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Oppositionists Arrested Ahead Of Anti-Government Protests

April 7, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey 1 Comment
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In what they called an effort stave off “mass disturbances,” Armenian law-enforcement authorities arrested on Tuesday four leaders of a hardline opposition group that plans to launch later this month nonstop rallies aimed at toppling President Serzh Sarkisian.

Officers of the National Security Service (NSS) and the Investigative Committee also raided the Yerevan headquarters of the group called the Founding Parliament early in the morning, confiscating its computers and campaigning material. The search was still going on there in the afternoon, with Founding Parliament activists unable to enter their offices.

The opposition movement’s top leader, Zhirayr Sefilian, and three of his close associates had their homes searched at around the same time. They were taken into custody afterwards. An RFE/RL correspondent saw Sefilian’s brother Toros also being taken away by NSS officers from the outspoken oppositionist’s Yerevan apparent.

Armenian Troops In Fresh U.S.-Led Drills

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Underscoring increased U.S.-Armenian military cooperation, an Armenian army platoon has joined thousands of soldiers from NATO member states, including Turkey, in conducting fresh U.S.-led exercises in Europe.

The 36 soldiers of a special Armenian peacekeeping brigade flew to Germany for that purpose late last week following a send-off ceremony attended by Richard Mills, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia. Mills shook the soldiers’ hands as they boarded a U.S. military transport plane at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport.

The Saber Junction 15 exercises organized by the U.S. Army in Europe have brought together more than 5,000 soldiers from 15 NATO members as well as Sweden, Armenia, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will take place in Germany, Lithuania and Romania until April 30.

Artsakh Defense Minister: Turkish Soldiers Participating in Azerbaijani Cross Border Raids

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00:25, April 6, 2015

Artsakh Minister of Defense Movses Hakobyan responds to Hetq.

Recently, the Azerbaijani military has become active again by constantly striking different sections of the border. In your opinion, is this related to the upcoming centennial of the Genocide?

The situation on the ground hasn’t intensified of late. We were in this situation of no war and no peace in 2013 and 2014. The enemy is always violating [the ceasefire]. The final point and target of all these actions is the Armenian as a nation.

Armenia Hails Tentative Deal On Iran’s Nuclear Program

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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.

Russian Jets Start War Games In Armenia

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Russia’s newly modernized fighter jets deployed in Armenia began on Thursday three-day exercises aimed at boosting their combat readiness and interoperability with ground forces of the Russian military base headquartered in Gyumri.

“The exercises involve around 100 servicemen from the flying and servicing personnel of the [Russian Air Force] detachment and 30 pieces of military aviation and special hardware,” the Russian military’s Southern District said in a statement.

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Armenia – A Russian Orthodox priest gives Bibles to Russian Air Force pilots at Erebuni airfield in Yerevan, 14Apr2014.

“For the next three days the MiG-29 fighter jets will perform tasks related to supporting ground troops from the air as well as hitting and destroying air targets that imitate bombers and cruise and ballistic missiles of an imaginary enemy,” it said.

The Allies at Gallipoli: Defeat in 1915, Disgrace in 2015

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12:43, April 2, 2015

By David Boyajian

April 25 will mark 100 years since the Allies – the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France – made their ill-fated landing on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula during WW1. Having barely gotten off the beaches after months of fighting, the Allies withdrew in defeat leaving over 44,000 dead and 97,000 wounded.

As in recent years, thousands will flock from the Allied countries and elsewhere to Gallipoli for the Turkish-led April 24-25 commemorations. Numerous world dignitaries, including Australia’s and New Zealand’s prime ministers and Prince Charles, will also attend.

April 19-26 Proclaimed "Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide" In Nevada

April 1, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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10:54, April 1, 2015

On the occasion of the Centennial of Armenian Genocide, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval issued a proclamation, declaring April 19-26 as the “Days of Remembrance of The Armenian Genocide”.

A similar resolution was adopted by the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada, President of Nevada State Senate Mark Hutchison.

Both resolutions call upon the President of the United States and the Congress to recognize the atrocities committed against the Armenian people, and urge the Republic of Turkey to acknowledge the facts of the Armenian Genocide.

Karabakh Election Campaign Officially Starts

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Campaigning officially began in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday for upcoming parliamentary elections that promise to be more tightly contested than similar polls held in the past.

About 220 candidates mostly representing 7 political parties will be vying for 33 seats in the Karabakh legislature currently controlled by a three-party coalition allied to Bako Sahakian, the unrecognized republic’s president. Sahakian is not affiliated with any political group.

Twenty-two of the parliament seats are up for grabs under the system of proportional representation. The remaining 11 seats will be distributed on May 3 in single-mandate constituencies.

Two Police Officers Extradited from Romania to Turkey, Arrested on Arrival

March 30, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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20:28, March 30, 2015

Two former police officers accused of wiretapping Turkey’s President Erdogan were arrested late on Saturday at Istanbul airport after being extradited from Bucharest, Romania.

A Romanian court denied the pair’s pleas for asylum and ruled in favor of extraditing former police chief Sedat Zavar and officer Ilker Usta on Mar. 20.

Authorities accuse Usta and Zavar of participating in a scheme to place bugs and eavesdrop on Erdogan during his tenure as prime minister, before he was elected president in August 2014.

Prosecutors say the pair acted on the orders of Turkish preacher and opinion leader Fethullah Gulen, after whom the controversial Gulen Movement (also called Hizmet) is named.

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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.

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.