2021 January 13
- 1 Daily news wrap-up
- 2 former NSS chief Qyaramyan recalls incident during Shushi defense / Arthur Vanetsyan / "Money trucks"
- 3 here is the proposed railway map
- 4 search operations
- 5 POWs: Armenia & Russia hold discussions
- 6 civilian and soldier casualties: Shushi shootout and mine explosion
- 7 sappers & medics at Humanitarian Demining Center
- 8 MFA statement about 1990s massacres of Armenians in Azerbaijan
- 9 Artsakh to Baku: if you truly want peace, accept responsibility for 1990s massacres
- 10 Artsakh MFA Babayan about Artsakh's legal status and Turkish-Russian joint base:
- 11 diplomatic news / Russian co-chair about giveaway of 7 regions
- 12 Gagik Jhangiryan nominated for Supreme Court
- 13 long lines at gas stations
- 14 COVID stats
- 15 president Sarkissian moved to a hospital
- 16 tourism industry during the pandemic
- 17 Artsakh economy and budget
- 18 Armenia's economy & budget
- 19 IRS will exempt some items from border taxation & simplify paperwork
- 20 micro-businesses in Armenia / paycheck taxes
- 21 taxes paid by Armenian workers
- 22 demand for Armenian bonds remains high
- 23 update: new anti-corruption courts
- 24 update: allowing hard drugs for scientific use
- 25 Yerevan's new buses will have cameras, GPS, uniforms, electronic payment
- 26 medical care for Artsakh refugees
- 27 more Artsakh refugees return home
- 28 donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers
- 29 news archive
- 30 disclaimer
Daily news wrap-up
Jan/13/2021 news: __ War story: battles near Shushi, ex-NSS chief Qyaramyan recalls incident with Arthur Vanetsyan __ Shots fired near Shushi __ Artsakh asks Baku to recognize 1990s massacres to "prove" it wants peace __ Map of proposed railway __ Diplomatic news __ Jhangiryan __ Economy & Budget
Your 13-minute Wednesday report in 3206 words.
former NSS chief Qyaramyan recalls incident during Shushi defense / Arthur Vanetsyan / "Money trucks"
A figure representing the former regime recently made a claim that during the war, NSS chief Artashes Qyaramyan secretly helped Azeris to invade Hadrut, and gave Azeris thousands of Armenian passports. The claim was investigated, no evidence was provided, and the former regime official himself is facing charges now (that's the guy who called for Pashinyan to be assassinated). Qyaramyan was also accused of leaving Shushi with truckloads of money.
Qyaramyan recalls: the army command contacted Arthur Vanetsyan's "Hayreniq" unit and asked them to come and take up positions at a specific location. The unit refused, saying "we just came to Artsakh and aren't ready for combat yet." A time passed. Army command sent an envoy to go to a combat location and familiarize with events. The envoy was lead by Colonel Sergey, Major Vahe, and me.
Meanwhile, General Seyran Ohanyan instructed me to meet Arthur Vanetsyan's unit and tell them to go take up certain positions, near the areas with active combat. We visited Vanetsyan and explained the issue. Vanetsyan said he has no problem and will take those positions.
We returned to army headquarters. The command instructed me to accompany Vanetsyan's unit to those positions. We traveled with vehicles and reached the location they were supposed to guard. We were greeted by Artsakh's police chief. We split into smaller units and moved to deployment locations.
Vanetsyan's unit was supposed to take positions in trenches, but they refused, for objective and subjective reasons. Another person who was accompanying Vanetsyan's unit beside me was a Colonel who truly wanted to take part in the Shushi defense. Together with this Colonel, we decided that we would take 10 men from Vanetsyan's unit and station them on another hill that's located away from there.
While headed to this hill, we learned about another more favorable position. I went back to Vanetsyan's main unit to ask for more men so we can be deployed in this new favorable position. However, due to technical reasons, one of the men sustains an injury to a finger. Another one, a Qarin Tak resident who wanted to remain and defend his village, got wounded.
Three of us climbed up to evacuate the wounded soldier. Upon the return, I learned that Arthur Vanetsyan was no longer there. Later I learned that he went to command headquarters. For 3 hours, the Colonel and I remained there to assess the combat situation, before traveling to headquarters ourselves.
We reached the headquarters, but Vanetsyan wasn't there anymore. He was already in Stepanakert. In headquarters, and Colonel and I decided that the Colonel will go to Stepanakert to get reinforcement from his friends, while I will solve trench-related issues in the frontline position.
An hour later, I returned to positions to handle the trench issues. I discovered that only 20 people from Vanetsyan's unit remained there. I walked across the whole front line and discovered only one member who had taken a combat position with his weapon ready. I asked him who stationed him there, and he said he did it voluntarily without instructions.
I was approached by the Colonel who asked me to deliver radio-communication tools. I went to headquarters for the supplies. While away, another military unit arrived at these positions and started addressing issues related to Vanetsyan's unit.
The Colonel followed me to headquarters and reported that none of Vanetsyan's unit members were present anymore and that he could no longer defend that area with the 15-men reinforcement that he had gotten from Stepanakert.
At night, another army representative and I climbed that position and deployed a completely different army unit there. These were police forces. That night, General Seyran Ohanyan and I briefly visited Stepanakert. Everyone was already aware of the story about [Vanetsyan's unit abandoning positions]. Numerous people approached me for details.
As for reports about removing money from Shushi. I did not leave Shushi by myself. I left with dozens of people and Colonels. I left in the same car with General Seyran Ohanyan. We did not leave with [armored money-transport truck]; we used a Nissan personal vehicle belonging to some Colonel and a vehicle that was transporting mobilized reservists. We weren't carrying money and gold with us. We were carrying maps, radio equipment, and ammo.
here is the proposed railway map
POWs: Armenia & Russia hold discussions
General prosecutors of Armenia and Russia met today. Prosecutor Davtyan spoke about Azerbaijan's ongoing criminal cases against Armenian POWs.
civilian and soldier casualties: Shushi shootout and mine explosion
Reports arrived that an Armenian soldier was wounded and underwent surgery after an incident near Shushi. Nearby Russian peacekeepers said they haven't recorded any gunshots fired towards Armenian positions by Azeris located in Shushi. Shortly afterward, Artsakh MoD confirmed that a soldier was wounded by the Azeri fire and received surgery around 12:00 PM.
Artsakh MFA condemned the ceasefire violation by Azerbaijan and called it a violation of the November 9th trilateral statement.
A civilian in Artsakh's Martakert city died after an explosion caused by a landmine/bomb. He was using a tractor for agricultural work when the incident happened.
sappers & medics at Humanitarian Demining Center
The "Humanitarian Demining & Expert Center" has Armenian sappers who operate in Armenia and Syria. They provided stats for 2020:
63,000 m2 area was cleared near Balahovit, Kotayk. They removed the mines near Chinari, Tavush after the July battles. During the war, they traveled through southern borders to clear lands and educate the local population on how to avoid bombs.
In Syria, they have so far cleared 320,000 m2 of lands from 359 explosives, while the medical team provided aid to 26,000 patients.
The NATO-funded "Demining and Utilization Fund" helped them to clear 34,000 m2 lands not far from the Lachin corridor and to educate 10,000 residents annually.
MFA statement about 1990s massacres of Armenians in Azerbaijan
Foreign Ministry: 31 years ago, the international community witnessed another crime against the Armenian people in Azerbaijan. For several days, massacres and mass deportations of the Armenian population, which are the core of Baku's multicultural features, were carried out. Hundreds were murdered, mutilated, and went missing. Tens of thousands became refugees.
The anti-Armenian policy of the Azerbaijani authorities targeted not only the Armenian population living in Baku who lived there for centuries but also the Armenian historical and cultural heritage in the city.
To date, the organizers and perpetrators of massacres continue to be glorified as heroes and have not been brought to justice. Moreover, Azerbaijan continues this policy of ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Armenians from Artsakh.
Artsakh to Baku: if you truly want peace, accept responsibility for 1990s massacres
Artsakh MFA: In the process of healing the wounds inflicted by the bloody war, Baku could accept their direct responsibility for the mass crimes committed against the Armenian population in the 1990s. This would help eradicate the negative effects of the anti-Armenian sentiment and create the preconditions for lasting peace in the region.
Artsakh MFA Babayan about Artsakh's legal status and Turkish-Russian joint base:
Artsakh is wounded, but Artsakh exists and is alive. We are de-facto an independent state. We are acknowledged; there is OSCE that works around the Artsakh issue, there are Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh, there is a government in Artsakh. We will continue to work towards our international recognition, but with new strategies and different methods. (this was in response to Ilham Aliyev saying that the conflict is over and it's a thing of the past)
Artsakh's de-occupation is possible but let's not talk about when and at what capacity. We have to be realistic today in order to achieve our goals. We must preserve and improve whatever we have.
Massive geopolitical changes took place in this region. Today Russia is stationed in Artsakh. For another war to happen, Azerbaijan would have to break through Russian peacekeepers. The joint Russian-Turkish monitoring center is for preserving peace, and not to pressure Artsakh further.
diplomatic news / Russian co-chair about giveaway of 7 regions
OSCE's Russian co-chair Popov responded to one of the segments in Pashinyan's recent article in which Pashinyan said that Russia's offer, in the past decade or so, was to give away regions in exchange for essentially nothing.
Popov says: Russia offered a gradual return of the 7 regions. Artsakh's status was tied with the return of 2 of those regions (5+2), so the giveaway wasn't for "nothing". After giving 5 regions, Armenia would receive assurances that it would not be attacked, unblocking of trade routes, presence of Artsakh representatives during OSCE meetings. After giving the last 2 regions, there was a proposal to hold a referendum in Artsakh. (after repopulation with refugees, that is, and only if Aliyev could be trusted)
(Note: According to Serj Sargsyan, he accepted the 5+2 giveaway plan but it was rejected by Azerbaijan. Popov claims they were still negotiating over it as of 2018.)
Foreign Minister Ayvazyan discussed the Artsakh topic with the UN secretary Antonio Guterres. They spoke about POWs, humanitarian issues, and the earlier Azeri attack against Hin Tagher village in the narrow strip west of the Shushi-Hadrut corridor.
Ayvazyan also held a conversation with Russian MFA Lavrov.
Gagik Jhangiryan nominated for Supreme Court
The ruling QP Party will meet Gagik Jhangiryan and other candidates for Q&A to pick Supreme Court nominees (not to be confused with Constitutional Court). Jhangiryan is a legal expert and a former military prosecutor who investigated the October 27th, 1999 terrorist attack on Parliament, before being fired by Kocharyan during the investigation. Jhangiryan claimed his firing was for political reasons.
QP party decided to nominate Jhangiryan for the Supreme seat. Jhangiryan accepted the position, saying he will remain as an independent expert who is not a member of any political party. He will need 3/5th of the MP votes to pass.
Journalists cited an old conflict between Pashinyan and Jhangiryan. At some point, Jhangiryan had called Pashinyan an illiterate after Pashinyan drafted a bill to impeach Serj Sargsyan. Pashinyan had responded saying the illiterate was Jhangiryan, prompting the latter to storm out of the room. When reminded about it today, Jhangiryan laughed it off and said it was an old incident and he won't be [feeding media trolls]. Jhangiryan said he doesn't have bad relations with Pashinyan today.
Journalists cited other criticism towards Jhangiryan, in which he is accused of mishandling certain crime incidents while serving as a prosecutor under a previous government. Jhangiryan defended his record, saying that the incident was re-investigated after the 2018 revolution but to this date, no perpetrators were found.
The incident is about a murder that took place 16 years ago. Two soldiers were charged by Jhangiryan with murdering two other soldiers. They were found guilty and sentenced to lengthy prison times. The Appeals court increased their sentence to life in prison. The Cassations court, in the end, acquitted the defendants, finding that not enough evidence was provided that they were the murderers. The European Court for Human Rights sided with the defendants and ordered Armenia to pay them compensation. The incident is known as the "Mataghis Case". Jhangiryan says he followed the book while charging the suspect and that two other prosecutors came to the same conclusion after him.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040028.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040029.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040045.html , https://factor.am/327588.html , https://factor.am/327605.html , https://www.aravot.am/2019/07/12/1055577/ , https://hcav.am/arayik-zalyan-25-03-2019/ , https://factor.am/327811.html
long lines at gas stations
Car owners rushed to refill their tanks after Gazprom-Armenia announced plans to shut down gas delivery to gas stations for up to 1.5 days due to emergency pipe repairs. The lines were 6x longer.
+2093 tested. +485 infected. +644 healed. +8 deaths. 8216 active.
president Sarkissian moved to a hospital
Sarkissian caught the virus last week. He is going through a heavy case and had to be transported to a hospital. He has a high fever and pneumonia on both lungs.
tourism industry during the pandemic
... isn't doing good, in case you didn't know. A -80% decline in visitors. That's 1.5 million fewer tourists. Towards the end of 2020, the activity grew in the recreational resort areas, but it's still -33%. Tour agencies struggle to sell a few tickets to prevent shutting their doors.
The government approved an aid package for the tourism industry last year. Loans with favorable conditions were provided. It helped a bit, but more needs to be done to save the industry, says the head of the Armenian Tourism Federation. He suggested extending debt repayment deadlines.
Artsakh economy and budget
Artsakh's GDP will be ֏224 billion in 2021, which is -25% compared to last year.
Revenues ֏82 billion. Expenditures ֏125 billion (-8%). Deficit ֏43 billion.
Revenues from taxes ֏17 billion. Aid from Armenia ֏65 billion.
The Expenditure-to-GDP ratio will be 55%, compared to 46% in 2020.
2021's budget will be oriented towards social issues due to the war.
Armenia's economy & budget
Economist Sargsyan: there is no high risk of default in Armenia, considering that the average debt repayment deadline is not coming soon. On the other hand, large financial injections will be required to recover the economy, which will lead to further growth of debt.
It is difficult for any economy to survive in the face of such a combination of economic and financial crises, which is accompanied by a widespread decline in demand. The recovery of the economy, without the revival of demand, will be difficult. The government should invest funds exclusively in the economy for the purpose of support programs, development of infrastructure, expansion of new production capacities.
IRS will exempt some items from border taxation & simplify paperwork
A Parliamentary Commission has approved a government bill to exempt certain types of imported products from taxation at the border. That's ֏70 billion worth of imports that will be exempt from ֏1 billion in taxes. "As a result, additional liquid assets will be generated for these businesses," said the Economy Ministry.
"At the same time, the paperwork is simplified. A more equal field is created from a competitive point of view. In the past, such tax waivers were granted individually by the government. If the business was aware of this privilege, it could apply to use it, and if it was not informed, it would be disadvantaged. Now everybody gets it automatically."
micro-businesses in Armenia / paycheck taxes
Finance Ministry: // about 35,000 micro-businesses operate annually. That number became significantly higher, up from 22,000, after the implementation of 2020 reforms relating to the taxation of micro-businesses.
One of the reforms established a flat ֏5,000/month paycheck tax for anyone working at a micro-business. While it can help some, certain unqualified workers in larger businesses decided to game the system by quitting their jobs and continuing their work for the same employer while pretending to be independent micro-businesses. This way they pay just ֏5,000/month. //
In other news, the Parliament had earlier approved a draft BHK bill to make changes to micro-business laws that would expand the list of micro-businesses workers who are not deemed as private entrepreneurs (sanitation workers, nannies, etc.)
During today's Parliamentary hearing, Finance Ministry offered to amend the draft bill to reform the aforementioned ֏5,000/month paycheck rules, and to "exempt passive income from the preferential micro-tax system."
The bill's author was against the amendments, saying they are fundamentally different from the original purpose of the bill, and that he is against amendments that could remove tax exemptions from some workers during the economic crisis. The draft bill was withdrawn for now.
taxes paid by Armenian workers
Beginning this January, some taxes will lower while others will rise.
Income taxes will lower because of the recent law to establish flat-tax. Everyone will pay 22%. Within the next two years, it will further reduce to 20%.
The flat-fee paid towards Soldiers' Insurance Fund will no longer be ֏1,000/month. There will be progressive brackets with the lowest being ֏1,500 and the highest ֏15,000 (millionaires).
Fees towards pension fund will rise. Currently, a sum equalling 10% of the paycheck is redirected to the pension fund. Part of that 10% is "subsidized" by the government. The size of this subsidy will gradually reduce, meaning the worker will pay more % towards that 10% mandatory collection. By 2023, the worker and the government will each pay 5% (about 2% hike for workers?).
demand for Armenian bonds remains high
Auctions for ֏20 billion worth of state bonds took place on January 12 at the Armenian Stock Exchange. The demand was for ֏24 billion, which indicates "stability of the financial market and attractiveness of the Armenian state bonds. It is noteworthy that in case of a relatively stable return, investors continue to invest their funds in these long-term state bonds."
Annual rate at 8%. Payment deadline 10 years. The weighted average yield was 9.6814%.
update: new anti-corruption courts
A government's bill to create new courts with 25 judges specifically for handling corruption cases has passed the first major barrier after receiving approval by a Parliamentary committee. It will be placed on the floor for debates and voting.
update: allowing hard drugs for scientific use
A government bill to allow scientists and labs to use banned narcotics for research purposes has been approved by a Parliamentary committee and will be introduced to Parliament for a vote.
Yerevan's new buses will have cameras, GPS, uniforms, electronic payment
Yerevan had earlier purchased 160 mid-sized buses before the long ones are ready. The first batch will begin to operate by the end of January. They will serve several transport routes (Shengativ, Avan, Tsarav Aghbyur, Malatia, Zeytun) that were abandoned by private transport companies earlier.
The buses will come equipped with security cameras, GPS devices, revamped exterior. The drivers will wear uniforms.
The fees and payment methods will remain the same for now. The city will implement a unified electronic payment system later.
medical care for Artsakh refugees
Artsakh refugees residing in Armenia qualify for free healthcare, said the Ministry. This includes outpatient services, specialist services, certain expensive exams, heart surgeries, therapy, eye care, etc.
more Artsakh refugees return home
146 people returned to their homes today, bringing the total via the Lachin corridor to 48,840, says the Russian peacekeeping mission.
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)
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/kwrha3/jan132021_news_war_story_battles_near_shushi/
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