2021 July 21

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Jul/21/2021: Big cleanup in Hrazdan river & Yerevanyan lake __ What's in Constitutional Court's election ruling?__ Crucial heat treatment begins in nuclear plant __ Stats: record workforce __ Metal detectors for MPs __ Investments in Gyumri __ Crime stats __ Moderna's Afeyan explains it __ ++
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Wednesday recap in 2934 words.

large-scale cleanup operations planned for Hrazdan river and Yerevanyan lake

Yerevan's green department: no cleanup operations of this scale have been conducted since the USSR. These two are very important for the capital. They not only solve the irrigation issue but also develop the microclimate.

There are 13,000 tons of garbage in Hrazdan and Yerevanyan as a result of activities by businesses and citizens. The shore cleanup begins next year.

Reporter: did you just say 13,000 tons?

Official: Yes. There are also 15 hectares of harmful plants on the shores. They feed on pollutants. Each plant evaporates 300 liters of water every year. We will clean them up in the initial phase. The collected garbage will be sent for processing.

Besides the cleanup, we will revamp the local infrastructure. There will be fences and garbage-catching tools. The ground will be leveled. Lighting will be installed. The area will become more attractive to residents. //

Eco-trash NGO: we can solve these issues when the govt, NGOs, and citizens unite. We need a widespread public awareness campaign about the dangers of dumping trash in these areas.

Imagine accumulating 1 ton of plastic waste under direct scorching sunlight. Its particles disintegrate, turn into gas, harm the water, etc. There is also the issue of residents having to swim next to trash in hot summer months. //

More: https://youtu.be/sXznCDBZ0KQ https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058704.html

Artik's abandoned mines will turn into forests and parks

The UN has allocated $1.5 million to launch an environmental pilot program in Artik. There are 40 hectares of land surrounding the town that used to be mines. They will be converted into green zones and parks.

The two flood canals entering the town will be revamped. A new rapid-response system will be implemented for emergency situations.

Environmentalists said: Artik has long suffered from dusty airr. No regular sampling has been taken since 2005. Only Gyumri is being monitored constantly in the entire Shirak. The 2005 reading in Artik indicated dust that's multiple times higher than the acceptable.

In 2016, the abandoned mines caused a disaster. The pollutants from mines were dumped in Artik's drainage systems, and when heavy rains fell, all the polluted water flooded the residential areas. //

https://www.ecolur.org/hy/news/mining/-1435100---/11378/ https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058679.html

U.S. Senator Menendez pressured an upcoming U.S. diplomat to cut military aid to Azerbaijan

... citing Azerbaijan's violation of Armenia's sovereignty and the border intrusion.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058656.html

Russia will welcome the EU mediation efforts in Karabakh negotiations...

said Putin's spokesman Peskov, adding that any effort to stabilize the region is welcomed. Peskov believes the negotiations aren't going too bad right now.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058693.html

cabinet changes continue

Suren Sahakyan will step down from the deputy Defense Minister's position.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058706.html

Armenian ambassador to U.S. hosted guests ahead of his departure

Ambassador Nersisyan hosted members of the Armenian community and U.S. legislators. Among other things, they spoke about the efforts to recognize the Genocide.

A U.S. official noted that Armenia can help the U.S. to prevent genocides and human rights violations around the world.

https://www.amerikayidzayn.com/a/5972948.html

update: Izmirlyan hospital director, suspected of illegal voter intimidation, is allowed to post bail

Director Charchyan ran under the Kocharyan-ARF ballot. An audiotape was published allegedly showing him threaten his subordinates if they vote for Pashinyan. He developed health issues while in jail and asked to be released before the trial.

Today the court agreed to release him after posting $30,000 bail. He will become an HD MP in Parliament soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058682.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058687.html

all winning political forces will accept their Parliament mandates

QP (Pashinyan), HD (Kocharyan-ARF), and PU (Serj-Vanetsyan) will accept their mandates. Some of their members will recuse themselves and pass their mandate to next in a line down the ballot.

For example, several members of the ruling party dropped their mandates so they can accept jobs in the executive branch.

Robert Kocharyan, too, said he won't become an MP. A ruling party MP responded saying "perhaps he was afraid of not being able to answer certain questions if asked in Parliament."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058703.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058703.html https://factor.am/396348.html

Parliament will require all MPs to go through metal detector before entering the assembly room

A member of a ruling party was asked to comment. He believes the HD and PU alliances represent the opposition forces that have repeatedly called for physical violence against the government post-November. "The leader of the HD alliance was the president on October 27 [terror attack], while the leader of PU alliance [Serj] was the head of National Security Services."

He said the decision to ramp up entrance security was made by the security services and not the ruling party.

https://factor.am/396307.html https://youtu.be/BeEy6GvPHjk https://youtu.be/KKtfJCbZLSI

Constitutional Court on whether Pashinyan was allowed to serve as caretaker Premier after his resignation

The Court ruled that Pashinyan was allowed to continue to serve because he is a member of the Government, and the Constitution states that all members of the Government continue to serve. [the former regime was arguing that Pashinyan has been acting illegally]

Constitutional Court on whether the ruling party abused the administrative resources

The ex-regime argued that QP and Pashinyan used administrative resources before and during the election campaign, thus securing an unfair advantage.

The Court cited a Venice Commission guidance regarding allowing public officials (candidates) to conduct rallies outside their work hours [Pashinyan was on vacation] as long as the administrative resources aren't abused.

The courts found no evidence that the police resources were used to secure votes for QP, and no security apparatus resource was abused for political gain, and that it's impossible to legally differentiate whether some officials were conducting an election campaign or their regular duties as an official.

The Court did find a few instances that could indicate improper use of resources, but they were episodic in nature, they were not organized systemically by the ruling party, and they did not impact the election results.

Constitutional Court on whether Pashinyan used "hate speech and threats" to sway the votes

The Court found that the arguments regarding Pashinyan influencing election results through "threats" are abstract and devoid of certainty.

The Court ruled that the harsh language used by Pashinyan was aimed at his political opponents and not the voters, therefore the voters did not vote for him out of fear.

The Court also found that the opposition, too, was using harsh language in some situations.

Constitutional Court on whether there were mass instances of people voting on behalf of those who were not in Armenia

No evidence was found. "It was based on assumptions", ruled the Court. There was one instance involving a signature that was a result of an error.

prosecutors will pay more attention to the effectiveness of investigations relating to illegal enrichment

They examined the 2017-2020 records involving specific types of felony articles about illegal enrichment.

Prosecutors said: in 2017 not a single felony case was launched as part of those Articles. Three in 2018. Five in 2019 and 2020 each.

Overall, 11 individuals were involved as suspects. Three were arrested, five were acquitted. Nine cases were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Three trials continue.

Why the numbers are low: in cases relating to illicit enrichment, the prosecutors must prove there is a large discrepancy in the suspect's legal earnings and the owned property.

The way to prove this is by examining the official's mandatory income declaration papers to see if they intentionally wrote false information or intentionally hid information.

We believe there is a need to improve the fight against illegal enrichment so we decided to make certain changes. For example, to find out whether the declaration papers were intentionally falsified, it will become mandatory to investigate cadastre archives of undeclared property. [They list a few different new methods to help catch illegal property owners.] //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058670.html

crime rate is 6.5% up from last year

11.5k felony acts were committed so far this year. 138 of them were very heavy crimes.

On the other hand, the number of corruption incidents, crimes involving firearms, property embezzlement, and assaulting public workers saw a drop in numbers.

https://factor.am/396373.html

a 26-year-old unholy man trashes the exterior and interior of St. Ghazar church in Metsamor

The lost child confessed after being confronted by the police.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058709.html

Tegh (Gegharkunik) villagers complain about lack of water

There are days when Tegh villagers don't receive drinking and irrigation water at all. They find themselves having to purchase agricultural products from markets, while others use drinking tap water to irrigate the gardens.

They want the water company Veolia Jur to better manage the delivery. Right now, it's delivered in turns (the village is separated into delivery sectors).

The mayor sent a proposal to the government that should resolve 70% of the issue. "I spoke with the governor recently. It won't take a lot of effort. It requires some repairs."

https://factor.am/396229.html

Erasmus+ program will send nine Armenian students to Europe this year

Every year, the EU helps Armenian students and tutors to attend European universities. This year's participants met the EU ambassador ahead of their departure.

EU ambassador: It is very important that you serve for the benefit of your country when you return after gaining experience in Europe. Be sure to get vaccinated before your flight so you'll be able to visit restaurants and other facilities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058701.html https://youtu.be/GnOYTh2kC0o

US Embassy will launch Master's Program in "American Studies" at Yerevan State University

It's a 2-year program in cooperation with the University of Arizona. The classes begin this September. The best students will qualify for partial tuition subsidy.

They will study the American political system, foreign policy, history, economy, and society. Six YSU professors will visit Arizona for retraining.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058711.html

update: nuclear plant renovation's most important phase begins

Metsamor NPP was earlier shut down for a lengthy renovation. They just launched the extreme heating-cooling process to restore the reactor body's metal properties. It'll reach 85% of its original state. This will extend the NPP's lifespan till 2036.

This process required 1.5 years of preparatory work. They inserted the device [see article] inside the reactor and turned up the heat to 4,750 Celsius for 150 hours, followed by a gradual cooldown. The process will last for a week.

Russian Rosatom is conducting the work.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219043

archaeologists resume excavations near Tavush castle

It began last year but was suspended because of the war. They excavated near two areas: the citadel and the church.

The church area was completed last year. Now they want to find the entrance to the citadel. They already found rooms near the fortress walls.

Expert: we discovered jars, earth stones, large quantities of pottery, etc. but the most interesting one was a 12-13rd century cross-stone. Its presence was a surprise [why?]. It's a very important finding [WHY? Alright keep your secrets then]

Over the next few years, our perception of the castle will change significantly. We will have more information. //

The first excavation works were done in 1986-1988. The government recently decided to resume it.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058715.html

COVID infections rise in the neighborhood and across the world

Georgia has crossed the "red line" and approaches the numbers seen during the 2nd wave in May. Georgia has 1.5 million doses of Chinese vaccines, and 43k AstraZeneca to be used as second shots. They will buy 1 million Pfizer this Autumn.

The Delta variant is now spreading in Turkey. The infections have doubled.

Global infections rose 12% in the past week, and mortality by 1%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058669.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058671.html https://factor.am/396193.html

COVID stats in Armenia

4875 tested. 220 infected. 56 healed. 1 death. 3665 active (up).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058668.html

Moderna co-founder Afeyan is now an Honorary Doctor at Yerevan State Medical University

Afeyan attended the ceremony in the university.

https://youtu.be/Fvqdh0DKbvg?t=30

Moderna could soon lower the vaccine price

... said Afeyan today. He said that right now it is prohibited by law for donor agencies to purchase large quantities of vaccines for donation purposes, but that could change in the morning months.

He believes the seniors or vulnerable groups might need the third shot.

https://factor.am/396299.html

Noubar Afeyan about when Moderna will be available in Armenia:

There are no "loopholes" to deliver it sooner. It depends on how the Armenian government will negotiate with other governments. We're doing our part to expedite it.

I received dozens of phone calls on my private number from presidents and kings around the world, asking me for vaccine shots. I had to decline because it's illegal.

[Armenia recently announced plans to purchase Pfizer and other vaccines once the refrigeration infrastructure is revamped. It is necessary for certain types of vaccines.]

https://factor.am/396304.html

Noubar Afeyan about why vaccination rates are higher in developed countries:

Not only do the developed countries have more resources, but they were also more motivated to take the risk and distribute the vaccines before others.

Are you ready to pay for a vaccine a year in advance? Are you ready to buy a vaccine today? These are two different questions.

The large states expected the pandemic to cause great economic damage so they took that risk; the US, Israel, and Qatar played a big role. Japan was hesitant. EU was "meh". So the vaccines were first sent to the states that ordered ahead of time.

In the second phase, we began working with other states. COVAX played a big role. Many states, including Armenia, decided to work with COVAX. [talks about some COVAX scheduling issues relating to mRNA type vaccines]

We're working with the U.S. government to donate certain quantities to Armenia and other states. //

https://youtu.be/gM7eG7iLifE https://factor.am/396329.html

IRS reports unprecedented paid workforce numbers

2018 June: 563k

2019 June: 605.5k

2020 June: 609k

2021 May: 635k

2021 June: 643k

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058660.html

IRS provides salary data

The declared income fund (tax base) was ֏139 billion in June, which is +15% from last year, +23% from 2019, and +40% from 2018.

The income per job was...

2018 June: ֏177k

2019 June: ֏187k

2020 June: ֏198k

2021 June: ֏216k

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058660.html

Economy Ministry urges seasonal work migrants to return, amid workforce shortage in Armenia

Ministry Qerobyan: Armenia's exports surpassed $300 million for the first time ever, in June. The workforce size is expanding. We have a severe shortage in construction, agricultural, high-tech, processing industry, and even in the taxi industry. //

Detain and bring back the խոպան workers, joked the Minister. Yesterday the Russian Kommersant outlet wrote that Artsakh doesn't have enough construction workers.

https://factor.am/396434.html

Gyumri is expecting ֏4.3 billion in investments

The government and the World Bank are co-financing a large investment project in Armenia's second-largest city.

Infrastructure Minister: efforts to improve the city and its tourism continue. There will be new programs of unprecedented size. [8 streets] are being recovered, the Barekamutyun park will be rebuilt, the parks near the St. Amenaprkich and the side areas of Abovyan St. will be renovated. The budget is $8.8 million.

Here is the map of planned projects: https://factor.am/396226.html

where do Armenian tourists prefer to spend their vacation abroad?

Egypt (Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh) is the most popular destination because of its low prices (from $300) and all-inclusive deals. 70% of travelers go with families.

Travelers once again have the ability to enjoy the beaches after two years of pause. UAE is not as popular because it's too hot for beachgoers.

Nowadays, many newlywed couples prefer to travel to the Maldives instead of holding a fancy wedding ceremony.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218870

Armenian tech company Sololearn has raised $24 million in the second round of funding

.... for its mobile-first coding education and community platform, with up to 21 million global users. "It’s a rare success, and rarer still as a female-founded company."

https://venturebeat.com/2021/07/21/sololearn-raises-24m-for-mobile-first-coding-education-platform/

Turkish businessman turn a Farmville clone into a massive ponzi scheme

Farm Bank was a popular game that allowed players to make money while supporting "real farms". Then the CEO vanished with $80 million after hyping the game.

https://restofworld.org/2021/farmbank-turkey-scam-jail-time/

Want to build muscle? Eat your proteins in the morning

... according to Japanese chrono-nutrition researchers.

https://www.waseda.jp/top/en/news/74633

today in history / the heroic battle of Musaler / assassination of Jamal Pasha

1905: Dashnaks make a failed assassination attempt against Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid II in the Yildiz Mosque in Istanbul. It was revenge for the "Hamidian massacres" which took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Armenians.

Zareh set the timer for a planned 42 seconds. Sultan Abdul Hamid didn't show up on time because he got caught in a conversation with the Sheikh ul-Islam. He arrived a few minutes later than planned.

1915: Armenian resistance begins on Musaler. Armenian villagers learned about the ongoing genocide and decided to climb Mount Musa. The successful self-defense lasted 53 days. They fought against the regular and bashi-bazouk Turkish troops. Musalerian raised flags with a cross to signal potential allies on the horizon.

A French ship noticed the flag and established contact with Musalerians. The French fired warning shots at the Turkish army and promised to return to aid Musalerians.

The Turks got upset and warned Musalerians to surrender or to face a mass attack. In response, Musalerians attacked the Turkish army and delivered a crushing blow to their front lines, forcing Turks to retreat in panic.

The next day, a French armored cruiser Jeanne d’Arc approached the shores and bombarded the Turkish army for an entire day. The 4,000 Musalerians descended from the mount and were transported to Egypt with the French ships. 👏

1922: Armenian assassin executes the Genocide co-organizer Jamal Pasha in Tbilisi.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058646.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C4%B1ld%C4%B1z_assassination_attempt https://allinnet.info/news/the-battle-of-musa-dagh-september-12-1915/#:~:text=103%20years%20ago%2C%20on%20September,during%20the%201915%20Armenian%20Genocide.

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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ooyfm0/news_jul212021_big_cleanup_in_hrazdan_river/

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