2020 August 19
- 1 Daily news and anti-corruption report
- 2 Interview: Serj Sargsyan talks about April 2016 battles, claims victory / Casts doubt on the need for 71 medals during Tavush Battles
- 3 Interview: April 2016 investigation Committee chief counters Serj's claims / True size of losses
- 4 Armenia has a new suicide drone
- 5 LHK joins BHK and asks Constitutional Court to strike down the law that fired judges
- 6 New Iranian ambassador talks business and exports
- 7 Make Villages Great Again / Roads and modernization
- 8 Govt begins weighing big trucks after Pashinyan's temper tantrum
- 9 COVID stats / Rules for libraries and museums
- 10 COVID aid for high-tech and startups
- 11 Death rate spikes in Azerbaijan / Aliyev regime is accused of COVID cover-up
- 12 Nature Ministry begins enforcing stricter rules for Lake Sevan fishing / Urges consumers to boycott small fish
- 13 More Lebanese-Armenians repatriate
- 14 Armenian soccer team has a new jersey
Daily news and anti-corruption report
Aug/19/2020 news: / Q&A with Serj. Claims April 2016 was victory. Downplays Tavush victory. Notable parts. Investigator responds with criticism / New suicide drone / LHK joins BHK / Make villages great again / Infrastructure++ / Weighing trucks / Operation "Save the Fish" / COVID / High-tech aid
Interview: Serj Sargsyan talks about April 2016 battles, claims victory / Casts doubt on the need for 71 medals during Tavush Battles
Context: Armenia lost two hills and surrounding areas during April 2016 battles. There were reports of lack of fuel, weapons, and intelligence about the enemy's advancement.
After the 2018 revolution, the Parliament created an auditor Committee tasked with examining the shortcomings.
Serj has been defending his actions ever since. Lately, he has been talking about the topic, because the Committee's investigations are nearing conclusion.
Q: explain what happened.
Serj: not only did AZ sustain huge military losses, but also diplomatic one. They were forced to sit on the table with AM and RU to agree for peace. We refused AZ's offer to sign a brand new ceasefire treaty, thus preserving the treaty signed in 1994 in which Artsakh was part of.
Based on the results, April 2016 was a victory for us. Everyone did their duties properly. There is a top-secret document, examined by the new auditor Committee, that contains the performance assessment [written by Serj admin.].
Q: could we refuse a ceasefire and attempt to retake the lost positions?
Serj: Yes, but we would have dozens of casualties. We could capture AZ lands, too, but that would provoke a full-out war. Based on the army's and Artsakh govt's recommendations, I chose not to retake those positions and signed a peace.
Q: why were our soldiers fighting with old 1980s weapons, as you told earlier to OSCE?
Serj: some people misunderstood what "80s weapon" meant. What I meant is that while OSCE closed the eye on AZ actions, which is armed to its teeth, our soldiers are defending their lands.
Even today most of our army's heavy weaponry is from 80s. Every country has old weapons. We even have some 40s weapons. People who don't know anything about weapons are the ones criticizing me for using "80s weapon".
Q: why didn't you recognize Artsakh independence despite earlier stating you would, in the event of military actions?
Serj: I never said I would recognize it on day-one of military actions. If April 2016 lasted longer, we would recognize it. If there is a long-term war today, we should recognize it.
Q: can you compare April 2016 and July Tavush battles?
Serj: our soldiers did important work in Tavush. Congrats to them. It was similar to victories in May/June of 2018 in Nakhijevan.
I'd like to know what courageous action did exactly all these 71 soldiers do during Tavush Battles that warranted the medals. For comparison, in 1994, president LTP gave such medals only to two dozen soldiers for Shushi battles. I don't say this to berate anyone.
April 2016 was a much bigger battle than July Tavush.
We've had many smaller victories for years, but we don't always talk about it publicly.
Q: in 2016, opposition MP Pashinyan accused you and RU of colluding to allow April 2016 battles so AZ could capture lands. He later met RU ambassador to discuss the topic to clear things up. What did he discuss with RU ambassador?
Serj: I don't know what he discussed, but it's dangerous to make such statements about our allies. RU sent us 50,000 tons of free weapons before the battles. This includes the S-300.
Q: how come intelligence wasn't aware of AZ advancement? Or did you intentionally ignore it?
Serj: we didn't ignore AZ's preparations. Our intelligence department failed us. We only learned about an infiltration attempt by late April 1st (battles began April 2nd).
Q: are you willing to apologize to families of soldiers who died during April?
Serj: I'm ready to carry responsibility for everyone who died during April and in the 90s, but an "apology" is inappropriate. It's inappropriate to use deaths for political purposes. No administration can be 100% correct.
(cough coronavirus cough nikol killed 1000 people cough cough)
Q: you said AM won the April battles. How do you measure victory?
Serj: AZ failed its mission. Aliyev said they are being forced to accept a ceasefire. Victory is when the international community makes political statements about AZ's actions being unacceptable.
There is only one way to solve this conflict: the international community must force AZ to recognize Artsakh because no AZ president will ever willingly do so.
Q: about rumors that militaryman Yuri Khachaturov was playing pool during April.
Serj: he got offended from those rumors. He dedicated his entire life to defend Armenia.
Q: the April auditor Committee chief revealed that most of the issues were related to management making decisions too slowly.
Serj: When the battles began, I was on an airplane. Defense Minister Ohanyan informed me that he initiated our defense plan. So what else could I do? The most I could "order" is to ask him to initiate the said defense plan, which was already activated.
Every time-frame was met. Surprises can happen. We can't always have enough soldiers everywhere to defend all positions, but we regrouped and struck back.
Q: ex-PM Karen Karapetyan admitted that lots of equipment didn't function during April battles because of low-quality fuel.
Serj: he later admitted that he misspoke... It's not true that our soldiers fought with shovels without bullets while being hungry.
(Possibly relevant sidenote: many fuel diluting instances were busted post-revolution. Army officials were arrested.)
Q: Why haven't you participated in BBC HARDTalk, unlike Pashinyan?
Serj: My English is bad, and there was never a need. It's not true that I only gave 2 international interviews.
Q: you fired Maj. Gen. Arshak Karapetyan, the head of the intelligence department, for not predicting the AZ attack in April. But later, you appointed him as AM's military attache in RU. Why? And why weren't people held accountable?
(Note: Pashinyan would later appoint Arshak Karapetyan as his adviser. There is an opinion that Karapetyan was used as a scapegoat by Serj.)
Serj: I'm not aware of crimes being committed. A bad job doesn't equal a crime. Being fired doesn't mean they stay home. His new job as military attache in RU was of much lower importance than the job he was fired from.
Q: how do you respond to statements that you're the only modern Armenian leader who lost territories?
Serj: lol. Armenia didn't lose lands. All three AM presidents gained lands. (likely referring to overall land gains including in Nakhijevan and Tavush under his administration, which is likely accurate if the previously stated numbers are true. Such border advancements have been happening during old and new administrations.)
Q: there is a video recorded by frontline soldiers on April 2nd in which they observe through cameras how AZ soldiers crawl towards AM positions, but the frustrated soldiers don't shoot because the leadership ordered not to. Why?
Serj: shoot or not to shoot is decided by the local commander, and not me or the Defense Minister. Not shooting could mean "let them come closer before you shoot, so you won't miss". I'm sure AZ sustained big losses in that region because of the commander's patience.
Interview: April 2016 investigation Committee chief counters Serj's claims / True size of losses
Auditor Andranik K. gave an interview last week to respond to Serj's earlier claims, which were repeated during Serj's interview today.
Auditor said: I can't reveal everything right now, but Serj is wrong about April 2016 being a "victory". We lost 20 positions. Serj still doesn't understand the importance of Lele Tepe hill.
Serj's statement about losing 400ha land is wrong. Today, Artsakh's security secretary is General Samvel Babayan who fought on those lands in the 90s. He is familiar with it better than anyone. He said 2300ha was lost.
Yes, our soldiers displayed a heroic fight, but April 2016 wasn't a "victory". Tavush Battles were the opposite.
Serj cites his intelligence department to claim Azeris sustained 1,000 deaths. Where does he get that intelligence from? He said he didn't even have intelligence about Azeris preparing the attack. 1,000 is a huge number. Azeris couldn't cover it up.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan wrote a detailed post-mortem report at the time, but he was later replaced by Vigen Sargsyan. I have the impression Serj never read Ohanyan's report.
It's clear now that most of the shortcoming was related to management and its slow responses to events.
Armenia has a new suicide drone
The govt released footage of how it's launched.
LHK joins BHK and asks Constitutional Court to strike down the law that fired judges
Context: After canceling the referendum due to pandemic, the Parliament passed an amendment with a supermajority vote to fire 3 CC judges who were serving with privileges compared to fellow judges. They didn't meet the "spirit" of the Constitution.
Parliament didn't send the bill to CC for approval because of conflict of interest. Had they sent it, the CC judges would have to essentially decide to fire themselves or not.
The bill became law and the 3 judges were fired.
LHK has joined BHK to gather enough MP votes to forcefully send the bill to CC. It'll be discussed by the remaining judges.
This means HHK MP Tovmasyan could soon restore his seat as CC president, and the 3 fired judges could return, if CC ends up striking down the bill.
New Iranian ambassador talks business and exports
Ambassador Abbas Zohuri visited Aras free trade zone near the border. Each country has a free trade zone on their side of the border.
"We view this border checkpoint with Armenia as a gateway to Eurasian trade and an important link for Iranian exports," said the new ambassador.
Make Villages Great Again / Roads and modernization
Pashinyan: we're in process of rebuilding the roads within villages and in between them. We all know how miserable the current conditions are.
The goal is to modernize villages in general.
However, there are villages where asphalt roads won't work due to climate and geography. We need other materials.
We began examining tiles as an option, and learned, that there are many other options besides tiles and asphalt.
We're discussing the use of rocks Made in Armenia. There will be a pilot program in one village.
Mr. Flintstone HERE WE COME! : https://factor.am/277516.html Highway repairs continue / Sidewalks & water network / Infrastructure++
M-11 highway's Tsovak-Akhpradzor section is being renovated. It's 14km long and travels through settlements. Sidewalks will be renovated and water drainage will be installed. Costs $2.5m. First renovation since 1983.
5km section of M-4 Sevan-Yamaqaberd road is being renovated. It'll be redone from scratch. Residents have been waiting for decades.
Artificial barriers and sidewalks will be installed for pedestrian safety. Costs $1.7m.
Govt begins weighing big trucks after Pashinyan's temper tantrum
Last year Pashinyan complained that they build all these roads, yet some "irresponsible semi drivers overload their trucks beyond the legal limit, thus causing damage to asphalt."
The Infrastructure Ministry has installed weight-ramps on some streets to check the semis.
COVID stats / Rules for libraries and museums
+210 infected. +1 death. 188,567 tested. 5,748 active.
When libraries reopen, the returned books won't be given to another visitor for 24 hours.
Museums won't distribute paper pamphlets; they'll be replaced by monitors. They won't give VR goggles that touch the eye.
schools and cultural objects will check the temperature at the entrance.
COVID aid for high-tech and startups
The 17th COVID aid package was for tech companies and startups. It distributed aid for three purposes: boost innovation, help established businesses to save jobs, co-finance investment projects.
To qualify for the "Innovation Grant", the company must be less than 2yo and not have recent overdue loan payments.
35 startups have qualified out of 117 applicants so far. They received $21k (10mln).
To qualify for the "established business" grant, the company must be older than 2 years. 46 have won out of 148 applicants. They received $42k.
To qualify for the $63k "co-financing" aid, the company has to prove they've invested in plans. Only 2 have applied so far.
Death rate spikes in Azerbaijan / Aliyev regime is accused of COVID cover-up
On Aug/7/2020 we learned how several Azeri doctors and activists exposed the govt's attempt to cover up the real COVID numbers. People were silenced.
The govt allegedly used temporary aluminum coffins, and isolated the infected soldiers in a special hospital, to prevent the news from traveling.
Now JAMnews reports that in July, the deaths spiked to 6200, while being below 4050 every year since 2014.
That's 50% or 2163 more. For comparison, the regime says officially only 150 died from COVID in July.
Tags: #COVIDinAzerbaijan #AzeriCOVID #COVIDaliyev
Nature Ministry begins enforcing stricter rules for Lake Sevan fishing / Urges consumers to boycott small fish
One of the ways to improve Lake Sevan quality is to preserve the fish population.
Fishing will be allowed but tightly regulated. Boats must enter from specific locations and will be checked upon exit to make sure the caught fish is within limits. 24 guards will operate for now.
Nature Minister Romanos: a few hundred boats will enter the lake and catch small quantities of fish every morning.
"Sig" fish shouldn't be endangered. Today you can buy 7 sig for only $2. That's an inappropriate exploitation of our national treasure.
The caught fish must be 0.5kg or heavier to protect the youngling. The big fish is found 500m away from shore. Boycott small fish in markets. Call the cops if you see them.
115 fish industries signed contracts to catch 150 tons legally. The limit is 200 tons.
More Lebanese-Armenians repatriate
100 people, including 21 children, relocated from Beirut to Armenia yesterday. Others have arrived from Syria and UAE.
Armenian soccer team has a new jersey
You've read 2343 words.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/icu00y/aug192020_news_qa_with_serj_claims_april_2016_was/
Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams ֏ unless specified otherwise. Helpful overview of Armenia's media ownership and leanings.
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