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Wife of Georgian Driver Arrested for Smuggling Heroin: ‘My husband is innocent’

February 26, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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17:43, February 25, 2014

The wife of a man driving a truck in which 928 kilos of heroin were found by Meghri customs officials on January 17 says her husband is innocent.

Avtandil Martiashvili, the driver, had entered Armenia from Iran and was headed for Georgia. He was arrested on the spot and charged with drug smuggling. A Turkish citizen, Osman Oğurlu, was arrested several days later in Yerevan as an accomplice.

Hetq today spoke with the driver’s wife Leyla Martiashvili.

What do you know about what happened to your husband?

Press Persecution In Azerbaijan: Where Investigative Journalism Is “Espionage”

February 26, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Video No Comments
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13:20, February 26, 2014

By Ana Baric

Azerbaijan is maintaining its usual approach to press “freedom”: sponsoring pro-regime media and unapologetically repressing critical journalism.

Ismayilova’s Story

In the past week authorities have been interrogating an Azerbaijani journalist who appears to have become a go-to target for press intimidation: OCCRP partner and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) correspondent Khadija Ismayilova.

Ismayilova was first brought into the Azerbaijan’s General Prosecutor’s office on Feb. 18  for questioning related to an alleged leak of state secrets to Congressional aides who prosecutors claim were actually US intelligence agents. 

OCCRP partner and RFE/RL correspondent Khadija Ismayilova. Source: Facebook

According to Radio Free Europe, several pro-government media outlets claimed that she handed over files on Azerbaijani opposition politicians.

Russia is right to be upset over events in Ukraine – Financial Times

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By Georgy Mirsky
Ukraine’s role is pivotal to the great Russian state – whether yesterday’s Soviet Union or today’s federation. Two decades ago, I told my foreign colleagues that the USSR could survive without any of its 14 other republics. I have no doubt it collapsed when Ukrainians voted in a referendum in favour of independence in 1991.
The reason is not the economy. Ukraine was the most industrially advanced of all the Soviet republics, yet Russia can do without it.Ukraine badly needs Russian oil and gas, yet no disaster is in sight even if Moscow breaks its economic ties with Kyiv altogether, which is highly unlikely.
Nor is sentiment paramount despite the heritage of Kyiv as “the mother of Russian cities” and the sieges of Sebastopol during the Crimean war and the war against Nazi Germany 72 years ago. Historical memory cannot be erased, and most Russians believe that Ukrainians are just a part of the Russian nation.
Rather, the main reason for Russian sensitivity is geopolitics. One of the causes of anti-American feeling is the deep and bitter frustration borne of the conviction that Russia has been marginalised. Its former allies in eastern Europe and the Baltic states are not only gone but quite unfriendly toward Moscow.
In Asia, an incomprehensible and unpredictable China is calling the shots. In the Middle East, most former partners and footholds have disappeared. For years, official propaganda has been doing its best to convince the population that the west, that eternal enemy of Russia, has not renounced its sinister designs. Worse, it looks as though at least some of Russia’s top leaders or their advisers share this conviction.
The cold war zero-sum game mentality is by no means dead. Russia’s leaders regard the west, particularly the US, with much suspicion. They do not believe that Washington is bent on war, but they assume that, given an opportunity, the Americans will never miss a chance to do something nasty to Russia.
Ukraine is far more important to Russia than Georgia, where six years ago the Kremlin was ready to go war rather than lose face. In Ukraine, just like in Syria, the bottom line is to avoid being seen to back down under American pressure. Even a partitioned Ukraine is better than a pro-western one. The propaganda line is that the whole circus has been organised by NATO with the aim of snatching a great and important country from Moscow’s grip. The domestic audience is told that the west’s real purpose is moving NATO’s military bases closer to Russia’s heartland.
This is why it is easy to understand that official Moscow is terribly disappointed with the way things have turned out in Ukraine, primarily because it is afraid that Victor Yanukovich’s ouster will be regarded in the world as Russia’s defeat. Some feel President Vladimir Putin has been humiliated since he had allegedly tried to buy Yanukovich and failed.
The game is far from over. Russia’s best hope appears to be Ukrainian extreme nationalists, just as in Syria al-Qaeda, the Shias’ mortal enemy, serves President Bashar al-Assad to frighten away both moderate Syrians and the west. 

Nairit Case: Opposition faction proposes setting up parliamentary committee on chemical giant’s activities

February 26, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Europe No Comments

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) parliamentary faction has come up with a proposal on setting up a seven-member committee to study the privatization of Armenia’s once industrial giant Nairit, then how it contracted millions of dollars in debt and how far responsible the government is for that.

According to ARF faction member Artsvik Minasyan, there was such a proposal much earlier, but it was delayed for one reason – the government is trying to restart the Nairit chemical plant.

“Until now, the government has not replied to any question regarding the fate of Nairit. Moreover, in a deliberate manner it is trying to make the plant bankrupt, which means that there is no hope of re-operation,” Minasyan claimed.

New Free Economic Zone in Yerevan to Promote Armenian Jewelry Market

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13:48, February 25, 2014

The creation of a free economic zone in Yerevan will promote the Armenian jewelry market not only at home, but also abroad.

Though exports of Armenian jewelry have gone up in recent years, they still don’t compare to what the free economic zones of Dubai and Istanbul have accomplished. Such a tax-free zone in Yerevan would not only entice jewelry manufacturers in the Armenian Diaspora to come trade in Armenia, but also use the potential of Syrian-Armenian jewelers in the country. 

After a few years of negotiations, the decision to create a free economic zone in Yerevan for jewelry is finally ready. The Government of Armenia will discuss the matter of giving permission to AGA Free Economic Zone CJSC to create a free economic zone at its February 27 meeting.

Chess: Yerevan to host European Championship

February 25, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments

The 15th European Individual Chess Championship will be held in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 2-15.

The Championship is dedicated to the memory of the world’s 9th champion Tigran Petrosian whose 85th birthday is celebrated this year, reports Armchess.am.

The championship will be an 11-round Swiss system tournament, with about 270 chess players from 27 countries participating in it. Among the participants there will be about 130 grandmasters and more than 200 chess players with international titles.

The largest delegations are Armenia (about 80 participants), Russia (53), Georgia (17), Israel (17), Ukraine (13), Turkey (10).

According to the regulation, the chess players who take the first 23 places at the Championship are entitled to participate in the World Cup.

Armenia, Russia satisfied with Customs Union accession roadmap implementation


The prime ministers of Russia and Armenia highly evaluate Yerevan’s steps aimed at the implementation of the roadmap for accession to the Customs Union.

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan was on a working visit to the Russian city of Sochi on Monday where he met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. The two sides reportedly discussed bilateral cooperation in trade, economic and investment fields, including a number of issues related to joint projects in energy, industrial and infrastructure development spheres.

“There are more than a thousand companies with Russian capital operating in Armenia. By the volume of investments Russia is the first in our country. We hope that these investments in various spheres of our country will also continue in the future,” said Sargsyan, who stated late last week that Armenia had implemented almost half of all measures needed for its membership in the Customs Union that now consists of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Ukraine interim leader announces start of presidential campaign

February 25, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Ukraine’s presidential election campaign will start this week, just days after President Viktor Yanukovych was forced from power and fled the capital, the country’s interim leader said Monday, according to NBC News.
“The nomination of candidates can start on Tuesday,” Oleksander Turchinov, who was named interim president by the country’s parliament on Saturday, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Yanukovych has been on-the-run since Saturday after bowed to protesters’ demands and agreed to early elections.

Three months of protests against Yanukovych, who had turned away from closer ties with Europe and towards Vladimir Putin’s Russia, burst into deadly violence last week. More than 80 people were killed in battles with police. 

Source: TertOriginial Article

Soccer: UEFA pre-arrangement again keeps Armenia, Azerbaijan apart in Euro-2016 draw


A pre-arrangement by European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, has proved useful again in keeping Armenia and Azerbaijan separate during a Sunday draw for Euro-2016.

At the ceremony held in Nice, France, Azerbaijan was put in Group H from the fifth-seeded pot – minutes later the organizers drew Armenia from the fourth-seeded pot into the same group, which triggered the earlier announced UEFA mechanism to keep the two regional archrivals apart. Eventually Armenia was placed in Group I together with Portugal, Denmark, Serbia and Albania.

Armenia and Azerbaijan that warred in 1992-1994 and are still locked in a bitter dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh caused trouble to UEFA after failing to agree on the match venues in the Euro-2008 qualifying campaign in which they had been inadvertently drawn together in one qualifying group. A similar pre-arrangement already helped UEFA keep the two foes apart during the Euro-2012 draw four years ago.

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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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Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

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Source: HetqOriginial Article

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.