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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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Romania: Police Roust Alleged Drug Traffickers Out of Sewers

July 24, 2015 Armenia, Music, Video No Comments
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14:56, July 24, 2015

Romanian authorities have raided the sewers in the North Station area of Bucharest, as well as several nearby buildings, to crack down on what they say is a drug-trafficking gang based in the underground tunnels of the capital.

Prosecutors ordered the sewers searched Tuesday to tackle a ring of 23 people they believe deals heroin, methadone and various other drugs throughout the area. They arrested a 41-year-old man they say leads the group and who has “achieved significant financial benefit” from these activities.

While the identity of this man was not officially released, local media say he is Florin Hora, who uses the street name “Bruce Lee.”

From Silicon Valley to Aragyugh: Margosyans to Produce Natural Line of Cosmetics Using Botanicals of Armenia

July 21, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Video No Comments
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Marine Martirosyan

The taxi driver points to the fields around us as we make our way to Aragyugh, a village in Armenia’s Kotayk Marz. The cabbie says that during the Artsakh War years the fields were the main supplier of wheat for the area. Now, they are barren.

Silicon Valley programmers as entrepreneurs

Arriving at the iron gates outside a building that used to be a school in the 1930s, we are met by mathematician and computer programmer Ara Margosyan. Inside and out, there’s a flurry of activity. The Margosyans, husband and wife, plan to produce a line of natural cosmetics and the production unit must be ready by August.

US: MH17 Victims Sue Pro-Russian Separatist Leader For $900 Million

July 17, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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15:10, July 17, 2015

The families of 18 victims of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 that killed 298 people are suing Igor Girkin, an East Ukraine separatist leader and former Russian secret service employee, for US$ 900 million in a Chicago courtroom.

The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia when it was downed over the warzone in eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Floyd Wisner on behalf of the families under the US Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows victims of extrajudicial killings to sue named officials who perpetrated killings on behalf of foreign states.

Belarus Wanted To Use USB Sticks to Infect Devices and Collect Data

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14:30, July 15, 2015

On two occasions, law enforcement from Belarus expressed interest in buying Hacking Team surveillance software, via a Ukrainian firm called Altron which produces hardware for recording phone calls.

The Belarusian intelligence service also received a demonstration of Hacking Team spyware at a 2014 law enforcement exhibition in Qatar.

Unlike most of Hacking Team’s customers, who wanted ready-made, easy-to-use remotely controlled spyware, the Belarusians had a very specific request. Rather than infecting targets with malware via the internet, they wanted to physically insert the malware and collect intercepted data via USB memory sticks, apparently to leave no record of activity that could be traced via the internet.

Serbia: Drug Lord Šaric Sentenced to 20 Years

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21:54, July 13, 2015

By Bojana Pavlović, KRIK
Darko Šarić, convicted of organizing a criminal group that smuggled tons of cocaine from Latin America to western Europe, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.

Šarić remained in his cell and did not attend his sentencing. His two closest associates, Goran Soković and Želiko Vukanović, were sentenced to 20 and 18 years respectively.

Rodoljub Radulović, also known as “Miša Banana”, was sentenced to 11.5 years in absentia, as he remains on the run. Three others received between 5 and 10 months’ imprisonment.

Šarić’s lawyer, Radoslav Baćović, said that he will appeal.

Police Crackdown ‘Investigated’

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An Armenian law-enforcement agency launched on Friday a criminal investigation into excessive police use of force against protesters and journalists which was reported during last week’s dispersal of a demonstration in Yerevan.

The police detained more than 230 people early on June 23 as they broke up a protest on the city’s central Marshal Bagramian Avenue against a controversial electricity price hike. All of them were set free several hours later.

More than two dozen protesters were injured in the crackdown. Sixteen of them reportedly filed lawsuits with the European Court of Human Rights in the following days.

Armenian Police Chief Reaches Out To Protesters

June 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Video 1 Comment
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Just two days after threatening a violent crackdown, Vladimir Gasparian, the flamboyant chief of the Armenian police, praised on Tuesday the “craziness” of young people continuing to occupy a key Yerevan street in protest against an electricity price hike.

Gasparian caused outrage and ridicule in Armenia with his menacing statements made during almost daily visits to the blocked section of Marshal Bagramian Avenue last week. He was particularly furious in scolding the protesters on Sunday evening.

Gasparian adopted a far more conciliatory tone when he approached and a struck up a conversation with a group of youngsters camped out there on Tuesday afternoon. “The police are powerful enough to deal with even against tens of thousands of people,” he told them. “But should they break up citizens, young people, my type of people?”

Trial of Hayk Kyureghyan, Who Discharged Air Pistol Outside Court, Postponed

June 26, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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13:52, June 26, 2015

Hayk Kyureghyan, now imprisoned for one year, hasn’t been attending his court cases

Judge Armen Bektashyan, of the Kentron and Nork Marash Administrative Court, has banned his presence ever since the young man refused to stand when the bailiff announced “All rise”.

Kyureghyan says the courts in Armenia are a joke and thus sees no reason to pay any heed to such calls or any displays of respect.

Kyureghyan is charged with hooliganism and using force against a representative of the state (RA Criminal Code Articles 258 and 316) in an incident that occurred on July 12 of last year before a trial of Shant Haroutyunyan and friends.

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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.