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Armenia Ranks 78th in 2014 World Press Freedom Index

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17:35, September 30, 2014

Armenia ranks 78thin the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders that covers 180 countries.

The country dropped four points from last year.

In terms of Eastern Europe and Central Asia the Index writes:

The region’s four best-placed countries in this year’s index are the same as last year. Although their positions in the index are fairly dispersed, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan all enjoy a significant degree of pluralism and relatively little state censorship. But the considerable social polarization is reflected in the media and the climate for journalists, who are often harassed by pressure groups. Given that the political orientation of individual media usually coincides with that of their owners, it would seem that respect for the editorial independence of media employees is still limited.

Open Borders: Armenia’s Trade with Iran and Georgia

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Georgia No Comments
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11:13, September 29, 2014

Armenia has open border with only two countries – Georgia to the north and Iran to the south.

As the below chart shows, Iran has stripped Georgia in terms of exports to Armenia, while the picture is more a mixed bag when it comes to Armenian exports to the two.

During the past seven years, Armenian imports from Iranrecorded their highest level in 2012 at US$219.4 million.

As for Armenian imports from Georgia, during the same period, they reached their highest level in 2013 at US$65.8 million.

The picture is different when it comes to Armenian exports to its two neighbors.

Armenian exports to Georgia reached a peak in 2012 at US$108.5 million.

Armenia’s Biggest Ever Drug Bust Trial Postponed; Case Documents First Have to be Translated into Georgian

September 25, 2014 Armenia, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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00:28, September 25, 2014

An Armenian court today postponed the pretrial examination of the largest drug bust ever to have allegedly taken place in Armenia, or for that matter, regionally.

The newly arrived Georgian lawyer of Avtandil Martiashvili, a Georgian citizen arrested earlier this year when the truck he was driving into Armenia was found to contain 850 kilograms of heroin,demanded that all documents pertaining to his client be translated into Georgian so that the accused could follow the proceedings.of 

The court sustained the attorney’s request and scheduled the next court session for October 29.

Martiashvili was arrested on January 17 of this year when Armenian customs officials at Meghri found 850 kilograms of heroin hidden in the truck he was driving.  

US designates Georgian man as global terrorist

September 25, 2014 Armenia, Georgia No Comments
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The United States has placed a Georgian national on a list of individuals it accuses of working with extremist organizations such as the Islamic State (IS) to provide financial and material support to terrorist fighters in Syria, RFE/RL reports.Tarkhan Batirashvili, described by US authorities as a “Syria-based Georgian national,” was one of 11 individuals listed as “specially designated global terrorists” by the US Treasury Department on September 24.Batirashvili has held “top military positions” within IS and “has led a number of attacks” over the past several years, the Treasury Department said in a statement.He also oversaw an Islamic State-controlled prison facility in Syria where foreign hostages may have been held, and he previously led militants from Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus fighting in Syria, the Treasury Department said. 

Javakhk Armenian Schools Need Armenian History Textbooks; So Why Isn’t Armenia Sending Them?

September 23, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Georgia No Comments
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13:00, September 23, 2014

Students attending Armenian schools in Georgia’s Javakhk region aren’t taught Armenian history as a required course.

The subject is permitted to be taught on an elective basis. But, as we will see, many schools either don’t have qualified instructors or the textbooks to teach Armenian history properly.

Since it isn’t a required course, the Georgian education ministry doesn’t fund the allocation of Armenian history textbooks.

Hovhannes Mghdesyan, the school principal in Hokam, doesn’t hold the Georgian government responsible for these shortcomings as much as principals of majority Armenian schools, arguing that they aren’t the best of managers and thus miss out on the opportunities to teach Armenian history to those who want it.

Saakashvili plots return to Brooklyn – NY Times

September 20, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia No Comments
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By Jason HorowitzAt the Smorgasburg food fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mikheil Saakashvili motored in fluorescent green sneakers among bearded men with tattoos and women in revealing overalls. They lined up for Cheese Pops,Dun-Well Doughnuts and other local delicacies.He ordered a fresh coconut.“My friend, one of the biggest sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates, gaveGeorgia 20,000 palm trees,” Mr Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, said as he dropped a straw in the machete-opened fruit and emptied its water with a few deep pulls. “As a personal gift.”Mr Saakashvili is in self-imposed exile on North Seventh Street — plotting a triumphant return, even as his steep fall from grace serves as a cautionary tale to the many American government officials who had hoped he would be a model exporter of democracy to former Soviet republics.Since leaving office last November, this George W Bush favorite — whose confrontation with President Vladimir V Putin of Russia led to a disastrous war in 2008 — has commandeered his uncle’s apartment in a tower on the Williamsburg waterfront, where he luxuriates in the neighborhood’s time-honored tradition of mysteriously sourced wealth. When not lingering in cafes, riding his bike across the bridge or spending stag evenings with friends on the Wythe Hotel rooftop, Mr Saakashvili seizes on the Ukrainian conflict and his experience with Mr Putin’s wrath as a lifeline back to political relevance.“It’s the end of Putin,” Mr. Saakashvili, 46, said of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the topic of discussion on Thursday as its president, Petro O. Poroshenko, met in Washington with President Obama and congressional leaders. Mr. Saakashvili called Mr. Putin’s actions “very, very similar” to those in Georgia. “I think he walked into trap.”But Mr Saakashvili, considerably plumper than when he was in power, argues that the conflict should also mark a reappraisal of his own reputation as a reckless leader whose peaceful Rose Revolution and commitment to reform were eclipsed by years of riding roughshod over opponents, bending the rule of law and provoking Mr Putin into a war that resulted in the death, displacement and impoverishment of thousands of Georgians. “It should be revisited,” he said.Mr Saakashvili said that while he had a “normal life” in Brooklyn, he considered himself a big deal in Eastern Europe, pointing out that on a recent trip to Albania “they shut down traffic for us and our 20-car escort.”Mr Saakashvili’s personal rehabilitation project is complicated by his eroded popularity back home and charges filed against him by Georgian prosecutors of human rights violations and embezzlement of government funds. He shrugs off the prosecutors as politically motivated puppets of his nemesis, the billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Some of Mr Saakashvili’s critics agree that the charges say as much about the current Georgian government’s hunger for revenge as they do about him.For now Mr Saakashvili is writing a memoir, delivering “very well-paid” speeches, helping start up a Washington-based think tank and visiting old boosters like Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state. He said he was in the process of changing his tourist status here to a work visa and in the meantime is enjoying the bars and cafes of his adopted homeland. On his roof deck, with sweeping views of Manhattan, he has entertained David H Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and is expecting Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, at the end of the month. Usually, a cousin mans the grill, along with the chef from Fabbrica, the neighboring Italian restaurant opposite a CVS. Like those chain drugstores, glassy high-rises and Eurocentric nightclubs, Mr. Saakashvili is evidence of Williamsburg’s steady transition to a playground for moneyed out-of-towners.“I used to look at this place from Manhattan, it was such a pity, it was mafia, a place where hit men dump bodies,” he said, recalling his time in the 1990s as a Columbia University Law School student. Now he sees “a jazzy atmosphere” rife with energy and new construction.“Williamsburg is part of the democratic transformation,” he said. 
Read more on The New York Times website.

Armenian Makes it to the Final at Tashkent World Wrestling Championship

September 12, 2014 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia No Comments
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14:06, September 12, 2014

The star of the Armenian team at the 2014 World Wrestling Championship taking place in Tashkent has to be Arsen Julfalakyan in the 75kg Greco-Roman classification.

While other team members have been thrown to the mat early on in defeat, Julfalakyan has made it through to the finals.

And no wonder, Julfalakyan won the silver medal  in the event in 2010 and won third place in 2011 and 2013.

Julfalakyan crushed Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan) in the 1/16 Final by a score of 9-0.

The Armenian then went on to beat Florian Marchl (Austria) in the 1/8 Final and Juan Escobar (Mexico) in the Quarter Final.

EU Details More Aid To Armenia

September 9, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Top News No Comments
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The European Union has announced plans to provide Armenia with up to 170 million euros ($220 million) in fresh assistance over the next three years.

The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, said late on Monday that the “indicative allocation” will be part of much broader aid to countries that are part of its European Neighborhood Policy. They include not only ex-Soviet republics but also Arab states like Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan.

According to a statement released by the commission, just over one-third of the 2014-2017 aid package for Armenia is to be channeled into “private sector development.” The rest of the sum will mostly be spent on reforms of the judiciary and public administration promised by the Armenian authorities. The statement gave no further details.

More Armenian Wrestlers Get Tossed from Tashkent Championship

September 9, 2014 Armenia, Georgia No Comments
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14:36, September 9, 2014

Today, more Armenian wrestlers got tossed out of the 2014 Wrestling World Championship taking place in Tashkent.

Valodya Frangulyan (61KG) was beaten by Russia’s Aleksandr Bogomoev in the qualifying round.

Bogomoev went on to beat Beka Lomtadze from Georgia in the 1/8 final, but lost to Yowlys Bonne from Cuba in the ¼ final.

Thus, Frangulyan was even deprived of the chance to wrestle for third place.

The hopes of Armenia were pinned on Davit Safaryan, last year’s winner in the 65kg freestyle category.

While Safaryan beat Haislan Veranes (Canada) in the 1/16 final, the Armenia lost to Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia) in the 1/8 final.

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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

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.

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.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

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

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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.