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Kazakhstan: Ex-Chairman of Expo 2017 Under House Arrest

June 16, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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23:01, June 16, 2015

A World’s Fair-type event called Expo 2017, planned for the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, has been hit by scandal as a top executive at the firm organizing it was placed under house arrest.

A World’s Fair-type event called Expo 2017, planned for the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, has been hit by scandal as a top executive at the firm organizing it was placed under house arrest.

Talgat Ermegiyaev, former chairman of the board of the company responsible for arranging the event, has been accused of corruption.

According to a press release issued Monday by a district court in Astana, Ermegiyaev is suspected of large-scale embezzlement related to the joint-stock firm National Company Astana EXPO-2017.

Karabakh Armenian Athletes To Compete In Baku Games


Two athletes from Nagorno-Karabakh will travel to Baku later this week to participate in the ongoing European Games there as members of Armenia’s national sambo wrestling team.

The wrestlers, Sose Balasanian and Ashot Danielian, are thus poised to become the first Karabakh Armenians to compete in a sporting tournament in Azerbaijan since the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1988.

Like many other residents of Karabakh, Balasanian and Danielian hold Armenian passports. They are also the reigning sambo champions of Armenia, the reason why they were included in the country’s national team. It is scheduled to depart to Baku via Tbilisi on Saturday.

A total of 25 athletes will represent Armenia in the games that began on June 12 and will end on June 28.

Iran’s Role and Place in Armenia and in Azerbaijan

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18:16, June 15, 2015

Emma Begijanyan

Countries’ geopolitical and geostrategic locations certainly play a significant role in their state-to-state relationship.

To comprehensively analyze the relations between Iran, on the one hand, and its neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan on the other, it is important first and foremost to briefly assess their geopolitical assets, under which material and non-material capabilities, including country’s geographical placement, natural resources, economic potential, territory, population, national solidarity, psychology and other characters are being taken into account.

Serbia: 29 Police Officers Arrested in Bribery Case at Hungary Border

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22:22, June 15, 2015

Serbian authorities havearrested29 police officers, nine customs officials and one other person whom they accuse of letting people illegally cross the border into neighboring Hungary, a member of the European Union (EU), in exchange for bribes.

The unnamed suspects were arrested Sunday as part of a police operation by Serbian and Hungarian authorities. They were all reportedly employed in jobs linked to securing the Backi Breg border crossing between the two countries.

Apart from letting people cross the border illegally, the police officers were also accused of smuggling taxable goods into the EU duty-free.

They have been charged with accepting and giving bribes and abuse of office over the course of the last 15 months. The officers had allegedly abused the visa-free travel status Serbia enjoys with the EU.

Armenian Wrestler Heckled As He Misses Gold In Baku


(Tom Hayward, Reuters) – Armenian Migran Arutyunyan failed to win his nation’s first European Games gold medal, narrowly losing in the final of the men’s 66kg Greco-Roman wrestling, much to the delight of a vociferous Azeri crowd on Sunday.

Silver medallist Arutyunyan was subjected to a hostile reception from home spectators who chanted ‘Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’ and cheered wildly for his

Armenia Briefed On Iran Nuclear Talks


Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour briefed Armenia’s top diplomats on the current state of Iran’s nuclear talks with world powers during annual “political consultations” that were concluded in Yerevan on Friday.

Rahimpour began the consultations on Thursday with a meeting with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian which focused on Iranian-Armenian relations and regional security. Nalbandian was reported to praise bilateral ties as “warm and mutually beneficial.”

A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Rahimpour presented “the latest developments in the ongoing negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.” The ministry released a virtually identical statement on the Iranian diplomat’s separate two-day talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian.

Women in Armenia are Less Free Today Than 30 Years Ago

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16:02, June 12, 2015

By Markar Melkonian 

Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Mikhail Gorbachev are to be thanked for bringing freedom to the former “Captive Nations.”Armenians now live in an era of post-Soviet freedom. 

Or do we?   Well, it all depends on who “we” are—and on what one means by freedom.  If, as the song says, “freedom is just another word for nothing less to lose,” then the ruling oligarchs are NOT free—they have grabbed up a lot, and so they have a LOT to lose.  But most Armenians have considerably less to lose than they had twenty-five years ago:  thanks to the efforts of Armenia’s anti-communist heroes, the population has been impoverished, disenfranchised, demoralized, and diminished by at least one million inhabitants.  Thus, by the “nothing-less-to-lose” definition, most Armenians are indeed freer today than they were in the bad old days of the Soviet Union. 

World Bank Reaffirms Armenian Growth Forecast


Armenia will avoid a recession this year despite a considerable slowdown in economic activity in the country resulting from Russia’s economic troubles, according to the latest World Bank projections.

In its most recent Global Economic Prospects report released late on Wednesday, the bank said that the Armenian economy is on course to expand by 0.8 percent in 2015, down from 3.4 percent in 2014.

Laura Bailey, the head of the World Bank’s Yerevan office, forecast the same growth rate in late March. It was a significant downward revision of the bank’s previous projections made late last year.

The International Monetary Fund offered an even more pessimistic outlook in April, saying that Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product will likely contract by 1 percent in 2015 due to knock-on effects of a recession in Russia.

Azerbaijani 1st Family Big on Banking

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12:36, June 11, 2015


From a distance, Azerbaijan may look like any other oil-rich country.

Its capital Baku shines at night, thanks to the multicolored lights from newly-constructed futuristic buildings that evoke the architectural playgrounds of the United Arab Emirates. The government is happily spending billions on marquee events to show off the country such as this year’s 2015 European Games, expected to cost US$ 8 billion.

But while outwardly the country is rich, that wealth is not trickling down to the 9.6 million citizens of Azerbaijan who increasingly are going into debt to survive.

As of Feb. 1, there were 2.3 million people who had bank loans, a sharp increase of 17.7 percent in one year, as many struggle to cover sharply rising living expenses.

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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.