2021 February 9
- 1 Daily news wrap-up
- 2 re: Armenia will grow "industrial weed" / possible CBD $$$ / industry details
- 3 Parliament votes to approve a Cassations Court president
- 4 court allows Kocharyan to manage confiscated property
- 5 big opposition rally on February 20th
- 6 bill to raise army contractor age limit and reduce emigration
- 7 re: soldiers' families receive university tuition subsidy
- 8 5 more POWs return home
- 9 rumors and rebuttals: Lyovik Aronyan's supercomputer fetish
- 10 Levon Aronyan advances to quarter finals
- 11 rumors & rebuttals: Yerevan mayor has resigned for the 1,000th time
- 12 rumors & rebuttals: Nikol took $211M in bribes to sell Artsakh / non-existent "migrant remittancies"
- 13 AM-RU-AZ officials meet to discuss regional trade unblocking
- 14 foreign citizens need permission before entering Artsakh
- 15 DNA analysis and search operations
- 16 Azeri Lieutenant Colonel and 4 others explode on a landmine in Talish
- 17 Azeri soldiers hold a protest and complain about being ignored
- 18 Azeri opposition decries oppression after Aliyev begins collecting "fees" for occupied territories / Product price increase / Aliyev's sister makes an appearance
- 19 Dutch MPs urge the govt to recognize the Armenian Genocide
- 20 oy, you got a loicense for that, m8?
- 21 Yerevan will rebuild 12 and build 3 new kindergartens
- 22 COVID stats
- 23 Healthcare Minister: COVID vaccine selection process / double-infections / stats
- 24 stats: agriculture & fishing industries
- 25 stats: fuel prices YoY
- 26 Investment Support Center
- 27 re: legal reforms to allow purchase & international shipping of drugs via the post office
- 28 land shipping fees reduce 3x between Armenia and Russia
- 29 update: new bridge will be built between Armenia and Georgia
- 30 High Tech Minister Arshakyan about high-tech industry, jobs, salaries:
- 31 High Tech Minister about a new retraining program for war participants:
- 32 High tech Minister about the new Engineering City in Yerevan:
- 33 High Tech Minister about manufacturing 5 lung ventilators in Armenia:
- 34 High Tech Minister about Armenian drones with artificial intelligence target detection and artillery made in Armenia:
- 35 donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers
- 36 archive of older news
- 37 disclaimer
- 38 Support David's Daily Armenia News Summaries!
Daily news wrap-up
Feb/9/2021: (1) Hemp legalization: what to expect? (2) Armenian drone uses AI to detect target (3) You can ship meds (4) Shipping $ down (5) Tuition subsidy (6) POWs return (7) Azeri opposition & Aliyev's sister complain (8) Rumors & rebuttals (9) Trade unblock (10) Healthcare Min. about vaccines...
Your 15-minute Tuesday report in 3836 words.
re: Armenia will grow "industrial weed" / possible CBD $$$ / industry details
Unless you have been sleeping in a camel's ear, you probably know by now that the government plans to legalize hemp farms on an industrial scale. It is not the type of marijuana that makes you high. The legalization is meant to bring revenues and encourage the cultivation of lands that are currently gone unused (around half of the arable lands).
Interview with Garegin Miskaryan, an enterpreneuer and the co-founder of political party "Citizen's Decision" (QO).
Question: what is technical hemp and what's your opinion about the govt's decision to legalize it?
So far we only know that it will be legalized. The process of issuing and revoking a license is important. We need to know how the sale of seeds will be done. Overall, I welcome the decision. Approximately 250,000 hectares of land are currently unused.
Growing hemp is beneficial for the soil and is a low-maintenance plant. It can withstand cold and hail. It needs 4x less water than other plants in Armenia. It doesn't need water in altitudes above 1,500m.
It was banned after the 1961 UN convention about narcotics (thanks, boomers). But today everyone talks about it and how it was the oil industry that was behind the ban (sorry boomers, thanks Exxon). Why did they lobby for the ban? Because hemp began substituting the oil-based products. Hemp was competing against oil. A global lobbying campaign was launched against hemp.
This is unrelated to marijuana, although the two are from the same [family]. Hemp has 113 unique types, with some having psychoactive substances while others having none. The industrial hemp has none.
Question: what are some uses for hemp?
To produce things that are currently produced by oil, wood, and cotton. Fuel, bio-plastics, wood, paper, clothes, shoes. Around 50,000 types of products.
Question: there are concerns that marijuana can be secretly grown disguised as industrial hemp.
In areas where industrial hemp is grown, marijuana cannot grow because the hemp flower pollination will "convert" marijuana into hemp. Anti-narcotics teams around the world use this technique to fight against marijuana; they conduct artificial pollination of the region with the use of hemp's flower.
Question: are the investors interested in growing hemp?
We only recently learned that industrial hemp contains CBD which can have a very positive effect on the human body. Israel and the US are currently studying it. A complex tech is used to extract it. Only the technical hemp can provide this. 1 Liter costs $6,000, so you could earn 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars per hectare of land (big if true). It's not an easy task, however. It needs to be placed on the market for cosmetology or pharmacy purposes, as it's done in Israel.
To earn a big revenue, we need the technology to process it. There are hundreds of types of hemp that provide oil, strings, hard string, soft string, etc. Depending on which one is allowed under the law, it can interest investors.
China is producing its army uniforms with technical hemp and cotton at a 40/60 ratio. The string from hemp does not rot, does not make you sweaty, and is immune to moth damage.
Question: what production examples are there in the world?
Donald Trump signed a decree in 2018 to allow the production of industrial hemp across the United States (yuge if true). A big boom is being anticipated. Australia, New Zealand, and many European states allow hemp. Armenia should grow the hemp in abandoned lands instead of replacing food production with it.
Parliament votes to approve a Cassations Court president
Judge Lilith Tadevosyan was nominated by her fellow judges from the Supreme Court. She went through a grilling Q&A to answer questions about her past before the secret-ballot vote. She was approved with a near-unanimous 102-1 vote.
court allows Kocharyan to manage confiscated property
But he cannot sell them. He and the co-defendants are going through the March 1st trial. Additionally, he is facing large-scale bribery charges. His known assets were frozen in 2018.
big opposition rally on February 20th
The opposition recently rejected Pashinyan's offer to hold new elections ASAP. Instead, the opposition wants their candidate to become the Prime Minister, for now.
In response, the ruling party said "Aight, then. If you don't want it then we don't want it, either. There won't be snap elections."
In response, the former regime said "the cowardly government is afraid of Kocharyan winning elections". They will hold a big rally on February 20th. The demand is the same: Pashinyan's resignation.
Various NGOs still want to see snap elections and criticized both the government and the opposition parties.
Ruling QP MP Alen Simonyan offered the former regime to publicly agree to snap elections and to withdraw Vazgen Manukyan's candidacy (he wants to become PM without elections, via a Parliament vote). "The opposition has low ratings. That's why they rejected the offer for snap elections," said Simonyan.
bill to raise army contractor age limit and reduce emigration
LHK drafted a bill to raise the age limit to allow citizens up to the age of 63 to serve in the army as contractors. The idea is that when the contractor reaches the current low age limit, they often cannot find another job so they have to emigrate. With the new rules, the authors hope to preserve the experienced soldiers and to reduce emigration.
re: soldiers' families receive university tuition subsidy
Education Ministry paid ֏305M to subsidize a smester's tuition for 1303 students who are family members of war participants.
5 more POWs return home
A jet brought 5 more Armenian POWs from Azerbaijan, announced the Deputy PM Avinyan. It was a result of mediation by Russia.
BHK MP Zohrabyan says the families of several missing soldiers made a trip all the way to Iran after believing fake news which claimed that Armenian soldiers had crossed the border and were located in Iran.
rumors and rebuttals: Lyovik Aronyan's supercomputer fetish
The media wrote that Armenian chess champion Levon Aronyan plans to move to the United States and live there with his American(?) wife, and he will no longer represent Armenia.
Former-regime allied Telegram outlet Mediaport, which mostly circulates misinformation, found a way to spin this story against Pashinyan, too. It claimed that Aronyan is leaving because Pashinyan broke his promise of buying a supercomputer for his chess matches.
The rumor was denied by Aronyan's girlfriend. "Wow, even without a supercomputer Aronyan continues to score victories in Opera Euro Rapid tournament. Do you even hear yourselves? What computer? It's unfortunate that some people betray the devotees of their nation based on misinformation," she wrote.
The supercomputer rumor was likely built around a server story; there is one owned by the chess federation, which Aronyan had access to until 2020.
As for the earlier reports of Aronyan's possible departure to the US, Aronyan has not commented yet. Her mother criticized media outlets for calling him a traitor base on the rumors that he wants to move to the US. "The media never mentions his victories and the charity work. Only the negative stuff," she said.
Levon Aronyan advances to quarter finals
Opera Euro Rapid tournament. He has 8.5 out of 15 points. Currently 4th place.
rumors & rebuttals: Yerevan mayor has resigned for the 1,000th time
I wasn't kidding when I wrote earlier that Yerevan mayor Marutyan has been "resigned" by the media once a month. Today a BHK city councilman asked Marutyan to comment on the latest media rumors about his alleged resignation.
"I don't plan to resign. I don't plan to become an ambassador to Czechia. Before Czechia, I was supposed to be the US ambassador. I was almost ready to become the ambassador to Japan," responded the drag queen Mayor sarcastically.
rumors & rebuttals: Nikol took $211M in bribes to sell Artsakh / non-existent "migrant remittancies"
After criticizing Pashinyan for not giving away Artsakh on the 3rd day of the war, the former regime changed the rhetoric and now accuses him of giving away the lands in exchange for a bribe.
The latest claim is that $211M was transferred from Azerbaijan to Armenia in 2018 (Pashinyan time), but only $7M in 2017 (Serj time). This was used to show that "Pashinyan sold the lands." A fact-checker contacted the Central Bank to learn details about those numbers.
The Central Bank said: there were no bank transfers between Armenian and Azeri subjects. The World Bank routinely publishes financial transfer numbers that aren't based on hard facts, but rather assumptions made by analysts, who come up with such numbers by taking into account the number of migrants and financial details relating to them.
According to that report, there are 87,000 migrants who went from Azerbaijan to Armenia, and 146,000 migrants who went from Armenia to Azerbaijan. They are the relocated people and not the people who make direct transfers. It is being assumed by World Bank analysts that all these migrants transfer money to their home country. In our case, this is a wrong assumption, because the "migrants" in Armenia and Azerbaijan are IDPs.
AM-RU-AZ officials meet to discuss regional trade unblocking
As agreed upon on January 11th, a Working Group was created between AM-RU-AZ. Today they met to discuss practical ways to resume transportation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
foreign citizens need permission before entering Artsakh
Artsakh implemented new security measures. All foreigners need to contact the Artsakh Foreign Ministry before the arrival. The list of applicants will be shared with Russian peacekeepers at the gates. The peacekeepers do not make approve/deny decisions; they are only informed about the list of authorized people.
Upon the authorization, the applicants will be notified so they can contact the Artsakh consulate in Yerevan to receive their entry permit.
This process usually takes 3-4 days but sometimes longer. Some foreigners have already used the new system to enter. Two of them faced issues because the peacekeepers weren't properly informed that they were on the authorized list. "The system is new, sorry."
DNA analysis and search operations
Healthcare Minister: we purchased and began using the second DNA device to identify bodies on January 11th. It expedited the process by 2.5x, with 30 daily DNA sequencing. It's being done 24/7. We hope the process will complete soon. There are complicated cases when multiple tests are needed.
Azeri Lieutenant Colonel and 4 others explode on a landmine in Talish
An incident happened in the occupied Talish/Mataghis region. Lt.Col Qyamil Duniev and another 4 soldiers sustained heavy wounds.
Azeri soldiers hold a protest and complain about being ignored
A group of Azeri soldiers, who received injuries during the war, held a protest about the "government ignoring them and refusing to provide benefits." Social media shares videos about daily protests in the country. "Those who fought in front lines are ignored, while those who stayed in the rear are rewarded."
Azeri media also writes about the high number of missing soldiers and that their families are kept in the dark.
Azeri opposition decries oppression after Aliyev begins collecting "fees" for occupied territories / Product price increase / Aliyev's sister makes an appearance
Some Azeri officials, with corruption ties since the 1990s, only recently found themselves at the crosshairs of the authorities. Some of their mansions will be confiscated and placed for auction. The opposition believes Aliyev is collecting money to renovate the newly captured territories.
Unsurprisingly, some of the targeted officials are connected with Ramiz Mehdiyev, who is Aliyev's chief rival and was targeted well before the war.
Azeri media reports that the former Labor Minister Muslimov was told to pay up $1 billion for years, which would be directed not to state coffers but the so-called "black treasury", and only after it became apparent that he couldn't pay the bribe, he was arrested on January.
Aliyev had earlier criticized oligarchs and the rich for "trying to squeeze into Shushi with their businesses." Activity on the Azeri social media indicates that the authorities are having difficulty with finding the funds necessary for the renovation. People report that they were forced to donate funds to various Reconstruction Foundations.
Aliyev's sister Sevil made a rare "appearance" to make a few comments about a new documentary about her father Heydar Aliyev. The documentary talks about Heydar's "weaknesses", and names current president Ilham Aliyev as one of Heydar's weaknesses because of Ilham's past scandalous and extravagant lifestyle.
The documentary says "Heydar gave Karabakh but saved Azerbaijan, while Ilham took Karabakh but gave Azerbaijan."
The sister Sevil is unhappy that the personality cult is shifting from Heydar to Ilham. Under her social media post, people began commenting "force your brother to resign and people will install a monument dedicated to you."
A regional Azeri opposition leader from the National Front party criticized the Azeri regime. "They promised that we will have a new Azerbaijan after the second Karabakh war. They fully kept their word by raising prices for gasoline, water, medicine, food, and practically everything. Funds for repaying foreign debt rose by 21.6%. All the debt will be paid by the Azeri public."
Aliyev plans to spend $1B to renovate the occupied territories. (what happened to the $5B that he offered to Serj and Nikol?)
Dutch MPs urge the govt to recognize the Armenian Genocide
A group of Netherlands MPs, representing various parties, signed under a resolution to call for the official recognition of the Genocide. They emphasized its importance amid the report by Genocide Watch which found a threat of genocide in Artsakh during the war.
oy, you got a loicense for that, m8?
Yerevan municipality received unprecedented 27,000 petitions relating to illegally-built structures. The staff is overloaded, sorry for the delay while processing, said Mayor Marutyan.
The authorities are currently drafting a bill to repeal the existing law that allows the legalization of illegal buildings. At the same time, the MPs want to make the legal registration process faster and cheaper. For decades, people have found bribery easier than filing construction paperwork.
Yerevan will rebuild 12 and build 3 new kindergartens
The city received a €5M grant from the EU in Jun-2018 to help with kindergartens. As part of the programs, the city will rebuild 12 and built 3 seismic-proof kindergartens. Another 11 were finished in 2020.
2269 tested. 123 infected. 293 healed. 3 deaths. 4221 active.
Healthcare Minister: COVID vaccine selection process / double-infections / stats
Question: How was AstraZeneca selected as the primary choice for the initial phase of vaccination of the high-risk population?**
Healthcare Minister Anahit Avanesyan: a new committee was formed, tasked with examining the effectiveness, price, and availability timing of each vaccine. The committee found AstraZeneca as a good candidate.
Question: after the war, there was talk that Armenia will be pressured to buy the Russian Sputnik-V.
Minister: Armenia is free to purchase whichever vaccine it wishes but we are in discussions with all our partners. We think multiple options will be available.
Question: are we expecting another big wave?
Minister: it's hard to predict. Oct-Nov saw a big wave due to war. Thankfully, people saw how quickly the virus was spreading and chose to follow safety measures again. Today it's controllable. We have a testing requirement for foreign arrivals and combined with having control over the internal spread, we can reduce the spread by following mask/sanitizer/distance rules.
Question: what % of the population had so far caught COVID?
Minister: 168,000 have tested positive. There is a methodology that shows up to twice as many people could become infected and heal without knowing. We are far away from relaxing and returning to a pre-COVID lifestyle.
Question: any double-infections?
Minister: there are some who caught it in June and were infected again recently. It still needs research to understand how the virus affects the body after double-infection, and how common double-infection can be.
stats: agriculture & fishing industries
Gross output by agriculture and fishing industry +1.5% YoY, reaching ֏850M ($1.738B).
stats: fuel prices YoY
Gasoline -9.5%. Diesel -20.2%.
Investment Support Center
Pashinyan and the Economy Ministry discussed ways to recover the economy after the pandemic and to restore the 2019-level economic boost. The "Investment Support Center" is currently in talks with 60 investors about $1.5B worth of projects. Part of it done.
Pashinyan spoke about the need to build water dams because water will become an issue in the region in the coming years.
They discussed the improvements of standards, the atmosphere for business, and the ongoing GSP trade initiative with EU/USA/Canada/Switzerland that provides customs privileges.
re: legal reforms to allow purchase & international shipping of drugs via the post office
The law was laxed 6 months ago to allow the international purchase and import of medication to Armenia. No written permission is necessary. To this date, 1500 residents received parcels with drugs.
It used to be prohibited. You had to carry the items on you while visiting Armenia. "The change was done at the right time when there was pandemic, the roads were closed. People can import items that they cannot find in Armenia."
You can import 5 types of medication 3 times a year. Anything more requires permission from Healthcare Ministry. The parcels go through an x-ray by the customs so don't do anything stupid.
land shipping fees reduce 3x between Armenia and Russia
Armenia and Russia had signed an agreement on Sep/24/2020 to reform the post office transfers. As a result, fees dropped by 3x to-from Moscow area.
1.5x reduction between Armenian and Russian Provinces.
update: new bridge will be built between Armenia and Georgia
While increasing the repairs done on the roads that connect to Georgia two years ago, the government had announced that a new bridge Sadakhlo-Bagratashen would be built. Now we have more details.
There will be two bridges 1 meter apart. Combined, they will have a 25m width. There will be five 32-meter segments. They'll have a water removal network and lighting.
The existing bridge will be renovated and used as a backup in the event of traffic. The construction begins in a few months.
High Tech Minister Arshakyan about high-tech industry, jobs, salaries:
Despite the pandemic, the industry turnover grew +20.6% and reached ֏198B (excluding telecom). Employment grew +22%, reaching 18.7K jobs.
There are 1,228 active high-tech companies. 192 companies qualified for the exclusive special benefits that serve as incentives.
Armenian startups are considered those firms that have a research center in Armenia and created their idea in Armenia. Last year they attracted $50M in investments.
14% more taxes were collected from the industry, surpassing ֏41B. The average salary grew from ֏544K to ֏580K. The youth who plans to study in university should consider this route.
High Tech Minister about a new retraining program for war participants:
We'll soon launch a pilot program The Path to Soldier's Success to provide career retraining for veterans. It'll help disabled soldiers to get jobs in high tech. Free classes for 18 various paths.
High tech Minister about the new Engineering City in Yerevan:
7 companies have already applied to have an office in the City. The City allows the companies to share modern labs and work towards electronics, military industry, and other high tech production.
Politeknik University established an "electronic systems and measuring devices" office in City last year. They will prepare experts with a new education program.
High Tech Minister about manufacturing 5 lung ventilators in Armenia:
They are ready, passed the test, and will undergo clinical trials soon. I think this is the first time we're producing such complex healthcare devices in Armenia.
They were built by an Armenian company that received licensing from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. There were 330 applicants from 42 countries. The Armenian company was among the 28 winners.
High Tech Minister about Armenian drones with artificial intelligence target detection and artillery made in Armenia:
We don't have "Bayraktars" because it takes hundreds of millions of dollars and decades of research to build one. We have to be honest about it, otherwise, we're waiting for a miracle. Armenia needs institutional changes today.
We funded dozens of drone projects within the framework of research and development of Armenian striker and surveillance drones. Some are being finalized. We are reaching the point of being able to produce them.
The state is currently testing Armenian striker drones. Once finalized, they will undergo a military test, before entering serial production. They use artificial intelligence to select targets.
The radio defense mechanisms used today won't be useful against drones in the future. Drone control systems develop faster than systems that take them down. A time will come when radio-warfare won't take down the drones. We will need other tools, such as high-power electrical wave or laser-optic, or direct fire.
I can reveal some secrets today. Armenian striker drones are using artificial intelligence algorithms to identify target objects. With this, you don't need to be constantly in contact with your drone, because your connection to it can be jammed. The drone can fly and locate the target on its own.
Our surveillance drones, which have parameters that aren't any worse than similar ones, can be produced in Armenia now. They were used by the army during the war.
Our radar technology is being produced in Armenia for air defense. It was successfully utilized during the war and used for defending a strategic object. This field has a high priority for us. We will continue to finance the radio, optics, and laser fields.
Two dozen Armenian products will be presented during IDEX arms expo in Abu Dhabi to find new markets and promote exports. Then we'll host ArmHighTech defense international expo in the enlarged format in Hamalir building. Over 60 international companies will participate. Then ExpoElektronika expo will be held in Moscow.
The local artillery equipment and ammo production can fully satisfy our needs. This is true for artillery, grenade launchers, hand grenades, etc. Serious investments were made here. We already have a production process and a possibility to expand it in 2021. We haven't had such opportunities at least in the past 20 years.
Military industry funding increased by 2.5x since 2017:
2020: ֏3.3B + ֏3.4B during war
More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042830.html , https://factor.am/336554.html , https://factor.am/336573.html , unloads https://youtu.be/7tv1l6lIIQg , https://factor.am/336633.html , https://factor.am/336654.html
Tags: #MilitaryIndustry #ArmenianDrones #military
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/lgctgv/feb92021_1_hemp_legalization_what_to_expect_2/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2021 Daily Armenia Reports|