2021 February 25

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Daily news wrap-up

Feb/25/2021: (1) Pashinyan accuses General Chief of Staff of "attempting coup" after army officials call for his resignation (2) Vazgen Manukyan's phone call to generals during the war (3) Command problems in army; the fall of southern front during the war (4) Pashinyan rally (5) Gigabit internet
by ar_david_hh

Your 18-minute mostly-chronological Thursday report in 4600 words.

update: Armenian weapons at IDEX-2021 expo

This morning, Pashinyan launched an investigation to learn why some Armenian manufacturers' weapons did not arrive due to logistics delivery issues.

High Tech Ministry said that the issue affected some companies, but others were able to present theirs. "Delivery logistics issues are common for such types of products. At the moment, all companies look presentable... We had one of the best booths, and it isn't just our assessment. There were 14 companies with 45 participants. We showcased a drone during the expo; there will be a video about them soon. We also have brand new optical devices designed in 2020."

Earlier we learned that an Armenian manufacturer presented a brand new loitering drone with an advanced control system, while other manufacturers secured contracts to manufacture missiles and other tech.

https://factor.am/341872.html , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/207511

rumors and rebuttals: 1,600 soldiers are not missing

Soldiers' Fund director gave a press conference yesterday, during which he stated that initially, they had 1,600 missing soldiers, but the numbers reduced as more bodies were identified, discovered, or found alive.

The statement lead to confusion among journalists who reported that 1,600 are missing.

https://factor.am/340996.html , https://youtu.be/im8MR0RCEPk

a group is formed to create a roadmap for army reforms

Pashinyan instructed Defense Minister to form a dedicated group tasked with army reforms, "which was Point 8 of my November 18th roadmap," said Pashinyan, adding that there will be close cooperation with Russia.


former regime resumes the protests

As promised by ARF earlier, the activists began closing streets in Yerevan. Myasnikyan and Azatutyun streets were shut in the morning. Several activists were detained on Heratsi St.


Russian Defense Ministry official denies that Iskander was ever used

Contrary to Serj's and General Mosi's claims that Iskander was used near Shushi towards the end, to which Pashinyan responded by saying "why were missiles exploding at 10% capacity?" [criticizing the quality of Serj's purchases], today a Russian MOD official responded saying "Someone gave wrong information to Pashinyan about Iskander. It was never used during the Artsakh war. All the missiles are in place. It was successfully used in Syria. The Iskander produced in Russia is the best in its class."

Context: Serj and allies criticized that Iskanders were only used briefly at the end of the war. Pashinyan responded saying the missiles purchased by Serj were faulty. A Russian official criticized Pashinyan for "hitting Russia's pride". An Armenian security official criticized Serj for even bringing up the topic of Iskander that lead to such conversation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044544.html , https://factor.am/342244.html

General Chief of Staff demands Pashinyan's resignation, a day after the sacking of deputy chief of GCoS

Yesterday the deputy GCoS Tiran Khachatryan was fired after a phone interview he gave to Robert Kocharyan's media outlet, which ended up "selectively presenting his words", as reported by MOD. In the interview, the deputy GCoS responded to General Mosi with a laugh, while an outlet claimed he responded to Pashinyan, reports the MOD. The deputy GCoS was fired. Details in yesterday's post.

Today the GCoS called for PM's resignation because of deputy GCOS Khachatryan's sacking, calling it a "reckless, unjustified, and a personally motivated move." GCoS said they've had enough with attacks/criticism towards the military. 42 officials signed the letter, including heads of divisions, corps, and March 1st defendant Yuri Khachaturov's son.


Pashinyan accuses GCoS of attempting a military coup

Pashinyan: I consider the statement of the GCoS a military coup attempt. I am calling upon our supporters to gather at Republic Square right now. I will address the public soon.


Pashinyan also fired GCoS Onik Gasparyan

Pashinyan: you may have read my earlier call for supporters of democracy, revolution, and my allies to gather in Republic Square.

I made decisions yesterday and today to fire the deputy chief of GCoS and chief of GCoS. I signed the papers, after which they demanded my resignation. [GCoS documents were signed today, while deputy GCoS yesterday]

Today we will discuss why they went for that move. In any case, the priority right now is to preserve civilian rule because what's happening right now is a military coup attempt.

I've said before that I've accepted responsibility for the defeat and attempted to answer all the questions myself, but we have reached a phase where unfortunately we have to ask questions to high-ranking military officers, too. A few of our beloved generals do not like that, but this is inevitable.

That doesn't necessarily mean [arrests will be made after investigation], but we need to know answers to some questions. We need to know what direct ties existed between certain high-ranking army officials and [former regime politicians] during the war.

We need to know who contacted the army during the war, and instead of urging them to complete their military tasks, urged them "to take care of government" instead.

We need to talk about today's events and the November 9th coup attempt, about those who wanted to attack high-ranking politicians and seize power. One of the reasons was to cover up the full truth about the war.

Keep calm. Do not make any moves. Meet me at Republic Square. I also urge all our soldiers to continue their duties of defending the Republic of Armenia, not to put the guards down. Everything is under the control of our soldiers and we cannot allow any interruptions.

It is also unacceptable for the military to take part in politics. Let's acknowledge that we aren't talking about all of our officers; most of them were only following orders [of GCoS leadership], but I'd like to remind that they are also subordinates to Prime Minister, and should follow legal orders.

I'd like to inform you that deputy GCoS Tiran Khachatryan was de-jure fired, so he didn't have the right to [co-sign] such a statement [listed himself as still being deputy GCoS]. As for the firing of GCoS, the documents were signed and it's under process.

I'd like to thank everyone for their service, and I hope we will overcome this situation while following the Constitution. Soon we will appoint a new GCoS and deputies. For now, GCoS chief is instructed to continue his duties and to secure the army's regular activities.

As for you, dear compatriots, I'm inviting you to Republic Square to talk about important topics.


GCoS administration released a message saying they did not pressure subordinate officers to co-sign the letter.


Pashinyan supporters respond

Ruling QP party spokesman called any military coup unacceptable, "the army must preserve political neutrality. They, too, are under civilian oversight. Citizens won't allow a coup."

Pashinyan's supporters planned to launch a car rally from Gyumri in the afternoon. One citizen said "We won't let them steal the country. We've seen them for 27 years. We've seen their policies. We've seen their mansions. The Prime Minister came to power with legitimate elections."

Economy Minister Qerobyan expressed his concerns but called a possible civil war "unlikely".


ruling party releases a message in support of Prime Minister

QP party: the party finds the political statements made by certain military individuals to be unacceptable and views it as a coup attempt. This unconstitutional move is aimed at seizing the power from civilians and will introduce shocks during this post-war sensitive period. It's unfortunate that people tasked with the country's defense deliberately display irresponsible behavior. We reaffirm our support to internal stability and to Prime Minister Pashinyan. We call for our supporters to gather at Republic Square.


Russia is concerned about the events, calls it "Armenia's internal issues"

Putin spokesman Peskov: The Kremlin is anxiously following the situation in Armenia but considers what is happening to be the internal affairs of Armenia, our close ally in the Caucasus.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044480.html ,

Foreign Minister Ayvazyan spoke with Russian counterpart Lavrov about the situation.


politicians and public figures express concern

Artsakh President Arayik wants to mediate peace between the two sides to end the crisis. He called for both sides to be sober and follow common sense. "Now is the time to put an end to crises, to go through a long process of development and strengthening."


HR Ombudsman Tatoyan:: we cannot allow any events that lead to tensions. We need great efforts to ensure peace, while the authorities should respect human rights.


The church has urged the president, prime minister, speaker, and all parties to find solutions at the negotiating table.


BHK party: The statement by GCoS is a turning point. The current situation must be resolved exclusively through political means. Do not opt for violence. We urge NSS, police, and other law enforcement agencies [not to take action].


President Sarkissian: We are once again on the brink of an explosive situation. Our people cannot afford a split. Act within the framework of the Constitution. Exercise restraint.


Turkey also responded to the events in Armenia, saying that they condemn any coup regardless of where it is. MFA Chavushogly referred to Armenian events as "a coup attempt."


Turkish-Armenian MP Garo Paylan condemned the "coup attempt" and called for "people to defend their democracy."


Several NGO leaders and members of civil society condemned the GCoS letter, calling it unconstitutional, urging the military to refrain from getting involved in politics. They called for Pashinyan to also be careful in his public speeches, to prevent further escalation.


opposition also organizes a rally, calls for its supporters to "support the army"

Vazgen Manukyan's movement: We welcome the GCoS's message and call upon our supporters to gather in Azatutyun Square to show support for our army, and to finalize the process of removing Nikol Pashinyan. //

Other opposition figures said the GCoS's message isn't a coup attempt, but rather "them joining the people."

Kocharyan office welcomed the GCoS message and called for the public to join the rally.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044483.html , https://factor.am/341919.html , https://youtu.be/GpEgWEU0E44 , https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/02/25/Կոչ-ենք-անում-ձեզ-տեր-լինել-մեր-պետությանը-կանգնել-մեր-Զինված-ուժերի-Հայոց-բանակի-կողքին․-Քոչարյանի-գրասենյակ/420693

opposition LHK party responds

Non-former-regime opposition LHK party said there is an urgent need to return the process to the political arena, to respect the constitution, and ensure a peaceful transition of power.


LHK urged the public not to join the opposition or Pashinyan rallies to prevent clashes.


NSS urges public not to fall for provocations and not to provoke

The National Security Service warns that such actions could threaten the security of the Republic of Armenia and any such step could be seen as a concrete action to weaken the state.


prosecutors issue a warning against "unconstitutional moves"

General Prosecutor's office: the risks present in the message shared by GCoS today, and the subsequent events in the public, have resulted in a situation that can lead to serious security problems for our state, and are a threat to the constitutional order.

Refrain from irresponsible actions. Do not involve the army in issues outside of their duties.


Pashinyan and his political team are marching on the streets

Pashinyan while marching in Republic Square: let's agree to ensure there won't be any physical confrontations during our rally. Exercise restraint. We are all tense, but that doesn't mean we should get into conflicts... We don't have enemies in Armenia. Even those who accuse us of the worst things are not our enemies. You can curse us, that doesn't change our stance. //

The crowd and nearby people responded chanting "Nikol, Prime Minister! We are with you. You have nothing to be concerned about." The crowd rebuked a person who berated him. Pashinyan called for restraint and to clap instead of physical force.

The crowd made a circle through streets near the government building. Pashinyan thanked them "for appearing so quickly, remember to come again at 4 pm."

Pashinyan responded to a reporter saying he believes the situation around the threat of coup "is largely controllable. We should not be harsh towards our brothers [those who co-signed]. They were pressured. Even those whom I fired are still my brothers."

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044488.html , https://factor.am/341958.html

who is Tiran Khachatryan, now-former deputy GCoS who was fired yesterday / Su-25 jets during the war / Army governance inefficiencies

Parliamentary Security Committee Chief: Lt.Gen. Tiran Khachatryan, a former ARF member, lead the southern front during the war [the front that was cracked, leading to defeat]. He was given the title of a hero although I do not know why such a report was drafted. Didn't we lose in the south, the area lead by him? The political statement by GCoS is unacceptable. It can lead to security issues.

The army needs reforms, restoration of capabilities, strengthening of Armenian-Russian ties, and clear structural changes. Many of these generals know that they'll have problems when the reforms are carried out.

Don't you remember how there were calls to seize power during the war? Vazgen Manukyan said that during the war, he spoke with generals and urged them to take the power into their hands.

The Su-25 jets made numerous ineffective flights during the war. One pilot made a flight, but they mistakenly directed him to Jabrayil front. We had an entire aviation institute. When Defense Minister learned about this, an order was issued.

Question: were there confrontations between the Defense Ministry and GCoS?

Serj Sargsyan [former defense official and president] implemented this MOD-GCoS governance system in such a way that it served as our biggest barrier during the 2016 April war. When the 2016 investigative report is published, you'll see an entire section dedicated to those issues.

We didn't have such issues during the 90s because the system of governance - the pyramid - was clear: Minister, the military subordinates, then civilian section. We need to reform our army.

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/02/25/Սա-կարող-է-բերել-հրադադարի-ռեժիմի-կորստի․-Անդրանիկ-Քոչարյան/420735 , https://youtu.be/IhFmAU7eZu8

former regime holds its gathering near Opera

ARF Gegham Manukyan called for those present to bring their families and friends, and urged them "not to respond to provocations." He called for NSS to join and stand by the military. The demand is the same: Pashinyan's resignation, the appointment of an opposition candidate as the new PM.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044499.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207552

Pashinyan holds a rally in Republic Square / "Puppets in the military" / Manukyan's October phone call

Pashinyan to military: I order all the members of the military, generals, and officers, to do your duties and protect our borders. Anyone who doesn't do so, and meddles with political issues, is acting against the people. Certain military individuals attempted to involve our armed forces in political and unconstitutional issues. The public won't allow a military coup in Armenia. I demand those high-ranking officers who left their place of service to return and ensure the security of the country.

Pashinyan about govt-army relations: our administration has done everything to help the army. In 2019 alone, we increased military expenditures by ֏50B ($95M), we increased private/officer/contractor salaries, we did that to show that we value the service done by them to our people.

But we cannot ignore the issue within the army. Unfortunately, the [former] government that enriched itself at the expense of the military for many years, still has several puppets in the military. These puppets must immediately leave.

Pashinyan about "treason": They hold rallies and accuse me of treason. Look around you and the crowd. Why are so many people here at the request of a "traitor"? They are essentially accusing you of being traitors. I see families of fallen soldiers here... I'd rather not politicize it.

I'll tell you what treason is. The PM nominee [Vazgen Manukyan] of the so-called 17-party format, has admitted that he called the army in October [during the war], to urge them to take over the government. They repeatedly called for the army to fight not against the Turks, but against their own people.

The power belongs to the people. Why have people gathered here today? Because they know the officials who became rich at the expense of the army. Someone who stole the soldier's food is calling traitor someone who gave food, clothes, and higher salaries to the same soldier.

Pashinyan about land giveaway accusations: They've been accusing us of giving away lands for 2 years now. But only a few days ago, Serj publicly bragged that he intended to give away 7 regions to Azerjain. So if you thought that was a good idea and you had figured it all out, why were you [Serj] accusing us of "giving away lands"? Why didn't you tell us publicly to "go and sign the document, this is the point that we have reached."

We leaned on our army, we believed in our army, and we continue to believe in our army. I'm confident that the soldiers and their parents won't allow the army to be involved in politics.

Pashinyan about elections: we are all under stress. People are tired of constant instabilities. People's power should not be questioned. Any attempt for inciting civil war must be stopped by NSS and the public itself.

Don't you think I've thought about a resignation after the war? I have thought a lot, but I realized that it's not me who elected me as Prime Minister. It's the people who did, and it's people who should decide my removal. [crowd chants]

We offered to hold snap elections so people could decide, but the 2 parliamentary and 17 non-parliamentary opposition parties rejected it, saying it's the 17 parties and political elites who must pick a Prime Minister.

It's normal to call for my resignation, but it must be people to decide to "send me" so I can go away and mind my business. Let it be people to condemn me. Let it be people to execute me publicly. [crown shows mixed reactions on this one]

Pashinyan about fake news and his family: beginning on November 9th, every other day, there are reports about Pashinyan and his family escaping, moving abroad, PM's jet is ready to fly away, etc.. All my family members are present here right now. We aren't going away, even if you choose the harshest punishment.

It's not like we haven't made mistakes. But my biggest mistake was [crowd says something unintelligible, I'm assuming it's about not fully getting rid of former regime], yes you're right [Pashinyan responds]. But I'd like to explain why it happened that way.

When we did the 2018 revolution, we said that it will be a revolution of peace, and we said that everyone must get a chance. No vendettas. Yet they hit us from behind at any opportunity. The judges hit us, public officials hit us, and even during the war, they dreamed for us to lose so they can intrude into the govt building and size the power.

We dreamed of victory and did everything to win. They dreamed of defeat because mentally, they had already lost, they had already lost on paper [Serj's land giveaway plan]. This is why they were visiting trenches and telling soldiers "these lands are sold, why are you still fighting, retreat." And these people came and invaded the government building on November 9th.

I call upon all political parties to gather together and decide the date and time for a meeting.

Pashihnyan about GCoS Onik: I spoke with president Sarkissian today about signing my order to fire GCoS Onik. If he refuses to sign, does that mean the president is joining the coup? It's a simple choice.

I appointed Onik as GCoS, I promoted him to Lt. Gen., and I trusted him 100% during the war. In hindsight, I realize I was wrong with the trust. Let Onik Gasparyan sign a resignation paper and leave. Destabilization is not worth it, dear Onik, it's not worth it.

The military, including officers who signed today's letter, is to return to securing our borders. Onik should leave or the president should sign to fire him. Don't meddle in political affairs.

Pashinyan about enemies: we have no internal enemies. I love those who are here, and those who are in Azatutyun square [organized by the former regime]. We are a democratic state. The change of power must be done through elections.

Pashinyan about holding a dialogue: I call upon the opposition to end their rallies and hold discussions with us. Even my sharpest critics are invited to join help resolve the crisis.

But if you hold rallies, we can hold one, too. If you cross the line [recent calls for violence] you will be arrested. We will not yield to corruption. The "tavish" will end. [crowd chants]. I knew that you were expecting an end to tavish [a more relaxed approach while fighting against corruption after the revolution].

This crowd gathered today to reject the corruption. Today, the former government wants to give the impression that we are corrupt and thieves, too. We would rather cut our hands off than steal from people. This is the end of tavish. I'm sorry for not ending it sooner. Now we're going to march across the city.

First. We stand by our army, and our army stands by us.

Second. People know why we lost the war.

[closing words, he thanks the public, thanks the army and asks for forgiveness for losses]

https://youtu.be/ypzVHeok4eQ , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044511.html

Tags: #coup #rally #GCoS #Pashinyan

prosecutors' statement about army generals

Prosecutor's office denied reports [by ARF leadership] claiming that Pashinyan instructed several generals to be arrested after a "storming the Defense Ministry."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044515.html , https://factor.am/342071.html

Defense Ministry released a statement:

The armed forces of Armenia continue to fully protect the borders. The army is an apolitical structure, all attempts to involve the armed forces in any political process are unacceptable.


Vazgen Manukyan will close Baghramyan Avenue with barricades

The former regime will install barricades on one of the main avenues in Yerevan. Manukyan rejected Pashinyan's call to meet and discuss the events. He continues to insist that a new Prime Minister must be elected by the parliament, instead of snap elections. "We will bring the MPs so they can vote to remove the Prime Minister."


opposition report: 30 police officers demand Pashinyan's resignation

A report arrived claiming that dozens of officers demanded PM's resignation. A fact-checker has found that the 30 police officials were "former" officials. A PM's aide noted that "most of whom left the system before 2016 and are part of the former regime."


emergency Parliament session canceled

Opposition parties wanted to hold a session about Pashinyan's removal. The ruling party did not show up. The session was canceled due to a lack of enough MPs.


Manukyan camp installs tents in front of Parliament building

The opposition plans to camp near Parliament until the MPs vote to remove Pashinyan and appoint an opposition candidate [Manukyan] instead.

ARF leader Ishkhan called for PM's speedy removal while chanting "Armenia without a Turk." [but Shushi with 90% Turk, smh]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044539.html , https://factor.am/342218.html , https://youtu.be/hkrKykqk43M

General Samvel Babayan released a message:

For 25 years the Armenian nation was misled by false agendas. There was talk of various risks, challenges, except the most urgent, that our external enemy is getting stronger day by day.

Instead of strengthening our borders and increasing our defense capabilities for 25 years, everyone who came to power was engaged in personal enrichment. As a result, we lost 80% of Artsakh and have difficulty with recovering.

Today, instead of uniting and working out a crisis plan with joint efforts, we are again given false agendas that continue to divide our nation. I appeal to the "authorities" and the "opposition forces", to stop.

We are not in a position to allow division. The time has long come for us to give up many parties because today there should be no clan interests, there is only one - national interest, only one problem - how to rise from the ashes again and become a really strong and united Armenia.

[Babayan talks about why it's bad to make decisions in the public square, and a need for an investigation to learn details about the war.]

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207601

United States and EU urge for de-escalation and no violence

US embassy: both sides should calm down. The United States supports Armenia's democratic reforms and emphasizes the importance to involve democratic institutions and processes in resolving the conflict through dialogue.


EU and NATO made similar statements.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044541.html , https://factor.am/342296.html

Defense Ministers of Armenia and Russia hold a conversation

Vagharshak and Shoigu discussed the internal situation, and topics relating to peacekeepers' mission.


will president Sarkissian sign documents to fire GCoS?

Sarkissian has 3 days to decide. He could send it back to Pashinyan with suggestions to "amend it". If he does, but Pashinyan keeps it intact [proceed with signing], then the president either has to sign it or send it to Constitutional Court, if he finds possible conflicts with Constitution.

Inaction by Sarkissian will result in an "automatic signature".

President's office responded to several media queries with the aforementioned info and said any pressure on President would be unacceptable. "President does not belong to either party and does not plan to support either side."

Opposition parties urged Sarkissian not to sign it. ARF said they are sending a "delegation" to the Sarkissian office to discuss the current situation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044538.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044543.html , https://factor.am/342177.html , https://factor.am/342218.html

Vladimir Putin has joined the chat

Pashinyan and Putin held a phone conversation. PM's office says the two leaders discussed the internal situation and that "President Putin expressed his support for the legitimate authorities of Armenia and expressed hope for a speedy settlement of the situation."


Kremlin released a message saying "Putin supports the preservation of order and peace in Armenia and the resolution of the situation with legal means."


meanwhile in the army...

The rank-and-file chads are doing physical exercises in the snow:


later that day: Artsakh president met Pashinyan and GCoS Onik

... separately, to discuss the crisis. Arayik's office denied pressuring Onik to resign.


COVID stats

3488 tested. 282 infected. 467 healed. 4 deaths. 4255 active.


Lachin hydro-power powerplant is renovated by Russian experts

It'll resume power delivery to Stepanakert and other parts of Artsakh.


United States to help female farmers with a $2.65M agricultural aid

USAID will send the additional cash to help female entrepreneurs and development of agricultural cooperatives. Which projects will receive it?

USAID had earlier launched a "RED-NEO" agricultural project back in 2019 to help women with mentorship and grants. $1.15M of this aid will go towards it.

The other $1.5M goes towards "AGRI CAMP" to teach modern agriculture and help renovate relevant education centers. The project aims to help 1,000 female farmers by 2023.


Telecom Armenia is building "the region's fastest fiber-optic internet network"

The wiring for 10Gbps fiber internet began in Yerevan's Davtashen district, and within the next several months, it'll expand to all districts.

The operator is Telecom Armenia, a new company that recently purchased the financially-troubled Beeline. Its founder is UCOM's co-founder Hayk Yesayan.

The internet will be one of the best in the world, promises Yesayan. "Every customer will have a dedicated fiberoptic line. This isn't a shared internet."

The cables are underground "to make it reliable and not to distort the city look." The network will later allow the installation of [5G] cell towers.

120 employees in Davtashen district will install 100km main cable channels, and 400km within buildings to connect tens of thousands of residents.


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/lsgy7n/feb252021_1_pashinyan_accuses_general_chief_of/

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