2021 March 10

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/10/2021: (1) Coup canceled. Onik is fired; he sues. Pashinyan meets army leaders. Opposition reacts (2) Poll: Pashinyan party still most popular. Majority would trust elections held under Pashinyan (3) POW & charity (4) Yerevan & Gyumri (5) Indian trade route via Armenia (6) Hemp council (7)more
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Wednesday report in 3388 words.

Chief of General Staff of Army Onik Gasparyan is officially fired, to be replaced by Artak Davtyan, but the door isn't shut behind him / Pashinyan meets the military

After a lengthy standoff with the civilian authorities, which sparked fears of a possible coup, and President Sarkissian's refusal to challenge the termination decree in Constitutional Court, the CoGS Onik

Gasparyan officially lost his job today.

Sarkissian left the door open for Onik's possible return, however. Sarkissian is challenging the law that was used to fire Onik; not the decree to fire him, but the law that was passed in 2017. Sarkissian said any decisions made today can be reversed later if the Court finds the law was unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court has already accepted Sarkissian's petition and will spend up to 30 days to decide whether to examine the case.

A QP MP argues president Sarkissian doesn't have the right to ask the Constitutional Court to examine an already-established law. "The president can challenge a draft law before it activates, but not after. The Constitutional Court should decide whether Sarkissian has the right to petition the Constitutional Court regarding an established law," he believes. The ruling party, however, has not adopted this as an official stance.

President Sarkissian's refusal to challenge the firing decree had earlier sparked outrage in Vazgen Manukyan's opposition camp, with Manukyan referring to Sarkissian as "not a president but a rich tourist."

After the news about Onik Gasparyan's termination was officially announced, Onik announced that he'll be separately challenging the termination decision in a lower court. He again called for Pashinyan's resignation followed and called for snap elections afterward, an unpopular idea supported by the former regime and few survey responders.

After learning the news about Onik's termination, the head of 3rd Army Corps Grigori Khachaturov reiterated that he demands Pashinyan's resignation. Grigori Khachaturov is the son of Yuri Khachaturov, who is a co-defendant alongside Robert Kocharyan in the March 1st case. Yuri Khachaturov is accused of using the army against civilian protesters in 2008. Several other CoGS officials reiterated their support for Onik.

First president Levon Ter-Petrosyan welcomed Onik's decision to challenge the termination in a legal institute. Levon thanked the army as a whole for not "caving to pressures to join political processes."

Pashinyan nominated former CoGS Artak Davtyan to return and take the position vacated by Onik. President Sarkissian has 3 days to decide whether to confirm Davtyan's appointment. Meanwhile, before Davtyan's approval/rejection, Lt. Gen Stepan Galsyan will serve as the acting CoGS.

Pashinyan met the command staff of the army. Onik Gasparyan wasn't among the dozens of high-ranking military officials. There were deputy CoGS officials present in the meeting. "I'm glad to see you, although we would all like our meeting to take place in a slightly different setting. We, our state, our people, are going through a very difficult ordeal, but I want to state that even in the hour of the most difficult ordeal, our country, our people, any citizen, any member of the government, none of us can underestimate the services provided by the generals, officers, and Privates of the Armenian Armed Forces," said Pashinyan.

During the military meeting, Pashinyan informed that CoGS Onik Gasparyan's duties are terminated. "I'd like to thank Mr. Gasparyan for all his services to the Republic of Armenia, not only as CoGS but also throughout his entire life. He spent practically his entire adult life in the Armed Forces."

Pashinyan presented the new nominee for CoGS Artak Davtyan, saying "together we will overcome the test and create a stronger army and republic." He asked all officers to continue to serve in the armed forces.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045610.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045611.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045640.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045638.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045643.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045697.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045645.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045674.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045675.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045679.html , , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/291026/ , https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=237140404667656 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045695.html , https://youtu.be/R8oH0sBr0L4 , https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ldh43c/feb52021_1_general_artak_on_drones_draft_2/ , https://www.civilnet.am/news/545317/գլխավոր-շտաբի-պետ-օնիկ-գասպարյանն-իրավունքի-ուժով-համարվում-է-ազատված․-կառավարություն/

Tags: #OnikGasparyan #CoGS #ConstitutionalCourt #ArtakDavtyan

the reaction to CoGS's firing / Sarkissian officially joins the "traitor" club

HHK Arpine Hovhannisyan apologized for voting to elect Sarkissian as president in 2018. They are upset that the president refused to challenge Onik's firing. "During these years, the president has forgotten many times what he should have done and has ignored the state interest."

Arpine called the president a "traitor" (✔) and said that he has earned that title.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208592

ARF co-leader Ishkhan: the traitor (✔) who occupies the Premier's seat continues to topple the Constitutional Order. I believe the people have the right to rebellion. [...] I don't expect the army to join us, but I expect Onik Gasparyan to remain in his place.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208594 , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/291014/

Non-former-regime opposition LHK leader Marukyan isn't happy with the final firing of CoGS. He had earlier agreed to sign an agreement with the ruling party to hold snap elections under the conditions that Onik kept his job, but since he is fired, Marukyan says it is too soon to talk about the snap election offer made by Pashinyan.

In other words, they are back to square one. Pashinyan wants all 3 parties to agree not to nominate a new Premier in the event he resigns, so he can resign and immediately trigger snap elections. Both opposition parties are against the offer as of right now.

The ruling party leader said they do not want to tie the CoGS issue with snap elections.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045659.html , https://factor.am/346623.html ,

Russian Foreign Ministry was asked to comment on the political events. They reiterated that "it's Armenia's internal problem, we don't take any sides."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045646.html

Actor Hovhannes Azoyan (խուճուճ տղեն), who earlier sharply criticized Manukyan camp for organizing a mock execution under the chants of "Nikol traitor", released a statement saying, "I thank our nation's non-traitor kind, who ignored the real traitors who were calling others a traitor." (traitor-o-meter ✔)

Azoyan continued, "This picture reflects the defeat of our 30 years of negative and destructive habits. This is the end of our defeat. I love you, Armenian people. You give me strength."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208614

President Sarkissian invites all political parties to meet on Saturday

The invitation was sent to Premier Pashinyan, as well as parliamentary (QP, LHK, BHK) and non-parliamentary (Vazgen Manukyan camp) parties. "Both the government and the parliamentary and non-parliamentary political forces have repeatedly expressed their positions. However, there is a lack of mutual understanding and a desire to meet each other. Moreover, calls for intolerance have become more frequent," said Sarkissian.

The invitees have until tomorrow to decide if they accept the offer to meet on Saturday.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045692.html

Vazgen Manukyan camp continues protests / Parliament blockade

A group of opposition protesters spent the night in tents installed on Baghramyan Avenue in front of the parliament building. Last evening they decided to blockade the building from other corners as well to prevent MPs from entering, "unless they are going there to fire Pashinyan and appoint a new Premier", with their preferred choice of Premier being Vazgen Manukyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045619.html

Ruling QP MP criticized the opposition, saying that representatives of international institutes decided not to attend Parliamentary hearings regarding POW and missing people because of safety concerns. The MP said they will continue to hold the hearings regardless; the MPs were able to enter the building.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045647.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208554

A confrontation took place between a ruling QP MP Hovik Aghazaryan and opposition activists. The MP was spotted on a street near the Parliament building.

The activists approached and began taunting him as a "traitor" (✔). The MP, in turn, said the "լակոտ" activist was the actual "traitor". The լակոտ was thrown back at the MP in a verbal argument. The police interrupted the kerfuffle and accompanied the MP to leave the area.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208575

When Pashinyan became the Premier back in 2018, one of the laws that were amended was relating to the termination of CoGS. This is the law that president Sarkissian is challenging in the Constitutional Court.

During today's rally, ARF co-leader Gegham criticized Pashinyan for amending the law, saying that it was done to hijack the military power later.

It was revealed later that ARF itself was among the parties that voted in favor of amending the law. The law was written in 2017 and amended in June-2018 when HHK and ARF parties still held a majority in Parliament.

https://youtu.be/nA1MqFtUA_k?t=270 , https://fip.am/14934

Manukyan and supporters marched towards the government building from Baghramyan Avenue.

One of the opposition activists used his truck to block Proshyan Avenue and called for Premier's resignation. After his truck was towed away, he claimed it stopped in the middle of the street due to a technical malfunction.

Singer Aramo was present in the protests. "This isn't about new vs old." He supports the idea of the military taking over the government to organize new elections.

Vazgen Manukyan said "I wouldn't bring tanks against the people. 90% of people are against Pashinyan. If I were CoGS Onik Gasparyan, I would arrest Pashinyan." Manukyan accused Pashinyan of losing the war, and wondered why the general public doesn't feel the "instinct to be afraid and not sleep at night as we lose the country." He said they must get rid of Pashinyan "at any cost."

More speeches: https://youtu.be/krz-VSVvA0M?t=5 , https://youtu.be/pO52dctNByQ , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045690.html , https://youtu.be/dUHsupCaDk8 , https://factor.am/346808.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208602

Tags: #VazgenManukyan

Poll: top issues, political party support

An organization called International Republic Institute conducted a public survey, part of which is presented below:

In the crisis, Armenians rely on their government to establish stability and socio-economic prosperity in the country.

The approval rating of the ruling party remains high, but to maintain this support, the government must continue its reform agenda and communicate effectively to its citizens.

The top-issues selected by responders: 97% said the govt should focus on internal issues such as economy/stability, 92% said they should focus on returning Artsakh refugees to areas guarded by Russian peacekeepers.

The top-3 issues were political stability (12%), unemployment (11%), and military reforms (8%).

Whom would you vote for if the elections were held today?

33% ruling QP party, 3% BHK. The article doesn't list other parties, presumably for being small. The survey reflects the results published by Gallup International survey back on February 19th

Despite Pashinyan's personal rating lowering by 22% compared to 2019, his administration has a 54% favorable rating.

Would you trust election results if they were held under the Pashinyan administration?

62% yes

Do you support reforms in electoral law?

74% yes

What changes would you like to see in the electoral process?

73% want to see campaign finance transparency. 68% want to influence in creating the list of MPs presented by each party.

Update: here is the original link https://www.iri.org/resource/after-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-armenians-want-domestic-reform-and-stability-iri-survey

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045693.html

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lnq3ia/feb192021_1_poll_former_regime_is_more_to_blame/

Independent MP contacts the police over "physical threats from unknown phone numbers"

Ind. MP Babajanyan, a critic of former administrations, claimed yesterday that pro-Russian Telegram channels are circulating his address and phone number to help target him, after his recent speech in which he listed Russian weapons among the losing side of the war. (after talks about Russian missiles exploding only partially)

The MP contacted the police and the HR Ombudsman.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045630.html

POWs and search operations

Search crews found 6 bodies on the southern battlefields. The operations are often interrupted due to poor weather.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045682.html

Armenian representative to ECHR met the German ambassador to Armenia to discuss the POW topic. They also touched upon the Constitutional reform proposals that began year(s) earlier; the German diplomat offered to help with the reforms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045665.html

Defense Ministers of Armenia and Russia held a conversation

https://factor.am/346859.html

IDBank and iDram held a charity campaign for 1000plus.am

Every time a customer used the iDram service, ֏1 was donated to the Soldiers' Insurance Fund. They collected ֏6.9M.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208583

HR Ombudsman met people with disabilities

The office examined complaints by several participants of war and found that they weren't given enough medication and the care they are legally entitled to. A list of issues was created to be submitted to relevant agencies for action.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045662.html

HR Ombudsman launches a campaign against harmful stereotypes about the role of women in the military

The "Be an example" campaign will raise awareness about various women's success in order to encourage others. It's about women in uniform.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208624

India and Iran want to use Armenia as a transit hub for a major trade route

India is working on a new "north-south" trade route to connect the Indian Ocean to Europe. They recently met Iranian diplomats and agreed to include Iran's Chabahar port in the transit route and to make it the region's largest hub.

Indian ambassador to Armenia announced that India also wants to use Armenia as a transit hub for the project.

Another similar project was announced in 2017 but Armenia was excluded from it. At the time, the Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia link was established. It is yet to be seen if things will unfold differently this time.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045658.html , https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-proposes-inclusion-of-irans-chabahar-port-in-international-north-south-transport-corridor/articleshow/81336893.cms

The 2017 events: https://jamestown.org/program/north-south-transport-corridor-russia-wins-armenia-loses/

Armenian delegation visits Moscow for trade talks

The Economy Ministry and representatives of the "Enterprise Armenia Foundation" visited Russia to discuss trade/industry/agro-industry as part of the EAEU bloc cooperation.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208600

anti-corruption: two high-ranking police officials are busted in Tavush

Investigators say: a Tavush resident was transporting illegally-cut trees when the police detected and towed his vehicle. The resident contacted a friendly cop who works in the system, who then contacted a local Tavush police branch chief. The two colluded to falsify documents to get the man off the hook.

A felony case is launched against the police officials.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045634.html

a new checkpoint in Artsakh will help register inventory values / tax credits

There were several local checkpoints in or around the Lachin corridor before the war. They will be replaced by one unified checkpoint located in Stepanakert. The businesses that do imports and exports are encouraged to register there.

By doing so, they will not have certain tax liabilities and will help the authorities learn precise numbers about Artsakh's foreign trade, which could help draft relevant socio-economic plans.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045673.html

Aghavno school is being renovated

Aghavno is one of the settlements in the Lachin corridor that remained under Armenian control. The local school is named after Garegin Nzhdeh. In addition to it being renovated, a new kindergarten campus is being built.

Aghavno population continues to return to their homes. 34 school and 17 preschool students are present. The village mayor Andranik Chavushyan uses his personal vehicle to take a dozen of them to school every morning. 90% of teachers have also returned.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045633.html

Russian peacekeepers accompanied 20 churchgoers to Artsakh's Amaras monastery

Amaras is in a "buffer zone" after the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045616.html

COVID stats

2312 tested. 340 infected. 163 healed. 5 deaths. 6208 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045620.html

budget revenues in January YoY: before & after COVID

Taxes and fees ֏111.5B or -21%.

Profit tax ֏5.2B or -50%.

Income tax ֏46.4B or -2%.

Turnover tax ֏6.5B or -23%.

https://factor.am/346938.html

EU and WHO will issue €40M in aid to six countries including Armenia to handle a vaccination campaign

https://www.facebook.com/UNArmenia/posts/3925881384137567

George Soros has spent $1M to help Armenia during the pandemic

https://factor.am/346543.html

how will schools respond to rising COVID cases?

Healthcare and Education Ministries met to discuss how to handle school amid the rising number of infections across the country.

They decided not to apply additional restrictions. However, the individual schools where the % of infection rate crosses a certain threshold will temporarily switch to remote learning.

The Ministry recently relaxed the restrictions to allow more students to attend in-person classes.

Some 5,000 children in the risky category will continue to do remote education.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045666.html

the Weed Council holds first meeting / industrial hemp

The government recently decided to draft a bill to legalize industrial hemp in Armenia. It could help utilize unused lands, provide extra income, and possibly create a CBD oil market.

To draft the laws and regulations, the Economy Ministry held the first meeting today, attended by members from the Premier's office, law enforcement, etc.

47 countries allow industrial hemp. The Economy Ministry examined their experience and oversight mechanisms.

During the first phase, the authorities will plant several types of hemp to see which one suits best for the local climate. The process will be tightly monitored by cops to prevent funny business.

Then, the companies that are able to not only grow but also process hemp, will be given a license to grow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045664.html

a laboratory development program is launched in Armenia

A program for lab administrators is launched in Armenia. The aim is to provide training and create a stable development opportunity under the "One Health" strategy.

The program is financed by the American and European CDC, the WHO, etc.

A meeting was held to draft a plan of action. They plan to help the existing labs to expand their capabilities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045691.html

Gyumri will have electric buses!

Mayor Balasanyan said the city won a €450,000 grant from the EU to import electric buses within 3 years. An auction will launch soon to find a suitable seller.

The buses will have accommodations. They'll either purchase 8 small or 4 large buses. They're still deliberating.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208620

Tags: #transport #ElectricBus #GyumriBus

Yerevan municipality is involving the young generation with urban management

Last year the Yerevan administration created a new Youth Council attached to the city Council. They plan to gather young experts to advise the mayor on urban projects.

100 people applied. 20 of them, representing youth, universities, ethnic minorities, were approved.

The first meeting was held recently. The members were excited. "There is a lot of work to do... The purpose of this Council is to make the youth voice heard in decision-making."

https://factor.am/346904.html

Yerevan will plant thousands of new trees, bushes, and flowers soon / Haghtanak Park / Circular Park / Sidewalks

The city began cleaning trash and broken branches from the green areas, after the melting of the snow. They plan to organize a shabatoryak soon to involve volunteers.

The Green Department will cut 400 damaged and dangerous trees, treat 11,000, and plant 4,000 new trees soon. They could have planted a lot more trees, but the planting is just part of the story and the shortage of սևահող soil in the city limits the number of new trees you can realistically preserve.

This year they also plan to install 70,000 m2 lawns, 80,000 bushes, and 300,000 flowers in all districts of the capital.

They made a change in tree selection. The ones that look prettier during the blossom season were selected. "It is aimed at changing the green face of Yerevan." The empty sidewalks will be prioritized while selecting the planting location.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045654.html

Several parks will be renovated this year, said the Green Department chief Ara Aghayan. The Circular Park's 6th section underwent construction work several months ago; the installation of irrigation network and new plantings will be done this year. It should be ready by Autumn.

The 4th and 5th sections of Circular Park were also partially greenified. New areas will be confiscated from cafes and turned into a park, but some of these cafes will remain in place due to ongoing legal proceedings "that could take years to settle due to slow courts."

The Abovyan and Saryan parks will also undergo a renovation this year.

Some work was already done near Hakhtanak Park; an irrigation network was installed and will be tested soon. The local relief is rocky, but a difficult large-scale soil-related work will be done nonetheless. "Only then we can talk about planting trees in this section. The selection of trees and bushes will be made in a way to ensure a year-round beautiful view."

They are also developing a landscaping project for the slope in front of the Tsitsernakaberd genocide memorial. The new irrigation network is ready and will be tested soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045671.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045677.html

Tags: #Yerevan #YerevanParks #Green #GreenDepartment

Beethoven wrote 400 music pieces?

Apparently yes, and the philharmonic orchestra believes you haven't heard any of them, except the tune that came pre-installed with your Windows Vista copy.

A concert was held in Yerevan to play the composer's lesser-known pieces.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045632.html

today in history

1940: Chuck Norris was born to kick your a$$

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045597.html

donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older news

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" or "appear" guilty.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/m27tyn/mar102021_1_coup_canceled_onik_is_fired_he_sues/

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