2021 March 4

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Daily news wrap-up

Mar/4/2021: (1) Vaccines (2) Parliament grills judges (3) Judicial reform: traffic trials, faster courts (4) Diplomacy & POWs (5) Gas, roads, houses, & TUMO for Syunik towns (6) Vzgo charged (7) Deputy GCoS sues (8) Pashinyan meets LHK: O, snap! (9) Privet Rob! (10) Boeing 737 aka 404 (11) Drone AI
by ar_david_hh

Your 16-minute Thursday report in 4050 words. Today's report adds 4 and subtracts 3 IQ points.

a judge, who is under investigation, is suing a fellow judge to force him to fire another judge who is in charge of investigating her

Gagik Jhangiryan was a Kocharyan-era military prosecutor who examined the October 27th terrorist attack. He was fired by Kocharyan. He believes it was on political grounds. In 2008, he distanced himself from the former regime.

This January, he was approved by the Parliament as a Supreme Court judge (not to be confused with Constitutional Court). Since he was over the age of 65, some people argued that the law prohibits him from becoming a Supreme judge. Others argued that the law about age limit doesn't apply to judges nominated by Parliament, but only to those appointed by fellow judges. See details here.

Not all judges like to see Jhangiryan among their ranks, apparently. His colleague, judge Karine Petrosyan, is suing the Supreme Court president to force him to fire Jhangiryan. She presents the same argument that Jhangiryan is too old to be a judge.

The plaintiff judge Karine Petrosyan herself is in trouble. The Justice Ministry had earlier filed a disciplinary complaint against her. Jhangiryan was later appointed as one of the judges to hear her case. She says she doesn't want Jhangiryan to be on her case because "he is in the court illegally, and his presence directly affects me."

This is not the first time judges sue each other. A similar age-related lawsuit was filed against the former president of the Supreme Court. Two judges claimed in 2018 that he was too old. However, the court found that the judge wasn't appointed/acting in violation of the law, which sets favorable precedence for Gagik Jhangiryan.


Parliament Q&A session with Supreme Court candidates

Besides grilling the Supreme Court chief over his controversial November 15th statement (read details in yesterday's post), the Parliament is also questioning Supreme Court candidates before voting for their approval.

A candidate was asked about his opinion whether he believed Supreme and Constitutional Courts should be merge, among other topics. He supports it, citing efficiently.


Parliament grills judges for the third day in a row

While deciding whether to vote to approve the new Supreme Court nominees, the ruling party MPs wanted to hear their opinions about the recent practice by judges to release opposition activists "who attempted to murder Parliament Speaker and recently punched an MP in the face."

The ruling MPs used the opportunity to criticize the court system for "bias" and "leaving others unprotected."

Today, the ruling party was joined by a former BHK MP, now Ind. MP Smbat Bagratyan, who also criticized the court for inaction when Parliament Speaker Mirzoyan was almost assassinated on November 10th. (The judges were earlier criticized for releasing the suspects.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045136.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208115

the ruling party rejects the Supreme Court nominees as a sign of protest

After the 3-day-long Q&A with nominees, QP leader Lilith announced that the party will vote against their appointment today, as a sign of protest to the controversial Supreme Court chief Ruben Vardazanyan, who is accused of making an anti-Pashinyan political statement to pressure fellow judges to be lenient on opposition figures, a charge he vehemently denies. (Details in yesterday's post.)

The ruling party also accuses the Supreme Court chief of disprespectful behavior towards MPs. The party says today's NAY vote is not aimed at the nominees themselves. "Persons related to the criminal subculture established contact with the Parliament MPs in defense of the Supreme Court chairman Ruben Vardazaryan. This circumstance has strengthened our position [to reject Supreme nominees]," said QP leader Makunts.

The claim about criminal subculture pressure was made by Ind. MP Arman Babajanyan, "After yesterday's session, thieve-in-laws contacted me with threats. It's clear who is being shielded by the courts today. I am warning you. I'm not afraid of you. I spent 3.5 years in prison and have dealt with thieves like you. Sit down and mind your business. We will come after you."

Parliament speaker urged the MP to contact the law enforcement.


The parliament voted to reject the judicial nominees.

One of the rejected candidates said the Parliament is a political body so a political message from them is normal, but he wasn't expecting it to be in the form of candidates' rejection.

The second candidate welcomed the "constructive criticism" by the Parliament. He believes the court system is independent, however.

This isn't the end. Two candidates will have a new opportunity to get elected during the next Parliament session.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045150.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045153.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045158.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045167.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045177.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045193.html , https://factor.am/344544.html

another bill to reduce court overload / written vs oral trials

Administrative Courts are flooded with cases relating to traffic violations. To reduce the burden and expedite trials, the Justice Ministry drafted a bill to introduce "written procedures" to require basic traffic cases to be handled on paper instead of scheduling a full oral trial.

Minister Badasyan: the law was amended twice in the past 13 years but it never introduced written procedures. At the same time, some court applications increased by 566% in the past few years.

80% of administrative court cases fall under this category. The amendment can significantly expedite trials. It'll introduce similar changes to Lower and Appeals Courts.

The government approved the bill and sent it to Parliament.


search operations

The crews searched for bodies in Jabrayil, Hadrut, and Qashatagh today. No bodies were found.


Since the beginning of the war, a DNA analysis was used to identify 2,000 bodies. In response to the reporter's question about claims that some DNA tests were falsified, the Healthcare Minister said there were only 3 complaints, "which were addressed and clarified to leave no mistrust." (Ministry had earlier said some cases required multiple samples for proper identification.)


Hadrut refugees hold a picket outside RU, US, FR embassies

They want their city back. "We ask all embassies to return us to our native land Hadrut." Letters were passed to ambassadors.


US Senator urges White House to take care of POW return

Sen. Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the US to "help Armenian people with the return of POWs held in Azerbaijan. We must do everything not done by [Trump administration]."


Russia continues to insist on all-for-all POW swap

Russian MFA says they don't know the precise number of POWs because of various reports and conflicting reports from each side, but to this date, 63 Armenian and 16 Azeris have been repatriated.


HR Ombudsman Tatoyan raised the POW issue during a meeting with the German Bundestag


European officials condemn Azerbaijan for bombing Shushi church

In response to a question from European Parliament member Lucas Furlas to the European Commission, the Vice-President Josep Borrell, on behalf of the European Commission, condemned the bombing of the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral by the Azerbaijani armed forces.

Furlas's report also talks about Azerbaijan's violation of international law and asks the European commission whether it plans to apply sanctions over it.

The Commission, in response, condemned the attack, calling it a violation of the UN Security Council 2347 resolution, regarding the targeting of religious sites.

European Dashnak office asked the commission to punish Azerbaijan, while reminding that this wasn't the first such religious attack, with another incident taking place in 2006 when Azerbaijan destroyed Julfa cemetery cross-stones in Nakhijevan.


update: Syunik village Shurnukh will have a new district and road

Several homes in the village Shurnukh were built in Artsakh's Qashatagh region which went under Azeri control. The government decided to build a new district and road for the relocated residents.

The district's housing design will be finalized by the end of this month, while the road design works have been completed. The construction is underway; a contract is signed with a construction company.

Additional infrastructure and economic projects are scheduled for 2022-2023.


border villages in Tavush

Tavush borders are away from Artsakh but had been targeted by Azerbaijan in the past. The government will spend ֏234M to renovate homes and a children's park.


Putin's spokesman rejects the notion that Kocharyan gets orders/approval from Kremlin

Kocharyan recently said he doesn't plan to create a political party.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov: Participants in the political process in Armenia do not need to coordinate their decisions with the President of Russia. This is a completely absurd formulation of the issue (responding to a journalist). Robert Kocharyan is, of course, a big friend of Russia. He has made great efforts for the development of Armenia, and we are generally pleased to note that the vast majority of Armenian politicians are in favor of further strengthening Armenia's relations with Russia. That is the main thing for us. //

Peskov valued the "hard work" done by Russia and Armenia around the conflict and referred to Kremlin's relations with Pashinyan as "very valuable."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045170.html , https://www.civilnet.am/news/544617/քոչարյանը-ռուսաստանի-բարեկամն-է-բայց-իր-քայլերը-չի-համաձայնեցնում-պուտինի-հետ-պեսկով/

investigators question Vazgen Manukyan over "violent" rhetoric

Yesterday, ex-regime opposition leader Vazgen Manukyan was charged with violating felony code 301 regarding his speech about invading government facilities and rebellion. Today he visited a police station for questioning but did not answer any questions. He is told not to leave the country before his trial.

Manukyan says he did not violate incitement laws, and that his lawyer - who is also Kocharyan's lawyer - can explain that. Manukyan considers this a political persecution, a claim disputed by the president of Asparez, an agency relating to a free press.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045122.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045131.html , https://factor.am/344982.html , https://factor.am/344633.html

the fired deputy GCoS is suing to get his job back

Deputy General Chief of Staff of Armed Forces Tiran Khachatryan was fired by Pashinyan recently after a phone interview about Iskander. The firing was followed by the main standoff with GCoS Onik.

The fired official decided to ask the court to revoke the decree that fired him.


Defense Ministry says the lower-ranking GCoS officials are on their duties as usual

(19 GCoS generals and their 21 colleagues signed a letter uring PM's resignation.)

Defense Ministry: Officials of the GCoS office, including the commanders of the military units, continue their routine training and activities. The ongoing training is aimed at ensuring the security of the state, strengthening the protection of the borders, discussing possible options for the use of troops and reforms in the armed forces.


LHK leader Marukyan meets Pashinyan to discuss snap elections and GCoS

As announced earlier, Pashinyan will be holding meetings with Parliamentary opposition leaders to discuss possible snap elections and the crisis around the GCoS office.

Today the Prime Minister met LHK chief Edmon Marukyan, who later commented "There is an agreement that we must find a way out of this situation. The Prime Minister does not connect the issue of the GCoS with the snap elections, but we do. Why? because the GCoS crisis was added to the list of other problems. At the moment we do not have any agreement on any issue." (LHK wants Pashinyan to rescind his petition to fire GCoS, while Pashinyan insists snap elections must be held regardless of the situation around GCoS)

LHK Marukyan is waiting for Pashinyan to meet BHK leadership so the three Parliamentary forces can clarify their positions. What Marukyan means by "clarify position" is whether BHK will also agree not to nominate a candidate for Prime Minister in the event of Pashinyan's voluntary resignation.

Pashinyan had earlier offered opposition parties his resignation in exchange for a guaranteed snap election, but to ensure the elections wouldn't be sabotaged by a Parliament voting for a new Prime Minister instead, Pashinyan had asked the opposition to promise they wouldn't nominate a candidate after his resignation.

The opposition parties refused the offer, which lead to the collapse of snap elections. Now, as it appears, LHK is open to the "no nomination, straight to snap elections" deal. Marukyan is waiting for BHK's position.

Pashinyan commented the meeting with Marukyan: "If the parliamentary forces finally make a decision to hold snap elections, including an agreement on one or two important issues, regarding deadlines, etc., then we can consider that the issue is resolved."

The ruling party has invited BHK to meet Pashinyan.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=147043797186362 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045144.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045156.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045165.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045171.html

Privet Rob: famous singer summoned as witness in trial involving Kocharyan bodyguard

Kocharyan's bodyguard Aghamal Harutyunyan killed Kocharyan's co-villager in Paplavok restaurant back in 2001 because the man greeted president Kocharyan with "Privet, Rob". The incident happened in the bathroom. The bodyguard got away with a slap on his wrist... "it was just an accident".

After the 2018 revolution, a British citizen came forward and said he witnessed a premeditated torture/murder which wasn't an accident. The court revived the case in July/6/2020

Today, famous singer Nune Yesayan was summoned to court as a witness. She didn't get a chance to speak because the trial was delayed at the request of defense lawyers. The singer says the incident happened after she left, so she can't say much.



Tags: #PrivetRob

Gasprom-Armenia director receives an award for helping WW2 veterans

Gasprom-Armenia director Hrant Tadevosyan met the Russian ambassador Kopyrkin to receive an award. Vladimir Putin and a Russian organization related to WW2 veteran affairs issued the award for his role in helping the vets and "educating patriotism to citizens."

The gas giant provided financial assistance to all WW2 vets in Armenia last year.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045149.html

foreign refugee stats

2018: 218 applications by foreign refugees

2019: 247

2020: 207


NSS investigates the airline company whose jet mysteriously landed in Iran

Read yesterday's post for details about a controversial airline that violated the Civil Aviation Committee's protocols and flew a jet from Estonia to Iran, instead of Ukraine.

Today, the NSS announced a felony investigation, while the Civil Aviation Committee staff went to Iran to get the jet back. (Iran hostage crisis 2.0?)

The Tajik nationals, who operated the jet, did not have the right to take it to Mehrabad, Iran, says the NSS. The pilots claim they had to land in Iran due to fuel issues. Upon learning the news, the Civil Aviation Committee contacted Eurocontrol and aviation agencies in five states.

Armenian and Iranian aviation agencies have agreed to transport the jet to Yerevan after it undergoes inspection.

NICE TRY THO: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045183.html

grants for organic agriculture

Acba Bank and the German nature protection union NABU launched an annual agricultural program to promote organic goods. Qualifying farmers will obtain certification as an organic food producer and vastly increase the export prospects.


COVID stats

2922 tested. 491 infected. 179 healed. 6 deaths. 5194 active.


two more hospitals re-convert to treat COVID amid a new wave

Pashinyan and Healthcare Minister Avanesyan discussed the rising numbers during a govt session today. 16% of tests came positive, compared to 7% in Jan-Feb.

Two hospitals added extra beds for intense care. 808 out of 865 are currently occupied. "We can have more when necessary, but that won't prevent deaths because 20% of patients are in serious condition, with 5% being critical."

Minister called for stricter enforcement of safety rules, especially considering the upcoming March 8th holiday, which is expected to increase movements.

PM's chief of staff Torosyan will speak with enforcement agencies to strengthen the targeted audits.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045124.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045147.html

negotiations continue over the purchase of vaccines / Sputnik flies

Minister Avanesyan: Negotiations continue. There is some general slowdown in the process so we try to put pressure on our foreign partners to ensure access for developing countries. We hope that the doses will arrive in Spring.

The [separate] negotiations have concluded with Russian colleagues. We're in the process of signing a contract for the first main batch. The first batch of Sputnik-V is expected in the first month of Spring.

People still need to wear masks even if they get a vaccine. There is no proof that their vaccine will protect against other mutations of the virus. //

The Ministry has defined "risky groups". Their vaccination should cover 10-15% of the population "but we want to increase that % by the end of this year depending on the price of the vaccine and our capabilities."

Armenia will purchase Sputnik-V and AstraZeneca.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045129.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045188.html

200 people have already been vaccinated with an early batch / polls / safety

They were doctors. The vaccines were a gift from Russia, for 1,000 people.

Healthcare Ministry hopes the next [purchased] batch of Sputnik-V will arrive next week. It'll be 15K doses for 7.5K people. The elderly will be prioritized.

No serious side effects among the 200 vaccinated. A few of them had a high temperature for up to 2 days.

Infected individuals must wait at least 2 weeks after healing before receiving a vaccine. The vaccine doesn't help for the first 10 days, so don't do risky things.

THE VACCINE DOES NOT GIVE YOU A VIRUS OR DISEASE BECAUSE IS DOES NOT CONTAIN A FULL VIRUS. Okay? The Healthcare Ministry would like you to know that that the recent deaths in Norway and Germany, after vaccinations, were proven to be unrelated to the vaccines.

The Ministry is encouraging private businesses to join efforts to obtain vaccines. "Although private vaccines wouldn't be free for the public."

A poll was conducted among 30 people. 6 said they won't take a vaccine because they've already been infected, 5 said they need more info before taking, 16 said they will take it, while 3 won't take it because they're afraid of side effects. (not that bad, but the polling sample is very small)


Tags: #vaccination #vaccine #vax

Armenian and Russian scientists create a new drone AI to detect objects independently

The article has a lot of jargon so I'll let you read it fully, but the TLDR is that it uses a different type of detection mechanism. Instead of utilizing the commonly-used neural networks and complex classifiers to compare two images, it uses autonomous texture recognition and classification.

Texture takes into account surrounding vegetation, water, relief, the structure of the organ and the existence of tumors (if used by medics).


businesses will receive free anti-corruption consultations

Economy Ministry and CIPE organization signed a memorandum to assist the Armenian business community in complying with anti-corruption requirements. There will be courses and seminars to educate and raise awareness.


discussion between German KfW bank and Infrastructure Minister Papikyan

They spoke about the bank's ongoing investment projects in Armenia. They are building a new "Kasp" water reservoir and automated irrigation system, "which will have a complex environmental, economic and social impact. It is in the interests of the Republic of Armenia to enter the construction phase," said the Minister.


Economy Minister meets Iranian business representative

Iranian SGS Inspection Services Ltd visited Armenia to discuss business. They have 2,500 branches worldwide, tasked with inspecting industry, textile, mining, alcohol, etc.

They discussed possible investments in Armenia and the organization of cargo transportation through the territory of Armenia.


businesses receive an additional loan grace period

Several aid packages were approved last year for residents and businesses to alleviate the COVID consequences. The 3rd package gave ֏9B in loans with favorable terms to 800 businesses.

Today the government extended the favorable terms, citing the ongoing economic hardship.

In recent months, 35 companies missed a payment totaling ֏16M, but the number is expected to rise, hence the grace period extension.


tourism agencies receive additional COVID aid

The government amended the 25th COVID aid package. It'll subsidize the loan taken by some tourism agencies for purchasing small under-7-seat vehicles.


butter business receives incentives to expand

The government gave AA TRANSIT company an import tax waiver for 3 years to encourage their 2021-2023 investment program. They'll invest ֏299M, produce ֏6.3B worth of products, and create 45 new jobs with ֏290K/mo salary.

The company produces butter and margarine in Gyumri and has to import milk ingredients from Iran. Most of the goods are exported to Russia, with some being consumed in Armenia.


textile factory receives a tax waiver to expand production and export

The government gave a similar tax waiver to ABC Textile. The towel company offers a large selection of towels from well-known brands that cater to a variety of industries.

The company is licensed to produce international brands such as Cannon, Fieldcrest, Disney, Waverly, Charisma. The company's brands are Valentini, Royale, Dream, Savoy and Classic.

The new investments will help produce ֏4.3B worth of goods sold in Armenia, EAEU, and elsewhere.

76 new jobs with avg ֏180K salary.


PVC plastic producer also gets a tax waiver for investment

Murad-Sar PVC plastic and door producer wants to import technology and raw materials worth ֏6B for production. They'll create 10 new jobs with avg ֏350K salary. The government waivered ֏378M in taxes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045147.html the new thermal power plant in Yerevan will be ready this year

Italian RENKO signed a contract in 2018 to invest $300M and build a new 250MW thermal power plant to produce cheaper electricity, with 1,000 jobs. The opening will be in August, after some delay. The company dismissed rumors about it being suspended indefinitely.


update: Pashinyan's temper tantrum over a park construction

On Feb/18/2021, Pashinyan threw a massive tantrum after learning that the government gave the funds but the construction of a park was being delayed in Tavush due to paperwork issues.

A Minister briefed today that the matter is almost resolved and the construction will end by the end of this year.


update: gas network is almost ready for Meghri settlements in Syunik

Infrastructure Minister: during his 2019 trip to Syunik, Pashinyan promised a gas delivery to residents of three large settlements of Meghri by 2021. The work will complete this June.

9,700 residents of Meghri will have gas, in addition to 38 businesses, 3 schools, and 5 kindergartens.


TUMO Box high-tech education center is coming to Kapan, Syunik

... this summer. It'll educate 350 young students every week. When the main TUMO center is built, it'll allow the installation of more mobile "boxes" in other areas of Syunik.


Yerevan mayor orders to partially demolish a former oligarch's mansion fence

Arkadi Hambardzumyan, a former HHK MP known with the nickname "Derjavayi Arkad", has a fancy mansion with fences that Mark Zuckerberg could only dream about. It's located in Yerevan's Malatia district, near Dalma Gardens.

A company named Luyser is doing construction in the neighborhood. The company filed a complaint with the city, asking for Hambarzsumyan's fence to be demolished. The city launched an investigation.

In turn, Hambardzumyan is suing the neighbor construction company to prevent them from building a high-rise building. The builder, in turn, complains that Hambardzumyan is hindering an investment project.

The land inspectors audited the area and Hambardzumyan's fence and found that the latter built the beton/metal fence on public land without a permit. Hambardzumyan asked the city to use a "loophole" law to legalize the illegal structure, but the city refused, saying that the type of violation doesn't allow it to be legalized.

The mayor instructed the crews to demolish the illegal portion. The demolition bill will be sent to Hambardzumyan via court.

Hambardzumyan's lawyer says they weren't aware of the land audit process, and that his client is a law-abiding citizen. He is still suing the city to force it to legalize the illegal structure.


the title of chief architect in Yerevan

... is essentially being abolished. Instead, there will be a new deputy mayor tasked with urban and architecture, who will receive information from a group of architects, who will be the ones to make collegial decisions when it comes to architectural issues.

The municipality believes the restructuring will improve efficiency. Parliament is yet to approve it.


today in history

1878: Alexander Tamanyan was born, the founder of the new Armenian architecture

1975: Queen Elizabeth 2nd knights Charlie Chaplin

2008: boxer Arthur Abraham defends his world champion title for the first time.


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/lxv4v1/mar42021_1_vaccines_2_parliament_grills_judges_3/

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