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Armenian MPs Abstain On Anti-Russian PACE Resolution

January 29, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) have pointedly declined to vote against a resolution accusing Russia of military aggression against Ukraine.

Their stance contrasted with the Armenian government’s controversial decision last year to oppose a pro-Ukrainian resolution overwhelmingly approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

The PACE resolution passed late on Wednesday condemns Russia’s “illegal annexation of Crimea” in March 2014 and accuses Moscow of “instigating and escalating developments in Ukraine, including with arms supplies to insurgent forces and covert military action by Russian troops inside eastern Ukraine.” The Strasbourg-based assembly also decided again to strip Russia of the right to vote or take part in the PACE’s governing bodies until April 2015.

Karabakh Still Freer Than Azerbaijan, Says U.S. Watchdog

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Nagorno-Karabakh remains a “partly free” territory governed by a less repressive administration than Azerbaijan, the U.S. human rights group Freedom House said in an annual survey released on Wednesday.

Freedom House evaluated “political rights” and “civil liberties” in 195 countries and 13 disputed territories, including Karabakh, on a 7-point scale, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free. It again rated both Karabakh and Armenia “partly free” and kept Azerbaijan in the “not free” category of nations surveyed.

What is more, the “Freedom in the World” survey further downgraded Azerbaijan’s rating, giving the authorities in Baku a median score of 6. “Azerbaijan received a downward trend arrow due to an intensified crackdown on dissent, including the imprisonment and abuse of human rights advocates and journalists,” explained Freedom House.

European Court Opens Hearings On Armenian Genocide Case

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Amal Clooney, a world-famous lawyer, urged the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) not to give the green light to public denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide on Wednesday as she represented Armenia in a high-profile case involving a controversial Turkish politician.

Clooney pointed to “overwhelming evidence” of the World War One-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks at the start of hearings in Strasbourg on an appeal lodged by Switzerland and backed by Armenia.

The case stems from a 2007 Swiss court ruling against Dogu Perincek, the leader of a small Turkish nationalist party who branded the Armenian genocide an “international life” during a lecture tour in Switzerland. Perincek was fined by the court in line with a Swiss anti-racism law that bans any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide. The ruling was upheld by the Swiss Federal Court.

Iran Sees Progress On Rail Link With ‘Trustworthy’ Armenia

January 27, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke of further progress made towards the construction of a railway connecting his country to Armenia and the implementation of more Armenian-Iranian energy projects

Challenges for Art in Armenia: View from Three Contemporary Artists and an Art Curator

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11:16, January 27, 2015

By Karine Aghajanyan 

“Art can have both aesthetical meaning as well as the potential for social impact”, according to Misha Badasyan, Manan Torosyan and Petra Hultman; the three artists I talked to regarding the contemporary art scene in Armenia.

I recently sat down with them to discuss their thoughts on the challenges they face regarding art in the Armenian context as well as the impact they believe art can have on Armenian society.

They all noted the lack of gallery space, divisions among different artists, as well as a shortage of finances and attention from the government as complex challenges for art in Armenia. This lack of space and resources to grow and become more visible as an artist contributes to a situation where artists often feel stuck, both creatively as well as physically.

New Polish Ambassador to Armenia Presents Credentials

January 27, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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15:16, January 27, 2015

Poland’s newly appointed ambassador to Armenia Jerzy Nowakowski today presented his diplomatic credentials to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

President Sargsyan expressed his hope that the new ambassador would breathe new life into Armenia-Poland relations and would spur greater economic ties between the two nations.

Sargsyan and Nowakowski discussed Armenia’s relations to the European Union and prospects for developing those relations.

Ambassador Nowakowski stated this government was ready to assist Armenia along those lines.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Endangered Bonobo Chimp Imported to Armenia Goes Missing: Preliminary Investigation Drags On

January 24, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe No Comments
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10:30, January 24, 2015

An endangered bonobo primate has disappeared from the Jambo Exotic Park in Armenia’s Tzoraghbyur village.

The park’s founder, Artyom Vardanyan, claims that the animal, listed in the international Red Book of endangered species, died last month.

All such animals can only be imported with special permits and must be kept in special conditions.

The importer of the bonobo and many other endangered animals is a company called Zoo Fauna Art. A criminal case of contraband was launched against company director ArturKhachatryan a year ago and is still on-going.

Hetq asked the ministry of finance to provide information about the criminal investigation and whether it has revealed any wrongdoing.

Turk Sentenced In Armenia’s Biggest Drug Trafficking Case

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In the largest drug trafficking case in Armenia’s history, a Turkish man arrested in Yerevan a year ago has been convicted of smuggling 850 kilograms of heroin into the country and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

A court in the southeastern Armenian town of Goris also gave this week a 17-year prison sentence to the Georgian driver of a heavy truck in which Armenian customs officers deployed on the Iranian border found the Class A drug.

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) announced the separate arrests of the driver, Avtandil Martiashvili, and Turkish citizen Osman Ugurlu in January 2014. The NSS described Ugurlu, 41, as “one of the organizers” of the unprecedented drug trafficking operation. It said the drug was hidden in the truck’s “specially-fitted cache” installed in Turkey.

Armenian Oppositionist Warns Of Recession

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Russia’s deepening economic troubles could drag Armenia into recession this year, a prominent Armenian opposition figure said on Wednesday, dismissing government forecasts of continued growth.

The Armenian government expects the domestic economy to expand by 4 percent this year despite the unfolding recession in Russia, a key trading partner. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have come up with more modest growth projections: 3.3 percent.

The London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which has invested more than $1 billion in business projects in Armenia over the past two decades, has worsened its outlook for the country and now expects zero growth there in 2015.

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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.