2020 December 7

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Dec/5-7/2020 wrap-up: \\ Kapan airport \\ Pashinyan speech; diplomatic history; addresses accusations \\ POWs & searches \\ opposition holds rally; demand's PM's resignation; roadmap \\ borders: rumors & rebutals \\ another TUMO center \\ Russian peacekeepers \\ 1988 earthquake \\ other stories...
by ar_david_hh

Your 17-minute Monday report in 4312 words.

Pashinyan talks about the history of negotiations, responds to accusations by previous presidents, Russia relations, etc.:

After I took the responsibility for our failures in the war, an interesting process began in Armenia. Certain officials decided to blame their 25-year-long diplomatic failures on us.

The person [ex-president] who left Karabakh out of the negotiating table, and changed the format to AM-AZ negotiations, is now accusing us of turning the Karabakh issue into a territorial issue. In reality, this conflict became a territorial issue when AM began negotiating on behalf of Karabakh. This began over 20 years ago.

We are criticized for the international community viewing this war as AZ's attempt to restore its territorial integrity. The critic is the person, under whose administration, when the international community criticized AM for "occupying" AZ territories, was reassuring the Armenian public that there is nothing dangerous in it because when you enter a toilet in an airplane and close the door, the sign also says "occupied", so there is nothing scary about the word "occupy".

This was the explanation given by the administration in the 2000s to address their diplomatic failures. We forget things over time, so they want to take advantage of that.

The international community's stance wasn't formed in 2020 but in the past 25 years. That the world began viewing this as a territorial integrity issue, that Armenia became viewed as an occupant, did not develop beginning 2018. Since 2018 we've been trying to exit that state.

They blame the starting of the war on our diplomatic failures. Let's look at the diplomatic events that we inherited:

1995 Lisbon: shortly after our military victory, the international community agreed that Karabakh should stay as part of AZ and granted autonomy.

1998 document: Armenia, not Artsakh but the Republic of Armenia, was told to give 7 regions to AZ. It states that Karabakh should be part of AZ.

1999 OCSE Istanbul: states that conflicts must be resolved based on the principles of territorial integrity.

Madrid Principles: these were hailed as a diplomatic success by the former govt, but in reality, it was a shameful thing, because it states that Karabakh can be separate from AZ only if AZ agrees to it.

2011 Kazan: AZ slams the door and leaves, while AM president went around and gave interviews stating that we are ready to give away 7 regions to AZ, but AZ demands more than 7.

Resolutions in international institutes: stating that AZ lands are occupied and the conflict must be resolved based on the principles of territorial integrity.

2013: AZ begins military escalation and no one condemns them, maybe because as our former leader said, "when you enter a toilet and shut the door, even the tag says occupied."

2016 Russian offer: the topic of Artsakh's status was completely removed from the agenda. You say you built great relations with Russia while my administration couldn't... if that's the case, then how come our strategic partner left Artsakh's status out of negotiations under your administration?

This was the level of our diplomatic history, and these people are now lecturing us about failing diplomacy.


If you were good diplomats, why wasn't AZ punished for the 2016 April events? Because you went there and silently agreed to whatever was offered to you: accept the legitimacy of AZ's right to wage war.

It's not that our administration failed the diplomacy, it's that we failed the attempts to fend off the consequences of Armenia's past 25 years of diplomacy. If you were so good, why didn't you avoid the 2016 war? You couldn't. You only halted it after promising to give away the lands.

Why couldn't I do the same? Because we were told that since Armenia had already promised but failed to return lands in the past, now it has to be done legally written on paper with specific withdrawal deadlines. We could stop this war by signing a document that would be somewhat similar to what was signed on November 9th.

On the first day of this war, while in Parliament, I publicly stated that I can stop the war right now, and I listed the conditions for that. So why didn't you [former regime] make statements back then and publicly agree to [give away lands] and stop the war?

Now it turns out every opposition was in favor of giving away 7 regions with a 5+2 format. So why hadn't you done that yourself, in 2016, in 2017, to prevent the war? Especially since you knew what would happen after the 2016 April.

Some people think that AZ would easily agree on the 5+2 format. But that was the preliminary offer. The terms would still have to be negotiated. AZ would demand more, Shushi, Lachin, etc. and I'm amazed that some people, who consider themselves as great diplomats, do not understand, or do not want to understand, these simple things.

We are blamed for Turkey's entry into the conflict. Sorry, but Turkey had gotten involved since the Football Diplomacy [referring to Serj's soccer diplomacy], when due to AM's diplomatic failures, TR declared that there won't be good relations with AM unless AZ's lands are freed. This Turkish involvement began 10 years ago.

Another baseless criticism is about us allegedly dismantling the army in two years. "Why didn't you close the air during the war?". The air was closed... with the help of $42 million useless dysfunctional [radio] equipment that you purchased in 2017 [sarcasm, referring to felony case that Pashinyan administration launched against former regime officials for wasting money].

The author of this $42m waste [fired general Movses Hakobyan] now claims to make sensational revelations that he was apparently offered a kickback during the SU-30 jet purchase. Question: did you buy the $42m dysfunctional weapons without a kickback? Or are we supposed to believe that the $42m waste was purchased as an act of kindness?

To distract from the topic of waste, they focus on our decision to purchase OSA-AK units [Russia-made anti-missile and anti-drone tech]. First, we purchased OSA after discussions with broad circles. Second, OSA shot many drones; it shot an Israeli-made Hermes-900 drone in July, making it the first-ever occurrence and a sensation.

Now they ask, why did you buy THIS instead of THAT. Because we purchased whatever we could in the 2.5-year period. We had to raise soldiers' salaries, solve their food issue, solve the clothing and underwear issue, buy warheads which were missing, buy automatic rifles to replace bad ones, buy bullets, and buy jets. In 2 years we had to purchase everything that wasn't purchased in the past 20 years.

Why didn't you make these purchases in the past 18 years? How come building mansions, buying islands, buying mansions in Europe, accumulating millions in Swiss banks, were more important to you?

They began circulating a thesis that I made a catastrophic decision on the 3rd day of the war. We spent 15 days looking for that decision of mine, and couldn't find it. Maybe these are the times we live in: you can make a lie and get away with it.

Was the PM leading a battle? Was the PM making division-level decisions on the battlefield by himself? I only made one decision by myself throughout the war, and thanks to that, the 7th Defense Division remained intact because they were panicked and had earlier decided to retreat from the 7th Defense Zone.

I'm glad that they [former regime] admit that there was a chance to finish the war with success. After all, this wasn't a completely crazy and hopeless war. [referring to hopes that we could still make a breakthrough and win]

Frontline soldiers testified that in the first days of the war, some people [allegedly allied to the former regime] came and told them to leave because "Nikol has already sold the lands, go home." Months earlier, during the war, certain opposition parties had promised "political surprises" regarding the war. Whom did they collude with to deliver the "surprise"?

In global terms, we must admit that the reason for our failure was Armenia being corrupt for >25 years. Today, the most influential part of our political elite are people who had done nothing but accumulate wealth and embezzlement. This was done by an entire system, and this system resists us today. They want to manipulate the public.

Today the most important thing is the steps we take for the future. Regarding POWs and missing soldiers: we agreed that Armenians and Azeris who were captured during or before the war will be exchanged (all for all). We need patience here. We must ensure that anyone whose name is uncovered as a POW after the swap, is also repatriated.

The process of finding missing soldiers is slow but ongoing. It's consisted of two parts: identify bodies under our possession, and find bodies from areas under AZ control. Since November 9th we have recovered >600 bodies. Over 500 are being identified right now. DNA samples are used. It's a time-consuming process. 135 bodies were identified this way.

There are some painful events near our borders these days. Our army is being deployed along the line of the Republic of Armenia borders [Syunik province]. This process could lead to various interpretations in the public, but we are working on this process and I ask you not to fall into the panic mood on a daily basis regarding this. We need a real border and not a line of active military conflict.

There is progress in the resumption of Karabakh negotiations. OCSE states that all the conditions and willingness are present to resume it, which is important. The November 9th document will make our soldiers' service safer. Currently, there are no border tensions. We're working on addressing issues related to soldiers' living conditions.

Certain people circulate rumors about the "Meghri corridor" regarding the November 9th document. I'd like you to pay attention to the fact that the document has no mention of "Meghri" and "corridor", but it does mention "Lachin" (which allows Armenian to connect to Artsakh).

There is no Meghri Corridor. It's about removing transport blockade. If we want to take care of our future, we must think about economic opportunities. Could the restoration of AM-RU and AM-IR railroad improve the economy? I believe so.

Now I'll report on the progress regarding my 6-month roadmap: We approved aid packages, refugees were given one-time financial aid, those who lost their homes were given another aid package, govt is subsidizing the repair of damaged property in Armenia, families of wounded or deceased soldiers receive aid, those who housed refugees will get compensation, we'll soon pay the 2H2020 tuition of soldiers and their children, we're assessing damage to property (non-housing) to issue compensations, new social aid package for families of POWs, we're helping to restore daily lives in Artsakh.

Simultaneously, we continue the reforms aimed at the judicial system and electoral laws.

This isn't being done so that I can remain in power. It's done to make sure people remain in power. Armenian citizens must have the free right to choose their government. 2018 was the only election in our modern history that wasn't disputed. Today, some circles want to make sure it remains the last.

Not one accusation will remain unaddressed by us, even if with a delay. We can't spend all day in front of cameras addressing accusations. We have work to do.


Serj Sargsyan and negotiations

Serj Sargsyan's office responded to the aforementioned message by Pashinyan, saying he failed the foreign policy, has no right to criticize others, and that he "trusted Aliyev more than Serj and Kocharyan".

A 2018 audio conversation between Serj and Belarus president Lukashenko was leaked on social media showing how Serj refused to give 7 regions to Azerbaijan in exchange for peacekeepers and $6 billion in presumably aid.




opposition figure reveals details about October 19th meeting between Pashinyan and opposition parties / could the war be stopped?

On November 30th we learned the details revealed by Pashinyan about the closed-door meeting that he held with opposition members to discuss the options. It was about Putin offering to give away 7 regions without Artsakh's Status but Aliyev began demanding repopulation of Shushi.

Opposition party leader Suren Sahakyan [not part of the former regime] says he was taking notes during the meeting with Pashinyan and decided to share the details today because "some analysts are using not-so-accurate information circulated by media".

Sahakyan about the meeting: the meeting with 9 parties lasted only an hour. Pashinyan said that he received a letter from President Arayik that Artsakh is ready to give away 5 regions now and discuss the timeframe to return 2 other regions (aka 5+2 Lavrov's Plan).

Pashinyan mentioned that he spoke with Putin. He said he asked Putin's opinion on how to end the war. Putin told him "Lavrov's Plan". Pashinyan said he did not reject or accept the Plan, and asked Putin, "If we agree, can Russia guarantee that the war will be stopped?".

Putin told him, "We will do everything possible to stop it but we don't have the same leverage [over Azerbaijan] as we once had."

To which Pashinyan responded, "And if we don't accept Lavrov's Plan, will this be viewed by Russia as a non-constructive step?"

Putin said, "no, of course not."

After the meeting with us, Pashinyan and Putin held another phone conversation. It turns out Azerbaijan had rejected Lavrov's Plan. The war continued. I say this in response to claims that Armenia could have stopped the war any moment by signing the papers on October 19th. [Sahakyan essentially confirms what Pashinyan said on November 30th].


Another info that Pashinyan gave us during the meeting was the installation of Russian border guards in the southern Armenian borders near Nakhijevan and Meghri. Pashinyan informed that Russia had said that any attack against these Russian soldiers would be viewed as an attack against Russia. [Russia implementing the security agreement with Armenia]


When Pashinyan mentioned the offer to give away the 5+2 regions, the dissatisfied ARF representative called it a capitulation and asked whether there is no other option. Pashinyan agreed that it would have been a capitulation to sign such a document as of October 19th, but said that inability to shoot the drones played a major role in the decision. [Azerbaijan would later reject this deal, as already mentioned]

Hours later, the MoD announced the shooting of the first Bayraktar drone. Artsakh army informed us that they shot 80% of Azerbaijan's heavy equipment and that we aren't the only one in a difficult situation. [might be why Armenia decided to keep on fighting with a hope to stop advancement at Shushi]

I reminded Pashinyan of his own words that "he who thinks like a loser will lose the war on the battlefield". I asked him why we can't shoot the drones. After all, they were shot in Syria and Libya. Was it money or politics? I also spoke about the possibility to officially recognize Artsakh. I also reminded that wherever Russian peacekeepers were stationed, it eventually led to a war, so we shouldn't solely rely on peacekeepers.

Our situation was difficult as of October 19th, but so was Azerbaijan's.


www.HimnaDram.org releases a message

... with details about their ongoing aid programs.


construction of free housing for 1988 earthquake survivors

... continues in Shirak province's villages. 4 more will be built by the end of this year, and 20 more ready by 2021.

This is part of the 3 billion AMD aid package for 229 families for 2020. The govt decided to pass that aid package this year to provide housing for all remaining homeless families who are entitled to housing from the state.

There were 5,406 qualified families. 4,838 had received housing between 2008-2017. In 2019 families were given an option to take the money instead of the house; some did.

570 families received housing since 2018 as part of a >6 billion AMD aid package, said PM's office.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036868.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036954.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036965.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037012.html

she lived to become a model

Lilith Mkrtchyan survived the 88's quake and her entire family of 4 also miraculously survived. They lost everything. Today she shared her journey in an interview:


combining the old with the new

Photographer Tigran Gasibyan restored Leninakan's areas destroyed in 88 with photos taken today:


rumors & refutals / Syunik borders

Syunik deputy governor denied the rumors that Armenia gave away Armenian lands near village Aravus. "The commander of Corps met the Azeri delegation on December 6th and discussed the borders. In the Lachin region [now legally part of Azerbaijan] the front line was somewhat pulled back. Not one meter of land belonging to Armenia was yielded," said Babayan.


BHK leader Gagik Tsarukyan

... visited NSS to testify regarding his 2017 voter-bribery charges that were pressed against him earlier this year after an investigation that began in 2019.


opposition's demonstration & roadmap / demands Pashinyan's resignation

First president Levon TP released a message expressing concerns over possible political violence. He urged Pashinyan and former regime-nominated candidate Vazgen Manukyan to prevent physical conflicts.


The mayors of several cities and villages in Syunik province joined the calls for Pashinyan's resignation.


The 16 opposition parties [mostly former regime and their allies such as BHK] resumed their demonstrations in the public square. Their candidate Vazgen Manukyan presented their roadmap: they disagree with the November 9th document but won't repeal it, they'll try to strengthen the army and modernize it, strengthen ties with Russia, resume negotiations.

They gave Pashinyan and the government until December 8th to resign, otherwise, "there will be acts of mass disobedience across Armenia."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036876.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036884.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036890.html

Former regime's outlets exaggerated the attendance numbers, claiming there were 50,000, says FIP fact-checker. "There could be 50,000 people only if the entire square in front of the Opera building was filled. At the time of Vazgen Manukyan's speech, there were only 7400 people," said the outlet and presents the aerial photo of the crowd.

[I've read the number 20,000 after the march began. I think it was The Independent. For comparison, in Yerevan, the parties received a combined of "very approximately" 120,000 votes in the 2018 elections.]


LHK has distanced itself from the rest of the 16 opposition parties and decided not to support Vazgen Manukyan but to nominate LHK chief Marukyan for PM. LHK also agrees that the November 9th document should not be repealed. They released a message in support of strengthening ties with Russia.


Pashinyan and others went to Gyurmi to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of victims of the Spitak earthquake. One of the pastors, who is known to publicly oppose Pashinyan, refused to participate, saying "Pashinyan is not my Prime Minister". PM's secretary responded saying the sermon is first and foremost for the victims of the earthquake and that PM is there as a Christian man and that there is no difference on which pastor officiates the sermon.

https://factor.am/318233.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037023.html

opposition is accused of forcing & bribing people to participate in rallies

NSS says: we received information that several representatives of businesses and local government officials threatened to fire their subordinates, or offered them "bribes", to convince them to take part in demonstrations. Such demands are illegal. We will find and take action against those who do this. We're also aware of tensions that could lead to violence so we urge the public not to respond to provocations and not to spread hatred.

[this wouldn't be the first time BHK Tsarukyan's own workers come forward and admit they were threatened to participate in an event under threats of being fired]


media & free speech organizations released a statement

It condemns the "discrimination and harassment" of 1in.am and Azatutyun outlet journalists (pro-western) by allies of 16 opposition parties during their demonstration. One of the journalists was forced to shut down the camera.


Dvin restaurant owner to create a new political party

"It will largely consist of people without political history but those who had successes in their respective fields. We need radical and positive reforms," said Artak Tovmasyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036992.html , https://www.lragir.am/2020/12/07/606168/

anti-corruption: clinic director busted

Investigative Committee says: in 2011, the director of Vanadzor N1 clinic learned about financial problems faced by her sister-in-law, and decided to falsify documents to register the latter as a fake employee to embezzle 3.5m in salaries. A felony case is launched.


POWs and missing soldiers

Pashinyan, the MoD, and Healthcare Minister met the families of POWs and missing soldiers to brief them about the ongoing works.


Artsakh President Arayik: Azerbaijan has so far confirmed the names of fewer POWs than the evidence shows exist. [they probably want to do the all-for-all swap then claim they have more, hence the government's attempt to secure transfer of future POWs, too, who are "revealed" later].


The search for missing soldiers' bodies began in Hadrut and Fizuli regions, which are under Azeri control. It's done by the Red Cross, Russian Peacekeepers, and the Armenian delegation. The searches are almost complete in Shushi and Martakert regions.


FOX11 Los Angeles: Hollywood celebrities turned activists over abuse of Armenian prisoners-of-war. Kim K, Cher, and Tankian.


COVID stats

+2728 tested. +730 healed. +17 deaths. 22227 active.


Russia will provide more COVID test kits and lab equipment as a gift. "Yerevan is interested in cooperating in the use of the Russian coronavirus vaccine," said RU MFA Lavrov.



French Socialist Party will send a delegation to Artsakh this week, headed by the first secretary Olivier Faure, to "share the pain caused by this conflict and analyze solutions."


The French Isère Department has donated 50K Euros to Artsakh refugees residing in Gegharquniq province.


MFA Ayvazyan has visited Russia

... to discuss the conflict. Russian and Azeri MFAs also held phone conversation. Lavrov accepted Ayvazyan's invitation to visit Armenia.

Ayvazyan repeated that Turkey should withdraw the jihadists from the region ASAP.

Putin and Merkel discussed the Artsakh conflict.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036903.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036981.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036983.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037007.html

update: Turkey releases Russian NTV reporters from jail

... and will deport them to Russia. They were arrested last week for allegedly secretly filming inside the Bayraktar drone facility.


there is always a loophole

Belgian companies circumvent the arms embargo to Turkey. Flemish companies continue to deliver parts for the A400M, a military aircraft used by Turkey. The A400M is a project involving six NATO member states, among them Belgium and Turkey, and parts are not covered by Jambon’s embargo.

"The Turkish military actions in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh show that this is not a country that can be exported to without any control. It is time to close this loophole in the legislation.”


Russian peacekeepers & humanitarian aid

RU will increase the size of the humanitarian envoy in Artsakh. An Il-76 was sent with rescuers and psychologists. 300 school children were given lessons on how to avoid bombs and administer life-saving medical procedures.


Russian peacekeeper-medics began using ambulance vehicles to travel around and provide aid.


72% of Russian residents are interested in the Karabakh conflict, says TASS. When asked about who provoked this war, 5% said Armenia, 12% Azerbaijan, 5% Turkey.


Video of a Russian Uran-6 anti-bomb robot in action:


Video of Russian sappers looking for mines near Shushi-Lisagor road:


Video of a very good boy dog helping Russian sappers to find landmines:


Video of Russian peacekeepers checking vehicles entering Artsakh.


water quality checks in Stepanakert

... are conducted on an hourly basis. Temperature, smell, taste, nitrite, ammonium, bacterias, etc.


the 12-month inflation was

... +1.6%. Food and beverages +0.8%. Alcohol +10%. Cigarette +0.4%. Clothing +1.6%. Utilities +0.4%. House appliances +2.3%. Healthcare +2.8%. Transport +2%. Telecommunication -0.1%. Leisure -0.2%. Education +2%. Restaurants +1.6%. Hotel service -0.5%.


Kapan airport construction progress

The Civil Aviation says the construction of Kapan's "Syunik" airport is over. It's part of a plan to develop small aviation in Armenia. It has a new runway, passenger area, other structures that meet standards. L-410 small aircraft will fly there.


TUMO tech & science center

... has repaired Gyumri's 150-year-old theater building on the city park and converted it into an education center. It'll house up to 4,000 students. "Thanks to the multifunctional stage, it can rediscover its role as one of the most important cultural structures in the city." It was repaired with the help of Chon & Hasmik Mkrtchyan and Gyumri residents.


arts & music

"Aratsani" is a project that collected 2,000 Armenian proverbs from around the world. The Education Ministry organized an exhibition to have 100 of the proverbs illustrated by Armenian painters.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1036979.html

Bulgarian international "Вместе в 21 веке" music festival took place. Yerevan State Choir won the most prestigious Grand Prix award. The composer is Armenian-Israeli violinist Willy Weiner.


World Cup 2022... we are screwed (official prediction)

The Soccer world cup is in 2022. Today they drew a lottery to place each country in a group. Armenia's opponent will be Germany (easy), Romania (done), Iceland (no problem), Macedonia (been there done that), and the much-dreaded Lichtainstain (press F. didn't we lose to the farmers last time and miss an advancement ticket?).


System Of A Down Has Raised Nearly $1 Million For Armenia With New Singles


New England Patriots Quarterback Cam Newton Unveils Custom Sneakers Dedicated to Armenia and Artsakh


you can help 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

Yesterday: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/k6v9s8/dec42020_news_wrapup_housing_construction_repairs/

Armeniapedia's archive of daily news threads:


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/k8rgbe/dec572020_wrapup_kapan_airport_pashinyan_speech/

Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams ֏ unless specified otherwise. Helpful overview of Armenia's media ownership and leanings.

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