2021 March 29

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/29/2021: (1) 24,000 vaccines arrive (2) Pashinyan speech (3) Vazgen's plans (4) MFA Ayvazyan speech (5) Parties' stance on electoral reform (6) Army hospitalization stats during war/pandemic (7) Fitch outlook (8) Azeri media vs Germany (9) Sports events (10) Cop busted (11) Dvin ruins (12) more
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Monday report in 3477 words.

Fitch affirms Armenia at B+ with a stable outlook

Negatives: geopolitics with a potential of war, high debt, weak external financing.

Positives: governance, ease of doing business, strong banks, high income per capita, institutions that have facilitated orderly political transitions and weathered the pandemic shock and 44-day war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047318.html , https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/fitch-affirms-armenia-at-b-outlook-stable-26-03-2021

Pashinyan visits Armavir province

He met locals and laid flowers in memory of the fallen servicemen. He then gave a speech with an emphasis on rebuilding a developing Armenia and Artsakh. "But in order to be honest towards our martyrs, we must also look back at what we have done wrong over the last 30 years."

Pashinyan about the issues accumulated in the past 30 years:

It's the 21st century, yet when we travel through villages, we don't see an expression of prosperity. There are roads submerged in mud, half-ruined fences, discolored buildings. This is observed across Armenia.

Half of our arable lands are left unused. 74% of our arable lands have no irrigation due to lack of water reach. Meanwhile, our country annually generates so much water that we could have had a surplus after irrigating it all.

Pashinyan about arable land management:

One of the issues is the method of privatizing arable lands. They are in tiny pieces and separated from each other. The smaller the land, the less efficient it is. In many villages, the same person has small lands in multiple locations; he has to travel kilometers and spend more resources.

We need to encourage villagers to enlargen their lands. One method is the creation of cooperatives. We need to encourage villagers to join each other. The elder generation criticizes the destruction of Soviet-era kolkhoz. Today, we want you to join and govern lands together, while the government will provide financial incentives.

Pashinyan about Artsakh being used as a political card

What have we done in the past 30 years? While speaking about victories for 30 years, a defeat was being sewed behind our backs. Today we must address this issue.

You witnessed what happened. It turns out, there were 5,000 people during the war that were available for attacking the government building, while the battlefield was elsewhere. It turns out there are politicians [Vazgen Manukyan] who call generals during the war and instead of urging them to defeat the enemy, they were telling generals to move to Yerevan to take over the government. This is because, for some, the topic of Artsakh was and remains to be a tool for capturing power.

Okay. They used the Artsakh topic to come to power. But what have they done since then? Why should half of the arable lands remain unused? Why should there be schools without heating systems? Why should there be teachers who earn only ֏30,000/month?

Our greatest respect for our martyrs will be the solving of these issues to have prosperous villages, families, and a nation that believes in the future. Yes, our faith in the future has been shaken, but together we must restore that faith.

Pashinyan about education system:

Education should be the primary way to restore faith towards the future. We are starting a new process this year to ensure there are no teachers with low salaries. They will receive up to a 50% salary raise after being certified. This will also help students. This will raise the quality of education. Teachers will add points to their personal ranking with their great work. In turn, it'll raise their salaries.

[Talks about the lengthy process of creating institutions and tools such as asset forfeiture, anti-corruption courts, etc., to fight corruption, and the complaints that they are working slow.]

[Praises the fact that not one shot has been fired in Armenia in the past 5 months, and that his administration has been dealing with various medical/political crises since 2018.]

Pashinyan about institutions:

I apologize to you for the fact that since the first years of our independence the whole burden has been on the people. We were unable to form institutes that could ensure people's social and physical security.

The courts did not mature as an institution. We have developed the mechanisms [presumably referring to giving Supreme Court more power to punish judges, and to ordinary citizens to file complaints against judges during trials]. There is no doubt that those judges who are dishonest to people will be removed. There are dozens of disciplinary cases launched by the Justice Ministry [which contacts the Supreme Court to have them investigate a judge].

Pashinyan about regional peace:

[Talks about Armenian-Russian military cooperation and its importance for security.]

Our long-term goal should be peace and not war. We must look at our region from a different point of view. The more enemies we perceive to have, the more countries will perceive us as their enemy. The increase of the dose of hostility results in crises.

We must be able to review and assess our region while encouraging other countries to do the same. We should achieve a change in atmosphere in the region. We have and will continue to live for thousands of years in this region.

Pashinyan about foreign trade:

Our entire economy is dependent on the Upper Lars border checkpoint [between Georgia and Russia]. As we speak, there are 600 trucks stuck in there because of poor weather. A country cannot have only one trade route.

We need a railway connection. Without it, our economy can never be as developed as it was during USSR. A strong economy means high-paying jobs, professional qualifications opportunities for our children, development of the industry.

Pashinyan about raising salaries in the public sector:

Today, people demand corrupt politicians be thrown out of politics. I should mention that dozens of corruption charges have been filed against officials since 2018. Many of them are on the run.

There is talk about the size of salary in the public sector. We cannot ask an inspector earning only ֏200K to go catch a corrupt official who stole a billion. Many public workers are approached by private sector representatives who "steal" them by offering 5x higher salaries.

When we talk about raising public sector salaries, some people say that "instead of taking care of people's needs, they are raising their salaries." This is why we are raising it so that the public workers can more efficiently solve your problems.

Pashinyan about snap elections:

As long as there is strength in me, I will fight for justice and truth. And thank you that even after all the mistakes we have made, you are still ready to give us that opportunity. This shows your great generosity.

The war and events that lead to it have created a need for us to seek reelection or rejection from you. It's up to you. We need snap elections to have a "restart". Our goal is to prevent the "wolves" from returning to power.

Pashinyan wraps-up the speech:

Again, I want to apologize to all of you for our mistakes. We are ready to take any responsibility for those mistakes. If you decide that the punishment for those mistakes is for us to correct them, then we will make that commitment.

Thank you all. I love you all. I'm proud of you all and I bow to you all. And I am so proud and glad that after all this you are so strong, victorious, and courageous. Our people did not win this war and if we lost then the defeat is mine, while the victory is yours. You have won and will win.

[They went to light a candle at St Grigor Narekatsi church.]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047371.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047386.html , https://youtu.be/VH_pSpNDdnQ , https://youtu.be/pUlAEyCJ6Tc , https://youtu.be/SJw8lOkJhmY , https://youtu.be/kMLe_7hxqgE

Foreign Minister Ayvazyan about foreign policy, de-occupation of Artsakh and its status:

(When asked if the war was a result of failed foreign diplomacy) I disagree. Armenia has made every effort to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations, as have the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Azerbaijan rejected all compromises. The war exposed our weak points in internal and foreign affairs. Everyone is looking for culprits today, but time will come and there will be a comprehensive examination of all events.

We formulated our position in the new regional reality and submitted it to OSCE Ministerial Council. It's about clarification of Artsakh's legal status based on the right to self-determination, ensuring their security, and de-occupation of Artsakh territories.

International organizations are becoming increasingly convinced that Artsakh cannot be part of Azerbaijan, because of mistreatment of POWs and destruction of Armenian monuments.

Our Ministry did extensive work to ensure Azerbaijan is portrayed as the aggressor who, with the help of Turkey, involved armed terrorists. We are taking steps to increase international pressure on the Turkish-Azeri alliance.

Today our region has entered a period of new challenges which makes regional stability and security important. We need a strong OSCE Minks Group that can lead the peace process based on the principles developed for years.

Our foreign policy will be pragmatic and flexible. We know very well the value of peace, we are not looking for enemies.

We will do our best to create a truly stable security atmosphere around the Republic of Armenia. However, there are currently no negotiations with Turkey.

More: https://www.civilnet.am/news/575134/հհ-դիվանագիտության-գերակայությունների-շարքում-է-հայոց-ցեղասպանության-միջազգային-ճանաչումը/ , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047426.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047430.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047437.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047450.html , https://factor.am/353295.html

Vazgen Manukyan about regional relations, "destroying" Pashinyan within days, and elections

Manukyan and ARF Ishkhan doubt that Pashinyan will actually hold snap elections. Manukyan won't participate in any case, but he could attend various debates and meetings.

Manukyan compared Pashinyan with Hitler. "Imagine Hitler holding elections."

Manukyan does not believe Armenia should hold negotiations with Turkey and Azerbaijan to improve the relations today. "There used to be a time when there was a death penalty for that [negotiating with the enemy]. Unfortunately, those times are gone."

Manukyan said the world is changing and Armenia should use the opportunity to restore Artsakh (e-z pee-z?), but it's impossible with Pashinyan in charge.

Manukyan spoke about the need to travel across Armenia to rally supporters, "so that one day, we can rise up and destroy everything. We are preparing for that day. Peaceful negotiations [with Pashinyan] will not help. We need force against force. The force is not 2,000 youth who break into buildings, it's the whole nation."

Before Pashinyan's resignation in mid-April and early-May, ARF plans to visit provinces to rally supporters against Pashinyan. After the resignation, ARF wants to make sure Pashinyan does not stay as a temporary acting Premier before new elections [opposition's original goal]. And if ARF fails to remove Pashinyan, then they will enter election campaign season and each opposition party will decide on their participation format.

More: https://factor.am/353135.html , https://youtu.be/_AOQcVsemwc , https://factor.am/353138.html , https://factor.am/353146.html , https://youtu.be/HwRV3H8AYaw

what does each political party think about the Rating vs Proportional electoral system?

Context for Rating and Proportional are. Rating is a controversial mechanism where "oligarchs can abuse the system". Closed Proportional is when people elect for a party/ideology but not individuals. Open Proportional is when people elect for individuals but it's "better than Rating".

Ruling QP and opposition Heritage parties support Closed Proportional.

LHK and ARF support Open Proportional. LHK believes it'll ensure fair representation for provinces. QP says Closed Proportional also can be done in a way to ensure representation.

BHK supported the repeal of Rating back in 2018. Today they don't have a specific preference, saying they'll participate in snap elections under any system.

HHK supported the Rating system in 2018 [after introducing it years ago]. HHK's Arpine Hovhannisyan appears to be against repealing the Rating system ahead of elections, but HHK hasn't officially announced its stance.

Levon's ANC party, Citizen's Decision party, Sasna Tsrer, Babajanyan's For Republic, and few smaller parties are also against Rating, but it's unclear whether they support Open or Closed Proportional.

https://factor.am/352972.html

rumors & rebuttals: market in Tavush

Tavush governor Chobanyan denied "yet another misinformation" about him allegedly announcing the formation of an Armenian-Azeri market in Tavush province. "Remember, we are in an information war." He gave tips on how not to fall for fake news disguised as a "sensation".

https://factor.am/353142.html

search operations continue in Artsakh

Six bodies were found in Jabrayil, Fizuli, and Sghnakh.

At night, while the search crew vehicle was moving from Stepanakert to Armenia, unknown individuals threw rocks at the vehicle while it was near the Lachin corridor, cracking the windshield. The geographic location of the event makes it unlikely that the stones fell from nearby rocks. Azeri soldiers are suspected.

A similar incident happened last week, prompting an apology by peacekeepers and the Azeri commander's promise to escalate the complaint to the administration.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047356.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047465.html , https://factor.am/353441.html , https://factor.am/353525.html

Azeri regime unhappy with Germany and Europe

Azeri media has been critical to Germany in recent days after German police busted MPs who allegedly took bribes from Azerbaijan.

Recently, the German ambassador to Azerbaijan refused to join other diplomats to visit the Artsakh lands occupied by Azerbaijan. This resulted in hysteria by the Azerbaijani regime.

Azeri media accused Georgia-based German media of launching anti-Azeri campaigns. They complained about worsening relations with NATO and the EU.

https://factor.am/353557.html

army provides stats about hospitalizations during the war:

Overall, 11k soldiers and volunteers received some form of medical treatment in hospitals during the war (includes patients with injuries, wounds, COVID, etc.).

55% of wounded soldiers had light injuries, 35% medium, 7% heavy, 2% very heavy.

1,500 wounded soldiers continue to receive care; they are on rehabilitation leave. 885 of them have stage 1-3 disability.

Until the 23rd day of the war, there were only shrapnel wounds among the soldiers. This is because drones and long-range artillery were being used. The bullet wounds were observed afterward when the opponent came closer. army provides stats about hospital care and casualties among doctors:

1% of hospitalized soldiers died in hospitals. That's 5x lower than international statistics. One reason was the successful structural changes during the war to use small rapid-deployment medical teams. It placed the medics' lives at risk, but there was no other option.

Losses among medics: 15 doctors, 1 volunteer doctor, 60 assistants. The opponent intentionally targeted medical personnel. army provides stats about COVID in the military:

There were 3,500 COVID infections during the war. 150 active today. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 10 COVID deaths in the army.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047373.html , https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mcdfye/mar242021_major_education_reforms_approved/ , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047374.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047375.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047377.html ,

Tags: #wounded #injuries #COVIDinArmy #casualties

477K pieces of explosives and ammunition have been cleared from Artsakh

... since the beginning of the war, said the Artsakh de-mining agency which began cooperating with Russia after the ceasefire.

https://factor.am/353070.html

Constitutional Court published the full verdict

Last week they struck down Article 300.1 about the usurpation of power. That's the law that Kocharyan and others were accused of breaking. The full verdict is below. The Court refused to reveal which judges voted for and against.

https://www.concourt.am/armenian/decisions/common/2021/pdf/sdv-1586.pdf , https://factor.am/353469.html

Judge Khundukyan wrote a special opinion piece about the verdict:

https://www.concourt.am/armenian/decisions/common/2021/pdf/sdv-1586-hk.PDF

anti-corruption: NSS busts a police officer with bribery

NSS report says: Major M.E. is a chief inspector at Yerevan's Nor Norq division. To help a trial defendant, he agreed to organize a scheme involving a witness and "personal connections", in exchange for $4,000.

The bribe-giver and the policeman met at a cafe. The bribe-giver left to get the money but realized that him giving a bribe is also a felony, so he had a change of heart and visited NSS headquarters to file a report against the policeman.

Meanwhile, the policeman insisted on another participant to pay the bribe and scheduled a meeting for it. The policeman and the other bribe-giver were arrested after the transaction.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047402.html

infrastructure upgrades

Several villages in Armavir will have 185 ha newly irrigated lands with the installation of a 6.2km water network. The water losses are expected to significantly reduce from the current 60%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047494.html

COVID stats since Saturday

14,658 tested. 2,295 infected. 1,936 healed. 42 deaths. Active 14,466.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047314.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047365.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047409/

there will be a bed shortage unless something is done

Deputy CDC director Sahakyan: we have a 90% increase in infections. 7000 new cases are forecasted for next week. The situation is serious and the hospitals are overloaded. The infection rate is 1.2.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047467.html

COVID-prevention measures will strengthen amid rising numbers

... said Premier Pashinyan during a government session today. "Our earlier prediction that the pandemic would last a year was accurate. Today we will discuss the vaccination campaign and preventative measures."

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: 843K tested, 191K infected, 172K healed, 3.4K deaths. We must take steps to avoid hospital bed shortages.

Pashinyan: we need to focus on enforcing the use of masks, expand the hospitals, schedule more inspector visits to public transport and public facilities, and organize a vaccination campaign.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047451.html

Armenia purchases 24,000 vaccine doses from COVAX

As predicted by the Healthcare Ministry earlier, the global COVAX vaccine

agency was able to deliver the first large batch by the end of March. "Armenia is one of the few countries that had the opportunity to receive the long-awaited vaccine when a number of countries in the world are still fighting for that right."

It'll be enough for 12k people, who will take two shots with ~8-week delay. Doctors, seniors, those with chronic illnesses, and nursing home staff will be prioritized.

It's the AstraZeneca vaccine. Prevents symptoms with 76% efficiency, prevents serious hospitalizations by ~100%, prevents symptoms among seniors by 85%.

AstraZeneca normally sells for $25 but Armenia got it for $4.5 because several countries ganged up into "COVAX" to purchase 170 million doses for a discount price.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047384.html , https://factor.am/353421.html

15k people returned to Armenia during the 2020 pandemic...

... with the efforts of Foreign Ministry in cooperation with foreign partners to make travel exceptions, said MFA Ayvazyan. 2.2k of them traveled for free.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047433.html

church launches Holy Week ahead of Easter

The beginning of Ավագ Շաբաթ was marked by the Armenian Apostolic Church. There will be events on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday followed by the main event on April 4th in Yerevan's St. Gregory the Illuminati church.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047379.html

endangered քոթոթ has been spotted by a hidden nature camera

It's in Caucasus's first privately-run nature reserve located in Armenia. Area 30,000 ha.

https://youtu.be/F4E0chM1VZg

photos: a cat is rescued from a tree in Stepanakert

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210098

video: Dvin ruins are being renovated

Armenia's 7th capital Dvin was founded in the 4th century. Few architectural pieces remain today. The government allocated ֏120M to begin some restoration processes for columns, districts, and a church.

The crews will use the same construction materials used in the 4th century. They hope it'll become a tourism attraction center.

https://youtu.be/HaFoTHs5XMc

Armenian journalists held a chess competition

Golos Armenii's Vadim Mkrtchyan won his fifth victory in the 6th annual competition held in Tigran Petrosyan Yerevan Chess House.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047344.html

pilot program: skiing to replace fizkultura classes in winter

Armenian Skiing Federation and the Education Ministry met to discuss a pilot program to promote the winter sport in Armenia. The proposal is to hold a pilot program in several schools to replace fizkult classes with skiing.

They believe it'll increase public interest in the sport and play a role in strengthening children's health.

The lectures and video tutorials will begin in September. Fizkult teachers will undergo training first.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047359.html

Armenia defeats Iceland in World Cup 2022 qualification round

Armenia 2:0 Iceland. The latter is 46th in the world, while Armenia is 99th.

Armenian coach Joaquín Caparrós: the tactics were not planned in advance. The beginning was difficult, but towards the end of the first half, our team began holding the ball and using the gaps left by the opponent.

Player Hakobyan: our defense acted flawlessly. We knew we were facing a mightly opponent. This was an important victory.

FIFA's Twitter page: Armenia shocked the group favorites by scoring two victories. Armenia scored a new record with its victories in the World Cup qualification tournaments.

Iceland coach: Armenians truly wanted to win. We knew they were in good shape. Now our chances of securing 2nd place in the group are slim. (F)

Iceland team captain: Armenian players were "fighting" on the pitch and won every battle for the ball. We played poorly and deserved the defeat. //

Meanwhile, Armenia's group opponents played as such: Germany defeated Romania, Macedonia defeated Lichteinstain.

As we stand right now, Armenia is the 2nd in the J Group and would advance to the next round. Germany is ahead of Armenia despite having equal 6 points because of an extra goal.

Armenia vs Romania - March 31st

Goal videos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047387.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_%E2%80%93_UEFA_Group_J

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047391.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047393.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047395.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047418.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047420.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047425.html

end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

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

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mfxr1c/mar292021_1_24000_vaccines_arrive_2_pashinyan/

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