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Armenia Police Sign $314K Contract for Promotional Films and Videos

May 23, 2015 Armenia, Film, Video No Comments
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11:50, May 23, 2015

Armenia’s Police Department has placed an order with Armenia Public TV to produce fourteen 26 minute films in a series entitled “My Army”.

The TV station will also be producing a 16 part series for the police on Yerevan detective stories.

The Police signed a 150 million AMD (US$314,260) contract with Armenia Public TV last March to produce the videos and films.

The contract states that the “My Army” series is tasked with “Depicting the powerful reality of Armenia’s armed forces and to show the Armenian and international public the technical and physical resources of our army and the fighting spirit of the Armenian soldier.”

How to Stay Connected Without the Internet

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18:07, May 18, 2015

Often, we read about how internet access is restricted in some country or other, especially during times of civil unrest.

When the Green Movement took off in Iran after the 2009 presidential election, and the government launched similar restrictions, Armine Saidi and David Esteves thought of ways to bypass such restrictions and make communication independent of the internet and cellular links.

Years later, the WiCastr company (now operating in Armenia as well), is offering equipment that contains large amounts of information – documents, videos, games, etc. Such material is accessible in a fifty meter radius by using equipment linked to its network that is capable of connecting to the WiFi; for example, smart phones. 

Family Has No Collateral Left; $4,000 Needed to Keep Little Marianna from Going Blind

May 19, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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17:43, May 19, 2015

Three year-old Marianna didn’t take kindly to our video camera. When she felt that we were talking about her, the young girl walked away.

Marianna, a premature baby, has been the center of attention in the family ever since she was born.

She suffers from congenital glaucoma, an eye disease that can lead to blindness if not treated in time.  Surgery is the primary therapy for such an ailment.

Doctors in Armenia instructed the family to take Marianna to the Leningrad Regional Children’s Hospital for surgery. In September 2012, emergency surgery was performed there to prevent Marianna from going blind.

Pressure in the girl’s eye was successful reduced, but five months after returning to Armenia it shot back up.

Armenian, Georgian PMs Meet After South Ossetia Controversy


Prime Ministers Hovik Abrahamian of Armenia and Irakli Gharibashvili of Georgia met in Batumi over the weekend for talks which their offices said focused on bilateral economic ties.

Abrahamian travelled to the Georgian Black Sea city two weeks after official Tbilisi protested against Armenian parliament speaker Galust Sahakian’s meeting with a leader of South Ossetia, a breakaway Georgian region.

Sahakian and Anatoly Bibilov met early this month during their separate visits to Nagorno-Karabakh. Sahakian downplayed their short conversation as “private” and impromptu.

The explanation did not satisfy the Georgian government, which condemned the contact with the representative of what it regards as an “occupational regime” installed by Russia. The Armenian ambassador in Tbilisi was summoned to the Georgian Foreign Ministry and warned of “damage to bilateral relations” on May 4.

Syrian-Armenian Singer Lena Shamamian: “The identity of my voice is Anatolian”

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09:50, May 18, 2015

“I want to return to those lands and sing in Armenian…”

Lena Shamamian, a Syrian-Armenian singer renowned throughout the Arab world is a little known commodity to music lovers in Armenia. She describes herself as probably the best known Armenian female singer in the Middle East.

Recently, Shamamian gave a sold-out concert at the 3,700 capacity Harbiye Hall in Istanbul’s Congress Center. The audience was mostly comprised of Syrians who had fled the war back home and longed to hear echoes of a more peaceful time.

While she greeted the audience in Arabic and Turkish, Lena sang in English. There were a few Armenian songs in her repertoire as well, and at the end of the concert Shamamian said a few words in Armenian to thank those who attended.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnic Speeches May Have Driven Young Men to Syria, Says Expert Witness

May 14, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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20:41, May 14, 2015

The speeches of a high-profile Salafist in Bosnia have encouraged young men to join Islamic State (IS) forces in Syria, according to the testimony of an expert witnessat a Bosnian court on Wednesday.

Vlado Azinovic, 51, professor at the national security department of Sarajevo’s Political Sciences University, evaluated some 53 hours of evidence against informal Salafi leader Husein “Bilal” Bosnic.

Bosnic stands accused of inciting and recruiting Bosnian citizens to join IS fighters in Syria, and organizing a terrorist group.

Although Azinovic said that it was impossible to establish a direct consequential connection between Bosnic’s speeches and the departures of Bosnian citizens to Syrian battlefields on the basis that one would have to individually interview each who had left, he said he believed Bosnic’s speeches had factored in their decision-making processes.

Spiritual Crisis: Armenia’s Compulsory ‘Heroes’

May 8, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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15:58, May 8, 2015

Upon seeing a beggar woman in the street, Deputy Police Chief Levon Yeranosyan rolls down the tinted window of his black SUV and says:

“Are you still alive? I heard you had died, girl.”

This is the way government officials in Armenia treat average citizens in this country. His amazement was so sincere and heartfelt. Yeranosyan probably had his driver turn around, instructing his security staff to ‘take care’ of the poor woman.

When I say ‘take care’, what I mean is to make sure that the woman disappears from his field of vision. Perhaps he told his bodyguard to detain her.

Jailed Azeri Journalist Khadija Ismayilova Receives PEN Press Freedom Award

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21:21, May 6, 2015

Investigative Journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who has been jailed in Azerbaijan since last December, was honored with the prestigious PEN Freedom to Write Award at a gala in New York.

Ismayilova’s award was accepted on her behalf by Emin Milli, who has also previously been jailed in Azerbaijan.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the crowd burst into chants of “Khadija, Khadija”. Milli addressed the audience of 800, urging them to “spread the word about her courage and struggle for freedom all over the world”.

Also shown at the event was a video featuring Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. Hosseini called Ismayilova’s imprisonment a “call to action”, adding: “She is a critical voice. She brings awareness.”

More Visitations: Suicide of 19 Year-old Suzy Kocharyan Hasn’t Taught Armenia’s Prison System a Vital Lesson

May 1, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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14:34, May 1, 2015

By Mher Yenokyan

(For the past year Mher Yenokyan, who has served 19 years of a life sentence, has been writing a weekly article for Hetq from his cell at the Nubarashen Penitentiary)

It’s been a little over a year since 19 year-old Suzy, the daughter of my prison mate Soghomon Kocharyan, took her own life

It was a desperate act of a daughter distraught over her father’s plight.

Now, as back then, I still believe that if the two had the chance to see each other more often Suzy wouldn’t have chosen to end her life so tragically. Soghomon believes this as well. When they take me out to the yard for exercise, I sometimes bump into Soghomon and talk to him for a few minutes. It’s during these brief encounters that Soghomon has told me so.

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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.


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.