2021 March 8

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Daily news wrap-up

Mar/8/2021: (1) Karmir Shuka = Artsakh (2) Fake news roundup (3) Opposition rally. GCoS's deadline nears (4) March 8 holiday (5) Coup club (6) Azeri news: Aliyev wants a trade route; water shortage; cemetery vandalized; EU on POWs (7) Hero doctors (8) Tiles vs asphalt (9) Military tech & investment
by ar_david_hh

Your 15-minute Weekend-Monday report in 3757 words.

Artsakh president reveals that they refused to hand over Karmir Shuka during war negotiations

President Arayik during a meeting with locals: there are many conversations and rumors. I want you to know exactly what happened. The opponent wanted to take Karmir Shuka (south) at any cost. Thanks to you and our boys, we were able to preserve it. Yes, part of the area (south of Karmir Shuka) was lost, but the rest was saved. For a long time, they wanted it, but we said "forget Karmir Shuka".

We are going to involve additional construction crews here. Artsakh will see widespread construction within the next 3-4 years. 150 houses will be built in Karmir Shuka.

More about house construction: https://youtu.be/5X_CEoA5vVY?t=46 , https://factor.am/345764.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045452.html

former regime continues the rallies on Baghramyan Avenue / GCoS deadline

A group of former military officials and allies gathered in front of the Defense Ministry to show support for GCoS Onik Gasparyan, who could soon be fired unless President Sarkissian challenges Pashinyan's decision in the Constitutional Court.

Among the gathered was the president of Bar Association Ara Zohrabyan. He said "President Sarkissian has 3 days to decide whether to challenge the firing of Onik Gasparyan, which means the deadline is on Sunday, but it has to be a weekday, so the deadline is automatically moved to Monday, but since Monday the 8th is a holiday, the actual deadline is Tuesday the 9th."

The Onik's supporters then marched to Baghramyan Street to join the rally organized by the former regime. Co-organizer ARF Gegham praised their youth wing for "strength and determination" during the protests and that "they are patriots and love their history." The platform was given to young participants who gave speeches.

ARF Ishkhan said they've been occupying Baghramyan Avenue for over a week now because it's an important hub that hosts the Parliament, President's, and Constitutional Court buildings. "Our future depends on the decision of these 3 structures." They don't plan to move out of Baghramyan Avenue.

Vazgen Manukyan remains convinced that snap elections cannot be held now, and that Pashinyan should resign first, a new government must be formed for a year, before elections can be held. Manukyan called for patience while waiting for President Sarkissian's decision whether to challenge GCoS Onik's firing in the Constitutional Court. "Yes, we must be patient but moderate. They say that the people have no right for rebellion, but who said so?"

ARF Ishkhan said they will meet with President Sarkissian again to discuss the GCoS topic. "The President is obligated to challenge it in Constitutional Court."

HHK Vahram Baghdasaryan met president Sarkissian to discuss the GCoS issue. "We'll see what happens [on Tuesday] and form a plan of action," said ARF co-leader Ishkhan.

https://factor.am/345605.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045373.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045388.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045395.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045396.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045400.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045414.html , https://factor.am/345899.html

the Coup Klux Klan

Serbia joins the list of countries with either active coup or accusations of coup attempt. A high-ranking Serbian official revealed that the president and family were wiretapped thousands of times. The Prime Minister referred to it as a coup attempt by certain forces and urged for a criminal investigation.


Former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan welcomed the restrained behavior by the Armenian military and their decision "not to take unconstitutional actions despite encouragement by [former regime]." Levon accused Pashinyan of placing the blame for the defeat on the military.


In Myanmar, a ruling party official died in custody. The military continues to suppress protests and civilian rule. 50 people have been killed since the coup that began on February 1st.


The crisis continues in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region. A small group of ruling elites from the northern Tigray region had recently lost power in the country, prompting them to launch a military standoff with the feds. Neighboring Eritrea's army intervened to help the federal government, raising the UN's complaints. The feds are accused of inhuman treatment and excessive force.

https://news.yahoo.com/ethiopias-tigray-crisis-were-government-002255563.html , https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-03-04/un-aid-chief-calls-for-eritrean-forces-to-leave-tigray , https://thegeopolitics.com/ethiopias-war-driven-by-a-dejected-tigray-regional-power-elite/

Artsakh authorities launch a felony investigation over ֏194M in damages to the state

Several unnamed public officials are accused of colluding and falsifying documents and leading to ֏194M in financial damages to the state. The date of the alleged crime isn't specified.


Ilham Aliyev is upset that he still cannot access Nakhijevan

Aliyev accused Armenia of intentionally delaying one of the paragraphs in November 9th statement about unblocking regional trade, which would have given Azerbaijan shorter access to Nakhijevan.

Armenian has so far supported the unblocking of trade routes and welcomed the ongoing trilateral meetings between deputy Prime Ministers. Armenia, in turn, accuses Azerbaijan of violating the trilateral statement regarding the return of POWs.


international pressure mounts over POWs

US Rep. Frank Pallone: Azerbaijan committed gross human rights abuses during last year's conflict. They continue to detain hundreds of Armenians in violation of international law. I have personally spoken with the Biden administration to immediately address these issues.


European Parliament MP from Cyprus launched an initiative supported by 30 MPs from all main parties. They requested the EU foreign minister Josep Borrell to explain the steps taken by the EU to secure the return of Armenian POWs. "We cannot remain silent in the face of crimes against humanity. We urge the EU to take action."


Dutch ambassador: we consider every Armenian captive in Azerbaijan as POW. The Netherlands doesn't have much direct influence in the conflict but we put efforts through Brussels. (Context: Azerbaijan claims the dozens of soldiers who were captures near Khtsaberd/Hin Tagher aren't POWs.)


Pashinyan and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discuss Artsakh conflict

... and topics relating to AM-US cooperation. Pashinyan emphasized the need to return to negotiating table as part of OCSE Minsk Group; Blinken agreed. The topic of POWs was discussed. Blinken praised Armenia's achievements in the field of democracy and assured that the US will continue to provide assistance to Armenia for anti-corruption, rule of law, and police reforms.


United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

... meeting was held in Japan. Justice Minister Badasyan criticized Turkey and Azerbaijan during the speech and called for action against ethnic cleansing and rhetoric that incited ethnic hatred.

The Armenian delegation initiated the addition of a separate paragraph in the Kyoto Declarations, regarding hate crimes.


several representatives of the criminal subculture are arrested

The police say they conducted a raid in Ejmiatsin last week and arrested two thieve-in-laws, who are the individuals with the highest rank in the criminal subculture, as well as about a dozen of their associates. A felony case is being filed. "Zap" and "Zhiro from Shahumyan" were the two bosses.

https://factor.am/345564.html 1000plus.am soldiers' fund is helping 1450 families

The official foundation that helps families of fallen or disabled soldiers and their families has so far processed 1450 applications relating to the 2020 war. They make one-time and monthly payments.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045382.html Trauma and Orthopedics Clinic president Armenak Bdoyan...

... had to move to Stepanakert during the war to treat the wounded soldiers. He recalls there were days when 50 soldiers would arrive with wounds. "The goal was to prevent as many amputations as possible. Sometimes we had to spend no more than 20 minutes on surgery on each patient, otherwise, other patients would be lost. But 20 minutes was enough for me to remember their faces. There was a 10-minute break after hours of surgeries."

Bdoyan was among the doctors who received the Combat Service medal. He was later awarded the Order of Tigran the Great for his services.

https://youtu.be/cOKzmyR1KII , https://factor.am/345633.html

Azerbaijan's "Yerablur" is vandalized / gravestones destroyed and flowers scattered

The Azeri authorities launched an investigation after photos were shared from Shahid Lane military cemetery, showing the destruction of several graves with flowers scattering around.

The images of soldiers who died in the war were scrapped and thrown aside. Ribbons featuring the flag were found in the nearby garbage can.


Azerbaijan will use satellite tech to tackle the water shortage crisis

Major rivers bring record-low water in Azerbaijan; environmentalists warn that Kur River could dry out. Some rivers are already dry in the summer.

Many villagers were deprived of irrigation for crops, while the Baku residents, afraid of routine water delivery interruptions, began installing water buckets on the roof of their buildings. Water prices skyrocketed after the war, prompting criticism by opposition politicians who compared it to Aliyev's promise of a brighter future.

Azerbaijan will attempt to alleviate the problem by using satellites to find underground water reserves "instead of the traditional methods that have been used so far."


30-meter-tall Armenian flag is raised above the Syunik border village of Shurnukh


Olivier Dassault dies in a helicopter crash

Prominent French businessman Oliver Dassault, the son of billionaire founder of "Le Figaro" media outlet, and a friend of president Sarkissian, has died in a helicopter crash today. The president sent condolences to the family. Dassault Aviation company produces aviation equipment including the famous Rafale jets.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208416 , https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dassault-aviation-tribute-olivier-dassault-152000118.html

rumors & rebuttals: the water pipe in Syunik

Syunik governor's office denied rumors about Azeris dismantling a water pipe that connects Nor Arajnadzor to Davit-Bek (near borders). Azeris had installed an observation point on their side of the road, which possibly became the basis for the rumors.


rumors & rebuttals: accumulation of heavy equipment and shots fired

Defense Ministry: various medial outlets continue to spread misinformation about tensions on the Armenian border, shootings, and large gatherings of the enemy forces.

In particular, information was circulated claiming that Turkish-Azeri heavy equipment was concentrated near Ijevan and Shamshadin fronts and that Armenia's 3rd corps raised the alarm in Tavush. These rumors are false.


rumors & rebuttals: looks like the border's back on the menu

Rumors were circulated again that parts of Tavush villages could be given to Azerbaijan because of alleged sightings of Russian and Azeri crews who mark lands. The Defense Ministry called it "a made-up fake news".

An opposition activist, citing the rumor, called for the military to launch an armed coup against the government while criticizing them [military] for being soft.

Opposition co-leader Hrant Bagratyan claimed that the Azeris pressured local residents to leave a river area. The local residents of Tavush's Azatamut and Aygehovit villages denied these rumors. "We haven't seen any Turks or Russians. We continue to work in this area just as we used to. I don't know who spreads these rumors. Look right there [points at a shepherd on a hill]. That's our shepherd, herding his sheep, herding Aliyev right there. Do you see him?"

One local resident said he began receiving concerned phone calls asking if he still has access to the village area. "To the point that I began questioning myself whether I was actually standing where I was. People who live in Yerevan don't know what's happening here. We continue to live our daily lives."

The land rumors upset the Tavush governor who labeled it "fake and divisive" and called for law enforcement to investigate the origins. "Criminals and immoral people are once again exploiting the security of our borders, disturbing the peace of the people living on the border. If anyone is worried about us, come to Tavush to see how we live, preserve and develop our country."

https://youtu.be/v3HJnrpnYKw , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045416.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045426.html , https://youtu.be/z1IE-jat4bg?t=63

Tags: #BorderNews #FakeNews

Tavush governor Chobanyan about government-subsidized projects in the province:

We must multiply the volumes of the implemented programs and their results. It is possible. For 2021, we have presented ֏8B worth subsidy projects. That's 4x the 2020 volume, and 6x the 2019.


what are these "programs subsidized by the government?"

They are mostly infrastructure upgrades in provinces. For example, recently the government began promoting tiles instead of asphalt in some settlements, to add some "spice" for the tourism industry. Its construction costs just as much as asphalt but the repairs cost less. It also lasts longer than the asphalt.

Mayor of Qanakeravan: When a new house is built, it has to connect to utility services. We would need to cut the asphalt for water pipes. That would be costly. As part of a pilot program, we used tiles in a 2,000 m2 area and plan to add another 25K this year. It'll cost ֏230M so we asked the federal government for a subsidy.

Infrastructure Minister Papikyan: you can create very strong tiles from certain types of stones. They are cheap and provide a pleasant look to villages. The federal government increased its co-subsidy share from 50% to 75%. The further the settlement is from the capital, the higher % the subsidy. Last year, as part of this subsidy program, 10km of inner-village roads were covered with tiles.

Construction official Adamyan: Mostly Armenian tuf stone is being used. It's a great stone but the selection has to be done right. We created a guide to help select the right type of stone, depending on conditions. The document-filing processes were simplified.



Lanjik section of Gyumri-Yerevan road is being renovated

Chinese SinoHidro has a contract to build part of the North-South highway network. They resumed the work last week to fill the Lanjik section with asphalt. The company will create an asphalt production facility and produce 230 tons/hour of asphalt.

SinoHidro is contracted to build the Talin-Lanjik-Gyumri section of North-South. The Lanjik-Gyumri section is 27.5km long.


a military tech producer is suspected of exaggerating an investment plan to get a cheap land deal

Businessmen Artak Tovmasyan and German Gutorov, who own a firm called STREIT Group, had offered the government in 2018 to build armored vehicles in Armenia. The government agreed and asked to see their plan. The businessmen recently complained that their offer, which - according to them - would have brought 10s of millions of $ in investments, was ignored by the government since 2019.

The Economy Minister Qerobyan responded to the accusations, saying that he personally suspended the process because he suspected that the businessmen were trying to receive expensive land in Yerevan for a privileged low price under the guise of large investments.

The Minister asked the company to present their investment plan worth dozens of millions of $ for the government's discussion within the next 2 weeks, if they truly have it, "otherwise, if it's an attempt to take a 9-hectare luxury Yerevan land in exchange for a tiny investment then it's not an investment plan but rather a robbery of Armenian citizens."

The Minister said the company was offered to open the factory outside of Yerevan, while still receiving tax privileges, but the company allegedly refused.


Video: mortars made in Armenia

High Tech Ministry uploaded a video featuring OG-7V mortars made in Armenia. It's part of a recent campaign to present to the public the locally-made weapons. A video of a loitering drone was shared earlier.

https://youtu.be/koM_Zb5ebw4 , https://factor.am/345699.html

Gegharquniq province will have new TUMO Boxes

TUMO representative met Gegharquniq officials to install 1 main TUMO center and 10 mobile TUMO Boxes in several locations. They need to pick locations in a way to maximize access for nearby settlements. Sevan city will have one.


geological exploration in Tavush for a possible new gold-metal mine

Not far from the earlier mentioned Aygehovit village in Tavush (the center of misinformation drama), there is an area of interest for geo-mining companies. It's near an established Vazashen gold mining site.

A company received a permit to conduct land studies in 2012-2017 at the Vazashen gold mine site. However, there was a problem between the investors, while the company faced a felony investigation over allegations of illegal activities.

In 2019, the same person applied for geo-studies under a different company name. The Nature Ministry rejected the petition because it was close to the ArmForest nature area.

In late 2019, the original firm re-applied to examine the lands again. If approved, the company will explore materials and calculate their value. The furthest section of the Vazashen gold mine, which is near the site for the new examination, is only 400 meters from the border. The company argues the area selected for studies is too far from the nearest nature zone and won't pose a threat.


COVID & war vs banking sector in Artsakh

Individuals and businesses had ֏121B in deposits in Artsakh banks as of March, which is -8.8% from last year.

Credit investments were ֏141B in March, or -35% YoY.


YoY product price changes in Artsakh

Overall +4.3%. Food, alcohol, and tobacco +7.2%. Nonfood +2.8%. Services +1%.


YoY product price changes in Armenia

Overall +5.3%. Food and non-alcoholic beverages +7.8%. Veggies +13.1%. Oil/fat +19.7%. Alcohol and tobacco +8.7%. Services +1.6%.

Full: https://factor.am/345859.html

COVID stats

8842 tested. 1267 new. 491 healed. 10 deaths. 6008 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045357.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045409.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045439.html

Yerevan municipality says it's ready to accept thousands of children in kindergartens as soon as it's safe

Many parents complain that kids have to stay home while they are away for work. One option is to pay for a private kindergarten service, but it's usually too expensive. The public ones are free. They currently have attendance limits due to the pandemic.

Mayor Marutyan revealed that the kindergartens can immediately accept 7,000 kids as soon as the green light is received from the Healthcare Ministry. The latter said they are currently discussing future plans.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045389.html , https://factor.am/345673.html Yerevan mayor authorizes company to design a new project with multi-functional buildings

It's on 107 Teryan St. The map is in the article. The construction company Renshin was authorized to draw a design. The mini-district will have 4 buildings separated by gardens and pedestrian passages. Each will have between 8-18 stories, positioned from shortest to tallest.

The decision to authorize or reject the final construction will be made once the design is ready. The construction could be over by 2024.


varnishes Made in Armenia

Olympia Mkrtchyan is a marketing director at "NE Professional" firm that produces varnishes. She says that in 2012 when the Turkish varnish products flooded the Armenian market, they came up with a business idea to compete. After negotiating a deal with the 3 factories that produce raw materials for the whole world, they were able to launch their business.

Today, the materials and pigments come from Luxembourg and France. The company has colorists who mix colors to create over 400 shades for cosmetics. They are certified in Europe, too. The exports began in 2019 to Lebanon, Russia, Georgia, and Iran.

Full: https://youtu.be/GNzKQeElM3M


milk-maker makes a move

The Good Samaritan company will begin to produce dairy products after importing a technology used by international organizations. 45 new jobs will be created by Summer.


Ferdinand the chad

73kg judo fighter Ferdinand Karapetyan defeated his Azeri opponent (double silver medalist) during the Judo Grand Slam competition. He advanced to the next round, where he won the bronze medal.

The win has improved Ferdinand's standing in the international Olympics index. He moved 9 positions up, to 39th place out of 1552.

His next Grand Slam fight will be in Tbilisi at the end of this month.

https://factor.am/345625.html , https://factor.am/345670.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208406

Armenian soccer league: Noah vs Lori

Noah (5th position) defeated Lori (3rd position) with a 3:1 score. The goals were scored by André Mensalão, Timur Rudoselsko, Joao Jordi, Vladimir Azarov.

Noah coach Dmitri Gunko was satisfied with the team's performance. "Not bad. We were able to use the opportunities given to us. The second half was a bit unsuccessful."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045480.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045481.html

new Armenian billionaire

Russia-based Artem Khachatryan and Sergei Lomakin made their company "Fix Price" publicly traded, thus earning $3.4B each. The company has 4279 offices in former Soviet republics. They are also the founders of another popular store chain "Kopeyka".

https://www.forbes.ru/milliardery/422547-ipo-fix-price-sdelalo-ee-osnovateley-milliarderami , https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290930/

March 8: International Women's Day (don't forget the flowers)

Women received congratulatory messages from public figures. Pashinyan said there is still much to be done to enhance the role of women and ensure equal opportunities, and thanked women for helping to keep families strong. He expressed words of support for the grieving mothers.

President Sarkissian congratulated women and said they play a key role in strengthening the foundations of the future of the country and the nation.

Vazgen Manukyan Camp visited Yerablur to show support for relatives of fallen soldiers.

Catholicos B prayed for God to provide comfort to "our mothers and sisters who have endured the hardships of war."

Exhibition-fair titled "Women's Creative Potential" was held today. Women presented handcrafted items, jewelry, art, etc. One participant presented a canned food

that comes with a dried tomato instead of a tag. The tomato has Braille code carved on it to allow visually impaired customers to read the product description with their hands.

The ambassadors to the EU and Netherlands also attended. "The European Union stands ready to support women and girls in Armenia, to make them stronger, to make their voices heard."

Foreign Ministry: Our warmest congratulations, dear women. You are brave, smart, and strong. Armenian diplomacy is especially proud of the fact that the first woman ambassador was Diana Abgar.

Full statements: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045443.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045444.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045445.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045475.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045479.html , https://youtu.be/1sZrF69APBw , https://youtu.be/DjMim0hICjU , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208407


Police blatantly discriminated against female drivers by stopping their vehicles to give flowers.


Russian peacekeepers stopped vehicles and gave flowers to women passing through the Lachin corridor.


March 8 videos from Yerevan streets. A flower seller reveals the most popular flowers purchased by men this year. It's the tulip. Costs $1.5 each this year. The camera crew then stops and harassed random men and women with awkward questions:


this week's new books

Armenian author: Cascade 6.15, by Mariana Hakobya

Translated: The Night in Lisbon, by Erich Maria.

Children's: the Adventures of Sur and Sam, by Azat Shahinyan

Documentary: The Black Swan, by Nassim Thaleb.


Gyumri Drama Theater reopens its doors

Theater director Ludwig: When Yervand Ghazanchyan staged the performance immediately after the 1988 earthquake, many wondered if the people of Gyumri would come to the theater. And yes, they did. Gyumri knows how to appreciate art even in grief. //

The first performance is was called "Case". The script was written by a young artist Babken Zakaryan specifically for a theatrical performance.


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.

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