2021 February 17

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Feb/17/2021: (1) Russian as 2nd official language in Artsakh (2) Ethnic Russian MP blasts former govt., says Pashinyan hasn't been anti-Russian (3) LHK Marukyan about Serj interview (4) Artsakh officials charged (5) Tsrer trial (6) ANCA vs Pakistan (7) Border aid (8) New geo-parks (9) Gyumri (10)..
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Wednesday report in 3341 words.

Russian could become one of the official languages in Artsakh

Not the "state" language, but one of the official ones, clarified Artsakh after people thought Russian would become the main language.

The co-author of the bill is Artsakh Parliament deputy-president Gagik Baghunts. "It is explained by the long-term presence of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh. It makes it necessary to provide a legal solution to the communication problems with Russia and peacekeepers."

The bill is yet to receive preliminary committee approval, before being placed for public debate, before a Parliamentary vote. "Taking into account the historical memory of Artsakh and Russia's cultural, military, economic relations and the fact that Russian is already the second language of communication for many Artsakh residents, we consider it possible to revitalize a new quality of relations and to formulate a new agenda."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043661.html

At least one prominent Minister has expressed a negative opinion. "The change has no merits. Artsakh is Armenian and should remain Armenian. The mistakes we've made for decades should not be enshrined in law, not allowing generations to correct our mistakes," said Labor Minister Mane Tandilyan.

https://factor.am/339495.html

LHK leader Marukyan: it's normal for Russian to become an official language. It's either Armenian/Russian, or Azeri. It would be unfair for Russian peacekeepers to secure peace yet not be able to do anything with their native language. Switzerland has several official languages, yet it's still sovereign.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043688.html

Armenian-Russian MP criticizes former regime for portraying Pashinyan as "anti-Russian" / Kocharyan's infrastructure "giveaway"

QP MP Alexei Sandikov: It's obvious that when a new group comes to power [Pashinyan in 2018], and replaces political elites that had built ties with Russia for 2 decades, it takes time for the new group to fill in the vacuum.

This was used by the opposition to present it as a worsening of Armenian-Russian relations. However, in the past two years, we held the highest number of meetings at the highest levels. Every level of the Russian elite, from the president to the military, has visited Armenia and developed ties.

So the question is, by good Armenia-Russia relations, does the former government mean giving away Armenia's infrastructure for pennies? Do you consider that high-level relations? [a direct shot at Kocharyan.]

The Russian language has always been popular in Artsakh, more popular than in Yerevan and elsewhere. It's used widely. And especially after the placement of peacekeepers, it makes sense to declare Russian as a second language.

https://factor.am/339502.html

LHK leader Edmon Marukyan about Artsakh negotiations / Serj interview / investments / double standards

For context, read yesterday news about Serj's interview, his negotiations and plans, and the response it received.

LHK Marukyan: if Serj was negotiating to give away some lands, they should have taken steps towards it, instead of conditioning the public that nothing would be given away. Today they open secrets that everyone was in favor of giving lands.

Certain financial investments were made in those lands. I'm in favor of it, but not if those lands were supposed to be given to Azerbaijan. The problem should have been resolved in 30 years. Look what it has come to.

The former governments have always stated that they were negotiating to buy time and that they wouldn't give any lands. Go back and read statements made by HHP MPs. They even accused the Pashinyan administration "for wanting to give lands."

Today, Serj claims that he was always in favor of giving lands through negotiations. If that was true, the problem should have been resolved long ago, instead of using diaspora's [Himnadram] donations to invest in those [adjacent] regions.

Artsakh's Constitution was written by [HHK MP] Hrayr Tovmasyan, under the patronage of the Armenian government. It states that all 7 adjacent regions are part of the Artsakh Republic and are inseparable. They fed the public that those lands were theirs and that no one could encroach, while behind their backs there were negotiations to give away those lands.

We need a Commission to investigate the war. There are also reports that some former generals weren't allowed to take part.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043672.html , More: https://youtu.be/C2wzbPE4y_8

Context: a new Constitution went into effect in 2018, transitioning it from Presidential to Parliamentary state. President Serj wanted to remain in power with a third term as a Prime Minister.

LHK Marukyan: I have doubts about the claims made by Serj that he intended to hand over the control to Karen Karapetyan in 2018. HHK nominated Serj for Prime Minister. That was the reason why we had a revolution, to begin with. On May 1st, the Parliamentary parties had the option to nominate their own candidate for PM. The Yelq alliance (QP + LHK) nominated Nikol Pashinyan, while HHK did not nominate Karen Karapetyan. Pashinyan failed to get enough votes that day. The second vote is held a week later. HHK did not support Pashinyan, but the latter gets elected when BHK and ARF join Yelq. If HHK really wanted to hand over power to Karen Karapetyan, he would have at least been nominated.

Full: https://factor.am/339457.html

Artsakh authorities are investigating reports of "treason"

Artsakh prosecutors: several NGOs filed a report with prosecutors on Dec-10-2020, claiming that a group of Artsakh officials aided Azerbaijan during the war. We're investigating it.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043675.html

Artsakh officials are charged with negligence and failing to evacuate property on time

Artsakh prosecutors said: after the November 9th ceasefire statement, several officials were supposed to organize the evacuation of cultural and other financially valuable items from the areas that were scheduled to go under Azeri control. They failed to do so, causing significant damage. Felony 334.2 charges are filed.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043689.html

Tags: #ArtsakhWar #negligence #evacuation

Anti-corruption: mayor of Ani (Maralik) is charged

Back in Sep-2019, Maralik's (aka "Ani") HHK mayor was accused of embezzling public property and registering it under a family member's name. The charges came after the local population organized boycotts against the mayor; it was part of a wider post-revolution anti-corruption movement that spread across communities in Armenia.

The alleged corruption incident took place in 2012. The investigators say in addition to this, the mayor embezzled public funds by paying salaries to a non-existent employee. The case is concluded and sent to court. The mayor is charged with 3 felony counts.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043704.html

heads up: Sasna Tsrer's verdict is on February 24th

Expect a massive sh!tshow. Several nationalist-paramilitary Sasna Tsrer members are charged with murdering cops during the 2016 hostage takeover. They are facing between 8.5 years to life.

https://factor.am/339553.html

re: import ban on products made in Turkey

Earlier, the government passed a law to ban the import of Turkish products for half a year. Today they made an amendment to reduce the impact on some of the traders. It applies to those who purchased the goods before Nov-20-2020 but are yet to receive them. They'll be able to import it.

At the same time, the list of banned products expanded, while a few raw products were removed from the ban list because they were being used by Armenian businesses to produce Armenian goods.

The Turkish ban will likely be extended for another 6 months after it expires, and the rules could become stricter, with more items being banned, said an official. (I can already hear Dashnaks blasting Gini Lits in 06's with tinted windows).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043669.html

ANCA is lobbying for Pakistan to be recognized as terrorist sponsor / India enters chat

Pakistan aided Azerbaijan during the terrorist attack against Artsakh, which involved the use of known ISIS warlords and other jihadists from Syria and other states.

Now ANCA wants the world FATF regulator, which fights against international terror financing, to sanction Pakistan.

The news was picked up by the Indian WION media agency. India and Pakistan have bad relations, in case you forgot.

https://twitter.com/ANCA_DC/status/1360546681645899778?s=19

https://factor.am/339683.html

police caught the man who vandalized the Armenian-Jewish genocide memorial

Holocaust-Genocide memorial in Yerevan was spray-painted by vandals last week, likely related to Israeli weapons used in the 44-day war. The police have caught a 36yo resident who confessed.

https://youtu.be/UDyWQ6rR3zU , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043659.html

Pashinyan vists Gyumri / infrastructure / families of captives / meetings

Pashinyan met Shurak governor and Ministers upon arrival.

Pashinyan: In Shirak and Gyumri, we saw quite a visible, tangible progress in 2019. Later, the coronavirus and the war changed the situation to some extent, but we must now ensure that we not only fully implement those programs but also formulate new ones and change the general situation, the general mood, that will satisfy all of us.

Shirak governor: we were able to complete 80% of the work last year. This year we will finish the rest in addition to 2021's programs. We spent ֏3.3B on infrastructure subsidies in settlements last year. This year it'll be ֏4.4B for 62 projects.

Pashinyan: there shouldn't be any good and efficient program that does not receive federal funding. We need to encourage all municipalities and investors to launch projects that aid the economy. We should encourage capital investments, and develop gas/water/road networks.

Shirak governor: out of the 78K arable lands, Shirak utilized 47K last year. Various agencies are working to expand the land use.

Gyumri mayor: this year we'll import 70 modern buses for public transport (big if true) and modernize the transport network. With the help of subsidies, the city-owned buildings will install solar panels to save on energy bills. By 2022, we will renovate 180km roads or 70% of all city roads (big if true). The World Bank will help us with street lighting. We've already resolved the street cleaning issue with the new tech. We will renovate bus stops soon. The "Barekamutyun" park is being renovated; it'll have a 7.2ha area. //

--

Pashinyan then met the families of POWs. "Work is carried out by different departments in different institutes. The topic is very sensitive, any information related to the captives in the media can be used against us by the enemy. Let me not comment on the meeting in any way, I just want to say that the parents were informed at what stage the negotiation process is," said a public official, about the closed-door meeting between parents and Pashinyan.

Over 200 Armenian and presumably dozens of Azeris are POWs as of right now. The numbers are reflected in ECHR filings. Armenia supports the all-for-all swap.

Some of the Armenian POWs fell captive after the main war, during the Khtsaberd incident in Artsakh, in the narrow strip of land west or Shushi-Hadrut corridor.

69 POWs have returned to Armenia so far after negotiations that involved government and NSS officials from three states. The opposition complains that the process is too slow, while the government says there is progress, it'll take time, and that certain public discussions about POWs serve as fuel for Azerbaijan who feels encouraged to delay the swap to create tensions within Armenia.

On his way back to Yerevan, Pashinyan's car was stopped three times by residents of various settlements. They turned out to be supporters who wanted to express their support. "The main topic was that Pashinyan [is too lenient on the former regime]," wrote the aide.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043656.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043679.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043713.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043712.html , https://youtu.be/Hgm03putFAY?t=21

POWs and search operations

Pashinyan and Putin held a conversation about the need to repatriate POWs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043736.html

MFA Ayvazyan, MFA Lavrov, and MFA Bayramov separately discussed the return of POWs and the November 9th statement.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043685.html

Recently Artsakh president met Azeri officials. Shortly afterward, 106 bodies were handed over by Azerbaijan. It is believed that they were buried in Azerbaijan and had to be exhumed before the transfer. Artsakh Human Rights Ombudsman had long insisted that Azerbaijan was intentionally delaying the swap process and that some of the bodies were already buried in Azerbaijan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043696.html , https://factor.am/339317.html

stats: population that lives near borders / utility subsidies & other aid / Khndzoresk & Qarahunj

The number of settlements on borders expanded from 38 to 77 after the war. The bordering population went from 63K to 77K. That's an increase of 14K people, all of whom are from Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces.

The population in bordering villages has always received federal aid and bonuses. The additional 14K population will qualify, too.

Labor Ministry: we'll spend ֏1B this year on various subsidies. 50% off on utility bills (irrigation water, gas, electricity). The property taxes will be subsidized. School books will be free.

Besides this, we will assess housing damage during the war, and issue compensations. Another new aid will pay ֏1-3M for disabilities relating to war, or ֏5M in the event of death. //

Under the existing law, the village is considered "bordering" if its furthest house is within a certain number of kilometers from the border. Syunik's Khndzoresk and Qarahunj villages did not qualify.

The government will review their status and likely add them to the list of aid recipients, in addition to two other settlements. Qarahunj is "far" from the border, but its residents used to travel several kilometers to utilize land near the borders.

As for Kapan, it is a city so it does not qualify for this village aid, but "there could be other aid for it."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043695.html , https://factor.am/339397.html , https://youtu.be/duFxmawD34w

Tags: #BorderPopulation #BorderSettlement

Deputy Prime Minister meets EU representatives

Mher Grigoryan and the EU representatives met and discussed the 2021-2017 cooperation plans. Mher thanked the EU for the recent socio-economic aid.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043739.html

Foreign Minister Ayvazyan during a meeting with OCSE Minsk Co-Chairs:

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is based on the right of the people of Artsakh to have security and self-determination, and the consequences of the use of force cannot be considered as a solution to the conflict.

https://factor.am/339354.html

Artsakh president delays local elections by a year

Citing the Martial Law, president Arayik delayed the local/city elections until Mar-1-2022. The current officials will serve an extra year. There are mechanisms to pick temporary mayors in the event of resignation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043733.html

All Armenia Fund renovates heating systems and donated beds to refugee housing centers

Goris and Tegh settlements housed 2,000 refugees after the war. Some of them are staying in schools/preschool buildings. Himnadram renovated the heating systems in several facilities and supplies hundreds of new beds.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043662.html

aid stats: the ֏250K payments

One of the aid packages gives a one-time ֏250K aid to Artsakh residents who sustained severe property damage. There have been 63K applications so far (approx. $30M). Multiple members of the same family can qualify. They will receive the aid as part of the second phase.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043735.html

consumer protection agency audits butter prices

The Economic Competition Commission lists the reasons why the prices went up:

The Dram devalued over Dollar in 2020. Butter is mostly imported from third states. International import prices went up. EAEU trade bloc rules required butter import tariffs to rise from 11% to 15%.

Despite the increase, the average price in 2020 was lower than in 2018 and 2019.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043658.html

keeping it tidy in Yerevan

Yerevan's Green department is cleaning up the greens and bushes near St. Sargis church. 40,000 m2 areas near the gorge are being cleaned of dry branches and trash. The irrigation network will be renovated with additional 400m pipes. The new irrigation will allow this area to turn green by the end of 2021. Trees will be planted in 2022.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206867

Armenia will have massive "geo-parks"

Nature Ministry: Syunik, Gegharquniq, and Vayots Dzor will have geoparks. It's a special protected area, in the territory of which the geological history of the planet Earth, the formation of the local landscape, the formation of mineral deposits and rocks, the mass preservation of fossil, remains of prehistoric animals have been revealed.

Armenia's first geopark will have a 4400m2 area, which is 14.7% of Armenia. It includes 102 settlements. The relief will be mountainous (BIG SURPRISE THERE).

This will promote eco-education, eco-culture, raise knowledge about the regions, etc.

Maps: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206909

Arevshat settlement will have a kindergarten

The ֏64M subsidy program will open the first kindergarten in 20 years. It'll serve 80 children and provide 12 permanent and 15 temporary jobs.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206941

earthquakes just won't go away

A small 2M quake struck 12km south-east of Yerevan. It was felt in Yerevan and Artashat. This is the same spot where several other quakes happened last week.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043651.html

A strong 5.5M quake struck Greece, 22km away from a settlement with a 168K population.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043649.html

strong winds cause destructions in Yerevan and regions

A 25m/sec winds ripped away trees and roof coverings in some Yerevan neighborhoods today. Charbakh was hit the hardest. Provinces saw 30m/sec.

Emergency Ministry issued a warning and shared a weather forecast for the next several days:

Roofs: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043653.html

Trees: https://factor.am/339530.html

Trees: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206897

Forecast: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043705.html

blizzard engulfs the Vardanants mountain passed

Cars were stuck on the roads due to severe snowfall and wind on M-10 and Sevan-Getap areas.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206939

mother nature just won't give up

Italy's Mount Etna blew up again. Massive amounts of lava is seeing flowing after the eruption.

https://news.sky.com/story/spectacular-show-as-italian-volcano-mount-etna-erupts-12220460

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043663.html

should the school windows have bars soldered on them?

Most schools have their windows on the first floor "protected" with metal bars. During the recent string of earthquakes, various NGOs and officials began discussing safety. An expert advises the removal of the metal bars. "What are you keeping there, billions of dollars or kids? If an earthquake happens they can't escape."

A school official said there are seismic awareness classes that teach students how to act.

https://youtu.be/WH95EQJwSWI , https://factor.am/339376.html , https://factor.am/339419.html

Armenia-Iran high-tech cooperation

Iranian ambassador Abbas: In recent years, the share of exports of high-tech goods from Iran has increased significantly. We want to deepen international cooperation with different countries, including Armenia. Our scientists and businesses should cooperate. We're ready to establish closer ties between universities and labs. //

An expo was held today to display Iranian tech. Several Armenian Ministers and a deputy PM were present. "The development and deepening of relations with Iran is in the focus of the Armenian leadership. We need to make new efforts to bring untapped opportunities to life."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043699.html

Armenian tech firm KRISP raises another $9M in funding

KRISP uses AI to remove background noise from audio calls. Their business boomed during the pandemic. New contracts were signed with popular companies. iKRISP... no?

https://factor.am/339328.html

QR codes are everywhere... this is getting RIDICULOUSly convenient

A public "QR library" has been opened in the Gyumri branch of the University of Economics. The walls have very many QR codes.

Unlike traditional libraries, you do not need to register and present a passport. Just enter the hall, select the book and scan the corresponding QR code posted on the wall. The library has WiFi and tablets.

Photo: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043752.html

post office drops shipping fees to France by 35-52%

HayPost and "Le Poste" signed an agreement to drop AM-to-FR fees by 35%. From now on, the French citizens will be able to taste real brandy without breaking their wallets. France is HayPost's top destination in Europe.

The first kilogram is ֏9.9K ($19 or €16), followed by ֏2.9K for additional kilo, which is now cheaper by 52%.

This year HayPost raised import prices significantly from the US and certain EU states. "We were operating with losses in the past." To bypass high fees, many Armenian citizens import items they purchase from abroad with the help of intermediary services. They buy an item from Amazon and specify the address as a locker provided by the intermediary service. The latter receives the box from Amazon and ships it to Armenia for a smaller fee.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043693.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206887

COVID stats

3431 tested. 206 infected. 128 healed. 5 deaths. 4173 active.

All 48 tests in Artsakh came negative.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043660.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043673.html

today in history

440 AD: Mesrop Mashtots dies. He created the Armenian alphabet.

1600: Italian clergyman, astronomer, philosopher, and scientist Giordano Bruno is burned at the stake.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043637.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.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lm4frh/feb172021_1_russian_as_2nd_official_language_in/

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