Government Loyalist Threatens More Violence Against Oppositionists

A supporter of President Serzh Sarkisian accused of beating up an Armenian opposition parliamentarian struck a defiant note as he went on trial in Yerevan on Friday.

Arshak Svazian said he is ready to assault anyone who would publicly insult Sarkisian. “Because he is my president commander-in-chief,” Svazian told reporters outside a district court in the capital. “Whoever swears at my president will be punished in the same way.”

Svazian, 41, stands accused of assaulting and injuring Aram Manukian, a parliament deputy from the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) outside the latter’s Yerevan home on December 11. Manukian spent more than a week in hospital as a result.

Karabakh Party Joins European Alliance

A political party represented in Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership on Friday became an associated member of a coalition of European parties seeking independence or greater self-rule for various regions across Europe.

The European Free Alliance (EFA) accepted the integration into its ranks of the Democratic Party of Artsakh (AZhK) at a meeting of its General Assembly held in Germany.

The move strongly criticized by Azerbaijan came less than a year after an EFA delegation paid a fact-finding visit to Karabakh. The head of delegation, Miguel Martinez, said after the trip that the EFA “looks forward to working closely with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the future.”

Armenia To Introduce House Arrest, Community Service

The Armenian government plans to introduce next year house arrest and community service as legal alternatives to imprisonment of criminal suspects and convicted individuals, a senior official revealed on Friday.

Deputy Justice Minister Suren Krmoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service ( that electronic monitoring of such persons will be another major provision of amendments to Armenian criminal legislation which the government hopes to push through the parliament this autumn.

“The state is embarking on these reforms in order to reduce the number of incarcerated people,” Krmoyan said. “Arrest and short-term imprisonment should be applied in exceptional cases where there are no effective alternatives.”

He added that the reform is strongly supported by and coordinated with the Council of Europe.

EU Confidence In Armenia ‘Restored’

Armenia has succeeded in reinvigorating its relations with the European Union after its unexpected decision in 2013 to join a Russian-led alliance of former Soviet republics, a senior EU diplomat said on Friday.

Traian Hristea, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, said the Armenian government has restored EU’s “level of confidence” in it with its efforts to negotiate a new major accord with the 28-nation bloc.

“I think that we have made a lot of progress between the [2013] Vilnius summit and what we expect at Riga,” he added, referring to an EU summit that will take place in Latvia’s capital next month.

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Artsakh Vet Group Calls On Comrades to Support Sefilyan and Others Arrested on April 7

April 15, 2015 Armenia, Arts No Comments
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13:23, April 15, 2015

Thirty Artsakh War vets have called on other freedom fighters to participate in a public rally scheduled for April 17 at Yerevan’s Liberty Square in support Jirayr Sefilyan and four other members of the Founding Parliament who were arrested on April 7.

In a public statement the thirty signatories, operating under the name “Shoushi Special Unit Freedom Fighters Union”, call on their comrades “for whom the future of the homeland and nation is dear, who are not indifferent to the plight of our peacetime heroes, for whom the honor and repute of Armenian fedayees is dear” to participate in the rally.

Sargsyan Hosts EDB Chairman: Bank OK’s US$150 Million North-South Road Credit

April 15, 2015 Armenia, Asia No Comments
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14:32, April 15, 2015

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan today hosted Eurasian Development Bank Board Chairman Dmitry Pankin.

The two discussed preliminary results of EDB’s five years of work in Armenia and key areas for its future operations in the country.

Pankin is heading an EDB delegation to Armenia at the invitation of Armenia’s Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan.

Yesterday, EDB and the Armenian government signed an agreement on the provision of an investment credit from the ACF to finance the construction of the North-South road corridor (Phase 4). The credit totals US $150 million and will be provided for twenty years.

Chairman Pankin said that he appreciated EDB and Armenia’s cooperation in preparing this first large joint infrastructure project. “Financing investment projects in the area of infrastructure is a priority for EDB and the EurAsEC ACF,” said Dmitry Pankin.

IMF Expects Recession In Armenia


The Armenian economy will likely contract by 1 percent this year due to spillover effects of Russia’s economic troubles, the International Monetary Fund has said in a sharp downward revision of its growth projections for Armenia.

“Armenia and Belarus are projected to enter into recession in 2015, and Georgia’s growth will slow. In all three economies, the downward turns reflect spillovers from Russia,” the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook released late on Tuesday.

Mark Horton, the head of an IMF mission visiting Yerevan likewise predicted last week that economic growth in Armenia will be “close to zero” in 2015. He too cited the fallout from the recession in Russia, the South Caucasus state’s leading trading partner and the main source of multimillion-dollar remittances.

A Story with Numbers: Data Journalism Enters the Newsroom

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20:13, April 14, 2015

Pierre Romera, from France, is a web developer and journalist. He’s one the cofounders of Journalism ++, a data journalism website established four years ago. He then worked as a programmer at, the first media outlet in France to employ date journalism. He now teaches data journalism and travels the world to conduct training classes on the subject. Pierre was in Armenia last week.

How did you learn web developing and journalism; working with data?

Israeli Delegation To Attend Armenian Genocide Commemoration

April 15, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments

Two members of the Israeli parliament will reportedly represent Israel at the upcoming commemorations in Yerevan of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

“The Jerusalem Post” reported on Tuesday that the Israeli government asked the Knesset to send a delegation to Armenia after being formally invited by the Armenian authorities to the April 24 ceremonies. It said the Knesset delegation will comprise two members: Anat Berko of the Likud party and Nachman Shai of the Zionist Union alliance.

“This is an event of deep historic significance,” Shai told the paper. “For the first time in 100 years, the international community is finally recognizing the great injustice.”

Opposition Rally To Demand Release Of Jailed Activists

April 14, 2015 Armenia No Comments
Armenian News

The Founding Parliament, a radical Armenian opposition group, will rally supporters in Yerevan on Friday to demand the immediate release of its five leading members arrested last week on what it considers trumped-up charges.

It has also reaffirmed plans to begin a campaign of nonstop street protests against President Serzh Sarkisian on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide to be officially marked on April 24.

Zhirayr Sefilian, the Founding Parliament’s top leader, and his four associates stand accused of planning to exploit the high-profile commemorations to provoke “mass disturbances” in Yerevan. Sefilian’s movement as well as Armenia’s mainstream opposition parties and human rights activists have dismissed these allegations as baseless and politically motivated.

More Funding Secured For Armenian Highway Upgrades


A development bank founded by Russia and Kazakhstan provided the Armenian government on Tuesday with a $150 million loan that will finance the ongoing reconstruction of Armenia’s main highways stretching more than 550 kilometers to neighboring Georgia and Iran. 

The chairman of the Almaty-based Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), Dmitry Pankin, signed a corresponding agreement in Yerevan with Armenian Transport and Communication Minister Gagik Beglarian after talks held with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.

In a statement issued after the signing ceremony, the EDB said the loan repayable in 20 years will finance work on a 20-kilometer highway section encompassing Armenia’s highest mountain pass close to the Iranian border.

US Must Sanction Officials Behind Human Rights Abuses in Azerbaijan, says NGO Open Letter

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18:49, April 14, 2015

Azerbaijani officials linked to human rights abuses should be subject to targeted sanctions by the United States, according to an open letter signed by a group of non-governmental organizations, former diplomats and activists.

Theletter, addressed to US Secretary of State John Kerry and published by Freedom House, calls for concrete measures in place of statements of concern about from Western leaders.

It argues that stronger ties between West and the government of Azerbaijan should only be pursued if the state turns its back on authoritarian practices. It urges Secretary Kerry to impose visa bans and freeze the assets of those responsible for the country’s “deteriorating human rights situation”.

Armenia as Lab Rat? Flu Vaccine Donation Includes Odd List of Obligations

April 14, 2015 Armenia, Technology No Comments
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00:13, April 14, 2015

Marine Martirosyan
Vahe Sarukhanyan

In a follow-up to our article regarding the donation of 60,000 seasonal influenza vaccines to Armenia from the U.S. based Task Force for Global Health, we will now take a look at the details of the memo of understanding between donor and recipient.

These details are interesting and raise a number of issues.

Hetq sent Armenia’s Ministry of Health questions regarding this document and the answers are also subject to scrutiny. In particular, we wanted to know the exact date when Minister of Health Armen Muradyan and Task Force Executive VP Thomas Rosenberger signed the memo. The ministry wrote back that the memo covered a one-time donation and was signed based on a government decision issued on October 30, 2014.

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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/, 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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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.