2021 July 6

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Jul/6/2021: Couple's treason trial __ U.S. firm's $20m hydro investment __ 200MW solar farm __ Border shootout __ Suspect acquitted: 2019 thieve-in-law murder __ Judges accused of embezzlement __ Exam test leaker arrested __ ARF's plans __ Hi-tech in Artsakh __ Arm-Rus business deal __ Food $
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Tuesday recap in 3063 words.

Army reports an armed provocation by Azerbaijan on the Gegharkunik borders

Army: Azeri soldiers instigated a shootout on Verin Shorja borders [a location where they intruded in May]. The Armenian side has one light injury. According to our information, Azeris have two wounded.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057482.html

Artsakh President: recognition of Artsakh's independence and restoration of territorial integrity are the top priorities for us

... announced President Arayik during a meeting with Ramkavar Azatakan Party leadership today. They discussed internal and external issues. "It is time to set new national goals, to work on new successes and victories," said Arayik while discussing the construction of new housing units for IDPs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057499.html

Armenia's ECHR representative about POWs and CoE Ministers:

At first, the Azeri authorities were not cooperating with ECHR at all, or only partially, when it came to sharing POW information.

The government used video evidence and witness accounts to file several cases against Azerbaijan. They were mostly approved. The goal was to require Azerbaijan to treat POWs appropriately.

However, Azerbaijan always violated the terms and deadlines. This prompted us to petition the ECHR to involve the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. The latter has some oversight powers.

The Committee of Ministers, however, was not effective. Not much was done. Perhaps for political reasons...

At the moment, there are 45 confirmed POWs in Azerbaijan, but we have evidence proving that the number is bigger. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057480.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217903

U.S. welcomed the release of 15 Armenian POWs and urged Azerbaijan to release the rest

15 Armenian POWs were repatriated on Saturday. The U.S. also welcomed Armenia's decision to share some landmine maps for humanitarian purposes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057487.html

Azeris steal and return three sheep from a shepherd

The HR Ombudsman received a complaint after a border villager (Tegh, Syunik) reported theft. He took the animals to the pasture. Three of them drifted away and walked towards the Azeri positions. The shepherd's son attempted to stop the animals, but Azeris walked towards the animals and stole them.

The shepherd contacted the Armenian army and Russian peacekeepers. The cattle were returned to the shepherd after negotiations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057504.html

update: the trial of a couple accused of treason and spying for Azerbaijan / financing from Turkey

Defendant Mayis Sahakyan and his wife Stella Sargsyan, both 23yo, are accused of espionage. The wife is accused of aiding her husband during the alleged spying missing.

The couple said they have a young child and a clean record. The wife claimed health problems after being arrested. They plead not guilty.

The suspect's mother claimed the money under his son's possession was her salary which she earned and sent from Turkey with the help of a Turkish middleman. She said her son was duped into a scheme. Someone allegedly called him with a German phone number and claimed they wanted to help the financially struggling man, so he agreed.

From what I can tell based on his emotional mother's barely intelligible story, the Azeri spies (presumably via German phone number) promised cash in exchange for information, he agreed, but he allegedly intended to give false information, while the investigators insist that the man attempted to become an actual serviceman to infiltrate and obtain real information. This was his mother's version of events.

The National Security Services said the couple had traveled to Turkey on multiple occasions where he was recruited by Azeri intel, and that he gathered and shared secret information with the help of his wife, in exchange for $1,500.

https://factor.am/390666.html https://youtu.be/gPkcqdgebP0 https://factor.am/390683.html https://factor.am/390692.html https://youtu.be/5h2sfVMzQT4 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217921

investigators find no felony act in the case involving ruling party MP and a reporter

Opposition Hraparak outlet's reporter recently complained that her phone (a recording device) was stolen by QP MP Hayk Sargsyan. The latter accused the reporter of intentional provocation and holding the phone too close to his face "despite repeated warnings". The MP said he took away then returned the phone through his friend while asking the reporter to "behave like a journalist".

Investigators did not find a felony act in the MP's behavior and dropped the felony investigation. Several NGOs asked the prosecutors to review the verdict and for the ruling party to tame the MP.

https://factor.am/390661.html

a suspect found not guilty of aiding in the murder of mafia boss Masivtsi Andik

A "thieve-in-law" (highest ranking in mafia) Andik was gunned down in Yerevan in 2019 while playing backgammon in the backyard.

The alleged murderer was identified as Suleiman Mieyev, from Russia's Chechnia region. He fled Armenia and has not been found.

Defendant Armen Gharibyan was accused of aiding the murderer. The travel logs indicated the two had a close connection during the events. Some phone call metadata was used by prosecutors, but according to defense lawyers, the actual content of the calls was not recorded.

It's unclear what other evidence was presented. In the end, the court acquitted Gharibyan, finding him not guilty of aiding the murderer.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217859

update: two of the 9 judicial department officials accused of embezzlement are judges

Last month we learned that the authorities uncovered alleged fraud in Supreme Court in 2016-2018. Nine judicial officials were accused of forging travel and hospital receipts to embezzle 42 million.

Judges Manvel Shahverdyan and Armen Saroyan are two of the suspects.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217840

Supreme Court initiates disciplinary proceedings against an Appeals Court judge

The Economic Competition Commission filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry, so the latter asked the Supreme Court to investigate judge Karine Baghdasaryan.

https://factor.am/390858.html

anti-corruption: education official charged with selling exam answers to student

NSS report says: the suspect is an official working at Education Ministry's Assessment & Testing Center, and happens to be the co-author of the English exam tests. She demanded a $3,000 bribe in exchange for sharing the tests and correct answers with an applicant.

The applicant's mother was supposed to pay the bribe before the exam date. The official visited the mother's office on July 1 and took the bribe, before being arrested outside the building. The bribe was found under her possession.

The bribe taker has been arrested and charged under Article 311.4.2 (large scale bribery, up to 7-12 years in prison). The bribe givers confessed after being arrested. //

In other news, the fact that 37% of recent Armenian language exam participants scored "excellent" has raised suspicions, with some speculating whether those test results were also leaked. The Assessment & Testing Center acting director said they don't have any evidence of Armenian tests leaking.

https://youtu.be/AhwxkKAPppg?t=6 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057448.html https://www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docid=69646 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217927

the issue of universities lowering admission requirements to meet financial goals

Education expert: this process is observed across the world. The world is discussing the topics of education quality, access to education, inclusiveness. Universities obviously would like to set higher standards and train better experts but they find themselves having to lower the standards to gain enough students for financial reasons.

The problem stems from the quality of public education in 1-12 grades. Freshmen students often do not have the basic skills once in a university.

We have a double-digit literacy problem in 1-4 grades according to a World Bank study. We have a problem among adolescents. They lack basic language skills.

One advantage brought by COVID was the opening of the university system for global admissions. Those who were unable to visit abroad for education are now able to receive it remotely.

Armenian universities will face major issues in the coming decade. Even average-skilled people will shun universities in favor of specialized work-oriented organizations [bootcamps] that teach the same skills far better, in only 1-2 years. These [bootcamps] are flexible, while the universities are stuck in the 2000s. They will lose students if they don't adapt.

https://factor.am/390573.html

update: Izmirlyan hospital director is feeling better, transferred to jail again

Charchyan was arrested after an audiotape was shared in which he was allegedly pressuring hospital workers not to vote for Pashinyan. Charchyan himself ran under Kocharyan-ARF (HD) ballot as an MP candidate.

He was taken to an emergency room after the arrest. Now he's doing better, but the lawyer complains that he has diabetes and the jail isn't providing sufficient care.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057503.html

update: Serj's PU alliance candidate will remain under arrest over alleged voter bribery

Gor Sedrakyan will remain behind the bars before his trial, ruled the Appeals Court today.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217913

ARF co-leader Ishkhan Saghatelyan about their plans:

ARF will act as a radical opposition and will use all possible means of political struggle to remove the current government. The elections did not resolve the ongoing political and social crisis in the country. The authorities abused the administrative resources...

[Context for next paragraph: there were rumors that the Kocharyan-side of the HD alliance might not accept mandates. Kocharyan himself said he doesn't see himself working as a "legislator".]

We rule out the option that only ARF members from the HD alliance will accept MPs mandates. The HD alliance will announce its decision on behalf of all members once the Constitutional Court's verdict is in...

Q: why didn't you protest the election results on the streets?

We chose the Constitutional Court route. We protested on the streets for 8 months but it was not fruitful, so we drew conclusions. At this time, we won't take to the streets... But a street is also important for us, regardless of whether we are in Parliament or not...

We will use every tool we have in Parliament. օր ու արև չենք տալու այս իշխանություններին...

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057475.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057477.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057478.html

Constitutional Court judge(s) will not be recused

A judge or judges were asked to recuse themselves from discussing the validity of the June 20 election results. In the end, no one was recused. According to rules, 6 out of 9 judges must vote to approve a recusal.

https://factor.am/390786.html

investor "Masdar" is officially the winner to build 200MW solar farm in Armenia / lowers the offered price

UAE-based solar builder Masdar has been declared, by the Armenian government, as the official winner of the large solar project. Masdar has agreed to sell electricity to Armenia for lower prices than initially promised. It'll be $0.0290 per kWh.

The solar farm will be located in Aragatsotn province's sunny villages of Talin and Dashtadem. These areas were not good for agriculture.

The construction project will be phased: financing, construction, utilization.

The farm will be owned 85% by Masdar and 15% by Armenian National Interests Fund (ANIF).

Masdar CEO Mohamed Al Ramahi: This is an important event in Armenia's path to clean energy. Our victory in this auction opens an interesting page with our Armenian partners. Low-cost solar energy will boost other fields and create jobs.

ANIF director Papazyan: We have done a lot of work at all levels to make this project a reality. This is the largest single investment in modern Armenia's green sector. We're glad to have Masdar as our partner in our evolution towards renewable energy and energy diversification. //

Masdar will invest $174 million in the 500-hectare area. There will be a solar farm and a substation.

The contract was signed in Nov 2019 and is part of a larger 400 MW solar project in Armenia. The discussions for the second 200MW portion have already begun.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057464.html

Tags: #solar #renewable

U.S. Contour Global to invest ֏10.25 billion drams in modernization of Vorotan hydropower plants

Armenian regulator is looking into a $21 million investment project offered by a U.S. company. The company wants to strengthen the dams and structures, protect the environment, modernize.

Almost ֏4 billion will be spent on the modernization of Tatev hydro, with another ֏2.7 billion to replace the power transformers at Shamb hydro.

All those hydro are part of the "Vorotan Hydro Cascade" network located on the Vorotan River in southern Armenia. The U.S. company had bought it for $180 million in 2016.

http://arka.am/en/news/technology/u_s_contour_global_to_invest_10_25_billion_drams_in_modernization_of_vorotan_cascade_of_hydropower_p/

Artsakh to finance high tech education

Artsakh parliament discussed the development of the tech sector today. The Territorial Development Minister presented the 2021 program for state-funded development of the tech sector.

There will be a short-term program in Martuni, Martakert, and Askeran. There will be special courses, offices will be equipped with necessary tech, etc. The graduates will sign work agreements with tech firms.

Up until now, the government was only financing the education process. Now they will handle the job finding process as well. The state will spend ֏50 million this year.

There were also discussions for long-term tech development programs in Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057490.html

innoprom 2021: Economy Minister met the Russian minister of Industry & Trade

Qerobyan and Manturov discussed the activation of a working group, formed in 2020, tasked with improving trade cooperation between Armenia and Russia's Sverdlovsk region.

They discussed the involvement of Russian businesses in Armenia's free economic zones and the manufacturing of solar panels in Armenia.

Russian companies have been invited to take part in the upcoming Ararat Industrial Park in Armenia, and the Engineering City project.

They discussed the production of the Sputnik-V vaccine in Armenia. The Healthcare Minister recently mentioned that the first samples are ready, and if they pass the quality test, they could enter serial production.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057462.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057492.html

investment agreement was signed between Russia's Sverdlovsk region and the Armenian delegation

... during Economy Minister Qerobyan's trip to Russia. He met Sverdlovsk governor Kuyvashev. Armenian and Russian businesses will launch joint productions in both countries.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057470.html

children hospitalized after theme park accident

The media reported that Hakhtanak park's Մրրիկ carousel's seats malfunctioned during a spin, launching a 17yo and 18yo siblings to the ground. No dangerous injuries.

The director later disputes the report, saying the boy likely attempted to leave the seat voluntarily after feeling scared. He denied reports of his sister suffering injuries. He said the carousel was examined and no broken parts were discovered.

It's one of those small carousels that doesn't go heads down.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217882 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217895

health inspectors examine water quality in Kanaker-Zeytun district

Several residents of Yerevan's Zeytun complained about dirty water last week. The issue went away hours later. The theory was that an old water pipe corrosion caused contamination.

The Healthcare Ministry inspectors visited homes and took water samples. No bacteriological or chemical issues were found. The inspectors contacted nearby clinics and learned that no one was admitted with intestinal complaints.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057512.html

Yerevan is renovating 550,000 m^2 streets this year

Noragavit 1st Street is a busy one, it has schools and kindergartens. Lately, the reason for heavy traffic was the need to drive around four dozen potholes. The city began renovating the second 4km portion of the street this year, in addition to last year's works.

Armen Qamalyan is a construction worker who moved back from Russia to work in Armenia. "I spent a few years in Russia. I'm happy I can work for our Armenian people now."

Malatia Sebastia's Hakhtanak neighborhood had 1.2km of its gravel roads asphalted this year. A kid said he is able to ride a bike in front of her grandma's house now.

A metal sheet serving as a bridge was replaced with a real bridge (2-lane) to provide safer passage to Kharberd cemetery visitors.

https://youtu.be/EtwwA2y6wt0 https://factor.am/390670.html

from now on, Berdavan gardens will have 24-hour irrigation when necessary

... announced the Tavush governor's office today, saying it's for the first time since Armenia's independence.

Berdavan is a border settlement in the northeast. Officials visited to discuss irrigation issues. The locals complained that the water pump was old and the irrigation wasn't organized properly.

https://factor.am/390469.html

Dutch parliament formally recognizes 2014 Yezidi genocide by ISIS

Armenia's Yezidi MP Rustam Bakoyan thanked the Dutch MPs for the "historic decision".

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/story/24939-Dutch-parliament-formally-recognizes-Yezidi-genocide https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057526.html

COVID stats

3655 tested. 55 infected. 52 healed. 3 deaths. 2780 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057456.html

product and food prices show signs of decline after a year of increase

Product prices rose 6.5% in the past 12 months and declined 1% from last month.

Food and bevarages: year-over-year +8.8% (veggies +18%, fruits +9%), in last month -2.4% (veggies -14%, fruits -6%)

Dairy, cheese, eggs: YoY +10% (eggs +41%), MoM -2% (eggs -8%)

Sugar: YoY +43%, MoM -1%

Seafood: YoY +20%, MoM +5%

Meat: YoY +7% (pork +25%), MoM +1% (pork +6%)

Oil and fats: YoY +37% (sunflower oil +87%), MoM +1% (sunflower oil +1%)

Alcohol: YoY +9%, MoM +0.3%

Tobacco: YoY +9%, MoM +1%

https://factor.am/390579.html

fast food business is booming / 20% growth from 2019

It's a global trend, according to MP Artak Manukyan, who believes people want to spend less time preparing their food.

1H20: ֏6.5b (-30% vs 2019)

1H21: ֏11.8b (+20% vs 2019)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/217928

low-cost airlines Wizz Air will launch Vienna-Yerevan flights beginning tomorrow

The Hungarian airlines will fly once a week.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057471.html

low-cost airlines Eurowings will launch Cologne-Yerevan flights beginning August 6

The German airlines will fly once a week.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057489.html

legendary duduk performer Jivan Gasparyan dies at the age of 93

Jivan was born in Solag, Kotayk, and had a difficult childhood. He lost his mother at an early age, while his father was deployed during WW2. He grew up in an orphanage.

Jivan began playing duduk at the age of six. In 1947 he traveled to Moscow as part of a musical group, where he received a "Pobeda" watch as a gift from Joseph Stalin.

He won multiple medals and gained international fame after 1956. His work is featured in famous movies like Gladiator, Doctor Zhivago, Eugene Onegin, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057474.html

Ճախրուկ festival will host Arto Tunçboyacıyan and Armenian Navy Band

The music festival, named after a music band from an orphanage, will be held in Vanadzor on July 25.

The festival's goal is to allow orphanage kids to present Armenian music and culture to the public. "The good mood conveyed through music helps to solve the children's psychological problems, which in turn has a positive effect on health."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057500.html

The Artists' Union promises many exhibitions and events in the coming months

Artists will present work by famous and new painters during the summer and autumn months. There will be a collaboration with Iranian cultural representatives. Five Armenian artists will visit Iran to learn their culture, followed by Iranians making a similar trip to Armenia next year.

The upcoming expo will feature 70 pieces from Iranian culture: architecture, նատյուրմորտ, abstract art, etc.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057458.html

yesterday's news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/oefpmx/news_jul52021_artsakhs_tech_summit_coworking_15/?

Перевод на русский by Impossible-Ad-

https://reddit.com/r/ArmDailyReports_RUS_/comments/oeogb8/новости_армении_за_выходные_5_июля_2021/

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/of47jl/news_jul62021_couples_treason_trial_us_firms_20m/

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