Sunday, 22 July 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian...Man detained in Azerbaijan

RFE/L Report
Armenian Man Detained In Azerbaijan
July 16, 2018
Sisak Gabrielian

A resident of an Armenian border village was detained by Azerbaijani authorities after crossing into Azerbaijan in unclear circumstances at the weekend.

The Azerbaijani military claimed to have captured the 34-year-old Karen Ghazarian while thwarting an Armenian incursion into Azerbaijani territory.

The Armenian Defense Ministry was quick to deny the alleged incursion attempt, insisting that Karapetian is a civilian resident of Berdavan, a village in the northern Tavush province located just a few kilometers from the Azerbaijani border. It said he has a history of mental disease.

“He suffers from mental problems and because of that didn’t serve in the armed forces of Armenia,” Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, 
insisted on Monday.

Berdavan’s mayor, Smbat Mughdusian, also said that Ghazarian lives in the local community and suffers from mental disorders. Mughdusian said he went missing 
shortly after midnight.

The mayor suggested that Ghazarian lost his way and accidentally crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The man’s family house in the village is closest to the frontier, he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (

According to Balayan, the Armenian authorities are now trying to help repatriate Ghazarian, including through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). An ICRC spokesperson in Yerevan said its representatives in Baku 
are already trying to visit him in custody.

Three Armenian nations are currently held captive in Azerbaijan, according to the ICRC.

One of them, Zaven Karapetian, was captured in June 2014, with Baku similarly claiming to have thwarted an Armenian incursion. Yerevan dismissed that version 
of events, saying that Karapetian was a civilian resident in Vanadzor, an Armenian city around 130 kilometers from the border section which he crossed for still unknown reasons.

Three residents of other Tavush villages strayed into Azerbaijan in 2014. Two of them were branded Armenian “saboteurs” by the authorities in Baku and died shortly afterwards.

Karen Petrosian, a 33-year-old resident of Chinari village, was pronounced dead in August 2014 one day after being detained in an Azerbaijani village across the border. The Azerbaijani military claimed that he died of “acute heart 
failure.” Many in Armenia believe, however, that Petrosian was murdered or beaten to death. The United States and France expressed serious concern at Petrosian’s suspicious death at the time.

A 77-year-old resident of another Tavush village, Verin Karmiraghbyur, died in May 2014 three months after being apprehended on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier in similar circumstances. Doctors in Yerevan said the man, Mamikon Khojoyan, suffered serious injuries during his month-long captivity.

Another Armenian civilian died in Azerbaijani custody in 2010. The 20-year-old Manvel Saribekian, whose Tutujur village is also very close to the Azerbaijani border, was paraded on Azerbaijani television following his capture. Saribekian was found hanged in an Azerbaijani detention center shortly afterwards.

Public Radio of Armenia
July 17 2018
Catholicos defrocks Fr. Koryun Arakelyan

His Holiness Katekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, has defrocked Fr. Koryun Arakelyan for improper conduct and anticanonical behavior.

The priest participated in anti-Catholicos protests and was given a week to repent.

RFE/RL Report
Tax Chief Vows Continued Fight Against Informal Economy
July 16, 2018
Harry Tamrazian

Armenia - Davit Ananian, head of the State Revenue Committee, arrives for a news conference in Yerevan, 13 July 2018.

Tackling the sizable informal sector of Armenia’s economy is a top priority for tax authorities, the head of the State Revenue Committee (SRC), Davit Ananian, said over the weekend.

Ananian said he has decided to set up a task force that will strive to measure the precise scale of tax evasion in various sectors of the economy. He admitted that the SRC currently lacks full information about it.

“If we don’t have estimates of the informal sector we won’t be able to say with which instruments we should be combatting it and whether that fight can be deemed effective,” Ananian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (

“For the first time we are setting up a working group in order to gauge that grey economy,” he said. “This will be the cornerstone of the SRC’s activities.”

Ananian promised a tougher crackdown on companies and individuals underreporting their earnings when he was appointed as head of the SRC in late May. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said last week that the tax and customs 
service has since recovered more than 20 billion drams ($42 million) of unpaid taxes. The sum was collected from 73 companies, according to the SRC.

“The number of such firms is going up by the day and so is the figure cited by the prime minister,” said Ananian. He insisted that the main purpose of these fines is not to boost the government’s tax revenues but to make businesses “change their behavior.”

RFE/RL Report
ashinian Blasts Unannounced Russian Drill 
July 19, 2018
 Karlen Aslanian

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Thursday strongly condemned Russian troops stationed in Armenia for holding an apparently unannounced military exercise 
that caused panic in an Armenian village.

“That was an inadmissible incident,” Pashinian said at a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “I regard that as a provocation against friendly Russian-Armenian relations and a provocation against Armenia’s sovereignty. I think that the guilty individuals must be held accountable.”

Amateur video posted on social media showed chaotic scenes in Panik, a village in the northwestern Shirak province, on Tuesday, with local resident terrified by the sound of gunfire and explosions. Some of them angrily confronted Russian soldiers training very close to village houses, demanding explanations.

The soldiers stopped the exercise as a result. They are part of a Russian military base headquartered in the nearby city of Gyumri.

The commander of the base, Colonel Vladimir Yelkanov, and his deputy Alexey Polyukhovich apologized for the incident on Wednesday at separate emergency 
meetings held with Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and Shirak’s governor respectively. They said that the Russian military launched an internal inquiry.

Pashinian said that Armenian authorities must also investigate the incident. “I am told that the police are preparing materials [for a probe,]” he told ministers.

Panik is located very close to one of the two shooting grounds used by the Russian base. Local residents say that the scandalous drill was held within the administrative boundaries of the village.

Pashinian’s strong reaction was criticized as disproportionate by Armen Ashotian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations and a senior member of the former ruling Republican Party (HHK).

“Any infringement of Armenia’s sovereignty is undoubtedly unacceptable,” Ashotian wrote on Facebook. “But this incident did not constitute one.”

“It is not comprehensible what Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s sharp assessment given at the government meeting was aimed at, considering the apologies and regrets that were voiced by the Russian military base yesterday,” he said.

Warning of serious damage to Russian-Armenian relations, Ashotian added that Yerevan should now scramble to “freeze this dangerous process through diplomatic channels.”

July 17 2018
Armenian women helped oust an autocrat. But they’re still being left out of politics.
By  Zia Weise

This past spring, as Armenia erupted in protests that would eventually oust the country’s longtime leader, women took to the streets in droves. Within days, their ranks swelled to numbers unheard of in the small, and still largely patriarchal, Caucasus nation.

Many, including the country’s new prime minister, believe that women were key to the success of Armenia’s so-called “Velvet Revolution.” But when the opposition unveiled their new government in May, female activists were disappointed to see that their numbers in the streets had not translated into greater political representation: Of 17 ministers, only two were women.

“I saw so many girls in the streets, more or less equal to the number of guys. My mum was in the streets, my little sister was pregnant and protesting,” said Sona Ghazaryan, a 25-year-old activist. “There was a huge participation of the female part of Armenia, but in the government, we see a different picture. That’s a sad story.”

The protests began in April when the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) nominated outgoing President Serzh Sargsyan for the post of prime minister.

After a decade as president, Sargsyan was about to complete his second and final term in office. At the same time, Armenia was transitioning from a presidential system of governance to a parliamentary model, transferring the president’s powers to the prime minister.

Many Armenians therefore saw Sargsyan’s move toward the prime ministry as an attempt to sidestep constitutional term limit rules — breaking his earlier promise not to run again as either prime minister or president.

Enraged activists and politicians, led by Nikol Pashinyan, an opposition member of parliament, began organizing demonstrations that swiftly ballooned in size, bringing the capital, Yerevan, to a standstill. Pashinyan urged nonviolence, declaring the protests a “Velvet Revolution” in homage to the peaceful end of Communist rule in former Czechoslovakia.

Lara Aharonian, a veteran women’s rights activist, believes that women were instrumental in keeping the protests peaceful: “Especially with elderly women present, it was hard for the police to confront them,” she said.
Sargsyan stepped down after nearly two weeks of sustained protests, and Pashinyan was elected as prime minister in early May. His pledge to strengthen democracy and eradicate corruption was met with praise around the world. But the lack of women in his cabinet sparked complaints.

“It's not as if there aren't enough qualified women. If you go and have a meeting with civil society, there are so many women,” said Ghazaryan, who helped coordinate the protests. “It’s not nice to have just two [women] ministers.”
Pashinyan has repeatedly emphasized the importance of women’s participation. “Many people are stressing the role of the youth, which is, of course, very important,” he said, speaking to a small group of reporters at his official Yerevan residence in June. “But women played a little bit more important role in this revolution.”

Still, Pashinyan defended his decision to appoint only two female ministers, saying he had chosen his ministers from a small circle of prominent activists. As everything had happened so quickly, he argued, few women had emerged as leaders over the course of the protests.

Asked what he would do to increase the representation of women in politics and society, he gave no definitive answer. “I think that women boosted their own role themselves. I don’t think that government should do anything to boost any role,” he said.

Women activists concede that when it came to giving speeches and leading the protests, men were more visible during the protests. But that, they say, is no excuse for leaving women out of government. They have also criticized Pashinyan for assigning the two women to ministries seen as stereotypically female posts: culture and social affairs.

“The social minister and the culture minister aren’t so important. The appointment of those two posts also says something about how women are viewed,” said Olya Azatyan, a civil society activist.

Like many Armenian feminists, Azatyan sees the country’s patriarchal social norms as the root cause. Gender equality is enshrined in the country’s legal code, but discrimination is widespread. Domestic violence is endemic: A 2011 survey conducted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found that 60 percent of women had been subjected to domestic violence at least once.

Last year, the proportion of women in Armenia’s parliament stood at 18 percent, according to World Bank data. It's an improvement: Between Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and 2016, women lawmakers accounted for 10 percent or less. The current global average stands at 24 percent.

Aharonian said that while she was disappointed by the lack of female ministers, she was therefore not surprised. “This new government grew up in the same patriarchal society. They have the stereotype that women should not be involved in dirty political work,” she said.

But she is optimistic about the future. With a government largely comprised of activists in power, civil society groups wield greater influence than ever before.

“There was no political will in the old government,” said Aharonian. These days, however, civil society activists are in constant dialogue with Pashinyan and his ministers: “We’ve met more often with the new government in the last months than we met with the old government in years.”
And many female protesters hope for more women in parliament after the next elections. Pashinyan is currently running an interim government and has pledged to hold snap elections within a year.

The government may have a responsibility to work on gender equality. But Olya Azatyan says it’s ultimately up to Armenian women to step out of the shadows and enter politics in greater numbers. She worries that many qualified women lack the self-confidence to put their names forward.

“I know some women have been suggested for posts and refused, thinking that they are not qualified enough,” Azatyan said. “I don’t know any man who’s been offered a post and refused it. Women think they have to work twice as hard.”

Yet, Armenia is changing. Sona Ghazaryan, for one, is thinking of running for a parliamentary seat in the next elections.

“Women in parliament, they’re seen as pretty things who occasionally say something interesting,” she said. “It’s time for a change.”

PanArmenian, Armenia
July 16 2018
Forbes: Kim Kardashian among world's highest-paid entertainers 

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian has been included in the Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid entertainers of 2018.

The Celebrity 100 list ranks front-of-camera stars around the globe using their pretax earnings from June 1, 2017 through June 1, 2018, before deducting fees for managers, lawyers and agents. Estimates are based on numbers from Nielsen, Pollstar, IMDB, SoundScan, NPD BookScan and ComScore, as well as interviews with industry experts and many of the stars themselves.

The American Armenian icon has made a total of $67 million to claim the 30th spot in the ranking, while her sister Kylie Jenner pulled in $166.5 million to claim the No. 3 spot, boosted by a sprawling cosmetics empire that has her on the verge of becoming a billionaire before she’s old enough to drink.

Floyd Mayweather tops the ranking with $285 million in pretax earnings, almost entirely on the strength of his August 2017 fight versus listmate Conor McGregor. George Clooney finishes second with $239 million, most of it coming from liquor giant Diageo’s purchase of Casamigos, the tequila company he cofounded, giving him the best annual take-home of his—or any actor’s—career.
The world’s 100 top-earning celebrities pulled in a combined $6.3 billion pretax over the past 12 months, up 22% from last year; 11 superstars crossed the $100 million threshold, more than double the number from the last two years combined.

As reported earlier, Kardashian made it to the Forbes' fourth annual list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. With a net worth of $350 million, Kardashian was placed the 54th, while Jenner has leveraged her massive social media following (110 million followers on Instagram) to build a $900 million cosmetics fortune in less than three years.

July 16 2018
Armenian Vipers Born At St. Louis Zoo In Time For World Snake Day 
By J. Ryne Danielson

ST. LOUIS, MO — Today is World Snake Day and the Saint Louis Zoo is celebrating the birth of six Armenian vipers, a threatened species found only in the mountains of Armenia. The vipers were born at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium on June 13 and 14 to two different females and weighed around 6 to 11 grams each at birth. The baby vipers are being cared for in a private area of the Herpetarium, zoo officials said.

"The animal care team at the Herpetarium created a special temperature-controlled room for our Western Asian vipers, which has been key to breeding this species," said Mark Wanner, zoological manager of herpetology and aquatics, and director of the Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Western Asia. "The room is cooled down in the winter allowing these snakes a seasonal breeding cycle, much like they would experience in nature. The keepers meticulously monitor these snakes throughout the year, observing their health and reproductive status."

These births are a result of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Armenian Viper Species Survival Plan, a program to manage a genetically healthy Armenian viper population. The Saint Louis Zoo has been reproducing this species since 2002.

World Snake Day activities and keeper chats take place at the Herpetarium from 1 to 3 p.m. today. National Zookeeper Week kicked off yesterday, and events at the zoo will continue through the summer. Keeper chats are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. every day, and animal enrichment and training presentations are at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, at various locations. 

“Alashkert” loses to “Celtic’
July 19,2018

In the second game of the first qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League, the Yerevan “Alaskert” with a score of 0:3 was defeated by the local “Celtic” in Glasgow.

Score in the match was opened at the 8th minute by Scotsman Moussa Dembele. After three minutes, ten players remained in “Celtic” remained, because of a rough game from the field was removed Jozo Šimunović.

Despite the numerical advantage, “Alaskert” could not create a serious scoring chances, and the home team already in the first half scored two more goals and the score was 3:0. First the 11-meter strike was scored by the same Moussa Dembele, then the author of the goal was James Forest. In the second half, the teams could not achieve any new success.

Thus, “Alaskert” in the second match in a row lost with the same score 0:3 and dropped out of the tournament of the Champions League. However, our team will continue to fight in the second stage of the Champions League, the matches of which will be held on July 26 and August 2.

Tasting Table
July 17 2018
Itch (Armenian Bulgur Salad)

This Armenian Bulgur Salad Will Take Quinoa's Place as Your Go-To Side

Despite what the giant wood hearth at the center of the dining room might suggest, one of the best things on the menu at Maydan, D.C.'s hit restaurant, is an Armenian bulgur wheat salad known as itch. Chefs Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan first discovered the dish—a hearty, flavor-packed salad with pomegranate molasses and added crunch from raw scallions and shishito peppers—on a trip to Beirut. If you can't find red pepper paste, you can purée a jar of drained piquillo peppers.

Itch Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time

3 cups water
Kosher salt, to taste
1½ cups bulgur wheat
¼ cup red pepper paste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, pomegranate molasses
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups shishito peppers, sliced
1 cup scallions, sliced

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil with a healthy pinch of salt. Stir in the bulgur, remove from the heat and cover for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bulgur is cooked through. Spread the bulgur onto a cookie sheet and allow to cool.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the red pepper and tomato pastes, the pomegranate molasses, extra-virgin olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and lemon juice.
3. Place the cooled bulgur into a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing, shishito peppers and almost all of the scallions. Season with additional salt. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

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