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Armenian Electricity Price Hike Protesters In Fresh Action

July 27, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

Dozens of activists in Armenia campaigning against rising electricity prices gathered in capital Yerevan’s main square on Monday evening in an attempt to occupy its central spot.

The Armenian police, however, put up cordons preventing the activists from entering the so-called “carpet” – an oval-shaped no-traffic zone in the middle of the square.

Earlier, members of the recently formed pressure group, Rise Armenia, announced the launch of a five-day “street blockading” campaign to be held through Friday in a bid to force the authorities to cancel their decision to raise electricity tariffs by some 16 percent beginning on August 1.

Controversial Armenian Governor’s Son Arrested Over Violent Incident

July 27, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The son of Syunik’s controversial governor Surik Khachatrian, Tigran, was taken into custody by Armenian law-enforcement authorities over the weekend in connection with a recent incident in which a young man was injured.

According to the Investigative Committee of Armenia, Khachatrian, 22, is suspected of inflicting “grievous bodily harm” on Harutiun Zakarian, one of the two brothers allegedly beaten up by the governor’s son and his friends in Goris on May 2.

The parents of Harutiun and Mushegh Zakarians allege that the “gang” led by Khachatrian used clubs and iron rods in attacking their sons. In the wake of the incident Harutiun was hospitalized with injuries. Doctors reportedly could not save the sight of one of his eyes.

Charges Against Armenian Journalist Dropped

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Responding to international criticism, state prosecutors dropped on Friday controversial criminal charges that were levelled this month against the editor of an Armenian online publication critical of the government.

Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian informed a senior official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe about the decision in a letter made public by his office. The office also issued a separate statement to that effect.

Kristine Khanumian of the pro-opposition news website Ilur.am risked up to 2 years in prison for defying a court order to disclose the confidential source of a June 2014 report that accused a senior Armenian police officer of assaulting two young men outside Gyumri.

Iran Upbeat On Ties With Armenia After Sanctions Relief

July 24, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The upcoming lifting of international sanctions against Iran will speed up the implementation of its joint energy projects with Armenia, a senior Iranian diplomat said on Friday, echoing similar statements by Armenian officials.

“Rest assured that the lifting of international sanctions against Iran will have a concrete impact on Armenian-Iranian projects,” said Mohammad Reisi, the Iranian ambassador to Armenia. “After the lifting of the sanctions Iran will be able to further develop its relations with neighbors.”

“We have very good relations with Armenia and those relations will deep further,” he told a news conference in Yerevan.

Armenian Defense Chief Unfazed By Azeri Threats

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Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian on Friday brushed aside Azerbaijan’s apparent threats to shell Yerevan from its Nakhichevan exclave and warned Baku against raising tensions on the frontlines in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

In a statement on Thursday cited by Azerbaijani news agencies, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry commented on Ohanian’s recent visit to Armenian army units stationed along Nakhichevan sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

“The leadership of Armenia must realize that from the territory of Nakhichevan the Azerbaijani armed forces are ready to destroy military facilities in Armenia, including Yerevan, at any moment,” said the statement. It emphasized the fact their weaponry includes Russian-made Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems.

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Ter-Petrosian’s Party Wants Coalition Against Constitutional ‘Coup’

July 24, 2015 Armenia, Top News 1 Comment
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The Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Thursday called on the country’s opposition and civic groups to join forces against a constitutional reform which it said is aimed at “perpetuating” President Serzh Sarkisian’s hold on power.

The opposition party led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian also dismissed Sarkisian’s assurances that he would not occupy any state posts if he succeeds in turning Armenia into a parliamentary republic.

In a long statement, the HAK insisted that Sarkisian, whom the current Armenian constitution bars from seeking a third presidential term, plans to become parliament speaker after completing his tenure in 2018. It said constitutional changes drafted by a presidential commission would make the speaker the country’s most powerful official capable of controlling the government through a loyal majority in the National Assembly.

Dashnaktsutyun Backs Sarkisian’s Constitutional Changes

July 23, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) largely supports sweeping constitutional changes that have been drafted by a commission formed by President Serzh Sarkisian, a leader of the opposition party said on Thursday.

“We have a problem with some paragraphs and wordings, but on the whole we think that our view has prevailed,” Hrant Markarian, the head of Dashnaktsutyun’s worldwide governing Bureau, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Markarian argued that the draft amendments to the Armenian constitution that were publicized by the commission last week envisage the country’s transition to a parliamentary system of government, something which has long been advocate by his party. He said the commission also accepted most of Dashnaktsutyun’s proposals on constitutional reform made earlier this year.

Armenian, Azeri Presidents ‘Ready’ To Meet

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The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are ready to meet later this year in another attempt to revive the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, international mediators said on Thursday as they ended their latest tour of the conflict zone.

The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a joint statement in Baku after holding talks there with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. They met with President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan earlier this week.

“We welcomed the readiness of the Presidents to meet each other later this year, and they instructed their Foreign Ministers to continue their work with the Co-Chairs on an agenda for the presidential summit,” read the statement.

Sarkisian, Tsarukian Make Another Joint Appearance

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President Serzh Sarkisian attended on Wednesday the inauguration of a new church built by Gagik Tsarukian, making another public appearance with the former Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader forced out of politics earlier this year.

The supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Garegin II, personally consecrated the Church of the Holy Savior in Nor Hachin, a town 15 kilometers north of Yerevan, at a ceremony marked by unusually tight security measures.

The presidential security service, Tsarukian’s bodyguards and police prevented scores of people from entering the church during the ceremony. Journalists were also barred from attending it.

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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.

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.