2020 December 10

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Dec/10/2020 news: \\ BBC interviews AZ's jihadist; landmine incident; parade; oopsie \\ a conscript story \\ govt approves more aid for soldiers & refugees \\ opposition vs govt; who is Vazgen Manukyan? \\ fake news \\ bills approved \\ stats: COVID vs jobs, salaries \\ tech startup++ \\ foreign aid
by ar_david_hh

Your 15-minute Thursday report in 3821 words.

conscript Nerses Meliksetyan: War teaches many things, both in life and in service

I was guarding the outpost on September 27th. A few hours before 7:30 am we heard a loud bang. It awoke everyone. Everyone took their positions. I've always thought that a fight could break out during my service, but not a full-out war.

I transported soldiers throughout the war. There was no point in being afraid. If you think too much, a lot of things can make you afraid. There were strikes on our road as we drove. We left unharmed.

I received Snickers and three letters during the service. "The girls from pedagogical university are waiting for you."

I spent time in Shushi, Stepanakert, Aghdam. We discussed the history of the castle-city while we were there. I like that city. I visited St. Ghazanchetsots church a lot. It's a great place.

We didn't take the news of the November 9th ceasefire seriously because of the prior three broken ceasefires. But this time it was real. A friend called and said the fighting is over. I contacted other locations and they confirmed there was a ceasefire. Only then did we realize this time it was real.

We all fought hard. Everyone had a high spirit. The army did 10 times as much as it could. The conscripts never panicked.

You have to be an expert in using your weapon, and you need to take your job seriously. Military service is a holy duty. We didn't take these words seriously when others said it in the past. The war teaches a lot. It changes many people.

[Nerses took a short vacation and returned home. As of this moment, he is back in Artsakh to finish the remaining 2 months of his service.]

Photo: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037183.html

Azerbaijan's official stats about their losses

... was 2,783. The number is significantly reduced to prevent negative public sentiment, say the experts. During the war, non-government activists collected documentation about deceased Azeri soldiers, scanned Azeri social media, checked for funerals, etc. and found many names of deceased soldiers that were being kept secret by the regime.

Azerbaijan also published the official stats on their high-ranking losses: 3 Colonels, 23 Lt. Colonels, 49 Majors, 54 Captains, 103 Senior Leuthenants, 225 Leuthenants, 5 Junior Leuthenants.


Ilham Aliyev gets cocky, receives a response

Azerbaijan held a military parade to display the weapons that were left intact during the war. He made the usual "Irevan is historical Azerbaijan, we used to live there" speech. Turkey's Erdogan was present as a wingman and praised several Turkish figures including Enver Pasha, who was one of the masterminds of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. "The Karabakh struggle isn't over," said Erdogan.

Russian MFA: Political statements should not undermine the achieved results.

Armenian MFA: Baku started the military operations against Artsakh with genocidal ambitions.

PM's spokeswoman: We strongly condemn the provocative statements made by the Azerbaijani leader in Baku today. The territorial aspirations towards Armenia cast doubt on Azerbaijan's readiness for peace.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037392.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037435.html, https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/202681 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037450.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037451.html

Turkey could open the borders with Armenia

... if Armenia takes steps towards establishing peace in the region, according to Erdogan.


Azeri soldiers ignore sappers, step on a landmine, while being observed by Armenians

Armenians conceded the Qarvachar region earlier. Azeris entered the area and began looking for landmines. They were being filmed by Armenian soldiers when an incident took place.

Several Azeri soldiers began clearing snow... to help sappers come and use the equipment to see if there are a bomb there. It's unclear what the purpose of a sapper is if they were going to step in there and clear the snow.

Unsurprisingly, they stepped on a landmine. Three of them died and one was injured. Armenians released a video showing the aftermath.

Another video shows the aftermath of Azeris using a tractor to look for landmines. It blew up.

Video: https://trello-attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/5dfb4ffd4614614bdc21c354/5fd0b166f456f8673e52fde7/8e5a71d796dc5534ed6310c77abc3b28/2_5368402583889119625.mp4


Azerbaijan receives a 1-star review on Yelp

... from a Syrian jihadist recruited by them with the help of Turkey.

BBC interviewed the jihadist: we were told our duty was to guard the borders in exchange for $2,000. We agreed and arrived there. They took 30 us to the front lines the next day.

We marched for 50 meters before a bomb exploded nearby. It was non-stop for 30 minutes. It felt like centuries. That's when I regretted coming to Azerbaijan. There were deaths everywhere. We were used as cannon fodder with a 1% chance of survival.


Azeri soldier accidentally admits involvement of Pakistani soldiers

... before he was interrupted by the host, reports OC Media which posted the clip on Facebook.

"I also want to stress that brothers from Pakistan came to us. Some of them spoke Turkish, they communicated with us, they said… (he is interrupted)’".



Turkey begins withdrawing from an observation point near Aleppo

... after their troops, which are aided by local terrorist cells, found themselves surrounded by Syrian government forces that have been slowly liberating the northern territories.


Artsakh President Arayik's Constitutional Day message:

Today is our Constitution and Referendum Day. Through both the referendums held in 1991 and 2006, our people once again confirmed their determination to live on their own land, to create, to develop, and to strengthen their homeland.

Today our goals and aspirations are the same, the decision is unchanged.

We have overcome many trials and tribulations on the difficult path of state-building, we have had irreparable losses, but we have always remained steadfast and unbreakable, strong and determined. We have faced the most difficult challenges, especially in recent months, but our path is unwavering, our will is becoming stronger and stronger.

And today, keeping the unspeakable pain and sorrow in us, healing the bleeding wounds day by day, we will move forward, build the Homeland of our dreams, shape the future of our generations.

Strength, blessing, and peace to each of your families.


History lesson: who is Vazgen Manukyan, the opposition candidate nominated by the former regime?

Written by CivilNet's Tatul. Brackets added by me: VM has been active since the 1988 independence movement. He was the coordinator of the Karabakh Movement's branch in Armenia. The leaders would gather in his apartment to decide Armenia and Artsakh's future.

On Mar/19/1988 he published Karabakh Committee's 5-point leaflet. Its 5th point, about the foreign policy, was supported by Committee member Levon Ter-Petrosyan (future president).

"There are no permanent enemies [Turkey] and permanent friends [Russia]. There are permanent national interests. Our only pillar is the collective strength of our people" became VM's motto. VM was in favor of improving ties with Turkey. He viewed Pan-Turkism as a theoretical threat.

On Aug/13/1990 he was elected as Prime Minister by the HHsH party (the pro-independence nationalist movement). He resigned a year later and formed a new party AZhM. It became an opposition against his former ally Levon Ter-Petrosyan's HHsH.

He quit HHsH because it appointed Levon for the upcoming elections. VM did not participate in those elections. Levon's party would receive 83% of the votes.

During the worst period of the Artsakh war, in the Summer of 1992, when Armenians had lost a third of Nagorno Karabakh, VM's AZhM party joined the ARF party to hold anti-Levon protests.

Months later, Levon appointed VM as the acting Defense Minister, where he served a year until Armenian troops secured victories. His role during this period was an important one.

In 1995, VM's AZhM party gained 7.5% of the Parliamentary votes and finished 4th. The winners were the Republic Unification alliance (HHsH, HHK, and few others), Shamiram (female party led by Vano Siradeghyan), and the Communist party.

September 1996 was VM's golden moment. He gathered an alliance against Levon. Even Paruyr Hayrikyan withdrew his bid to support VM's presidential bid. VM participated in the presidential elections and won 41% of the votes. His allies believed the elections were rigged. Vano Siradegyan would later claim that none of the candidates had crossed the 50% mark (Levon officially won with 52% of votes).

VM and allies attacked the Parliament building which housed the electoral committee. [dId yoU EveR hEar ThE TraGedy of DaRtH PlagEuis THe WisE?]. The Parliament president and his aide received severe body injuries. In turn, the authorities applied force, including by beating up opposition figures in Parliament.

Fast forward 1998. Levon resigns as president. VM participated in elections again but only received 12%. Robert Kocharyan and Karen Demirchyan advanced to the second round.

In 2003 elections, VM received 0.9%.

2008 was his final election, in which he received 1.3%. His main role was to criticize Levon, who had returned after 10 years of absence and was challenging [Robo-Serj]. VM became Serj's ally and was appointed as the head of the Public Council [a pointless institute that complaints or supports whatever you write on the Facebook comment section].

Today VM is the nominee for the temporary government. In one of his recent speeches, he made very harsh statements containing elements of violence towards PM Pashinyan. He said, "the angry crowd will ravage Pashinyan. He must leave voluntarily otherwise he will be forced to leave."

Another strange statement he made was, "A great force will gather against Turkey. The world will not forgive Turkey for its impudence. If an alliance is formed against Turkey, we are in that alliance." This is a sharp contrast to his prior policy of improving relations with neighbors.

Full: https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/12/09/Վազգեն-Մանուկյան-քաղաքական-անցյալը-և-ներկան/412253

opposition vs anti-opposition / "Pashinyan resign" / rioters & manhunt

A group of anti-Pashinyan activists gathered in front of the govt building this morning to demand his resignation. "Nikol traitor. Nikol leave." 42 activists were detained for closing the streets and not following police instructions.

"The movement to get rid of the swindler and his minions must turn into a national liberation struggle," said former HHK Deputy Justice Minister Ruben Melikyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037355.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037372.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037391.html , https://news.am/arm/news/618195.html

QP MP Alen Simonyan: did you know that anti-govt rioters wanted to burn down Parliament Speaker Mirzoyan's body after beating him? They thought he was dead. Did you know that groups were sent to my home to assassinate me that day? Did you know there was a "manhunt" against me in Moscow? [there were rumors that Alen was "hiding" in Moscow]. The day when Mirzoyan was beaten, he had instructed bodyguards not to use a weapon.

We're ready to hold discussions with the opposition under the condition that it won't be under threats. People who falsified elections for decades will not be the ones to organize elections [referring to Team-16's demands for Vazgen Manukyan to come to power then hold elections within a year.]

We aren't clinging to power. Those who cling to power were the oligarchs who would demand $600 from media outlets to give interviews. It would be a pleasure if I could forget my responsibilities and step aside, but we have work to do, and it's the public who makes decisions. We are the only political power that has secured fair elections.

Why were ARF members beating up [anti-Roboserj] journalists for filming their events? Why did ARF break into Azatutyun media outlet's office? I think the people are so conscious, so wise, that the brainwashing attempts that they are subjects to today will not succeed.

https://youtu.be/VN-JyGAYzEg , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037395.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037402.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/202679 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/202684 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/202688

LHK MP Gorgisyan: Pashinyan does not understand what's happening in the country. His refusal to leave damages our sovereignty every day. His reasoning behind not leaving is not wanting to allow [former regime candidate] Vazgen Manukyan to come into power. We made another offer, we nominated our leader Edmon Marukyan as temporary PM. Marukyan has never embezzled, never been part of govt. Marukyan can unite everyone. We need to form a government of professionals. Elections cannot be held immediately.


For the second day, a group of Spitak residents gathered in front of HHK mayor Sahakyan's office and demanded his resignation, after the mayor called for Pashinyan's resignation "without consulting with residents".

The HHK mayor responded saying, "many of the demonstrators aren't even from Spitak and have criminal records. All the participants' faces have been recorded. We will present their past one-by-one." [Glory to Arstotzka]


Update: Yesterday, opposition activists shut down a street which angered a driver, who slowly encroach on them before accelerating after the activists began hitting his windows. One activist sustained a broken leg. The police launched a manhunt against the driver. Today the driver turned himself in, confessed, and gave an explanation.


ECHR tells the government to compensate the persecution victim

Mushegh Saghatelyan was one of many opposition members who was persecuted by the Kocharyan regime in 2008. After the 2018 revolution, the new Armenian government began reviewing these felony cases. New evidence was uncovered, indicating kangaroo trials.

The European Court for Human Rights recently ruled in favor of Saghatelyan. The Armenian government has 3 months to pay him $6,060 in compensation.




anti-corruption: sports school director

Investigative Committee: the 2006-2019 director of government-funded "Vanadzor Youth Athletics Olympics Center" falsified documents to register his family members as fake employees and embezzle salaries. A felony case is launched.


your daily rumors, rebuttals, and fake news

Opposition figure Garnik Isagulyan earlier made a sensational claim that [now-former] NSS chief Argishti Qaramyan gave 1,400 Armenian passports to Azerbaijan, and that he was the one who helped Azeris to enter Hadrut. Press X is you doubt. The SIS investigated the claims and found no evidence.


The visitors of Tbilisi markets noticed that you can buy whitefish caught from Sevan Lake, so they wondered how it's possible if the fishing is restricted in Sevan.

The Nature Ministry reminded about the recent reforms which allow fishing of 300 tons, under strict monitoring of newly installed lake guards and checkpoints to reduce illegal fishing.

A license was issued to 255 fishers to catch 236 tons of fish. They've so far caught 204 tons. A lot of it is frozen and sold at a later date after the fishing season is over. That's why you can find fish today, despite it being caught earlier.


The army denied a claim made by Davit Bek village [south of Lachin] mayor who said the border near the village is only guarded by local volunteers. "The personnel of the Armed Forces is located along the entire line in that area," said the army.


An outlet circulated rumors that the NSS chief Armen Abazyan was "urgently summoned" to Russia again. The NSS denied it.


BHK MP Ivetta spread fake news about Azeris freely roaming in Vardenis city.


A man dressed up in police uniform urged "his fellow policemen" to disobey the authorities and join the opposition. Factcheck has revealed that he hasn't been a policeman since 2018, he is a relative of a high-ranking HHK official, his other relative was caught with abuse of power and falsifications and had to confess.


appointments & cabinet changes

Razmik Tevonyan is the new Ararat governor. The former guy left to take a new position at the QP party.


QP MP Yerjanik resigned and took a position at IRS.


POWs and search operations

Names of 33 more deceased soldiers were identified and published.


Families of several missing soldiers in Ejmiatsin asked the MoD for news about the ongoing search operations in the Zangelan region (south). "We hope they'll keep their word this time," said a family member who has been expecting news for weeks. The MoD said they're doing as much as possible to expedite the process.


Government downgrades general mobilization to partial

General mobilization was launched on September 27th. Now the govt wants to make it partial to allow some soldiers (reservists) to return, and for certain transport fleets to return to their regular duties. The transition to partial will take place phase-by-phase, until December 25th.


Govt approves new aid package for Artsakh residents

Residents of several villages who had to leave their homes recently will also receive $500 aid (each family member).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037366.html Govt will fully subsidize university tuition for half of 2020

... for soldiers, their children, and spouses. Those who had already paid the 1H2020 tuition will get a refund.


Govt approves $600/mo aid to families / law amended

$600/mo aid for 6 months to families of missing soldiers. It will be partially paid by www.1000plus.am foundation. Why only 6 months? This is a temporary aid until the families legally qualify for the regular monthly aid that lasts for many years.

Pashinyan: the law requires the families of missing soldiers to wait at least a year before they qualify. We're amending that law to cut the waiting time. Still, that process would last several months. This aid package is meant to cover them during those several months. We also decided to provide the same aid to families of POWs.


Artsakh Labor Minister Tandilyan about housing and aid:

We'll need up to 10,000 new apartments for 40,000 Artsakh residents who lost their homes. We're discussing the construction of 8,000 units with Russia. For now, we implemented temporary solutions such as accomodating them in hotels.

We'll give $60-$90 compensations to volunteers for housing each Artsakh refugee. There is an ongoing process to pay minimum-wage-sized aid to Artsakh refugees. Another $500 aid package will be approved soon, in addition to the $600 aid that residents receive for losing their homes. There will be no Artsakh citizen who will not receive the support provided by law.


Parliament approved the 2021 budget

84y-14n. QP voted in favor. LHK voted against. BHK was absent.


Parliament ratified EAEU trade-bloc rules on jewelry exports

The exports will be simplified. If a member-state examines and stamps (commemoration?) the jewelry, the same item won't have to undergo the same procedure upon being imported by another state.

It also defines criteria and rules for the classification of precious stones.

Each member-state will appoint a delegate to a new body, which will travel around and examine each state for jewelry-rule compliance.


Parliament ratifies a free-trade agreement between EAEU & Serbia

This will allow Armenia to more easily export goods to Serbia. Until now, Armenia was mostly importing.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037352.html

Parliament approved the ad billboard bill

Provincial settlements will be able to install billboard ads near roads to generate extra income, without paying federal taxes. Voted 86y-0n.


COVID stats

+3504 tested. +1174 infected. +23 deaths. +1350 healed. 20336 active.


former military-police chief Arthur Baghdasaryan

... has died from COVID. He was fired in February of 2020. He became famous after his subordinate later gave an interview and claimed that Baghdasaryan was willing to shoot Pashinyan during the 2018 revolution days. "I'll shoot Pashinyan the moment Serj tells me to".

The subordinate also claimed that Baghdasaryan instructed them to run over the 2018 protesters and to "make sure ~7 people die if the crowd blocks the police cars".



how did COVID affect the job market?

IRS has published data about the number of job positions that paid taxes in Armenia. It's 622,962 as of October. Here is the year-over-year change for each month:

January: +38,032 (versus January of 2019)

Februaty: +42,691

March: +35,788

April: -44,852

May: -3,033

June: +3,465

July: +6,597

August: +13,422

September: +15,569

October: -817


average monthly nominal salary in Armenia / 2020 vs 2019

January: $398 vs $360 (2020 vs 2019)

February: $389 vs $358

March: $401 vs $369

April (pandemic begins): $381 vs $373

September: $386 vs $375

October: $378 vs $375

The increase was partially impacted by two things: the new law that increased the minimum wage across Armenia, and the fact that some minimum-wage workers were laid off during the pandemic.


COVID vs the number of registered companies

The number of registered organizations (52,845) shrank by 1.3% in October vs September. However, there are 15.4% more today than there were during the same month of 2019.


fuel prices now vs 2019

Benzin -14%. Diesel -24%.


World Bank to provide new grant to Armenia's mining sector

The govt approved the grant from the WB. "Almost all the laws necessary for the regulation of legal relations have been adopted, but the settlement system suffers from uncertainty due to the inconsistency between different laws, which is the most important factor hindering the organized and sustainable development of the sector.

It is possible to improve the legislative framework regulating the mining sector, taking into account the fact that at the current stage of development of the sector it is extremely important to have a stable, clear and transparent legal framework." [Google Translate, I had to cheat on this one sorry]

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037401.html

Armenian tech startup CodeSignal

... has received $37 million in investments and is valued at $120 million. It helps clients like Uber, Zoom, Robinhood, etc. to reduce bias during the employee hiring process.

Forbes: "These Armenian Immigrants Raised $38 Million To Reduce Bias In Hiring With CodeSignal"



manage your stress and focus on education

... is the topic of a lecture by diasporan-Armenian experts Onik and Andranik, who will travel around 250 schools to help students. It's part of the government's new "iGorts" initiative which recruited diasporan experts to work at various govt positions.

Interview: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/202715

Jermuk will have solar farms

... as part of a $289,000 government subsidy program. Several kindergartens and cultural centers will have 300kW/h panels installed on their roofs.


chess world championship qualifiers

There are four participant continents. Each continent holds a chess youth championship to find their top-3 players, who are then sent to compete in the world championship.

Europe held its local competition. Shant Sargsyan finished 2nd and secured a ticket to el mundo.


philharmonic orchestra to resume its activities

The first performance is dedicated to Artsakh soldiers, and two more to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037397.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037411.html

humanitarian aid

60 Russian doctors in Artsakh have so far treated 368 locals with various health issues.


An EU official said that during the war their hands were tied, but today they need access to all areas of the conflict to provide aid. The team will assess the damage first.


My Step Foundation has donated $351,000 to soldiers' rehabilitation center.


Georges Képénékian is a former mayor of Lyon, France, and a doctor urologist. He visited Armenia to discuss medical aid for soldiers. He said there are ongoing discussions with several hospitals in Paris, Lyon, and Marseilles.


France has donated medical oxygen equipment against COVID.


you can donate to Artsakh & Armenia

www.1000plus.am (soldiers' medical help)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older posts

Yesterday: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ka2wqu/dec92020_wrapup_border_demarcation_process/?

Armeniapedia's archive of daily news threads:



All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" guilty.

Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/kao17m/dec102020_news_bbc_interviews_azs_jihadist/

Currency in Armenian Drams ֏ unless specified otherwise.

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