2021 June 3

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Jun/3/2021: (1) Hemp is legalized (2) Eco-tourism projects in Khosrov Forests (3) More judges hired (4) Aid for Syunik villages (5) Leather exports (6) Farming projects (7) Morgues, refrigeration, new hospitals (8) Guarding Nairit chemicals (9) Tax waivers: solar (10) Anti-corruption: bribery (11) F
by ar_david_hh


This is your 12-minute Thursday report in 3029 words.

Photos: new eco-tourism project in Khosrov Forests / supervised hiking / road renovation

To ensure access for tourists while protecting nature, the Nature Ministry launched a new program in Khosrov Forests.

Special routes are dedicated to hiking, more warning signs are installed. The visitors can choose from several hiking packages and pay with an electronic system. There will be classes to teach about nature.

Minister Romanos: to buy a ticket, use the vending machine or the website to select Khosrov Forest. You'll be presented with 8 available routes. If you're a tour operator, you should register in advance. //

Tourists then enter the Visitor Center, which underwent a renovation recently.

Minister Romanos: we worked on this for several months with the help of the Caucasus Nature Fund, GIZ, and others. In Khosrov Forests we have historical-architectural monuments such as Havuts tar monastery, Kaqavaberd, Astghik and Vahagn waterfalls.

The group of visitors, which will include 10-12 people, will hike under the supervision of trained experts the moment they enter the reserve. The limits are placed to minimize the impact on nature.

The roads that lead here will be renovated with 690m asphalt. There will be two parking lots. //

The journalists were given a tour under one of the packages. They traveled from Garni station to Havuts monastery. The route is on the left side of the Azat River and the similarly named gorge.

This area is rich in junipers, cranberries, and ishakotuk (?). The journalists walked 5km for 2.5 hours. Another way to get to the monastery is from the Geghard area but it's longer.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054224.html

photos: nature lovers would enjoy these tourism sites in Armenia

Aragatsi Dzor is located in Lori's Arevtsag settlement. The locals call it Tsitsqar. More photos and sites in the article:

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054219.html

Armenia elected as a member of Executive Council of World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

... for 2021-2025. The next European session will be held in Yerevan next year.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/215417

Armenia is a "pitstop" for Indians traveling to UAE

Due to the travel ban from India, the Indians traveling to UAE prefer to stay 14 days in Armenia before proceeding to apply for an entry permit for UAE. The entire travel, including the stay in Armenia, costs them $1,200.

The close proximity to Dubai (3 hours) makes Armenia an appealing option.

Sujay Sarigommula works in Dubai. He recently had to spend two weeks in Armenia, along with 150 other Indians. Armenia is the most cost-effective and closest, compared to Ukraine, Moscow, Uzbekistan, and other options.

There is even an online consulting service with Indians helping other Indians on how to reach UAE.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/uae/transport/armenia-becomes-quarantine-hub-for-hundreds-of-indians-returning-to-the-uae-1.1234028 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054244.html

Syunik border villages receive more agricultural equipment / contracts to purchase goods

After the war, Pashinyan's office formed a group tasked with learning what the Syunik villagers' needs are. Today, five more villages received dozens of motorblocks and lawnmowers.

Pashinyan's adviser: Up to 1,000 units of equipment will be provided. The emphasis on the Goris-Kapan section will be the development of gardens. The goal is to turn the villager into a business.

We should help them sign long-term agreements with large companies to ensure their goods are always sold. We might soon have a solution. There are several processing companies in Syunik that will be invited for discussions.

The villagers should drop the shovel and use mechanical equipment if we're talking about establishing small businesses. Four families will share one piece of equipment in this village. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054228.html

2,000 hectares of lands will become irritated after construction of Karkar river junction

Artsakh president Arayik visited the construction site in the Askeran region. "This will significantly change the agricultural production in the region."

He met villagers from Khanapat and Khramort and spoke about the construction of housing for IDPs. One of the roads leading to the village will be asphalted this year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054230.html

raw leather (cowhide) exports are temporarily banned to boost local industry and revenues

The government: the local industrial companies that process leather have a demand for raw leather materials. They are not functioning at full capacity.

After the export ban, we expect leather and shoe production to increase 16%, shoe profits by 30%, taxation by 6%. The processing companies will create 350 new jobs.

Last year, there were 51K raw leather exports worth $260k, down by 50% from the previous year. The main markets were Turkey and Iran.

Simultaneously, sheep leather exports grew 70%, with the main markets being Russia and Italy.

There were 39 companies processing leather in Armenia. Their production volume was ֏127m, up by 7.7x from the previous year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054237.html

intense gardens & agricultural reforms

Today the government approved the 2022-2023 strategy to boost the creation of intense gardens, drip irrigation networks, and high tech in agriculture. The emphasis will be on promoting non-traditional high-value crop production (hemp incoming?)

The new program combines several earlier-established subsidy programs. It's about subsidies to install hairnets, other tech, irrigation, etc.

The goal is to create 500 hectares of new intense gardens annually: ֏15b investments. Due to the efficient nature of intense gardens, the production of fruits and berries is expected to increase by 11,500 tons annually.

There are 60,500 farms that grow fruits, grapes, and berries. Due to the fragmentation of their lands and them being small, the productivity is currently low, therefor the costs are high and the profitability is low. [there incentive programs that encourage farmers to join and create cooepratives]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054259.html

United States will provide an $11m agricultural loan and grant

It's for developing agricultural infrastructure and financial programs for low-income areas.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054313.html

hemp is legalized

Parliament voted 68-0-0 to approve the Government bill to legalize industrial hemp. The law about narcotics will be amended. The growing, sale, and export will be licensed and monitored.

When asked whether it could make people high, the govt representative said, "no, this is industrial hemp with less than 0.3% narcotic, some poppy flowers contain more substance."

The government believes the legalization will help increase revenues from the sale of hemp materials, including CBD oil, in addition to utilizing Armenia's unused lands.

https://youtu.be/YWLS_XkzABk https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054289.html https://youtu.be/55KjI7IBw3o

idiotka

During a Parliamentary session, several opposition MPs seized the moment to criticize the authorities for the morgue incident, with some saying it should be the main topic of Parliament's discussion for the day. Others accused the opposition of populism and ignoring other important topics that can be discussed in Parliament.

MP Taguti Tovmasyan (armlur outlet owner), who recently left the ruling alliance to join Serj Sargsyan's Pativ Unem alliance, said "what is the message the state is sending? That tomorrow you will turn into a stack of corpses thrown in any room?"

In response, the ruling party MP Lena Nazaryan mumbled "idiot" on a hot mic. Taguhi demanded an apology. Nazaryan said Taguhi should be the one to apologize for being a "political opportunist and using her political position to benefit her media outlet. She left the party after the war and blamed it all on us, while she was also part of us during the war and she only left when it was convenient for her."

https://youtu.be/N0Pjnrcbw9w https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054266.html https://factor.am/378048.html https://youtu.be/Og6K4kchR08

morgues and refrigeration in Armenia

Context here. The refrigerator in the province was broken so the morgue employees decided to keep the remaining soldiers' bodies in the coldest available place: a thermally-insulated basement (still not cold enough). They could have driven them to another city but they were "concerned about it being too far away from families". A few people were fired. There is a felony investigation.

The Healthcare Ministry spoke about the state of morgues and refrigeration in Armenia.

Minister Avanesyan: the only forensic-scientific center in Armenia was in Yerevan Morgue as of 2018. There were none in provinces. The Yerevan forensic service had 25 refrigerated units. Today they have 200.

Yerevan morgue went through a complete renovation since 2018. New equipment was purchased.

Metsamor morgue was renovated in 2020. The Abovyan morgue was rebuilt; there are ongoing constructions for a new refrigerator room. Salaries rose 25%.

Pashinyan: the budget rose by ֏117m in 2019, and by ֏230m in 2020. So why did this story happen? We have changed the system but changing the person is more difficult.

Everyone responsible for the improper storage of bodies has been fired. Lessons must be learned, but at the same time, we cannot expect the Minister to travel every day to observe how they work.

Whenever we make reforms in the system there are protests about job cuts. I remember how one time the healthcare workers went on a protest with "slippers" on, before returning back to a medical facility with the same dirty slippers. We have a basic problem with ethics and education. We can set standards, but we cannot change the person's thinking.

Many of the morgue employees have been working 24/7 recently, often under hostile attitude and insults. We must value their work.

Armenia did not even have a DNA analysis tool until 2018. The first device was purchased before the war, while the second after the war.

The DNA identification process is in the final stages right now. Some of the bodies were impossible to identify. We need the help of international colleagues to identify 50 remains because even five DNA samplings did not succeed. But we also have families who refused to submit DNA samples for identification. There are also bodies that were identified but not taken by the families yet. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054239.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054261.html

new hospital will be built in Vayots Dzor

The Parliament discussed a $7.4m loan agreement to build a new hospital in Vayots Dzor and to finish the construction of a new Martuni medical center building. The construction slowed down last year because part of the funds was spent on purchasing COVID equipment. The construction is expected to finish next year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054257.html

Nairit chemicals will be guarded 24/7

The government allocated ֏286m for Emergency Ministry to establish a round-the-clock patrol in the Nairit factory facility to guard flammable materials.

Last year they examined the quantities of nitrite and other flammable materials after the Beirut port explosion and concluded that the existing quantities would not allow for a similar explosion in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054259.html

tax incentives for solar panel installations

The government gave a 3-year VAT waiver to A-S Energy to import and install 5MW solar farms in Gegharquniq's Astghadzor. It'll produce 9.6 million kW/h annually. The investments are worth ֏1.6b.

Barev Arev company won't pay import taxes for ֏4.7b worth of solar equipment for Gegharquniq and Aragatsotn provinces.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054259.html

anti-corruption: NSS catches bribery suspects on 4K HDR+

Report says: the NSS and Labor Ministry cooperated to catch several public officials and public workers with bribery.

On March 10, the Director of the medical examination department demanded and accepted a bribe from a healthy applicant who wanted to claim she was disabled. The story repeated with another applicant.

The second suspect is a social aid worker who took bribes from several residents to register them as aid recipients and not to cut the aid.

Overall, 16 people are charged with felonies. 4 are under arrest.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=668516110649420 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054226.html

anti-corruption: 18 forest guards are facing deforestation charges

Report says: Lori prosecutors have filed charges against 18 forest officials this year so far. They failed to patrol the forests and falsified documents to cover up the illegal logging of 943 trees.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054269.html

anti-corruption: Serj Sargsyan's trial is delayed

Former president Sargsyan and few others are charged with theft of ֏489m worth of fuel that was meant as aid for farmers. Today their lawyers could not appear for trial so it was delayed.

Two other suspects, one of whom was the key witness against Sargsyan, recently died from COVID.

https://factor.am/377945.html

more judges will be hired to reduce trial times

Today the Government approved a plan to hire more Appeals and Bankruptcy judges.

Government: the number of cases increases yet the number of judges does not. The Appeals Court (civil) has one president and 15 judges (legal minimum). There are ~7K active trial filings.

7 new judges will be hired.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054259.html

proposal: large fireworks allowed only during holidays, kids can't buy it

There are 1-5 categories of fireworks. The government wants to restrict the most powerful 3-5 categories only for holidays or special authorized events. A license will be required.

The sale of 1-2 categories will be prohibited to children under 16. They cannot be used in residential areas. The product must come with safety instructions.

Category 1-2 fireworks are banned if they produce 60db noise within 250 meters.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054274.html

COVID stats

2856 tested. 108 infected. 235 healed. 2 deaths. 3631 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054235.html

volumes of bank deposits recover to pre-war levels

Central Bank: the deposits were shrinking in October and November amid uncertainty, pandemic, and war, but now they are almost at the pre-war levels as of May.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054310.html

Central Bank about the loan market:

Credit risk has increased. Overall, the share of bad loans was 7% as of April. We saw a growth in business and agricultural loans. However, people continue to promptly repay their mortgage loans on time.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054305.html

Russian ambassador visited Syunik's border roads

... where Armenian and Russian board guards conduct a joint patrol.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054275.html

Azerbaijani court accepts the case to try 14 Armenian POWs

Azeri regime claims the POWs are "terrorists" and wants a prison sentence for them.

https://factor.am/377850.html

EU is ready to help with border delimitation

... said Charles Michel during a phone conversation with Ilham Aliyev, during which the latter expressed readiness to sign a peace agreement with Armenia.

https://factor.am/377839.html

French president Macron sent a letter to Aliyev:

France is ready to help with delimitation, POWs should return home, make it easier for UNESCO to enter Karabakh, there must be fair and stable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

https://factor.am/377774.html

Azerbaijan's death toll number's don't add up

Azeri regime claims they sustained 2,900 deaths and 1,200 injuries during the war. That's ~4,100 casualties.

Today, the Turkish state media wrote that Turkey sent aid to the children of 6,000 dead Azeri soldiers. They later removed the post and wrote "dead or wounded". But the number still doesn't add up.

Earlier this year, an expert with links within the Armenian army predicted that the real Azeri death toll would be around 5,600 instead of the officially-reported 2,800 (by Azerbaijan) and 7,600 (by Armenia).

https://factor.am/378145.html https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lnq3ia/feb192021_1_poll_former_regime_is_more_to_blame/

Universal Postal Union won't register Azeri stamp over Armenophobia

The international postal body will not register the Azerbaijan-2020 stamp because they are "against the conventions and ethics". They asked Azerbaijan to review it.

The stamps were printed after the war and contained Armenophobic content. The Armenian government had sent a complaint letter to the postal union.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1054330.html

CSTO military bloc will conduct "anti-narco-trafficking" army exercises in Armenia

Drones, aviation, and heavy equipment will be used.

https://factor.am/377944.html https://interfax.by/news/policy/raznoe/1297738/

rumors & rebuttals: Pashinyan did not say Armenia's Sev Lake "isn't worth it"

news.am outlet published an article about Pashinyan's recent speech, which has been circulating on social media since May 28. It gives the misleading impression that Pashinyan was saying Syunik's Sev Lake "isn't worth it".

Here is what he actually says in the video:

Soviet maps were published. We all saw that the border line passes through the lake with the upper 30% being on the other side. Now let's figure this out. Let's examine the map and if it's true, should we accept it, or should we start a war for that 30% [Azeri portion] of the lake?

https://news.am/eng/news/646012.html

representatives of Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan held a meeting in Moscow

... on June 2. "The topic was border de-escalation, we discussed the return of 6 Armenian soldiers," said Armenian MOD.

The three parties chose not to publicize the meeting yesterday. A Russian outlet leaked the news.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/215331 https://factor.am/378149.html

prosecutors are examining an alleged "voter bribery" video

A video was circulated showing two women knocking on apartment doors and "promising things" if they vote for BHK. It's about loans, tuitions, etc. It is yet to be determined if it's "bribery".

Video: https://www.facebook.com/100028078908341/videos/818521962427093/

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/215365

prominent BHK member Vardan Ghukasyan quits politics

Ghukasyan is a former Gyumri mayor with a controversial track record in Parliament.

Why aren't you on the ballot list?

I don't want to be in Parliament anymore.

Are you quitting politics?

Yes.

Why?

I'm tired of you journalists, fake news, politics in general.

Did BHK offer you to stay?

I received offers from many.

Will you support anyone?

Kocharyan. Let there be transparent elections so people can express their will. I'm not an oracle and cannot predict.

What's next for you?

Business.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/215300

opposition LHK leader Marukyan criticizes small parties for not joining them for alliance

Marukyan: we waited until the last moment with the hope to form an alliance. There are many parties, new and old, small and medium, that somehow believe they can win 20% of votes so they don't see a need to unite. They are detached from reality. They operate on the emotional field.

We could have 4 parties in Parliament. The other 22 will be left out. If each of them captured 1%, that means 22% of the votes are discarded. Wouldn't it be better to consolidate these forces? Vote for us and we will represent you.

[Per latest polls, LHK would lose all their Parliamentary seats due to the inability to capture 5% of votes.]

https://factor.am/378060.html

36% of electoral candidates are women

There are 2605 applicants representing 26 parties and alliances. HHK is by far the largest with 230 members.

Party with the highest female share: Pan-Armenian National State (43.9%)

Party with the lowest female share: Kocharyan+ARF alliance (30.7%)

https://hetq.am/hy/article/131649

Արաղ կխմե՞ս

Yerevan's Norq nursing home has a new staff member: Robin the robot. The seniors love playing with it. Sos grandpa once offered a shot of vodka but the robot replied "I'm still too young, I can't."

https://youtu.be/clYNeXmNrT0

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/215314

Wednesday report containing Meghri corridor document leak

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/nqtnm4/jun22021_1_kocharyans_corridor_document/

Все Новости за 2 июня 2021 (by Impossible-Ad-)

https://www.reddit.com/r/ArmDailyReports_RUS_/comments/nqv3ya/все_новости_за_2_июня_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/nrm4ap/jun32021_1_hemp_is_legalized_2_ecotourism/

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