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Serzh Sargsyan Received Today The President of the European Council

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15:03, July 20, 2015

President Serzh Sargsyan received today the President of the European Council (EC), Donald Tusk, who has arrived in Armenia on a regional visit.

After bilateral negotiations, there took place a joint press conference of the RA president and the EC president during which Serzh Sargsyan and Donald Tusk delivered a press statement and responded to questions from the journalists.

During the negotiations, the interlocutors touched upon RA-EU relations and their current cooperation, as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. 
The parties also reflected upon regional issues. The Armenian president welcomed the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

Armenian Opposition Alarmed By ‘Deadly’ Constitutional Change

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Armenian opposition leaders accused the authorities on Monday of seeking to facilitate the use of lethal force against dissent through one of the draft constitutional amendments that were made public last week.

The amendment put forward by an ad hoc commission formed by President Serzh Sarkisian complements Article 23 of Armenia’s existing constitution which guarantees people’s right to life. It says that Armenians can be deprived of life in cases involving a “use of force that is absolutely necessary”

Vartan Poghosian, a member of the presidential commission, denied any political motives behind this clause when presented a package of proposed constitutional changes to reporters last week. He said such provisions can be found in European conventions and laws enacted by some Western nations.

UK: Anti-Corruption Euro-MP Jailed For $500,000 Expenses Fraud

July 20, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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14:09, July 20, 2015

A British court has sentenced Ashley Mote, a former Member of the European Parliament (MEP), to five years’ imprisonment for theft, fraud, false accounting, obtaining money transfers by deception and obtaining criminal property.

Justice Stewart Smith at Southwark Crown Court told Mote on July 13, “Your greed and dishonesty were matched only by your hypocrisy because while this was going on you carried out a high-profile campaign condemning corruption and the improper use of public money in the very institution from which you were leeching it… As you came to towards the end of your time as an MEP you decided to milk what you saw as your cash cow to the limit.”

The Gentrified City

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11:21, July 18, 2015

By Vrej Haroutiunian

Previous Article

Gentrification is therefore not simply the product of a capitalistorganization of space but of the specific needs of capital at a given time, and it is here that we must broaden our focus and look not at the rehabilitation of residential structures alone, but at the entire transformation of central cities

Smith &LeFaivre

The beginning of the twenty-first century marks a phase of extensive developmentin the center of Yerevan, as the country begins to stabilize after the Soviet collapse and financial investments increase.

OSCE Concerned About Criminal Case Against Armenian Journalist

A senior official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concern on Thursday at criminal proceedings launched against the editor of an Armenian media outlet critical of the government.

The OSCE’ Vienna-based representative on press freedom, Dunja Mijatovic, said the Armenian authorities should not prosecute Kristine Khanumian for her refusal to disclose the confidential source of a story reported by her Ilur.am news portal last year.

The report implicated the then police chief of Armenia’s Shirak province in a violent attack on two young men. The Special Investigative Service (SIS) ordered Ilur.am as well as the independent newspaper “Hraparak” to disclose their anonymous sources, saying that is necessary for solving the case.

United Kingdom: Sham Marriage Trade Continues: OCCRP

July 15, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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01:30, July 15, 2015

OCCRP writes:

Despite new rules targeting the sham marriage industry, the trade in fake marriages for immigration fraud purposes appears to continue online.

In March, the British Home Office said its new rules against sham marriages represented the “biggest shake-up in a generation”:

1. The waiting period for couples wishing to get married was nearly doubled to 28 days, with investigators allowed to increase that to 70 days if fraud is suspected.

2. European Union nationals who take part in sham marriages for cash can be banned from re-entering the United Kingdom (UK).

Although months have passed since the changes were made, criminals are still advertising fake marriages for immigration fraud purposes on UK-based sites. OCCRP found a number of such ads on a Russian-language classifieds site, nahodka.co.uk

Azerbaijan’s Aliyev Again Blames ‘Armenian Lobby’ For Western Criticism

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Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has rejected mounting Western criticism of his government’s poor human rights record as a smear campaign engineered by the worldwide “Armenian lobby.”

Aliyev lashed out at Western governments and human rights bodies as he chaired an emergency meeting of his government late on Monday.

“The Armenians of the world, the Armenian lobby have picked us as a target, and they have been joined by hypocritical and corrupt politicians sponsored by them,” he charged, according to the Trend news agency.

“This is especially true for Western politicians,” he said. “Congressmen, senators, deputies, Islamophobic politicians, and other elements, who have built their lives with Armenian money, have declared a war on Azerbaijan.”

Youth Activists Demand Action Against ‘Police Brutality’

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More than a hundred activists briefly blocked a major Yerevan street on Tuesday as they rallied to demand punishment for police officers who used excessive force during recent street protests against an electricity price hike.

The activists carried pictures of high-ranking police officers who they believe must be sacked because of the June 23 violent crackdown on their “Electric Yerevan” movement. The demonstration was organized by No To Plunder, a youth group that launched and initially led those protests.

The small crowd sat on the ground at a busy street intersection in the city center for about 20 minutes. It resumed its march to the Office of the Prosecutor-General after senior police officers at the scene threatened to forcibly unblock traffic.

Armenian Editor Prosecuted For Not Disclosing Source

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The editor of an Armenian pro-opposition media outlet is risking imprisonment for defying a controversial court order to disclose the source of its report that implicated a senior police officer in a violent assault last year.

The news service Ilur.am as well as the Yerevan daily “Hraparak” reported at the time that Vartan Nadarian, the then police of chief of Armenia’s Shirak province, attacked two young men in a dispute outside the regional capital Gyumri. One of them turned out to be Artur Aleksanian, a prominent Armenian wrestler and three-time European champion.

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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.

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.