2021 September 2

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Sep/2/2021: Spitak earthquake of 1988, the cost of seismic retrofitting Armenia's housing __ 61% support Universal Healthcare __ Second reservist draft __ Artesian waters __ Artsakh's 30th B-day __ Kremlin wants a soccer rematch __ Landmines & carpets __ Gyumri elections __ Ready for Pfizer
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Thursday recap in 3454 words.

Many Yerevan buildings lack seismic standards / Quakes & aftershocks: what to expect? / How much will it cost to secure all buildings? / What new construction technologies are being used in Armenia today?

The EU and Factor TV wanted to learn about the state of housing stock in Armenia.

Q: why have we been witnessing more earthquakes lately?

Emergency Ministry's "Seismic" department official Nazaretyan: there are active and passive periods. Armenia has multiple seismic zones that are almost always active. One of them is the Javakhq mountain range, which is considered the most active with mild quakes in the South Caucasus. What we've been seeing lately is normal.

The next zone that's always active is the one that caused the 1988 Spitak quake. We've recorded 17,000 aftershocks since then. They have not stopped. Scientists believe that aftershocks normally finish within 2-3 years, but that has not been the case here after 32 years.

Other zones can activate over time. This year we saw the Shorzha and Yerevan zones. We are familiar with Yerevan and Parakar zones; they become active and passive. We are more worried about the Shorzha zone [east of Lake Sevan] because we don't fully understand its characteristics yet. We've been collecting data gradually.

Q: it is believed that 70% of Armenia's housing stock is old and lacks seismic standards. What risks are we facing?

Pashinyan recently spoke about Yerevan's housing stock and "expiration dates". Stone and reinforced concrete buildings have different lifespans. But they are all too old in our case, even if we assume they were built properly with seismic resilience in mind, which is not always the case.

Apartments built before 1957 and the Spitak quake, and the so-called Khrushchyovkas during the Nikita Khrushchev era, are of very poor quality. They are rated for 7-8 point quake, while the risk in Armenia is 9 points. These buildings were never designed to withstand.

This is a serious problem for Armenia because 40% of the population is in Yerevan, and 80% of them live in large apartment complex buildings.

Q: does the recently-approved 5-year government program plan to address this?

The biggest problem is we have 3,700 such buildings in Yerevan alone, most of which do not meet the standards. They should either undergo seismic retrofit or be demolished. This is a serious challenge that requires considerable resources and time.

If you start repairing multiple buildings at once, all those residents must be moved to live elsewhere for several months or years, and this process is costly.

Q: do we have a seismic risk management plan for all settlements in Armenia?

The Urban Development Committee would be in the position to answer that. Our Ministry evaluates the seismic resilience of structures. They've been working on strengthening school buildings because over 1,000 of them do not meet the standards.

4,500 children died in Gyumri during the 1988 quake. Almost half of them died due to the collapse of five schools. They would not have collapsed if they had a little bit of quality. Large sums are being spent today to rebuild our schools.

By 2030, most schools will be either rebuilt or retrofitted. We don't have a similar mass project for housing units in Yerevan. It's still being studied and calculated because we're talking about very big sums: twice the size of Armenia's budget. [around $5.2 billion?]

Q: what are the priorities that should be addressed first?

We developed a seismic risk map for each settlement to understand which buildings would collapse in the event of a quake, how many casualties, which roads and utilities would shut off.

The risk in Yerevan was calculated multiples times since 1992: by Professor Balasanyan in 1992, the Japanese in 2012, the Institute of Geological Sciences and Georisk Organization, and very recently by us.

Q: are the new structures being built with seismic standards?

In the Spitak zone, what was "going to collapse" has already collapsed. The new buildings are of much higher quality and have much better seismic standards. They are incomparably better than Soviet-era structures.

Benefactor Kirk Kerkorian and the Lins Foundation had financed the construction of 5,600 high-quality apartments in the disaster zone. They can be used as an example because of their standards. So if another earthquake were to hit the north, it wouldn't be as bad as in 1988.

The majority of buildings in other parts of Armenia are of poor quality. They may not necessarily be in a seismically dangerous zone, but the quality is nonetheless important.

Usually, the privately built single-family homes with old traditional methods [spit bubble gum between bricks?] are quite resilient to quakes. For example, Gyumri had 10,000 deaths, mostly from 9-story apartment buildings. Only 300 deaths came from single-family homes.

Q: who is monitoring the construction quality?

The structures built after the 1988 quake are of much better quality and are designed to withstand 9 point shocks. Today, Yerevan is the most worrisome region. Gyumri and Vanadzor are more seismic-proof because they were rebuilt after 1988.

To monitor construction quality, the Institute of Building Quality Control was founded after 1988. An auction selects a company that will audit the construction quality. The auditor bears responsibility along with the construction firm. This worked fine for a while with the help of the Lins Foundation.

The institute is still present but I think the efficiency isn't the same anymore, because I don't see highly specialized auditors being selected as winners. Another issue is an illegal structural modification by residents, and no one is supervising this.

Q: what is being done, from the point of view of civil defense, to raise public awareness?

Our Ministry often publishes information, holds training in schools, kindergartens, offices. Books were published, etc.

Q: are underground passages safe?

Yes. [IF YOU COVER YOUR NOSE]

Q: have the construction standards improved in the past 5 years?

In 2020 we finally approved new standards. Armenia's first standards were drafted in 1994. They were reviewed in 2000, with the latest in 2020. It should have taken 10-15 years, ideally.

Q: some countries use rubber-metal to support buildings, and when the quake strikes, only the ground moves. Do we use this and other technologies?

Yes, we have these technologies. Professor Melkumyan event helped to launch the manufacturing of these products. They are called ռետինամետաղական բարձիկներ (rubber pads). They cost $500 to import of $350 to manufacture locally.

We put 70 pads under buildings with four entrances. They are a godsend. They reduce the shock by 1-2 points. This technology was used in new buildings in Spitak, Vanadzor, Gyumri, and Yerevan. Unfortunately, it's not very common for some reason. That's strange because it doesn't even require relocating the residents. [ask the construction firm near you?]

There are other technologies, too. Flexible floors are installed on top of a building. It moves the building in the opposite direction during an earthquake, thus reducing the amplitude.

https://factor.am/411818.html

Tags: #1988 #earthquake #SeismicRetrofit

not done yet: Armenia announces another round of reservist draft for retraining

The first group consisted of over 2,100 reservists were summoned for August-November.

The second draft will gather another 870 reservists between September 15 to December 15. Privates and Officers with various specialties will train in their fields.

Defense Ministry: considering the fact that we obtained new weapons in recent years, and there are ongoing structural reforms in the military, it is necessary for reservists to retrain so we can accumulate personnel with relevant experience. It is also necessary to have highly professional combat-ready units. This process will be continuous and will involve new reservists in the coming years. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062192.html

army officers accompanied the children of fallen soldiers

The school began yesterday. "The goal of the visit is to strengthen the army-school ties and raise the level of military-patriotic education," said the Defense Ministry. The officers held "lessons of courage" with students.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062226.html

High-Tech Minister Khachatryan about purchase and manufacturing of weapons:

We set a task to help the army armament as much as possible, with new ideas. The problem is, the demand is very high. Very large volumes are needed. We don't have that production capacity today, so we're forced to purchase it from abroad, while helping our manufacturers as much as possible.

We're talking about 5th generation weapons. Our approach is to go one step further than what was considered "modern" yesterday.

[We could have gotten more information about technology but reporters chose to waste 15 minutes arguing with the High-Tech Minister on why Nikol chose not to cause unnecessary provocation by visiting Artsakh on the anniversary of Artsakh independence, and why Armenia should be forever enemies with Turkey.]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062221.html https://factor.am/411982.html

Artsakh Republic celebrates the 30th anniversary of independence

1990: ethnic Armenians are massacred across Soviet Azerbaijan.

1991 April: Soviet Azerbaijan commits ethnic cleansings in Karabakh's Shahumyan province.

1991 September 2: Karabakh assembly members use a 1990 Soviet law to declare the formation of Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

1991 late September: Azerbaijan bombs capital Stepanakert.

1991 December: a national referendum is held in Karabakh, with a 99% vote for independence.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062170.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karabakh_movement

Artsakh MFA Babayan's remarks on the independence day and Aliyev's rhetoric:

Aliyev's statements display terror and Nazism, once again proving that Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. We must thank Aliyev for those words because it exposes their true intentions. Some countries spend colossal sums on intelligence to learn the enemy's intentions, but this guy gives it away for nothing.

I've said this before: Aliyev is the most honest enemy when it comes to hiding intentions. Of course, what he says is in violation of international laws, and it's Nazism, and we must not forget whom we're dealing with.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062171.html

Pashinyan's statement on the anniversary of Artsakh independence:

30 years ago today, the legal authorities representing Artsakh people declared the creation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Artsakh residents used their right to live their life freely. It was reaffirmed by the December 10 referendum.

This was done in accordance with USSR laws. Artsakh people used their legal rights, and any violence to counter that, is a violation of civil and basic human rights. There was such violence immediately after the independence declaration. OSCE Minsk Group began working on a resolution, which unfortunately failed and led to the 2020 war. Despite all the efforts by the opponent, today Artsakh is wounded but it's still standing and has the full support of Armenia and Diaspora.

The right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination is sacred. It cannot be stopped with the use of force. This is why we will insist on every international platform that the Karabakh conflict has not been resolved yet. Minsk Group co-chairs confirmed this.

The conflict is waiting for a comprehensive settlement, which will give a final status to Artsakh, based on people's right to self-determination. I wish the people of Artsakh good health and spiritual endurance.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062179.html

presidents of Artsakh and Armenia made remarks on independence day

Art Pres. Arayik: it is our historical duty to live and create on our Homeland. We've scored victories and losses during our journey to build a state. We bow to those who died protecting the homeland.

Arm Pres. Sarkissian: we once again need national unity in these difficult times. Our priorities should be the defense of Artsakh and the development of its economy. For that, we need a developed and competitive Armenia, aided by the Diaspora.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062177.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062178.html

Artsakh's wartime Human Rights Ombudsman Beglaryan welcomes a child on the Independence Day

Artak Beglaryan was recently appointed as State Minister. His family welcomed the second daughter today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062200.html

bipartisan group of U.S. Congress members stand in solidarity with Artsakh.

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian: We mark Artsakh’s independence with our work, together with our Congressional allies – advancing a targeted array of ANCA-backed legislative initiatives blocking US military aid to Azerbaijan and securing US humanitarian assistance to Artsakh.

https://armenianweekly.com/2021/09/02/us-congressional-leaders-stand-in-solidarity-with-artsakh-on-30th-anniversary-of-independence/

statements from Kremlin on Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan:

We support the activation of the Minsk Group on Karabakh settlement, based on the existing mandate. The co-chairs can help establish trust between Yerevan and Baku and resolve humanitarian issues. The Russian Co-chair is visiting the region. He has already visited Baku and will soon hold meetings in Yerevan.

Russia is ready to promote closer Armenia-Turkey relations. We have taken note of the recent positive signals between Armenia and Turkey. We have always supported closer relations between the two. Russia took a direct part in the previous attempts. We helped with the signing of Zurich Protocols in 2009 [soccer dad]. They chose not to implement them but Russia is ready to try again.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062247.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062246.html

UK ambassador's remarks regarding aid for demining and social programs:

We're proud to be the first international partner after the war to issue a ֏660M aid for clearing explosives. Right now we're working with the UN to provide psychological and economic support to residents of Syunik, Vayots Dzor, and Gegharkunik, who suffered from war.

We pledge another ֏330M to remove landmines and explosives in Nagorno Karabakh and its surrounding territories. The UK wants to fight against landmines around the world. This is why we support the Ottawa Convention against anti-personnel mines. We urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to sign it to prevent the spread of more mines.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062185.html

VIDEO: Shushi Carpet Museum turns 10

160 carpets were evacuated from the city during the war, under the flashlight at night. The oldest has a 350-year history. They are searching for a new facility in Yerevan.

https://youtu.be/x1rFKUYk_5k?t=9

Pope opens an embassy in Yerevan

Archbishop José Bettencourt, who represents the Vatican in Georgia and Armenia, has announced the opening of Apostolic Nunciature in Yerevan's Northern Avenue.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062207.html https://twitter.com/NunciatureGeo/status/1433298305551900672

Gyumri mayoral elections will be held on October 17

HHK has nominated Artyom Ghukasyan, the brother of controversial ex-mayor Vardan Ghukasyan, who is a defendant in a case involving large-scale embezzlement in the city during his administration.

The ruling QP will likely nominate Shirak governor Hovhannes Harutyunyan. Parties have ten days to nominate.

https://factor.am/412310.html

wife pours gasoline and sets husband on fire for cheating

Happened last week in Goris while the husband was sitting in a cafe. He ran to a nearby carwash to put out the fire.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220046

how much will students pay for their books?

1-4 graders, or those living near borders, will get them for free. The 5-12 graders will pay an annual $0.5-$1 fee.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062215.html

COVID stats

6394 tested. 636 infected. 433 healed. 19 deaths. 9625 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062186.html

the latest Russian roulette news

Healthcare Ministry: 1600 beds (200 free). 650 serious. 126 critical. 51 are connected to a lung vent. A 20-year-old patient has died. An 18-year-old is in a critical state. Delta strain does not care if you are young.

294,000 vaccinations. We're witnessing increased demand. The daily doses have surpassed 6k. That's encouraging.

If only 10% of residents said they intended to get vaccinated in March, today that number has risen to 40%.

Right now we're hospitalizing those who need it. There are no lines, but the healthcare system is under immense stress, an expected rise in other hospitalizations due to the Autumn season.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062195.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220043

Confirmed: the newly imported refrigerators will allow Armenia to purchase Pfizer-like vaccines

Healthcare Minister Avanesyan confirmed that the 30 special fridges imported last week, combined with other tech they imported in recent months, will allow for the safe storage of the types of vaccines that have stricter "storage chain" requirements. There are no specific deadlines on when and what vaccine will be imported, yet.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062220.html https://factor.am/411985.html

Polls: 61% of Armenians support Universal Healthcare

As we learned earlier, the government has been gradually making some health services free, with the eventual goal being the implementation of Universal Healthcare at the cost of a yet-to-be-determined tax hike.

73% are ready to pay an additional 2-6% from their paycheck.

9% do not want to pay extra from the paycheck.

13% don't know.

Survey by a health center at the American University of Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062219.html

doctors were dispatched to Defense Ministry

... to receive awards for their service during the 2020 war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062257.html

Supreme Court declines Justice Ministry's petition to discipline a judge

Judge Arman Hovhannisyan presided over a trial relating to the arrest and deportation of a suspect to Georgia. The Justice Ministry found his conduct unethical and filed a complaint with the Supreme Court (not Constitutional Court).

Today the Supremes sided with the "defendant" judge, after finding that the Ministry violated rules while filing the complaint.

https://factor.am/412119.html https://hetq.am/hy/article/131854 https://factor.am/412122.html

update: authorities clear the former governor of Artsakh's Karvachar governor in a vehicle embezzlement case

Earlier we learned that the police were looking for the ex-governor for questioning, after discovering two abandoned aid vehicles in Armenia that were believed to have been embezzled from Artsakh. The investigation ruled out the embezzlement theory.

https://armlur.am/1131850/ https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/p6blns/news_aug172021_armenian_forces_return_fire_in

interview with the leaders and participants of iGorts program

It invites experts from Diaspora to help govern Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062217.html

what is being done to help farmers/buyers during the mass grape harvest/sales season?

Economy Minister Kerobyan: the length of the loan for grape procurement is now 3 years, up from 1. The grace period is extended from 3 months to 1 year. This will give peace of mind and enable larger harvests. Farmers will be paid quicker, while large-scale buyers will maximize their export potential. We hold intense consultations with grape growers and buyers

Overall, agriculture is doing very well this year. The volume has already surpassed last year's total number. We expect the year to end with 200k tons, compared to 145k last year.

Deputy Premier Suren Papikyan: we must not have any grape harvest issues this year. There should not be any justified road closures by farmers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062204.html https://youtu.be/GSvlDBIyJv4

what is being done to reduce water waste in Ararat valley springs?

USAID has been helping the government to manage underground artesian water resources. The final conference was held. The parties discussed the achievements and lessons of the past six years of work.

Due to the depletion of water resources, around 30 settlements lack drinking and irrigation water in Ararat plain. The USAID implemented 17 programs to reduce water and energy use in settlements, and in the fish breeding industry. [The latter is a known major culprit and Pashinyan has repeatedly complained about water waste.]

Eleven settlements in the Ararat plain were able to save 13,000,000 m^3 water annually and 1380 MWh electricity thanks to the program.

USAID rep.: the program has given 32,000 residents access to safe and reliable water sources. These settlements are the food producers of Armenia. The program has achieved impressive results: reforms in the information system of State Water Cadastre, 3D modeling of the artesian basin, an atlas of Ararat valley, new rules for authorizing water use. //

They calculated the volume of water that can be drained without harming its ability to recover the capacity. The government can use this information to make relevant legislative amendments.

In 2019, USAID helped the Nature Ministry to draft a bill to better regulate water usage. This month, the government will discuss the rivers' self-cleaning abilities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062209.html

Tags: #artesian #AraratPlain #water

Visualizing the Highest-Paid Athletes in 2021

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/highest-paid-athletes-2021/

arts & music news

Legendary conductor Alexander Spendaryan's house-museum is inviting you to Gyumri on September 4-5 to enjoy the "Alexander Spendarian 150" festival, where you will be greeted by museum staff, watch a documentary film, enjoy music by conservatory students and famous people.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062205.html

The man, the myth, the legend. Tigran Mansuryan's music will be performed by the symphony orchestra in Hamalir on September 10.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062231.html

Yerevan Kamerayin and Paronyan theaters will receive a few million drams from the government to revamp their equipment to allow for open-air concerts in September. "The open-air theater square will become one of the favorite places of Yerevan residents and guests of the capital, and will turn into a tradition."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062229.html

the renovated Metsamor Nuclear Plant will resume operations in exactly one month

If things go according to schedule. So far that appears to be the case.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062156.html

Armenia's U21 soccer team defeats the Faroe Islands

European Championship qualifying matches. The next match is on Sept. 7 against Ukraine.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062251.html https://global.espn.com/football/match/_/gameId/601311

Aimchess US Rapid chess: Aronian and Magnus Carlsen play a 2:2 tie

The second round of four games will be played tomorrow to decide the winner, who will proceed to the final.

https://factor.am/412330.html

Note

Our volunteer Russian translator Impossible-Ad- will be on a working trip to Armenia, so don't expect translations for now.

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

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/pgqoax/news_sep22021_spitak_earthquake_of_1988_the_cost/

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