2021 February 22

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Feb/22/2021: (1) Education reforms. Drone & high-tech labs (2) Australia about Artsakh's self-determination (3) Opposition rally. Plans and rebellions (4) Interview w/soldiers & Meghri residents (5) Prosthetics & charity (6) Russian troops (7) Willy Wonka & mask factory (8) Army reforms & audit
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Weekend-Monday report in 3328 words.

Artsakh will have aviation lab to teach drone production / education reforms

Education Minister Lusine Gharakhanyan: The current educational policy in Artsakh must take into account the existing challenges.

One of the priorities is the program of introduction of security systems in schools and kindergartens. We're drafting the plan.

We'll develop TUMO and IT in Artsakh. Soon, we will install TUMO Boxes in Martuni, Martakert, and Askeran cities to serve 320 students.

We want to expand the ArMath engineering and robotics program by building 12 new labs this year. 10 out of 30 labs were lost during the war.

We want to create a technopark in the educational system of Artsakh. In April of this year, we will open a drone workshop in Stepanakert School N3, which will be an educational aviation laboratory.

Question: which Artsakh settlements have resumed education in schools?

Minister: with the exception of Szneq (Askeran), Sus (Qashatagh), and Hin Shen (Shushi), every school has resumed its activities. There are 18.6K students, compared to 23.9K before the war. The other 5.8K continue their education in Armenia.

Question: have you helped teachers who lost their jobs as a result of war?

We have registered 280 teachers from areas that are no longer under Artsakh's control. We helped 58 of them to find a job. We will have a new initiative soon to help others. We're working with Armenia's EduMin.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044124.html

Saturday marked Artsakh Movement's 33rd anniversary

Artsakh President Arayik: February 20, 1988, entered our history as a symbol of the revival of the national spirit, strong unity, and unbreakable will. A beginning of a whole period of struggle, reconstruction, and creation, loss and victory.

33 years have passed since that day. Today, the Armenians of Artsakh are living through one of the most difficult periods in their history. They live, keeping alive the spirit and ideas of 1988, confident and asserted that the path they have chosen is right and irreversible. More than ever, today they must live and prosper on their native land.

And for the sake of our martyrs and generations, Artsakh will be reborn again, will rise from the ruins, and will continue its eternal course.

Pashinyan: 33 years ago, not only Artsakh was reborn, but also the entire Armenian nation. The spark of the rebellious spirit of the people of Artsakh lit our hearts. Let us rediscover the determination to live freely, independently, to shape our destiny, and to manage our future. Armenian people will soon heal the wounds of the past war and will take even more decisive and firm steps towards the future. //

A rally was held in Artsakh to commemorate the Movement anniversary.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044017.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044033.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044036.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290492/

Foreign Ministry of Australia emphasizes Artsakh's right to self-determination

Marise Payne: People's Self-Determination and Equal Rights is one of the Helsinki principles that should lead Nagorno Karabakh to lasting peace. Australia supports the OSCE Minks Group efforts and we urge AM and AZ to cooperate with OSCE. We welcome the November 10th ceasefire. //

Armenian association in Australia welcomed the statement by the Foreign Minister.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044118.html

interview with soldiers who defended Karvachar

Norik Khachatryan and his unit defended the snowy mountainous positions during the war. "The opponent is calm today, but we don't let our guards down. During the war, the enemy tried a diversionary attack on the Hovaz-1 position but was repelled after our observation unit spotted them. They received a surprise while in our trenches. We can do our duties again if necessary." Engineering work is currently being done in the positions.

https://youtu.be/rzIjmIn3dGk

Meghri residents about lifting the regional transport blockade with a new railway:

https://youtu.be/LXiF8uW6w2k?t=6

POWs and search operations

It's been 5 days since the crews cannot search for bodies or missing people because of bad weather. The efforts will resume this week. No searches were conducted today at the request of Azerbaijan.

https://factor.am/340561.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207230

Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States, called for the immediate release of POWs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044109.html

prominent Dutch prosthetics expert visits Armenia

A new lab was created, co-funded by HimnaDram.org, to help disabled soldiers with modern "Ottobock" prosthetics made by a German-Dutch company.

Dutch prosthetics expert Hayes [transliterated Խայս], "one of the best in the world", flew to Armenia to help. The lab will open officially soon. Hayes will retrain Armenian experts.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207231 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207172

Russian military base in Armenia could split into different locations

Defense Minister Vagharshak: we're holding discussions with the Russian N102 military base. Part of the base could split and move to eastern Armenia. We don't need the second military base, however.

We are interested in expanding and increasing the potential of the military base; it has always been on our agenda. The Russian Defense Ministry took into account the military-political realities in the region and took the right steps to strengthen and rearm the military base. I'm sure that this process will continue.

https://factor.am/340624.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207224

joint military exercises with Russia

Armenian troops will take part in "West-2021" military exercises held in Russia this September, said MOD Vagharshak. "Artillery, air defense, electronic warfare, and engineering units will take part."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207232

Defense Ministery about army reforms:

We will implement reforms after the war. The number of servicemen will be optimized and they will be retrained with higher skills. We will switch to newer types of weapons. Some of the reforms are already underway. Russian colleagues are directly involved in it.

The emphasis will be on control systems, intel, aid defense, drones, missile, and artillery.

(During an interview to Russian TASS outlet): https://factor.am/340624.html , https://ria.ru/20210222/armeniya-1598538603.html SOC is auditing weapons purchases at Defense Ministry

State Oversight Committee is auditing MOD and 8 other agencies over some arms purchases. It was launched a few days ago, per report. No details yet.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207250

Italian city of Verona expresses solidarity with Artsakh people

The city council adopted a resolution unanimously, urging the mayor to demand Italian authorities to officially recognize the independence of the Artsakh Republic. The resolution mentions the Azeri-Turkish aggression and the jihadists recruited by them.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044112.html

housing construction continues in Artsakh

90 IDPs have already received housing in Patara village, said Labor Minister Tandilyan. Houses come with furniture and appliances.

https://factor.am/340870.html

update: detention of Qaryak Media co-founder, ex-official, and Azerbaijan expert

NSS report says: the former Parliament Chief of Staff Ara Saghatelyan forged close ties with opposition circles and intended to commit several crimes. He formed a group consisted of Karen Bekaryan (co-founder of HHK-owned Qaryak Media outlet which owns ArmNews and tertAM), the latter's son, and several other individuals.

They concealed their crimes by using a fake Facebook account named "Gagik Soghomonyan". They conspired to help each other in the event one of them gets arrested, by logging into the fake account and posting materials, to give the impression that the arrested friend isn't affiliated with "Gagik Soghomonyan".

After the launch of the war in September and the subsequent Martial Law (and gag order on certain information), beginning on October 10th, they posted materials that caused significant damage to the rights and legitimate interests of persons participating in the war, society and the state.

They used the fake Facebook account to incite riots and violence against people with opposing political views. They also degraded large parts of society and national dignity and spread hate in addition to defamation of specific individuals.

4 suspects were arrested. Computers and phones were confiscated during a raid. The full circle of suspects is being identified. //

Among the detained was HHK's VETO organization leader Narek Malyan, recently linked with Mediaport Telegram channel that mostly spreads misinformation. It was later revealed that another suspect is Mher Avagyan, the head of an NGO affiliated with the former regime.

The prosecutors asked the court to arrest the suspects before their trial. The court arrested Ara Saghatelyan (ex-Parliament chief of staff), but found the arrest to be unwarranted for Karen Bekaryan, Mher Avagyan, and Narek Malyan.

Suspects deny wrongdoing. Ara Saghatelyan denies using a VPN app to operate the fake account, saying dozens of people used the same VPN simultaneously.

The suspects are charged with Code 226 (inciting national, racial, or religious hostility by an organized group), Code 2262 (inciting violence), Code 3074 (violating Martial Law during a war).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044028.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044031.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044100.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044127.html , https://factor.am/340549.html , https://factor.am/340558.html , https://factor.am/340593.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207196

Tags: #FakeFactory #Facebook

opposition holds a rally on Saturday / future plans / rebellion as Plan B

Vazgen Manukyan and 16 other parties allied with the former regime held their much-anticipated large rally with the same demands: Pashinyan's resignation and the appointment of Vazgen Manukyan as Prime Minister. Manukyan compared the rally to the Artsakh Movement that began 33 years ago.

Manukyan spoke about his future plans. "We need to form regional offices. We need to explain to people what is happening and what will happen. We need to convince law enforcement [to join us]. We need to work on Pashinyan's leverage in Parliament [follow and harass QP MPs in their backyards]. We need to be tough and convincing while giving them the opportunity to retreat."

Manukyan called for supporters to drive around the country and recruit more participants, and to hold strikes. "But we also have to be prepared for Plan B: organize rebellion and take power with lightning speed."

BHK Tsarukyan spoke about the economy. "We said back in June that the government is inexperienced and must resign. No jobs. People can't pay utility bills."

ex-BHK Gevorgyan called for 10% of diasporans to visit Armenia, help to change the government, then return. He commented on his exit from BHK as a result of too many strings being attached. "I want to be more independent."

ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan announced the creation of a new "pan-Armenian representation forum" and invited those, who weren't present in the public square, to join. He announced the beginning of a non-stop protest campaign and urged followers to close streets in 4 directions in Yerevan.

The leaders urged followers to gather again on Monday and hold a "disobedience march".

Note: the former regime demands Pashinyan's resignation and Vazgen Manukyan's appointment as Prime Minister, after which, a year later, Manukyan would hold new elections. The idea is supported by 7.9% of [2021 February 19|survey responders]]. While the majority supports snap elections, 41% (the largest group) said they want it held under Pashinyan's watch, an idea sharply rejected by Vazgen Manukyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044041.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044043.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044046.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044050.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044053.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044057.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044064.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044161.html , https://factor.am/340493.html

Monday arrives / felony investigation over Manukyan's "rebellion" / more rallies

Prosecutors have launched a felony investigation per Code 301 "Public calls for the seizure of power, violation of territorial integrity or forcible overthrow of the constitutional order", after Vazgen Manukyan's Plan B, which is the "lightening rebellion to take the power".

Parliamentary Security Committee chief Andranik responded saying, "Do not play games with the security system. The state can protect itself and its citizens. If they're [Manukyan] thinking about invading state buildings, they should also think about the fact that the state has the right to shoot to protect the statehood."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044161.html , https:// www.civilnet.am/news/2021/02/22/Եթե-մտածում-են-շենքեր-գրավելու-մասին-թող-մտածեն-որ-պետությունն-իրավունք-ունի-կրակելու․-Անդրանիկ-Քոչարյան/420177

As announced on Saturday, the opposition gathered again on Monday to hold another rally. This will become a daily thing. "I assure you that with these marches and huge protests we will disrupt the daily public life. We will achieve a change of government," said ARF co-leader Ishkhan Saghatelyan.

The rallygoers threw eggs at law enforcement buildings.

ARF Ishkhan called for supporters to surround the government building and prohibit Pashinyan from entering it tomorrow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044186.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044178.html

police reforms / new Patrol service / new Internal Affairs Ministry

On Feb/11/2020 we learned that the government plans to reform the police, retrain them, issue new weapons and tech, and include the Police Forces under the new Internal Affairs Ministry after renaming them to National Guard. These police reforms were launched last year, with New Police recruits currently undergoing retraining at an academy.

Today, Pashinyan summoned Ministers to discuss the progress and future plans. "The reforms will ensure the transparency of the police system and increase accountability," said deputy top-cop. "Laws are currently being drafted."

A Patrol Service will form in Yerevan this year. It'll have three 8-hour shifts. 2,500 people applied to join, part of whom were existing cops. Over 700 were selected and are currently undergoing training.

The Patrol service will be replenished with modern cars with the necessary technical means, and the staff will have new clothes and uniforms. A new electronic communication/monitoring system will be implemented to boost efficiency.

Justice Ministry said that the bill, which will form the Internal Affairs Ministry, is ready and underwent a public discussion. It will be presented to the government for approval, before being sent to Parliament for a vote.

The formation of the Internal Affairs will increase civilian oversight over police forces in our Parliamentary state, noted Justice Minister Badasyan. The "civilian" portion of Internal Affairs will be separate from the "police" portion; the latter will handle crimes while the former will ensure continuity of reforms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044156.html

Tags: #PoliceReforms

anti-corruption: school director caught after demanding a bribe from diasporan kid

Authorities said: Russian-Armenian diasporan 4th grader returned to Armenia in 2019 and began taking Russian-language classes at Gogol School in Erebuni district. Next year, the director demanded a $300 bribe so the kid wouldn't be transferred to an Armenian-language class.

Last month, the director summoned the parent and complained that only $100 has been paid so far. Two days later, however, he refused to take the other $200 bribe, saying that another parent had taken the spot.

The director's office was raided. Physical evidence was found. $5,300 was discovered with unknown origins, in addition to live ammunition (???). //

School staff complain that the fish in director's office cannot be fed because the police sealed the door after them.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207242 , https://youtu.be/6C7Rx_YFSIo , https://factor.am/340717.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207274

illegal land exploitation busted in Berdashen

Prosecutors said: Nature Ministry inspectors examined lands near Berdashen's "Arpi Lake National Park" volcanic slag, and found that the fertile soil layer was damaged due to illegal extraction, resulting in ֏22.6M in monetary damages. A felony case is launched.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044120.html

update: Nature Ministry forms advisory group consisted of environmentalists

As announced earlier, today Nature Minister Romanos presented a group of activists and leaders of various environmental organizations. They will be part of a new council that will advise the Ministry on nature issues.

Some of the members represent EcoNews, EcoLur, Green Armenia, Forests of Armenian, Ameriabank, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044188.html

Yerevan State University will create a quality-control center to monitor drug safety

Education Ministry: YSU will have a lab with modern equipment to monitor the safety of medications. It can serve the whole region. Experts who analyze medicine will be trained. Contracts were signed with local drug makers and research centers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044148.html

Yezidi National Union gathers to elect a new president

Khdr Hajoyan, 31, will replace his late grandfather Aziz as the president. The ceremony took place in Moskva Cinema. Messages from Yezidis around the world were broadcast.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044181.html

Armenian weapons not presented in Abu Dhabi expo due to delivery issues

Several Armenian weapon manufacturers were supposed to present their tech at a booth during IDEX-2021, but couldn't, because of "logistics issues with transportation." The High Tech Ministry launched an investigation.

That didn't prevent Armenian businesses from holding meetings and establishing ties during the expo visitors, moted the Ministry.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044136.html

EAEU trade bloc rules co-authored by Armenia in 2020

Armenia proposed several legal reforms in EAEU during the pandemic. One of them is the modification of the "Green Corridors" program to simplify customs procedures while exporting products to other EAEU states through non-EAEU states' territories. "This is especially important for Armenia.

Another one was about removing import tariffs on medical products and critical food supplies. The rules will last until May. "At the time, we had a shortage in masks and gloves and local production wasn't developed yet."

Another change is related to the Lars border checkpoint between Russia and Georgia, regularly used by Armenian trucks. Armenian trucks will have special seals, which will be cut at a new special facility in Russia's Vladikavkaz. This will expedite the customs process in Lars.

The latest proposal by Armenia was the creation of an app to allow EAEU member-states to resume passenger travel. Armenia, Russia, and Belarus have joined.

Another one that's being drafted is about regulating cigarette packaging in EAEU. It'll be ready by 2024. Beginning in 2025, Armenia will have to adjust its cigarette taxation laws to meet EAEU requirements. It's part of a fight against smoking. 25% of Armenia's population smokes regularly. 5,500 people die annually from smoking, half of whom are <70yo.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044021.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290527/

COVID stats since Saturday

10,041 tested. 495 infected. 308 healed. 9 deaths. 4438 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044018.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044068.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044105.html

Armenian masks will be exported to Germany

Several businesses were asked to produce masks and sanitizing alcohol last year, amid shortages. The mask industry is doing well.

One of the producers plans to export to Germany. Others have already found a market in Georgia and Ukraine. Armenian companies also helped Iran to form their local sanitizer industry with the use of exported Armenian spirits.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044093.html

Willy Wonka's chocolate factory: Yerevan franchise

Yerevan's chocolate factory produces 160 types of sweets for export to 16 states. Compared to 2019, the sales dropped 16% during the pandemic year. Nevertheless, shareholders recently invested ֏100M.

The factory plans to use locally produced dried fruits in a new product line which is expected to boost sales and increase 400 jobs. Wonka expects to quadruple exports to $6M and create 400 additional jobs.

Today the Economy Minister Qerobyan met CEO Sos to discuss ways to help the factory.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044060.html

Russian travel agency "tyty" lists its top destinations chosen by customers

Armenia took the first position with 20% of all sold tickets. The demand went up by 1.5x compared to last year's pre-pandemic period. The average cost of a Moscow-Yerevan ticket is $175.

https://tass.ru/ekonomika/10758489 , https://factor.am/340905.html

Kim Kardashian marks his late father's 78th anniversary

Kim: Happy birthday, Dad. I celebrate it every day, but today more than ever. I have a lot to tell you. I called your cell phone this year, wondering if anyone would pick it up.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207291

puppet theater to reopen with new performances

H. Tumanyan Puppet Theater will not only have new performances this year but also concerts and exhibitions, said Director Ruben Babayan.

The string of new performances will begin with "Three Sisters". "I'm glad that the theaters have resumed their work. We have sold out the tickets for the premiere. It says a lot about the public's interest towards the theater."

There will be a new version of Կարմիր գլխարկ, with modern twists. Another interactive performance will be about Harry Potter. (can we pass that weed legalization law before the Harry Potter puppet premiere?)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044140.html

Aurora humanitarian initiative has a new charity plan

Aurora (IDeA) will help Artsakh with projects that promote long-term social development. They will help small businesses, renovate infrastructure, and continue the work to protect Armenian heritage in the region.

Its co-founders Noubar Afeyan (MODERNA vaccine co-founder), Vartan Gregorian, and Ruben Vardanyan recently donated $1M each. The foundation had earlier launched 57 charity programs for refugees and Artsakh residents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044107.html

sports news

Police officers from 17 divisions held a rapid chess tournament in Dinamo stadium. Winners received awards.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044045.html

today in history

1819: the United States purchases Florida from Spain for only $5M. The worst deal in the history of all deals.

2011: the last edition of Windows 7 is released.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044002.html

donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

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

archive of older news

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

disclaimer

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


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lq098c/feb222021_1_education_reforms_drone_hightech_labs/

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