2020 July 21

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Jul/21/2020 news: / $150 million drones shot / Russian state media responds to Apricot War & Tavush Battles / Azerbaijan "backtracks" on nuclear threat / Caviar diplomacy / World responds / Taxes / Infrastructure+ / COVID & polls / Free speech / Sevan is blossoming / Anti-corruption busts / Reforms
by ar_david_hh


Tavush Battles / It's over, but how did it start?

Context: July 12.... July 13…. July 14.... July 15.... July 16…. July 17…. July 18…. July 19…. July 20….

July 21st was also calm

"183 shots were fired. We only responded if the shots were targeted at us. Later they used sniper rifles," said the army.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193128 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/193187

Apricot War isn't over yet

Context: Azeri businessman who owns Moscow's largest Food City market kicked out Armenian farmers. It was supposedly solved after the Moscow administration and Armenian embassy intervened.

The ambassador says some Armenian trucks still can't enter. They'll discuss it with Russian MFA.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193153

Russian media discusses Tavush Battles

1st Channel is Russia's most popular govt-run network. They have a prime-time debate-show called "Time Will Tell". The show presented a reporter who went to Armenia to get the facts.

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The Azeri guest complained that the report was one-sided because the reporter didn't visit Azerbaijan to cover the story from there. The reporter replied saying he couldn't visit Azerbaijan because he is banned from there for having visited Karabakh in the past.

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A debate ensued and the TV host scolded the Azeri guest, saying "your policy of banning people is working against you".

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The host criticized the Azeri guest for wearing a provocative anti-Armenian shirt during the live broadcast and asked the cameraman to hold the camera at an angle to hide the message. "The other Azeri guest is wearing appropriately," noted the host.

Full: https://youtu.be/WjOkHz6ndTk

same Russian media discusses Apricot War

Russian "Time Will Tell" debate-show also covered the Apricot War in Moscow's farmers market. The host wasn't happy that the conflict reached Moscow.

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Azeri guest criticized the show for covering the Armenian discrimination topic but not "the murder of Azeris by Armenians".

Host: we don't want Russia to turn into an ethnic battleground.

Armenian guest: this was an organized campaign in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere, which harmed Russia's reputation. Russian law must work in Russia, and Russian law prohibits discrimination.

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The Azeri guest tried to justify the discrimination by presenting it as an employer-worker contract issue. The host disagreed.

Azeri guest: this is all result of Armenia's 30-year occupation of Azeri lands.

Russian Host: but what do I have to do with it? Why is the conflict in Moscow?

Full: https://youtu.be/Mytg63LvLIs

More reports from Russia / Caviar diplomacy

Russian politician Mikhail Delyagin, a frequent guest of Kremlin-linked TV shows, says several Russia-based media outlets contacted him and offered money in exchange for giving an interview and presenting Armenia as the aggressor.

When he asked the outlet why, it allegedly said, "because that's the position of Baku".

Delyagin wonders, "so if tomorrow Baku's position is that Russians committed the Armenian Genocide, should you take the money and report it as such?"

https://factor.am/270769.html

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Some private Russian bloggers with big follower counts also covered the Apricot War, with one of them expressing sharp criticism for the destruction of apricots, and Moscow-based Azeri protesters' calls for war against Armenia.

https://youtu.be/4iBvGD1gsW4?t=227

Aliyev lost $150 million / Armenia displays the remnants of downed Azeri drones

The army collected whatever drone remnants fell in the Armenian territory during Tavush Battles. Some of them were displayed today, while the rest is currently being examined by experts.

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10 suicide drones, 1 strategic, 3 reconnaissance. Combined, these Israeli-made drones were worth ~$150mln.

The $30mln-worth Hermes 900 drone was shot by a guy who graduated from engineering university last year.

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Army believes it'll be harder to shoot the Azeri drones next time because it's a cat and mouse game once the manufacturer makes modifications.

The Armenian drones, which the army says were just as effective, cost 8x less.

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Video: https://youtu.be/JL0xvEDSEj8?t=22

Photos: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193156

More Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1022538.html

Even more photos: https://factor.am/270728.html

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/193174

update: Azeri drone attack in Berd city

Azeris earlier used a drone to bomb an emergency vehicle in Berd. They claimed it was a military object. Here is the photo of the damaged civilian car and a brand new one properly marked as "ambulance":

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193122

Border monitoring tech

Army: In the past few years, we purchased many night-vision cameras to monitor the borders. In many areas, we can see deep inside the Azeri territory. If a mouse moves in the buffer zone, we can spot it... We haven't spotted any Turkish-made large vehicles/devices during this combat.

https://youtu.be/M0YWks7018k?list=WL&t=763

every 40 seconds...

... a donation was sent to Soldiers Insurance Fund after PM Pashinyan called for the public to donate. $333,000 has been received since July 17th. This is the same 1000 Dram fund that receives 1000 Dram mandatory tax from each registered employee.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193120 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/193173

Foreign affairs & Diplomacy / U.S. aid to Azerbaijan / Nuclear backtracking

U.S. House has accepted Rep. Pallone's amendment which will require DoD to disclose any military aid to groups that were simultaneously engaged with human rights violations. The target is Azerbaijan and $100mln aid that it receives.

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Rep. Pallone: This amendment is important now as Azerbaijan threatens Armenia’s safety with offensive attacks in Tavush region. The United States should not be aiding reckless autocratic states with appalling human rights records.

https://pallone.house.gov/media/press-releases/house-adopts-pallone-amendment-protect-global-human-rights-reign-billion-dollar

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193143

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LA mayor Eric G.: We stand with the Armenians. Azerbaijan must end its threats to strike Armenia’s nuclear power plant and must invite international observers. Dialogue is the only path to peace. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193126

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Jerusalem Post: Israel should rethink its relationship with Azerbaijan - opinion.

"Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey and fellow denier of the Armenian Genocide, has actively sought the eradication of the region’s indigenous Armenian inhabitants and traces of their millennia-old civilization."

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/azerbaijan-is-not-a-true-friend-of-israel-635729

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International Atomic Energy Agency: we're aware of the media reports about the nuclear threat and are closely monitoring the situation. http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/283214

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After Azeri MoD said they'll bomb Metsamor nuclear plant, the Azeri government has been receiving a lot of negative attention. Today President Aliyev's assistant with foreign affairs Hikmet Hajiyev said the idea of bombing the NPP doesn't reflect Azerbaijan's official position.

https://razm.info/144461

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This time it's Armenians in Georgia's Javakhq region. They're protesting against Azerbaijan's aggression. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193149

Fake news

Misinformation was circulated on social media about Tavush govt allegedly evacuating bordering residents. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193119

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Army: Azeri MoD spread fake news about downing 2 of our drones today. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193151

Armenian telecoms paid more taxes in 2020H1 vs 2019H1.

Combined +47%, Viva-MTS +300% , Beeline +36% , UCOM -19% , Rostelecom +62%.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/119667

COVID stats / Polls

+1,463 tested (148,180). +273 infected (35,254). +704 healed (24,206). +12 direct and 6 indirect deaths (662).

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IRI poll: 71% are satisfied with govt's handling of COVID. 85% satisfaction with Emergency Taskforce's communication about COVID.

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~60% said their opinion about police, Healthcare Ministry, and PM got better after COVID. ~10% said it got worse.

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A table showing COVID stats for the past few weeks: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193144

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https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193134

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/07/21/Recent-Survey-Indicates-High-Levels-of-Public-Satisfaction-with-Armenian-Government’s-Coronavirus-Response/390794

Freedom of speech in Armenia

The Free Speech Defense Committee talks about stats for Q2:

Overall, the media is free from government pressure. However, many outlets serve a narrow interest for their sponsors, "which is why it's important to have laws to make media ownership transparent."

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6 journalists were injured during protests organized by BHK. The SIS is investigating the police officers.

22 journalists are being sued, mostly for alleged defamation. This is +10 vs Q1.

The Q1 was notable with significantly few "pressures". In Q2 the number increased.

26 instances of hindering journalists' work.

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Social media is a dumpster fire, and the govt members aren't helping it with their harsh rhetoric. They should directly ask supporters to calm down. Neither govt nor the opposition is taming their army of followers.

"Despite Prime Minister actively communicating with media and holding lengthy press conferences, not all govt agencies are as prompt when it comes to communication."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1022528.html , https://youtu.be/SwWTNTFn0oo

Sevan is blossoming again

Due to years of reckless water drainage, pollution, and climate change, the lake turned green last year because of algae growth. It was a result of lake's cold water layer getting thinner and the sunlight being able to reach the floor, which benefits algae growth.

As predicted, the algae are growing again this year.

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Earlier the govt launched a program to remove illegally-built buildings near the shores so they can raise the lake levels without submersion.

Simultaneously, a $5mln work is being done to remove submerged trees (100ha removed) and the pollutants that are dumped through rivers, so algae will be deprived of food.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193146 , http://arka.am/en/news/society/5_million_allocated_for_restoration_and_maintenance_of_balance_of_lake_sevan_ecosystem_/

update: 2 judges charged with money laundering & apartment theft

One was arrested, while the second one is prohibited from leaving Armenia, over alleged financial crimes.

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NSS says: the judge received $26,000 in illegal cash and since he couldn't prove its legal origins, he began searching for ways to launder it in 2019. His fellow judge informed him about a citizen's bankruptcy case he was hearing. This citizen's apartment was supposed to be placed on auction.

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The judge and his fellow judge colluded to make sure the apartment auction stayed secret so no one could bid. Since no one bid, the bidding price was automatically reduced to $26,000.

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The judge then used his relative to buy it for $26,000 - significantly lower than the real price. Documents were forged to cover it up. As a result of injustices, the bankrupted citizen tried to self-immolate in front of govt building in 2019.

The second judge is also caught with $100,000 in illegal enrichment.

The Supreme Court has suspended their judicial duties.

https://youtu.be/gDO0enIMnYw , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193132 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193145

A few mayors are busted

Vaghashen mayor is terminated. He is found guilty of paying himself $2,000 in wages while he wasn't attending work in 2015-2017. He also embezzled a few more thousand by getting free car repairs and hiring fake workers to embezzle their salaries. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193154

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Aramus mayor is charged with registering fake employees and stealing their wages between 2007-2018. He resigned and will face charges. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/193186

Mining reforms in Armenia

International EITI mining organization says Armenia has made progress recently. Besides joining the organization in 2017, Armenia made efforts in 2019 to make mining transparency a higher-priority issue and passing additional laws to reveal real mining owners.

A new monitoring group was formed to ensure "responsible mining".

http://arka.am/en/news/economy/armenia_achieves_satisfactory_progress_in_bringing_transparency_to_mining_industry_/

Infrastructure upgrades

5km of Armenia-Iran border road is being renovated. A water removal network and proper road signs will be installed. It must be completed within 6 months for $1.2mln. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193133

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Dilijan-Vanadzor potholes are a major headache for drivers. Soon it'll be a thing of a past. The remaining 6.5km section will be repaired this year for $1.3mln. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/193157

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Spitak city will soon have a colorful singing fountain, every street will be illuminated, a new street vacuum and gravel-fixer. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/193171

update: Yerevan rejects 17-story building

Yesterday we learned about a $21mln proposal to build a multi-complex building with apartments, offices, and shopping centers. Yerevan rejected it because it's too ugly and would cause problems in the already overcrowded Center.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/283213/

How about refreshing building construction quality rules?

Armenia's Building Code was inhered from CCCP, but things have changed. The Urban Development committee drafted an amendment, yet to be discussed by Parliament.

It'll regulate energy-efficient material use, fire hazards, sanitary conditions, natural lighting, engineering work, disability access.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1022514.html

Tourists shouldn't get lost

The govt wants to make tourists' job easier by introducing standards to regulate what navigation signs should look like, to bring it on par with international standards. An arrow, distance, name, no other "noise", etc.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/119683

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You've read 1927 words.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/hvc45s/jul212020_news_150_million_drones_shot_russian/

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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