2021 August 26

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/26/2021: VOMA chief on AN-2 baits, reservists, Shushi, UAV __ Azeri soldier w/mental issues arrested after home invasion __ New road to substitute the one on Syunik's border __ Pashinyan on Karabakh negotiations, border demarcation, education __ Vazgen's murder __ Economic Freedom Index
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Thursday recap in 3203 words.

Azeri soldier arrested after illegally entering Artsakh

Jamil Babaev was arrested in Martakert, a northeastern border town in Artsakh. The authorities will press charges relating to the illegal border crossing, making physical threats, and spying.

Babaev broke into a house and demanded food and water from twin boys. After staying in the house for a while, the boys left to buy cigarettes. That's when they called the adults. Babaev was apprehended and arrested by the police.

Azeri Defense Ministry said Babaev had recently left a psychiatric hospital in Ganja.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061664.html https://factor.am/409302.html https://youtu.be/K6xENLYoDmc

Azeri soldiers close a road after claiming that Armenian soldiers stabbed an Azeri guard

Yesterday, the Defense Ministry released a statement, denying the Azeri claims that two Armenian soldiers stabbed an Azeri soldier with a bayonet on the Syunik border (Vorotan, Kapan).

Part of this road had gone under Azeri control after the 2020 war but Armenians maintained access to it under Russian supervision. To "protest" the "stabbing incident", 50 Azeri soldiers set up a roadblock to block the vehicle traffic.

The NSS evacuated the vehicles that were stranded on the road. They closed it from the Armenian side so people won't unknowingly use it. Russian guards launched negotiations with Azeris to reopen it.

QP MP Gahramanyan: I've been informed that the road will be reopening this evening after 3-way negotiations. The rumors that nearby villagers were evacuated were false. //

Trilateral talks resumed in the evening between AM-RU-AZ. Kapan mayor said the closure has not affected the daily life in the town but he hopes the road will reopen soon. The closure caused a problem for Shurnukh village, which had to receive supplies from Russian mediators because of the position of the village and the road.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061644.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061645.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061668.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061691.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061701.html https://factor.am/409454.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061725.html

VIDEO: mass recruitment and retraining of reservists begins, while the army command rotation continues

Hrach Stepanyan is appointed as the head of the Military Education Policy department at MOD. Artak Budaghyan will lead the Special Army Corps instead of the 4th Army.

MOD shared a video featuring reservists. Some of them joined the 5th Army Corps today.

Reservists said: This should have been done sooner. It's yet another opportunity for a person to learn and train. As long as we have an enemy nearby, we must all become experts in this. We're going to take care of our lands.

A female family member: perhaps this should become mandatory for women, too. We must be prepared.

https://youtu.be/ntF3w4Edekw?t=6 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061686.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061687.html https://factor.am/409336.html

[Parliament] Pashinyan and MPs discuss the government's 5-year program

Read what's in the program here, here, and here.

The opposition will not vote in favor of the program. They are also against the resumption of trade and communication routes in the region which would lift the blockade on Armenia. "It will lead to a deeper blockade," said HP MP Ohanyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061667.html

[Parliament] Pashinyan responds to criticism from Serj-camp about the Karabakh negotiation process:

Serj Sargsyan gave a speech in April 2018 [before the revolution], saying the negotiation process was in a dire state and it had stopped because Azerbaijan made demands that were unacceptable for Armenia.

What kind of negotiator leads to a negotiation process with unacceptable and unrealistic demands from the other side?

The same day, Serj had announced that we can no longer hope that Azerbaijan will give up on the idea of resolving the Karabakh issue with the use of force. Now the Serj-camp criticizes us for not preventing the war. In other words, according to them, we should have agreed to the "unacceptable and unrealistic demands" as described by Serj himself.

Then they blame us for not stopping the war. Azerbaijan said from day one, under what conditions they would stop the war: Armenians must leave from the "occupied territories". I mentioned that from the Parliament podium on the first day of the war. Why wasn't Serj calling us to withdraw from lands and stop the war? And when the war was finally stopped, they called that treason, too.

https://factor.am/409306.html https://youtu.be/pFGu90xkves

[Parliament] ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan responds to QP MP's yesterday's speech about the "mistake of not making land concessions sooner"

Read yesterday's news for context. QP MP Khachatur Sukiasyan said in his speech that towards the end of the 1990s, president Levon Ter-Petrosyan had warned about Armenia's few options, about the need to make land concessions, for which Levon was labeled as a traitor and overthrown [by Kocharyan, Serj, and Vazgen].

Presumably, QP MP Sukiasyan suggested that extremists allied with ARF [Nairi Hunanyan] had organized the October 27 terror attack to kill Vazgen to prevent land concessions, because Vazgen had later [only 3 months after helping to oust Levon] changed his mind and agreed to concessions.

The QP MP compared the October 27 attack with the 2016 Sasna Tsrer hostage takeover [which delayed land concessions post-2016 war], and a 2004 event on Baghramyan street. These events were meant to delay land concessions, according to Khachatur Sukiasyan.

ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan: most of the MPs present in Parliament today have been part of the government after October 27, including the current administration. If they have something to say to us, they should. If they have any evidence against ARF [over October 27 attack], they should present it.

Members of the ruling party have been lately claiming that we should have given our homeland [land concessions] to the enemy 20 years ago, and that things would have been better had we done so. //

Reporter: are you referring to QP Khachatur Sukiasyan's criticism of Vazgen Sargsyan? //

ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan: Yes. //

[Did ARF change its stance about the need for land concessions after the elections? 🤔]

https://youtu.be/4b_LUbVW5uE?t=143 https://factor.am/409180.html https://youtu.be/wkW3CkT7ccs https://factor.am/409389.html

[Parliament] Pashinyan on why Vorotan-Shurnukh road in Syunik is "disputed", and the enclaves:

Context: A section of Vorotan-Shurnukh road was part of Artsakh that went under Azeri control. MPs representing the former regime criticized Pashinyan for "giving away" the road to Azeris. Pashinyan responded to the accusations by citing a law approved under the former administration that described this part of the road as being outside Syunik premises.

Pashinyan responds: Why did the road become disputed? I have to remind you of the 2010 territorial law no matter how unpleasant it is. And not only that but also the North-South highway. Now they criticize us for the issue of enclaves that were recently raised.

Tell us why, when you designed the North-South highway, the road did not continue through Yeraskh [near Nakhijevan] towards Tigranazhen and Zangakatun. Because it wasn't us who introduced this topic. I published documents from 1999 that contained all of this, during the recent electoral campaign.

Why didn't the North-South highway go through Syunik's Vorotan-Shurnukh section when you design it? Instead, it requires new expensive tunnels that significantly raise the construction cost.

Here is what happened. We have 2-3 road sections with 21km in length. It was outside of Soviet Armenia borders under USSR maps. Azeris closed it today under the pretense of a stabbing incident. Azeris claimed that people crossed into the area from the Armenian side and stabbed Azeri border guards. This information does not correspond to reality. If the Azeri side has evidence, they should share it so we can investigate. The road blocking is against the agreement between Armenia and Russia.

As you know, we launched extensive road construction in 2019, and especially activated it in 2021, to have a new Kapan-Aghvan road as a bypass. The gravel road is being asphalted at a high pace. Shurnukh and Vorotan will see additional road work.

https://factor.am/409240.html https://youtu.be/hSfPFFP5B8M

[Parliament] Pashinyan about border demarcation:

The opposition forces attempted to create the impression that border demarcation is "treason" and it was forced upon Armenia. In reality, it is Armenia that would benefit from demarcation.

Have you noticed that Azerbaijan has stopped calling for border demarcation lately? They are trying to exclude it from the agenda.

Azerbaijan has its allies within Armenia who advocate against the demarcation. They unknowingly play into Azeri hands. We should not deviate. We have a historical responsibility.

https://factor.am/409265.html https://youtu.be/gU9Ury8kFOk https://factor.am/409302.html

[Parliament] Pashinyan about dividing between "blacks and whites":

HD MP Armen Gevorgyan, the deputy Premier of 10 years, accused us of dividing people between "blacks and whites" [a term coined by Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan after the revolution to differentiate corrupt and non-corrupt].

Let me tell you what dividing between "blacks and whites" means, Mr. HD Gevorgyan. Per 2019 study, 35% of students under the age of 10 were incapable of reading properly. 7% of junior kids did not attend school. 30% of students did not receive education after elementary school.

That is the definition of dividing between "black and white", when you and your kids receive education in London while referring to those with lack of access to schools as "zhekh", because they are "black", and you are "white".

While we say let's build 500 preschools, 300 schools, install labs in 1400 schools, reform the higher education system, you are busy calling us "traitor and land giver". The word traitor has lost its meaning thanks to you. That word can be used against you, but it's better to let it go and get busy with actual policies.

https://youtu.be/mgZAfc-pNfY https://factor.am/409345.html

[Parliament] Pashinyan urges for unity with opposition to focus on external threats:

Armenia faces serious challenges, but they are exclusively external in nature. We don't have internal challenges. We must ensure the sustainable development of Armenia by consolidating our society around the agenda of peace. This sustainable development agenda will ensure security and prosperity for Armenia and Artsakh. The people have given us the mandate to accomplish this.

It should be a priority for officials to develop the country while refraining from hate speech and insults. And again, I want to extend a hand of cooperation to all opposition forces inside and outside the Parliament to serve this agenda.

We will try to be cooperative where there is an opportunity for cooperation while exercising patience in cases of provocation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061678.html

[Parliament] HD MP Seyran Ohanyan apologizes for the kerfuffle in Parliament

He apologized to the public and fellow MPs for the physical confrontation in recent days (bottle wars). He explained the emotional outbursts as being a result of an atmosphere of hatred during the electoral campaign (hammer & sickle) and disagreement over the government's policies.

https://factor.am/409190.html

[Parliament] Pashinyan's 5-year program is approved with a 70-0-0 vote

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061672.html

Armenia improves its position in Heritage's Economic Freedom Index

Upgraded from 34th to 32nd place, strengthening the position of the best country for business in the EAEU trade bloc, said Economy Minister Kerobyan.

1 Singapore

12 Georgia

32 Armenia

38 Azerbaijan

76 Turkey

85 Moldova

92 Russia

168 Iran

Last: Dennis Rodman's pals

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061682.html https://www.heritage.org/index/country/armenia

Victoria Zakaryan wins bronze in European Junior Boxing Championship

The 35kg boxer is from Martuni, Gegharkunik.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061680.html

Mt. Karmir Katar will be recognized as a natural monument

It's located in the Gegham mountain range between Sevan and Ararat Plain. There is a 300-meter crater lake at the top.

The government says the new status will allow the Nature Ministry to more effectively protect it from dangerous interference.

https://hetq.am/en/article/134964 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061659.html

VIDEO: fires broke out in Khosrov Forest Reserve

Firefighters extinguished small pockets of fire since Tuesday. New fires were discovered and isolated in the following days.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219855

parts of Sanahin monastery walls are being strengthened

The U.S. ambassador and Education Ministry visited the monastery in Lori. The U.S. has donated $292,000 for the project.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061693.html

Armenia and China discuss North-South highway and modern copper smelter

Infrastructure Minister Sanosyan met the Chinese ambassador Fan to discuss roads, energy, and transportation.

They discussed issues relating to the construction of the Talin-Gyumri section of North-South.

The Minister informed Fan about the upcoming construction of a crucial Sisian-Kajaran road in Syunik, and offered to assist large Chinese firms to join the auction that will select construction firms.

The two also discussed whether Chinese firms are interested in using modern technologies to build a copper smelter in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061707.html

COVID stats

6918 tested. 683 infected. 315 healed. 7 deaths. 8570 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061662.html

Soccer news: Alashkert is out of Europa League

They played a draw against Scotland's Rangers in Yerevan. Alashkert is "downgraded" to compete in Confederations League.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1061728.html

Ilham Aliyev about the difficulties faced by Azeri army during the 2020 war:

It was the right decision for us to stop the war. Had it continued, we would suffer greater losses. We would have difficulties in Kelbajar [Karvachar, north] and Qashatagh/Lachin. This region's mountains and climate would cause problems, especially since the winter was approaching.

https://factor.am/409590.html

interview with VOMA military camp leader Vova Vardanov / Shushi / air defense / reservists / AN-2 planes that were used as bait

Reporter: an incident took place in Parliament [yesterday] during discussions about exempting some people from the army. Should scientists be exempt?

Vardanov: No. Scientists should also train. Their service can be done close to their homes so they can go home in the evening and engage with science. I read an article about an Israeli ballerina serving in the army. She takes the boots off at 6:00 pm and puts on the ballerina shoes.

Reporter: the argument is that if we allow students to graduate from a university before drafting, we will have a smarter army.

Vardanov: That's a reasonable argument. Both my children graduated math/physics and became officers. They served three years. The young one served on Mt. Omar [north] in 2020. Had they joined the military before graduating, perhaps they would be less educated, but are our universities sufficient enough to raise the overall quality?

Reporter: what do you think about the ongoing 3-month-long reservist training.

Vardanov: [repeats his earlier opinion that 3 months are too long]. However, the positive side of 3 months is that the army will gain the ability to use some of the reservists to supplement the front lines in case there is a personnel shortage. But do we have a personnel shortage? They should be open about it. Azeri intel already knows it.

We need to revamp the system for access to classified information. We have Soviet-style mythical secrecy today. I'll bring the example of my son. He operates an OSA air defense unit. It's a 60s design manufactured in the 70s that worked great in the 2020 war. We had an OSA air defense unit near Shushi, operated by Rafo. He shot down around 27 Azeri drones. Azeris had a lot more of those OSAs but they gave up on them because they couldn't service them.

Anyways, information related to OSA is secret in Armenia. Whom are you guarding it from? To read OSA documents, my son would have to enter a secret room, sign his name, read the documents, and return them a few hours later. That's absurd.

In reality, we aren't keeping OSA information secret from Azeris, we are keeping it secret from our own men. You can find detailed videos about weapons on YouTube. But it's secret in Armenia. Do you think Azeris don't have binoculars and can't tell how many Armenians serve in front lines? Somehow we don't know, but they do.

If you need more men to guard borders, then say so. Publicly announce that for the following reasons, we are organizing a monthlong training to supplement the front.

Reporter: regarding old OSA air defense units. The MOD said we won't buy old weapons anymore. What should we buy?

Vardanov: we should predict what type of war we will have in the future and purchase relevant gear. Do you know how Israel started? The old British Centurion tanks, Soviet T34 tanks (transferred via Czechoslovakia). They survived with those before the re-armament. They did not "repair", they "modernized" them.

Or the Israeli [sandcat?] armored vehicle that our boys destroyed near Karmir Shuka-Taghavart. That model is viewed as one of the best armored vehicles in the world, yet it was possible to destroy it. Israel reached that quality after using [old models scrapped from here and there].

Russians have a sea of unused old T55 tanks that are collecting dust. They will even pay the "whiny Armenians" to take that scrap away. Bring those T55 and remodel them. You'll have a powerful fleet.

The same about jets. Do you know how Turks destroyed our air defense in 2020? They remodeled AN-2 planes and robotized them. There were no kamikazes inside. The pilots probably lifted the planes before jumping with a parachute.

The planes were robotized with each having 600kg explosives. Our air defense units' locations were exposed after they shot down those AN-2s. Modern drones were then used to destroy our air defense. All it took was a modernized old Soviet AN-2 plane.

Would you give up fighting with a knife just because it was invented 12,000 years ago? It can still puncture a body. Your knife doesn't have to be made of stone. I would love it if they purchase modern weapons but it's expensive.

[about geopolitics]

There is a bigger game here. Superpowers are forcing us to make decisions. They forced Serj in 2016 and they are forcing Pashinyan now. There are things that don't depend on us.

In 2020, we had essentially stopped the Azeri advancement. We stopped them in Ishkhanadzor [south-west]; they were unable to advance for 15 days. The infantry that intruded in Shushi was powerless to do anything more. We had essentially stopped the enemy.

The most dangerous moment was the Azeri tank advancement in Martuni, but they retreated after losing 2-4 tanks. That was more dangerous than their entry to Sushi. Certain powers [presumably hints to Russia] forced us to sign the ceasefire.

Reporter: Pashinyan plans to replace regular soldiers with border guards in front lines. Can the guard properly protect?

Vardanov: I see no problem if the guards cooperate with the soldiers who are deployed in the rear. If they make a phone call to activate artillery, send aid, etc. They are already deployed in the rear at some capacity. The artillery is in the so-called "permanent locations", scattered around the country.

But it will be difficult for Guards and Soldiers to cooperate efficiently. Take a look at the presence of two Army Corpses in one province. That was problematic. This is why I think they will be merged.

Reporter: what's your opinion about reducing conscription from 2 to 1.5 years, and recruiting more contractors after taking steps to make the contracting job more appealing [money and perks]?

Vardanov: why would army service be made "appealing". It should be difficult so you won't have to shed blood later. You need to get exhausted during service. Strip clubs should be made appealing.

Reporter: ... make appealing so people won't avoid service.

Vardanov: ... put the evaders in a cage. If a ballerina can serve in the army, why would a man avoid it? How can you later call yourself daddy if you become a cheap rug after evading service?

https://youtu.be/Yh8sqhRqkWo

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/pc6we3/news_aug262021_voma_chief_on_an2_baits_reservists/

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