Non-Relational News Roundup

Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - 5:07am

Over a year ago, Argentus Maximus started a thread entitled ‘The setup for the big trade’. Besides wishing I had acted on his observations on PM prices, these passages stuck with me from his first weeks of writing:

“Now an interesting item for discussion right now is what fundamental news is being prepared to make the markets jump next week.

It may sound crazy, but I expect some or all of the following to tick a few boxes : invasion of a country, assassination or death of political leaders, corporate leadership resignation, rise of new parties, natural disaster events, mass public protest on the streets to demand political-social change, fall of a power. You know, the sort of random significant events the average person could never predict, and the markets will have to revalue prices violently when said information comes out ......... off the charts, ... soon to be on the charts!”

“Now if anybody thinks we are getting average daily news items this week, I will not try to differ with them, as this is an admittedly subjective side to what I do, but just allow the rest of this week bring us whatever it will.”

It seems his observations hold just as true now, if not more so. To be honest, I am having trouble keeping all of the global, regional and nation-level geopolitical developments all in frame as a single interconnected whole – there are simply too many simultaneous events. It certainly feels like the time remaining on the clock is rapidly running out for at least one of the players, and the little buttons on top are getting whacked at an ever more furious pace.

Speed Chess Game

So below is a little collection of (un)connected news items from the last few weeks. Along with the ongoing/escalating situation in Ukraine, the soon-to-emerge results of the Indian elections, the recent reelection of a decidedly anti-IMF, cool-towards-EU government in Hungary, the first frenzied, now sidelined MH370 story, there is certainly a lot going on out there. A lot of expensive lead crystal balls in the air at the moment.

March 19, 2014

Kyrgyzstan's leader accepts government's resignation

"The prime minister holds extensive executive powers in Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous country that neighbors China and lies on a drug trafficking route out of Afghanistan."

Funny that Reuters would choose THESE specific national characteristics to highlight the essence of the country. One also wonders who selected the successor cabinet and head of government.

April 2, 2014

Kazakhstan prime minister Akhmetov resigns

“His successor will face a major task of preparing Kazakhstan's integration into the Eurasian Economic Union which will unite Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The union, to be formed by 2015, is widely seen as a regional counterbalance to the European Union.

Kazakhstan is the second-largest post-Soviet oil producer after Russia.” <-- 'Nuff said

Dreams dashed... or simply a ride into the sunset with a saddlebag so large and heavy that requires a robotic steed to carry all that weight?

Bloomberg, April 11, 2014

"The existence of a probe surrounding JPMorgan’s role in the energy market has been known since August, when it was reported by several news organizations, including Bloomberg News, and subsequently disclosed by the New York-based bank. What wasn’t known was prosecutors’ interest in Masters. "

But perhaps Ruprecht will still join her in (a now slightly destabilized) Caracas to wade knee-deep as she considers her career options.

I don't want to get Turd in trouble, but could he have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of PM advocates worldwide in a bid to single-handedly free the markets from manipulation?

(h/t to Pining, of course, for this skillful bit of photojournalism)

“She informed “us of her intention to leave the firm, take some well-deserved time off and consider future opportunities,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon and investment-banking head Daniel Pinto said in a memo on April 2.”

One half of the dynamic duo managing the largest ponzi coupon... err... I mean bond funds has left the building, leaving a visibly irate (to say the least) Mr. Gross.

Bloomberg, April 11, 2014

"In an internal memo to employees in January, El-Erian said he was looking forward to something different and had no plans as of then. He plans to write a book about the rise and fall of central banks, a person familiar with the matter said on March 31. "

In a single-story dwelling, with no hot tubs or nailguns, I hope.

April 8, 2014

Apparently a nasty (?) computer/connectivitybug is going around, and someone seems to want to make sure to raise concerns over the security of financial institutions specifically, and all internet users in general:

Heartbeat Heartbleed Bug Breaks Worldwide Internet Security Again

U.S. Regulators Warn Banks About Heartbleed Bug

NSA Abused Heartbleed Bug For Years, Left Consumers Exposed To Attack (ZH)

Government Denies It Knew About, Abused Heartbleed Bug (ZH)

Kathleen Sibelius is apparently leaving... perhaps to also reflect, and consider future career options. Perhaps write a book on the rise and fall of central planning... be replaced by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, current director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sylvia gave the order to shut down the federal government in a budget dispute with republicans in October. She seems like a charming and competent administrator, I'm sure she'll make everything all better.

Apparently, jail is only for 'little people':

Italian Court Weighs Community Service for Berlusconi

"Mr. Berlusconi, 77, had originally been sentenced to four years in prison, but that was reduced to one year under a law aimed at controlling prison overcrowding. Because of his age, he is unlikely to face any time behind bars. Instead, the court may choose to place him under house arrest or allow him to do community service, as his legal team has requested."

And the rich keep getting richer...

Strauss-Kahn Seeks to Start $2 Billion Hedge Fund

Just because one is framed for something does not necessarily mean they are not guilty...

I am pretty sure this gentleman has learned some valuable lessons on the value of allegiances and the cost of enemies over the last few years. There is also a high likelyhood that his fortune was amassed with the tacit toleration (if not blessing) of the larger, more powerful benefactors who supported Yanukovych's regime.

This guy certainly appears a little less confident than he was just 6 months ago…

The example set by Khodorkovsky and other fallen oligarchs further to the east did not go unnoticed, surely. The idea seems tempting that the jailed Russian tycoon was set free in part to deliver an ultimatum to his expatriate and satellite-country colleagues. The newly freed, significantly less rich (but still breathing) ex-oligarch certainly settled in a central location that many people of many different backgrounds visit:

Mikhail Khodorkovsky granted residency in Switzerland

One would think that with Berezovsky and Litvinenko serving as examples, oligarchs would wise up, and not do things like "lambasting Moscow's interference in Ukraine." Or if they do, one might wonder if it's not at the behest of the stage manager with a passion for hunting and gold bars.

I mean for crying out loud, even Dave is leaving?

Stephen Colbert says he has 'huge shoes to fill' replacing Letterman

About the Author


Safety Dan
Apr 13, 2014 - 6:02am

After First..

I guest that's another first, after first, for me.. Speaking of leaving.. Bankers who left I suggest lessons in nail gun usage (it may help prevent accidental firing, 8 times), and the usage of the new bat flying outfits (from great altitudes). Great post, c ya..

Apr 13, 2014 - 6:23am


Surely not?

I read it... then saw zero comments, couldn't resist.... and it's my first comment! :)

Great post, it's getting harder to filter signal from noise.

This makes things even more challenging for those who only recently took the red pill. Hopefully they can find places like this forum and profit from the knowledgeable and well intentioned people.

Thanks everyone.


Apr 13, 2014 - 6:38am


and yes - expect an increase in the noise. All the better to keep attention from the real goings-on.

Apr 13, 2014 - 7:29am

Bye! Bye! Bye!

But we won't forget you. They all seem to be leaving all of a sudden, I wonder why? Mmmmm Are we Getting Close? Keep Stacking

I Run Bartertown
Apr 13, 2014 - 8:18am

"Firebrand politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is widely viewed to have close links to President Vladimir Putin, called for McDonald's to halt serving "their poisonous food" in Russia.

Earlier today, McDonald's suspended work at its three outlets in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which was recently annexed by Moscow to widespread international condemnation.

McDonald's said the move was due to unspecified manufacturing reasons "beyond the company's control".

The chain say they hope to resume work as soon as possible, but offered to help relocate staff to mainland Ukraine, signalling it did not expect its Crimean business to reopen in the near future.

In response, pro-Kremlin figure Mr Zhirinovsky called for McDonald's to shut all over Russia "so there is not a scent of them left", saying he was ready to lead a campaign to force the closure.

He added: "It's very good that McDonald's is closing its branches in Crimea. Let them close their branches over here too.

"As a form of sanctions, they have agreed not to poison Crimeans in Crimea."


"Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said."


"China has been blocking shipments of American corn from its market since November. This was caused by the presence of the MIR162 genetically modified corn strain in the shipments. It was developed by the company Syngenta and has not been approved by the Chinese government since an application was submitted in March 2010.

China has sharply increased corn imports since the late 2000s, with purchases increasing from 47,000 tons in 2008 to an estimated 5 million tons last year. It was the third-largest importer of American corn before the imports of Syngenta’s GMO strain were blocked.

US traders want seed companies to shoulder some of the losses. They also say seed companies should not introduce new varieties of seeds to farmers until they are approved by major markets, including China."

4 oz
Apr 13, 2014 - 8:20am

Well, we're still here Charlie!

Well, we're still here Charlie! Does seem to be lots of noise, doesn't there? Still have my fingers crossed we'll all be buzzing about a big Sprott Silver buy one day here pretty soon.....

El Gordo
Apr 13, 2014 - 8:21am

Well, I'm tempted... say something profound, but nothing comes to mind right away. Perhaps if I mull it over a bit I can develop some coherent thought, but I wouldn't bet a whole lot on that happening.

Apr 13, 2014 - 8:23am

An ill wind blows

An ill wind blows, and it's shifting all the trash around.

Apr 13, 2014 - 8:28am
sierra skier
Apr 13, 2014 - 8:52am

Always a good read.

Always a good read.

So much news, so much graft, so little regulation. It all plays down to,,, just keep working and slaving while we drain your efforts and disappear into tunnel of wealthy retired.

It often feels like their is no win for us regular folks.

Marchas45 4 oz
Apr 13, 2014 - 9:07am


Well, we're still here Charlie!

Does seem to be lots of noise, doesn't there?
Still have my fingers crossed we'll all be buzzing about a big Sprott Silver buy one day here pretty soon.....

We sure are Good Buddy and still Stacking with a Positive Attitude. Keep Stacking Everything Even Faith and Hope. Lol

Apr 13, 2014 - 9:33am

Global Confluence

I am having trouble keeping all of the global, regional and nation-level geopolitical developments all in frame as a single interconnected whole


Physicists strive to discovery the unified field theory. Some have, in Domestic and International movements, and once you "get it", its all pretty predicable over the long run. Surely there are highs and lows, and superimposed noise and impulses, that distort the irrepressible trends, but if you can filter information flow through the steady microscope, it all become fairly clear.

USSA Leftist Political Pandering, until implosion, the negative feedback, which is part of the global confluence of the interconnected core, and the rouges GAP insurgencies.

Apr 13, 2014 - 9:33am

Good Post, JY

There is also the BLM (Bureau of Loony Morons) brown shirts showing their collective arse in Dirty Harry Reid land.

There's also the hit made on a banker in a European parking garage. (No comment from the banker since calls went unanswered.)

And then there is Obummer's overt attempt to get Bozo Biden whacked by sending him to the Ukraine shooting gallery. Word is, Biden was packing a nail gun for self defense.

Apr 13, 2014 - 10:02am

@Marchas45, JY

Marchas45- Really enjoyed your most recent video, you make me smile every time! Thanks for sharing those here, and congrats on your hat! You were already a true Turdite, but the hat looked great anyway.

JY- Another great post, and it is REALLY interesting how we are seeing such upheaval in terms of people, and in so many different areas/locations/professions associated with the great game in one way or another. The run of banker suicides/suicided suggests, at the very least, that astounding pressure and force is being required to keep things turning and keep the simulation wheezing along. When people start to crack, it seems to me that the machinery cannot be far behind, but we'll see.

The Emperor would disagree with me, however. She would probably argue that this will be central planning's finest hour.

Apr 13, 2014 - 10:04am

Not a smidgen

of news coverage on Sunday shows of the BLM's failed roust and attempts at intimidation of American citizens in the Nevada desert, only more phony blather about O Baa Ma care.

Apr 13, 2014 - 10:44am

JY -Fantastic Post

What a treat on this fine morning, thank you. I particularly enjoy you weighing in on the Eastern Europe / Asian angle, too.

One thing I have always believed is that with the shift of economic power from west to east, there would come a day of reckoning for vice. Drugs, prostitution, gambling, all of these are indelibly human nature, and have to be satiated, not ignored. Temperance is foolishly regarded as the solution, when ignorance, such as is manifest by the legions of low information voters, will always render temperance a failed policy. So, is it legalization, or some form of state-sponsored administration, or acquiescence, which will be the solution? Perhaps the eastern powers will attempt enforcement on the demand side of the curve, rather than the supply side of the curve with its failed war on drugs policy that only enriches the military industrial complex and elevates the power of the state?

No matter, though, because the human condition will always result in the irresistible lure of intoxicants, especially as economic conditions and misery increase the suffering of the masses.

So this leads to some thoughts. There has to be a shift of drug smuggling operations and accounting/money laundering as well.

Opiates and synthetics like methamphetamine have worldwide demand, worth billions of dollars in today's currency prices. The logistical operations, whether production or distribution, and the accounting operations have to be managed, no doubt, and I wonder how that transfer of power from west to east is being accomplished.

Some thoughts I have include: who takes over for the actual distribution when the US military is no longer doing the delivery or providing security for operations or accounting? What role will the west play in the new realigned economic power structure relative to the drug trade?

Perhaps this is the subject of high level negotiations, over which the eastern powers will reach agreement with the west, that will lead to the conclusion of the power shift and therefore not lead to a massive war?

Clearly, economic power centers around energy and the petrol dollar, which concept is ending in real time. But, governments must still control their people, and unless the lower socio-economic classes are satiated with their bread, circuses and intoxicants, no government is safe from rebellion. So, what is going to be done by those in charge about this unspoken issue?

As always, keep those great posts coming! Thanks again!

Apr 13, 2014 - 10:48am


Nice artwork, well done!

On a side note, the City of San Bernardino has created a charter reform committee, formed expressly to analyze and reform the City's charter.

I submitted my Private Economic Zones paper to one of the members of the committee, and had some interesting discussions. Let's see what happens.

Even if nothing comes of it, at least I tried.

Apr 13, 2014 - 11:01am

Here's today's ray of hope ...

Well, it was Friday's ray of hope, but I've been busy.

I work at a large Fly-over-land high school. Midday Friday, I stopped in at one of the offices to make some copies. Two young ladies were standing at the counter. Both were juniors, so about 16-17 YO. One was fiddling around with some coins in a bowl, placed there to collect money for "Pennies for Patients".

Coin girl says to her friend, while holding up a penny, "Look at this. It's made of copper and it's worth one penny." She then picks up a dime and says, "Now, look at this. It's worth 10 of these (showing the penny), but it's smaller and I don't even know what it's made of. At least copper is useful." Now she picks up a quarter. She says to friend, "And this is a quarter, worth 25 of these (the penny again). At least it's bigger, but is it actually more valuable than 25 pennies? I don't think so."

At this point, I felt compelled to get involved. I said, "Actually, you're right. The copper in the penny is worth about 2 cents. The metal in the dime might be worth about 2 cents also. The quarter, maybe a nickel. They are only worth what the government says they're worth."

Coin girl turns and smiles. She says to friend, "See, they're only worth what the government says they're worth. What about a dollar? It's only a piece of paper. Why is one worth a dollar and another worth 20 or a 100. It's just paper."

I couldn't help myself. I said, "Actually, the Constitution says that money must be gold or silver. The system has been corrupted."

Coin girl starts towards the door with friend in tow. She turns and says, "I knew silence is golden. Now, money is golden. I like that."

This student made me proud. I'm not sure where she got her notions about money. I doubt she learned it in her economics class, but I hope she did. She will probably be a stacker some day.

Absolutely true story.

wax off

Apr 13, 2014 - 11:02am

Well done CL!!!

You are a shining example to all the rest of us computer jockeys to get out there in the real world and start swinging for free markets. Please keep us informed, and see if you can get feedback from your contact regarding the discussion your concept provokes- even if it doesn't make it this time, this could be a valuable test to home arguments and packaging/presentation for future tries. Much respect, mon!!!

Apr 13, 2014 - 11:19am

Somewhat off topic

Hi all. Working for fiat blows. This was forwarded to me from my son the educator. More misdirection and obfuscation from the NY Dept of Ed.

New York Principal Explains Why the State Tests Were Terrible

“And what exactly are we measuring? 2013 ELA test questions released on Engage NY show that students who used valid inferences in their written responses supported by paraphrased details from a passage did not receive full credit despite being correct and demonstrating a thorough understanding of the text. This is because the Common Core requires students to use a strategy called “close reading,” a strategy that requires them to support their answers using only “text-based details.” What this means is that a student who engages in higher-level thinking skills (such as inference) and who is able to explain a text in his or her own words will not score as a well as a students who simply copy text details verbatim into their response. If high-stakes testing encourages teaching to the test, could we actually be encouraging a dumbed-down, formulaic method of responding to a text? Without access to these tests, we may never know.”

What, the NYD of Ed aiding and abetting the dumbing down of the children? Shocked I tell you.

Apr 13, 2014 - 12:24pm

The United States government

The United States government has five interrelated motivations for
destroying the value of the dollar:

1. Creating money out of thin air on a massive basis is all that
stands between the current state of hidden depression, and overt
depression with unemployment levels in excess of those seen in the
US Great Depression of the 1930s.

2. It is the most effective way to meet not just current crushing
debt levels, but to deal with the rapidly approaching massive
generational crisis of paying for Boomer retirement promises.

3. It creates a lucratively profitable $500 billion a year hidden
tax for the benefit of the US government which is not understood by
voters or debated in elections.

4. It is the weapon of choice being used to wage currency war and
reboot US economic growth; and

5. It is an essential component of political survival and enhanced
power for incumbent politicians.

In this article we will take a holistic approach to how individual
short term, medium and long term pressures all come together to
leave the government with effectively no choice but to create a
substantial rate of inflation that will steadily destroy the value
of the dollar.

Best regards,

Dan Amerman

Reading 15 Link:

Apr 13, 2014 - 1:09pm

BLOCKBUSTER: Investigators

BLOCKBUSTER: Investigators reveal MH370 co-pilot tried to make a call from his mobile phone after the aircraft ‘vanished’ but ‘was abruptly cut off’ as U.S. deny reports the plane landed at their remote military base

Investigators say call was made from Fariq Abdul Hamid’s mobile phone. It was flying low enough for a sub-station in Penang to pick up signal. Details of who Fariq was trying to call have not been disclosed.

from Daily Mail:

The co-pilot of missing flight MH370 made a call from his mobile phone while the aircraft flew low over the west coast of Malaysia, it was revealed today as the U.S. denied reports the plane landed at a military base on the remote island of Diego Garcia.

Investigators have learned that the call was made from Fariq Abdul Hamid’s mobile phone as the Boeing 777 flew low near the island of Penang, on the north of Malaysia’s west coast.

The New Straits Times reported the aircraft, with 239 people on board, was flying low enough for the nearest telecommunications tower to pick up Fariq’s signal.

Read More @

Apr 13, 2014 - 1:35pm

Close Reading

Wow, that is an amazing story about a school district requiring "close reading," or their corrupted version of it.

The practice of "close reading" was invented by Gerry Mohrmann and his colleague Mike Leff from Northwestern University as a method of rhetorical criticism. It is one of only two methods that has wide support and acceptance among rhetorical scholars.

In essence, the "close reading" requires a "critic" to actually read a speech or other text (poem, book, legal document, etc) in the act of critique and then cite specific passages as the "evidence" to support a thesis. The method is interpretive requires circumstantial research, and inferential reasoning to get at the heart of a text. In Leff's view, the critic seeks to reconstruct the mind of the speaker, the mind of the audience as the writer/speaker understands it, and a articulate preferred relationship between the speaker and audience --all as revealed by reading between, beyond, and through the lines of a text.

We do it all the time on this blog when we post a quote, story, or excerpt from some luminary and make arguments about what it means and what the motive is behind it. And most of us do it quite well.

Sounds to me like this Common Core has corrupted the method and twisted it to support the status quo, only taking words at face value and not for all the inferences, innuendos, meta-messages and implied meanings that humans embed in their communication.

Alas, that the state legislatures that create "common core" curricula assign the task to second rate professors and teachers. Universities are loaded with professors whose specialty is teaching (very often holding Ed.D. degree) but have very little training in any single academic discipline. In short they are experts in nothing but teaching methods but have the last word in how the true experts are supposed to teach their disciplines. They situate themselves on curriculum committees, assessment committees, tenure committees, and generally try to tell the rest of us how to teach, how to assess the learning of our students, and vote on tenure. I have seen some great professors have their promotions held up by tenure committees loaded with second rate profs who nitpick their teaching methods and ignore their ground-breaking research and glowing student evaluations. Harvard has taken steps to stop offering the Ed.D. degree.

Higher Education has serious problems, even if someone can afford a degree.

Rant off!

Gold Dog
Apr 13, 2014 - 1:44pm

Thanks JY!

The wheel is spinning faster and long can the center hold?

Your friend,


Apr 13, 2014 - 1:59pm

Additional items...

Thanks for this menu/post of all these tasty items on our buffet of considerations.

I feel compelled to offer from the world of Astrology, the Grand Cross, and from Astronomy, the impending Blood Moon and the Lunar Eclipse. Energies from these realms always tickle at the edges, sometimes enough to push things off the shelf.

BagOfGold tyberious
Apr 13, 2014 - 1:59pm may just be my feelings...

but my senses tell me the truth about the disappearance of the MH370...will not be exposed until UFO disclosure is revealed within a UFO false flag event...& that event is coming very soon!!!...

Bag Of Gold

Apr 13, 2014 - 2:50pm

Congrats, CaliLaw!

That's great news, I really hope that it leads to meaningful discussion and consideration of your proposal. I have not read too deeply on the details (or current status) of these recommendations from Rand Paul, but the fact that he is (or at least WAS) pushing them points to a visibility that may help in your dealings with the City Council.

PS: Welcome on board, Bacchus.

Apr 13, 2014 - 4:04pm

US warns of tougher sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

13/04 18:55 CET

The United States says it will impose stricter sanctions on Russia if it continues to take action against Ukraine.

The threat of tougher penalties came from the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power in an interview on ABC’s This Week.

“The forces are doing in each six or seven cities that they have been activing exactly the same thing. So certainly it bears the tell-tale signs of Moscow’s involvement. And if actions like the kind we’ve seen over the last few days continue, you’re going to see a ramping up of those sanctions.”

However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Kyiv was “demonstrating its inability to take responsibility for the fate of the country.”

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has repeated his concern about similarities in some of the separatists’ appearance to that of Russian troops who seized control in Crimea.

It comes after he warned that Russia’s military manoeuvres on the Ukraine border risk stoking tensions.

Apr 13, 2014 - 4:20pm

Turkish jets scramble for Russian intel plane

The Turkish Air Force scrambled four F-16 fighter jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew parallel along its Black Sea coast, the military said on April 13.

The events happened amid increased tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and Ankara and Moscow over the alleged violation of the Montreux Convention.

The incident is believed to be the fifth since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis with Russian IL-20 intelligence planes conducting surveillance flights very near to Turkish airspace, but not violating it.

“Approaching from the Romanian side, a Russian IL-20 plane flew along 15 to 20 nautical miles parallel off our shores in international air space,” read the statement issued by the Chief of General Staff on April 13.

The statement informed that four F-16 fighters, from Bandırma and Merzifon air bases, were scrambled around noon and the Russian surveillance plane was intercepted once at 12:35 local time.

Apr 13, 2014 - 4:23pm

Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, and now Armenia

Armenia names new prime minister

Armenia on Sunday named parliament speaker Ovik Abraamian as its new prime minister.

Abraamian, 56, takes over from Tigran Sarkisian who resigned earlier this month. Under the constitution, he now has 20 days to form a government.

"Given Ovik Abraamian's experience, we believe that he can and will resolve the problems our society faces," said deputy speaker Eduard Sharmazanov as he announced the appointment.

Sarkisian's government had come in for sharp criticism over a scheme requiring people born after 1974 to deposit five percent of their pay in private pension funds.

Thousands took to the streets to protest what they called a government "racket".

A landlocked country of 3.2 million, Armenia was badly affected by the global downturn and unemployment is a major issue.

The former Soviet state is economically isolated with its borders to Turkey and Azerbaijan both blocked due to ongoing international disputes.

Sarkisian surprised many last year by turning his back on years of negotiations toward a free-trade deal with the European Union in favour of joining the Moscow-led customs union, a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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