Thursday, 12 July 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... CEO accused of embezzling...

RFE/RL Report
CEO Of Diaspora-Funded Charity Quits Amid Corruption Probe
July 09, 2018

The executive director of a pan-Armenian charity headquartered in Yerevan tendered his resignation on Monday one week after being accused of embezzling 
its funds.

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) arrested Ara Vartanian, who has managed the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund for the last ten years, on July 3. It said that he admitted using money mostly donated by the Armenian Diaspora for online gambling and other “personal purposes.”

“In the past week alone, Vartanian transferred about 14 million drams ($29,000) from a bank card of the fund to online casinos,” read an NSS statement. “That amount totaled about 130 million drams in the period from 2016 to 2018.”

A court in Yerevan agreed to free Vartanian on bail on July 5. The NSS did not object to the court’s decision. A lawyer for Vartanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service ( that his client denies the accusations of embezzlement and abuse of power levelled against him.

Nevertheless, Vartanian submitted a letter of resignation to President Armen Sarkissian when he was received by the latter on Monday. Sarkissian is the chairman of Hayastan’s Board of Trustees.

The board also comprises Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, other senior Armenian state officials, Catholicos Garegin II as well as prominent members of Armenian communities around the world. It will almost certainly accept Vartanian’s resignation.

Hayastan has implemented over $350 million worth of mainly infrastructure projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh since being set up in 1992. In recent years the fund has partly financed, among other things, the construction of a second highway connecting Karabakh to Armenia. The 116-kilometer-long road was 
inaugurated last year.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Court Issues Arrest Warrant For Ex-President’s Brother
July 07, 2018

A court in Armenia has issued an arrest warrant for former president Serzh Sarkisian’s brother, Levon, who is being prosecuted on charges of illegal enrichment.

Sarkisian and his two children have been under investigation after law-enforcement authorities discovered nearly $7 million held by them in an 
Armenian bank.

The State Revenue Committee (SRC) launched criminal proceedings against them on June 29 shortly after announcing that a company linked to Levon Sarkisian had been fined 800 million drams ($1.7 million) for tax evasion.

The SRC said that while searching Sarkisian’s home its investigators found documents showing that he, his son Narek and daughter Ani deposited a total of $6.8 million in the unnamed bank “in the second half of 2017.” It said that the ex-president’s youngest brother and Ani Sarkisian failed to disclose these sums to a state anti-corruption body while Narek did not file any income 
declarations at all.

Under Armenian law, such declarations are mandatory for high-ranking state officials and their family members. This legal requirement applies to Levon Sarkisian because he has long worked as ambassador-at-large at the Armenian Foreign Ministry.

The Special Investigative Service (SIS) said on Saturday that as part of the criminal case on hiding property in declarations and illegal enrichment an investigator has decided to bring charges against the Sarkisians.

Levon Sarkisian and his daughter Ani are charged under penal code articles dealing with “Illegal participation in entrepreneurial activity” and “official forgery”, while Sarkisian’s son Narek is charged under an article dealing with “Illegal participation in entrepreneurial activity”.

“On July 6 the SIS requested that the court choose arrest as a measure of restraint against Levon Sarkisian and the court granted the request the same day. A search has been announced for Lyova (Levon) and Ani Sarkisians. A 
written undertaking confining Ani and Narek Sarkisians to country limits has been chosen as a measure of restraint against the two. Investigation is ongoing,” the SIS statement reads.

Earlier this week Armenia’s law-enforcement agencies named two sons of the ex-president’s other brother, Aleksandr Sarkisian, Hayk and Narek, as suspects in separate criminal investigations concerning an attempted murder, theft and illegal possession of weapons and drugs. Narek Sarkisian was put on the 
police’s wanted list, while Hayk was released after interrogation pending investigation.

The decisions were made after a search that was conducted at the Yerevan apartment of Aleksandr Sarkisian, who is better known to the public as “Sashik”.

The 62-year-old controversial brother of the former president is thought to have made a big fortune in the past two decades. Unconfirmed reports in the Armenian press have said that he spent millions of dollars buying real estate in Europe and the United States.

A video of the search at Aleksandr Sarkisian’s apartment released by the National Security Service (NSS) on July 5 showed large sums of money, expensive watches and artworks, numerous gold coins, and pieces of jewelry found there. The NSS said the legality of the items is being checked as part of a criminal investigation.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service ( on Friday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian denied the “political” nature of the cases against 
Sarkisian family members, saying that they are being pursued on their legal merits.

Pashinian came to power two months ago following weeks of peaceful protests that forced Sarkisian, who had served for 10 years as president, to resign within less than a week after moving to a newly empowered post of prime minister in mid-April.

Pashinian declared a crackdown on corruption after being elected prime minister on May 8.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian, Azeri FMs To Meet On June 11
July 09, 2018

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss ways of reviving the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, it 
was announced on Monday.

It will be the first face-to-face meeting of Azerbaijani Foreign Elmar Mammadyarov and his recently appointed Armenian counterpart, Zohrab Mnatsakanian.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said on its Twitter page that the talks will be held at the initiative of the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group.

The mediators indicated their intention to organize such talks when they visited Yerevan in mid-June. It was their first trip to Armenia since the recent change of the country’s government resulting from mass protests. In a 
statement, they said Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and other Armenian leaders expressed their “willingness to continue working productively under the auspices of the Co-Chairs.”

Pashinian has repeatedly called for Karabakh representatives’ direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. He has said that he has no 
mandate to “negotiate on behalf of the Karabakh people.”

Mammadyarov and other Azerbaijani officials have criticized those statements, saying that Baku will not directly negotiate with the “separatist regime” in 
Karabakh. “The upcoming meeting will show whether Armenia is at last ready to play a constructive role in the conflict’s resolution,” Mammadyarov said on Monday.

Pashinian has yet to publicly clarify his view on a framework peace accord that has been advanced by United States, Russia and France for more than a decade. 
It calls for a phased settlement that would start with the liberation of virtually all seven districts around Karabakh which were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war. In return, 
Karabakh’s predominantly ethnic Armenian population would eventually determine the territory’s internationally recognized status in a referendum.

Former President Serzh Sarkisian’s government said all along that this compromise peace formula is largely acceptable to Yerevan.

Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pledged to revive the stalled peace process at their last face-to-face meeting held in Geneva in October 2017. Their foreign ministers held what they described as “positive” follow-up talks in December and January. The mediators said in February that the two sides have pledged to “continue intensive negotiations” after forthcoming 
electoral processes in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

NowThis News
July 9 2018
Women Clear Landmines In Armenia To Promote Peace And Stability

 Women are detonating landmines in Armenia to support themselves and their community — and are now the subject of a documentary called “Forgotten Fields.”

The job is normally dominated by men in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is east of the capitalof Armenia and of one of the worst landmine areas in the world. Nearly 400 civilians have died because of the landmines that have been buried for more than 20 years, since the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

“About two years ago, they started letting women become demines,” explained the documentary’s director Emily Mkrtichian. “They spend days basically inch-by-inch, piece-by-piece, going over these minefields and finding explosives, digging them out of the ground, and exploding them so that they don’t harm any civilians.” 
The documentary features two of the deminers who have left their husbands and now work to support their families, and its filmmakers are trying to raise $25,000 on GoFundMe in order to finish their work. 

“I think post-conflict zones around the world are places where women end up shouldering a lot of the responsibility of rebuilding a country, or working toward peace and stability,” said Mkrtichian. “And yet, they face the most violence, they face the most discrimination. So, as they shoulder this burden, they are the most vulnerable population.”

Panorama, Armenia
July 9 2018
Air temperature to reach 42 °C over the coming days in Yerevan

No precipitation is predicted in the territory of Armenia in the daytime of July 10-12. After the daytime of 13-14 in north regions rain and thunderstorm is predicted, “Hydromet” meteorological service at Armenia’s ministry of emergency situations reported.

South-west wind speed is 3-8 m/s, on 13-14 in separate regions wind speed may reach up to 15-20 m/s. In the daytime of July 9, on 10-12 the air temperature will gradually increase by 4-5 degrees, then on 13-14 it will decrease as much.

According to the report, the index of ultraviolet rays is predicted to reach 7, so it's recommended to avoid direct sun rays during the period from 11:00 to 15:00.

In the daytime of July 9, on 10-12 no precipitation is predicted in capital Yerevan. In the evening hours of July 13-14 in different spots of the city short rain and thunderstorm is predicted. Wind speed may reach up to 15-20 m/s.  The air temperature will reach 42 °C over the coming days. 

ArmenPress, Armenia
July 6 2018
Armenian Church dismisses claims surrounding Holy Lance

The Holy Lance of Etchmiatsin is complete, it hasn’t been compromised in any way, says Father Asoghik Karapetyan – head of the Mother See’s archive and museums.

He said that a tiny relic from inside the socket of the lance was dedicated in 2004 to Russian Patriarch Alexy II on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The relic was placed inside a small silver copy, which the late Alexy II blessed and placed in a monastery outside St. Petersburg.

Father Karapetyan’s comments come after a group of protesters who are demanding the resignation of Catholicos Garegin II claimed that allegedly the church has given a part of the Holy Lance to a Russian mayor as a gift.

Speaking to reporters at the Mother See, Father Karapetyan displayed the Holy Lance. “It has been kept here from the 60s of the 18th century under the special supervision of the Catholicoi,” he said.

He said that the Holy Lance has two special seals which have been done by 19th century Catholicoi Davit V and Daniel I to differentiate it from an 18th century copy which was prepared for security concerns.

The Holy Lance is displayed only on special occasions, he said. However, the Catholicos has granted a unique chance to view the Holy Lance tomorrow at 11:00 in the Mother See.

Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan, Armenia
July 6 2018
No agreement over British mine reached in Armenia after premier's visit

Protesters and a gold developer have failed to reach any agreement on the operation of the Amulsar gold mine in Armenia's Vayots Dzor Region after the country's prime minister visited the controversial site, Armenian media reported on 6 July.

The gold mine is managed by Lydian Armenia company owned by the UK's Lydian International. Local residents and activists have been blocking the roads leading to the gold mine for 13 days now, demanding a permanent halt to all construction and mining operations there. They said that the mine posed a serious threat to the local environment and farmers' life in nearby villages. Lydian argues that it will use advanced technology to prevent any damage to the environment. Armenian environmental protection groups are highlighting the gold deposit's proximity to the town of Jermuk, Armenia's most famous mineral water and spa resort.
Possible negative impact

At a meeting with the protesters and company representatives in Jermuk, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that a "reliable mechanism" should be created to find out whether the mine could have a negative impact on the water and the resort town of Jermuk, said.

Pashinyan said he had no "interest" in the Amulsar gold mine and was only guided by Armenia's interests. Pashinyan, who became prime minister on 8 May, said that the process had started long ago "with the de jure consent and permission" of the Armenianauthorities, and much money had already been spent on it. He said there was no information about any procedural norms having been violated so far, the website said.

Pashinyan also said that "if all the processes had taken place under our government, I would not have liked this kind of a mine to be situated near Jermuk".

'Big trials'
Pashinyan said, however, that there was a "de jure situation" and Armenia could face problems if any "illegalities" took place at least from the point of view of international relations.

"I also want to say the following - in my capacity as prime minister I have been told that theoretically there can be the hypothesis that the meaning of this whole story is to create a situation to draw Armenia into big trials," Pashinyan was quoted as saying.

Pashinyan asked Lydian Armenia representatives if this was the case with the appointment of the new director but received a negative reply, said.
No concessions

Pashinyan asked the protesters and the company representatives if they agreed to his proposal of an expert examination, in addition to those conducted by Lydian and other expert centres, to understand the possible negative impact on the water, said.
The prime minister asked them if they were ready "to give time to the state".

The protesters said they agreed if work at the mine was suspended. However, Lydian Armenia's executive director Hayk Aloyan said it was not possible because the company would incur losses. The parties failed to reach any agreement, the website said.

Pashinyan left saying that the government would discuss the issue and announce its stance in the very near future. After his departure, the protesters said there would be no concessions and they would fight till the end, said.

Interfax - Russia & CIS General Newswire
July 6, 2018 Friday 7:43 PM MSK
Yerevan determined to develop dialogue with London - Foreign Ministry

Armenia is committed to continuing and broadening its relations with the United Kingdom, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said.

"Armenia is committed to continuing and broadening its relations and dialogue with the United Kingdom with the purpose of achieving more tangible results. The Armenian-British relationship has seen positive
dynamism of late," Mnatsakanyan said at a meeting with Permanent Under-Secretary at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office Simon McDonald in Yerevan on Friday.

Mnatsakanyan said the new Armenian government is committed to
continuing reforms and sees support from its partners as important,
the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.

McDonald said it is a perfect time now for visiting Armenia to receive first-hand information on the developments in the country and discuss ways to broaden the bilateral agenda.

Mnatsakanyan and McDonald discussed the Armenian-EU Comprehensive andEnhanced Partnership Agreement, the situation in Syria, and the
Iranian nuclear program.

Speaking about a settlement process in Nagorno-Karabakh, Mnatsakanyan said Nagorno-Karabakh's status and security are a priority for Armenia. He also highlighted the importance of forming an atmosphere
of peace and welcomed the UK's assistance to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs' efforts.

PanArmenian, Armenia
July 7 2018
Football legend Ronaldo to join Match of Legends in Armenia 

One of the greatest football players of all time, two-time world champion Ronaldo will take part in the Match of Legends in Yerevan on July 8, those behind the initiative have revealed.

The match of the legends of world football will be held in the Armenian capital on July 8 at the Republican Stadium.
The national team of Europe will be comprised of: Luis Figo, Paolo Maldini, Youri Djorkaeff, Jari Litmanen, Hristo Stoichkov, Kakha Kaladze, Ryan Giggs, Demetrio Albertini, Vincent Candela, Benito Carbone, Levan Kobiashvili, Marko Šimić, Luigi Di Biagio, Miguel Ángel, Ludovic Giuly, Thomas Helveg, Salvatore Schillaci, Lothar Matthäus, Robert Pirès, Christophe Dugarry.

The Latin American team, meanwhile, includes: Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Hernan Crespo, Gabriel Batistuta, Dida, Cafu, Ifan Zamorano, Juliano Belletti, Aldair, Antônio Carlos Zago, Júlio César, Francisco Lima, Iván Córdoba, Carlos Valderrama, Dwayne De Rosario, Everson Pereira da Silva, Javier Zanetti, Bebeto.

A fan zone of the World Cup 2018 will be created in Yerevan on July 6-8, with the match of football legends set to be held on July 8 at the Republican stadium.

The Independent, Ireland
July 10 2018
Celtic beat the heat in Armenia to take commanding lead in Champions League qualifier

Celtic all but secured their place in the second Champions League qualifying round following a commanding 3-0 win against Alashkert in the searing heat of Yerevan. 

In added time at the end of the first half, French striker Odsonne Edouard, who made his loan deal from Paris St Germain permanent in the summer, redirected a wayward James Forrest drive into the net for his first European goal for the Hoops.

Boss Brendan Rodgers was without a clutch of players due to a combination of World Cup commitments and injuries, but Celtic still had too much for their Armenian opponents and Forrest scored a second in the 81st minute with a close-range finish before Callum McGregor added a third in the 90th minute.

The Scottish champions need to negotiate four qualifying rounds this year to reach the lucrative and prestigious group stages for the third year running.
The second leg of the first qualifier is at Celtic Park next Wednesday night where they will, barring a remarkable turnaround, book a place against Valur Reykjavik or Rosenborg.

The champions of Armenia for the past three seasons showed little in the way of an attacking threat until the 20th minute when Artak Dashyan left Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic on the flank and drew a fine save from Craig Gordon at his near post before Uros Nenadovic missed the target seconds later.

Alashkert had switched the game from their own smaller ground to the 15,000-capacity Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium but it was far from full as Celtic remained positive and six minutes later home goalkeeper Ognjen Cancarevic did well to push away a curling shot from Moussa Dembele.

In the 36th minute, Celtic midfielder McGregor dragged a shot inches wide of the far post after a flowing move.
But with three minutes of stoppage time almost complete, Edouard was alert to steer Forrest's wild volley into the net from 10 yards to swing the tie firmly in Celtic's favour.

The visitors survived a scare at the start of the second half when Gordon had to make a save from Brazilian Jefferson Reis and then shortly after the hour he tipped a powerful long-range effort from Artak Edigaryan over the crossbar.

The home side powered forward when they could but Celtic remained concentrated for the most part and retained a threat of their own.

Lewis Morgan came on for Edouard in the 77th minute to make his competitive debut for Celtic following his move from St Mirren after Scott Sinclair and Eboue Kouassi had earlier replaced Dembele and Olivier Ntcham.

And with nine minutes remaining the visitors made it 2-0 following a corner, Forrest assuredly side-footing the ball into the net from 12 yards after it had bobbled around the box.

He then set up McGregor for the late third, his fellow Scotland international rifling a shot into the far corner of the net to make the return game all but academic.

Cornell Chronicle
NASA awards its highest honor to Yervant Terzian
By  Linda B. Glaser |    
June 27, 2018

NASA annonced it will award the Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest honor, to astronomer Yervant Terzian, the Tisch Distinguished Professor Emeritus. The medal will be presented by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston on Aug. 2. The ceremony will be broadcast live at noon EDT on NASA TV.

“Dr. Yervant Terzian has dedicated his life to education, public service and scientific research,” according to NASA in its award citation. “He has used his enthusiasm for space exploration and education to bring inspirational experiences to students and the general public across the country.”

NASA continued: “Dr. Yervant Terzian has made an indelible impact on education and inspiring young minds. … He has evoked comprehension and wonder in his students and in his public audiences. These accomplishments and his eminent humanity prove Dr. Terzian worthy of this Distinguished Public Service Medal.”

Terry Herter, chair and professor of astronomy, agrees. “Dr. Terzian has been a relentless, eloquent ambassador for the sciences over his entire career, reaching and influencing undergraduates, graduate students, colleagues and the general public. This is a very well-deserved award.”

Terzian has served on eight NASA committees, including the Hubble Space Telescope Fellowship Committee, NASA’s Diversity in Science Education and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Radio Astronomy Evaluation Committee. For 20 years, Terzian directed the NASA New York Space Grant Consortium, comprising 19 universities and five industries and science centers. In 2012, the 52 state NASA Space Grant directors elected Terzian chairman.

“The Space Grant has been very successful in implementing space programs for the brightest students across New York state to provide them with opportunities to develop their interest in space,” said Terzian. “This is what will keep the United States as the leader.”

For 12 years, Terzian served as a visiting lecturer in astronomy for the American Astronomical Society, traveling across the U.S. enhancing college communities’ scientific understanding of the universe. He has also contributed to dozens of radio and television programs for public listeners, on topics such as life in the universe, NASA and the space program, the U.S. space shuttle program, and the state of astronomy.

Terzian said he has been inspired throughout his life by the ancient Greeks and their deductive method of science. “When I was very young and asked my father why there were stars, I was not satisfied with the answers, and I started reading everything I could from the American Library in Cairo,” he explained. “The description of nature through our science, through our scientific methods, is still young, and we should expect major discoveries in the future. From the work humans have achieved so far, we can deduce that we are not alone in the universe, and the day will come that we will find life in other planets.”

Terzian is known for his studies of stellar evolution and the discovery of regions of hydrogen gas between distant galaxies – a finding that indicated the presence of unseen matter in intergalactic space. His research using national radio astronomy observatories has been supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation. He is the author or co-author of more than 235 scientific publications and the editor of seven books, including “Carl Sagan’s Universe.”

A member of the faculty since 1965, Terzian served as chair of Cornell’s Department of Astronomy from 1979 to 1999. He initiated the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Cornell, which offers summer research for students, particularly women and members of underrepresented groups.

Among Terzian’s many honors are NASA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Republic of Armenia’s Gold Medal, its highest honor for scientific achievement. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2001.

At Cornell, Terzian has been recognized for the excellence of his teaching with the Clark Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984 and the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship Award in 2001.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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