2021 August 23

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/23/2021: Army will have UAV Department __ Reservist training __ Diasporan scientist on army reforms & science __ Economy grows 13% __ Foreign Affairs; CSTO; Afghanistan __ Rumors & rebuttals: border edition __ Doctor arrested for fake vax certificate __ Armenian athletes win many medals
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Monday recap in 3429 words.

economy grows 13%, GDP per capita +23%

for 2Q21 vs 2Q20:

Industry & energy +6.7%

Agriculture, hunting, and forestry +10%

Construction +6.7%

Trade & services +14.4%

Raw mining +8.6%, processed industry +6%

Total +13% (it was -3% in 1Q21 vs 1Q20)

for 2Q21 vs 1Q21:

GDP per capita reached >$1,000, or +23%.

https://factor.am/407417.html https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/295071/

U.S. State Department urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume Artsakh negotiations

They condemned the recent border escalation and urged the states to resume negotiations under OSCE.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061333.html

U.S. ambassador Tracey: the conflict is not settled because Karabakh doesn't have a status yet

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061385.html

Pashinyan and Macron spoke about the need to resume OSCE negotiations

Pashinyan thanked his colleague for the continuous efforts by France to establish peace in the region.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061365.html

MFA Mirzoyan met Artsakh president Arayik Harutyunyan

They discussed humanitarian issues, resumption of negotiations, and the importance of Artsakh's right to self-determination.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061352.html

rumors & rebuttals: border edition

MOD denied Telegram rumors claiming that Azeris attempted to advance their positions near Sev lake (Syunik) on Monday and that the situation was "very tense". MOD said these false rumors are often circulated by Azeri sources in an attempt to stoke panic in the bordering population.

https://factor.am/407759.html

MOD denied rumors claiming that they collected funds from soldiers to lease construction equipment. A solder recorded a video in July showing engineering work being done in front lines, and claimed that it was done with their money. The MOD will "discipline the soldier for circulating false information".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061364.html

There is an old law that regulates how residents should be evacuated in bordering villages in case of danger, and the officials' roles in the process. The law was recently reformed to replace specific people's names with their official titles. This lead to social media rumors claiming that residents in Tavush borders will be evacuated. Tavush governor's office denied the rumors.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061407.html https://fip.am/16693

the sun rises and activates the latest George Soros conspiracy theory

Outlets belonging to the former regime circulated rumors that Yerevan State University (YSU) will become "Sorosified" after the appointment of a "pro-Soros" former ruling QP MP Hamazasp Danielyan as university pro-rector.

It turns out, as reported by a fact-checker, YSU has taken $767,000 in grants from Soros between 1998-2017, under the former regime. Dozens of professors receive grants from Open Society.

The ex-MP, the target of the misinformation attack, served as a professor between 2009-2017. He denied rumors that he received an invitation to serve as pro-rector, and said he wouldn't accept the offer anyway.

Another one of the former regime's outlets that attacked the "Sorosification" has a history of taking $14,000 in Soros grants.

https://fip.am/16683

CSTO military bloc leaders discussed Afghanistan

Putin doesn't want to accept Afghan refugees because he fears jihadists could infiltrate under the disguise of refugees. He compared today's events in Afghanistan to Russia's post-independence internal struggles against jihadist insurgency.

Moscow "praised Taliban for restoring order" following its takeover of the country. MFA Lavrov claimed that the Taliban is following through its promise of "amnesty for all", despite numerous reports of retaliation and murder.

CSTO secretary Zas announced that CSTO members (Tajikistan) would need to obtain the bloc's permission before hosting American troops on the border with Afghanistan.

Zas also expressed concern that the Taliban has not yet delivered on the promise of forming a coalition government.

Armenia will assume the chairmanship of the CSTO bloc on September 16. Secretary Zas was asked to comment.

Zas said: Work is underway in Armenia to set their priorities during the CSTO chairmanship. That's why it's too early to tell what the bloc's priorities will be in the next few years. Armenia is active and shows real interest in developing CSTO. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061350.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061372.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061401.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061431.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061440.html https://factor.am/407684.html https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russias-putin-we-dont-want-afghan-militants-russia-2021-08-22/

Afghan migrants organized a protest in Baku

They want the UN to provide them with better living conditions in Baku. The Azeri police dispersed the crowd of 40. The Azeri regime does not disclose the number of Afghan migrants in the country.

https://factor.am/407662.html

update: the second soldier is arrested after last week's incident that took 3 lives

A dispute between soldiers led to three being killed last week. One fellow soldier was arrested.

The authorities made the second arrest today after learning more details about the incident. The senior member allegedly committed crimes sexual in nature, before instigating a conflict that led to the murders.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061411.html

Lieutenant goes missing, disorientation suspected amid thick fog

A soldier left the position without permission and went in an unknown direction. The contact was lost shortly afterward. It is believed that he mistakenly crossed the border with Azerbaijan. The Russian side was contacted to mediate a process to find his location.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061427.html

interview with the head of army reservist mobilization chief about the upcoming large-scale retraining exercises

Context: the army will call thousands of reservists for retraining beginning on Wednesday. Army official Arman Aftandilyan provides details.

Q: what age group and how will they be selected?

First group, first class. It's mainly reservists who served in the army. The law that defines who is in the 1st group/class was recently amended to raise the upper age limit from 48 to 53. For junior officers, the age limit is now 55 instead of 50.

Q: there are many citizens in that age group. How do you select them?

This is the first time Armenia is holding 3-month exercises. They will be routine. Every reservist will eventually undergo mandatory training.

Q: where will they train?

I cannot disclose the locations. MOD is working with CoGS to organize and meet the reservists. They will be treated as servicemen and will enjoy all the benefits given to other servicemen and their families.

MOD will pay salaries in accordance with today's army wages. The size will depend on their rank and duties.

There are often issues during the preparatory process. To invite a certain number of soldiers, you select a slightly larger candidate pool because some of the soldiers will end up dropping out from exercises due to health issues.

Sometimes we receive calls from private businesses with complaints about taking away their workers. Yes, three months is not short. I'd like to remind the businesses that they are required under the law to preserve the reservists' job positions. During their training, the business is allowed to sign a temporary 3-month contract with others to fill the vacant spots.

Reservists who display progress in knowledge and skills could be promoted as officers.

Q: is it possible reservists could be stationed at borders?

Only if necessary. They would earn higher salaries in that case.

Q: what's the punishment for not showing up?

Up to 3 years of imprisonment for deserters. These exercises are important. We expect our citizens to realize this and participate in the country's protection. //

https://youtu.be/n9UqHHoj7j4 https://factor.am/407359.html

interview with MIT professor Areg Danagulyan about the military industry, UAVs, science

Read Pashinyan's 5-year plan here and here for context.

Q: per government plans, the conscription time will shrink from 2 to 1.5 years. Critics say this could place the reserves at risk.

I'm not an expert in that area but I think the quality of officers' education is an important subject. To have a modern army we need educated officers, and by that I mean they should know math, physics, engineering, chemistry, etc.

If you have soldiers who operate complex high-tech machinery, they need to understand it very well. They need to know the "whole system". They would not simply memorize how to press buttons.

Q: part of the government's army reform plan is the introduction of AI and the development of military industry research. Can Armenia do it?

I need to understand what problem they are trying to solve with artificial intelligence [Note: it's about autonomous drones and stuff] before I can comment. The high-tech industry is another topic. To achieve results you need years of work in this field. Turkey has a developed military industry (Bayraktar). Bayraktar wasn't born out of thin air. It's a result of education.

These UAV talks began in 2016 after the April War. There were interviews with Naira Hovakimyan about UAVs, but it was "successfully forgotten" and no major reforms were made in science. I hope this time we will take it seriously.

Q: government plans to develop the processing industry and increase its share in GDP. How will the military industry benefit from this?

What is needed to develop the military industry is the same thing that's needed to develop any other industry branch. What is missing today to raise the high-tech industry's share in GDP?

If you ask the IT sector today, no one will tell you it's the "lack of financing". It's all about the lack of professional specialists. You cannot solve this by "throwing" money at it. People graduate from university but have to learn things from zero after getting a job in a relevant field.

Q: government plans to open engineering labs in Armenia's all 1,400 schools by 2026. Can this help?

It's a very good idea. Whoever prepared the reforms understands that the whole pipe, from kindergarten to university to becoming a worker, should be reformed. You need scientific funding for that. Today the task is handled by GitUzh organization which is lead by members of the industry who know what's best for their industry.

Creating these natural sciences and engineering labs in schools, if done correctly, will be great. Teachers must be professional, too. Every time you ask an engineer why they decided to choose this job, they say "I loved it as a child, I built something and fell in love with engineering".

The difference between Armenia and the U.S. is that the vast majority (~80%) of scientific discoveries in the U.S. are done in universities. Science and education must work together. The student must see how science works as they continue to study.

Q: Regarding financing. The govt's plan talks about the implementation of efficient scientific funding mechanisms.

I'm glad that the science financing was increased by 20% this year. That's part of the job. The new funds should be used efficiently. I disagree with those who say we should significantly raise science salaries to "convince" kids to become scientists. High tech salaries are already very high today, yet we lack specialists.

We need a wider strategy. We need to promote young people's entry to science with various methods. In the West, they have Early Career Awards. If you just became a professor or defended your PhD, you have a separate financing channel that can provide grants, plus the ordinary grants. It's like for "startups" so they can form their own team and lab. That's one example.

Q: some Armenian military industry players are afraid of taking responsibility if "something doesn't work out".

The real problem in the Armenian military industry is elsewhere. It's mostly about producers having difficulty understanding what the state needs from them.

For the producer to create a new idea or concept and turn it into a product, it needs to be given a specific and clear task to work on. This isn't being done right now. Those I've spoken with say MOD is struggling to more clearly define what's needed. The issue stems from the lack of specialists in MOD who understand the technical root of the issue.

For example, if we want to invent anti-UAV methods, you need to understand what their weak points are. For this, the person must have military knowledge AND technology knowledge. This is why we need staff that has higher education, so besides operating UAVs, they can work with the engineers to develop new ideas.

You can study how DARPA operates, how mil. industry grants work. Perhaps we can implement it in Armenia. For that, we need MOD and High-Tech Ministry to have more specialists.

Q: By 2026, the government plans to invite 60 scientists and 60 remotely managed scientific groups. Do you plan to join Armenia?

I need to know how they plan to convince them to come. Many in diaspora, who grew up abroad, would like to move to Armenia. There is also diaspora consisted of those of us who grew up in Armenia before emigrating. There are Luys Foundation graduates who studied in the best universities abroad but very few of them returned to Armenia.

We have a rich experience with Armenia-diaspora cooperation. A perfect example is the excellent American University in Armenia founded in the early 90s, mostly with the efforts of Californian Armenians.

Many diasporans who visit Armenia for the first time come across cultural barriers. They see the need to revamp the whole centralized "Soviet" system so all institutes won't have to wait for orders from one body.

30 years have passed since USSR, yet we continue to use the Soviet-style scientific management system, which is very inefficient. Diasporans know this and offer solutions.

For example, Yerevan Physics Institute was renamed after Artem Alikhanyan National Laboratory. It has a different model. It has multi-disciplinary work: scientists in different fields work together on the same goal. Nuclear physicists are working with doctors to find cancer detection solutions.

These reforms are often not accepted well by some people. I know examples when diasporans went to Armenia but were met with hostility after suggesting reforms.

So the question is not when diasporans are ready to come, but rather when Armenia is ready for us to come. We need to transition the education model from Soviet to a modern one. It's difficult but the results can be excellent. A perfect example are the reforms in National Lab (Yerevan Physics Institute). //

Read more about the National Lab and what they are up to by reading April 8 news report.

Full: https://youtu.be/sw8OgoZNTW8 https://factor.am/407794.html

Tags: #ArmyReforms #EducationReforms

the army will have a new Drone Department, 5th generation warfare toolkits, reservist reforms

Pashinyan signed a decree last Thursday to create a UAV Department of the Armed Forces through the division of the Aviation Department.

Territorial Defense and Reserve Forces Command was formed.

The second decree, signed on Sunday, mentiones the "lessons learned from the 2020 war". The government will define the main guidelines and long-term plans, based on "5th generation warfare toolkit". [authonomous systems, drones]

https://www.civilnet.am/news/630259/զինված-ուժերի-կառուցվածքում-կստեղծվի-անօդաչու-թռչող-սարքերի-վարչություն/ https://e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/36754/ https://e-gov.am/gov-decrees/item/36773/

Tags: #ArmyReform

MOD Karapetyan participated in the opening ceremony of Army-2021 military/weaponry expo in Moscow

MOD met representatives of the Russian military industry.

In other news, another international army event titled "Warrior of Peace" launched in Armenia. It's a competition between teams representing Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Greece, and Qatar.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061366.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061373.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061459.html

5th Army Corps conducted military exercises

https://factor.am/407725.html

Ararat branch leader of Yerkrapah Volunteer Union is arrested

The police found large quantities of weapons under his possession. He is accused of illegally storing grenades, bulletproof vests, rifles, and thousands of bullets, all of which were allegedly collected and transferred during the 2020 war.

The investigation that led to the stash was launched after villagers reported that the suspect's son fired shots from an illegal weapon. The son had turned himself in and confessed. The subsequent raid uncovered the much larger weapon stash belonging to his father.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061380.html

all residents of Kolatak, Martakert, Artsakh have returned to their homes

13 families were relocated to new homes in the village. The school resumed its work in December and has more students than before, but they still don't have a kindergarten. The village had 345 residents before the new arrivals. The mayor wishes to see renovated roads.

https://artsakhpress.am/arm/news/148872/

modern electric train is launched between Yerevan-Yeraskh (Nakhijevan border)

South Caucasus Railways had earlier imported four modern trains. One of them will serve the Yerevan-Yeraskh route. The ticket price went from $1.20 to $1.40.

The railway giant plans to invest over $70 million within the next 4 years.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061428.html

update: FizGorodok building construction is suspended

Last week we learned that residents of a "FizGorodok" mini-district in Yerevan protested the construction of a new 12-story building in their neighborhood. They described it as being a result of an illegal property transaction in 2005, and urged the municipality to revoke the construction permit. Several protesters were detained during clashes with police. Rights groups condemned the police for "excessive use of force" after reports that a teenager was injured.

The Nature Ministry intervened. Their examination revealed that the construction company did not have a proper SHMAG environmental assessment. Without it, the construction cannot proceed.

Meanwhile, the residents visited the city hall to make their case on why the construction should be permanently stopped.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061353.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061421.html https://factor.am/407568.html https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/p8ca2s/news_aug202021_army_prepares_for_largescale

PHOTOS: USAID and Smithsonian Institute renovated the history museum in Sisian (Syunik)

The museum now has a new souvenir shop that presents cultural pieces prepared by the locals. The shop will make the museum more attractive, said US ambassador Tracey, who participated in the shop's opening ceremony. "I'm proud that the American people are contributing to the development of tourism in Armenia."

Dozens of local craftsmen presented their handmade work in the shop.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061387.html

COVID stats

5220 tested. 251 infected. 239 healed. 10 deaths. 7483 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061393.html

Delta strain is nasty, sends more young patients to hospital, ravages the lungs much faster

https://factor.am/407601.html

240,000 vaccinations so far

154k first and 86k second dose.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061389.html

VIDEO: fake vaccination certificate seller is arrested by National Security Services

NSS reports: a surgeon from one of Yerevan's clinics conspired with his friend to sell a fake vaccine certificate. The surgeon instructed a subordinate to prepare a fake card after a resident paid a bribe.

The surgeon then asked for another bribe for the 'second dose' and to enter the resident's name in the official digital database of vaccinated people. The NSS conducted a raid after the first transaction and found the illegal card/money under their possession.

Four people are facing criminal charges. The surgeon and his friend are arrested, while the resident and the subordinate worker are instructed not to leave the country (they confessed and cooperated with authorities). //

https://youtu.be/MmxdQTP5jZI https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061391.html

heart surgeon Bagrat Alekyan awarded "Order of Alexander Nevsky" by Vladimir Putin

... for his service during the pandemic in Russia. Alekyan is a member of the Academy of Science in Armenia and Russia. He is the Russian Health Ministry's top endovascular expert.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061422.html

Appeals Court sends Kocharyan ally hospital director back to pre-trial arrest

Kocharyan-ARF alliance MP Armen Charchyan, the now-former director of Izmirlyan hospital, was recently caught on audiotape allegedly pressuring workers not to vote for Pashinyan during June 20 elections, claiming that there are algorithms that could reveal whom the employees voted for, and that they would receive harsher treatment.

He was arrested then released. Today the Appeals Court sent him back to jail.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061404.html

HOW do you even get stranded in Lake Sevan IN A BOAT just 1km from the shore?

Rescuers were called to evacuate residents of Drakhtik village after their dingy motorboat ride went wrong.

https://factor.am/407383.html

HayPost launches a free tracking and delivery service via SMS

It'll work for domestic and international deliveries, and only requires the sender to provide the recipient's phone number.

The recipient will receive an update with the parcel's location when it arrives in Armenia or at the local post office. A one-tap button allows the recipient to deliver it to home within one working day.

Another SMS service will inform the recipient if their parcel is stuck at a customs facility.

Available in Yerevan, Vagharshapat, and Abovyan for now.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061420.html

Armenian singer takes the lead in New Wave international song festival

New Wave is popular in CIS republics but has participants from around the world. This year it has singers from nine countries.

Armenia's Saro Gevorgyan is leading with 179 points so far, with the second-place Kazakh group scoring 170.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061417.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Wave_(competition)

Armenia's Shant Sargsyan is the winner of the Agzamov Chess Tournament

... held in Uzbekistan, participated by 11 countries.

https://factor.am/407887.html

Armenia wins 2 silver and 1 bronze in World Junior Wrestling Championship

The bronze guy defeated the Azeri opponent. One of the silver guys lost the final match to Azeri opponent.

https://factor.am/407811.html

Armenia wins gold medal in World Junior Weightlifting Championship

Rafik Minasyan defeated the Turkish opponent in the final. Turkey won 2nd and 3rd places.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/295076/

Armenia wins 2 gold, 3 silver, 5 bronze in European Junior Boxing Championship

Big win. 10 of the 17 Armenian athletes won a medal.

https://factor.am/407253.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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/pa8sr0/news_aug232021_army_will_have_uav_department/

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