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Protesting Traders Claim Fresh Government Concessions

January 30, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments
Armenian News

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Friday reportedly agreed to again make major concessions to scores of small business owners demonstrating against controversial new taxation rules introduced by his government.

Abrahamian met with representatives of the protesters as they again rallied outside his office in Yerevan. The protest leaders were satisfied with the two-hour meeting, telling the crowd that he essentially agreed to meet their demands.

“From what I understood, Mr. Abrahamian is on our side,” said one of them.

“The prime minister specifically agreed to discuss and revise [the law,]” said another participant of the meeting. He added that the premier will again meet with the traders’ representatives on Sunday to present concrete solutions relating to Armenia’s law on turnover tax levied from small firms and self-employed entrepreneurs with an annual revenue of up to 58 million drams ($122,000).

Pan-Armenian Body ‘Still Working’ On Claims Against Turkey


A commission comprising Armenia’s top state officials and Diaspora leaders has yet to decide what it will demand from Turkey apart from the recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide, a senior official in Yerevan said on Friday.

The commission planning the upcoming commemorations of the centenary of the genocide issued a landmark declaration on behalf of the Armenian people on Thursday. It reaffirmed the Armenian government’s and the Diaspora’s intention to seek greater international recognition of the genocide. They will also strive to “overcome consequences” of the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, said the body headed by President Serzh Sarkisian.

In that regard, the “pan-Armenian declaration” said commission experts are now working on a “package of legal demands” to be addressed to modern-day Turkey. It did not elaborate.

Armenia Plans Another Eurobond Issue

January 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

The Armenian government announced on Friday plans to sell more Eurobonds in international debt markets this year in order to finance its budget deficit and reduce fallout from an economic recession in Russia.

“A favorable environment has now emerged in international financial markets for the issuance of hard-currency bonds,” read a government statement issued after a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. It said that proceeds from the upcoming Eurobond sale will be used for not only covering the 2015 budget deficit but also “neutralizing” negative external impacts on the Armenian economy.

Neither the statement nor senior officials who spoke at the session of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet specified the volume of what will be the second issuance of Eurobonds in Armenia’s history.

Armenian Military Details 2014 Drills With U.S. Troops

January 29, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

Armenian soldiers reportedly took part in five U.S.-led military exercises last year, highlighting Armenia’s increased cooperation with NATO and the U.S. military in particular.

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian listed those exercises along with Armenian participation in three other war games held by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in 2014 at a news conference in Yerevan this week.

One of the drills took place in March 2014 at the U.S. Army’s Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo where some 35 Armenian troops have been serving under U.S. command as part of KFOR, a NATO-led multinational force. The Army said at the time that they and soldiers from North Dakota National Guard jointly practiced crowd control operations there.

Small Business Owners Continue Protests In Yerevan

January 29, 2015 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

Hundreds of self-employed Armenians continued to demonstrate in Yerevan on Thursday against new taxation rules which they believe would ruin their small businesses.

The protesters, most of them owners of market stalls and small shops, marched from Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s office to the presidential administration building in the capital where they scuffled with riot police. The latter used force to unblock a major Yerevan briefly closed by the angry crowd.

The protesters tried in vain to get Abrahamian and senior officials from President Serzh Sarkisian’s staff to meet them and listen to their demands. A senior aide to Abrahamian, Aleksandr Ghazarian, told them that the premier is too busy to talk to them. He also made clear that the Armenian government has no intention to repeal controversial legal amendments enacted last fall.

‘Pan-Armenian Declaration’ Calls For Genocide Recognition


President Serzh Sarkisian and leaders of the worldwide Armenia Diaspora urged Turkey on Thursday to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire after discussing upcoming events that will mark its centenary.

In what it called a “pan-Armenian declaration,” a high-level commission headed by Sarkisian described the approaching 100th anniversary as an “important milestone” in the decades-long Armenian campaign for a broader international recognition of the genocide.

The commission comprising senior Armenian state officials, the top clerics of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Diaspora leaders met in Yerevan to discuss final preparations for the anniversary commemorations. Sarkisian read out the declaration adopted by them at the genocide memorial on the city’s Tsitsernakabert hill later in the day.

Armenian MPs Abstain On Anti-Russian PACE Resolution

January 29, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments

The Armenian members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) have pointedly declined to vote against a resolution accusing Russia of military aggression against Ukraine.

Their stance contrasted with the Armenian government’s controversial decision last year to oppose a pro-Ukrainian resolution overwhelmingly approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

The PACE resolution passed late on Wednesday condemns Russia’s “illegal annexation of Crimea” in March 2014 and accuses Moscow of “instigating and escalating developments in Ukraine, including with arms supplies to insurgent forces and covert military action by Russian troops inside eastern Ukraine.” The Strasbourg-based assembly also decided again to strip Russia of the right to vote or take part in the PACE’s governing bodies until April 2015.

Karabakh Still Freer Than Azerbaijan, Says U.S. Watchdog


Nagorno-Karabakh remains a “partly free” territory governed by a less repressive administration than Azerbaijan, the U.S. human rights group Freedom House said in an annual survey released on Wednesday.

Freedom House evaluated “political rights” and “civil liberties” in 195 countries and 13 disputed territories, including Karabakh, on a 7-point scale, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free. It again rated both Karabakh and Armenia “partly free” and kept Azerbaijan in the “not free” category of nations surveyed.

What is more, the “Freedom in the World” survey further downgraded Azerbaijan’s rating, giving the authorities in Baku a median score of 6. “Azerbaijan received a downward trend arrow due to an intensified crackdown on dissent, including the imprisonment and abuse of human rights advocates and journalists,” explained Freedom House.

European Court Opens Hearings On Armenian Genocide Case


Amal Clooney, a world-famous lawyer, urged the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) not to give the green light to public denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide on Wednesday as she represented Armenia in a high-profile case involving a controversial Turkish politician.

Clooney pointed to “overwhelming evidence” of the World War One-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks at the start of hearings in Strasbourg on an appeal lodged by Switzerland and backed by Armenia.

The case stems from a 2007 Swiss court ruling against Dogu Perincek, the leader of a small Turkish nationalist party who branded the Armenian genocide an “international life” during a lecture tour in Switzerland. Perincek was fined by the court in line with a Swiss anti-racism law that bans any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide. The ruling was upheld by the Swiss Federal Court.

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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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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.