2021 June 19

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Daily news wrap-up

News - Jun/19/2021: (1) Gen. Samvel Babayan about army & financial reforms (2) Armenia's 4 leaders and their relations with Turkey; Mount Ararat's disappearance from Soccer Federation logo (3) Armenia purchases more Sputnik-V (4) Elections are tomorrow (5) Armenian boxer defeats Azeri opponent
by ar_david_hh


This is your 11-minute Saturday report in 2880 words.

in case you missed Friday news

In English.

In Russian, translated by Impossible-Ad-.

WarGonzo Russian reporter returns to Armenia to cover elections

Semyon Pegov cited his sources claiming the U.S. embassy in Armenia beefed up its security by bringing a group of highly-armed Navy officers, enough to repel an attack by thousands of rioters if things ever escalate.

Pegov expressed hope that Azerbaijan and Turkey won't be given any opportunities to take advantage of the situation if things escalate. He described Kocharyan as the more "pro-Russian" candidate.

https://youtu.be/CCj9d3bELRE

electoral code was recently reformed to increase punishment for certain violations / examples:

Article 149.2: large gatherings inside or outside the polling stations, violence or threats of violence in these locations. Punishable between a ֏300k fine to 6 years in prison, depending on the severity and whether it was done by an organized group.

Article 153: 1 voter = 1 vote, otherwise 2-5 years in prison and inability to serve in public office for years. Organized groups get up to 6 years.

Article 154: cannot force the voter to disclose whom they voted for or to take steps to lean whom they voted for. Cannot enter the voting booth and violate the secrecy. Punishable from ֏500k to 5 years.

The voter cannot intentionally vote publicly to ensure others have seen whom they voted for. Cannot take photos of your ballot to give others in exchange for monetary/property gain. Punishable from ֏100k-֏200k

Article 154.1: cannot use/submit fake ballots or envelopes. Up to 7 years for individuals or 10 years for groups.

Article 154.4: no open carry of weapons in polling stations unless your job requires it. Up to 3 years.

Article 154.7: stealing ballot boxes, voter lists, committee books, committee stamps, cameras, voting machines, is punishable by up to 4 years and inability to work in public office. Groups get up to 6 years.

Article 154.8: voting for someone else. From a ֏400k fine to 2 years, and inability to work in public office for years.

https://youtu.be/WyM9igKy6yE?t=11

update: Syunik official arrested for forcing workers to attend/not attend rallies

Police reports: the director of Gusan Ashot cultural center in Goris, Syunik instructed his subordinate librarian and other workers to attend Kocharyan's "Armenia Alliance" rally on June 7. On June 15, he threatened to fire the librarian and prevented them from attending Pashinyan's rally. The director has been arrested and charged with Article 149.1. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055864.html

the police will investigate reports of forcing psychiatric patients to attend a rally

A video was posted claiming to show Sevan mental ward patients being instructed to attend Pashinyan's rally. The police and prosecutors will investigate the report.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055872.html

the Investigative Committee shares its stats about violations:

They received 22 reports. The following have escalated into felony cases: 3 campaign obstructions, 1 forcing to participate in the campaign, 1 obstructing journalists, 1 bribery.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055865.html

Pashinyan about voter bribery & rules:

The law enforcement system is quite effective in countering electoral bribery. Make sure to vote tomorrow to overcome the crisis of the past 8 months. Don't make any markings on the ballot, otherwise it will be rendered invalid.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055875.html https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=824548875157218

OSCE/ODIHR will have over 300 observers across Armenia

The delegation met Parliament president Mirzoyan today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055902.html

the total number of voters included in the voter register

2,578,678

1505 of them will be voting from hospitals.

Other stats: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055863.html

COVID stats

4121 tested. 81 infected. 106 healed. 4 deaths.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055856.html

Armenia purchases additional 30,000 doses of Sputnik-iiiii vaccine

AstraZeneca and CoronaVac are for those above 18. Sputnik is for medical workers, anyone with chronic illness, and nursing homes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055897.html

Armenian boxer defeats the Azeri opponent

U22 European championship. Georgik Marutyan defeated Jalal Garbanov with a technical knock-out and a significant lead in the number of points.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055906.html

Armenia braces for heatwave from Arabian deserts

40c/104F is expected in Yerevan and elsewhere.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1055869.html

the second Azeri soldier drowns in occupied territories

Private Əkbərov died while swimming in the Qashatagh region of Artsakh.

https://razm.info/152963

Armenia's 4 leaders and their stance on Armenia-Turkey relations

Levon: 1991-1998

Armenia was trying to normalize relations with Turkey during the Karabakh war. Levon said Armenia is ready to establish relations without any political compromises and conditions.

Turkish officials were also keen on establishing economic and cultural ties. In Nov 1991, the Turkish ambassador to Russia said that Turkey plans to open a consulate in Yerevan.

Months later, Turkey recognized the Republic of Armenia after the collapse of the USSR, but no diplomatic relations were established. Turkish president wanted Armenia to recognize Azerbaijan's "territorial integrity", and to remove a clause from Armenia's newest independence declaration which mentioned efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

President Levon was against including the Genocide-related clause in the independence declaration, saying it could have been included in a separate document. Levon believed that Armenia's existence was not to be taken for granted unless it could establish normal ties with neighbors.

In June 1991, Levon gives a speech in which he says Moscow is unable to accept the idea that sooner or later Armenians will understand that they cannot forever rely on others. "Russians may leave Caucasus tomorrow, whether you like it or not. They left in 1918. They were ready to leave in 1942 if Stalingrad fell. They can leave today. How will Armenia live in this neighborhood while making demands and creating enemies?"

Levon gives an interview to a Turkish outlet and says Armenia wants to have good relations with Turkey. Levon and the Turkish president meet twice. A Turkish delegation visits Yerevan. Armenia later asks Turkey for 100,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian aid. Turkish president Demirel agrees.

Levon's aide announces that Armenia and Turkey are very close to establishing diplomatic ties, but the efforts stall when Armenian forces capture the Kelbajar district in Karabakh. Turkey immediately closes the border with Armenia.

Weeks later, Levon visits Turkey to participate in [another] president Ozal's funeral.

Demirel becomes Turkish president again. Levon meets him to discuss relations. Turkey calls for Armenian withdrawal from Lachin Corridor as a goodwill gesture. Levon is pressured internally to resign; he continues to speak in favor of the normalization of ties.

Levon's successor Robert Kocharyan places more emphasis on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Levon criticizes Kocharyan for this, while praising Serj's later efforts to normalize ties.

Robert Kocharyan: 1998-2008

Kocharyan becomes the president and immediately raises the issue of the Armenian Genocide during a UN speech. He makes it one of the major foreign policy topics.

Kocharyan meets the Turkish president twice. Armenia wants relations without conditions, Turkey wants Armenia to recognize Azeri "territorial integrity".

The October 27 terror attack happens. A Turkish delegation attends the funerals in Armenia.

Kocharyan visits Turkey a month later. Turkish president Demirel says Armenia can be included in the regional oil/gas networks if the Karabakh conflict is resolved. Kocharyan responds saying, "no one should mistakenly believe that we can make concessions for the sake of these regional programs."

While the U.S. Congress was discussing the Armenian Genocide, Kocharyan said, "Armenia has nothing to lose. Armenia has no diplomatic relations with Turkey. Turkey maintains its blockade of Armenia unilaterally..."

In 2005, Turkish president Erdogan sends a letter to Kocharyan and offers to form a panel of historians to study the 1915 events. Wikileaks revealed Kocharyan's response to Erdogan, in which Kocharyan wrote that Erdogan's offer cannot be effective if it avoids resolving the problems of today and tomorrow. He rejects the historical panel offer. Instead, he offers to create an intergovernmental commission to discuss all unresolved issues between AM-TR.

Kocharyan later calls the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Karabakh in exchange for open borders "unacceptable".

Serj Sargsyan: 2008-2018

The relations noticeably improve after he becomes president. Abdullah Gul congratulates Serj on the election victory. Turkey sends a letter saying they want to normalize relations. The two exchange letters.

Serj invites Abdullah to watch the soccer match between AM-TR in Yerevan. Abdullah arrives on 6 Sep 2008. Armenia's soccer federation removes Mount Ararat from its logo ahead of the game.

Some Armenians were against Abdullah's visit and the normalization of relations in general. ARF organized protests with activists holding signs in the routes where Abdullah's motorcade was scheduled to travel.

Months later, Armenia and Turkey announce that they are close to establishing relations. Serj briefly meets Erdogan in the Davos forum. However, Erdogan insists that Turkey won't sign the normalization protocols unless the Karabakh conflict is resolved.

Despite the threat, the two sign the protocols later that year, in 2009. Serj tells the Armenian public that Armenia has no choice but to normalize relations with Turkey. He says the normalization doesn't mean the Genocide is being questioned, and that the normalization protocols are a separate issue from the Karabakh conflict.

Turkish side delays the ratification of the protocols, citing the Karabakh conflict. Serj Sargsyan freezes the process, citing the delays. In 2014, Serj gives a harsh speech in UN and sends the protocols to "գրողի ծոցը". [ballsy]

Serj then recalls the protocols from Parliament and puts an end to it on 1 March 2018.

Nikol Pashinyan: 2018-present

Pashinyan continues to keep the Genocide recognition on the agenda. He says Armenia and Turkey should not impose any preconditions for normalizing relations.

Pashinyan says that for as long as Turkey continues to associate their relations with the Karabakh conflict, he isn't optimistic about progress. He later says Turkey would also benefit from establishing ties with Armenia, and that there should be mutual respect.

A 16-year-old Turkish shepherd accidentally crosses the Armenian border while herding his animals. According to Turkish media, Erdogan calls Pashinyan and asks the boy to be returned, Pashinyan agrees, the boy is returned.

Throughout 2020 Turkey grew openly pro-Azeri, the war happened. After the war, Armenia's Security Council chief said Armenia should make corrections in approaches to lift the border blockade. Another prominent ruling party member said there is an opportunity to end the hostility between Armenia and Turkey.

Later, on 10 May 2021, Pashinyan said it is a historical fact that Turkey has been an enemy of Armenia, but that enmity "must be controllable, and we will go with that direction".

https://fip.am/16093

Tags: #Turkey #ArmeniaTurkey #SerjTurkey #KocharyanTurkey #LevonTurkey #PashinyanTurkey

General Samvel Babayan about weapons, army, de-bloating public sector, professional army:

The army leadership received funding for 25 years before shifting all the blame on the political leadership within a day after realizing they were losing. The politicians may have their share of guilt but the crime was committed in the army.

We did not prepare for war. We were preparing to give away the lands politically. We were under the illusion that there wouldn't be a war and we would be able to peacefully give away those lands.

They negotiated over this for 24 years but not one politician agreed to carry the burden of compromising. This lead to the war. I've been explaining this since 2013. I wrote letters and gave speeches. I said you have to purchase specific weapons, and if you don't or can't, then you must go for a compromise. They did neither.

Q: some of the generals you criticize are part of an opposition campaign today and complain that the government did not allow them to organize and fight properly.

The army is not a Culture Ministry. It doesn't need "permission". Everyone obeys the commander, who is the chief of staff. As for the political commander, his job is to deliver supplies and approve the operations that have already been drafted by the army command. Politicians don't do anything more. If you can show an example of politicians rejecting an operation then it's another question.

Q: the generals say they wanted certain weapons and that they've been asking for them for years.

They did not ask for it "years ago". As far as I know, they created a plan in 2018 about what weapons should be purchased; they were supposed to purchase them by 2025. But they forgot to ask Azerbaijan not to start a war until 2025 (sarcasm).

Q: why didn't the former authorities give the lands and establish peace? If they supported giving the lands [as they claim now], and if Baku was ready, they could give the lands...

Now that the war is over everyone speaks about giving lands loudly. They claim they were ready to give 7 regions, keep the Lachin corridor, no status for Artsakh, etc. Now they accuse today's govt of not doing it.

But they should have taken the responsibility and done that during their term. They kept delaying. One excuse in 2016 [after April war losses], followed by another excuse later [Serj wanted to become Premier]. It never happened. Those who did the revolution were unaware of the past agreement and attempted to negotiate a better deal for Armenia. This is how we ended up with war.

Q: if someone agreed to give the lands, wouldn't you call them a "traitor"?

No. Read my 2013 letter. I urged Serj to accept the OSCE Co-chair's offer and give the lands unless he can purchase specific weapons. Serj could show my letter and say "Babayan also supports giving lands".

It would not be hard to give the lands. They could have an open dialogue with the public.

Q: why didn't they?

They wanted to play a fake hero. They also hoped that the superpowers would not allow a war to begin.

Q: how do you plan to ensure our safety?

The resources that I offered to spend on weapons in 2013 must be spent now, plus more. We have no choice. We need a professional army.

Q: where do you find the money for the professional army? They used to say it costs astronomical sums.

Who says that? Those who say that know exactly where and how to find that astronomical sum. Trust me for 5 years and you'll see it's possible.

Our 18-year-old conscripts must serve only 1-year uchebka, instead of being deployed on front lines. This is parallel to a professional army. The 20-30-year-olds get recruited quarterly; you form the professional army by picking from them.

In 5 years we will have a professional army with high-quality weapons. They will be able to carry out any mission. I have prepared and presented full details on how to do this. Politicians are currently deliberating on it.

The army is a small child. You have to keep an eye on it. Our army was neglected for years. There are numbers I cannot disclose today. I can't say how many regular soldiers and officers we have, but the ratio is ridiculous...

Let's say we have 2x as many commanding officers. You have a head without legs. A money-laundering machine. A place where you appoint officers for salary. Generous medals and promotions.

Q: where do you find billions of dollars to buy the necessary weapons?

First. Our businesses evade 35% of taxes by hiring accountants to use loopholes. Bring them to the tax field.

Second. We need to review the bloated public system and normative base (normativniy baza). For example, we appointed you as a department head and gave you a 17,000 annual "prabeg" driving allowance. Then the papers show that you drove 80 kilometers a day for 260 days. So I ask you, how did you manage to even work in an office if you spent all day driving? Did we hire you as a race driver?

You hired someone for ֏100,000/mo just to help them put food on their table. But on top of that, you also pay for the property, water, electricity. When you do the math it's a lot more than ֏100,000.

We are probably the only country where our apparatus expenditures, let's say 21% of the budget goes toward salaries, and to ensure upkeep for that 21%, the apparatus expenditures are 45% of the budget. Businesses usually don't spend above 7%.

Q: but will it be enough to counter Azerbaijan which has more money?

First, we will have a $5 billion budget. Second, what I explained above is nothing small. Third, you can bring finances from abroad. I'm confident we can do it. The problem is many people say we can't do it. I tell them "then turn yourself in as a captive." If we can't protect ourselves then we must become someone's province. Why are we even delaying it?

We have no other choice. We either build a strong army that will strengthen our diplomats' spine, or we become a province.

How many political forces are running for elections today? How many of them are doing business? Ask them if they enjoy using loopholes to bypass taxes. You like that? This has to be shamed, it has to be perceived as treason.

Q: would you amend the Constitution?

In its entirety. Every clause must be reviewed and simplified. When your citizen or a foreign business reads your Constitution, they must be able to tell where your country is headed to. It should be a guide. We should switch to a semi-presidential system.

https://youtu.be/_QTq8kZszN8

Tags: #SamvelBabayan

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/o3nt4p/news_jun192021_1_gen_samvel_babayan_about_army/

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