2021 February 11

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Feb/11/2021: (1) Digital Armenia: high-speed internet for villages, e-services, cyber-security (2) Mayors charged with hindering army draft during war (3) High-tech jobs (4) Agriculture aid: intensive gardens = larger revenue per-hectare (5) Artsakh residents & aid (6) School reform (7) Diplomacy...
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Thursday report in 2733 words.

anti-corruption: NSS busts mayors with interfering with army draft during the war

NSS report says: when the war began on September 27th, the government declared Martial Law and general mobilization the same day. 6 men residing in 4 Armavir settlements received Draft letters. The mayors of those settlements were required to keep a record of residents and their status and report it to the military commissariat.

The mayors intentionally falsified the documents to claim the 6 men were not residing in Armenia, to help them evade the draft. The mayors are facing 3 felony charges.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043133.html

bail verdict for Kocharyan co-defendant Khachaturov

The judge rejected former CSTO chief Yuri Khachaturov's petition to lift his bail. He is being tried as a co-defendant along with Kocharyan and others. They are suspected of pulling the army from their positions in February of 2008, before an emergency declaration, and later using it against civilian protesters on March 1st.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043114.html

Armenia Wine receives free land to create 5,000 jobs / $40M investment

The government incentivized the winemaker with a free area to proceed with an investment plan. The company will create a new high-tech center called Digitown on Isakov 11/1. They will receive a nearby land for the $40M investment which will create 5,000 jobs.

Pashinyan: can they really create 5,000 jobs?

High Tech Minister: they've already created 500 in one year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043093.html

export of canned food and juices grows 30-38%

The world was binge-eating and drinking during the pandemic, apparently.

Pashinyan: canned food exports +30%, canned juices +38%. This is important because it shows that the processing industry works. But we have one very bad indicator; grape wine and cognac spirit exports declined by ~20%. At the same time, internal sales grew.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043098.html

cognac spirit exporters will receive tax refunds

Pashinyan: last year we finally managed to organize the collection and mass-purchase of grapes despite the issues faced by our companies abroad. For this process to succeed this year, and for our products to be more competitive abroad, we must provide incentives to export cognac spirit. The exporters will receive waivers for state fees. We expect the exports to grow 40% or 3M liters and reach 13.5M.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043097.html , Details: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043136.html

agricultural tech leasing program

Economy Minister Qerobyan: there is a high demand for the ongoing agricultural leasing aid program. Since the program's launch in 2018, we processed 293 applications for 750 agricultural devices worth ֏8.9B.

If we approve the reforms proposed today, it will raise qualified individual agricultural device's value from ֏450M to ֏1B. It will help improve productivity and allow farmers to go big.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043091.html

more farmers receive agricultural loans

Loans for farmers grew 6x since 2018 and reached record levels, said Pashinyan. 6K contracts in 2018, and 36K in 2020. The financial size of the loans increased 3x in the same period.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043095.html

agricultural insurance will expand to all provinces

Pashinyan: Beginning this year, the new agricultural insurance program is available in all provinces, for more items: grape, apricot, pear, apple, wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, watermelon, melon, plums.

The farmers will be insured against hail, frostbite, etc. The government will subsidize a significant portion of insurance premiums.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043100.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043136.html

intense gardens provide more bang for the buck

Pashinyan: although agricultural exports grew only 2% last year, the financial revenues grew 30%. This is a result of the types of food grown in intense gardens. The size of intense gardens grew 10x last year, reaching 518 hectares. We need to push it to 4-5-digit numbers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043105.html

65 high-tech startups will receive grants

The government will give ֏10-20M incentives to each one. The high-tech industry grew 21% and created 3,400 jobs last year (+22%).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043116.html , more https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043136.html

digitize everything / high-speed internet for villages / e-services / submit data only once / cyber-security / app-ify everything

On January 27th we learned that the government and parliament plan to expand services available digitally.

Today the government voted to approve the digital reform package. By the year 2025, it aims to establish a cyber-security center with international standards, high-speed internet for rural areas to raise the penetration rate from the current 40% to 80%, make 300 various services available electronically, allow 150 licenses to be issued electronically.

By 2025, you won't have to visit local government offices to get things done. Many legal entities and local governments will work remotely. You will no longer have to submit personal information every time you use a service if your data is already in the e-database.

The government went to go as far as to impose a penalty if the citizen is required to provide the same data twice.

Apps will be available for 400 various services by 2022.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043136.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206502

monthly aid for Artsakh residents to extend by 4 months

One of the aid packages for refugees is a minimum-wage-sized payment for 6 months. The government wants to make it 10 months. "Overall, ֏15B in financial aid has been distributed to over 100,000 people so far."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043106.html

"98% of social problems in Artsakh have been solved with state support,"

... said Artsakh Labor & Social Affairs Minister Mane Tandilyan. ֏2M in direct aid was provided to Artsakh families with an average size of 5. They received appliances, furniture, housing. Some issues, such as long-term housing, remain. New houses will be built in villages.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043148.html

budget allocates extra funds for Artsakh healthcare

Artsakh began the year with a salary raise for healthcare workers and an expansion of free healthcare services. As a result, the Artsakh government increased the healthcare budget by ֏3.8B.

They saved ֏200M by reducing expenditures for accepting foreign delegations. The mental health service budget rose by ֏20M, totaling 30M.

Artsakh's budget revenues are ֏84.2B with ֏132.3B expenditures.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043107.html

Artsakh drivers won't have to pay some DMV fees

Artsakh govt approved an aid package to exempt refugees from having to pay vehicle registration related fees.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043085.html

irrigation project will wet 2,000ha lands in Artsakh

Artsakh govt approved the construction of a junction on Karkar River. Upon completion, 2,000 hectares of land in the Askeran Region will receive automated irrigation.

They also discussed building Hils water reservoir and other water projects.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206494

low-income families in Shirak to receive free firewood

Shirak families with poverty points of 20 or above, or those living in temporary domiks, will receive free wood for the winter months. Shirak has the most extreme weather in Armenia, combined with the fact that 4026 families live in temporary housing units.

The average family uses 15m3 wood in the winter months. The 1m3 will be subsidized.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043083.html

prosecutors urge action amid a rise in illegal logging

2020 saw a 45% rise in illegal logging incidents in Lori Province. Total of 263 incidents, with 7 being perpetrated by forest guards. ֏453M in damages. Only ֏1.4M was recovered.

"Although the numbers indicate proper enforcement by the law enforcement and ArmForest guards, the number of illegal logging incidents rose. Due to legal loopholes, we had difficulties prosecuting 45% of cases," said prosecutors.

On February 5th the prosecutors published details on what the loopholes are and gave advice for legal reforms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043167.html

school director election reforms will repeal controversial "tie-breaker" practice

As we learned earlier, students and staff in a Gyumri school are protesting the appointment of a new school director. There was an election process. The incumbent and the challenger received equal votes. The Education Minister wanted to cancel the process and start new elections, but he was informed that it would be illegal, so per law, he became the tie-breaker and had to choose the director. He chose the challenger, which wasn't accepted well by the school staff.

Now the government wants to amend the law to remove the clause that allows Education Minister or Deputy PM to become a tie-breaker.

The voting will be transparent. The director's candidate will be required to meet parents and staff to provide their development plans. Teachers' and parents' unions will have a voice in the election process.

More details about other reforms here: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206448

bill passes: criteria for classifying agricultural land as "currently unused"

Government: The aim of the bill is to create the necessary legal basis for the identification of unused agricultural lands and the creation of a database. The government will choose the criteria. There is 444K hectare of arable lands in Armenia, almost half of which are gone unused. //

Parliament voted 93-4 to approve the bill.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043064.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290174/ , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043064.html

the airport in Artsakh

Earlier an Artsakh official said the Russian peacekeepers, and later civilians, could use the Artsakh airport now that the war is over. The airport was built but never utilized due to Azeri threats.

The Russian troops are currently building settlements near the airport and preparing the latter for flights. It will be used by the Russian military, humanitarian cargo, and passenger flights. There could also be flights to Russia. No specific deadlines.

Photos: https://hetq.am/hy/article/127263

search operations & POWs

The crews discovered 4 bodies in the southern Varanda region. The operations continue in Hadrut. A total of 1371 bodies were found since the ceasefire.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043078.html

Several families of missing soldiers closed a road with demands for news about their relatives. They met PM's chief of staff Tigran Torosyan to discuss the issue, after which they agreed to open the road. However, a policeman decided to tow one of their cars, so the crowd got angry and shut down the road again. They eventually agreed to open the road.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043157.html

Artsakh president Arayik met families of missing soldiers to brief them about the ongoing work.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043115.html

Artsakh refugees continue to repatriate

52,415 people crossed the Lachin corridor since the ceasefire. The daily flow has gradually declined in recent times. With conservative estimates, a total of ~100,000 people have returned home since the ceasefire. Another 40,000 continues to reside in Armenia. The numbers are backed up by post office transactions and the number of aid applicants.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043072.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043120.html

jobs for Artsakh refugees residing in Armenia

As part of an aid program, they can gain work experience and get paid. 1,574 applications so far.

Tsaghik Manucharyan was able to use her sewing skills in Goris's fabric factory. Her family migrated from occupied Kovsakan, Qashatagh and has been living in Goris for 4 months. The husband was wounded after carrying soldiers with a bus.

She applied for work on January 15th and began her practice in the factory a week later. The government will pay for the first 2 months of her training.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206387

foreign policy & diplomacy

blockade history

Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia's independence in 1991. After Armenian 1993 military gains in Qarvachar, Turkey shut down the international H-50 air connection for Armenia. It was re-opened in 1995 amid international pressure. Turkey also blocked the Gyumri-Kars railways, prohibited humanitarian transfers. Turkey demanded land concessions by Armenia in exchange for re-opening.

In 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed Zurich Protocols about re-establishing diplomatic ties, but Turkey again rejected it, citing the need for land concessions by Armenians.

25 years later, the status quo has changed. Armenian MFA believes there is no reason for Turkey to keep the blockade. It criticized some statements made by Turkish officials that "do not show intentions of normalizing relations." There are conflicting signals, says the MFA.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043181.html

Dashnaks want to make sure Armenia still despises Turkey (heavy satire in case it's not clear)

ARF Hay Dat Council: we are concerned that you don't hate Turkey anymore.

Foreign Ministery: we still do. Check out MFA Ayvazyan's recent statement with complaints towards Turkey. Thanks for your concern and the work you do abroad.

ARF Hay Dat Council: and you will continue to pressure Turkey to recognize genocide?

Foreign Ministery: Yes. The latest war makes its international recognition and condemnation more important than ever.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043173.html , www.civilnet.am/news/2021/02/11/Հիմնավոր-կասկած-կա-որ-ՀՀ-կառավարությունը-պատրաստվում-է-մոռացության-մատնել-Ցեղասպանության-ճանաչումը․-ՀՅԴ-Հայ-դատ/419076

Greeks are building a coalition against Turkey

Representatives of several Persian Gulf states met in Athens to discuss countering Turkey. Saudis, Bahrain, UAE, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, and France. The countries support Greece in the Mediterranean dispute against Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkey met Qatar and praised the strengthening of their ties.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043175.html

Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian MFA says there are intensive talks about the return of refugees, including Armenian ones, back to their homes... "We received reports about Azeris vandalizing a WW2 memorial. We contacted Azeri authorities and they said they'll investigate; they ahve prohibited such actions."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043172.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043170.html

հաջորդ կայարանը

Գարեգին Նժդեհ statue won't be removed from Artsakh. Education Minister denied "false information" that "Azeris asked Russian peacekeepers to remove Nzhdeh's statue in Martuni, and that the latter pressured Armenians to remove it to prevent provocations."

"The rumors are false. Nzhdeh's bust was installed in January. The official opening ceremony hasn't taken place yet. The sculptor is Armen Petrosyan. We don't have a specific date about its opening ceremony." A Martuni city official said it's in September.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206444

demographics stats

Jan-2020: 2.959 million

Dec-2020: 2.964 million

The population used to shrink by ~6K, but in 2020 is grew by 5K, likely because the borders were closed.

36.4K births, or 407 more than in the previous year. 110 boys/100 girls.

35.4K deaths. That 10K more than in the previous year. 17K was from cardiovascular, 5.5K from cancer, 3.4K from COVID, 2.3K from war.

Suicides rose from 153 to 183.

Average age 36.9 (+0.2 YoY). Men 34.8, women 38.8.

3.4K fewer people decided to get married; 12.2K marriages.

725 fewer divorces, total 3.1K.

259 divorces per 1000 marriages.

Stats as of December 31st.

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/02/10/2020թ․-շուրջ-10-հազարով-ավելի-մահ-է-գրանցվել՝-2019-և-2018թթ․-համեմատ/418927

the 39 new border settlements will qualify for federal aid

Syunik and Gegharquniq have borders with Artsakh's occupied Qashatagh region, aka the internationally-recognized Azeri border.

That means the new 39 border settlements (total 77) will qualify for the federal aid meant specifically for border settlements. Residents will receive full property tax subsidy, 50% off on utility bills, free school books.

Pashinyan: The general strategy of the government should be to create a security environment around Armenia so that being a border community does not mean an obstacle to development.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043134.html

demolition crews resume Sevan shore cleanup

Recently the government went berserk on structures that were built illegally on lake Sevan shores. The owners were notified about the need for removal. It's part of the program to clean up the shores to make the lake water cleaner and allow it to rise without obstacles in the future.

Demolition crews resumed the operations today, says Nature Ministry. It's in the area between the peninsula and the public beach.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043164.html

COVID stats

2500 tested. 180 infected. 265 healed. 5 deaths. 4085 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043077.html

EU and WHO will help Armenia with vaccination

They will spend €40M in Armenia and few other states within three years to secure vaccines. "In the initial period, the funds will be used for retraining staff and purchasing equipment, followed by aid to efficiently distribute and monitor vaccines."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043153.html

church celebrates St. Vardanants day

Church: St. Vartan is not just a story, but a sublime presence of the spirit in our lives. Nothing inspires our Armenian Christian identity as much as their testimony of faith and patriotic love. In the fifth century, they bravely withstood the terrible test, having the confidence that our people will forever be bound by love for their homeland, the Holy Name of Christ, for "there is no other name under heaven given unto men, whereby we must be saved."

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043059.html

anniversaries & birthdays

Pashinyan congratulated Iran's Rouhani and Khamenei with the 42nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. "The difficult situation in the region reaffirms the existing friendship and mutual respect between our peoples. Armenia is determined to promote mutually beneficial cooperation with friendly Iran for the benefit of our peoples and the region. I wish Your Majesty good health and prosperity, and the friendly people of Iran peace and progress."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043065.html

Legendary athlete Albert Azaryan celebrates his 92nd birthday. During the Soviets, he became an Olympic champion twice in still rings gymnastics competition.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043061.html , http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Albert_Azaryan

sports news

Levon Aronyan lost a chess match against LaGrave, then played a tie. The Opera Euro Rapid tournament is over for him.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043053.html

Russian-Armenian tennis star Karen Khachanov advances to the third round in the Australian Open. The latter is the first of Grand Slam competitions of this year and completes on February 21st.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043067.html

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

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

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

To be continued...


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lhu87w/feb112021_1_digital_armenia_highspeed_internet/

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