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Russian Trial Of Gyumri Massacre Suspect ‘Imminent’

March 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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A Russian soldier accused of murdering seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri will be tried in Armenia but by a Russian military court, a senior Russian pro-government lawmaker insisted on Sunday.

Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of a State Duma committee on relations with ex-Soviet states, thus reaffirmed Moscow’s refusal to hand over the suspect, Valery Permyakov, to Armenian law-enforcement authorities.

Slutsky announced the imminent completion of a Russian criminal investigation into the January 12 massacre after laying flowers at the graves of the Avetisian family members.“As was requested by the Armenian side, the trial will take place at a military tribunal here in Armenia,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Gyumri. “Naturally, the verdict will be adequate.”

Putin’s Presence At Armenian Genocide Commemoration Reaffirmed

March 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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A senior Russian official has reaffirmed President Vladimir Putin’s decision to participate in the April 24 official ceremonies in Yerevan that will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

“We will be mourning with Armenians on that day,” Leonid Slutsky, the pro-government chairman of a Russian State Duma state, said during a visit to Armenia. “We will be calling on the entire conscious world to mourn that pain together with us.”

“And we will be urging those who have not acknowledged and condemned that terrible crime against humanity to also do that,” added Slutsky.

Eurasian Currency Union ‘Still Long Way Off’

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Member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) have a long way to go before introducing a common currency suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior official from the Russian-led bloc’s executive body said on Monday.

Putin publicly floated the idea of such a currency union at a March 20 meeting in Kazakhstan with his Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts. Earlier this month, he instructed the Russian Central Bank to look into the possibility of a single EEU currency.

Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus did not respond to Putin’s statement in public. Both men have been lukewarm about the idea. Armenian officials have also reacted cautiously to Putin’s apparent desire to turn the EEU into a more tightly-knit alliance.

Opposition Activist Stabbed At Gyumri Rally

March 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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An activist of the Armenian opposition movement Founding Parliament was stabbed at the weekend as government loyalists attempted to disrupt a rally held by it in Gyumri.

The group rallied about 300 supporters in Armenia’s second largest city in preparation for its upcoming campaign of nonstop protests in Yerevan which it says will be aimed at forcing President Serzh Sarkisian to resign.

The rally got off to a tense start, with a group of thuggish young men heckling speakers and quarreling with the small crowd that gathered in a central city square. Police officers at the scene stood by and looked on until the youths started hurling eggs.

Yerevan Expects Chinese Support For Iran-Armenia Rail Link

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Top News No Comments
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President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday called for an “active” Chinese involvement in the realization of his government’s ambitious plans to build a railway connecting Armenia with neighboring Iran.

Speaking on the third day of his state visit to Beijing, Sarkisian said the 470-kilometer railway could be part of a transnational “Silk Road economic zone” which China would like to set up along a vast geographic area.

“In this regard, Armenia expects an active participation of Chinese companies in the construction of the Armenia-Iran railway,” he said in a speech at Peking University. “That will ensure the region’s even development, which is fully in tune with China’s ‘peace for development’ motto.”

Armenian Exporters Hit Hard By Russian Currency Meltdown

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Armenian exporters of agricultural products, processed foodstuffs and beverages to Russia are incurring growing losses because of the dramatic depreciation of the Russian ruble, an Armenian business association said on Friday.

According to the Union of Employers, dozens of such firms have stopped shipments to Russia in recent months following sharp decreases in their real revenue. The union’s chairman, Gagik Makarian, claimed that some of them, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are now on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Russian ruble has depreciated by almost half over the past year due to the combined impact of falling oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Russia. By contrast, the Armenian dram has lost less than one-fifth of its value against the U.S. dollar, making Armenian exports to Russia much more expensive.

Paralyzed Ex-Soldier Denied Funding For Treatment

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A demobilized Armenian soldier who was gravely wounded in action three years ago risks remaining paralyzed for the rest of his life after the Armenian military has refused to finance his further expensive treatment abroad.

Gevorg Yeghiazarian has been mostly confined to bed ever since an Azerbaijani sniper’s bullet hit his spine in December 2011. He was briefly able to sit and move around in a wheelchair in 2012 after undergoing five-week treatment in Israel, which cost Armenia’s Defense Ministry $70,000.

Citing a lack of funds, the ministry subsequently refused to allocate $56,000 needed for the second phase of his recovery at an Israeli clinic. With Armenia lacking the kind of sophisticated medical facilities that are required for such treatment, Yeghiazarian’s condition has deteriorated since then. The former conscript is now not only confined to bed but also barely able to speak and can breathe and eat only with special tubes.

Mainstream Opposition To Shun Anti-Government Protests

March 27, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Armenia’s leading opposition parties represented in parliament made clear on Friday that they will not join nonstop anti-government protests in Yerevan planned by another, more radical opposition group.

One of them, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), condemned the Founding Parliament movement for timing the start of its campaign to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey to be marked on April 24.

Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, Armen Rustamian, said the Founding Parliament’s declared drive to oust President Serzh Sarkisian could overshadow the centenary commemorations and undermine the Armenian campaign for greater international recognition of the 1915 genocide.

Rustamian also urged the Armenian government to take “preventive” measures against leaders of the extraparliamentary group. “What if they organize an explosion? Shouldn’t they be caught?” he told reporters.

‘Secret’ Gas Deals With Russia Exposed By Parliament Probe

March 26, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Top News No Comments
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An Armenian parliamentary inquiry has confirmed that President Serzh Sarkisian’s government secretly subsidized the price of imported Russian natural gas ahead of Armenia’s last parliamentary and presidential elections, opposition lawmakers said on Thursday.

The deputies have been part of an ad hoc commission that was formed by the National Assembly last year to investigate Russian-Armenian gas dealings.

The parliament’s pro-government majority agreed to the multi-partisan inquiry amid an opposition outcry against a gas agreement signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December 2013 visit to Armenia.

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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.

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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.