2020 November 15

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Nov/15/2020: \\ War in Artsakh (Karabakh) \\ political turmoil \\ arms deal accusations & counter-claims \\ politics & diplomacy \\ message by army chief \\ arrests over alleged coup & assassination attempt \\ other stories...
by ar_david_hh


This thread contains your daily news wrap-up and a megathread for all discussions about the ongoing events.

You can help Artsakh & Armenia

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

www.HimnaDram.org (global donations, Artsakh & Armenia)

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


Your 9-minute Sunday report in 2127 words.

opposition accuses Defense Ministry of shady arms deal / Latter denies & provides details

The opposition activists shared a document on the internet and claimed Minister of Defense Tonoyan supplied weapons to Turkey and the Syrian terrorists, among other shady contracts.

MoD responded: yesterday, certain media outlets circulated a coordinated lie to discredit the Ministry.

1) The document claims the MoD used a middleman to sell weapons to Turkey which was then used by terrorists hired from Syria. This is a complete lie. The document is being presented in a way to manipulate and build a narrative.

2) It claims MoD gave $3.5m to a middleman with friendly ties with Minister Davit Tonoyan. This is a lie. The money was given to a foreign arms company, through the middleman, with the purpose of ensuring that Armenia continues to receive weapons.

Moreover, the foreign arms supplier had already supplied some of the weapons, the value of which was above what we had paid. The $3.5m mentioned in the document is a fraction of the total arms deal.

It's strange that this document was leaked now. We gave it to another government agency for examination in 2018. [they are possibly hinting that former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan obtained this document in 2018 and circulated it today as retaliation for his arrest]

3) The rumor claims that certain individuals offered MoD to buy bulletproof vests from Russia for $300 but the MoD rejected it and used another seller to buy it for $1,000 apiece.

This is an obvious and impudent lie. The MoD purchases weapons from Russia at the below-market value, per AM-RU agreement. We did not buy the same Russian vests at a higher price.

In this particular case, the vests that we purchased, which came with helmets, were in very limited quantities, were purchased from the official Russian government seller, exclusively for special forces troops for complex combat activities. These vests are of higher quality and cost significantly more than what regular troops wear.

The MoD condemns the coordinated campaign to manipulate the public with actions that are harmful to national security and demands retraction by media outlets. We expect law enforcement to deal with document leakers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034910.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034919.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613490.html

--

The Defense Ministry also accused the opposition of twisting MoD Tonoyan's words about drones.

MoD: after the 2016 April battles, [now-minister] Tonoyan gave an interview during which he spoke about the effectiveness of Israeli-made Harop drones. Yesterday a video was circulated showing strikes made by much more advanced Bayraktar drones. Tonoyan's words were twisted to claim he downplayed Bayraktar's effectiveness.

In reality, Tonoyan was talking about Harop drones which are easier to detect or evade due to loud engine noise, etc. Bayraktars fly at a higher altitude and are harder to detect.

Moreover, the Israeli Harop drones, just as in 2016 battles, were easily detected and downed during the 2020 war. The army shot ~200 such drones during this war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034941.html

arrests & trials over "coup & assassination plot"

Several arrests were made yesterday over an alleged coup and assassination attempt against PM Pashinyan. A phone call that was made between the suspects was leaked yesterday.

A suspect and militaryman Ashot Minasyan, who is accused of smuggling weapons from Artsakh, will remain in jail for 2 months pre-trial, after the court found his arrest justified. He was a participant in the leaked call. He denies wrongdoing.

Another suspect is ex-NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan. He was also arrested and charged yesterday. The court found his pre-trial arrest unjustified and released him. He was not a participant of the leaked call, but his name was mentioned by other participants. He denies wrongdoing.

Another suspect ex-HHK MP Vahram Baghdasaryan was also charged. Prosecutors asked the court for pre-trial arrest. He is a party in the phone call.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034936.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034930.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034934.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034952.html

the political turmoil continues / opposition vs government

A Russian-Armenian public figure allied with Armenian opposition claimed that First Lady Anna Hakobyan unnecessarily interfered with the military's work in Artsakh, which resulted in disputes and the "firing" of a general.

Artsakh president's spokesman Poghosyan wrote then removed a post in which he denied the "myths" about Anna Hakobyan participating in Artsakh's Military Council meetings. The general [Movses Hakobyan] who was allegedly "fired" after the "confrontation" with Anna Hakobyan, had actually traveled to Armenia for COVID treatment, reads Artsakh president spokesman's post.

https://factor.am/309887.html

Aram A Catholicos has urged unity among Armenians. He urged rejection of the signed document. Praised the army that fought against "enemies with state-of-the-art weapons".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034926.html

Pro-Kocharyan opposition activist Artur Danielyan (Adekvad gang/party) was released from jail. His office was searched and computers were confiscated. He believes it's over a Livestream he made earlier.

https://news.am/arm/news/613562.html

Opposition figures said they have information about a threat against their lives by "armed groups allied with the government". The police asked for more information to launch an investigation.

https://news.am/arm/news/613561.html

Opposition ARF and several of its international branches have called for the government's resignation.

https://news.am/arm/news/613492.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613493.html

The names of 51 more deceased soldiers were published, bringing the total identified to 1434. The army has the bodies of 2317 soldiers, some of whom are yet to be identified. Simultaneously, the process of exchanging bodies with Azerbaijan continues and the number is likely to rise.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034912.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034918.html

Armenian withdrawal from the north-western Qarvachar region has been postponed from November 15th to November 25th. The withdrawal process has slowed down in other regions as well due to weather and de-mining activities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034923.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613518.html

Healthcare Minister Torosyan met and thanked the Armenian and foreign doctors who have been helping the wounded soldiers throughout the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034937.html

The Supreme Court president has urged all the judges to remain neutral, free from government or opposition influence, and to do their duties.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034942.html

The opposition held a rally earlier and brought a group of soldiers, presenting them as their allies, and as being "real fighters unlike Pashinyan's puppets who wear uniforms and make videos claiming to support Pashinyan".

One of the soldiers, brought by the opposition, later came forward, saying he was duped by BHK Naira Zohrabyan. "Our unit was told we were being taken to outposts but they brought us to [opposition rally] and presented us as frontline defenders. I didn't know what was happening. We aren't frontline soldiers. I apologize to my fellow soldiers in front lines."

https://youtu.be/3ku3pVkk8g4?t=26

Flashback October 8th / commander tells soldiers to "leave positions, this war is a conspiracy pre-planned by the govt"

Pashinyan wrote on October 8th: A few days ago I was alerted that someone in the front lines goes around and tells soldiers that "go, leave your positions, Pashinyan has already sold the lands, this was a conspired war. There is no point in guarding the positions. You're here to be used as cannon fodder to cover up the pre-planned conspiracy.

According to sources, the soldiers were even ordered to leave their positions. I ordered the NSS to investigate. One of the suspects, a Stepanakert resident, was arrested in Yerevan. Not all details are clear. There is a possibility it's a political campaign.

I urge all Armenians who have similar info to come forward. The traitors have no place in the ranks of our heroic generals and volunteers.

NSS released details that evening: the suspect N.M., being the deputy-commander of the communication platoon in [classified] unit, while being in front lines during his duties, decided to collude with the captain to go around and spread false information among the soldiers.

They told soldiers that the government - in reality- had pre-planned to give away these lands, so it doesn't make sense to continue to fight. This caused significant damage to their morale and some of them left the positions.

Media writes the same day: the arrested suspect is [Robert Kocharyan's friend] Vitaly Balasanyan's friend. He had earlier met Kocharyan, Serj Sargsyan, and Arthur Vanetsyan while in Artsakh. We don't know the content of their discussions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1030816.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1030908.html

https://www.1in.am/2836562.html

https://www.1in.am/2857334.html

Artsakh Defense Army chief Arzumanyan speech:

Dear compatriots, from Sep-27 to Nov-9 we had to resist the joint aggression by Azerbaijan, Turkey, and their hired terrorists. After 44 days of heavy battles, the Armenian fighters showed acts of heroism, but unfortunately, that wasn't enough to win. The outcome has objective and subjective reasons, which will be analyzed and honest investigation will be carried out.

But today we have what we have. Our starting point should be not the dreams we have but the established reality, so we can achieve our dream later. For that, we need unity and a sense of personal responsibility. We need to put an end to the rumors and lies.

The truth is, Artsakh exists and will continue to exist. Our army exited the war with heavy wounds but will continue to do its duties more united and disciplined than ever. The army maintained its structure, and the future changes will be done not to dismantle it but to reform it to achieve unprecedented combat effectiveness.

Unfounded rumors are unfair to the soldiers who are, first and foremost, still serving to protect the front lines. Their duty is to protect our borders and people's right to live there. Many have sacrificed their lives to achieve this. I am confident we will be worthy of their sacrifice.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034922.html

foreign response & diplomacy

Columbia University's Human Rights institute launched a research titled "Human Rights and mercenary terrorist activities in Artsakh".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034903.html

A group of Armenian scientists and artists have asked international institutes, Russia, the U.S., and France to ensure Azerbaijan does not destroy Armenian monuments in the areas controlled by Azerbaijan, citing the latter's record of destroying cultural heritage (Jugha cross-stones) in the past.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034908.html

Vladimir Putin spoke with PM Pashinyan. Russian MFA spoke with Armenian and Azeri MFAs. They discussed the peace efforts on the line of contact, and humanitarian plans.

https://news.am/arm/news/613504.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613530.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034939.html

Russia began deploying a humanitarian response center in Stepanakert.

https://news.am/arm/news/613520.html

people return to daily lives in Artsakh / shops, gas, electricity, water

Capital Stepanakert's shops are reopening. Some had never closed. "I stayed in Stepanakert until the last four days before evacuating. Then decided to return after the ceasefire," said one customer.

Some bakeries give bread for free. An owner says the sales have recently increased. "The demand is high. We sell the baked bread within minutes."

A clothing shop has reopened. "I opened the doors today. Three customers came. They purchased boots, pants, and two slippers. They blessed the store for being open," said the owner.

"Still no gas, but we have water and electricity," said a convenience shop owner, "they said services will resume in the coming day."

ArtsakhGas gas company says they prioritize the private residential sector. They have a manpower shortage to check all the apartments for leaks before resuming services. The work will be done gradually, bloc-by-bloc.

"We work 20 hours a day. 70-80% of the capital has electricity," said an electric grid official, "if everything goes well we'll finish within a few days."

Video: https://youtu.be/CDA7JxT6OlY

https://factor.am/309830.html

Dadivank monastery

Churchmen decided to reinstall the Dadivank church bell that they removed yesterday, under the fear that the church would go under Azeri control and be vandalized. The church received assurances yesterday that Dadivank will remain protected by peacekeepers.

Bell video: https://youtu.be/7zLpvGIPGpE

A woman singing in Dadivank: https://youtu.be/SH4IiJU4VJE?t=8

COVID stats

+3395 tested. +1482 infected. +25 deaths. +879 healed.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034905.html

SPOLER ALERT. European Nations League Soccer: Armenia vs Georgia

Armenia has won the match with a 1:2 score against Georgia. The first match had ended with 2:2 in Armenia.

The group has 4 teams. Armenia is in 2nd place after Macedonia, with only one point behind. The next match is against Macedonia on November 18th.

https://streamable.com/azvgx6

https://streamable.com/fudxt1

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034957.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/jussub/megathread_news_wrap_up_nov152020_war_in_artsakh/

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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