2021 August 6

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Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/6/2021: Structural reforms in military to address reservists & command __ Armenia to implement "Google Tax" on tech __ Artsakh to build hydro on Sarsang __ Russia won't deploy guards on AM-AZ border for now __ Pashinyan on High-Tech industry __ Azeris jamming radio __ Parliament
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Friday recap in 3132 words.

Defense Ministry proposes management reforms in the army

MOD has drafted a bill to create a "Territorial Defense and Reserve Forces Command" subdivision under CoGS command.

It will centralize the reservist and territorial management command, manage reservist resources, work with other agencies to organize the territorial defense, organize the training of աշխարհազորային (ashkharazor) volunteer army units and synchronize them.

It will restructure things without altering the budget or the need to increase the number of soldiers.

Possible context: the reservist management and conflicts in the command chain were two of the most criticized topics after the war, with some officials complaining that it wasn't clear which agency had to handle certain tasks.

https://factor.am/402411.html

Russia will not deploy [more] border guards on AM-AZ border unless it's demarcated

... said the Russian Foreign Ministry official Alexander Bikantov today. He said Russia cannot station them because of a lack of international legal clarification on the border, and lack of trust between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan had earlier suggested for Russian guards to be stationed across the whole border before the demarcation. Some Russian guards were stationed in Tavush yesterday, however.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294846/

Azeri soldiers violate the ceasefire again in Nakhijevan's Yeraskh section

The Armenian army returned fire to silence it. The shootout lasted a few hours.

A video shows how Azeri soldiers intentionally cause fire to damage pastureland belonging to Armenian villagers. The fire was extinguished shortly afterward.

Aliyev called Erdogan to complain about "Armenian provocations". Turkey urged Armenia to "refrain from provocative rhetoric and actions, and to take advantage of a peace opportunity". It is unclear what "aggressive rhetoric" they were referring to, but yesterday's headline might explain it.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=526574201765457 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060108.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060139.html https://factor.am/402327.html https://factor.am/402483.html

Artsakh president Arayik was in Yerevan / Sarsang hydropower plant / Artsakh budget / aid programs

Yesterday he met first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Today he met the new Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan to discuss the Artsakh-Azerbaijan borders and the Russian peacekeeping mission.

Arayik then met Pashinyan to discuss the ongoing projects in Artsakh. Pashinyan said it's time to switch from "aid" to "development" programs to aid the economy long-term. "I am glad that we are already noticing steps in this direction," said Pashinyan while emphasizing the need to use the banking system to aid the economy.

President Arayik said they were able to prevent severe social issues after the war thanks to the post-war aid programs. They discussed the issues in housing, agriculture, energy, and other sectors. Arayik said a lot more needs to be invested to fix the problems.

Arayik spoke about recent discussions to implement programs to boost the demographics and employment.

President Arayik about the budget: we predicted ֏16 billion in budget revenues for 2021, but it appears we will collect twice as much. Blez Metals, the largest taxpayer in Artsakh, has already resumed the Kashen copper mining at 20% capacity. If we manage to address the energy and water issues soon, they will operate at a 90% capacity by mid-2022. This will bring an additional ֏25 billion in taxes.

We have already launched the water network revamp. It will finish in three months. As for the energy network, it will require much longer, but we have already launched the construction of a 17 MW hydropower plant on Zarektar-Getavan.

During the first phase of its construction, we will attract investments from various sources. It will become an open joint-stock company (OJSC). We have a similar experience with Artsakh Hydro. There will be a more powerful hydro plant on a new road.

The second large project is the construction of a large 25MW hydro on Sarsang-Mataghis. This will allow Artsakh to become self-sufficient.

We also have agricultural programs to create new gardens. People have that desire. That's why today's discussion will resolve many issues. I'd like to thank your administration for the prompt response and for helping to find solutions. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060062.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060073.html

Azerbaijan is trying to deliberately jam radio frequencies in Artsakh

..., announced Artsakh prosecutors' office today, after receiving jamming complaints from a local media agency Mix Media.

The authorities dispatched experts and discovered artificially-caused signals with 3-second and 7-second intervals that were meant to disrupt the 87-100 FM range. The signals were coming from the Askeran direction (center-east).

The authorities have also learned that the interference is intentionally altered to jam the signal again whenever the radio company switches to a new frequency.

The prosecutors accused Azerbaijan of attempting to prevent civilians from exercising their rights to receive information and causing economic damage to companies. The peacekeepers have been notified.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060069.html

landmine explosion wounds an Azeri sapper in occupied territories of Artsakh

ANAMA agent Farid Alimusa exploded on a landmine in Akna (Aghdam).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060114.html

Armenia is preparing "Google Tax" to tax the tech giants after negotiations / Netflix, Facebook Yandex Taxi, etc.

The government approved multiple amendments to clarify what an electronic service is, to clarify the rules that define where the service was provided, to establish a VAT tax on non-resident companies that provide digital services to individuals.

IRS chief Badasyan: due to lack of such regulation, the budget is currently losing VAT revenues. The reforms will define what an electronic service is by taking into account the proposed changes in the EAEU bloc.

The government will establish a simplified VAT-payment procedure for non-resident companies that provide e-services in the Armenian territory.

The companies will be able to easily register with a newly created IRS system to submit their appropriate calculations. This system was created in cooperation with potential taxpayer companies. It will go into effect in 2022.

Large online platforms like Facebook, Booking, Netflix, Google will pay a tax in Armenia if they provide services, if they receive payments. You pay a monthly subscription fee to Netflix, and Netflix pays a tax to Armenia. There will be a list of applicable services. //

Economy Minister: the law is globally known as "Google Tax". There are companies that provide services in Armenia but do not pay taxes. The amendments will not only allow us to collect much-needed revenues but will also create a fair playing field for businesses.

For example, Yandex Taxi was not paying VAT, unlike GG Taxi. Yandex will addition $2 million after the reforms.

This change will improve the tax system, and the individuals or companies that work with these electronic platforms will enter the field.

If a taxi driver works with Yandex Taxi, they will enter the tax field. We plan for everyone to enter the field. We held several discussions about the taxation of transport and taxi. More resolutions will be introduced soon.

The goal is to ensure that everyone who earns revenue participates in the state's expenditures. We are not in a position to afford not to tax this or that field.

We expect an additional $20 million in taxes [update: $20m or $40m, needs clarification]. That's the direct tax. Additionally, individuals who provide services through such platforms will also enter the tax field. For example, if you rent your house on Airbnb, you will enter the tax field.

We've been working on this important law for a while. //

Pashinyan: the reason this law was delayed is because we had to negotiate with corporations to agree on certain things. Do we have an agreement with them?

IRS boss: Yes, and our dialogue will continue before the law goes into effect. //

Pashinyan: this is great. It's an "untapped" field that is being dynamically developed with a growing userbase. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060127.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060089.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060127.html https://youtu.be/BWtUL2bb_8w More about taxi industry: https://youtu.be/NjDSPKyIHLY https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294854/

Tags: #GoogleTax

Pashinyan held a cabinet meeting to present the new High-Tech Industry Minister

Pashinyan: I thank Mr. Chobanyan for his work. He was the Tavush governor when I appointed him as the Minister. We will discuss [another job for him].

The media appeared to be surprised with the appointment of Mr. Khachatryan. You may know him as the former Yerevan mayor, but he played a role in developing Armenia's industry during the Karen Demirchyan administration (USSR).

Armenia truly had strong manufacturing in the 70s and 80s. That is our goal now. To achieve that, we need to reopen the communication routes in the region, to lift the blockade, to have an Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia/Iran railway that will boost our industry. //

Minister Khachatryan: I recognize how high the expectations are. We need to work on industrialization. I will continue the work that was done before and during Mr. Chobanyan. //

Pashinyan: speaking of "industrialization". Back in the day, if you asked graduates what job they wanted to have, many would say "engineer". We have a problem today, especially in the IT field. Engineering is still the most prestigious job, yet we have thousands of vacant job positions; we don't have qualified specialists. This is why it's important to cooperate with the Education/Culture Ministry.

If we choose the traditional "educational path" option to fix the shortage, it will take forever to train specialists. Instead, we should aim to "retrain" and create experts.

There are IT companies that have their own training programs. We need a synergy between them and the government's efforts.

One or two such offers have been made in the past but were rejected for some reason. We need to work on this. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060142.html https://youtu.be/vfnQCNSOyfo

Tags: #synergy

first president LTP is unhappy about 'defector' Vahagn Khachatryan - the new High-Tech Minister

Khachatryan has been part of LTP's team for years. LTP did poorly during the recent elections. A few days ago, Khachatryan was appointed as High-Tech Minister. LTP referred to it as առնետավազք [defector running from LTP's sinking ship?].

Minister Khachatryan: governments are formed in two ways: political appointments or appointments based purely on professional characteristics. I've worked in the industry during USSR.

I will not respond to LTP's առնետավազք comments. As for the criticism that lately my profession was "economy" and not "high-tech", my opinion is that a Minister should be a good manager and have the ability to coordinate the work. //

https://youtu.be/cIm47GH6lxs https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060092.html https://artsakh.news/am/news/217805

two young scientists receive a military conscription waiver to continue their research activities

Henrikh Parsamyan and Arthur Aleksanyan are researching photonics, optics, and microwave engineering and have authored several research papers in international magazines.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060085.html

photographer barred from entering Parliament after filming Secret Service agents despite warnings

The security was recently tightened in the Parliament building after the "more controversial" Parliament entered the session.

Panorama outlet's photographer wanted to film how MPs were going through a metal detector. The on-duty Secret Services agents asked her not to record them [Secret Service] while they were doing their duties. She asked the agents to "turn around" and took photos. She also recorded other agents in other locations.

She was blocked from entering the building the following day. The security services decided to keep the ban despite criticism from several news agencies. The photographer said she wasn't informed about the rules.

The new Justice Minister Andreasyan, the former Human Rights Ombudsman, responded saying "I personally know her, but even the most professional journalists should be held accountable for breaking rules. Every civilized country has some restrictions".

He noted that October 27, 1999, parliament shooter Nairi Hunanyan was a [former] journalist who could do a lot of damage with his powers. "We must understand that journalism and freedom of speech are not 'absolute' rights, and if security services see a danger, we must respect that." He said that conditions will be created to have a more convenient setup for Q&A sessions for journalists.

Context: while reporters are not banned from entering Parliament or some of the hallways, they are not allowed to access the "core" section where the MP's private rooms are. They used to wait outside their rooms, near the main assembly door, and chase them for Q&A. They can still catch and interview officials in other parts of the building.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060095.html https://hetq.am/hy/article/134193 https://www.panorama.am/am/news/2021/08/06/%D4%B1%D4%BA-Panorama/2546539 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060110.html https://youtu.be/GKQ91131GOg

Justice Minister Andreasyan about the ongoing judicial reforms:

We plan to work with the judicial bodies and security services to expel corrupt judges from the system. In the near future, we will hold discussions with civil society and NGOs to create plans for institutional reforms.

The "vetting" has already begun. Some judges were fired recently. //

https://youtu.be/dviA8biQ9fA

update: HD MP Ishkhan Saghatelyan (ARF) is elected as the third and final deputy Parliament president

Read the full story in yesterday's post. He fell short a couple of votes yesterday. Today the ruling party secured enough votes to elect him 64-37. The law requires the third seat to be held by an opposition party.

Saghatelyan thanked the voters and said he will be the "voice of the people".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060066.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060071.html

Parliament is discussing the creation of Standing Committees

QP, HD, and PU presented their ideas on the number of committees, their purpose, and their names. The law requires each party to have representation in the committees, based on their proportions.

QP wants 12 committees. They want to split the Healthcare & Social Committee in two to "raise efficiency" during certain procedures. Here are the committees: Labor & Social, Healthcare, Foreign Affairs, Education/Diaspora/Culture/..., European Integration, Eurasian Integration, Human Rights, Defense, Legal, Territorial Management/Nature, Economy, Finance/Budget.

HD and PU: we propose the creation of an Artsakh committee to coordinate laws and other spheres relating military/political/financial aid to Artsakh. It's also necessary for helping to rebuild Artsakh, and for ensuring the continued presence of Russian peacekeepers until the final resolution of the conflict. It will also discuss the border demarcation between Armenia-Azerbaijan and Artsakh-Azerbaijan. The creation of Artsakh committee is a message that Armenia has not given up on the Artsakh conflict resolution.

QP MP: I know you have good aspirations, but we already have an Armenia-Artsakh interparliamentary committee. I invite you to play a more active role in it. We've already held numerous meetings and discussions in that committee. The creation of another committee is unnecessary. //

Parliament voted 67-27 to approve QP's plan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060075.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060080.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060098.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060117.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060138.html

Turkish wildfires turn political

Members and allies of the Erdogan regime accused "Gulenists" and other opposition figures of making the regime "look bad" on social media, after hashtags began circulating asking for the world to "help Turkey". The Turkish regime allies responded with hashtags saying "we don't need help".

Meanwhile, the fire caused severe damage in southeastern parts, predominantly in opposition CHP-held areas. The latter critiqued the regime for being ill-prepared. Residents reported a lack of support from firefighters.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/04/world/europe/turkey-fires-erdogan-anger.html

government approves release of more Lake Sevan water to help agriculture after heatwave

A few years ago they set a stricter rule to lower the amount of water that can be drained, to help raise the lake's levels. The priorities have shifted after the drought.

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

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

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060093.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060102.html

do not use the post office to ship meth

Someone from the United States shipped 24 grams of meth hidden in a sports jacket. The IRS agents discovered it while scanning the HayPost facility. The recipient, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060086.html

two modern EP2D electric trains were added to the railway fleet

The South Caucasus railway giant purchased and imported two new units from the Russian TransMashHolding company. They will serve the Gyumri-Yeraskh section and "will make travel more comfortable" with air conditioning, disability access, electronic info boards, sterilization, anti-fire, and other security systems.

The company plans to import another similar train and 50 new cargo wagons next year.

Ridership has increased by 31% in the first half.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060096.html

anti-corruption: former Agriculture Ministry officials busted with auction abuse in 2016

Prosecutor's report: several officials organized an auction to purchase equipment, in which both bidders were the same person. The so-called "lowest" bidder won, and sold the equipment for ֏68 million, while its market value was ֏44 million.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060105.html

UPDATE: plastic bags are banned from 2022 onward / biodegradable plastic to the rescue?

Officials.: the bill was approved 2-3 years ago and will go into effect in 2022. We're working with businesses to help them meet the requirements. Twelve tons of plastic will exit the circulation.

Unitrade International rep.: The breakdown of plastic creates no less dangerous micro-plastics [matryoshka plastic? SHIYET]. We are offering alternative plastics that are biodegradable. It can replace single-use and multi-use plastic bags.

You can boil water, dump this plastic bag in it, and use it to water your flowers or just drain it away. Here is a demo.

Official: there will be educational and awareness programs to reduce plastic use. Eight businesses have already joined an initiative called Royalty Bag that rewards shoppers for using eco-friendly bags.

Full: https://youtu.be/X5EQe9Uj8aY?t=45 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060120.html https://youtu.be/znJiirY0jpk

COVID stats

6492 tested. 303 infected (!). 208 healed. 4 deaths. 5040 active (!).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060068.html

Healthcare Minister says the vaccination rate has improved:

6.2k yesterday alone, bringing the total to 190k. We need to finish the vaccination in the shortest possible time.

Last week we learned that 25 out of 30 samples were Delta. It's known to spread faster.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060088.html

now we know how many of the vaccinated are foreigners

Recently there were concerns that the local population was not taking the vaccines, and that a significant share belonged to foreigners [mostly Iranians] visiting Armenia to get a free shot.

Healthcare Ministry began counting foreigners separately since July 15, and presented the details: total 58k, Armenian 56k, foreigner 2k. (this was after the rules became stricter for foreigners)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060088.html

Eurasian Development Bank will donate $3 million to fight the pandemic in Armenia

Two CDC facilities will be revamped in provinces. The Vanadzor infections center will have a new facility.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060087.html

Tokyo Olympics medals!

Boxer Hovhannes Bachkov won the bronze medal after losing the fight against the world runner-up American opponent.

Wrestler Vazgen Tevanyan was unable to defeat the Russian world champion.

Armenia will return with 4 medals: 2 silver, 2 bronze (66th place so far)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060050.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060058.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1060064.html

top-10 bestseller Armenian literature books in July

8) Գաղտնիքների տիրակալը, by Ashot Aghababyan

6) Երևանի ուղղիչ տնից, by Yeghishe Charents

5) Ռոմանտիկները, by Areg Azatyan

2) Baku, by Vahan Totovents

1) Բալզակ. մի շան պատմություն, by Levon Hovhannisyan

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059939.html

WATCH: Russian space station module makes a controlled re-entry into the atmosphere and burns like a "shooting star"

https://www.livescience.com/space-station-pirs-module-deorbit-video.html

Spanish tennis star Rafa Nadal got lost in D.C.

https://au.sports.yahoo.com/tennis-rafa-nadals-hilarious-white-house-gaffe-fans-stitches-020601327.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/ozffd6/news_aug62021_structural_reforms_in_military_to/

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