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Armenian News... A Topalian ... More Soldiers killed
Artsrun Hovhannisyan: Five more Azerbaijani soldiers killed overnight
December 30,2016

18.20 According to the latest information received from Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a spokesman for Armenia’s Ministry of Defense, Azerbaijani armed forces have lost another soldier today. 


This night, we witnessed the logical development of Azerbaijan’s provocation on the border with Armenia. In the result of punitive actions taken by Armenian military units, the enemy had another four losses, Artsrun Hovhannisyan said on Friday. 

“In fact, the enemy’s adventurism of the last two days caused it to lose more than a dozen of soldiers. I want to remind that the Armenian Ministry of Defense has said several times that it has irrefutable evidence of the Azerbaijani attack and losses,” he said. 

Three Armenian soldiers were killed on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, near the village of Chinari in Tavush marz early on Thursday in a firefight while preventing an attempted infiltration by Azerbaijan military units. 

Lieutenant Shavarsh Melikyan, Privates Edgar Narayan and Erik Abovyan died while repelling an Azerbaijani commando raid on their military post in Tavush marz. 

Artsrun Hovhannisyan wrote on his Fecbook page that the firefight erupted at around 10:17 a.m. Armenian army units killed at least seven Azerbaijani soldiers during the fighting that continued until noon. 

The Azerbaijani side was quick to blame the firefight on Armenia instisting that the three Armenian soldiers were killed at the site of their service while the Armenian Ministry of Defense claims to have irrefutable evidence of the Azerbaijani attack.
American Armenians launch online campaign after Azerbaijan sabotage attempt

After the most recent Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes, the American-Armenian community has launched an online campaign, in an attempt to express their views on these clashes to the American officials and politicians, informed Voice of America Armenian service. 

Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), appealed to the Armenian diaspora. He recalled that the latest Azerbaijani attack took place during the New Year and Christmas holidays, which are important for Christians. 

Hamparian urged American Armenians to join the online campaign. He said that they, as the Armenian diaspora, do their job, and contact their authorities so that the latter criticize and investigate the actions of Azerbaijan. 

The ANCA official called on the Armenians living in the US to contact—via social networking sites—the representatives of the American executive and legislative branches of power as well as the leadership of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, and to inform them of their stand. He added that they can even contact US President-elect Donald Trump, on Twitter. 

According to this representative of the American-Armenian community, they are trying to make sure that the attack against the Armenian side will cost dear to Azerbaijan, in terms of its international standing. 

Vestnik Kavkaza
Armenia: Turbulent 2016
Dec 29

Mikhail Belyaev, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza 

Past year was very difficult, stressful and full of tragic events for the entire world. With bloody battles in Syria and Iraq, a wave of terrorist attacks in Europe and Turkey, resonant assasination of Russian Ambassador in Ankara and the collapse of Russian Tu-154 plane, which headed to Syria, political developments in the South Caucasus are now in the background.

Meanwhile, back in April of this year two countries of this turbulent region, Armenia and Azerbaijan, appeared on the headlines of leading media. After all, as it usually happens, politicians, experts and journalists of major powers remember about particular region only after something "explodes" in it. The same happened with Afghanistan before Iraq. The same happened with Iraq before the Arab Spring. The same happened with Ukraine before the war in Syria reached its peak.

In April of 2016 something exploded in Karabakh. Fortunately for Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples, as well as for Russia, a fire that broke out was quickly extinguished - Moscow has once again demonstrated that it is the only player that has the opportunity to influence both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Heads of General Staffs Armenia and Azerbaijan discussed the conditions of cease-fire in the Russian capital. Four-day clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis resulted in hundreds of casualties on both sides. As a result, Azerbaijan seized several strategic heights and, according to various estimates, from 8 (Armenian data) to 20 (Azerbaijani data) square kilometers of land. "Ohanyan Line" was broken by Azerbaijanis, and was Ohanyan himself was fired after that.

There was hope that after April, international community will try to find resolution of the conflict more actively, but the peace process has not moved at all since then. During the council of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Hamburg mediators could not even agree on a meeting between Foreign Ministers Mammadyarov and Nalbandian . Perhaps world powers' priorities are just different: Number of people are dying in clashes and under bombs in Syria and Iraq every day is the same as in the course of four-day clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In addition, there is a huge geopolitical fight there, while so far West left the South Caucasus. However, there is another truth: it is easier to prevent war in advance than to stop after it has reached Syrian scale. But this fact is usually remembered only after military operations are already under way. Sometimes it seems that crisis managers of the planet are guided by the logic of "don't put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Armenia has dramatically changed after April. Armenian military leadership was replaced almost entirely as soon as gunshots in Karabakh stopped - Deputy Defense Minister Mirzabekyan, chief of Signal Corps Muradyan, head of military intelligence Karapetyan were dismissed. Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan was dismissed in September. Perhaps, this decision was made not because of a failure on the Karabakh front, but because of domestic and foreign policy reasons. The possibility that Seyran Ohanyan will return to politics is being discussed more and more often in Armenia. Since then Armenian army has received new weapons under preferential loan, provided by Russia. Russian soldiers rolled out Iskander complexes during the military parade in Yerevan - though no one has clarified the issue of whether they Russian or Armenian so far. In any case, it is highly unlikely that they will be used in the Karabakh war - unless a new war on even larger scale will break out.

Certain hopes in Armenian society were caused by the appointment of Karen Karapetyan as Prime Minister in September - he is kinda non-party technocrat from Gazprom, whose task is to improve the state machine, which fails more and more often. Trust in new people in the government was so great that citizens were even willing to forgive the new Minister of Health from Levon Karapetyan's team for his poor Armenian language - he just has to do a great work. Will Karen Karapetyan and his team be able to change this system, part of which they have, is a difficult question, it's too early to judge. But Karapetyan joined party pretty fast - in late November newly appointed Prime Minister announced his intention to join the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), which easily accepted new candidate. It wasn't the most popular step of his, but perhaps it was necessary for political reasons. It can be assumed that Karapetyan received a carte blanche from leadership of the country for the implementation of certain measures to improve social situation of the population, and these actions shouldn't go into his personal political bank, but rather help to raise RPA's rating. But will RPA's tarnished reputation sink Karapetyan or not? For example, as Prime Minister from the Republican Party he is directly responsible for an extremely unpopular measure, adopted recently - 1000 drams were taken from salaries to provide assistance to wounded soldiers or families of dead soldiers. This law caused outrage among many citizens - it's not that Armenians lack patriotism. The problem lies in the fact that people don't believe that corrupt officials won't take money for themselves. There is already a negative example of absolutely non-transparent activities of similar army assisting fund "Martik".

The time of pre-election intrigue has come in Armenia. Oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan announced his return to Armenian politics. President Serzh Sargyan called him a force of evil" in February of 2015. Chairman of Prosperous Armenia party Naira Zograbyan promised that Tsarukyan will return to politics as oppositioner, but people don't really believe her: Oligarch can't be a part of the opposition in Armenian political realities. It is also noteworthy that Eduard Sharmazanov, vice-speaker of the Armenian parliament from the RPA, began to talk about Tsarukyan in a conciliatory tone. The same thing happened with the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan, many were surprised when Sharmazanov called him "smart and serious politician." On this background, there are rumors in Yerevan that Tsarukyan and Ter-Petrosyan will help Sargsyan during future elections to the Armenian parliament, shattering opposition electorate and thus allowing RPA to keep power.

There is also a non-systemic opposition, which should not be forgotten. Armed raid of Sasna Tsrer group (Daredevils of Sassoun) and subsequent capture of police station by its members in Erebuni district of Yerevan showed a dangerous tendency in the Armenian society, which reacted pretty positively on the actions of armed men - the tendency of population to justify political extremism for the sake of changing unpopular government. Mass rallies in support of this group showed this, and MP from Heritage party Zarui Postanjyan is still trying to promote the idea of a constitutional "right to revolt." Serzh Sargsyan's government initially made a bet on strength and violently dispersed a spontaneous meeting, but later it decided to act more carefully and show restraint by simply isolating the area. Precise shots by snipers, starvation and exhaustion made Daredevils of Sassoun surrendered.

Saying that 2016 was a successful year for Armenia would be an exaggeration. The fact that there is a stability in the country is a positive thing without a doubt, since it leaves the possibility of theoretical reforms and improvement of economic growth. But the growth wasn't that good in 2016 - instead of expected 2.2%, GDP grew by only 0.5%. National debt of the country grew by 4%, and the ratio of total debt to GDP amounts to 54%. According to the Ministry of Finance of Armenia it is a controllable level. By contrast, Russia's ratio is 15.1%, Azerbaijan's is 20.1% and Kazakhstan's is 24%.

Urgent problems the country is are still unresolved. The demographic situation in Armenia, where the fertility rate is 1.6 children - which means that the population is not reproducing itself - remains problematic. Another negative factor is the outflow of working young people to other countries, which also changes the demographic structure of the country. According to opinion polls, about 44% of surveyed families associate unwillingness to have a second child with a difficult socio-economic situation in the country or even plans to leave the country. In 2016 the population of Armenia amounted to less than 3 million people for the first time in 40 years.

Karabakh conflict also did not find a solution that meets the interests of Armenia - Armenian diplomacy was unable to get closer to its cherished goal of international recognition of Nagorno Karabakh as an independent state. Leading countries of the world did not change their position, while Armenia itself once again did not dare to adopt resolution on recognition of the so-called Nagorno Karabakh Republic, although such plans have been repeatedly voiced since April. It is obvious that it is impossible to demand others to do what you can't do yourself - in this sense, Armenian diplomacy is in a deadlock.
Alexis Ohanian thanks Armenians for their best wishes on his marriage proposal to Serena Williams
December 30

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially for the tennis superstar Serena Williams. Her beloved boyfriend Alexis Ohanian, American-Armenian internet entrepreneur, Reddit social news website co-founder, Alexis Ohanian has made a marriage proposal, and she said “yes” to him.

“I came home, a little late. Someone had a bag packed for me. And a carriage awaited. Destination: Rome. To escort me to my very own "charming", back to where our stars first collided. And now it was full circle. At the same table we first met by chance. This time he made it not by chance but by choice. Down on one knee he said 4 words and I said yes”,- Women’s Tennis Association world No. 2 and 22 Grand Slam singles titleholder Serena posted on Reddit.

After the proposal Twitter users has started to discuss and congratulate the happy couple. Alexis has thanked everyone, especially his Armenian sisters and brothers.
Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan takes breath away with sublime moment
Daniel Harris 

Life is sustained not just by what it is but by what it might be; if we weren’t continually hoping for better, how could we carry on? And the tease works just as well when watching sport, a generally disappointing activity that costs time, money, energy and patience. We keep coming back, though, mainly because that’s what we do, but also because it gives us a shot at seeing the most incredible earthly event on any given day. Your sunrises, your sunsets and your newborns are all very nice, but at its best, sport is the best, and yesterday that meant your Henrikh Mkhitaryans.

A particular joy of football is the infinite number of ways there are to get the spherical thing into the rectangular thing. Even so, most brilliant goals are riffs on eternal themes, but every so often we get a Roberto Carlos against France or a Ronaldinho against Chelsea , recalibrating reality to remind us that we haven’t seen it all.

And it reflects not just skill but character. After joining Manchester United in the summer, Mkhitaryan began the season as a substitute, a move which seemed to reflect little more than United’s comparative strength in wide attackers – and away to Hull City, he still catalysed an onslaught that brought a n injury-time winner .

Next came the Manchester derby, a match which Mkhitaryan started though he’d picked up a knock playing for Armenia while, on the opposite wing, Jesse Lingard, returned after a month out. Remarkably, both were off the pace, subbed and criticised afterwards; curiously, José Mourinho was less loquacious in explaining how either were meant to get the ball given the midfield mismatch that was Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba against Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva as City won the match 2-1 . But the blame was set. Lingard vanished for two weeks and Mkhitaryan for two months, deemed ill-prepared for the harum-scarum of the English game.

This is not unusual, there was just little reason to expect it in this instance. Mkhitaryan grew up in Armenia, played for two teams in Donetsk, and then moved to Borussia Dortmund; we can probably assume that he has a solid grasp of cold, rain and grime. Moreover, he arrived at the top of his game and in his physical prime, which made Hull look a more telling cameo than City.

While he acclimatised, United floundered, dominating some games, disappearing in others, and struggling to score in nearly all of them. Apparently, a man directly involved in 49 goals the previous season had nothing to offer against Stoke City and Burnley, omitted in favour of Memphis Depay. Or, put another way, Mourinho’s policy of antidisestablishmkhitaryanism didn’t sit right, reminiscent of earlier problems with Arjen Robben, De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

Then, at the start of November, Mkhitaryan appeared off the bench away to Fenerbahce , but despite the uniform awfulness of United’s performance, he was left out of the next two games, by which time he had played just 134 minutes of a possible 1,710. For a man who arrived as the Bundesliga player of the year, the frustration of peak months wasted cannot have been easy to take.

Eventually, though, Mourinho was convinced – coincidentally, at a time when he had run out of alternatives and was desperate for a win. So Mkhitaryan started at home to Feyenoord and was superb; it was almost as though he could have made a difference all along, not that Mourinho had calculated precisely the right moment to unleash him.

Still, he was left on the bench for United’s home Premier League draw with West Ham , returning to the starting XI for the EFL Cup tie against the same opposition. It took him all of two minutes to backheel Zlatan Ibrahimovic through for the opening goal in a 4-1 victory , and then, after a patchy but largely impressive display against Everton, he saw off Zorya in the Europa League and Tottenham with a pair of dazzling finishes, before getting injured again.

Returning against Sunderland, Mkhitaryan was introduced after an hour and almost immediately, broke with the ball in the inside-right position. Allowing it across his body as he moved towards goal, at the very last second and when it no longer looked possible, suddenly it was gliding back the other way to put Ibrahimovic in; this time, he missed. The pass, though, with its delay and disguise, encapsulated Mkhitaryan.

So it was that with four minutes to go, Ibrahimovic pulled on to the right wing and Mkhitaryan bustled into the middle. Uncharacteristically, he was ahead of the play as the cross came in – “offside”, some have said – but before the ball arrived, he somehow decided what to do, adjusted his feet, inclined his body and dived forwards as it passed behind him, flinging a leg over his back to place a finish into the far corner with the outside of his right heel! It is hard enough to describe, never mind execute.

In England, the moment of celebration is different to elsewhere, the squeak of “Yes!” not as primal, guttural and full as the roar of “Gol!” But presented with something it had never seen before, Old Trafford produced something closer to the latter, a collective “Ohhhhh!” of belief and disbelief, of ecstasy and community. It was the sound of a better life.

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