2021 September 10

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Summary of Sep/10/2021: Population grows; births up __ Armenia-Georgia trade routes __ 1988 quake recovery __ War over PCR & Vax __ Armenia to have modern crematorium; cemeteries r too big __ Voter bribery confessions __ New Anti-Corruption Committee __ Artsakh pensions++ __ Women rule IRS? __ more
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Friday recap in 2979 words.

PHOTOS: Spitak and Gyumri have been rebuilding after the 1988 earthquake that took the lives of 25,000 and left 400,000 homeless

There wouldn't be that many deaths if the buildings were designed with seismic standards. Read more about seismic resilience of Armenian buildings and the latest construction standards here.

Since then, Japan has been helping the Armenian government to assess the risks, create maps, and educate the population. This week, journalists met experts and prepared a report, part of which is presented below:

Spitak

Few of Spitak's 5-story buildings survived the quake. The town was totally destroyed.

After the quake, it saw the construction of hundreds of 3-4 story earthquake-proof residential buildings. They are designed for a 9pt quake.

The funding came from Lins Foundation, the federal budget, and the All Armenia Fund. Today, all buildings are either retrofitted or rebuilt with higher standards. They were mostly built in 1997-1998, with the last major construction being in 2007 (Yerankyuni district).

Gyumri

Gyumri suffered 60% destruction. Residents recall that the most tragic loss was the lives of 4,500 school children, half of whom died while in school.

21k apartments were destroyed, 23k rebuilt.

the bad buildings

There were relatively few deaths in single-family homes. Most casualties came from 9-story apartment buildings that were classified under the "111" series (the worst type, Yerevan has 400 of those). 85% of them collapsed, and the other 15% were demolished later.

There are none in Gyumri today. The only high-rises are in Gyumri's Bulvaryan district. They were built with Czech standards and didn't suffer much damage during the quake.

Soviet efforts to rebuild

The recovery construction was going at a high pace in the first 1.5 after the quake. Over 24,000 workers arrived from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Soviets had planned to spend 12.5 billion Rubles, but only half of it was completed due to the collapse of USSR.

Armenia's blockade by neighbors also played a negative role because most construction materials were coming through Nakhijevan.

from makeshifts to permanent houses

The main issues were in Gyumri because Spitak was rebuilt quickly, while Vanadzor didn't suffer much damage. Today, the problem is almost fully resolved, with new houses and schools.

Although there are only 430 registered families without a house today, there are 2800 tnaks makeshifts, partly because those who were children during the quake are now 33yo and have their own families, so they couldn't fit in the same 1-2br apartments and decided to live separately in tnaks.

The problem has been studied and presented to the government for a solution. When the family receives an apartment, their tnak is demolished.

housing stock

Armenia has 19,000 large apartment buildings. 3.2% of them (600) are in very poor shape, with 90 being subject to demolition.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062800.html

COVID stats

6,783 tested. 669 infected. 586 healed. 11 deaths. 10,111 active.

EU placed Armenia in "red" zone amid increased infections. Armenia is among several countries whose citizens will lose the ability to travel without restrictions within the EU.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062788.html https://factor.am/415218.html

Kocharyan-ARF alliance is against the upcoming PCR requirements for workers aimed at boosting vaccination rates

Workers will soon be required to submit a PCR test every two weeks if they choose not to get vaccinated. The HD alliance called the measure "illegal" because they believe "it's the same as to require vaccination", and that a better option would be to "present the positive and negative effects of vaccines more transparently."

They accused the government of "embarrassingly disproportionate" measures to "shift the burden to people".

They also criticized the part that exempts Parliament MPs, President, and Government members from the requirement. Healthcare Ministry explained that the exemption is necessary under another law [can't fire MPs? 🤔]. "They have already been vaccinated anyway," said the Minister.

HD alliance wants the PCR tests to be subsidized by the government.

American University health department expert: this isn't just about you. Delta strain can lead to a higher number of people seeking hospital beds. This can lead to hospitals being overwhelmed and unable to provide medical care to patients with other health issues. A person's careless attitude towards their own health can lead to grave consequences for others.

Unlike many developed countries, Armenian residents have the advantage of choosing which vaccine they get. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062847.html https://factor.am/415001.html https://youtu.be/vg9-6IwLJSM https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/pl5q75/news_sep92021_a_failed_counterattack_in_hadrut/

is your favorite rapper vaccinated?

Showman Aram MP3: Yes. I didn't want the knife to reach the bone before taking action.

Actor Babken Chobanyan: No and I do not plan to, and no one can convince me otherwise.

Singer Hripsime Hakobyan: I've already been infected but if vaccines become mandatory around the world [for travel], I will take it.

Showman Garik Papoyan: Yes. I travel a lot.

Actor Vache Ziroyan: Not yet but I'll decide if it's needed when the PCR requirements kick in.

Singer Sevak Amroyan: Yes. I got both doses while in the US.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220607

anti-corruption: dozens of Serj alliance "workers" are charged with voter bribery

Investigators report: HHK's Artik branch organizer Susanna Tonoyan ran under the PU alliance ballot on June 20. She conspired with five residents to distribute bribes on behalf of PU.

The distributors accepted the ֏800,000 budget, kept some of it for themselves, and gave the rest to local voters, ֏10,000 each.

In all, 20 accomplices have been charged with crimes. 15 of them have confessed. Charges were dropped against 8 for sincere remorse. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062832.html

Tags: #iHaveHonor

process to choose the president of the new Anti-Corruption Committee institute

The candidates went through a lengthy Q&A held by NGOs. They are Sasun Khachatryan (post-2018 SIS chief who oversaw a wave of criminal corruption investigations against former regime officials), Garnik Torosyan, and Davit Mkrtumyan. Here are some episodes:

Q: you're leading the SIS. What advantages will the new Anti-Corruption Committee have over SIS?

Sasun Khachatryan: the ACC's biggest advantage is having its own operative body for higher efficiency. It's better when the same agency has the full information needed for an investigation, instead of having to go back and forth with other agencies.

If I'm elected, I will work towards forming a new center with financial, digital, construction experts specialized in corruption investigations. //

Q: what's the long-term goal?

Sasun Khachatryan: make it bigger and establish provincial branches. The 30 experts and 60 workers that we will have initially are insufficient. It should gradually develop and grow. The team will have experience with cooperating with international bodies to find hidden financial assets. //

All three candidates passed the vetting. Sasun Khachatryan is leading with 308 points, with opponents scoring 257 and 202.

The jury member Daniel Ioannisyan said all three candidates will be presented to the government so it can choose one of them.

The government launched the creation of ACC in 2019. It will have its dedicated investigative detective department and will only focus on corruption-related crimes.

https://factor.am/415095.html https://youtu.be/VEozLcnvgVI https://factor.am/415133.html https://factor.am/415151.html https://factor.am/415353.html

breaking traditions: a modern crematorium with a garden is being built in Armenia

ex-employee at Special Services for Population ՀԱՈԿ: 531 hectares of lands are already occupied by cemeteries in Yerevan. That's twice the size of its parks. The COVID has made it worse. We need to better manage our lands.

From the outside, the new crematorium will look like a garden rather than a cemetery. Many trees and grass coverings, clean and well-lit. It will vastly differ from the traditional cemetery imagined by Armenians. There will be a dedicated area for "tombs", too.

Located outside Yerevan with projected 200 jobs, the crematorium is a private initiative by investors from the US and Armenia. [How will they earn income?]. I can't give the exact location right now. It's currently in the bureaucratic documentation phase to ensure it meets the law.

When it's done, we will have a crematorium that meets the EU standards. There is nothing like this in Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. //

This project was approved earlier but was delayed due to COVID and war. Back in 2019, Healthcare Minister Arsen Torosyan spoke about plans to build two crematoriums. At the time, the Ministry complained about urban cemeteries getting too large and encroaching on residential areas, which can pose sanitary risks.

The Healthcare Ministry said they do not take part in the construction of the new crematorium.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220561

new midnight anthem video is being filmed

Every 12:00 am the TV outlets broadcast the anthem and play a background video. A media agency sent a letter to Armenia's Education Ministry asking for permission to visit popular sites and create a new clip. They were granted permission.

Critics complain that the media agency does not plan to visit Artsakh for filming, and Artsakh sites could be excluded from the final clip altogether.

Education Ministry said they don't make editorial decisions about the content of the clip, and cannot predict what the final product will look like.

When asked to comment, the executive office said they don't manage tasks relating to anthem clips.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220535 https://armlur.am/1133510/

Artsakh will raise pensions, public salaries, and social aid by 20%

... on January 1, 2022. Additionally, they are working on free healthcare, and will soon address issues with subsidizing the tuition for Batchelor's degree students.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/295380/

650 houses are being constructed for IDPs from several Artsakh villages

Families from Azokh, Drakhtik, Karin Tak, and Avetaranots villages will have new homes in Aygestin and Noragyugh settlements. Ready in 2022-23.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062786.html

discussions around a new Parliamentary Committee for Artsakh Issues

The opposition HD and PU again suggested the creation of a new Parliamentary Committee to discuss issues relating to Artsakh. They want to convert the existing foreign affairs committee.

The ruling party again rejected the proposal, saying such committee already exists. (InterParliametnary Commission between Armenia and Artsakh)

Opposition: the creation of the new committee will be a message to the world. The existing one hasn't held relevant meetings since 2019.

Ruling: the existing committee is presided by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh. The proposed committee would reduce its profile as a regular committee, and wouldn't contribute to resolving the Artsakh conflict. In reality, today every Parliamentary committee is tasked with Artsakh issues. The opposition's proposal to rename and create a new committee is a popularity stunt.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062801.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062809.html

Russian military analyst Vladimir Yevseev about the peacekeepers in Artsakh:

Azerbaijan will attempt to push them out, but I doubt they will succeed. For as long as Armenians stay and live in Artsakh, the Russian peacekeepers will have a reason to stay there.

It's been a year since Azerbaijan captured the lands but they have so far been unable to appropriate them. There is no settlement-building process in these areas. It turns out that the 7,000 Azeris who lost their lives in the war died in vain.

The international community must raise the question of Armenian cultural heritage in Karabakh. Russia has helped wherever possible, such as in the case of Dadivank monastery. Let France raise the topic in UN Security Council.

In the eyes of the world, Azerbaijan must appear as someone who destroys the culture of others. Who else destroys such monuments? ISIS does, and Azeris are very similar to ISIS in their behavior. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062831.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062848.html

a group of reservists began their 3-month retraining journey in the army

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062835.html

==the MOD held a meeting to discuss ways to reduce personal conflicts and suicide cases in the army

Army officials, NGO members, govt representatives, and professional psychologists were invited.

https://factor.am/415415.html

Champions Showdown 9LX: Garry Kasparov defeats Levon Aronian

... in the 5th round, in the competition held in St. Louis. Aronian is currently 7th.

https://factor.am/415339.html

PHOTOS: 7 new diasporan experts join government cabinets via iGorts program

Gasia Samuelyan from Lebanon and Ruzanna Grigoryan from Russia will join the National Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Others will join inspection agencies, Yerevan municipality workers, and other areas.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062787.html

more women have been lately joining IRS as inspectors

It's a "men's job" no more? Gohar has inspected over a thousand businesses in recent years. Over 50 women have joined her department recently. IRS has been promoting female participation through media campaigns.

Student Lilit Ghazaryan didn't tell her parents that he applied for IRS work until the day she was hired.

IRS's Tax Info and Risk Analysts department is dominated by women. The chief, the deputies, and 5 out of 6 branches are led by women. Some 90% of some branch workers are women.

More: https://youtu.be/Jbb-cQB7taY

VIDEO: camels spotted in Meghri

https://youtu.be/jlORe-KDNs4

Pashinyan's Georgia trip: Armenia-Georgia relations explained by analyst Jony Melikyan:

Since the unblocking of regional trade routes will eliminate Georgia's monopoly, they are also interested in actively participating in new projects to "compensate" future losses, if Azerbaijan gains a trade route to Nakhijevan/Turkey through Armenia. Active work has been done about the Black Sea-Persian Gulf trade corridor in recent years. (north-south through Armenia)

If in the past it was Armenia eagerly trying to deepen the relations to promote these projects while Georgia was slow, today the impulse is definitely mutual. It would take at least 2-3 years to see the results of any projects implemented today.

It's very important to finish the construction of the new high-voltage electric grid with Iran so Armenia can maximize its potential in the electricity exchange network that stretches to Russia. This is a great and prospective project.

Georgia has a similar network with Azerbaijan and Turkey, but they are diversifying it.

As for the Sea to Gulf trade route, if we can transport Chinese goods besides the Indian ones, it will be significant for our region.

Azerbaijan will continue to make efforts to keep Armenia under blockade to hinder its development. This is why it's important to work with our allies to pressure Azerbaijan.

If the regional electricity exchange program is successfully implemented, Georgia can export its excess electricity during the summer months to Iran through Armenia, and receive gas in exchange. The "Iranian" gas could, in theory, be delivered by Russia, while Iran can increase gas delivery to Armenia to compensate.

It's important for the Biden administration to resume nuclear talks with Iran because Georgia heavily depends on the United States. If the nuclear problem persists, Georgia could remain passive in these projects.

Armenia needs to improve its infrastructure, and not just roads, if it wants the Sea-to-Gulf trade route to turn into something serious.

We need railways. It's an expensive project that is yet to be decided. It would be great if we could gain access to Iran through Nakhijevan for multimodal cargo transport. In the near future, this is unrealistic because of ongoing conflicts. These problems must be resolved first.

Today, our main task should be the North-South road. We can bring investments for railways in the future.

More: https://youtu.be/Et4fPi0l6ek https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062781.html

Kvesheti-Kobi tunnel and road are dubbed by Georgian Premier as "project of the century"

Some Georgian roads are routinely inaccessible during the winter months, especially important ones that serve as a trade hub with Russia. Georgia plans to build a new road with several tunnels and bridges in the north, a $1.2B project.

Premier Gharibashvili: it will take only 1.5 hours to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi [Russia border]. This is a project of the century. Right now, the road is closed 100 days every year. This project is important not only for locals but also for regional communication.

It will have the largest (9km) tunnel in the South Caucasus, and the only one in the world with its parameters. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062819.html https://kveshetikobiroad.ge/en/ https://youtu.be/UUbom3ylMmA https://sputnik-georgia.ru/20210910/premer-gruzii-nazval-stroitelstvo-novogo-tonnelya-proektom-veka-259496222.html

the new Armenia-Georgia bridge is under active construction

The Sadakhlo-Bagratashen bridge will be over the Debet River. It'll replace the old and narrow bridge that causes traffic issues. The construction began earlier this year. They are currently reinforcing the foundations.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220604

Ohanavan (Aragatsotn) school is being rebuilt with seismic protections & labs

The ֏800M project is co-funded by the government and Asian Development Bank. The school was built in 1959 and has never seen major structural renovations.

Lack of insulation makes it impossible to heat the school in the winter. There were no labs, sports center, event hall. They decided to start over.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062784.html

250 villages lack preschools

The federal government recently proposed a plan to ensure 85% of Armenian children receive preschool education by 2026. The federal subsidies and property tax reforms are meant to aid the local municipalities to build new preschools.

In some villages, there are suitable preschool facilities but they aren't being utilized due to lack of financing. Today the federal government decided to allocate funds to 6 such preschools to launch services.

It is part of a 2020 program to help 51 villages. 10 of them have already begun providing services.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062794.html

40% of Armavir's water network will be rebuilt

New pipes, wells, house connections, drainage system, etc. Co-funded by the government, German KFW bank, EU, and European EBRD.

https://factor.am/415100.html

paying utility bills will become easier

Since HayPost already sends its agents door-to-door to distribute letters, pensions, and other social aid to some residents, they will offer the residents to pay their utility bills on the spot, with the usual receipts and stuff.

The free service will be available in all of Armenia. The utilities can be paid in cash [to prevent the Illuminati from guessing how much TV you watch].

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062789.html

Armenia's permanent population size grew by 1,600 as of 1H2021

... compared to 1H2020, reaching 2,965,600.

Births increased: 20.1k vs 19.4k

Deaths increased: 18.8k vs 17.1k (mostly COVID and cardiovascular)

https://factor.am/415147.html

top-10 bestseller Armenian literature books in August

5) Բաքու, by Vahan Totovents.

4) Կարմիր, by Hovik Afyan.

3) Դաշնամուրը, by Aghavni Grigoryan.

2) Մենակը, by Ashot Aghababyan.

1) Կույսի համաստեղություն, by Samvmel Sevada.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062558.html

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/plsjkx/summary_of_sep102021_population_grows_births_up/

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