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Yerevan Kowtows to Washington: Appeasement in Iraq, Slaughter in Syria

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16:34, August 27, 2015

By Markar Melkonian 

Yerevan’s appeasement of American warmongering in the Middle East is only one of many instances that demonstrate that Armenia’s rulers are incapable of even consistently serving the interests of native Armenian capitalists when they conflict with the demands of the Superpower.

Five years ago, before the violence began to escalate, an estimated 80,000 Armenians called Syria home.  Today, according to published figures, only ten to twelve thousand Armenians are left, mostly in Aleppo and Damascus.  Some 16,000 Armenian Syrians have sought refuge in the Republic of Armenia (the ROA), and thousands of others have escaped to Lebanon, Turkey, and farther afield. These refugees are among the reported four million Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee their country since March 2011.  Millions of others have been displaced within Syria. 

Vicken Cheterian: ‘Kurds replaced the Armenians’

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14:26, August 18, 2015

Journalist and historian Vicken Cheterian wrote a book which assesses the effects of Armenian genocide on global politics, academic research, Kurdish question, Turkish and Armenian societies during the process that has been going on for 100 years. Focusing mainly on the post genocide period, Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide considers Hrant Dink’s assassination as a milestone.

There are lots of books that tell and teach many things to you, but a book that can change the way you perceive and speed up the healing process of the society is a rare thing. Switzerland based journalist Vicken Cheterian’s newly published book Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide is a work that could trigger some radical changes. Chetarian considers the genocide as an event that still plays a role in today’s social and political environment, rather than a tragedy that happened in the past. And he emphasizes that this crime inflicts deep wounds not only locally, but also globally.

Turkey: Erdogan Threatens Tit-for-Tat in Extradition Row with Germany

August 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Georgia, Turkey No Comments
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22:48, August 17, 2015

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has issued a blunt threat to Germany: if Germany doesn’t extradite two Turkish prosecutors pronto, Turkey may refuse extraditions that Germany might want in the future.

Zekeriya Oz and Celal Kara, the two prosecutors in question, launched the 2013 corruption probe which shook Erdogan’s governmentto the core when, on Dec. 17, 2013, it alleged that government officials had been buying oil from Iran, despite UN sanctions.

Shortly thereafter, four ministers from Erdogan’s ruling AK Party resigned: Muammer Guler (Interior), Zafer Caglayan (Economy), Erdogan Bayraktar (Environment and Urbanization), and Egemen Bagis (European Union affairs). The ministers were never prosecuted as Parliament voted to uphold their immunity.

Moldova: Record Heroin Seizure at Customs Post Stopped on Way to EU

August 13, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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17:51, August 13, 2015

Moldovan authorities have seized 136 kilograms (300 pounds) of heroin along the Moldova-Romania border.

The vast haul was a record for the Giurgiulesti-Galati customs post, but not the whole country, according to Moldovan customs’ law enforcement chief Iurie Ceban.

Hidden inside 253 separate packages doused in red pepper to deceive sniffer dogs, the heroin was on its way from Ukraine to Bulgaria in a truck filled with tiles.

The value of the heroin is anywhere from € 10 to 20 million (US$ 11.1 to 22.2 million), according to Cerban.

The drugs were thought to have originated in Turkey and were destined for the European Union, where heroin sells for up to € 250 a gram (US$ 278).

ARF Calls for Restraint, Re-Engagement in Turkish-Kurdish Peace Talks

August 12, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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20:59, August 12, 2015

The following statement was released after the Aug. 10 extraordinary plenary session of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau, convened in Yerevan.

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The Armenian Revolutionary Federation is greatly concerned about the Turkish government’s warmongering politics that has been once again adopted vis-à-vis the Kurdish people.

Instead of continuing the peace negotiations proposed by the Kurdish leadership, the Turkish government—dissatisfied with the latest parliamentary elections—is waging a war against the Kurdish people under the pretense of launching military operations against the Islamic State (ISIS). This move will inevitably lead to the persecution of all peoples in Turkey, human rights abuses, and will hinder the process of Turkey’s democratization.

Gyumri Massacre Suspect Sentenced In Russian Trial

August 12, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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A Russian soldier accused of murdering seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday in the first, Russian trial stemming from the gruesome crime.

A Russian military court found Valery Permyakov guilty of desertion, stealing firearms and ammunition, and illegally carrying weapons during the one-day trial held at the Gyumri headquarters of a Russian military base in Armenia. It also ruled that the defendant did not and does not suffer from mental disorders and was therefore fit to stand trial.

The court did not deal with the killings themselves, in line with the Russian authorities’ recent decision to transfer the most important part of the high-profile criminal case to Armenian jurisdiction.

Yerevan ‘Unaware’ Of Fugitive Turkish Prosecutors

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Immigration authorities in Yerevan on Tuesday did not confirm reports that two Turkish prosecutors who led a high-profile investigation into alleged corruption around President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inner circle have fled to Armenia to avoid arrest.

Zekeriya Oz, the former chief prosecutor of Istanbul, and his colleague Celal Kara reportedly fled Turkey on Monday, just before the arrest warrants were issued for them on charges of an attempted violent overthrow of the government. According to the Reuters news agency, Turkish media published pictures that appeared to show Oz and Kara leaving the country.

A statement from the governor of Turkey’s northeastern Artvin province bordering Georgia said the two men crossed into the Georgian Black Sea region of Ajara before proceeding to Armenia. According to “Hurriyet Daily News,” official Ankara asked the Georgian authorities to track down and extradite them.

Azerbaijan: Journalist Dies of Injuries from Beating

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19:43, August 10, 2015

Azerbaijani journalist Rasim Aliyev died yesterday in a Baku hospital after being severely beaten by a group of attackers on Saturday.

Azadliq Radio, the Azerbaijani bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), reports that Aliyev had four broken ribs and difficulty hearing in his left ear when he was first admitted to hospital.

His condition deteriorated sharply overnight and, after surgical intervention, he succumbed to his injuries early Sunday morning.

OCCRP partner Meydan TV has reported that Aliyev was beaten in connection with comments he made about soccer player Javid Huseynov.

Earlier last week Aliyev criticized Huseynov, who plays for the Azerbaijani team Gabala FK, for behaving inappropriately in an interview.

Armenia’s Football Squad Climbs 1 Spot to 88th Globally

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15:51, August 6, 2015

According to today’s FIFA ranking, Armenia’s football squad is in 88th place, up one ranking over last month.

Argentina is in 1st place, followed by Belgium and Germany. The national teams of Columbia, Brazil, Portugal, Romania, England, Wales and Chile are also in the top ten.

In the Group 1 qualifiers for Euro-16, Armenia faces Portugal, now ranked 6th in the world. Armenia’s other opponents include Albania (22nd), Denmark (25th) and Serbia (66th).

Azerbaijan now ranks 106th, up two spots from last month. Iran dropped 3 spots to 41st place. Turkey climbed 3 spots to 45th. Georgia continues to fall in the rankings and posted a 1 place drop to 154th.

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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.