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Armenian Ruling Party Slams Opposition ‘Traitors’

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The parliamentary leader of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) sparked a bitter verbal exchange with outspoken opposition lawmakers on Tuesday after accusing them of accepting money from the West and Azerbaijan to betray Armenia.

“We witnessed yesterday a classical example of high treason,” charged Vahram Baghdasarian. “The Armenian parliament’s rostrum was used for spreading Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s disinformation. False information was made public here ahead of a meeting between the president of our country and the president of an unfriendly country (Azerbaijan).”

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Opposition Parties Still Debating ‘Regime Change’ Plan

October 21, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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Armenia’s three leading opposition parties campaigning against President Serzh Sarkisian have not yet worked out a plan of joint actions aimed at achieving “regime change” sought by them, a senior opposition figure said on Tuesday.

Ruben Hakobian, the parliamentary leader of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, said it is still not clear whether Zharangutyun, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian National Congress (HAK) will draw up such a “roadmap” in time for their next joint rally slated for Friday.

At their last rally held on October 10 the three parties warned Sarkisian to agree to leave power or face what a top HAK representative described as a “wave of civil disobedience.” Their leaders did not clarify, though, just what they will do if the president rejects their demand. It also remained unclear whether they want him to go now or after the next national elections due in 2017 and 2018.

Armenia Taking Preventive Measures Against Ebola

October 21, 2014 Africa, Armenia, Georgia, Top News No Comments
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Health authorities in Armenia have installed fever detectors at the national border crossings, trained medical personnel and provided them with protective equipment in an effort to contain a possible spread of Ebola into the country.

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Armenia – An official at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport shows a device used for screening arriving passengers for possible symptoms of Ebola, 21Oct2014.

No cases of the deadly virus have been registered in Armenia so far, and officials in Yerevan say that the likelihood of that happening soon is very low. They point to the absence of direct communication with west Africa, the epicenter of the latest Ebola outbreak, and tropical animals transmitting the disease. The Armenian government banned imports of animals from Africa in August.

Armenia, Georgia To Hold Trade Talks

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Armenia and Georgia will hold trade negotiations next month to iron out possible contradictions between their new commitments to a Russian-led bloc and the European Union respectively, a senior Georgian diplomat said on Monday.

Tengiz Sharmanashvili, the Georgian ambassador in Yerevan, pointed to Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the recent entry into force of Georgia’s Association Agreement with the EU envisaging a “deep and comprehensive free trade area.”

“There are some details that need to be clarified,” Sharmanashvili told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Georgia’s economy minister [Giorgi Kvirikashvili] will arrive in Yerevan on November 11-12 so that we review all those issues.”

Iran Hopes For Armenian Involvement In ‘Fight Against Terrorism’

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani spoke of “bright prospects” for deepening Armenian-Iranian relations and called on Armenia to join the Islamic Republic in fighting against “terrorism” in the broader region during talks with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian in Tehran on Monday.

In an apparent reference to Islamic State (ISIL) militants in Syria and Iraq, Rouhani was reported to denounce “terrorists targeting civilizations and humanity” and indiscriminately killing both Christians and Muslims.

“He said Iran and Armenia and all regional states should join forces to fight terrorism because security in the region will become sustainable only through collective cooperation,” reported the official IRNA news agency. “He said security is a non-dividable category and if a country suffers from terrorism, other countries will suffer too.”

Constitutional Reform Delay ‘Unrelated To Opposition’

October 20, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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President Serzh Sarkisian did not bow to opposition pressure late last week when he decided to slow down a controversial constitutional reform planned by him, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) insisted on Monday.

Sarkisian announced through a spokesman on Friday that his verdict on a reform “concept” proposed by an ad hoc presidential commission will not be made public before next February. Arman Saghatelian, the presidential press secretary, cited the need for “additional political discussions” with the country’s leading parties.

Representatives of three opposition parties strongly objecting to the planned reform were quick to claim credit for the move. Rallying thousands of supporters in Yerevan on October 10, they demanded that Sarkisian stop pushing constitutional amendments, which they say are aimed at prolonging his rule, and negotiate a “handover of power” to the opposition.

Opposition Party Condemns Eurasian Union Entry

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The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of Raffi Hovannisian on Friday officially condemned as Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which was formalized by President Serzh Sarkisian on October 10.

Zharangutyun claimed that membership in the Russian-led bloc will pose a “most serious threat” to Armenia’s independence and put at risk continued Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh. It said Sarkisian had no mandate to sign an “unconstitutional” accession treaty with his Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts at an EEU summit in Minsk.

“The deplorable efforts of the republic’s regime to compel Armenia’s accession to the EEU … aim merely to maneuver and perpetuate his illegitimate personal power obtained through falsification of the past elections,” charged the statement. “It is quite clear that Mr. Sarkisian, who has usurped power through unjust elections, is not authorized to sign any agreement or undertake any obligation on behalf of the people of Armenia.”

Anti-Government Activists Sentenced

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News No Comments
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A court in Yerevan on Friday handed prison sentences ranging from 1 to 7 years to a prominent political activist and 11 other men who were arrested while clashing with riot police during a violent anti-government demonstration last year.

Another, 15-year-old defendant, who avoided pre-trial arrest, received a suspended 4-year sentence on the same charges of “hooliganism” which Armenian human rights campaigners and some opposition groups regard as politically motivated.

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Armenia – Activist Shant Harutiunian and his 15-year-old son Shahen stand trial on what they consider politically motivated charges, Yerevan, 8Sep2014.

The defendants led by Shant Harutiunian, a veteran nationalist activist, were among several dozen protesters who tried to march towards President Serzh Sarkisian’s offices in what their flamboyant leader called a “revolution of values.” Police used force to stop the crowd armed with sticks and homemade stun grenades from approaching the presidential palace after rallying in Yerevan’s Liberty Square to denounce a government which they consider corrupt and undemocratic.

Government Refuses To Compensate Crime Victims

October 17, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments
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The Armenian government caused the opposition minority in parliament to withdraw on Friday a bill that would require it compensate victims of violent crimes and their relatives.

The bill sponsored by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) is primarily aimed at compensating the families of ten people killed in post-election violence in Yerevan in March 2008.

Eight of those victims were supporters of HAK Levon Ter-Petrosian who took to the streets in to protest against alleged vote rigging. The two others were interior troop servicemen killed in vicious clashes with opposition protesters. Nobody has been prosecuted in connection with those deaths to date.

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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

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.