2021 January 29

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Daily news wrap-up

Jan/29/2021: __ Volunteer soldier's story __ Opposition members arrested after calls for murder & violence __ Interview: corruption in army __ Public official arrested for bribery __ Paid paternity leave __ Stats: economy, corruption busts, COVID __ Genome sequencing __ Smart farming __ Avg. salary
by ar_david_hh


Your 15-minute Friday report in 3633 words.

the war, army corruption, and possible solutions

Segment from an interview with legal expert Joanna Alexanyan, the head of Journalists for Human Rights.

Aleksanyan: many soldiers didn't have basic items such as helmets and bulletproof vests. The army wasn't ready. It wasn't the enemy strikes that lead to this outcome. The situation was exposed at the worst moment. We've always criticized the shortcomings and crime in the army. Why was the army command responding to criticism so harshly? Their behavior didn't change even after the 2018 revolution.

Reporter: how did the criminal element affect the war? When you look at the heroes from this war, they aren't criminals, they are ordinary conscripts whom rights are defended by people like you.

Aleksanyan: when comedian Vardan Petrosyan went to Artsakh to meet his soldier son, he returned and described that love is what defined things in the front lines. Conscripts faced death regularly and it was the love towards the homeland and their lives that made them strong. I don't accuse conscripts of being responsible for the criminal atmosphere in the army.

The crime existed for years, and commanders are responsible for that. A street kid with a criminal mentality could join the army, but it's a closed structure and should filter these elements out, but the corruption in the system didn't let that happen.

Reporter: civil society has spoken about corruption in the army for years, before and after the 2016 war. Why didn't the commanders offer a solution? Did they want the army to be weak?

Aleksanyan: no one seems to think about it today. I look around and I see funerals, news about bodies being discovered, then I see some opposition forces who make threats and ultimatums in the public square, we see inadequate actions by the government post-war.

Everyone brings the Israeli army as an example. When you ask them why their army is good, they answer "we have the family model." (also maybe all the billions of dollars in investment from the US possibly???). What is the family model in the Israeli army? It's love towards the army and soldiers.

We don't have love in our army. Do commanders know where their subordinates died? Where they went missing? Did they take steps to make their squads like a family? Today they are busy hitting one place, and they all blame one person. That's strange. Those who accuse are the ones who share the blame for the corruption and plunder in the army, and they continue to blame one person.

For years you could either praise or stay silent about the army. That didn't change after the revolution. Young (ex-MOD) Davit Tonoyan sugarcoated and praised the army, but it was exposed.

Reporter: why are both political camps busy with hateful rhetoric instead of working on these issues?

Aleksanyan: it's the hatred that they have towards each other. How can a person, full of hatred inside, think rationally about something good? Words, words, and only words. When I hear those public square speeches and threats, it terrifies me.

How can Vazgen Manukyan claim today that he plans to organize rebellion and capture buildings? They don't love their country, their army, their Armenia. Why do you make such claims? So Nikol will leave? So you will come to power?

Reporter: ... to save the country, as Manukyan says...

Aleksanyan: ...to come to power. To do what then? And at what cost? Are you inciting civil war? There is nothing good in this.

Reporter: how do families who lost sons respond to this political struggle?

Aleksanyan: with indifference. Not many participated in these rallies. families who have POW relatives are active, but the rest are indifferent. They don't believe anyone, especially [opposition parties] in the public square.

Reporter: do you agree with Robert Kocharyan that this government intentionally came to weaken the army?

Aleksanyan: I'm surprised that Robert Kocharyan still expresses opinions. Inexperience? Maybe, but not intentional weakening. Didn't the state weaken on March 1st? If Kocharyan rejects responsibility for March 1st that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Reporter: Kocharyan said he plans to participate in elections and "win". Does he have a chance?

Aleksanyan: I can't predict his chance, but I know that he is widely rejected in the country. Good luck to him.

Reporter: Serj released a statement saying the army was stabbed in the back. Why are both former presidents claiming that there was intentional treason?

Aleksanyan: Pashinyan inherited a corrupt army from Serj and Kocharyan. How could he completely reform it in 2 years? What treason? The word "treason" is very trendy today. Everyone is a "traitor". I reject that word. It's divisive. It would be better if Serj and Kocharyan accepted their guilt, for what they failed to do for the state and the army, for the degradation of the army.

Wasn't it Serj Sargsyan who stood in Ejmiatsin and praised Generals Manvel Grigoryan and Seyran Saroyan, people who were securing his election victory in their respective regions, and where considered the face of corruption?

Full: https://factor.am/332879.html

flyers are distributed encouraging murder

Non-ex-regime opposition LHK MP: Flyers with the words "eliminate the traitor" are being spread in public places. This can lead to physical aggression. We are a civilized country where violence and terrorism cannot be means for resolving issues, especially if they are directed against high-ranking officials and legitimate authorities.

Thoughts of "physical elimination" have recently been voiced by public and political figures, which is exacerbating the situation. Remember October 27, which bent the backbone of our statehood, and do not encourage crimes.

https://www.facebook.com/samsonyan.ani/posts/2924886244458329

https://factor.am/333304.html

update: five arrested after trying to break into government building

The incident took place yesterday after a group of nationalist opposition figures held a protest in Republic Square and attempted to break into the govt building.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041777.html

update: Vahan Badasryan arrested after threats

Nationalist opposition figure Vahan Badasyan was arrested yesterday after threatening to use weapons to forcefully "remove Pashinyan." Today the court decided that he should remain arrested until his trial. He is charged with Code 301.

Ruling QP MP Hakobyan criticized Badasyan's words and accused him of behaving as a head of a criminal band. "If you are so confident in your abilities, let's hold snap elections," said the MP in response to other opposition parties' demands for PM's resignation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041794.html , https://factor.am/333211.html , https://factor.am/333217.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205515

update: group tasked with Constitutional reform discussion will wrap-up soon

A group consisted of civil society members, NGOs, and various parties has been discussing reforms in the Constitution. They will finalize and provide the results in a week.

It includes the possible merger of Supreme Court and Constitutional Court, reforms in investigative committees, topics about the church, election process, age restrictions in judicial, vetting, etc.

https://factor.am/333134.html

volunteer soldier recalls Artsakh war episodes / Manuel Manukyan and Edward Manukyan:

We learned about the war on September 27th and drove to Artsakh with 6 friends. The next day we were at Hadrut military base. We felt obligated to be there because our 18-year-old brothers were there.

The fighting spirit of the boys was very high, they were very strong and confident in their actions. They were eagerly waiting for the next tank. They fought with great enthusiasm. It doubled my spirit.

I will never forget our friend Mush who shot 4 tanks without missing one. Unfortunately, 3 of my friends and Mush died next to me while stopping an enemy tank attack.

My parents initially panicked and didn't want to allow my brother and me to volunteer. These were the heaviest days of the war. On the 3rd day, we were with a squad with 5 others. They were experienced although under the age of 30. We referred to one of them as "Crazy". He was very brave. We heard the sound of a drone while in the trenches. We were instructed to take cover in those situations. We suddenly noticed that Crazy got out of the shelter and tried to shoot the drone. He returned very unhappily because he couldn't see the drone up-close.

The fighting spirit of our boys was really high. Everyone knew where they came to, why, that it was likely they would never return. They stood their ground to the end. I hope that people will take the enemy seriously and not betray their homeland.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041857.html

Tags #ArtsakhWar #44daywar #war

daily life in Artsakh's Shosh village

It's close to Shushi, on the new borders:

https://youtu.be/6p8mqVwZPU0?t=13

search operations continue

The crews discovered 8 bodies on Artsakh battlefields. Medical tests will be needed for identification. The work continues in Martuni, Hadrut, and Jabrayil regions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041776.html

POWs

5 POWs who were returned yesterday were part of the volunteer group that was captured during the Khtsaberd incident in the narrow strip of land west of the Hadrut-Shushi corridor. Additionally, there were other POWs who were captured during the 44-day war. Russian outlet RBK says the total number of POW is 140.

It was confirmed by MFA official the Armenian ambassador to the Netherlands Tigran Balayan, who said "There are still over 120 POWs. Azerbaijan still commits war crimes. One of the POWs mentioned the physical abuse he went through."

https://factor.am/333228.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289839/

The EU welcomed return of 5 Armenian POWs and called for immediate return of others, said the EU foreign affairs spokesman.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041817.html

Rumors and rebuttals: army denies media rumors about 15 soldiers being captured on their way to Artsakh's Askeran region. They also denied rumors surrounding a Colonel named Gor Ishkhanyan: "His unit did not retreat during the war. After the war, his unit pulled back from its positions as part of the November 9th statement. Spreading false news does not contribute to strengthening the defense capacity of the homeland."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041823.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041834.html

Qashatagh residents need compensation

Some of the villagers in Artsakh's Qashatagh region, which went under Azeri control after the war, weren't aware until the last moment that they had to leave, so they didn't have time to take the household items with them. A group of residents gathered in front of the government building today and asked for housing. "Aid was provided multiple times but that's not enough to make ends meet," said a resident.

Prime Minister's office invited the residents to discuss the issues on February 3rd.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041812.html

displaced Shurnukh and Vorotan villagers will have new homes

Deputy PM Avinyan visited Syunik province to meet residents of bordering villages Shurnukh and Vorotan. Around 20 houses in these villages went under Azeri control because they were built on the internationally-recognized Azeri side of the borders.

Avinyan: during discussions with the residents, we agreed that new houses would be built for them. Each member of every family will receive ֏300K, plus ֏68K/mo for 6 months.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/205478

anti-corruption: NSS busts Economy Ministry official with bribery

NSS report says: a company imported a diamond from UAE and paid ֏72M in customs taxes. However, subsequent investigation revealed that the diamond was worth 6x more than it was declared.

NSS found that the director of the Economy Ministry's Licensing and Permits Department received a bribe from the company to intentionally undervalue the item on paper. The director instructed a subordinate to falsify paperwork; the latter confessed and testified.

The department director has been arrested. The bribe-giver company owners and dozens of others have been brought in for questioning. A felony case is launched.

https://youtu.be/Rgntt6JqHVk

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041780.html

update: some large businesses abused micro-business laws to evade taxes

Micro-businesses laws were recently reformed to reduce taxes for many self-employed and small businesses. Some dishonest large businesses decided to game the system and split into smaller parts to provide themselves services as contractors and pay fewer taxes individually.

The IRS is aware and decided to increase the monitoring. They caught 258 such instances in 2020, up from 116 in 2019.

There are over 40,000 micro-businesses in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041809.html

anti-corruption: +70% felony cases by IRS / ֏21 billion in damages uncovered

IRS exposed ֏21 billion in damages to the state during 622 felony cases (+70% compared to 2019). 244 were about tax evasion, 62 falsifying docs, 23 illegal operations of a business, 265 narcotics transfers via border.

֏7 billion was recovered, which is +14% compared to 2019.

Please do not ship narcotics via the post office. Thank you.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041824.html

Do not ship narcotics wrapped inside tolma. Thank you.

Armavir prison guards discovered drugs wrapped inside tolma. Երևի միսը քչությունա արել․

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041875.html

draft bill to prohibit legalization of illegal buildings on public lands

There is a law that allows illegal property owners to go through a process and legalize their structures. QP MPs drafted a bill to prohibit this for any illegal structure built after the approval of the bill if the structure is on public land.

Bill authors: //practice was developed in previous years when businesses and individuals carried out construction without a permit, then asked the mayor to legalize the structures. This is because obtaining a license for an illegal structure was cheaper and faster than obtaining a permit and building a legal structure (huh?).

The bill will take into account the owners' rights while allowing municipalities to dismantle illegal structures without administrative proceedings. The dismantling will be paid fully by the builder.

The bill will reduce bureaucracy in the property registration and permit process. //

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205473

COVID stats

1190 tested. 59 infected. 265 tested. 2 deaths. 5984 active.

https://factor.am/333046.html

The highest infection rates were observed in Tavush, Syunik, Lori, Yerevan. Ministry reminded to wear a mask and avoid crowded places. "Keep a 1.5m distance from household members suspected/confirmed with COVID. Keep a social distance in grocery shops. Use 70% alcohol sanitizer after touching public surfaces. Teach the rules to your kids. Call your doctor if you have symptoms."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041804.html

COVID vaccines for Russian peacekeepers

Over 1,900 Russian men and women serving as peacekeepers in Artsakh have received the Sputnik V vaccine. The boxes

with vaccines were driven around the country in coolers and administered only to those who agreed to take it. The second shot is scheduled before February 28th.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041792.html , https://youtu.be/cLbTwMsFgKQ

COVID vs economy in December

The economic activity declined by -7.5% in December YoY. It increased by +27% in December vs November of 2020.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041811.html

Armenian scientists sequence 12 coronavirus genomes / Mutation details revealed

National Academy of Sciences of Armenia: Almost a year has passed since the first COVID infection in Armenia, but it has not been revealed yet which COVID mutations are common among patients in our country. Knowledge of this information is important for analyzing the situation. //

The scientists conducted 12 whole genome sequencing and found that D614G mutation in T gene - whatever that means - is responsible for the virus's interaction with human cells.

This type was first revealed in February 2020 and is the most common in the world. No Brith or South African mutations have been observed. The examination continues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041841.html

Soccer Federation will renovate a stadium in Abovyan city

The project was finalized. The construction begins soon. New grass, renovated stands, facilities, small playground, nicer surroundings.

It will meet the UEFA Category-2 standard and be able to host UEFA Champions League qualification games, up to second stage matches.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041814.html

you've got to clean that snow from sidewalks

... reminded Yerevan municipality to businesses that have the entrance facing the sidewalks. Right now it's mainly done by the city's sanitation department. The city says there is a law that requires businesses to keep their surroundings tidy. "It will also increase your economic activity."

The municipality has been distributing reminders to businesses. A few of them received ֏20K citations for ignoring it.

The law also requires these businesses to plant vegetation and pave the sidewalks. "If the 4000 businesses in Center or 2150 in Arabkir do their part, the capital will be cleaner and well-maintained," said Mayor Marutyan.

https://youtu.be/DKtTuNejSnQ?t=9 , https://youtu.be/BunvWmggdrg , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041801.html

farmers to use drones and robots

The National Agrarian University of Armenia has programs for 2021, in cooperation with the government and private sector. Sos Avetisyan:

"We consult leading professionals in the field so that the curricula meet the requirements of today's market. This year, we will have a Master's Degree in Precision Agriculture. We want to keep up with the world and train specialists to become leaders in this field tomorrow."

"Precision agriculture is a new emerging industry based on high tech. We will obtain agricultural drones to inject and cure crops. There is a pilot program in Voskehat and Akunq villages. The donors are purchased as part of the "Green Agriculture" program by the EU and Austrian Development Bank."

"The Water and Soil Resources Research Center was also put into operation very recently, which has a very serious perspective. Economy Minister Qerobyan visited recently and offered to work together to expand the irrigated lands in Syunik province. We need this to substitute the lost lands."

"We will continue the FRUITENIA program launched in 2020. It creates intensive orchards with an efficient drip irrigation system. Farmers and scientists will be invited to teach students. The orchards will also be used commercially because begin the process of commercializing our scientific output."

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205373

Tags #Agriculture

Nature Ministry busts illegal fishing in Lake Sevan

Every year, there is a period when fishing is prohibited to allow whitefish to lay eggs. Nature Ministry confiscated 5100 illegally-caught whitefish and removed 22 large fishing nets. The loot was donated to Artsakh refugees and facilities that help people with special needs.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/205450

forest guards will receive another salary raise

ArmForest (Hayantar) workers will receive a $40-135 raise, depending on their position, beginning on March 1st.

"The decision was made possible by cost optimization, increased savings, the fight against shadow economy and illegal logging, and increase in revenues," said the Nature Ministry.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041810.html , https://hetq.am/en/article/107840

2020 average monthly nominal salaries

Throughout the year, it was ֏186K ($383), or +4.2% from last year. Public sector at ֏165K (+5.9%), while the private sector ֏196K (+3.2%).

It increased in December, from ֏224K to ֏228K year-over-year.

The highest 11.3% growth was observed in the culture/entertainment/recreation field: at ֏182K/mo.

The second highest 11.2% growth was in the high-tech field: ֏476K

The third highest 9.7% growth was in construction: ֏201K

Water/sewage/waste management salaries +9.2% at ֏175K.

Education +6.5% at ֏126K.

Finance/insurance +5.1% at ֏411K.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041771.html , https://factor.am/333350.html

Fathers are allowed to take a paid 5-day vacation after the birth. It's paid by the employer.

Video: https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2021/01/29/Հայրության-արձակուրդ՝-նորածնին-խնամելու-համար-նոր-կարգը-գործում-է-հունվարի-1-ից/404603

Made in Kurtan

Astghik Charity Foundation is tasked with developing provincial communities. They built a fabric factory "Made in Kurtan" to produce winter jackets. "They are very warm and sewed with love." They are looking for young designers with ideas to produce custom-designed clothing with the designer's name on it.

https://youtu.be/Ga1rA-Y5aak

https://factor.am/333198.html

female + male = ?

"Let's install cameras and find out," said scientists. The FPWC cameras spotted another rare leopard in Armenian forests. They believe this one is a female. Scientists are excited. This is the sighting of a 4th leopard since 2013 and a first female. They still need to verify it's a female.

The male leopard "Neo" was spotted approximately in the same just a month ago. Scientists do not believe the two would stay so close to each other if both were male. (they better not be we don't need another George Soros scandal)

https://youtu.be/mjm0SgYUVHI

Full: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/205494

Museum of Russian Arts

Marine Mkhtchyan, the director of the Museum of Russian Arts, says the museum will organize a number of educational programs and exhibitions in Yerevan. There will be a collab with Armenian museums.

Negotiations are currently underway with the Tretyakov Gallery to display Mikhail Vrubel's "Demon and Angel with Tamara's Soul" painting. Sketches by different artists will be presented. A collab with Sardarapat Museum will present Russian tea drinking and tea culture.

The "Armenian Ally" exhibition will be held in September, dedicated to Moscow Day. This exhibition will be continuous. Every year, it will touch upon a specific historical period. This year the museum will present art about the 19th century, the Lazaryan family, the formation of the Armenian community.

The year will end with an exhibition about Russian Christmas Tree decorations. 19th and 20th-century pieces will be presented.

Classes for engraving will be taught in Armenia's provinces.

Visitors will use VR headsets to walk inside a painting of a famous artist. This practice is common in the world; the Musem of Russian Arts made the debate in Armenia.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041787.html

Artsakh refugee children entertain fellow refugee children

Refugee kids in Gyumri organized a Պոչատ աղվես-based performance in Gyumri's Մտորումների թատրոն. They were allowed to decorate the scene besides performing in it. The event for hundreds of children across multiple cities is organized by Jinishyan and Galust Gyulbenkyan Foundations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041789.html

All Armenia Fund donates warm bedding to Artsakh refugees

The www.HimnaDram.org purchased and sent the items to 200 families. They were sewed by Artsakh refugees living in Tsakhkadzor who found jobs at a small fabric facility as part of the Project Hope initiative.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041855.html

top-10 bestseller children's books in December

10) Cat and Dog, by Hovhannes Tumanyan.

9) Frozen heart, Disney classic.

8) Harry Potter and the Political Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling.

7) tele-trip, by Lilith Hakobyan

6) the 3 little pigs (0% YoY)

5) Չարի վերջը, by Hovhannes Tumanyan.

4) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce, by JK Rowling.

3) kolobok

2) Harry Potter and the Smart Stone, by JK Rowing.

1) Հայկական հեքիաթներ, collection from various authors.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041490.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/l86b0b/jan292021_volunteer_soldiers_story_opposition/

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