2021 January 20

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Daily news wrap-up

Jan/20/2021 news: __ Pashinyan about negotiations, Syunik border, POWs, CSTO, elections, opposition criticism, why he ignored Aliyev insults __ Final death toll under 4,000 __ Car tech inspections no longer "on paper"__ No smoking & driving __ Street parking changes __ Free university __ other news
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Wednesday report in 2952 words.

Parliament votes: vehicle tech inspection frequency and electronic oversight

Parliament voted 83-24-4 to approve a government bill to define how often and how vehicles must be inspected.

Currently, the tech inspection process is almost non-existent. You can buy an inspection sticker from a bank, stick it to your windshield, and never actually undergo inspection.

After the reforms, you won't be able to buy a sticker. You'll take the vehicle to an inspection facility that is connected to a unified electronic database and reports your vehicle's flaws to the database. The police will have access to it if necessary.

Inspection frequency will change. The first inspection will be conducted on the 4th year after the vehicle's production. Then once every 2 years if the vehicle is under 10. Then once a year if the vehicle is older than 10.

Public transport vehicles will be inspected twice more frequently.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040753.html , https://iravaban.net/283952.html

Parliament votes: smoking is considered distraction while driving

Parliament voted 82-0-3 to approve a government bill to prohibit smoking and driving. The authors cited statistics suggesting that smoking served as distraction that lead to incidents.

The opposition's offer to reduce the penalty was approved. There will be a 0.5 point penalty instead of 1. Public transport drivers will lost 1 point. It's unclear if the $13 fine was kept after the amendment.

For now, the points will be deducted only if the act is caught by a camera. The police patrols won't be enforcing the point-based trafic enforcement system in general until mid-2022.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040750.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1037186.html

Parliament votes: amendment to parking-related "red line" law

Earalier the QP party began experimenting with a new law to restrict parking in certain areas of the capital. They were marked with red lines. These areas would be monitored by CCTV cameras to fight crime, cops would be required to videotape the illegally-parked vehicle for 15 minutes as proof before issuing citation, etc..

Today Parliament voted 84-7 to remove the red lines from 10 districts and keep them only in 2.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040754.html

Parliament votes: regulating sale of cars parked on streets

Some streets have turned into bazaars for vehicle sales, complain some lawmakers and residents. Sellers will take up parking space long-term to advertise their vehicles for sale/lease.

Parliament voted 83-0 to approve a QP bill to designate special areas for these parked vehicles.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040782.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040763.html

committee to examine government's COVID-handling

Opposition BHK and LHK parties created a Parliamentary committee to examine the government's handling of COVID pandemic and personal restrictions during the pandemic emergency. The Committee asks the media and publich to share relevant information.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040790.html

Parliament votes: agricultural land protection

The government has several bills to boost agricultural land use and protection. One of them was approved by the Parliament with a 83-0 vote today. It closes "loopholes" that would allow arable lands to be relocated and repurposed for other use.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040784.html

Parliament session between government cabinet and MPs

Deputy PM Avinyan about the total number of soldiers who died in war:

We have 3,439 bodies as of right now, 766 of whom are yet to be identified. The final number of deceased won't exceed 4,000. Some circles (Mishik) are exaggerating the death toll. The number of soldiers who lost limbs is 150. They will receive the ebst prosthetics.

(Context: The numbers are still being added as more soldier's bodies are discovered. Serj's son-in-law Mishik earlier claimed witout evidence that there are 5,500 deaths.)

Pashinyan about 1,300 felony cases in connection to war:

1358 criminal cases were initiated against the servicement of Armenia's Ministry of Defense and Artsakh Defense Army, as well as citizens who evaded draft. Preliminary investigations are underway. We must do our best to get full answers.

Foreign Minister Ayvazyan about Shushi:

Shushi is an Armenian cultural center, despite what Azerbaijan claims about it being Turkish... Foreign Minister Ayvazyan about negotiations:

The conflict has entered a new stage, where it is necessary for Armenia and Artsakh to formulate a joint agenda...

We're ready to resume negotiations under the OSCE Minks format. Our priority is the return of POWs, humanitarian aid to Artsakgh, preservation of Armenian cultural-religios heritage...

Pashinyan about the Azeri stamp:

The creation of a stamp propagating anti-Armenianism in Azerbaijan is unacceptable (Azeris released a stamp depicting Artsakh population as virus being washed by worker in hazmat suit). Lately the Azeri leadership has been accusing Armenia of fascism, but that is an obvious example of fasicsm in Azerbaijan. There was a similar stamp in Nazi Germany.

Deputy PM Mher about railway construction:

There have been no negotiations over specific railway construction projects. The railway map published by Kommersant media outlet was a "desire" expressed by the authors. The official discussions over transport projects will begin soon.

Deputy PM Mher about POWs and transport:

7 out of 9 points in the November 9th statements have been met. The 8th point is the full return of POWs. This was done partially. It is wrong to suggest that discussions over the 9th point (transport unblocking) will hinder the return of POWs. Both can be handled simultanously.

Pashinyan about why he doesn't publicly respond to personal insults by Aliyev:

We should not complicate the process of returning POWs. Appropriate diplomatic responses have been given via appropriate diplomatic channels.

Pashinyan about POWs and opposition criticism:

(in response to LHK MP criticizm that Pashinyan failed to negotiate the return of all POWs during January 11th meeting)

Opposition parties are endangering the safety of Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan with their statements. POWs have existed in Azeri prisons for many years, Can you explain why the Parliament hasn't publicly disussed their return all these years? There have always been Armenia-Azeribaijan discussions over POWs under various formats. Why haven't you demanded the leader's resignation after every single meeting that yielded no results?

What is that you want now? To return the POWs or to win political points on the non-return of POWs? Sorry, but so far, I have not seen a single action by opposition parties that have not endangered the return of POWs. It's very difficult to fight on 5 fronts over the return of POWs.

40 POWs have already returned. It didn't happen instantly. There are ongoing negotiations for the rest.

Deputy PM Avinyan about border road in Syunik:

A security agreement has been reached with Azerbaijan and Russia to travel through the Kapan road. Russian troops are present in these areas. To date, we have not had any incidents related to the traffic passing through that section of the road. We haven't had any border incidents in Syunik or elsewhere, and hopefully it'll continue that way.

Pashinyan about opposition's criticism over Syunik borders:

Not an inch of Syunik land has been ceceded. The borders were drawn in the past, including in 2010 by political parties who are opposition today, including BHK MPs who are sitting here today. These borders were drawn in 2010, and a year later, Serj Sargsyan agreed to give away Artsakh's adjacent regions, including Qashatag and Zangelan, which means we would have had the same Syunik borders as today. The 2010 law defines Syunik's Shurnukh as a border village.

During the war, I personally visited Syunik to participate in the formation of Syunik Defense Forces. They were deployed early, at a time when there were no active battles near borders. *(in response to accusations that borders were left unprotected).

Pashinyan about aid from CSTO military bloc:

(in response to Ind. MP asking why Armenia didn't ask CSTO for help.)

Armenia's biggest fundamental security problem, which we have no yet realized, is that the backbone of our security system was CSTO, while our biggest security challenge was outside of CSTO's jurisdiction. 99% of military action took place outside of CSTO jurisdiction. That's why we did not invoke the agreement.

As for military partnership with Russia, it is as the highest level. And we are not only planning actions to ensure the security of our country, but actions have already been taken (referring to Syunik borders).

Pashinyan about Armenia-Artsakh security cooperation:

Nothing has changed in regards to the security cooperation between Armenia and Artsakh (likely means Armenian soldiers will still be sent to Artsakh) but a new factor as been added: the presence of Russian peacekeepers. It is definitely a positive change and their presence solves security problems.

Pashinyan about Artsakh's legal status:

The further status of Karabakh should be clarified within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. I'm happy that Co-chairs agree with this. Russian MFA Lavrov made a similar statement recently.

Pashinyan about snap elections:

We won't deprive the people of the lever to form a government. Power belongs to the people and decisions about government must be made by the people. If Parliamentary opposition LHK/BHK parties continue to reject snap elections based on this logic, we will take a corresponding position.

Deputy PM Avinyan about snap elections:

I invite BHK and LHK to hold discussions and sign a memorandum about organizing snap elections.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040864.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040840.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040826.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040827.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040829.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040834.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040836.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040847.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040856.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040837.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040861.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040863.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040871.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040844.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040850.html , https://youtu.be/VkYbN2PjwY4 , https://youtu.be/1QgeX0P8vdA , https://youtu.be/lMhg7W-A4mE , https://youtu.be/7cpl2xw0oS4 , https://factor.am/330133.html

Tags: #Parliament #Q&A #ParliamentSession #Pashinyan

national shooting competition to be held among public workers

There will be a shooting competition/training for public workers in March. Education Ministry wants to promote health and sports activities, and to ձեռի հետ "prepare them for the defense of the homeland."

All branches except Defense Ministry and Police can participate. There will be group and free-for-all matches.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040842.html

sirens are being repaired

Ararat province has repaired 42 air sirens and installed 9 new ones. The province has 87. It needs 142.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040876.html

Armenia will re-evaluate its relations with organizations/states

Foreign Minister: we are studying the response by different countries and international organizations during the war. We will use that to make adjustments in Armenia's foreign policy. (it was in response to question by MP that Armenia joined "International Religious Freedom Alliance" recently which made no comments about the war.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040848.html

Vazgen Manukyan receives criticism from fellow opposition leaders

Manukyan recently visited Gyumri and was greeted by a group of residents who opposed him. He called the protesters "hobos".

Fellow oppositon leaders BHK Gagik Tsarukyan and Hayrenik Arthur Vanetsyan condemned the use of words. Tsarukyan called it "unacceptable", while Vanetsyan apologized on behalf of Manukyan.

BHK says there is no major disagreement with Manukyan's camp, "but at some point we will have our disagreements over policies. No major disagreements exist today." This was said in response to rumors that the alliance of 16 opposition parties is crumbling.

https://factor.am/329984.html

SIS clears ex-NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan: abuse of power

Former head of NSS and currently figure Arthur Vanetsyan was going through an investigation over a possible abuse of power during his administration. The SIS found no crime and ended the case.

The case was over a minor incident. Vanetsyan was suspected of violating age restrictions while appointing and promoting a member.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040806.html , www.civilnet.am/news/2021/01/20/ՀՔԾ-ն-կարճել-է-Արթուր-Վանեցյանին-առնչվող-քրեական-գործը/416663

search operations

The search crews discovered a body in Jabrayil. The operations were paused in January 20th because Azerbaijan holds a day of mourning over "Black January".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040743.html

An angry father of a missing soldier recently used a vehicle to ram through Defense Ministry gates. His son was listed as deceased but the body wasn't identified until last weekend, when the DNA results arrived with a positive match.

https://factor.am/329836.html

army published names of soldiers who committed acts of heroism

LtCol Serob Nshani Bazikyan lead his subdividion to attack a hill multiple times, destryoed 3 tanks, 3 armored vehicles, 1 other vehicles, and enemy personnel.

Cpt Arthur Kamoyi Sargsyan used multiple grenades to destroy a tank.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204755

aid for businesses: Artsakh will subsidize income tax

For the next 6 months, the worker-related income tax paid by businesses will be subsidized by the government. "This is a great incentive for businesses to retain existing jobs and to create new ones."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040757.html

Artsakh government will subsidize university tuition

Students in State universities will receive free education this year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040808.html

update: no price-fixing in Artsakh gas station

Earlier the economic competition committee launched an investigation against the gas monopoly company in Artsakh for raising prices by ֏5. The inspectors found not illegal actions. It was due to Dram's recent inflation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040854.html

video: residents playing snowball in Artsakh capital Stepanakert

https://www.facebook.com/695247433/videos/10157355837572434/

disability-sports funding triples

Education Ministry has increased sports funding for disabled people by three times, to ֏104 million. The funds are allocated to sports NGOs specialized in disabilities; their list will expand from 4 to 7. Wheelchair basketball and ping pong are among additions. More athletes will be trained for international and national tournaments.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040764.html

All Armenia Fund launches prosthetics aid programs

The HimnaDram.org began making payments towards the soldier rehabilitation and prosthetics process. We are working with the official agency tasked with helping the recovering soldiers.

A modern prosthetics lab was imported form the Nertherlands to Armenia. An expert will arrive to train Armenian staff. 100 prosthetics units will be shipped in the first phase. Another 30 units were doanted by rock group SOAD.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040858.html

US provides forensic tools to investigators

The DEA sent tools to Armenia's Investigative Committee so they can retreave data from hard drives/phones on the spot, without the need to confiscate and move the device to a lab first. New computers and programs were supplied.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040811.html

COVID stats

+2028 tested. +309 infected. +357 healed. +9 deaths. 7607 active.

As the numbers decline, more clinics continue return to their original purpose. Artashat clinic won't treat COVID anymore.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040751.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040767.html

Armenia and Russia will remove COVID travel restrictions

Deputy PM Mher: we unsuesssfully tried to solve travel issue in the EAEU bloc. Subsequent direct talks with Russia yielded results. You'll be able to take COVID test in either country and travel to the other.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040868.html

investments by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development / Massive solar project

The EBRD invested €167 million in Armenia during the pandemic to help with energy sector, banking sector (inc. business loans), and transport programs. 90% went to the private sector.

EBRD is also funding the construction of the largest solar power plant in Armenia and the Caucasus. The 55MW farm will be locate din Mets Masrik, Gegharquniq. It is expected to produce 128 GWh of electricity annually at 4.2 cents per KWh. For comparison, the nuclear plant generates 2200GWh annually and produced third of Armenia's electricty. The other 70% are currently from fossil fuelts. The solar plant aims to reduce reliance on fossil imports.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040798.html , https://energyindustryreview.com/renewables/first-solar-power-plant-in-armenia/ , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Nuclear_Power_Plant

electricity and energy production volumes in Armenia and EAEU

7 billion kWh electricity was produced in Armenia between Jan-Nov of 2020, up by +1.8% from last year. For EAEU it was -3.2%.

Thermal energy production in Armenia was 7,800 gcal, up by +40% YoY. EAEU saw -5%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040730.html

fuel prices: 2020 vs 2019

Gasoline -12%. Diesel -23%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040731.html

government plans to address gap in tax policy: loopholes & waivers

Finance Ministry: to address the gap, we will review the tax exemption field, turnover tax threshhold, and rates. Two directions: review tax exemptions and tax planning opportunities.

The second one can be done by January 1st, 2022. As for reviewing tax exemptions, we know that some wax waivers have been ineffective. Often there is no follow-up monitoring to learn the effectiveness of waivers and how targeted they are. We're talking about 7% of GDP. That's an impessive number considering our modest resources.

Sometimes tax exemptions are given to specific groups but later you find out other groups, which are not in need, also began using it.

Simetimes large businesses intentionally split into smaller pieces to individually act as small business and pay less taxes. In one tax system they pay 25% VAT, while under another tax system they would pay only 5% turnover tax, so this acts as motivation.

The system that gives waivers to micro-businesses will remain in place for the most part. We designed it to serve ordinary people and not larger businesses, although we found instances where the sysem was abused by larger businesses.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040819.html

EAEU states will raise cigarette taxes

Armenia will also gradually increase cigarette excise taxes by 20% until 2024.

https://factor.am/329842.html

IRS responds to media reports that mining companies didn't pay profix taxes:

Out of the 28 mining companies with operational license, only 9 operated as of 2020. These 9 companies paid 11% of the entire profit tax collected from all taxpayers in 2019.

Only 1 mining company is listed for 2020 because the tax filing season hasn't ended yet, the deadline is April 20, 2021.

The media rumors that Zangezur copper mine has been operating with losses is not true. They were the largest taxpayer in 2018 and 2019.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040797.html

how much did largest taxpayers pay in 2020

IRS published the list of top-1000 taxpayers. They paid ֏987 billion in taxes and border tariffs, down by -6.9%.

1) Grand Tobacco ֏50.7 billion

2) Gazprom-Armenia ֏45.5 billion

3) GeoProMining ֏23 billion

4-10) CPS Oil, Flesl oil, Philip Morris, JTC Armenia, MTS-Armenia ֏13 billion

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040785.html , https://hetq.am/hy/article/126463

today in history

1919: writer and civil activist Silva Kaputikyan was born.

1933: Alexander Spendiaryan's "Almast" opera performance marks the opening of the National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet.

1952: famous Russian singer Irina Allegrova was born. Her father is Armenian.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040721.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1040726.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/l1jh35/jan202021_news_pashinyan_about_negotiations/


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