2021 April 12

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Daily news wrap-up

Apr/12/2021: (1) Gen. Babayan about why Armenia lost, Iskander, Shushi, mobilization, south, rumors (2) Aliyev about Serj's promise to give lands (3) Mishik: hydro fraud story (4) Govt withdraws HRO budget bill (5) Parents about Hadrut (6) Ceasefire violation (7) Judicial reform (8) Yerevan (9) Vaxx
by ar_david_hh

Your 16 minute Monday report in 4035 words.

General Samvel Babayan about Iskander:

(Context: Serj criticized authorities for not using Iskander missiles sooner during the war. Pashinyan claimed the Iskander missiles purchased by Serj exploded only partially. Russia took that as a hit to its pride and said Iskanders were never used in the first place. Pashinyan backtracked his words in order not to cause diplomatic issues, and said: "I was briefed incorrectly". Pro-Serj circles refuted Russian claims and continued to insist Iskander was used. Azerbaijan released photos allegedly showing Iskander shells in Shushi.)

Did Iskander explode or not?

Babayan: I don't want to confirm or deny whether Iskander was used. I was in Yerevan on November 6th. According to them, it was used on November 7th. Each rocket has a passport. It undergoes examination every year. All the problems are written down.

Iskander has multiple types of missiles: anti-infantry, anti-object, etc. If it was fired, we don't know which type was fired and against what. If it was an anti-infantry missile then it explodes in the air and releases hundreds of small bombs which damage a large area.

Now, maybe there was a cloud and you saw one bomb and you claim there was one explosion. That's how it works. How am I supposed to explain this to people with general ranks who reported to political leadership that the rocket only exploded at 10% capacity? There are different types of missiles.

[Babayan said it was a mistake to bring up the topic of Iskander. He criticized unnamed army officials who signed the Iskander purchase documents and recently publicly revealed that it could only be used if the Republic of Armenia itself was de-jure part of the war. It's generally hard to understand Babayan when he speaks so it's hard to translate. Watch his interview below.]

https://factor.am/358116.html https://youtu.be/4J9H6x4Byc0

General Samvel Babayan about reasons for defeat, Shushi, and command headquarters rumors:

Reporter: What was the reason for defeat?

Babayan: The reasons aren't simple. I submitted my opinion. I can present you details but I don't think the public cares about the truth.

Reporter: tell us.

Babayan: troops were mobilized and taken to the front lines. Every year there is a mobilization. People should be taken to the front lines to familiarize themselves with conditions, learn about their [future] commanders. The soldier, who is accused of deserting today, was inexperienced.

Even before the war, I was against merging/supplementing mobilized troops with the main army [earlier he said merging mobilized troops with the main army spread the panic among main troops]. Mobilized troops were supposed to be their own separate unit.

The war showed us that using mobilized troops to supplement the army was wrong. When you supplement the main army with a large number of mobilized troops, the local commanders aren't accustomed to managing enlarged units. That lead to issues.

I've been saying since 2013 that a big war would be mostly about long-range weapons and artillery instead of hand-to-hand. They ignored it.

Today, all these generals give interviews about the war. But aren't they the ones who managed the army in the past 20 years? They received intel reports about the opponent's weapon purchases. Did they draw conclusions, what were the conclusions?

When [Onik Gasparyan] said he knew within three days that we were unprepared, I'd like him to submit in written form the information that lead him to believe we weren't prepared. When you gather documents about what decisions were made and by whom, the list of those responsible for defeat becomes clear. It's an extensive list. Now they shift the blame on others to save themselves.

One of them claims that I organized a mission [Lele Tepe in the south] and failed it, causing large losses to us. The investigation will investigate that and will invite my accuser to testify.

I initiated an operation near Chanakhchi-Sghnakh to cut off the Azeri advancement to Shushi. However, the military units refused to take part in the operation at 2:00 am. I've submitted the videotape of our discussions. It's all recorded. Those who refused to take part are known.

When you all become honest and say out loud how Armenians captured Shushi in 1992, you will know how Shushi fell in 2020. It's the same way. Today they [likely opposition] make nouse about Shushi liberation heroes being jailed. But those people had no connection with Shushi's liberation.

Reporter: how did we capture Shushi in 1992?

Babayan: in the same Chanakhchi village I mentioned, we set up a military base from which we climbed up to Qich Sar (?) which meets Lisagor and cuts off the road.

Reporter: who was refusing to follow orders in 2020 and why?

Babayan: no one directly rejected but the orders weren't being followed. The army will give names. When there are rumors about someone coming and giving orders [likely referring to first lady Anna Hakobyan], it's all a lie. They are all lying.

Jalal Harutyunyan himself prohibited [likely referring to pro-Serj general Movses Mosi Hakobyan] from entering the headquarters "bunker". Invite Jalal and interrogate him if you'd like.

Jalal was on the same page with me about conducting the needed operations, but they were unable to organize it. Human resources issues, etc. they will explain what happened.

The talk about heroes being prevented from entering command headquarters and had they been allowed, we would have a different outcome, is empty talk. Everyone contributed their share. Some did so through Artsakh president Arayik, while others through commander Jalal.

[Pro-Serj] circles are upset that I was allowed to enter the army headquarters bunker while they weren't. That's because I was an Artsakh public official [head of the security council] who had legal access to it.

Armenia [Pashinyan] gave no orders to deny their [opposition general] access to headquarters. They had access for three days before being blocked. The headquarters was being managed by Jalal Hauryunyan, followed by his replacement.

https://factor.am/358111.html https://youtu.be/0u2iEG2v-94

Tags: #Shushi #SamvelBabayan #ArmyCommand #generals

Ilham Aliyev about Serj Sargsyan's "promise to give the lands after April 2016 war"

Serj Sargsyan lately admitted that he was planning to give some lands to Azerbaijan. It became known after the 2016 April War. Serj allegedly met Artsakh officials and told them in person that it had to be done. His critics claimed that Serj sent a delegation to Moscow during which they agreed to give away the lands in exchange for stopping the April 2016 war.

The 2016 events were followed by nationalist group Sasna Tsrer's hostage takeover of a Yerevan police station. They wanted to create an uprising against Serj "to save Artsakh". In 2018, Serj didn't have time to finalize the land giveaway because Pashinyan became the Premier. The latter apparently refused to follow up on Serj's promise to give the lands, which ended with the 2020 war.

Today Ilham Aliyev claimed that Serj promised to "return the lands" after the 2016 April war. "The war was stopped with conditions favorable to us so negotiations would launch immediately."

Aliyev claims when Serj visited Russia, he promised to "resolve the problem within 2 weeks, to which I agreed and he left. But because of the [Sasna Tsrer police station takeover] situation, Serj refused to honor his promise. The post-2018 government also asked for time but lied to us again."

https://factor.am/358279.html https://aqreqator.az/ru/politika/1354166

POWs and search operations / parent talks about an attempt to recapture Hadrut

European Parliament MP Loucas Fourlas organized a teleconference to discuss the POW issue. "The issue of Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan remains one of the most urgent humanitarian issues and should concern us all."

Russian ambassador Kopyrnik said during the interview: "The return of the captives is among the priorities for the Russian side. Fierce and consistent work is being done in that direction."

A group of parents gathered in front of the government building with demands for news about their POWs and missing relatives. They were invited in to meet officials.

They want the army officials, responsible for deploying their relatives, to be thoroughly questioned and answer why the soldiers went missing or became POWs. One parent gave an army commander "one week to appear and testify in front of parents."

A father of a missing soldier tells a story that appears to be about a failed attempt to recapture or defend Hadrut: the commander of the 10th platoon knew that Hadrut had already fallen and refused to go there and to take soldiers with him. Others came, lied to the boys, and told them they were headed to military storage but instead they took them to meatgrinder instead [Hadrut]. We demand NSS question army leader Jalal Harutyunyan because he ordered soldiers to be spent there.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048725.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048733.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048750.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048768.html https://factor.am/358176.html https://factor.am/358173.html

Azeri parents ask Armenian authorities for help to find their soldier sons

A group of Azeri parents organized a protest in front of Ilham Aliyev's office and urged Pashinyan to help them find their sons. They complain that the army ignored their pleas.


prosecutors formally charge two captured terrorists who were recruited by Azerbaijan during the 2020 war

Syrian citizens Muhrab Muhammad al Shkheri and Youssif Alabet al Haji were captured alive during the war. They have been formally charged with Articles 217.3.1 (terrorism by a group), 389 (international terrorism), 34-390.1.1 (murder of civilians or protected groups during wars), 34-390.3.1 (violating humanitarian laws by attacking civilians for physical or mental harm), and 395.3 (being a hired mercenary).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048756.html https://www.arlis.am/documentView.aspx?docid=69646

anti-corruption: the alleged embezzlement of hydro plant by Mikael Minasyan's circles and Seyran Ohanyan

Context: Dzora hydro plant was formerly owned by Defense Ministry. After the revolution, Pashinyan spoke about Serj's son-in-law Minasyan allegedly embezzling the "strategically important hydro plant" and overcharging the consumers. An investigation was launched.

Investigators' report says: in 2010, the Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and the Government approved a secret order to illegally sell Dzora hydro plant to a private company, without a proper property value assessment and without a valid reason for the sale.

The secret No. 1660 order was discussed and approved on Dec/16/2010. The hydro was sold for only ֏1B despite being worth ֏4.6B.

Then, under the pretense of encouraging the development of hydropower in Armenia, but in reality for a personal benefit of the now-privatized hydro plant, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisyan decided in Oct/8/2011, without a proper justification, to urge regulators to change the rules about "small hydro plants" to classify under-30MW as small, instead of under-10MW.

Without analyzing the decision's impact on Armenia's water resources and with the intention of benefitting Mikael Minasyan-linked Dzora hydro, the public regulator then simply changed the digit 10 to 30 in the book. (PROBLEM SOLVED for $0)

De-facto the large Dzora hydro plant with its 26.4MW capacity became a "small" hydro. No other hydros were built with similar "small" capacity.

The purpose of reclassifying it as a small hydro was to allow it to sell electricity for a higher price. The hydro sold the electricity to individuals and businesses for twice the usual price, earning ֏7.052B in revenues from 2012-2019.

Public regulator Armen Movsisyan has since passed away; the felony case is dropped against him. Four officials are charged with Article 308.2. Seyran Ohanyan is charged with Article 179.3.1 (large-scale embezzlement or waste).

The felony case is split into two parts. The second one is about investigating how the money was laundered. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048648.html https://www.arlis.am/documentView.aspx?docid=69646

Artsakh marked the 29th anniversary of Maragha Massacres committed by Azerbaijan:

The Armenophobic policy of Azerbaijani authorities reached its peak in 1988 with massacres in Sumgayit, Baku, and Kirovadan. A notable cruel massacre took place in Maragha village. Baku attempted to suppress the pro-independence movement by committing ethnic cleansings. Some 1,000 Azeri soldiers infiltrated the village Maragha in 1992 and murdered 100 civilians and captured 60.

Valia Khachikyan was able to escape in time. She recalls that anyone who was unable to leave before the intrusion fell victim to the massacre. Over 3,000 bombs fell on the village before the invasion.

The incident shocked Caroline Cox, the speaker of the British House of Lords, who visited Maragha days later. She later published a book "Ethnic Cleansings in Progress" where she talks about beheaded and burned civilian bodies.

Artsakh MFA: Azeri soldiers beheaded 45 and burned down others, for which they received state awards, while their commander received the title of national hero, which proves that anti-Armenian genocidal policy is encouraged in Azerbaijan at the highest state level. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048595.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048614.html

mayor of Los Angeles called for Biden to recognize the Armenian Genocide

Eric Garcetti: it's time to speak the truth. It is time for all of us, my friend President Biden, the leaders of Los Angeles, the United States, to raise their voices around the world and say, we recognize the Armenian Genocide.


Reporters without Borders complain about Russian peacekeepers blocking some foreign journalists from Artsakh

The report talks about several journalists from CNN, The Guardian, etc. being unable to visit Artsakh. The organization claims the decision to deny was made by Russian peacekeepers in Lachin Corridor.

Artsakh government recently changed the entry rule for non-citizens but denied rumors that Russians are independently accepting or denying entry. At the time, the Artsakh government said foreign visitors must receive a permit from the Artsakh consulate in Yerevan ahead of time, which will be sent to Russians so they will be made aware of the upcoming visit, "but the system is new and some visitors were erroneously denied," said the authorities at the time. It is unclear whether the rules have changed since then.

https://rsf.org/en/news/russian-peacekeepers-deny-foreign-reporters-access-nagorno-karabakh https://factor.am/358123.html

thousands participated in civil defense training / quake, bomb shelters, sirens

The Emergency Ministry "drew conclusions from the 44-day war and drafted a civil defense training plan with numerous events" including a bomb sheltering system for civilians."

The law will define construction standards for shelters. It'll address a common problem when a basement, that could be used as a shelter, was privatized years ago but the owner doesn't live in Armenia, and only they possess the key. "Many shelters were abandoned, did not receive the repairs, making them unsuited as bomb shelters. Some are flooded, others are filled with garbage." The Ministry is collecting reports about these types of basements.

The settlements began purchasing and testing emergency sirens.

150 emergency training classes were held for 4.8K citizens in 1Q21.


peacekeepers are asked to investigate ceasefire violation in Sarushen

Two villagers were using a tractor to harvest crops in Artsakh's south-central Sarushen village when shots were fired at their tractor. It shattered a window. They took photos of the damage and sent them to Russian peacekeepers. The authorities instructed local Armenian forces to continue the service in "enhanced mode." The villagers continue the agricultural work.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211182 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048707.html

President Sarkissian rejects judicial reform bill, sends it to Constitutional Court

The Parliament approved the bill last month. It's about allowing trial participants to file a complaint against the judge so Supreme Court can investigate alleged misconduct. It would punish trial participants who abuse their rights by intentionally delaying trials. It would add more elements of "vetting". More here

President Sarkissian did not sign the bill and chose to send it to the Constitutional Court for a review. Sarkissian earlier met members of the judicial branch who opposed the bill. Some judges and politicians oppose the amendments because they believe it grants "too much power to Supreme Court". They argued that allowing ordinary citizens (trial participants) to ask Supreme Court to investigate their judge could "pressure" the courts.

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/m8pjmp/mar192021_news_whats_in_the_electoral_code_reform https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211201 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048705.html

five non-parliamentary parties urge Sarkissian to sign another bill about electoral reform

Parliament recently approved part of the wider electoral reform code to replace the electoral Rating system with Proportional. It is yet to be approved by Sarkissian. The other reforms, about lowering the entry threshold, are apparently yet to be approved.

Five parties signed a letter urging Sarkissian to approve the Proportional reforms. If he sends it to Constitutional Court instead, the elections would likely be held under "pro-oligarch Rating rules".


bill drafted: prevent double-taxation of property

Under existing law, the property tax is calculated based on the average price of the property in the market, which is based on similar transaction sums. Since these transactions already include VAT taxes, it artificially inflates the property's value and creates a problem of double-taxation. A bill is drafted to amend the law.


rules for preschools

The government approved rules that regulate how public and private preschools operate.

The preschool will be a legal entity that can operate with a license. It must have at least one educational program.

It must have a stamp, a bank account, a website, financial declaration, employee database, etc.

It won't be allowed to create political or religious organizations within preschools.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048754.html

Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition about food labels:

We're seeing a drop in anti-consumer and anti-competitive violations by dairy producers. It's been two years ever since we launched various monitoring missions. The issue is that products containing milk and vegetable oil must be appropriately marked so the consumer won't be misled.

Our examinations were split into three phases. Each one recorded fewer and fewer violations. There is a positive trend but some problems still exist.

We're showing businesses how to properly label products to avoid penalties. One of the supermarkets decided to create a separate shelf for the dairy that contains vegetable oil.

Sellers are strongly encouraged not to mislead consumers by marking dairy products containing vegetable oil as "sour cream". From now on, we will make unannounced visits.


Yerevan will renovate roads and sidewalks

The capital has 26.3M m2 in primary and secondary roads. This year they will renovate 0.5M m2. Fourth of it will be a complete rebuilding of damaged roads.

The municipality agreed with the police to draw street signs immediately after the renovation. Busy roads will be renovated at night.

Six firms won the right to do the renovations. They will be monitored for quality. Temperatures must be +5c at the time of renovation, asphalt must be 120c and have avg 5cm depth depending on unevenness.

Simultaneously, the city will build new sidewalks and renovate the old ones. Athenes St. sidewalks are undergoing a major revamp which will also increase security. The retaining wall is being strengthened so stuff won't fall into the Hrazdan Gorge anymore.



update: Yerevan has planted the first 140 trees on Saralanj hill

The number to reach 600 in Spring.


Aluminum giant "Armenal" recultivates the lands after factory use

24,000 m2 area will be restored in place of the former Qanaqer aluminum factory buildings. Soil layers will be recultivated gradually. The existence of 20 various metals will be checked 3 meters deep.

Once that's complete, another company could be hired to plant trees or a solar farm in the area.


Gagik Tsarukyan's son's wedding organizers receive a citation for shooting fireworks at night

Nver Tsarukyan's big fat Armenian wedding took place in Gago's Pharaoh restaurant on Sunday]. BHK MPs were criticized for the large party "while the soldiers' parents are grieving."

BHK MP Melkumyan responded saying it was a private party unrelated to what's happening in the country and that the criticism is "part of an electoral campaign."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211135 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211143 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048729.html https://youtu.be/DnmJ_6jReSk?t=108 https://youtu.be/ZsEXYShSN9A?t=7

Artashat woman receives a citation for firing fireworks at night

... to mark her daughter's birthday.


results: Our Game women's soccer tournament in Armenia

Lithuania 7:1 Lebanon. Armenia 1:1 Jordan. Lithuania 2:2 Armenia. Armenia 2:0 Lebanon.

Lithuania won the tournament. Armenia second. Lebanon third.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048656.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048658.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048792.html

Hayk Martirosyan wins international chess tournement in Serbia

He won 8 out of 9 points and was declared the winner of the Belgrade Spring Chess Festival 2021.


boxer Karen Tonakanyan wins his second match in professional ring

His South African opponent had 19 victories and was the WBA African champion.


European weightlifting championship results

102kg Samvel Gasparyan is the champion

while Arsen Martirosyan finished second.

89kg Karen Avagyan became the champion.

Gor Minasyan won silver.

87kg Arpine Dalalyan finished fourth.

81kg Liana Gyurjyan finished third.

109kg Simon Martirosyan won a small gold medal.

55kg Isabella Yalyan and 81kg Rafik Harutyunyan finished 4th (small bronze medal).

Hakob Mkrtchyan won bronze.

This was the European championship. It also serves as a qualification tournament for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The Armenian team will have 14 athletes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048623.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048659.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048664.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048680.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048690.html

government recalls the draft bill that would allow reduction of HR Office budget

Human Rights Office has an annual $10M budget and the law says it must either stay the same or increase every year. The government, citing post-COVID and post-war need to "have more flexibility in how resources are distributed", drafted a bill that would allow it to keep the budget the same or to reduce it.

The bill was criticized by the human rights office and international colleagues. Today the government removed the draft bill from Parliament's agenda.


update: Armenia has one of the lowest prison populations per capita in Europe

The per-capita prison population is similar to Sweden and Denmark.

2018: 3.5K

2019: 2.3K

2020: 2.2K

The Prison population has been cut in half since 2010, the "second-best result in Europe."

Armenia has one of the least crowded prisons, with 41% per 100 slots. The European average is 86%.

3% of inmates are female.


is inflation stabilizing?

Dollar devalued against Dram recently. It's at 514 per $1, down by 20 drams.

The Central Bank recently injected more dollar into circulation.


COVID stats since Saturday

11,716 tested. 2,169 infected. 2,676 healed. 56 deaths. 15785 active.

The infection growth has stopped but patients in this wave are more likely to need hospitalization. The British strain is now being circulated and could be the culprit.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048607.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048671.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048713.html https://factor.am/358018.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211151

Armenia sets 55 as minimum age for AstraZeneca vaccine / who will get Astra and Sputnik first?

Healthcare Ministry followed the European practice that serves as a precautionary measure. The first group to receive the vax will be seniors over 65, medics over 55, chronic patients over 55, nursing home residents and staff above 55.

As for Sputnik-V, it will be distributed as such: medics aged 18-54, chronic patients under 55, residents and staff at nursing homes under 55. The rules will change when more vax arrives.


when will vaccines be administered?

Starting tomorrow in Yerevan, and the day after tomorrow in provinces. AstraZeneca will be first (34K doses), followed by Sputnik a few days later (15K doses).

600 people have called to sign up to receive a dose.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048735.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048748.html

Armenia will also purchase Novavax vaccine and receive a donation from China

Novavax will be purchased as part of the global CONVAX initiative. The negotiations are underway. Additionally, China will donate a batch of its vaccines to Armenia.


Armenia could produce Sputnik-V vaccine

The Economy Ministries of Armenia and Russia are negotiating over producing the vax in Armenia. "The reports that the negotiations ended are false," said MinHealth Avanesyan. "A local production requires the right infrastructure. I hope our pharmaceutical companies will be interested in making investments to launch a joint production."


April 16th is the Armenian Cinema Day

Almost all movie theaters in the country will play Armenian movies on that day. List in the link:


rock band Adana is back with a new remake song "Araks"


today in history

1866: cultural-political figure Vrtanes Papazyan is born

1933: legendary Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballe is born. She visited the Artsakh Republic for two days in 2013, for which she was added to Azerbaijan's infamous no-entry list.

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Montserrat_Caballe https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048591.html

Week 9: new books from Armenian publishers

Translated: Mrs. Dalloway, by Woolf Virginia

Children's: Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini (about an Irish doctor who finds himself fighting during a rebellion against the king)

Documentary: Պայքարելու իրավունքը, by Monte Melkonyan.


end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

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

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.

Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mpmg6h/apr122021_1_gen_babayan_about_why_armenia_lost/

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