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Ohanian Visits Karabakh After Deadly Fighting

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Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian met with the commanders of Nagorno-Karabakh’s armed force and inspected the scene of their latest deadly firefight with Azerbaijani forces during a weekend trip to the territory.

Ohanian travelled to Karabakh on Saturday two days after three Armenian soldiers were killed and four others wounded while reportedly fighting back an Azerbaijani attack on their positions in the northern Martakert district.

The Karabakh Defense Army claimed to have killed at least 10 Azerbaijani troops in what was the most serious instance of ceasefire violation in the Karabakh conflict zone since August. The Azerbaijani military denied launching commando raids or suffering any casualties in the area on Thursday, however.

Artsakh Defense Ministry Refutes Azerbaijani Video Showing Surrender of Armenian Soldier

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18:17, March 23, 2015

The Artsakh Ministry of Defense stated today that a video clip disseminated by Azerbaijani media outlets purportedly showing an Armenian soldier crossing over the line of contact in surrender is a fabrication.

The video surfaced on YouTube yesterday.  

The Artsakh defense ministry claims that the video is a fabrication and an Azerbaijani attempt to show that its forces were in control on the ground at the time.

“Another fact to be noted is that recording such an incident at the time would have been impossible at the frontline given that our units would have immediately prevented such an event from happening,” reads the ministry’s rebuttal.

Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia at the Special Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council

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10:49, March 12, 2015

“Mr. Chairman,
Excellences,
Dear friends,

It is a pleasure to address the Permanent Council again. Last time I was here in 2013 in my capacity as the Chairman of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe. I will start from the most important issue on our national agenda today – the Centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Back in May 1915 the governments of France, Great Britain and Russia characterized the Armenian massacres as “crimes against humanity and civilization.” This was one of the first occasions of the use of the term “crimes against humanity” on an international level, leading to its elaboration as an inherent concept of the international legal system.

Karabakh Policemen Face Dismissal For Violent Crackdown

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Police in Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday moved to sack ten officers for their violent response to dozens of opposition activists from Armenia who attempted to enter the territory in late January.

An ad hoc police commission petitioned the Karabakh police chief, Kamo Aghajanian, to fire them and take disciplinary action against 15 other policemen as a result of a month-long inquiry. It said they committed “blatant” abuses when security forces confronted a motorcade of some 30 cars carrying leaders and members of the Yerevan-based group Founding Parliament.

Aghajanian did not immediately act on the recommendation.

From Lake to Table: Armenian MP Builds Fish Market in Tbilisi

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09:35, March 3, 2015

Vardan Ayvazyan, a Republican Party MP in Armenia’s parliament who heads the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs, is building a huge fish market in Tbilisi.

The plant, located not far from the center of the Georgian capital, is known as a restaurant hub.

In September 2011, Ayvazyan founded a company called Unicom of which he was the sole shareholder. According to the Georgian State Registry, Vardan Ayvazyan registered his company shares in the name of his son Souren Ayvazyan. This was after the 2012 Georgian parliamentary elections, and it appears that he was concerned that his assets would be at risk with the change of power. His friend, onetime Minister of Internal Affairs Ivane Merabishvili, had been jailed, and Ayvazyan was afraid that he too might be persecuted as a result.

New Artists for Peace Music Video with Ken Davitian Kicks Off Stop Racism Campaign

February 23, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe, Music, Video No Comments
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11:42, February 23, 2015

A new music video featuring an impressive line-up of celebrities hits YouTube this week, hoping to go viral in the hope of stopping racism around the world. Created by FMS Media, in association with Artists for Peace, The Final Game is the first in a series of Stop Racism campaign music videos, aiming to change global perceptions.  

The music video features vocals from Devon T, Rina Cervantes and Kantana, the latter who has worked with dancehall sensation Beenie Man. Also appearing in the tongue-in-cheek video is US actor Ken Davitian who is well known for big screen roles in Borat, The Artist and Meet The Spartans . Artists from a range of different backgrounds and nationalities have come together in the making of The Final Game to highlight intolerance and racism around the world.

Diasporan Volunteer’s Journey in Armenia: Los Angeles Firefighter Paramedic Teaches First Aid in Villages

February 17, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Video No Comments
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12:37, February 17, 2015

By Jamie Kolar

It’s January, I’m standing on a platform in Yerevan waiting to board an 8 am train to Gyumri.

It’s cold and I brought along my Thermos coffee mug, an American habit that makes me stand out in a country where coffee isn’t a morning caffeine fix but rather a social drink to be enjoyed with others.

I am on my way to bring donated medical equipment to the Gyumri Ambulance Service, something I have been doing since the summer of 2013 when I first started volunteering at the ambulance company teaching emergency trauma care.

Armenian MPs To Investigate Karabakh Crackdown

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Armenia’s parliament has decided to send a fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh that will investigate local authorities’ violent response to members of an Armenian opposition group attempting to rally supporters in Karabakh.

The delegation formed by speaker Galust Sahakian on Wednesday comprises lawmakers affiliated with all but one factions of the National Assembly. The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) refused to name a representative to the delegation on the grounds that the Karabakh leadership is primarily responsible for what Levon Zurabian, a senior HAK figure, called an “atrocity.”

Karabakh Leader Orders Probe Of Violent Crackdown

February 3, 2015 Armenia, Karabakh, Top News, Video No Comments
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Bako Sahakian, the Nagorno-Karabakh president, on Tuesday ordered the local police to investigate their violent response to dozens of opposition activists from Armenia who attempted to enter Karabakh at the weekend.

Speaking at an emergency meeting with senior officials in Stepanakert, Sahakian at the same time effectively defended the use of force against them, which has drawn strong condemnations from the Armenian opposition, media and human rights activists.

A motorcade of some 30 cars carrying leaders and members of the Yerevan-based group Founding Parliament was stopped by the Karabakh police at Armenia’s border with the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) on Saturday. An Internet video of the incident shows that some of the oppositionists were beaten up despite not attempting to break through the police cordon. Many of the cars were vandalized by uniformed policemen and plainclothes men even as they sped away from the scene.

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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

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.