2021 April 7

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Apr/7/2021: (1) Bill: amnesty for army dodgers, tax break, public cursing (2) Pashinyan & Putin: POW, new nuclear plant, vaccine, weapons (3) Urartu artifacts (4) March 1st (5) $240M for Artsakh homes (6) Latest sports news (7) Police accountability stats (8) COVID & aid (9) Armenia's gold exports
by ar_david_hh


Your 12 minute Wednesday report in 2889 words.

bill: amnesty for army draft dodgers

The government drafted a bill to allow dodgers over the age of 27 to pay a fee and avoid felony punishment. A similar law existed until 2020.

According to the article, an amnesty will be issued for dodgers who turned 27 before Sep/26/2020, or on those who voluntarily appear at a police station by Dec/31/2021.

The bill will be discussed during a government session tomorrow. The full details aren't clear.

https://factor.am/356875.html

Pashinyan meets Putin in Moscow

Putin: thanks for coming. AM & RU have a long record of cooperation. 40% of capital investments in the Armenian economy originate from Russia.

Pashinyan: thanks for the invitation. In-person meetings are important despite us being routinely in touch over the phone.

Pashinyan about POWs: I would like to emphasize your contribution to stabilizing the situation in our region, especially after the war. I'm glad that we have no misinterpretations in the issue of Armenian POWs. [the two agreed to intensify the work on POWs]

Pashinyan about vaccines: tomorrow we will receive 15,000 doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine. It'll be a "symbolic" one, but we hope to obtain more because it has proven to be effective. It's important for Armenia to have the ability to obtain Sputnik-V. We need more than a million dozes. It's understandable that there is also great demand in Russia.

Putin about the vaccine: the manufacturing of Sputnik-V is gaining steam. We will discuss and resolve this issue, not to the detriment of Russian citizens. The production volume meets our internal consumption demand. Not everyone wants to be vaccinated but the numbers are rising. Currently, the production matches the demand. Anyways, we will discuss this issue. [I guess no million doses for Armenia for now until Russians are vaccinated?]

Putin about AM-RU trade: I am confident that in the near future we will not only restore the trade volume but also surpass it. I can see that our expert groups are working hard on it. You actively contribute to it while Deputy Premier Mishustin makes frequent visits to Armenia.

Putin about unblocking regional trade routes: Armenia will have a new opportunity to develop after the unblocking of regional trade routes.

Pashinyan about nuclear energy: I hope that today we will discuss some issues related to strategic investments. In that regard, I would like to discuss with you the possibility of building a new nuclear power plant in Armenia.

The Moscow trip continues...

Pashinyan met dozens of lawyers to discuss various topics.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048353.html https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=200492598215331 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048319.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048330.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048333.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048334.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048336.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048372.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048371.html

Russian army about the delivery of weapons to Armenia:

Russia and Armenia are fully implementing the military-technical cooperation program. In accordance with the agreements signed between the two parties, all deliveries are made on time and in full.

Q: could Russia possibly deliver drones to Armenia?

We won't rule it out. At the moment, Russia is offering various drones. Orion-E is a long-range survellience system. If Armenia is interested, we can discuss it.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048345.html

politicians respond to March 1st verdict

Kocharyan & Co had their Article 300.1 charges dropped yesterday after the Constitutional Court struck down the Article itself.

Ind. MP Babajanyan: the decision to drop charges against Kocharyan was a political one. It's the Judicial vs People. The Justice Minister must be fired for failing to reform the judicial.

Justice Minister Badasyan: There is a specific entity responsible for each specific process; the government cannot give answers to all the questions. Our administration does have some shortcomings in the judicial/legal system but the reforms continue. Our goal is the creation of an independent judiciary and an institute of anti-corruption. We do have institutional progress, even if it isn't easily observable by the general public.

Ind. MP Babajanyan: there is a crime [March 1st] but there is no Article that would punish it. There are 85 volumes of evidence proving crimes committed by Robert Kocharyan, whom the court found innocent. The decision to drop charges was political and is related to the upcoming elections.

QP MP Papoyan: [HHK MP] Hrayr Tovmasyan supported the amendment that introduced Article 300.1 back in 2009, but today he ruled it unconstitutional while serving as a Constitutional Court judge. They approved it then labeled it unconstitutional. //

There are also those who believe Kocharyan was purposely charged with Article 300.1 because it was pre-determined that the charges would later be dropped.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048287.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048279.html , https://factor.am/356663.html , https://factor.am/356803.html

opposition activists organize a protest in front of parliament

HHK-allied VETO group (the Soros, mock execution, and Mediaport guys) organized a demonstration in front of Parliament today. They want the government's resignation. A group of female participants began throwing eggs at the government building then attempted to enter it. 15 of them were detained.

Among the temporarily-detained was Tiran Khachatryan's wife; Tiran is the deputy CoGS army official who was recently fired.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048305.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210802 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210806

a small settlement in Gegharquniq renames several streets after Artsakh war heroes

13 streets in Akunq will be renamed. The residents held a ceremony today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048335.html

search operations

Armenian and Azeri crews continue to canvass the former battlefields in search of their missing soldiers. Azeris found and transferred one body to the Armenian side.

https://factor.am/356687.html

9,000 homes in 3 years for $240M

Labor Minister Mesrop: There are 9,000 Artsakh families who lost their homes. The government will pay $113.5M [with another $126.M from All Armenia Funds] to build houses within 3 years. The construction planning has begun in Artsakh settlements. Several hundred shelters have been built so far.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048294.html

banks pardoned $5.9M in loans

... taken by families of disabled or fallen soldiers. "We drafted a bill during the war to allow banks to do this," said Minister Mesrop. "The Defense Ministry sent the list of qualified families to the Central Bank. The system works but I don't rule out errors."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048297.html

British music label "Young Turks" renames itself after learning about the Armenian Genocide

Founded in 2005, the label dropped the word "Turks" after learning about 1915 events.

In other news, Erdogan asks the Turkish Constitutional Court to strike down the number 1915 and replaced it with 404.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048337.html

teenage dudukist Narek Khanzadyan is declared winner of "Paints of the Spanish Sun" international festival

https://factor.am/356705.html

national soccer team improves world ranking after a string of victories

From 99 to 90. It's the biggest jump by any team in Europe. Here is where Armenia's group opponents stand:

Germany 12

Romania 43

Iceland 52

Macedonia 62

Armenia 90

Liechtenstein 186

https://factor.am/356743.html

Edward Spertsyan made his debut during these matches and managed to score a goal. He is 19 years old. Today the government exempted him from the upcoming military drafts.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210816

update: first-ever international women's tournament begins in Armenia

Lithuania defeated Jordan during the "Our Game" competition in Charentsavan. Lebanon was supposed to play against Armenia but they couldn't come because of visa problems; it's being sorted out. (F)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048359.html

prosecutors ramp-up fight against abuse of power & torture by cops

Prosecutors said: last year the investigators confirmed 37 felony cases relating to illegal detention of citizens in police stations and physical abuse. That's +11% YoY. The number of cases that have already reached courts:

2018: 4 officials

2019: 8

2020: 11

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210803

bill drafted: a fine for cursing each other in public, TV, or on social media

Prosecutors' office proposed a bill to issue ~$200 fines to those who curse each other in public. The repeat offense within a year would double it. Hasn't been discussed yet.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210827

National Center for Oncology has a newly renovated breast cancer treatment facility

The opening ceremony was today. Statistics show that women who receive care in this facility have a higher survival rate. The ~250 patients who receive care annually will now have access to a newly imported BEBIG SAGINOVA 3D medical scanner.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048301.html

Armenia celebrates the Motherhood and Beauty Day

Catholicos Garegin B: the Annunciation

of Holy Mary is marked by the official calendar as the Motherhood and Beauty Day. On this day, we perform a blessing for women looking forward to the joy of motherhood.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048263.html , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annunciation

Premier Pashinyan reminded about the presence of women about POWs in Azerbaijan. "We have been holding this holiday for two years in a row during a difficult period. First the epidemic, then the war. During this difficult time, you have used your strength and energy to support your families."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048258.html

President Arayik wished strength to women who lost a relative in war. "Let your cherished dreams come true."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048257.html

Both in peace and war and especially in times of war, mothers have been the most important pillar of the homeland, said President Sarkissian. "Mother's endless love and warmth, care and support are the most valuable gifts we receive in our lives."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048267.html

Deputy PM Avinyan spoke about the importance of women's rights.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048264.html meanwhile, the world celebrates the World Health Day

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Day

COVID stats

4639 tested. 1025 infected. 626 healed. 20 deaths. 16088 active (up).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048270.html

is there a queue for a hospital bed?

Not at the moment, said Healthcare Minister Avanesyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048281.html

COVID patient jumps from the window

A 72yo patient was admitted to a hospital two weeks ago and began refusing treatment on Monday. Mental health experts were invited to help the man. He jumped out the hospital window and died last night. The investigators questioned the hospital staff.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048253.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210809

Armenia will purchase more Sputnik-V vaccine soon

AstraZeneca is in the distribution stage. It'll be available for the patients soon. Armenia will import another batch of Sputnik-V.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048285.html

United States will donate $1M to distribute vaccines

The total US aid for COVID-related healthcare and economy will reach $11M.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048256.html

EU and WHO donated 100 oxygen compressors

... to fight the third wave in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048293.html

update: Yerevan's Firdusi district

... will be revamped as part of a project that began years ago. Deputy PM Avinyan leads the commission. They held a meeting today to discuss the environmental impacts and other topics.

Avinyan: three things should be kept in mind: a fair compensation of relocated residents, investors' interests to ensure certain profitability, and the public interest. The construction will begin this year.

Large investment projects will need to go through an auction, as it's done in the Kond district.

All the historical and cultural monuments in the area of the district must be preserved. Their strengthening works will be carried out in accordance with the law.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048348.html , https://hetq.am/en/article/121780

video: archaeologists discover Urartu-era artifacts and structures near Red Hill

Some digging was done near Erebuni's Karmir Blur during Argavand-Shirak road construction in Yerevan's western road ring. The crews came across pottery fragments and suspended the construction.

The Education Ministry authorized excavations which lead to the discovery of large and small pieces of a jar from the 7 B.C.

The crew also discovered several pieces of stones lined up in a way that indicates some kind of a structure not far away, "perhaps a tomb."

Volunteers began joining the excavation crew. Some of them are newbies. They canvas the area one centimeter at a time. They pay attention to changes in soil color.

Video: https://youtu.be/2Ww1thnc50U

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048327.html

Artsakh will grow baby trees

Nature Minister Romanos is in Artsakh to meet Infrastructure Minister Hayk Khanumyan. Armenia will help built a 1-hectare tree farm nursery to grow baby trees, plus a donation of 100,000 trees to be planted on 30 ha land.

They discussed ways to monitor Artsakh forests for nature protection, as well as water-related topics.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048356.html

the government will revise the mortgage-related income tax refund program after realizing it was "too popular"

Finance Ministry: certain justifications were presented when the program was being implemented. And now that some time has passed, the evaluation shows that the redistributive effect of the system is not satisfactory. The primary goal, which was providing housing to those with housing issues, is not being met.

We believe that the housing aid should be given not in the form of a tax credit, but as a budgetary support tool. [he basically says the system is being used by those who aren't really "poor" and that Armenia has other priorities during COVID and post-war period]

The number of mortgage holders, therefore tax credit receivers, ballooned over time and we expect it to rise. Here are the numbers:

First year: ֏0.3B refunded

2019: ֏7.9B

2020: ֏13.3B (12,300 recipients)

Maybe today isn't the best time to entirely eliminate this program, but its revision will be discussed by the government.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048340.html , https://youtu.be/ECZfSjPSWoQ

bill to reduce taxes on agricultural cooperatives

The government wants farmers to get together, form unions, merge their lands, and work on the land more efficiently to maximize revenues. A bill is drafted to reduce taxes on cooperatives to make the playing field fair.

It's about giving cooperatives the same tax breaks that private farmers already have when they sell products produced by them. Today, if a cooperative sells goods produced by its member-farmer, it doesn't legally qualify for the tax break.

Cooperatives often receive grants from international agencies. Even if they don't use it that year, they still have to pay an income tax on the grant. The bill will add exemptions to this.

The bill received preliminary approval by a relevant Parliamentary commission and will enter the floor.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048324.html

bill to reduce fees on private TV operators in provinces and Yerevan

Several QP MPs drafted a bill to reduce state fees on private multiplex operators as a way to lower the entry barrier and to help provincial TV networks.

If approved, the annual fee for regional TVs would lower from ֏12M to ֏3M (assuming բազային տուրք = 1000 Dram), while for Yerevan it will lower to ֏30M.

The High Tech Ministry is lobbying for the government to support the bill. Meanwhile, the bill received preliminary approval in a special Parliamentary commission and will be placed for a vote.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048278.html

bill to reduce strain on judicial system by handling some traffic violation cases exclusively in written form

We learned earlier that a significant portion of court cases are related to traffic infractions. The government believes it's unnecessary to hold full-sized oral trials for such cases because it's waste of time and resources.

A bill is drafted to handle these trials exclusively in written form unless the judge believes an oral trial is necessary. Plaintiff and defendant can also file a petition and ask to hold an oral trial.

It applies to driving or riding without a seatbelt, license plate violations, traffic rule violations, running a red light, speeding, etc.

The bill received preliminary approval from a relevant Parliamentary commission.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048314.html

High Tech Minister meets military industry players

Newly appointed Minister Chobanyan met the representatives of the military-industrial complex.

Minister: our potential is many times greater than what we have today. We will develop a new working style to maximize the efficiency of cooperation between the state and the private sector. //

The head of the Engineering Association spoke about difficulties the industry has faced during the pandemic and war, about the ongoing Engineering City project that can help businesses, and said they need a stable working environment and a research center that will be apolitical.

The participants emphasized five key areas of development: education-workforce ties, mil-industry, Armenia's position in the global IT, science-based potential, and electronic governance.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048315.html

number of micro-businesses grew 18% year-over-year

It includes self-employed individuals and registered trade companies. There are 42.8K of them today.

Beginning in 2020, micro-businesses became tax-exempt if their annual turnover is under ֏24M.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048262.html

who buys Armenian gold? / India and UAE make debut, Switzerland remains king

Armenian gold is a doré bar, which is a mixture of elements with 70% being gold. It is processed by the buyer. Exports grew consistently from 2012 and reached 5,670kg or $256M in 2020.

The exported weight decreased by 2.7% last year but the revenues rose by 14% because gold became more expensive.

largest buyers

Pre-2017: Canada

2017-2019: Switzerland with 90% share

2020: Switzerland remains largest but with a 50% share. India enters the market with 30% or $73M.

India

Up until now, Armenia was mainly a buyer, with only $6M worth exports in the past decade.

2019: $128M imported, $4M exported

2020: $83M imported, $73M exported

What does Armenia buy from India? Diamonds, medicine, frozen meat, and raw tobacco.

United Arab Emirates

Total exports to UAE rose by 70% last year, thanks to UAE's decision to purchase 1,100kg Armenian gold, which is worth $49M. Armenia also exports tobacco and jewelry.

Russia, Czechia, Slovakia

0.5% share. (it ain't much, but it's honest work)

companies that export gold

There were 6, with the largest being Russian-owned GeoProMining which operates the Sotq mine in Gegharquniq. It found itself on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan after the war but that did not stop the mining operations.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/129366

today in history

1927: scientist Herbert Ives demonstrates the first long-distance TV transmission between New Jersey and New York

1969: ARPA launches a program to create the internet

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048238.html

Tuesday news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mlk8uw/apr62021_1_kocharyan_trial_court_drops_article/

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/mmaq21/apr72021_1_bill_amnesty_for_army_dodgers_tax/

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