2021 January 8

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Daily news wrap-up

Jan/8/2020 news: __ Pashinyan about mutually unblocking transportation __ POWs, searches, and families__ New houses in Shurnukh village __ Rumors & rebuttals: secret document, visa-free travel __ COVID news __ National debt __ Expenditure report: Govt & HimnaDram __ Bestseller books __ Aid programs
by ar_david_hh


Your 9-minute Friday report in 2120 words.

Pashinyan about establishing trade link between AM-AZ-RU-IR

Yesterday, Pashinyan's press secretary said the negotiations over the establishment of trade routes can be effective only after they resolve the issues around POWs and missing soldiers. Today Pashinyan presented the top-priorities:

1) Full implementation of Point-8 of the November 10 statement. All POWs and bodies must be swapped. It is also important for us to carry out extensive search operations on battlefields.

2) Unblocking of all economic and transport routes in the region. Armenia should have a passenger and trade route to Russia and Iran, and Azerbaijan should have one to Nakhijevan.

Once again, there is no "Meghri Corridor" in the November 10th statement [Armenia does not cede any southern lands]. The communication routes from Armenia to Russia and from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan is a separate topic of discussion, the effectiveness of which relies on resolving the issue with captives, hostages, and searches.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039651.html

Vazgen Manukyan wants to meet MFA, NSS, and Army command

Opposition's PM candidate Vazgen Manukyan wants to meet MFA Ayvazyan and other officials ahead of Pashinyan's January 11th meeting with Aliyev in Moscow. Manukyan wants to discuss various issues, wants transparency, and expects the aforementioned agencies to prevent any possible anti-Armenian decisions shall they be made during the meeting.

https://factor.am/326536.html

POWs, families, & search operations

Search crews discovered 6 bodies in the Hadrut region. They were identified instantly with the documents in their pockets. So far the crews have discovered 1194 bodies since the ceasefire. The searches continue in Hadrut, Jabrayil, and Askeran regions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039656.html

In other news, a group of parents gathered in front of a military facility to prevent the army from taking their sons to military service in Artsakh, unless they can provide safety assurances.

The parents were unsure as to why the army continues to send soldiers to Artsakh, despite the November 10th statement saying that Armenian troops must withdraw from Artsakh. (hmm?)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039653.html , https://www.azatutyun.am/a/31038590.html

new housing construction in Syunik's Shurnukh village

The government formed a group to discuss the construction of at least 12 new houses and accommodations in Shurnukh village, which was built partially on the internationally-recognized Azeri territory, which resulted in the loss of 12 houses during the "demarcation" process.

The group is examining safe construction sites that are favorable for agriculture. Water issues and roads are being examined. Interview with Shurnukh villager who was forced to relocate:

https://youtu.be/3UQTEsh1kFY

https://factor.am/326498.html

rumors & rebuttals: the "secret" contract in the hands of Justice Ministry

Some outlets circulated rumors that the Justice Ministry has a copy of a contract that Pashinyan plans to sign during the upcoming meeting with Russia and Azerbaijan in Moscow. Several families of missing soldiers, who have been waiting for news about their missing sons, gathered in front of the Justice Ministry with demands to read the "contract".

Justice Minister Badasyan: // Unfortunately, the practice of using fake news to apply psychological pressure on people does not stop. The Ministry of Justice has not received any copies of a contract. The information spread in the press is false. //

Despite the Ministry's statement, several families of missing soldiers gathered in front of the Justice Ministry building with demands to see the "contract". The gathering was organized by former deputy-Justice Minister HHK Ruben Melikyan.

Justice Minister Badasyan went outside and met the families. He reiterated that they don't possess any "secret contract" document. "A new style of misinformation has emerged: some Telegram channels with unknown origin spread misinformation to cause certain emotions in the public. The misinformation is then picked up and circulated by the mass media. I call upon our citizens not to believe the news spread by such channels," said the Minister.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039647.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039660.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039679.html , https://youtu.be/xDs_lYu57OE , https://armeniasputnik.am/society/20210108/26027672/tox-mer-achqeri-mej-nayen-ev-asen-pastatuxt-chka.html

rumors & rebuttals: visa-free travel between Armenia & Azerbaijan

An official document was circulated showing that there is legal visa-free travel between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Foreign Ministry clarified that this document was signed back on Oct/9/1992 during a meeting by CIS republics to remove the need for a visa between interstate travel, but it hasn't functioned "de facto" for several decades in the case of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two states require a special permit for each others' citizens before travel.

As for the reason why the document mentioning the visa-free regime was update published on December 17th on the official Foreign Ministry website, the Ministry says it was part of the annual "upkeep" when data is updated. (Linux server best server only update once every 30 years)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039698.html , https://factor.am/326461.html

https://www.mfa.am/hy/whoneedvisa#.X_gjYIR0SHQ.facebook

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/01/08/Ադրբեջանը-միշտ-է-եղել-ցանկում-որևէ-փոփոխություն-չի-եղել․-ԱԳՆ-մեկնաբանությունը/415313

rumors & rebuttals: three Turkish airbases in Azerbaijan

The Azeri government denied claims circulated by Telegram channels about alleged plans to build three new Turkish military airbases in its territory. (why build if you already have?)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039707.html

COVID stats

+1700 tested. +361 infected. +573 healed. +7 deaths. 9850 active.

604,686 tested. 161,415 infected. 2,908 deaths (another 696 from other causes).

What's the situation in neighboring Georgia?

+5265 tested (includes PCR kits). +571 infected. +494 healed. +34 deaths.

236,028 infected. 2,728 deaths.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039650.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203997

President Sarkissian has a "heavy" case

Sarkissian was diagnosed with COVID earlier. The doctors are monitoring his condition. He will be allowed to return to Armenia when things stabilize.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039664.html

what does the extension of Quarantine mean?

Yesterday the govt decided to extend the Quarantine by 6 months. Quarantine is less strict than Lockdown. It will allow the authorities to require masks, a COVID test upon entry to Armenia, and for the Services industry to continue to implement safety measures.

Right now, the top priority is to increase the oxygen supplies for patients connected to medical devices. The businesses will shut down only if the pandemic gets out of hand and there are no available beds. In that case, a Lockdown would be implemented.

The Restaurant Union criticized the strict restrictions on the food industry, saying that some businesses are on the brink of closures. They want the government to relax some of the travel and dining rules.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039654.html , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289188/

Armenia's national debt, budget deficit, Dram vs Dollar

The recent devaluation of Dram against the Dollar had a negative impact on foreign debt because most of it was borrowed in Dollars. The national debt stands at $7.947 billion today, from which $6 billion is foreign (only $0.485 billion by Central Bank) while the other $1.9 billion is public debt.

In dollars: debt +8.5% since last year. Foreign +3.8%. Public +26.4%.

In Drams: debt +15% since last year. Foreign +10%. Public +33.9%

--

The first devaluation occurred during COVID in March ($1 = ֏501, up from ֏479) when the public was in a state of uncertainty. People rushed to convert their money into Dollars. It increased the demand for Dollars. The Dollar increased its value over Dram. Speculations are also a possible factor.

Dram got stronger beginning in April, but the devaluation resumed after the September war. $1 went from ֏488 to ֏509 by November.

--

Even if Dram/Dollar was stable, the national debt would still rise because the budget still has a deficit. This year the debt-to-GDP ratio will cross the 60% mark, which will prompt the government to take action.

In recent years, the government chose to increase the national debt by primarily increasing the internal public debt, because it's in Drams, so currency fluctuations do not have a negative effect. But at the same time, the government had to borrow and increase foreign debt, too.

The Finance Ministry expects the national debt to reach $9 billion by the end of 2021.

More: https://hetq.am/hy/article/126077

Armenia's economic policy

Economy Minister Qerobyan: we are tasked with developing a new economic policy as part of a set of measures to avoid the tax gap. It should be more aggressive, modern, corresponding to the challenges facing Armenia and the world, and use new technological opportunities to replenish the budget with taxes.

The so-called export-oriented economic policy that has been pursued in recent years has not really been such. Our new policy will be aimed at creating a modern economy based on science. I am personally very familiar with the obstacles faced by domestic business entities. (Qerobyan is the founder of www.menu.am)

Obstacles will be removed so that business entities and science, business and education, could effectively cooperate. The government program stimulates freedom of entrepreneurship, promotes the opening of new businesses. We want to simplify the life of the business community so that they pay more taxes and do not go into the shadows.

Full article: http://arka.am/en/news/economy/armenia_s_economy_ministry_is_developing_new_economic_policy/

Armenian bank "Ameriabank" plans to enter the IPO market

Interview with Richard Ogdon, an independent member of Ameriabank Board of Directors:

https://youtu.be/mU3c6flxiqA

http://arka.am/en/news/business/ameriabank_plans_to_enter_ipo_market_board_member_says/

Financial report: HimnaDram's ֏53 billion donation & War related expenditures

The Finance Ministry shared info about where and how the Public and donated resources were spent. This also includes the ֏53 billion that HimnaDram.org (All Armenia Fund) transferred to the government. Overall, ֏117.6 billion (including HimnaDram) was spent as of November 27th.

֏88 billion to the Defense Ministry for military needs and facility repairs. The Ministry has so far received ֏78 billion of this sum.

֏64 million to the Economy Ministry to take care of refugees, housing, people with health issues, soldier vacation transportation. The Ministry has so far received ֏21 million.

֏3.3 billion to Healthcare Ministry for medical services during the military situation. The Ministry has received ֏1.5 billion so far.

֏1.8 billion to the Infrastructure Ministry. The Ministry has so far received ֏661 million and spent some of it on refugee housing, civil aviation needs, equipment purchases.

֏1.5 billion to PM's office to modernize postal services.

֏3.5 billion to High Tech Ministry, which has so far received ֏1.9 billion.

֏1.3 billion to the National Security Services (NSS) which has so far received ֏1 billion.

֏3.1 billion to the Foreign Ministry for international visits, activities, etc. The sum was fully transferred as of November 27th.

֏16.8 billion to Artsakh's Social Affairs Ministry for temporary housing, financial aid for citizens, aid for families of deceased soldiers.

https://factor.am/326465.html

infrastructure investments

The Infrastructure Ministry has donated 50 pieces of equipment to settlements that were merged. Sometimes mergers are encouraged to improve the efficiency of governance. The merged settlements in six provinces received ֏765 million worth of agricultural and utility equipment.

https://factor.am/326475.html

Street lighting repairs were done in Yeranos settlement with the help of donor Henrik Gasparyan. He installed energy-efficient LED bulbs on a street that was renovated last year with the help of his charity fund and the govt.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039669.html

Metro suffers outage / passengers evacuated

The Metro stopped working for half an hour after an incident that caused one of the trains to be evacuated in Sasuntsi Davit station. No injuries. The operations were later resumed.

https://factor.am/326508.html , https://factor.am/326524.html

it ain't gonna drive itself

Are you an adrenaline junkie who loves extreme sports? Yerevan municipality is hiring bus drivers.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204006

Public TV licensing

The Radio & TV Broadcasting Regulator will hold a licensing auction to select winning media outlets that will have the right to broadcast their junk over-the-air in Public Multiplex.

A strict law was passed recently that requires public multiplex TV outlets to present both sides of the story while covering news, not to show certain types of gore material, increase programming in the Armenian language, etc.

This year, the number of public slots for countrywide broadcasting decreased from 6 to 5, and for broadcasting in Yerevan from 9 to 7. (expect a shitshow after the auction?)

https://factor.am/326521.html

top-5 bestseller documentary books of November

5) 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Harari

4) Think and grow rich, by Napoleon Hill

3) Becoming, by Mikael Obama

2) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Harari

1) The monk who sold his Ferrari, by Robin Sharma

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039586.html

the artist who immortalizes modern heroes

Garik Hovhannisyan paints the portraits of soldiers who died fighting. Captain Taron Stepanyan died while defending Martuni on the 40th day. His sister received his portrait:

https://youtu.be/w361VJjwN5k?t=9

UN's humanitarian aid for Artsakh

The UN has donated 33,000 aid packages to 18,000 Artsakh residents since the beginning of the war. Food, bedding, hygiene, etc. A hotline was established to help children. 11,500 Artsakh refugee children are taking classes in Armenian schools.

940 people were retrained to provide mental health services to 1,269 residents, who took arts and music classes as part of the recovery program.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039690.html

donations for 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 posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my daily news threads:

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/ktaxa3/jan82020_news_pashinyan_about_mutually_unblocking/

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