Diaspora Activist Barred From Armenia

A French-Armenian activist highly critical of President Serzh Sarkisian’s government was barred from entering Armenia and deported back to France on Friday more than 12 hours after arriving at Yerevan airport.

Schanth Vosgueritchian, a leader of a Diaspora group called Armenian Renaissance, was held at the Zvartnots international airport before being put on a return flight to Paris. He said afterwards that officers of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) declared him a persona no grata but gave no further explanations.

Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian quoted the NSS director, Gorik Hakobian, as telling her that Vosgueritchian “took actions in France that created problems for the Republic of Armenia.” “That is the reason why he was denied entry into Armenia,” she told reporters.

Sarkisian Lauds Germany Over Armenian Genocide Recognition

President Serzh Sarkisian thanked Germany’s leaders for recognizing the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey when he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Riga late on Thursday.

In a statement, Sarkisian’s office said the two discussed Armenia’s relations with the EU and Germany in particular as well as international efforts to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It said they also touched upon recent officials ceremonies around the world, including in Berlin, that marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire.

“President Serzh Sarkisian expressed gratitude to Germany’s authorities for their position on the condemnation of the Armenian genocide,” added the statement.

Sarkisian Reaffirms Support For EU Eastern Partnership

President Serzh Sarkisian has reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to deepening ties with the European Union in a way that would not run counter to its recent accession to a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states.

“Armenia is committed to taking steps together with its European partners to form a new legal basis for our relationship,” Sarkisian said at the start of a two-day EU summit in Riga late on Thursday. He stressed that a planned new Armenia-EU accord will be “compatible” with his country’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

There was no such compatibility with an Association Agreement, including a significant free-trade component, which Yerevan and Brussels were close to finalizing in 2013.The EU abandoned the agreement after Armenia unexpectedly decided to join Russia’s trade bloc with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Azerbaijan Objects To EU Summit Statement Over Karabakh

Azerbaijan nearly vetoed on Friday a joint declaration adopted at the European Union’s latest summit with six ex-Soviet states because of the wording of its references to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who represented his country at the summit held in Riga, reportedly stormed out of its concluding session that discussed the text drafted by EU officials. News reports from the Latvian capital said Mammadyarov demanded changes relating to the Karabakh dispute.

The 13-page declaration calls for the resolution of ethnic and territorial disputes in the former Soviet Union “on the basis of the principles and norms of international law.” It expresses “full support to the mediation efforts by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including at the level of [U.S., Russian and French] Presidents and their statements since 2009.”

Latest Armenian News:

Ashot Smbatyan, Armenia’s New Ambassador to Germany

May 19, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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[unable to retrieve full-text content]Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan today appointed Ashot Smbatyan as Armenia’s new ambassador
to Germany.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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.

Tsarukian Set To Retain Control Over Armenian Town


In what appears to be another consolation prize granted to him by the Armenian government, businessman Gagik Tsarukian is likely to retain de facto control over a town near Yerevan that has long been his political and economic stronghold.

Voters in Abovian will go to the polls on June 7 to elect a successor to Karapet Guloyan, the town’s previous mayor and Tsarukian’s son-in-law who was promoted last month to become governor of the surrounding Kotayk province.

The government named Guloyan to run Kotayk almost one month after Tsarukian stepped down as leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and retired from active politics under strong pressure from President Serzh Sarkisian.

71% of Armenian Bank Individual Accounts in Foreign Currencies

May 19, 2015 Armenia No Comments
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11:08, May 19, 2015

According to the latest figures released by Armenia’s Central Bank, deposits in the country’s 21 commercial banks amounted to 1,711,299,000,000 AMD (US$ 354,7984,877) as of March 2015.

This figure includes accounts and time deposits held by non-resident companies, individuals, not for profit organizations, non-bank financial organizations. Accumulated interest is not included.

This figure dropped 17.174 billion AMD from February 2015.

Accounts held by individuals amounted to 881.869 million AMD ($1,828,353) as of March 2015.

71% of the above amount was in foreign currency holdings.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Artsakh Prime Minister: ‘Liberation of Berdzor 23 Years Ago Was an Historic Event’

May 19, 2015 Armenia, Arts No Comments
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12:02, May 19, 2015

At celebrations yesterday marking 23rdanniversary of the liberation of Berdzor (Lachin), Artsakh Prime Minister Arayik Haroutyunyan underlined how vital it as at the time to break the siege of Artsakh and establish a land link with Armenia.

“During those difficult days, the liberation of Berdzor became an event of pan-national significance due to which a life line was opened for the people of Artskah. Moreover, after decades of separation, this piece of Armenian land was reconnected to mother Armenia,” noted Haroutyunyan.

The prime minister thanked his war comrades attending the event who participated with him in the liberation of Berdzor on May 18, 1992.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Permissible Violations: Armenia’s Motkor Forest Being Felled for Lumber

May 19, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Business No Comments
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13:29, May 19, 2015

Trucks transporting felled young hornbeam trees are freely leaving the forest in Ahnidzor.

On May 17, this reporter was unable to track down the driver of a truck loaded with wood outside a home at the entrance to the village. The truck had no license plate. Cut lumber was scattered near the truck.

At around 3pm another truck loaded with lumber entered the village. The driver made out that he didn’t see our signal to stop and drove on.

Two trucks, this time with plates, were seen some 200 meters from the intersection of the Lorout and Ahnidzor villages, near the former Lorout cheese factory. They too were loaded with lumber.

Romania: High Court Sentences Minister in Election Fraud Case

May 18, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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22:48, May 18, 2015

A Romanian court has convicted Regional Development Minister Liviu Dragnea of electoral fraud, making him the latest casualty of Romania’s ongoing crackdown on corruption.

Dragnea, a high-powered figure in Romanian politics, also resigned from his position as executive chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), reports Balkan Insight.

Prosecutors said Dragnea had mounted a campaign to increase voter turnout using bribery in the run-up to a 2012 referendum to impeach former president Traian Basescu, a political rival.

The referendum drew concern from the international community. Romania’s judicial system is under close watch by the European Union.

74 others allegedly aided Dragnea’s efforts by stuffing ballot boxes to increase the number of votes, but the referendum ultimately failed due to low turnout.

National Press Club to Honor Azerbaijani Journalist

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23:11, May 18, 2015

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —  The National Press Club announced that it will honor an Azerbaijani reporter, Khadija Ismayilova, with one of its 2015 press freedom awards.

Ismayilova, who has reported for Radio Free Liberty/Radio Free Europe and other news organizations, has been jailed sinceDecember 2014 on a variety of charges that independent observers such as the Committee to Protect Journalists have called bogus. Ismayilova is well known for hard-hitting reporting, including on the financial dealings of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and alleged corruption in his government.

She is one of nine reporters known to be jailed in Azerbaijan on similarly trumped up charges, in addition to a greater number of political prisoners who are not journalists, according to human rights groups.

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.

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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.