2021 April 13

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Apr/13/2021: (1) New nuclear power plant discussions underway (2) Aliyev mimics Saddam w/expo (3) Aliyev wants border demarcation, "war is over" (4) Const. Court rules against opposition MP (5) Trials: Kocharyan & Franklin (6) Rumors & rebuttals (7) Watch your profanity (8) Anti-corruption court +++
by ar_david_hh


Hello. This is your 11-minute Tuesday report in 2829 words.

Metsamor nuclear power plant / renovation / discussions to build a new one / costs & savings

What have you accomplished in your first 8 months as NPP director?

Edward Martirosyan: some structural changes were made and more are planned. We plan to hire skilled employees. This year, unlike in the past, there is a major renovation work that will shut it down for 141 days. 1,000 experts, including 400 from Russian Rosatom, will participate.

Additionally, with a budgetary loan, we initiated and already began upgrading safety nodes. The budgetary loan is $120M, from which we have already received $35M and spent on safety devices.

This year we will renovate and modernize the cooling towers. A new diesel generator station will be built in 2-3 years.

How will shutting it down for 141 days affect the country?

Beginning on May 15th, the energy gap will be filled by other electricity producers. There won't be issues. Lately, there have been false rumors about the NPP already being turned off. In reality, it'll shut down between May 15 and October 2.

The renovation will increase its production capacity by 20-30MW.

Years ago there was a salary dispute that caused several employees to resign.

True, the government and NPP administration took steps to raise the salaries. High-skilled professionals earn more than others.

What role does the NPP play for Armenia?

Cheap electricity and a competitive economy. While the existing NPP is important, we are taking steps to have a new one in a few years.

Additionally, we are developing green energy sources in Armenia. I think it should have its place in the future.

Have you saved any resources?

Yes. Some of the work for repairs was done by our experts [instead of Russian, presumably], which saved us $10M. We also try to save through transparent auctions for services.

Did you participate in the Pashinyan-Putin discussion about building a new NPP?

I've always raised the issue of building a new one because the Metsamor NPP will expire soon. These renovations will extend its lifespan by 10 years. In 2036, the 60-year lifespan of this reactor will end. That's the deadline to have alternative energy sources.

Since the Metsamor NPP accounts for 40% of Armenia's electricity production, we need a replacement NPP. The construction of a new one was discussed not only between Pashinyan and Putin but also on the Ministry level. Infrastructure Minister Papikyan is instructed to form an expert group.

How much will a new NPP cost?

We need a 600MW reactor to fill the energy gap. It could have two blocs. I can't give you the cost right now because nuclear technology continues to develop daily. We already have supplementary devices that can serve for a new NPP.

It'll require large investments. Other countries spend $6-7 billion for a single 1,000MW bloc. But as I've said, we could try to use our existing NPP's equipment to save on costs.


How long will it take to build a new NPP?

Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vardanyan: 8-10 years. We need to launch the discussions now. Negotiations could take 1-2 years before we decide which type of reactor to purchase and from whom.

Location?

Same place as the Metsamor NPP. The technical conditions are already there.

Would Armenia need to take a loan from Russia?

We don't know yet. There are different options: state-private cooperation, state-state cooperation, etc. Russia is currently building several reactors in various states under various financial terms.

Is a new NPP important from a security standpoint?

Yes. We cannot rely on gas and thermal. Gas cutoffs could damage state security. Armenia already has expertise in managing a nuclear plant so we cannot lose that potential.

Iran also has a nuclear plant but the workers are mostly Russian and Armenian. It'll take decades for them to train their experts.

Why has Hrazdan thermal power plant suspended its operations?

They were unable to make loan payments because they did not operate at enough capacity [presumably didn't sell enough electricity due to low demand].

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211018 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210923 https://youtu.be/-YElEHb12nw

Tags: #nuclearplant #NPP #Metsamor

Aliyev is criticized for opening an open-air "expo-park" featuring captured military items and mannequins

It has trucks and helmets captured during the war, as well as mannequins of Armenian soldiers set up in a way to humiliate them.

Armenian state officials criticized the expo, saying it's a "cynical promotion of hatred on a state level."

MPs called it a "slap to universal human values" and urged international colleagues to condemn it.

Aliyev has secured the prospect of their future defeat, said ruling party MP Andranik. "He does not realize that there are no permanent winners and losers. Every time he feeds his people with empty arrogance and makes them dull, he brings them one step closer to defeat."

International audience on social media was also critical of Aliyev's little expo-fest. "Saddam Hussein used Iranian helmets as decorations for his big victory monument in Baghdad with the giant crossed swords," noted Alberto Miguel Fernandez, a Cuban-American diplomat.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048813.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048816.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048831.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048850.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048888.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211271 https://factor.am/358406.html https://youtu.be/n1wCm6jEl1c

Serj responds to Aliyev

Serj Sargsyan denied Ilham Aliyev's recent claims that he asked for 2 weeks to organize the giveaway of Artsakh's 7 regions after the April 2016 war. Serj claims it was Aliyev who asked for a ceasefire.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048839.html

Aliyev about peace agreement and trade routes

Aliyev announced that the post-war situation is still fragile and that Azerbaijan has no territorial claims against Armenia "despite remembering our history". He said he is "ready to sign Karabakh peace agreement but many questions remain unanswered."

While speaking about the plans to unblock the regional trade routes, including the one in Syunik to connect Azerbaijan to Nakhijevan, Aliyev wished that one day they would also "return to Yerevan" but "without tanks."

Sources familiar with the matter report that Dr. Phil has reached an agreement to hold an interview with Aliyev. A month-long trip to Turn-About Ranch is on the agenda.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048829.html https://factor.am/358538.html

Aliyev vs Blinken

Aliyev complained that US Secretary of State Blinken held a phone conversation only with Pashinyan but not him. "It breaks the balance again."

https://factor.am/358592.html

Europe about POWs

Pierre-Alan Friedez, the Chairman of the Migration Committee of the PACE, criticized Azerbaijan for failing to follow the ECHR court's order regarding sharing information about POWs. He offered to help both sides to reach an agreement.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048844.html

European Parliament MP François-Xavier Bellamy wrote an article in Le Figaro in which he called for the EU to break silence on the Azeri-Turkish aggression against Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048848.html

Russia

Russia and Iran spoke about establishing a long-lasting peace in Artsakh.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211282

Aliyev asked Putin to explain why Iskander missiles were used during the 2020 war. Kremlin responded: "there is a close dialogue between the military officials, during which relevant issues are discussed."

https://factor.am/358394.html https://factor.am/358570.html

Aliyev about OSCE and demarcation

Aliyev wants OSCE Minks Group to offer suggestions for establishing peace in the region. He insisted again that "the conflict is over" and he hopes to see an official border demarcation and delimitation process.

https://factor.am/358576.html

Armenia has added 30 jihadists, recruited by Azerbaijan during war, to the wanted list

Two militants were captured and are facing terrorism charges in Syunik. Armenia has identified 30 others and issued a warrant for their arrest. They are members of cells called Suleiman Shash, Sukur, Hamza, and Sultan Murad.

The prosecutors know the identity of the Sultan Suleiman Shah cell leader who goes by the nickname Abu Hamsha. His name is Muhammed al Jasim, a Syrian citizen. There is an arrest warrant for him.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048898.html

The Guardian investigation exposes Azeri regime's use of a Facebook loophole to operate fake accounts

The Guardian: The loophole has remained open due to a lack of enforcement, and it appears that it is currently being used by the ruling party of Azerbaijan to leave millions of harassing comments on the Facebook Pages of independent news outlets and Azerbaijani opposition politicians.

Full: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/apr/12/facebook-loophole-state-backed-manipulation

Canada has stopped exporting military tech to Turkey

... because of its role in the 2020 Artsakh war. Canadian MFA said the examination has confirmed the use of Canadian tech by the Azeri-Turkish army. Earlier a temporary suspension order was issued during the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048808.html

EU vs Turkey

European countries have prepared a sanction package against Turkey "if it displays aggressive behavior in In the Eastern Mediterranean and other regions", said a French official. "We have managed to get Europe to adopt a strong, united, clear line towards Turkey. We don't seek escalation, we defend our interests."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048913.html

Georgian residents protest the construction of hydropower by Turkey

Grassroots-turned-mainstream protests continue in Georgia for around half a year. Turkey is investing $800M to build a hydro plant, which will be mainly used by Turkey. Locals raised concerns about exploitation and "government placing Turkish interests above the public's."

Georgian govt insists the construction is needed for the country's "energy security", and plans to build more hydros in the future.

https://youtu.be/XJPXt4NI_8E?t=49

https://oc-media.org/thousands-turn-out-for-kutaisi-hydropower-protest/

POWs and search operations

The crews discovered two more bodies in Jrakan (Jabrayil). DNA analysis will be used to identify them.

https://factor.am/358748.html

A group of parents of POWs shut down the doors in Shirak Governor's Office since the morning. Employees were trapped for hours. The police were eventually called to lift the blockade.

https://factor.am/358775.html https://factor.am/358782.html

missing soldiers & POWs

Beware of misleading reports about "1055 missing soldiers" circulated on media today. That number comes from the official Soldiers' Insurance Fund and shows the number of aid recipient families whose sons are considered "missing" on paper, but it does not accurately show the number of soldiers/bodies who are yet to be found.

Missing can be considered a body that has already been found and counted by the military but not yet identified, or when a body has been identified by Healthcare Ministry but has not yet been updated in the Fund, so the latter still lists them as "missing". The Fund processes personal data very slowly, only several dozen cases per week, due to a lengthy familiar-relationship verification process.

Missing can also be considered a soldier who is alive and is a POW but is yet to be officially identified. Armenia asked the European court to force Azerbaijan to share info about POWs.

Additionally, Pashinyan recently mentioned that dozens of soldiers were caught while deserting. They were on the "missing" list. He said that in the worst-case scenario the death toll will be around 4,000.

In a similar reporting fashion, the Soldiers' Insurance Fund only lists 1,939 soldiers as being deceased, yet we know that's not the up-to-date number.

The Fund's director explained how the numbers work in February.

https://youtu.be/mFNLzz-ySPQ?t=42 https://www.facebook.com/varoujan.avedikian/posts/10158308882803693 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046682.html http://arka.am/en/news/society/head_of_armenian_military_insurance_fund_resigns_/ https://youtu.be/im8MR0RCEPk

A 5.5km section of M2 road will be asphalted in Syunik this year

The restoration of the M2-Noravan section will be co-subsidized by the government and the World Bank. It will include a complete renovation of a 1km road within Noravan settlement.

Additionally, the settlement's culture house and schools will be renovated, while its water network will be revamped. The installation of new water pipes has already begun.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048833.html

Kocharyan is back in the court over a $4M bribery case

Context here. A prominent mining businesswoman came forward and testified about giving bribes to the Kocharyan administration. Kocharyan's security council chief Armen Gevorgyan is a co-defendant who is charged with $1M bribery. Kocharyan himself is charged with $3M bribery.

The trial resumed... and was delayed today. Kocharyan did not appear in court because "he submitted a COVID test after symptoms and is currently self-isolated." The next trial is on May 4th.

Later that day, his COVID test came negative.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048847.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048854.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211278 https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mlk8uw/apr62021_1_kocharyan_trial_court_drops_article/

civil society and journalists discuss cussing bill

Prosecutors drafted a bill recently that could penalize the public use of vulgar language against each other. The bill is yet to undergo preliminary discussions.

Unsurprisingly, representatives of the media are against it. Today they discussed alternative ways to address hate. They noted that Europe has anti-hate speech laws that envision similar penalties for certain rhetoric, but it is different from what has been proposed here.

https://factor.am/358670.html

Constitutional Court rules against BHK MP Zohrabyan over role termination

BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan, who was the chairwoman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, recently used vulgar language to berate ordinary voters who support Pashinyan and said they should be forcefully sent to re-education camps.

In response, the ruling party voted to terminate her title as the chairwoman. Zohrabyan challenged it in the Constitutional Court to have the title back.

Today the Constitutional Court ruled against her, finding that the vote held by the ruling party was constitutional.

ժեխ https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211249

amendments made to the draft bill that will establish anti-corruption courts

Justice Minister Badasyan: the new anti-corruption court there will have 15 anti-corruption judges instead of 25. The verdicts can be challenged in [ordinary] Appeals Courts where 12 specialized judges will be dedicated for anti-corruption-related appeals.

From the 15 anti-corruption judges, 10 will be specialized in felony and 5 in civil cases. All trials relating to corruption will be handled by this new court. //

The Parliament has already approved the first version of the bill. They will vote on the second and final amended version soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048871.html

Serj's nephew Gonzales to be jailed after Cassations Court sides with prosecutors

Narek Franklin Gonzales Sargsyan was slapped with narcotics and weapons charges after the revolution. He fled with a fake passport but was apprehended and extradited. He confessed in February.

Today the Cassations Court struck down the Appeals Court's verdict that allowed bail. Franklin will remain locked up until his trial ends.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048853.html

court acquits criminal subculture figure Konveskoi over weapon possession charges

In 2019, the police announced that they found illegal weapons in Artyom Konevskoi's vehicle.

The defense argued that the police conducted an illegal vehicle search and did not properly provide a translator to the defendant. More here

The judge has sided with the defense and acquitted Konevskoi, said the defense lawyer.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211276 https://hetq.am/hy/article/107397

famous weightlifter struck a jaywalking pedestrian

Olympics runner-up and European champion Simon Martirosyan has just returned to Armenia from the European championship games.

Last night he struck a jaywalking pedestrian in front of the Yerevan Mall. He called an ambulance and helped to transport the man, but unfortunately, the latter did not survive. A felony investigation is launched.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048836.html https://factor.am/358324.html

welder dies after a fuel tank explosion

An incident happened near Agarak, Syunik. A welder died from burns after the welding on the diesel fuel tank caused the accumulated gas to explode.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048902.html

rumors and rebuttals: civil aviation denied rumors about the "hijacked" Boeing jet being disassembled in Iran

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048905.html

how does the teacher re-certification and 30-50% salary raise system work?

voluntary certification exams

Scoring >90 points means a 50% salary raise. >80 is +30%. >60 no change. <60 no change in salary but a mandatory retesting is needed within a year to keep the job.

mandatory certification

These aren't meant for raising salaries. Every teacher goes through a mandatory certification once every 5 years. This system will undergo changes.

The teacher will submit proof of retraining and qualification. No exams will be held to check their general knowledge. Their compliance with the position held by them is what's checked.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048885.html

European Bank to help private sector with green technologies

The EDBR will give $6M in loans to Armenian businesses to switch to low-carbon and green tech. Thermal insulation, solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, efficient irrigation, etc.

https://factor.am/358558.html

Yerevan-Province transport pricing adjustments

Fewer people have been traveling Yerevan-Vanadzor so the transport operator decided to temporarily reduce the fare from $2.30 to $1.50 (a 400-dram reduction). Some private firms, on the other hand, have asked the public regulator to increased the fare for Yerevan-Artsashat, Vedi, etc. by 50-100 drams.

Out of 150 provincial route operators, two dozen were forced to suspend operations after the pandemic due to reduced passenger flow and taxis becoming more popular.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211197

COVID stats

3427 tested. 726 infected. 824 healed. 22 deaths. 15663.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048823.html

clinics receive doses of AstraZeneca to prepare for the launch of the public vaccination campaign

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211287

Yerevan has launched the public vaccination campaign

The 24,000 AstraZeneca doses are for those over the age of 55. There is also a supply of 15,000 Sputnik-5.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/211280

Cosmonautics Day

The world celebrated Yuri Gagarin's journey to space. Armenia hosted a conference attended by space experts from former Soviet republics. They discussed the republics' contribution to the space program. Some 40 astronauts were trained in Armenia.

Armenian names were an important part of the Soviet school of astrophysics and astronomy in the 1930s, said the Russian ambassador Kopyrkin, who spoke about Victor Hambardzumyan and others.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048757.html

today in history:

1963: Armenian-Jewish chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov was born

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Garry_Kasparov

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/mq9ncn/apr132021_1_new_nuclear_power_plant_discussions/

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