This is your 18-minute Tuesday
digest in 4484 words.
anti-corruption: IRS uncovers "unprecedented" $31 million in Zangezur copper theft involving shell companies in UAE IRS reports:
In 2017-2019, the former general director of Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine
used foreign entities to organize a tax evasion scheme. The company underreported taxes to evade paying ֏15 billion.
The ex-director signed bogus copper delivery contracts with shell companies located in the United Arab Emirates that weren't conducting any other business. The bogus contracts claimed the copper was sold at a low value. In reality, they sold the copper at a high price to other buyers.
The real buyers then transferred the money to the accounts owned by the shell firms in UAE. Part of the funds was then transferred to Zangezur Combine, while the majority was not.
Most of the wealth was transferred to foreign companies, thus depriving the Republic of Armenia of its tax revenues. The ex-director has been charged with crimes.
֏15 billion has been recovered. It is noteworthy that the funds were confiscated from the ex-director's personal account and not the copper combine. // [Armenia nationalizing another 15% of Zangezur shares in 3, 2, 1...] https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076833.html
army Major charged with abandoning recruits in Hadrut and deserting during 2020 war Prosecutors report:
Major I.V., the commander of a battalion consisting of conscripts and low-ranking officers, failed to carry out his duties during the October 10 battles on the hill Khurhat near Hadrut.
As a result of his inaction to save his own life, several soldiers were killed and captured. In addition to that, being the commander of conscripts, he deserted the positions during the battle on Khurhat. // https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076771.html
Tags: #2020war #commander #HadrutBattles
VIDEO: 60-year-old woman gives birth to a boy after losing son in 2020 war
Gevorg and Gohar lost their son Garik during the war. They applied for assistance from the reproductive health center. She gave birth to a son. They named him after elder brother Garik. https://youtu.be/as9iF3noogg?t=6 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076824.html
the army held exercises in winter conditions
Conceal, endure, coordinate. https://factor.am/481813.html
today in history
1565: Rio De Janeior is founded
1815: Napoleon ends his vacation and returns to France
1992: Bosnia and Herzegovina declares independence
1994: singer Justin Bieber is born
1995: privatization begins in Armenia
1998: movie Titanic becomes the first to earn $1B https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076750.html https://2001-2009.state.gov/p/eurls/o13517.htm
Armenia has a high traffic fatality
According to World Bank's 2020 report
, Armenia had the second-highest traffic fatality in Europe, per 100,000 population. Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, ..., Sweden.
A meeting was organized in Armenia to discuss the issue. Host:
Compared to Eastern Partnership and EU countries, the fatality was higher by 30% and 64% respectively. Why do we have more road incidents? Guests:
1) Armenia has improved how it records incidents. The data from some of the other countries is incomplete. There are ongoing international efforts in the region to standardize data platform mechanisms.
2) Armenian pedestrians in Yerevan still haven't learned how to cross the street. They jaywalk in dangerous areas just to save a few meters of walking distance. They rely on God and the driver.
3) Drivers are not careful and often speed. Most deaths in Yerevan are in Miasnikyan and Arshakunyats avenues, likely due to speeding. Many drivers ignore seatbelts and die.
4) Most incidents are a result of drivers not yielding to each other.
Continue: https://youtu.be/nU8wp42jB6c https://factor.am/481525.html https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2021/05/18/armenia-s-bold-new-step-improving-road-safety-for-even-the-youngest-armenians
government plans to increase the number of centers of Armenian studies abroad Education Ministry:
There are programs in 11 universities of 9 countries aimed at promoting our language, culture, research cooperation, etc. 3 of them were created last year, with another 2 to open soon in Germany and Argentina.
We are planning to expand the list of universities teaching the Armenian language. These efforts will also help counter the anti-Armenian propaganda in the world. // https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1076762.html
Parliament discussed several proposals
HD proposed a bill about the indexation of pensions. They believe the pensions for seniors and soldiers must increase automatically, starting next January, in line with the inflation. The pension increase enacted recently applies only to minimum pensions, complained HD.
QP rejected it, saying the approval of this bill will create a conflict of laws relating to another existing law. Other reasons
HD proposed another bill to officially declare April 10 as a Maragha Massacre Remembrance Day. QP complained about the proposal, saying every day is becoming a "mourning day" in Armenia. A QP MP suggested choosing one day and declaring it as an official remembrance day for multiple massacres. QP abstained. The bill failed. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076779.html
HD proposed a special session to give a public response to Azerbaijan and Turkey signing an alliance agreement in Shuhi. HD said that the ruling party's refusal to give a public response would be the equivalent of serving the enemy.
QP urged HP to tone down the rhetoric. "It's a big question who is actually serving the interests of the enemy." The ruling party has adopted the policy of not making what they believe to be "unnecessary" noise. They abstained. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076782.html Ruling MPs:
All these bills are a show to claim you're busy working. The bills weren't properly deliberated in specialized commissions to address problems before being brought to the floor. Opposition MPs:
You're murdering our bills in the embryonic state without giving it a chance to proceed. Since when are discussions in parliamentary commissions better than discussions on the floor? https://factor.am/481565.html https://factor.am/481570.html https://factor.am/481574.html
tax revenues are increasing, and so are capital expenditures Economy Minister Khachatryan:
In the first 50 days of this year, the IRS has already collected +18% YoY. This is in line with our expectations of a 7% economic growth rate for this year. Whether it'll happen or not also depends on external events.
The private sector plays a crucial role in economic growth, but so does the state. We spend ֏2T annually. Part of it goes towards investments that create value in the economy (roads & infrastructure).
For example, new reservoirs help develop agriculture. The quicker we organize the tender and articulate our needs, the more efficiently the work is done.
This year we plan to spend 60% more on capital investments. It's over $700M (֏350B), or 4.5% of GDP. This is a significant increase. //
Full intnerview: https://youtu.be/1GwOd3uP4y4 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076758.html
Pashinyan hosted Canada's special EU envoy Parliament President Arshakyan:
Close cooperation with the EU is of special importance for Armenia. We should utilize the full potential of the CEPA agreement.
We appreciate Canada's efforts to secure a ceasefire in 2020 and for your decision to suspend deliveries of military components to Turkey. I hope our international partners will respond appropriately to the fact that our POWs are still in jail, so the whole region can proceed with a peace agenda. //
Envoy Stéphane Dion spoke about the friendly relations between AM-CA and the use of official "friendship groups" to strengthen the ties. Pashinyan:
We're grateful to Premier Trudeau for supporting our democratic reforms. Despite the post-2022 struggles, we continue to strengthen the institutes, as evidenced by the assessments of reputable international organizations. Stéphane Dion:
Greetings from Trudeau. We support the programs in Armenia. I came to discuss strategic topics. Pashinyan:
Send your men to build our roads, reservoirs, and solar farms. Stéphane Dion:
Interesting. I'll convey it to Trudeau. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076767.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1076809.html
General Samvel Babayan scolds Russia for "backstabbing" Armenia in 2020, analyzes the Ukraine war, USSR 2.0, Azerbaijan delivering gas to Armenia, and Karabakh conflict "We all have to make a choice soon" This interview was taken on early Monday. Things might have changed on the ground since then. Reporter:
What's happening in Ukraine? Babayan:
Russia had formulated its expectations in the international arena. The West didn't take it seriously and didn't seriously expect Russia to attack. Russia will achieve its goal, regardless of its losses.
Some people believe the Russian invasion has stalled and is failing. In reality, they rushed in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia directions. They should have brought the "desant" today, not 4 days ago. The reason is that their Donbas front is advancing too slowly. They were held back for 2 days because of landmines and "acting carefully not to harm civilians". This idle period gave a false impression that the attack on Kyiv is failing.
If the Donbas front takes Mariupol today [Monday night], Russian troops will proceed to attack in all directions soon after, and the Ukrainian forces will begin to suffer great losses. Reporter:
There is a notion that Putin is failing that's why he ordered to escalate it by bringing the nuclear forces to high alert. Babayan:
I disagree. The West went from discussing purely economic sanctions to openly displaying impudent behavior by crossing a line. Putin gave the order to nuclear forces, to which the US responded by saying "we never threatened you". By doing so, Russia also sent the message that the economic sanctions, in their existing shape and form, are also a red line for them. Reporter:
Ukraine is making demands for Russians to withdraw. Babayan:
Russia will remove Zelensky by March 9 and install his "Yanukovich". The Russian forces will then leave. Russia will achieve its goal with the West. If tomorrow they place nukes in Belarus... Reporter:
... is there a real threat of nuclear escalation? Babayan:
Russia has retreated a lot in all these years, especially economically and in other areas. If you want to be a superpower you must have a market with at least 300,000,000 consumers. For Russia, it's the ex-USSR territories.
People panic about "Russia is about to launch the Soviet Union" and so on, but Russia's goal is not to repeat USSR - they want the market. Ukraine can't sell its products to the EU today, but if it joins the Russian Union, it could become a serious player there. This is what Russia is trying to solve.
Second. Russia wants to neutralize every threat coming from Europe. Will they succeed? I don't know. But I do know that Russia won't retreat and I won't rule out that they could place nukes in Venezuela, Cuba, and elsewhere in South America, just 3 minutes from the US. Reporter:
But the US is not backing down. They are supplying weapons to Ukraine. Babayan:
They will back down. The quantity of arms is nothing. Russia can handle it. Russian forces near Kyiv have so far been sitting idle. They haven't even attacked. They were waiting for the slow Donetsk front to advance. Reporter:
Will Russia withstand economically? Babayan:
Sanctions go both ways. Now Russia is closing the air for Western airlines. These sanctions won't last long. They will eventually come to an agreement. Reporter:
Did the West underestimate Russia and thought they wouldn't attack? Babayan:
Until recently the pro-Western circles were saying Russia will collapse any moment now. That is an incorrect calculation. The Russian economy can withstand these shocks. Yes, the ruble will devalue, but Russia hasn't played its cards yet. Energy resources, various economic areas, placement of weapons. I'm confident that Russia will succeed in this conflict. Reporter:
How does this affect South Caucasus and our neighbors? Babayan:
Turkey and Azerbaijan have been concerned for 3 days now. They unsuccessfully negotiated to become mediators. The Azerbaijani government, which usually bans even the smallest gatherings, has allowed people to protest in support of Ukraine.
Azerbaijan and Turkey understand that after Ukraine, it will be the Caucasus turn. Once the issues in the Caucasus are regulated, Central Asia will follow the suit very quickly.
The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan will soon have to decide which path they choose. Option A.
Armenia normalizes relations with TAZ. Azerbaijan recognizes Karabakh's independence. Karabakh can be a protectorate by Armenia and Azerbaijan, with independence. Russia and Turkey had done something similar with Nakhijevan in the past. With the conflict resolved, economic and road connections resume. Azerbaijan delivers gas to Armenia. Option B.
Azerbaijan doesn't recognize free Karabakh and we both join Russia's Union. Azerbaijan loses part of its sovereignty for not recognizing free Karabakh. Reporter:
Azerbaijan is maneuvring. They signed a 43-point agreement with Russia. Babayan:
The 11th paragraph is about the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Russia's refusal to get involved in conflicts. The rest is economic in nature. It's a bribe attempt. I do a $7 billion economy with you (Baku metro, replacement of railways, etc.) and in return, you accept my territorial integrity.
Azerbaijan thinks they are clever and have successfully swindled Russia lol. But these Ukrainian developments are just the beginning. Russia needs the whole market. Today it's in Turkey's hands via Georgia-Azerbaijan-Central Asia. Aliyev recently proposed the creation of AZ-TR-RU alliance, but Russia won't agree. Azerbaijan will have to choose between Turkey and Russia. Their choice will decide what happens in the South Caucasus. Reporter:
What about Turkey? Babayan:
They don't want Turkey in the West, so Turkey is trying to play with the 3rd world countries, but Russia is blocking them here. The whole world is playing these economic games today. Turkey won't let Azerbaijan join Russia, they signed the Shushi Agreement recently. At the same time, Russia won't back down either. Reporter:
Can you say again what the options are for Armenia and Azerbaijan? Babayan:
Option A) Armenia normalizes relations with TAZ and resolves the Karabakh conflict without Russia. Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan then move forward to cooperate with Europe. Armenia stops being a Russian buffer in South Caucasus. All communications open. [Robert Kocharyan believes this is the path Pashinyan has chosen. He wants Option B instead.]
Option B) Armenia joins the Russian Union and resolves the Karabakh conflict with the same outcome, but now as part of the Russian Union. Reporter:
What will Pashinyan choose? Babayan:
I don't know. Reporter:
What should he choose? Babayan:
It depends on which option will make it easier to resolve the conflict. I disagree with Alexander Lukashenko about Armenia not having a choice. Think about yourself, Alexander. I think Armenia can hold dialogue with Turkey and Azerbaijan and resolve the conflict. We need to understand that we have options. It's another issue whether we want to stab Russia in the back as they did to us. [oooooofff kalibr is headed towards Babayan's dacha in 3, 2, 1, ...]
We must sit down with Russia and discuss our partnership roadmap to understand what Armenia must do, and what Russia must do. Reporter:
Is Armenia in the position to "negotiate" with Russia, considering our dependence? Babayan:
I don't get why people always minimize Armenia like that. What dependence [after the conflict is resolved]? The gas price? Azerbaijan delivers gas to Georgia. Of course they would be willing to sell gas to Armenia for a great price if the conflict is resolved. This is a serious topic. Is Armenia ready to give up on the $1B Russian market? If we lose Russia, what will be the alternative market? We need to analyze this. Reporter:
What about our border security? Babayan:
Sadly we're in front of cameras so I can't use every word. Russia hasn't been giving us weapons for a very long time now - before and after the war. This is why we must sit down and discuss with Russia what our relations are. If this is how Russia treats us, we will [choose Europe]. Don't scare us with "Turks". We will calculate which path to choose.
Does it matter whose [bitch we are], if we are going to be one anyway? Why is Russia stabbing us in the back if we are allies?
After the Ukraine war, a lot will depend on Armenia's direction choice in the South Caucasus. We must calculate the positives and negatives associated with Russian Union. Would the Western sanctions apply to us if we joined it?
Russians must give up on the idea that Armenia has no choice. We don't necessarily have to choose you. At the same time, we are not backstabbers like you. Let's sit down and discuss our relations. If we're going to be your vassals in your Union, then we don't need that. // https://youtu.be/KZ3qxnhE51Q
Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues
A several-mile-long Russian convoy was seen heading from north to Kyiv on Monday. Hundreds of tanks, mobile artillery, fuel tankers.
Google disabled its live traffic feature in Ukraine amid reports that it was being used by Russians and Ukrainians for tracking and killing each other. 1 2
... young Russian men are asked to visit nearby military draft centers Reporter:
There are reports that the military has been summoning young men to vayenkomats in Russia in various cities. The draft letters we've seen often lack legal terminology and official stamps, however. It's often done through a phone call. We don't know why the men are being summoned. It could be for updating their data, registering them as reservists, preparing them for a service, etc. They could also be fakes. // 1
... $125 oil could push the U.S. into a recession
Inflation is now sitting at a four-decade high of 7.5%. While the Federal Reserve Bank has been focused for months on curbing a surge in inflation, it had not factored in the fallout from a major war. Analysts expected the Fed to hike the rates in March; however, the Ukraine crisis may force them to act even more aggressively.
Sanctions on Russian energy could send oil prices above $125 per barrel, and if it's sustained, it would stall economic growth and lead to rising unemployment in the U.S. 1
... Ukraine invasion hit the American drivers hard
The fuel price jumps to a national average of $3.61 a gallon - up almost a dollar on last year, following the invasion. Californians are paying $4.8 on average. 1
... Russia's economy is poised to plunge into recession: JPMorgan bank JPMorgan:
Preliminary estimate suggests that Russia's economy will contract 20% quarter over quarter, and for the year around 3.5%. But the margin of error is incredibly high and could be worse. The growing political and economic isolation will curtail Russia’s growth potential in years to come. 1
... Russian banks see massive deposit outflows amid sanctions
Russian government-owned Sberbank's European subsidiaries are failing. Its Croatian, Slovenian, Austria, and other branches, with $15.3B assets, suffered a rapid deposit outflow in recent days and likely won't be able to pay its debts.
Daily €400-€1000 withdrawal limits were imposed for account holders.
Sberbank's shares fell 72%. [Mark Zuckerberg approves this message.] 1 2 3 4
... Russian central bank scrambles to prop up ruble amid sharp devaluation on Monday
Central Bank doubled the interest rate to 20%, the highest in decades. It also forced major exporting companies, including energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, to sell the vast majority of their foreign currency to buy rubles to prop up the currency.
... Moscow suspends stock trading until March 5
Russia's central bank has shut down the country's stock exchange for the week as the ruble plummets. Russia said it would resume buying gold on Monday. 1
... Some Armenians are already returning from Russia amid economic hardships
Just as in the 2014 crisis, Moscovites rushed to shopping malls to purchase goods with their ruble, fearing that tomorrow it won't be worth a lot.
An owner of an advertising company with hundreds of workers decided to announce to his employees that he is moving to Armenia with his wife and children. "I’m going to tell [workers] that we are going into a crisis that we have never experienced before. It’s like flying on a plane with no engines or the engines are on fire."
His ad company was booming until this January by handling ad contracts for Pepsi and Volkswagen. 1
... ruble devaluation affects Armenian exports Central Bank of Armenia:
Ruble's devaluation will have a short-term negative impact on exports for sure. The long-term depends on the exporter's flexibility, inflation in Russia, and other things. The exporters will begin to look for alternative markets. 1
... how will ruble's devaluation impact the remittances sent to Armenia? Central Bank of Armenia:
Armenia has gone through a similar crisis multiple times, but the difference is that today Armenia is less dependent on remittances, while the share of remittances from Russia is significantly smaller. The smaller remittances will reduce internal consumption/demand but the impact won't be too heavy. 1
... the West is using the nuclear bomb in the world of global finance, but will it work?
Targeting the reserves held by Russia’s central bank is likely the most powerful weapon in the West’s financial arsenal. Russia stockpiled $630B as a "rainy day fund" to bypass sanctions, but most of it is under a threat, too.
The sanctions will affect 40% of Russia's reserves that were held in North America and Europe, per June 2021 calculation, but it's possible that Russia might already have drawn down a substantial amount of its European reserves since June.
China holds another 14% that is unaffected. If Beijing chooses to support Russia, that would substantially diminish the impact of the sanctions. 1
... Russia doubles down on "Antifa" rhetoric MOD Shoygu:
The first international anti-fascist congress will take place during the Army-2022 conference in August. The congress aims to unite the international efforts against nazism and neo-nazism. We've invited officials and businesses from 129 countries. 1
... Putin grew up hearing stories about German atrocities and Russian bravery. He is now producing similar stories, but casting himself in the role of Hitler: Yuval Noah Harari
Harari believes Putin will conquer Ukraine but fail to subjugate the people. "Each Russian tank destroyed and each Russian soldier killed increases the Ukrainians’ courage to resist." 1
... US hints at war-crime tribunal after Ukraine accuses Russia of genocide
Ukraine filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice accusing Russia of targeting civilians. The US ambassador to the UN said she wouldn’t rule out supporting a war-crimes tribunal for Vladimir Putin. 1
... International Court of Justice prosecutors will investigate possible war crimes in Ukraine Karim Khan:
Although Ukraine isn't a member of the ICC, it has awarded jurisdiction to the court. There are grounds to open an investigation. We'll investigate the evidence. 1
... ex-president Medvedev's warning/threat Dmitri Medvedev:
"Today, some French minister has said that they declared an economic war on Russia. Watch your tongue, gentlemen! And don’t forget that in human history, economic wars quite often turned into real ones." 1
... Russia vows to continue military operations "until the goals are achieved" MOD Shoygu:
The main thing for us is the protection of the Russian Federation from a military threat that was created by the West. They are trying to use Ukrainian people against us. We aren't invading Ukrainian territories. Everything is being done to ensure the safety of civilians
. // 1
... what exactly did Putin's "nuclear deterrence" order mean?
The U.S. uses the DEFCON level 1-5 system to measure security threat, with #1 being the highest, because 1 > 5 obviously. Cuban crisis was #2.
Russia understands mathematics better. It uses a 4-level system in which 4 > 1, according to a Twitter expert. Therefore, Russia would undoubtedly win the nuclear war. Russia is currently at #2 on its scale after Putin's order. 1 2
... Ukraine's ambassador to Armenia gives advice to Vladimir Putin Avtonomov:
If Putin has chosen suicide, there is no need to press the red button for that. There was a dude in 1945 who sat in a bunker and ended his life, after thinking he was safe. [The word "bunker" is a pun in the Russian-speaking world. Even before the war, Putin's critics have been pointing out his paranoid post-Covid self-isolation and the meetings around very-very long tables]
. Only psychologists can analyze Putin. When you're in charge for 22 years, your subordinates tell you what you want to hear. Just because part of [eastern city] Kharkiv residents speak Russian, that doesn't mean they won't defend themselves against your tanks. Complete insanity. // 1
... you're more likely to die from hunger than from a nuclear bomb
Ukraine and Russia produce around a third of wheat in the world. Ukrainian port closure threatens the global crop supply. Wheat surged 9% in markets on Sunday.
The Middle East and North Africa are facing [Holodomor, if it continues like this]. They might have to buy the grains all the way from Australia. Australian wheat growers have been told prices could surge 50% in coming months. 1 2 3
... Ukrainian ambassador thanked Armenia again, this time for the vote in Geneva
Denis Avtonomov had earlier thanked Armenia for not joining the list of coutries that recognized the independence of Donbas (Donetsk + Luhansk). Avtonomov today:
Armenia has not publicly declared its stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Neverthless, during the UN Human Rights Council vote in Geneva [to launch an emergency debate regarding the invasion], Armenia was one of 13 countries that Abstained. Only China, Venezuela, Cuba and Eritrea voted in favor of Russia. This is the first time in years that Armenia is not supporting Russia's position. This is a good signal. We hope this position will continue. 1 2
... Armenia wants to see the RU-UA conflict resolved through negotiations: MP Ruling party MP:
We're deeply concerned and able to emphasize because we've gone through a war. We support a peaceful resolution. It's outside of our control. We're assessing the risks in our region. 1
... Russia is trying to bring back its tourists stranded abroad amid flight sanctions
The EU and several other states have blocked air travel for Russia. Russia's aviation agency advised its stranded citizens to use foreign airlines to land in countries that don't have sanctions, as a transit route. Armenia is listed as one of them. 1
... miscellaneous sanctions & stuff
Major Western moviemakers will not display their movies in Russian theaters.
Real estate tycoon Alexander Ponomarenko, the co-owner of Sheremetevo, one of the largest international airports in Russia, is stepping down as the board chairman after finding himself on the EU's blacklist.
Russia cannot host the men's volleyball world championship in August.
International Taekwondo Organization revokes Putin's black belt in a devastating blow to the strongman's tough image.
Nordic countries and some U.S. states suspend the sale of Russian alcohol.
Cannes Film Festival won't accept delegations linked to the Russian government during May 17 event.
The largest private American delivery companies UPS and FedEx suspend all deliveries into Russia.
General Motors suspends vehicle exports to Russia. "Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine."
Visa and Mastercard disconnect Russian financial institutions.
S&P cuts Russia's rating to junk, Moody's issued a junk warning. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Yesterday's news in English
News archive: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports
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