2021 August 4

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/4/2021: Artsakh is building strategic roads __ Kocharyan trial takes unexpected turn __ Judicial reforms since 2018 __ Armenia shoots Azeri drone __ Biden's message __ Appointments: High-tech, Infrastructure __ Opposition on blockade & war __ $ Remittances $ __ and more...
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Wednesday recap in 2939 words.

Cassations Court rules that Kochayran's bail was illegal, should have stayed in jail, but "it's too late"

In June 2020, the Appeals Court allowed ex-president Kocharyan to walk free after posting a $4 million bail. The prosecutors and March 1st murder victims challenged the verdict in Cassations Court.

The Cassations Court has just sided with prosecutors' arguments that only arrest could be a sufficient restriction measure, considering the crimes Kocharyan was charged with, the alleged coverup post-2008 events, his powers, etc.

However, Kocharyan is not going back to jail because of a "loophole" that allowed him to walk free after a Constitutional Court verdict that invalidated a law. That case, too, is being challenged by the prosecutors.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059933.html

Artsakh is building two "important roads" to cut travel time

The construction of the Stepanakert-Horatagh-Damirlu-[unintelligable] road has begun. It will reduce the travel time from Stepanakert to Martakert in the north.

The Vaghuhas-Vank section will be asphalted, too.

https://youtu.be/yOSFPTPFFo0?t=289

Artsakh will lay asphalt roads to connect every village to highways by the end of 2022

As for the roads within the villages, they will try to use stones instead of asphalt. Two stone-producing factories were launched in Artsakh recently.

https://youtu.be/yOSFPTPFFo0?t=266 https://factor.am/401407.html

Artskh president gets fired up while discussing domestic programs, housing construction, and other issues

He spoke about the difficult 1990s and how they overcame it through hard work.

https://youtu.be/yOSFPTPFFo0?t=412

Artsakh president doesn't want Russian peacekeepers to leave

Arayik: victories are not permanent, defeats are not fateful. Have the courage to continue... that's what's important. We've had both victories and defeats in the past 30 years. The work we do today will shape the future for generations.

Artsakh cannot protect itself. We need the peacekeepers to be stationed permanently. Had it not been for their introduction in the region, we would have had a very different outcome. You will find stupid commentaries with people justifying their actions or attempting to put the blame on others [likely refers to Russia].

I want you to know that there were no "traitors" during the 2020 war. There was no "treason". The Armenian people, with their limited resources, fought against the world. Never count on others to come to save you. We, the inhabitants of this land, are our saviors. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059867.html

Azeri soldiers stole animals

HR Ombudsman reported that three families, who live near the Syunik borders, recently took their cows to pastureland. A few of the cows drifted away and approached the Azeri positions. Azeris prevented the cows from returning. The cows then "disappeared".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059846.html

Armenian Army shoots another Azeri surveillance drone, the third in recent weeks

MOD: An attempt was made to intrude into the Armenian airspace in Gegharkunik at 11:00 am.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059883.html https://factor.am/401451.html

the army conducted routine exercises

The 4th Army Corps conducted artillery training.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059917.html

Joe Biden congratulates Pashinyan on victory and with the ongoing democratic and anti-corruption reforms

White House: holding fair and transparent elections underscores Armenian people's desire for a more democratic, fair, and prosperous society free of corruption. Armenia has made progress in these areas since 2018.

The U.S. is happy to help with anti-corruption and police reforms. We will remain a reliable partner.

We urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume the OSCE negotiations ASAP. The U.S. was happy to help with the repatriation of several POWs. We will continue to call for everyone's return.

The U.S. is willing to strengthen cooperation with Armenia, based on common democratic and institutional values. I look forward to working with you and your new government. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059930.html

ruling party's now-former fraction leader officially receives diplomatic credentials

QP Lilith Makunts will be headed to the United States to serve as the ambassador.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294783/

former High Tech Minister appointed as deputy Parliament President

QP MP Hakob Arshakyan: it often seems to us that we are the only country in the world that has enemies and the only ones who are at war. It can push us to the corner and make us call on the world for help, then accuse the whole world of injustice and inaction, and blame our problems on others...

Our goal is to lift the blockade on Armenia and establish long-term peace...

Our goal is for Armenian people to be guided not by hatred but by state interests, by a clearheaded judgment instead of emotions, by creating favorable relations with allies instead of relying on other powers, by internal unity instead of seeking traitors, and by addressing past mistakes to not repeat them again...

[While addressing HD MP Seyran Ohanyan]: the military industry and high-tech in Armenia should have been properly funded sooner. What was Armenia doing when Azerbaijan launched its drone industry in 2001? Some high-ranking military officials were wondering where the "dzzzzz" sound was coming from during the 2016 April war. The defense against these Harop drones was known. No institutional changes were made to address this.

I don't say this as an accusation. We need to learn lessons. When we highlight the corruption in the military, the goal is not to blame it all on others, but to prevent similar attempts in the future.

When we say "let's stop the conflict and let's be constructive", it's not because we are afraid of you [opposition parties]. We say that because it's in the best interests of our state. //

Arshakyan was elected as the second deputy President. The third one will be from the opposition. The latter nominated ARF (HD) MP Ishkhan Saghatelyan.

HD MP Ishkhan Saghatelyan: if I get elected, that won't change the opposition's priorities and the targets. We will continue our struggle in this building and in the public square. This must leave. We will use this platform to bring forth agendas to serve the national interests. //

The ruling and opposition MPs accused each other of not being constructive. The opposition was unhappy that one of their MPs, the former mayor of Meghri, was not able/allowed to attend parliament due to his arrest.

In return, the ruling party asked the opposition why they decided to nominate ARF Saghatelyan for the deputy President's seat, and not one of the arrested MPs, who were earlier nominated for the president's seat.

Speaking of the embattled former mayor of Meghri Mikael Zakaryan, he will spend another two months in jail awaiting his trial, ruled the Appeals Court today.

In the end, HD's fellow PU alliance announced that they will vote in favor of HD MP Ishkhan Saghatelyan as the third deputy president.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059855.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059859.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059876.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059885.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059880.html dzzzz https://youtu.be/eEuVFLISEnc

the new Parliament got busy discussing matters important for the nation (asterisk)

During the 2016 April war, amid reports of territorial losses, Pashinyan and his allies volunteered to be stationed in Artsakh. Today the opposition HD MP Aregnaz accused Pashinyan of "creating the false impression" of participating in combat operations.

The Parliament president Simonyan asked the opposition MP not to use a derogatory tone during the speech, and for the ruling party MP not to interrupt the speech.

QP MP Hovik Aghazaryan responded to accusations: the question is not that we did not have enough time to form a unit and deploy for combat within the two days that we had. The purpose of our volunteering was to show the government [in 2016] that we the opposition were ready to offer our services to the military leadership.

We trained for three days. Our unit was deployed the day after an ARF unit was deployed, at a location instructed by the army command. We did what we were told. We dug trenches.

But that's not what's important. The "message" was important. We wanted to stand by the government during the crucial time. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059870.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059893.html https://youtu.be/W_jonuFB01A?t=148

2020 war death toll becomes a topic of political attacks in the Parliament

Kocharyan-ARF MP Aregnaz Manukyan claimed that there were no public officials or their relatives among the 2020 war casualties. The MP claimed that the "real" number of deaths was close to 5,000. The former regime has been claiming 5,500 deaths in the past; now it appears to be 5,000. The Healthcare Ministry and the military finalized the counting and reported 4,000 deaths.

Ruling party MP Rubinyan responded to the HD MP, condemning the "exaggeration of death toll". He listed several ruling party MPs and their relatives who died or received injuries during the war. Rubinyan urged the opposition MP to apologize for "competing with the use of death toll".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059897.html https://youtu.be/5YTwXXKFK0A

the opposition wants to lead the 2020 war investigation

HD MP Seyran Ohanyan said the upcoming investigation will be efficient only if the opposition parties lead the efforts. After the 2016 losses, Ohanyan was among the former regime officials who investigated the reasons for the loss.

After the 2018 revolution, the Pashinyan administration launched a new investigation, announcing that the purpose was not to "arrest" people but to uncover shortcomings. No one was arrested in the end. A report was prepared but not published because of military secrets.

Now the two sides in Parliament say they have the skills and determination to investigate the 2020 war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059873.html

Kocharyan-ARF alliance is against opening the trade routes in the region

HD alliance leader Seyran Ohanyan believes that it is not in Armenia's best interest for Armenia to connect to Iran and Russia through Azerbaijan, and for Azerbaijan to connect to Nakhijevan through Armenia. The reason is his distrust towards Turkey and Azerbaijan. He believes there could be certain issues if the communication is restored.

Ohanyan made unsubstantiated claims, suggesting that restoring the trade link will result in Turks purchasing many houses and lands in Syunik, thus changing the demographics.

Ohanyan is also skeptical about the border demarcation process. He disagrees that legally defining the state borders will increase Armenia's security.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059898.html

departing Justice Minister presents the reforms of the past two years

Rustam Badasyan's office: We formed an institute to vet judges, prosecutors, anti-corruption committee officials, to check their property ownership and morality (barevarqutyun) before their appointment.

New anti-corruption institutes are being formed. Corruption Prevention Commission audits the declaration papers submitted by 9,000 public officials and their 30,000 relatives. They have already contacted prosecutors on several occasions.

A law was adopted to seize large-scale assets linked to embezzlement. The prosecutor's office has a new subdivision specialized in handling this. [ex-president Serj's family members and several allies are currently under investigation]

The Anti-Corruption Committee will be formed by the end of 2021.

The Anti-Corruption Court is another addition.

In the past two years, the Justice Ministry investigated 47 judges and asked the Supreme Court to reprimand 28, of which 17 were approved: 2 judges were terminated, 15 received warnings.

Transparency International's 2020 rating gives Armenia 49pts and places at 60th position. 105th in 2018, 77th in 2019, 60th in 2020.

30 new judges were hired. There were structural changes, too. The Cassations Court will have separate specialized chambers.

The felony code was reformed in 2021 after over a decade of deliberations. Some trials and processes will be "digitized" to help expedite the slow system.

The trial parties will be punished for abusing their rights to intentionally delay the trial [e.g. March 1st].

House arrest and other types of punishments will be soon prioritized over imprisonment for certain violations.

A new transparency law to reveal the "real" clients in the attorney institute.

Health reforms in the penitentiary system lead to record-low inmate deaths. Twelve facilities were renovated. The food delivery service was given to the private sector, which raised the quality and reduced inmate complaints.

Prisons were equipped with modern scanners to detect contraband.

Armenia has one of the lowest incarceration rates per the Council of Europe report.

The anti-criminal-subculture bill was approved. [banning vor v zakone]

Police reforms introduced a new service with academy training.

Journalists no longer have to pay fees to access certain information.

--

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?ref=external&v=1893957534117184 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059862.html

Tags: #JudicialReforms #AntiCorruption

Freedom House is against the recent amendment to the insult law

Read more about the insult law here.

The international agency also urged law enforcement to drop the felony charges against a Yezidi activist who is charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

The NSS reported that the activist, a head of an organization, gave an interview to an Iraqi media outlet, during which he "intentionally" attempted to create ethnic divisions "by spreading false information, claiming that Armenia discriminates against Yezidis in social and cultural life, restricts their language and religion". The activist says his intention was to speak about issues, and not to incite hatred.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294795/ https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059429.html

former Human Rights Ombudsman is appointed as the new Justice Minister

Pashinyan thanked Rustam Badasyan for his role in the judicial reforms and welcomed Karen Andreasyan, the former HRO. They spoke about the ongoing police reforms that are scheduled to expand to other provinces, after their July introduction in Yerevan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059889.html

departing Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan is appointed as the IRS chief

Pashinyan: thanks Badasyan for your work and achievements. The truth is, there is never "too much" money. It's important to have an efficient fiscal strategy. We spoke about our strategy yesterday. We are working on it. The IRS must be the taxpayer's friend, and the tax evader's enemy. //

They spoke about anti-corruption in the customs facilities and the recent felony charges against several customs officials who allegedly took bribes to allow cargo trucks to enter Armenia without paying taxes.

Pashinyan: it's great that IRS itself is often the initiator of such investigations [against its own officials]. But that is not the point. We need legal and psychological reforms to minimize such incidents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059892.html

Infrastructure Minister becomes deputy Premier, but will continue to "work in the field"

Pashinyan thanked the departing Infrastructure Minister Papikyan for his work in the past three years. He presented Gegharkunik governor Gnel Sanosyan as the new Minister. Now-deputy Premier Papikyan will continue to be active in the construction/infrastructure affairs.

Pashinyan: the Infrastructure and Territorial Administration Ministry is one of our biggest institutes. The Ministry reforms and mergers that we did in 2019 had the purpose of raising efficiency. There are some flaws but we must continue the process and increase human and financial efficiencies. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059896.html

Vahagn Khachatryan is appointed as the High-Tech Minister

He previously served as a Yerevan mayor, MP, NGO chief, president's adviser, and at one point held a high-ranking position in one of Levon Ter-Petrosyan's offices in 2008-2013.

He is replacing ex-Tavush governor Hayk Chobanyan, who became the Minister on April 2.

https://hy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Վահագն_Խաչատրյան https://factor.am/401669.html

anti-corruption: mayor of Alvank (Syunik) is charged with rigging land auctions

Investigative Committee reports: we uncovered abuse during land sale auctions in Alvank. During 2014-2016, the mayor asked his relatives to act as fake auction bidders. They forged documents with the help of another official. Ten pieces of land were illegally appropriated.

Ten individuals, including the mayor and his relatives, are charged with felonies. //

https://factor.am/401436.html

domestic violence statistics in 1H2021

Investigators examined 326 felony domestic violence cases, 8 of which were murder, 161 beatings, ...

145 suspects were charged: 90 husbands, 6 wives, ...

180 felony cases were finalized: 55 sent to court, 124 dropped.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059888.html

health inspectors are examining sanitary conditions in the dairy industry

A few factories were recently temporarily shut down after the discovery of dirty production environment. The Food Safety Inspection agency has decided to examine over 40 producers.

The agency urged the residents not to buy food from unauthorized street vendors who often ignore safety standards.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059890.html https://youtu.be/T4VHeR_4THs https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059894.html

natural disasters

Turkey: floods in the east damaged 80 houses, while the wildfires continue to ravage the southwest.

Azerbaijan: authorities have been unable to extinguish a large wildfire in the Yardimli region since Monday. Another fire broke out in the Nardaran area; it was extinguished yesterday.

https://factor.am/401485.html https://factor.am/401753.html

update: Yerevan-Tbilisi high-speed train could become a reality

As you may remember from one of the previous news reports, Armenia and Georgia are discussing a possible high-speed rail to cut the travel time to 2.5-3 hours. Economy Ministry of Armenia and Georgia have been in touch lately. They also discussed tourism projects.

In other news, a new [slow] train was launched between Yerevan-Tbilisi on July 15. Tickets can be purchased online or in train stations in Tbilisi, Batumi, Yerevan, Vanadzor, Gyumri, and Armavir.

https://factor.am/401603.html

COVID stats

6897 tested. 280 infected. 149 healed. 4 deaths. 4808 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059860.html

Tokyo Olympics

Wrestler Arsen Harutyunyan made an unsuccessful debut. He will get a chance to compete for bronze if the athlete who defeated him makes it to the final.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059838.html

remittances and bank transfers to Armenia in the first half of the year

1H19: $866 million

1H20: $716 million (317 Russia, 141 USA)

1H21: $948 million (375 Russia, 260 USA)

(does not show the money leaving Armenia, which is usually $200m less than inflow)

https://www.civilnet.am/news/627988/2021-ի-առաջին-կիսամյակում-հայաստան-ուղարկված-տրանսֆերտները-325-տոկոսով-աճել-են/ https://hetq.am/hy/article/120722

festivals in August

Aug. 7-8: international music festival in Sevan

Aug. 14: honey and nuts festival in Berd (Tavush)

Aug. 14-15: beer and food on Yerevan's Zakaryan St.

Aug 15: grape blessing festival in Yeraz park, accompanies by folk music and games

Aug 22: Armenain BBQ festival in Akhtala (Lori)

Aug 25-28: "Gutan" folk music and dance festival

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059762.html

map: which country is the cheapest for starting a business?

Slovenia $0, Azerbaijan $11, Armenia $30, Georgia $33, Moldova $76, Russia $77, Spain $736, United States $725

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/which-country-is-the-cheapest-for-starting-a-business/

EAEU trade bloc accidentally "leaks" the upcoming Apple MacBook

https://9to5mac.com/2021/08/02/new-macs-spotted-in-eurasian-regulatory-filings-likely-the-redesigned-m1x-macbook-pros/amp/

there is a cat on the baseball field

https://youtu.be/BTkBVNMD-VY

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/oy136v/news_aug42021_artsakh_is_building_strategic_roads/

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