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Puzzling Out the Iranian Conundrum? New Situation and New Perspectives for the Region

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01:12, April 17, 2015

Armen Vardanyan

Program Manager, Iranian studies, The Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs (AIISA)

Iran’s nuclear program seems to arrive at its final solution—along with six world powers (5 UN Security Council members and Germany) Tehran reached a preliminary agreement on its nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland, April 2. While a final document hasn’t been signed yet, it is planned to come up with a comprehensive agreement till 30 June 2015, under which Iran will restrict its nuclear program, and sanctions against the Islamic Republic will be lifted instead.

The recent “thawing” between Iran and the West rises hope in world’s challenged capitals, that Tehran’s nuclear problem will be resolved at last, and in the near future it can become a safe partner for the USA and the EU in the Middle East.

Why Aren’t Textbooks Sent From Armenia Reaching Schools in Javakhk?

April 16, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Georgia No Comments
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00:09, April 16, 2015

When Hetq asked officials at the diaspora ministry why textbooks sent from Armenia weren’t reaching Armenian schools in Javakhk, where a large Armenian community exists right over the border in Georgia, we were told that samples first had to be examined and approved by the Georgian education ministry.

“Employees at Georgia’s Ministry of Education and Science have been given one copy each of all materials destined for Javakhk. Soon, once we receive approval of a final list, they will be sent to Tbilisi,” said diaspora deputy minister Serzh Srapionyan.

The textbook issue hit the pages of the press after teachers at Javakhk Armenian schools said they hadn’t received material sent from Armenia. The press then chimes in that the books were being held up at the Georgian border.

IMF Expects Recession In Armenia


The Armenian economy will likely contract by 1 percent this year due to spillover effects of Russia’s economic troubles, the International Monetary Fund has said in a sharp downward revision of its growth projections for Armenia.

“Armenia and Belarus are projected to enter into recession in 2015, and Georgia’s growth will slow. In all three economies, the downward turns reflect spillovers from Russia,” the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook released late on Tuesday.

Mark Horton, the head of an IMF mission visiting Yerevan likewise predicted last week that economic growth in Armenia will be “close to zero” in 2015. He too cited the fallout from the recession in Russia, the South Caucasus state’s leading trading partner and the main source of multimillion-dollar remittances.

More Funding Secured For Armenian Highway Upgrades


A development bank founded by Russia and Kazakhstan provided the Armenian government on Tuesday with a $150 million loan that will finance the ongoing reconstruction of Armenia’s main highways stretching more than 550 kilometers to neighboring Georgia and Iran. 

The chairman of the Almaty-based Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), Dmitry Pankin, signed a corresponding agreement in Yerevan with Armenian Transport and Communication Minister Gagik Beglarian after talks held with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.

In a statement issued after the signing ceremony, the EDB said the loan repayable in 20 years will finance work on a 20-kilometer highway section encompassing Armenia’s highest mountain pass close to the Iranian border.

50 Bus Passengers Stranded for Several Hours at Armenian-Georgian Border

April 13, 2015 Armenia, Georgia No Comments
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00:05, April 13, 2015

Fifty passengers in a bus travelling to Russia from Armenia were stranded for several hours last night at the Armenian-Georgian border after the bus driver was arrested when an argument broke out between him and border officials.

The incident took place at the Bagratashen-Sadakhlo border crossing.

Forsaj Tour, the bus operator, was forced to send another driver to the site. Once he arrived, the bus continued on its route to Russia.

As yet, no information as to the nature of the argument is available.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Journalism for Future Challenges Program: Apply Today!

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17:58, April 9, 2015

The OCCRP is partnering up with the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga) Center for Media Studies to present the Journalism for Future Challenges program again this year. 

We are looking for early career journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, or Ukraine who can show that they are dedicated to quality journalism and looking to expand their investigative reporting skills and professional network.

This intensive training program is taught by international experts from renowned newsrooms and focuses on teaching cutting-edge, updated tools and methods for improved investigative journalism.

Journalism for Future Challenges will take place in Riga, Latvia, in three separate sessions: June 8th – 13th, August 17th – 21st , and November 23rd – 27th.

Armenia Hails Tentative Deal On Iran’s Nuclear Program


Armenia swiftly welcomed late on Thursday a framework agreement to curb neighboring Iran’s controversial nuclear program which was reached by the Islamic Republic and world powers during marathon negotiations in Switzerland.

“That will contribute to the strengthening of stability and cooperation in the region,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement. “This serious progress in the process of solving the Iranian nuclear issue shows that even the most complex problems can be settled through negotiations.”

The tentative agreement cleared the way for a comprehensive deal which Iran, the United States, the European Union, Russia and China aim to conclude by June 30. Such a deal would lead to a gradual lifting of crippling international sanctions imposed on Tehran because of what the West sees as Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Rosneft and Yukos Settle Legal Dispute: So What Awaits Yukos’ Armenian Subsidiaries?

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16:30, April 1, 2015

Russian petroleum giant Rosneft has announced that it has resolved its quarrel with the Yukos family of companies.

On March 27, the Rosneft board of governors backed a deal with Yukos that would waive all mutual claims and cease all legal and other disputes by the parties involved.

The agreement, signed on March 31, also obligates the sides to indemnify each other for any claims in the future in connection with the bankruptcy and liquidation of Yukos.

This will result in a review of all ongoing trials in the Netherlands, England, the United States, Russia and other jurisdictions.

Contaminated chicken sold in major food stores in Armenia

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00:31, April 1, 2015

Marine Madatyan

Despite tests in 2013 showing excessive hormones in imported chicken, government meat inspectors in Armenia appear to inadequately test meat coming into the country.

In early 2013, Arm, the State Service for Food Safety (SSFS) of the Ministry of Agriculture found that chickens sold under the Sadia and Frangosul brand names contained several thousand times the legal limit of the male hormone testosterone.

The chickens were exported to Armenia by the Brazilian companies BRF S.A. (formerly BRF-Brasil Foods S.A.) and Doux Frangosul S.A. Agro Avicola Industrial. When the meat was tested for bacteria, antibiotics and hormones that February, the Armenian testing firm Standard Dialog Ltd. found the massive amounts of testosterone.

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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

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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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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.