Jun 19, 2018

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More Food Earmarked for Soldiers Found in Ex-General’s Organization

The canned foods, marked "Not for Sale, Army Ration" were found in trucks belonging to arrested ex-genera;l's organization

The canned foods, marked “Not for Sale, Army Ration” were found in trucks belonging to arrested ex-genera;l’s organization

Wife is Implicated
YEREVAN—As part of the ongoing investigation into retired Army General Manvel Grigoryan’s alleged embezzlement of military supplies and illegal possession of firearms, the organized crime unit of the Yerevan police department was tipped off that two trucks loaded with food supplies earmarked for the military have been spotted in a parking lot.
After following the lead, the drivers of the trucks, both members of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union, an organization chaired by Grigoryan, have been placed under arrest.

Police found nearly 3,000 cans of canned meat labeled “Not For Sale: Soldier’s Ration.” This type of canned meat is not available for sale anywhere and is the military food supply for the armed forces.

According to the drivers, Nazik Amiryan – the wife of the arrested general– had instructed them to load the supplies into the truck on June 16, the day Grigoryan was arrested in his hometown of Etchmiadzin. The drivers said Amiryan instructed them to move the goods from the Yerkrapah headquarters in Yerevan.

On Tuesday, parliament voted to prosecute Grigoryan, who represents former president Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia in parliament. Armenia’s Prosecutor General charged Grigoryan with grand theft and illegal possession of weapons.

After his arrest, officers of the National Security Service of Armenia raided Grigoryan’s properties in and around Etchmiadzin and found among other things a large cache of weapons and ammunition, a trove of vehicles, a zoo and a stockpile of food and canned goods earmarked for soldiers, some of which were donated and accompanied with letters written by kindergarten and school children to soldiers fighting in the 2016 April War. Investigators say that Grigoryan used the food earmarked for the army to feed his animals that included bears and tigers.


Azerbaijani Forces Down an Armenian Drone

Azerbaijani forces on Tuesday downed a drone belonging to the Artsakh Army

Azerbaijani forces on Tuesday downed a drone belonging to the Artsakh Army

STEPANAKERT—Azerbaijani forces downed a drone belonging to the Artsakh army at around 11:20 a.m. local time on Tuesday, reported the Artsakh Defense Ministry.

In a statement, the Artsakh Defense Ministery said the drone was monitoring the southeastern section of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, known as the line of contact.

“Although the Azerbaijani side is trying to prevent these flights of Armenian drones through such actions, the command of the Artsakh Armed Forces remains resolute in continuing the process of monitoring [the border] and will take punitive actions to restrain the enemy’s activities in the air and on land,” said the Artsakh Defense Ministry’s statement.


Scholarships and Genocide Education Included in State Budget Due to Portantino’s Leadership

California State Senator Anthony Portantino

California State Senator Anthony Portantino

SACRAMENTO—California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino is the Chair of the Senate Education Budget Sub-Committee with long and close ties to the Armenian American Community. In that capacity, he personally submitted two important education proposals on behalf of Armenian Californians into the California State Budget. This included six full tuition scholarships at Hastings College of Law for graduates of the American University of Armenia and a $500,000 state grant to create study guides for California schools to properly teach the Armenian Genocide. Senator Portantino announced that the California State Budget adopted both of his important proposals.

“I am so pleased to report the successful inclusion of these important education proposals. I had the honor to work with representative of AUA and Hastings to create the scholarships and with the Genocide Education Project on the implementation of the study guide proposal. I am grateful to my colleagues and Governor Brown for embracing the idea of helping all Californian’s properly learn about the Genocide and to provide a career path that cements California’s positive relationship with AUA,” commented Portantino.

The six scholarships at Hastings have an estimated value of $190,000 each. To be eligible, students must be California residents who graduate from AUA and meet Hastings’ admission requirements. Following on the heels of last year’s successful effort to budget $10 million for the implementation of the updated Social Science curriculum in California, the study guides will further advance the cause of properly teaching all California students accurate history of the Armenian Genocide.

“For many years, one of the top legislative priorities of the ANCA-Western Region has been to find pathways to implement the mandated curriculum of Armenian Genocide education in public schools, whether through professional development and teacher training, preparation and distribution of appropriate and comprehensive study guides, and proper inclusion in social studies and history textbooks. We are very grateful to Senator Anthony Portantino for his ongoing efforts to secure substantial funding for this purpose, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the State Legislature toward ensuring that the history and lessons learned from the Armenian Genocide are appropriately taught to California students,” stated Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Chair of the ANCA-WR.

Senator Portantino has a long and distinguished record of supporting the Armenian American Community. In addition to chairing the Education Budget Sub-committee he also chairs the California Armenia and Artsakh Select Committee. Last year he requested $3 million dollars for the Armenian American Museum in addition to the $10 million dollars for social science curriculum. He has visited Yerevan and Artsakh and supported many local Armenian initiatives and causes. Eelier in the year he held a historic hearing on the 30 commemoration of the Sumgait Pogrom with a survivor of the atrocity.

“AUA presents an outstanding opportunity for students in California to come to Yerevan for an excellent education. The scholarship gives an extra incentive to these students to further their dreams to become lawyers without the fear of creating debt. I am grateful to Senator Portantino for proposing the idea for our students,” added President Der Kiureghian.

The adopted budget is headed to Governor Brown for his signature. The Senator is cautiously optimistic that the Governor will sign the budget creating the scholarships and the study guides.

Sen. Portantino represents nearly 930,000 people in the 25th Senate District, which includes Altadena, Atwater Village, Bradbury, Burbank, Claremont, Duarte, Glendale, Glendora, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, La Verne, Monrovia, Montrose, Pasadena, San Dimas, San Marino, Shadow Hills, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Sunland-Tujunga, and Upland.


EU to Help New Armenian Government with Reforms

European Union lawmakers meeting with Armenian officials in Yerevan to discuss reform implementation.

European Union lawmakers meeting with Armenian officials in Yerevan to discuss reform implementation.

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am) — The European Union is ready to help Armenia’s new government implement the sweeping reforms it promised, a senior member of the European Parliament said after visiting Yerevan on Monday.

David McAllister, the chairman of the EU legislature’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, headed a multi-partisan delegation of EU lawmakers who met with Prime Minister Pashinyan, other senior Armenian officials and civil society representatives during the visit.

“This is a key moment for Armenia,” McAllister said in a statement. “To strengthen its democracy, to deepen its relations with the EU and to make long-lasting peace.”

“Armenia’s citizens want this, Armenia’s leaders have committed to this and the European Union will be there to help every step of the way,” he added.

Pashinyan reportedly briefed McAllister and European Parliament members on his government’s stated efforts to combat corruption, break up economic monopolies hampering faster growth and democratize Armenia’s political system.

“The purpose of our actions is to bring about real changes in the country,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan stated last week that he will visit Brussels to meet top EU officials later this month.

The EU closely monitored the political crisis in Armenia sparked by former President Serzh Sargysyan’s attempt to hold on to power after serving out his second presidential term on April 9. It repeatedly urged Armenian political factions to end the standoff through dialogue.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, sent a congratulatory letter to Nikol Pashinyan, the main organizer of massive anti-Sargysyan protests, two days after he was elected prime minister on May 8.

“We look forward to cooperating with you in your new position to further strengthen the relations between the European Union and Armenia, particularly through the implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA),” Tusk and Juncker wrote.

The CEPA was signed by the former Armenian government last November. It calls for political and economic reforms in Armenia. It also commits Yerevan to gradually “approximating” Armenian economic laws and regulations to those of the EU.

Pashinyan called for a quick ratification of the CEPA by all EU member states when the Armenian parliament elected him prime minister.

McAllister said the European Parliament will vote on the 350-page agreement on July 4. The CEPA’s ratification and implementation will help Armenia attract more EU investment and boost its trade with the EU, he added.

 


Another Anti-Armenian Writer Exposed For Making Baseless Allegations

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

It seems that not a week passes without coming across another mysterious writer who undertakes to contribute a puff piece about Azerbaijan and to undermine the reputation of Armenia and Armenians around the world. The latest such writer is Peter Tase who posted an article titled, “Russia’s Foreign Agents in America: Trump Connection of Armenian Lobbyists,” on June 11, 2018, on the Eurasia Review website. This extremely biased article resorts to exaggerations and untrue allegations in order to link Armenia and various Armenian individuals to Russia, and even more surprisingly, to President Donald Trump.

To begin with, Tase disparages Iranian-Armenian Gevork Vartanian’s praiseworthy actions during World War II by calling him “one of the most prolific Soviet Armenian spies.” In fact, Vartanian provided a major service to the entire world by thwarting Hitler’s plans to assassinate Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt while meeting as allies at the Tehran Conference in 1943. Tase undermines his own credibility by mentioning that CIA director Stansfield Turner and upper echelons of the agency trusted Vartanian. Why would they trust Vartanian if he were such a bad guy? Incredibly, Tase even states that he is suspicious of Vartanian because he spoke Armenian.

Tase then picks on two Russian-Armenian journalists: Margarita Simonyan and Gayane Chichakyan, who work for RT (Russia Today) TV. Their only guilt is that they are “good looking” women and, without any evidence, Tase accuses them of being “ethnically Armenian, as are many other ‘Russian’ agents of influence.”

Next is the turn of Vice Speaker of the Russian Duma Artur Chilingarov, whom Tase attacks for being an Armenian. Chilingarov’s fault is that he was sitting at the next table over from Russian President Vladimir Putin at a banquet in Moscow. Chilingarov was honored by the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for his exploits as a prominent polar explorer — and not for being an Armenian, as Tase claims.

Perhaps the most sinister part of Tase’s article is falsely claiming that Armenian-American reporter Emil Sanamyan is “a foreign agent.” This is a completely untrue allegation. Mr. Sanamyan told me that he is not now, nor has he ever been registered with the United States Department of Justice as “a foreign agent.” I hope Mr. Sanamyan will sue Peter Tase and his website for damaging his reputation.

To show the degree of Tase’s blind hatred for anything Armenian, he accuses Sanamyan of working for “Americans for Artsakh,” an organization “established to bring legitimacy to the war crimes and illegal occupation by the Russian-backed Armenian military that has been ruthlessly perpetrated (long before Ukraine and Georgia, the Russian government has used Armenian soldiers to occupy Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, arrest development and derail a Pro-Western course of Azerbaijan).” Not a single word is true in that sentence. The Russian government did not use Armenian soldiers. Armenians liberated themselves from Azerbaijan’s oppressive regime which committed mass crimes against Armenians of Artsakh for decades! In fact, Russian soldiers sided with Azerbaijan and killed many innocent inhabitants of Artsakh.

Furthermore, “Americans for Artsakh” was a non-profit funded by Armenian-Americans. Sanamyan told me that he worked there as an unpaid employee. In addition, when Sanamyan worked at the Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in Washington, D.C., the organization was not yet registered with the U.S. Department of Justice as “a foreign agent.” Also, Tase makes up a fake title by claiming that “Sanamyan was in charge of information warfare and propaganda as Director of the NKR Public Affairs Office.”

There are also several minor errors in Tase’s article which show his lack of knowledge of Armenian issues. For example, Tase writes about Armenia’s independence from “Soviet Russia,” instead of the Soviet Union. The second nonsense is Tase’s comment on a photo of President Serzh Sargsyan with President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the United Nations in New York. Tase attributes the photo to the lobbying effort of the Armenian-American community. However, no lobbying was necessary. If Tase did a little more research, he would have discovered another photo of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev with the President and First Lady at the UN, along with photos of many other heads of state.

Another intentional misrepresentation by Tase is that Sanamyan’s wife, a graduate of Cass Business School, City University London, was one of the “Major Donors and Sponsors” of the University in 2012. Tase fails to mention that Sanamyan’s wife was listed under the smallest amount category — less than $1,000 — which does not make her a major donor!

Tase’s next attack on Armenians is their alleged connection to President Trump. This is where Tase makes his most ignorant accusation. The reality is that there are hardly any Armenians who know Trump; so Tase invents imaginary connections. Tase even dares to misrepresent my 2016 article headlined, “Armenians Should Reach Out to Trump Through Republican Friends in Congress.” If Tase was an honest reporter, he would have quoted from my article which stated: “Armenian-American ties with the President-elect are practically non-existent.”

Tase also misrepresents the statement posted by Executive Director of the ANCA Aram Hamparian, offering to work with the newly-elected president. There is no indication in that sentence of any link between Armenian Americans and Trump. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Tase comes up with a totally unknown name, Andy Surabian, as “another Armenian political operative deep inside the Trump White House.” Surabian is described as “Steve Bannon’s political advisor in the Trump administration and a campaign veteran.” Unfortunately for Tase, neither Bannon nor Surabian work at the White House anymore.

Tase then mentions the name of Keith Nahigian, as “perhaps the most influential and high-ranking Armenian Diaspora member and registered lobbyist associated with the Trump campaign … who was tapped to head Trump’s transition team in 2017.” This is yet another red herring. Nahigian has no connection with the Armenian community. I sent him an email two years ago and I am still waiting for his answer. That’s how close Nahigian is to the Armenian community!

Tase prematurely refers to congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian (R-Nevada) as a member of “the Armenian lobby with access to President Trump.” If Tarkanian wins his House seat in November, will we be able to determine how close his connection to the White House is?

Incredibly, Tase mentions Kim Kardashian as an Armenian “home-porn-turned-Twitter lobbyist” who has met Trump on numerous occasions — most recently in May 2018,” successfully securing a pardon from President Trump for a (non-Armenian) grandmother serving a life-sentence in prison. Tase would have made a more convincing case if Kardashian had made a request from Trump on an Armenian issue. There has been no link between Kardashian as “an Armenian lobbyist” and Pres. Trump.

Tase falsely concludes his baseless and shameful article by stating: “These extensive and deep links to the incumbent inexperienced president and his campaign create potential national security implications and deserve scrutiny to ensure that Putin’s ongoing meddling into the U. S. Homeland would crumble and miserably fail.”

I don’t think President Trump needs Armenian Americans to establish communication with President Putin. Contrary to Tase’s unfounded allegations, President Trump has had a direct link to the Kremlin for a long time and does not need anyone else’s assistance.


Parliament Votes to Prosecute Ex-General on Corruption Charges

Armenia's National Assembly Tuesday voted to strip General Manvel Grigoryan of immunity on corruption charges

Armenia’s National Assembly Tuesday voted to strip General Manvel Grigoryan of immunity on corruption charges

YEREVAN—Members of the Armenian Parliament on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly—81 to 3—to prosecute one of their own, retired General Manvel Grigoryan, who will now remain in custody and be charged with grand theft, illegal possession of firearms, after lawmakers voted to strip him of parliamentary immunity.

A member of former president Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia, Grigoryan was arrested on Saturday on corruption charges. National Security Service of Armenia raided his properties in and around Etchmiadzin and found a large trove of arms and ammunition, as well as trove of vehicles and a stockpile of donated food and canned goods earmarked to be sent to soldiers, some of them accompanied by letters written by kindergarten ad school children to soldiers during the 2016 April War.

Armenia’s Prosecutor General quickly charged Grigoryan with grand theft, illegal possession of firearms.

Through his new attorney Karen Kamalyan, Grigoryan has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he had no idea how the items seized from his properties wound up there.

“He [Grigoryan] has said that he has no connection with the items and that he is surprised how the items have appeared in the properties owned by him. He also said that he has been visiting the said property very rarely, twice or three times in a year,” said Kamalyan, Grigoryan’s attorney.

Grigoryan also sent a note to his parliament colleagues urging them to vote in favor of stripping his immunity so he can prove his innocence in court.

When Grigoryan was arrested his fellow Republican Party of Armenia members called the NSS actions politically motivated. Only after the video of the seized items was released did they change their tune began distancing themselves from the retired general and the Artsakh war hero.


‘Denying the Great Tragedy of the Armenians is an Insult,’ Says Paylan

Turkish-Armenian Member of Turkey's Parliament Garo Paylan (HDP).

Turkish-Armenian Member of Parliament Garo Paylan (HDP).

Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who is running for another term in Turkey’s parliament representing Diyarbakir in the upcoming elections, has commented about the investigation targeting him under Turkey’s infamous Article 301.

In an interview with the Bianet Turkish media outlet, Paylan claimed that it is the very same article which caused the murder of prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

Dink, the editor-in-chief of Istanbul’s Agos, a Turkish-Armenian newspaper, was gunned down outside his office in 2007.

“I am under investigation for ‘insulting Turkishness,’ for speaking about the Armenian Genocide,” Paylan said. “Actually, it is the denial of the genocide which is an insult. Call it whatever you want, denying the great tragedy of the Armenians is an insult to Turkishness.”

Paylan called on the Turkish people to recognize the genocide, noting that it is in their favor to do so.

“Thousands of our churches, schools, cultural legacy — we’ve lost everything,” Paylan said. “We are suggesting that you yourself name the events. We are saying, name the events based on a fair remembrance. However, we always get the same answer: ‘You cannot speak about this.’ And in such conditions, it turns out you have insulted Turkishness. Turks are perceived in the world as genocide deniers. Whereas I, on the contrary, I am fighting to eliminate this injustice against Turks.”


Armenian Translation of Taner Akcam’s Book Presented in Yerevan

Turkish historian Taner Akcam, author of "Forced Islamization of Armenians: Silence, Denial and Assimilation."

Turkish historian Taner Akcam, author of “Forced Islamization of Armenians: Silence, Denial and Assimilation.”

YEREVAN (ArmRadio) — The Armenian translation of Turkish historian Taner Akcam’s book, “Forced Islamization of Armenians: Silence, Denial and Assimilation,” was presented at the Research Center on Western Armenian Studies in Yerevan with the author present.

The book has been translated into Armenian by Meline Anumyan, a Turkish studies expert who also works as editor for Public Radio of Armenia’s Turkish programs.

According to Anumyan, the book comes to refute the false narratives surrounding Islamicized Armenians in Turkey.

“Some Turkish historians have manipulated the issue and tried to push forward the version that the existence of these many Islamized Armenians in Turkey proves that no genocide has been committed against Armenians,” Anumyan said.

Akcam’s book proves, however, that Islamized Armenians are also a result of the genocide.

The work consists of three parts. In the first part, the author speaks about the impossibility of an unbiased study of the Armenian Genocide issue in Turkey, about the difficulties and persecutions he has faced. The second part presents the story of discriminatory and biased discussions regarding the Turkish edition of Ottoman Armenian Captain Sarkis Torossian’s memoirs, which raised a second wave of criticism against Akcam, who tracked down Torossian’s family in America. In the third part, the author presents the Ottoman policy of forced Islamization and assimilation of Armenians between 1915 and 1918 — Akcam describes this as a structural element of the Armenian Genocide.

The book, published under the sponsorship of the Jerair Nishanian Foundation, is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.


Russia Plans to Supply Su-30SM Fighters to Armenia

An Su-30SM multifunction fighter aircraft.

An Su-30SM multifunction fighter aircraft.

Russia plans to sign an agreement with the new Armenian leadership to supply Armenia with Su-30SM fighter aircrafts. Shortly before the change of power in Armenia, the Ministry of Defense postponed purchasing Russian multifunctional Su-30SM fighters until 2024. The contract, implying the delivery of at least one squadron to the Armenian Air Force was signed in 2012, but was never actualized because of financial difficulties on behalf of Armenia, according to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was photographed sitting in an Su-30SM cockpit and stated that it was “one of the best in the world.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan inside the cockpit of a Su-30SM fighter aircraft.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan inside the cockpit of an Su-30SM fighter aircraft.

According to several top managers of Russia’s aviation industry, the Armenia showed interest in acquiring fighters back in 2010 because of the necessity to modernize air forces. The 2012 contract required that Armenia receive at least 12 fighters in several years. However, the treaty never came into effect.

Armenia also purchased other weapons in addition to warplanes. Yerevan became the first export recipient of the division of Iskander, the newest tactical missile system, and it also acquired weapons worth $300 million at the expense of Russian loans.

According to newspaper’s sources, there have been no active contacts on the matter of arms exports between the sides after the transition of power in Armenia.


Foreign Newlyweds Opt to Honeymoon in Artsakh

The newlyweds in Stepanakert holding the flag of the Republic of Artsakh.

The newlyweds in Stepanakert holding the flag of the Republic of Artsakh.

A newlywed couple visited the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Artsakh in Stepanakert for an entry visa to the country. The couple planned to spend their honeymoon in Artsakh.

The bride was still wearing her wedding dress when she and her husband applied for the visa and were granted it, Artsakh’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. The Artsakh Foreign Ministry said this is the first time it has issued a visa to a newlywed couple.

No details about the names or nationality of the newlyweds have been reported.


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