2020 December 16

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Daily news wrap-up

Dec/16/2020 news: \\ Artsakh president speech \\ 30 soldiers returned, 73 to go \\ POWs & search \\ opposition rallies \\ Russian aid \\ EU aid for justice reforms \\ China > Turkey \\ education system \\ $5 billion offer \\ Sanitek's trashy move \\ COVID stats \\ healthcare & Iran \\ shipping pills
by ar_david_hh


Your 15-minute Wednesday report in 3804 words.

update: Hin Tagher incident / encircled soldiers return & reveal details / 73 remain

After the weekend skirmishes in the narrow strip of land west of the Shushi-Hadrut corridor, a report arrived that several dozen Armenian soldiers were encircled and captured near Hin Tagher village.

Army said: the connection was lost with several positions in Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd. We're working with the peacekeepers to clarify their status.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203068

Artsakh HR Ombudsman: we confirmed that approximately 60 soldiers were encircled and captured in the past few days.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203086

Artsakh prez. Arayik: several dozen soldiers were confirmed captured. The MoD is gathering all the details. Those responsible will be subject to legal liability.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203089

Many of the soldiers are from Shirak province. Some of the family members went to Artsakh to meet peacekeepers. Families say the contact was lost on Sunday afternoon. This is around the same time when we received the Sunday report of 9 soldiers being encircled.

Families believe that their relatives, who are reservists, were stationed further away on disputed lands. Sometime during the day, the contact was lost between reservists in the front line and volunteers 20km away in the rear.

30 of the encircled soldiers were freed. They closed a nearby road to raise awareness of the incident. They presented the events as such: "Some 1,500 Azeri and special forces were in the area. Our commander Arsen Ghazaryan was in the outpost with us. He began negotiating with Turks to secure our exit. Turks said they won't shoot. They gave us until 5 o'clock to leave. Besides us [30 people], there were 60 others. That group needed more time to prepare their exit but they weren't given the time, so they were captured. Our commander went to negotiate to release the rest of 60."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203069 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203081 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203092 , https://fip.am/14253

Shirak governor: some of them are a group of volunteers from Shirak. They were supposed to leave the position on Monday due to telecommunication issues. The incident happened on Sunday. [there were likely two separate incidents in the same area]

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203097

Pashinyan during an interview to Azatutyun: there are reports that Russian peacekeepers were also encircled [Russia later denied it]. There was a telecommunication issue due to landscape and other circumstances. Russians also faced communication issues [jammers?]. The reports about "new hostages in Hadrut region" are all part of the same events. As of yesterday, Azerbaijan had not signed the document confirming the mandate of the peacekeepers. We can view these events under this context. It's a provocation. The situation around Hin Shen is being resolved...

...We have an agreement that neither Armenian nor Azeri troops must be stationed in the Lachin corridor. It must be fully under Russian control. The issue now is that this process [of withdrawal] must be done synchronously.

The villages in Lachin will be under the protection of peacekeepers. Armenian residents should stay and continue to live there.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203114 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203099 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203112 , https://www.lragir.am/2020/12/16/608770/ ,

Army: a video showing Armenian soldiers returning from captivity is authentic. The peacekeepers negotiated the return of the encircled soldiers near Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd. 73 soldiers remain unaccounted for. There were incorrect reports about "171 soldiers".

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203117 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203130

It was reported last night that Azeris withdrew from the Hin Shen village outskirts.

https://factor.am/321247.html

war footage: date unclear

Circulated yesterday. Azeri soldiers walk behind a tank when the Armenian side opens fire with an RPG.

May contain graphic images: https://v.redd.it/frzt5sci18561/ Human Rights Watch: Attack on Church Possible War Crime

"Azerbaijani forces attacked a church in the city of Shushi on October 8, 2020 during the Nagorno-Karabakh hostilities, in what appears to be a deliberate targeting in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today."

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/12/16/azerbaijan-attack-church-possible-war-crime

https://factor.am/321507.html

POWs and missing soldiers

Families of soldiers who had been missing since the beginning of the war held another demonstration in front of the MoD building and demanded to speak with General Chief of Staff Onik Gasparyan. They've been waiting for news for 3 months.

One parent said they held hopes that the son would be found alive, but recent search operations in Jabrayil and Hadrut regions didn't find anyone alive. They were hoping the soldier would be sheltering somewhere in the forests; there were similar incidents in the past. 10 parents went to speak with the army chief.

MoD Vagharshak met families later to brief them on the ongoing process.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203082 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203087 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203100 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203118

64 bodies were discovered in the Jabrayil and Hadrut regions yesterday. Four groups participate in search operations. These are the locations of searches so far: began from Shushi > Martuni > Martakert > Martuni again > Hadrut city & outskirts > Kubatlu, Qashatagh > Jabrayil (current location). So far 892 bodies have been found since the ceasefire. There will be repeated searches in each area.

https://factor.am/321410.html

A group of soldiers received medals posthumously for acts of heroism.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038038.html

opposition continues the demonstrations

"The only way for Nikol Pashinyan to bear political responsibility is to resign. If he doesn't, we will force him to. The ruling party cannot simply appoint another of its members when Pashinyan resigns," said HHK Shawarmazanov, during today's demonstration organized by the former regime, attended by very many people (so there won't be arguments over size).

They marched to the prosecutors' office and asked them whether Pashinyan has been questioned after General Movses aka "Mosi" Hakobyan's accusations. (SIS asked General Mosi to back up his claims and hand over alleged tapes of illegal orders by Pashinyan [about draft process], but he didn't provide evidence, so SIS didn't launch a case). The opposition urged the prosecutors and police to "isolate Pashinyan" and to "act only lawfully".

ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan: we declare hunger strike and student strike beginning December 22nd. Everyone should gather at 12 o'clock. We must paralyze the whole country to force the scarecrow to resign. There will be mass acts of disobedience.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203101 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203119

no pre-trial arrest for Mikael Minasyan

Serj's son-in-law and media/mining magnate Mikael "Povar Mishik" Minasyan was charged with large-scale financial crimes after a 2018-2019 investigation. The court had earlier rejected his pre-trial arrest, finding it unnecessary.

On September 22nd, prosecutors filed additional money laundering charges after discovering suspicious transactions. The Lower Court, at the time, found his arrest to be justified. Minasyan appealed the arrest decision and today the Appeals Court sided with him. He won't be arrested before his trial. He won't be arrested either way because he is residing in Russia where he runs a successful cooking show.

Minasyan had commented on one of the felony charges, saying his associate made a typological error that grossly exaggerated the sum owned by him. (HRBlock is a thing, you know) He believes the charges against him are political persecution.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203088 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186242

Pashinyan talks about the $5 billion offer by Aliyev

An audiotape was leaked recently, revealing that Aliyev had offered Serj Sargsyan billions of dollars to accept Lavrov's Plan, which meant giving away the 7 regions. Serj rejected the offer in 2016.

General Samvel Babayan later claimed Serj agreed to give away the regions but that was in 2018 and Serj was forced to resign. A question arose whether that $5 billion was a bribe or humanitarian aid.

It was also revealed that Aliyev made the same offer to Pashinyan in 2018 when he became the Prime Minister. Pashinyan's NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan (who later joined the former regime) said he met an Azeri representative in a meeting in Dubai who passed details about the $5 billion offer. Today, some of Pashinhyan's critics present this story as "we told you he sold the lands".

Pashinyan during an interview: First of all, the contact that was established with Azerbaijan was not secret. I mentioned it publicly. That was after the Dushanbe meeting. There was no secret there. I suggest launching a felony investigation regarding the claims made by Vanetsyan. Let him give a statement, let him clarify events publicly. If there was treason why didn't Vanetsyan, then NSS leader, launch a treason investigation or ask SIS to do so? Was Vanetsyan also a traitor? Investigate what that $5 billion is about. Investigate my properties around the world, you have my permission and signatures to check accounts.

[Level-1 logic: Nikol took $5 billion bribes to gave away 7 regions.

Level-1 logic contradicts itself: why didn't Nikol agree to give away 7 regions? That would have stopped the war and prevent the fall of Shushi.

Level-100 logic: Nikol did not take a bribe and did not want to give away the regions, which eventually prompted Aliyev to start a war.]

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203123

political meetings, appointments, resignations

Speaker Mirzoyan met QO Party (Քաղաքացու որոշում) and Heritage Party leaders to discuss border security and POW issues.

President Sarkissian met representatives of intelligentsia and culture, then LHK chief Marukyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203084 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203075 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203104 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038004.html

As announced yesterday, Lori governor has resigned today and vowed to help the next governor if needed.

Shirak deputy-governor is fired/resigned.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203106 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203107

Artsakh president Arayik's speech:

Despite losing a significant part of our homeland to the Azeri-Turkish aggression, we were able to save a significant part of our homeland, where we will continue to live, create, and fight for our rights.

Deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones. We are forever grateful to anyone who fell while defending their homeland.

Our independence and the Constitution continue to operate in the same way. Moreover, we will be more determined to fight for our legal-political rights. It should be noted that the protection of human rights in international relations remains a purely declarative thing; the international community failed to fulfill its obligations, turning a blind eye to the war crimes.

Here is our roadmap:

Security

Without a secure environment, it is impossible to achieve success in other areas. 1) Our borders became longer. 2) We have a shortage in manpower and equipment 3) Russian peacekeepers and Armenia continue to provide security.

We're trying to solve these issues. Some of the results depend on international negotiations. Either way, our Defense Army continues to will continue to protect the borders with the help of all Armenians and Russian peacekeepers.

Nevertheless, the Azeri side continues its provocative behavior, as exemplified by their recent actions near Khtsaberd and Berdadzor. Our army and peacekeepers prevented further provocations, and yesterday, Azeris were pushed out of the Shushi region's Hin Tagher outskirts. No one was harmed near Berdadzor. Unfortunately, several dozen soldiers were captured near Khtsaberd. There will be a legal process to find those we're responsible. We're taking steps to return them.

Foreign Policy

Our foreign policy directions and priorities, in general, have not changed, but have changed in terms of their strength:

1) The entire foreign policy potential of Artsakh and Armenia must intelligently and consistently serve the realization of a secure environment.

2) International recognition of the Artsakh Republic based on our people's right to self-determination. If before the war the main topics were to prevent the use of force, self-determination, and territorial integrity, then today two of those things are out. Not only does Azerbaijan not have a problem of territorial integrity, but they occupied some territories belonging to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic per the 1991 declaration. Today, self-determination is what's left to discuss.

3) The restoration of the territorial integrity of the Artsakh Republic, which is necessary for security and humanitarian purposes.

4) The settlement of humanitarian issues. POWs and missing persons, ensuring the return of displaced persons to their homes, the proper protection of cultural and cultural heritage. The international community's help is needed here; Russia leads the efforts. Hopefully, other countries will follow Russia's suit and break Artsakh's artificial international isolation.

5) Policies to attract foreign investment and boost economic development.

Humanitarian & Social

The state needs to work efficiently to solve the massive additional problems accumulated as a result of the war. Housing for those who became homeless, covering their basic daily needs. Here is our ongoing plan:

1) Work with Armenia to return POWs and find the bodies.

2) Temporary housing for the homeless while we build housing.

3) Housing for all homeless within 3 years.

4) Pay residents' mortgage loans and interest rates for 3 years. (new)

5) Significant help to businesses via loans. (new)

6) Distribute more construction material to villages.

7) Compensate those who are helping the homeless.

8) One-time financial aid to residents with the help of Armenia.

9) Another financial aid for those who lost their homes, with the help of Armenia.

10) Financial aid size of minimum-wage to residents for a duration of 6 months.

11) Subsidize gas, electricity, phone, internet, water bills for 1 year. We will raise the earlier-announced limitations to increase coverage.

12) Declare tax amnesty and establish broad tax benefits. (new)

13) Assess property damage done by the war for compensation calculations in the future.

14) Asphalt on every road leading to every village within 3 years. (new)

These are just a part of our program. More long-term solutions will be implemented later. The finances will come from Artsakh, Armenia, Himnadram.org, and Russia. Hopefully, other international organizations will provide humanitarian aid.

Internal Affairs

Losses during the war is a great source of internet crisis. Stability and unity are needed post-war, otherwise, the crisis can deepen. I am responsible for this situation within the framework of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, but when holding anyone responsible, it is necessary to separate the wet from the dry, the objective from subjective. The Constitution states the president is a guarantor of security, yet it's no secret that I don't command armies and have a limited resources in general.

One of the questions was whether it was the right thing to stop the war on November 9th under those conditions. As I've said earlier, we would have lost more had we not stopped it. Couldn't we stop it sooner with more favorable terms, and couldn't we do more to improve the army before the war? Yes, but I will talk about it later.

I was ready to resign after the ceasefire but I chose to continue for the following main reasons:

1) Did Artsakh need a political fight instead of focusing on the urgent humanitarian issues?

2) Could we hold proper elections under those conditions?

3) There would be problems with the Constitution, which would create an additional crisis.

4) I am not a person who avoids responsibility, on the contrary, I take full responsibility in this difficult period. As for the actions and behavior of me and other officials during the war, I welcome reports from various NGOs of possible high treason and other alleged crimes. I will cooperate with the investigation.

Political processes

1) I launched discussions with parliamentary, non-parliamentary, and civil groups to overcome the crisis. We already have some agreements. Every capable and compassionate person should have the opportunity to use their potential to achieve our common goal.

2) Although the Constitution gives me (president) a vast amount of power, I will make the important decisions with the participation of Parliament, Security Council, and civil groups. Public discussions should become the norm.

3) I decided to step down as the leader of AH Party and quit the party. I'll be independent.

4) I am ready to resign as president at the first opportunity when the republic is ready to hold proper elections.

5) I will soon approve the new structure of the government, optimize the various departments in order to increase efficiency and save public funds.

6) There will be new political and defense appointments.

7) All security-related decisions by the president will have to be approved by the Security Council.

8) The Security Council will enlarge to include more public and political circles.

Public Administration

The system of public administration is generally in crisis, which negatively affects humanitarian work's efficiency. New structural changes will be made in the coming days. I urge all government agencies and officials to work responsibly and compassionately to address the difficult post-war challenges.

I had earlier published a list of high-ranking officials who fled Artsakh during the war, instead of staying and fighting. These deserters should not be allowed to hold high-ranking positions in the future. As for lower-ranking deserters, that topic should be discussed later.

Final Words

Dear compatriots. We face many challenges, sometimes uncontrollable and complicated. But we must stand strong for our future generations. We as a nation are determined to get out of this difficult situation with honor, to straighten our backs, to move forward in our historical march. We do not have the right to fail at this stage. This is our just struggle, the natural continuation of the struggle of our ancestors. We will definitely succeed.

Strength and security to the Armenian Holy Motherland.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203089

French city of Montpellier

... has adopted a resolution urging the French govt to officially recognize Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038021.html

Russian humanitarian envoy

... brought 54 trucks of aid for Artsakh residents. Russian doctors treated 529 patients since November 13th.

https://factor.am/321267.html , https://factor.am/321357.html

Chinese products to replace Turkish ones

The government recently banned the import of Turkish products. It goes into effect in January. The Economy Ministry Qerobyan met the Chinese ambassador and gave him a list of Turkish products that Armenia currently imports. They spoke about replacing them with Chinese ones.

"There is a great potential to develop our trade," said the Chinese diplomat. The Minister invited Chinese firms to invest in reservoir construction, apartment complex construction, industrial city development, etc.

They spoke about direct air flights between the two countries. Armenia has recently removed the need for a visa for Chinese tourists.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203110

EU will issue €9 million grant for justice system reforms

Justice Minister Badasyan: this €9 million grant is the first installment of the €30 million programs The implementation of judicial and anti-corruption reforms remains one of the priorities of our government. I am glad that the progress made this year was also praised by our European partners. I thank the European Union for its continued support.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203079

math & natural sciences

Assessment and Testing Center representative: TIMSS international testing among 4th and 8th graders, which is done every 4 years, has found that Armenian children became better at math and natural sciences. 4th graders match the worldwide average now. 150 schools were examined in Armenia. Unfortunately, the interest in natural sciences remains low, despite the improvement compared to previous years. We sent the results and suggestions to the Education Ministry.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203128

World Bank and education system in Armenia

Education Minister Dumanyan met the World Bank representative.

Minister: The year has taught us that education is at the core of the country's security and development. Education and science are inseparable, special emphasis will be given to the natural sciences. We will continue with the reforms.

World Bank: One of our joint programs is coming to an end, and it is necessary to outline the directions of further cooperation. I'm confident that Armenia can best realize its potential in the field of IT, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence. Despite all the existing difficulties, Armenia must stand up, continue to live, fully realize that potential.

Congratulations to Armenia on the results of the recently published 2019 international assessment of mathematics and science. Armenia has registered an improvement of 42 points, which is huge progress.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203080

Sanitek is suing Armenia

Sanitek is the garbage company (no pun) that couldn't handle the capital's waste collection. The city was submerged in waste. After the elections, Mayor Marutyan decided to cancel the contract with Sanitek, citing its "inability to handle the contractual duties". The city created a new department and began collecting the trash itself.

Now Sanitek plans to sue the city in international courts to recover the invested funds.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037955.html

solar panels for a school

Mastara school in Aragatsotn has 10kW solar panels. It's enough to cover the school's needs. $1,300 will be saved annually.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203126

COVID stats

+3272 tested. +1098 infected. +1242 healed. +38 deaths.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203073

COVID stats since the beginning / test kits / ventilators

Every 47th patient has died. Every 4th test was positive. 551,637 have been tested. 149,120 infections. 3,000 deaths.

Armenia has 493 lung ventilators, up from 205 during the first wave. 15% were being used as of November 6th.

Armenia has 101,000 available test kits imported from Germany, South Korea, and Russia (each being 3rd of the share).

103,000 test kits Made in Armenia have been used., about 22% of overall.

More: https://hetq.am/hy/article/125432

healthcare cooperation with Iran

Torosyan met the Iran ambassador and discussed medical cooperation. They'll exchange practice, fight against COVID, and could soon produce medical equipment and medication together. Iran expects significant progress within 6 months.

"Powerful and rich Armenia is a pride for the neighboring country, therefore we want Armenia to have great success, to develop the healthcare sector as much as, and reach its peak," said ambassador Abbas Chohuri.

"We appreciate the direct contact with our Iranian counterparts, and thank them for the help in this difficult situation. I am confident that our friendly relations will continue in the future, especially after overcoming the situation caused by this pandemic," said Minister Torosyan.

https://factor.am/321297.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203078 , https://factor.am/321297.html

Made in Armenia

AriDes Armenian company produces medical devices, multi-function beds, etc. They agreed to help Artsakh refugees residing in Armenia.

https://factor.am/321378.html

Post office will let you buy & import medicine

HayPost and Alpha-Farm have a new pilot program in 10 villages. They want to make financial, banking, and public sector services more accessible to remote villages. The residents will be able to order medication and receive it within 3 days.

Pills that can only be found in Yerevan pharmacies will become more accessible. The pricing will be the same as in Yerevan.

If the program is successful, it'll spread across the country. Many villages currently don't have pharmacies. With this program, you just need to enter HayPost and order the medicine.

Soon, you'll be allowed to import expensive medication to Armenia via HayPost.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037957.html

industrial production in Armenia

... grew at the fastest rate (+0.5%) among the EAEU trade bloc countries (-2.8% combined). Russia saw a -3.1% decline.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037949.html

elections were held in Armenia

FIFA has to pick the best 2020 soccer player of the world. Every country's national team coach and the captain have the right to vote.

Captain Mkhitaryan voted for Lewandowsky, while coach Caparros chose Sergio Ramos.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203122

you can donate to Artsakh & Armenia

www.1000plus.am (soldiers' medical help)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my daily news threads:

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" guilty.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/kej6u9/dec162020_news_artsakh_president_speech_30/

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