2020 December 27

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Daily news wrap-up

Dec/27/2020 wrap-up: \\ Pashinyan explains Syunik borders & "demarcation" \\ opposition rejects snap elections \\ re-education camps \\ Mishik's not-so-secret doc \\ generous courts \\ church affairs \\ Kapan mayor speaks \\ aid for Artsakh \\ high-tech classes & Post Office \\ Iran-Armenia gas \\
by ar_david_hh

Your 15-minute Friday-Sunday report in 3793 words.

opposition MP Naira Zohrabyan calls for mandatory re-education camps

The BHK MP Zohrabyan is a controversial figure with a history of berating diasporan Armenians by calling them cowards who fled for a piece of bread, spreading fake news about borders, and more recently using inappropriate language, say the members of the ruling QP Party, who drafted a resolution to terminate her chairmanship in Parliamentary Human Rights Committee.

Recently Zohrabyan referred to the majority of Armenian voters, who voted for the QP Party in 2018, as "ժեխ", which stands for "human garbage", or as Zohrabyan herself says "impure". "They cling on that one word and now want to punish me... I don't really care... Nikol is a small man."

She earlier wrote another post, essentially calling for the establishment of forced re-education camps for anyone who voted for Pashinyan's QP party, "so they won't make the same mistake again during future elections".

Zohrabyan:: "Մեր երկրի թիվ 1 խնդիրը տգիտությունն է: Նիկոլի ու Նիկոլիզմի ավարտից հետո մենք, եթե կուզեք, այո, բռնի ուժով պիտի կրթենք նաեւ հասարակության էդ հատվածին, որ այլեւս որեւէ ընտրության ժամանակ չգնա ու իր հայելային արտացոլանքին չբերի իշխանության."

QP party responds: A person with such a vocabulary cannot fulfill the duties of the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038965.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203760 , https://factor.am/324452.html

opposition holds demonstrations

The 16 parties allied with the former regime continue demonstrations with demands for Pashinyan's resignation. They shut down several streets in Yerevan on Friday. The police detained 15 activists for not following orders to clear roads.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038985.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038998.html

Mikael Minasyan publishes a document / Security Council responds

Serj Sargsyan's fugitive son-in-law Mikael "Povar Mishik" Minasyan published - what he calls - a secret document sent from Russia-led CSTO military bloc to Armenia a month before the war, which allegedly "warned" Armenian about the war, and that Pashinyan had an opportunity to ask for help but didn't.

Security Council responds: it's unsurprising that Minasyan spreads nonsense to mislead the public. He attempts to present a plan for a routine military exercise as a "warning".

He doesn't know the difference between "Secret" and "For official use only" (FOUO). The content of the FOUO document wasn't Secret, it's just for internal use and not for publishing publicly. Minasyan is attempting to present it as a document that was intentionally kept secret from the Armenian public.

As for the content of the document, CSTO chief Stanislav Zas talks about the organization of a routine exercise that is planned annually. Similar events had taken place in the past, with scenarios similar to this one.

Minasyan also lies about an offer to contact CSTO with a letter.

Based on this letter, the Security Council carried out appropriate work to ensure the participation of the Armenian representatives in the exercise. The NSS, MoD, and Emergency Ministry also took part in the exercise, which was held remotely via teleconference. Details can be found at https://odkb-csto.org/…/v-tsentre-krizisnogo…/:


another opposition leader is charged with inciting violence

"National Agreement" party leader Aram Harutyunyan posted a video clip in which he incited/glorified violence against govt officials, say the prosecutors, who charged Harutyunyan with Code 226.2. Several other officials were recently charged after calling for Pashinyan to be assassinated.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039009.html , https://youtu.be/vBR8A-6kI8s

Garnik Isagulyan, another opposition figure who called for Pashinyan's assassination, won't be arrested before his trial. The court found an arrest unnecessary.

Prosecutors criticized the court for "not arresting a man who publicly and openly called for the violent act, at a time when large quantities of weapons are smuggled into Armenia and there are political tensions that can be breeding ground for violence". Prosecutors will appeal the decision.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203730 , https://factor.am/324569.html

Update: Qajaran mayor, a critic of PM Pashinyan, who was earlier charged with kidnapping and torturing a local resident in an incident that happened several months ago, will not be jailed before his trial, either. The mayor's lawyer hailed the court and said the court continues to be "independent from the government" and "is not following orders". (screenshotted)


church gets entangled in the political fight

Several members of the church had recently publicly disrespected Pashinyan by not shaking his hand, refusing to hold a sermon with his participation, etc. A group of Pashinyan supporters decided to organize a protest against the Catholicos in Ejmiatsin on Sunday.

Church leader Garegin B said the "churchmen have the right to express their views, just as any citizen".

Prosecutors' office urged demonstrators not to "hinder the church's normal activities" and not to use "hate speech or make calls for violence".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038975.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039089.html

Pashinyan talks about an episode from war: weapon storage locked, lights stolen

Pashinyan during an interview: two days ago I met soldiers who were discharged recently. They told me episodes from the war that require investigation. For example, a unit exhausted its ammo arsenal and went to the storage to receive more, but the person in charge of the storage, whose name is known, refused to provide weapons. The soldiers were forced to break the storage doors, to then find that the storage was completely full of weapons.

I don't know what exactly happened. This needs an investigation. If this is confirmed, this is one of the reasons we lost. I won't avoid responsibility but we need to know the full truth. Every time a new piece of information comes to light that needs clarification; maybe some are false or may be true. I'm not the judge.

There are reports about dozens of high-ranking individuals who removed and took away street lighting from Armenian settlements that were still under Armenian control. There are specific names.


Syunik borders: the roads that became the borders / Kapan mayor interview

Context: Artsakh's Qashatagh region went under Azeri control. It neighbors Armenia's Syunik province, which means Syunik has a border with Azerbaijan now. Checkpoints are being installed on each side. Some bordering Syunik villages were built partly in Qashatagh, which means several dozen buildings and some road sections will go under Azeri control. In some areas they will be guarded by Russians.

Kapan mayor: PM Pashinyan visited Syunik on October 18th (during the war, when Azeris stretched across Araks river basin) and asked us to organize self-defense. General Artakh Davtyan was in charge. He told us to hold positions within Syunik and outside (within Qashatagh). There were fierce battles. Then the ceasefire Statement was signed on November 9th. On December 17th we were told to retreat back to Armenian borders (from Qashatagh). This caused issues. Azeri positions are now 100 meters away from village "Syunik", and 1km from Kapan city.

Kapan-Goris and Kapan-Chakaten sections of the road are functional, but the Kapan-Agarak section is under Azeri control and isn't being used by us now. As a result, residents have to use a much longer bypass road. Some houses are cut off.

Today's border activities on Syunik are not an actual "border demarcation/delimitation" where border signs are installed, but rather an installation and identification of positions. For example, a group of Azeris approached our borders yesterday to negotiate with our MoD. Azeris offered both sides to move back 200 meters to increase the distance between us, so Armenian and Azeri soldiers won't have direct contact with each other. Our MoD said something like that would require an implementation across the whole border if it's to be done.

We need both sides to install Border Guards instead of the regular army, to avoid armed confrontations.

We need a law to allow Syunik's bordering residents to carry hunting rifles. Everyone should have a weapon at home to feel safer and prevent emigration out of these settlements. [LHK chief Marukyan says he made such a weapon law offer after the 2016 April war].

The MoD began protecting Syunik borders in late October and early November, headed by General Makaryan. They recruited Syunik residents for border protection. The main conscript army was deployed today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038942.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038941.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038945.html , https://youtu.be/xjxcVzhtrfY?t=42 , https://factor.am/324220.html , https://factor.am/324226.html , https://factor.am/324238.html , https://factor.am/324259.html , https://factor.am/324277.html

Pashinyan talks about Syunik borders / it's not a "legal" delimitation

Q: there are accusations that we routinely yield positions, our roads are given away, Azeris are entering our borders. The opposition says PM can't secure the borders. We yield Armenian lands with GPS.

Pashinyan: there is no such thing, no Azeri has protruded into the Armenian border. The opposition says "there are no borders there" but then they says "Azeris entered our borders". Many of the accusations towards us contradict each other. They say we didn't take steps to avoid this war, but then they criticize us for taking steps today to avoid new wars in the future.

Armenia gained independence within certain territories. If there are questions about the borders, I cited the 2010 law which states that Syunik's Vorotan village borders Azerbaijan. The law specifically clarifies these borders.

Q: opposition says that law is about internal administrative division and not state border.

Pashinyan: what does Azerbaijan's border have to do with Armenia's internal administrative map. If the former govt meant that there is an official Azerbaijani territory within the Republic of Armenia, then how can they claim that Azeris entered the Republic of Armenia? Is there Azerbaijan within Armenia?

The law was written clearly. Sotq, Shurnukh, and Votoran settlements' borders coincide with the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. What's happening today is what the 2010 law envisioned. We are taking these steps to avoid new wars.

[Former president] Serj Sargsyan earlier claimed that Armenia was ready to give away 7 Artsakh regions to Azerbaijan. Weren't Zangelan and Qubatlu [neighboring Syunik] part of those 7 regions?

As of signing the November 9th Statement, over 90% of Qubatlu and Zangelan regions were unfortunately already under Azeri control. Under the November 9th Statement's context, there was a verbal agreement to conduct border positional, but not border delimitation, clarifications. We knew at the time that disputes could arise around this issue that could turn into a war that would endanger Syunik, so we decided to take steps to ensure Syunik's safety. As I've said earlier, the way we ensure Syunik's safety today is by matching the borders with the [internationally-recognized] CSTO-guarded borders, so our security agreement with Russia could be used if needed.

Azerbaijan doesn't have official delimitated borders with Georgia and Russia, either, but none of these states go around and say "this is mine". There has to be a point of separation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. What we do today isn't a real demarcation and delimitation. Those would require diplomatic ties, the creation of committees to sit down and work on a map, then install the actual demarcation points on the borders.

There are questions about why Russia didn't help us during the war. It's simple, Russia signed an agreement with Armenia, while the battles were happening in Artsakh.

The opposition says why hadn't we taken steps to prevent the war. There was only one way to prevent the war: give away 7 regions.

There are disputed with a dozen houses on the borders. We agreed with Azerbaijan that the border roads will be safe for use while we settle these disputes. Either way, the borders of the Republic of Armenia aren't ceded.

https://factor.am/324625.html , https://youtu.be/CbHfJohz-2c , https://factor.am/324628.html

collection of recent fake news around Syunik borders you might have seen


snap elections in 2021: Pashinyan invited opposition for talks

Pashinyan had earlier made it clear he would be open to holding snap elections after finishing his 6-month roadmap and "stabilizing the internal situation".

Pashinyan: Dear compatriots. It is now obvious that the opposition's demands for the Prime Minister's resignation did not receive the support of the wider public. The opposition had all the tools necessary to gather wide public support: money, media outlets, massive organizational resources, the ability to hold large demonstrations.

Not only they failed to receive popular support, but today their numbers are dwindling. No one can claim that we held onto power by using brute force. On the contrary, we are accused by some of being unnecessarily lenient.

This, however, does not change in any way the commitment of our political team and me to stand before the people, to answer to the people. I do not cling to the seat of Prime Minister, but I can not be careless with the authority vested in me by the people. The people must be the ones to make decisions.

I am ready to leave the post of Prime Minister by the decision of the people, and only the people. I am also ready to continue to lead in these difficult times shall the people express their trust. There is only one way to find the answers: snap elections. I invite Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary parties to hold discussions about new elections in 2021.


the former regime rejects Pashinyan's offer for snap elections

The 16 opposition parties want to install their own PM's candidate Vazgen Manukayan, govern for a year, and only then hold new elections. They don't want new elections to be held while Pashinyan is Prime Minister (because they wouldn't be able to buy voters and rig elections, let's put this out there for the record).


demonstrations on Saturday

Besides the main demonstrations, a small group of opposition activists and MPs continue to hold a sit-in in front of the govt building. They installed several tents to stay overnight.

Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039075.html

Lachin residents will also receive aid

One of the aid packages for Artsakh residents, whose homes went under Azeri control, was a one-time $600 payment. Lachin corridor did not go under Azeri control, but it's not fully Armenian either, so the govt is preparing a new aid package to pay residents of these settlements who didn't qualify for an earlier package.


update: aid distribution progress

One of the aid packages gives ֏68,000 to every qualified Artsakh resident. 90,000 have already received ֏6.5 billion ($13.5 million) in aid. That's 98% of those who qualify.


Another aid package gives ֏300,000 to those who lost their homes due to occupation. 5,000 out of 30,000 recipients have received it so far.

Today, another aid package began distributing ֏250,000 to those who had their homes damaged.


There is aid for residents living in the Republic of Armenia's bordering regions who had their properties damaged. ֏50 million was paid to 71 residents.

Additionally, ֏5 million will be paid to each of the families who lost their relatives and up to ֏3 million to those who received a disability.


POWs and search operations

The army has identified 45 more soldiers who died fighting. The known death toll is at 3248, some are yet to be identified.


Search operations found 4 bodies near Mataghis (north).


Several family members continue to wait for news about their missing relatives. They shut down a street earlier. Today they met PM and the govt to discuss it. The father of one of the soldiers said he isn't satisfied with the works that are being done. He believes the identification process is too slow and the second DNA-sequencing device won't be ready next year.


army awards soldiers for acts of heroism

Lt. Harut Hamzoyan and two of his subordinates destroyed two anti-tank firing points.

Cpt. Karen Alexanyan shot a loitering drone.

More: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203775

6-month import ban on Turkish products

... was approved by the govt during the war. It goes into effect in January and applies to Turkish products imported from all countries.


air is open for civilian jets

A Turkish jet flew passengers from Istanbul to Baku today. There was a lot of talk around it. Civil Aviation says "such civilian flights are internationally recognized and normal. Similarly, Armenia has the right to fly over Turkey."


Artsakh army denies rumors about conflict resumption near Tegh village


Iran-Armenia gas & electricity exchange

Armenia gives electricity to Iran in exchange for gas. There are plans to expand his cooperation. Today the govt met the Iranian representatives to take steps to operate the Iran-Armenian gas pipeline at a full capacity. They discussed the construction of the third electric network between the states.


Russian humanitarian mission in Artsakh

Russia sent modern vehicles for use by Artsakh's Emergency Ministry. A dozen emergency vehicles, trucks, and a crane.


Russian sappers traveled to Artsakh schools and taught 80 children how to identify and avoid bombs.


Russian doctors have treated 902 patients so far. Russian peacekeepers accompanied 44,600 refugees back to Artsakh via Lachin road. 540 returned today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039003.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039023.html

Russian govt decided to double the salaries earned by its peacekeepers in Artsakh. The sum isn't mentioned.


Russian children sent gifts to Artsakh children

Children in Russia's 10 cities held a teleconference with their Artsakh counterparts. Thousands of toys and postcards were sent to Artsakh in a show of support. The peacekeepers donated backpacks to kids.


Red Cross distributed aid to Artsakh residents

... who are staying in temporary hotels before the availability of permanent housing. 741 people received food, heaters, and items of basic necessity.


home repairs & housing aid in Artsakh

3,500 residents have contacted the govt to receive aid with renovating their homes. 50 building renovations are complete. They are mostly hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure facilities.

In the first stage, ֏300 million will be spent to renovate residential roofs, doors, and windows. Beginning January, the HimnaDram.org (All Armenia Fund) fun will help Artsakh to renovate building interiors.

Several abandoned buildings in Stepanakert will be converted into residential apartments. Villages in the Askeran region weren't heavily targeted by Azeris, so the govt will resettle some homeless residents in dozens of abandoned buildings.


Martuni was one of the frontline cities that received heavy damage. 850 out of 950 houses were damaged. The govt assessed the damage for 10 construction firms to begin the renovations.


What's the best way to help Artsakh?

"Live and work in Artsakh, even if it isn't the job of your dreams," said Labor Minister Tandilyan, who is looking for qualified staff.


COVID stats over weekend

+7734 tested. +1692 infected. +54 deaths. +2347 healed. 15280 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038914.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039027.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039082.html

COVID: planning to visit Armenia but don't know if you're allowed?

Details for residents of each country who wants to travel to Armenia.


Armenia imports COVID equipment from China

4 large oxygen tanks for patients with COVID. 100,000 test kits. 200,000 sampling sticks. Masks and gowns.


COVID vs Economic Activity Index & Salaries

First 11 months combined -7.2%

Industrial production -0.2%

Construction -11.2%

Trade -13.5%

External trade -12.4%

Exports -5.2%

Imports -15.9%

Electricity production +1.8%

Consumer Price Index +1%

Average monthly nominal salary +4.2% (֏186,167)

Average monthly nominal salary in Public Sector +5.9%, and in Private Sector +3.2%

1 Dollar was 486 Drams


EAEU trade block: unemployment registrations

The number of people registered in employment centers in October 2020 vs October 2019:

Belarus -18% (fewer registered unemployed)

Armenia -2% (total 60,700)

Kyrgyz -6%

Kazakh +34%

Russia up 5.4 times (total 3,170,000)


EAEU trade block: available free jobs listed in employment centers

Armenia -59%

Kyrgyz -42%

Belarus -17%

Russia +8%


remember the mass-attack on Gavar hospital in April?

19 people have been identified and charged. They are family members of murdered men who incorrectly identified an innocent hospital patient as being a murderer, then decided to avenge. The hospital building was trashed, cops and patients were beaten.


Robin the robot is here to lock you out of your spaceship

The Blood Disease & Children's Cancer Center has a new robot Robin designed by "Expper Technologies" and donated by Nazaryan Family and INICIAR. Unlike similar robots, it can display emotions and built a connection with people.

"Robin is a robot of hope, smiles, and companionship for the patients, their families, and the staff of the Hematology Center."

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038990.html

Caucasus Nature Fund

... has donated $1.5 million to Armenia in 2020 to help defend nature and co-subsidize forest guard salaries.


modernized HayPost office: online queue, delivery lockers, changing rooms

Yerevan has a new post office facility in Davtashen. For the first time, it will utilize an online queue system, "Earlynote" integration, "ShopIn.am" lockers where you can pick up items purchased online.

If you purchased clothing, you can use HayPost's new changing rooms to make sure it fits. The practice is borrowed from Singapore.

High Tech Ministry: we will have similar high-tech branches in other locations soon. Within a year, residents will see new facilities and improved service.


free programming classes for thousands of applicants

High Tech Ministry and the Russian-Armenian University organized free "Programming Basics" classes. 5,000 people applied from Armenia and Artsakh. 2,000 of them passed the first stage and took the classes. Half of them received certificates in the end.

The top-100 students will receive in-depth courses organized by RU-AM University. The top-5 will be involved with university projects.



solar energy in Armenia

The army has installed 20 mobile solar panel stations in several positions, donated by donors. They will power communication tools, lighting, etc.


Combined 5MW-strong solar farms have been installed in Shoghakat settlement this year, bringing the total capacity to 8.1MW. ֏2 billion was invested this year. 70 temporary and 8 permanent jobs.

Next year they plan to build 14MW farms. The authorities have already authorized the land and construction paperwork.


Neolithic archaeological discovery in Akhashen

Armenian and French experts have been digging Aknashen for 15 years (south-west of Yerevan). They discovered a Neolithic monument from the stone age when humans began building settlements and develop agriculture for the first time. An international book will be published with extensive details.

The excavations began in 2004. Located south of the Qasakh river, this is the largest of its kind monument studied in the Caucasus.

Photo: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038896.html

sports news

Boxer Karen Tonakanyan debuted his career in the professional ring with a KO victory against the former WBF/IBF/WBO champion.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan wins the title of best Armenian soccer player for the 10th time. National team coach Caparros is the best coach.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038958.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039060.html

Chessist Shant Sargsyan is the deputy-winner of cyber-chess under-18 international kerfuffle.


top-5 bestseller children's books in November

5) Harry Potter and the Socrates Stone, by J.K. Rowling

4) Գայլը և յոթ ուլիկները

3) Շաղգամը, by Atabek Knhnkoyan

2) Բոքոնիկը (kolobok)

1) Ով է ապրում տնակում, by Vladimir Suteev


How to donate to Artsakh & Recovering Soldiers

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:



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/klgea9/dec272020_wrapup_pashinyan_explains_syunik/

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