2021 August 2

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/2/2021: New Syunik road, tunnel, bridge __ Insult penalty already existed; new law sets lower fines; felony a-la France __ Backdoor found in judicial software __ Borders __ Parliament takes Oath; security beef-up; journalists granted dedicated halls for interviews __ Drone airport __ more
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Saturday to Monday recap in 2773 words.

Armenian army prevents Azeri engineering work on Nakhijevan borders

Defense Ministry: At 6:30 am [on Saturday], the Azeri forces opened fire at Armenian positions and attempted to use engineering equipment to reinforce their positions. The Armenian side returned fire and stopped the activities. //

Azeri army resumed the shooting at 6:10 pm on Saturday near Yeraskh. They opened fire at a vehicle that was transporting food for soldiers. Armenian forces returned fire. No injuries.

The ceasefire was violated again on Monday, near the same Nakhijevan area and also in Gegharkunik.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059561.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059596.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059714.html

U.S. members of Congress about Armenia-Azerbaijan borders

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clarke has urged Azerbaijan to "withdraw from Armenian territories" and end the "violence that has taken lives". She is one of the signatories of Rep. Frank Pallone's bipartisan resolution that could end the U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.

Rep. Adam Schiff said the aforementioned resolution is yet to pass through Senate and White House. He said this resolution differs from similar ones that were rejected in the past by Senate. He criticized Azerbaijan for violating the ceasefire.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059568.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059569.html

two more Armenian POWs receive 20-year sentences in Azerbaijan

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059670.html

Armenia will have a new airport to boost the drone development culture

An organization recently collected $117k from 2,800 donors to build a runway and an airport facility in Larnapat. One of the donors was a pensioner grandma who contributed $1.

The High Tech Ministry will help with the costs associated with building the adjacent facility.

They will hold a drone competition organized with the help of American University and the High Tech Ministry. The ArMath lab students will participate.

The goal is to turn it into a place where people interested in drone technology can experiment with stuff. The organizers are motivated by the 2020 war and the need for Armenia to develop its drone capabilities.

The organization formed a drone unit during the war. They plan to form 60 such groups across Armenia. They want to establish a drone culture in Armenia within the next 10-20 years.

The airport will be ready in November. They are ready to cooperate with the military, too.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219681

Yerevan's brand new bus fleet is being shipped

The capital is revamping the public transport with short, medium, and long buses. The latest batch has been manufactured in China. They will leave the Shanghai port to Poti (Georgia) and arrive in October.

Shipping ceremony: https://youtu.be/13EvkKTXVdw https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059570.html

representatives of media unions discuss the new law that criminalizes harsher types of insults made in public against certain protected groups

Free Speech committee reps: this is a low-quality law and won't work in practice. The international organizations will likely ask to review it...

The journalists have to think twice before using "sharp language" to make sure they aren't violating the law. The co-author called me to reassure that the bill is only about "harsh language" (hayhoyanq) and not "criticism". It would have been better if the law stated that it's only for "intentional" instances of insults...

The PACE 15-77 resolution states that defamation cannot lead to imprisonment. [according to the new law, repeated use of "grave" insults against protected groups (e.g. journalists and some public workers) can lead to jail time.]

In any case, we already have Civil Code 1087.1 that sets a $2,000 fine for an insult [or $4,000 for slander]. The new law sets the fine at $200-$1,000, and $2,000 for more serious instances.

So the portion about fines was already covered by the existing Civil Code. As for the criminalization portion, it's a step backward because we decriminalized defamation in 2010 after lengthy discussions.

Sure, there are countries that have partially preserved criminal punishment for insults, but those countries have a long history of established democratic traditions. The French law has felony punishment for defamation but they rarely use it...

We need to decriminalize defamation and increase punishment for hate speech. //

https://factor.am/400436.html https://factor.am/400457.html https://factor.am/400468.html https://www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docid=74658 https://factor.am/400487.html

Tags: #InsultLaw #CivilCode

the new Parliament held the first session / "radical opposition" makes debut

QP (Pashinyan), HD (Kocharyan-ARF), and PU (Serj-Vanetsyan) will discuss the appointment of officials in various Parliamentary positions.

The session began with speeches for national unity, made by the church leader, the president, and the Kurdish-Armenian QP MP Knyaz Hasanov. The latter read the Oath text while the 107 MPs stood up and took the oath.

HD MPs wore t-shirts depicting the mayors of several cities who were recently arrested and charged with voter bribery and other election-related crimes. The HD MPs complained that two of the arrested individuals were elected as MPs and were unable to visit the first session today because of the arrest. The QP MP noted that the arrest took place before they became MPs [in regards to MP immunity]. A verbal argument ensued. The session host told the HD MPs "this is Parliament, this isn't a միտինգ place."

https://youtu.be/DmkAXcIljGA https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059612.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059616.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059619.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059620.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059622.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059627.html https://youtu.be/IldlM_5uAmU https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059645.html

new Parliament = new political appointments

Pashinyan is officially a Premier again. He received congratulations from world leaders.

QP Hayk Konjoyan will lead the QP party, while Lilith Makunts will become the ambassador to the U.S.

Who will be the Parliament president? QP nominated its MP Alen Simonyan. HD nominated its MP Mkhitar Zakaryan, the now-former mayor of Meghri mired in corruption scandals. PU nominated an MP from its fellow HD alliance...

The HD and PU members did not participate in the vote, which ended with QP Simonyan being elected as the new Parliament President.

Defense Minister will be Arshak Karapetyan (promoted from deputy).

Valerik Kocharyan is no longer the head of the combat training department in the military.

Tigran Avinyan steps down from the Deputy Premier's position.

Suren Papikyan becomes a deputy Premier (was Infrastructure Minister). The new Infrastructure Minister will be Gnel Sanosyan (was Gegharkunik governor).

Romanos Petrosyan remains as Nature Minister.

Labor/Social Minister will be Narek Mkrtchyan (promoted from deputy).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059634.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059704.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059637.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059664.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059690.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059694.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059705.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059706.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059717.html

Parliament will dedicate two special press halls for journalists

As part of ongoing security revamp that introduced metal detectors (even for MPs), the Parliament will restrict journalists' access in some parts of the building, and instead, will give them two separate halls so they can continue to take quick interviews with officials.

Parliament president Simonyan: the reporters will have the option to take interviews without having to chase officials or wait for them outside the doors. You don't see journalists chasing officials in European Parliament or Russian Duma.

Instead, the official will meet journalists while entering or leaving the building. The process will be better regulated. Our party will have a press representative who will ensure the connection with journalists.

[When asked about increased security measures]: Let's not forget about the execution performances outside the Parliament building, the attack on Parliament president Mirzoyan, and the hate speech. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059700.html https://youtu.be/qcyCraECcgQ

Yerevan city council member is stabbed 11 times in his home

Arman Antonyan from the ruling party was attacked in his home in Nor Hachn (Kotayk) by two masked assailants at 1:00 am. He is in critical condition. The victim's grandfather confronted the assailants and received a stab in his head.

A fellow city council representative said the attack could be linked to the victim's activities in the city council. The ruling party condemned the attack and urged law enforcement to find perpetrators ASAP.

The Investigative Committee believes it was an attempted murder. They are reviewing the CCTV footage. Several individuals were questioned.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059633.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059697.html

North-South highway: in search of companies to build 12km tunnels, 5km bridges, and 60km roads in Sisian-Kajaran (Syunik)

The Road Department has contacted local and international firms to find the best bidder to handle the important section of the Syunik road network. The new road will be an alternative to the M-2 highway that became problematic after the war.

Ministry: this is a very difficult terrain. We need tunnels and bridges. The longest tunnel will be Bargushat with 8.7km in length. The project was designed in 2018 by an Italian company. The final cost will be known after the construction auction process.

We're doing the preparatory work right now. There will be an auction this year. Its construction will take 6 years.

Road Department: the Transh-4 is so big we had to divide it into three parts. Today's discussions are about the Sisian-Kajaran section in southern Armenia. //

The Facebook video talks in detail about the tunnels, bridges, and includes the maps: https://www.facebook.com/karen.jeyranyan.7/videos/4067839330000668/

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059665.html

infrastructure repairs across Armenia

Arpi settlement has new irrigation and sewage network. Horom (Shirak) will have its lighting network revamped with 150 new poles.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059573.html

A 5km sewage installation in Yerevan's Noragavit district is the first in the neighborhood. It will serve 400 buildings, mostly sing-home.

https://youtu.be/kIZUSZxUfqc

Yerevan State Medical University will have a new modern scientific research center

It aims to compete with European laboratories in neuroscience and other fields. The lab will research the human brain and find ways to prevent certain chronic illnesses. The Education Ministry representatives visited the univ. to learn about the construction progress.

The lab has already received some of the equipment and furniture. They will be installed once the construction is over. Its first phase is complete.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059615.html

disabled residents can control a computer by blinking

The Labor Ministry and 70 experts gathered today to study new technologies. Disabled citizens can use a special keyboard with 11 colored buttons, or just blink, to control a computer.

The Кey2enable company co-founder Jose Rubinger visited Armenia to present their product.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059691.html https://youtu.be/8yZaEoH7bEo

Constitutional Court strikes down parts of the recent education system reforms

The part of the bill that was invalidated is about regulating how the university boards are formed. The Education Ministry had argued that in publicly-funded universities the state has to have more say in the appointment of board members: 5 appointed by Ministry, 4 by various university bodies. The legislators will need to make amendments to the bill.

https://factor.am/400591.html

third of Armenia's judges will be female

Supreme Court chief Jhangiryan: four judges were appointed in provinces recently, three of whom were female. Overall, 1/3rd of all judges are female. We have set a new precedent, especially in the lower court, by appointing young women to this responsible position.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059640.html

judicial reforms: electronic system and archives

Supreme Court chief Jhangiryan: we are working on serious reforms with the help of USAID, IRZ, Eurasia Cooperation Foundation, and the Council of Europe.

The main goal is to implement an e-Justice system, digitize the archives, and monitor the judges' activities.

We also plan to introduce a new criminal-civil distribution system; USAID has taken on this task.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059644.html

anti-corruption: authorities detect backdoor in software that is supposed to randomly select judges for trials

Supreme Court chief Jhangiryan: the reason why the automatic distribution hasn't been working in some courts is that there is an ongoing investigation about an intentional backdoor that would allow persons outside the system to interfere in how the judge selection process works.

The NSS told us that they examined and found evidence of external interference. We are working with USAID to replace this system.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059657.html https://youtu.be/9mQj0c4Zt_k https://factor.am/400313.html

anti-corruption: National Security Services bust a group of IRS agents

NSS report says: two high-ranking tax inspectors uncovered a tax violation by a business owner but decided to demand ֏1.5 million in bribes in exchange for ignoring the violations. In the event of rejection, they threatened to "cause problems" for the business.

The NSS learned about it and placed the agents under surveillance, during which the agents took ֏1.2 million in bribes and were arrested at the scene. Both have been arrested and charged with felonies. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059699.html

the UK government helps IRS to improve tax collection efficiency

..., to manage risks associated with large taxpayers, and to do the same work with fewer resources. The UK ambassador met IRS reps. today to discuss the program that was done through World Bank.

IRS: Within the framework of the project, a series of actions necessary to bring the customs administration in line with European standards have been developed, which will stimulate the trade facilitation process.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059631.html

HayPost launches a new delivery service

The YES (Yerevan Express Service) is a new courier delivery service in Yerevan. It's a pickup and delivery from one home to another (novel idea) aimed at online sellers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059663.html

the "Diaspora Youth Ambassador" program will be implemented for the first time in September

Diaspora Office chief Sinanyan: the qualifying round is over. Now we are waiting for it to start in September.

The goal is to involve young diasporans to strengthen the Armenia-diaspora ties, to protect Armenian interests, to form a dynamic network of diasporans in various communities.

There will be meetings and lectures, during which the youth ambassadors will learn about Armenian politics, social and economic issues, etc. They will visit historical-cultural sites, tech institutes, and will take part in cultural events.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059686.html

the "Step Home" program has gathered hundreds of diasporans

Diaspora Office: the two-week program, aimed at helping 13-18-year-old diasporans to learn about Armenia, has attracted over 130 participants from several states. The opening ceremony of the 4th stage was today.

The participants will study the Armenian language (East and West), Armenology, traditional dance, and music. They will visit cultural sites and villages. //

The educational part is handled by Teach for Armenia Foundation. This year there have been 350 participants from 25 countries.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059689.html

COVID stats since Saturday

16,552 tested. 609 infected. 432 healed. 13 deaths. 4,600 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059559.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059597.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059623.html

Delta strain is on the loose in Armenia

The CDC and its colleagues examined 30 samples: 25 Indian, 4 British, 1 other.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059642.html

172,000 vaccinations so far

120k first and 52k second dose.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059621.html

German Condor airline resumes flight to Armenia

Frankfurt-Yerevan every weekend.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059578.html

Gyumri is packed with tourists again

The hotels have run out of rooms. The prices haven't gone up significantly because the vast majority of tourists right now are Armenians, who usually spend 2-3x less than foreigners ($100-$150).

Gyumri is relatively cheap at $30/night.

https://factor.am/400158.html

Forbes (Spain) places Armenia on the top-7 tourism destination list

They recommend Armenian brandy, nuts, dark chocolate, and spices.

It talks about how Winston Churchill complemented the Ararat cognac offered by Joseph Stalin during the Yalta conference.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294713/

plastic surgeries: the cost and prevalence in Armenia

Nose surgery is the most common type in Armenia. The $1,000 - $2,000 price tag attracts many diasporan Armenians and foreign citizens. It's usually $10,000 in western countries.

Most of the medical tourism is from Russia, the EU, and the US. While the visitors from the latter two are mostly diasporan Armenians, those coming from Russia are often ethnic Russians.

The majority are women. Men often request ear and face surgeries.

20% of all patients are coming to Armenia to fix an unsuccessful surgery that was done abroad.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/214832

Tokyo Olympics medal!

Boxer Hovhannes Bachkov defeated the Azeri opponent 4:1 and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Boxer Arman Darchinyan was unable to advance to the semifinals.

Greco-Roman wrestlers begin their matches. Armen Melikyan defeated the Iranian opponent but lost the quarterfinal match to the Ukrainian athlete. If the latter makes it to the final, Melikyan will have a chance to compete for bronze.

Greco-Roman wrestler Arthur Aleksanyan and Karapet Chalyan both won their games and advanced to the quarterfinals... They both won the quarter matches as well and advanced to semis, where Chalyan lost the match and will compete for bronze, while Aleksayan won and will compete for gold.

Gymnast Arthur Davtyan won the bronze medal, bringing Armenia's first artistic gymnastics medal in the past 41 years. Arthur had earlier won the European gold. He's been in business since the age of 7.

Arthur said he could have scored better had it not been for an extra step that he made during one of the tricks. "I did better during the exercises." Nonetheless, he is happy with the medal, saying "this bronze medal has the value of a gold."

Tennis player Karen Khachanov won the silver medal after losing the match to Germany's Alexander Zverev.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059551.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059595.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059594.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059608.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059609.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059654.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059658.html https://sport.news.am/eng/news/124149/armenias-artur-davtyan-scores-bronze-medal-at-olympic-games.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059671.html https://factor.am/400136.html

Armenian choir is declared winner of "World Peace Choral Festival 2021" held in Vienna

https://factor.am/400140.html

Iran water riots explained

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/iransource/the-grapes-of-khuzestans-wrath/

end of report

Yesterday's news in English and русский (by Impossible-Ad-).

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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/owmfqr/news_aug22021_new_syunik_road_tunnel_bridge/

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