2020 November 25

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Nov/25/2020 news wrap-up: \\ 50,000 refugees return home \\ French Senate: Artsakh must be officially recognized \\ economy & business \\ cabinet shakeup & opposition demonstrations \\ Gagik Tsarukyan \\ Pashinyan interview to TASS \\ village Charektar \\ POWs & searches \\ healthcare \\ other news
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Wednesday report in 2603 words. The next post will likely be on Sunday.

French Senate calls for official recognition of Artsakh

The Senate voted 305-1 to approve the non-binding resolution to urge the government to officially recognize the Republic of Artsakh.

It took into account the following:

1) European agencies concluded that Armenians cannot live under Azeri rule today due to anti-Armenian racism.

2) The history of war crimes against Armenian civilians living in Azerbaijan (Sumgayit and Baku massacres).

3) Turkey's role in aiding Azerbaijan and meddling in other countries' affairs.

It condemns Azerbaijan for involving foreign mercenaries.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201658

PM Pashinyan: The decision by the French Senate is historic. The recognition of Artsakh is now on the international agenda.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201662

Artsakh MFA Mayilyan: What's notable is that the resolution urges the restoration of 1994 borders, which, in essence, were enshrined in the trilateral statement signed by Azerbaijan and Armenia.

We express our deep gratitude to the Senators and everyone who invested efforts to make this historic decision possible.

Azerbaijan's refusal to discuss their occupation of Artsakh lands removes all the barriers for the international community to recognize Artsakh.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201663

Video of the vote:

https://youtu.be/B5xbshzIW70?t=36

pandemic economics

The economic activity index declined -8.1% in October YoY.

Consumer product inflation +1.3%, industrial product inflation +4.1%.

Average nominal monthly salaries +1%.

Construction +0.3%. Electricity production +3%. Industry -3%. External trade -18%. Exports -5%. Imports -24%. Volume of Services -24%.

In the January-October period, the economic activity index declined by -6.7%.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201611

the national debut reduced by $101m

August: 3t 803b 52m

September: down by 52 billion ($101 million)

External debt reduced by $71.5m.

Internal debt reduced by $29.6m.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035817.html

business & investment environment

Pashinyan continues to hold meetings with representatives of the business world about boosting economic activity. Today he met the representatives from the electric grid network, Gazprom, RenShin construction, Nushikyan Association.

menu.am founder Vahan Qerobyan: // Armenia's investment policy must undergo radical changes. We need to remove the barriers to attract direct and indirect investments from abroad and internally.

The economy is open for investors, but there are bureaucratic and legal challenges that halted foreign investment in the past 2 years (possibly referring to the suspended Amulsar gold mine and uncertainty around it).

The problem is in the judicial branch and the lack of human capital. We need to show investors that they can have a profitable business after investing here. The public is waiting for rapid economic growth because the challenges we face have increased.

During the meeting with Pashinyan, we discussed ways to improve Armenia's economy in general, besides focusing on individual businesses. //

Update: the media circulated rumors that Vahan Qerobyan will be appointed as Finance Minister.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201567 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201619

government cabinet shakeup continues

The recently-resigned Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan has been appointed as Pashinyan's chief adviser.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201601

Naira Margaryan is no longer the deputy Economy Minister.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201603

Deputy Justice Minister Rafik Grigoryan is out.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201609

Mesrop Mesropyan is the new governor of Kotayk.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201648

One PM cabinet official was fired, while two others were appointed in Diaspora Committee.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035853.html

QP MP Varazdan Karapetyan has resigned. He will be appointed as Armenia's trade representative in China. "Today, more than ever, Armenia needs new connections, markets, opportunities, new investments," said the MP.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201622

opposition continues to demand Pashinyan's resignation

ARF activists held a demonstration in front of the ruling party's headquarters. "Shame, traitor."

https://news.am/arm/news/615407.html

The board of directors of the Academy of Sciences joined the calls for PM's resignation, calling the November 9th document a "humiliation and a loss of land". The letter criticized past and present governments for "not doing enough for modernizing the weapons arsenal".

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201617

[anti-Pashinyan] Activist-lawyer Avetik Ishkhanyan was briefly detained by police for questioning for unspecified reasons. The Helsinki Committee NGO's Armenian branch urged authorities to immediately release him.

Upon his release, Ishkhanyan clarified that it was over a physical fight that he was involved in recently. He met one of his former clients who badmouthed him. It turned into a physical fight. Both were detained. He believes he was a political provocation. [I blame gangsta rap]

https://factor.am/314055.html , https://factor.am/314102.html

Ara Abrahamyan, a Moscow-based businessman and chairman of the Armenian Union, joined the calls to demand PM's resignation.

https://factor.am/314184.html

Vahagn Vermishyan is holding a hunger strike in jail with demand for Pashinyan's resignation. Vermishyan is the former Yerevan municipality official who was caught in February taking a bribe from Tsarukyan-allied construction company. He confessed.

Vermishyan was arrested in February, but the investigation had begun in 2019. This is the investigation that led to the raid against the bribe-giver construction company which led to the revelation of documents that allegedly showed that Tsarukyan paid this construction company bribes to buy voters in 2017.

Political experts believe that when Tsarukyan found out about the pending case against him, he began positioning himself as a strong anti-Pashinyan politician (earlier this year) so he could present the upcoming felony case as "political persecution" by Pashinyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201632

Gagik Tsarukyan: businessman or politician?

The Corruption Prevention Committee (CPC) launched an investigation against BHK leader Tsarukyan back in July and recently sent a petition to Parliament to take action against him due to his alleged violation of a "conflict of interest" law that bars Parliament MPs from running a business.

CPC has 4 board members. 1 is appointed by the government, 2 by the opposition, 1 by judges. All 4 members signed the decision to ask Parliament to take action against Tsarukyan.

CPC chairwoman: // Tsarukyan appointed a director, dismissed a director, convened a business meeting, chaired a meeting, signed under business documents, etc.

Tsarukyan spent most of his time doing business rather than defending public interests in Parliament. During the last Parliamentary season, he was absent 83% of the time, missed 60% of committee meetings, but increased his involvement in business decisions tenfold.

The Constitutional Court has a symbolic duty here. They will discuss the topic of stripping Tsarukyan's MP mandate, but they will not discuss the specifics on how and why. //

BHK believes this is a political witch-hunt against Tsarukyan with the use of cherry-picked data.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201604

Pashinyan's interview to Russian TASS outlet / the Statement / economy / politics

Q: how did you decide that peacekeepers should stay for 5 years and what needs to be done in this period?

A: It was a matter of political agreement. In 5 years we should create guarantees for security and stability in the region. But since this conflict has lasted for a long period, I don't think peacekeepers will only stay for 5 years. It's the initial phase. There is an automatic extension.

Q: the trilateral Statement doesn't mention Karabakh's legal status.

A: there is a consensus that future negotiations must continue with the Minsk Group format. The questions that weren't addressed by the trilateral Statement will be negotiated in the future. You know what our stance is regarding Nagorno Karabakh's legal status. We haven't changed it.

The negotiation process has begun but right now we prioritize the process of exchanging POWs and bodies.

Q: the signed Statement caused a political uproar in Armenia. The opposition wants your resignation. Could this endanger the process?

A: we do have internal tensions but the truth is that whatever the opposition offered wasn't widely accepted by the public. Only the general public can [fire] the government elected by the general public.

Q: will there be new elections?

A: at the moment, the priority is to secure internal stability and internal and external security. I published the 6-step roadmap for the next 6 months, and we'll work on it. When it's done, we'll consult with the public on our future steps [regarding possible elections].

I'm not happy with the current situation, either, but we need to understand what the other options are. We shouldn't make things worse. Right now we need to help Artsakh, the population, the economy. Once things stabilize, we will make a decision on what to do next.

Q: could the internal political instability threaten the signed Statement?

A: I doubt it. I think the public understands that it was signed because there was no other better choice. Of course, we still have to analyze and understand how we got there, but as of November 9th, there were no other options.

Q: how will you aid the refugees?

A: we've already approved two financial aid packages (68,000 and 300,000 Drams, free utilities, etc.). There will be five more aid packages soon. I'm happy that many refugees began returning homes. Two days ago president Arayik announced the return of 25,000 people. We hope the majority will return by the end of this year.

Q: do you expect the return of refugees in their homes that are currently controlled by Azerbaijan?

A: Yes. The signed Statement expects the return of refugees to their homes. Based on the document, we must create security guarantees so people can return to their homes. This will be at forefront of negotiations.

Q: the Statement mentions the removal of economic and transport blockades. Could this improve AM-AZ relations and the economy?

A: it's an important part. We should focus on it. It could stabilize the economy not only in Armenia but in the whole region because Armenia isn't the only country facing economic issues today. I hope we'll be able to agree on railways, roads, etc.

Full: https://youtu.be/m4Ur03a0i3U

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201607

to Martial or not to Martial?

The parliamentary security committee is discussing whether to hold a Parliamentary session on lifting the Martial Law.

Oppo LHK wants it lifted. "The November 9th signature put an end to military actions and confirmed that the borders will be secure. Martial Law also causes economic issues because people cannot leave the country," said LHK MP Gorgisyan.

Ruling QP MP Andranik asked LHK whether they consulted with the army before asking to lift the Martial Law. LHK responded by saying that 15 days ago the army said "they need 7 days", so the time is up. QP MP said, "that doesn't mean all the problems have been solved, you should have consulted them yesterday for the latest news instead of 15 days ago."

The ruling party and the army representative said the border length has increased and they need more time to secure it, and they need to organize the return/rotation of soldiers who are in front lines. LHK argued the troop movement can be done without Martial Law.

LHK offered to lift the Martial Law only partially. The government representative said they don't see a legal problem with a partial lift.

The discussions will continue next week.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201641 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201643 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201646 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201651 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201653

Human Rights Ombudsman vs Trolls

Human Rights Ombudsman Tatoyan believes that some people, who are public officials, are coordinating an online mob attack against him and the work done by him in recent days.

"Our investigation revealed that the officials themselves run the fake accounts and spread hate speech and threats. I urge them to stop," said Tatoyan.

https://www.facebook.com/100017676420633/videos/761511417781399/

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201661

village Charektar

Village Charektar/Չարեկտար (pop. 270) is located in Artsakh's north-west (south of Mrov Mountain), near the border. It was not captured by Azerbaijan. The residents thought they had to leave because Kelbajar is being handed over to Azerbaijan.

Many of them burned their houses before leaving. They later learned that the village will remain under Armenian control. The same is true for Aknaberd village. It's not that far from Dadivank church.

https://news.am/arm/news/615466.html

soldiers receive awards

The army issued medals to several soldiers for bravery. Private Arakelyan, captain Yeghikyan, and Lieutenant Avagyan calculated and used artillery, causing heavy damage to the enemy.

Several commanders received medals for destroying enemy artillery units. Lieutenant Zakaryan shot 2 tanks in the north. Two Leuthants were awarded for providing medial aid while under fire.

Full list: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201614

POWs / missing soldiers / landmines / no soldiers in Iran

Artsakh MFA Mayilyan met Red Cross to discuss ways to expedite the process of finding missing soldiers and exchanging POWs.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201616

Prosecutors say they have enough evidence that Azerbaijan has committed war crimes against POWs and mutilated bodies.

Details: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201625

QP MP Nazeli: we held meetings with the PM and deputy PM last night to discuss the issue of POWs and missing soldiers. The problem is we don't have access to areas where our soldiers' bodies are. We need peacekeepers' involvement. We exchanged several bodies yesterday. The process is slow but it's ongoing.

Today we met representatives of the Red Cross. They cannot visit some battlefields because of landmines. They'll bring experts to clear the mines first.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201631

QP MP Hayrapetyan, who leads an Armenia-Iran cooperation committee, says the rumors that 82 Armenian soldiers had fled to Iran turned out to be false, after contacting Iran for clarification.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201639

Here is a collection of other fake news about soldiers that you might have encountered on our beloved Facebook:

https://fip.am/13970

The families of missing soldiers were briefed about the work that's being done with the peacekeepers and the Red Cross.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201642

soldiers to have their hospital

"For special people - our Hero Soldiers: they will have their own and only their own hospital - the Veterans’ Hospital. We are already starting the construction works," wrote Yerevan State Medical University rector Muradyan.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/288084/

50,000 Artsakh refugees have returned

Artsakh official Mirzoyan: 50,000 have returned. Those who lost their homes have settled in or around Stepanakert. We assigned a representative to coordinate the movement of newly arrived residents. Their first stop is Stepanakert.

90% of the hotels are now full. The govt helps the homeless residents to find temporary (then permanent) housing, including in rural areas that had long been abandoned. The repatriates will receive free beds, heaters, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035894.html

nuclear reactor repairs

Armenian and Russian experts will soon begin the 140-day long nuclear power plant renovation. Among other things, they'll raise its temperature to 475 degrees, keep it for 150 hours, then gradually cool it off. It'll restore the metal's properties to 85% of its original state. When it's done, the reactor can function for at least until 2026.

https://factor.am/314070.html

sports news

The Skilling Open chess tournament continues. Aronyan started with good results, then royally screwed up, but scored series of victories again. he advanced to the playoffs.

His next opponent is Russia's Yan Neomnyashu. Both have an identical 2778 ranking. Aronyan had recently defeated Yan. The playoff match consists of four games.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201629

professor Vladimir Davidyants

Pashinyan issued a posthumous "for services to the homeland" award to Davidyants for his role in developing the healthcare sector. The famous doctor had died from COVID in October.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201624

COVID stats

+4198 tested. +1563 infected. +2040 healed. +38 deaths. 25619 active.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201606

finally... a COVID conspiracy theory that lead to something healthy

Apparently, everyone is taking Vitamin D, C, and Zinc in Armenia? The pharmacies are facing shortages. Some people buy them thinking it could help treat/prevent COVID.

Experts say these vitamins only help to boost the general immune system but aren't effective against COVID-the-virus.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201628

photos: daily life in Stepanakert

www.civilnet.am/news/2020/11/25/Ստեփանակերտ․-երեխաներն-ու-լվացքը-խոսում-են-վերսկսվող-կյանքի-մասին/409818

humanitarian aid continues to arrive

Czechia donated 100,000 masks and 43,000 gloves to help fight COVID.

French MFA says is working on humanitarian aid for Artsakh.

USAID is distributing aid to Artsakh residents.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/201618 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035892.html , www.civilnet.am/news/2020/11/25/USAID-ն-օգնում-է-Լեռնային-Ղարաբաղում-պատերազմի-հետևանքով-տեղահանված-ընտանիքներին/409775

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

Yesterday: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/k0eh2p/nov242020_news_wrapup_war_in_artsakh_karabakh/?

Armeniapedia's archive of daily news threads:

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/k10pnf/nov252020_news_wrapup_50000_refugees_return_home/

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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