2021 August 10

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/10/2021: Gyumri airport revamped __ EV imports skyrocket __ Parliament grills committee nominees __ Zangezur miner & Aivazovsky's worthless^1 painting __ Anti-corruption: ex Gyumri mayor & others charged __ Ceasefire violation __ CSTO visits Armenia, Armenia visits Moscow __ Letter to EU
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Monday recap in 3075 words.

Day-2: Parliament discusses army reforms and the formation of Defense Committee

Yesterday, the ruling party re-nominated QP MP Andranik Kocharyan to lead the Defense Committee. The latter read the planned reforms to create a professional army and revamp the intel apparatus. QP Andranik Kocharyan is a staunch critic of army leadership of the past several decades. He has repeatedly accused high-ranking army officials - including those appointed under Pashinyan - of negligence and wrong decisions.

Today, Andranik Kocharyan received criticism from the former regime fractions, to which his fellow ruling MP responded "you weren't in Parliament in the past 2.5 years so you only received rumors from the press, which is why you are uninformed about the volume of work done by Andranik Kocharyan."

HD MP Gegharm Nazaryan urged the ruling party and others to end the criticism of the army. He praised the army performance during the 2016 April War, "despite it not being ideal". The HD MP believes the Parliamentary Defense Committee's main focus should be the formation of an investigative commission to examine the 2020 war.

Defense Committee nominee QP Andranik Kocharyan: One of the main priorities of the Committee should be the development of an effective anti-corruption toolkit in the Armed Forces. Nothing has been forgotten. What was stolen from the army for years will be returned to the army, regardless of what status the thieves have today. I hope they will voluntarily return it ASAP, before the asset forfeiture law kicks in.

Right now, everyone should focus on the full restoration of the security system, the strengthening of the army. This is not only about obtaining modern weapons, but also about changing the value system of a person wearing a military uniform.

With the help of the diaspora's scientific mind, the army will acquire new professional knowledge to develop the military industry. //

An opposition MP criticized the ruling party for "chaos and panic" during the 2020 war. A ruling party MP responded saying the panic was circulated by media publications coordinated by certain individuals in opposition.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060322.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060343.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060334.html https://youtu.be/gsVwIp9OOrg https://youtu.be/dKoD64_jxr0 https://youtu.be/-QHi6M-Aqho

Robert Kocharyan ally with ties to Zangezur copper mine is against raising mining taxes, nominated for Economic Committee chief

Context: Pashinyan recently proposed raising taxes on copper miners, citing the global copper prices that skyrocketed in the past year, and the subsequent "unfair super-profits" made by the miners. Read more here, and here, and here.

Three of the 12 Parliamentary Standing Committees, which discuss and create rules, must be lead by the opposition. One of them could be the Economic Committee. HD nominated Robert Kocharyan's top Syunik ally Vahe Hakobyan (former HHK) for the Committee presidency. The latter held high-ranking positions in the Zangezur copper factory between 2014-2021, and only recently resigned after becoming an MP.

QP Rubinyan: if HD Hakobyan is elected as the Economic Committee president, will he take part in any discussions relating Zangezur copper factory?

HD (ARF) Artsvik Minasyan: HD Hakobyan does not have any material gain from the Zangezur factory. There are laws that address conflict of interest. If there is a reasonable suspicion about conflict of interest, an official's recusal can be discussed.

Nominee HD Hakobyan: I'm against raising the mining taxes. We already have the highest royalty rate in the world. I think only Romania has it higher, but with the proposed hike we will surpass them.

QP Khandalyan: your property and income declaration document is one of the most impressive ones. An apartment in Alicante (Spain), two apartments in downtown Yerevan, parking lots, a house and a land in Vahagn District, several vehicles, luxury items, and large sums. It's not bad to be rich, but between 1997-2018 you held a public job and only briefly worked in the private sector. What's your secret for success?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: I made a lot of money while working in the mining industry after leaving public office. The apartments are purchased with a mortgage loan.

QP Aghajanyan: how do you plan to repay the mortgage for the Spanish apartment with your MP's salary, if you no longer receive income from the Zangezur factory?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: the mortgage rate is only 1.5%. I've done the math. My friends will help me. I will find the means.

QP Ghahramanyan: could you tell us how your brother obtained Zangezur shares? If copper prices rise again in the near future, are you ready to raise the taxes from 15% to 20%?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: I've spoken about my brother's mining shares in the past. As for raising the mining tax, I'm against it. We don't have the means to store the copper in Armenia. We don't have smelters. This will lead to the accumulation of sulfuric acid. When we find ways to deal with it, we can think about raising taxes because by then we would have alternatives.

QP Tsovinar: between 2002-2011 you held a position in the general prosecutor's financial department. Then you became an adviser at CRONIMET Mining company, headquartered in Germany. Can you shed some light on how you went from that public office to having the mining job, and who invited you there?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: what is there not to understand? I quit from prosecutors' office and joined as an adviser for the company.

QP Tsovinar: who invited you and under what conditions?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: [avoids answering]. I have not broken laws.

QP Vardanyan: how did you obtain the two paintings from legendary Hovhannes Aivazovsky and Saryan? Did you import them, prevent them from leaving the country, what paintings are they?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: the paintings belong to my wife. You could say it's "ozhit" (օժիտ, a wedding gift?). The one by Aivazovsky is a really small 25x30 painting that's not worth much, it's called "Potorik" if I'm not mistaken.

QP Vardanyan: that's not a bad ozhit at all. I love galleries. Don't you think that art belongs to people and one day it would be best to donate them to the National Gallery? [is this a hint at something? lol]

Nominee HD Hakobyan: we've thought about donating it but we decided not to, for now.

QP Ghahramanyan: you denied owning parts of the Zangezur copper mine but the state registry shows your brother Karen Hakobyan owns 2.5%. Won't your appointment as this committee chief lead to a conflict of interests?

Nominee HD Hakobyan: No. I will recuse myself if there are conflicts of interest. Whatever my committee decides still needs to be voted and approved by the Parliament lead by your party. I won't have the power to make unilateral decisions.

Nominee HD Hakobyan about the agenda: it is necessary to reduce budget expenditures starting today, to carry out fiscal consolidation aimed at stabilizing the debt. At the same time, we need legal reforms to create a favorable condition for the business. The state must do everything for the business, and the business must do everything for the state when necessary. Cut every inefficient program and increase expenditures that grow the economy.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060349.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060352.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060359.html https://factor.am/403529.html https://factor.am/403552.html https://youtu.be/Y4u9NWb6CQA https://factor.am/403566.html https://factor.am/403657.html https://youtu.be/F_5WypN6iKs https://factor.am/403657.html https://factor.am/403666.html https://www.civilnet.am/news/628955/փոքրիկ-նկար-է-ու-առանձնապես-արժեք-չունի․-վահե-հակոբյանը՝-իր-հավաքածուում-այվազովսկու-նկարի-մասին/ https://youtu.be/-nleHK3ZVsg

Parliament will elect the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee

It is expected to be QP MP Edward Aghajanyan.

QP Aghajanyan's plans: Regional stability remains unresolved after the war. The solution is possible only as a result of strengthening the state's resilience and effective cooperation with international partners.

We must be guided by the principles of realpolitik and realize that no one will save us, no one is obligated to save us, and that we are the only guarantors of our success. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060393.html

Azerbaijan violated ceasefire in south-western Artsakh

Artsakh army: Azeris violated the ceasefire near Shosh-Mkhitarashen between 4:00-10:00 pm. An anti-tank grenade launcher was fired three times besides regular rifles. No casualties on the Armenian side. The peacekeepers have been informed.

https://youtu.be/xtEgeQOUbaM https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060329.html

Breaking News (kind of): CSTO secretary believes the AM-AZ border incidents are a security threat to member-state Armenia

Secretary Zas: it's still possible to use diplomacy to resolve the AM-AZ border issues. That would be the best solution for everyone. //

Zas visited the Nakhijevan border near Yeraskh, where the recent clashes took place.

Pashinyan met Zas and said it is necessary to properly use the existing tools in the CSGO.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060344.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060396.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060406.html

Russia invited Armenia's Defense Minister for talks

MOD Arshak Karapetyan and a group of ranking military officials flew to Moscow to meet MOD Shoygu after an invitation made on July 26. The MOD said they will discuss "many things".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060313.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060351.html

make up your mind

... is the message from Armenian diplomat Tigran Balayan in an article to The Post Online (Netherlands).

Balayan: I'm keep hearing "we don't want to take sides" from my European colleagues while discussing the Azeri dictator's unacceptable actions. By avoiding it, they are hindering the OSCE Minsk Group's efforts to find a lasting resolution.

I can sense how tired they are of the mess in the South Caucasus. What I cannot understand is why fundamental human rights receive less attention in this region than elsewhere.

Even if we put aside the Azeri-Turkish aggression against Armenia and focus on the Aliyev regime's actions within Azerbaijan, any observer will conclude that Aliyev is exporting his corruption to Europe by bribing officials and assassinating critics [two bloggers in Istanbul and Tbilisi].

Aliyev has stolen many elections, brutally suppresses the opposition, and ignored the international laws for years. Europe had ignored all of it, in an attempt to calm things and negotiate, but in vain.

I continue to believe in justice. Ignoring the seriousness of existing threats will only make them worse. So what is the justification for not standing by millions of Armenians and Azeris who do not wish to war against each other, or the families of thousands of political prisoners and murdered journalists in Azerbaijan?

Aliyev regime's aggressive behavior goes beyond the South Caucasus. Europe's reluctance to orient itself undermines the belief in European values and hopes of millions of Armenians and Azeris.

As Elie Wiesel said, we must always choose sides because neutrality helps the oppressor, silence encourages the tormentor, and when human lives are at stake, when human dignity is at stake, national boundaries become irrelevant.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060323.html

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff wants U.S. to stop military aid to Azerbaijan

Rep. Schiff: Now more than ever we must aid Armenia to strengthen its democracy... It's unacceptable to arm the state that routinely applies force against Armenia and Artsakh... This is why the House approved Rep. Pallone's resolution to hold Aliyev's regime accountable.... I'm glad that President Biden recognized the Armenian Genocide now when there are still survivors who are alive today and can testify.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060312.html

anti-corruption: judge orders Robert Kocharyan's bribery trial co-defendant be brought to court physically after "skipping too many trials"

Kocharyan and his assistant Armen Grigoryan (now a HD MP) are accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the mining industry. HD Grigoryan recently skipped the trial because he was "busy" with doing Parliamentary work.

Today his lawyer made a similar argument and asked for another delay because Grigoryan is now nominated by HD to lead the parliamentary Eurasian Integration Committee.

The judge found that Grigoryan's absence today was not justified. The prosecutor asked the court to bring Grigoryan to trial. Grigoryan's lawyer said he has immunity and cannot be physically brought to court.

The court sided with prosecutors and ordered to բերման ենթարկել Grigoryan next week. Grigoryan responded saying the decision was unnecessary, and that he would have voluntarily appeared for today's trial had the judge given him a call during a break. [a la քուչի ռազբոռկա]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060356.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060368.html

anti-corruption: municipal official at Goris (Syunik) is charged with forcing subordinates to attend Kocharyan-ARF election rally

Investigators report: the head of PR/education/culture department of Goris municipality took advantage of having control over the local preschools, and phoned a preschool to require its director and employees to attend Kocharyan's June 8 rally in Goris.

The director and the staff decided to attend the rally under the fear of retaliation.

The Goris municipal official is charged with a felony and instructed not to leave the country. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060328.html

anti-corruption: controversial former mayor of Gyumri Vardan Ghukasyan is charged with land embezzlement and auction rigging

Prosecutors report: while serving as the Gyumri mayor, Ghukasyan conspired with other municipal officials to forge documents, bidding paperwork, violated the law, and personally took part in land auctions in which he became a winner.

In 2001-2011, he sold lands that were prohibited under the law. For example, part of Gyumri park, [lists several streets where the alleged land theft took place].

Ghukasyan is charged with dozens of felony counts of abuse of power and negligence. He is told not to leave the country. //

Full (very long rap sheet for the guy who was against the anti-criminal-subculture bill in 2019 lol): https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060395.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060367.html https://www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docid=69646

Armenian-Yezidis hope that more countries will recognize the Yezidi Genocide

Yezidi National Union chief Khdr Hajoyan: Yezidis feel free and at ease in Armenia. Here we can discuss our rights and the development of our culture. Yezidis preserve their national identity in Armenia. We expect Armenia to act as the Yezidi voice in the international recognition of the 2014 Yezidi genocide [by ISIS in Syria].

Full: https://youtu.be/zSomjKeW8eY https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060355.html

resident gets a $300 fine for pumping water from a small lake to "water his animals"

Nature Ministry inspectors want you to know they are not messing around when it comes to "Karmir Avaz" lake near Mt. Azhdahak (near Geghard, Kotayk). The pump and pipes were removed.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060319.html

veterinarians are fighting for a bear's life after poachers shoot the Red Book animal

Nature Ministry inspectors called FPWC activists to help save a 3-year-old brown bear's life. She was shot near Yelpin (Vayots Dzor). The bear was evacuated to an animal clinic in Ararat. Doctors, including ones from abroad, have been fighting for her life for two days.

The law enforcement was contacted to find the poachers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060376.html

STATS: the number of imported electric vehicles has sharply increased

In 2019, as part of nature protection programs, the government passed a law to exempt VAT taxes on imported EVs. The Nature Ministry wants to extend it so it won't expire next year.

Imported vehicles:

2017: 29

2018: 12

2019: 668

2020: 2,155

2021 1H: 2,468

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060388.html

Yerevan's Erebuni district will have a new earthquake-proof school for 430 students

... ruled the municipal council today. It's co-financed by the government and the Asian Development Bank. It will have three stories and a usable roof/basement.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060347.html

Vardenis (Gegharkunik) will be fully illuminated

A large-scale light pole installation process has begun in Vardenis. The ֏133 million project is co-funded by the government and the Astghavard NGO that helps disabled children.

The LED light poles will be installed on 20km to serve dozens of roads and apartment complex buildings.

1990-2020: 500 light poles installed

2021: 658 installed

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060364.html

Voskepar (Tavush) is now almost completely illuminated

... with the efforts of Viva-MTS ISP and FPWC nature group.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294919/

Gagerin (Sevan, Gegharkunik) will have a new water delivery and removal network

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060361.html

water network is being renovated in Vardenis (Gegharkunik)

It'll replace 12.5km pipes installed in the 1950s. Co-funded by the government, German KFW bank, European Union.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060366.html

several streets are being renovated in Yeranos (Gegharkunik)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060362.html

farmers have received ֏541 million worth of equipment as gifts

Recently, Armenia imported agricultural equipment and distributed it to residents in over 30 villages. It's co-funded by the government and World Bank.

The goal is to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and allow for more lands to be used for agriculture.

This is part of a ֏4.3 billion project that helps "enlarged" settlements. Some villages get together and form larger towns with a centralized administration.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060371.html

PHOTOS: Gyumri airport and passenger hall are undergoing a total revamp / 3x capacity increase

Passengers arriving at "Shirak" airport in September will use a new arrival hall. The old one with a 400 m^2 size was outdated and inconvenient. The new one will be twice larger and have new accommodations.

It can serve one flight per hour but has the capacity to triple if necessary. The annual passenger capacity will increase from 250k to 700k.

The 3.2km runway is being fully renovated, too, the first since 2007.

Ready in September.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060373.html

VIDEO: world champion Yuri Djorkaeff's interview to Armenian Soccer Federation

His mother's side is Armenian. Father's side is Polish and Kalmyk (Russia).

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=588014945696225

COVID stats

6158 tested. 313 infected. 183 healed. 5 deaths. 5234 active.

In neighboring Georgia, there were 54 deaths and 5.9k infections today. Georgia has the fastest growing infections in the world, per NYT report.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060335.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060342.html https://factor.am/403535.html https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-cases.html https://factor.am/403535.html

WORLD MAP: Coronavirus cases per 100,000 population

Armenia 8.8

Azerbaijan 11

Turkey 29

Iran 45

Georgia 101

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-cases.html

Armenians are finally getting comfortable with vaccines

If months earlier the only lines were formed by tourists near vaccination booths on the streets, then today it's the clinics that are witnessing long lines of locals.

St. Gregory Illuminator clinic: 2.3k in April-May (many foreigners), 2.5k in June, 4k in July (vast majority locals).

While in the past they were mainly people in high-risk groups, recently we witnessed an activation among healthy young adults. They were skeptical at first, but the ice has been broken, the atmosphere of fear and doubt is broken.

There are 200k vaccinations so far, with 60k having both doses. This is inspiring confidence. We used to make hundreds of phone calls every day to convince them to get vaccinated but only 15% would agree. Today that number is higher, and many come voluntarily.

Yerevan N17 clinic: You [referring to reporter] saw the line while coming here. It went from 15/day to 100/day. It's mostly citizens and permanent-resident foreigners.

Patient Maro Hovakimyan: I'm here to get the first jab. This will allow us to overcome the situation if we all get it. We should trust the doctors and organize a mass vaccination. My friends and relatives have also expressed a desire to get it.

Patient Ofik Tonoyan: this is my second jab. The first one gave no side effects. Vaccination is the right solution.

[They apparently read BzhizhkMard's recent Reddit rant]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060311.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/p1wft4/news_aug102021_gyumri_airport_revamped_ev_imports/

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