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Moldovan Jailed For Selling Weapons After Offering Arms To OCCRP

January 21, 2015 Armenia, Video No Comments
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18:33, January 21, 2015

Ion Druta, a Moldovan national accused of selling weapons bound for the conflict in Ukraine, wassentencedto five years in prison for arms trafficking yesterday, Jan. 20.

Last May, undercover OCCRP journalists, in partnership with RISE Moldova,captured audio and videoof Druta offering to deliver a large shipment of weapons to Ukraine.The journalists first arranged a smaller transaction, in which Druta sold them an anti-tank grenade launcher and a semi-automatic pistol.In the recording, Druta says that the weapons came from the Russian military base in Transnistria, a Russian-speaking breakaway region of Moldova that borders Ukraine.

This transaction occurred during the height of the Ukraine conflict, after clashes in Odessa that left 40 people dead.

reportingproject.net

One Nation, How Many Aspects of Culture? Armenian Diversity

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13:38, January 9, 2015

By Nareg Seferian

Not too long ago, I had an “e-mail fight” with someone I don’t know. To call it a “fight” would be an exaggeration. Rather, we had a heated discussion back and forth via e-mail, having found each other through a mutual acquaintance who wisely slipped out of the conversation.

The issue was Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian – specifically, whether or not there are two separate Armenian languages, or whether they are both versions of one language. There are other possibilities, and it could be the case that one may characterise Eastern and Western Armenian in more than one way at the same time. My correspondent was very confident toinsist that there is only one Armenian language. My own position is to refer to the two as “sister languages”.

Vladimir Putin Wins OCCRP’s Person Of Year For 2014

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19:01, January 1, 2015

Vladimir Putin has been named the 2014 Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an award given annually to the person who does the most to enable and promote organized criminal activity.

Putin was recognized for his work in turning Russia into a major money-laundering center; for enabling organized crime in Crimea and in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine; for his unblemished record of failing to prosecute criminal activity; and for advancing a government policy of working with and using crime groups as a component of state policy.

Azeris Sentenced In Karabakh

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A court in Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday sentenced one Azerbaijani man to life imprisonment and another to 22 years in prison on charges stemming from the murder of an Armenian teenager which led to their high-profile arrests in July.

In a verdict condemned by Azerbaijan’s government, Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Quliyev were convicted of illegal border crossing and arms possession, espionage and kidnapping. Askerov, who was jailed for life, was also found guilty of killing Smbat Tsakanian, a 17-year-old Armenian resident of the Kelbajar district sandwiched between Armenia and Karabakh.

A Voice from the Homeland: A Message of Despair and Hope

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17:25, December 13, 2014

By Andranik Michaelian

While on my way to buy some milk and madzoon from Aparan, I greeted a neighbor with the local “vonc es?”  (how are you) to which he replied, holding a few pills in his hand, “You see these? I wish these pills were poison, then I could be done with all this. This is no country…”

He said this with all seriousness. A day earlier, when asked how I was doing, I answered that I was in the same condition as the country, to which my friend said, “I’m in worse shape than the country.” Although said with a smile, he was just as serious as the neighbor with the pills. Another neighbor, when I asked how he was doing,  replied saying, “I’m waiting…” When I asked what he was waiting for, he said, “for things to get worse, which they will…”

Masked Men Assault Artsakh War Vet in Yerevan

December 10, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Video No Comments
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16:38, December 10, 2014

Armenia’s opposition Pre-Parliament organization reports that four masked men attacked and severely beat Artsakh War veteran Sourik Sargsyan earlier this morning in Yerevan.

In the following video statement released by the organization, Mr. Sargsyan says that only President Serzh Sargsyan is capable of creating criminal gangs that do his bidding.

Mr. Sargsyan also argues that his attackers should have killed him because now he will search them out for reprisal. The war vet says that none of this will be taken lying down.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Macedonia: Police Skeptical Of Passport Fraud

December 2, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Sports, Video No Comments
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21:33, December 2, 2014

Macedonia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVR) has nixed claims that a new video, which purports to depict the large-scale forgery of passports, reveals an election fraud scheme.

The 45-second clip, published online by Fokus, a Macedonian weekly newspaper, shows what appears to be an apartment with computers and materials allegedly used to counterfeit Macedonian passports.

But MVR said in a press release that biometric security features on current Macedonian passports place them among the most secure in Europe, and that there was as yet no evidence of forgery.

“The footage may be inaccurate or commissioned by a political party,” police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski told Balkan Insight.

Hetq v Environment Ministry: Judge Admonishes Official for Impertinence in Court

November 24, 2014 Armenia, Business, Video No Comments
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15:01, November 24, 2014

The trial pitting the Investigative Journalists NGO and Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection regarding the latter’s refusal to provide copies of permits dealing with the importation of endangered animal species to Armenia concluded today.

The Investigative Journalists NGO (the publisher of Hetq) Hetq had made the request, seeking to obtain the copies of export, sale or transport permits of rare animals as regulated by the CITES  for the period 2010-2013, for an investigative series it was working on entitled “Dangerous Monkey Business: Armenia’s Links to the Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Species.”

The ministry refused, arguing that such documents contained ‘secretive material’. It merely provided a list of animals imported to and exported from Armenia.

Italy: ‘Ndrangheta Initiation Ritual Exposed

November 21, 2014 Armenia, Business, Europe, Video No Comments
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20:25, November 20, 2014

Police in Italy have arrested 40 suspected gangsters after capturing unprecedented hidden-camera footage of the ‘Ndrangheta’s infamous organized crime initiation ceremony.

Milan prosecutor Ilda Boccassini claimed that the footage, part of a two-year investigation, was the only police video of the secretive ritual,according toThe Guardian.

“For the first time we heard it from the voice of [organized criminals],” she said of the footage, believed to show ‘Ndrangheta members being sworn into an elite group known as La Santa. One recruit was only 17.

“Today, from now on, you will be your own judges!” proclaims the ritual’s master of ceremonies. He calls on the huddled group of figures to promise to kill themselves should they make a mistake, either by taking cyanide or using a gun. “There must always be a bullet reserved; one for you,” he cautions.

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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.