2020 November 23

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Nov/23/2020 news wrap-up: \\ War in Artsakh (Karabakh) \\ 25,000 refugees return home \\ politics & diplomacy \\ other stories...
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Sunday & Monday report in 3267 words.

Martuni self-defense / refugees return

Martuni's population was 6,200 before the war. 400 male residents stayed to help the army during the war. 1,000 Martuntsis returned their homes so far. It's only one kilometer away from the closest line of contact.

The mayor says over 70% of city infrastructure was damaged during the war. "Locals stayed to fight. They would create small mobile groups consisted of 8 men and visit various front lines, which were 1-15 km away, to help the regular army."

Martuni mayor Ararat Melkumyan received the title of Artsakh Hero.

"We already have electricity, albeit not in all homes. Water delivery has resumed. Food stores have opened; they give away free food to those who cannot afford it. The govt has distributed small gas heaters.

We're in contact with the peacekeepers. They're good guys. The population helps them. They understand our way of thinking."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035586.html , https://news.am/arm/news/614904.html

refugee children

Armavir's pedagogical-psychological center has been treating Artsakh refugee children, some of whom went through depression and refused to eat in the initial phase of the war.

Kids were drawing war-related images when given a pen and paper. Boys were more likely willing to return home to "defend borders so their moms wouldn't cry". The expert says kids should receive continuous care for a certain period to feel better long-term.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/124548

25,000 refugees return home

Pashinyan and Arayik held a meeting for the first time since the peace. They discussed programs to aid refugees. Artsakh president Arayik said 25,000 people have returned so far. He thanked everyone for housing Artsakh refugee, and for the financial aid from Armenia.

Artsakh utility workers have restored gas delivery for 11,000 Stepanakert residents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035589.html , https://factor.am/312898.html

in memory of fallen soldiers

A memorial march was organized in Gyumri. "Today our boys did what no one in the world can do: one soldier hit 10 tanks, or saved a platoon, and so on. Our heroes are not defeated, our heroes are victorious, " said a soldier's family member.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035607.html

Aram A Catholicos held a sermon in Antalia in honor of soldiers. "Those who shed blood for the homeland are heroes and martyrs."

https://news.am/arm/news/614958.html

Gagik Tsarukyan attended a memorial ceremony held in Abovyan's St. Hovhannes Mkrtich church.

https://news.am/arm/news/614934.html

A sermon was held by Garegin B Charolicos in Ejmiatsin in honor of those who died during the war. Politicians and others went to pay tribute. Garegin urged for internal unity and prevention of enmity.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035599.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035613.html

fake news & refutal // գյուլնազ տատու անհավանական արկածները ինտերնետում

Former regime's activists circulated rumors, which was picked up by HHK party MP Armen Ashotyan, alleging that two prominent ruling QP MPs purchased mansions on the even of the war, by stealing Himnadram's donation money.

Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be fake news. Fact-checkers found the real estate owner who denied the claim and said the properties are still for sale.

This is not the first time the former regime attempts to sabotage Himnadram's donation collection efforts for the sake of defaming the government. The former officials themselves had earlier been caught stealing Himnadram's money (pre-2018), after which they've been attempting to circulate Himnadram conspiracy theories around the new administration to discredit it.

--

The Telegram channel "Mediaport", which has a record of spreading unfounded rumors (see the bridge murder-suicide story that was refuted a few days ago), claimed that ruling QP MP Alen Simonyan purchased a new range rover vehicle. This turned out to be the Range Rover that has been at the center of similar fabricated news since 2019.

As for rumors of purchasing a house on the eve of war, the MP had taken a loan from HayEconomBank in 2017 to purchase an apartment, which he sold in 2019. The alleged purchase of the new property has not been verified/denied by the fact-checker yet.

https://fip.am/13866

--

ex-MFA Mnatsakanyan denied the rumors circulated by the former regime-allied "Mediaport" Telegram channel, which claimed that he plans to move out of Armenian with his frailly. "I was forced to notice the gossip circulated by the yellow press. Let me disappoint the fake news merchants: my family and I will continue to live in Armenia."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035677.html , https://news.am/arm/news/615014.html

--

Opposition "Hayreniq" leader Arthur Vanetsyan gets Pinocchios over a claim he made about a behind-closed-doors meeting with Pashinyan. Vanetsyan gave an interview to Kocharyan's 5TV channel.

Backstory first: // the NSS had earlier arrested Kocharyan ally Vitaly Balasanyan's friend, who allegedly went around frontline outposts, during the beginning of the war, and instructed his subordinate soldiers to leave the positions, claiming that "this is all a pre-planned war, Pashinyan is here to sell the lands, go home". This resulted in soldiers leaving the outposts defenseless. The suspect, who was a commander, was subsequently arrested in Artsakh. Pashinyan mentioned this "act of treason" during one of his speeches. //

During yesterday's TV interview, Arthur Vanetsyan claimed that Pashinyan denied the truthfulness of this story during a closed-door meeting with opposition figures during the war (Pashinyan met opposition parties twice to brief them throughout the war).

Fact-checker wanted to find out if Vanetsyan was telling the truth, so they contacted other opposition parties who were present in the same meeting.

BHK and LHK opposition MPs did not confirm Vanetsyan's claim. LHK MP said this topic was not discussed. Opposition BHK MP Arman Abovyan said he doesn't remember such conversation.

https://fip.am/13871

--

Iravunk outlet presented an old story to incorrectly claim that Russia has a new law that allows Armenians to keep their citizenship and get dual-Russian citizenship.

https://fip.am/13772

--

Former regime's "Adekvad" activist Ruslan Asaturyan spread misinformation about Education Ministry allegedly helping to print a book where Artsakh is part of Azerbaijan.

There is, in fact, a 1998 British book that was translated [unrelated to EduMin] to Armenian language that shows Artsakh being part of Azerbaijan. This is due to the official British policy.

https://fip.am/13776

French aid

President Macron visited the French branch of HimnaDram to support the annual effort to raise charity funds over a phone (phonethon). The French govt and HImnadram will send two cargo jets with humanitarian aid.

"This humanitarian commitment of France is our direct duty to the 120,000 displaced Armenian population from Artsakh, as well as to at least 1 million Armenians in a difficult situation in Armenia," said Macron.

The aid, containing medical devices, medicine, etc., was delivered to Armenia by the French-Armenian football player and world soccer champion Yuri Jorkaef.

The phonethon finished the fundraiser with $2.5 million in donations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035590.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035629.html , https://factor.am/313189.html

The French University in Armenia developed an educational and retraining plan to aid the soldiers who're returning to civilian life.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035634.html

Russia sent sappers & equipment

Russian army sent an engineering team, equipment with construction equipment, to help clean up roads and infrastructure, and to restore the delivery of utility services.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035596.html

Russia will send three jets with 100 experts, URAN-6 and other equipment to find and remove mines.

A Russian officer and Artsakh emergency officials were wounded from a mine exposition today. Their lives are not at risk.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035630.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035694.html

President Arayik has thanked President Putin for the effort to stop the war and for the deployment of peacekeepers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035621.html

interview with Aparan Volunteer unit chief:

When the war began, we gathered the volunteers and moved to the front lines. The positions next to us had been abandoned by our army. Our unit aided the front lines. The volunteers and regular army worked synchronously.

Throughout the war, even during the toughest times, we attempted to cheer up the troops with good news, and it helped, despite the criticism that we weren't telling the public the whole picture during the war.

We were severely outgunned due to drones and artillery. Thankfully we managed to climb up the abandoned hills and retake them. By October 1/2 they were ours. Azeris attacked again in various locations in Qarvachar but we repelled them.

The first attack by Azeris was severe and they tried to spread panic in our army. I did meet several routing soldiers and encouraged them to stay and defend the lines with our help. Some of them were regular army soldiers, others were volunteers.

Azeris had a plan to influence our media to spread panic in the army by circulating the images of our casualties. Some of the soldiers believed that the war was pre-planned and the lands were already "sold".

We were able to defend the north, nonetheless. An important part is to cooperate with your neighboring positions in right and left. In our right flank, there was significant panic. They had to replace the commander. But we were able to cooperate with the entire northern front up to Martakert to cover each other.

The army began taking steps and built defense mechanisms to reduce casualties. Our artillery kept shooting artillery until 30 minutes before the final ceasefire. There is a misconception that the soldiers stopped fighting. That's false. The level of firepower used against them was unprecedented.

I support the decision to stop the war. We could have lost more. I had military contacts in the south. They had expired the ability to defend sufficiently. Then I saw the rioters who broke into govt buildings. We could have used them in the south.

I witnessed political monkey games in Armenia. Some people wanted to seize power so much that they launched anti-govt rhetoric on the 4th day of the war by claiming "this govt cannot fight" etc. Everyone should be aware that had this war happened in 2016, we would only last 3 days.

The opposition doesn't have a plan which I could support today. Let's say Pashinyan leaves and comes Poghos Poghosyan. Then what?

They accuse Pashinyan of giving away 70% of Artsakh. Which 70%? The one that Serj Sargsyan had agreed to give away? (since 2011 in Kazan).

Full video: https://youtu.be/eavxFHs7NqU

politics & shmolotics

12:14: the opposition continues to demand Pashinyan's resignation. ARF leader Gegham Manukyan will hold a hunger strike with demand for Pashinyan's resignation. ARF is among 16 oppo parties that have been holding demonstrations since November 10th.

Former police official Sayat Shirinyan urged Pashinyan to either leave or to commit suicide.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035645.html , https://news.am/arm/news/615102.html

13:34: President Sarkissian met a group of journalists, politicians, and experts to discuss Artsakh, economy, COVID, and internal stability.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035654.html

13:42: Pashinyan held a meeting with several representatives of the business world to discuss the restoration of the investment environment. Some agreements were made. There will be more meetings.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035656.html

13:54: family members of several missing soldiers held a demonstration in front of the Defense Ministry and demanded news about their relatives. A woman says his son is missing and his commander had "fled from Hadrut on the first day". A father of a missing soldier gave the names of several Jabrayil commanders and accused them of treason.

QP MP Andranik Kocharyan invited them to participate in the Parliamentary session tomorrow.

Pashinyan held a meeting with public officials to discuss the process of finding missing soldiers and holding a meeting with their families. A new Commission will be formed to handle this.

Later that evening, Pashinyan met a group of family members. "They promised to work on addressing the problem," said a woman.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035658.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035675.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035676.html , https://youtu.be/pTQ5EQhERsE?t=4 , https://factor.am/313094.html , https://news.am/arm/news/615151.html

15:20: church press secretary said that church's ambassador/Chancellor Arshak Khachatryan was invited to NSS for questioning. The NSS denied that the churchman was interrogated in NSS. Church spokesman added, "there was a meeting under that context; the churchman can clarify later."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035664.html

15:22: Azeri government had earlier issued an arrest warrant in-absentia against Armenian general Seyran Ohanyan. He is charged with "committing genocide". (actual reason could be the gyorbagyor2020, who knows)

https://news.am/arm/news/615048.html

16:33: Artsakh govt has published the list of villages and towns that will be controlled by Azerbaijan. Some outlets raised concerns that Azeris and peacekeepers moved closer to Martuni's Berdashen village. Artsakh govt said the pre-1990s borders are still being clarified and urged the public to wait for official information.

Vazgenashen is one of the bordering villages that will go under Azeri control. The daughter of the ex-mayor criticized the authorities and the peacekeepers for allowing Azeris to intrude in the village, steal their car, then take her father and brother hostage for a brief period before releasing them. The village had an unclear status and the residents weren't told ahead of time whether they should evacuate.

https://news.am/arm/news/614968.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035670.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035695.html

18:30: the government shakeup continues. Deputy Defense Minister Gabriel Balayan has resigned. Opposition BHK Arman Abovyan accused Pashinyan of trying to "get away" by firing his subordinates.

Education Minister Harutyunyan is also out. The new acting Minister is Vahram Dumanyan.

Departing Minister Harutyunyan: I thank my colleagues for helping to initiate serious reforms and laying out foundations. The results will be visible in the coming years. I thank them for being courageous and patiently moving forward despite obstacles.

Decades of stereotypes in the education field that hinder development should be removed. Teachers are freer than ever. Sportsmen no longer have to rely on a specific groups (Gagik Tsarukyan) for financial help (Ministry set monthly pensions for top athletes). Science has never been more at the center of attention.

These are all prerequisites for success. I thank PM Pashinyan for supporting these reforms. Details of my 2.5-year work will be presented later.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035687.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035690.html , https://news.am/arm/news/615142.html , https://news.am/arm/news/615146.html

18:57: police are investigating physical threats against a ruling QP MP Sargsyan.

https://news.am/arm/news/614950.html

19:49: the High-Tech Minister and Pashinyan visited a newly built "Arsenal" military-industrial factory to learn about their products. The factory presented rifles with built-in night vision scopes, warheads, and mortars.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035697.html

20:28 ruling QP MP Nazaryan: Serj and Kocharyan were able to maneuver in foreign affairs to delay the war. But around 2014-2015 there was already an international consensus, including by Russia and other Minks chairs, that the 7 regions would need to be given to Azerbaijan.

The former regime was aware and tried to keep the status quo for as long as possible, however, it was clear that it couldn't happen forever. When our team came into power, they accused us of "having plans to give away the lands", even though our team had not made such suggestions.

Still, they were calling us "land givers". Of course, they knew that this would all fall on our shoulders.

Q: was Pashinyan aware of the dangers?

A: of course. He paid his first visit as PM to Stepanakert. Rewatch his press conference. He spoke about the need to strengthen Armenia's and Artsakh's security. He knew that either we would have to give those 7 regions, or we should prepare for war. Pashinyan did not want to give away those 7 regions without clarifying Artsakh's Legal Status.

https://news.am/arm/news/615127.html

Armenians held positions in Hadrut region

It was uncertain whether Armenians managed to hold a thin strip of land on the left Azeri flank, in the southern front. Azeris moved up through the center of Artsakh. The Defense Ministry had long insisted that Armenian held some positions in the left, but it was unclear towards the end.

Hadrut city mayor confirms that not all of the region fell and that settlements of Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher were defended by the army. It's unclear how the borders will be drawn in this area, or how the Armenian troops/civilians/peacekeepers can remain deep within Azeri-controlled territory.

https://news.am/arm/news/614981.html

free food for school kids

Armenia and the UN (Russia) will continue to co-subsidize (50/50) free meals for 100,000 schoolchildren in the lower classes. Since the school cafeterias are closed, kids will receive the food at home. This meal package will last 80 days.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035649.html

for sale: 1 bedroom outpost, running water, build in 2020

Soldiers having some fun: https://youtu.be/k_s44E54M7A

aid for soldiers & refugees

Labor & Social Affairs Ministry says the wounded soldiers do not need to appear at an office or present documents to receive a disability status.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035650.html

The govt published details and links on how to receive financial aid if you're a refugee. 5,000 have already applied. 94,000 people can qualify.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035652.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035686.html

Diaspora Committee says that Armenians living abroad continue to send humanitarian aid. There are active programs in Australia, Germany, Russia, Canada, and elsewhere.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035685.html

Armenian National University of Architecture and Construction has donated 22m Drams to www.HimnaDram.org

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035666.html

Armenian-American ladies baked 1630 gatas and donated $40,000 in proceeds to Artsakh and www.1000plus.am

https://youtu.be/PcJOrdy5nOo

COVID stats, vaccines, and aid

+3436 tested. +1385 infected. +1261 healed. +21 deaths. 29681 active.

https://news.am/arm/news/614892.html

On Saturday, Russia gave Armenia a few samples of the "Sputnik V" COVID vaccine. A few Armenian volunteers will receive the first dosage, followed by the second one 21 days later.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035638.html

Armenian-American businessman Nubar Afeyan's MODERNA company will sell the vaccines for $25-$37.

https://news.am/arm/news/614878.html

Switzerland and Germany will provide an additional $500,000 aid to Armenian settlements to ease the economic hardship caused by COVID.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035689.html

regional kerfuffle

Turkey has officially reported 448,000 COVID cases with a 2.76% death rate at 12,335. However, the Healthcare Ministry recently "slipped up" and revealed that the death rate is below 1%, which would mean the number of infections had to be around 1.2 million. This would move Turkey from 25th to 11th place with the number of infections.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035684.html

Georgia reported 4,048 daily new cases of COVID. >18,000 active cases.

https://factor.am/312857.html

French MFA urged Turkey to remove the Syrian mercenaries from Karabakh. Middle East reporter Lindsey Snell says Turkey is considering sending more jihadists to Azerbaijan to guard the Turkish military facilities. She denied the rumors that the jihadist families will also settle there.

https://news.am/arm/news/614943.html , https://twitter.com/LindseySnell/status/1330451840618655757

US Congressman Devin Nunes has urged the White House to place a weapon sales embargo on Turkey and to suspend sales to any buyer that could resell them to Azerbaijan. ANCA had earlier met Nunes.

https://news.am/arm/news/615124.html

German Der Tagesspiegel article: Putin and Erdogan have close partnership against the West, despite their cold relations. They have gas contracts and Turkey exports $21b worth of products to Russia annually.

In 2015 they had a standoff in Syria. Russia wanted to keep Assad as president, while Turkey wanted to oust him. A Russian jet was downed.

It took a long time to amend the TR-RU ties, and it happened because Erdogan needed help with military action against Kurds in northern Syria. Russia saw an opportunity to push the US out of the area and assisted Turkey.

However, they still have disagreements in the north-western Idlib region, which the Syrian govt wants to free from pro-Turkish rebels.

More: https://factor.am/313240.html

sports & arts

Roma midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored two goals against Parma and dedicated the victory to "for our Armenian heroes".

8 matches, 5 goals, 4 goal passes. He scored goals in three consecutive matches.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035617.html , https://sport.news.am/arm/news/116911/

Grandmaster Levon Aronyan began the tournament Skilling Open 2020 with two victories. After five matches, he is 1 point behind the leader Dutch Anish Giri.

"Today we remember our fallen heroes who fought selflessly to defend Artsakh and Armenia," said Aronyan.

https://sport.news.am/arm/news/116917/ , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035620.html , https://sport.news.am/arm/news/116908/ ,

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035619.html

Armenian boxing youth team has won two more Bronze medals in the European championship, bringing total to 5. "I don't remember the last time we won so many," said the coach.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035600.html

Famous Italian accordionist Mario Stefano performed music dedicated to Artsakh:

Video: https://www.facebook.com/100000523887953/videos/4187677787926309/

you can help Artsakh & Armenia

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

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

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


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/jzr2gk/nov232020_news_wrapup_war_in_artsakh_karabakh/

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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