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Lifetime prisoner wins case against Turkey at ECHR

October 15, 2014 Diaspora, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has fined Turkey 11,200 euros for failing to provide adequate legal assistance while Önder Çarkçı, who is now serving a lifetime sentence, was in custody. It also stated that his right to a fair trial within a reasonable time period was violated, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.Çarkçı, 41, was accused of participating in an armed robbery of an Istanbul jewelry shop on July 17, 1996, during which the shop owner was shot dead.Çarkçı was admitted to hospital unconscious after being shot during the incident, but before he was discharged from hospital the gendarmerie took his statement in which he confessed to taking part in the robbery and to using a gun after the shop owner opened fire.He claimed that he was subsequently taken into custody and the charges of armed robbery and murder against him were joined to a separate set of charges, including allegations that he was a member of the Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front (THKP-C).Çarkçı, who is being held in the Kandıra Prison in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, claimed at court that he had not been involved in the robbery. He said he had only opened fire because he thought he was being attacked as he heard gunshots while passing by the shop.Ultimately, on May 30, 2008, an Istanbul court, based on his statements at hospital, convicted him of attempting to undermine the constitutional order by force as a member of the THKP-C. Çarkçı was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, in a judgment that was upheld on appeal on March 11, 2009.

Russia’s “Dirty” $20 Billion: Follow The Money, Follow The Banker

October 14, 2014 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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14:53, October 14, 2014

When US$ 20 billion in dirty money swirled out of Russia and into Europe in one of the biggest money laundering operations yet uncovered in Eastern Europe, investigators in Moldova and Russia set to work to track down how it was done and who was behind it.

Reporters for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) talked with Alexander Grigoriev, a banker whose name shows up in the scheme. He denies he ever received money personally and his partner says if the transfers were not legal, then it’s the Russian government’s responsibility to explain what happened.

Read more…

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Armenia’s Eurasian Accession; Security Guarantee the Game Changer

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14:58, October 14, 2014

By Pietro A. Shakarian

On Friday, 10 October, Armenia officially joined the Eurasian Customs Union. It was more than a year ago since the Caucasus country made its fateful decision to join the Moscow-backed union and to turn down a potential Association Agreement with the EU.

The decision by the Armenian government has sparked debate in Armenian society about the respective benefits of the two rival blocs. It is true that Armenians have long sought to integrate their country with Europe and, like their northern neighbors the Georgians, they point to long historical associations with Europe. These include their shared Christian roots, the left-to-right directionality of the Armenian alphabet, the mutual contact between the old Armenian kingdoms and the West, and even the very personality of Charles Aznavour. In fact, to an Armenian or Georgian, the idea of possibly joining the EU represents the culmination of a centuries-long quest for Europe.

Anadolu Group Launches $200 Million Hydro-Electric Plant in Javakhk; Electricity Destined for Turkey

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00:02, October 13, 2014

The Turkish-based multinationalAnadolu Group officially launched the operation at its US$200 million Paravani hydro-electric plant in the Armenian-populated Javakhk region of Georgia.

On hand at the official opening of the 87 megawatt plant, the energy of which is to be exported to Turkey,were Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız.

The Parvani hydro plant is the largest built in Georgia in the past 35 years.

In his remarks Garibashvili noted that the plant is yet another example of the close cooperation between Georgia and Turkey.

Anadolu Group’s official website also praises the opening of the plant noting – “In the history of Turkish Republic, this is the first investment that uses the natural resources of a neighboring country to fulfill energy demand of Turkey.”

Azerbaijan cracks down while chairing Council of Europe – BBC

October 13, 2014 Azerbaijan, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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“We are the last of the Mohicans,” says Leila Alieva. “First the government weakened the opposition, then targeted independent media, and now us – the NGOs.”Her research institute, the Centre for National and International Studies in Azerbaijan, is one of dozens of pro-democracy non-governmental organisations under investigation by the Azeri authorities.And the crackdown is taking place as oil-rich Azerbaijan chairs Europe’s leading pro-democracy institution, the Council of Europe.In most cases the authorities have frozen bank accounts or launched tax inspections, forcing NGOs that received foreign grants to suspend projects.Other organisations include Transparency International, Irex, National Endowment for Democracy and Oxfam.So far Ms Alieva has managed to escape prosecution. But many of her peers have been less fortunate.In recent months, the pressure on the government’s critics has intensified.Two prominent human rights activists, Leyla Yunus and Rasul Jafarov, were arrested in late July. They had been compiling a list of Azerbaijan’s political prisoners.Their names have since been added to the document.The list records 98 individuals in detention, among them human rights activists, opposition members, journalists and bloggers.The charges against them range from espionage and drugs and weapons possession to hooliganism and tax evasion. 
Read more on the BBC website.

Serbia supports OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts at peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – Tomislav Nikolic

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Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, who is on a two-day official visit to Armenia, is grateful to Armenia for not recognizing Kosovo’s independence, the Serbian leader stated at a news conference held jointly with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan.Serbia is chairing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) next year, and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan informed his Serbian counterpart of the latest developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and noted that, although Serbia has not recognized Kosovo, it is holding negotiations with Kosovo. In present-day world it is impossible to pretend that authorities formed as a result of conflicts do not actually exist.“The only alternative to that is chaos,” President Serzh Sargsyan said.Armenia’s leader stressed deep roots and a long history of Armenian-Serbian relations, particularly 20-year-long diplomatic relations. He expressed hope that the Serbian president’s visit to Armenia will give new impetus to the Armenian-Serbian political dialogue and progress of bilateral cooperation.For his part, President Tomislav Nikolic stated that Serbia is supporting the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts at a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.“We are supporting efforts at a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the Minsk Group principles and wish you success in defending your interests,” Armenpress quotes Mr Nikolic as saying.He is grateful to Armenia for its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Armenian peacemakers contributed to peace in that region and saved Serbs’ life as well as cultural heritage of Serbia and Kosovo.Serbia is seeking EU membership, without, however, abandoning its other friends, Mr Nikolic said. 

Russia to see surge of investments if sanctions lifted: VTB Bank head

October 12, 2014 Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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Western investors are keen on investing in the Russian economy and, should the sanctions against Russia be lifted, a surge of foreign investments could be expected, Andrei Kostin, President and Chairman of VTB Bank Management Board, has said.”I think, should the sanctions be somehow reduced or lifted, a surge of interest to Russia can be expected, as well as a surge of investments,” Kostin said in an interview to Russian Channel One.According to him, western investors maintain a high level of interest to the Russian economy.”Meetings … in Moscow and here [in Washington] show that investors, including American ones, are ready to invest,” Kostin said.The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in escalating the Ukrainian crisis, an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied.Some of the sanctions concern Russia’s largest banks, among other companies and institutions, VTB Bank being one of them. The sanctions also target several Russian defense and energy companies, as well as certain individuals. 

Armenia not opposing membership in Eurasian Economic Union to relations with EU – Serzh Sargsyan

October 12, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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Armenia made its decision to accede to the Eurasian Economic Union with a view to give impetus to its economic progress, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan stated at a press briefing held jointly with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic.“Free turnover of goods and services, capital, workforce and available energy carriers, as well as transport solutions in the Eurasian area, open up new opportunities for us to enhance the efficiency of our economy,” Armenpress quotes Armenia’s leader as saying.President Serzh Sargsyan stressed that Armenia is not opposing its membership in the Eurasian Economic Union to its relations with the European Union (EU).“They have been and will be continued because we have numerous common interests and common heritage. And we continue democratic reforms on this basis,” he said.Armenia’s bilateral relations with different European nations play an important role in the country’s relations with the EU.“The Serbian president’s visit and political contacts at different levels are striking evidence thereof,” Armenia’s leader said. 

Hackers Using Malware To Steal Millions From ATM’s

October 11, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Business, Europe, Video No Comments
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21:59, October 11, 2014

ATM machines are being targeted by cyber-criminals using malware to steal millions of dollars around the globe.

Tyupkin, the name of the malware, enables hackers to steal cash from ATMs without using debit or credit cards, but rather with a series of codes, reportsThe International Business Times.

Kaspersky Lab, a Russian security company, detected the cyber attacks, which have thus far been found across Europe, Latin America, Asia, the US, and Israel. As of last March, when the investigation was conducted, more than 50 machines were found to be infected in Eastern Europe and Russia.

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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.