2021 May 6

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

May/6/2021 news: # Amnesty for army evaders # 628 militarymen charged # Remittance # Lavrov in AM: POWs soon, biosafety & training, reforms & trade # Latvia recognizes Genocide # No rocks thrown by Azeris # Preventing desertification # Shareholder reforms; rank # Economic recovery stats # Flat tax
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Thursday report in 2974 words.

628 individuals, including commanders, are facing felony charges over 2020 war

Prosecutors' report: 1580 felony cases were launched against 628 individuals, including high-ranking officers, over their actions aimed against the defense capabilities of the army and other crimes against military service.

The crimes relate to military draft calls, the draft process, corruption schemes while purchasing weapons before and during the war, improper command of units, specific orders issued by commanders, and refusal to take part in operations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051418.html https://youtu.be/CBqoGViatWY

general: you would be surprised to learn about the ongoing army reforms

The opposition LHK party complained about the lack of information about the ongoing reforms in the military and criticized CoGS Artak.

The army's press agency official responded saying "The large-scale work carried out in the Armed Forces is largely invisible to the public. Some MPs would be surprised to learn the details."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051529.html

bill approved: mass amnesty for men who avoided military service

The Parliament voted 83-0 to approve the Government's amnesty plan. It applies to those who turned 27 (for reservists 35) before the date when the bill becomes law. The earlier wording indicated that it would only apply to those who turned 27 before Sep/26/2020 so it's unclear if the restriction was loosened in the final amendment to apply to a broader group. (talk to a lawyer before packing your luggage)

The amnesty also applies to those who are currently serving jail time, are suspected of avoiding the draft, were placed on the wanted list for avoiding the draft.

Justice Minister Badasyan: we listened to the request of many citizens and decided to expand the qualified group. The men can voluntarily appear at relevant bodies before Dec/31/2021. But the amnesty won't apply to those who avoided draft calls during the 2020 war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051419.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051440.html

Human Rights Ombudsman criticizes international organizations for remaining passive

Tatoyan: Azerbaijan has always pursued a policy of isolating Artsakh. The silence of international organizations during the war also contributed to the level of human rights violations.

Citizens learned that the war stopped not because the international human rights organizations stopped it, but because the problem was solved through concrete political steps.

Why don't they visit Artsakh today? Their behavior harms the human rights system.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051448.html

Artsakh investigators conclude that Azeris did not throw rocks at the Armenian driver in second incident

There was an incident where Azeri soldiers threw rocks at an Armenian driver in Artsakh, followed by an apology by Russian peacekeepers and an internal investigation by Azeris. This is not about that incident.

The second incident on March 29 was involving a vehicle that was transporting bodies from Artsakh to Armenia. A rock hit the windshield.

Artsakh authorities concluded that it was a natural rockfall rather than someone throwing rocks. They examined the hill and found signs of rock sliding. The driver had earlier testified that he believed it was due to rockfall.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051439.html

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visits Armenia

He arrived yesterday and was greeted by protests by nationalist groups who believe Russia cozied up to Azerbaijan and pressured Armenia to give up lands during negotiations. A few protesters were detained. "By returning 3 POWs just before Lavrov's visit, they proved that the issue of POWs is under Russian control, and not Baku's."

Today Lavrov met MFA Ayvazyan to discuss a broad range of topics.

Lavrov: I invited Ayvazyan to visit Moscow. We highly value the cooperation between the two countries in the EAEU, CIS, and CSTO. Russia remains Armenia's largest partner. We emphasized the importance of military cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051428.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051459.html https://factor.am/367674.html

Armenia and Russia sign memorandum on biosafety

Lavrov: we signed an agreement to cooperate in this sensitive area. It will help strengthen our overall area of biological safety. //

It's about exchanging information and retraining experts. The agreement does not give any party the guarantees to enter laboratory facilities. If you remember, Russia has been complaining about "what's cooking" in US-funded labs in Armenia and other CIS republics. This doesn't appear to address those concerns:

Հուշագրով չի նախատեսվում որևէ կողմի համար լաբորատորիաների աշխատանքային տարածքներ մուտքի կամ որևէ այլ միակողմ վերահսկողություն իրականացնելու իրավունքի երաշխավորումը:

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051462.html https://armeniasputnik.am/armenia/20210506/27443346/inche-naxatesum-kansabanakan-anvtangutyan-masin-hay-rusaskan-hushagiry.html

Armenia and Russia are discussing joint production of Sputnik-V vaccine

Lavrov: we are discussing production in Armenia. Armenia also wants to purchase 1 million doses.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051465.html

MFA Ayvazyan about the conflict:

Nagorno Karabakh conflict is far from being resolved. Only a peaceful negotiation process can lead to a political resolution that will take into account everyone's rights and will bring stability to the South Caucasus.

We support OSCE Minsk Group efforts and their April 13 message which stated "special attention should be paid to the achievement of a final, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement based on the elements and principles known to the parties."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051479.html

Lavrov about the repatriation of POWs:

We do not reduce our efforts to repatriate all detainees. Together with Ayvazyan, we discussed the Karabakh topic, the progress, and the stabilization of the situation. An important part is the expert group formed between deputy Premiers of three states regarding the unblocking of regional trade routes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051467.html

Lavrov met Pashinyan to discuss POWs and conflict

Lavrov: I'm confident that in the near future the issue of repatriation of all detainees will be resolved.

Pashinyan: It is necessary to restore the peace process for the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051516.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051517.html

Lavrov about expanding Armenia-Russian partnership:

Our relations are already so good that any sharp expansion is physically impossible. The trade reduced by 9.6% due to the pandemic but it will restore at high rates soon.

We will plan and carry out a number of events dedicated to the anniversaries of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051468.html

Lavrov and Ayvazyan visited the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide memorial

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051507.html

France criticizes Aliyev's Saddam Park in Baku

France: France is committed to achieving lasting peace. We are concerned over the display of the park dedicated to victory. The deadly conflict brought grief to many families both in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The opening ceremony of the park contradicts the Azerbaijani government's desire to restore peace.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051514.html

Latvia has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide

The 58% majority voted to recognize and condemn the Genocide. The movement began last year in April when two factions from the ruling coalition published statements condemning the Genocide. The recognition process began this February.

Armenia's Foreign Ministry welcomed the move, while Turkey called it a "political" move.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051454.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051513.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051538.html

World Bank provides $3.7m to help Artsakh refugees residing in Armenia

The Government approved the plan to co-finance 4 projects to help the refugees. This includes co-financing aid packages that provide monthly ֏68k universal basic income to refugees and monthly ֏40k subsidies to landlords who house refugees.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051463.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html

Parliament ratifies CIS Republics law about drug trafficking

CIS states will be able to form joint groups to investigate and catch Pablo Escobars.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051422.html

Lake Sevan water levels continue to remain high

This month, too, it was higher than the same period of last year. Arpa-Sevan tunnel brought 71.9 million m3 water to the lake, while the exit of water increased in recent months, likely due to the irrigation season.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051438.html

government discusses Lake Sevan water level and irrigation

Government approved a plan to ensure the Arpa-Sevan tunnel's uninterrupted operation, to provide irrigation to settlements near Sevan-Hrazdan, and to save on water usage.

To ensure the gradual rise of lake water levels, there will be renovation and upgrades on the Kechut reservoir, Yeghegis hydro-junction, and Arpa-Sevan tunnel.

These junctions have never seen a thorough overhaul after being built. The warn-out devices do not allow for proper water flow management, which results in losses. ֏107m in repairs.

Another bill approved today is about preventing desertification of Armenia's arable lands through proper management, public awareness, and international cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html

Tags: #LakeSevan #lands #desertification

the number of babies named "Monte"

... increased from 310 in 2019 to 570 in 2020.

Top boys: Davit, Narek, Hayk.

Top girls: Nare, Maria, Angelina.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/292668/

remittance transfers to Armenia

Overall, $405.6m bank transfers were made by individuals to Armenia in 1Q21. That's +15% from last year.

-6% from Russia, reaching $154m.

+87% from the USA, reaching $118m.

+6% from Other states, reaching $134m.

Central Bank believes the sharp increase from US transfers could be partly due to the Stimulus Checks received by Armenian-Americans.

More: https://hetq.am/hy/article/130527

more war participants will qualify for physical and mental healthcare

Today the Government amended the rules about the aid for "wounded soldiers" to include those who received various injuries and mental health issues as a result of war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html

citizens who return to Armenia will receive help with guidance

The Government approved amendments to the law to provide aid to citizens who return home. It's about consulting, referring to the right departments, housing aid.

This will also help Armenia to be compliant with EU-AM Comprehensive Agreement which requires countries to accept their citizens who get deported from the EU.

It's one of the prerequisites for relaxing the visa regime with the EU.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html

Tags: #VisaRegime

shareholder laws will be reformed / Armenia's business ranking

The Government decided to amend the law about joint-stock companies. The goal is to ensure small shareholders' rights, which will improve Armenia's international score monitored by investors.

The bill will prevent conflict of interest by barring some shareholders from participating in some meetings that relate to their stocks.

The rule about informing shareholders about a shareholder meeting 21 days in advance will apply to all companies that have shareholders, regardless of how many shareholders they have.

If approved, the reform is expected to raise Armenia's 'Disclosure of information' score from 7 to 9, the 'Corporate transparency' from 5 to 6. The overall 'Small shareholder protection' score is expected to be 40 out of 50, while another score is expected to go from 74 to 80.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051504.html

Tags: #shareholder #ShareholderLaw

Hope For Armenia and Teach For Armenia

... is a project promoted by Serj Tankian, Kim Kardashian, Cher, Armenian-American prominent doctor David Geffen, producer Eric Israelian, TUMO founder Sam Simonyan, and others.

The goal is to improve education in Armenia and Artsakh. Participant teachers will travel to remote villages. Residents of some 100 settlements will take part.

https://youtu.be/EqrQK5wmuHs

https://www.teachforarmenia.org/

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051460.html

the government increases Education budget by ֏2.9b

The extra funds will be used to finish building 15 modular schools and begin the process of building 9 kindergartens in rural settlements.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051485.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html

Pashinyan about the quality of education in kindergartens:

A kindergarten should not be a place where the parent drops the child at X o'clock and picks up at Y o'clock. It's an important chain of the education process. Kindergarten teachers will also undergo certification processes just as school teachers do. Certified teachers have the opportunity to constantly raise their salaries.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051483.html

the full discussion about the quality and accessibility of education in rural areas:

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051489.html

schools will receive grants to improve safety

As part of the "Safe School" program, the Education Ministry will hold an auction to pick winners for ֏24m grants. It's for creating disaster risk management plans and actions taken during emergencies. 9 villages received these grants last year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051476.html

Education Ministry plans to amend school director election rules to address major headache

Under current rules, the winner needs a majority of votes from those board members who participated in the voting. Under new rules, the winner would need the majority of votes from the total number of board members.

The problem with the current rule is that the board can present more than one candidate to Ministry for approval. When the Ministry picks its favorite, it often raises complaints from the losing camp, and accusations of "sponsorship" and "ծանոթ" begin to pour.

To address this, Ministry wants the board itself to elect the candidate, and if no one is elected, to hold new elections.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051430.html

ruling QP party will participate in elections without alliance

Today they have a "My Step" alliance, a collection of small groups and independents. It will be just them in the June elections. QP will present the list of MPs next week. "There will be new people." Their slogan will be "there is a future".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051455.html

Kocharyan announces his move: alliance between Reviving Armenia & ARF

Syunik's former HHK governor reportedly founded the party "Reviving Armenia". It will form an alliance with ARF. They will be lead by Robert Kocharyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051487.html

Kocharyan is suing Pashinyan over alleged defamation

Robert Kocharyan, you will not hide under the skirt of Europeans, we will recover your embezzled funds penny-by-penny for the development of our army and Artsakh. If you don't return it, we will do it. (Pashinyan in April of 2020)

They don't have the ability to engage in politics headed by Kocharyan. They have only one thing to do now: return what was stolen from the army penny-by-penny. (Pashinyan in March of 2020)

Within the next 5 years, we are going to spend an additional ֏2.5b on the military, ֏1.5b of which is under the possession of Robert Kocharyan and his family. Let them bring it back and return it. (another one of his speeches)

Kocharyan is suing over alleged defamation. The case was filed last year. A trial was held today. The next session is on September 14.

https://factor.am/367667.html

COVID stats

3964 tested. 425 infected. 714 healed. 14 deaths. 10828 active (down). 7.1K vaccinated.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051432.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051451.html

vaccinated travelers won't need a PRC test to enter Armenia

Two vaccine shots with a "green passport" will exempt you from the need to take a test 3 days before arriving in Armenia, decided the government during today's session (still, check with airlines before arrival). Kids under the age of 1 won't need a test.

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan: that practice is being adopted around the world. Eventually, some countries will require a vaccine instead of tests. We want our visitors to enter more easily without spending unnecessary money on time on testing. There is a vaccine app for smartphones. //

Pashinyan: if you plan to travel abroad by August, get your first vaccine shot now. We could soon witness taxi services adopt a practice of placing a "vaccine" badge for those drivers who had one. The economic recovery will improve when vaccination rates increase. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051449.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051464.html

Pashinyan about tax revenues:

Tax revenues and դրոշմանիշ payments reached ֏180b in April, a historic record. There is some cheating here, though, because last year we gave the opportunity not to make advance payments of profit tax. It allowed businesses to keep the money flowing in the economy during the time when it was needed most.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051436.html

Pashinyan about the trade and economic recovery:

We have a 24% growth (8.8 million unit growth) in trade transactions this April compared to 2019 April. I'm not comparing it with 2020 because of COVID.

The turnover was ֏130b in April, or +26% compared to 2019.

I think these positive numbers show that the economy is recovering. It's also important that the Central Bank announced that the economy is recovering faster than they predicted.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051446.html

IRS presents January-April YoY collection stats:

We collected ֏513b, which is ֏12b above 2020 and ֏46b above 2019.

There were 35 million more transactions in 2021 vs 2019 period, while the turnover volume increased by ֏372b.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051446.html

Pashinyan about flat tax rate and number of jobs:

[Context: the government adopted flat tax and reduced the rate two years ago. One of the reasons cited by them was reducing the shadowy economy.]

We have a record number of registered workers who receive salaries. After the implementation of the flat tax rate, we are witnessing the exit of jobs from the shadowy economy.

As a result, we have an increase in the average salaries. In other words, not only the jobs are coming out of the shadows, but also the salaries.

Today we have a bigger income tax base with a lower income tax rate. In other words, we are collecting more taxes. These are long-awaited reforms for Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051483.html

Tags: #salaries #ShadowEconomy #FlatTax

Pashinyan about the government's debt to businesses:

The government returned ֏200b to businesses in the past 3 years [injection into economy and circulation]. This was historically a problematic thing in Armenia. The government had accumulated hundreds of billions in debt, hopeless debt. As of April, we have a historic minimum with a ֏67.4b balance.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051445.html

unified online platform for social services

Labor Ministry created the website www.socservice.am to include all state social programs in one place. It contains info, communication, vacant jobs, soldier family benefits, social aid, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051416.html

water network projects in provinces

Infrastructure Ministry and World Bank have a €3.5m project in Vanadzor and Lernapat. The works began to replace 14km in water pipes, construction of 3 water regulators, small pump stations and reservoirs, 10km of inner-building pipelines, etc.

As a result, 5,100 residents will have 24/7 water in several districts of Vanadzor and Lernapat.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051505.html

territorial development project in Gegharquniq province

Gegharquniq's Tsakhkunq has a new investment project by DAR Foundation. Several settlements will receive help for sustainable development and self-sufficiency. Economy Minister believes it could help tourism.

The "Gagarin Project" will rebuild a new center, a park, and an underground infrastructure in Tsakhkunq, which is already a hotspot for internal and external tourism.

The village will have a new tourism info-center, a co-working space, a public corner where residents can visit barbershops, cafes, etc. within close proximity. The private sector and governments will co-invest ֏1.2b by 2025.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051426.html

today in history

1840: first adhesive postage stamp "Penny Black" is introduced

1908: Wright brothers resume their flights after a 3-year break

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051401.html

don't miss yesterday's news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/n5opp8/may52021_news_1_army_to_retrain_commanders/

end of report

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

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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/n6g40m/may62021_news_amnesty_for_army_evaders_628/

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