Friday, 4 August 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Snipers target Wheat field.

Lragir, Armenia
July 31 2017
Azerbaijani Snipers Target Wheat Fields 

The farmers in the village of Voskevan, Tavush region, have not been able to harvest wheat, the head of village administration Seryozha Alexanyan told . The Azerbaijani side targets wheat fields. On July 28 the Azerbaijani side fired at the combine harvester. Fortunately, the operator of the harvester Hambik Grigoryan was able to hide in the bushes. 

“We stopped harvesting two days ago. About 2 hectares of land is left, we have harvested the rest. We left that area for the end because it is the most dangerous area,” he said. 

The Azerbaijani side continued to fire on July 30, between 11 am and 1 pm. 

The head of village administration says since the installation of video surveillance equipment the enemy has replaced the attacks by fire at the civilians. 

In another border village, in Chinari community, the villagers have been unable to harvest about 3 hectares of wheat fields. And they did most part of the harvest at night because they are afraid of snipers. 

In Koti village, the enemy has recently fired at the combine harvester. The gunfire also set a wheat field on fire, the mayor of Koti village informed. 

The heads of Barekamavan, Baghanis, Aygepar villages in Tavush region informed us that there has been no firing recently. 

Lragir, Armenia
July 31 2017
Azerbaijan Lost One of Its Best Snipers 

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan informs that the serviceman of the Azerbaijani army Lieutenant Hussein Zakir oglu Akberli was killed by fire from the Armenian side. 

The Azerbaijani MoD accuses the Armenian armed forces of opening fire in the night of July 30 in the direction of the Azerbaijani villages of Tovuz and Qazakh regions bordering with the Armenian region of Tavush. 

The spokesperson for the Armenian MoD Artsrun Hovhannisyan mentioned on Facebook that Akberli was a high-quality sniper. 

Note that on the recent days the Azerbaijani side has been firing at the border villages of Tavush, damaging households. 

Lragir, Armenia
July 31 2017
Security Area in Artsakh Will Be Enlarged 

In case of another attack by Azerbaijan there will be a response, the security area will be enlarged, the minister of defense of Artsakh Republic Levon Mnatsakanyan stated on Public Television, commenting on the situation at the line of contact. 

“In such counteraction, we will enlarge the width and depth of the existing security area, those few emplacements which passed under their control during the actions in April 2016 will be retrieved by all means,” he said. 

Levon Mnatsakanyan said the enemy currently does not attempt penetration of reconnaissance groups. 

“We exercise control along the entire length of the border line, including at night. The last such attempt was undertaken in the night of February 24 of this year, and we know about its outcome. They had 6 deaths, of which 5 were left in the field, and one was severely injured and died later in hospital. Afterwards, the attempts at penetration of reconnaissance groups were discontinued altogether,” the minister said. 

In answer to Zakir Hassanov’s statement that during the April war 15-20% of the Azerbaijani army was used, Levon Mnatsakanyan said this is not true, and the purpose of the statement is to calm down their public. 

“15-20% of the Azerbaijani armed forces are tanks and infantry cars, up to 250-300 artillery and up to 450-500 mortars. Up to 60 multiple rocket systems, modern and big caliber, up to 600-700 anti-tank means, and up to 20000 troops, and he speaks about it with pride. They used these during the April actions and their success was proportional with the task of a single company,” he said. 

The minister of defense of Artsakh Republic Levon Mnatsakanyan said with regards to Zakir Hassanov’s statement about having an air defense system that can destroy Iskander that even the leading countries have nothing to destroy Iskander. 

“The height of the trajectory of launcher Iskander is up to 100 km, the falling angle is nearly 90 degrees. Not only Azerbaijan but also other leading countries still have no means to destroy such rockets. A person who does not care that such a rocket weighting nearly 4 tons, with the warhead weighing 480 kg, and with accuracy of a few meters, and a range of several hundreds of kilometers, is either naïve or incompetent,” Levon Mnatsakanyan said. 

Levon Mnatsakanyan also spoke about enlarging the army’s capacity. 

“We have worked towards enlarging our capacity especially in video surveillance, we have enlarged the capacity of our fire emplacement destruction, we have built on our management capacity, it has been included in the general system, we have bought new means, for both reconnaissance and firing. All the means were tried out, the results are reassuring, effective, we take these steps jointly with the defense industry. We have big-caliber firearms which we didn’t use to have, we have longer-range anti-tank firearms we used to have but which were insufficient, we have also acquired firearms with modern technology,” Mnatsakanyan said. 

“We have paid special attention to early detection means which we consider to be essential to the security of our servicemen at the front line and we have a possibility to learn about the possible actions of the enemy beforehand, about the location of their fire emplacements. All work done in this direction is well coordinated. Today we can state for sure that we don’t have an inch of our front line under the enemy’s surveillance, in other words, we have demonstrated well-coordinated work and increased the security of sentry duty of our servicemen at the front line,” he said. 

Getting back to the acquisition of new arms by Azerbaijan, he announced that this circumstance has never broken and will never break the balance of the armed forces. 

“The balance has never been and will never be broken. The balance was broken in 1992 and at that time they had absolute advantage in all types of weapons. And in that situation they were unable to achieve their tasks. We had what was recorded in May 1994,” the minister of defense of Artsakh said. 

Answering the question on what could be suggested based on deep reconnaissance, a more defensive or offensive nature of the enemy’s preference in actions, Minister Mnatsakanyan said the Azerbaijani side speaks more about the offensive tactics but in reality they are performing serious defensive activities. 

“Our surveillance systems allow us to observe within a range of 10-15 km and we can see there huge engineering work carried out, within a range of up to 7, 10-15 km. This means that whatever statements they make, they know that if need be, they will have to defend themselves,” the minister said. 

Tert, Armenia
July 31 2017
Inbound tourism up to about 25% in Armenia – official statistics 

The first two quarters of 2016 saw the number of foreign tourists visiting Armenia grow by 24.2% to 1,622,381. 

Officials records by the National Statistical Service reveal that about 570,400 people left the country in the reporting period. The total departures from the country thus turn out to have increased by 21.2% compared to January-June 2016. 

Arka News Agency, Armenia
July 31 2017
Armenia’s population dwindles by another 15,200 people
Armenia’s population has dwindled by another 15,200 from the year before to 2, 979,900 people, the National Statistical Service (NSS) said today. Compared with January 1, 2017, the population decreased by 6,200 people, it said. 

According to official numbers, the urban population declined by 7,700 year-on-year to 1,898,000 people. The capital city Yerevan had a 1,075,100 population. In rural areas, the population decreased by 7,500 people to 1,081,900 people. 

In January-June 2017, some 17,169 babies were born in the country, by 6.6% down when compared to the first seven months of 2016. Also 14,709 people were reported to have died, an increase of 2.1% when compared to the same time span of 2016. 

It should be noted that as of January 1, 2016, the population of Armenia for the first time since the 70s was less than 3 million people. 

Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, speaking at the first meeting of the newly elected parliament, said that the population of the country should reach 4 million by 2040 due to a sharp improvement in the demographic situation. -

Arka News Agency, Armenia
July 31 2017
Less Armenians get married
The number of officially registered marriages in Armenia in the first half of 2017 was 6.5% lower than in the same period of time last year, while the number of granted divorces increased by 11.2%, Karine Kuyumjyan, the head of a department in charge of population census and demography at the National Statistics Service, told a news conference today. 

She specified that the number of marriages dropped to 7,234 from 7,739 in the first half of 2016, while the number of divorces grew to 1,949 from 1,753. 

Kuyumjyan said the majority of marriages were registered in Yerevan (5.3%), Kotayk region (5.1%), as well as in Aragatsotn, Armavir and Vayots Dzor regions, where this figure exceeded the average national. .The least number of marriages were registered in Shirak (3.8%), by 1.1% less than the national average figure. 

The average divorce rate for the country was 1.3%. Most cases of divorce since the beginning of the year were recorded in Lori region (3.5%). In Yerevan, Aragatsotn and Shirak regions, the figure was 1.4%. -0- 

The Smithsonian
July 31 2017
Each Summer, These Armenian Villages Are Taken Over by Hundreds of White Storks
Villagers participate in a “Nest Neighbors” program to monitor the health of their new house guests
By Jennifer Billock
From late March to August every year, around 650 pairs of breeding white storks descend onto wetland-adjacent villages in Armenia, settling into numbered nests where they will hatch nestlings and teach the babies to feed. The storks—common in worldwide folklore for bringing babies to families—use Armenia as a stopover point to breed on their long journey south from western Europe to their winter grounds in Africa. At the same time, more than 1,000 families in those Armenian villages will take pen to paper and monitor the storks’ progress as part of a program called Nest Neighbors . 

Dr. Karen Aghababyan started the program in Armenia in 2006 as a nationwide survey of white storks, with the goal of tracking the health of the nearby wetland ecosystems. He and his team mapped every stork nest in the country, then—since white storks prefer nesting sights that are often near people, like on top of homes or electrical poles—they provided locals with questionnaires in the form of a calendar. The villagers write down important facts on the calendars and report information back to Aghababyan: the nest number they’re monitoring, what date the storks arrive, how many nestlings appear and if any incidents with the nest occur, such as it falling down. 

"White storks need open or semi-open grasslands as a feeding habitat," white stork conservationist Kai-Michael Thomsen told National Geographic in 2004 . "In middle Europe, you find only man-made grassland habitats. So the white stork in middle Europe uses the man-made landscape." 

In 2007, the Nest Neighbors program received a Whitley Award , the top conservation award in the U.K., and continued to receive research funds from Whitley in 2010 and 2014. As the program has aged, community interest has skyrocketed. When Nest Neighbors first started, Aghababyan told, villagers agreed to do the work but weren’t too enthusiastic about it. Now, he gets more than 100 calls every summer from locals with observations about the nests. Through the program, and through clubs he’s started at local schools, Aghababyan is helping to increase community awareness of stork and wetlands conservation. 

“Storks are playing a very important cultural role as a model for environmental education,” he told “We started developing eco-clubs in these villages in the schools and children are participating with great interest. The storks are top predators in wetland ecosystems, and they play a key role in regulating the number of other species. They provide a great help to agriculture, feeding on locusts and grasshoppers during the summer season. This work helped us to designate several protected wetland sites.” 

The Nest Neighbors program also led to changes in agricultural practices in local villages. Aghababyan discovered that in some spots, the white storks were reproducing less than expected, having one or no nestlings as opposed to the standard two or three. After a deeper study into the areas, he discovered the problem traced back to the pesticide DDT. "DDT accumulates from one trophic level to another," Aghababyan explained. "Its concentration becomes higher in the top predators [like white storks]." 

The pesticide had been banned in Armenia, but villagers who had stockpiles in storage were still using it on their crops—and areas where it was no longer used still had a buildup of the chemical in the soil. Irrigation was kicking it up to the surface soil layers and reintroducing DDT into the local food chain. Armed with that knowledge, Aghababyan’s team tried to solve the problem with three tactics. First, they helped villagers to remediate the soil using different plants that collect DDT in their root system. The plants fill up and are then removed, taking the DDT with them. Second, they provided alternative methods of pest control, including installing birdhouses for insect-eating birds (not impacted by DDT) and introducing specific types of organic bacteria to target certain bugs. The third tactic was to develop a White Stork-Friendly product label to help locals market their products in a more eco-conscious way. 

Thanks to those efforts, some of the stork pairs are now having between three and four nestlings, and the overall number of breeding pairs has increased from about 580 at the beginning of the Nest Neighbors program to the current 652. 

The storks are also starting to attract a small number of tourists who stop to seeing the hundreds of nest-topped houses and swooping birds on their way to visit regional monasteries. Those who want to be honorary Nest Neighbors can tour the small villages near the Ararat Valley wetlands, including Surenavan and Hovtashat 

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
July 31, 2017 Monday
Armenia's Justice Ministry, UK Embassy sign MoU
Justice Minister Davit Harutyunyan andUK Ambassador to Armenia 

Judith Margaret Farnworth on July 31 signed amemorandum of 
understanding (MoU) over the launch of joint program
entitled ‘Assistance to implementation of the Armenian Government’s
anti-corruption strategy’, press service of the ministry told

The implementation of the program will contribute to effectively
carrying out the Government’s anti-corruption strategy and will enable
to introduce sub-legislative regulations deriving from the
Whistleblower Protection Law, as well as to increase the civil society
and public awareness level on the whistleblower protection field.

Minister Harutyunyan thanked the UK Ambassador for assisting the
Armenian Government on fight against corruption and said the signing
of the MoU will serve as a good base for further cooperation on the
sidelines of anti-corruption reforms.

The Minister highlighted that fight against corruption is among the
Government’s priorities and the actions deriving from it are included
in the Government’s 2017-2022 action plan. Davit Harutyunyan also
presented the steps taken within the frames of anti-corruption fight,
which are the followings: criminalization of illicit enrichment,
creation of anti-corruption preventive independent agency, adoption of
the Whistleblower Protection Law and etc.

In her turn the UK Ambassador added that assisting such initiatives is
in accordance with the UK’s strategy to promote democracy,
transparency and human rights. Thus, they welcome the Armenian
Government’s emphasis on fight against corruption in the new action
plan and express hope the implementation of this program will also
contribute to recording new achievements in the field.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Troops Join U.S.-Led Drills In Georgia
July 31, 2017

An Armenian army platoon is taking in part in U.S.-led multinational
military exercises that began in Georgia on Sunday.

The two-week drills taking place at the Vaziani military base near
Tbilisi involve about 2,800 soldiers from the United States, Georgia,
Britain, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovenia and Armenia. The
U.S. contingent includes several M1A2 Abrams battle tanks and Bradley
infantry fighting vehicles making up a mechanized company.

"The exercise affords participating nations an opportunity to train in
a multinational environment while enhancing cooperation and
interoperability," U.S Army Europe said in a statement on the drills
codenamed "Noble Partner."

"These exercises will help Georgia to get closer to NATO standards and
to strengthen stability in the whole region," Reuters quoted Georgian
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili as saying at the opening ceremony.

The exercises began a day before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's
visit to Georgia. Pence plans to attend the drills and address
participants on Tuesday.

The Russian government did not comment on the event as of Monday
afternoon. It had criticized previous U.S.-led war games held in

The participation of 30 or so Armenian servicemen in the drills
highlights Armenia's desire to complement its military alliance with
Russia with closer security ties with the West. The South Caucasus
country has deepened defense cooperation with the U.S. and other NATO
member states since the early 2000s. It currently contributes more
than 100 troops to NATO-led missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and
regularly participates in multinational exercises organized by the
U.S. military.

Nevertheless, the alliance with Russia remains the bedrock of
Armenia's national security strategy. Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian
underlined this fact on Saturday when he attended the opening ceremony
near Moscow of the 2017 International Army Games partly hosted by

RFE/RL Report
Investigators Still Silent On Armenian Election Scandal
July 31, 2017
Sargis Harutyunyan
Armenian law-enforcement authorities are still refusing to divulge any
details of their declared investigation into a secretly recorded audio
suggesting that employees of a pro-government businessman were warned
to help him get reelected to parliament or lose their jobs.

The recording was posted on in the wake of the April 2
parliamentary elections. It features the voice of a man threatening to
fire those employees of Artak Sargsian's SAS supermarket chain in
Yerevan who have failed to guarantee in writing that their friends and
relatives will vote for their boss. The man also promises lavish
bonuses to their colleagues who will "bring votes" to the candidate of
the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

The news website said that the SAS staff meeting took place in the
run-up to the elections won by the HHK. Sargsian, who earned the party
12,000 votes and was reelected to the National Assembly, has since
refused to comment on the audio and the resulting political scandal.

Opposition politicians and other critics of the Armenian government
seized upon the revelation as further proof that public and private
sector employees across the country were illegally pressurized to vote
for the HHK. In an April 3 statement, European election monitors
likewise reported "pressure on civil servants and employees of private

Responding to the uproar, Armenia's Special Investigative Service
(SIS) said on April 19 that it has opened a criminal case in
connection with the scandalous audio. The law-enforcement agency has
still not clarified, however, whether it has charged anyone or
identified any suspects. It is not even known whether Sargsian has
been questioned by SIS investigators.

The SIS again declined to shed light on the probe in a written
response to an RFE/RL's Armenian service ( sent on
Monday. "The investigation is continuing, and due to the secrecy of
the investigation it is not possible to provide additional information
on this criminal case," read the short letter.

According to the investigative publication, the man who
purportedly threatened to fire SAS employees is Sargsian's elder
brother Aram.

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