2021 March 18

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/18/2021: (1) Snap elections on June 20: parties respond (2) Lake Sevan water levels rise. New reservoir. Minister addresses Qarvachar concerns (3) Pashinyan sues Zaruhi (4) Court trials: Onik, Serj, Kocharyan (5) Remote learning flaws (6) NSS leaker (7) Commander abandoned soldiers (8) more news
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Thursday report in 3022 words.

today in history

1949: first trolley-bus began operating in Yerevan

1965: Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov does the first-ever spacewalk outside the capsule

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046359.html

COVID stats

4687 tested. 1024 infected (highest in 3 months). 19 deaths. 273 healed. 9830 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046385.html

there are suspected 300 cases of double infections in Armenia

...but the Ministry is examing whether they were instances of patients not healing fully and testing positive again. "According to experts, 90 days must pass after the initial infection before we can talk about double-infection," said Healthcare Minister Avanesyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046417.html

psychological care / remote education has its downsides

16% of teachers reported receiving mental health services during the pandemic and remote learning.

77% of teachers said they spend more time while communicating via the internet than in-person.

63% spent more time while grading homework, speaking with parents, etc.

33% said the students were more passive and skipped classes more often.

https://factor.am/349483.html

It is believed that children lost 60% of their knowledge after returning to classes. Usually, that number is 30% after long summer vacations.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209256

if you suffer from stress-eating, why not chew vegetables?

Armenian farmers exported 7k tons more fresh fruits and vegetables last year, reaching 146k.

20k apricots, 11k apples, 3.5k cherries, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046469.html

update: the NSS agent who inappropriately accessed Minister's personal details

In early 2020, the opposition media began circulating information about a stabbing incident and a 2-year sentence involving Infrastructure Minister Papikyan. He allegedly stabbed his commander in 2006 while serving in the Russian military base.

Papikyan denied being the one to stab during the group fight, never admitted guilt, and was eventually paroled by the authorities. The group fight began over an ethnic slur, he said.

The information about this incident was kept in the police archive and only authorized officials had access to it. The SIS began investigating to find the official who leaked the information.

They found that a local NSS branch chief Serob Harutyunyan went to the police station and pulled Papikyan's papers from the archive without authorization or a valid reason. But since SIS was unable to gather enough evidence to prove that he handed over the data to someone else, the felony charges had to be dropped.

He is still being investigated over unauthorized activities, however.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046426.html , https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30445892.html

battalion commander is arrested for abandoning soldiers and ignoring orders during the war

Investigators said: Vahanyan served as a training battalion commander. He disobeyed an order and left the battlefield, during which several of his subordinates were killed and wounded. He is arrested and charged with two felony counts.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046403.html

Tags: #ArtsakhWar

Armenia and Artsakh criticize Aliyev over the plans to remove Armenian writings from churches

Aliyev instructed his people to remove Armenian letters from some churches in the occupied territories because he believes they are 'Caucasian Albanian' churches. Artsakh MFA called it the latest Armenopohic and militaristic act by Baku, and a "cultural genocide on a state level."

https://factor.am/349850.html , https://factor.am/349867.html

March 1st: Cassations Court authorizes Lower Court to contact Constitutional Court

In 2019, a Lower Court judge sided with Kocharyan and asked the Constitutional Court to clarify whether Law 300.1 is Constitutional. That's the law Kocharyan is accused of breaking. Both Kocharyan and the Lower Court are essentially petitioning the Constitutional Court to investigate.

The prosecutors filed an appeal to overturn the petition by the Lower Court, and won the case in Appeals Court.

Today, the Cassations Court overturned that Appeals verdict and sided with Lower Court to authorize it to contact the Constitutional Court.

The legal jargon in detail:

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046485.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046475.html

Serj Sargsyan's trial

Serj is back in the court over allegations that he colluded with Ministry officials to steal agricultural diesel aid from farmers. There are multiple defendants.

Serj gave a speech in front of the court building in the morning and accused Pashinyan of being anti-Artsakh, etc. Full:

https://youtu.be/uYpZGRu-D4g , https://youtu.be/_ntQbIPsFoU ,

Serj asked the court to lift the sanctions against his assets.

https://factor.am/349678.html

The prosecutor provided counter-arguments to keep the assets frozen.

https://factor.am/349682.html

Two key witnesses and participants (Sergo Karapetyan and Sambel Galstyan) in Serj's case had recently died from an illness. One of them had allegedly testified against Serj. Today the judge unfroze their assets due to death.

The verdict over Serj's assets will be given tomorrow.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209212

stats: building safety

3.2% of the 19,000 apartment complex buildings in Armenia are too dangerous for living. There are additional 1,200 single-family houses in such shape.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046407.html

more 1990s refugee families will receive free housing

This year the government plans to give housing to up to 240 more families who reside in Yerevan. They migrated from Azerbaijan during 88-92 massacres and war.

Recently, ֏2.1b was spent on housing 185 families. This year they plan to spend as much for 240. That will leave 260 families in Yerevan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046457.html

National Council of the Churches urges White House

... to aid Artsakh refugees, to ensure the return of POWs, and for all political and religious leaders in the US to publicly recognize the 1915 Armenian Genocide. They urged Biden to recognize the genocide on April 24th.

NCC also condemned Azerbaijan's destruction of Armenian churches in the occupied territories.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046395.html

ambassadors are being replaced

Yuri Babakhanyan is the new ambassador to India.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046433.html

Tigran Mkrtchyan no longer represents Armenia in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Armenian Martirosyan is headed to Lithuania.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046432.html

physical incident between High-tech Minister and a reporter

A reporter saw the High Tech Minister Arshakyan at a cafe and approached to ask why he was dining during the working hours, to which Artsakyan responded that he works at night and that every hour is a working hour for him. The exchange apparently agitated the Minister who then asked the reporter to leave, before getting physical.

The SIS is investigating the incident.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046488.html

Japan helps with agriculture

Armenia and Japan signed an aid package. Two programs will help farmers in provinces. Sisian will have an Agricultural Engineering Training Center. Araksavan will have a new irrigation network and water pumps.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046453.html

new centers will help disabled soldiers to live an independent life

As of 2021, there are a total of 9022 former soldiers registered as disabled, from whom 472 became disabled during the 2020 war. 79% of all disabled are working-age.

The government will create special centers in 6 provinces tasked with helping disabled soldiers to re-integrate into regular life by overcoming physical barriers. They'll be taught how to handle daily tasks independently, how to use aiding services, job retraining opportunities, etc.

Soldiers who receive prosthetics will also have their home environment assessed "because often there are barriers that prevent them from functioning freely even if they have prosthetics. The prosthetics are multi-functional and have international standards."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046396.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046407.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046407.html

construction firm receives green light to build a new district

... in Zovuni, Kotayk. The firm Magnolia-Comfort will build 18 buildings, 1 community center, and renovate nearby schools. 40% of the new district will be covered in green. It'll be ready in 5 years.

The firm will invest ֏11.9b in the project and pay up to ֏2.7b in taxes. Today they received land-related approval so 200 people can begin the construction. 30 permanent jobs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046405.html

cigarette producer receives an incentive to invest

The government gave a tax waiver to Lex Tobacco to make ֏15b capital investments in addition to previous ֏3.3b.

120 new jobs with ֏300k average salary. They'll produce ֏119b worth of tobacco to be sold abroad, EAEU, and Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046407.html

no double taxation of income between Singapore and Armenia

The government ratified an agreement signed between Singapore and Armenia in 2019 about avoiding double taxation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046407.html

Lake Sevan shores are being cleaned of illegal structures

The process began in 2019 to improve the water quality and get rid of illegally-built structures. >30 buildings have been destroyed. It'll take years to remove some of them due to legal actions.

The owners are notified and given a chance to remove it themselves. If not, the government does it then sends the bill via court.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046479.html

how will Qarvachar being part of Azerbaijan affect Lake Sevan's water levels?

Qarvachar region is rich in underground water resources. Some of the water that flows into Lake Sevan originates from there. With it being part of Azerbaijan now, there is concern about the water levels.

Nature Minister Romanos: as stated earlier, Qarvachar has some water sources that are considered pre-pre-sources, but their influence in regards to water reserves is tiny. They don't influence the collection of water in the Arpa-Sevan water canal (a major canal that brings water to the lake).

https://factor.am/349529.html

Lake Sevan water levels are high amid irrigation savings & delivery increase

The water is 15cm higher than last year. It's at 1900m59cm level.

Nature Minister Romanos: usually the peak levels are observed in June. So far the data indicates that we'll have water levels unprecedented in the past decades: it will reach the 1901m mark.

One reason is the unprecedented volume of water transferred to the lake through the Arpa-Sevan canal. The agricultural field was tightly monitored against water waste, which also contributed.

Infrastructure Ministry: we drained less water for agriculture: 162 million m 3 instead of 170. This is not why the lake levels increased, however, because natural evaporation alone takes away over a billion m3 annually.

Pashinyan: are the water reservoirs full?

Infrastructure Ministry: they are sufficient. The only issue is with Akhuryan Reservoir which has a water shortage because Turkey also builds nearby reservoirs and uses lots of water. At the same time, the snow hasn't melted yet and there is a lot of it; we don't expect a water shortage this year.

We're close to starting the construction of the Kaspi Reservoir. The construction auction winners are known. The financial part is being finalized. We should be able to begin the construction this year.

Pashinyan: delivering the water to farmers in an appropriate manner is also important. Agriculture was the only field that grew last year.

Economy Ministry: speaking of farming. Last year we gave 4x as many loans as part of the agricultural loan-subsidy program; the sum increased by 75%. As part of the federal subsidy to build high-tech barns, 13 were built in 2020.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046401.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046407.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046458.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046463.html ,

Tags: #LakeSevan #SevanWater

round-2: controlled fishing season to begin in Lake Sevan

Last year the Nature Ministry decided to allow some amount of legal fishing while establishing a new lake guard service to catch poachers. They signed 255 contracts to allow the catching of 236 tons (204 was caught). It aims to regulate the fishing industry that has long been controversial and criticized by environmentalists.

This year the fishers will have a 250-ton allowance. There is a regulation to allow only large fish to be caught, and the diameters of fishing net holes to be large, to prevent the younglings from being caught.

Per 2020 study, there are 2345 tons of whitefish (sig) in the lake.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046406.html

the head of Protection of Economic Competition Commission visits Russia

... to sign a memorandum with his counterpart to ensure competition in the drug market.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046381.html

SIS agency to be dissolved and replaced with Anti-Corruption Committee

The Special Investigation Services (aka SIS aka CCC) investigates public officials. There is a draft bill to close it and temporarily move some staff over to the new Anti-Corruption Committee, before starting the vetting process to pick the suitable agents.

The Anti-Corruption Committee will be ready by October. The Committee president will be selected from 3 nominees chosen by a special board. According to drafted rules, the Premier will no longer be the one to select the president - it'll be done by the government cabinet.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046448.html

Lower Court temporarily "freezes" the firing of CoGS Onik Gasparyan / Judge is accused of crossing legal boundries / Premier insists Onik is fired

Pashinyan recently fired Chief of General Staff of Army Onik Gasparyan for involving the army in politics. Onik sued to overturn the decree. Today, a Lower Court judge Mher Petrosyan ruled that Onik should remain CoGS, for now, until the main verdict.

Ձեռնարկել հայցի ապահովման միջոց հայցվորի պահանջի ժամանակավոր բավարարման տեսքով, այն է մինչև սույն գործով գործն ըստ էության լուծող վերջնական դատական ակտի օրինական ...

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046383.html

LHK MP Taron: Onik will continue with his duties. All other procedures to appoint a replacement must be suspended.

https://factor.am/349536.html

QP MP Alen: the court verdict is simply illegal. The administrative court, which is attempting to assume the powers of the Constitutional Court, is not authorized to suspend norms that have entered into force. This isn't a building construction that you can suspend.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046436.html

Premier's office responds: Onik Gasparyan was fired on March 10th through a Constitutional process, per President Sarkissian decree (which he didn't sign but didn't challenge either, so it went into effect automatically).

Gasparyan then sued President Sarkissian's decree in court. On March 15th, the court returned Gasparyan's petition for being filed inaccurately. The court likely returned it in-person with a heads-up, because Gasparyan filed the second petition the same day. However, the court did not [treat the defendant the same way] hand the documents to the defendant in-person.

Besides filing the updated version, Gasparyan also asked for a temporary measure [to suspend his firing], which was approved by the court, thus suspending Gasparyan's termination until the main verdict.

However, the president's decree to fire Gasparyan already went into effect per Part 2 of Article 139 of the Constitution, and it does not envisage the possibility of reversing the act that has been complete. Therefore, Onik Gasparyan has been relieved of his position, and the process to appoint a new CoGS continues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046388.html

Former regime leader Vazgen Manukyan called for prosecutors to launch a felony case against the Pashinyan administration for suggesting that Onik Gasparyan is officially fired. "Pashinyan is essentially calling for a court order to be ignored." He called for the army to disobey the firing order.

https://factor.am/349685.html

Pashinyan is suing a former official over alleged defamation

Yerkir Tsirani party leader Zaruhi Postanjyan, who often spreads conspiracy theories, is being sued by Premier Pashinyan over alleged defamation. Premier demands a public apology and ֏2m.

It's about an interview Zaruhi gave to Hayeli club on February 2nd, in which she claimed that Pashinyan and first lady Anna received a bribe in exchange for handing over lands.

Zaruhi also claimed Nikol was a secret agent, and that Serj knew about it and intentionally brought him to power.

(do you miss Bill Gates conspiracy theories yet?)

https://factor.am/349492.html

Snap elections confirmed by June 20 / Pashinyan meets BHK and LHK parties

After meeting with LHK leader Marukyan, today Pashinyan met BHK leader Tsarukyan to discuss snap elections. They struck an agreement to hold elections on by June 20th. That means Pashinyan has to resign between April 20 to May 5 to meet that deadline.

LHK Marukyan: we agree to Pashinyan's June 20th offer. I held a phone conversation with him.

Nature Minister: we are confident we will win. I know this because I travel through regions a lot, and speak with locals.

Arthur Vanetsyan: Hayreniq party will participate in elections. We aim to win so we can introduce stability and discuss the plans for tomorrow. When the Premier resigns, the Parliament fails to elect Premier twice, and the actual process of snap elections begins, then we will discuss with other opposition parties whether to form an alliance. (Vanetsyan leads one of the parties that joined Vazgen Manukyan)

Hanrapetutyun Party chief Aram: snap elections are the best option. Be civil during the campaign period.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan's ANC: it's important to finish the electoral code reform process and get rid of the "rating" system before holding the elections. The ruling party introduced the Electoral Code reform bill on March 9th. Despite some flaws, it solves the issue of holding elections based on ideologies (vs persons), it reduces the possibility of mass bribery, and abuse of administrative power by existing officials.

Compared to the Rating system which allows criminal elements to influence elections, the desired Proportional system will give us what we've been asking for in the past 15 years. There is a wide consensus. (more on Rating vs Proportional later)

Citizen's Decision QO party: we agree that the Rating system must be repealed before holding the elections.

HHK Shawarmazanov: we will release a statement when the Electoral Commission confirms the election date.

Former regime leader Vazgen Manukyan: I doubt that snap election will be held on June 20th. I won't participate, in any case. Any election held under Pashinyan will be a catastrophe. As for our partner BHK agreeing to the elections, we will meet and discuss it.

Russia: this is Armenia's internal issue. No comments.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046382.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046476.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046446.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046442.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046443.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046471.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046482.html , https://factor.am/349693.html , https://factor.am/349734.html , https://factor.am/349748.html

Metsamor Nuclear Plant / 2026+ / govt monitoring new tech used around the world

In January 2021 the government drafted Armenia's energy plans for 2040. Nuclear energy is part of it, in addition to renewables. The Metsamor NPP is being renovated and is expected to receive a license to operate for another 5 years.

Our goal is to extend NPP's operations for another 10 years until 2036 if it's deemed safe, said the government. "In parallel, the construction of a new NPP energy bloc is on our agenda. We are monitoring the technological developments around the world. By 2036 we will make decisions regarding the new bloc's capacity, technology, and financing."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046399.html

The NPP will enter its main 141-day-long renovation period beginning this May. Upon completion, an international agency will examine and issue a certificate. Experts believe this renovation will extend the lifespan by 10 years.

The [presumably Russian] experts have arrived to organize the renovation. It's a process where a metal is heated to extremely high temperatures and kept for a certain period before a cooldown.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046414.html

donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (soldiers' families)

www.HimnaDram.org

www.ArmeniaFund.org

news archive

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/m7zkay/mar182021_1_snap_elections_on_june_20_parties/

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