2021 January 27

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Jan/27/2021: (1) Anti-corruption: governor, mayor, MP, cops, IRS agents busted (2) Pashinyan's diplomatic passport (3) Vazgen Manukyan's call to generals (4) Refugees told to protest (5) High tech programs++ (6) Iranian MFA (7) Russian MP angers Azerb. (8) M'lady Makunts (9) New aid package (10) ...
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Wednesday report in 3008 words.

anti-corruption: NSS busts former governor of Aragatsotn / North-South highway

NSS report says: ex-governor of Aragatsotn, his HHK MP brother, and an ex-mayor of Kaqavadzor embezzled public funds.

In 2009, the governor learned about the upcoming construction of a road that was part of the North-South highway project, and that the road was supposed to travel through Aragatsotn's Kaqavadzor settlement.

The federal authorities instructed the governor and mayors in these areas to halt any other construction and land transactions, to pave the way for the North-South project.

The federal government was supposed to purchase these adjacent lands before the construction. The defendants conspired to falsify a piece of land's legal definition to make it worth significantly more, so they could sell it to the federal government for a higher price.

Governor pressured local authorities to allow his MP brother to build illegal structures, to further inflate the price.

In 2013, the new illegal owner signed a contract with the North-South project to sell the property for ֏139 million, while he had earlier purchased it through a rigged auction for ֏35K.

The Kaqavadzor mayor has confessed and testified. The other two officials are charged with felonies.

(The ex-governor denies wrongdoing. The court decided that he doesn't have to be arrested before his trial.)

https://youtu.be/ZlzttNu6kqc?t=17

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041530.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205308

anti-corruption: police busts IRS agents with bribery

The report says: police and IRS cooperated to uncover a corruption scheme by two IRS agents. They were caught after receiving the latest $80 installment of a bribe from a business. Several businesses had offered bribes to conceal their regulatory shortcomings. A felony case is launched.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041629.html

anti-corruption: forest guard is charged with bribery and allowing illegal logging

Investigators have pressed charged against a forest protection guard for allegedly receiving a ֏5.7 million in bribe and allowing 102 trees to be illegally cut between 2015-2018.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289762/

search operations

Armenian and Azeri search crews continue the search operations for their missing soldiers. The Azeri side transferred 31 Armenian bodies; their original location wasn't specified. The soldiers were reservists. Their identities are being verified. The Armenian crews continue the searches in Martuni, Fizuli, and Hadrut regions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041524.html

POWs

Parliament Speaker Mirzoyan met the Russian ambassador to discuss the POW and humanitarian topic.

Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Russia discussed the POW issue.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041586.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041628.html

French Secretary of State visits Armenia

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne: we raise the issue of Armenian POWs during discussions with Azeri authorities, whenever we have the opportunity. The general mandate is in the hands of the Red Cross; we cooperate with them... The two sides reaffirmed the importance of resuming dialogue under the OSCE Minsk Group format. Its work has to continue.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041616.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041617.html

meeting between Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Iran / The "red line" and "terrorists"

Zarif visited Yerevan as part of the Ru-Am-Az trip.

Foreign Minister of Armenia: Our region is now facing new challenges created by Azerbaijan's dangerous attempt to resolve the Karabakh conflict by force. The results of this aggression cannot serve as a basis for lengthy peace and regional cooperation.

Iran is a powerful country in the region, we respect Iran's approach to building its relations with its immediate neighbors. However, we would like to emphasize once again that a lasting peace that addresses the interests of all, where there are no "winners and losers", can provide real guarantees for the development of security and stability in the region.

Foreign Minister of Iran: Our red line is the territorial integrity of Armenia. Iran considers Armenia an important neighbor. All people's right to exercise their religion and other rights must be protected. We plan to develop ties with Armenia in the political, cultural, economic, and security spheres. We have common concerns, including the presence of terrorists in the region. //

Pashinyan met the Iranian colleague to discuss the post-war situation in the region.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041531.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041542.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041595.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041600.html

Armenpress accuses Sputnik-Azerbaijan of misquoting Heiko Maas:

The Azeri outlet spread misinformation, claiming that German MFA Maas said there is no evidence of hired mercenaries in Artsakh. In reality, Maas said the opposite.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041565.html , https://factor.am/332367.html

https://pace.coe.int/en/verbatim/2021-01-26/pm/en

Azerbaijan upset over Russian MP's rhetoric

Vitali Milonov, an MP from Russia's ruling United Russia Party, has supported Artsakh throughout the war and visited the country during the events. He's been making statements highly critical of Azerbaijan.

The Azeri authorities decided to summon the Russian legal representative in Baku to explain the ruling party MP's statements. Milonov is on the Azeri travel blacklist for having visited Artsakh.

https://factor.am/332172.html

Pashinyan's diplomatic passport / rioters / Manukyan's phone calls to generals

the passport

Pashinyan's diplomatic passport was stolen by rioters on November 9th, after they broke into Pashinyan's residents and Parliament; it was revoked alongside 13 other stolen passports immediately, said MFA spokeswoman.

Somehow, the stolen document ended up in the hands of Azeris, who gave it to an investigative researcher from Orbeli Center (update: former researcher), said QP MP Alen Simonyan today. The Orbeli center (update: its former researcher) claims he purchased a legitimate-looking document before these riots.

The center believes Armenia's information system has cracks that allowed the adversary to manipulate data. For example, there were reports during the war that the Azeri-Turkish army used Armenian phone numbers and Armenian-speaking members to call and sabotage the Armenian military actions.

the rebellion, and Manukyan's phone call to generals

QP MP Alen Simonyan was asked to comment Vazgen Manyukyan's statement about organizing a rebellion unless Pashinyan resigns before elections. "Let him try, let him try," said the MP.

"The war was lead by generals, not some government political figures who went there to order things. Vazgen Manukyan admitted that during the war, he called the generals in Artsakh and urged them to take the political power into their hands. He was encouraging the army to advance on Yerevan, and not Horadiz. Other members of the 17-camp likely pressured the Colonels and Captains.

During the war, these people were busy with one thing: breaking the spirit of our army. They were convinced that according to the diplomatic documents left by them, the army should leave Jabrayil and Horadiz, and attack the government building instead. And for there to be <<legitimate>> reasons for an attack on a government building, there must be failures on the battlefield. For this, they had to plant a seed of doubt among officers and generals and break their will to fight and win. We already knew that some people went to the front lines and told soldiers not to fight."

NSS is investigating Manukyan's claims about his phone calls to generals during the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041578.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205255 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205278 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205286 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205290 , https://www.lragir.am/2021/01/27/617007/

refugees from Artsakh's Qasatagh receive phone calls to participate in protests

Many families from "Kelbajar" region had to move to Armenia after the region was given to Azerbaijan. Families say they received phone calls - likely from the 17 opposition parties, as they assume - to participate in anti-Pashinyan rallies. They were invited to visit Republic Square to "resolve the issue of their housing."

"Every one of us thought this was an isolated case. We learned that it was widespread after 60 of us gathered at a humanitarian facility to receive French aid. We don't know where they got our phone numbers from. The government is handling all of our issues; we don't want to participate in any rally," said a refugee.

"They [callers] know that we came from Artsakh and that we lost our homes, so they know our weak spots. But most of us realized this was a political game. Many were saying that they got rid of the 30-year-long slavery and that not having a home is only temporary. Our lands were sold by Serj and Kocharyan for 30 years. Everybody knows that. Pashinyan opened our eyes. It's hard to deceive us," said the refugee.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205347

re: QP leader Lilith Makunts's possible appointment as US ambassador

The government could appoint QP MP and party leader Makunts, also known as "America's agent in America" according to some opposition figures, as the Armenian ambassador to US. Some critics said it's a political decision and Makunts lacks experience as a foreign diplomat. "She is just a girl who speaks English."

QP MP Simonyan response: Appointments can be political or diplomatic in nature. In this case, it's a political one. At this stage, the government found it right to consider Makunts's candidacy. She has connections with American partners and can "speak their diplomatic and political language."

I'm sure that no matter who we nominated, something would be said, some reason would be given for criticism. The majority of people who are criticizing Makunts's candidacy cannot even name the current ambassador to the US. (don't you dare to Google now Վաղո!)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041580.html

other appointments

Armella Shaqaryan is the ambassador to Mexico. Tigran Harutyunyan is a deputy NSS chief. Armen Ghularyan is the Urban Development Committee chief.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041626.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041625.html , https://factor.am/332242.html

it has become a meme

You may reset the clock because we have new rumors about Yerevan mayor Hayk Marukyan's "resignation". The mayor's office denied the "misinformation". There have been many such rumors since his election victory, usually with a few months of cooldown in between.

As a reminder, Hayk Marutyan was elected as Yerevan's first openly drag-queen mayor in 2018.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041610.html

anniversary ceremony to mark the end of Leningrad siege

Yerevan Mayor Marutyan and Russian ambassador Kopyrkin laid flowers on a memorial in Arabkir to mark the end of the WW2 siege.

100,000 Armenians fought to break the blockade. 20,000 of them died. 500 Leningrad children found refuge in Armenia after being evacuated out of the city.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205339 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205339

Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh

... have so far cleared 748 hectares of land and 234km of roads from 24k explosives.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041631.html

51,408 people have returned to Artsakh via the Lachin road alone

192 did so today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041630.html

new aid package: ֏500,000 payments to wounded soldiers

The government approved another aid package. This one is for soldiers who were wounded but didn't receive 1-2 stage disabilities. They will receive ~$1,000 compensation to alleviate the financial difficulties caused by the temporary inability to work.

~6,000 people will qualify. Applicants do not have to provide any documents other than ID because the Healthcare Ministry already knows if they were wounded.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041559.html

armed man kidnaps his child and sets up a barricade

The police tried to apprehend an armed suspect. The latter kidnapped his 3-year-old son and threatened to cause harm unless the police leave. The police chief went to negotiate. The suspect surrendered after 2 hours of negotiations.

https://youtu.be/TGVa_xC6olI

Vardenis man steals a TV to gift it to mother-in-law

https://youtu.be/tLbihtZFKGs

update: TV and Radio Commission's broadcast license auction

The TV regulator had earlier distributed broadcast licensing to qualified TV outlets. Not many "wow" moments, with the usual suspects keeping their slots. Anti-Kocharyan A1+ and pro-Kocharyan H2 failed to win slots; they criticized the Commission.

The head of Commission Hakobyan responded, saying the two outlets presented weaker programming and fared lower than competitors.

"The auction was done under new rules to better define criteria and reduce the subjective judgment by Commission members," said chief Hakobyan. "We held a highly transparent and fair competition, as a result of which the most powerful, competitive TV companies that performed their actions correctly in the previous 10 years and presented good programming, were licensed. The selection criteria are open for public assessment."

"We have not seen any coercion or lobbying, which is a very strong progress compared to previous competitions."

With TV being done, the Commission will begin issuing FM radio licenses this month.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041576.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041579.html

cement imports will be temporarily banned from non-EAEU states

The government considers Armenian cement a strategically important industry, and to protect it, the imports will be restricted again to allow the industry to develop and compete against cheaper imports that could flood the market.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041547.html

structural reforms: all 4 social agencies will be served by a single office

Labor Minister: we adopted a policy of introducing an integrated social services system in the field of social protection, which should be based on a unified system of social needs assessment. There won't be a new agency, but these four existing agencies will operate under one office: social security service, family benefits system, disabilities, and employment.

Pashinyan: citizens won't have to travel too many places for paperwork.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041556.html

government will encourage law-abiding taxpayers with incentives

Government: we are reviewing the existing incentive system. It will stimulate the development of taxpayers' self-assessment system, which will lead to increased tax discipline, transparency of tax bodies, expansion of taxpayer list. (no details yet)

During the war, we noticed a certain change in the behavior of taxpayers, which was reflected in a higher degree of discipline by taxpayers. This should be encouraged.

April 19th will be celebrated as Taxpayer's Day. Armenia's first tax code was approved on that day in 1992.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041559.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041567.html

IRS received high tech equipment to catch contraband

The US DEA provided tools to the Armenian IRS. Hand scanners that detect 324 types of narcotics without unwrapping parcels, devices that detect hidden cargo attached inside vehicle skeletons, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041585.html

COVID stats

2144 tested. 195 infected. 649 healed. 4 deaths. 6557 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041535.html

Armenia and Russia will reopen borders beginning February 1st

Pashinyan: a pilot program called "I travel without covid 19" program will launch for the entire February. The two-way travel will resume. You need a negative test within 3 days before travel. If it works well, the program will continue after March 1st.

Due to the coronavirus, there have been many travel restrictions since last year. Many of our compatriots raised the issue of resuming air communication with Russia. This is also a social issue because many of our compatriots go to Russia for work.

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: you can install the "Путешествую без COVID" app that has the list of labs for the $30 test. Your status will turn green when the test result is negative.

Pashinyan: I hope we'll see a significant increase in the number of flights by the end of February. This will contribute to the restoration of tourism. I'd like to thank EAEU partners and Russia for cooperation. This was an initiative launched by the government of Armenia, funded by the Eurasian Bank.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041537.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041543.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041544.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205310

product prices in EAEU trade bloc: November YoY

Kyrgyz +8.2%

Kazakh +7.3%

Belarus +6.6%

EAEU +4.9%

Russia +4.4%

Armenia +1.6%

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041527.html

in Soviet Armenia, Abaran makes fun at YOU

Rumors say that the enlarged city, which includes the adjacent 21 villages, has been developing in recent times. More self-sufficient budget, better streets, parks, irrigation systems for adjacent villages, etc. Video:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1396810057334970

High Tech education program has 6,000 participants

High Tech Minister Arshakyan met the administration of the Union of Information and Communication Technologies to discuss the ongoing joint programs and expansion.

They plan to launch a "Start Up" movement. "We will try to solve some problems in the private sector with the help of university students. With the new program, we plan to teach entrepreneurship skills and provide shared working space for students."

Minister emphasized the need to involve provincial students, noting that half of the 6,000 participants are from there. "It is necessary to help with continuous programs so the graduates can form teams in their places of residence, create companies, develop the provinces. All of these initiatives encourage partnerships with private companies."

Minister will visit Artsakh to discuss the expansion of the program.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041520.html

high tech program "Armenian Virtual World" to expand

High Tech Minister Arshakyan: On August 3, 2020, one of our largest programs "Armenian Virtual Bridge" was launched. The program aims to become a platform connecting the Armenian tech community to the world and the Diaspora.

The program includes two components: incubation and acceleration. They aim to create opportunities for Armenian participants to develop international cooperation skills and attract investment. As part of the incubation component, 13 Armenian entrepreneurs underwent professional training courses at Draper University. Under the acceleration program, 15 companies underwent 8 weeks of training with the best world-renowned professionals.

On January 28th, the winning companies will present their products to Silicon Valley venture companies, investors, and Diaspora Armenian specialists. The best projects will receive investments.

In 2021, the program will be expanded, the scope and participation figures will be doubled. The project is implemented jointly with the AGBU's Silicon Valley representatives.

https://youtu.be/FHqFCjBvyeo

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041523.html

digitize everything

Deputy PM Avinyan: within the next 2-3 years, some services provided by the state will be digitized. People will no longer be required to visit offices for simple tasks that involve applications, response, and payments.

An auction was held to pick a winner to help modernize some 100 services. We'll create a list of services that will still require visits.

https://factor.am/332223.html

digital parliament

The Parliament has launched a process to create a digital parliament (E-parliament), the aim of which is to bring the entire electronic information infrastructure in line with modern standards, as well as the complete automation of many manual processes.

"Through digital technologies, the parliament-society connection will become more accessible."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205246

Armenian movie "Yel" wins Best Dance Film Award

Hollywood International Golden Age Festival 2021 was held in New York. Armenian producers made a movie "Yel" (ԵԼ), with the help of the Erebuni historical-archaeological museum. It won the Best Dance Film Award and an Honorable Mention.

https://youtu.be/mxOqT7vhQ7E

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041553.html

today in history

January 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

1918: Finnish civil war begins

1939: Composer Tigran Mansuryan is born

1973: Nixon administration signs agreement to withdraw troops from Vietnam

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041504.html

humanitarian aid from Venice

Armenian Consulate in Venice organized the collection of boxes filled with aid for Artsakh residents.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205346

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/l6e87w/jan272021_1_anticorruption_governor_mayor_mp_cops/

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