2020 December 22

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Daily news wrap-up

Dec/22/2020 wrap-up: \\ Engineering City issues licenses to high-tech firms \\ underground parking in Yerevan \\ opposition demonstrations \\ Artsakh refugees & aid from Russia, Europe, and charities \\ felony cases: "thieve" & Goris mayor \\ was draft stopped on 3rd day? \\ rumors & rebuttals
by ar_david_hh

Your 15-minute Tuesday report in 3720 words.

"the army mobilization wasn't stopped on the 3rd day"

General Movses Hakobyan, who was "fired" during the war and later criticized by fellow Generals Samvel Babayan and Artak Davtyan, recently gave a press conference, during which he made various statements, including some politically-motivated ones. On one occasion he claimed that Pashinyan ordered the army mobilization/draft process to stop on the third day of the war, "which lead to dire consequences".

Investigators reveal findings: We questioned Army officials responsible for the draft process, and General Chief of Staff's office members. These include officials who Hakobyan claimed were familiar with the story. They denied Hakobyan's claims about receiving an order to stop the army draft.

The investigation revealed documents that indicate that orders were issued during and after the war to mobilize and replenish troops. It was also revealed that the inclusion of volunteers in the draft process did not hinder the mobilization of reservists.

The investigation did not find any audio tapes, mentioned by Hakobyan in his interview, which would prove that the Prime Minister stopped the mobilization.


the 2010 law that "drew the Syunik borders"

The opposition has been accusing Pashinyan of "giving away Syunik lands". The authorities say "not a millimeter of Syunik has been given", and that the withdrawal is from Artsakh's Qashatag region, which is now part of Azerbaijan, which borders Syunik. So far, no evidence has been provided that parts of the Republic of Armenia's Syunik province were given to Azerbaijan.

Yesterday, Pashinyan fired back at critics from the former regime, saying that they are the ones who drew these borders by passing a law in 2010 that defined the administrative-territorial borders of Armenia.

Today, Pashinyan shared part of that 2010 law, which is specifically about the Sotq region, which has the disputed gold mine that was built on the border.

"HHK, ARF, and BHK all voted in favor of the 2010 law. Many of those who voted yes are now accusing us of giving away Kelbajar, despite them accepting that it's part of Azerbaijan. They will blame us for Stoq, despite being the ones who accepted it as part of Azerbaijan," wrote Pashinyan.

Images from the 2010 bill: https://factor.am/322961.html

ARF leader Hrant Margaryan commented, saying the 2010 law was informal in nature, had no value, and it was about borders between Armenia-Artsakh.


rumor & rebuttal: BHK gives yet another Syunik village to Azerbaijan

Did you like the misleading headline? This time the subject is Chakaten village. Syunik governor rebutted rumors that Chakaten was given to Azeris. "It's 100% false," said Melikset.

The village giveaway rumor was circulated by BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan during a speech in a public square. In the past, she has circulated inaccurate statements, claiming Azeris were walking freely in RoA cities and visiting restaurants, which had promoted NSS to investigate and find that it was fake news.

Vorotan is another border village. One of its buildings was built on the buffer zone, on the borders between AM-AZ, therefore it's at the center of a dispute, says the Syunik government. Russian troops are present in this location.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038571.html , https://factor.am/323350.html , https://fip.am/14318

rumor & rebuttal: three buses stuck on Lachin

Telegram channels claimed Azeris prevented three buses with Armenian soldiers from passing through the Lachin corridor to return to Armenia.

Army responds: all the troops returned home safely. No incidents occurred during the trip. The road was closed for a few hours in the morning as it was unsafe to go in the dark, so the trip was delayed.


rumors & rebuttals: "fake news" about salary Bonuses

Parliament Speaker Mirzoyan (who is still alive): Today the press began circulating reports about salary bonuses in Parliament again. No new orders have been signed about bonuses. The reports are nothing but manipulation. There is an established practice to issue "13th month" salaries at the end of the year, in the private and public sectors. Families form their budget with assumptions of receiving it.

I decided not to give these bonuses to MPs. Moreover, this year we saved AMD 845 million from bonuses and elsewhere, which were directed for post-war efforts. By the end of this year, 20% of Parliament's expense budget will be saved.

(Context: critics often make populist attacks on salary bonuses by presenting them as generous giveaways for govt workers. The authorities argue that bonuses are needed when you have officials who don't rely on embezzled funds, to keep skilled workers in the public sector by competing with private, and to supplement the base salary which is often too low because it assumes bonuses will be given.)


office changes

Artsakh HR Ombudsman Beglaryan will quit the job and take another public office position.


Deputy Commander of the Police Troops has resigned and said he won't follow orders that "endanger the public". Another police official, who had quit earlier, joined the opposition demonstration today.


Gayane Melqomyan is appointed as Deputy Yerevan Mayor tasked with culture stuff.


Lilith Minasyan is no longer the Parliament Deputy Chief of Staff.


A new Customs representative was appointed to the EU and the World Customs Organization.


Artsakh president Arayik continues the staff changes: several Ministers, aides, and other officials were changed.


Pashinyan about internal political processes:

1) The "elite", that was deprived of power in Armenia as a result of the 2018 revolution, is trying to score a comeback. And it isn't just about the elites. It's also those who had certain "favorable status" before 2018 but lost it afterward.

2) The general public, who felt the power of being THE authority after the 2018 revolution, do not want to lose that status, especially now, when the former elites are taking advantage of the situation and using various tactics such as "if you don't come to protest you'll be fired".

The real opposition isn't between the government and the opposition, but the former Elites and the People. In any case, the People will make the decision, and the Elites will be powerless. I will do everything possible to make sure the People have [fair elections, basically]. But for now, our priority is the safety of Armenia and Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038503.html demonstrations & rallies / time's up / strikes & road closures / reports of pressures / death threats

16 opposition parties allied with the former regime have resumed the demonstrations. They urged everyone to join and demand PM's resignation. The deadline has passed, Pashinyan hasn't resigned, so there will be mass acts of disobedience and strikes across the country, say the organizers.

"The decisive rally starts today. I am more than sure that within a few days Nikol Pashinyan will not be sitting in the Prime Minister's chair," said Arsen Babayan, a former official who was earlier charged with aiding HHK to allegedly falsify documents in 2018 to help HHK MP Tovmasyan to become a Constitutional Court judge.


A group of lawyers from the Chamber of Lawyers joined the demonstration. The organization's president Ara Zohrabyan urged fellow lawyers to quit the ruling QP party, and for prosecutors to begin launching felony cases.


Healthcare Ministry says they've received complaints from workers that directors of some medical institutes pressured them to participate in the opposition rally. "While respecting the political views and position of everyone, we call for the proper fulfillment of professional responsibilities aimed at maintaining the health of our people", said the Ministry.

Human Rights Ombudsman reminded officials that such pressuring of workers would be illegal.

Opposition Ind. MP Babajanyan has asked prosecutors to investigate the complaints. (Multi Group would like to know your location... and price)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038525.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038535.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038537.html

Opposition's PM candidate Vazgen Manukyan has urged the army and police to join the opposition against Pashinyan. "I call upon the Army to immediately make a statement and join our people. Every hour is important."

"Everyone sitting at home is against Nikol, shame on those who are not against him," said Vazgen Manukyan about the "deplorables".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038543.html , https://factor.am/323069.html

ARF Ishkhan urged the demonstrators to encircle but not enter the Government and Prosecutor's Office buildings. "We must take the whole state system from Nikol Pashinyan." They gave the ruling party until 6 PM to meet and discuss the situation. They plan to install tents in Republic Square to sleep overnight.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038546.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038563.html

The police have urged demonstrators to follow the law, not to block others' passage, not to install tents. They warned opposition leaders not to incite violence against members of the ruling QP party after an opposition figure gave a speech in which he "threatened" MPs with "force".

"Եթե ժամանակին Թեհլերյանին արդարացրեցին, քեզ շանսատակ անողին հերոսի կոչում են տալու," said one of the demonstration leaders Aram Harutyunyan. (If Soghomon Teghleryan was acquitted after murdering Taleat Pasha, then the person who murders Pashinyan will be granted the title of a hero, is essentially what was said.)

"There are millions of Tehleryans. The order to take revenge from Nikol is from the people," continued the ex-regime official.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038614.html , https://factor.am/323355.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203481

"Yerevan municipality council's BHK members created a scene," says a fellow councilman, who claims BHK members began chanting slogans and cussing at them before going outside to join the fellow BHK members who are protesting against Pashinyan.


Demonstrators closed the Yerevan-Vanadzor road. The event was organized by ARF and Hayreniq parties. Some agitated drivers urged them "not to spread misinformation" and to open the roads.


ARF Ishkhan invited the demonstrators to return at 4 PM tomorrow to hold worker and student strikes.


A group of Tsovinar residents held a demonstration in support of Pashinyan, saying the "formers want to return to old days, take power away from people, to continue to embezzle."


update: court frees Goris mayor / he's facing illegal mining and assault charges

Goris mayor ex-HHK Arushanyan was arrested yesterday and charged with "attempting to organize an unauthorized demonstration" to prevent PM from visiting the city. The court ruled that his arrest wasn't warranted.

At the time of his arrest, Arushanyan had other pending felony investigations against him. They were combined under one case. Here are the felony charges that he faces:

Investigators say: after becoming Goris mayor in 2017, [HHK] Arushanyan allowed his private company to exploit a land without a license, causing significant damage to nature and resources.

To mine the land, he registered a 0.5 ha agricultural land as a property of Goris city. Goris municipal council launched a land auction, which was won by his relative (surprised pikachu face). Being the Mayor, he signed the documents to finalize the transaction of agricultural lands.

In 2019, Arushanyan registered a new company under his relative's name. The new company, without having a license that regulated land and water use or impact on nature, began operating under the instruction of Arushanyan. As a result, $3400 in damages was done to the state.

In Jan-Feb of 2020, Arushanyan's family businesses recorded a financial loss, after which a physical force was applied against an employee. (there was a report earlier this year about Arushanyan slapping or beating someone). The employee was forced to give his vehicle and property.

Without permission, Arushanyan took property and vehicle documents from the victim employee and attempted to "pledge them as assets" but couldn't finish it because the victim contacted police and filed charges against him.

On August 28th, Arushanyan assaulted someone which resulted in a concussion, craniocerebral, and other injuries. The victim had passed Arushanyan's Mercedes vehicle on the road, which angered Arushanyan. He asked the victim to stop the car and complained about "irresponsible driving". It escalated into a fight. Arushanyan's two friends held the driver while he punched him.

And more recently, Arushanyan used Facebook to call for an unsanctioned protest by using vehicles to block the Syunik Gates area to prevent PM from entering the city.

Multiple felony cases were launched against Arushanyan. Prosecutors asked the court for his arrest.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038581.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038598.html

criminal subculture figure Vstrechi Aper

Context: Vstrechi Aper is a "gangsta" who was charged with kidnapping, fled Armenia, was caught and brought back, had his charges dropped for "reasons", but more recently was charged again over alleged burglary and attempted murder. ArmTimes outlet published a report earlier claiming Aper and ex-NSS chief Vanetsyan (who are long-time friends) were coordinating with an online campaign to throw dirt at Pashinyan and his family.

Investigators published a report: First case. Someone owed money to Aper's friend in 2012. The friend asked Aper for help to get it back. Aper invited the victim debtor to meet in Aper's house. Aper assaulted the victim and got $50,000 in cash, then a $50,000 worth Mercedes vehicle, and another $50,000 worth house belonging to the victim.

Aper decided to legalize the stolen house in 2012. He asked his relative to sign a bogus real estate transaction with the victim's mother. The house was appropriated and later sold.

Second case. Aper learned about Pashinyan's mass amnesty order in 2018. The law also stated that if you had a child under the age of 3, and your crime envisioned imprisonment of fewer than 6 years, then you qualified for a pardon. Aper didn't have a small child, so he colluded with a woman to register himself as the father. The court dropped the charges against him, based on the falsified documents.

Aper is charged with extortion, laundering, forgery, and filing false reports. He will be arrested.






Robert Kocharyan trial delayed again

The March 1st trial was delayed again because Rob's lawyers went to participate in the protests and couldn't appear in court. The next trial is on January 19th.


EU humanitarian aid

EU will provide aid to 2,000 Artsakh refugees as part of a "rapid response" program. World Vision Armenia office in Shirak will distribute aid to 120 families, education to 220 kids, mental health services to 280 kids.


Russian peacekeepers and humanitarian aid

Russian troops created an auto-park in Artsakh. It'll repair 10 vehicles a day. It's equipped with spare parts, 360 special vehicles, etc.


35 trucks with Russian humanitarian aid have arrived in Artsakh.


351 refugees returned to Artsakh today. 43,000 have so far returned via Lachin road, and many others via northern Qarvachar road while it was still under Armenian control.


search operations

Teams continue to look for bodies in Jabrayil, Shushi, and Hadrut regions. 8 were found today, bringing the total since the ceasefire to 1047.


3248 bodies have gone through a medical examination by the Healthcare Ministry since the war.



Russian peacekeepers say that in the near future, 62 soldiers who were encircled and taken hostage near Khtsaberd, will return. The process of repatriating POWs in general will resume soon.


The European Court for Human Rights has instructed Azerbaijan to specify clear dates for the return of 62 POWs and to provide medical documents, by December 28th.


father and son survive 61 days in the woods

Mikael and Gegham were returned home yesterday. They are Hadrut civilians who hid in forests for two months. Son Gegham is an experienced hunter, which allowed them to survive. They created a shelter and waited for rescuers because the father had a problem with walking. At one point, they sneaked into a nearby village to get cans of food. Both are receiving medical care in Stepanakert now.


group of soldiers receive awards for acts of courage

Sgt. Khachatur Sahakyan destroyed a tank, several dozen infantrymen, and lead his unit skillfully.

Dozens more: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203500

bomb shelters in Yerevan

The municipality has installed 100 air sirens in Yerevan. Today they discussed the possibility of increasing the number of areas that can serve as bomb shelters. There are 4266 apartment complex buildings with insufficient shelters. Population in the center can use underground passages.


proposed: 4-story underground parking lot in Yerevan center

The head of the Yerevan municipality department in charge of investment projects says a private company expressed interest in building 4-story underground parking in Yerevan, possibly near Shahumyan Square. Whether the capital agrees will be known in 3 months.

Another project could build parking lots on Halabyan Street near the mayor's office.

Mayor Marutyan: Despite the need to build parking lots, the main task is to solve the problem of public transport, so that Yerevan residents refrain from traveling to the center by personal cars.


house repairs to resume in Tavush

Northern bordering province Tavush will resume the $800,000 project to renovate homes that were damaged during July battles. Streets, houses, and bomb shelters are being built. Construction companies have been financed. Some villages next to the border had their community and interstate roads renovated.


housing for Hadrut refugees

14000 Hadrut residents, or 3500 families, have lost their homes. 75% of them reside in Armenia (Yerevan, Kotayk, Ararat). 85% of those in Armenia have been registered and their data was taken by services tasked with housing and aid. Residents who lost their documents can get copies at special offices in Yerevan.


property tax waivers for some groups / electric car = no parking fee

One of the administration's major goals is to introduce a culture of paying taxes and fees. Requiring shops to print receipts was successful; the budget generated more revenues. Another idea is to establish mandatory income tax filing. Another one is property taxes.

A law was passed earlier to require everyone to pay property taxes. The sum depends on the value of the property. The rich are supposed to pay more, while the poor less. It would also boost real estate transactions and solve the issue of properties sitting vacant since it wouldn't be beneficial to hold on to the property and just waste money on taxes.

There are concerns that some low-income residents who inherited expensive properties wouldn't be able to afford taxes. The law allows cities to exempt certain groups.

Today Capital Yerevan gave an exemption to one particular group: POWs and people who are missing after the war. Arts and musical schools, and kindergartens, will also be free for these families.

No parking fees for disabled soldiers or those giving them a ride. No parking fees for electric vehicles.


state-of-the-art hand prostheses

Serj Tankian and HimnaDram.org launched a $100,000 campaign to provide high-tech arms to soldiers who received disabilities.


infrastructure repairs

President Arayik and Deputy PM Avinyan discussed plans to restore power in Martuni, rebuild a new electric grid, and other infrastructure plans.


Samvel Kocharyants park and a nearby road in Gavar were renovated with the help of donor Samvel Goroyan. "This cozy and attractive corner will introduce both local and foreign tourists to the prominent scientific, literary, and cultural figures of our city."


Garni-Lanjazat road is being renovated. It'll boost tourism. The project is co-financed by the World Bank.


Azerbaijan will spend $1.3 billion next year

... on areas that went under their control.

www.civilnet.am/news/2020/12/21/Ադրբեջանը-1-3-մլրդ-դոլար-կհատկացնի-իր-գրաված-տարածքների-վերականգնմանը/413932 UNESCO accused Azerbaijan of delaying

... the process of sending UN experts to Armenian cultural and religious sites in areas that went under the Azeri control.


COVID stats

+2404 tested. +537 infected. +17 deaths. +1410 healed.


Gyumri Medical Center

... has a new oxygen station to help against COVID. The Healthcare Ministry issued $200,000 funds to build a new production facility, which could supply oxygen to the region's other clinics.


2020: cargo transfer volumes in EAEU trade bloc

Armenia +3.5%

Russia -7.3%

Belarus -7.5%

Kazakh -7.1%

Kyrgyz -23.1%

EAEU as a whole -7.3%

consumer product prices in Stepanakert

43 types of items were examined in 20 shops in Artsakh capital. Compared to last week, 8 become more expensive (egg +18%, flour +15%, butter +7%, lentil +5%, diesel +3%, benzin +3%, oil +2%),

and 4 became cheaper (lemon -11%, cucumber -6%, masks -6%, buckwheat -2%)

The public regulators are examining large players to ensure there was no "fixing".


$1 = 1 tree in Artsakh

We are our Forests initiative will plant 50,000 trees in Artsakh. They'll be grown with TCP method in special facilities operated by FPWC nature organization. By November 2021, they will be ready for planting in the wilderness. The organizations will take care of trees for 5 years afterward.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203533

"Engineering City" in Yerevan / companies receive licenses

A mini-"Silicon Valley" is being built in Yerevan. Engineering City will have high-tech offices, labs, etc. In 2019 they planned to begin the construction in 2020.

Today the High Tech Ministry met several businesses to hold the first session of the Investment Program Certification Commission. Six companies received a license to open offices in the City; they produce various engineering solutions, 80% of which is to be exported.

Upon receiving the license to operate, the companies will use their resources to build an office. They will share existing labs with other businesses.




ադամանդ ես

Economy Ministry and businesses met to discuss ways to improve diamond processing and export, and other jewelry and precious metal related issues. Companies want reforms to improve the cooperation between local raw metal producers and jewelry product makers.


traditional movies, now available in 4K HDR10+ 3D-VR edition

London-based "CPC" company and others cooperated to digitize three 35-millimeter-tape movies by Sergey Parajanov: Հակոբ Հովնաթանյան, Կիևյան որմնանկարներ, and Արաբանախշեր Փիրոսմանիի թեմաներով.

The National Cinema Center of Armenia will receive a copy of Հակոբ Հովնաթանյան, and so will New York City's "MoMa" museum. The movie will become the first Armenian movie to be stored in MoMa.

Other movies will be digitized soon...

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038513.html

Grandmaster Shant Sargsyan

... won a silver medal in the rapid chess world cup.


new stamps by HayPost

The post office released soldier-themed stamps and postcards called "Ապրելու ենք, որ հաղթենք". It's a charity project in cooperation with 1000plus.am

Official site with images: https://postcards.stamps.am/


Aram Khachatryan house-museum

... will organize a charity concert on December 25th, dedicated to wounded soldiers and their families.


How to donate to Artsakh & Recovering Soldiers

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

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

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

archive of older posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my 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/kifeqj/dec222020_wrapup_engineering_city_issues_licenses/

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