2021 February 26

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Fed/26/2021: (1) Aronian quits amid conflict with chess officials, who make counter-claims (2) Reforms cut bureaucratic wait times & fees (3) Loitering drone (3) Armenia to double forests (4) World responds to "coup" atpt. Mock execution. MP assaulted (5) Economic & army stats (8) New arbitration sy
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Friday report in 2757 words.

grandmaster Aronian confirms departure / Chess officials respond / Disagreements over chess schools and aid / "Reforms to restore Armenia's position as chess superpower"

Levon Aronian released a message saying 2020 was a difficult year for him, and that the government failed to provide the needed resources and attention for the development of chess in the past year, "after limited support in 2019". He praised Serj Sargsyan for "years of personal dedication and support, which was important for achieving success."

Aronian criticized certain "self-establishing" chess officials "who know nothing about chess" for their "chaotic and destructive" policies, and said that the Sports Minister and Prime Minister did not dedicate enough time to listen and address his concerns.

"I have not been able to convey to them the simple truth that I am asking for state support, not for me personally, but for the opportunity to serve and bring glory to the homeland."

Aronian claims the lack of funding was linked to an assessment that his "potential was waning", despite him "defeating powerful players."

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044589.html

Education/Sports Minister Dumanyan to reporter: It is the athlete's right to leave. I am very sorry that Aronian made such a decision. I highly appreciate his chess achievements. We are all proud of his achievements. He represented Armenia. I will be happy if he reconsiders the decision.

I am surprised that he made such a decision. I can assure you that based on the data I have, there is no official obligation to Aronian that the Ministry has not fulfilled or refused to fulfill. It will be very good if he changes his decision and stays in Armenia with us. We will continue to rejoice in his future achievements and be proud.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044648.html , https://factor.am/342564.html

Mkhitar Hayrapetyan is a Parliamentary committee official tasked with chess/sports issues. He thanked Aronian for representing Armenia. He believes Aronian's accusations, about "officials who know nothing about chess", was directed personally at him. He referred to some of the accusations as "false and a lie".

Mkhitar Hayrapetyan: we will hold a press conference to answer questions soon. But I can respond to one of Aronian's accusations right now, about the chess being ruined since 2018. There is criticism about the closure of schools.

I'd like to note that soon, as a result of the Yerevan Chess Federation's monthlong efforts, a Chess Mastery School will open. This will help restore Armenia's chess successes that we've had for decades, which unfortunately stopped in the past 6 years. It will train our future generation of players. This is necessary to restore Armenia as a chess superpower. The idea for these reforms came directly from chess experts themselves, and not some higher-ups.

About Aronian's accusation regarding the treatment of chess players being different since 2018. Yes, the treatment has changed. Since 2019, we have brought chess in-line with Olympics sports in terms of wages. And even Aronian's wedding godfather [Serj Sargsyan] was unable to solve such problems under his leadership [as Armenia's Chess Federation chief, different from Yerevan's Chess Federation]. In 2019, Aronian and other chess players were added to the recipient list with the efforts of the Yerevan Chess Federation.

A year ago the government approved a law to qualify Olympic champions and medal winners to receive lifetime pensions. This was all done with the help of Yerevan's Chess Federation.

But I think Aronian has earned the right to criticize me, even if he is wrong. We implemented and continue to implement chess reforms, regarding salaries, property, and facilities.

https://factor.am/342527.html , https://youtu.be/QCZZvWH5ZGU , www.1lurer.am/hy/2021/02/26/Իսկապես-շախմատային-աշխարհի-համար-մեծ-կորուստ-է-և-Լևոնն-անփոխարինելի-է-Մխիթար-Հայրապետյան/423052

ArmTimes about financial transactions: In 2019, the Pashinyan administration sent $133,000 to Education Ministry to finance Levon Aronian. The government explained the move as "modern-day chess is linked to high-tech and players need good computers. Aronian is using a 2013 computer which needs a revamp."

The financial transactions show that the government sent the funds to Ministry, and the latter spent it on the equipment.

There was no such special aid specifically for Aronian in 2020, possibly due to the 2020 pandemic and financial crisis.

Aronian notes that chess is heavily supported by governments around the world, however, in many countries, it's the private sector that acts as a sponsor. It is up to Chess Federation to find private sponsors.

This is Aronian's second departure from Armenia. He left in 2004 after the Chess Federation, for some reason, did not include him in Armenia's chess team. At the time, Aronian decided to play under the German flag. Then the Defense Minister Serj Sargsyan became Armenia's Chess Federation chief and establish good relations with Aronian to bring him back.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207653

Tags: #chess #Aronyan #LevonAronyan #Hayrapetyan #MkhitarHayrapetyan

Susanna Gaboyan wins Armenian Women's Chess Championship

The 76th championship is over. She received 6.5/9 points. Men are still competing.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044565.html

video: the new Armenian loitering drone

High Tech Minister Arshakyan shared the video of a new Armenian loitering drone. This appears to be different from the one presented by an Armenian manufacturer during IDEX-2021 in Abu Dhabi. The Minister promised more videos soon.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2778171872443724

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207689

update: Pashinyan about the military expenditures since 2018

During yesterday's rally, while addressing his administration's treatment of the military, Pashinyan spoke about the extra funds his administration allocated for the army, part of which went towards raising soldiers' salaries. This morning he shared more details.

budget

We dedicate ֏307B to Defense Ministry in 2020, which is 28% or ֏66B higher over 2018, or +4.5% over 2017.

weapons

Since the May of 2018, we have purchased unprecedented quantities of weapons and ammunition in recent times. The army was supplied with artillery, air defense systems, anti-aircraft systems, firearms, ammunition, 310 vehicles.

By the way, it was our Defense Ministry and the General Chief of Staff (GCoS) office that decided what to purchase. We provided the funding.

salary raise

Regiment Commander 4.6%, Deputy Rediment Commander 12.7%, Battalion Commander 23%, Squad Commander 32.6%, Platoon commander 26.2%, Senior NCO 18%, Ordinary contractor 13.7%, Contractor sergeant 22%.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207613

night was calm

No events took place at night. Vazgen Manukyan's allies installed several tents in front of the Parliament building, on Baghramyan Ave, and spent the night there.

Manukyan appeared in the morning and reminded everyone about a rally at 1 pm. The demand is for Pashinyan to resign so Parliament can appoint a prime minister. They rejected Pashinyan's yesterday offer to meet and discuss the situation. They only want his resignation.

They launched a march to president Sarkissian's office.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044573.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207646

the high-ranking generals who did not sign the GCoS letter

Reportedly 19 generals signed yesterday's letter. 4 generals refused to sign.

They are the deputy GCoS and the head of organizational tasks Andranik Makaryan, the deputy GCoS and the head of intel department Arakel Martikyan, the head of the armament department Poghos Poghosyan, and the military communications chief Arthur Chatyan.

They refused to comment why they didn't sign. One of them said, "Let me not answer questions. I am a military man."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207678 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/207604

opposition denies asking GCoS to write the yesterday letter

Vazgen Manukyan, ARF, and other allies of the former regime resumed the rally today. They said the letter by GCoS, about Pashinyan's resignation, was not coordinated by them. "The message wasn't a support towards us. There was no secret plot between us."

Context: Manukyan was criticized for calling GCoS to overthrow the civilian government during the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044602.html

LHK leader Marukyan accused Pashinyan of manipulating the events by describing them as an attempted coup. "A coup is when the military arrests the leader. We haven't seen such an attempt. I wouldn't support such events. No laws were broken by publishing the message."

https://factor.am/342400.html

European PACE rapporteurs condemn GCoS's letter

The members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, who are assigned as rapporteurs on Armenia, published a message:

We consider unacceptable the statement issued by the General Staff of the Armed Forces yesterday, about demanding the resignation of the democratically elected government. We call upon all parties to respect the Constitution and democratic norms and to take steps to stabilize the situation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044614.html

Council of Europe president: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044660.html

United States urges military not to intervene in domestic politics

U.S. State Department: we call for restraint. We remind all parties of the bedrock democratic principle that states’ armed forces should not intervene in domestic politics. What happened so far does not meet the criteria of a coup, which is what we've witnessed in Burma.

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/u-s-state-department-urges-restraint-by-all-parties-in-armenia

France calls for political dialogue and de-escalation

Democracy must prevail, said French MFA.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044639.html

Kremlin doesn't see a threat to agreement

Putin's office: Despite the events taking place in Armenia, it is very important to continue to implement the agreements on Karabakh. We currently don't see a threat of its failure.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044603.html

ruling party MP Aslanyan is physically attacked in front of Parliament

QP party said: after the attempted murder at Parliament Speaker Mirzoyan on November 10th, the violent break-ins, and the failed coup, the [former regime] officials not only did not condemn these acts but continuously contributed to the destabilization.

The opposition leadership repeatedly called for violence and berated Parliament MPs, state officials, and members of law enforcement. The activists routinely attack journalists and citizens who express opposing views.

A group of activists, who installed tents in front of the Parliament building, this morning assaulted QP MP Hakob Aslanyan, a 67-year-old participant of 3 wars, who is still healing from the wounds he sustained during the last war.

We urge the opposition to act within the law.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044620.html

The MP Aslanyan: the cameras fixed it. It happened in front of the entrance. The assailant was a 35-40yo man; he punched me in the face. I saw him walking around all cocky during the rally. Too bad I didn't see him during the war.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207650

opposition performs a mock execution

The former regime activists, headed by VETO activist Narek Malyan, organized a theatrical performance in front of the Parliament, during which a couple was executed by a firing squad. The rallygoers chanted "Nikol traitor" immediately after the "execution".

https://factor.am/342597.html

The performance raised the ire of famous actor Hovhannes Azoyan who criticized the "scoundrels" for "inciting violence" while pinging NSS and law enforcement accounts with a hope to have them take action.

https://youtu.be/xhGU6f889zo , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207680

Actor Sos Janibekyan released a similar statement. "I don't see how leaders who preach fear and hatred can 'save' Armenia."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207694

Human Rights Ombudsman condemned the mock execution.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044664.html

president Sarkissian meets GCoS chief and political parties

Read yesterday's post for context. Sarkissian hasn't signed Pashinyan's petition to fire GCoS chief Onik (yet).

President's office: As we have informed earlier, Sarkissian is initiating a series of discussions in order to reduce the tension in the country and find a peaceful solution to the situation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044585.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044593.html

Sarkissian met Parliament Speaker Ararat.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044608.htm

Sarkissian met QP and BHK representatives.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044622.html

Sarkissian met HHK, Vazgen Manukyan, and Arthur Vanetsyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044623.html

Sarkissian met ARF and other public officials.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044645.html

Sarkissian paid a visit to the GCoS office to speak with Onik. The president denied media rumors claiming that he decided to return Pashinyan's petition to fire Onik instead of signing it.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044647.html , https://factor.am/342559.html

Sarkissian met Ind. MP Arman Babajanyan, who urged the president to sign the documents and fire GCoS Onik.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044654.html , https://factor.am/342639.html

POWs & foreign affairs

Europe's Human Rights Ombudsman called for Azerbaijan to release all Armenian POWs. His Artsakh counterpart welcomed the statement

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044652.html

Opposition co-leader Arthur Vanetsyan said the issue of POWs will be resolved "within days" if he comes to power. (X)

https://factor.am/342435.html

Armenian MFA accused Azerbaijan of being the one to repeatedly start wars and commit atrocities, in response to Azerbaijan's accusations regarding Khojalu events. Today is the anniversary.

https://factor.am/342548.html

Human Rights Watch published a report about "Unlawful Attacks on Medical Facilities and Personnel in Nagorno-Karabakh". It talks about Azerbaijan targeting hospitals in Martakert with the use of Israeli LAR-160, Russian GRAD, etc.

Full: https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/02/26/unlawful-attacks-medical-facilities-and-personnel-nagorno-karabakh , https://factor.am/342697.html

Parliament speaker Mirzoyan and Russian colleague Matvienko discussed the political issues in Armenia. Matvienko noted that Russia considers the current events to be Armenia's internal issues and hopes that the situation will be resolved exclusively by peaceful means.

Mirzoyan asked Matvienko for assistance with repatriating several female POWs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044626.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290705/

Dutch parliament adopts two pro-Armenian resolutions

One of them urges the government to officially recognize the Genocide, while the second calls for Azerbaijan to release pows

The move was welcomed by the local Armenian group FOAN.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044570.html

Artsakh president Arayik visits Yerevan to meet Hadrut refugees

They spoke about social aid programs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044655.html

COVID stats

3947 tested. 283 infected. 181 healed. 4 deaths. 4349 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044574.ht

pandemic stats: budget expenditures & debt in the first half of 2020

Finance Minister Janjughazyan: in 1H, the state budget expenditures amounted to ֏766B, from which ֏46B were capital expenditures. The deficit was ֏49B.

94% of revenues came from taxes.

From the ֏766B expenditures, the largest ֏267B portion went to pensions, followed by grants, then the debt interest, purchase of various items and services, and public salaries.

External debt was $5.5B, internal debt $2.2B, Central Bank debt $0.475B.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044580.html

COVID vs economy: January stats YoY

Economic Activity Index -7.5%. Industrial output -11%. Construction +1%. Trade -15%. Services -10%. Electricity production +2%.

Consumer price index +4.5%.

Average monthly nominal salary -4%, at $348.

Exports -11%. Imports -20%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044637.html

EU aid for major judicial reforms / new arbitration institute / electronic system

Last year a $30M grant agreement was signed with the EU. The $9M of it will be used towards the creation of new specialized anti-corruption courts and anti-corruption investigative bodies. New staff and judged will be hired and vetted, facilities will be renovated, salaries will be raised.

A new electronic justice system will allow to expedite the trials. The accumulated backlog of cases will reduce by 10% this year and 20% next year.

Half of all newly submitted cases will be processed electronically by 2022.

A new arbitration institute will be introduced. It'll allow businesses and others to settle financial disputes without involving and overloading the much-slower regular court system.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044582.html

Tags: #judicial #JudicialReform

public service reforms reduce the wait times and fees / name change, marriage, business registration

Some of these reforms are effective immediately, while the rest begin in May. Justice Minister Badasyan lists:

The time required to change your name will reduce from 5 months to 15 days (this was one of the major complaints by diasporans). The same applies to the modification of relevant documents.

Fixing typos will be done within 3 days.

Registering commercial businesses will take 1 day.

Apostille certifications will be handled by Justice Ministry within 1 day instead of 3.

No state fee for registering as a private entrepreneur online, registering the marriage, issuing civil status (ՔԿԱԳ) references, or editing typological errors in documents.

All ՔԿԱԳ fees are canceled for seniors, 1-2 stage disabled, low-income families, war participants, the family of a war victim.

Some marriage-related certificates will be issues instantly instead of within 7 days. The newlywed can register their wedding any time they wish, beginning the following day of the petition, up to 6 months.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044583.html

Armenia to double forest coverage by 2050 as part of global climate change plan

Armenia has joined global action to adapt to global climate change, with an ambitious plan to reduce CO2 emissions. Armenia has committed to double the forest coverage from 12% to 25% by the year 2050.

To make it happen, the Nature Ministry drafted a reform package to establish a Forest Service, and to make other amendments.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044552.html

Elon Musk's Starlink in Armenia?

A Facebook user from Gyumri, Armenia was able to pre-order the new satellite internet for $99/mo. The data shows that the service will become available in Yerevan and other cities by 2022.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10164906187745184&set=a.10151250621210184

https://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/290689/Musks_Starlink_accepting_99_preorders_from_Armenia

top-5 bestseller children's books in January

5) Puy-puy mouse, by Derenik Demirchyan

4) Tales by Tumanyan

3) The Blue Arrow, by Gianni Rodari

2) the round dough that rolls away

1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044442.html

today in history

1802: Victor Hugo is born

1815: the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte escapes the Elba island

1848: France abolishes the nobility

1896: Antoine Becquerel discovers that Uranium is radioactive and leaves a trace on a photo-film. The radioactivity measurement unit is named after him.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044551.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/lt66pc/fed262021_1_aronian_quits_amid_conflict_with/

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