2021 February 1

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Daily news wrap-up

Feb/1/2021: (1) Details about felony corruption charges against prominent weapon supplier Mr. Davo (2) Artsrun defends record, talks about Shushi, how he was targeted during war, etc. (3) Diplomatic news (4) Refugees return home (5) Armenia releases Azeri soldiers (6) Education reforms (7) Regional
by ar_david_hh

Your 16-minute Saturday-Monday report in 3893 words. Part 1: to be continued tomorrow...

anti-corruption update: prominent arms supplier Mr. Davo and accomplice charged with delivering older and useless weapons

Two weeks ago we learned that the authorities pressed 4 felony charges against a prominent military arms supplier Mr. Davo, aka David Galstyan, who acted as adviser to recently-fired Defense Minister David Tonoyan and has been involved in military deals for decades.

NSS said two weeks ago: several Ministry of Defense officials used their position to reach an agreement with the employees of a number of private companies, including "Mosston Engineering" company owned by Mr. Davo. A decision has been made to charge Mr. Davo with embezzlement. Davo goes through 4 felony cases regarding arms supplies made by his company. Evidence was obtained showing that officials from the General Chief of Staff office and Ministry of Defense abused their powers to embezzle at a large scale.

NSS published a new report: the investigation has revealed that Mr. Davo, who was a board member of a company registered abroad, conspired with the company's director to embezzle large sums. In 2018, they signed a large contract with Defense Ministry to deliver artillery weapons made in 1983-86.

The defendants received $1.083 million in funding but decided to deliver cheaper and older products instead. Czech artillery made in 1977 was delivered. These were technologically inferior and couldn't hit targets at a far distance and in mountainous regions, and did not meet the Ministry's standards.

The director and Mr. Davo are charged. There are other similar felony investigations relating to the Defense Ministry.

Parliamentary Security Committee chief Andranik K.: the new leadership at Defense Ministry made it possible for NSS to quickly investigate this issue. These felony cases were launched [before the war]. The question is, why wasn't this investigated years ago? We are waiting for answers. (Context: Pashinyan recently fired MOD Davit Tonoyan and replaced him with Vagharshak Harutyunyan. Davit Tonoyan, a military official who served before and during Pashinyan, has been heavily criticized by the ruling QP party member Andranik K., who serves as the head of the Parliamentary Security Committee.) //

This contract was signed in 2018. There were two general chiefs of staff who served that year: General Mosi and General Artak Davtyan. Neither are aware of details about the felony case. Artak Davtyan says that when the military commission received artillery during his time as the Chief, they didn't raise complaints about the quality. There had been instances when some weapons were returned due to poor quality, he said.

Ex-MOD Davit Tonoyan did not comment.

https://youtu.be/x-q00-O3CaE , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041983.html , https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/l0tunj/jan192021_news_prominent_arms_supplier_mr_davo/? , https://youtu.be/aC1aUYFSIBg?t=8 , https://youtu.be/OiIL2FXu_C8

Tags: #PatronDavo #MrDavo #ArmyCorruption #Mosi #DavitTonoyan #ArtakDavtyan

former Army spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan about the flow of information during war / Shushi battles / common accusations

Artsrun Hovhannisyan was asked by a reporter about "misleading the public by constantly saying that we are winning."

Artsrun: That is false. That is not what I was saying. Perhaps you are emotional and aren't analyzing it properly. A month after the war, an international organization analyzed my entire record. It shows that I made 400 public statements. 170 times I said "we will win" and not "we are winning"; those are very different things, right?

Equal numbers of times I said, "the situation is serious, this is a struggle for existence." There were days when I emphasized 3 times per day that the situation was very difficult in certain directions. The experts analyzed the proportions of my statements.

Since we lost the war, we are all in a very difficult emotional state. We are eager to find traitors. I am very sorry that you want to find traitors among military personnel.

Throughout the entire war, I only received information from the Defense Ministry, General Chief of Staff, and Artsakh Defense Army from the front lines. I won't rule out that I was given false information. There were many contradictions during the war.

[reporter asks about rumors circulated by former regime's outlets about first lady Anna Hakobyan's active role in the military headquarters]. I have not seen Anna Hakobyan during the war, not once. There was a fabricated image that was posted about me recently. Whoever posted the image is manipulating. Ask them to post photos taken minutes before or after.

The situation in Shushi went through rapid changes in the last 3 days of the war. For me, many things remain unclear. I was in Shushi on November 6th. The situation changed dramatically multiple times between 7-9, according to Defense Ministry.

I'm studying individual episodes of the war and there are many combat episodes that are incomprehensible to me. I do not rule out that false information was provided to me.

Turkey's involvement was one of the reasons why we lost. The war started against 10x larger forces and was waged against 5x forces throughout the war. Another reason could be the unpreparedness of all of us. I have many questions about the organizational decisions and strategy, but I rule out the possibility of intentional sabotage to ensure defeat.

[reporter asks about accusations that he was in Stepanakert when he said he was in Hadrut and didn't see Azeris there]. I know who made the accusations. Where is the logic there? It's simple: I turned off my phone before visiting Hadrut and Fizuli. When I reached Stepanakert, I gave the info about Hadrut with a 20-minute delay. Was I supposed to endanger my life by turning on the phone and live streaming from Hadrut? It's simple logic. Why do you always want to throw accusations for no reason?

When I crossed the Qarvachar road and said the road was safe, at the time, there was a target on my back. The intelligence had informed me that the enemy was looking for me personally. I changed 3 vehicles and had to leave my cellphone in another vehicle to avoid becoming a target.

[reporter asks Artsrun about the day when he realized Armenia lost the war]. I believed in our soldiers until the end. These are our conscripts and officers who fought until the end. There were days when I'd lose a friend on the battlefield and my mood would be visibly bad during the [10:00 PM] press conference. After the conference, I would receive phone calls from officers in the front line positions in the harshest locations, with them asking me not to make the rest of the army feel discouraged. They would ask me to boost the soldiers' morale, to cheer them up, "so we can take the soldiers to battlefield tomorrow morning with the spirit given by you, regardless of how bad it is."

[reporter asks about Jabrayil military base that took the first large hit when the war began, causing 200 deaths on day-one.] That is not how it unfolded. The first attack was across the border and the army headquarters simultaneously. The fire was very dense. I don't know the specific death toll in Jabrayil on the first day.

Full: https://youtu.be/I6YD1X1ZFtM

, https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041999.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042002.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042004.html , https://factor.am/333716.html

Tags: #Artsrun #Shushi

conscript Suren Virabyan fought for 44 days

Suren was drafted in 2019 to Martakert's Drmbon military unit and was scheduled to be discharged in 4 months. Three days after being dispatched to be on guard in front lines, the war began. He fought for full 44 days. The family learned about the war from TV and eagerly awaited his phone call every day.

At some point, he was moved from north to south, where he fought 10 days for Shushi. He lost friends who stood their ground until the end. Suren doesn't believe his friends "lost".

He says they received plenty of food and letters in front lines. It greatly encouraged them whenever they read the "to our beloved soldier" letters.

He was given a weeklong vacation after the war, after which he went back to finish the remainder of the service. He was discharged on January 17th. As you may have expected, a lamb was sacrificed and a dove was released to celebrate his safe return.


Tags: #ArtsakhWar #Volunteer

AM-RU-AZ officials discuss regional road unblocking

As agreed upon on January 11th, the Deputy PMs of the three states met to discuss the formation of an expert group tasked with analyzing railroad and car transport in the region, transportation security, handling the border customs, etc. The new expert subgroup will meet by February 5th.


Azerbaijan will build an airport in southern Fizuli region

The construction project has begun. They plan to finish it next year. It will have a 3km-long runway. The construction pace was slowed by the de-mining operations.


update: Azerbaijan exhumes 18 bodies for reburial after protests

As reported earlier, families of deceased Azeri soldiers launched a wave of protests

in the country after it was revealed that their sons were buried in swampy conditions. The graves were submerged in water.

The authorities exhumed the bodies for reburial in another location.


fresh water crisis deepens in Azerbaijan / water and fuel prices up

Azeris will pay 2x for freshwater starting today. It's at 40c/m3. This left many consumers angry. Some took it to social media to express displeasure. "In the past, when they'd raise water fees, they would justify it as a result of changes in electricity fees. Water is everything. Water is food, hygiene, and health. We can save on everything except water," said a resident.

"70% of our water originates from outside our borders," said an Azeri water company director. The shortage is amid a sharp decline in Kur river water volumes in recent times, global climate change, and improper water management.

Water from Kur flowing to Azerbaijan declined by -60%. Water from Araks declined by -25%.

Fuel prices also went up beginning in January 1st.


Artsakh Foreign Ministry condemns Grey Wolves' presence in Shushi:

"The presence of forces propagating the ideas of neo-fascism in the occupied territories of Artsakh is a threat to world security," said MFA amid news that Turkish ultranationalist-terrorist organization Grey Wolves plan to launch educational and other programs in the city.

"The fact that this group received the approval of the top leadership of Turkey and Azerbaijan testifies to their intentions to create hotbeds of tension in the region and their plans to disrupt the international community's efforts in the region. The international community should take appropriate steps to prevent such destructive initiatives."


European party EPP raised the topic of POWs

"During PACE session we raised the issue of Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan with the secretary-general of PACE. Armenian POWs and other detained persons must be released immediately, as stipulated in the 1949 Geneva Convention and the November 10th trilateral statement.


Armenia releases 2 Azeri soldiers captured during a border dispute

Russian peacekeepers negotiated for the repatriation of 2 Azeri soldiers. They were captured on January 30th near Tegh village on the Syunik borders. It's where the Lachin corridor is.


Defense Minister of Greece

... said they were very close to having a military clash with Turkey on 3 occasions during the 2020 summer. The Greek defense budget for 2021 rose 5x to €2.5 billion. Besides the Rafale destroyer jets, they will purchase frigates, helicopters, and drones.


ex-president of Russia Dmitri Medvedev about Artsakh status:

The issue of Artsakh's legal status hasn't been resolved yet, but we cannot discuss it under today's conditions to avoid negative escalations. The two sides disagree on the status. There is even a public debate within Armenia. Armenia, too, hasn't recognized Artsakh's independence. It's best to delays the topic of Artsakh status.


railway company modernizes the fleet

SouthCaucasus Railways, the Russian company licensed with operating the train network in Armenia, has started the process of updating the fleet and the tech. 70 wagons were purchased and imported to Armenia. Modern vehicles will be used by railway agents to travel around and fix issues.


anti-corruption: Shatvan settlement school director charged with embezzlement

He is accused of stealing ֏3.1M by registering fake employees and embezzling the salary funds.


former BHK MP will participate in elections with his party

ex-BHK and now Ind. MP Tigran Urikhanyan will take part in the proposed snap elections with his new Alyans Party. They are still unsure over when/how/if snap elections will be held in the near future.


update: court releases 5 protesters who tried to break into the government building

Nationalist activists held a protest on Friday. Dozens were arrested after they clashed with police while attempting to enter the govt building. 5 of them were charged. The court found that keeping them arrested before their trial is unnecessary.


Shosh houses are being rebuilt

Shosh is a village near Shushi. 93 houses were damaged during the war. Several crews have been working on construction on 15 houses, which should be ready this month. The schools and kindergarten are already operating.


300 buildings have been repaired in Artsakh

Russian humanitarian envoy continues to assess the damage to infrastructure and housing. 85 construction companies were hired. They've so far rebuilt 300 structures.

Russian psychologists tutored 245 Artsakh teachers and professors on how to help students during emergencies.


System Of a Down rock band's livestream

... between Serj, Dolmayan, Odadjyan, and their guests featuring Sebu, Dr. Gabiryan (who is collecting funds to purchase an advanced laser tech to help recovering soldiers), and others.


Russian-Turkish observation center launches its operations

The center was created on the Azeri side, in Aghdam province. Russian and Turkish troops will use tech to monitor the ceasefire.


Russian peacekeepers

... have cleared 859 hectares of lands from 24,000 explosive materials. 115 calls were received from residents about suspicious devices.


Artsakh families continue to return to their homes

112 refugees returned today, bringing the total via the Lachin road alone to 51,851.


search operations

... continued in Martuni, Jabrayil, and the north-east regions of Artsakh. 14 bodies were discovered. 1 was transferred by Azeri search crews.


Song: Michel Grig, Семен Пегов, Тимофей Ермаков - МОЙ АРЦАХ

Armenian and Russian singers and journalists made a music video about the Artsakh war.



felony case over the wounding of ex-MoD Jalal Harutyunyan

Artsakh authorities launched a felony case against unnamed Azeri officials over the wounding of former MOD Jalal Harutyunyan during the war. He was questioned by investigators. A felony case after is a standard practice in such situations. Jalal was recently discharged from the hospital and given the title of Artsakh Hero.


stats: prison population and % of inmates who died while imprisoned

2013: 3923 - 0.48%

2014: 3880 - 0.97%

2015: 3873 - 0.72%

2016: 3833 - 0.75%

2017: 3536 - 0.50%

2018: 2266 - 0.80% (mass amnesty)

2019: 2230 - 0.94%

2020: 2003 - 0.25%


2020 police stats about road incidents, crime, police accountability, corruption

There were 783 fewer traffic incidents and 955 fewer injuries, but 7 more deaths in 2020.

1,922 police officers were investigated. 844 reprimanded.

55% of all crimes were mild. 28% medium-serious.

1,114 corruption busts.

6 human trafficking busts. Was 8 in 2019.


registered unemployment stats / YoY and MoM

The number of unemployed people registered in employment centers reduced by -2% in November YoY, totaling 61K. The number of vacant job positions available to registrants reduced by -68%.

At the same time, the number of registered unemployed people in EAEU increased 3.6 times to 3.5M, YoY.

When you compare November to October, the number of job seekers +0.6% in Armenia and -9.6% in EAEU.


education reforms: >70% of kids should attend preschools by 2023

The government has a plan to ensure that 70% of kids attend preschools in the coming years. However, 270 settlements in Armenia do not have preschool facilities and programs.

Education Ministry is looking for alternative solutions because, in many settlements, the number of students would be too small to financially justify the construction of facilities. The Ministry will soon launch a grant program to involve alternative solutions.

Each settlement will choose one of the 8 available preschooling models, whatever works best for their case. For example, preschool services could be held in a school building, or a qualified residential house, or in a mobile fashion.

This year the Ministry will spend ֏154M on this program.


Parliament discussion: Science as a pillar of security and development / Armenians analyze their culture

MPs and guests from the scientific community and military were invited to express ideas about science and education in Armenia. Diasporan experts were present; they called for stronger integration for women in science, reviewing the Armenian culture.

A guest noted the 7x reduction in the number of scientists in certain fields in the past 30 years. "Armenia has 2x fewer scientists than the European average."

"Only 0.25% of GDP is dedicated to Scientific research and development," said one guest, "that's similar to Uganda and Burundi, while Burkina Faso spends 0.7%."

High Tech Minister Arshakyan: in the past 2 years, we increased the military industry funding for research and development by 2.5x times. The world changes rapidly. Priorities need to be revised to new standards. From the point of view of institutional scientific development, the role of the National Academy of Sciences is important.

We also need a larger and more coordinated cultural, Armenology, and linguistic strategy to combat the regional hostility where maps and histories are often falsified.

National Academy of Sciences president Radik: we shouldn't make the mistakes of the past. For this, we need to develop science. 90% of our war casualties were from the enemy's technological advantage. Turkey spent $270M to create the Bayraktars. That's how much Armenia spent on science in the past 10 years. The funding was just enough to preserve the existing scientific institutes inherited from the Soviet era. In Armenia, scientists earn 2x less than the average salary, while in Russia they earn 2x higher.

Chairman of Scientific Committee Hayotsyan: we need to involve more qualified youth in the scientific leadership positions. 48% are currently over the age of 65. In 2020 we launched multiple programs to find solutions. 2 of them were about youth leadership. We have 25 new groups that receive large funding, but we need a systemic solution. We also need higher salaries and modernization of scientific infrastructure. //

Parliamentary Security Committee chief Andranik K. spoke about recent efforts to work with an Armenian MIT student to help with drone programs. "We need to have a military industry. The radiocommunication weapons we used to down those two Bayraktarys isn't enough."

Another guest believes Bayraktars are a thing of the past and Armenia should be prepared for weapons of the future. "We need to improve the education of natural sciences. Each region has to have its university and prepare teachers... The image of a smart person has been ridiculed in our culture by various stupid soap operas and comedy shows. When someone uses գրագետ language, they are ridiculed. We need TV programs about science."

Restart student activist: those who study well in universities are referred to as "դոդիկ", while the illiterate ones "խառոշի". We need to tear down that system and bring order to education institutes.

Full 5-hour-long session: https://youtu.be/c3rX_WvPWLo?t=4629

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042003.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042012.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042021.html, https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042016.html , https://factor.am/333878.html , https://factor.am/333774.html , https://factor.am/333940.html , https://factor.am/333961.html

Astronomy magazine about the upcoming STARMUS-6 festival held in Armenia

STARMUS International Festival of Science and Art will be held in Armenia this year after president Sarkissian discussed it with the organizers in 2019. Popular astronomy magazine "Astronomy" wrote about the September 6-11 event, saying "you don't want to miss it."

"World's leading scientists will hold weeklong conferences and lectures to share ideas with each other, local scholars, and youth. One of the goals of the festival is to direct young people to science, new technologies, to the future," said Sarkissian.


More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042046.html

"taco trucks" are being regulated now / size, aesthetics, receipts, location

New rules went into effect regulating sales done by vehicles parked near sidewalks.

Municipality: For more than 10 years, the law allowed the operation of mobile outlets, but it wasn't regulated. The latest reforms allow the municipality Council to set regulations. In Yerevan, there are 52 locations allowed for such trade.

Owners must apply for a permit, pay a ֏50K fee, provide docs, images of the vehicle's exterior. The Outdoor Design and Advertising Department will analyze the petitions.

The vehicle is physically inspected within 6 days. 4 days later, the applicant will receive approval or rejection.

They must be equipped with [refregirators for food] and [devices that print receipts]. The vehicle must be under 10m x 2.5m x 3m in size and generate its own electricity.

First-time violators will receive a ֏100K penalty and removal, with ֏500K afterward.



update: waste sorting expands in capital Yerevan

Yerevan installed separate bins for glass, plastic, cardboards, trash in several districts. They exist in 60 locations now, with 135 by the end of this year. After that, the city will launch public education campaign.

"We selected the locations for the first bins to be close to locations of activists who had been advocating for recycling for several years. Also for high-rise apartment complexes where the built-in trash dumping pipe was sealed."

"We have 4-5 factories that process the waste in or around Yerevan. No shortage there. We still have to work on the battery, mercury, lightbulb, clothing, and food waste. www.greenshop.am sells Armenian products made from recycled materials."

https://factor.am/333778.html , https://youtu.be/Rmy3MAv7EA0

update: EAEU tariffs on imported poultry could help local producers

Economy Minister Qerobyan met representatives of the local poultry industry to discuss the development of the chicken meat and egg business. The import tariffs will sharply rise beginning in 2022. Ministry wants to help businesses to expand local egg and meat production.

Minister Qerobyan: The main obstacle to doing business in Armenia is the unavailability of financial resources. It is necessary to ensure access to finance and to help local producers to create a modernized market.

The state has taken some measures. For example, there is a leasing program for agricultural-food equipment. As part of this subsidy program, we have increased the equipment cost limits from ֏450M to ֏1B.

Industry representative: 2019 was the best year for poultry production volume. 2020 was slightly worse due to pandemic, but it's satisfactory. //

They discussed ways to improve competitiveness in foreign and internal markets, stricter safety checks on imported products, etc.


COVID stats in recent days

5197 tested. 360 infected. 890 healed. 14 deaths. 5435 active.

Former president Serj Sargsyan's latest test results came negative. He had earlier tested positive and was quarantined.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041901.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041946.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041991.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042052.html

ambassador to North America

Former Armenian national soccer team star Yura Movsisyan is Soccer Federation's ambassador to North America. "Yura Movsisyan will be the bridge that will strengthen the connection between the FFA and our compatriots living in North America."




donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older news



All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" or "appear" guilty.

Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lafwd0/feb12021_1_details_about_felony_corruption/

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