2021 January 26

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Jan/26/2021: (1) Sotq gold mine continues operations (2) Births increase first time in 6yr (3) Recycling business (4) Brain research center (5) POW & search (6) Artsakh schools (7) Freedom of press in 2020 (8) Vazgen Manukyan rally (9) Pashinyan loses lawsuit (10) Free university (11) Nature reform
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Tuesday report in 2798 words.

Sotq gold mine continues its operations

"We were forced to change our logistics scheme, but the mine continues to operate and meet its production plan," said the GeoProMining co-owner Roman Trotsenko.

"The removal of mining materials was and continues to be on the Armenian side of the mine. The vehicle route had to change but the mine continues to operate."

(Context: half of the mine territory went under Azeri control because it was in Qarvachar.)

https://factor.am/332061.html

Armenia will have new brain research center

State Medical University is building a new facility with European standards, for brain research. It should be ready by September. It's being built with three grants. International Horizon 20/20 competition was held, and the University was able to make it in top-30 with its research plans.

The lower floor will have a library, and a presentation room to hold discussions about research. Students will have rooms for research. Rector Muradyan says this will be the university's first but not last modern research center.

"Young and best scientists don't have to leave Armenia to have access to the best equipment."

Stroke, Alzheimer's, Autism, and brain function will be researched.

https://youtu.be/7sqQlRZeUHk

https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2021/01/25/Բժշկական-համալսարանում-«Ուղեղի-կենտրոն»-կբացվի/401646

missing soldiers' search operations

The crews discovered the bodies of 3 soldiers in the southern Jabrayil region. Another body was discovered and transferred by Azeris near Mataghis. The crews are canvassing the Hadrut region today.

The identification process continues; 63 names were published today. Hundreds are yet to be identified.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041387.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041398.html

The family of a deceased Azeri soldier complained about the poor burial conditions of their son. The video shows what appears to be rainwater and mud covering the grave.

https://youtu.be/HJxybMYG5kw?t=339

Artsakh schools before and after the war

107 schools were lost during the war. They were serving 8155 students. Most of them continue their education in Armenia.

110 schools remain present in Artsakh. They currently serve 1700 students. The number grows as more families return to their homes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041380.html

Artsakh president Arayik about Artsakh's legal status:

Any status of Artsakh within Azerbaijan is simply impossible and unacceptable. Even under these difficult conditions, We will continue the struggle for the international recognition of Artsakh's independence.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289746/

PACE session: Armenian delegation criticizes Azeri regime for glorifying beheading, acting as a terrorist state

LHK Marukyan: Azerbaijan is behaving like a terrorist state by not returning the POWs and making threats. The ECHR had approved emergency measures against Azerbaijan, but they were ignored; a prisoner was killed recently. Azerbaijan glorifies its soldiers who commit beheadings. How can this state be a member of PACE? Apply pressure to release the POWs, otherwise, Azerbaijan should be deemed as a terrorist state. Armenia has met the November 9th obligation of releasing Azeri prisoners.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041408.html

QP Vladimir: We can not tolerate the existence of a racist state in the Council of Europe... Azerbaijan still refuses to provide POW-related information despite the ECHR ruling.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041460.html

Delegate QP Rubinyan met the general secretary and president of PACE to discuss the POW topic and a PACE trip to Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041443.html

PACE calls for implementation of November 9th trilateral statement

PACE has urged both sides to refrain from provocative language that can hinder diplomacy, to respect cultural monuments, and to exchange POWs and bodies.

PACE expressed concerns over the human rights violations and vandalism against religious-cultural monuments during the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041407.html

Emergency Minister met Russian ambassador Kopyrkin

... to discuss the return of POWs and humanitarian issues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041447.html

Foreign Minister of Iran is making trips

... to Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia to discuss the Artsakh conflict. He met the Russian MFA and congratulated Russia with mediating a ceasefire.

"We hope the disagreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan will turn into cooperation."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041419.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041454.html

Foreign Minister of Russia Lavrov about Artsakh conflict:

We had a chance a few years ago to diplomatically resolve the conflict so both sides wouldn't have thousands of deaths today. The outcome would have been approximately the same, without the deaths.

We believe that the implementation of the [economic and trade projects] discussed in Moscow on January 11th will allow us to finally settle the remaining political aspects of the situation around Nagorno Karabakh on the basis of fairness. It will benefit the people of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and their neighbors (except Georgia 🤔?).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041449.html , https://factor.am/331981.html

police officials are charged with police brutality

SIS has investigated two incidents of police brutality and sent the case to prosecutors. 3 policemen are charged with multiple felonies. They allegedly detained two civilians on September 6, 2020, and assaulted them in a police station.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041439.html

Pashinyan's office loses defamation lawsuit

Pashinyan's spokeswoman earlier spoke about the UCOM ISP shareholder Khachatryan brothers, who are the sons of the former regime's IRS chief Gagik Khachatyran (subject of felony investigations), their "mafiosi system", and the corruption investigation around their business.

Khachatryan brothers sued Pashinyan and his office for defamation. Today the Lower Court sided with Khachatryans and ordered Pashinyan to apologize for his spokeswoman's statements. Pashinyan's office will appeal the verdict.

(It's related to the ongoing case in which Tsarukyan's right-hand man allegedly paid millions in bribes to the Serj regime, via UCOM owners, to provide favorable treatment to Tasrukyan's businesses. Later, the government would block UCOM from purchasing competitor Beeline.)

Context: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1013668.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041478.html

2020 free speech stats: journalist union about physical attacks, war, defamation lawsuits

2020 was a rough year for the media. The declaration of an emergency state during the pandemic restricted the spread of COVID conspiracy theories and other non-official data. It was soon lifted by the government but some outlets were already pressured. A similar situation was observed during the declaration of emergency relating to war.

Reporters' union about 2020 stats: there were many obstacles and difficulties for journalists. While during the pandemic the outlets weren't penalized and the police were satisfied with sending 32 warnings, we saw a different picture during the war when 13 outlets received ֏700k penalties.

Overall, there were 177 instances of "pressure" against journalists, up from 134 from last year. (these include lawsuits)

6 physical attack incident with 11 victims. 4 of these attacks took place during a protest organized by opposition parties, and 2 by the Azeri army during the war.

90 instances of preventing the flow of information, which is down by 18 from last year.

Lawsuits against media outlets reduced from 92 to 72. From this, 61 is about defamation, 1 about publishing private info, 9 about workplace dispute, 2 were filed by outlets themselves to get info from the authorities.

A large number of defamation suits is a result of an atmosphere of hatred and bad language in politics.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041426.html

Vazgen Manukyan calls for rebellion unless Pashinyan resigns / Meets voters in Ararat

Former regime's PM candidate Vazgen Manukyan continues his countrywide trip to meet voters. He visited Ararat province. Several local residents organized a protest against him. Manukyan's supporter called them "sold out hobos", repeating Manukyan's earlier statement in Gyumri. "Those who chant Nikol outside aren't real men, they have no honor," said Manukyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205180 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205187

Manukyan: Russia could weaken tomorrow which could result in events that happened during WW1. Turkey could collapse because of Erdogan. Armenia must have strong diplomacy, but right now everything is being done to make sure we're a small merchant state. We won't let that happen. We will rise again and have the strongest army in the region. Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran must all take us into account. (next stop Baku?)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041429.html

Manukyan: I won't participate in Parliamentary elections organized by Pashinyan. He must resign first. Participating in such elections would mean forgetting everything. The war would be forgotten, the treason would be forgotten, there would be behind-the-scenes coalitions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041450.html

Manukyan cast doubt on the idea of reopening trade routes in the region, citing the example of rocks being thrown at Armenian trucks by Azeri civilians in Georgia, and saying Armenia wouldn't be able to do trade via Azerbaijan. "This would only benefit Azerbaijan and Turkey."

https://youtu.be/4lM2B1gapTM?t=73

Manukyan: If Pashinyan doesn't leave voluntarily, we will go for a rebellion. This is about the future of our state. Rebellion is allowed under the Constitution of many states.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289749/

Manukyan invites you to join a "massive protest on February 18th."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205204

judicial system reforms discussion

Justice Ministry and Pashinyan met to discuss the ongoing reforms. "We have recently given a lot of impetus to judiciary reforms. Of course, the results will not be immediately visible, but I am convinced that through consistent steps we will achieve the goal, which is to establish an independent and fair judiciary. The attempts to politicize the judiciary system are unacceptable," said PM Pashinyan.

Justice Ministry met European colleagues to discuss judicial and anti-corruption reforms.

US representatives met Armenian police to discuss the ongoing police reforms and exchange of practice.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041414.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041466.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041468.html , https://youtu.be/faUjW_JEt2g

healthcare reforms for prison inmates / deaths reduce 4x

Justice Minister Badasyan: The number of deaths in penitentiaries has reduced 4 times. Despite the pandemic of 2020, the number of deaths went from 21 to 5. No inmates died from COVID.

If in previous years the organization of free medical care required weeks, now the process is organized in just one day. Almost half of the healthcare staff went through retraining.

Inmate deaths by year:

2014: 38

2015: 28

2016: 29

2017: 17

2018: 18

2019: 21

2020: 5

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041379.html , https://factor.am/331736.html

iGorts diasporan experts meet Pashinyan

iGorts is a program that began recruiting volunteer diasporan Armenians to visit Armenia and work at government agencies. They met the PM today.

800 had applied. 49 were recruited for a 1-year program in 19 various public offices. Today they presented their programs to improve the economy, education, etc.

The volunteer diasporans are from the US, Austria, Germany, Thailand, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Canada, Cyprus, Netherlands, Sweden, China, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and France.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041486.html

almost-100% tuition subsidy for almost-100% of Artsakh university students

This is separate from the Republic of Armenia's tuition subsidy for families of war participants. Artsakh government has a plan, drafted before the war, to subsidize tuition for university students in general.

֏500 million will be dedicated from the budget instead of last year's ֏238 million because the govt will expand the recipient list.

There are 2,000 university students. Almost all of them will receive an almost full subsidy, says the government. Additionally, there are charity organizations that will subsidize tuition for 1-2 semesters for certain groups.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041422.html

micro-business stats in 2020

In 2019, the government approved tax reforms for micro-businesses, defining them as anyone earning less than ֏24 million annually. At the same time, they are required to file taxes and disclose their revenues. The deadline is February 1st.

There are 40,000 micro-businesses in Armenia. The majority are single-person businesses. The rest have a combined of 22,000 hired employees.

These businesses only pay border import tax, the "stamp tax", and a fixed ֏5,000 employee income tax regardless of employee paycheck.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041391.html

update: Nature Ministry's first meeting with the new council

Earlier, the Nature Ministry decided to form an advisory group consisting of nature protection groups, NGOs, govt-run organizations, as part of an attempt for better governance. They held the first meeting and decided to meet twice a year to discuss the job results.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041381.html

tighter regulation of water use permits

Nature Ministry will set new standards for issuing water use permits to water-heavy industries such as fish breeding facilities and small hydropower plants.

Minister Romanos: there has been shadow trade and loopholes in these areas in the past. A new law is being drafted to reduce corruption and human involvement in the process.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041451.html

abandoned mine tailings in Armenia

Nature Minister Romanos: we have counted over 50 abandoned mines and tailings (waste left by mining). Most of them weren't allowed to be at their current state because there is a law about recultivation of lands that requires miners to recover lands after they finish mining.

Others took advantage of loopholes and abandoned the mines. These circles had "connections" and "privileges". The state cannot afford to bear the financial burden of cleaning up the disaster left by these miners.

Upcoming reforms will introduce better oversight mechanisms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041472.html

Nature Minister Romanos: we plan to implement an ecotourism project in Khosrov reserve. There will be proposals ahead of the hiking season. The model is clear: several hiking routes, each with its own paid services and technical support package. There will be regulations to reduce the human effect on nature. A similar project is being drafted for other reserves.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041475.html

forest protection

"Within 1-2 years, we will introduce a new model of forest management so that the entire industrial potential of forests is handled exclusively by the ArmForest, while citizens will be allowed to go to forests only for walking or picking berries," said Nature Minister.

"Among other problems of forests, the minister pointed out an increased number of cases of timber theft, which grew 3-4 times during the latest Karabakh war."

http://arka.am/en/news/society/armenian_citizens_will_be_allowed_to_go_to_forests_only_for_walking_and_picking_berries/

Yerevan's plastic recycling to turn into business

Last month the capital installed color-coded bins to separate glass, plastic, cardboard, from other waste. The pilot program was launched in the Davtashen district.

On Friday, the municipality-linked agency, tasked with handling the plastic collection, will hold an auction to sell the collected plastic for ֏90/kg. The buyer will have to recycle the plastic.

The revenue from the sale will be given to the city's Green Department budget.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204771

COVID stats

+1938 tested. +138 infected. +472 healed. +5 deaths. 7018 active.

Artsakh conducted 36 tests with 21 positive results. This was a targeted test among people who were from a circle of an earlier-infected person. There are 34 active cases.

President Sarkissian is recovering from COVID at home. There is a positive trend.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041389.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041402.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041420.html

COVID cases in the region / detection criteria

Turkey 2,429,000

Iran 1,373,000

Georgia 253,000

Azerbaijan 228,000

Armenia 166,000

Healthcare official Romela Abovyan: Armenia has been battling COVID based on the info provided by WHO, sometimes by applying tougher measures. Armenia was the only country that accepted 37c temperature as a criteria for the early detection, while WHO was recommending 38c. This is why COVID numbers were growing fast in Armenia; we were discovering early and more.

https://youtu.be/PlPOG402874

https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2021/01/25/Հայաստանը-կորոնավիրուսի-վարակման-դեպքերով-տարածաշրջանում-առաջատարի-դիրքը-զիջել-է-Վրաստանին/401626

COVID vaccine by AstraZeneca

... will be imported for the Armenian population, as reported earlier. The Healthcare Ministry had negotiated with the producer as part of a global initiative to ensure every country gets vaccines.

The British AstraZeneca is the most affordable and the fastest available of all, which could explain its selection for the 3% of the population in the initial stage.

British AstraZeneca - $4

Russian Sputnik V - $10

American Pfizer - $20

American Moderna - $10-50

For the AstraZeneca vaccine to be effective, it has to be administered at a specific dose and frequency. Scientists are still examining the best method. Prior research has shown 62-90% effectiveness.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/126634

road repairs in Gyumri and north-south

Infrastructure Minister Papikyan: This year, we'll renovate 21 roads in Gyumri, including the "Slabodka" section. A significant portion of 150 kilometers of inner-city road repairs in 2020 was in Shirak province.

As for interstate roads, we will resume the north-south once the weather allows us. I think we'll double the pace.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041418.html

number of births increased in Armenia for the first time since 2014

Healthcare Ministry provided details about an initiative that provides fertility technologies to couples who struggle with pregnancy.

Ministry: a year ago we launched the fertility program. It applied to soldiers, residents of 186 settlements near borders, low-income residents, disabled people, parents who deceased soldiers. As of December 31, 2020, this program helped to give birth to 49 children.

Without counting births given by Artsakh refugees, there were 36,289 births in 2020, which is +211 compared to 2019. This is the first YoY increase since 2014.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041464.html

book store has a special gift for soldiers for upcoming St. Sargis Valentine's Day

Ladies and gents... you can gift a book to soldiers in front lines. If you buy one from Bukinist by January 30rd and specify the soldier's name and location, or choose "random soldier", the seller will ship it to them, and donate 20% of the sale to the Soldiers' Insurance Fund that treats recovering soldiers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041448.html

Woody Allen's "the floating light bulb" theatrical performance

... will be presented to the audience in Sos Sargsyan Theater in February. It's both sad and happy and has magic tricks for your entertainment.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041378.html

in case you missed Monday news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/l4zxrj/jan252021_news_shushi_mayor_about_defense_battles/gksy18n/?context=3

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/l5o4fn/jan262021_1_sotq_gold_mine_continues_operations_2/

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