2021 July 29

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Daily news wrap-up

News recap for Thursday - Jul/29/2021
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Thursday recap in 3484 words.

border news from Gegharkunik

After yesterday's failed attempt to capture a hill in Gegharkunik, the Azeri troops violated the ceasefire again at 3:00 am by firing shots towards Armenian positions. Armenians returned fire to silence it. The shooting stopped at 7:00 am.

Azeris resumed it at 8:40 am and were suppressed again. One Armenian soldier was wounded in the shoulder; he is recovering after surgery. The shooting stopped at 9:30 am.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059344.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059349.html

Gegharkunik governor about the border clashes:

Last night's shooting was also near the Verin Shorzha area. For safety purposes, the access was blocked to the Sotk goldmine and Kut village.

A media outlet made an error while citing my words: no Russian guards have been stationed in this border area. They recently came and observed the location about the possible deployment but I'm not familiar with the negotiation process.

Our army gives a worthy answer. Yesterday's actions speak for themselves. [he was asked why the army didn't open fire at intruding Azeris on May 12 but decided to open fire yesterday]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059385.html https://youtu.be/2MNZ9xI9agw

U.S. House gives a green light to an amendment that could suspend military aid to Azerbaijan

Rep. Frank Pallone presented the amendment citing Azerbaijan's border attack on Wednesday. "Today's attack by Azerbaijan is part of a plan to seize Armenian lands and undermine democracy in the country."

The provision does not block discretionary military equipment that may be transferred by the Department of Defense under section 333 of U.S. law.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059338.html

The U.S. urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to deescalate:

The continuing tension on the AM-AZ border emphasizes that only with a comprehensive settlement, which will include all unresolved issues, it will be possible to normalize relations between the two countries. Armenia and Azerbaijan should return to the Minsk Group negotiating table ASAP.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059347.html

Germany and Iran made similar remarks about the need to de-escalate

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059421.html


Azeri court sentences 13 Armenian POWs to 6 years on trumped-up charges

The soldiers were captured near Artsakh's Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd villages after the peacekeepers allegedly refused to guard these areas which were supposed to remain under Armenian control per November 9 agreement.

https://factor.am/399161.html

Human Rights Watch representative: Azerbaijan's sentensing of Armenian POWs is a breach of Geneva Convention

Giorgi Gogia: Azerbaijan’s prosecution of Armenian Prisoners of war on illegal border crossing charges is a breach of the Geneva Convention III. Captured combatants should have been afforded PoW status and returned after hostilities ended!

Geneva Conv: POWs are persons who have fallen into the power of the enemy. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as militias or volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, operating in or outside their own territory…

https://twitter.com/Giorgi_Gogia/status/1420673398707998721 https://factor.am/399270.html

Putin's spokesman expressed hope that the growing Azerbaijan-Turkey friendship will not harm the stability of the region

It was in response to media reports claiming that Turkey and Azerbaijan plan to form a joint army. Turkey later denied the report, saying it was a result of a bad translation.

https://factor.am/399225.html

Foreign Minister Grigoryan spoke with representatives of the US and EU

They discussed the recent border clashes, POW mistreatment, the need to return to the OSCE negotiation table to resolve the Karabakh conflict, and a joint fight against COVID.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059448.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059444.html

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs express the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict

... announced the representatives of France, the US, and Russia today, while expressing concerns about the recent border clashes. They urged for the de-escalation of divisive rhetoric and actions. They want the resumption of negotiations without any conditions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059442.html

Pashinyan responds to Azerbaijan's ceasefire violations:

With the aggressive rhetoric and actions, Azerbaijan continues to ignore the international community's calls to establish long-term peace.

The goal is to disrupt the implementation of Nov 9 and Jan 11 statements, including the unblocking of regional communication routes. Azerbaijan continues to raise some corridor topic by pointing out specific routes. As I've said many times before, Armenia has not, is not, and will not discuss any "corridor".

All transport and economic routes in the region must open. Armenia must have access to Russia, Central Asia, and Iran through Azerbaijani territory. And Azerbaijan must have access to Nakhijevan, Iran, and Georgia through Armenian territories. In order to implement this program, customs checkpoints must be set up at the relevant border points.

Pashinyan about peacekeepers and Azerbaijan:

Despite the Nov 9 statement, Azerbaijan continues with the illegal trial and sentencing of Armenian POWs. Almost all of them were captured after the November 9 ceasefire in areas under peacekeepers' responsibility.

If we combine this with the ongoing anti-peacekeeping propaganda in Azerbaijan, and the fact that Azerbaijan has not yet signed the peacekeeping mandate, it becomes obvious that this is an act against peacekeepers and general peace in Artsakh.

Pashinyan about CSTO military bloc and Azerbaijan:

Azeri forces not only continue to illegally remain in Armenian territories in the Sotk-Khoznavar section but routinely launch provocations with an attempt to discredit the CSTO bloc.

Armenia will assume chairmanship of CSTO this September while understanding its responsibilities not to drag its allies into war. Armenia will not launch provocations.

At the same time, I believe the placement of CSTO observers on borders can be a tool to find out which side is telling the truth. This is in line with CSTO regulations. If CSTO does not place the observers, we could accept observers under other formats such as OSCE Minsk Group.

Pashinyan about border delimitation and demarcation:

Azerbaijan is attempting to create the false impression that Armenia is against border delimitation. The opposite is true. We received the mandate from the Armenian people to resolve the border issues and establish peace in the region.

During May 27 Security Council meeting I expressed my opinion about the border demarcation process. In the Sotk-Khoznavar section, both sides should withdraw their troops and replace them with Russian border guards, followed by the launch of the border delimitation process.

Considering the situation we have today, it's worth discussing the placement of Russian guards across the entire Armenia-Azerbaijan border to avoid clashes elsewhere during the demarcation. We plan to discuss this with our Russian colleagues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059365.html https://youtu.be/8LahOaRp3MA

army training

Servicemen from the 2nd Army Corps conducted firing exercises.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059413.html

Artsakh MFA condemned the visit by Azeri, Turkish, and Pakistani officials to the occupied Shushi:

Azerbaijan's attempts to consolidate the illegal occupation of the territories of the Artsakh Republic, as a result of the 44-day aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan with the direct participation of Turkey and international terrorists, is unacceptable. Any action aimed at violating the norms of international law and legalizing the illegal use of force must be strongly condemned. //

https://factor.am/399259.html

6 prominent Cuban generals die in just over a week

Presumably from COVID. They were allies of Fidel Castro.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219607

Turkey is concerned about Afghan migration through Iran

They are building a 64km wall with Iran, expected to finish this year. Another 63km will be built later. There will be 160km trenches along the walls.

Turkey has a 534km border with Iran. Around 500,000 Afghans are believed to have entered Turkey last year alone.

https://factor.am/399345.html

Azerbaijan opens its first official trade office in Israel

This is the first official Azeri office in Israel despite the close ties between the two countries in the past 30 years. The Azeri representatives noted that Israel supported Azerbaijan during and after the 2020 Artsakh war.

https://factor.am/399387.html

Armenia sent a letter to UN General Secretary about Azerbaijan's war crimes in 2020

It was sent to counter the Azeri diplomatic efforts within the UN.

Letter: https://undocs.org/pdf?symbol=en%2FA%2F75%2F967 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059350.html

prominent NGOs and members of civil society groups urge Armenia to contact the UN Security Council about Azerbaijan's aggressions

They also want OSCE Minsk Group to deploy unarmed monitoring groups across the borders.

https://factor.am/399019.html

Dutch experts will help establish the identities of 50 bodies

The Healthcare Ministry was unable to use the DNA tools to identify the bodies of several soldiers from the 2020 war. They will be sent to the Netherlands.

https://factor.am/399165.html

prosthetics & rehabilitation services will become more accessible for wounded soldiers

... thanks to a new facility "Ortez", which imports modern prosthetic parts for assembly and application in Armenia. The center was built with a loan taken by Arabkir hospital.

Serviceman Vahe Kalantaryan (fought in Yeghnikner) cut the red tape today. He received temporary prosthetics to learn how to walk before the attachment of the permanent one.

Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059438.html

Healthcare Ministry will purchase an exoskeleton for rehabilitating soldiers

The Government and the Ministry approved the purchase of a €72,000 device from an Italian company. It will serve multiple rehabilitating patients.

https://factor.am/399379.html

photos: Artsakh capital Stepanakert will have a new apartment block in Ajapnyak district

The 15 new apartment buildings will house 240 IDP families from Hadrut. The bloc will have playgrounds and green areas. It's financed by the All Armenia Fund.

https://factor.am/399191.html

24 more refugee families received apartments today

They had fled Azerbaijan during the 1988-92 events.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059436.html

budget revenues have increased in the first half of 2021

1H19: ֏713b

1H20: ֏680b

1H21: ֏750b

The ֏750b came from...

֏242b VAT (up 14%), ֏211b income tax (up 12%), ֏85b profit tax (up 12%), ֏21b social fees (up 90%), ֏14b turnover tax (down 2%), ֏44b excise tax (down 17%) ...

https://factor.am/399295.html

homeless man receives an apartment, gets his documents stolen, goes back to streets

You might encounter 22yo Arthur in Northern Avenue. He was recently given a place to live as part of a government program to house orphanage graduates. His documents and cash were recently stolen. He is waiting for the authorities to help.

Full story: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218952

COVID stats

5930 tested. 233 infected. 123 healed. 7 deaths. 4378 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059363.html

163,000 vaccinations in Armenia / vaccine swap between Armenia and Georgia

Today the government approved the plan to spend an additional ֏3.5 billion to purchases 500,000 doses of Pfizer and Sinopharm.

Pashinyan: Armenia and Georgia have a long history of cooperating in the medical field. I'd like to thank the government of Georgia for the donation of 50,000 COVID vaccines. They have a surplus so they decided to ship it to us. When Armenia has such an opportunity, a similar decision will be made.

Healthcare Minister: Georgia donated Sinopharm vaccines as part of traditional cooperation. Earlier we gave them measles vaccines. When we soon purchase the Sinopharm batch, we will return the 50,000 doses. Lithuania also decided to donate 27,000 AstraZeneca.

Mass vaccination is not an easy task but our numbers are increasing. There can be some skepticism, misinformation, and lack of quality information that exists in every country, including Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059374.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059395.html https://youtu.be/_JiDj2ylLyM

there will be incentives and restrictions to convince 75% of the population to get vaccinated

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: as you can see, every country has some promotions and restrictions aimed at increasing vaccination rates. If during the original COVID strains the target vaccination was 65%, then after Delta it's 75%, per WHO recommendation.

The COVID situation is very tense in the region. It's relatively stable in Armenia but we see a rise on weekly basis. We must do everything possible not to allow a sharp increase.

For now, we're discussing some requirements for the public service workers who themselves are in the vulnerable group, or could potentially infect many others. They will be required to routinely provide a negative PCR test result, or get vaccinated.

In provinces, Vayots Dzor and Lori are lagging behind others in vaccination rates.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059379.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059395.html

ayyyyy you can win a cow in Thailand if you get vaccinated

The UK might give you beer and a Harry Potter ticket. China gives shopping vouchers.

More: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219460

anti-corruption: authorities uncover ֏21 billion abuse in Yerevan Thermal Power Plant construction

Prosecutors' report says: the State Control Services audited the TPP and sent the findings to us. There were instances of low-quality or incomplete construction for which the state was charged the full amount. $43 million in damages. The case is sent to the Investigative Committee to investigate the officials.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059372.html

textile manufacturer receives a tax incentive to invest

The government exempted Texas Production from some taxation for three years so they can import equipment and raw materials. The ֏995 million investment will open 20 new jobs with ֏180k salary. It's mainly for export to Russia and the EU.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059371.html

$60 million ski complex will be built in Aragatsotn / 500,000 tourists annually

As we learned on May 11, a company plans to build a $60 million ski resort near Aparan. They needed lands and some help from the government.

Today the government approved the Mayler (Myler) Mountain Resort company's plan. The company is owned by an ally of a former regime. They want to invest in a complex that will have a ski and adjacent infrastructure to generate income.

Economy Minister presented the plan: the company plans to build a ֏30 billion complex on a 2,080 hectare land near Aparan. Half of it will come from the company, the other half from other private investors.

1,500 permanent and 250 temporary jobs. It plans to host 500,000 tourists annually. The complex will include a casino. In Armenia, the casinos normally exist in tourism areas like Jermuk, Tsakhkadzor, Sevan.

This project will attract tourists from Russia, Iran, and the EU. It will increase Armenia's GDP by 0.2%, and not just during the construction process.

Pashinyan while discussing restrictions of gambling ads on the internet: let's say we have two investors who want to invest $80 million in Yerevan and expect to receive permission to operate a gambling house. A question arises: why do we allow investors but not bookmakers? It has very specific reasons.

Gambling facilities should be on the upper floors of buildings in busy areas. They should not have access from the street. This should be mandated by the law.

Aragatsotn governor: let's not focus only on the casino part of the ski complex. I don't want our province to gain the reputation of a "gambling place".

Pashinyan: yes, it's not right to create an atmosphere of horror with every decision. If you go deeper and draw conclusions, you will realize that this is the latest terrible conspiracy against the Armenian people (/s), so think twice before you vote on this project. History might not forgive you.

We don't want to ban people from visiting casinos but we will create barriers. There are some who can afford to gamble, but I remember when I visited Kapan, women complained about gambling centers locate in every backyard. Their husbands get the paychecks then leave part of it behind in the gambling facility next door.

We will not allow traps to be set in our citizens' paths to take away their money penny-by-penny. The goal is not only to protect the citizens but also to raise the gambling industry's image. It shouldn't be a trap, it should be a legal facility for entertainment and service.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059408.html https://youtu.be/z6cW7VnDlw0 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059386.html https://youtu.be/lJK5MzgHhLU https://fip.am/16659

more students will qualify for tuition subsidy

Under current rules, the government will partially subsidize education expenditures for some students coming from low-income families, those who score high grades, and few other groups.

Today the government decided to expand the list by including students who have two or more children, or those who participated in wars. This is in addition to the already-approved bill that gave free tuition to the families of the 2020 war participants. 7,000 students have enrolled in that program already.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059387.html

Pashinyan vents about "useless diplomas", wants to spend subsidies only on actual "education" and promote vocational education:

The [aforementioned] student support program should be done not only for social support but also for achieving academic progress. Otherwise, we end up having graduates who don't have enough knowledge and can't find jobs. The State must help those who want education, and not a "diploma".

We've seen in the past 30 years that the so-called "higher education" grew to the point that the secondary vocational education sector is facing a collapse. People wonder why they should get a vocational education if they can get higher diplomas.

We must tighten the conditions, raise the standards, so our universities will become proper competitors instead of acting as "tuition collectors". having competitive universities is one of our strategic goals.

Economy Minister Qerobyan: the EU's €2.6 billion aid contains programs to promote vocational education. We hope it will produce a large number of professionals who will either launch their businesses or fill the job vacancies.

Pashinyan: we have a high level of unemployment yet we have a problem of attracting labor in a number of fields. There is a serious shortage of good specialists in all spheres. We discuss this with the private sector all the time.

This problem has its roots in the education system. It is related to the culture and attitude towards the education system. We have to respond to the demand that exists in the economy.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059423.html

Armenia's wheat production / subsidies for farmers

The level of wheat self-sufficiency has decreased since 2015, going from 49% to 26% in 2019. The imports rose to 280k-349k in the past five years.

Last year, the size of wheat fields reduced by 1% but the yield increased by ~16%.

The government plans to subsidize the price of autumn wheat seeds to promote local production. It was initially planned to purchase 5,000 tons of seeds. 4,100 has been done so far.

Under the new proposal, the government will partially subsidize the purchase of "elite reproduction" quality seeds in all provinces (used to be seven), for farmers who own 1-100 hectare lands (used to be 2-20).

To qualify for the ֏70/kg subsidy, the seeds must be properly labeled, disinfected, and undergo a lab examination first.

A 30% wheat production boost is expected.

https://factor.am/399222.html

Armenia exported $129 million cognac to Russia last year

Economy Ministry: a new Russian law went into effect recently. It regulates winemaking and circulation, and the fight against counterfeits. The law has not caused any issues with Armenian cognac.

We hope to increase exports to Russia soon. There were 52.8k tons worth $129.4m last year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059446.html

infrastructure upgrades

Lichk (Gegharkunik) drinking water network will be rebuilt.

Artik (Shirak) has a new truck to clean the dust and snow from the streets.

Musaler's (Armavir) gas network will expand to serve 73 more residents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059402.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219541 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219624

video: Yerevan's parks are being renovated: Molokan, Kanaker HEK, Martiros Saryan, new skate park

Nor Arabkir's 3-hectare area known as "Molokan's Garden" is being revamped.

Mayor Marutyan: Nor Arabkir park has never been renovated. We negotiated with the private owner to return the area to the city so we can renovate it. We recently started large-scale works. The park will have a new irrigation system, efficient LED lighting, a revamped fountain, water canals, alleys, benches, and bathrooms. //

Kanaker HEK district park's renovation is in the final stages. A special irrigation network was installed for the spacious green area. The park has a concert platform, new alleys, sand playground, gazebos, new trees, etc.

Martiros Saryan park's renovation is almost ready. The idea came from the Active Citizen platform that allows verified residents to submit their ideas.

Yerevan will soon have a new modern skate park located in the Circular Park (Oghakadzev Zbosaygi). The Circular Park's 6th section will be revamped soon.

https://youtu.be/5RZQbeNoBpE https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059352.html

approved: Yerevan will increase employee salaries and eliminate the wage premiums

Details in Tuesday report. The Council voted to approve the amendment. The "bonus" will become a "fixed salary" for 2,000 workers.

https://factor.am/399181.html

Nature Ministry warns the population against planting "Paulownia tomentosa"

It has a nasty habit of aggressively invading forests and other areas. The Ministry is currently working with the Institute of Botany to study its invasiveness.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219558

Tokyo Olympics

Boxer Arman Darchinyan began the tournament with a 5:0 victory against the Slovak in the 1/8th finale.

Tennis player Karen Khachanov defeated his French opponent and made it to the semifinals.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059339.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059388.html

young grandmaster Hayk Martirosyan about his Chess World Cup performance:

I'm satisfied with my performance. This was my first World Cup and I made it to 1/8th. These tournaments require serious preparation. It was an honor for me to represent Armenia.

The best result of my career has been the victory against Azerbaijan's Shahriyar Mammadyarov, who is one of the 5 best players in the world.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059418.html

today in history

1817: painter Hovhannes Aivazovsky is born

1921: Hitler becomes the leader of the Nazi Party

1928: pianist/conductor Konstantin Orbelyan is born

1957: Greek junta ends. Democracy is restored after almost a decade of a military takeover.

1958: NASA is founded

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059334.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_junta

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/ou6729/news_recap_for_thursday_jul292021/

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