2021 April 27

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Apr/27/2021: (1) Universal inclusive education in preschools (2) Free mortgage for poor & multi-child families (3) North-South highway construction resumes (4) Judicial reforms (5) Roscosmos (6) Traffic stats (7) Felony cases (8) Border news (9) Geopolitics (10) Opposition prepares (12) More vaxx
by ar_david_hh


Your 10-minute Tuesday report in 2684 words.

social mortgage system / free housing for low-income families

Labor Ministry earlier: the lack of affordable housing leads to series of social, health, and education problems in low-income families. We drafted a bill to establish a social mortgage system. The government will subsidize the loan principal and interest for housing in provinces. Depending on the number of children they have, the subsidy will start from ֏6.5m. //

Today the Ministry shared the link to the draft bill. It's been published for public debate before entering Parliament.

It will help 2,000 rural families annually. The family will receive a mortgage loan. Only the first ֏6.5m ($13,000) will be subsidized. Anything above is paid out of pocket. The family will receive an additional ֏1m subsidy for each child if they have 3 or more.

No downpayment if the sum is within the limits. The annual 7% mortgage rate will be fully subsidized. The repayment period is 20 years.

The total budget is ֏500m this year, ֏2b next, ֏4b in 2023.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212333 https://www.e-draft.am/projects/3209 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1049893.html

Tags: #SocialMortgage #family

Armenia to implement "universal inclusive education system" in preschools

It's about allocating additional funds for socially vulnerable children and those with needs. The aim is to ensure children's equal development. Ministry believes many of the school-age problems can be avoided if they are addressed in preschools.

Education Ministry met UN representatives to discuss the plan. It's scheduled to go into effect in December 2023. There have been such attempts in the past but they failed due to a lack of legal reforms. These legal reforms are being addressed today.

More about education reforms: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ma411m/mar212021_news_1_pashinyan_speech_negotiations https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050549.html

companies engaged in space activities in Armenia will receive tax benefits

Security Councilman Grigoryan visited Moscow and Dushanbe and met the head of Russia's RosCosmos (NASA) Dmitri Rogozin. They discussed cooperation. Grigoryan mentioned a recently adopted law that provides tax benefits to investors.

Rogozin suggested expanding AM-RU cooperation in space tech design and development. Each side will form an expert group to develop specific plans.

Rogozin invited Armenia to visit the Global Space Exploration Conference - GLEX-2021 in June. Rogozin himself will visit Armenia in the summer.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212464

judicial reforms: reducing load, expediting trials

Justice Minister Badasyan: while the ethics vetting for judges is important, we also emphasize the need to raise their salaries to have tangible results in the system. We are working on salaries and pensions.

The judicial system will have 42 new recruits this year. The budget has already allocated the funds. There will be new judges in appeals, administrative and civil courts across Armenia.

We also discussed the condition of court facilities with the Supreme Court president.

We all know the issue with courts being overloaded. We will implement an electronic judicial system. It will have a serious effect on reducing wait times. The number of accumulated cases will reduce by 10% in 2021 and 20% by 2022.

50% of newly submitted court cases will be handled electronically by 2022.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050483.html

traffic stats: incidents/injuries/deaths

2018: 4111/5950/343

2019: 4799/6801/341

2020: 4015/5846/348

Last year the incidents reduced in Yerevan but increased in provinces. Armenia recently announced plans to join the global Vision Zero project to reduce traffic incidents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050491.html

Armenia will install additional cameras and barbwires on Syunik borders

QP MP Khachatryan: border positions are being strengthened with tech to monitor the borders. There will also be barbwires to prevent civilians from crossing the border and causing incidents.

https://factor.am/364021.html

Azeri troops retreat near Nor Ghazanchi borders after earlier advancement

Last weekend Azeris advanced their positions by 370m near Artsakh's north-eastern village Nor Ghazanchi. After negotiations with Defense Army and peacekeepers, the Azeri troops went back to their original positions today.

https://artsakhpress.am/arm/news/142847/inchpisin-e-iravitchakn-ays-pahin-nor-xazanchium-manramasner.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050500.html

Artsakh monasteries

Armenian churchgoers visited Artsakh's Amaras monastery near the borders, accompanied by peacekeepers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050482.html

Armenian church condemned Azerbaijan for preventing a group of churchgoers from making a scheduled trip to Artsakh's Dadivanq monastery. Azerbaijan claimed the reason was the pandemic. Such trips have been routine and are usually accompanied by peacekeepers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050505.html

Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh

... have so far cleared 2037 ha of lands and 622km roads from explosives.

A Russian vehicle exploded on a landmine on Saturday; two peacekeepers were wounded. That is what was reported by the media and circulated by a deputy spokesman of Artsakh's Internal Ministry. Artsakh Emergency Ministry later denied the report.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050477.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050518.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212449

Russia and Azerbaijan held a phone conversation about the implementation of the November 9 trilateral statement

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050570.html

Russia and France held a phone conversation about possible joint projects regarding Artsakh

https://www.civilnet.am/news/604288/պուտինն-ու-մակրոնը-կհայտարարեն-ղարաբաղի-հարցով-կոնկրետ-նախաձեռնությունների-մասին/

US ambassador Tracey about Artsakh conflict:

Russia played an important role in stopping the war but we still see problems that need to be resolved, including the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. This will be on our (US and Minsk Group) agenda.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/292430/

VICE article about human rights violations by Azerbaijan against Armenian POWs

https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/akgdgk/armenia-azerbaijan-prisoners-of-war-nagorno-karabakh

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights criticizes Ilham Aliyev for the Saddam Park

Baku's Saddam Park was criticized by various European officials lately. The European Council's commissioner sent a letter to Azerbaijan, critical of the Park.

Baku responded to the official with an urge to remain "neutral", saying the complaint letter helps "revanchist [Armenian] circles."

https://factor.am/363891.html https://factor.am/363966.html

rumors and rebuttals: Aliyev did not take a photo from Armenia

Aliyev shared a photo from the occupied Zangelan region (south-west Artsakh). Social media detectives thought it was from a park in Syunik. "The borders in this area were drawn before the war. No new changes were made after the war," said Nature Ministry.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050498.html https://fip.am/15293

rumors and rebuttals: Maral's passport

A report was published claiming that Maral Najarian was unable to obtain a passport. She is a diasporan who was captured by Azeris while traveling to Shushi after the war, before being released recently.

The police passport department denied the report, saying nobody applied for a passport (check your Spam?). The police reminded the rules and said it's necessary to apply with a consulate then pick it up either personally or through an authorized person. "No notary is necessary."

The police complain that the former POW's name is "being used to discredit the police."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050551.html

BHK is headed for an electoral victory

... believes BHK MP Melkumyan, but "no one will get 50%+1. It will be a balanced government. Gagik Tsarukyan will be the head of the state. The current conditions dictate that we need a leader who has never been the head of state. The time has come for our team to win."

https://factor.am/363894.html

Robert Kocharyan met his followers ahead of snap elections

Kocharyan criticized Pashinyan over the economy, saying the Agricultural Ministry should be brought back as an independent Ministry. Pashinyan merged several Ministries after coming to power to "improve work efficiency and reduce expenditures."

If I wasn't sure about repeating the economic success of 1998-2007, I wouldn't run for these elections, said Kocharyan. He also said he could restrain the inflation within a month.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/292434/

Red Cross organized a video chat between several Armenian POWs and family members

Only phone calls were permitted in the past.

https://factor.am/364091.html

Baroness Caroline Cox

... met Parliament president Mirzoyan to discuss the genocide recognition and POWs. "It is a great honor to personally host one of the best friends of the Armenian people in the Parliament. Thank you for being with Armenians for nearly 30 years and for fighting for justice over the years," said Mirzoyan. "I'm angry that the British government has not yet recognized the Armenian genocide," said Cox.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050532.html https://factor.am/364072.html

Foreign Minister Ayvazyan gave an interview to BBC Weekend:

Biden's genocide recognition is a significant contribution to the global recognition and prevention of genocides. The Senate and House also adopted resolutions in 2019.

(How will this affect AM-TR relations?) Turkey has been pursuing a hostile policy towards Armenia since 1991. They rejected the establishment of diplomatic ties and closed the borders. The hostility gradually grew. Moreover, they were directly involved in the Azeri aggression against the Nagonoro Karabakh population and sent thousands of foreign armed terrorists. We hope Biden's statement will pave way for dialogue and eventual normalization of relations.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050538.html

Indian embassy uses the phrase "Armenian Genocide" for the first time

Ambassador Dewal shared a message from the Tsitsernakaberd memorial in which he used the term "Genocide".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050543.html

Update: the original message has been rescinded. https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/n01kje/apr272021_1_universal_inclusive_education_in/gw43fv2/

a billboard is installed to thank Joe Biden for Genocide recognition

Paraqar municipality installed it on the highway that leads to Yerevan's Zvartnots airport. It reads "Thank you President Joe Biden". They plan to install similar messages elsewhere.

Photo: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212443

Turkish-Armenian MP Paylan receives threats after proposing resolution to recognize genocide

MP Ümit Özdağ called Garo Paylan "ungrateful" and said, "Talaat Pasha deported backstabbers like you". He then threatened that there will come a time when the same [genocide] "will and should" repeat against Garo Paylan.

Garo Paylan responded: The waste who thinks of annihilating my people says 'we will do it again'. Those who survived have not stopped the fight for justice, and they will not stop after I'm gone.

https://factor.am/363923.html https://factor.am/363963.html

anti-US protests in Turkey

Turkish "Vatan" party held a rally to protest Biden's recognition. They called for the closure of the US military base in Turkey and for Turkey to officially recognize Crimea as Russian. The group wants Turkey to strengthen ties with eastern bloc states.

Turkey's Mini Majlis adopted a resolution condemning Biden's recognition.

Pentagon spokesman said they have assessed the situation and do not expect any changes in US-TR relations. "Turkey is a US ally in NATO."

https://factor.am/363785.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212419 https://factor.am/364126.html

what to do with all the flowers in the Tsitsernakaberd genocide memorial?

It's been years since they stopped burning the flowers. They are being processed nowadays.

After the end of the events, the flowers are gathered nearby to have the leaves separated from stems. Then it's taken to a special facility and left to dry for two months.

It's then used to produce candles, paper, and postcards, which are then sent to various foreign embassies in Armenia. The candles come with writings about how they were produced.

Normally 3,000 people take part in flower-cleanup. This year only special scouts will participate.

Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050512.html

fuel prices increase amid global economic and demand recovery

1L = ֏440. It had dropped to ֏270 during the early pandemic period. "The fuel prices sharply increased 20 days ago before reducing again, due to competition."

It's ֏30 cheaper in neighboring Georgia because they buy it first-hand from Azerbaijan at lower prices. Armenia has to import through a third state.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212144

North-South highway construction resumes / asphalt vs concrete / felony charges

Large-scale asphalting of the Transh-3 section begins. An "important" 46km Talin-Lanjik-Gyumri section will be ready by September.

Ministry decided to use asphalt instead of concrete because of the history of felony embezzlement cases involving concrete construction; the risk of concrete machinations is high.

The continuation of Transh-2 construction depends on the resolution of the aforementioned felony cases. It is essentially a crime scene that Ministry does not want to mess up. They will negotiate with the Spanish contractor to continue its construction.

(Context: series of felony charges were filed against people associated with the former regime after the 2018 revolution. Investigators say they found billions-worth embezzlement and cooking books relating North-South construction.)

https://youtu.be/435salYDJJE?t=163

https://factor.am/363897.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212450

road connecting Mets Pareni and Katnajur settlements

The 4.4 km long section of the T-5-32-Katnajur highway is being restored as part of a project that improves the vital road network in Armenia. It's east of Gyumri.

Several public buildings and roads in Katnajur will also undergo renovation. Co-funded by the government and World Bank.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050480.html

South Caucasus Railways begins renovating 9.5km railways

... in northern Lori province. ֏2.8b investment.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212439

customs storage operator suspended for not meeting standards

There were reports of long lines in the southern Meghri border checkpoint. The IRS announced the suspension of a major storage operator after a month-long audit of various facilities. "They did not have the required x-ray devices, among other violations. The license could be reinstated if the problems are fixed."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050520.html

former governor's wife questioned by IRS

One of the felony investigations by IRS implicates Elizabeth Petrosyan, the wife of Syunik's former governor.

https://factor.am/363867.html

update: felony case against deputy army chief Andranik Makaryan

One of the deputy CoGS was recently charged with a felony. The Investigative Committee said it's over Article 376.3, which is about official negligence "during a war or martial law." Punishable between 4-8 years. (Makaryan was among CoGS military officials who refused to join Onik Gasparyan in demanding Pashinyan's resignation.)

https://factor.am/363937.html

Central Bank: terrorism financing risks in Armenia considered to be low

... while the money laundering risks are estimated below average. Two dozens criteria were used during the assessment, said deputy chairman Yeritsyan.

The Central Bank receives analyzed data on all transactions above ֏20m and $5m.

Armenia amended its laundering laws after receiving suggestions from Europe's MONEYVAL agency.

http://arka.am/en/news/economy/terrorism_financing_risks_in_armenia_considered_to_be_low_deputy_chairman_of_central_bank_/

seagulls are taking over Sevan (clickbait)

Sevan city's youth organization and international partners installed multilingual seagull-themed signs as part of a campaign. "This can become our city's symbol."

Located on streets, beaches, and public areas, some of them come equipped with displays that show QR codes to guide tourists to nearby sites.

Photo: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050511.html

=Russian tourists would like to visit Armenia

Tutu.ru and a Russian bank conducted a survey and found that Armenia is a popular destination, with 5% selecting the country as their upcoming holiday destination.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/292423/

COVID stats

4277 tested. 595 infected. 801 healed. 18 deaths. 13297 active (down again).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050487.html

Brazil safety regulator opposes Sputnik-V vaccine

... citing "lack of consistent and reliable data about safety and quality." Russia believes it's a political decision influenced by the US, saying all the necessary documents were submitted to reassure vaccine's production quality.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212407 https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/brazil-health-regulator-anvisas-technical-staff-recommend-against-importing-2021-04-26/

vaccines: import of next large batch is expected in 10 days

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: China is donating 100,000 doses of Sinovac CoronoVac vaccine for 50,000 people. It'll arrive within two weeks. We have a preliminary agreement to obtain American Novavax. The date and quantity TBD.

Vaccines have an expiration date of 6 months and it takes upwards of 3 months after its production for some states to obtain the vaccine. We have launched a public information campaign in Armenia to promote vaccination so we can administer the doses before the expiration date.

We observe increased activity in demand. Unfortunately, we also see an anti-vaccine campaign that tries to frame the topic as a political issue. It's a global problem.

(During the initial days of vaccines there were great hopes with Armenian-American Nubar Afeyan's Moderna. Any progress?)

Moderna is not only more expensive but its storage requirements are difficult. Armenia would need a different immunization system to handle it. Nonetheless, we are in constant touch with Moderna and Pfizer to analyze options. But a vaccine is a necessity and not a luxury. If there is any vaccine that solves the problem then we will choose it.

(If it's expensive that means it's better, believes the public. Is this true for vaccines?)

Vaccines undergo very strict quality control before reaching patients. Any vaccine that has passed the necessary stages is considered high quality and safe. The ones we purchase are in different price categories so the price isn't the only thing we consider [presumably referring to cheaper AstraZeneca and more expensive Sputnik-V].

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050469.html

81% of Georgians wear a mask, up from 45% in February

https://factor.am/364160.html

Juventus is negotiating with Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Big if true. Heno has not extended the contract with Roma yet; it expires this summer. His possible transfer is valued at €20m. Juventus wants to pay €5m/year. Heno has not yet responded to the offer.

The 32yo Roman midfielder has played 39 matches, 11 goals, 11 goal passes. Sources say Juve could use Heno to reduce Christiano Ronaldo's burden in the attack line.

https://factor.am/364147.html https://armsport.am/275746/

today in history

1915: poet Hovhannes Shiraz is born

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050464.html

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/n01kje/apr272021_1_universal_inclusive_education_in/

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