2021 March 12

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Daily news wrap-up

Mar/12/2021 summary: (1) Sarkissian cancels round-table meeting (2) Dissent within ARF (3) Artsakh army & language law (4) NSS investigates HALO & Rubo story (5) Rumors & rebuttals (6) Real estate (7) Diaspora news (8) Engineering classes (9) Matenadaran (10) Mil. exercises (11) Social aid reforms
by ar_david_hh

Your 15-minute Friday report in 3745 words.

authorities charge state-owned factory officials with ֏1.1b in damages

Prosecutors say: we examined information from State Property Management Committee and found that the Yervan Jewelry Factory, which is 80% owned by the state, filed a lawsuit against a Partner company in 2017. The factory demanded ֏1.1b from its Partner and the cancellation of a contract.

In July/2018, the court ruled against the factory, saying that not enough documents were submitted to prove the case. The Appeals Court upheld the verdict. The Cassations Court refused to hear the case.

The investigation found that the Factory officials had access to all the necessary contract documents but they failed to present them during the trials, which lead to a negative verdict.

Moreover, while filing the appeals in the Cassations Court, the plaintiff Factory officials did not submit the necessary documents to explain why they were filing the petition, which lead to Cassations Court refusing to hear the case.

As a result of the actions by the Yerevan Jewelry Factory officials in 2017-2018, the state not only lost ֏1.1b but was also forced to pay ֏56m in fees. A felony case is launched.


NSS will investigate accusations that HALO Trust spied for Azerbaijan

Unknown sources circulated rumors, picked up by a state official working in the Artsakh government, claiming that the HALO Trust humanitarian foundation, which has been clearing landmines in Artsakh for 20 years, had passed the map of landmines in Artsakh to Azerbaijan during the war.

Earlier, a media outlet run by the former regime claimed that the UNICEF representative was acting as an Azeri and British spy during the war. No evidence was provided in both cases. It remains to be seen whether any of the spying allegations are true.

In both cases, however, there is a pattern of attack that appears to be aimed against "British" institutes. In both cases, the accusers emphasized the HALO's and UNICEF chief's connection to Britain. After the war, certain opposition figures with close ties to Russia used similar rhetoric to criticize Britain.

The NSS is investigating the spying claims.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045910.html , https://news.am/eng/news/632677.html

NSS will investigate accusations of Pashinyan adviser contacting police investigators during the investigation of an oligarch

The former Soccer Federation chief and oligarch HHK MP Ruben Hayrapetyan (Nemets Rubo) was earlier charged by authorities with financial fraud and a kidnapping and torture of a man. His son and son's friends were also charged as part of the kidnapping case. It was about torturing a restaurant employee who misused Rubo's money. The victim's family was threatened and extorted by Rubo's people, the lawsuit says.

Nemets Rubo is currently being shielded by the Russian authorities who refused to extradite him, claiming that Rubo was a Russian citizen at the time of Armenian prosecutors' request for his extradition.

Recently, unknown hackers broke into the computers used by Armenian officials and claim to have evidence that one of Pashinyan's advisers was "coordinating" the police during the preliminary investigation around the aforementioned felony case.

The hacked material allegedly shows that she exchanged documents (legal docs about banks, etc.) and information with the police investigator who was examining the case. Rubo's lawyer wants the email account investigated because he believes the action was illegal.

The prosecutors have asked NSS to investigate whether the exchange between the adviser and investigators broke any laws.

https://factor.am/347508.html , https://factor.am/347283.html

Ministry denies rumors about COVID restrictions

Healthcare Ministry denied rumors claiming that Pashinyan decided to implement a complete lockdown on Monday. "We are monitoring the situation and urge the population to take preventative safety measures."


Artsakh president denies rumors about a new war

Arayik: Ignore the baseless rumor about starting a new war in Artsakh, which is aimed at creating panic among the population. The public must unite to address the post-war economic and security challenges

Contrary to various rumors, Artsakh will not give up the path of independence. With the help of our army and Russian peacekeepers, we will build our security system, alongside the economic development programs.


Artsakh Security Councilman Balasanyan about the reorganization of the Artsakh army:

Don't even think that Artsakh won't have Armed Forces. Artsakh has and will have an army, a more mobile and more combat-ready. We can all help each other to prevent any issue from being resolved by military means. Everything should be settled civilly. I am more than confident that we will have one great Armenia.


Mr. Patron Davo is suing Azatutyun media outlet for alleged defamation

You remember Patron Davo. He is a weapon contractor charged with accepting state funds but delivering the wrong size/type of artillery, which was found to be useless during the war. The media reported that he was former MoD Davit Tonoyan's adviser.

Davo has denied being Tonoyan's adviser. He believes Azatutyun outlet's claim regarding him being an adviser is defamatory and decided to sue the outlet for a symbolic 1 Dram penalty and a retraction.

Davo is currently in jail, awaiting for trial.


COVID stats

3934 tested. 818 infected. 277 healed. 4 deaths. 7308 active.


President Sarkissian has health issues caused by COVID

Sarkissian suffered from COVID a few weeks ago. There appear to be complications.

He was admitted to Astghik Hospital for examination today, and was discharged the same day to return to regular duties.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045913.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045921.html

President cancels Saturday round-table meeting amid rejection by main opposition parties

Sarkissian had earlier invited all parties to meet and discuss the internal issues on Saturday.

Sarkissian office today: considering the fact that QP and LHK parties accepted the offer but BHK and Vazgen Manukyan camp (ARF, HHK, etc.) presented their own agenda and conditions, at this point, it is impractical to hold a meeting around one table. Sarkissian will continue to hold separate meetings with parties.


Western-American Dashnaks accuse ARF leadership of stoking division within the party

Earlier this week we learned that ARF leadership terminated several Western US-based members after accusing them of holding an unauthorized meeting, and holding hostage the party's "Asbarez" media outlet.

The accused Western-US members responded, accusing the ARF leadership of dividing the party.

They said: The leadership terminated the West America Regional Assembly meeting under questionable circumstances, and appointed a Central Committee, thus depriving ordinary members of their voting rights, which is against democratic values, which was and should be part of ARF's mission.

To discuss that move, the regional members summoned a meeting per ARF rules and regulations and elected a [their own version of?] Central Committee, which is supported by the masses.

We urge Dashnaks around the world to uphold the moral values of the ARF.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208736 , https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/m1g82a/mar92021_1_opposition_turns_on_president_amid_his/?

Putin calls Pashinyan and Aliyev

... to discuss the November 9th and January 11th trilateral statements about trade route unblocking, POWs, etc. "Pashinyan and Aliyev praised the effective mission of the Russian peacekeeping contingent along the Lachin corridor."

AM-RU discussed topics relating other areas of cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045917.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045919.html


During a UN Human Rights Council meeting, the HR Ombudsman raised the issue of Azerbaijan's refusal to repatriate POWs


Armenian delegates BHK Zohrabyan and QP Hayrapetyan raised the POW issue during a PACE Migration Committee session. "Azerbaijan continues to hold them as political prisoners. I urge the PACE to move from rhetoric to action."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045892.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208757

Artsakh president Arayik appoints Badasyan as an envoy with special assignments

After the war, Arayik decided to form a unity government and give every party a chance to take part in administration. Today, he assigned nationalist war veteran Vahan Badasyan, a once presidential campaign opponent, as a special assignment envoy.

Badasyan has a felony case pending against him in Armenia over inciting physical violence against Premier Pashinyan. He was released pre-trial after expressing remorse and having a couple of MPs vouch for him.


video: police arrest men suspected of stealing ֏50m during an armed robbery at a currency exchange office



real estate market vs COVID & war / Cadastre Committee:

Real estate transactions -50% in January YoY.

Apartment prices -3% throughout 2020.

It's stabilizing at the moment. The applications have increased compared to 3Q20, and if it continues like this, the market could activate.

We have now moved the maps of the whole Syunik province, which have been offline for so many years, to an online map. We have opened the joint geoportal of the Republic of Armenia for the authorized bodies and we will continuously activate this process so that it becomes automated. The geoportal is a combination of cartographic materials on a single platform, which will be conducted online.

More: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208528

a quake in Turkey is felt in Yerevan

A 4.1M quake hit the Turkish region of Igdir, not too far from Armenia. It was felt as 2pt strength in Yerevan and 3pt in Armavir province.


bird migration season is here

The migration of birds has started in the Lake Sevan basin. It is so far at a normal pace, despite the relatively cold and snowy weather. The lake shores did not freeze in the winter, which allowed nearby birds to freely migrate.

The migration of cranes and grey geese were observed a bit early, 20 days ago. There are 30 different types of birds that are migrating today.


Photos: heavy snow in Syunik province

Dogs swimming in 80cm snow.


Foreign Minister Ayvazyan visits UAE

He met UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah to discuss cooperation in renewable energy, information technologies, agriculture, food trade, etc.

Ayvazyan visited the local Armenian community and church, where they discussed the efforts to preserve the Armenian identity in Middle Eastern communities.

Ayvazyan was taken to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and given a tour about the architectural beauty and its history.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045845.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045849.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045858.html

Armenian Center in Toronto receives $3m from the Canadian government

Ontario Երեսփոխան Aris Papikyan: the federal and Ontario government will help the community's youth center to expand and develop. This will be an unprecedented aid, as part of the "Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program" program. The governor and other officials will attend.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045936.html

German MP resigns amid allegations of corrupt financial deals with Azerbaijan

Several German MPs and other European representatives were earlier caught and accused of taking bribes from the Azeri regime. Some of them were reprimanded and are facing felony charges.

Mark Hauptmann is the third German MP from the ruling party to resign over Azeri lobbying claims. It's about ads that promoted Azerbaijan and two other states, published in a magazine run by the MP. He denies wrongdoing.



free engineering classes in Gyumri high school

Armenian Educational Foundation and Gyumri Information Technology Center co-founded a program called "engineering specialization in high school". A lab was created equipped with engineering tech.

It'll allow 11th graders to learn software engineering, 3D modeling, mechanical engineering, design, teamwork, etc. The hands-on practice is meant to raise interest in the field.

The graduates will receive help with attending relevant universities and producing products. 50 students have been selected for the free classes.


photos made during the Artsakh war are nominated for the World Press Photo award

Photos: https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/291064/

Yerevan museum features artist Gor Hakobyan's paintings

He died during the 2020 war. The paintings are mostly about his love for mountains, family, friends, and women.

Photos: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208695

Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045932.html

Russian peacekeepers continue to built modular housing blocks for troops

The 9th "trailer-park" with modular housing blocks was built in Askeran Region. It has accommodations for 60 people.


Artsakh government gives a green light to bill about the Russian language

If the Artsakh Parliament also approves, Russian will become one of the official languages in Artsakh.


Artsakh mining and other industries lost production volume after war / Tax incentives to restore business

Q: At what stage is the process of restoration of industrial infrastructure and workshops damaged by the war?

A: Artsakh official Bella Petrosyan: Back in December we began creating an inventory list of properties that need repairs. Once it's done, businesses will receive compensation.

Q: to what extent the production volumes decreased in the post-war period?

In January, the economic activity index shrank in half compared to last year. The volume of industrial production -72%. The mining sector -20% throughout the year or by -96% in December. The volume of the processing industry -63%. Electricity production went from 100 million kW to 7.3 million. Construction volume -53%. Food production -3%.

The overall drop in the industrial sector is a result of the mining industry almost completely stopping in January. Some sectors of the processing industry saw a growth: drinks, windows, doors.

Q: some factories remain in areas occupied by Azerbaijan. Will the govt help the businesses restore the branch production?

Yes, and not only them. There is no program to restore those brand products specifically. There are tax reforms for businesses operating in Artsakh.

The majority of taxpayers are exempted from paying profit tax until 2022. Income taxes will gradually reduce to 13%. The income tax in the agricultural sector is 3%.

Taxpayers are exempt from հաստատագրված և արտոնագրային payments for 3 years. To reimburse the interest paid on the loans received before October 1, 2020, the 50% of the total will be refunded. The business receives aid for 6 months towards the income tax payments.

It is likely that the Economy Ministry will offer new aid packages soon. The public will be informed.


Armenia will hold military exercises with 7,500 troops

As planned earlier, joint tactical exercises will be held. The army will improve cooperation between various units, command and control, and the ability to respond quickly to events.

7,500 troops, 200 missile and artillery units, 100 armored vehicles, aviation, and over 90 air defense units will take part.

Azerbaijan will hold a similar exercise soon. Russian MFA was asked to comment, they said "It's a routine thing, we don't see risks to regional stability."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045868.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045883.html

tourism in Artsakh: many have expressed a desire to visit

Tourism expert Rima Khachatryan: many tourists want to visit Artsakh today. We want to ensure it's safe, so I plan to visit there myself to develop a safe route for tourists.

Artsakh saw a 50% rise in foreign tourists in 2019. The growth was sustainable. I'm confident that the foreign interest in Artsakh remains high. They prefer historical-cultural sites, gastro-tourism, and village visits. Tourism can help alleviate humanitarian issues.


EU funds a new program to develop business in rural areas

An EU-funded program titled LEAD was launched today, by the EU ambassador Wiktorini and Ministries of Economy and Infrastructure. It's about empowering local residents to develop Armenia's northern provinces (Shirak, Lori, Tavush).

The expected results of the project are in line with the priorities of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive Extended Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was finalized and went into effect on March 1st.

The €14.6m project will last 4 years. It'll help develop village life and economic opportunities. The goal is to allow villagers to do business besides agriculture.

As part of the program, migrants who return to Armenia can receive financial aid to create their businesses.

250 new jobs. 225 rural development projects. 160 businesses by villagers. 150 businesses by migrants. 500 people will receive business tutoring. Overall 9,000 beneficiaries.


Armenian delegation meets Russian businesses

Deputy Economy Minister Khojoyan and Enterprise Armenia business representatives visited Moscow to meet Russian colleagues to discuss making import-export easier for Armenian businesses, and logistics programs in Armenia. They signed a memorandum.


show-biz stars are being paid to give a shout-out

kololak.com is where people pay ֏15-150k to have their favorite stars post a video message on demand.


school building is taken away from Lfik Samo

Former HHK MP and oligarch Samvel Aleksanyan, who is a businessman today, was given a "Sebastia" school building area for the duration of 50 years in 2008.

As part of the new Yerevan administration's push to take back similar land giveaways, some of which were done illegally, the administration decided to cancel Lfik's lease and take the 4.2-hectare area back in 2019. It's part of a campaign to address the school/kindergarten area shortage.

The lease was canceled because the businessman was obligated to renovate it, purchase furniture, etc. but the school was closed later and nothing was done.


bill proposed: the social package programs and the list of beneficiaries could expand

The government provides Սոցփաթեթ aid to certain groups of vulnerable citizens. "For the first time since its introduction in 2012, it will undergo major changes to expand the list of qualified recipients and the types of services they can receive."

Official: Recipients will be able to attend sports facilities and pools.

Students will not only be able to get tuition subsidies, but also student loan subsidies.

Dental insurance will become available. Right now it's only on paper because insurance companies don't provide it. You can visit a dentist and pay directly with your aid account.

Parents can use the aid to pay for preschool services for their kids.

The 27yo age limit for a dependant is being removed. The parent can use their aid to help a child at any age. The "family" part is being reformed in general, to include the recipient's parents and caregivers.

Under current rules, the aid can be used towards property loans only if the loan was taken as part of a program that helps young families. This requirement will be removed.

Qualified recipients who lose a job and find a new one will not have to wait 6 months to receive the aid. It'll be available instantly.

The list of recipients will expand by up to 900 people and reach 148,400.


international Mental Arithmetic Olympiad

... will be held in Armenia on March 14th. Over 300 children between the ages of 5-15 from Armenia, US, Russia, Europe, and elsewhere, will unleash their ultimate nerd powers. The winners will receive money, of course.


PlayStation 5 shortage hits Armenia

Petros and his friends rushed to an electronics store on March 4th to buy the newly released PS5 gaming console. They snatched the last one just 10 minutes after the store's opening.

All 150 units delivered to Armenia are sold out. Scalpers were blamed for rushing to purchase the units so they can resell them at an expensive price later. At the moment, you can buy one from a third party for ֏430K, which is ֏120K above the MSRP.

ZigZag electronics store denied selling the units in bulk to scalpers, saying the process is prohibited and monitored even by the manufacturer Sony. "Queue lines had formed up an hour before we opened the doors on the first day."

They believe a new batch will arrive in April. Sony has difficulty producing enough consoles. They sold a record-number of units in 2020-2021.


Matenadaran institute of ancient manuscripts provides info about their 2020-2021 activities:


Overall, 2020 was a difficult year but the research and publishing suffered to a lesser degree. Employees spent extended periods at home but they worked. There were more research and publishing articles in 2020 compared to 2019.

We saw a 95% drop in visitors due to the pandemic. Foreign researchers were also unable to work here. We hope 2021 will be a recovery year, although it'll take time to return to 2019 levels when we had a record 132,000 visitors.


We are still holding conferences remotely, but the galleries are open already. Recently, we presented manuscripts from Artsakh. Next month we'll open a new gallery dedicated to manuscripts in Persian, Georgian, Arabic, Osman, and other cultures. It'll be the first of its kind in this format.

interactive map

Aurora and Gyulbenkyan donors helped to create an interactive map of Armenian writing centers. A large database was created. Today, large monitors in galleries allow visitors to find historic provinces and obtain detailed information about monasteries, manuscripts, people who made them. It's available in Armenian and English.

virtual tour

Matenadaran will soon accept virtual visitors with the help of a new tech that we're still working on. You can visit galleries and obtain info about items from any part of the world. Aurora humanitarian organization is sponsoring the project. It'll be ready by Autumn.


To examine the palimpsest scripts (կրկնագրեր, let me know if I translated incorrectly), we contacted German experts to obtain access to special equipment. We will sign an agreement with a Hamburg University research center soon. We have 50 manuscripts that are կրկնագրեր.

We expect to digitize up to 600 manuscripts this year. 25% of the entire inventory has already been digitized. The digitization allows foreign experts to study the scripts online. Our employees also work with digital copies. It helps preserve the original copy.

restoring manuscripts vandalized by ISIS

Matenadaran experts want to help Middle Eastern colleagues to restore thousands of pieces vandalized by ISIS. There are Islamic and Christian pieces, some of which are written in Armenian.

The Armenian experts will visit Iraq to conduct the restoration process. But before that, we will invite the Iraqi expert to visit Matenadaran, after which we can visit Iraqi Kurdistan if UNESCO sponsors the restoration efforts.

Our experts have the necessary experience; they earlier helped to restore manuscripts in the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem.


soccer news


Roman legionnaire Henrikh Mkhitaryan received an injury during a match against Donetsk Shakhtyor, after helping his teammate to score a goal. His team won the game. It's part of the Europa League competition.

Video: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045833.html


Armenian cup matches continue. It's the quarterfinals. Urartu 0:2 Noah

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045935.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045938.html

top-5 bestseller Armenian books in February

5) 731 օր քեզ համար, by Ta Tever

4) Վերջին ուսուցիչը, by Vardges Petrosyan

3) Էս ի՞նչ եք անում, տղերք, by Vazgen Sargsyan

2) Բալզակ. մի շան պատմություն, by Levon Ness

1) Կախվածություն, by Syune Sevada

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045799.html

today in history

1519: Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés visits Mexico for the first time

1913: Canberra becomes the capital of Australia

1922: Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan create a unified state called Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.

1974: the Soviet Union successfully lands the first probe "Mars-6" on Mars. The device successfully sends information back to Earth.


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



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/m3r7s5/mar122021_summary_1_sarkissian_cancels_roundtable/

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