2020 November 24

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Nov/24/2020 news wrap-up: \\ War in Artsakh (Karabakh) \\ Russian reporter reveals details about last battles for Shushi, weapons used, drone warfare \\ soldiers' families receive aid \\ Red Cross to expand its work \\ politics & foreign affairs \\ economy \\ healthcare \\ other news...
by ar_david_hh

Your 16-minute Tuesday report in 3971 words.

WarGonzo reporter Semyon Pegov shares info about Shushi, Armenian drones, Azeri snipers, Israeli tech:

Shushi battles

The battles for Shushi were very heavy. At some point, Armenians mobilized and brought many soldiers. Hundreds have died in and around Shushi. With the presence of peacekeepers, it's possible to recover the bodies. This is tedious work.

Armenians had some 200 soldiers in Shushi at the time of signing the document on November 9th. They were mostly in two areas: the hill with a cross and the prison building. The reinforcements with 400 soldiers were supposed to arrive in the morning but at 5 am they were told that the war was stopped.

When were Azeris able to infiltrate Shushi? On November 6th I was in Shushi and there was not a single Azeri, despite fake news from Azeri media about raising a flag. Around 4 pm we moved to outskirt near Qarin Tak, which was already a "buffer zone".

Army spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan was telling the truth about the battles around Shushi. I was there and saw it myself. We got caught up in a firefight when Armenians were cleaning up the outskirt on November 6th.

Around 20 special forces tried to infiltrate Shushi. Armenians used drones to locate and conduct airstrike against them. There were also Armenian drones with bombs that were supposed to be used. Around this time our group of reporters had to leave Shushi because it was dangerous.

Then another - much larger - group of infiltrator special forces were discovered. They attacked the highway and tried to infiltrate but were stopped. That night, on the morning of November 7th, around six professional snipers infiltrated the city and kept the street under fire.

Six snipers cannot control a city, yet Aliyev claimed the city was already under their control. Those snipers were countered with Armenian anti-sniper units. Some of the infiltrators were killed. On November 7th Shushi was "cleared" of these infiltrators.

More groups kept approaching Shushi through the Hell Gorge while being mauled by hundreds and hundreds of Armenian artillery strikes. As we know, Aliyev doesn't care about his soldiers' lives. When the Azeri public learns about their death toll, they will suffer not a mild but a real shock [gyorbagyor2020].

Huge forces were concentered on Shushi. They were brought there from Nakhijevan and other fronts. Azeris began retreating under Martuni because they couldn't sustain the entire front with so much focus on Shushi.

They gave over a thousand deaths to capture Shushi. On the rocky outskirt of Shushi, I saw over a hundred Azeri bodies in this location alone, in that day alone. There were battles in multiple routes towards Shushi.

The highway entering Shushi was captured by Azeris on November 8th. Armenians bypassed the captured area by going near Hell Gorge then moving north towards Shushi. Here, they killed hundreds of Azeris.

Armenians took positions near Shushi's radio towers about 2km away and shot at Azeris almost in a straight line. Not only artillery was being used, but also types of weapons I cannot disclose right now. I can only say SCUD was also used by Armenians.

Nonetheless, some Azeri groups managed to infiltrate on November 8th. It wasn't completely captured by them. Those who left Shushi upon the arrival of Russian peacekeepers can verify this. Shushi was likely lost politically. I don't say this to throw rocks at politicians.

I don't know for how long Armenian resources could defend Shushi, but they could hold on to it for some time. I don't know whether it would end with a bigger tragedy or victory, though.

About the talk that "Russia abandoned Armenia"

Russia couldn't get directly involved because of Artsakh's non-independent status and the need to be balanced as an OSCE mediator. Russia sent military aid, weapons, consultation during the war. Pashinyan also mentioned this.

I have reasons to believe that the air above Stepanakert was "closed" for Bayraktars with the help of Russia. No Russian forces would do this without the Russian govt's permission. It's my assumption. Although it was for a brief period, I think it helped to save Stepanakert and other parts of Artsakh.

plot twist: Israeli drones

The drones began working again around November 8th. It had a direct impact on the November 9th signing of the agreement. These drones, however, were not Bayraktars. The Israeli drones were earlier "hacked" and could be geolocated. Israelis found a way to close the hole and use these kamikaze drones again.

The defense needed time to bypass the new Israeli protections, but there was no time anymore. You could say Israeli weapons played a crucial role in this war.

who won?

Israel is the only true winner here. They sold drones, helped the ally, flew them close to Iran borders and "laid out groundwork" for future possible action against Iran. Erdogan is no friend of Iran considering his pan-Turkic nationalist agenda.

This will benefit Israel, which considers Iran its enemy. I believe Israel helped to locate Armenian air defense systems which allowed Azeris to strike them in the first days of the war.

Armenians and Artsakh lost lands but Azerbaijan did not achieve their final goal and they failed to achieve what they have today in the timeframe that they predicated. They used Turkey's and Israel's help and couldn't defeat a small republic in 45 days. On the ground, Armenian troops were no worse than Azeris.

Does Russia win? Today there are Syrian militants hostile to Russia, closer to Russian borders. This is not a win for Russia. Sure, our peacekeepers are there and thank god for that. Artsakh locals want and trust them. Artsakh residents are "more Russian" than many Russians who live in Russia.

how the agreement was signed

Putin made an ultimatum to Aliyev: either sign the document that we created together now, or "things will happen". Aliyev asked for 20 minutes to consult with Erdogan. He wanted Turkish peacekeepers stationed in front of Russian ones, on the other side of the line of contact.

In the end, no Turkish peacekeepers were stationed. This caused a serious conflict between Erdogan and Aliyev. Erdogan was expecting more.

who will live in the new adjacent lands?

Probably the jihadists and Turkomans. They are poor. Karabakh will look like heaven compared to what they have today. Many of them live in Idlib, Syria, and get bombed by Russia daily. Sooner or later Assad will liberate these areas, so what do you do with the pro-Turkish Syrians in the north?

This migration could end up being bad for Azerbaijan itself. Syrians and Azeris have different lifestyles. People who have been under Sharia law for 9 years will move to a secular Islamic state. We already know of conflicts between Syrian mercenaries and locals in bordering Azeri villages. When their population increases, so will their ideological expansion.

Azerbaijan would need to spend lots of resources and subsidies to move the Azeri population there. They don't even have a road to Shushi. They need time to build one. Even when it's built, I don't think Azeris will leave their cities en-masse to move to live in an area close to the conflict zone.

Rustam Muradov

The chief peacekeeper is the Hero of Russia Rustam Muradov. He is a fighter. He worked on peace between Ukraine and Donbas, has fought in Syria, helped to liberate Palmyra and Deir-ez-Zor (the toughest region with lots of ISIS). He fought against men whom Aliyev and Erdogan brought from Syria, so to suggest that he could be pro-Azeri just because he is from Dagestan is wrong.


I met a 60-year old Artsakhtsi grandpa with a rifle who was headed to the front line. If you think he will go to Yerevan, build a house, and forget about the loss of his home, then you have no idea who these people are. Expect a partisan war. I won't be surprised if Armenians infiltrate deep within Azeri-controlled regions and cause problems for local administration.


I don't know international law but I think Armenia or Artsakh should vote and recognize a legal status for Artsakh. Putin said it's hard to help Artsakh if Armenia hasn't officially recognized it. Russia helped Crimea after it voted for independence. It's my personal opinion.


videos: artillery strikes near Shushi

Armenian soldiers shared a video that claims that Iskander (or other sources say SCUD) and Smerch were used against Azeris on Shushi outskirts. [the fired general Movses Hakobyan had also claimed Armenians used Iskander but didn't specify when and where]



Corruption Prevention Committee asks Parliament to suspend Tsarukyan

Pashinyan administration created the Corruption Prevention Committee (CPC) institute last year to fight corruption. It consists of 4 board members: 1 nominated by the ruling party, 2 by opposition parties, 1 by the judicial branch.

Its job is to find a conflict of interest and vet public officials. CPC has asked the Parliament to consider taking action against BHK leader/MP Gagik Tsarukyan.

The Parliament voted to ask the Constitutional Court to strip Tsarukyan from his MP mandate. Tsarukyan is accused of running a business empire (Multi Group, etc.), which is against the law that prohibits MPs from simultaneously being businessmen due to conflict of interest.

Tsarukyan argues his allies are running his companies and they make all the decisions, and that this is a political witch-hunt against him. His critics point out that he even "slipped up" a few times and "admitted" that he still runs the companies.

[Tsarukyan is Armenia's known wealthiest man and a former oligarch (many argue he still is) who runs multiple companies while maintaining political power. Earlier this year he was charged with buying voters in the 2017 elections and tax evasion. That investigation began in 2019 from an unrelated incident, in which a construction company, allied with Tsarukyan, paid a bribe to Yerevan official. The NSS raided the construction company and found paperwork, including names, allegedly showing that the company was paid by Tsarukyan to buy voters in 2017. There was at least one witness testimony.

In a separate incident, Tsarukyan's right-hand man Arustamyan was charged with paying a large bribe to the former regime (UCOM case) to exempt Tsarukyan's business from taxation. The same right-hand-man was also charged with stealing large sums from the budget meant for building the North-South highway in Armenia.]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035742.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035800.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035809.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201575

politics & molitics

12:45: the former Constitutional Court judge Kim Balayan (the judge in WikiLeaks case who was reportedly influenced by Kocharyan regime in 2008) has joined opposition ARF leader Gegham Manukyan and will hold a hunger strike. He demands Pashinyan's resignation.

He believes Pashinyan did not have the right to sign the agreement without the Constitutional Court's approval. [other believe it's merely a statement rather than a legally binding agreement].

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035744.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201529

14:20: The Justice Ministry, Armenian representative in the European Court for Human Rights, the NSS, and the Central Bank held a meeting to discuss legal steps regarding Azerbaijan's involvement of Syrian jihadists in the war.


14:40: Himnadram released a report about the donation fund. $53m has already been transferred to state coffers.


15:07: the government shakeup continues. Finance Minister Tigran Khachatryan and deputy Defense Minister Makar Ghambaryan are out.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035765.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201558

15:10: Education Ministry will issue grants to nine schools located near borders to reinforce their security walls and built bomb shelters. The "Safe school" project was launched in 2019 and has helped 6 schools so far.


16:17: Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin church will form a new office tasked with working with international colleagues to protect Armenian religions and cultural sights that are under Azeri control.


17:01: ruling QP party held a session. Artsakh President Arayik was also present to discuss the Artsakh aid topic. Opposition media had earlier circulated rumors that Arayik wants to resign, which is why he went to Moscow yesterday to discuss the "terms". The ruling party said no such topic was discussed during today's meeting.

The party discussed ways to keep families informed about missing soldiers. "Instead of having them go from one building to another, they should stay home and we should inform them twice a day about the progress," said a QP MP.

Three QP MPs will travel to Russia for meetings.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201556 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201553

18:28: Pashinyan presented the new Education Minister Vahram Dumanyan. "We need to reform our mentality to achieve our goals," said the Pashinyan.


21:38: when will the government end the Martial Law? When the army sends a clear signal that it's OK to do so, said a ruling party MP. They will hold a Parliamentary discussion tomorrow. The opposition parties have been asking for its suspension because it prevents them from holding legal demonstrations.


21:59: the police found Kalashnikov and 100 bullets in a car during a checkpoint stop in Yerevan. Several similar incidents were recorded across Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035811.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035807.html

Withdrawal from "Kelbajar"

Armenian troops began withdrawing from the north-western part, which is one of the 7 adjacent regions to Nagorno-Karabakh. They took the "Welcome to Artsakh" sign with them so Azeris wouldn't vandalize. The process is monitored by the Red Cross.

The army also blew up a military facility before leaving.

Boom: https://youtu.be/2grJnVYB47w

Withdrawal video: https://youtu.be/AXz1AWBTbg8

Patrick Lancaster interviews soldiers in Artsakh: https://youtu.be/-cpWoQ0AfpY


foreign response & diplomacy

The French city of Դեսին-Շարպիո has urged the govt to officially recognize Artsakh. The resolution mentions Azerbaijan's recruitment of Syrian jihadists and war crimes against Artsakh civilians.


Spanish Congress has accepted another resolution from Jon Inarritu, who stayed in Artsakh during the war.

The resolution reaffirms deep friendship with the Armenian people, emphasizes the need to protect Armenian cultural and religious centers in the territories under Azeri control


MFA Ayvazyan discussed Artsakh topic with the Deputy Secretary of State Biegun.


President Sarkissian visited Jordan where he met King Abdallah and the local Armenian community.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035781.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201514

Putin called Pashinyan and Aliyev to discuss Artsakh and details from the recent visit of the Russian envoy to AM and AZ.


choo choo, mothe******r

Yerevan is still working on purchasing new buses so you won't bend over to a complete stranger for half an hour in marshutka. The competition to win a license to build the buses will begin next month.

Two companies participated in the first bid earlier. None were accepted due to poor technical specifications and lack of documents.

Meanwhile, Yerevan is also importing mid-sized 8-meter buses larger than marshutkas but smaller than the regular long buses.


2021 is canceled, forever 2020

Yerevan municipality was supposed to spend $210,000 on New Year's celebrations. They decided to give it to Stepanakert for infrastructure repairs. Additionally, several organizations run by Yerevan will have their budgets slashed and redirected to Stepanakert.


sappers & aid

Russian sappers continue to remove the mines from the main roads, settlements, and in between their outposts. The risky areas will be mapped. Sappers received equipment from Russia.

The second convoy of Russian humanitarian aid with 22 trucks has arrived in Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035732.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201569

edited videos

NSS has found that some of the videos recently circulated from Azerbaijan, allegedly showing Armenian POWs, were fake. Some were designed for psychological warfare. The agency urges internet users not to take everything they come across on social media for granted.


wine from Hadrut

"Kataro" wine is produced in Artsakh's Hadrut region which is occupied by Azerbaijan. The product is now considered scarcity, so those who own some bottles began selling it for 5x the price.


two churches

Dadivank and Amaras are two famous Armenian churches from the early Christian period. They are located outside of Nagorno-Karabakh territory per-1990s map, therefor the area has to go under Azeri control. Russian Kommersant outlet was able to verify that the two monasteries are under Russian peacekeepers' control.


process to find missing soldiers & POWs

The process to find POWs and bodies continues. The Red Cross will spend $49m in the Karabakh area instead of the planned $11m. They'll hire 500 more workers.

"Both sides can find the bodies within their territories, but they cannot collect them from the buffer zone," said Red Cross. Today they visited Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan.

Families of missing soldiers gathered in front of the Defense Ministry then the Russian embassy with the hope to learn news about their relatives. They wrote a letter to Russia asking to secure the ability to collect bodies from areas under Azeri control.

"The process of exchanging prisoners depends first of all on the Azerbaijani side. We will work with international colleagues," said Artsakh HR Ombudsman Beglaryan.

Artsakh MFA met Red Cross representatives to discuss the process of finding missing soldiers.

Pashinyan met the family members of missing soldiers and POWs to discuss the location, identification and searching process.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035743.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035751.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035753.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035778.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035803.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201511 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201592

20-year-long monthly aid for soldiers' families

104 families of fallen soldiers have already received aid from "1000plus" Soldiers' Insurance Fund. The Fund processes only several dozen cases a week because the process requires familial/marital relation verification and document collection. The local authorities will help to expedite the process.

Families of deceased or 1st-degree disabled soldiers receive a one-time 10 million Drams ($21,000), followed by a monthly $400-$600 payments for the next 20 years. Those with less severe disabilities receive half of the aforementioned aid. Those with over 3 children receive an extra $200/mo.


Workers in Armenia are required to pay 1000 Drams from paycheck towards the "1000plus" Soldier's Fund. The Fund had earlier urged businesses to "double" the amount by matching whatever is paid by workers. Dozens of businesses join this initiative every week. "Some large businesses began responding. This could encourage others."

(you can donate at www.1000plus.am)


they protect the land

The army awarded several soldiers for acts of bravery. Lt Colonel Balayan organized a defense and reconnaissance, destroyed 1 tank, 1 armored vehicle, and 1 transport vehicle.

Private Verdyan evacuated wounded soldiers while under enemy fire.

Dozens more: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201537

The History Museum of Armenia is collecting photos of soldiers who died fighting, as part of an archive to be presented later.


watch out, this kid will rip you off

$2 for a single walnut? NAY. $2 for a single walnut with proceeds donated to soldiers? SIGN ME UP.

Armavir resident Vahe has been selling walnuts. He collected 4 million Drams for soldiers.

Interview with Vahe: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201580

nature protection

The Nature Ministry found 28 instances of businesses illegally exploiting or harming nature between November 2-13. They were issued 13 million in penalties.


regional kerfuffle

Erdogan is under internal pressure by opposition again over the worsening economy and COVID response. "If we don't implement a 2-week quarantine, things will go under control."

UNICEF 2020 placed Turkey at the bottom when it comes to working with children. A third of children are poor. Only 53% are happy with their lives; 90% in Netherland, 89% in Mexico.

720,000 kids are part of child labor, some as little as 5 years of age.

11,446 is the number of 16-year-olds who married last year. "Even in Ottoman Empire the age of marriage was 17 for girls and 18 for boys," says opposition.

Internal and foreign debt exceeded 1 trillion Liras in 2018, and 1.9 trillion in 2020. "Bad borrowing policy led to an extra 135 billion Lira debt. This is what Erdogan's presidential system and his son-in-law's stubbornness brought us."

Turkish Lira began strengthening after Erdogan's son-in-law Borat Albayrak left the Minister's position. However, Lira began declining again on November 23th, reaching 8.58 per $1.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035759.html , https://factor.am/313768.html

Armenia's GDP under COVID

GDP shrank by -9.1% in 3Q year-over-year.

It grew +39% (thirty-nine) in 3Q compared to 2Q, due to post-COVID lockdown recovery.

In the July-September period, the GDP Per Capita was $1,212.

Share of GDP by industry in 3Q: agriculture & fishing 17%, Manufacturing Industry 12%, trade & auto repair 11%, construction 7%, real estate 7%, financial & insurance 6%.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035718.html

inflation & economy

As the economists predicted earlier, the COVID, war, and devaluation of neighboring countries' currencies will put pressure on the Armenian Dram. Too valuable means the products you produce are non-competitive abroad, while cheap Dram means social issues for the general population. It needs to be balanced.

Today $1 was worth 512 Drams, compared to 495 last month. The Central Bank says they're monitoring the trend and will take steps to keep the prices and financial stability.

"We also had some devaluation in the initial COVID period. Today we have some uncertainty, which contributes to devaluation. Investors are less likely to use the resources. However, inflation will be manageable. It's within the limit set by the Central Bank," said a Parliamentary official Artak Manukyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035734.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035791.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035791.html

free breast cancer drugs

Earlier this year, the Healthcare Ministry began providing free "Her2" breast cancer medication to women. 132 patients are being treated. "They receive treatment in accordance with international guidelines. In the coming years, will be healthy and return to their daily lives fully."

Before the medication became free, 40% of women would reject the treatment due to high costs. This would lead to metastasis within 2 years. A 12-month treatment will reduce the chance of metastasis by 50%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035769.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1007671.html

don't waste water

A subsidized infrastructure upgrade in Lusaghbyur will allow villagers to expand irrigated lands by 35 hectares, reduce water usage and waste, restore a local water network. 98 farms will be connected to the network.


diasporans picking tomatoes

A group of Armenian diasporans visited Armenia to participate in a charity agricultural initiative.



sports news

Something happened, and soccer star Henrikh Mkhitaryan began playing well again. 8 games, 5 goals, 4 goal passes for Parma. The fans declared him the best player in the match against Parma.

There is talk about extending his contract with Roma by the end of this year, says La Gazzetta Dello Sport.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035725.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035764.html

Skilling Open 2020 chess tournament continues among the top players. Levon Aronyan is at 12th place. Dutch Anish Giri continues to lead.

The tournament was created by Magnus Carlsen. Executive director Magnus Carlsen. Producer Magnus Carlsen. В главных ролях, Магнус Карлсен.


COVID stats & news

+1977 tested. +813 infected. +26 deaths. +3845 healed. 26069 active.


Healthcare Ministry: the numbers from the past week indicate a reduction of infections. We went from 2k daily cases during the war, to 1.4k nowadays. We saw this decline during the first wave, too. It's possible that it could rise again, so stay vigilant.

70-80% of the population would need to be infected for there to be a collective immunity. Our known cases are only 127k.

The WHO is aware of 6 instances of "double-infection". Its definition isn't clear right now. We don't know if they are were infected again or the first infection was never properly treated.

Already-infected people should also follow safety precautions: wash your hands, wear a mask, stay away from others. We're headed to the flu season in addition to COVID.


Five experts from WHO traveled to Armenia to help treat patients in serious condition.


New COVID rules for funeral services. The director will have to appoint a supervisor responsible for sanitizing the area, ensuring there is running water, air ventilation three times a day, etc.


Russia will involve 40,000 volunteers this year to test the SPUTNIK 5 corona-vaccine. The initial results indicate a 91.4% success rate within 28 days and 95% within 42 days.


you can help Artsakh & Armenia

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

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

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

archive of older posts

Previous: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/jzr2gk/nov232020_news_wrapup_war_in_artsakh_karabakh/

Armeniapedia has been archiving my daily threads:


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/k0eh2p/nov242020_news_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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