2020 December 24

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Dec/24/2020 news: \\ conscript tells his story \\ electricity prices, nuclear plant, budget explained \\ judicial reforms \\ felony case against ex-Minister & Kocharyan's business \\ daily fake news \\ opposition holds a demonstration \\ COVID stats \\ healthcare cooperation \\ anti-smoking \\ wine
by ar_david_hh


Your 15-minute Thursday report in 3690 words.

budget: electricity price hike for some / what affects the price?

Earlier we learned that 90% of users won't see an increase next year. Heavy users will pay 3 more Drams.

Public Services Tariff Department provides details: 10% of the consumers, who use >400kw/h per month, will pay AMD 3 more for electricity next year. The nuclear plant will stop next year for a major renovation. As a result, 560 million kw/h less electricity will be produced. It will be substituted by thermal power plants (which produce electricity at a higher cost, therefore it sell at a higher price). Moreover, 330 million kw/h was supposed to be imported from Artsakh but most of the power infrastructure went under Azeri control.

As a result, there is an AMD 16.5 billion deficit. It breaks down to AMD 3.4 per user.

Another thing that had an impact was currency value changes. It introduced AMD 4.6 billion in deficit.

There were infrastructure upgrades last year which should be compensated by raising the prices. Prior loans should also be repaid. Due to the deviations of the production structure this year, additional damage has occurred in the system, which must be also compensated.

There were positive developments, too. The losses during the electricity distribution reduced from 11% to 7.5%. This had an effect of AMD 8.5 billion. The operational and maintenance expenditures were slashed by AMD 4.7 billion.

With the aforementioned positive and negative combined, we had an AMD 25.9 billion deficit. It breaks down to AMD 5.35 per consumer per kWh.

We were supposed to spend AMD 6.7 billion on the third electric network with Iran but since the project was delayed, we spent the saved funds to reduce the aforementioned deficit. Another AMD 8.2 billion came after holding talks with the govt about refinancing nuclear loans.

After these changes, the deficit was reduced to AMD 11 billion.

That breaks down to AMD 2.27 per consumer if it was raised for every consumer, but we decided not to raise it for low-income or small users. As a result, AMD 3 will be raised for 10%, for larger users.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038846.html

Tag: #electricity #ElectricGrid #nuclear

nuclear plant will purchase more fuel from Russia

Metsamor NPP signed a contract with Rosatom to purchase nuclear fuel in 2021. It is for the ВВЭР-440 nuclear reactor that has a capacity of 407MW.

The NPP produces 40% of Armenia's electricity. It has produced 1.8905 billion mkw/h between January-September.

https://factor.am/323870.html

new bill to reduce judicial system overload

Justice Ministry drafted a new bill that aims to reduce the burden on judges who are currently assigned to hundreds (or thousands?) of cases. Everyone complains about slow trials.

The bill introduces a sub-specialization of the examination of motions for application of precautionary measures, the search operations, the implementation of investigative measures, as well as the investigation of corruption crimes. (Google Translate)

"New judges will be hired to hear the aforementioned cases. This will result in a workload reduction for others. It'll also reduce corruption risks."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038848.html

anti-corruption: ex-Culture Minister wanted by police / offshore scheme

Investigative Committee: Hasmik Poghosyan was the Culture Minister in 2006. She was also vice-president of a "culture" organization. She illegally gave a Yerevan-owned property to the organization. Her accomplice was the organization's president Armen Smbatyan, who would later become Ambassador to Israel.

The appropriated AMD 201 million-worth property was then deposited as an investment in an LLC company established by the "culture" organization. It was registered as LCC's property.

The LLC then made the $550,000 transfer to an offshore firm belonging to the Minister's family registered in the British Virgin Islands.

A felony case is launched against the ex-Minister (wanted, arrest) and her accomplice ex-ambassador (bail).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038861.html

Defendant ex-Israel ambassador Smbatyan commented the story this way: "This is an old story. We were just trying to protect the building by making investments. The building is there, we haven't done anything."

https://factor.am/323958.html

felony case against Kocharyan's business for "forcing workers to participate in anti-Pashinyan protests"

Read yesterdays news for the original story.

Police say: we examined a claim made by the wife of an employee and found that the director of a [Toyota Yerevan] business, located on Isakov Avenue, urged 30-35 employees to take part in the next day's protests. Among them was the auto-electrician, [the husband of the woman who made the claim]. The man refused to join protests so he was told he couldn't work there anymore.

A felony case is launched per Code 143.1 "մարդու և քաղաքացու իրավունքներն ու ազատություններն... խախտելը աշխարհայացքից, քաղաքական կամ այլ հայացքներից...".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038878.html

opposition resumes the rally / building blockade / "armed coup" incitement

The 16 opposition parties, allied or part of the former regime, have resumed the demonstrations today. They continue to demand Pashinyan's resignation and the appointment of their own candidate Vazgen Manukyan as PM.

As promised yesterday, they attempted to encircle the government building in the morning to prevent Pashinyan and the government cabinet from being able to enter and hold a session. The police formed a wall around the entrance.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038786.html

The demonstrators were unable to get too close to govt building entrance in the morning because police forces went there first and blocked the areas that could be used to approach the building entrance.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203636

There was a confrontation between several demonstrators and the police while opening the Tigran Mets road, while demonstrators were attempting to prevent officials from leaving the building. The demonstrators complained about excessive force. Police said they'll investigate the claims. 69 people were detained.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038823.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203651

The demonstrators were unable to achieve the main goal. When asked to comment on accusations that the opposition is "indecisive" and the "number of protesters gradually dwindle", the ARF co-leader Ishkhan Saghatelyan said, "There is such concern. Many citizens urge us to take decisive action. I think what we do today is a decisive action. Citizens who are disappointed in us for not taking decisive action should come to the public square right now because the whole government is in this building. What other decisive action should we take?"

Opposition's PM candidate Manukyan commented, "If we want to take a civilized approach then the people must come here. If 100,000 people were here, the issue would be over now. There are such 100,000 people who are dissatisfied, who understand that the country is collapsing, but they are sitting at home."

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203659

One of the demonstrators, volunteer Sargis Karapetyan, called for an armed coup against the government. He was arrested and charged with Code 301.

ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan disagreed with the calls for an armed coup and called it "unacceptable", adding that "we can invade the government building any time we want but that's not the goal".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038849.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203669 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203678

HR Ombudsman: During one of the demonstrations today, calls were made for an armed coup. This is reprehensible. One of the leaders of the demonstrations made it clear that violence is unacceptable. The organizers of the opposition's protests must keep in mind that the opposition is also an institution of statehood, the state of human rights in the country also depends on the opposition.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038819.html

There was a confrontation between the opposition demonstrators and several family members of POWs and missing soldiers. The families asked demonstrators to go home because they believe the protests hinder the process of POW exchange and search operations.

Families believe that Azerbaijan is intentionally delaying the process to fuel more protests in Armenia. The families also asked demonstrators not to hold parties and play loud music in the squaare out of respect to their fallen/missing sons.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203665

other opposition news besides protests

LHK has launched a campaign to organize a committee to spend 10 months and investigate details about events that occurred before, during, and after the war. They invited the top-6 political parties to join. That means 3 Parliamentary parties (QP, BHK, LHK) and 3 non-Parliamentary parties (HHK, ARF, Menq).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038853.html

BHK will hold a meeting to discuss the issues faced by bordering settlements.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038797.html

government session was held despite protesters' attempts to blockade it

traffic tickets pardoned

The govt approved a resolution, yet to be approved by Parliament, to cancel several types of traffic citations issued between September 27 to December 27. "There were violations of traffic rules due to extreme necessity, during the war."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038805.html

aid packages for Artsakh

Pashinyan: we have multiple aid programs for Artsakh residents. An AMD 6.4 billion for 87,000 residents as a one-time payment. AMD 600 million for 2,000 recipients whose homes went under Azeri control. AMD 940 million aid to Artsakh to pay December pensions. AMD 3.1 billion aid to help pay Artsakh public sector salaries in December. AMD 1 billion aid to fully subsidize 3-month utility bills for residents. Other 8 aid packages are in progress. These are part of the Roadmap.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038802.html

Artsakh children receive gifts

Artsakh preschool kids will receive another AMD 20,000 as New Year's gift. It can be collected this week from HayPost or ArtsakhPost post offices.

Pashinyan: For obvious reasons, there will be no New Year festivities, but children should not be deprived of holiday events; there will be performances for children in theaters.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038806.html

ambulance cars

Healthcare Ministry purchased 30 ambulance vehicles and received 12 as a donation. The govt donated 5 of them to Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038791.html

co-subsidized programs

Infrastructure Minister: we planned AMD 10 billion in infrastructure upgrades but spent an additional 4.6 billion. Overall, 29 billion was spent with the help of local governments. That's about 5 billion more than last year, despite the pandemic-year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038837.html

meeting with volunteers

A group of volunteer soldiers were invited to a govt building to discuss issues.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203695 , https://youtu.be/cNQ5W8jJbig

Syunik border demarcation continues

Pashinyan: Border checkpoints are currently being installed in Syunik province, with some complications. We are convinced that this work must be done. It's necessary to ensure the safety of Syunik and Armenia in general.

There are two settlements where questions and painful situations may arise: Vorotan and Shurnukh (check the archive of my previous posts for details for each). Works are carried out on daily basis here. If certain issues arise from the point of view of the interests of our citizens, the government will come up with full compensation. The interests of our citizens will be fully protected. (the two villages were built partially on the other side of the Syunik border; some could lose their homes).

There is a flow of misinformation around the topic. For example, there may be hundreds of publications about one case, with bells and whistles, to give the impression that it's a widespread occurrence. I want to repeat that there can be no question of a single millimeter of concession from Syunik and the internationally recognized territory of the Republic of Armenia.

On the other hand, this does not mean that the aforementioned processes should be considered as demarcation or delimitation, they are different issues. At this stage, certain border points are being located, the purpose of which is to ensure safety. This new situation raises some emotions, but I say again, we must overcome this stage as calmly as possible in order to achieve the full functioning of the new security system that we are building today.

I spoke with the commander of border guards this morning and gave specific instructions on how to manage this process so that it goes as smoothly as possible so that the interests of our citizens are maximally protected. This was discussed with the MoD, General Chief of Staff, and others.

We know with a centimeter-precision the areas where we can have border disputes. We held a meeting 10 days earlier and there was an order to contact residents of these bordering regions to inform them in detail about the ongoing processes, and that their lost properties will be fully compensated.

--

Context: Artsakh's Qashatakh region, south of Lachin, was mostly occupied by Azeris during the war. The parts that weren't occupied had to be given to Azerbaijan as part of the agreement to "return the 7 regions". Qashatagh is one of the 7 regions adjacent to Nagorno-Artsakh. Qashatagh borders Armenia's Syunik province. Naturally, new borders have to be drawn here between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Some Armenian settlements and roads were built on Syunik-Qashatahg borders, which are now Syunik-Azerbaijan borders. This created disputes and concerns by some of the bordering residents because their settlements became close to borders overnight.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038809.html

More details about border village Shurnukh. It has a road that became a border. 11 houses are on the Azeri side of the road.

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/12/24/Շուռնուխով-անցնող-մայրուղին-դառնում-է-սահման-հակառակորդի-տարածքում-մնալու-է-11-տուն/414400

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/12/24/Շուռնուխ․-սահմանը՝-այգու-միջով/414397

daily fake news: Azeris dancing "a few meters away from Lake Sevan"

Gegharquniq governor: Some media outlets and Facebook users circulated a video claiming that Azeris were dancing a few meters away from the Lake Sevan. The video was recorded elsewhere and is unrelated to Sevan. Be respectful to the army and soldier. They are during their duties of protecting the borders.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203710

daily fake news: Azeris open fire on Armenian vehicle near Tegh village

A priest participated in a demonstration and claimed that "Azeris opened fire at an Armenian car that didn't stop near Tegh village on December 10th."

Fact checker contacted Tegh mayor who said the priest "misunderstood" the story, which went like this: "Armenian car was traveling on border road, Azeris tried to stop it probably to ask for cigarette or something, the car didn't stop. After that, there were sounds of gunshots but they came from far away. It's possible that it came from the front lines. Could also be fired by our troops, we don't know."

https://fip.am/14327

daily fake news: Syunik residents are taken hostage

BHK MPs spread yet another misinformation, according to a fact-checker. MP Lianna Manukyan circulated an Azeri video of Armenian POWs recorded elsewhere a while back, and claimed that it was a recent incident in Syunik.

https://fip.am/14333

conscript recalls the battles in Fizuli, Hadrut, and Shushi

19-year-old Gor Ghazaryan: before the war, we would visit front lines in large vehicle columns. But on September 25th (two days before war) it was different. They took us there one by one, with different routes.

We reached the front. They told us the situation is tense. We observed how the opponent brought equipment. At 4:00 AM we received a Level-1 alarm. We noticed that the Azeri village lights, which were usually off at night, were lit. That meant the population was being evacuated. We waited for the attack.

The fight began in the morning with a barrage of artillery fire. It was working around the clock. When we exhausted all our reserves, we couldn't hold the post any longer with 8 people because the opponent brought 7-8 tanks: one tank for each of us. We decided to retreat. We moved back three defense lines where our artillery was.

Eventually, we reached Fizuli Crossroads (south) which is 30km from the original front. We took a rest for 3 days before being sent to provide a shift change to Artsakh Hero David Ghazaryan's unit. Ghazaryan "Kombat Davo" was killed earlier. Everyone spoke about him. For me, he was the image of the hero during the war.

We fought in Hadrut for 10 days before entering a forest. There, we waited for instructions for several days. We learned that Hadrut and Martuni parts were encircled and our troops had to retreat. The retreating troops met us in forests, and together, we went to Stepanakert. From there, we went south near Qarin Tak (just south of Shushi)

The situation was intensifying every moment. We had a strong army in Qarin Tak. We took positions in various parts. There were fierce battles for 5 days. The opponent got closer and it turned into a rifle battle. We were disadvantaged because they held better positions.

We retreated that night to where the "Shushi" sign is in red letters. Three days later I was wounded from an explosion there. They took me to Stepanakert. Three days later I found out about the fall of Shushi.

https://a1plus.am/hy/article/389239

The National Interest: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Fresh Scars of War

"Baku’s victory may prove more costly in the long-run than Yerevan’s defeat."

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/nagorno-karabakh-and-fresh-scars-war-174690

office changes

Artsakh HR Ombudsman Beglaryan has been appointed as the President's chief of staff.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038771.html

Kamo Avanesyan is a Deputy Syunik Governor.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038776.html

Deputy chief of Investigative Committee Arman Poghosyan is fired.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038788.html

Argishti Qyaramyan was recently fired as NSS chief. He has been appointed as deputy Investigative Committee chief. This was his position before becoming NSS chief.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038868.html

POWs and search operations

Bodies of 8 more soldiers were found today in Fizuli, Jabrayil, and Zangelan regions. 1069 discoveries since the ceasefire.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038783.html

Pashinyan & Torosyan: we have purchased the second DNA sequencing device to identify deceased soldiers. It's being shipped. There were a few unfortunate incidents where the testing process was rushed and it gave wrong results.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038814.html

HR Ombudsman Tatoyan flew to Moscow to discuss the POW transfer process.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038834.html

Families of several missing soldiers closed a road with demands for news about their relatives. They opened the road after Pashinyan promised to meet them tomorrow.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203699

Chamber of Deputies of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

... has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the Azeri-Turkish aggression against Artsakh. It states that Azerbaijan violated the Madrid Principles and the OCSE negotiation process. It acknowledges that lands belonging to Artsakh were occupied by Azerbaijan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038870.html , https://factor.am/324015.html

Turkish Journalist Who Reported Erdogan-ISIS Ties Sentenced to 27 Years in Prison

Cumhuriyet outlet had published reports accusing Erdogan of aiding ISIS in Syria. [arrested reporter] Dündar has maintained for years that Erdogan’s administration has concrete ties to ISIS jihadists.

“Turkey has been hosting ISIS for years,” Dündar told Kurdistan 24 last year. “Everyone knows it in the region.”

https://www.breitbart.com/middle-east/2020/12/23/turkish-journalist-who-reported-erdogan-isis-ties-sentenced-27-years-prison/

COVID stats

+2743 tested. +702 infected. +23 deaths. +1128 healed. 15999 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038785.html

Healthcare Minister Torosyan: it's been two weeks since we haven't had a patient at home who is waiting for a free hospital bed. Moreover, some hospitals returned to their original duties. Please continue to follow safety measures: distance, hand washing, masks. The death rate in Armenia is 1.5%, which is low; it's 10% in some countries.

Pashinyan: we were better prepared for the 2nd wave. During the 1st wave, there was a lot of criticism, most of which was politicized. We were shown various examples to show how poorly the coronavirus was managed in Armenia, but our prediction came true about the countries being in the same situation eventually. There were countries that had virtually zero cases while we were at our peak. Now, these countries have passed us or will pass soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038811.html

The EU and WHO will donate seven x-ray devices to Armenian hospitals to better catch and treat COVID.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203680

Healthcare Ministry is asking you to celebrate New York at home and not to invite guests this year. Խոզի բուդը կարա սպասի։

https://factor.am/323864.html

Artsakh refugees continue to return to their homes

480 did so today, accompanied by Russian peacekeepers in the Lachin corridor.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038777.html

20,000 residents located in Artsakh need a new home

4,100 people (1,000 families) have received temporary housing so far.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038779.html

humanitarian aid

RosTelecom has donated wheelchairs to wounded soldiers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038815.html

"Yerevan My Love" foundation and President Sarkissian organized a campaign to deliver gifts to thousands of children living in dozens of settlements located on Syunik and Gegharquniq borders.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038831.html

choo-choo, snow in Yerevan

51 trucks choo-choo-ed the capital's streets to dump salt and sand. Have you changed your tires yet?

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038827.html

update: Yerevan's Mamikonyants & Khachatryan streets will be connected

Details in yesterday's post. Here is the proposed blueprint:

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038860.html

Yerevan's Nzdeh Square has new lighting

Photos:

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203701

160 LED bulbs were installed

... on a road Abovyan city. It saves power.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203697

fight continues over anti-smoking bill

We learned last week that several QP MPs introduced a bill to delay a government bill that would ban smoking in public and enclosed areas, as well as the display of cigarettes in convenience shops. Healthcare Ministry advised the MPs not to touch the law and let it go into effect in January. The MPs want to delay it until 2022.

Today Healthcare Minister Torosyan unloaded a tirade on the cigarette industry, calling them powerful, manipulative, and being able to "blackmail" to achieve their goals. The Minister is against delaying the bill, saying it's necessary for public health, especially in the age of pandemic.

The bill to delay the bill will be discussed in Parliament soon. There will be a debate.

Full tirade: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038778.html

need help to quit smoking?

Next month, the Healthcare Ministry will launch a new free "QUITLINE" hotline that you can dial to receive info on how to quit.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203690

Armenia and Korea signed memorandum to cooperate in healthcare

Minister Torosyan and Sun Min Kim agreed to hold routine meetings, exchange experiences to improve the process of making international purchases, retraining, resource management, etc. tHe tWO SIdeS EXPressEd HOpe tHAt 2021 wILL bE a SAfe YeaR.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1038835.html

Armenian wine has attracted the French attention

Winemaker Tigran Avagyan approaches the fermentation keg with a glass, fills a quarter with red wine, slightly bends the glass, and shows the color of the young red wine. It will graduate in February.

Tigran graduated from the Komitas Conservatory's folklore department and works as a realtor today. He would not have imagined a few years ago that today he would be a winemaker. "Wine is a way of life. It enters the human soul and never leaves."

[skipping story] Today, he exports small quantities of "Sutak" wine to France. Recently, a French sommelier paid a visit to learn about the wine. He was surprised that it was produced in a home environment. "He was probably picturing a big factory."

Full: https://hetq.am/hy/article/125751

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:

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" guilty.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/kjn7g2/dec242020_news_conscript_tells_his_story/

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