Wednesday, 07 December 2022

W Weekly Update

20-27 August

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Weekly update


27 August
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Mishustin have touted a sharp increase in Russian-Armenian trade which reached a record high of more than $1.6 billion in the first half of this year. According to meeting with Pashinian on Thursday, Mishustin said it soared by 42 percent despite the Western economic sanctions against Russia. “These are record indicators in our mutual trade,” Mishustin said during the talks held in Kyrgyzstan on the sidelines of a meeting of prime ministers of Eurasian Economic Union member states. Armenian government data shows an even sharper rise in bilateral trade: 50 percent. According to it, Russia accounted for almost one-third of Armenia’s first-half foreign trade, solidifying its status as the South Caucasus country’s number one trading partner. Armenia was initially expected to be hit hard by the barrage of sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other Western powers following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian-Armenian trade fell in March but recovered in the following months as the Russian economy proved more resilient than expected.


26 August
A new draft law developed by the Armenian Ministry of Defense has been published and already generated much discussion. In line with one provision of the law, according to which a conscript will have to serve in the army for only four and a half months if he pays 24 million drams (almost $60 thousand) to the state budget, has come under scrutiny. The draft law has not yet been passed and it is possible that changes will yet be made, as it is being criticized harshly not only by the opposition, but also various experts. At the same time, some Armenians find it totally in order, as it would shield the children of the wealthy from military service. The program of the Government of Armenia for 2021-2026 provides for the creation of a legislative framework for the gradual reduction of the period of compulsory military service. According to the proposal of the Ministry of Defense, after the completion of four and a half months of basic training, those called up for compulsory military service will be given the opportunity of early release. The only condition is the payment of 24,000,000 drams to the state budget.


25 August
The Yerevan Municipality wants to close the Surmalu Market, where an explosion killed sixteen and wounded dozens on August 14, to allow inspectors to verify that fire safety violations uncovered in 2021 can be eliminated. According to the news comes ten days after the explosion, allegedly caused by a fire at the market that set off a fireworks warehouse there, demolished large sections of the market. Yerevan Municipality Prosecutor Sevak Hovhannisyan, in a statement released today, writes that he has petitioned the Fire and Technical Safety Inspection Authority (FTSIA), the state agency that inspected the market in the spring of 2021 and found sixteen fire and other safety violations, to visit the market and see that all existing violations are removed before the market can reopen. Hovhannisyan writes that the FTSIA also found some store owners were selling fireworks. Following the August 14 blast, the FTSIA said it never checked to see if the violations were fixed because it was “overworked.” On August 16, Armenian Minister of Emergency Situations Armen Pambukhchyan claimed that four tons of explosive materials were stored at the market operated by Yerevan Canning Factory CJSC. The question to be asked is when, and how, did Pambukchyan find out that four tons of explosives were stored at the market.


24 August
Rescue teams managed to extract 10 survivors and 16 dead during the ten-day operations. But they failed to find the last person still listed as missing following the explosion that partly demolished the sprawling Surmalu market. According to the deadly explosion and subsequent fire reportedly occurred in a market area where fireworks and other pyrotechnics were stored. It is still not clear what caused it. Law-enforcement authorities were quick to launch a criminal investigation into the blast. But they have not arrested or charged anyone so far. The market’s owner, Razmik Zakharian, has still not been questioned by investigators. Fire inspectors said on August 17 that they had identified two dozen violations at Surmalu and given the market administration until the end of 2021 to comply with city-planning norms and fire-safety rules. They admitted that no follow-up inspection was carried out there.


23 August
The organizer of the rally in Yerevan's Republic Square, former Armenian Ambassador to Poland and former head of the Constitutional Court Office Edgar Ghazaryan, who went to the Armenian Government building, failed to meet with Prime Minister Pashinyan. According to a rally was taking place in Yerevan's Republic Square demanding the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. "It's not office hours and the security service said that there is no responsible person who could organize a reception or answer questions. I urge you to wait for an official response to the letter," the police officers explained.


22 August
Edvard Margarian, a 36-year-old resident of the town of Masis, reportedly threw a hand grenade and fired two gunshots after entering the local municipality building on Friday night for still unclear reasons. In line with law-enforcement authorities say Margarian shot and killed himself inside the office of Masis Mayor Davit Hambardzumian early on Saturday as police officers tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with him. Members of Margarian’s family suspect, however, that he was killed. According to the Investigative Committee, just hours before bursting into the mayor’s office Margarian phoned a police station in the small community about 20 kilometers south of Yerevan to warn that the dispute could leave him and a dozen other people dead. The law-enforcement agency has released no other details of the call. Nor has it shed light on the gunman’s problems with the municipal administration.


21 August
All the residents have left the Nerkin Sus community; several families still stay in Berdzor and Akhavno, the head of the Kashatag District has informed. According to Local residents complain that they were given little time to find new housing and move everything they had acquired over more than 20 years. The administration of the Kashatag District of Nagorno-Karabakh has reported that residents of Berdzor and the village of Akhavno must leave their houses by August 20. According to the Mayor of Berdzor, on August 18, about 70 people stay in the town. All the Akhavno villagers decided to leave; two of them burned their houses down, the head of the village has informed. The houses built during the time when these dwelling settlements were not controlled by Azerbaijan should be demolished, Imdad Alizade, a journalist, believes.


20 August
The Armenian nation is at the risk of yet another genocide at the hands of Muslim Turks and Azeris. In line with on August 17, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention issued a "Red Flag Alert" warning of a possible genocide by the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey against the Armenian population. The statement came after Azerbaijan ordered the evacuation of the Armenian people of the towns of Berdzor and Aghavno by August 25. “We call on all international and state bodies to monitor Turkey and Azerbaijan for genocidal ideology and practices, to place pressure on Turkey and Azerbaijan to cease their genocidal threats against the Armenian people, and to reinforce the security of Armenians and the Armenian identity in the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, and in Diaspora communities worldwide.” The Institute's warning must be taken seriously. During the past two years, Azerbaijan, and its ally, Turkey, murdered, tortured, and forcibly displaced Christian Armenians in the Armenian Republic of Artsakh. Artsakh is one of the provinces of historical Armenia and has retained an ethnic Armenian.



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