2021 April 29

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Apr/29/2021: (1) Azeris attempt to sneak in to install water pipe; retreat in Artsakh (2) Draft-dodger & hemp laws proceed (3) Diplom: FR, US, EU, RU (4) Free housing for refugees (5) Social programs (6) Border recording restriction (7) Electric vehicles; Trade-in; Driving exams (8) Vaxx docs (9)...
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Thursday report in 2999 words.

the Government approves draft bill to legalize hemp production in Armenia

Growing, exporting, importing, and sale of industrial hemp could become legal soon. A special license will be required, said acting deputy PM Avinyan.

Government: about a third of agricultural lands are unused in Armenia. Hemp could help the development of the agricultural sector.

Many jobs will be created after hemp launches as a new business branch. These jobs will be in areas that have always lacked economic opportunities.

Hemp license will be issued to those who have not violated laws about narcotics and are not drug addicts.

Industrial hemp is a source of CBD oil and fiber (մանրաթել) which are used in a range of consumer products. //

Full: https://youtu.be/K40vJIswPW8

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212603 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050746.html

Tags: #Cannabis #hemp

update: Azeri soldiers retreat again near Artsakh's Nor Ghazanchi village borders

They came 370m forward and retreated twice between April 26-28.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/292474/

group of civilian-dressed Azeris caught attempting to cross the border to install a water pipe (not clickbait)

Defense Ministry: yesterday at 11:40, in the north-eastern [presumably Tavush] section of the Republic of Armenia border, from the direction of Alibeili village, 8-10 Azeris dressed in civilian clothes entered the buffer zone.

They were carrying 40-meter-long pipes, possibly for delivering water to nearby Azeri positions.

After noticing Armenian border guards, they quickly dropped the pipes and returned to the Alibeili settlement. The Armenian guards exercised restraint.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050826.html

Armenian and French MPs discuss Artsakh's right to self-determination

Parliament president Mirzoyan met high-ranking French counterparts. He thanked them for the visits to Armenia and Artsakh. They discussed topics relating POWs and OSCE.

They agreed to make joint efforts to secure the Artsakh people's right to self-determination and to make the issue more public in European countries. [French Parliament earlier adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of Artsakh Republic.]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050807.html

prosecutor: Azerbaijan & Turkey conspired to recruit Syrian militants in June 2020 (shortly before Tavush clashes)

Armenia will press felony charges against dozens of Azeri individuals relating crimes during the war. There are ~100 felony cases against Azeris and hired militants. 35 Azeris are placed on the wanted list.

Prosecutor: preliminary investigation revealed facts that in June/2020, Azerbaijan planned military acts against Artsakh and Armenia, and reached an agreement with Turkey to recruit mercenary terrorists. [talks about the $2,000 payments and various terrorist groups]

{Relevant: Azerbaijan began importing Bayraktar drones in June, shortly before they unsuccessfully attacked Armenian positions in Tavush province. Source 1. Source 2 }

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050739.html https://youtu.be/Wh3Klsqv1QA

https://bulgarianmilitary.com/2020/06/27/azerbaijan-buys-the-deadly-turkish-bayraktar-tb2-mid-range-strike-uav/

new housing district being built in Artsakh's Karmir Shuka

It'll have 100 apartments. The construction has begun.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212671

re: Biden's official recognition of Armenian Genocide

Putin's spokesman Peskov cast doubt on Biden's sincerity with the genocide recognition, saying it's an act against Turkey rather than a desire to feel empathy for the people.

https://factor.am/364892.html

President to Biden: "recognition of Armenian genocide is protection of human rights, universal values, freedom, and democracy"

http://arka.am/en/news/politics/sarkissian_to_biden_recognition_of_armenian_genocide_is_protection_of_human_rights_universal_values_/

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington welcomed Biden's genocide recognition. "Recognition of the full extent of the crimes committed against the Armenian people, even a century after the events, is important."

https://www.amerikayidzayn.com/a/5869006.html

US Secretary Blinken spoke with Ilham Aliyev

... and emphasized the need to respect human rights in general, and to negotiate a lasting political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as part of OSCE Minsk Group.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050759.html

EU urges Azerbaijan to follow ECHR court order to share full details about POWs

Refrain from hostile and offensive rhetoric and release all detainees regardless of why they were arrested, urged the EU.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050718.html

Pashinyan about the return of POWs:

It is becoming an issue on the international agenda. I want to emphasize that the EU issued a very strong and targeted statement urging Azerbaijan to return all captives, regardless of how they were captured.

The recent activation of the topic on the international stage increases optimism that we will see results. We must be patient, united, and consistent.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050736.html

government allocates additional ֏2b to help refugees who fled Azerbaijan during 1988-1992

Refugee families living in Shengavit district will receive apartment purchase certificates. 168 recipients are on the list. That will conclude the "implementation of the priority program in Yerevan."

In 2019 the government approved order No. 1666-N to establish a multi-phase process to distribute housing. Each phase includes several districts in Yerevan, where the refugees receive free apartments.

The first two phases provided 183 apartments. Today's decision marks the beginning of the third and final phase in Yerevan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050743.html

government allocated additional ֏1.7b to Syunik and other provinces

A few weeks ago Pashinyan created a task force to familiarize with issues that Syunik's border residents face. Today they approved a ֏500m aid package for several infrastructure and social projects.

Nine other provinces received ֏1.2b in aid for social improvement projects.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050773.html

bill proposed: restrict amateur drone recordings on borders without a permit

The government complains that drones are being used to record Armenian military positions on immediate borderlines, which places the security at risk by exposing vulnerable areas.

Drones are also being increasingly used for smuggling contraband across the border, said NSS.

If it's approved, people could still enter border zones and use drones for filming trenches, engineering objects, buildings used by border guards, observation points, but only after obtaining permission.

Illegally entering a border zone would be punishable by $190 instead of the current $58.

The restrictions will not apply to Syunik borders until the army clearly marks where the "border zone" is with appropriate signs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050763.html

NSS meets Parliamentary committee to discuss Syunik borders / delimitation & demarcation

NSS representative: Armenia and Azerbaijan should both have a border layer to prevent any contact. We shouldn't have a permanent population in this zone. Today we have a situation where some people live near the border layer. Over time, this should be addressed.

The law defines a Border Layer as part of a Border Zone that is adjacent to the state border and has a width of up to 1km. Both sides should create a neutral zone.

Today we have a 520km border here. We are positioned as we were. When the situation deescalates, it will be possible to form groups tasked with delimitation and demarcation. Then the borders will become more clear.

Armenia has a group that's examining issues relating to Armenia's borders. They are examining maps from various years. Armenia's interests and approaches of various departments are being taken into account. It operates under Foreign Ministry. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050783.html

amnesty for soldiers who avoided army draft / bill passes important committee

The government recently announced plans to give mass amnesty to Armenians who left the country and did not join the army when summoned.

Today the Parliamentary Security Committee gave a green light to the bill presented by Justice Ministry.

Ministry: Guided by the principles of humanity and solidarity, the government has decided to propose an amnesty. It applies to regular conscripts who turned 27 or reservist officers who turned 35 before Sep/26/2020.

It also applies to those who voluntarily appear at a police station before Dec/31/2021.

Those who were already carrying punishment, or those who are on the wanted list, will have their cases dropped. //

Justice Ministry also provided statistics about Pashinyan's first mass amnesty in 2018. It was about crimes unrelated to army draft. 5K were freed, 1.1K committed crimes again, 0.2K committed crime twice.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050793.html

trading old vehicle with new one will become easier

The government approved a draft bill to reform taxes relating to vehicle imports.

Finance Minister Janjughazyan: it amends import tariff laws to help the trade-in system. Currently, when a manufacturer representative sells vehicles to a business which then resells them to individuals, the manufacturer representative cannot do VAT հաշվանցում, while the VAT tax base is calculated from the total sale price. //

He listed other processes that end up resulting in high prices for trade-in consumers, and ways to eliminate them.

Pashinyan: the goal is to develop the Trade-in system to swap old vehicles with new ones. It's a widely used practice in the world.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050742.html

driving exams become more stringent to reduce incidents

Exams last 30 minutes instead of 15, with 20 questions instead of 10.

B-class and lower license only require city driving.

C-class and above require a driving test in an autodrome. Once the police confirm you can drive, you will be allowed to take the test on city streets. These changes go into effect in June.

Fewer applicants pass the tests nowadays. Stats for applicants/passed:

2018: 37k/25k

2019: 62k/28k

2020: 53k/26k

Under the old rules, there was no ban on retaking tests after failing. "If you fail, that means you aren't ready. You need some time off to prepare before applying again."

Under new rules, the failed applicant can re-apply 7 days later, and if no-pass again, there will be a 1-month delay for each additional attempt.

There are amenities for disabled drivers. They can drive with special devices attached to the wheel. They bring their own vehicle to the exam. The license mentions that it's for an adapted vehicle.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050733.html

Infrastructure Ministry publishes the map of locations with planned road repairs in 2021

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212633

charging stations for electric vehicles

... were installed in a paid parking lot near Yerevan's Opera, as part of Plug.am campaign (don't try, it's not an actual website) with the financial help of international organizations.

Promotion of EVs in Yerevan will be continuous, said the municipality.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212586

president's building receives solar panels as a gift

SOLARA solar firm has a special program, as part of which they donated panels to Sarkissian's residence. 132 units of LA Solar (Made in Armenia) panels were installed with 370 W.

That's ֏3.4m/year in savings

https://www.civilnet.am/news/604664/կանաչ-մշակույթը՝-այժմ-նաև-բաղրամյան-26-ում․-solara-ն-արևային-վահանակներ-է-տեղադրել/

Armenia + Switzerland = anti money laundering

The head of SIS met Swiss ambassador Stefano Lazzarotto to discuss the ongoing cooperation between the law enforcement of two states.

Armenia is interested in the Swiss experience about returning money that's laundered out of the country. There will be educational classes for Armenian agents soon.

Swiss ambassador promised to help in the anti-corruption fight.

https://factor.am/364808.html

COVID stats

4284 tested. 656 infected. 882 healed. 16 deaths. 13257 active (down). ~2000 hospitalized.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050734.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050741.html

government discusses the vaccination campaign

Pashinyan: It's been a year the world lives under pandemic conditions. From the beginning, our strategy was to learn to live under these conditions with minimal impact on daily life.

We may not have paid enough attention to vaccination because of the war, but today we have a great potential, which is not realized at the proper level yet.

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: Over 2,000 people are currently hospitalized. The death toll has crossed 4,000. Anyone above 18 can apply for a vaccine. Mr. Avinyan and I took a vaccine yesterday to reassure its safety. Vaccination is the only solution.

Pashinyan: we should start from us. Within a week, all government members should be vaccinated. If any vaccine poses threat to citizens' health, we will not accept it.

There are many speculations on the media. It's not surprising. Anti-vaccine campaigns began in the past few years [before COVID it was over a vaccine to prevent girls from developing ovary cancer]. We should all be vaccinated. Vaccination will eventually become mandatory for travel. Only 2690 have received one as of today. It's a disgracefully low figure.

Vaccines have an expiration date with some being in May. They will be used only before the expiration date.

Avanesyan: beginning next week, we will deploy mobile teams in various busy sections of the city to increase vaccination.

Journalist: Pashinyan said there are only 2690 vaccinations and that it's a disgracefully low number, and that everyone should get a vaccine. Why is the government forcing vaccination, maybe people don't want it?

Avanesyan: the government is not forcing vaccination. There is a call to receive one. We displayed its safety by receiving one recently. The Economy Minister also presented data showing vaccination's importance from an economic perspective.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050734.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050738.html https://factor.am/364701.html https://factor.am/364743.html https://factor.am/364746.html

proposal: allow vaccinated passengers to enter Armenia without a PCR test

Healthcare officials drafted a proposal to be adopted soon. Passengers would need to take both doses and wait 2 weeks before being considered "vaccinated". The vaxx document has to be stamped and signed, as in the case of PCR tests.

Greece and Israel have similar policies. The EU is considering a similar policy in the continent.

The Economy Ministry welcomed the proposal. "It'll help tourism."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050671.html

digital certificate of vaccination

Pashinyan: we still do not know how the [international travel] rules will work in the future. There could be a need for a green passport with a special stamp. That's why we must be able to identify our vaccinated citizens within seconds.

MinHealth Avanesyan: an app was published for iOS yesterday. Vaccinated citizens will receive a green barcode confirming vaccination. The app is connected to the vaccination platform. We will release a tutorial tomorrow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050765.html

vandals set Mahatma Ghandi statue on fire

The Foreign Ministry and municipality officials condemned the vandalism in Yerevan.

Last year Yerevan administration decided to erect the Gandhi statue to honor IN-AM friendship. Some critics were against it, saying Gandhi was a friend of Turkey who opposed Armenia's independence.

A fact-checker would later dispute the claim that Gandhi was against Armenian independence, saying he was against the British meddling in Muslim affairs instead.

Gandhi stated that he supported Armenian independence: "If I understand the spirit of Islam properly, it is essentially republican in the truest sense of the term. Therefore, if Armenia or Arabia desired independence of Turkey they should have it..." Full statement here.

https://youtu.be/MywCz0He25k

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050757.html https://fip.am/en/11641 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050812.html

Economy Minister Qerobyan about trade with Turkey

[The government banned imports for 6 months after the war. Some raw products will be exempt in order not to harm Armenian producers.]

Qerobyan: We will extend the ban on Turkish imports. It's possible we will ban exports, too, because traders find ways to sneak imports disguised as exports.

When a decision is made at the political level to restore relations, then we will try to make sure that our economy is as well protected as possible from the flood of Turkish goods.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050745.html https://www.civilnet.am/news/604599/կառավարությունը-կթույլատրի-թուրքական-որոշ-ապրանքների-ներմուծումը/

Economy Minister Qerobyan about agriculture:

We expect sharp growth. Agriculture was the only field that did not saw a significant decline. We are implementing serious programs to support the sector.

Thousands of hectares are being developed. Within a few weeks, additional 1,000 hectares of intense gardens will be established.

Simultaneously, we are working to ensure uninterrupted exports to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other large cities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050784.html

interview with Harutyunyan, the president of Union of Winemakers:

Winemaking, one of the oldest branches of Armenia's economy, did not suffer as much damage compared to global winemaking during the pandemic. A 13% decline after a 32% growth in 2019.

Winemaking is not the field where you expect very large investments. There are usually numerous smaller investors. Smaller investments are more mobile and less vulnerable.

Our winemakers reached new agreements last year. 70% of our wine and 85% of cognac exports are to Russia.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212554

Crimean public officials visit Armenia to deepen scientific and business ties

They will meet scientists and attend business forums. It's an initiative by two former HHK and BHK MPs Babukhanyan and Urikhanyan.

http://arka.am/en/news/politics/crimean_delegation_arrives_in_armenia_to_deepen_scientific_and_business_ties_/

Pashinyan visits Russia to participate in EAEU trade bloc session

He met Russian Premier Miguel Mishustin who instructed the formation of a task force to increase trade and investments between AM-RU. The trade had dropped 10% and reached $2.3b because of the pandemic. "Moscow values fraternal and long-standing relations with Yerevan, which are allied and strategic." Mishustin mentioned the need to unblock trade routes in South Caucasus.

MFA Lavrov will visit Armenia then Azerbaijan next month.

Pashinyan during EAEU: Azerbaijan has not yet fulfilled the very important provision of the November 9 trilateral statement, regarding the return of POWs... Unblocking trade communications can change the entire economic situation in our region. More here.

Parts from Pashinyan interview to Russian media: it's important for the snap elections to be free and legal for people to express their will... I don't have disagreements with deputy PM Avinyan or other members... After elections, the relations between RU-AM don't even need to be discussed: was/is/will be good.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050803.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050811.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050825.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050822.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050821.html

opposition consolidates: HHK + Arthur Vanetsyan

Republican Party will form an alliance with the former NSS spook's Hayreniq party. Neither party would make it into Parliament independently according to recent polls. It'll be an uphill battle even with an alliance. Together they received 2.8% in polls. 5% is needed to pass.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050835.html https://youtu.be/Pd7p08mtNgY

suing to get the park land back

The Urban Development committee and prosecutors are preparing a case against a landowner and possibly officials, who are accused of illegal deals enabled by Ararat city mayor in 2015-2017, which allowed property owners to take a portion of the city's only public park.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212626

family movie: Once Upon a Time In School (Մի անգամ դպրոցում)

The latest Armenian movie premiers today. It's a movie about friendship, devotion, and a struggle for goals and justice, starring famous actors including Mko (Mkrtich Arzumanyan) and his son, Rafael Yeranosyan, and others.

In the film, the creators of the value system are not only the teachers, the parents, but also a mysterious grandfather and his books.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050675.html

grandmaster Levon Aronian reaches New In Chess Class semi-finals

He will compete against Magnus Carlsen after defeating Wesley Soy with 3:1.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050717.html

today in history

1770: explorer James Cook finally reaches Australia. A month ago he landed in New Zealand and realized it was an island.

1882: first trolleybus line opens in Berlin

1897: British scientist Joseph Thompson discovers the electron

1970: world-renowned and once number-one tennis star Andre Agassi(an) is born. Armenian-American-Assyrian.

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Andre_Agassi https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1050712.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/n1cm5s/apr292021_1_azeris_attempt_to_sneak_in_to_install/

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