2021 April 16

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Apr/16/2021: (1) Security Council chief details Onik's war assessment & timeline in interview: records, volunteer army, Serj's Constitutional amendment (2) Artsakh & Diaspora in AM Parliament? (3) Truth Commission (4) LHK in charge (5) Sakartvelo (6) Crime down (7) Driver's license rules (8) Copper
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Friday report in 3180 words.

former CoGS Onik Gasparyan also wants a Truth Commission for war

The former army commander sent a letter to Parliament urging the creation of a commission to investigate the war events amid a "rising wave of conspiracy theories, misinformation, irresponsible behavior by public officials", etc.

Opposition LHK proposed such commission earlier. Pashinyan recently said he supports the idea. LHK leader Marukyan today said if the commission is lead by LHK, he will hold a fair investigation without aiming to arrest anyone in particular.

Months earlier the ruling party said a truth commission would be created when the political tensions subside down, to have a "fair" investigation.

https://factor.am/360061.html

interview with Security Council chief: Onik Gasparyan's "4th day warning", Serj Sargsyan's Constitutional amendment shenanigans about wartime commander-in-chief, ashkharazor army

Read this for context. The Security Council published the Council meeting records, which reportedly contradicts Gasparyan's claims about the need to urgently stop the war "within 3 days."

Reporter: why haven't you published the records sooner to dispute Onik's claims? Why wait for so long?

Council chief Grigoryan: First, remember the internal situation in Armenia on November 17 when Onik published his letter. We didn't think it was an urgent matter to respond to him at the time. We believed that truth would eventually come out.

Second, there was a small technical issue regarding legal proceedings. Publishing the records sooner would require Onik's involvement because he was the CoGS at the time.

Onik's November 17 statement was mostly misinformation. He attempted to alter the past events. For example, he said that in June, days after being appointed as CoGS, he submitted an assessment report about the military-political situation in the region. The fact is, he submitted no reports at June 18 Security Council meeting.

We published that session's records, too. There were two reporters in that session. His wasn't one of them.

What Onik talks about was actually part of his 10-page report on August 21, but again he is distorting the reality. You will not find a single word about "taking diplomatic steps" in that report.

Reporter: did Onik report that Turkey would support Azerbaijan in the event of war?

Councilman: Onik reported that in the eastern front we can destroy the opponent with the "not one step back" principle. How does Onik assess that we could destroy the enemy if Turkey were to intervene in the east? Onik's main point was that Turkey could attack from the western front [Turkish or Nakhijevan border].

We declassified additional data to make it clear that Onik's advice was not to give a diplomatic solution, but to create ashkharazor (countrywide volunteer) army. If you look at the government's decision in August you will see that we took steps to create the ashkharazor. You know that the government appointed deputy governors with military backgrounds in provinces that would coordinate the ashkharazor army. Onik's assessment was that he sees the resolution in the creation of ashkharazor army. We took steps based on his advice.

Reporter: so his main advice was the creation of ashkharazor army?

Councilman: Yes. The solution to the problem, according to him, was the creation of ashkharazor army, and not diplomatic meetings. Moreover, what role does Onik play in diplomatic topics? His job was military. And his actions were logical: he saw a problem and he offered a solution (ashkharazor army). We approved his idea and went with that route.

On the 4th day of the war, during the Sep/30/2020 Security Council meeting, Onik reported a counterattack and successes on [southern] Jabrayil direction and that "the enemy had no advancement." These are his words. It was recorded.

Reporter: is a Security Council meeting only consisted of official reports? Is it possible Onik said something else orally/casually?

Councilman: the Security Council is a mature institute. There can be no topics, especially about a war, that can be discussed casually for five minutes. You don't raise a hand and say "I have an opinion". A report is needed.

Discussion of each topic takes 1.5 hours on average. And for us to be able to discuss it for 1.5 hours, preparatory work is needed, so anyone who has a suggestion has to submit a report beforehand so all Council members can read it before the session. We discussed Onik's 10-page report for 2.5 hours.

Reporter: is it possible he orally mentioned it during a session?

Councilman: the sessions are audiotaped.

Reporter: he says it can be falsified.

Councilman: the whole thing is audiotaped. During that session, no idea was discussed that could be misinterpreted. How do you image CoGS chief "implying" certain things so casually about a war? In the [4th day] session he reported about a successful counter-attack on Jabrayil direction, and that the enemy had no advancements whatsoever.

Reporter: when did Onik Gasparyan say, for the first time, that the war must be stopped?

Councilman: the first such session, not just about Onik, was held on October 19, participated by [parliamentary] opposition parties. The idea of stopping the war "within 3 days", which Onik Gasparyan attributed to September 30 session, was actually made on October 19.

At the time, Onik even brought examples of a boxing match to prove his case about the need to stop the war. We accepted his advice. [Same day, Pashinyan called Putin to negotiate a ceasefire. There would be 3 such attempts but Azerbaijan violated every time.]

Reporter: there are claims that a failed "Lele Tepe" operation was launched for PR purposes to capture the hill to show that Pashinyan is better than Sej who lost the hill. [it's likely the tank battalion operation that almost cut off Azeris from north to south but some commander alleged bailed out and screwed things up]

Councilman: it's propaganda and nonsense that we attempted to capture Lele Tepe hill for political gains. You cannot organize an attack just for Lele Tepe [it's all the way in furthest south-east]. Operations should be viewed in a wider context. You know that the fiercest battles were in the southern direction.

Reporter: which general was the author of the attack? Who approved it?

Councilman: the Security Council discusses a topic. The Premier moderates it. The Council reaches a consensus. There has never been a case when the Council hasn't come to a consensus over any topic. If any member is against, we continue to discuss until we come to a common agreement. Premier was the moderator as always.

The decision was made by the Council with consensus. We agreed that at that moment, that operation was the best option. Onik Gasparyan can later leave and claim he had a different idea, but at that time, the Security Council had a consensus after discussions. No one should avoid responsibility. There has never been a scenario where a member says "I'm completely against, an operation should be done differently," and we proceed to do it regardless.

Reporter: Pashinyan [and earlier General Babayan] said that the tank mission failed because a battalion commander, son of a famous general, refused to do his duties. Was that Seyran Ohanyan's son?

Councilman: I cannot comment.

Reporter: Vazgen Manukyan said that he called generals during the war and urged them not to follow Artsakh president Arayik Harutyunyan's orders, and to organize a coup. Is it possible that Vazgen Manukyan's actions could have caused some operations to fail?

Councilman: the opposition, for the most part, saw this war as a battle not against the enemy but against the government, without which they could never dream about gaining power again. Remember the November 10 riot. Remember how much the system was attacked during the war.

Reporter: who wanted to give away the 7th defense ring. Was it your uncle? [opposition general Movses "Mosi" Hakobyan is Councilman's uncle]

Councilman: I cannot comment.

Reporter: per Constitution, the Premier is the commander-in-chief during a war

Councilman: you noted correctly... during a war. Did we declare war?

Reporter: they declared war against us

Councilman: they declared. This is where the problem is. Serj Sargsyan amended the Constitution in 2015 to escape consequences in the future. Armenia has never declared war on others since the 1990s. De-facto it is in war, but not de-jure.

In 2015, when Serj Sargsyan amended the constitution to turn Armenia into a Parliamentary state in the future, he wanted to give the president [powerless figure] the title of commander-in-chief. Serj envisioned himself as Premier, while the President would be commander-in-chief. He knew that a war was going to happen eventually, and he wanted to place the burden on the president.

We, on the other hand, always wanted the Premier to be the commander-in-chief even during a non-war state. But Serj, knowing that Armenia would never declare war, amended the Constitution that Premier becomes commander-in-chief during war [if Armenia itself declares war, presumably]. Those who criticize us today actively forget what they had done in 2015.

Full: https://youtu.be/J8zEektWyp0

https://factor.am/360145.html

Tags: #ashkharazor #OnikGasparyan #WarReport #assessment #War #SecurityCouncil #Grigoryan #OnikGasparyan proposal: LHK wants to rally opposition, asks ex-regime to sacrifice themselves

LHK leader Marukyan: half of those who support the ruling party do so in order not to allow the former officials to return to power. I propose the following: Kocharyan and other former officials withdraw from upcoming elections so LHK can shrink the ruling QP and turn it into an opposition party.

Step away. If you don't, they will use you to retain power. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049261.html

proposal: two chambers in Parliament with representation from Artsakh and diaspora

Ruling QP MP Aghazaryan: in addition to what we have today, we could have an Upper Chamber with let's say, 100 representatives: 50 from Artsakh and 50 from around the world. The Upper Chamber would gather once a year to hold a session. We should also increase the role of the Public Council.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049233.html

residents line up for driver's license test / new rules in 2021

Recently the government approved a bill to reform how the license is issued. More exam questions, stricter behind-the-wheel test requirements, coaches to undergo routine retraining, etc. The goal is to reduce incidents on the roads.

The number of applicants skyrocketed towards the end of 2020. They were trying to pass the exams before the implementation of the new rules. A queue with 15,000 applicants was formed in Yerevan alone. To make things worse, the agency was closed for two months during the pandemic.

Today the lines are shorter. The agency accepts 100 applicants daily. 80% are female (woah?).

From now on, behind-the-wheel tests will be conducted on city streets instead of autodromes to evaluate real-world skills, or in both in some cases.

Inspector: applicants were initially against this change. They were afraid it would be more difficult. Soon they realized it's actually easier. They can train the test route with their personal tutor before giving the exam.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049222.html

Ukraine-Azerbaijan

LHK leader Marukyan criticized the deputy premier of Ukraine for visiting the Aghdam region (went under Azeri control) and offering Azerbaijan to rebuild its infrastructure. "Perhaps he forgot president Zelenski's statement about Ukraine staying out of the conflict. But we also remember how happy Zelenski was with the efficiency of Turkish drones." [Context: Ukraine wants to purchase and produce Turkish drones to help restore rule over eastern Ukraine.]

Full: https://factor.am/359976.html

Belarus-Azerbajan-EAEU bloc

Azerbaijan wants to participate in EAEU trade talk meetings despite not being an official member. It is facing hurdles due to issues with member-state Armenia. All EAEU states must consent for a third party to join. Belarus is actively aiding Azerbaijan to join the session.

Deputy PM Mher said Armenia will soon express its position. When asked whether Armenia could veto Azerbaijan's participation in a session, he said "of course it's possible." The idea of using it to return POWs is on the table.

https://factor.am/360039.html https://factor.am/360097.html https://factor.am/360174.html

Armenians and Georgians meet to discuss the construction of a new bridge

Sadakhlo-Bagratashen entry point will have a new bridge called "Friendship" on Debed River. A GEO-ARM meeting took place today. The expert groups discussed the preparation.

It's actually two one-way bridges with 1 meter apart. It'll be 386m long and 8.35m wide. It'll come equipped with a water removal network and lighting.

It's funded by the EBRD bank and the governments of ARM and GEO. The builder is an Iranian company. Koreans will inspect it.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049248.html

president Sarkissian's Georgia trip continues

Second Lady Nune Sargsyan visited Tbilisi's Art Palace. It holds 300,000 arts and cultural pieces relating to Georgian culture. The museum opened a special "Armenian Corner" ahead of Sarkissian's visit.

Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049235.html

President Sarkissian visited Tbilisi's Heroes Square then the Parliament to meet its president to discuss ARM-GEO cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049249.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049257.html

In other news. A hostage takeover scene unfolded in a Tbilisi bank branch. The armed suspect entered into negotiations with the police. What a strange way to convince Georgians to finance the bridge... /s. The suspect was later apprehended.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049259.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049272.html

In more "other news", rumors circulated that Sarkissian is wasting $2,000/day in taxpayer money by staying at a luxury hotel in Tbilisi. Sarkissian's office dismissed the rumors, saying he was invited to Georgia and the host is paying for his stay.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049268.html

Soccer Federation chief is suing LHK leader over alleged defamation

Read this for context. The soccer federation chief Melikbekyan's "long-time rival" made accusations of poor management. An argument ensued between the two. LHK leader Marukyan injected himself into the conversation and said the soccer federation administration's "future is in prisons"; it was an opportunity to attack the political government over "failing the soccer". The soccer federation chief criticized Marukyan for politicizing the topic and demanded an apology over "defamation".

Today the soccer federation chief Melikbekyan and the federation filed a defamation lawsuit against Marukyan. They demand an apology and compensation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049306.html https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/m79g0k/mar172021_news_wrapup_1_education_reforms_new/

crime is down 7.7% in 1Q21

From 6965 to 6431 (-7.7%). Most of the drop was associated with a reduction in property theft.

52% low severity, 30% medium.

18 murders. 221 damage to health (23 sex crimes). 5 human trafficking cases. 251 corruption cases.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049307.html

Catholicos blesses a group of wounded soldiers headed to Austria for additional medical care

Five soldiers visited Ejmiatsin Holy See to meet Garegin B. The church will help with the recovery.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049247.html

video: Dutch expert preparing modern prosthetics for former soldiers in a new center in Armenia

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=281338673479117

Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh

... have so far neutralized 25.6K explosives on 1990 hectares of lands, 617km of roads, and 1716 buildings.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049227.html

German BILD article talks about Aliyev's "war park" in Baku

https://m.bild.de/wa/ll/bild-de/unangemeldet-42925516.bildMobile.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049316.html

The National Interest article compares Ilham Aliyev with Saddam Hussein

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049341.html

search operations continue on former battlefields

No bodies were found in Jrakan (Jabrail) direction.

One Azeri soldier died from a landmine explosion that occurred during search operations earlier.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049237.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049320.html

re: Artsakh president will be questioned by prosecutors

... over a felony investigation relating to an alleged toppling of the Constitutional Order. "He hasn't been summoned to appear at a station yet."

What is it about?

Two NGOs called Hayki Serund and Araj Artsakh filed a report with prosecutors on Dec/10/2020. They argue that the authorities did not have the right to approve the November 9 statement to withdraw from the adjacent territories and that a referendum should have been held to decide the territories' fate, per Constitution.

A legal expert argues that the Constitutional order was toppled because of Azerbaijan's actions, and not the authorities.

(hmmm 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔 how do you organize a referendum when things change on an hourly basis?)

https://www.azatutyun.am/a/31206701.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049291.html

Constitutional Court rejects March 1st suspect Kostanyan's petition

Former regime's prosecutor Gevorg Kostanyan was charged with organizing a tampering of bullet casing evidence after March 1st shootings, "to cover up." There is an active warrant against him. He resides in Russia.

Kostanyan, too, had earlier asked the Constitutional Court to investigate whether the Articles he was charged with are Constitutional, akin to Kocharyan's case. He also wants clarification of pre-trial detention and arrest warrant Articles.

Today the Constitutional Court rejected Kostnyan's petition. The full reasoning will be available later.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049318.html https://factor.am/360052.html

update: famed weightlifter charged after pedestrian incident

Simon Martirosyan, a gold and silver medalist in international competitions, struck a pedestrian in front of Yerevan Mall at night. The report said the pedestrian was jaywalking.

Today he was charged with Article 242 about violating traffic rules that lead to accidental death. Punishable by up to 5 years.

Martirosyan retained two lawyers. He is told not to leave Armenia for now.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049325.html https://www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docid=69646

Margahovit residents protest a new copper mine

Several residents in Lori province do not want a local copper mine to open, fearing environmental harm. They complained that the locals weren't notified ahead of time.

Exploration work needs to be conducted first. "It's possible there won't be any copper at all," said the miner. The latter argues that the mine is a small one, under 1 million ton, therefore it cannot operate tailings (pochambar), which is what environmentalists usually complain about. "It will only have dry պոչանքներ, while the factory will be 20km away."

Residents wanted to know the identity of the mine owner. "The largest shareholder is Czechian citizen Davit Marashek," said the miner.

Miner says the mined material would be transported to Ararat province's gold factory for further processing, instead of being done locally.

The locals aren't happy. They plan to continue protests.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049265.html

Yerevan will investigate land owner who cut trees and dismantled playground

A dozen trees were cut on Baghramyan street. Residents complained about the destruction of a mini-park.

City official: the activities were on private land. Nonetheless, the incident could fall under Article 60 regulations about small parks. We will investigate.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049267.html

COVID stats

5870 tested. 961 infected. 1075 healed. 18 deaths. 16099 (slightly down)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049236.html

Armenia is willing to produce 100,000 Sputnik-V vaccines per month

The AM-RU negotiations began in December and continue over establishing a vaccine production in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049296.html

top-10 bestseller translated books in March

5) Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes. (sci-fi mini-piece published in 1959 turned into a book later)

4) A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. (Women's rights in Afghanistan)

3) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. (Afghan mountains were once peaceful, while the capital Kabul was rich)

2) The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak. (The Turkish author talks about issues and complexities in Turkish society, including the topic of the Armenian Genocide. The author was persecuted and had a felony cause launched against him for writing it. He won the lawsuit.)

1) Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richar Bach (about how seagulls find their way to food... things turn philosophical)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048911.html

today in history

1871: Berlin becomes the capital of the German empire

1990: Dr. Death Jack Kevorkian begins the "right to die" campaign

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049207.html

Thursday was big day in news, in case you missed:

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mrmr4j/apr152021_1_13b_syunik_roads_tunnels_2_sec/

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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/msb2d0/apr162021_1_security_council_chief_details_oniks/

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