2021 August 17

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Your 11-minute Tuesday recap in 2751 words.

Contents

Azeri troops launched a provocation on Sotk (Gegharkunik) borders

MOD report: beginning 2:45 pm, Azeri troops used various caliber weapons to fire at the Armenian positions in the Sotk area. One Armenian soldier was wounded; there is no threat to his life. The Armenian forces carried out countermeasures, which resulted in one Azeri soldier being killed and another one wounded. //

The ceasefire was violated near the area where the Sotk gold mine is. The workers had to temporarily evacuate. In related news, Aliyev threatened to file lawsuits against foreign companies that had conducted gold mining operations in Artsakh areas that are now under Azeri control. He wants "compensation".

deputy CoGS: right now the borders are calm. As always, Azerbaijan is hiding the number of casualties. Today they launched a provocation but did not try to advance in Kut (Gegharkunik) and Yeraskh (Nakhijevan) directions.

If they attempt to advance, as MOD Karapetyan said earlier, the soldiers have been ordered to use any means possible to stop the advancement.

As long as we have neighbors like them, there will always be tensions. Our task is to suppress them at all times with countermeasures. The Armenian man's image should be a Bible on the left hand and a fully automatic Kalashnikov on the right hand. //

MFA responds: the recent provocations are meant to derail the de-escalation efforts, OSCE negotiations, and the unblocking of regional communication routes. Armenia will continue to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the Artsakh people's right to self-determination. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061001.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061027.html https://factor.am/406011.html https://factor.am/406041.html https://factor.am/406090.html

Russian peacekeepers will replace Armenian and Azeri troops in a village located between Lachin and Shushi

The mayor of Artsakh's Yeghtsahogh (Եղցահող) village Artak Hakobyan announced that Russian peacekeepers have convinced Azeri forces to retreat 3km so the peacekeepers can replace the local Armenian forces. The Armenian side was asked to make the first move. The mayor claims that the Russians will only guard during the daytime, so he wants Armenian troops to remain in the area.

https://www.lragir.am/2021/08/17/662038/

Russian ambassador visited the borders near Yeraskh (Nakhijevan)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060942.html

more changes and rotations in the military leadership

Nver Martirosyan is the new head of the Operative Department in the army. Albert Baghdadyan will be his new deputy.

Garik Movsesyan will lead the air defense troops.

Armen Arushanyan will lead the engineering forces.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060998.html

Parliament discussed the border and Artsakh conflicts

PU MP Tovmasyan, the head of the Human Rights Committee, expects the UN, EU, and other international players to condemn the Azeri aggression and take steps to prevent it. She noted that Azeri soldiers often use bullets that emit light at night, in an attempt to intimidate bordering villagers.

HD MP Tevanyan criticized Ilham Aliyev for maximalist rhetoric and non-constructive demands about "Zangezur corridor" and borders, and incorrectly claimed that the Pashinyan administration "has not yet responded" to the rhetoric.

The Parliament will hold a more thorough discussion tomorrow, behind closed doors.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060965.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060956.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061010.html

Russian Foreign Minister urges Russian cargo carriers to consider Nagorno Karabakh’s potential

MFA Lavrov: there are active works to restore infrastructures and roads in this region. I would ask you to pay attention to this promising territory which, I believe, will grant obvious economic benefits. It is important that the economic development of this part of our close neighborhood proceeds with Russia’s active participation. //

Artsakh and Azerbaijan are currently working on new roads in areas controlled by them. It is unclear which part of Artsakh Lavrov meant while addressing Russian cargo carriers, but it is likely related to the plans to open the regional communication routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

https://mediamax.am/en/news/politics/44295/ https://eurasia.expert/lavrov-predlozhil-rossiyskim-perevozchikam-obratit-vnimanie-na-karabakh/

deputy Premiers of AM-RU-AZ discussed the reopening of regional trade routes

The trio has resumed the discussions, announced the Russian government today, citing a meeting that was held in Moscow today. The topic was the implementation of the Jan 11 statements (trade routes).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061026.html

Armenian peacekeepers left Afghanistan in March

One platoon was deployed in 2010 under the general command of German forces. They were guarding an airport in Kunduz (northeast). In addition, they served in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. A total of 3,200 Armenian peacekeepers participated in the past decade.

Foreign Ministry said they had no record of Armenian citizens being stranded in Afghanistan at the time of the Taliban's complete takeover.

Amid uncertainty on the Tajik-Afghan border, it is possible that Armenian forces could be deployed there as part of the CSTO mission, believe some analysts.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060928.html https://hetq.am/en/article/133676

update: Parliament approves government's plan to release more water from Lake Sevan amid extreme heatwave and draught

Not long ago, the government decided not to release too much water from the lake to help raise its levels. The priorities have changed after this year's drought.

The 170M m^3 legal limit will be raised to 245M m^3 to address this year's water shortage, which resulted in reservoirs storing 226M water compared to last year's 351M.

Economy Minister: the most problematic provinces are Shirak and Armavir. The resolution requires water reforms [including new reservoirs]. We have new programs to address these issues. //

--

Today the Parliament held discussions. Water Committee chief said Armenia's 12 reservoirs hold 126M less than last year. Due to a sharp decline in Hrazdan river water supplies, water had to be taken from several reservoirs, leading to a deficit in them.

The Water Committee chief said the water losses on Sevan-Hrazdan derivation is 10%, but last year they were able to reduce the overall loss by 4% (or 40M). To reduce reliance on Lake Sevan, the government is working with the Eurasian Development Bank to build 262km water networks between/within farms, and 62km of main canals.

The Water Committee chief says if the water usage quota isn't raised, it will lead to 20% losses in the agriculture sector.

Parliament voted 68-18 to approve lifting the limits. The opposition was against it, out of fear that it would damage the lake. HD MP Artsvik Minasyan (ARF) claimed the water is being misused as an electoral bribe to farmers. [a 4D chess move by Nikol?]

QP Bagratyan: we haven't built reservoirs for 30 years so our only option is Lake Sevan. Part of the €2.6 billion EU aid will go towards the construction of 15 reservoirs with 500M capacity.

The deficit in reservoirs was 125M this year, compared to 2020. At the same time, water entered Lake Sevan through the Arpa-Sevan tunnel: 136M in 2019, 153M in 2020, 127M in 2021.

Today's decision will essentially allow for an additional 75M to be transferred from Sevan to farmers. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060093.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060102.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060960.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061008.html https://youtu.be/fDsX8VqzlXM https://factor.am/405882.html https://youtu.be/w2CwfLZAX8Q https://factor.am/405901.html https://youtu.be/TDaFAEmQg6M https://factor.am/405981.html https://youtu.be/tO0I8t7FejA https://factor.am/405974.html https://youtu.be/Osy97WBC2jY https://youtu.be/tX8BEyi1js4

USAID will help 150 farmers to cultivate 30 hectares with the use of modern water technologies

Representatives of USAID's ԳԱՏՕ program met farmers in Mrgashat (Armavir) province to celebrate the program's achievements. The majority of the 5,500 population grows tomatoes, watermelon, apples, and veggies. The village is fed by two rivers, but it's barely enough for partial irrigation. 80% of the water was being wasted due to old pipes.

The USAID program installed a new pump management and distribution network to improve efficiency, resulting in irrigation for additional 150 farms. The annual water savings will equal 90 times the size of the Olympics swimming pool. It will also help reduce the overutilization of Ararat valley's underground water resources.

The farmers will spend $4,700 less on energy during each agricultural season.

https://factor.am/405800.html

anti-corruption update: the mayor of Jrashen (Lori) is charged with land embezzlement

The authorities have concluded the investigation against Jrashen's mayor and sent the case to court.

He is accused of learning about a telecom operator's plans to conduct business on a particular piece of land, and rigging auctions to purchase the land beforehand, so he could then lease it to the telecom for a higher price. The alleged scheme lasted from 2006-2021.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060970.html

anti-corruption update: several officials charged in the Yolyan Blood Center corruption case

Investigators report: between 2010-2018, the former director of the center conspired with the accountants and the heads of three departments to embezzle ֏26.5 million from the employee salary/bonus budget. This sum has since been recovered by investigators.

During the same period, the director also signed an employment contract with his friend's wife to work as a histologist. The latter never went to work, but the salaries, worth ֏5.5 million, were deducted and embezzled.

Criminal charges are pressed against six individuals, including the former director, accountants, and the heads of the departments. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060995.html

anti-corruption: Kocharyan's bribery trial co-defendant plays the "MP immunity" card

Robert Kocharyan and his aide (now HD MP) Armen Gevorgyan are accused of taking several million dollars in bribes from a mining businesswoman, who came forward after the 2018 revolution. Kocharyan's and his family members' assets were frozen as a result.

Today the defense asked the judge to lift the arrest on property belonging to Kocharyan's sons Sedrak and Levon, citing prosecutors' own decision to partially lift it from Levon earlier. The defense wants it lived from Sedrak, too. The judge decided to lift the arrest on Sedrak's real estate, bank accounts, and company shares, saying that enough of Robert Kocharyan's own property is currently under arrest.

Co-defendant HP MP Armen Gevorgyan's lawyer wants to discuss his client's MP immunity, "which makes the criminal prosecution impossible". The judge refused to discuss it today, saying the HD alliance had earlier announced plans to contact the Constitutional Court about the immunity. "Let them handle it."

Defendant HD Gevorgyan asked the judge to schedule the next session at another date because he might be busy doing work in Parliament. The judge rejected the plea, saying the MP can be absent from Parliament for a couple of hours to attend the trial [as it was presumably done today].

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060982.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060991.html https://youtu.be/07Yx5CVqbZ4

anti-corruption: acting and deputy mayors of Goris (Syunik) are arrested as part of voter bribery and intimidation investigation

Menua Hovsepyan and Irina Yolyan are charged with large-scale bribery. Menua Hovsepyan is also facing charges relating to forcing subordinates not to conduct [pro-Pashinyan] political activities during the recent elections, and for allegedly forcing one of the local administrators to secure the participation of at least 80 attendees for Kocharyan's Goris rally.

Menua Hovsepyan and Irina Yolyan are also accused of using the municipal resources meant for low-income residents to bribe 115 families in favor of the Kocharyan-ARF alliance. They did not investigate whether the 115 families qualified for the aid, because the goal was to bribe them, says the report. A subsequent investigation revealed that 61 of the families were not qualified.

Menua Hovsepyan instructed the local mayor in Karahunj (Syunik) to lease a facility to be used as Kocharyan's local campaign office. After the elections, the property owner asked them to pay for the rent. Menua Hovsepyan allegedly told the landlord that he will receive the sum in the form of aid meant for low-income residents, referring him to the right agency.

The four suspects have been arrested. //

Menua Hovsepyan was also suspected of being one of the organizers of Syunik mini-riots several months ago, during which Pashinyan's motorcade and bodyguards were physically attacked.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060967.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061011.html

Tags: #mayors #KocharyanMayors

anti-corruption: former mayor of Meghri (Syunik) is accused of illegally selling nature reserve lands

Investigators' report: the Urban Development agency's report has lead to an investigation which revealed that Meghri's former mayor Mkhitar Zakaryan [now an MP under Kocharyan-ARF's HD ballot] committed forgery to sell lands from the "Shamb" lake shores.

In 2011, the Meghri city council authorized a 25-year lease for a piece of land to grow perennial plants. Mayor Zakaryan's friend won the land lease auction. Instead of using the lands for plants, the latter built a cafe and other public facilities.

Mayor Zakaryan organized an illegal process, with the involvement of his subordinates, to finalize the illegal appropriation of the lands in 2019. //

The rest was covered in the July 13 news post. The former mayor and his associates are facing criminal charges. The case has reached the court for filing.

https://factor.am/405888.html

Tags: #mayors #KocharyanMayors

former governor of Artsakh's Karvachar province is wanted for alleged embezzlement of vehicles that were donated as aid during the 2020 war

Two UAZ vehicles were discovered abandoned in a backyard in Kotayk province. The authorities have learned that the vehicles were donated for ambulance use during the war, but were later allegedly embezzled by Karvachar ex-governor Hayk Petrosyan. He is wanted.

https://youtu.be/RIsqePdffCA

Garnik Isagulyan investigation finished / opposition figure made calls to assassinate Pashinyan & circulated conspiracy theories

Garnik Isagulyan, dubbed as a "clown" by General Samvel Babayan, is a controversial opposition figure who made several claims, some of which were denied even by fellow opposition figures (for example, the claim that NSS chief Argishti Qyaramyan chose to flee Shushi with trucks loaded with gold). Read Samvel Babayan's interview about Isagulyan here.

Investigators' report: Garnik Isagulyan, who leads the National Security Party, knew that the information he circulated was false, yet he decided to make false reports against high-ranking public officials, accusing them of serious crimes. He also incited physical violence against the Premier and publicly justified its need.

On Nov. 23, he gave an interview to the Hayeli media club and falsely claimed that Pashinyan and his allies took $48 million in bribes and cooperated with Azeri-Turkish forces to organize the 2018 revolution.

Isagulyan also falsely claimed that the former NSS chief Argishti Kyaramyan distributed 1,400 passports to Azeris who spoke Armenian, and helped them to enter Kajaran (Armenia) so they could reach Artsakh.

On Dec. 13, Isagulyan gave an interview to 168.am outlet and the following day to Hayeli club, during which he knowingly made another false report, accusing Artsakh Security Council chief Samvel Babayan of masterminding an assassination plan against Artsakh churchman Pargev Srbazan and other Artsakh officials.

On Dec. 22, Isagulyan uploaded a YouTube video, calling for the assassination of Premier Pashinyan, saying that the assassin should be given the title of Hero and a $1 million reward. He told the viewers that the assassination would not be against the law.

The case was sent to prosecutors for court filing. Isagulyan is charged under Articles 333.2.1 (three counts) and 226.2.1. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061009.html

Tags: #GarnikIsagulyan #ConspiracyTheory

Pashinyan received congratulatory messages from UK and Iran

Iran's Raisi sent "warm congratulations" and wishes to hold close consultations with Armenia about the ongoing global and regional issues, and the strengthening of trade/transport/energy cooperation between the states.

Boris Johnson said he values the UK-AM relations and supports Pashinyan's "vision for a sustainable economy and democracy in Armenia". He praised the recent elections as democratic and vowed to help with ongoing reforms, COVID, and climate change.

Johnson said he supports OSCE peace efforts and noted that the UK was the first country that sent aid to Artsakh via Red Cross, after the war. "We continue to support the rehabilitation of border communities," said Johnson.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060975.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060976.html

tourism agency chief is under criminal investigation over suspected fraud

Several travelers recently complained that the Davinchi agency took their money but did not make the reservations for a vacation in Egypt. The authorities brought the director in for questioning. He was arrested and charged with large-scale fraud.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061020.html

COVID stats

6584 tested. 357 infected. 269 healed. 11 deaths. 6250 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060948.html

wear a mask indoors or prepare to pay a fine

... warned the police and inspectors today, citing the rising infection numbers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061004.html

interview with random people to see if they plan to get vaccinated

https://youtu.be/UJSQJBDlppY?t=21

Step Toward Home program hosted 360 diasporan participants from two dozen countries

The project was a cooperation between the Diaspora Committee and the "Teach Armenia" foundation. It's for children aged 13-18. They spent two weeks studying the Armenian language, history, culture and made new friends in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060951.html

IRS is digitizing services

IRS chief Rustam Badasyan held a meeting with the IT Department to discuss "Big Data" analytics and the use of machine learning for smarter risk management.

They spoke about the need to revamp IRS/customs servers, and the ongoing 25 various digital reform programs in the agency.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060987.html

Armenia soccer referees will officiate the matches of UEFA Women's Champions League

The games begin tomorrow in several European states.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060962.html