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Ukraine: Investigations Mushroom In Kurchenko’s Wake

March 14, 2014 Armenia, Business, Sports No Comments
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19:52, March 14, 2014

By Anna Babinets (Slidstvo.info)

The young Ukrainian ex-billionaire Serhiy Kurchenko, now widely suspected of being a front man for overthrown President Viktor Yanukovych’s family, clearly liked doing business in offshore tax havens.

Kurchenko’s companies registered offshore are now accused of trading in oil products using a tax evasion scheme that cost Ukraine’s government an estimated US$1 billion in lost revenues.

But he wasn’t just a big-picture, big-money guy, he also understood the importance of generosity and looking good. The offshore companies were also used to buy four US$20,000 Italian suits for a friend, according to documents obtained by journalists from the Slidstvo.info and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Armenian lawmakers vote to ban commercials on Public TV

March 12, 2014 Armenia, Sports No Comments
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The National Assembly of Armenia on Wednesday voted 85 to 5, with 18 abstentions to ban commercials on Public Television.

Under the government-introduced bill now approved in the first reading only social advertisement as well as information on sponsors of cultural and sports programs will be allowed on Public Television. Information about only one sponsor can be disseminated during one program.

Justice Minister Hrair Tovmasyan said excluding commercials on public television is a common practice abroad as it gives more time for broadcasts of more significant programs for the public. Also, according to the minister, it allows the public television channel to be independent from advertisers.

If adopted in the final reading, the law will become effective already next September.

Stitching Together a Life: Syrian-Armenian sets example for business success

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Women’s blue jeans on mannequins are skillfully worked with sand paper to get the partly worn-out effect of almost white faded-blue. Young Syrian Armenians Aram and Shant work in silence, instead their hands run quickly, and soon mannequins dress into their next pair of jeans.


Harout Papazian

“We import the raw jeans fabric, but the rest is done here, be it designing, sewing, washing, working with sand paper, etc…” explains textile worker Harout Papazian who has moved from Aleppo to Yerevan. Here, in the suburb of Nubarashen, for a year now he has been running a small workshop. Since early this year the workshop has been producing the first made-in-Armenia Max brand jeans.

Romania: Eight Top Football Officials Jailed For Corruption

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12:11, March 7, 2014

The Bucharest Court of Appeal Tuesday handed down jail sentences for eight executives and management officials, who were found guilty of tax evasion, and money laundering involving the transfer of football players between international football clubs.

Gica Popescu, the former captain of Football Club (FC) Barcelona, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison. The sentence came just a day before the election of the next president of the Romanian Football Association, which Popescu was expected to win.

Others sentenced include:

Incentive Program for Armenia Drivers Could Backfire, Expert Warns

March 6, 2014 Armenia, Sports No Comments
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13:45, March 5, 2014

An incentive program for drivers in Armenia might backfire says one insurance expert if the system used to check a driver’s history is not improved.

The incentive program, called “Bonus-Malus,” was introduced on January 1, 2013, though it was formalized only this year. The program rewards drivers with a good track record by making them pay less for automobile insurance (the “bonus” part of the program’s name) and punishes accident-prone drivers by making them pay more (the “malus” part). The program is in conjunction with compulsory third-party liability motor vehicle insurance (more often referred to and known by its acronym in Armenian: APPA), which was introduced in Armenia on January 1, 2011. 

Hong Kong: Former Hairstylist Convicted For Money Laundering

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18:47, March 4, 2014

Hairstylist-turned-businessman Carson Yeung, 54, was convicted on Monday after a 50-day trial and faces up to seven years in prison for laundering nearly US$100 million from casinos and gang members.

Yeung is the chairman and executive director of Birmingham International Holdings, an investment, entertainment and sportswear company through which he owns the English football club Birmingham City F.C.  

The son of a Kowloon vegetable stall proprietor, Yeung was a hairstylist in Hong Kong during the 1980s before he began amassing a huge fortune that he has said to be the product of his hair salon, investment and gambling. 

How the Bush family dynasty became America’s first family if finance

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America doesn’t have many political dynasties as powerful and well known as the Bush Family, according to the Business Insider.Their success is an effort that takes money, power, and all of the right connections — some of which comes from a history on Wall Street.Bushes have served in both the executive and legislative branches of our federal government. The family provided a pair of Presidents — the 41st and 43rd — and have held two state governorships.And because of George W. Bush’s close ties to Texas and connections with the oil industry, the Bush family is often perceived as a bunch of oil tycoons.In reality, however, the oil industry is just one of many in which the Bush family displayed their financial expertise. The family tradition, which continues to this day, was founded upon the pursuit of riches through investment banking and wartime business ventures.This is why the family has had a hand in businesses from Halliburton to Merrill Lynch, and also has a history of owning major league sports teams.Samuel P. Bush, one of the two patriarchs of the dynasty, had extensive experience as a banking executive.Samuel served on the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and helped found the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During WWI, he served as Chief of the Ordnance, Small Arms and Ammunition division on the War Industries Board, where wartime business ventures coupled with his connections to the Rockefeller family laid the foundation for the family’s fortune. 
 

Ukraine crisis: Crimea eyes alliance with Russia

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Speculation is rife that Crimea – with its large ethnic Russian population and fervent pro-Moscow mood – could become the target of Kremlin ambitions, and a possible secessionist plot that would rip Ukraine apart, The Guardian reported.
All eyes are on Sevastopol, the historic home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Russian media said Victor Yanukovych – last spotted in the resort of Balaclava – may have taken refuge on a Russian military boat in the port.
Angry crowds, meanwhile, gathered in Sevastopol. They reject the authority of Kyiv’s new opposition-led government and want to install as mayor Alexei Chalov, a businessman and Russian citizen who favours union with Moscow. On Monday a Russian flag was even hoisted above Sevastopol’s city hall.
These febrile scenes raise the spectre that Crimea might declare autonomy from Kyiv and seek to join the Russian Federation, possibly after a Kremlin-encouraged referendum. This scenario is, as yet, unlikely. But with Moscow’s intentions unclear and a power vacuum in Kyiv, Sevastopol is key to Ukraine’s future as a unitary sovereign state.
More than half of Crimea’s 2 million inhabitants are ethnically Russian. The Russian fleet in Sevastopol employs more than 25,000 and enjoys overwhelming local support. Unlike in much of the rest of Ukraine, where statues of Lenin have been felled in a revolutionary frenzy, Sevastopol’s giant Lenin still gazes serenely over the Black Sea, next to white-painted Russian classical naval buildings. The town’s hilly streets are adorned with Soviet memorials.
The last time Sevastopol experienced insurrectionary sentiment was in 2008 when Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s then pro-western president, announced plans to evict the Russian fleet. Excitable pro-Russian Crimean politicians said any move to oust the fleet would result in conflict. After Yushchenko lost power, his successor, Yanukovych, extended the fleet’s lease for 25 years. In return the Kremlin gave Ukraine a discounted gas bill.
Far-right Ukrainian nationalists, meanwhile, accuse Moscow of planning to prise Crimea away. They suggest the Kremlin might use the same tactics it deployed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway republics of Georgia. In the runup to the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, Moscow distributed Russian passports to residents living in the two secessionist enclaves. That August the pro-western Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili made an ill-advised attempt to retake South Ossetia by force. Russia responded with a full-scale invasion – saying it had to defend its new citizens from attack.
Yushchenko’s officials frequently accused Russia of trying to “passportise” Crimea in the same way. In reality, there was not much evidence of this, though the Kremlin has actively sponsored pro-Russian organisations on the peninsula.In Moscow on Monday, the Duma discussed new legislation which would make it easier for ethnic Russians and their family members living in Ukraine to get Russian passports. Ominously, Russia’s foreign ministry said the human rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine were being “infringed”.
Vladimir Putin’s intentions towards Ukraine remain unclear. Russia has reaffirmed Ukraine’s modern borders several times. But Putin is known to be contemptuous of the notion of Ukrainian statehood; according to a leaked US diplomatic cable citing Poland’s foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, he regards it as a “cobbled together country” with six million Russians in it.
Ukraine is central to Putin’s belief that Russia has “privileged interests” in the former Soviet republics. It is a fair bet that he would seek to undermine or sabotage any new Ukrainian government that moved further away from Russia’s orbit.
More than any other territory outside Russia’s borders, Crimea occupies a romantic place in the Russian imagination. It is synonymous with military glory – imperial and Soviet. Catherine the Great built a naval citadel there after defeating the Turks in 1783. A Russian fleet has been there ever since.
History also explains Crimea’s modern ethnic divisions. In 1944 Stalin deported Crimea’s Tartars – the peninsula’s original Turkic-speaking Muslim inhabitants – to central Asia. He replaced them with Slavs from Russia or Russian-influenced parts of eastern Ukraine.
Most of the newcomers were from poor urban backgrounds; they moved into homes vacated by deportees. They had weak ties with Ukraine.
After the Soviet collapse, and even before, Crimean Tartars returned home. Well-educated and politically organised, they now number 300,000 – 15% of Crimea’s population. They reject the notion of union with Russia and are loyal to Kyiv – another volatile element in an already combustible ethnic mix. Pro-Kremlin politicians argue that Crimea only ended up in an independent Ukraine by historical accident, when Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.
They freely admit they would like Crimea to join the Russian Federation. “It’s a myth that Ukraine is not part of Russia. We don’t believe it,” Oleg Rodilov, a pro-Russian MP in Crimea’s autonomous parliament said in 2008. It would be wrong to accuse him of “separatism”, he added. “For you, Ukraine and Russia are a priori different states. For us they area priori the same,” he said.
The links of culture, language and Orthodox religion made Ukraine and Russia an indivisible entity, he said. Also, both countries were Slavic, he said. “We don’t believe there is any difference. We have been together for 350 years.”

Pan-Armenian Games: No visa duty for participating athletes

February 22, 2014 Armenia, Sports No Comments
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The Armenian government on Thursday decided to exempt the participants of upcoming Winter Pan-Armenian Games from duties to be paid for entry visas.

The first-ever Pan-Armenian Games in winter sports will be held in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor, Armenia, on February 24-March 2.

Some 400 ethnic Armenian athletes from 13 countries, including France, Argentina, Russia, the USA, Cyprus, Austria and others, will compete in skiing, Alpine skiing, snowboard and ice-hockey (to be held in Yerevan) during the Games.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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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

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.

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.