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Romania: Record Heroin Seizure ‘Biggest Since the Nineties’

July 30, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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21:21, July 30, 2015

Romanian authorities have seized 333 kilograms of heroin from two trucks they say were headed towards Hungary.

According to chief organized crime prosecutor Daniel Horodniceanu, it is the largest seizure of heroin since the 1990′s.

Prosecutors say an international heroin trafficking ring tried to transport the heroin, with an estimated street value of € 40 million (US$ 43 million), through Ukraine to Romania on its way to Western Europe.

It is thought the heroin originated in Afghanistan, with the likely final destination of the Netherlands. On Wednesday, police said that the previous day they had stopped a truck driven by a 60-year-old man at the north-western Satu Mare border crossing.

Foreign Grants Received by Armenia’s Ministry of Culture

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12:30, July 30, 2015

The “Union of Informed Citizens” has already presented the international grants Armenia has received in the agriculture sector. Continuing this series, we are presenting the international grants provided to Armenia’s culture sector.

The data provided by the Ministries of Culture and Finance of Armenia in response to our inquiry show that organizations functioning under the RA Ministries of Culture and Finance received grants totaling US$ 4,060,180 during 2005-2014.

By Projects

In terms of the amount of financial assistance, 1st place goes to the National Cinema Center of Armenia SNCO. The Center (a State Non-Commercial Organization) has received more than 3 million Euros in assistance from different countries for shooting 10 films.

Towards Lifelong Freedom

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18:35, July 29, 2015

By Mher Yenokyan

Shall I open my eyes?

I am already awake.

I feel the light upon my closed eyelids.

When I was a little boy, I thought the day started at dawn. I did not even suspect that the elders’ day could start in darkness, at night. I was sure the New Day woke up as people did, in the morning, with the sun. I grew absorbed in thought when I discovered I had been counting the day from the wrong end for years. Something broke inside me; the childish candid and natural delusion was so naively pleasant.

I opened my eyes.

There are only the photos of the Woman-Girl. There is nobody around.

Privatization Agency Official in Deal with Šarić Associates

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21:25, July 29, 2015


A company owned by Balkan drug lord Darko Šarić’ s gang and frozen by the Serbian government has been quietly transferred to a company owned-in-part by the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Serbian state Privatization Agency.

Trgopromet, a company majority owned by chairman Muamer Redžović, along with Vujadin Janković, a Serbian businessman under investigation for privatization fraud, used its ownership of questionable debt of the Jedinstvo agricultural company to take it over without paying any money.

Jedinstvo grows corn and beans and operates on around 500 hectares of land in Vojvodina. The land alone is worth more than €1.7 million.

Resurrection: Building of Soviet Yerevan

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16:05, July 29, 2015

By Vrej Haroutounian

Previous Article

Here, Green and round, Armenia extends to three seas. Here, to two. Here, to one, and here-not even to one. So swiftly does Armenia diminish from the first map to the last, always remaining a generally round state, that if you riffle quickly through the atlas, it’s a movie: it captures the fall of a huge round stone from the altitude of millennia. The stone disappears into the deep, diminishing to a point. But if you riffle the pages from the end of the beginning, it’s as if a small pebble has fallen into the water; and historical circles are spreading across the water, ever wider and wider.

Kazakhstan: Corruption Trial of Former Prime Minister Begins

July 28, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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22:17, July 28, 2015

A former prime minister of Kazakhstan, Serik Akhmetov, attended court in the central city of Karaganda on Monday as his trial began for embezzlement and financial malfeasance, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Akhmetov was appointed prime minister by autocratic Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayeav in 2012, but quit his post in 2014. He was arrested in November 2014 and placed under house arrest, after an investigation by the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption.

Several other senior ex-officials, including one-time mayor of Karaganda, Meyram Smagulov, and former governor of Karaganda region, Baurzhan Abdishev, are also facing trial in connection with the case. Akhmetov has reportedly questioned the objectivity of the prosecutors’ investigation into him. 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Armenia in 9th Place in Terms of Tourist “Scam” Destination

July 28, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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23:54, July 27, 2015

4.4 % of 2,000 British tourists said they were “ripped off” in Armenia according to a poll published in the Travel and Tour World website.

That figure puts Armenia in 9th place in the fraud, scam and duping list following such countries as Spain (21.5%), France (14.8%) and Italy (10.2%).

The 2,000 British travelers, who had gone to Europe in the past 12 months, were asked if they’d fallen victim to a scam during their travels. Common scams reported included pick pocketing, street crime, hidden tourist taxes and being overcharged by taxi drivers.  

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Russian Night Wolves Gang ‘Not Involved’ In Planned Biker Trip To Karabakh


A senior member of the Moscow-based Russian Armenian union has denied that an upcoming trip of a group of motorcyclists to Nagorno-Karabakh will involve members of the controversial nationalist biker gang linked with the Kremlin.

The Night Wolves, whose leader Alexander Zaldostanov, nicknamed “The Surgeon”, is friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin, are subject to sanctions in several countries in the West, including in the United States and Canada, for their alleged active involvement in the Russian annexation of Crimea and for helping recruit separatist fighters for Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The biker gang also sparked controversy in Europe in May when it set off from Moscow to Berlin to mark the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Power of Ideology in the Urban Landscape

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13:13, July 25, 2015

By Vrej Haroutounian

Previous Article 

In theory, postmodern culture suggests the possibility of reconciling landscape and vernacular, and market and place; but the more visible it becomes, the more it takes on the decontextualized, market-oriented look of franchise culture. Postmodern architecture then makes places less distinctive. They become ‘nonplaces’ in the global markets

Sharon Zukin 

The city is a very powerful product of modern society and its performance has an immediate impact on its citizens. Further, a city in the process of construction requires a large investment of human labor and construction materials, which have a lifespan dependent on construction quality and ideology-motivated design principles. 

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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.


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.