‘Electric Yerevan’ Leaders Issue Ultimatum

Leaders of the protesters continuing to occupy a central Yerevan avenue on Saturday threatened to advance further towards the presidential palace if the Armenian authorities fail to formally revoke a controversial rise in electricity prices.

They gave the authorities until Monday evening to meet their demands or face a new, “decisive phase” of their “Electric Yerevan” campaign.

“If we don’t get an answer we will start moving the barricade [built on Marshal Bagramian Avenue] one step forward every day,” one of the protest leaders, Davit Sanasarian, told several hundred people rallying on a section of the avenue that has been blocked for almost two weeks.

Russia ‘Negotiating’ On New Missile Supplies To Armenia

Russia is reportedly holding negotiations with Armenia on supplying it with sophisticated Iskander-M missiles that would significantly boost Armenian defense capabilities in the unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan.

“A contract has not been signed yet; negotiations are still going on,” the official TASS news agency quoted an unnamed source in the Russian defense industry as saying late on Thursday.

The source gave no further details, saying that “all information about such contracts is secret.”

The Armenian Defense Ministry refused to comment on the report.

Police Crackdown ‘Investigated’

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.

4 Arrested Over ‘Shooting Attack’ On Armenian Governor

Four men were arrested on Friday on suspicion of attempting to assassinate Suren Khachatrian, the governor of Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province who has long been notorious for violent conduct.

The National Security Service (NSS) service said the arrests were made in connection with the reported May 20 shooting attack on a car carrying Khachatrian.

Khachatrian, his driver and assistant claimed to have come under fire on the road connecting the provincial capital Kapan to Goris, the governor’s hometown also located in Syunik. None of them was hurt, even though photographs released by law-enforcement authorities showed their car riddled with bullets.

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Moldova: Ex-Tax Chief Still at Large after Six-Year Sentence Announced

June 30, 2015 Armenia, Business No Comments
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18:26, June 30, 2015

The former chief of Moldova’s highest tax authority, Nicolae Vicol, remains at large after being sentenced in absentia to six years in prison for corruption. 

Vicol was convicted earlier this month for abuse of power and illegally wiretapping his colleagues. His sentence was decided by the First Court in Chisinau on June 18 in the culmination of a court case that stretched over two years.

The court also banned Vicol from holding public office for five years and ordered him to pay a fine of 10,000 Moldovan lei (about US$ 533).

The court pronounced the sentence in Vicol’s absence. His lawyer, Vasile Nicoară, said Vicol was in Romania for medical treatment and his planned date of return was unknown.

Founding Parliament Says Unidentified Individuals Following Jirayr Sefilyan

June 30, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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19:56, June 30, 2015

The Founding Parliament (FP) political movement in Armenia issued a statement today claiming that unidentified individuals in the cars pictured above were following Jirayr Sefilyan, one of its members, for hours on June 29.

The FP says the cars then followed Sefilyan to its offices on Alek Manoukyan Street.

The FP demands that law enforcement identify the individuals following Sefilyan and their motives.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Azerbaijan: Four Meydan TV Reporters Slapped with Travel Ban, Placed on ‘Blacklist’

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22:13, June 30, 2015

Just two days after the European Games closed in Azerbaijan, four journalists say they were barred from leaving the country and told they were placed on a government “blacklist.” 


The four reporters for OCCRP partner organization Meydan TV – Ayten Alakbarova, Şirin Tire Abbasov, Natiq Cavadli and Elnur Muxtar – were stopped at the border while travelling to the Republic of Georgia.

Officials reportedly told the reporters that they had been placed on a government “blacklist” but gave no explanation as to why they were not allowed to leave.

No official comment has yet been made by Azerbaijani authorities regarding the incident at the border.

Gyumri Massacre Suspect To Stand Armenian Trial

June 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News No Comments

A Russian soldier accused of murdering the seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri in January will be tried by an Armenian court, state prosecutors in Yerevan officially confirmed on Tuesday.

Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General elaborated on President Serzh Sarkisian’s announcement late last week that Russia has agreed to transfer the high-profile criminal case toArmenian jurisdiction.

The law-enforcement agency said this will be done after a “settlement of procedural issues.” “We cannot speak of concrete time frames at the moment,” it said in a statement. “What is clear, however, is that Armenian law-enforcers will investigate the murder case while Armenian courts will administer justice.”

Armenian Police Chief Reaches Out To Protesters

June 30, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Video 1 Comment

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?”

$3.175 Million in Precious Metals and Gems in Armenia’s Treasury

June 30, 2015 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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11:19, June 30, 2015

The total value of precious metals and gems, and items produced from them, in Armenia’s treasury as of January 1, 2015 amounts to 1.502 billion AMD (US$3.175 million) according to Armenia’s Ministry of Finance.

Metallic gold   261.6 million drams (14,288 kilograms)
Metallic silver  4.8 million drams (26,895 kilograms)
Platinum           56.1 million drams (3,024 kilograms)
Palladium          13.2 million drams (1,275 kilograms)

The remainder is comprised of precious and semi-precious stones: diamonds, emeralds, cultured pearls, and gold and silver items.

As of January 1, 2014, the total value of these items in the treasury amounted to 1.405 billion AMD and 1.739 billion in 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Special Session of Armenian Parliament on Russian Export Credit

June 30, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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[unable to retrieve full-text content]Armenian National Assembly President Galoust Sahakyan will convene a special session of the legislature
on July 2 at noon to review an agreement between Armenia and Russia that would provide state export
credit to Armenia.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Man Shoots Wife at Yerevan Maternity Ward, Then Kills Himself

June 30, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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13:26, June 30, 2015

Today, at Yerevan’s Republic Hospital’s maternity ward, a man shot his wife and then killed himself with a pistol he had brought with him, this according to Shamshyan.com.

The injured woman, 27 year-old Melina Asatryan, was rushed to the Armenia Republic Medical Center for treatment of her wounds.

Arsen Grigoryan, Director of Surgery at the Armenia Center reports that the patient is in very critical condition.

Armenian Minister of Health Armen Mouradyan is now at the hospital with a team of experts.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Russia: Supreme Court Upholds Life Sentences of Politkovskaya Murder Convicts

June 30, 2015 Armenia, Asia, Europe No Comments
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15:03, June 30, 2015

Russia’s Supreme Court has upheld the life sentences of two men convicted of the 2006 murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. 

The two men were among five Chechen nationals convicted of the crime last year.

The verdict was originally given on June 9 2014, but an appeal by the five was heard by the Supreme Court last week.

Rustam Makhmudov, who shot Politkovskaya, and his uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who organized the group responsible for arranging the murder, were both sentenced last June to life imprisonment.

The three others convicted for involvement in the killing – former policeman Sergei Khadzhikurbanov as well as the brothers of Politkovskaya’s assassin, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov – received sentences of 20, 14 and 12 years respectively.

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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.