2021 March 3

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/3/2021: (1) The jet that mysteriously landed in Iran (3) Bills: auction transparency, patent registration, IRS guns (4) Serj comments Aronian departure (5) Sarkissian vs All (6) Vzgo charged w/incitement (7) Freedom index (8) US praises anti-laundering efforts (9) $45m narcos (10) GPS jammer (11
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Wednesday report in 2890 words.

re: Armenian airline company whose jet mysteriously ended up in Iran

Fly Armenia Airways had its jet flown to Iran instead of Ukraine, under unclear circumstances. Civil Aviation Committee (CAC) launched an investigation. The United States embassy is waiting for details because the jet is an American Boeing 737.

Hetq outlet has details about the company:

The company has a troublesome record, with the recent jet transfer to Iran not being the first scandal. The company was founded by Yerevan-based Bella Gayamova and London-based company, in Oct/2019.

The London-based co-founder belongs to a Czech-German citizen named Simon Spitz (Shimon Lapav), who is known with scandalous past.

Co-founder Gayamova became the first CEO. She was then replaced by Austrian and German experts who worked at Lufthansa.

A month after its foundation, the company asked CAC for a license for commercial flights. CAC chief Tatevik Revazyan refused to issue a license, citing problems with the airline's documents, and the airline's inability to fix the problems. The CAC asked the airlines to re-apply later when they are fixed.

In mid-2020, the airlines re-applied and was granted a yearlong license. However, just two months later, the CAC suspended their license after finding irregularities as part of a routine checkup.

The airlines sued the CAC to restore its license. Only two trials were held until December 2020, after which the airlines changed its mind and dropped the lawsuit.

On Nov/26/2020, the airlines transported a Boeing 737 from Ukraine to Armenia. It was registered shortly after the aforementioned court disputes. The CAC authorized and registered the new jet.

While these changes were happening in December, the company's director became Dmitri Kaparulin, a man who worked in the Russian, Kazakh, and European airline industries. Moreover, the other 45% stakeholder, the London-based firm, also exited the company. The latter's exit coincided with the airline's disputes being resolved.

A new buyer emerged and purchased the London firm's 45% plus 5% from co-founder Gayamova. Today, the company is 50/50 co-owned by Gayamova and Swedish-Armenian Gevorg Nalbandyan.

Around mid-December, the company's CEO was changed, and the 50/50 co-founder Gayamova also became the CEO.

(The Civil Aviation Committee is still investigating the company's latest shenanigans.)

https://hetq.am/hy/article/128073

Armenia is negotiating to get the jet back from Iran

Deputy PM Avinyan: there are ongoing negotiations to get it back from Iran today. The airlines had earlier asked the Civil Aviation Committee for permission to make an empty flight from Estonia to Ukraine, which would not have been a violation of any international regulations.

However, the jet violated the CAC permit and made an unauthorized flight. The pilots and the Iranian side say the landing was for technical reasons due to fuel issues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045063.html

the government will increase the science budget

Deputy PM Avinyan: we increased the science budget by ֏1.5B back in 2019-2020, and we plan to do it again after consulting with scientific institutes, which will present detailed proposals.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045064.html

Bill approved: journalists and NGOs to have more oversight on state purchases during public auctions

Parliament voted 77-5-11 to approve a QP bill that "defines the procedure for procurement planning, approval of specifications, preliminary procurement control, contract execution, management and financing."

The goal is to improve public oversight over state purchases. The auction participants who did not win, the investigative journalists, and NGOs, will have better access to observe the contract's execution.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044993.html

Bill approved: scientists will receive patents faster and easier

Parliament voted 90-8-14 to approve a government bill. The "useful model" (օգտակար մոդել) system will be replaced by "short-term patent for inventions" to easily patent an invention for 10 years, "in-line with European practices."

The short-term patent will be easier and cheaper than a long-term one.

It will also introduce a procedure for submitting objections to patents filed by others.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044994.html

Bill approved: Audit Chamber candidate qualification requirements will change

Parliament voted 94-11-7 to require future Audit Chamber employees to have additional experience in the finance world.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044992.html

Bill approved: National Minorities Day on 1st Sunday of October

Parliament voted 115-0 to approve the bill.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044990.html

Bill approved: some IRS agents will carry guns

Parliament voted 91-6-21 to approve a government bill to amend the gun laws to allow IRS agents, who handle risky business, to carry guns.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044995.html

Bill approved: Parliament condemns Azerbaijan for delaying POW swap

Parliament voted 120-0 to approve Ind. MP bill to condemn Azerbaijan for keeping hostage civilians and soldiers captured during the war, against the November trilateral statement. It accuses Azerbaijan of violating international conventions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044997.html

former regime leaders meet Sarkissian to convince him not to fire GCoS

President Sarkissian did not sign Pashinyan's decree to fire GCoS Onik Gasparyan but he didn't challenge the decree in the court, either, meaning the GCoS will be automatically fired within days.

Vazgen Manukyan, Arthur Vanetsyan, Vahram Baghdasaryan, Artsvik Minasyan, and other opposition leaders met with Sarkissian again today.

Manukyan camp: We met the President to convince him to send the decree to the Constitutional Court... The President listened to our views and said that he would announce his decision in the coming hours... If the GCoS is fired, we have information to believe that the army won't accept his firing. //

Sarkissian also met GCoS Onik himself. The president noted that the Armed Forces must always be under the care of all of us, "I will continue to focus on the army and its problems." (sounds like a goodbye to me)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045007.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045015.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045025.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045040.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045047.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208039

GCoS Onik says he has 8 more days

Onik updated the GCoS website to respond to Sarkissian's decision. It lists several laws and regulations. He believes he has 8 more days before certain laws activate.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045011.html

Vazgen Manukyan camp resumes the rally in front of Parliament

ARF leaders, Kocharyan's lawyer, and others gave speeches in support of GCoS Onik, and promised a bright future after the change of government. They continue to demand Pahsinyan's resignation.

One of the participants claimed, without evidence, that the authorities stole $110M from the ArmeniaFund. (Note: the charity money has been used to pay for social aid programs and is currently building houses in Artsakh)

Manukyan and allies will travel through provinces to spread the word and rally supporters. He complained that villagers don't consume news from opposition channels enough. "They watch H1 instead of ArmNews," he complained.

Manukyan spoke about the need for mass rallies and said there could be a need for "more drastic actions."

https://youtu.be/S2A4BLIn-Q4

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045041.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045074.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208070

felony charges against Vazgen Manukyan over his words about invading government buildings and rebellion

The former regime's candidate is charged with violating Code 301, about public calls to incite the toppling of the Constitutional Order. It's about his speeches on February 12th and 20th. (surprised pikachu face?).

Manukyan is asked to appear at a police station and testify tomorrow. He believes it's political persecution but it "won't deter him."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045079.html , https://factor.am/344446.html

Parliament grills Supreme Court chief for the second day in a row

When opposition leader Arthur Vanetsyan and others were arrested back in November, regarding calls for violence and an alleged assassination plot, the head of Supreme Court, who is Vanetsyan's friend, released a message with arguably a political statement against Pashinyan, and urged fellow judges to be lenient on opposition figures, per complaint.

A judge ended up not arresting his friend Vanetsyan, and other opposition figures.

For the second day in a row, the ruling party chastised the court chief during a Parliament meeting "for pressuring the judges to drop the cases". The chief judge continued to insist he didn't make any political statements and he hasn't spoken with Arthur Vanetsyan for a long time. He says he won't resign.

(More in yesterday's post)

https://factor.am/344440.html

nationalists hold a rally in front of Matenadaran

Ազգային-ժողովրդավարական բևեռ, consisted of Sasna Tsrer and some other non-former-regime opposition, held a gathering today. They promised to turn the Matenadaran meetings into a daily occurrence. They oppose the former and current administrations.

https://factor.am/344404.html

landmine explosion wounds an Azeri official in occupied Aghdam region

Hafaz Azimzadeh, a local water official, lost a limb after triggering an unexploded mine while in Aghdam's abandoned village Novruzlu.

https://factor.am/344344.html

charges filed to investigate the assault against journalists

Prosecutors aren't happy with 3 recent incidents involving journalists.

One of them is regarding an anti-Pashinyan activist working at ARF's YerkirAm media outlet, who recently held a protest sign in front of the government building. The sign was stolen by Pashinyan supporters during a confrontation. Another incident involving her is relating to a February 24th event near the Opera building, where she claimed someone assaulted her.

The third case is relating to two journalists from anti-former-regime outlet Azatutyun, who claim a group of opposition activists assaulted them during the rally coverage on February 23rd.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045005.html , https://factor.am/344384.html

Freedom House: Armenia is partly free, but affected by war

55 out of 100 points, versus 53 points last year. The report notes Azerbaijan's military aggression "with the help of authoritarian Turkey", its negative impact on Armenia's ability to carry out reforms, the post-war use of force that is a step backward.

The report notes Armenia's big progress since the 2018 revolution. It also notes how the opposition stormed the government buildings and attacked govt member(s). "Such riots threaten the country's hard-won progress."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044996.html

US State Dept.: Armenia has improved money laundering fight post-2018

The US government has an international report about narcotics and money laundering. Armenia is listed as a transit state for drugs, "where the anti-money laundering legislation is gradually being strengthened... Armenia has increased investigations after the 2018 revolution... Despite the government's anti-corruption fight, the drug smuggling and hiding of asset remain an issue."

In 2018-2019 there were 200 cases about money laundering. The number rose to 700 in 2020. The report notes that some of the defendants are members of the former government.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045004.html

IRS busts a massive $45M narcotics smuggling attempt

IRS says: while searching a storage facility in Yerevan, we found 33 boxes of heroin hidden in a baking dough cargo. The 365kg load is worth $45M. This is the largest bust since 2014 and is unprecedented in its nature in the region. It was meant to be transported from Iran to Western Europe.

K9 dogs played a big role in the bust. 6 suspects are arrested.

https://youtu.be/A4QPMIiPxgQ

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045022.html

Read more about Armenian K9 dogs who sniff drugs: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/likud7/feb122021_1_artsakh_president_holds_direct/

opposition General insists that Iskander was used during the war

Serj and General Movses Hakobyan earlier claimed Iskander was used, but too late. Pashinyan criticized Serj for purchasing dysfunctional missiles. Russia stepped in to prevent damage to its reputation, saying Iskander was never even used.

General Movses Hakobyan contradicted the Russian authorities again, insisting that Iskander was used, without providing further details.

Ilham Aliyev said they haven't recorded Iskander explosions.

General Movses Hakobyan said Iskander was fired during a cloudy day. The missile created many smaller explosions, but since it was a cloudy day, Pashinyan could not have known what % of it exploded unless he received details from Azerbaijan.

(So was it fired near Shushi or deep inside Azerbaijan? If near Shushi, Armenians could have easily seen the explosion.)

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290813/ , https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/03/03/«Իսկանդեր»-աղմուկ-առանց-կրակոցի՞/421466

Russian peacekeepers have de-mined 1,548 hectares

..., removed 25K explosive materials, and cleared 484km roads, since the launch of their mission.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044987.html

Video: military radio equipment (GPS jammer) made in Armenia

High Tech Minister Artsahkyan continues to share videos featuring Armenian army tech. The video shows a radio-electronic tool that suppresses satellite positioning systems to combat drones within a 100km radius.

It'll be presented during the ArmHighTech military expo held in Yerevan on March 25th.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=922896415118699

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045027.html

High Tech Ministry says IDEX-2021 expo was a success despite some delivery issues

Minister Arshakyan in Parliament: A lot of work was done on the spot by the military-industrial committee and the Ministry. 14 companies presented their products, all of whom were prepared both by the professional presentation of their companies and the presentation of products and services.

Only one part of the expo materials did not arrive. They were mostly decorations and items to give a visual presentation. Our companies reached many agreements with prospective buyers. According to some observers, our booth was one of the most appealing ones.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045049.html

COVID stats

2526 tested. 360 infected. 168 healed. 2 deaths. 4889 (it's rising)

LHK MP asked the Healthcare Minister why the police aren't issuing tickets to those who don't wear masks. The Minister reiterated that masks are an important part of the fight and that the population lately put the guards down, encouraged by a period of low numbers. "Let's get back to following the safety rules."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045000.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045061.html

Armenia is in process of finalizing purchase of 15,000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccine

It'll become the first vaccine used in Armenia. Vulnerable groups will be prioritized. The quantity is enough for 7,500 patients and doctors for now. Another 2,000 doses were donated by Russia.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290804/

stats: consumer prices in February YoY

Overall consumer prices +5.3%. Food and beverages +7.8%. Alcohol and tobacco +8.7%. Clothing +5.2%. Utilities +0.2%. Appliances goods and appliances +6.9%. Healthcare +5.6%. Transport +7.2%. Communications +0.9%. Education +2.1%. Restaurants +2.2%. Nonfood +6.7%. Services +1.6%.

Central Bank projects 2% GDP growth this year. The government projects 3.2% growth.

http://arka.am/en/news/economy/in_february_2021_armenian_consumer_prices_were_up_5_3_from_february_2020/

some food prices went up significantly in the EAEU trade bloc

In January YoY, across the EAEU bloc countries, the sugar +57%, potato +33%, sunflower oil +29%, alcohol/milk/salt +4%.

The EAEU official noted in Armenia specifically, the vegetables became 30% more expensive since early 2020.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208085

Vayots Dzor will have a new hospital

Construction began for a new 3,800 m2 facility with 5 buildings, basement, adjacent utilities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045017.html

Vardenis has a new boxing center

Local authorities and the EU co-funded a new facility to train the youth. Private donors and "OM Europe" donated equipment.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045054.html

chess champions receive awards

Armenian Chess Federation chief Serj Sargsyan issued awards to Hovhannes Gabuzyan and Maria Gevorgyan, who recently became Armenian champions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045069.html

Serj Sargsyan provides details about grandmaster Levon Aronian's decision to leave

During today's award ceremony, Chess Federation chief Serj Sargsyan said that he did not play any role in Aronian's decision to leave and that he offered Aronian help with financing, "but Aronian said that the problem is not in the support, but rather the attitude towards him. He will return when the chess is respected again."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045077.html

new bill to help increase birth rate / Extra benefits for 4+ kids

Labor & Social Affairs Ministry: the draft bill envisions new programs to provide additional state guarantees and support to multi-child families, which will clarify the social status and guarantees of large families, increase the effectiveness of state support provided to them, encourage the birth of 4+ children.

Families with 4+ kids will receive additional money, health insurance, housing improvement assistance, free housing, education subsidy, free visits to historical/cultural sites, extra vacation for parents.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045030.html

Armenia is headed towards water-efficient farms and intense gardens

Economy Ministry: The introduction of advanced irrigation technologies is very important for the development of agriculture. The government helps the farmer in two ways: direct compensation and loan subsidy.

The loan subsidy is at a 0% rate. If the farmer refuses to take a loan and uses personal money, the government will compensate 16% of expenditures per hectare of land (18% near borders). There are additional incentives to promote the installation of these efficient systems in lands that usually demand more water.

Without these systems, the water losses are huge. Unfortunately, the size of lands with efficient irrigation is still small, but the demand has increased in the past 1-2 years, with 446 hectares being added. Farmers often observe how the system works and decide to implement it themselves, after seeing the benefits.

There is a similar program for grape gardens; 500 hectares were wired up this year.

Drip-irrigation isn't just about saving water. It delivers nutrients to the plant roots, thus significantly improving the quality of crops.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044957.html

officials meet German experts to discuss Lake Sevan water quality

The EU and Germany are co-funding an effort to improve water quality with a program that lasts until 2024. THey met local officials to discuss the program today.

To learn more about lake Sevan water and bio-filters, read the Feb/23/2021 news.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045052.html

short video of wildlife in Armenia

Today is World Wildlife Day, so take it away...

https://youtu.be/Xq5didAlEeU

rooster kills a man during an illegal cockfight

The rooster had a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, slashed the owner in the groin. This happened in India.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/rooster-kills-indian-man-during-banned-cockfight

today in history

1842: Alexander Mantashyants was born. He was Baku's oil king. In the early 20th century, his company was responsible for over half of Baku's oil exports. He also finances the Baku-Batumi oil pipeline.

1875: slavery system is abolished in Russia

1875: first modern hockey match is held in Montreal

1938: Saudis dig the first oil well

1949: architect and singer Arthur Meschyan is born.

1959: Matenadaran opens

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044969.html

donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

http://www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

http://www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

http://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/lx2af3/mar32021_1_the_jet_that_mysteriously_landed_in/

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