2020 November 14
Daily news and anti-corruption report
Nov/14/2020 wrap-up: \\ War in Artsakh (Karabakh) \\ eye-witness accounts \\ refugees are returning home \\ political turmoil; arrests & charges over "coup & assassination attempt"; phone call leaked \\ foreign relations & diplomacy \\ humanitarian aid \\ peacekeepers
Your 10-minute Saturday report in 2588 words.
the last battle for Shushi
A documentary by ANNA reporters shows the heavy battles near Shushi, likely the last one.
soldiers' eye-witness account of events / the drones / Shushi
Colonel Koryun Ghumashyan: obviously it would be better if we won and the document wasn't signed, but in the last few days we couldn't counter the drones anymore. Stopping the war was the right decision.
700 men deserted the Mataghis position. We gave 4 deaths and 18 wounded there.
There were people who didn't fight. We know their names but won't publish now. Today they make selfies and loud statements. Many volunteers would arrive but refuse to move to the front lines and fight, and so did their commanders. I won't give names.
The last Armenian soldier left Shushi two days ago. I support president Arayik's decision not to lose Stepanakert. Our artillery was expired. The rear wasn't working. It was hard to use machine guns against those technologies.
We were encircled in Fizuli and escaped. Went to meet the rest in Tsor and found 3000-4000 deserted soldiers there. 25 men joined me and we went to hold positions.
Our group held the Fizuli position until October 21st. No one knew we were there so we faced food and water shortage. The enemy was also in our rear. We decided to leave our position and reached Martuni in three days.
In Martuni we crushed the enemy. It was a massacre. Our commander and other good men fell during battles. We couldn't bring them so we buried the bodies. Those who haven't seen it all and make loud statements today should have come and aided us so we could sleep.
We need to get stronger and learn from our mistakes. Glory to mothers who lost their sons. Glory to men who protected the borders.
November 14 events / political turmoil continues / humanitarian aid / foreign response & diplomacy / other news
Prominent Talysh historian and activist Fakhraddin Abbasov has died in prison in Azerbaijan, where he was serving 16 years for "treason".
Many Talysh rights and human rights activists have suggested that Abbasov may have been murdered for his political activities.
Former regime activists broke into the "Ingo Armenia" insurance company's office, yelled at a group of workers, and accused them of "operating a pro-Pashinyan internet troll farm", claims the insurance company, which contacted the police to file a report.
The "troll farm" rumor was then circulated by outlets (analitik.am, tert.am) run by the former regime.
One of the intruders, who claimed to be a mother of a fallen soldier, was identified as a pro-Kocharyan activist "who is not married and doesn't have children", says someone who knows the activist.
Volunteers from first lady's "Erato" female detachment shared a video from the front lines in response to criticism by opposition figures.
"The First Lady stayed with us from day one. This isn't some special protected place. We're protecting our positions. It's disheartening that while we women defend the positions day and night, some men [referring to anti-govt rioters] shamelessly share photos of drinking cognac and broken furniture. We don't expect a thank you, we did our duty. But we don't like it when couch riders write nasty comments on Facebook."
Another female soldier criticized the govt for signing the Statement that conceded the lands:
Armenian-American lawyer Irene Shol-Tadevosyan urges Artsakh residents to preserve property documents and take photos for any future legal case.
Canadian-Armenians continue to gather aid for Artsakh. The next humanitarian cargo jet will arrive next week.
COVID stats: +3697 tested. +1472 infected. +41 deaths. +1989 healed.
553 serious/critical patients are waiting for available beds. That number is down from 850.
Out of 39,000 active cases, only 2,500 are receiving care in a hospital.
President Sarkissian: these are difficult and fateful times. It will last a while. but this is just an episode in our history. It is not the first time we have fallen. We must find strength and stand up again. Don't allow anger and anxiety to turn into political polarization.
11 buses carrying Artsakh refugees traveled from Yerevan to Artsakh capital Stepanakert. 250 people have returned to their homes.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034858.html , www.1lurer.am/hy/2020/11/14/Շուրջ-250-փախստական-վերադարձել-է-Ստեփանակերտ/359256
The government held a session headed by PM Pashinyan. "One of our key priorities should be to provide social aid to the families of servicemen killed or wounded during the war."
The representatives of 1000plus soldiers' insurance fund and All Armenia Fund participated in the meeting and spoke about the planned aid programs.
During the govt session, PM Pashinyan discussed the new asset forfeiture law. The law went into effect two months ago. The Prosecutor's office has a new division tasked with handling cases. It cooperates with other agencies to find suspicious properties belonging to former/current officials.
There were photos of Azeri soldiers defacing the Shushi church with writings on the walls.
The Education/Culture Ministry contacted UNESCO and urged them to take steps to protect Armenian monuments, citing Azerbaijan's record of destroying monuments in the past.
The World Council of Church has joined the UNESCO petition.
The process to identify the deceased soldiers continues. Parallel to it, there is a process to find and recover more missing bodies from the battlefield.
Serj Sargsyan's son-in-law Mikael Minasyan claimed Armenia lost 4,700 soldiers who have already been identified. Healthcare Ministry called it a lie. The Ministry denied Minasyan's claims about there being 1,400 dead bodies who are "yet to be cremated".
The Ministry says they have 2,317 bodies some of whom are yet to be identified. As of right now, around 1,400 have been identified and had their names published.
"The process of exchanging the bodies of the dead soldiers left by the enemy has just begun and the conflicting parties can not know the final number at this time," said the Ministry.
After the fierce battles for Shushi, the two sides ended up controlling areas on or around the city. The Armenian side gave Azerbaijan 30 bodies located on the Armenian side, and Azerbaijan handed over 100.
A video from the outskirt of Shushi held by Armenian troops. A soldier tells details about one of the last battles when Azeris tried to advance towards Stepanakert but were stopped after sustaining casualties:
LHK leader Marukyan criticized all other parties for not having a clear path for the future and presented the roadmap created by his party.
He believes chaos won't necessarily happen if the govt resigns now. His plan is for the ruling QP party to appoint a new PM who will "create a government consisted of people with experience in their fields, which will begin to negotiate over the unclear parts of the signed document, to establish better ties with Russia, etc."
Marukyan criticized his fellow opposition parties for calling for the re-negotiation of the document, saying "they either don't understand under what conditions it was signed, or they know that but they are intentionally saying it [for the sake of politics]."
Vladimir Putin has posthumously awarded Mi-24 helicopter pilot Yuri Ischuk who was killed after Azerbaijan attacked the Russian convoy in Armenia. Wounded Vladislav Gryaznin received a medal of courage.
Artsakh president Arayik met the head of Russian peacekeeper group Rustam Muradov to discuss the details about keeping civilians safe.
Muradov introduced himself as a "citizen of Russia and a General of Russian armed forces, with an ethnic Tabasaran background [Lezgin branch]". He was born in Russia's Dagestan region located in the Caucasus.
Women from Artsakh has been baking gata and other goodies for Yerevan residents for over a month. Many of them helped the frontline soldiers by sending packages, others donated to All Armenia Fund (www.HimnaDram.org)
Artsakh Emergency Ministry says the telecommunication infrastructure will be repaired soon. "Phone and internet will be restored in a short time". They're also working on electricity, water, and gas networks.
60% of Stepanakert has electricity.
Former National Security Services (NSS) chief and opposition figure Arthur Vanetsyan has been arrested under the suspicion of collecting weapons and explosives, organizing a coup, and an assassination attempt against a public figure.
His political party Hayreniq's office and a relative's house were also searched. "Hayreniq" called it a "political persecution".
The house of former deputy Interior Minister Grigor Grigoryan was also searched. A police Colonel Sayat Shirinyan and former HHK MP Vahram Baghdasaryan were invited to NSS for questioning.
Later, pro-Kocharyan "Adekvad" group leader Arthur Danielyan was also detained and taken to NSS.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034879.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613357.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613410.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613383.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613396.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613407.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613456.html
NSS published details about the alleged assassination plot and coup, saying:
Syunik resident A.M., having anti-government views and opposing the November 10th document signed by PM Pashinyan, took advantage of the fact that he possessed weapons and explosives distributed to him during the war, and with the help of others, decided to smuggle them to his Syunik house in Armenia.
He agreed with several opposition party figures to use the weapons to organize a coup and assassinate PM Pashinyan. They also discussed a possible replacement for PM Pashinyan.
Several figures were arrested, including Hayreniq party leader (ex-NSS chief) Arthur Vanetsyan, ex-HHK MP Vahram Baghdasaryan, ARF member A.A, Sisian volunteer unit commander A.M. (the aforementioned Syunik resident with weapons). Work is being done to identify more possible members.
We discovered three 7.62mm PK machine guns, one 5.45mm РПК-74, two grenade launchers, three automatic weapons, 14 rifles, nine boxes of 5.45mm bullets with 2.1k bullets in each, five boxes of 7.62mm bullets, 19 explosives, several grenades, 13 mechanical explosives, etc.
A phone call was leaked featuring the aforementioned figures who were arrested over the alleged coup and assassination plot:
"We need to take steps. There are multiple options."
"Can't you see that holding rallies makes no difference?"
"We need to decide what steps we should take."
"Don't you have men who will enter the ranks of NSS and tell them what the situation is?"
"They're working on it"
"I met Arthur Vanetsyan and few others. The SOB [Pashinyan] doesn't want to leave. The Document is ready. Shushi and Hadrut are given to Azerbaijan, we get to use Lachin road, and status for Artsakh."
"OK. Then tell [unintelligible] to [shoot]."
"That's what we were discussing."
School books in the Netherlands show eastern Turkey as "Armenia" and "Kurdistan". A Dutch MP with Turkish origins complained to the govt, saying it's a result of "Turkophobia in the Netherlands."
Another Dutch MP wants the govt to impose a weapons embargo on Turkey over its role in Artsakh and other conflicts, and the use of hired militants.
A candle vigil was held in Freedom Square in memory of fallen soldiers.
"I did not give up and I did not lose". A new music clip by several Armenian Emcee Cypher hip-hop artists.
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo will visit multiple countries including Turkey, where he won't meet any public officials other than religious leaders.
European Parliament MP Nicolas Bay has urged the EU to end subsidies for Ankara and Istanbul, and to impose sanctions against Turkey, calling it - along with Pakistan - a threat to the EU amid the growing terror attacks.
Artsakh shepherd takes his sheep to Armenia "before I return back to my positions. I'm not running anywhere."
Several residents tell their stories about evacuation:
British Baroness Caroline Cox visited Artsakh and met the Human Rights Ombudsmen and President Arayik, learned details about the war, visited the Tsitsernakaberd memorial. Cox is a long time "friend of Armenia" since the first Artsakh war years.
Two brothers from Azerbaijan went to Artsakh's southern Fizuli region, which is under Azeri control, and stepped on a landmine. One died the other was injured.
The Italian city of Cesena has officially recognized the Republic of Artsakh. "Military events in the modern world once again show the inevitable reality of Turkey's policy of occupation in the Mediterranean, with the Armenian population at its epicenter today," writes a local newspaper. The municipality urged the govt to follow suit.
Vladimir Putin spoke with Pashinyan and Aliyev. He reminded Aliyev about the importance of preserving Christian monuments.
Dadivank church, which is located on adjacent land that's supposed to be transferred to Azerbaijan, is under peacekeepers' control and there is no threat to it, says the church leadership. Several Crosses and bells were moved from Dadivank to Ejmiatsin due to uncertainty.
Artsakh Ombudsman Beglaryan and his family have turned home and urged other refugees to do the same. He published a video:
Former army spokesman Artsrun said, "Regardless of anything, we will continue to live and prepare to win". He presented a heroic episode from the battlefield.
"Conscript Artyom Bilyan fought in Mataghis and received a wound. He returned to duty while the wound wasn't fully healed. With his battalion, he was transferred to another frontline, where they fell under fire. Many died and were wounded. Artyom, being wounded himself, provided medical treatment to 20 soldiers and helped to evacuate them. He received a shrapnel wound and 'crawled' 6km to safety."
All Armenia Fund has an ambitious goal to find 1 million Armenians around the world who are ready to donate $50/mo. A $50,000,000/month would be a massive help for Artsakh and Armenia.
Aerial video from Russian helicopters accompanying the peacekeeper convoy:
Russian peacekeepers entering capital Stepanakert:
Artsakh president aide Babayan: northern Qarvachar road will remain open for another month or so. It won't close on November 15th, despite what the Document said.
The city Berdzor (Lachin) will remain Armenian, there won't be an evacuation, it'll remain under Artsakh control. Russia will guard the area connecting to Armenia. A new road will be built for us within three years, to bypass Shushi and connect Berdzor to Stenapakert.
We closed a bloody page in our history and opened a new one. Artsakh exists, Armenians exist, we just need to learn from what happened.
We shouldn't look for someone to blame. We are to blame for our indifference and unprofessionalism. I call corruption, unprofessionalism, and egoism the real treason. Read Movses Khorenatsi's "History of Armenia" written in 450. Not much has changed since then.
Obviously, everyone has their responsibilities and duties, and we need changes, but I want the changes to have quality. A new philosophy, more internal unity.
Pobeda low-cost airlines will resume Moscow-Gyumri flights on November 26th.
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/ju9tkw/nov142020_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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