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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.

Syunik’s Kornidzor Village: Once Fertile Fields Lie Fallow

June 24, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Culture, Video No Comments
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13:54, June 24, 2015

Mariam Matevosyan

Residents of Kornidzor, a village of some 1,300 souls in Armenia’s southern Syunik Province, say they had bountiful fields in the Soviet era and that agriculture was their main source of income.

Today, they lament the fact that most of their fields remain uncultivated and overgrown.

Community head Arkadya Khachatryan says that the village used to supply the entire are with vegetables. Now, he says, produce amounts have fallen, partly due to the fact that it cannot be sold. Most of the produce is sold in neighboring Artsakh.

1,043 hectares of the community’s 1,224 hectares of cultivable land is in private hands. The rest is leased. Wheat, barley, potatoes, and recently peas and chickpeas, are the main crops. A fledgling hothouse sector has always started.

Forged in Fire: The Making of an Investigative Reporter

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The more she uncovered and reported, the more the government tried to close off the access to key information. When that didn’t stop Ismayilova, the threats of personal attacks began — outrageous, demeaning and humiliating attacks.

Ismayilova told them she wouldn’t stop, so they followed through by releasing hidden camera video of her most intimate moments.

Next they arrested her on what her employers, supporters and leading journalism organizations consider to be ludicrous, trumped-up charges.

Nearly a decade earlier, it had been the assassination of another journalist that awakened the then-28-year-old reporter and inspired her to devote her life to exposing corruption, consequences be damned.

Journalists Targeted In Armenian Police Crackdown

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The Armenian police attacked or detained more than a dozen reporters and smashed or confiscated cameras used by some of them during a violent crackdown on protesters in Yerevan on Tuesday morning.

A senior official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was quick to express serious concern at what was the worst instance of state-sanctioned violence against Armenian journalists in years.

“I call on the authorities to promptly investigate these incidents and take steps to ensure restraint on the part of law enforcement representatives toward members of the media,” Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on press freedom, said in a statement issued just hours after riot police broke up a protest against rising electricity prices.

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Gives Police Chief 3 Days to Respond Regarding ‘Use of Excessive Force’

June 23, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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16:44, June 23, 2015

 In a statement released today, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Karen Andreasyan says that he’s given a three day deadline to Police Chief Valery Gasparyan, Special Investigative Service Chief Vahram Shahinyan, and Minister of Health Armen Muradyan, to answer a number of questions regarding the forcible dispersal, detainment and use of excessive force of peaceful protestors, including reporters, earlier this morning in Yerevan.

Andreasyan writes that after reviewing videos circulated in the mass media it is apparent that members of the police used excessive force against some citizens peacefully participating in the protest.

The Human Rights Defender has written to Minister of Health Muradyan regarding reports that several injured protestors were not given adequate first aid. 

Scores Arrested As Police Break Up Yerevan Protest

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More than 230 people were arrested in downtown Yerevan early on Tuesday as riot police broke up an overnight demonstration against rising electricity prices in Armenia on a street leading to President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration building.

Security forces backed up by a powerful water cannon used force to unblock Marshal Bagramian Avenue at the end of a nine-hour standoff with mostly young demonstrators demanding that the Armenian authorities revoke a more than 16 percent rise in the energy tariffs. Only a few hundred of them remained camped out there by that time.

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Macedonia to Pass Law Allowing Migrants Three Days’ Free Passage

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22:59, June 17, 2015

The Macedonian government has adopted a bill that would allow migrants coming illegally into the country three days to pass through.

The new law, which was adopted on Tuesday and is expected to pass through Parliament on Thursday, is intended to deter migrants from using dangerous routes. 

The move comes as the government encountered heavy criticism over the plights faced by asylum seekers, migrants and refugees who were hurt or killed while hiding from authorities.

Reports suggest an increase in people travelling from conflict-stricken countries in the Middle East and North Africa using Macedonia as a transit point on their way towards the European Union.

Turkish Documentary Filmmaker Seeks Inner Reconciliation with Armenians

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12:02, June 12, 2015

Turkish video artist and cinematographer Umut Vedat wants the screenwriter for his film on the Armenian Genocide to be the Armenian public.

He’s been working on the film for three years and has an Armenian photo archive. He’s also transcribed numerous personal stories.

“Given that the Genocide was a decision made by the Turks, I don’t want to be the one deciding everything in a film about it,” says Umut. “I want the Armenian public to participate in the making of the film. I want to listen to my Armenian friends, the taxi drivers, artists, or anyone who wishes to express an opinion.”

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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.