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Armenia, Iran Agree To Relaunch Energy Projects

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments

Armenia and Iran have reportedly agreed to start building early next year a third high-voltage transmission line connecting their power grids which is expected to lead to a sharp increase in Armenian electricity exports to the Islamic Republic.

The energy ministers of the two neighboring states also said after talks in Tehran this week that the delayed construction of a big hydroelectric power plant on the Arax river marking the Armenian-Iranian border should start by the beginning of 2016.

Both multimillion-dollar projects were high on the agenda of a meeting of an Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation that took place in Iran’s capital on December 15-16. The commission is co-headed by Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian and his Armenian counterpart Yervand Zakharian.

Yerevan ‘Still Committed’ To Closer Ties With West

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Asia, Europe, Top News No Comments

Armenia’s leadership has assured Western powers that it will continue deepening relations with them even after joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, John Heffern, said on Friday.

Heffern said that the United States trusts in these assurances because it believes that closer ties with the West are “not incompatible” with Yerevan’s membership in the Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. The U.S. and the European Union are therefore trying to help Armenia develop a “strategic” capacity to closely cooperate with both the West and Russia, he said.

“We think that Armenia can benefit from both,” Heffern told a farewell news conference in the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan.

Ukrainian Investors Buy Into Armenian Airline

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Top News No Comments

A Ukrainian investment fund announced the purchase of a 49 percent stake in Armenia’s leading airline on Friday, pledging to help restart soon its commercial flights that were suspended two months ago.

Vladimir Bobylev, the chief executive of the East Prospect Fund, pledged to invest at least $30 million in the troubled Air Armenia carrier. Armenian news agencies quoted him as saying that it plans to replace and expand the company’s small fleet of aircraft in the coming months.

It was not clear how much the fund, registered in the British Virgin Islands but headquartered in Kiev, paid for the minority share. It valued Air Armenia at $50 million on its website.


Armenian Dram Rally Continues

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments

The Armenia dram rallied against the U.S. dollar for a second consecutive day on Friday amid more signs of stabilization in Russia’s volatile currency market severely affected by falling oil prices.

The dram strengthened by another 5.7 percent throughout the day, trading at an average of almost 450 drams per dollar.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) again reported no hard currency injections in the local market. The CBA said that Armenian commercials banks declined to buy dollars from it for the second day running.

The CBA also continued to stick to its benchmark interest rate, which has remained unchanged at 6.75 percent since August. The dram began depreciating against the dollar and the euro in early November.

Armenian Currency Rebounds Strongly

December 19, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments

The Armenian dram strengthened against the U.S. dollar by 16 percent on Thursday after weeks of depreciation that accelerated dramatically earlier this week amid turmoil in Russia’s currency market.

Armenia’s national currency traded at an average of 476 drams per dollar in the evening, up from 553 drams per dollar registered the previous night. The dram thus essentially regained its value lost since last weekend. Still, it was 13.5 percent weaker against the greenback than in the beginning of November.

The dram rallied strongly despite the apparent absence of increased monetary intervention from the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA). The CBA said in the afternoon that its latest daily hard currency offer of $4 million attracted no purchase bids from local commercial banks.

Public Transport Strike Widens In Yerevan

December 18, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Top News No Comments

Dozens more minibus drivers in Yerevan refused to work Thursday on the second day of a strike action organized by their colleagues in protest against a sharp rise in the price of liquefied gas used by their vehicles.

The price went up by over 20 percent late last week following a sizable depreciation of the national currency, the dram. The fuel sold by liquefied gas stations is imported from Russia at a price set in U.S. dollars. The national distribution network, Gazprom Armenia, has not raised its retail prices so far.

The strike began in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district on Wednesday and spread to minibus routes operating from at least two other parts of the capital the following day. In the Nor Nork suburb, about 100 empty minibuses were parked along a street as their drivers rallied to demand a price cut.

PM Vows Action Against ‘Baseless’ Price Hikes

December 18, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Thursday ordered Armenia’s anti-monopoly regulators to crack down on businesses that he said have disproportionately raised the prices of key goods to cash in on sharp exchange rate fluctuations.

“In particular, yesterday there were sizable increases in the prices of sugar, flour and a number of other basic consumer products [imported to Armenia,]” Abrahamian said at a cabinet meeting which was attended by Artak Shaboyan, the head of the State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC).

“I am calling on you to treat these abuses with utmost strictness. The government will not tolerate baseless price hikes,” he told Shaboyan. He said the PSRC should submit its findings to the government on a daily basis.

Minibus Drivers Go On Strike Over Higher Fuel Prices

December 18, 2014 Armenia, Top News No Comments

Dozens of minibus drivers in Yerevan went on strike on Wednesday to protest against a more than 20 percent surge in the price of liquefied natural gas used by their privately owned vehicles.

Gas stations in and outside the Armenian capital raised the price last week, citing the depreciation of the national currency, the dram. Their managers claim privately that the wholesale gas price is set for them by the Gazprom Armenia operator in U.S. dollars, meaning that its dram equivalent had to be revised upwards.

The retail gas prices in Armenia are officially set only in drams. Gazprom Armenia has so far not attempted to raise them because of the sharp weakening of the dram.

‘Panic In Russia’ Blamed For Armenian Currency Crisis

December 17, 2014 Armenia, Business, Top News No Comments

The Armenian authorities on Wednesday described as artificial and temporary the continuing weakening of the national currency, the dram, and insisted that it will not undermine the country’s financial system.

The Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) claimed that the dram is grossly undervalued just as it lost of another 4 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar despite a nearly 3 percent strengthening of the Russian ruble.

“The panic in Russia has easily spread to Armenia,” said the CBA governor, Artur Javadian. In particular, he blamed “panicky messages” coming from hundreds of thousands of Armenians working in Russia.

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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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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.

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