2021 March 17

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/17/2021 news wrap-up: (1) Education reforms: new Academic City, 50% raise for teachers (2) Who is Boris? The HALO accuser (3) Snap elections debate (4) Soccer drama = best drama (5) Arrested upon arrival (6) Russian gas re-routes (7) POW numbers (8) Domestic violence stats (9) French culture
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Wednesday report in 3380 words.

Boris Avagyan: the Artsakh official who recently claimed HALO Trust spied for Azerbaijan

Boris is a public official from Artsakh. He claims to have a "credible source" which claims that the HALO Trust agency "with British roots" handed over the location of landmines in Artsakh to Azerbaijan during the war. Artsakh president's office rushed to distance itself from the claim, stating that Boris "doesn't speak on behalf of the president."

Taken from FIP article and edited by me:

Who is Boris?

There were reports that he was wanted by Russian authorities over an alleged crime in Russia. In October, Boris said that the felony case was dropped and that he was feely working with Russian delegations in Artsakh.

The felony case was launched in 2016 over alleged border tax evasion of up to 4 billion Rubles ($55m). He allegedly helped to falsify documents and import expensive clothes disguised as cheap construction materials. He escaped Russia while under house arrest and was placed on the wanted list.

from level-1 crook to level-100 chad

After escaping Russia, he married a Russian Miss World winner Yulia Ionina. The family later moved to Armenia. In 2018, Boris renounced his Russian passport so he could start a political career in Armenia. At the moment, he is an aide to Artik mayor (Artsakh).

In 2020 he briefly served as Artsakh president's special assignments advisor. After the war, he was appointed as president's representative with special assignments.

wanted or clear?

Boris claims the Russian authorities have since dropped the charges, but the Russian Internal Ministry website still shows him as wanted.

In 2020, Boris summoned a press meeting to explain the situation. He said he exposed tariff fraud linked to a Turkish company, after which the Russian authorities allegedly decided to place him under special protection. He claimed he wanted to move to Armenia at the time but former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan allegedly forced him to return to Russia.

After his return to Russia, according to Boris, a felony case was launched by Russian authorities. "The cause is bogus because the paperwork wasn't even transferred from Russia to Armenia."

Boris wants Armenia to be part of Russia

He believes that Armenia should have moved to integrate with Russia after the 2018 revolution, and that Armenia is an inheritance from Russia/USSR, and that holding the independence referendum in 1991 was a mistake.

Boris wants Russia, Belarus, and Armenia to become one country, with one Central Bank, one tax system.

He once claimed that NATO's spies in Armenia are stoking anti-Russian sentiment. "Russia is Armenia's only ally. Putin is the friend of all Armenians."

is HALO Trust one of those "NATO spies"?

Boris became famous after claiming that HALO Trust demining organization spied for Azerbaijan. No evidence was provided. The NSS is currently investigating the spying accusations to see if the claim is valid.

End. //

--

Telegram channels recently made a similar spying allegation against the former representative of UNICEF. The common theme is the emphasis of both of them being linked to Britain. It is unclear whether any of it is true, or it's a result of pro-Russian figures attacking British-linked institutes (a common occurrence in Russia).

This isn't the first time western institutes are being accused without evidence of being "spies". In 2006, a prominent pro-democracy and human rights organization "Armenian Helsinki Committee" was targeted by the pro-Kocharyan media and labeled as western spies.

https://fip.am/14969

https://www.azatutyun.am/a/1580460.html

Tags: #BorisBadenov #HALoTrust

controlled detonation of hundreds of unexploded bombs

... was done in Artsakh's several regions today. It's a routine practice carried out by the HALO Trust humanitarian agency and sappers from Armenia and Russia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046268.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046275.html

deadly landmine explosion in occupied Aghdam region

Anadolu outlet reports that a landmine explosion killed two and wounded three members of the same Azeri family who visited the occupied Aghdam region.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046282.html

snap election / what do parties want?

Pashinyan and BHK leader Tsarukyan are yet to meet to discuss the snap elections. They denied rumors about holding one today. Pashinyan and LHK chief Marukyan had met earlier.

Pashinyan is offering the 2 Parliamentary opposition parties to agree not to nominate a new Premier in the event he resigns, so he can resign and trigger snap elections.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046273.html

QP MP Alen Simonyan complained that 80% of the opposition is against snap elections. "Most of them won't make it to Parliament and they know it. Even LHK is against elections. They always find excuses to avoid snap elections so they can use this period to strengthen their positions." (he is likely referring to the conditions set forth by LHK earlier, regarding not firing CoGs Onik Gasparyan and holding snap before June 1st "or else no deal")

LHK leader Marukyan responds: we went for a compromise and strongly lobbied for snap elections in the past 1.5 months. We agree to snap elections if it's held before June 1st; that's the soonest available date. We won't [prevent the Parliament from being dismissed by nominating our candidate in the event Pashinyan resigns].

(Marukyan earlier said there are only 10 days left to take action if they want snap elections to be possible before June 1st. The ruling party wants to finalize the electoral code reforms regarding lowering the threshold to enter parliament etc. before holding the elections. This is something that all political parties have been working on. The bill is close to being finalized, however, LHK says they should hold the elections without these reforms if it's going to save time. The ruling party accuses LHK of "once again finding excuses" to later reject elections by claiming their strict deadline condition wasn't met.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046295.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046299.html , https://factor.am/349048.html

soccer drama is more interesting than soccer matches / Lori FC / Soccer Federation

Yesterday, Lori FC players boycotted a match and left the pitch. The club quit the national league tournament over complaints of "negligence and divisiveness" by the Soccer Federation chief Melikbekyan. The club founder Tovmas Grigoryan criticized the Federation administration. It's about a decision not to delay some match over a pandemic because the other team disagreed with the delay, etc. (more in the link).

LHK leader Marukyan took the opportunity to blast the federal government "for failing in every area, including soccer", and that "the soccer leadership's future is in the penitentiary system."

Today, the Soccer Federation chief Melikbekyan responded to Lori FC founder Grigoryan, saying that he is politically motivated and has been trying to cause controversies and conflicts before every national team match, and that this conflict has been happening since 2020.

Context about their "conflict": The conflict dates back to late-2019 when the Soccer Federation was electing a new chief. Previously, it was lead by HHK oligarch Ruben Hayrapetyan (Nemets Rumo, wanted on torture and financial fraud charges). One of the nominees for the new chief was oligarch Rubo's friend Tovmas Grigoryan, the aforementioned Lori FC club founder.

Grigoryan was opposed by soccer fans who feared that he would bring back oligarch Rubo's leadership. Grigoryan would later lose the elections to Melikbekyan, and apparently, has maintained bad relations with him ever since. //

The Federation chief Melikbekyan also criticized LHK chief Marukyan for politicizing the topic. "Marukyan was not briefed accurately. It's not him who should assess the current state of Armenian football. We are happy that Marukyan [finally noticed the existence of the football tournament that has been ongoing for 8 months]. But we are surprised that Marukyan hasn't noticed that just a few months ago the Armenian national team, for the first time in its history, won an international tournament."

Melikbekyan demanded LHK Marukyan to either present facts or publicly apologize regarding his claims that laws were broken and that "Soccer Federation leadership's future is in prisons."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209134 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046314.html , https://armsport.am/265539/ , my previous posts from 2019

Tags: #SoccerFederation #TovmasGrigoryan #Melikbekyan #LoriFC #HFF

Wanted: former governor's son is arrested in the ariport

Former Syunik governor HHK Liska's son was charged in 2018 with falsifying documents to claim he had medical issues so he could avoid military service. Another charge was related to falsifying education documents.

Last night he landed in Zvartnots airport and was apprehended.

https://factor.am/349201.html

prosecutors proceed with charges against Vazgen Manukyan

The case has reached the court. The opposition leader who represents the former regimes is charged with making calls to topple the constitutional order through rebellion and forced takeover of the government.

Manukyan is told not to leave the country before this trial.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046303.html

opposition criticizes Pashinyan for using "too many bodyguards"

ARF's youth wing activists held a protest in front of the education ministry building where Pashinyan was supposed to attend a meeting. The activists complain that Pashinyan has to involve "thousands of bodyguards" every time he has to travel short distances. (you have 3 guesses on why). The activist believes it's an indication that the government isn't psychologically healthy enough to make balanced decisions.

Former Education Minister Harutyunyan was seen visiting the building for the meeting.

Reporter: Mr. Harutyunyan, the activists say Pashinyan has to use thousands of bodyguards...

Harutyunyan interrupts: ... let the activists count their numbers instead.

(there were 3 activists holding the protest)

https://factor.am/348988.html , https://factor.am/348998.html , https://youtu.be/ZcXm1OdW8rE

teachers to receive 30-50% salary raise / new Academic City outside Yerevan / education reforms

Pashinyan during Education Ministry meeting: We can already state that the standard of primary education and general education has been adopted. Now we're working on առարկայական չափորոշիչներ.

We want to address the topic that has always been raised since our independence: the teachers' salaries and the payment system.

Besides changing the education standards we must also ensure that the teachers meet those standards and can properly educate the children, in exchange for decent pay.

salaries

Beginning in September, a new salary system will be implemented. Teachers who pass professional qualification exams and successfully certify will see a 30-50% raise in the initial period.

The comprehensive education reform package is proceeding slowly, but we are headed there. It'll change the content environment, but we also want it to change the physical environment.

Academic City

This is where the idea of creating an Academic City comes into play. The idea is to move some of the higher education institutes from Yerevan Center to preferably outside of Yerevan, not too far away, to create a new Academic City.

We must push this project forward because I think it is obvious that many of our universities have this problem that their physical environment does not meet the modern standards of higher education.

promoting sports

Since this is an Olympic year, let's talk about sports, too. Student sports are a very strong stimulus for the popularization and development of sports in general. Many of our universities do not have even basic means to develop the sport. The Academic City can help.

science funding

No doubt we must increase science funding, but we must have a system where every Dram must truly go towards developing science. We're in process of holding discussions about this.

[more in the article]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046331.html , https://factor.am/349104.html

Tags: #EducationReform

Russia will temporarily use Azeri territories to deliver gas to Georgia

Russian Gasprom needs to repair their pipeline on the Russian territory, and in order to avoid delivery interruption to Armenia, they signed a short-term contract with Azerbaijan to bypass the problematic Russian territory to use Azerbaijan as transit to deliver the gas to Georgia, which then transports it to Armenia as usual. The re-route will last 3 weeks.

The gas is not entering from Azerbaijan

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046292.html

the number of POWs

The Foreign Ministry recently confirmed that they petitioned the European Court for Human Rights to require Azerbaijan to provide information about 188 Armenians who are presumably POWs.

Initially, that number was 249 last year. 58 of them have since been repatriated. Another 7 of the initially-presumed POWs were found to be dead (presumably on a battlefield). That leaves 184 missing people who are presumably POWs.

Azerbaijan claims to hold only 72 POWs and denied having the other 112.

Azerbaijan, in turn, asked Armenia to return 16 POWs. Armenia returned 12 and said they have no info about the other 4.

The European court found the information provided by Armenia to be more detailed, while the info provided by Azerbaijan not so much, so the court recently contacted the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the violation by Azerbaijan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046355.html

international pressure mounts on Azerbaijan over POWs

High-profile US House Representatives drafted a resolution, co-signed by 31 colleagues, to urge Azerbaijan to immediately release Armenian POWs. "The Armenian side has done its part while Azerbaijan continues to falsify the POWs' status to justify its desire to hold them captive."

The resolution also urges the State Department to pressure Azerbaijan during one-on-one and OSCE meetings.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046271.html

French ambassador Jonathan Lacote: they must be returned. Not only per November 9th agreement but also per international law.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046291.html

A group of famous Latvian intellectuals urged Azerbaijan to expedite the return of POWs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046326.html

Artsakh Parliament MPs meet Russian MP in Moscow

Artsakh sent a delegation to Moscow yesterday to meet Russian politicians and public figures. The Armenian MPs met their Russian counterpart Konstantin Zatulin. The latter is an active figure who often comments on the events taking place in the Caucasus.

The Artsakh MPs want to increase direct talks with Russia, about politics, economy, education, culture, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046319.html

Azeri regime is suspected of attacking a dissident in France

Azeri opposition blogger Muhammed Nirzali was brutally beaten and stabbed in France. The assailants attempted to cut off his tongue, before stabbing him 17 times. He survived.

Lawyers believe it was organized by the Aliyev regime. "This wasn't the first attack against him. Four bullets were shot at his car with one hitting his arm in Oct/6/2020".

The activist is one of the participants who protested in front of the Azeri embassies in Paris and Europe. His YouTube channel titled "Made in Azerbaijan" has 265k followers.

In Baku, his family members have been persecuted. Some of them have been detained and beaten since 2017.

More: https://factor.am/349408.html

singer Ruben Hakhverdyan released a new music video titled "This World"

It's about world politics and greed.

https://youtu.be/yQvnAY9qYK0?t=21

All Armenia Fund is building apartments in Gyumri

The Himnadram began the construction of 2 apartment complex buildings with 18 apartments each, in Gyumri. The roofs will be used as workshops. The area will have a new kindergarten.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046304.html

diaspora program for youth: Քայլ դեպի տուն

The Diaspora Office prepares to invite 400 diasporans to visit Armenia as part of the "Step home" program. Applicants are free to register now. "There was a great demand for Diaspora Armenian youth to come to Armenia this year to get to know their country."

The program launched in June and lasts until August. It's for 13-18-year olds. There will be 2-weeklong camping, visits to historical-cultural sites, education centers, and villages.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046261.html

COVID stats

4181 tested. 854 infected. 211 healed. 5 deaths. 9105 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046278.html

Due to the rising numbers, the military re-introduced the vacation restrictions for soldiers. They can leave only during a family emergency, for now.

https://factor.am/349273.html

update: the hijacked jet cannot return for now due to technical issues

Earlier we learned that one of the Armenian airlines violated the Civil Aviation's rules and flew a jet to Iran. The Civil Aviation and NSS have been trying to get it back. The Aviation says it's impossible for now because the jet has technical issues and cannot fly.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/291234/

stats: domestic violence in Armenia

last year specifically

14% of married women under the age of 49 reported being subject to physical or psychological violence by their husbands.

types of violence (not necessarily within the last year)

11% sustained psychological abuse

7% slapped

6% pushed, shaken, or had an object thrown at them

6% humiliated

3% had their arms twisted or the hairs pulled

2% kicked

by province

32% in Ararat, 29% in Aragatsotn, 24% in Vayots Dzor, 20% in Lori, 18% in Kotayk, 16% in Gegharquniq, 12% in Yerevan, 6% in Shirak and Armavir, 4% in Tavush, 0% in Syunik.

age group

40-49 group reported the highest rate, followed by 30-39, then 25-29.

by marital status

43% of divorced women reported some form of abuse. 11% of married did so.

by education

9% of university graduates, 17% of college, 24% of high school.

https://www.civilnet.am/news/546311/ամուսնուդ-բռնությունը՝-սյունիքից-գեղարքունիք/

transportation in provinces

Chambarak enlarged municipality hired a local resident to use his mini-buses to transport passengers between Chambarak and 7 nearby villages.

Locals, especially students and teachers, have long complained about the lack of transportation. It ain't much, but it's honest work.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046285.html

honest work will be rewarded, says IRS

IRS drafted a bill to reward law-abiding taxpayers. It'll set new rules and establish a reward institute "so paying taxes won't be interpreted solely as an obligation."

Those who pay taxes promptly will receive broader loan-related and other benefits. The bill is sent to Parliament for deliberations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046286.html

Labor Minister about the child aid, pension, Artsakh aid:

Last year we increased the monthly child care aid from ֏18k to ֏26.5k ($50).

First birth: ֏300k instead of ֏50k

Second birth: ֏300k instead of ֏150k

The basic pension was set at ֏18k, while the 1-year work experience adds ֏950 now.

As for Artsakh, we provided them ֏25b ($47.4m) in assistance as part of 15 aid packages. Another ֏30b ($56.8m) is on its way.

https://factor.am/349252.html

Vanadzor will have a new kindergarten

Part of a school was rebuilt as a kindergarten. The building doubled its capacity to 120. The ֏110m project was co-subsidized by the federal and local govt.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209114

10-year-old boy receives a Bravery Award for saving a drowning resident

Lil' Armen Petrosyan from Armavir's Argina settlement saved a resident from drowning in Akhuryan Reservoir. He needed some time to recover psychologically because the scene of the drowning person had a negative effect on him.

Local officials met him to give the award today. The event itself happened in 2019 but the pandemic and war didn't let the ceremony take place sooner.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209124 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209112

Charles Aznavour's Yerevan home will turn into a French institute

French ambassador Jonathan Lacote is working on it. They are negotiating a contract with Aznavour Foundation. "This structure will become a French cultural window, which is currently lacking in Armenia. It'll become one of the most beautiful places in the city."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046308.html

French language in Armenia

French ambassador Lacote: I thank the large community of French teachers in Armenia who do their hard work every day. The success of the French language in Armenia is largely due to the success of French-language educational institutions. The French University in Armenia has 1,300 students today. Their numbers have grown in recent years.

Many young Armenians, who have never studied French before, are expressing interest in the language. We appreciate the readiness of the government to promote the French language in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046317.html

Anatole France

The Anatole France French school in Armenia will be renovated and modernized by the French government, within the next few months. French ambassador welcomed the fact that the number of employees has increased by 50% in recent years.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046318.html

Francophonie 2021 / French festivals across Armenia

Armenia is part of the Francophonie organization that unites countries that have close cultural/language ties with France. Cultural festivals and political meetings are held every year. This year won't be an exception.

There will be concerts, movies, photo exhibitions, and competitions held in Yerevan and the provinces. French-language movies will be presented in Yerevan's Moskva Cinema and other cities from April 6-23.

A French dancing group will visit Armenia for a musical performance based on the Armenian epic Daredevils of Sassoun.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046309.html

today in history

1861: Italy becomes a kingdom and unifies the tiny states on the peninsula. It would later convert into the Republic as we know today.

1899: Saturn's moon Phoebe is discovered by William

1950: Californium is discovered, the 98th element on Mendeleyev table

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046252.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/m79g0k/mar172021_news_wrapup_1_education_reforms_new/

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