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Italy: ‘Ndrangheta Initiation Ritual Exposed

November 21, 2014 Armenia, Business, Europe, Video No Comments
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20:25, November 20, 2014

Police in Italy have arrested 40 suspected gangsters after capturing unprecedented hidden-camera footage of the ‘Ndrangheta’s infamous organized crime initiation ceremony.

Milan prosecutor Ilda Boccassini claimed that the footage, part of a two-year investigation, was the only police video of the secretive ritual,according toThe Guardian.

“For the first time we heard it from the voice of [organized criminals],” she said of the footage, believed to show ‘Ndrangheta members being sworn into an elite group known as La Santa. One recruit was only 17.

“Today, from now on, you will be your own judges!” proclaims the ritual’s master of ceremonies. He calls on the huddled group of figures to promise to kill themselves should they make a mistake, either by taking cyanide or using a gun. “There must always be a bullet reserved; one for you,” he cautions.

Hungary: Protesters Rally Against Prime Minister

November 20, 2014 Armenia, Business, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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11:01, November 20, 2014

More than 10,000 Hungarians protested on Monday, Nov. 17 against Prime Minister Viktor Orban, saying he is too close to the Kremlin and employs corrupt officials.

The protests took place outside the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest on what organizers dubbed the “Day of Public Outrage,” summing up ordinary Hungarians’ concerns about the nation’s fate under a leader who in July provoked international outcry by saying he would end liberal democracy in the country.

According to Reuters, placards displayed by protestors read “We don’t pay tax to criminals” and “Europe! Europe!” One banner bore the slogan, “People against corruption, so much for the two-thirds,” referring to Orban’s political party Fidesz, which rules by a majority of two-thirds, reports Reuters.

PACE condemns Azerbaijan’s use of prisoner transfer treaty in ‘Safarov case’

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The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has condemned the use by Azerbaijan of a Council of Europe prisoner transfer treaty to justify the immediate release of an Azerbaijani soldier, convicted of murdering an Armenian soldier in Hungary in 2004, once he had returned to his home country.In a resolution adopted during its meeting in Brussels, based on a report by Christopher Chope (United Kingdom, EC), the Standing Committee – which brings together around 60 leading members of PACE and acts in its name – said the use of Article 12 of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons in the case of Ramil Safarov was “a violation of the principles of good faith in international relations and of the rule of law”.Mr Safarov was convicted in 2007 of murdering an Armenian fellow participant on a NATO training course in Hungary and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release for 30 years. After serving eight years of his sentence in Hungary, he was transferred to Azerbaijan under the Convention, which allows the transfer of foreign prisoners to their home countries for primarily humanitarian reasons.Upon his arrival Mr Safarov was welcomed as a national hero and granted an immediate pardon – long before the expiry of the minimum sentence set by the Hungarian court – and a retroactive promotion as well as other rewards, according to the resolution.The Convention is “not designed to be used for the immediate release of prisoners upon return to their home country”, the parliamentarians pointed out.“While recognizing that States Parties, by virtue of Article 12 of the convention, have a sovereign right to grant pardons and amnesties to persons sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the Assembly recalls that the principles of good faith in international relations, recognized, inter alia, by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and of the rule of law require that treaties be interpreted in line with their objects and purposes.” 

Azerbaijani Government Blocks Journalist From US Commission Hearing

November 19, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe No Comments
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Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist and OCCRP partner facing criminal libel charges in Azerbaijan, could not attend a hearing scheduled at the US Capitol to testify on fighting corruption due to a travel ban she claims is illegal.

Ismayilova was one of four witnesses 

scheduled to testify in Washington, DC today, Nov. 19, before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the US Helsinki Commission. However, the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Azerbaijan has forbidden her from leaving Azerbaijan, saying her participation is needed as a witness in a case “on revealing the state secret.”

The US Helsinki Commission is an independent US Government agency created in 1976 and comprised largely of members of Congress but including representatives from the departments of State, Defense and Commerce as well.

Mediators Urge Access To Armenian Helicopter Wreckage

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International mediators on Wednesday urged Azerbaijan to give the Armenian side access to the wreckage of an Armenian military helicopter shot down near Nagorno-Karabakh for recovering the bodies of its three crew members.

The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group said they “remain deeply concerned that there has been no humanitarian access to the crash site” of the Mi-24 helicopter that was downed by Azerbaijani forces on November 12.

“We call on the sides to cease firing in the vicinity of the crash site and facilitate the demining of the area surrounding the site,” they said in a joint statement. “In the spirit of the Astrakhan statement of October 2010 between the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, the Co-Chairs urge Azerbaijan to permit the recovery of the bodies of the victims, and Armenia to cooperate fully with all efforts to resolve this humanitarian situation.”

Comet lander: Camera sees Philae’s hairy landing

November 18, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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High-resolution pictures have now been released of the Philae probe in the act of landing on Comet 67P last Wednesday, the BBC reports.They were acquired by the Narrow Angle Camera on the Rosetta satellite, which had dropped the little robot towards the surface of the “ice mountain.”The images are presented as a mosaic covering the half-hour or so around the “first touchdown” – the probe then bounced to a stop about 1km away.Philae lost battery power on Friday and is no longer communicating with Earth.But European Space Agency controllers have not given up hope of hearing from the plucky robot again – if it can somehow get enough light on to its solar panels to recharge its systems.Getting a precise fix on its location, to then photograph its present predicament would provide a better idea of whether this is likely to happen.The new NAC images will certainly help in this respect because they show the direction the lander took as it bounced away.At the weekend, Esa presented some fascinating views of the first touchdown taken by Rosetta’s navigation cameras, but the Osiris NAC system has substantially better resolution.The mosaic is produced by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, which operates Osiris.It details Philae’s descent, and the impact mark it leaves on 67P’s surface. You then see the 100kg probe heading away on its initial bounce.This rebound reached hundreds of metres above the comet and lasted almost two hours.When Philae came back down, it made another small leap, which took it into a high-walled trap.Telemetry and pictures from the robot itself indicate this location is covered in deep shadow for most of 67P’s day.As a consequence, Philae receives insufficient solar power to re-boot and form a radio link to the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft.Esa cannot be sure the robot will ever come back to life, but even if it does not the agency says it is “hugely happy” with what was achieved in the 60 hours following landing.The probe managed to complete more than 80% of its planned primary science campaign on the surface.This data was pulled off the robot just before its sagging energy reserved dropped it into sleep mode.Little of the results have so far been released by the various instrument teams. The one major exception is MUPUS.This sensor package from the German space agency’s Institute for Planetary Research deployed a thermometer on the end of a hammer.It retrieved a number of temperature profiles but broke as it tried to burrow its way into the comet’s subsurface.Scientists say this shows the icy material underlying 67P’s dust covering to be far harder than anyone anticipated – having the tensile strength of some rocks.It also helps explain why Philae bounced so high on that first touchdown.The 4km-wide comet has little gravity, so when key landing systems designed to hold the robot down failed at the crucial moment – the probe would have been relying on thick, soft, compressive layers to absorb its impact.However much dust it did encounter at that moment, it clearly was not enough to prevent Philae making its giant rebound. 

Armenia ‘Not At Risk Of Recession’

November 17, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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Armenia is not in danger of falling into a recession despite the mounting fallout from the worsening economic situation in Russia, Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian insisted on Monday.

“Are there signs of a looming economic crisis in Armenia? Definitely not. Crisis is a broad concept and [the situation in Russia] is not the only factor behind it,” Chshmaritian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Chshmaritian admitted at the same time that the Armenian government is making contingency plans for possible greater spillover effects of Russia’s economic troubles resulting in large measure from Western economic sanctions. He said it is planning to look into various sectors of the Armenian economy to determine ways of alleviating the impact of the Russian fallout on them.

Inadequacies of Criminal Science in Armenia: Observations Culled from Hetq’s “Distorted Fates” Series

November 17, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Film No Comments
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14:30, November 17, 2014

In our series “Distorted Fates”, Hetq has looked at the cases of eleven of the 104 prisoners serving life sentences in Armenia today by searching the court archives.

We looked at the cases of those originally sentenced to death, to those accused of committing crimes while serving in the military, and to individuals who were convicted at a young age but proclaim their innocence.

We also produced a film on the topic entitled “Listen to Our Voices”.

In our research, we came across the following general observations””

Armenian side must present its stance on helicopter downing to million-strong audience – Artak Davtyan

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Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary group member Artak Davtyan commented on the international reaction to the incident involving the Nagorno-Karabakh helicopter.Political figures and journalists have to present the truth to the world, he said.“In Western countries, with the freedom of speech and press, Azerbaijan is able to present its stand. We must do our best to present our stand to a million-strong audience as well,” Mr Davtyan said.With respect to a euronews reports, he said that it reflected the reality.“It was an unbiased and brief report for European citizens. It was a report addressed to a particular side,” Mr Davtyan said. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

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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

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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.