2020 November 13

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Nov/13/2020 wrap-up: \\ War in Artsakh (Karabakh) \\ Pashinyan interview; Agreement; Shushi ; Russia relations \\ Artsakh's international recognition \\ protests \\ Artsakh president; details; citizens can return homes; repairing infrastructure \\ foreign affairs \\ new Russian border guards \\ ...
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Friday report in 3397 words.

investigative report about Azerbaijan's use of phosphorus bomb

DFRLab (Digital Forensic Research Lab) wrote an article about the bomb. It uses satellite photos to confirm that phosphorus was used against lands controlled by Armenians, therefor the Azeri claims of "Armenians using it themselves" are baseless.

It notes that the use resulted in damage to nature. The video

was shared. It notes that the international bodies did not pay enough attention to this incident, although Transparency International's Armenia office did publish "ecological alarm" paper.

https://medium.com/dfrlab/satellite-imagery-shows-environmental-damage-of-reported-white-phosphorus-use-in-nagorno-karabakh-9826391a295

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034746.html

a volunteer soldier tells his story:

His account of events: The volunteer forces were not properly commanded, which resulted in desertion. In 2016 we also had organizational issues when people reached the front lines disorderly. When this war began, there was a selective draft instead of everyone being called to commissariats.

The volunteers were not prepared to fight. I myself had not held a weapon for 23 years before this war. After spending a few days in a military base and being properly armed, they took us to the most immediate front line. 52 of us with 2 commanders dig trenches and prepared for the next morning's attack.

The morning's attack was overwhelming. We gave 6 deaths and 4 wounded. Commanders told us to retreat to avoid encirclement; 12 of us chose to stay without a commander; I became the commander.

Then the regular army came to aid. We fought for 10 hours and crushed the much larger enemy group. We asked the regular army to take us in their ranks, despite us being volunteers and less experienced. The Lt. Colonel agreed.

This was a military organizational issue. The government is right that the volunteer/mobilized troops couldn't do their duties, but it wasn't their fault. Volunteers weren't properly trained before the war.

https://youtu.be/qepu1mNqeeU

opposition rally & internal politics

00:28 1st president Levon to opposition: accept the Agreement as an established reality, at least considering the fact that the war is over and there will be no more casualties. The final resolution will happen soon and Armenia should take serious preparations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034725.html

00:29: ruling QP MP Vardan Atabekyan has resigned.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034726.html

2:13: the court has released several opposition figures who were detained after organizing a demonstration under Martial Law. Among them is Gagik Tsarukyan, Shawarmazanov, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, Masis mayor.

Tsarukyan was later questioned as part of his ongoing election bribery case.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034730.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034727.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034723.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613091.html

9:06: some aviation experts believe that civilian flights between Yerevan and Stepanakert are a possibility in the future. Since the 90s war, the only way to reach Artsakh is through a lengthy road.

https://news.am/arm/news/613123.html

9:38: Videos shared by soldiers were broadcasted on the large TV installed on the public square. The HR Ombudsman complained that some of them contained inappropriate language and death threats, urging the relevant govt body to remove such videos.

PM's spokeswoman responded saying the accusations of death threats were exaggerated and that the videos were broadcasted after silencing the curse words. Nonetheless, the govt decided to remove the screen altogether.

https://news.am/arm/news/613128.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613176.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613269.html

12:45: Artsakh president Arayik met Artsakh's political parties. "I once again reaffirm that I asked PM Pashinyan to make efforts to end the hostilities. The decision was made after taking into account the military situation, as the command of the armed forces insisted on the need to end hostilities.

We had some serious problems and the continuation of the war would lead to greater human and territorial losses, including the fall of Stepanakert and the blockade of other towns, villages, and thousands of servicemen."

Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=947306159132014

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034752.html

13:17: President Sarkissian met public, ex-military, sports, cultural figures to discuss internal stability and creating an atmosphere of tolerance.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=276387293810283

15:32: opposition BHK MP Iveta Tonoyan criticized a group of volunteer soldiers allied with the govt, accusing them of making threats to her life.

She encouraged the volunteer group to commit suicide. "Keep the weapons distributed to you so that you can at least send yourself to the other world."

https://news.am/arm/news/613201.html

16:12: the Appeals Court judge has agreed to release Franklin Gonzalez (Serj Sargsyan's nephew) on a 25 million bail. In 2018 he was charged with weapon, narcotics, theft of 14 paintings by Martiros Saryan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034777.html

16:56: the 16 opposition parties have resumed their rally in Freedom Square. They demand PM Pashinyan's and the ruling party's resignation. Several figures were earlier asked to appear to SIS for questioning.

The opposition believes that if Pashinyan resigns and a new negotiator is appointed, that wouldn't necessarily mean the resumption of war. They believe some of the points can be changed.

An opposition figure circulated conspiracy theories that this was all pre-planned ahead of time, and Pashinyan and President Sarkissian were both in it, and it was lead by the British intelligence agency and Richard Moore.

"These processes began in 2018 with the appointment of President Sarkissian," said Hrant Bagratyan, who is known with other conspiracy theories such as Armenia owning a nuclear weapon. Update: regarding the nuclear weapon claim.

[Note: the former regime appointed President Sarkissian but he isn't a member of the former regime. They view him as a competitor]

19:34: the opposition ended the rally. They'll hold a candle vigil tomorrow, followed by another rally on Sunday.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034782.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613142.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613212.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613229.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613230.html , https://youtu.be/swqndMnZvWs

, https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034804.html

20:12 LHK chief Marukyan: don't burn your houses and leave if you live in one of Artsakh's adjacent regions. The Agreement is vague and leaves many open questions. (there was a video of someone burning their house in northern Qarvachar)

https://news.am/arm/news/613271.html

Artsakh & Armenian govt meetings & statements

13:19 Artsakh President Arayik: I met with Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan who is guarding one of the outposts with his "Yerevan" detachment. We discussed the restoration of capital Stepanakert's infrastructure. Mayor Marutyan promised to send a team of experts. Free buses will travel from Yerevan to Stepanakert.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ArayikHarutyunian/posts/

16:09: Artsakh govt will compensate Armenian residents who are housing Artsakh refugees in their homes at their expense. Artsakh govt encouraged the population to return unless they're currently staying in Yerevan to be with a wounded relative.

Armenian govt is also helping refugees who want to stay and work in Armenia. 158 have found jobs and 300 more will do soon, with the help of govt-business cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034776.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034784.html

17:44 Artsakh president Arayik: the Qarvachar (northern) road that connects to Armenia will remain under our control for now. The concerns that people will find themselves encircled are unwarranted. We need to put serious efforts to return to regular daily life now.

The citizens who lost their homes will be mostly populated in Stepanakert, and in other parts of Artsakh. Upon arrival, they'll stay in government-funded hotels and apartments, before the permanent housing issue is solved. No citizen will be left out of the spotlight.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3675868372456145

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034789.html

17:55: PM Pashinyan held a meeting with govt members to discuss the issues faced by Artsakh refugees. "We need to discuss the aid packages for Artsakh refugees. We need to help them return their homes."

Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=777490122831198

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034790.html

19:54 Artsakh President Arayik: as agreed upon earlier, we began exchanging the bodies today. It's monitored by the Red Cross and RU peacekeepers.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ArayikHarutyunian/posts/#

PM Pashinyan's interview to H1's Petros / Shushi battles / mobilization, negotiations, the "Agreement" / future

Q: it's clear that this Agreement is about peacekeepers and that serious negotiations are yet to take place. The opposition is isolated from decision-making. Shouldn't they participate?

A: it's not an agreement, but rather a Statement by AM-RU-AZ. We need to understand the conditions that led to this decision. As I've said earlier, it was militarily necessary. Stepanakert was defenseless. More regions would fall; 20,000-30,000 soldiers would be encircled.

We can debate over the document now. Everyone does it today. We need to understand the logic of suggestions and what to do. Should we reverse the events, resume a war, etc. These discussions are happening.

Q: but right now only the govt decides things.

A: the context of military events still applies here. This is not a diplomatic document but rather military in nature. Some of the points in the document need to be clarified and turned into political in nature.

There will be a long diplomatic process, and political discussions will become a possibility, but even then, the main discussions will happen within the govt because the MFA is tasked with it.

Q: opposition says we can change some withdrawal dates mentioned in the document.

A: but they don't suggest how. We could tear this document but what would be the consequences.

Q: why was there no Parliamentary session on November 10th to discuss the document?

A: we should not discuss this topic while in a highly emotional state.

Q: then let's discuss it with a cold head.

A: let's cool down, then. Events unfolded quickly. The military urged us to stop the war ASAP. We couldn't hold lengthy meetings with the opposition and Parliament.

Q: there are accusations of improper organization. Mobilization, encirclement, etc. Isn't that the govt's fault?

A: In any war, you face many organizational problems. We did have problems. Not only organizational but also institutional issues. It turns out our mobilization system that would aid the regular army was not efficient enough.

We need serious reforms here. We need to review structural and supply processes. During the war, the reforms we made earlier in the food delivery network proved to be effective.

The mobilization plans did not meet our needs. It was "traditional" in nature and wasn't ready for this scale of war. It's an old system that didn't work out in new conditions.

For example, today it's more important to have mobile special forces. That was the second major reform [after the food network] that we began implementing in mid-2019. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to finalize these reforms.

Q: opposition says you couldn't establish good relations with Russia, and that they view you as pro-western, and that if that wasn't the case, Russia would prevent this.

A: Russia's stance on the Karabakh issue has not changed in the past 4.5 years [Pashinyan came into power 2 years ago]. There have always been ideas about Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh. The relation between Armenia's and Russia's government is a separate topic.

Q: but don't the AM-RU government relations affect the stance on Karabakh?

A: certainly not. If it did, Russia's stance would have changed after me becoming PM. Our relations were/are/will be normal relations.

Q: you spoke with Putin many times recently. How are your relations?

A: Very good.

Q: there is criticism over Shushi. It was officially announced that Shushi fell then was retaken. Then reported as fallen again. How?

A: Shushi did fall but there were two battles to liberate it. The first one failed. The second one led to an Armenian group infiltrating and holding a position in it. However, that wasn't enough and Shushi wasn't liberated.

There were myths around Shushi. At some point, I was told by a non-official source that a group of 50 men were still in Shushi while we knew that it was completely fallen. I asked the info-giver to give contact info with one of those 50 men and passed the info to the military. Later it was revealed that whoever was supposedly in Shushi, was actually in Stepanakert. Many times info was circulated that were later proven false.

Q: opposition says you met them several times and reported that the situation was serious. Why didn't you inform the public and present them the info at that time, and say that "we should stop the war now and concede something to prevent further losses"? The opposition said they remained silent not to harm your work. It turns out everyone knew it was serious but remained silent.

A: two important things. First, is there a way to change the turn of events? Second, what's the cost of ending the war now.

How painfully do we accept now that 3 adjacent regions will be given to Azerbaijan? Compare that to how painful would it be if we gave those regions at a time when the situation wasn't critical and we could still fight. The army fought until the end.

We tried to make a breakthrough with delivery and logistics. We did everything possible. The decision to end the war was made after Shushi's fall when it became clear it wouldn't be possible.

Before the fall of Shushi, if we stopped the war diplomatically, Shushi would have to be given to Azerbaijan either way without battles.

Q: but that [giving Shushi] would save lives.

A: we couldn't give away Shushi without a fight.

We need to look back at Karabakh negotiations and see how we got here. In the negotiation papers, there are many unclear parts, just as in our co-signed Statement. 70-90% of the negotiation documents are vague points.

But throughout the negotiations history, the only one thing was clearly defined was the giveaway of 7 regions to Azerbaijan. For 25 years, we negotiated from this unfavorable position and never countered it to equally prioritize Artsakh's status.

Since 2015, the OSCE co-chairs [got fed up] and came into concusses that since the land giveaway part is the only clearly defined part, then we should all agree that Armenians need to give the lands to Azerbaijan now, before discussing the rest of the conflict.

Q: people feel pain. They need unity. Even some independent figures not part of the former governor says that since you signed this document, you cannot be the one that unites us now. Shouldn't there be new elections?

A: at this stage, it's important to preserve internal stability and security. Once it's stable and we're sure that people can exercise their government-forming rights properly, we can talk about the rest.

At this stage, we need to work on the future and make plans for Artsakh. Armenians need to return and live in Artsakh. We had a govt meeting today about investments and repair plans. The peacekeepers will ensure safety. There won't be a land communication problem.

Q: we all had a vision before the war. What's the vision now?

A: what we wanted before, plus major reforms in the army with new standards. A multi-fold increase in its mobility. We had the traditional brigades, units, detachments structure that didn't work well. Two things won this war: mobile units and drones.

We need to possibly increase female participation in the army.

We need to significantly develop the military industry. It should be a major sector of the economy.

Education reforms are the most important of all. What 20-30-year old people do we want to raise?

Q: opposition says you can't negotiate the document to achieve better terms because you lost and Azeris can always point that out.

A: we need internal stability now before we can [hold elections].

Q: but the negotiations are now…

A: yes, and we can and we will negotiate.

Q: document talks about lifting the blockade on Armenia.

A: We want the Armenia-Iran railways to operate through Nakhijevan (Azerb.). We're talking about opening all transport routes with Azerbaijan. We'll have multiple routes to Russia instead of just one [through Georgia which goes through mountains and is often closed]. This document does not remove the blockade by Turkey because the latter isn't a signatory of this document.

If we negotiate and make it work, it will be a big boost for Armenia. We'll be connected to the Persian Gulf and Russia.

Full: https://www.facebook.com/ajax/timeline/sign_up_dialog/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fnikol.pashinyan%2F&entity_id=1378368079150250&context=share&feedback_source=22

peacekeepers & troops

The army identified and published two more lists of soldiers who died fighting, bringing the total to 1383.

3,200 policemen fought in Artsakh. 28 died, 150 wounded, 43 missing.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034736.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034759.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034769.html

The group of female volunteers is still in the front lines, guarding the outpost they were in, as of the establishment of the ceasefire. They're waiting for peacekeepers. And so are Yeghnikner (north-east) defenders.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=417422162755592

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034772.html

1,100 Russian peacekeepers have already installed 10 monitoring outposts on the Lachin corridor and line of contact between Artsakh and adjacent areas.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034749.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613243.html

Besides the peacekeepers, Russia also has soldiers who guard Armenian borders per decades-long agreement. Russia will install more border guards on the Republic of Armenia borders.

Two outposts on Nakhijevan borders (one is in the area where Azeris shot Russian helicopter), two outposts on border with Iran, and one near Lachin corridor.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034802.html

Azerbaijan's main opposition party criticized Ilham Aliyev for allowing Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, especially in Shushi.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034820.html

diplomacy & foreign affairs

The legislative assembly of Uruguay's Montevideo has officially recognized the independence of the Artsakh Republic and urged others to follow suit.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034753.html

WarGonzo reporter: You cannot board a bus in Baku and reach Shushi because Azerbaijan does not control any entrance to Shushi. For now, only troops can reach there through the Hell Gorge by using the path created by heavy armored vehicles. Azerbaijan has asked Russia to secure a safe passage to the city. Eventually, they'll build a road there.

https://news.am/arm/news/613180.html

Azerbaijan's presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev is once again busy doing damage control. Yesterday the Azeri ambassador to Russia used a military phrase and essentially said "everything can happen in war" after shooting a Russian helicopter.

This raised Moscow's ire and Russian MFA responded by saying "if we followed that doctrine, our response would be crushing". Moscow told Baku "not to allow itself such statements again".

Hickmet Hajiyev acknowledged the mistake made by ambassador Byulbyul and said "diplomats should refrain from making personal non-official statements. "

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034742.html

Putin's Spokesman Peskov: We're friends with both sides. The allegations that Russia has not provided significant assistance to Armenia in solving the Karabakh conflict are false. Several years ago the OSCE offered a solution that could have avoided this bloodshed [give 5 regions to Azerbaijan in exchange for not being attacked; no Artsakh status].

https://news.am/arm/news/613143.html

Vladimir Putin held a govt meeting and discussed the topic of possibly providing humanitarian aid to the Nagorno Karabakh population due to widespread infrastructure damage.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034794.html

Armenian MFA has urged Azerbaijan to take steps to end the Armenophobic propaganda and insemination of hatred in the Azeri public, saying that otherwise, Armenia could launch a legal case per 1965 international convention.

https://news.am/arm/news/613277.html

PM Pashinyan spoke with French President Macron. The latter "expressed satisfaction with the cessation of hostilities, reminded of his friendship with the Armenian people, and expressed his readiness to find a long-term, acceptable solution for all parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034744.html

Russian MFA: unfortunately the hired militants are still in Karabakh. All the parties interested in peace in the region must work to resolve this.

https://news.am/arm/news/613178.html

3 Iranian border guards were killed in the northern borders after fighting against militants who tried to infiltrate, writes Ria Novosti.

https://t.me/rian_ru/65185

https://factor.am/309363.html

Turkish reporter Uzay Bulat's article: Azeri, Turkish War Crimes Against Armenians Must Not Go Unpunished

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/11/13/azeri-turkish-war-crimes-against-armenians-must-not-go-unpunished/

COVID stats

+3876 tested. +1703 infected. +1986 healed. +29 deaths.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034747.html

choo choo

The volume of cargo transportation Jan-Sep YoY: overall +4.9%, railways +6.5%, vehicles +5.2%, airways -19%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034729.html

Top-5 Armenian literature books read in October, during the war

5) The nerve of life, by Arman Saghatelyan. It's about two boys who go to participate in Artsakh battles in 1993 without telling their families.

4) Do not give me peonies, by Gohar Navasardyan. A love story based on real-life events.

3) Balzak the dog's take, by Levon Hovhannisyan (Ness). It's about a smart dog.

2) Addiction, by Syune Sevada. It's a collection of pieces.

1) 731 days for you, by Ta Tever. It's about a soldier and his woman who awaits him.

More books: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034670.html

You can help Artsakh & Armenia

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

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

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


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/jtp0z4/nov132020_wrapup_war_in_artsakh_karabakh/?

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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