2021 March 9

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/9/2021: (1) Opposition turns on President amid his refusal to save CoGS (2) ARF accuses rogue members of stealing Asbarez outlet (3) Rumors & rebuttals: UNESCO, tanks, Baku (4) Oppo blocks Parliament (5) Anti-corruption busts in army & elsewhere (6) Charity report (7) Science-school ties (8) ...
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Tuesday report in 3440 words.

Vazgen Manukyan camp

Manukyan and other allies of the former regime resumed their rally in Baghramyan street. Today they will decide on what to do next. They continue to reject Pashinyan's call to hold snap elections now, and want to appoint their candidate as a temporary Premier instead. They've been trying to pressure the Parliament to hold a vote to fire Pashinyan, but so far the ruling party stands by him.

ARF Ishkhan said they don't plan to leave Baghramyan Avenue until the Parliament removes the Premier.

They eventually decided to blockade the Parliament building 24/7. Manukyan urged the creation of 200-member groups who will take turns to patrol the building from all sides and prevent any MP from entering, unless they are going there to vote for a new Premier [preferably himself]. "Պետք է չկարողանան այստեղ մտնել: Այս մուտքը փակված է, գնացեք, փակեք այն մուտքերը: Տղերք, առաջ:"

They will install more tents and spend the night in front of the entrance. The activists moved to other corners of the building, where they met a large presence of police forces. "We have no intention to enter the building." "All Yerevan roads will be permanently blocked and the situation has only one solution," said BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan.

HHK Vahram Baghdasaryan met with President Sarkissian recently to convince him to challenge Pashinyan's order in the Constitutional Court, to prevent CoGS Onik from being fired. Baghdasaryan believes today it'll be clear how the events will unfold. When asked by a journalist whether he believes Pashinyan pressured Sarkissian, he expressed doubt.

The president of the Bar Association Ara Zohrabyan, who recently joined the opposition in support of Onik Gasparyan, says that President Sarkissian has chosen the "path of adventure" [by allowing Onik to be fired]. Zohrabyan declared that there must be something that made Sarkissian afraid, and vowed to "uncover his fears".

Amid President Sarkissian's ongoing refusal to save Onik Gasparyan's job, Vazgen Manukyan sharply criticized Sarkissian, saying "We don't have a president. We have a rich tourist who lives in a taxpayer-funded building with servants."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045563.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045573.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045585.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045579.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045575.html , https://factor.am/346321.html , https://factor.am/346359.html , https://youtu.be/EGqnJ6tRER4 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208510

President Sarkissian announces his verdict:

There is a misconception that today is the deadline for me to decide whether to challenge Pashinyan's decree in the Constitutional Court. That's not true. Meanwhile, I will separately challenge the relevant law in the Constitutional Court.

(Translation: Onik is getting fired but don't blame me.)

https://factor.am/346516.html , http://arka.am/en/news/politics/armenian_president_does_not_ask_constitutional_court_to_verify_the_constitutionality_of_pm_s_order_t/

Nikol Pashinyan camp

Pashinyan signed a decision to send the Chairman and the marketing director of the Armenian Tourism Committee to Moscow, to participate in the upcoming international MITT Moscow 2021 international tourism exhibition.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045505.html

Pashinyan traveled through Gegharquniq province to meet school children in a newly rebuilt school in Gavar. The facility, originally built in 1967, is now able to withstand a 9-bal earthquake. The government and Asian Bank co-subsidized the ֏1.38B reconstruction.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045524.html

Pashinyan walked through Gavar streets to meet locals and hear their issues. Some residents were upset about the conduct of former government officials. There were calls to combat against the [misinformation outlets] run by them, to which Pashinyan responded "What problem will we solve by blocking [social media and outlets]? All sorts of rumors were spread since November. Today you can analyze yourself what was true and false. You should be able to do that by now. Don't believe everything you hear. They create an information storm to dishearten the public." He discussed the POW issue and said there are barriers that hinder their return.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2023896464418590 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045551.html

Pashinyan held a meeting with local officials. They spoke about the government-subsidized infrastructure programs. The volume of subsidies has increased from ֏3B in 2018, to ֏8.5B in 2021.

Gegarquniq saw 157km of roads repaired last year. Several schools were reconstructed and agricultural aid programs were launched. In Artsvanist settlement, there is a ֏15B investment program to establish a large farm.

The province has 181K hectares of pasture lands, but 124K are gone unused. Some of them are hard to reach. Pashinyan spoke about the need to build roads and water canals for pasture accessibility.

The officials emphasized the need to use the lands for growing high-value crops. The intense gardens with efficient drip irrigation water network take up 98 hectares already, and are expanding.

The province has 81K arable lands; only half is being used.

The construction of Mets Masrik's giant solar panel farm begins this year.

1700 Artsakh refugees continue to live in Gegharquniq province.

The 2nd Army Corps commander Arayik Harutyunyan reported that the border security is under control and that they are currently doing engineering work.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045526.html

ARF accuses several US-based members of hijacking its outlet "Asbarez"

ARF leadership has terminated the membership of several Western US-based members "for violating the party oath." They are accused of summoning an unauthorized meeting.

ARF also accuses them of controlling the publication Asbarez and its financial accounts.

Edit: I only know one Asbarez: http://asbarez.com/

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/290956/

Vazgen Manukyan faces new charges over "incitement of violence"

Manukyan was earlier charged with incitement of violence and calls to topple the Constitutional order over his "rebellion" comments. The prosecutors decided to update his case and also charge him for similar comments made later, on February 26th.

https://factor.am/346140.html

March 1st trial is delayed again

Robert Kocharyan, Seyran Ohanyan, and other co-defendants were charged as part of the February-March 2008 events, in which they used the army against civilian protestors.

Today the trial was delayed again, this time because defendant Seyran Ohanyan did not attend the trial, "due to health issues."

Seyran said he was transferred to the Central Military Hospital two days ago and continues to be there. "The condition isn't very serious but there was a need for hospitalization."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045532.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045556.html

a deputy Chief of General Staff of Army is charged with corruption

The prosecutor's office announced that felony charges were filed against a deputy CoGS Andranik Makaryan. The details and the date of filing the charges were not released.

Andranik Makaryan is one of the generals who recently refused to join Onik Gasparyan with the call for Pashinyan's resignation.

It was revealed earlier that the Defense Ministry and army were being audited, but it's unclear whether it's related to this story.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045540.html

former CoGS Artak Davtyan has a new position

Lt.Gen Davtyan has been assigned as a senior officer with special assignments, per Defense Minister order. Davtyan served as the CoGS between 2018-2020.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045548.html anti-corruption: two former mayors are facing corruption charges

NSS and police said: former mayors of Zuygaghbyur and Aregnadem (2008-2016) embezzled and wasted resources meant for low-income residents and students.

The mayors took out several million from the budget and spent part of it on relatives, colleagues, individuals not qualified for aid.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045506.html

anti-corruption: 4 school officials are charged in Gyumri

Investigators said: School N27 director colluded with staff between 2012-2019 to falsify documents and steal ֏6.2M from the budget. Additionally, the director hired an employee under the condition of receiving part of their salary as a bribe. Several school employees paid bribes so the administration wouldn't reduce their hours.

Several officials are charged with multiple felony counts.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045542.html

2020 anti-corruption and crime stats in Armavir province

Overall crime +2%.

Burglaries -35%.

Burglary case clearance improved from 44% to 49%.

Property crime -5%.

Medium and heavy severity crimes decreased, while the severe crimes increased.

Road incident deaths and gun trafficking stats remained about the same.

Corruption detection rate +11%. When it comes to corruption involving officials, the detection +16%.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045541.html

rumors and rebuttals: the replacement of UNICEF representative in Armenia

Foreign Ministry: the shortcomings and non-cooperative style of work by the UNICEF representative Marin Clark-Hatting were problematic so we decided to terminate her tenure. //

Telegram channels linked to HHK-Manukyan camp circulated rumors that she was fired for spying on behalf of Azerbaijan and the UK. Prosecutors responded saying no such information exists, "but we urge those who circulated the rumors to step forward with evidence."

UNICEF office denied the rumors that she was declared as persona non-grata in Armenia. "Persona non grata was not announced, and I can neither deny nor prove [information circulated by articles], because they spread some baseless misinformation. The Foreign Ministry and UNICEF did not say such a thing [about persona non grata]."

The UNICEF representative said a discussion was held between UNICEF and the Armenian government, followed by the decision to end her activities by the end of March. "She is in Armenia right now. She will leave by the end of March." [Sputnik Armenia outlet reported that she had already left Armenia].

UNICEF said they already have a nominee for the new acting chief and are waiting for Foreign Ministry's approval.

Helsinki Group's Armenian branch president wants to know what the exact issue was that lead to her termination. He hopes the move was not a result of pressure by pro-Russian forces which are generally hostile to western institutes and often target them physically and through media.

Prominent attorney Zaruhi Hovhannisyan says the criticism towards UNICEF representative is justified because the agency displayed inaction while children's rights were being violated and they were being wounded during the war.

Reporters recalled a wartime article from October 2020, in which Armenian officials accused the UN of inaction when it came to "Leave No One Behind" initiative.

Baku denied that she was their spy.

(Correction: the headline of the main thread should have been "UNICEF" instead of "UNESCO".)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208526 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045490.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045525.html , https://factor.am/346325.html , https://youtu.be/8yB0uCLSbRs

rumors and rebuttals: President Sarkissian denies pressuring CoGS Onik to resign

Rumors claimed the president sent an envoy to meet CoGS Onik to convince him to voluntarily resign. President's offices denied the "latest misinformation."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045565.html

rumors and rebuttals: President Sarkissian's Baku visit

The president's office denied media rumors claiming that Sarkissian visited Baku on November 17th. "He held a meeting with the Canadian ambassador in Yerevan that day. Refrain from spreading fake news." (is it time to call Sarkissian a traitor yet? /s)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045535.html

rumors and rebuttals: Onik denies attempting to take the army to the streets

CoGS office denied media rumors claiming that "Onik Gasparyan instructed the army to move to the streets but they didn't follow the order." The office urged the media not to spread fake news and for the public not to consume it.

CoGS office urged the prosecutors to investigate the information provided by the Jamanak media outlet, which claimed that the tank battalions refused Onik's orders to enter the streets.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045570.html

Supreme Court president wants an ethic hearing against a Parliament MP

After the war, when the former regime officials and activists were arrested after attacking government officials, making calls to murder politicians, etc., the Supreme Court president Ruben Vardazaryan had released a message urging his judges not to be "dogs who howl behind a door", a phrase that has a political context, and was viewed as being openly anti-Pashinyan.

The Parliament recently chastised the Supreme leader Vardazaryan for "being politically biased and pressuring fellow judges to drop the arrest against violent individuals". He denied the accusations of being biased.

During a heated grilling in Parliament, Ind. MP Arman Babajanyan responded to Vardazaryan with rhetoric that the latter believes was defamatory. "Դուք ուղղակի չգիտեք՝ ինչ ղալաթ եք բերել Ձեր գլխին նոյեմբերի 15-ի հայտարարությամբ, մեկ էլ ասեմ՝ եկել եք սատանի մայլեն քյանդրբազություն եք անում," is a snippet from the MP's speech.

Vardazaryan believes the MP violated the ethical norms and asked the Parliament speaker to launch an ethics investigation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045544.html

a group of civil society members gathered to discuss judicial reforms

They pointed out the shortcomings and that "the new judicial vetting system doesn't go deep enough". Videos:

https://factor.am/346281.html , https://factor.am/346294.html , https://factor.am/346277.html , https://factor.am/346330.html

re: the Armenian Boeing 737 jet that was hijacked to Iran

One of the Armenian airline companies earlier violated the license terms and allowed Tajik nationals to fly an Armenian jet to Iran instead of Ukraine, presumably with an intention to sell it.

Today the NSS revealed that the charges, which they filed earlier, are relating "airplane hijacking" and "falsification of documents and the use of fake documents." The investigation continues.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208473

US Senator collects signatures to urge Biden to recognize the genocide

Senator Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has launched a bipartisan push to urge Biden to follow the example of Congress and recognize the Armenian genocide.

He reminded Biden that the latter promised back in 2020 to aid the recognition of the genocide. ANCA urges the Senators to sign the letter.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045500.html

Baku police disperse women's rights protest

A group of women gathered in Baku to demand equality and proper investigation of domestic violence against women. The police detained them.

https://factor.am/346211.html

Azeri soldiers complain about post-war government mistreatment

Several soldiers held a protest and complained about receiving only water and bread as aid, and claimed that the government assigns incorrect disability status to provide less aid. "Someone who lost his feet is only given a 2nd category disability status. A 3rd category for the blinded. Those with head injuries received nothing. The members of the authorities hid during the war and sent the poor to the front lines. Then, the soldiers' salaries were decreased, and only after protests they raised it back to the original level."

Others complained about lack of support for their PTSD and no aid for those whose feet became numb. "They called us during the war. We went and served. Now nobody cares about us."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045538.html

Soldiers' Insurance Fund provides a report

Soldiers insurance fund, which collects donations and fees from paychecks, has provided a report about expenditures and the number of recipients.

1450 families and individuals have received aid so far. 118 were soldiers with disabilities. 1015 recipients were families with missing relatives (this number includes soldiers who are alive and possibly POW, bodies that have already been found but are yet to be identified via DNA, and bodies that are yet to be found).

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045499.html

All Armenia Fund will provide aid to families of աշխարհազոր soldiers

Besides the regular army, there were volunteer աշխարհազոր who fought in the war. 5564 families of participants will receive ֏1.112B in aid from Himnadram.org

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045550.html

Artsakh industry stats / 96% of construction done with charity funds

֏7.07B worth of construction was done in Artsakh in the first months of 2021, which is half the 2020 period (before COVID and war). 96% of construction costs this year were paid by a charity.

Industrial output ֏2.936B or -71%. From that, the 0.3% share belongs to mining, 37% processing industry, 59% electricity/gas/steam, 3% water delivery/sewer/waste processing.

Gross agricultural output ֏1.189B or -50%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045561.html

businesses resume operations in Artsakh

2220 businesses resumed their work after the war.

There are 1932 medium/large and 2289 small subjects.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045552.html

COVID stats

1643 tested. 182 infected. 142 healed. 7 deaths. 6038 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045496.html

public transport safety inspection to tighten amid increasing COVID numbers

Masks and sanitizers are required in public transport.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045553.html

All Armenia Fund provides a report on COVID expenditures

The parliamentary fact-finding commission continues to investigate the government's handling of the pandemic. As part of the research, they received an expenditure report from Himnadram.org. It's about the 1H2020 expenditures as part of an aid initiative for COVID.

$800K was collected in the period. $695K was used on medical devices, food for the elderly, and the repatriation of some Armenians.

$300K of it went to emergency ambulatory services, $275K to medical devices (including lung vents, special x-ray devices, oxygen compressors, etc.)

To address financial inconsistencies and confusion relating to the dates mentioned on two separate reports, the commission will request additional info from Himnadram.

The Commission also received a report from the Education Ministry. It lists education subsidies for students who received tuition aid, expenditures on protective gear, etc. The Commission is headed by opposition LHK MP Arkadiy.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045521.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045527.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045528.html , https://factor.am/346120.html , https://youtu.be/GDaF8t1aUmI?t=117 , https://youtu.be/ZRx-tN3_eW4

Korea donates COVID equipment to Armenia

5 medical devices, 116 infusion pumps, and 35K test kits.

https://factor.am/346253.html

COVID aid: university tuition subsidies

The government earlier decided to compensate university tuition fees for students who receive good grades.

3,470 students applied for direct subsidies. Another 11,275 applied for the 0% or low-interest rate student loan subsidy.

http://arka.am/en/news/society/government_plan_of_measures_designed_to_support_university_students_during_coronavirus_crisis_comple

Martakert hospital resumes operations

Russian peacekeepers made efforts to reopen the local hospital and schools.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045494.html

Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh

... have cleared 1623 hectares of lands, 508km of roads, and 1577 buildings from 25.1K explosive materials since the ceasefire.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045591.html

presence of Russian border guards in Syunik helps local businesses

Person = customer. Sisian business owners say the Russian troops often buy products, which greatly benefits the business. A taxi driver said he hasn't noticed a difference in ridership volumes. Interviews with locals:

https://youtu.be/QcRNnGi9IZo

https://www.civilnet.am/news/545187/սիսիան-ռուսների-ներկայությունից-շահել-են-առևտրականներն-ու-օդանավակայանը/

video: the Syunik railway network that was dismantled many years ago

https://youtu.be/QVbh4a6NhMM

Kind Dairy to expand its production and workforce

Bari Katnamterq dairy, which "uses eco-friendly raw materials", introduced a new product line last year. Today they gave the Economy Ministry a tour through the factory to inform about the upcoming expansion. They plan to produce 22 types of cheese.

The company has 40 workers today. 30 more will be hired soon. "It is very important that not only new and advanced technologies are being introduced, but also that internationally recognized food safety standards are being applied," said an official.

The factory works directly with farmers to collect 115,000 liters of milk. With the gradual increase in dairy demand, the factory hopes to utilize its full potential. They are at a 25% capacity today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045511.html

Economy Minister held a meeting with ARMDOCT representatives of science, education, and business

Minister Qerobyan: science has no alternative. Armenia must develop based on technological progress. Only then a small country like ours can have a strong economy like Israel, Switzerland, etc. In recent months, while working with Education Ministry, we reviewed the approach of allocating postgraduate slots. //

ARMDOCT representatives presented their research on how to strengthen ties between the science and economy. The Minister agreed to create a new Scientific Council and allow them to use the Ministry as a platform to cooperate with other institutes to strengthen the science-economy ties.

ARMDOCT representatives urged for the reduction of taxes to help import certain technologies for scientific research. They suggested the creation of a government grant program to help institutes that train new scientists. The Minister said they'll draft a relevant law after examining the suggestions.

The Minister expressed willingness to fund "academic spin-offs." The director of the National Center for Quality Assurance in Vocational Education believes one of the main problems in the field is the lack of applicable knowledge. He believes the aforementioned programs will allow the creation of Doctoral schools and closer university-industry cooperation.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045520.html

IRS has simplified the Express shipping paperwork

IRS said: the Express cargo declaration process has been simplified with a new decree signed by the government. The courier services do not have to submit a separate customs declaration for each product that is being shipped. The entire package is declared as one piece, without the need to receive documentation from every party involved with the cargo. //

A cargo industry employee says they'll be able to handle 20 customers instead of 5 within the same period of time.

https://youtu.be/-gL5P2Q0sws , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045515.html

100 Lebanese-Armenian repatriates

... met the Diaspora Office chief Sinanyan today to discuss issues concerning the integration, citizenship, registration, tax-free import of household items, social aid, army service, etc. The Office will contact other govt agencies to find solutions.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208452

Armenian movie is included in the 74th Cannes Film Festival

Nora Martirosyan's «Երբ որ քամին հանդարտվի» premiere will be held tomorrow in Moskva Cinema in Yerevan.

It is the first Armenian movie since the independence that is nominated directly from Armenia.

The movie was filmed in Armenia and Artsakh, featuring Armenian and French actors. It's about a French aviation expert who arrives in Artsakh to see a newly built airport.

More: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208497

soccer stadiums will have an audience again

Armenia will play against Iceland and Romania soon. The Republic stadium is authorized to have a 30% capacity; that's 4,000 fans. The tickets will be available online as well. They range from 40¢ to $20.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/208523

Armenian wrestlers win 3 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze

... in an international freestyle competition held in Ukraine.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1045595.html

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

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/m1g82a/mar92021_1_opposition_turns_on_president_amid_his/

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