2021 January 12

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Jan/12/2021 news: __ Gas prices could rise: ֏ vs $ __ Jailed for taking Azeri bribe __ How much will AM-AZ railway cost? __ COVID strain, vaccine, stats __ POW & borders __ Childbirth subsidy __ Seismic resistance __ IRS to monitor casinos __ Environmentalists to have voice __ Yezidi theater __ more
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Tuesday report in 2562 words.

gas prices could rise due to currency fluctuations

Russian gas price (at the border) had increased from $150 to $165 per 1000m3 in 2019. Although the Russian currency Ruble was devaluing against the Dollar, Armenia was/is paying for gas with Dollars.

Since 2019, the Pashinyan administration has been trying to convince Russia to implement a different gas payment mechanism within the EAEU trade bloc. Making payments in Rubles instead of Dollars was one of the priorities:

"We are constantly talking about high dollarization within the EAEU, but we still pay for Russian gas in dollars. Our proposal was that it would be more correct if we paid for gas in rubles, because I think it is more logical, also within the EAEU," said Pashinyan in early 2020.

This idea was also shared by Vladimir Putin's personal adviser back in October 2018. It appears the EAEU has been working towards this goal lately.

But meanwhile, Armenia has to pay for Russian gas in Dollars. With Armenian Dram devaluing against the Dollar, the pricing for consumers will likely be revised. Consumers pay 139 Drams per cubic meter. This was calculated in 2020 when $1 was 480 Drams. Today $1 = 520 Drams.

Large consumers pay in Dollars and have their rates adjusted periodically, while small consumers (general public) pays in Drams.

Armenia imports 2.2 billion m3 gas from Russia annually, at the price of $165 per 1000m3. 0.7 billion of it is consumed by the general public.

Dram was devalued by 6.6% since November. This could prompt the internal gas company to raise the prices, including for the general public.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039886.html

http://www.armbanks.am/en/2020/04/07/128024/

https://neftegaz.ru/en/news/energy/406887-armenia-should-pay-for-russian-gas-in-rubles/

Public Council meets drone and robotics industry

The Public Council (linked to PM's office) held a meeting with engineers from the drone, robotics, AI, and nano-tech industries. They discussed ways to help the state to develop the military-industrial complex, drone production, aviation, and to bring their quality to international standards.

https://factor.am/327477.html

former PACE MP sentenced to 4 years for taking bribes from Azerbaijan

An Italian court has concluded that Italian PACE representative Luca Volonte, who is the former head of the European People's Party, took €2.4 million in bribes from the Aliyev regime in 2012-2013.

The bribe was handed over by Azerbaijan's PACE delegation leader Suleymanov. The scheme was coordinated by an Azeri lobbying firm based in Brussels. In return, the MP gave Azerbaijan favors during PACE and Italian Parliament sessions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039927.html

Tags: #caviar

POWs and searches

The search crews in Artsakh discovered bodies of 10 soldiers and 1 civilian in Jabrayil, Hadrut, and Sgnakh regions. The civilian has already been identified by his relatives. The cause of death is being investigated.

Many bodies under the possession of the Armenian side are yet to be identified, while more bodies will likely be found during daily searches for the foreseeable future. Overall, 575 calls have been made by families who are looking for missing relatives, says the Russian humanitarian envoy in Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039900.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289293/

Human Rights Ombudsman Tatoyan once again criticized Azerbaijan for intentionally politicizing and delaying the POW swap mission. "It is against international laws to file felony cases and arrest POWs because that's a form of a prohibited punishment. Azerbaijan is also hiding the true number of POWs."

The Ombudsman has noted that Armenian residents in Tegh, Vorotan, and several other bordering villages have lost access to 2500 hectares of farming lands due to border changes. (some lands that were internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan were given to Azerbaijan after the war).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039933.html , https://factor.am/327226.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204175

POW discussions: general prosecutor meets Azeri counterpart

Chief prosecutor Arthur Davtyan and his Azeri counterpart were invited to Russia. The three sides held a conversation about the establishment of future contacts in the field of international law and other related topics. Prosecutor Davtyan mentioned the importance of implementing the November 9th statement about the return of POWs, "which will serve as an assurance for implementation of other [trade unblocking] issues."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039953.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039972.html

how much will a new railway network cost?

Azeri economists believe it will cost around $430 million to build a railway network connecting Kars(TR)-Nakhijevan(AZ)-Meghri(AZ)-Zangelan(AZ)-Baku(AZ). Overall, if you add Gyumri between Kars and Nakhijevan, it could cost about $434 million.

Economists believe Armenia can use this network to connect with Russia via two directions: Gyumri-Nakhijevan-Meghri-Baku (southern trip), or Ijevan-Ghazakh-Baku (northern trip).

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289313/

rumors & rebuttals: traitors are not selling Azeri juice in Armenia

Telegram channel Mediaport circulated rumors that "Azeri Sandora juice is being sold in Armenia". The misinformation was picked up by several outlets and caused confusion among the buyers.

Fact-checkers contacted Sandora's local importer who said the producer is a Ukrainian company that sells its product in multiple post-Soviet republics, so they have one unified tag that contains information both in Armenian and Azeri languages.

https://fip.am/14469

4 Dutch MPs receive medals for friendship

Among them is ethnic Kurdish MP Sadet Karabulutu, who publicly criticized the Turkish-Azeri aggression during the war.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204216

food prices in Artsakh

Pricing for 43 commonly-consumed items was examined by the consumer protection agency in Artsakh. 12 became more expensive, 5 cheaper, 26 remained the same.

Onion +25%, cottege cheese +6%, milk +6%, gloves +5%, ..., pear -12%, rice -1%, eggs -1%, butter -1%.

Several dairy product prices went up, and since Artsakh has dairy companies that own dominant market share, the consumer agency will launch an investigation to see if there was price-fixing.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039946.html

seismic resistance assessment for old buildings

A significant portion of Armenia's large apartment complex buildings were built half a century ago. They may not be seismically safe, considering Armenia's geolocation. After the 1988 earthquake, some buildings remain populated despite being deemed highly unsafe. Many other buildings have safety irregularities.

It is necessary to assess the situation, so the Urban Development Committee has drafted a bill "Methodology for assessing the priority of increasing the seismic resistance of buildings and structures".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039887.html

IRS will closely monitor gambling industry / RFID chips & servers

IRS press release: gambling facilities and online betting services will be more closely monitored. We worked with international experts to digitize the gambling industry and bring it on par with international standards.

All gambling machines and platforms operating in Armenia will be connected to one server which will be connected to a monitoring Center. All betting and winning transactions will be recorded.

The Center will also install RFID microchips in casinos to monitor the movement of chips, the chips purchased or won by players, in real-time.

The government's Digital Council has approved the bill, which is yet to be discussed and voted in the Parliament. The goal is to be able to monitor the financial flows in this sector and to estimate the actual revenues. It will combat money laundering. (BHK skipping a Parliament session due to "COVID" in 3, 2, 1, ... /joke)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039915.html

new "public council" will advise Nature Ministry

Nature Minister Romanos met several environmental organizations and environmentalists and discussed the creation of a new Council, which will advise him on nature protection issues, help draft bills and roadmaps, work with other environmental organizations and NGOs. The Council is accepting applications.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039896.html

large quantities of illegally-cut trees were busted

... by Ijevan policemen during a routine patrol on Sunday. Three cargo trucks were filled with wood.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039960.html

rammed through the gates

The police have arrested the father of a missing soldier who used his Vaz 21 vehicle to ram through the Defense Ministry's entrance gate before smashing it into a building on Sunday.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039957.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289315/

"turn off the camera"

Context: An incident happened last week between parents of drafted soldiers and military officials at a military unit. The parents wanted assurances that their sons would be safe after being deployed on Artsakh borders. The parents wanted to know why Armenian soldiers are still being sent to Artsakh "despite the November 9th statement saying Armenians should withdraw from Artsakh."

During the confrontation, an incident happened between a military official and a journalist. The official struck the camera and instructed it to be turned off. Several media outlets released a message condemning the officer for hindering the journalist's work.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039973.html

infrastructure upgrades

Four settlements in Kotayk province (Yeghvard, Nor Gegh, Aragel, Zovuni) have a newly renovated irrigation pipeline as part of a govt subsidy program.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204202

today in history

1932: First Yerevan tramway began operating in Yerevan

1951: The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was implemented.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039885.html

get your free colonoscopy today

The National Center for Oncology has purchased the latest generation tools and will perform a free and enjoyable colonoscopy for residents over the age of 45, for the next 6 months.

The goal is to detect suspicious growths at an early stage. It's the third most common cancer among adults in the world. It has become more common in Armenia in the past decade. When detected early, it can be fully treated.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039911.html

COVID stats

+1885 tested. +355 infected. +729 healed. +5 deaths. 8393 active.

The death rate has been 1.8%. The infection reproduction rate was 0.84 in the past two weeks, down from 1.43.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039906.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039943.html

COVID numbers have declined, so what do we do?

... we lift some of the restrictions!

"Aye, aye, Captain!"

"I can't hear you!"

"The rule that limits attendance to non-commercial gatherings to no more than 60 people has been removed. All other safety requirements remain in place," said a Healthcare official. "You can enter Armenia via air or land by presenting negative COVID test results that were taken within the past 3 days. If you don't, you will be tested at the airport and will need to self-isolate until the results arrive."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039931.html

Armenia will soon import COVID vaccines

Healthcare Ministry: we are negotiating with multiple entities. The first batch of vaccines will arrive between late-January and mid-February. We are negotiating with producers whose vaccines have passed the necessary tests: Sputnik V, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. In the first phase, the vaccines will be given to the most vulnerable 10% of the population.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039921.html

Sputnik V vaccine has already been tested in Armenia

Healthcare Ministry: no complications were reported by the 15 patients, including Minister Torosyan. The often-discussed "skin redness" in the injection area has not been observed, either.

The first injection gave a 91.4% efficiency. The second increased it to 94%. Even if the vaccine doesn't fully prevent the infection, it can save the patient's life by making the case mild (is that right??).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039925.html

the new COVID strain: good news, bad news

Doctor Davit Melik-Nubaryan: the version of COVID that mutated in the UK will eventually reach Armenia. Preliminary data shows that those who have already been infected and gained immunity from the original COVID will be immune to this new strain. It is believed that the immunity will last 6-12 months for the majority.

The good news is that the new strain isn't more deadly and doesn't result in heavier cases. The bad news is that it spreads a lot faster. The Healthcare system could be overloaded again.

The vaccines against the original strain will likely work against the new one. Pharmaceutical companies may have to modify the vaccines, but it will only take weeks.

Closing borders with the UK won't be helpful to prevent it. We may already have the new strain. We need to develop a new strategy from the ground up.

Viruses mutate all the time. It's part of the evolution. Sometimes they cause more severe symptoms, sometimes lesser. From the evolutionary and survival standpoint, viruses want to cause less severe symptoms for the host so they can have a chance to spread wider.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039856.html

Armenian scientists will study the COVID strain

CDC chief Bakunts: Armenia will have the ability to study the genetic mutations of the coronavirus. Active work is underway to invest in research resources. Meanwhile, we can submit a virus sample to a WHO laboratory to conduct a study for us.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039962.html

families with newborn children receive mortgage subsidy

450 families have so far taken advantage of a government subsidy program that helps with purchasing apartments. ֏526 million will be paid as part of this 2020-2023 program. It is part of a recent initiative to boost the birthrate.

Two other aid programs went into effect in mid-2020. Provincial families received a downpayment subsidy equalling 5% of the total price. Another one subsidizes insurance payments.

The same family can apply for all three programs, and there is no age limit for parents.

https://factor.am/327385.html

diaspora-government cooperation expands: iGorts

iGorts is a program that recently recruited 48 highly skilled diasporan Armenians to visit Armenia and work at 19 various government agencies. Three more volunteers have arrived today to begin their work: Shila Palyan from Canada, Zaven Ayvazyan from Russia, and Anahit Mikaelyan from Cyprus.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204211

Yerevan to install 32 more elevators in apartment complexes

Arabkir district is the next recipient. Hundreds of units were installed in 2020. They replace the decades-old elevators that have become dangerous and poopy. The new elevators come equipped with running water and flush so you can drain your crap /s.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039954.html

have you been buying stuff right and left lately?

...because trade turnover increased by +34%, and the number of printed receipts by +7%, during this year's New Year's holidays.

֏91 billion was spent between December 29-31, which is ֏23 billion more.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204195

would your majesty be pleased to take a salt bath?

Nerqin Getashen will have a halotherapy "salt bath" center to help alleviate certain conditions. It's the first in Gegharquniq province. There will also be rooms for aromatherapy (oils), ogyxenotherapy (oxygen cocktails), and massage.

The owner claims it helps boost immunity and alleviates breathing, allergy, and insomnia issues (take the claim with a bath of salt).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039974.html

first Yezidi theater to open in Armenia

"шəp' y əBин" or "war and love" will be the first performance in a newly opened Yezidi theater in Ejmiatsin. It's part of a «Եզդիների կողքին» cultural initiative. The crew had planned a major performance about Yezidi national legend but the 44-day war began and some were drafted.

The crew ended up performing the "шəp' y əBин" during the war. It's about the importance of Yezidis in Armenia, and their love for the country. The January 17th performance will be dedicated to Yezidis who died fighting.

The performers aren't professional actors but they received acting training on-the-fly.

"It seems to work because their enthusiasm is great. A very good team has been formed," said the producer.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039941.html

Aram Khachaturian House-Museum will resume "Musical Thursdays"

This year's first classical concert is dedicated to Ruben Babayan, "the BFF of Armenian musicians."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039916.html

Netherlands college will donate large quantities of school supplies

Several thousands of desks, chairs, furniture pieces, computers, lockers, etc. are being loaded in containers to be shipped to Armenia.

The Hermann Wesselink college is renovating its building with new items so they decided to donate the old stuff to Armenian kids. This will be enough to equip 15 provincial schools.

https://factor.am/327135.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 posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my daily news threads:

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/kw0uaq/jan122021_news_gas_prices_could_rise_vs_jailed/

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