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Court Refuses To Free Oppositionists

April 20, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments

Armenia’s Court of Appeals on Monday refused to set free three arrested leaders of a radical opposition group that plans to launch this week a campaign of street protests against the government.

Lawyers for Zhirayr Sefilian, the top leader of the Founding Parliament movement, and his four close associates last week appealed against a lower court’s decision to allow law-enforcement bodies to keep them in pre-trial detention for at least two months.

After brief hearings the Court of Appeals rejected the petitions submitted by attorneys representing Sefilian, Gevorg Safarian and Pavel Manukian.It was widely expected to dismiss the appeals lodged by the two other detained men, Garegin Chukaszian and Varuzhan Avetisian, later on Monday and Tuesday.

Notes on the Centennial

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16:30, April 20, 2015

By Christian Garbis 

For several weeks now I’ve been trying to put into words what the centennial of the Armenian Genocide means to me personally, and how I am either directly or indirectly affected by that holocaust. Would I have existed had the Genocide not taken place? Is it possible that my grandparents would have met regardless and given birth to my own parents, who in turn would have met either in Western Armenia or in the United States?

Germany Set To Recognize Armenian Genocide


(Erik Kirschbaum, Reuters) – The German government backed away on Monday from a steadfast refusal to use the term “genocide” to describe the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces 100 years ago after rebellious members of parliament forced its hand.

In a major reversal in Turkey’s top trading partner in the European Union and home to millions of Turks, Germany joins other nations and institutions including France, the European parliament and Pope Francis in using the term condemned by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said the government would support a resolution in parliament on Friday declaring it an example of genocide.

French, Russian Leaders To Mark Armenian Genocide Centennial In Yerevan

April 20, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Top News, Turkey No Comments

The Russian and French presidents and representatives of about 60 other states will arrive in Yerevan this week to participate in official events marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, it was announced on Monday.

A top aide to President Serzh Sarkisian coordinating the planned ceremonies said that Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande will be joined by their counterparts from Serbia and Cyprus.

“They are coming as representatives of their states and presidents,” the official, Vigen Sargsian, said of the other foreign delegations due in Yerevan.

Sargsian could not say who will represent the United States at the commemorations. He cited only a statement by the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills, saying that President Barack Obama will personally appoint the official U.S. delegation. The White House has made no announcements to that effect yet.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Country’s ‘Most Dangerous Organized Crime Group’ Jailed

April 17, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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01:02, April 18, 2015

A court in Bosnia and Herzegovina has delivered a prison sentence of 40 years to an organized crime kingpin who murdered five people including a pregnant woman, whom he buried in decorators’ plaster.

Zijad Turkovic, 49, was found guilty of murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, banditry, endangering the public, possesion of weapons and explosives, extortion, and money laundering.

At a hearing yesterday, the court also sentenced four other members of Turkovic’s gang on related charges. In total, the judge ordered the defendants to serve combined prison sentences of 95 years.

U.S. Administration Vague On Armenian Genocide Statement


The White House has declined to clarify whether U.S. President Barack will use the word “genocide” in his upcoming annual statement on the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.

Obama is facing growing pressure from the Armenian community in the United States to finally honor his 2008 campaign pledges to recognize the genocide on its 100th anniversary that will be marked on April 24.

Armenian-American leaders have urged him in recent days to follow the example of Pope Francis who described the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians as “the first genocide of the 20th century” during a landmark Vatican Mass on Sunday. They have also seized upon a similar resolution that was passed by the European Parliament earlier this week.

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.

Turkish-Armenian Official Quits After Genocide Remark


An ethnic Armenian senior adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced his resignation on Thursday just days after describing the First World War-era massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

“If accepting that what happened in Bosnia and Africa were genocides, it is impossible not to call what happened to Armenians in 1915 genocide too,” Etyen Mahcupyan said in an interview with Karar.com published this week.

Mahcupyan, who became last year the first-ever member of Turkey’s Armenian community to hold such a post, effectively defended Pope Francis for calling the 1915 mass killings a genocide during a Sunday Mass. The Vatican has thus “thrown off a 100-year-old psychological burden,” he said.

Yerevan Blasts Turkish Fury With European Parliament Resolution


Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Thursday denounced Turkey’s furious reaction to the European Parliament’s latest calls for an official Turkish recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Nalbandian also said that a corresponding resolution adopted by the European Union’s legislative body as well as a similar statement made by Pope Francis show that Ankara is finding itself “increasingly isolated on the sinking ship of denialism.”

“Turkey is trying to exert pressure on and, I would even say, blackmail numerous countries and international structures,” he said in comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But it will hardly succeed on this issue.”

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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.


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.