2021 July 16

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Jul/16/2021: Bypass road in Syunik __ 1000s of new apartments in Artsakh __ U.S. promotes Helsinki Act __ Mayors arrested: land theft, fake auction, voters __ IRS agents busted __ Justice reforms: house arrest; prison phone fees __ Rumors & rebuttals: blogger Lapshin __ ANIF fund __ EAEU jobs
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Friday recap in 2683 words.

justice reforms: replacing jail with house arrest with a GPS bracelet

Last month the Parliament approved Justice Ministry reforms to introduce/promote alternatives to physical arrests. The changes go into effect in mid-2022.

Justice Ministry's probation dept.: the introduction of house arrest and administrative control mechanisms will ensure less interference with the rights of the individual. It will reduce instances of unnecessary arrests.

Right now we have very limited cases when anything other than arrest can be applied. After reforms, the arrest will become a last resort measure and will be replaced with house arrest, administrative control, bail, termination of duties, ban on leaving, "guarantees", educational and military control.

The suspect can be required to stay in their home and not be allowed to exchange letters, use a phone, have guests, etc.

The suspect will be monitored electronically with a GPS. They could be required to visit the probation office three times a week. We examined the EU and U.S. experience.

We're in process of obtaining foot and hand bracelets that have GPS geofencing features. There will be a purchase auction participated by local and foreign companies.

House arrest with GPS monitoring costs 3-4x less than keeping the person in jail.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058331.html

jails will use phone jammers to fight contraband / prison phone system and prices will be revamped

There have been instances when inmates were caught running extortion and fraud rings from prison with the help of smartphones. The penitentiary facilities will deploy radiofrequency silencers to combat this.

Only three of the facilities have these silencers right now, but none are functioning or being used properly.

Inmates complain that the jails' phone booths are too expensive, don't always work, and have severe usage limitations. The prosecutors asked the Justice Ministry to revamp the system to address these complaints.

They will consider increasing the weekly allowance. They are also negotiating with prison phone carriers to lower the fees.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058345.html

anti-corruption update: Sisian (Syunik) mayor has been arrested

The authorities have arrested Sisian mayor Arthur Sargsyan on suspicions of abuse of power, forgery for personal/group benefit, meddling with writings, preparing and submitting false documents. The Electoral Commission had to authorize his arrest since he is a member of the Kocharyan-ARF alliance ballot.

Investigators said: in 2016, the mayor spent ֏10 million on the installation of a heating system in children's music school. He conspired with his brother to ensure his brother's company was chosen as the installation company.

He then organized a fake auction to select the winning company. Due to technical issues, his brother's company was unable to "compete" and win, so they decided to help his godfather's company to win.

Simultaneously, an unrelated company entered the competition and offered to install the heaters for a lower price. Knowing that the latter would win the auction, the mayor instructed the head of the "jury" to "find reasons" to deny their bid. The jury then falsely claimed the bidder violated some rules.

The mayor's family godfather ended up "winning" the contract. The latter then proceeded to hire the mayor's son's company (the originally planned bidder) as a subcontractor.

The group proceeded to fake documents to claim the job was complete.

The mayor has been arrested. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058335.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058375.html

Tags: #mayors

update: Goris (Syunik) mayor is arrested / fellow mayor testifies against him

The court approved the pre-trial arrest of Arush Arushanyan. He ran under the Kocharyan-ARF ballot. He is suspected of [attempted] voter bribery and abuse of power. He denied wrongdoing.

It was revealed that the mayor of Qarahunj (Goris outskirt) testified against her fellow mayor Arushanyan, claiming that he instructed her to do "things" in favor of the Kocharyan-ARF alliance. The Qarahunj mayor herself is a defendant in a similar voter bribery case.

Several mayors in this area are accused of abusing municipal resources and bribing voters by paying them from the funds meant for low-income residents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058343.html https://factor.am/394549.html

Tags: #mayors

anti-corruption: Jrashen (Lori) mayor is charged with embezzling lands in 2006

The investigation began in August 2020.

Prosecutors report: the mayor found out that a telecom operator had plans to lease a local land, so he decided to appropriate the desired lands ahead of time so he could resell it to the telecom for higher prices.

In 2006, his son "won" the fake land auction for $160. A month later, the son began sub-leasing the land to the telecom for $200/mo, causing $35,000 in damages to the budget.

The mayor is charged with a felony. He is told not to leave Armenia. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058351.html

Tags: #mayors

anti-corruption: IRS agents busted by National Security Services

NSS report says: the head of the Investigative-Operative Department of an IRS branch in Lori conspired with his subordinates in May-June of this year to intentionally ignore tax violations by several businesses, in exchange for ֏1.9m bribes.

The bribe-givers and bribe-takers have been arrested. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058354.html

ceasefire violation on Nakhijevan border

Yesterday the Armenian army prevented Azeris from using equipment to fortify their positions in northern Nakhijevan borders, which lead to a shootout. Today Azeris violated the ceasefire in the same area. No injuries.

Yeraskh mayor says the residents continue with their daily lives. The shots were heard but they appeared far away, he said.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058333.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218709

Armenian diaspora group in Belgium criticized ambassador's visit to occupied Shushi

The Comite National Armenien de Belgique sent a letter to the Belgian deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, describing the trip as a "propaganda of Azerbaijan's dictatorial regime whose intention is to justify the ethnic cleansing and war crimes." The letter urges the authorities to condemn the Azeri regime.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058327.html

Belgian parliament officially recognizes the 2014 Yezidi genocide by ISIS

Yezidi-Armenian MP Rustam Bakoyan welcomed the resolution. The Netherlands also recognized it a few weeks earlier.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218684

Pashinyan met Russian army deputy chief of the general staff Istrakov

They discussed the borders and regional issues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058366.html

U.S. emphasizes need to follow Helsinki Act: non-use of force, territorial integrity, and people's right to self-determination

The State Department was asked to comment on yesterday's meeting with the French Foreign Minister regarding the Karabakh conflict.

The U.S. says it's willing to continue efforts as part of the OSCE Minsk Group, and that they will help Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a permanent resolution based on Helsinki Final Act.

The U.S. will not comment why its ambassador to Azerbaijan refused to join Aliyev's trip to Shushi. Russia and France had also refused to visit. Russia, too, refused to comment when pressured by Azerbaijan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058323.html

thousands of new housing units are being built across Artsakh / 20 new districts

President Arayik signed a decree to ensure the residents who suffered from war receive a housing unit. Those who lost relatives or homes, or became disabled, will qualify for a free house/apartment.

How many?

1,200 apartment units are being built in Stepanakert alone, mainly in apartment complex buildings.

In rural areas, there will be 20 new residential districts with 2300 new houses. They will house IDPs from 36 settlements.

The new districts will have adjacent infrastructure while the apartments will come furnished, said the government.

Who is paying?

Armenia's budget, Artsakh's budget, the All Armenia Fund, and "other resources not prohibited by law", said the authorities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058330.html

soldiers' recovery center imports modern hand prosthetics

Earlier, the Center invited experts to install modern leg prosthetics. Now the wounded veterans get a chance to have a new bionic arm prosthesis. 18yo Karen Khlopuzyan is one of the first recipients. He is learning how to control the new fingers.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218696

daily rumors & rebuttal: Nikol planned to have thousands of Armenians killed to convince the public to give away Artsakh

Context: Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin was kidnapped by the Belarus regime years earlier and sent to Azerbaijan to be jailed for criticizing Aliyev. Since then, Lapshin became a vocal critic of Azerbaijan and spends considerable time in Armenia.

During a meeting organized by the former regime, reporter Nairi Khotikyan made claims that Pashinyan's spokesman Vladimir Karapetyan had a conversation with blogger Lapshin in 2019 and allegedly told him that Armenians will "finally" agree to give away Artsakh after suffering a thousand deaths.

Blogger Lapshin denied the claim and said: Khotikyan claimed that I discussed with Pashinyan and Karapetyan about giving away Artsakh and that allegedly Karapetyan said if thousands of Armenian die, it's not a big deal. Khotikyan also claimed that Karapetyan told me not to come to Armenia unless I stop criticizing Azerbaijan.

Story: Khotikyan called me 3 years ago and invited me to an economic forum in Gavar as a guest. He said Pashinyan would also be attending and that I could meet him. I agreed.

When I was in Belarus prison, [at the time opposition figures] Pashinyan and Edmon Marukyan held protests in front of the Belarus embassy in Armenia with demands to free me. The Gavar visit was my opportunity to express my gratitude to Pashinyan.

A meeting took place between me, Pashinyan, aide Karapetyan, and reporter Khotikyan. There were other people around. We spoke about my arrest in Azerbaijan because of my ["unauthorized"] visit to Karabakh.

Pashinyan expressed regret. His aid Karapethyan later mentioned that concessions are inevitable to overcome Armenia's blockade and economic issues, and that negotiations are necessary. He said things could change in the coming years and advised me to keep up with the news to stay in trend.

The end. Nothing else was said. The rest, claimed by reporter Nairi Khotikyan, is impossible to comment because it's false. No word about thousands of dead soldiers. No one told me to stop criticizing Azerbaijan. I do not understand why Khotikyan, who is a good reporter, would write such a thing.

Pashinyan's aide Karapetyan: I asked Khotikyan to publish a refutal. If he doesn't, I will consider a lawsuit.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218720 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218706 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218720

Pashinyan met the head of Armenian National Interests Fund / solar, low-cost airlines, state-private investments

The ANIF was established in 2019 to attract foreign investments, boost export and co-finance investments in large-scale projects. They recently signed a contract with Air Arabia to launch Armenia's first low-cost national airlines.

Today Pashinyan met ANIF leaders to discuss the activity report.

Pashinyan: when the Fund was created, it was an innovation in our reality and a unique model for state-private cooperation. Every now and then, we meet to discuss how well the Fund is doing. Today is the day to discuss the previous 2 years of work. //

ANIF director spoke about various investment projects as part of meeting the Vision-2050 goals.

In the energy field, the construction of the 200MW Ayg-1 solar farm is in process with the cooperation of the Masdar investor. It' worth $174m. ANIF believes it will help reduce electricity prices besides expanding Armenia's capacity. They discussed other solar projects.

ANIF spoke about the new agreement with Air Arabia to establish Armenian airlines. It'll provide "low-cost but high quality" flights to Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. It will have 15 jets in Yerevan airport within the next five years.

The govt and ANIF also discussed ongoing programs in the fields of agriculture, healthcare, services, and tourism. ANIF's future areas of interest are irrigation and waste management.

https://youtu.be/S2DJO-2kTyQ https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1056931.html

wine bottle manufacturer will produce cognac

Pashinyan visited the "Saranist" bottle factory owned by ex-BHK MP Melik Manukyan. They have 700 workers and produce half of the product to Georgia.

Very recently they expanded the factory to produce 7-10-year-old cognac, mainly for exports. They will sign large-scale purchase contracts with grape producers soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058364.html

EAEU trade bloc has a new job-finding platform for migrant workers

The "Work Without Borders" platform has been launched, allowing residents to find jobs, and for employers to find workers in the EAEU bloc.

Just as in LinkedIn, you can create a personal page to advertise your skills.

Labor Ministry: it's free but you have to ask Labor Ministry to add you to the platform. In Armenia, it's called "Gorts" (job). You will have filtering tools to find suitable jobs in Armenia and other EAEU states.

The e-platform will combat fraud. People are looking for jobs one way or the other. Often, they would find themselves defrauded by fake employers. The new platform will verify the employers' identities.

4 million workers and 0.5 million employers have already signed up. They communicate directly through the platform. //

More: https://youtu.be/lEW1qPbeS-o https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058334.html

can we talk about how many pedestrians die on the streets?

53 so far this year.

From the 2169 incidents, 516 were about hitting a pedestrian, 327 in Yerevan.

Police said: pedestrians should act responsibly and not jaywalk. If you do, take into account your speed and the speed/distance of the approaching vehicle before you decide to run. Don't block the traffic. These are basic things, ignoring which can lead to death.

Out of the 516 incidents that involved hitting a pedestrian, 279 were by pedestrian's fault.

Don't risk your life to save a few seconds by crossing from an illegal section. Your family is waiting for you at home. [գալուց հետդ հաց կբերես] //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058352.html https://youtu.be/1vYr9mp99ME?t=10

100,000 provincial residents will have all-day water / €81 million project

Infrastructure Ministry: we are working on a project to improve water delivery and removal systems in various settlements. The old pipes will be replaced, water distribution systems will be installed, reservoirs and pumps will be built.

The drinking water will reach 11 cities and 37 villages with 100k residents.

We will install/repair 66km pipes, 490km distribution network, 180km pipes that connect to homes, 20 water intake systems. There are 18,000 water metering wells.

The project is in Shirak, Lori, Armavir, Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik provinces. It's co-financed by the Armenian government, German KFW bank, and EDBR bank.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058346.html

Tatev-Kapan road renovation in Syunik will serve as an alternative to problematic border highway

The 43km section of Tatev-Aghvan-Kapan is under reconstruction. The road is parallel (deeper within Armenia) to the highway that recently became the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in certain sections of Syunik.

https://factor.am/394622.html

road renovation near "Symphony of stones" tourism site

The govt and World Bank invested ֏214m to renovate a 0.7km section of a road used by tourists. It's between Garni's "qareri simfonia" and the Khosrov Reserve. There will be new lighting, a water drain, and a small parking lot not far.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218683

U.S. govt allocated $0.9m on the construction of a new Armenian museum and cultural center

... announced Rep. Adam Schiff on Facebook.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218686

COVID stats

3315 tested. 162 infected. 106 healed. 2 healed. 3315 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058326.html

doctors travel around to vaccinate public workers (voluntary)

Healthcare Ministry made an agreement with the penitentiary system to visit facilities and vaccine the staff. Over half of them have received a jab.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058324.html

Aronian drops out of FIDE World Cup, citing health issues

Armenia's top chess player will not join the rest of the team. He has fever and inflammation of tonsils and said he doesn't want to infect others.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058339.html

top-10 bestseller translated books in June

5) The Christmas Angel, by Mark Aren (angels descend every Christmas to make your wishes come true, one of them falls in love with a human)

4) The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides (artist living the high life in London until she goes absolutely nuts on her boyfriend)

3) Normal People, by Sally Rooney (romance, small-town sweethearts find themselves in big city college)

2) Հայրս՝ այդ հսկան, by Charles Aznavour (humor, drama, and surprises)

1) The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058069.html

end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

News archive: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/olokiv/news_jul162021_bypass_road_in_syunik_1000s_of_new/

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