had nothing to do with the events in Sloviansk, which bore the hallmarks of a provocation by Russia’s Federal Security Service.
Ukraine’s interior ministry said that details were still being established, but that one person was killed and three others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.
This is the first fatal incident in the region since Thursday’s agreement, prompting Sloviansk rebel leader and self-proclaimed mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev to call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to send peacekeepers.
But the BBC’s James Reynolds in Donetsk says that the Geneva deal is already in trouble and events in Sloviansk will do little to change that.
Meanwhile in an interview to be aired in full later on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to “restore the Soviet Union”.
If Mr Putin succeeded, Mr Yatsenyuk says, it would be “the biggest disaster of this century”.
Ukraine has been in crisis since President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in February.
Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula – part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority – in a move that provoked international outrage.
The annexation followed a referendum in Crimea that backed a move to join the Russian Federation.
Pro-Russian activists then occupied buildings in several eastern Ukrainian cities, many calling on Moscow to support them.
Ukraine has said that operations against the pro-Russian militants have been suspended over Easter.
Ukraine’s interim authorities have appealed for national unity and promised to meet some of the demands of pro-Russian protesters.
These include the decentralization of power and guarantees for the status of the Russian language.
But the US has warned the next few days will be pivotal and has threatened more sanctions against Russia if it fails to abide by the agreement.
US Vice-President Joe Biden is set to visit Kiev on Tuesday.

Drilling begins for continent-connecting road tunnel in Istanbul

April 20, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Ground has been broken for the Eurasia tunnel, another mega government project that will connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, with a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan over the weekend, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. The prime minister inaugurated the boring of the Eurasia Tunnel Project at Istanbul’s Haydarpaşa Loading Port on April 19, saying the scheme would shorten the existing 100-minute cross-strait journey time to 15 minutes.The tunnel boring machine, known as TBM, began carving out the route for the tunnel that will be a sibling to the existing Marmaray, and will connect the Asian and European sides of the Istanbul Strait via a road tunnel going under the Marmara Sea.“There are four such tunnels in New York that enable a sub-sea passage for light vehicles; one in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and another similar highway tunnel in France. We are now bringing in the most modern and developed road tunnel to Istanbul,” the prime minister said.Erdoğan said that once the Eurasia Tunnel was completed, Istanbul would have four road crossings between the two continents, including The Bosphorus Bridge, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Marmaray.“Hopefully, the suffering known as ‘bridge traffic’ will become a thing of the past,” he said.Erdoğan said the tunnel boring machine will advance 10 meters a day on average from the Asian side to the European one.The Eurasia Tunnel, the foundations of which were cast on Feb. 26, 2011, will operate between Kazlıçeşme and Göztepe route where vehicle traffic is the most intense in Istanbul, and will cover a total of 14.6 kilometers.The tunnel has been designed for use only by light vehicles such as cars and minibuses.Heavier vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians will not be permitted to use the tunnel.While 5.4 kilometers of the project will comprise a two-story tunnel to be constructed underneath the seabed, expansion and improvement works are to be carried out over 9.2 kilometers of roads on the European and Asian sides.Access roads between Sarayburnu and Kazlıçeşme and Harem and Göztepe will also be enlarged, while vehicle underpasses and pedestrian overpasses will also be constructed.Not only will the travel time for Istanbul’s highly congested traffic decline, but it will also become safer and more comfortable, officials claiming, adding that it will also contribute to the reduction of environmental and noise pollution.

Ukraine crisis: US raises pressure on Russia

April 19, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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The US has threatened tougher economic sanctions if Russia fails to abide by a new international agreement to help de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, BBC News reported.
The Kremlin responded by accusing the White House of treating Moscow like a “guilty schoolboy” over the deal.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign minister said “anti-terrorist” operations in the east would be put on hold over Easter.
Pro-Russian separatists in several cities are refusing to leave buildings, defying a key term of the accord.
Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US had agreed during talks in Geneva that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave.
The sides also decided there would be an amnesty for all anti-government protesters.
But the separatists’ spokesman in the city of Donetsk said that the Kiev government was “illegal”, and vowed they would not go until it stepped down.
The protesters also insisted that pro-European Union demonstrators in Kiev’s Maidan Square – the vanguard of the protest movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow – had to pack up their camp first. See more here.

Sarkisian Again Defends Turkish-Armenian Accords


Armenia – President Serzh Sarkisian examines an Armenian-made rifle during a visit to the Defense Ministry in Yerevan, 18Apr2014.

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President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday again defended his administration’s 2009 normalization agreements with Turkey against strong criticism voiced in Armenia and especially its worldwide Diaspora.

Yerevan Silent After Russian ‘Threat’

April 18, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Europe, Top News No Comments


Armenia – Russian Ambassador to Armenia Ivan Volynkin.

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The Armenian government has pointedly refused to add its voice to domestic concerns about Russia’s recent pledge to counter any “aggressive” foreign interference in Armenia’s internal affairs.

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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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For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests


The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments


2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction


Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.