Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Alexander Lapshin jailed for three years

Agence France Presse
July 20, 2017 Thursday 12:21 PM GMT
Azerbaijan jails Russian-Israeli blogger for three years

Azerbaijan on Thursday sentenced a Russian-Israeli travel blogger who
wrote in support of Armenian separatists to three years in jail for
visiting the disputed territory of Nagorny Karabakh.

Alexander Lapshin -- who also has Ukrainian citizenship -- was put on
trial after he was arrested in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2016
and extradited to Azerbaijan in February.

Lapshin was found guilty of illegally crossing tightly controlled
Azerbaijan's state border by visiting the territory of Nagorny
Karabakh in 2011 and 2012. He was acquitted of a second charge of
making public statements against the country.

Nagorny Karabakh has been under Armenian control since it was seized
during a bloody conflict in the early 1990s after the break-up of the
Soviet Union.

The territory is still internationally recognised as part of
Azerbaijan and visiting it without Baku's permission is a criminal
offence in the country.

In court Lapshin told the judge that he felt a "moral, not a criminal
guilt" and apologised for writing blogs advocating for Nagorny
Karabakh to be split officially from Azerbaijan.

The sentence makes Lapshin the first foreigner to be jailed in
Azerbaijan for visiting Nagorny Karabakh.

Amnesty International has previously condemned the detention of
Lapshin -- who mainly wrote about his experiences travelling the globe
-- and called for his immediate release.

Azerbaijan and Armenia remain locked in a bitter dispute over Nagorny
Karabakh, with frequent exchanges of fire along the volatile frontline
nearly spiralling back into all-out war last year.

The two sides have never signed a definitive peace deal and attempts
to negotiate a final settlement have long been stalled.

Azerbaijan has been under the authoritarian rule of President Ilham
Aliyev since he rose to power after the death of his father Heydar.

The oil-rich country has repeatedly been accused by rights groups of
using spurious charges to crack down on dissent against Aliyev's

Interfax - Russia & CIS Military Newswire
July 20, 2017 Thursday 3:26 PM MSK
Aliyev declares Karabakh, Armenia 'historical Azeri lands'

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called on the public and media
of the country to intensify their efforts to communicate to the global
community Baku's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Not only Nagorno-Karabakh, but also today's territory of Armenia are
historical Azeri lands. One cannot compare the weak Armenia to the
strong Azerbaijan. Our only weak point was the mass media," Aliyev
said on Thursday.

He called on the Azeri state structures, public organizations and the
mass media to intensify the work on reporting on Baku's position on
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "It is necessary to have unified
policies on this matter and these policies should be reinforced," the
president said. 

Armenpress News Agency, Armenia
July 20, 2017 Thursday
Armenian government ratifies joint military detachment deal with Russia

The Armenian government approved the law on ratifying the agreement 

between Armenia and Russia on forming a joint detachment of troops.

Russia’s Federation Council (upper house) ratified the agreement on July 19.

Earlier on July 14, the country’s State Duma (lower house) had
ratified the deal.

The agreement was signed on November 30, 2016 in Moscow. It defines
the rules and regulations of forming and deploying the troops. Issues
related to information exchange and technical matters are also
regulated under the deal.

“The detachment is formed in the Caucasian region of the Collective
Security, with the purpose of timely discovery of military offensive
preparations, to carry out control of the common land borders, as well
as participate in the air, radio-electronic and information
infrastructure defense”, the State Duma said in a statement.

The staff of the detachment will be defined by the ministries of
defense of Armenia and Russia, based on the joint analysis of the
military-political situation, and agreement on taking into account the
possible threat directions and deployment of the detachment. 

Public Radio of Armenia
July 21 2017
Matenadaran becomes a foundation
Armenia’s Government adopted a decision on Thursday to reorganize Mesrop Mashtots Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) into a foundation. This shift is supposed to create more favorable conditions for the implementation of Matenadaran’s development programs.

The change of the status is aimed at boosting the efficiency of the management of Matenadaran attracting investments from different sources, including from the Diaspora. 

News.am, Armenia
July 21 2017
Professor: Karabakh’s Gandzasar Monastery will mark 777th anniversary 

YEREVAN. - The upcoming Sunday will mark the 777 th anniversary since the consecration of Gandzasar Monastery of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Director of the Institute of Literature, Professor Vardan Devrikyan told the aforementioned to journalists on Friday.

According to the professor, the Gadzasar Monastery was built in honor of Gregory the Illuminator.

“On the day of Vardavar, festivities are held in all the churches dedicated to Gregory the Illumiator,” Devrikyan said.

Director of the Institute told journalists that in the years of Karabakh War Vardavar was celebrated in Karabakh, particularly in Gandzasar.

“In 1990-1994, I celebrated all the Vardavar holidays in Nagorno-Karabakh. They reflected to the fullest the reality and the state of mind, which dominated there,” Devrikyan said.

ARKA, Armenia
July 20 2017
Armenia’s economic activity index rises 6.1% in Jan-June 2017 

YEREVAN, July 20. /ARKA/. Armenia's economic activity index for Jan-June 2017 rose 6.1%, compared with that of the same period a year earlier, the National Statistical Service reported on Thursday.

The economic activity growth has been ensured by three segments of the national economy – industry, trade and services.

The country's industrial output amounted to AMD 760.3 billion in Jan-June 2017 accounting for a 12.4% year-on-year growth, services totaled AMD 648.7 billion with a 10.9% growth and domestic trade turnover grew 12.6% to AMD 1 121.7 billion.

Instead, the construction sector, with its AMD 11.7 billion in Jan-June 2017, faced a 10% year-on-year decline, and agriculture, with its AMD 247.1 billion, accounted for a 1.4% gross product decline.

Inflation was recorded at 0.5% in Jan-June 2017.

Armenia's foreign trade amounted to about $2 815.1 million in Jan-June 2017 with a 24% year-on-year growth.

In the government budget for 2017, economic growth is projected at 3.2%. ($1 – AMD 478.54). -

Banks.am / MediaMax, Armenia
July 21 2017
Armenian women make business with EBRD’s help

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) operates the Women in Business programme for several years now, providing financial and consulting support to women-led small and medium enterprises.
Armenian female entrepreneurs also receive help from the European Union and Swedish Government along with women in 26 countries where the programme is applied. Banks.am presents success stories of two beneficiaries of the Women in Business programme.

Nutritionist Vardanush Petrosyan opened the café Ingredient in 2014 to promote the idea of healthy food. The menu is very different from those in other cafés: Ingredient doesn’t use artificial additives, fried products, white flour, sugar, and processed food.

Participation in EBRD’s course for women entrepreneurs in 2015 gave Vardanush Petrosyan new business skills and she prepared a plan to advance her newly-founded café.

“We were offered an IT consultation in the end of the course. After that, we decided to make a website with co-financing of EUR 5000 from EBRD. We created ingredient.am , where you can find the café menu and our recommendations for healthy nutrition, order our food online,” Vardanush Petrosyan said.

According to her, the number of visitors and online orders increased after they launched the website. Last year Vardanush Petrosyan applied for another co-financed initiative with EBRD, this time to improve management of human and financial resources at the café.

Sisters Inga and Elen Manukyan are also among the women entrepreneurs who applied for EBRD’s help to develop their business. In 2014, Inga and Elen founded a clothing production named LOOM Weaving. Inga designs the clothes and oversees the production, while Elen deals with organizational issues and management.

The sisters mostly focus on design and production of woolen clothes for women and men. Women in Business programme was a welcome supporter for the small business in 2015.

“We took the course for female entrepreneurs. Once we completed it, we created LOOM Weaving’s brand, first catalog, and professional photo album with con-financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and our sales increased,” said clothing designer Inga Manukyan.

Now they sell their production at the shop 5 Concept that features five Armenian clothing producers.

The Manukyan sisters told that their cooperation with EBRD didn’t end with the co-financed brand. They also requested co-financing for software for sales and production management.

July 20 2017
The story of a Turkish intellectual’s escape from prison

The Turkish Twitter-sphere went abuzz July 14 with a post that read, "The bird has flown away . Wishing the same for the remaining 80 million." The tweet belonged to ethnic Armenian linguist and writer Sevan Nisanyan, who had been behind bars since January 2014. True to his flamboyant style, Nisanyan had chosen Twitter to announce he had escaped from prison and was a free person again.


After years of controversy and trials, Armenian intellectual Sevan Nisanyan dropped a bombshell on Twitter, announcing his escape from a prison in Turkey.
Author: Sibel Hurtas
Posted July 20, 2017
Translator: Sibel Utku Bila


For years, Nisanyan stood out as a colorful individual on Turkey's intellectual scene. A Yale and Columbia University alumnus, he is the author of a prominent etymological dictionary and travel guides, but the book that made him a truly controversial figure was the "Wrong Republic," which questioned taboos about the Turkish Republic and its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, infuriating secular and nationalist Turks. With his blunt criticism of religion , he also drew the wrath of pious Turks as well.

The chain of events that led to his imprisonment began in 1995, when Nisanyan relocated to the picturesque village of Sirince , near Turkey's Aegean coast. Sirince was in a state of decay, and Nisanyan began renovating its traditional houses, converting them into stylish hostels known as "pensions."

Thanks to Nisanyan's efforts, Sirince soon became a popular tourist destination. Yet, there was a problem. The place was a protected area — off-limits to construction — which meant that Nisanyan had engaged in illegal construction activity. His transgression, however, had more to do with the cumbersome Turkish bureaucracy. After the village was declared a protected area in 1987, the authorities were supposed to revise the area's zoning plan within a year, which they failed to do. A stone's throw from the magnificent Ephesus, one of Turkey's top historical sites, the village fell into a state of disrepair. Exasperated from petitioning the authorities for the new zoning plan, Nisanyan decided to go ahead anyway. In the meantime, he had begun to produce his controversial writings, which, quite tellingly, coincided with a series of demolition orders for the pensions. In one interview , Nisanyan said his troubles began after he became a columnist for the Taraf daily in 2009. "Twenty-three demolition decisions followed in 2010," he said.

In an illegal construction haven such as Turkey, the authorities' sternness vis-a-vis Nisanyan and the trials that followed were quite unusual. The most striking example is perhaps President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's gigantic palace , which was erected on a protected area despite a court ruling that had ordered the construction to stop. After the 2014 ruling, Erdogan challenged the court with a memorable comment: "Let them demolish it if they can."

Nisanyan, too, refused to heed the demolition orders. In a further act of defiance, he erected a tower to "proclaim his own republic." When word came that the authorities would carry out the demolitions, he said "only over my dead body" and sent out invitations for his own "funeral" to draw public attention to the controversy. Sirince eventually remained intact, but Nisanyan landed behind bars on Jan. 2, 2014, after one of his convictions was upheld.

Before going to prison, he gave an interview to a magazine, for which he posed in a bathtub, holding a glass of wine. "The state cannot ruin my spirits, even if I have to serve another 8½ years in jail," he said.

Myriad campaigns were organized for Nisanyan's release, including one involving prominent Turkish mathematician Ali Nesin, who had set up a unique Mathematics Village in Sirince. Nesin, too, faced an investigation on charges of illegal construction, which demonstrates how the judicial stick is being used against intellectuals in Turkey.

While in prison, Nisanyan was convicted in a number of other cases. Keeping track of his trials and jail terms has become quite difficult. According to Nisanyan, the upheld convictions totaled close to 18 years, which, under procedural rules, meant he would spend 6½ years in jail — that is, if no other convictions followed.

Nisanyan was put in an open prison, where inmates are allowed to leave the jail premises on certain days. Nisanyan used this right to escape. He simply did not return to prison this time. Following his Twitter post July 14, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag hurriedly made a statement that an arrest order had been issued for the escapee. Prison officials, meanwhile, faced disciplinary procedures.

Nesin describes his friend as a polyglot who speaks fluent English, French and German, in addition to having skills in Arabic and Latin, not to mention his "terrific" command of the Turkish language and its etymology. Nisanyan's whereabouts remain unknown, but this outstanding intellectual is believed to be no longer in Turkey.

While Nisanyan was escaping, six leading human rights defenders — Idil Eser, Gunal Kursun, Veli Acu, Ozlem Dalkiran, Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharawi — were rounded up after police raided their training seminar on an Istanbul island without any legal justification. The activists have now joined other prominent colleagues in Turkish prisons, where about 170 journalists as well as parliament members and writers are also languishing — victims of Ankara's massive crackdown on dissent since last year's coup attempt. Hundreds of academics, meanwhile, are grappling with trials, in addition to their expulsions from universities. Those who remain free live under the constant threat of judicial action.

This brings us back to Nisanyan's tweet, in which he seemed to liken all of Turkey to a prison, wishing freedom for all his compatriots. Referring to the clamor his message provoked, he later tweeted , "I guess I put the feelings of the [whole] country into words. Eighty million dream of fleeing the madhouse in which they are locked up."

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