2021 August 12

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/12/2021: Get paid for hiring veterans __ Borders, drones, & daggers __ Pashinyan on ceasefire & army reforms __ Proponents of trade unions & drug price control win positions __ Mortgage tax credits __ Abuhayat Canal __ Mining taxes to help locals __ More anti-corruption busts __ Lufthansa
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Thursday recap in 3136 words.

Bookmarked: former MOD spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan analyzes the 2020 war, what could be done better, recalls events, discusses drones

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/p2to7g/postmortem_by_exarmy_spokesman_artsrun/

Перевод на Русский https:www.reddit.com/r/ArmDailyReports_RUS_/comments/p2v3lp/постмортем_экспресссекретаря_арцруна_оганесяна/

what did he mean by gifting that dagger? 🤔

As we learned yesterday, MOD Karapetyan and ranking defense officials met their Russian colleagues in Moscow. They reached some agreements, the full details of which are still undisclosed. The Russian MOD gifted a dagger to his Armenian counterpart and hinted that Armenia should expect Russian weapon deliveries soon.

Today, MOD Karapetyan visited military expo facilities in Moscow, a WW2 gallery, and the main church of the Russian Defense Ministry.

Analyst Mher Hakobyan believes that "after the west left Armenia to Russia last year", Russia will help modernize the Armenian army to bring it to the Russian army level by improving the command and air defense.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060527.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060529.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060527.html

Russian peacekeepers acknowledge Azerbaijan's use of drones earlier this week, "took measures to de-escalate"

It's over the Shosh incident in which Azeris used smaller drones equipped with explosives. No one was injured.

Azerbaijan had complained that "Armenia was deploying additional troops and building new positions" in Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060634.html

Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire in Nakhijevan and made a failed attempt to advance the positions

MOD reported that last evening, Azeri soldiers had violated the ceasefire by firing towards the Armenian positions in Yeraskh. The Armenian side silenced it with retaliatory actions. No injuries on the Armenian side.

Last night, Azeris attempted to cross the line of contact. The Armenian side "took measures", throwing the opponent back to its starting position. No injuries on the Armenian side.

Another ceasefire violation was recorded at 5:20 pm.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060520.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060598.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060625.html

Pashinyan about identifying the side that violates the ceasefire:

We need international monitoring to identify and issue a targeted condemnation to the violating side, in order to deescalate the situation. As I've said before, it has to be done by CSTO, and if they can't, then the alternative is OSCE.

Our MFA welcomed the calls by OSCE to resume the negotiations. Armenia is ready.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060546.html

Pashinyan about normalizing relations with neighbors, army reforms:

Establishing normal relations with neighboring states is key to having lasting peace and economic development.

Unfortunately, some forces are trying to misrepresent Armenia's intentions by claiming that our military reforms are done under the context of pursuing aggressive policies towards neighboring states.

We have no intentions of conquering territories. The reforms are needed for self-defense and the protection of our territorial integrity.

We're ready for an active dialogue around this topic, including through direct communication. Overcoming hostility must become an important component of the regional policy. The [Saddam Park] in Baku was an insult to the civilization of our entire region.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060552.html https://youtu.be/od2twTqlu1g

Pashinyan is waiting for proposals to start peace talks with Azerbaijan:

Armenia supports OSCE efforts and is ready to engage in peace talks with Azerbaijan, including at the highest levels. We are waiting for specific proposals in that direction.

We received a mandate from our people to open an era of peaceful development for Armenia and Artsakh. It puts a special responsibility on our shoulders. To achieve this, we must be as active and flexible as possible.

Some issues will take a long time to resolve, but others can be done quicker. For example, the opening of the regional communication routes. We should resume these negotiations under deputy Premier format.

Our position on the border demarcation is unchanged.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060554.html

the government must control the medicine prices...

... said QP MP Narek Zeynalyan in Parliament today, during a Q&A that will decide whether he is elected to lead the parliamentary Health & Social Affairs Committee.

QP Zeynalyan: despite having free economic relations and a competitive market with no collusion between the big pharma players since 2018, the medicine prices remain high and are actually increasing.

We cannot view medicine as a normal product because it affects society's health. The state should keep tabs on medicine prices, as it's done in many EU states.

When the e-health platform is introduced, allowing doctors to prescribe medication only from the list registered in Armenia, it will help reduce the import of illegal medication.

There is a criticism that the Healthcare Ministry is not officially registering some medication that's needed in Armenia. It should be noted that the Healthcare Ministry itself cannot register a medicine. Its producer must give authorization and send relevant documents for processing.

This is why many drugs aren't registered in Armenia. But we addressed this issue when the government gave an order to allow residents to import unregistered medication for personal use. In this way, we are able to guarantee some level of access.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060538.html

vaccinations are not mandatory and cannot be mandatory...

... said QP MP Narek Zeynalyan (committee nominee) during the same Q&A.

QP Zeynalyan: but the state should use certain tools to increase vaccination rates because that's the only effective solution. Many EU and CIS states have much stricter requirements, including a ban on access to public places for the unvaccinated.

In Armenia, we have a mandatory PCR testing requirement for some situations, as an alternative. If you see some alleged human rights violations with these requirements, then I must point out the fact that public health is of much higher priority than the alleged human rights violation.

Yes, the state must continue to use certain tools to "force" the population towards a vaccination, to bring it to at least 50%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060551.html

COVID stats

6447 tested. 399 infected (up). 190 healed. 5 deaths. 5681 active (up).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060543.html

bimonthly PCR tests will be required for unvaccinated workers in the public sector, food facilities, teachers

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: we're seeing a stable rise in infections. If we look at what's happening in our region, we must be vigilant and do everything to protect our citizens.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060579.html https://youtu.be/pERccndKkYU

income tax refund for new mortgage borrowers will gradually phase out in Yerevan, in favor of provinces

Finance Minister Khachatryan: in order to encourage a balanced territorial distribution of new housing construction, and therefore more balanced territorial development, we propose changes that will redirect the construction from Yerevan Center and Yerevan as a whole, towards provinces.

The housing sector outside Yerevan is seeing only a fraction of the benefits from this program. 93% of recipients are in Yerevan. This program should be amended to address the disbalance and emphasize its social nature.

Within the next 3 years, the privileges will gradually reduce in Yerevan Center and surrounding neighborhoods. For example, by mid-2022, new apartments built in Yerevan's First Zone will no longer qualify for it. The Second Zone will be in 2023, and so on, until it includes the entire city by 2025.

When this program with economic significance was adopted, it had no limitations. It was reformed in 2018 to give it a social aid orientation. We added that one person can take advantage of this program only once, and for housing to be worth under $110,000.

This year will end with 20,000 recipients and ֏21 billion in budget expenditures. Most of the beneficiaries are from Yerevan, especially from the Center.

Pashinyan: we have many provincial settlements that haven't witnessed the construction of a new house in the past 30 years. When this program was adopted, it became apparent that most recipients are from Yerevan.

Some provincial residents who live and work in provinces did not want to "lose the opportunity" and began purchasing apartments in Yerevan. In the end, the program did not have the decentralization effect. Quite the opposite. The new amendment's goal is to "decentralize".

In general, Armenia's housing units are very old in Yerevan and provinces. They were built in the 70s and even 50s. There is a need to refresh it, but that's a different topic.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060580.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060597.html https://youtu.be/cZGdjYqmwNI

Armenia had the highest growth in housing construction in EAEU bloc during 1H2021

2.4 times more housing was commissioned than in the first half of last year.

http://arka.am/en/news/business/armenia_posts_highest_growth_in_housing_construction_among_eeu_members_in_first_half_of_2021/

part of Yerevan's Abuhayat Canal loses status of historical monument because of repeated reconstruction

An investor has been trying to build a $10 million complex building in Yerevan but was unable because part of the canal was blocking it. The investor asked the govt to investigate if that section of the canal was still a monument.

The original canal was built in the 8th century B.C and stretches through districts. Parts of it have since been rebuilt multiple times during the Soviet Union.

The pool area located on the territory of a building was sold to a private owner years ago, and has since changed ownership multiple times. The latest owner is an investor who wants to build a multifunctional complex.

The govt decided last week that some of the canal, located between Azatutyun Ave and Karapet Ulnetsi St, has lost the historical status due to rebuilding.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/134489

proceeds from the mining industry will go to affected communities

Today the government discussed a more "fair" distribution of the revenues that the government collects from miners. The % of the proposed funds is not a lot but it will introduce a widely used international culture, said the Infrastructure Minister.

The collected funds will be managed by local municipalities. It ensures the principle of balanced development of territories, said the govt.

Pashinyan: it isn't a small sum. Metal prices are expected to rise. This is part of our broader review of mining taxes (royalties). Settlements can use these funds to build their roads.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060599.html https://youtu.be/FtPlXL_co9U

the ruling party nominee wants to make trade unions more useful

QP nominated QP MP Heriknaz Tigranyan to lead Labor & Social Affairs Committee.

QP Tigranyan: Trade unions did not become as powerful as their legal predecessors, because unions are financially dependent on the employer and have no legal leverage to influence the employer's decision-making. [convenient?]

To address this, we recently formed an unofficial group to work on reforms. I hope the group, which has representatives from unions, will continue its work under the new Parliament.

We're receiving assistance from international organizations to study global experience. I think we have reached an agreement with trade unions on the main conceptual issues.

Trade unions must have more powers and leverage, and the ability to defend their members in court. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060562.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060574.html

can Arthur Vanetsyan use his "connections" to free POWs?

HD and PU nominated PU MP Taguhi Tovmasyan to lead the Human Rights Committee. The latter said she will continue to raise the topic of human rights violations by Azerbaijan.

QP Batoyan: your colleague Vanetsyan announced a few months ago that he can use his connections to release POWs if we came to power. Is his current status as an MP sufficient to help you release POWs?

PU Tovmasyan: I'm confident Vanetsyan has very good connections, but as he said, he would be able to achieve that only in the event of [winning the elections]. Today he is an opposition MP.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060540.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060547.html https://factor.am/404385.html

ruling party nominee believes EU's unprecedented €2.6 billion aid is influenced by Armenia's motivation for reforms

QP nominated QP MP Arman Yeghoyan to lead the European Integration Committee. Yesterday he dodged a question about whether Anaxei Navalny is a political prisoner. The Committee's task is to exercise oversight on the enforcement of AM and EU legislation.

HD Grigoryan: EU has helped Armenian in the past. The size of this aid package was not a gift for the June 20 election results. Georgia is also receiving a big package.

QP Yeghoyan: it is a political decision based on each country's willingness to undergo reforms, so you could say that the election outcome has played a role. Georgia also received a large package, but Azerbaijan did not.

2017: €35m

2018: €46m

2019: €65m

2021: 💎 ✋🤚

More: https://youtu.be/HDorc5Vt62s https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060595.html

Parliament elects 12 MPs to lead the Committees

QP Andranik Kocharyan for Defense.

QP Heriknaz Tigranyan for Labor & Social.

QP Narek Zeynalyan for Healthcare.

QP Edward Aghajanyan for Foreign Affairs.

QP Sisak Gabrielyan for Science/Edu/Diaspora.

QP Arman Yeghoyan for European Integration.

QP Vladimir Vardanyan for Legal Affairs.

QP Vahe Ghalumyan for Territorial Management.

QP Gevorg Papoyan for Finances & Budget.

PU Taguhi Tovmasyan for Human Rights.

HD Armen Gevorgyan for Eurasian Integration.

HD Vahe Hakobyan for Economy.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060620.html

Parliament president complains about unethical conduct by some journalists

QP Alen Simonyan: the work of journalists in the Parliament building will be coordinated. They will continue to have the ability to approach MPs and ask questions, but it will be done at a different location.

Journalists should not have the ability to enter MP's office. [They recently blocked that section of the building]. They should not run after them for Q&A. It's disrespectful towards journalists and officials. Often we speak about MP's conduct, but many citizens are also dissatisfied with some journalists' behavior.

Dear journalists. Do not go on the internet and use slurs against public officials, then complain that they aren't answering your questions. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060560.html https://youtu.be/frqSSslnV9w https://factor.am/404407.html

anti-corruption update: former Gyumri mayor Vardan Ghukasyan is facing criminal charges

A few days ago we learned that authorities pressed criminal charges against ex-mayor BHK Vardan Ghukasyan over alleged forgery, auction fraud, and land embezzlement.

Prosecutor: Ghukasyan was interrogated. We do not rule out that others will be charged when more details are uncovered. When the court finally confirms that the property was illegally alienated, the ownership of that property can be challenged in a civil court and returned to the community.

We're talking about several pieces of land in Gyumri that were illegally given to Ghukasyan and his associates. Being the president of the auction commission, he gave the lands to a company belonging to him and his brother, before committing other fraud.

This particular investigation began in late 2019 but the charges were pressed 1.5 years later because of its complexity and multiple instances of crime. [he is facing 38 felony counts] //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060536.html

anti-corruption: mayor of Harich (Shirak) is facing felony charges over illegal construction in historical church territory

Prosecutors' report: the Harichavank complex is from the 7-19th centuries and has a status of a historical-cultural monument. Any construction or other work in its territory must receive Culture Ministry's approval.

The 2001-2021 mayor of Harich signed an illegal order giving the church's surrounding areas to his nephew. The latter built a մատաղատուն under the church's fences. The mayor is facing felony charges. //

https://factor.am/404528.html

we are searching for the "best model" to get rid of corrupt judges...

... announced Justice Minister Karen Andreasyan today.

Minister: today, the only option to clean up the judicial are the disciplinary measures. It is a great tool, but it's not being used enough. Thanks to my predecessor Badayan's work, the gradual purification of the system has begun.

Tomorrow I will meet prominent NGOs that are engaged in the field of judicial reforms. I've already met the Supreme Court council and law enforcement agencies. We're discussing the best possible model to remove bad judges. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060592.html

unemployment stats

90k people are searching for a job in the official registry. 61k of them are unemployed (+1.8% compared to 1H 2020).

Official: there are several vacant jobs that require mid-level qualification but they can't hire anyone because of low wages.

Another reason is lack of qualification. The skills of applicants on our platform do not match the employers' requirements. 94% of the registered unemployed are not competitive in the labor market. The Ministry has nine programs to help them. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060601.html

the state will support businesses that hire wounded soldiers

The government has approved a program that will help wounded and disabled soldiers find a job more easily.

The business will receive compensation in the amount of salary income tax, plus workplace adjustment costs. The aid is for one year and is capped at ֏900k.

Pashinyan: this is an important program that we've discussed before. We will help the business with accommodations, building access ramps, etc. I want you to prepare a report about its effectiveness within a few months so we can discuss the expediency of similar programs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060597.html

government is negotiating with Lufthansa to establish a "hub" in Gyumri

Economy Minister Kerobyan and the Tourism Committee chief Alfred hosted the representatives of Lufthansa airlines to discuss the development of tourism.

The Armenian side presented the potential tourism markets in Armenia. Lufthansa agreed to collaborate on marketing campaigns to increase the flow of German tourists.

They discussed the possibility of creating a Lufthansa hub in Gyumri, and the use of Lufthansa jets in Gyumri. No agreements yet.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060550.html

Lufthansa returns to Armenian market with a free WiFi

16 weekly flights in the summer months. Flights to Vienna, Frankfurt, Brussels, Cologne.

100 countries with 280 directions. "Currently, none of the airlines operating in Armenia offers such a thing."

Lufthansa-owned Eurowings launched its flights to Yerevan last week.

Lufthansa used to hold Yerevan-Munich flights until 2009. They will return after a long break, with free wifi.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060606.html

Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA)

Infrastructure Minister Sanosyan hosted officials from TRACECA, an international program that connects Central Asia to the EU through the Caucasus. Armenia is a member.

They discussed the planned development of regional trade routes, electronic platforms, simplification of rules, lowing of prices, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060541.html

what is being done to address the teacher shortage in rural settlements?

Education Ministry: beginning in September, teachers from 18 mentor schools will use the "E-school Armenia" program to remotely teach in schools that have a teacher shortage.

Last year, classrooms were created in rural 101 schools, equipped with the necessary devices for e-education. This allowed for 29 teachers to teach remotely.

The E-school Armenia project was born during the pandemic. They filmed 2,000 video classes for students, also available in sign language.

Another program www.kadrer.emis.am recruits teachers to physically visit border or mountain villages. There are 196 vacant positions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060553.html

infrastructure renovations

Several streets are being repaired in Tsovagyugh (Gegharkunik). The funding of the ֏245 million project is split between local and federal governments.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060563.html

gymnast Arthur Davtyan is excited about his Olympic bronze

The coach is hoping for more investments to develop this type of sport in Armenia. "We knew Arthur could win a medal. We aimed for gold. Many did not believe we could pull it off considering the training conditions, but we did. Ապրի Արթուրը:"

Full: https://youtu.be/Rcy3VdtJlK0 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060573.html

Elina Danielyan is one of the leaders in the European Women Individual Chess Championship

Three rounds, three points so far.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060534.html

Armenian soccer team improves its global FIFA ranking by two positions

Belgium 1, Armenia 88, Georgia 91, Azerbaijan 112, Anguilla 210.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060577.html https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/men?dateId=id13372

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/p373ed/news_aug122021_get_paid_for_hiring_veterans/

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