2021 July 23

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Jul/23/2021: Second massive solar project __ France discussing new railway & aid projects in Armenia __ Borders: 3 Armenians injured, 1 Azeri dead __ EU aid: Aliyev feels sad __ Ex-officials & families investigated __ Tuition subsidy __ Central Bank __ Top taxpayers __ Farming aid __ Fuel
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Friday recap in 3513 words.

mysterious border incident: 3 Armenians lightly injured, 1 Azeri dead / earlier video showing conflict within Azeri ranks in area of interest

MOD report: around 5:00 pm, we heard gunshots coming from within Azeri positions near Gegharkunik borders, followed by Azeris opening fire at Armenian positions.

There was likely a personal conflict between Azeri troops. Azeri MOD claimed that an Azeri soldier died from Armenian sniper fire. However, we did not take any retaliatory actions until Azeris opened fire at our positions.

The provocation caused by the Azeri side resulted in three Armenian soldiers sustaining light injuries. Their lives are not in danger.

We strongly condemn the latest provocation. The entire responsibility for the aggravation of the situation falls on the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan. //

Internal conflicts within the Azeri army are nothing new. A video was circulated today showing an Azeri soldier beating another one on Qarvachar borders. The report says the video is taken in the same Azeri position where today's sounds of gunshots came from.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058942.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058952.html https://factor.am/397390.html

MFA: Ilham Aliyev admits their troops are located on Armenian territories / Aliyev complaints about EU's massive aid to Armenia and "not much" for Azerbaijan

Armenian MFA: during his latest interview to AzTV, Aliyev essentially admitted the fact that Azeri troops are located on territories of the Republic of Armenia while talking about "Zangezur being their historical land", a gross violation of international law.

Second. The Azeri president clearly states that the goal of the 2020 war was to wipe out the Nagorno Karabakh from the map and to deprive the Artsakh people of their homeland. That won't happen, however. Nagorno Karabakh is recognized as part of several international documents, most of which were joined by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's review of its international commitments and the use of force cannot lead to the "disappearance" of Nagorno Karabakh from the international arena.

Third. Azerbaijan has failed to impose its agenda on the international community, despite the attempts. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states, and numerous other organizations have clearly stated that the Karabakh conflict has not been resolved.

Armenia will help Artsakh Armenians to achieve self-determination in the territory of Artsakh and will protect the territorial integrity of Armenia, based on international law. //

--

In his interview, Aliyev also complained about Armenia's "refusal" to open the Azerbaijan-Nakhijevan "corridor", saying that all regional communications should open simultaneously.

Aliyev also complained about the EU's €2.6 billion aid to Armenia, calling it "unfair". Georgia will also receive €2.2 billion.

Azerbaijan will only get €150 million. Aliyev complained that they have not been informed on when the €150 million aid will be given, and the strings that will come attached to it.

Aliyev believes the EU aid is related to the 2020 war. He claimed that "Azerbaijan suffered the most from the war" and that they will need billions of dollars to rebuild the captured lands. "Those billions are not going to come from the air", he noted.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058949.html https://factor.am/397027.html https://factor.am/397080.html

deputy Premier's office says EU's €2.6 billion aid is not "geopolitics":

We hear discussions on why the EU is helping us, whether there is a "secret" deal, etc. The aid isn't relating to geopolitical developments. It is the latest project by the Eastern Partnership, with the size being the difference.

The EU has steadily increased its aid for Armenia since 2018. This isn't the first EU aid, but it's the largest one. The Eastern Partnership will also aid Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058957.html

French ambassador: the status of Nagorno Karabakh must be determined through negotiations

Jonathan: until the status is determined, the French ambassadors to Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot visit Stepanakert and Shushi. This is a position expressed by the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

On the other hand, France would like a bigger presence in Karabakh. Only the Red Cross is currently there. They are doing a great job. //

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294515/

French ambassador: we are discussing a railway project to connect Zvartnots airport-Ejmiatsin-Armavir

France is thinking about a new railway project in Armenia, and possibly in the region. "We want to make investments that create additional value and jobs. In this area, France is second after Russia. I'm happy that the majority of French companies in Armenia withstood the 2020 crisis."

France is ready to provide up to €100 million in loans for some projects that are yet to be determined.

The ambassador also noted that 18% of the EU's €2.6 billion aid will come from France.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294517/

British media: Concern over Azerbaijan ruling family influence at Oxford centre

Sister-in-law of Azerbaijan’s autocratic president sits on board of centre set up to study country after brokering a £10 million donation.

TLDR: Armenian scientists warn that Oxford's Nizami center, founded in 2018, received £10 million from shady sources and could ignore studies involving Armenian heritage in Azerbaijan. The Azeri official will decide which applicants will receive a grant to study the region. Oxford leadership has been informed of the issue.

Original paywall: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/concern-over-azerbaijan-ruling-family-influence-oxford-centre

Non-paywall: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058941.html

anti-corruption: family members of the former ruling class are under illegal enrichment investigation

President Serj's niece Ani Sargsyan (Lyovik's daughter) is being investigated as part of the newly reformed anti-corruption laws. She was informed about the ongoing investigation of her property. She was invited to answer questions on July 30.

Another former official under investigation is Arman Sahakyan, the son of Serj-era parliament president Galust Sahakyan. Arman was the head of the State Property Management Department and was earlier implicated in other corruption investigations. He is invited for Q&A on July 28. His wife Seda Hakobyan is also being investigated.

Weeks earlier we learned that Serj-era police chief Vladimir Gasparyan was under investigation over his "villa" that he obtained for a suspiciously low price.

Former Nature Minister Aram Harutyunan and former NSS Colonel Serob Harutyunyan are some of the other subjects.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219122

anti-corruption: NSS is after public officials over alleged 2011-2017 embezzlement involving billions

NSS report says: a former Tavush governor received ֏2.6 billion to repair the Bagratashen border checkpoint and to purchase adjacent properties from private owners to allow for new construction.

H.A. served as a high-ranking official in local government and the IRS. He owned land with a hotel on it, located in the area that the government intended to purchase for the customs expansion.

Tavush governor's office signed a contract with H.A. to purchase his land and the hotel for ֏206 million. However, H.A. continued to possess and utilize the hotel, while several officials ignored the violation.

The officials are facing multiple felony counts. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058909.html

Central Bank announces recent changes in the law that combats money laundering and terrorist financing:

The new amendments approved by the Parliament last month will go into effect on Monday.

The right to suspend suspicious transactions and business relationships have been transferred from the CB's Board to CB's Financial Monitoring Center.

The process of suspending transactions will change to take into account the need to assist ongoing criminal investigations.

The list of "high risk" individuals has expanded to include local public officials, individuals who perform significant functions in international organizations, their families and close associates.

They clarified the concept of "real beneficiary" and issues relating to identity verification.

The CB's Financial Monitoring Center will be able to prohibit organizations from notifying their customers that they are under investigation.

The new law better defines what a "money transfer" is.

Some of these changes were necessary to meet the international FATF anti-laundering standards.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058899.html

Justice Ministry will cooperate with the French University of Armenia

The two signed a memorandum to help the students gain hands-on practice. "French University's human resources will help the Ministry with reforms."

The Ministry will invite the students and staff for seminars, round table meetings, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058882.html

update: suspended Supreme Court president files a lawsuit to get his job back

Supreme Court (not Constitutional) president Ruben Vardazaryan was earlier suspended, pending a felony investigation over a leaked audiotape in which a "subordinate" judge claimed that Vardazaryan instructed him to drop the case against some defendant. Vardazaryan denied wrongdoing.

The Supreme Court board proceeded to appoint a new acting president while the investigation continues. Vardazaryan decided to sue the Supreme Court to get his job back.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058930.html

78 felony cases were launched relating June 20 election violations

Prosecutors said: 33 bribery, 6 forcing people to attend or skip rallies, 6 violating voting secrecy, 5 violence near a polling station, 3 attempting to vote multiple times, 3 forging election results, 2 preventing polling workers from doing their duties, ... , 1 preparing fake ballots, 1 stealing a stamp, 1 preventing journalists' work, 11 damaging propaganda posters.

83 individuals were charged.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058905.html

which MP candidates are facing felony charges relating to election violations?

4 from Serj-Vanetsyan's PU alliance

2 from Kocharyan-ARF's HD alliance

1 from BHK party

1 from Verelk party

(the list doesn't include non-MP-candidates who were regular workers)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058905.html

government job rotation continues

Parliament president Ararat Mirzoyan will become the chief of the Security Council, replacing Armen Grigoryan who recently became the Foreign Minister.

Gayane Gabrielyan is appointed as deputy Nature Minister.

https://factor.am/396945.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219204

COVID stats

5653 tested. 221 infected. 120 healed. 4 deaths. 3894 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058885.html

students risk going back to remote education unless >60% of teachers get vaccinated

Some school directors said most of their teachers plan to get a vaccine, while other directors said the staff is still "skeptical". They hope to see higher vaccination rates once the teachers return from the vacation on August 22.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219106

17 Armenian athletes will compete in Toyko Olympics

Their schedule is in [2021 July 22|yesterday's post.]] Olympics committee chief Tsarukyan and Education/Sports Minister Dumanyan wished the athletes good luck. The opening ceremony was held today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058901.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058923.html

president Sarkissian visited Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation in Tokyo

Shibusawa, who is considered the father of Japanese capitalism, founded the Armenian Relief Fund in 1922 and provided significant assistance to Armenian Genocide survivors, helping many to move to the U.S. Henry Morgenthau, the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, also played a role in establishing the foundation.

Sarkissian met his great-grandson Masahide Shibusawa and expressed gratitude on behalf of the Armenian people.

More: https://en.armradio.am/2021/07/23/armenian-president-visits-shibusawa-eiichi-memorial-foundation-in-tokyo/ https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058921.html

Chess World Cup: Hayk Martirosyan advances to 1/8 Round after defeating Croat opponent with a 1.5-0.5 score

His next victim is Iran's Amin Tabatabaei.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058959.html

free speech committee and reporters' union present the state of media in 2Q2021

Q2 was very tense because of the post-war developments and the snap elections. There were 20 instances of inappropriate behavior (indecent treatment, obstruction) towards reporters by various political figures, public officials, or members of the public. There were 8 such incidents in Q1.

Four of the obstruction incidents happened on election day. For example, reporters were told by polling station officials to present additional paperwork to enter. The reporters were allowed to enter only after the polling workers were told that the law doesn't require whatever they were demanding.

media expert Ashot Melikyan: it was obvious to us that in 2Q2021 the media was polarized and serving different political and business circles. This, combined with the general atmosphere of intolerance, resulted in reporters being targeted during public events if they were deemed as "serving the other camp".

8 instances of physical violence, 43 pressure. The number of lawsuits involving media outlets doubled to 23. All the lawsuits are relating political figures seeking retractions over alleged defamation.

It is impossible to say whether these lawsuits are legitimate in nature or they are being filed to "give a lesson". Both are possible. Lawsuits are better than fists. There are times when media outlets do cross the ethical line. Each lawsuit must be studied individually. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058925.html https://youtu.be/SCDIrhMxx2Q

the training program for Diasporan Armenian teachers has been launched

Education Ministry: we give great importance to the retraining of diasporan teachers as part of Armenia-Diaspora relations. In addition to this year's online courses, we have shipped 20,000 books to 47 education centers in 14 countries.

This year we will evaluate the past ten years of work and the program's efficiency and influence on the educational processes in diaspora... A new electronic database will provide information about the diasporan education centers. //

140 teachers will participate this year. They will study the Armenian language, literature, history, culture, kindergarten teaching skills, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058902.html

government discussed agricultural development programs

Pashinyan: today's meeting is about the efficiency of financial programs that help the farmers. We will try to find ways to make them more targeted and accessible.

Economy Ministry: the production of canned fruits and vegetables, and juices, has increased by 59%. Exports of fruits and veggies have doubled.

We have 14 aid programs in agriculture in the areas of leasing, irrigation, insurance, cattle breeding, storage, production & export, winery, subsidized loans, etc.

The leasing program provides equipment to farmers. Its budget has increased from ֏450 million to ֏1 billion. We are satisfied with its performance. This program has allowed for the creation of professional associations, with whom we are working towards legal reforms.

We are currently working towards allowing the installation of solar panels as part of the equipment leasing program. This will help the farmers to reduce production costs and become more competitive.

Our international partners have also donated 100 pieces of equipment to farmers this year.

The intensive gardening program is also satisfactory. 519 hectares were founded in 2020, and 351 hectares this year so far. The changes we made have allowed for the creation of pools so the farmer can use the water whenever necessary.

Another addition to the program is the production of high-value crops. This will begin in 2022.

The agricultural insurance program has seen a three-fold increase in the number of contracts. Farmers usually cover grain, apricot, and apple. More types of crops will be added to the list of qualified products.

The cattle breeding and "smart barn" programs are currently helping 19 settlements to install irrigation for pasture lands and cattle gathering places. //

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058940.html

university students with jobs can write-off their tuition from the income tax

Last year the government approved a law to encourage some university students to simultaneously explore the job market.

IRS report: The right to reimbursement of tuition fees can be exercised by employed students (one profession) who are citizens of the Republic of Armenia. [lists the restrictions and the documents necessary to take advantage of the law]

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058922.html

Armenia's largest taxpayers in the first half of 2021

Total ֏584.4 billion, or +9.3%.

The top 1,000 taxpayers paid 78% of all taxes.

The top 10 taxpayers paid 25% of all taxes. They paid 5% more during this half.

10) Flash Oil ֏6.3b (-18%)

9) CPS Oil ֏6.8b (-30%)

8) MTS Armenia telecom ֏8.8b (+33%)

7) Teghut ֏9.8b (+150%)

6) International Masis Tabak ֏10.2b (+13%)

5) Geopromining Gold ֏12.1b (-24%)

4) Grand Tobacco ֏12.9b (-51%)

3) Defense Ministry ֏25.4b (+54%)

2) Zangezur copper ֏26.8b (+16%)

1) Gasprom Armenia ֏28.4b (+9%)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219175

infrastructure repairs across Armenia

Artimet (Armavir) will have a new kilometer-long metal-concrete water pipe to irrigate 75 hectares and 150 farms.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219146

Sis (Ararat) had one of the saddest looking roads renovated as part of a federal-local subsidy program.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219144

Spandaryan (Shirak) will have a new irrigation network to substitute the natural streams of water which suffer 50% losses. Additional 5 hectares will be irrigated.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058895.html

fuel prices have gone up in 2021

Tajikistan +30%

Armenia +23%

Georgia +17%

Ukraine +14%

Lowest and Highest prices...

Kazakhstan $0.43 (lowest in EU and CIS)

Russia $0.65

Armenia reached $1

Finland $1.9 (highest in Europe)

Hong Kong $2.44 (highest)

How much fuel can you purchase with an average salary?

Qatar 6532 liters

...

United States 4723

...

Germany 1786

...

China 955

...

Azerbaijan 561

Georgia 359

Armenia 309

...

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294484/ https://www.apsny.ge/2021/eco/1626911447.php

Azerbaijan warned of need for energy diversity

It developed rapidly based on oil and gas revenues. But a new report by International Energy Agency says Azerbaijan risks economic shocks if it continues to depend so heavily on hydrocarbons.

The post-Soviet projects allowed AZ economy to grow 2,178% between 1995-2014, but the report says the energy markets are rapidly changing. The developed states that purchase AZ energy have pledged to achieve zero net emissions by 2050 as part of the Paris Agreement.

Even British BP, which has long been an AZ investor, is seeking to reduce carbon emissions and explore renewables. Oil and gas account for 90% of AZ export revenues and 60% of the budget. They account for 98% of AZ energy needs and generate 90% of AZ electricity.

When energy prices collapsed in 2014-15, the AZ economy halved: from $75b to $38b. Azerbaijan has been exploring renewable energy in recent years.

Full: https://eurasianet.org/azerbaijan-warned-of-need-for-energy-diversity

what will Armenia gain from Masdar's upcoming 200MW solar farm construction?

Infrastructure Ministry and ANIF: it will diversify our sources and reduce the reliance on electricity that's generated from fuel. Even in the case of nuclear plant we have to import the "gas stations" used for production. The solar, on the other hand, will make us less dependent on others.

Q: What percentage of electricity demand can the new plant provide?

It will produce 0.5 billion kWh. That's 8% of internal consumption demand. Armenia's entire production is 7.8 billion kWh.

Q: Armenia used to import hydroelectricity from Artsakh until the war. Will the new solar plant substitute it?

In terms of net kilowatts, yes. The difference is it will only work during the daytime while hydro used to work 24/7.

Q: why did investor Masdar agree to build it?

The government promised to purchase the generated electricity for the next 20 years. This greatly reduces the risks for the investor.

This will be the largest solar farm in the region. The construction begins in late 2022 and is expected to finish in 2024. Masdar and Armenia (ANIF) share ownership will be 85/15.

It'll be located near Aragatsotn's Talin and Dashtatem settlements. Thousands of construction workers will be hired, including local villagers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058880.html

ANOTHER one: Masdar and ANIF plan to build the second 200MW solar farm in Armenia after legal reforms

Masdar and ANIF: the first solar station will sell the electricity to the government for 2.99 cents. We will soon propose the construction of the second solar station, which will likely sell it for a lower price.

The legal code used to be unfriendly and contained barriers. The recent reforms make it possible to implement projects of this scale through bilateral negotiations.

The location of the second 200MW station has been chosen. It won't be far away from the existing one. It will begin producing electricity a year after the first one. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058881.html

Tags: #solar #renewable

the number of electric vehicle charging stations will increase

The diasporans from Ukraine plan to install 15 additional EV charging stations across Armenia: 10 in Yerevan, 5 in provinces. Their EV-promotion program launched in Tavush in 2019.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058932.html

photos: rescuers will use drones to save lives not just in Lake Sevan

The State Academy of Crisis Management is working on drone technologies to help the fight against wildfires and other situations. They cite the global emergence of new technologies for the need to keep their tools up to date.

Yerevan has many high-rise buildings. The agency says the old ladders used by rescuers will be insufficient. The Academy's professors and students will work on options involving robots and drones.

anti-drowning

They've been experimenting for a year now; it yielded some results. Lake Sevan rescuers will use drones to monitor swimmers and drop life vests remotely. The entire process will take 1-2 minutes, "more than enough to save the life."

anti-wildfire

The drones can be used against forest fires. At the moment, there aren't many options the firefighters can use. The Academy hopes that the drones will predict the fire's path, speed, and detect smaller sources of fire.

to raise awareness

The rescuers have used drones as means of raising public awareness to prevent forest fires. Armenians enjoy making khorovats in forests. A drone equipped with a speaker can be used to find picnic-goers and give them tips on how to avoid causing a fire.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058879.html

Georgian capital Tbilisi will name one of the roads after Soviet-Armenian film director Sergei Parajanov

He used to live on that road.

https://factor.am/396923.html

top-10 bestseller children's book in June

5) Գայլն ու յոթ ուլիկները

4) Երեք խոզուկները

3) Kolobok, by Slavic people

2) Շաղգամը, by Atabek Khnkoyan

1) Eve's Dream, by Aris Raffich

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058816.html

today in history

1903: Ford begins selling its first vehicle "Model A". A Chicago dentist becomes the first owner.

1979: Iran's Ayatollah bans the broadcast of music because it "corrupts Iranian youth"

1992: Abkhazia declares its independence from Georgia.

1993: Armenian troops, headed by Vitalik Balasanyan, capture the town of Aghdam in Artsakh

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1058867.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Model_A_(1903%E2%80%9304) https://www.nytimes.com/1979/07/24/archives/khomeini-bans-broadcast-music-saying-it-corrupts-iranian-youth.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/oqbrzd/news_jul232021_second_massive_solar_project/

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