2021 March 15

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Daily news wrap-up

Mar/15/2021 news: __ Political meetings & elections __ Who sold weapons to AM & AZ? __ Vazgen's options __ HR Ombudsman budget __ School reform to boost army training __ Easier to own gun __ Diplomacy __ Rumors & rebuttals: Lydian, Himnadram, Karmir Shuka, Kapan, MOD __ High tech jobs __ Agriculture
by ar_david_hh

Your 16-minute Saturda-Monday news in 3903 words.

Sarkissian holds a meeting with Pashinyan, LHK, and QP

Vazgen Manukyan's camp (ex-regime) turned against president Sarkissian after his refusal to challenge the decree that fired CoGS Onik Gasparyan. After their rejection of Sarkissian's offer to hold a round-table meeting with all parties, Sarkissian decided to meet parties individually.

On Saturday, Sarkissian met Pashinyan to discuss the issues. Vazgen Manukyan Camp held a protest in front of Sarkissian's residence during his meeting.

Sarkissian then met the ruling QP leader Lilith Makunts to discuss snap elections and dialogue between parties.

BHK chief Tsarukyan refused to meet Sarkissian, saying "no clear plan was presented. We received an invitation but it was too vague and they didn't specify what the topic of conversation would be." Instead, Tsarukyan will meet Pashinyan soon "to discuss his resignation and snap elections."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045968.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045983.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045984.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045993.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208806

Vazgen Manukyan presents his plans & criticizes western "spy" institutes that control the country

Manukyan lists the options:

Option 1: Form a large movement, organize acts of disobedience, and force the government to resign. Then use the Parliament to appoint a new Premier [from opposition] who will rule for a year before holding elections.

Option 2: Military coup or a rebellion. The military takes over for a certain period before elections. The concerns that it won't be accepted by the international community are exaggerated.

Option 3: Pashinyan administration organizes the elections [most popular option per surveys]. This is the most dangerous of all options. It'll be a big blow to Armenia, and will deepen the capitulation disgrace. Holding elections under today's chaos and the external threat is wrong. The govt will rig the results in its favor.

Today, we are not only fighting this government but also powerful foreign forces. They have established a wide network of spies to manipulate the public. [Didn't give names, but presumably relating to the conspiracy theories circulated by his allies claiming that British humanitarian organizations spied on behalf of Azerbaijan. His camp also opposes the existence of some pro-democracy institutes.]

Manukyan continues: It is not accidental that we offer a one-year period before the elections, during which we must first free our country from the spy network.

If Pashinyan holds the elections, the same forces will win the elections and Armenia will remain under foreign influence.

Full: https://factor.am/348196.html

LHK apparently agrees not to nominate Premier's candidate... under a condition

Pashinyan earlier offered all 3 Parliamentary parties to meet and agree not to nominate a new Premier, so he can resign and trigger snap elections. The two opposition parties (LHK & BHK) rejected the offer.

Now, it appears LHK chief Marukyan supports the idea, but he wants the elections held before June 1st, "otherwise I cannot guarantee LHK won't nominate a Premier's candidate."


opposition attempts to lift the Martial Law

LHK and BHK proposed a resolution to lift the Martial Law, citing the presence of Russian troops on the borders and the presence of a peacekeeping center in Artsakh.

Opposition MP said the Martial Law serves as a barrier for certain political events, to which a ruling party MP responded "What barrier when the Baghramyan and Demirchyan roads are closed? They protest as much as they want. We earlier eased the restrictions earlier."

Opposition MP said the barrier is about the Martial Law's restrictions regarding a legal proceeding relating to Premier's resignation and snap elections. To this, a ruling party MP responded saying there are still many problems left on the borders, the army is currently being reorganized, and Azerbaijan holds large military exercises. However, the ruling party MP believes the government itself will soon draft a resolution to lift the Martial law, perhaps within 2 weeks.

Ruling party MP criticized the media for pushing border residents over the edge by stoking fears. "At the end of the relevant political consultations, if it ends with an agreement on snap elections, of course, it will not be possible to maintain this Martial Law."

The resolution to lift the partial Martial Law was rejected for now.

BHK's complaint is that the parliament cannot hold a no-confidence vote against the Premier while the Martial Law is in place. A reporter asked BHK how the opposition plans to hold a no-confidence vote that if they don't have enough MPs to get it done. The BHK MP acknowledged that they are unlikely to do that, but he said there are other restrictions imposed by Martial Law, too, such as on local elections. "I can't say what else they [govt] are afraid of, but they are afraid of something [that's why they keep the Martial Law]."

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046056.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046060.html , https://factor.am/348047.html , https://factor.am/348070.html , https://youtu.be/fSV60mzOqas

update: bill to lift army contractor age limit from 45 to 63

On February 9, LHK proposed a bill to allow more people to qualify as army contractors because the army will need to expand its forces. They could use experienced former soldiers. It's been proposed to recruit applicants up to the age of 63 instead of 45.

Today a Parliamentary Committee approved the draft bill and sent it to Parliament for a vote.


unused vacation compensation for soldiers

LHK proposed a bill to provide financial compensation to discharged soldiers who hadn't used all their vacation hours during their service. A Parliamentary Committee rejected the proposed bill, stating that the government is already working on a comprehensive bill with similar changes.

There is a law that provides financial compensations only for the vacations that were unused in the past 2 years. In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled this law unconstitutional and asked the govt to amend it.

The govt wants to amend the law in a way to be able to handle finances because "the number of unused vacations can add up to very large sums, so we might have to pay it in small installments."

The next discussion will take place in Apil.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046037.html

Los Angeles declares November 9th a Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Azerbaijan's Aggression against Artsakh=

The council adopted the resolution unanimously. It refers to events as ethnic cleansing and deliberate targeting of civilians "with the use of hired terrorists".


who sold weapons to Armenia and Azerbaijan between 2016-2020

Armenia: 94% from Russia (ballistic missiles, jets, artillery, air defense)

Azerbaijan: 69% Israel (drones and ballistic missiles), 17% Russia (artillery, vehicles)

Top global weapon sellers: USA, Russia, France, Germany, China, Turkey.


POWs and search operations

Months ago we learned that over 200 Armenian POWs are possibly being held captive in Azerbaijan. The number came from the Armenian government's petition to European Court for Human Rights to receive information about >200 individuals.

Today, the Foreign Ministry said there are 188 such petitions to receive information about captives.


A group of French intellectuals joined the calls to pressure Azerbaijan to return the POWs, calling Azerbaijan's actions a violation of international law.


Bad weather in southern battlefields has once again halted the search operations.


The DNA identification of deceased soldiers continues. 96 more names were published today.


Another Azeri citizen triggered a landmine explosion on occupied lands in Artsakh. He was hospitalized with serious wounds. Several dozen Azeri soldiers and civilians have exploded on landmines since the ceasefire.


Aliyev: resumption of trade routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be a starting point for leaving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the past


Pashinyan's family hosts soldiers wounded during the war

A group of former soldiers met the Premier and First Lady to discuss various issues, in what will become a routine meeting.


soldiers marry

Major Ara Zakharyan and Leithenant Nina Torosyan held their wedding ceremony on Saturday, attended by MOD Vagharshak. The couple made the decision to marry during the peak of the 2020 war.


how is CoGS doing nowadays, after Onik's firing?

The Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces has a new acting chief, and the army administration continues its regular duties to solve the problems set before them, said Deputy Defense Minister Sargsyan today.


rumors & rebuttals: Defense Minister

Defense Ministry denied media rumors claiming that a scuffle broke out during a recent trip by Defense Minister Vagharshak to Artsakh to meet families of missing soldiers. "The rumors are false. The last time MOD Vagharshak visited Artsakh was in December. Since then, a meeting was held in Artsakh Emergency Ministry without such incidents."


rumors & rebuttals: Lydian Armenia gold miner

Lydian denied rumors claiming that they contacted Azerbaijan to mine lands in areas that went under Azeri control. The company criticized some Armenian outlets for "spreading the Azeri misinformation meant to discredit Lydian."


rumors & rebuttals: a border position in Syunik

A video was circulated where a soldier claimed that they received an order to retreat from one of the border positions in Syunik, located near Kapan (border city). The prosecutors began investigating the video and will question the soldier for specific details.

Deputy Defense Minister Sargsyan denied "giving away a military position near Kapan." He said the army is addressing complaints about living conditions, raised by the soldiers.

(Context: after the border changes near Artsakh's Qashatagh region that went under Azeri control, some Armenian troops had to be stationed in new positions that do not yet have the regular living standards and accommodations.)

QP MP Khachatryan believes there could be a political context behind the soldier's message "because there are other ways to raise complaints to solve issues within the army."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046051.html , https://factor.am/347958.html , https://factor.am/348118.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208916

rumors & rebuttals: Karmir Shuka road

Artsakh govt denied media rumors that Armenian troops will be withdrawn from Karmir Shuka (south) road after Azeris were spotted using the road. "The topic is being circulated once again and once again I have to say that it is misinformation. The Azeris, accompanied by Russian peacekeepers, are temporarily allowed to use the road. The issue of changing the road's ownership is not being discussed."


rumors and rebuttals: All Armenia Fund

Himnadram.org said: The defamatory misinformation campaign about the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund continues. We once again urge you not to believe the rumors.

In particular, information was circulated in the press claiming that an international auditor did not confirm the financial report presented by the Finance Ministry to the Fund. This is false. The audit is in progress and hasn't been finalized.

Another false rumor is that $8m was allegedly cashed out and stolen.

The All-Armenian Fund continues its activities for the welfare of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora. //

Context: after the war, the members of the former regime accused the government (without evidence) of stealing the Himnadram funds partly or fully. The Fund reported that they finance construction projects in Artsakh and provided aid to thousands of refugees. It also transferred funds to Finance Ministry, which used those - along with its resources - to pay for post-war social aid programs.


Artsakh drafts a bill to allow citizens to own firearms

On February 16th we learned that the QP party drafted a bill to allow Armenian bordering villagers to carry more advanced rifles without having to go through lengthy 5-year experimental periods and clubs.

Today, a similar bill was circulated in Artsakh Parliament. If approved, the residents who had served in the army will qualify for rifles. Requirements to join hunting clubs and wait lengthy periods will be removed.

It will also lift the 10-bullet-per-magazine restriction. The resident can purchase up to 5 rifles instead of 3.

There will be training and other requirements.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046063.html

TagsL #GunLaw

Artsakh govt will help Shushi businesses

President Arayik met representatives of businesses that operated in Shushi before the war and vowed to help them restore their business elsewhere.


a bill would allow Human Rights Ombudsman office's $10.1m budget to be reduced / vehicle fleet


Ombudsman Tatoyan criticized a new bill that could allow the government to reduce the Office's budget. Under the current law, the budget cannot be smaller than it was in the previous year. "The bill will reduce independence from the government," complained Tatoyan and Freedom House. Tatoyan will challenge the bill in Constitutional Court if it's adopted.

The bill was drafted by Finance Ministry in August 2020 but its discussions were delayed due to the war. At the time, the government informed the Office that the bill is needed to introduce flexibility in how budget funds are managed in times of financial crisis.

At the moment, the Office has a ֏532.5m ($10.1m) budget with an annual growth of ֏2.4m. The amendment will allow the government not to increase it annually, and to divert some of the existing funds to be spent elsewhere.

Finance Ministry responds to criticism: the bill was drafted in August 2020 and is unrelated to current political events. We hope that some of the comments are a result of insufficient knowledge in the budget/finance regulation field. The bill doesn't explicitly reduce the budget and doesn't predict how much it will be in the future. On the contrary, the clauses that predicted the budget are being removed. //

attendance to meetings

The government was asked to comment why Ombudsman Tatoyan isn't being invited to attend government sessions anymore.

PM's office: Arman Tatoyan was invited to government sessions but at some point, he stopped attending and began sending another office employee instead. This continued for a lengthy period. The Ombudsman's office was informed that per regulations, the Ombudsman himself has to attend the sessions, and not send someone else.

Ombudsman's chair remained vacant during sessions. After a lengthy period of rejection, the government stopped sending him invitations. Mr. Tatoyan has the platform to submit his concerns so the motives behind his rushed and manipulative public statements are unclear.

vehicle fleet

The government initially decided to take 8 vehicles from the Office fleet. After the Ombudsman complained that it would hinder their work and that most vehicles were purchased with EU funds, a decision was made to take 3 vehicles instead - a third of the vehicle fleet.

Ombudsman welcomed the general idea of slashing vehicle fleets across agencies to save money, but he said the HR Office needs the vehicles because they use them for unannounced visits (such as to prisons, to check conditions).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045962.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045964.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045971.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045972.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045997.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046067.html

post-war education reforms: students will attend army camps, more physical and psychological training

The government will make changes in the "Preliminary Military Training" (NZP) classes taught in 8-12 grades.

Practical exercises will be emphasized with more action and less reading. A new theme is added to the curriculum to provide tactical-physical training, which will allow students to receive the training they would need on a real battlefield to respond to various events.

The curriculum in 11-12 grades will emphasize the teachings of military topography and military tactics.

Psychological training will be introduced to teach how to react during emergencies, and how to be prepared to transition from civilian to military life for boys who graduate the school.

Students will receive engineering training with hands-on practice. They'll learn how to properly dig trenches, prepare them for use, how to take cover properly based on geography, etc. It's meant to help save lives.

Information security is another area. Students will be taught about the importance of information secrecy during a war.

Physical training won't be done solely in schools. Students will attend camps. Besides the regular camp visits, volunteer students will occasionally train on weekends with the permission of parents.

Students will learn how to navigate by using stars in the sky, move in the darkness, how to guard objects, prepare a disguised firing position, etc.

The government has already approved the Education Standards but some of these changes are still being deliberated and will likely enter the experimental phase in June.


Tags: #nzp #MilitaryTraining

European Court informs Council of Europe about Azerbaijan's violations

The European Court took into account Armenia's numerous petitions to ECHR about POWs, and since Azerbaijan violated the terms about providing information about them, the Court decided to inform the Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe about it.

As for a similar petition filed against Armenia, the European Court took into account information provided by the Armenian government and decided not to proceed with similar action against Armenia.


anti-corruption: forest guard busted with bribery

Investigators said: Tavush authorities and Nature Ministry provided information showing that Dilijan National Park guard colluded with an illegal logger to take ֏5k in bribe per m3 of wood to ignore the logging of 15 trees.

The guard is arrested while the bribe-giver is told not to leave the country. A felony case is launched.


anti-corruption: former head of Yerevan Urban Development Committee Vahan Vermishyan

... will remain in jail after the Appeals Court denied his petition to be released. Vermishyan is charged with large-scale bribery in 2019.


was Patron Davo an adviser to MOD Tonoyan?

Weapon contractor Patron Davo (David Galstyan) was recently arrested and charged with delivering wrong and useless weapons. The media wrote that he was (now former) MOD Tonoyan's adviser. Patron Davo denied the claims, saying he never served as an adviser, and sued a media outlet that claimed he was.

The MOD was asked to officially comment whether Patron Davo served as an adviser to Tonoyan.

Q: was Davo ever an adviser to MOD Tonoyan?

MOD: no

Q: why is there a photo of Patron Davo in a command bunker during the war, standing next to MOD Tonoyan and others?

MOD: they were discussing weapon deliveries.


somebody stole the statue of the kid

The bronze statue of a child playing with a paper boat in Yerevan 2800 Park was stolen by unknown gyamsh. They attempted to direct the CCTV cameras to point in another direction before the theft. $5,000 worth of construction materials were also stolen from a nearby site.

The thieves' vehicle was spotted by CCTV. The police are looking for them.


video: a new park opens in Yerevan

A park named after artist Leonid Yengibaryan was officially opened in Yerevan, near the circus building. After 10 years of absence, Yengibaryan's statue has returned near the circus.

Video: https://youtu.be/Ysw45Zc_u1g

Photos: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208938

SOAD's Serj Tankian interview with Vulture magazine


new HayPost office opens with extended services

Armenia's post office and the Justice/High-tech Ministries launched a new HayPost branch in Ijevan. It's a Joint Office of Public Services that allows residents to deal with hundreds of types of paperwork (IRS, passport, residency, etc.) by attending just one office. Each government agency will have a representative in the branch.

The govt plans to open similar facilities in other cities soon.


the list of the most demanded professions in Armenia

High tech Minister Arshakyan: survey among 150 companies shows that the most demanded profession is engineering in the high tech field.

The high-tech industry is the fastest-growing field in Armenia. We had a 21% growth in 2020, with 3,400 new employees. The average salary was ֏800k ($1,520).

I urge our residents to choose education in physics, math, radio electronics, microelectronics, mechanics, cybernetics, and similar fields.

Those who want to change their profession can contact edu.hti.am for classes.


agricultural trade with Russia

The trade turnover of agricultural products between Armenia and Russia increased by 7.7%, reaching $746m in 2020.

Armenian govt officials visited Russia to discuss logistics issues, solving of which could boost trade.

They discussed the installation and efficient use of anti-hail cloud-disperser missiles in Armenia after examining the Russian experience.

To promote Russian wine in Armenia and the Armenian wine in Russia, the delegation offered Russian colleagues to organize wine exhibitions and invite reporters and bloggers to cover the events.


wheat and flour market

Wheat bread accounts for 4.7% of consumers' Food Basket. Combined with wheat flour and lavash, it's 6.4%. Therefore, any rise in wheat prices can have a significant effect on Food Basket affordability.

While the flour is produced locally, the wheat used in it has to be imported. In 2019, 75% came from abroad.


local production of seeds and planting materials

Every year, Armenia imports grape, tree, shrub, and other seedlings for local planting. In 2019 it reached $13.4m at 4064 tons.

Many farmers complain that the seeds are of poor quality and do not grow in the Armenian climate, resulting in degraded crops.

To solve the issue, the Economy Ministry drafted a new bill to boost the local production of planting materials that fit the local climate. It could also reduce their cost compared to imported materials.


Lake Sevan / EU4Sevan nature protection cooperation with Germany

A nature project is co-funded by Nature Ministry and the German Finance Ministry. It's about helping Lake Sevan.

A meeting was held between Gegharquniq officials, feds, representatives of EU and Germany, and the private industry, to mark the launch.

The goal is to improve Sevan water monitoring and management, water-efficient agriculture, wastewater control to reduce pollution, raise public awareness, etc.

The €5.7m project will last until 2024.

Read more about what's needed and what's being done for Lake Sevan here: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lqu02z/feb232021_1_lake_sevan_quality_biofilters_2_idex/


COVID stats since Saturday

10,964 tested. 1,598 infected. 692 healed. 22 deaths. 8190 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045957.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045999.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046032.html

Tourism Committee is preparing for tourist season / Russia is a target country

Tourism Committee chief Alfred: we had an 80% drop in tourism (total 375K) in 2020. Today we're developing marketing plans. The pandemic hasn't ended yet so we have to be flexible if things change drastically.

Our largest target is Russia. There will be a tourism exhibition titles MITT in Moscow on March 16th. 20 Armenian tourism companies will present their plans. We plan to invite Russian journalists and bloggers to raise awareness.

We're working with the govt to allow Ukrainians to visit Armenia without a COVID test, just as Armenians are allowed to visit Ukraine.

To boost internal tourism, we will hold a large exhibition in Yerevan in May. The provinces will be featured.


Bach's Magnificat returns to Armenia

Italian conductor Gianluca Marciano and the Armenian State Chamber Orchestra will perform Magnificat on March 21st. Another concert will be held feating organ.

Bach wrote the Magnificat in 1723 while serving in a Leipzig church.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046042.html

Charles Aznavour's wedding photo

Vogue magazine wrote a piece about star couples who held their weddings in Las Vegas. Aznavour and his wife Ulla Thorsell are among them. The photo shows the moment when they cut the cake. Aznavour and Thorsell later held their second wedding ceremony in an Armenian church in Paris. ✔

Other stars were Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Gere, Bruce Willis, etc.


Armenia's basketball champion is

... the newly created team "Vahagni City". They defeated Dvin with an 87:80 score.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan

His latest injury could last up to 3 weeks; he had to be carried away. His team Roma lost the recent match while he was missing.

Roma wants to extend Heno's contract. They will hold negotiations soon. The team has already extended it with another player.

https://factor.am/347852.html , https://factor.am/347919.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



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/m5uch8/mar152021_news_political_meetings_elections_who/

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