2021 January 14

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Jan/14/2021 news: __ Artsakh & Diplomacy __ Agricultural insurance __ Serj co-defendant dies __ Nuclear plant extension __ Bill to reform judicial, energy policy, disability aid, financing for business __ National Minority Day __ Trash sorting = AYE __ Diaspora __ 2nd DNA tool _ New factory _ SHMAG!
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Thursday report in 2696 words.

co-defendant in Serj's "agricultural embezzlement" trial passes away

Ex-deputy Agriculture Minister Samvel Galstyan has passed away. He was a co-defendant in the case involving ex-president Serj Sargsyan. The defendants are accused of stealing ֏489 million in fuel subsidies with the help of "Flash" fuel company, owned by Serj's friend.

The deceased ex-deputy Minister had earlier shifted the blame on the ex-Minister, saying he was only following orders. In turn, the ex-Minister testified against Serj Sargsyan.

https://factor.am/327935.html , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/178419 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/177742 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/177729

bill to reform pre-trial investigations / vetting judges / police reform

The government has drafted a bill that aims to mitigate corruption risks during the pre-trial period when the investigators still work on the case, and to boost the efficiency of court cases that decide the suspect's status before the trial.

Justice Minister Badasyan: the bill introduces the institute of specialized judges exercising judicial control over pre-trial proceedings. Specialized judges will handle corruption and pre-trial felony cases. 24 new judges will be hired, which will also reduce the time to handle court cases. The judges will undergo ethics vetting.

Corruption cases in courts had increased by +30% last year. The system is overloaded. 275 felony corruption cases were being actively heard, with another 2228 awaiting trial. We have the fewest numbers of judges per 100,000 population among Council of Europe countries.

Pashinyan: the practice established by these reforms is widely used around the world. We are entering a very important phase of judicial reforms. Ethics vetting for judges is crucial. We must have an independent judicial branch so that when a court makes a verdict, people won't try to look for political explanations behind it. We will soon create a new police patrol service, too, which is also part of these reforms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040191.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040163.html

Armenia's 2040 energy policy will be revised

The energy sector strategy, as well as a number of other legal acts, have lost its relevance, so there is a need to revise and meet the requirements of modern times, says the government. Roadmap for energy development until 2040 will be created.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040191.html

Armenia's Metsamor nuclear plant could operate beyond 2026

... said the government, if the upcoming safety revamp allows it. They plan to extend the closure date from 2026 to 2036. The N3 and N4 generators were replaced in 2018-2019. The N3 generator was examined in 2020. The N4 will be examined in 2021.

Armenia will need $150 million to extend it until 2036. Its efficiency would increase by 10%. The nuclear plant produces electricity that's much cheaper than gas/thermal. It accounts for a third of Armenia's production.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289413/

bill to reform disability assessment process

Healthcare Ministry: under current rules, to officially obtain the status of a disabled person and receive disability equipment, you have to go through an assessment process that can take time. Sometimes it's necessary to provide the disability equipment before the process ends. The reform will expedite the process by sending experts directly to clinics or patients' houses for the assessment.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040191.html

bill to reform investment Fund to increase aid for businesses

There is a Fund that provides finances to a limited number of businesses as part of anti-crisis measures. Today the government drafted a bill to remove some of the limitations so that more businesses can qualify.

Economy Ministry Qerobyan: The main obstacle to doing business in Armenia is the inaccessibility of financial resources - not bureaucracy, corruption, or taxes. A business can only borrow money from banks.

We don't have alternative options that you would normally see in developed countries. These are private investment funds, angel and venture funds, corporate securities market, capital markets. Armenia lacks these. Banks have a monopoly on financing businesses.

These reforms will allow businesses, which have expired existing options for funding, to be able to supplement their capital with the help of the state.

(the cabinet voted in favor but Pashinyan wants another discussion before signing because Ministers of Finance and Labor opposed it, they see risks)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040191.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040184.html

product price increase

Economy Minister Qerobyan: Inflation in Armenia is within the target level; it will not exceed 2-2.5%. It is lower than we have observed in neighboring countries and partners. Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan. The Central Bank monitors the prices.

If we look at specific products, one product price could rise significantly higher than the others, but another product could become significantly cheaper. The price of some products has increased globally and Armenia cannot reverse these global trends.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040187.html

Armenia will have a National Minority Day

The government approved a QP bill to modify the calendar to make September's last Saturday a "National Minority Day", dedicated to Yezidis, Kurds, and other minorities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040167.html

Pashinyan met two non-parliamentary parties

... Hanrapetutyun (late Vazgen Sargsyan's brother Aram) and MAK (Gurgen Arsenyan). They discussed issues relating POWs and snap elections proposed by Pashinyan.

Aram Sargsyan shared his experience from the times when Armenia was negotiating with Turkey and Iran over a railway link.

In other news, "we need to understand the opposition's opinion on snap elections before we can schedule elections," said the ruling QP party leader. She believes BHK and LHK don't want to hold snap elections now because they won't get enough votes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040192.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040235.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204326 , https://www.1in.am/2886596.html

IRS gives its radio-communication tools to High Tech Ministry

... at the request of the government, which cited the current risk of intrusions into Armenian territory, which will be better mitigated if High Tech Ministry's current radio-shortage is resolved.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040152.html

meeting between High Tech Minister and Netherlands ambassador

Minister Arshakyan presented Armenian tech products and programs (Virtual Bridge, Engineering City, etc.)* to Dutch ambassador Nico. The two spoke about possible cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040139.html

agricultural insurance stats / $700,000 gift to help farmers

BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund has donated $700K to Armenia to help develop the newly-formed insurance industry in the agriculture sector.

The agricultural insurance was established in 2019:

What is covered: wheat and cereal crops, apricot, grapes, peach, apple.

From what: hail, fire, frostbite

How much: the government subsidizes 50-60% of insurance cost.

Where: 6 provinces get full and 4 get partial coverage. 2 provinces have frostbite protection.

How many farmers have it: 1546 farmers with 2500 hectares.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040191.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040157.html

update: aid for Artsakh refugees and residents

Deadlines to apply for aid have been extended, while some registration-related requirements have been removed for Artsakh residents. Some residents are yet to collect ֏68,000, an ֏300,000 if they lost a home in an occupied region, ֏250,000 of their homes were damaged.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040136.html

Iranian athlete Ahmed Bagherpour donated his medal

... to the family of an Armenian athlete who died during the Artsakh war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040162.html

Diaspora Chairman Sinanyan about working with diasporans & media

Sinanyan: working with diasporans became harder after the war because of psychological shock.

The vast majority of diasporan news outlets are owned by people affiliated with the former regime, and they provide alternative reality. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you may have the impression that mass protests took place in Armenia, while the reality was different.

I could tell from official news during the war that our situation was serious, but I didn't know how bad it was. The diasporans are disappointed by the loss. I think we all know why Armenia lost, but people want answers.

The All Armenia Fund should provide a more detailed expenditure report.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204333

You can learn about during and post-war expenditure stats here, including HimnaDram funds: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ktaxa3/jan82020_news_pashinyan_about_mutually_unblocking/

Armenian-American Katherine Kazarian Elected Rhode Island House Majority Whip

https://horizonweekly.ca/am/armenian-american-katherine-kazarian-elected-rhode-island-house-majority-whip/

OSCE president about Artsakh conflict

The chairman of OCSE, who is also the Foreign Minister of Sweden, listed the Artsakh conflict as one of the top priorities for OSCE. "Resolving regional conflicts remains our top priority."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040203.html

MFA Ayvazyan about Artsakh status & past negotiations

Artsakh's legal status has been and remains the most important principle for the settlement of the conflict. Armenia (Serj) had earlier agreed to Kazan papers (give 7 regions) because it contained a complete set of basic principles for the resolution. After Azerbaijan's rejection of Kazan papers, the negotiations over basic principles continued. Even during the war, Azerbaijan agreed to hold discussions around the principles.

I don't see a conflict between what Pashinyan wrote in his article and what Igor Popov stated yesterday (about Armenia giving away regions for "nothing"). There were different statements and they shouldn't be presented out of context.

Full: https://youtu.be/K02zQO523hc , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040215.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040224.html

MFA Ayvazyan about establishing atmosphere of trust:

An atmosphere of trust is needed to solve regional problems. If Azerbaijan cannot fulfill its humanitarian obligation of returning POWs, then it's difficult to expect other issues to be resolved. POWs are the priority. We're working through various diplomatic channels.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040218.html

MFA Ayvazyan about anti-Armenian rhetoric:

I urge Azerbaijan to end the militaristic and Armenophibic rhetoric. The November 9th Statement does not prohibit Armenian officials from visiting Artsakh. I encourage Azerbaijan to accept the reality, reject the hateful rhetoric, and to hold negotiations over the final status of Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040221.html

former US representative to OSCE Minsk Group Cavanaugh:

Positive aspect of trilateral meeting in Moscow: Putin is committed to working on Karabakh. Troubling aspect: Aliyev acting like conflict's resolved; it's not, key issues remain. Comprehensive settlement needed to establish foundation for lasting peace & prosperity

https://twitter.com/carey_cavanaugh/status/1349563079412101122

POWs, search operations, soldiers

The search crews found the body of an Armenian civilian from Qarin Tak (near Shushi). She had refused to leave the settlement during the war. Signs of abuse were present on her body.

The searches continued in Talish, Hadrut, Mataghis regions. No soldier bodies were discovered.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040154.html , https://hetq.am/hy/article/126270

Azerbaijan began reporting increased rates of suicide among soldiers who participated in the war. Several incidents in the past two weeks. Turkey sent a group of mental health experts.

https://factor.am/328225.html

Armenia has purchased and began using the second DNA analysis tool

It helps to identify deceased soldiers by taking DNA swabs from families of missing soldiers. The second device will help expedite the process, which has been criticized by families as being too slow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040223.html

Hakob Harutyunyan: Artsakh hero

Harutyunyan received the title of Artsakh hero posthumously. He died while defending the Qarin Tak suburb of Shushi. He took part in battles and helped capture large quantities of Azeri armory and weapons.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204368

a car accident in Shushi

... took the life of an Azeri solder and left two others injured. It's being investigated.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040193.html

Another Azeri military truck flipped over in the Lachin corridor:

https://youtu.be/YaceRWt2IzQ

Russia tests its new high-precision striker drone

Hunter-V (Okhotnik-B) dropped a 1,100lb bomb during a test. It's a massive bird.

https://youtu.be/fquWMUBO6Ag

https://factor.am/328055.html

garment factory opens with 2,000 jobs

Vanadzor's new garment factory is looking for workers to sew attire for fishers and construction workers. They opened 1.5 months ago but can't find enough staff. It's operated by an Armenian-Russian Իջ-Գրանդ company. The goodies are sold in Russia. Its Ijevan branch had opened earlier with 200 job positions.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204345

is Gagik Jhangiryan too old to be a judge? Legal experts argue

Gagik Jhangiryan was nominated to Supreme Court by the QP party yesterday. The president of the Supreme Court, and other opposition figures, believe that Jhangiryan cannot become a member because of his age.

Others presented counter-arguments by citing the same law that allegedly limits the age, pointing out that the law only limits the members appointed by judges, but not members appointed by the Parliament. The Supreme Court consists of 10 judges, half of whom are appointed by other judges and the other half by the Parliament. Jhangiryan is appointed by parliament, so the argument is that the law doesn't ban him.

Today Jhangiryan offered Supreme Court members to gather and discuss the topic. He said the claims about the age restriction are also problematic from the European law's perspective.

Jhangiryan said: if what the Supreme Court president says is true about me not being allowed to be a member because of age, then the previous Supreme Court president Gagik Harutyunyan (HHK) was also acting illegally, due to his age. That would mean every ruling by the court in the past few years was illegal...

...I met with the LHK party today and I have the impression that their concerns were addressed (LHK later confirmed). I've asked for a meeting with BHK. (Parliamentary parties have to vote to approve or deny his membership.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040176.html , https://fip.am/14490 , https://factor.am/328009.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204322

SHMAG??? pff... more like SCHMUCK / environmental assessment reforms

Nature Minister Romanos isn't happy with the way the environmental assessment "SHMAG" procedure is carried out before a business is allowed to exploit the land. He sees a need for reforms.

Nature Minister: we need to establish a quality SHMAG and change people's perceptions about it. The entire process of SHMAG needs to change. What we have today does not satisfy environmental protection circles and modern businesses.

If in the past the agency that handled SHAMG assessment [could take bribes and do favors], today it's impossible, so the SHAMG-agency needs to have new sources of revenue and new abilities.

The proposed reforms: implement an electronic governance system from beginning to end, allow international experts to provide expertise, make the environmental assessment process transparent, bring Armenian law in-line with international standards.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040165.html

severe drought in Turkey: Istanbul could run out of water in 45 days

Major cities across Turkey could soon run out of water. Istanbul (pop. 17 mln) has less than 45 days of reserves. Poor rainfall has led to the country’s most severe drought in 15 years. Turkey’s next two biggest cities are also struggling, with dams that are about 36% and 24% full. Farmers warning of crop failure.

This has led the religious leaders to instruct imams to pray for rain last month. 🔥🔥🔥 (any moment now)

"Instead of focusing on measures to keep water demand under control, Turkey insists on expanding its water supply through building more dams … Turkey has built hundreds of dams in the last two decades,” said Dr Akgün İlhan, a water management expert. “The warning signs have been there for decades but not much has been done in practice.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/13/turkey-drought-istanbul-run-out-water-45-days

Armenian government approves readmission agreement with Belarus

... to satisfy EAEU trade bloc requirements. If finalized, the two countries will better cooperate at deporting citizens who stay illegally or are wanted by the other state.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040149.html

Syrian-Armenian MP receives an award

Syrian MP Dr. Nora Arisyan has received an award from Syrian Writers' Union for her contributions to literature.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040145.html

update: public TV regulator begins the process of issuing broadcast licenses

Today, the public TV regulator "Television and Radio Commission" held voting to grant points to TV outlets who applied for a slot. Today's auction was for broadcasting specifically in provinces. TV names and points in the link below. The process continues...

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040177.html

COVID stats

+2612 tested. +4480 infected. +603 healed. +12 deaths.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040151.html

Russian soldiers receive vaccine in Gyumri

Elon Musk's Sputnik V took off and landed in Gyumri successfully. 1,000 Russian soldiers (the third) stationed in Armenia, and some civilians, will receive a dose as part of the first batch.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040142.html

a culture of waste-sorting is shaping up in Yerevan

A few months ago, Yerevan mayor Marutyan announced the installation of color-coded waste bins to separate food, glass, plastic, and paper (election campaign promise). Two districts were selected for the pilot program. Bins were installed.

The city reports that residents use the 180 bins mostly properly. The city sent representatives to backyards to discuss the bins and hear residents' complaints.

More bins will be installed in February. A public information campaign will launch in schools and elsewhere to teach the population about the dangers of not sorting waste.

https://youtu.be/fk8xUNzDH-8

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/01/14/Երևանն-ընտելանում-է-թափոնների-տեսակավորման-մշակույթին/416031

1,800 tablets for children

MTS-Armenia telecom and the Armenian Church have donated 1,800 tablets to school children to help them during the pandemic.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040159.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)

news archive

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/kxf89s/jan142021_news_artsakh_diplomacy_agricultural/

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