RFE/RL Armenian Report – 12/06/2021

                                        Monday, December 6, 2021


Armenia To Use First Domestically Produced COVID-19 Vaccine

        • Marine Khachatrian

Armenia - Health Minister Anahit Avanesian visits the Armenian company Liqvor 
producing Sputnik Light vaccine, Yerevan, December 6, 2021.


The Armenian government will soon buy the first batch of a domestically 
manufactured coronavirus vaccine and offer it to all over-18s as a booster jab, 
Health Minister Anahit Avanesian said on Monday.

An Armenian private company, Liqvor, began producing the Sputnik Light vaccine 
recently in line with a licensing agreement reached with its Russian developer.

“We are processing the substance supplied by the Russian side,” Liqvor’s chief 
executive, Sergei Matevosian, told journalists.

“The [production] volume is as follows: within three working days our company 
can meet Armenia’s one-year demand,” he said.

Avanesian announced the impending purchase of locally manufactured Sputnik Light 
vaccines after inspecting the company’s production facilities together with 
Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian.

“We will at first be carrying out that for booster shots,” Avanesian told a news 
conference held at Liqvor’s premises. She said they will be offered to 
individuals who received the second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.

Armenia’s policlinics and other vaccination centers are now mostly using 
vaccines developed and manufactured by the U.S. biotech company Moderna and the 
Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca.

The Armenian government is gearing up for revaccination against COVID-19 despite 
the country’s low vaccination rate.


Armenia - Vials of Sputnik Light vaccine manufactured by the Armenian company 
Liqvor, Yerevan, December 6, 2021.

According to the Ministry of Health, only about 517,000 people making up roughly 
one-fifth of its population have been fully vaccinated to date. About 320,000 
others have received one dose of a vaccine.

The immunization process has accelerated in recent weeks following the 
government’s decision to require virtually all workers to get inoculated or take 
coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense.

Officials and health experts say this is one of the reasons for a significant 
drop in coronavirus infections and deaths caused by them in Armenia.

The Ministry of Health registered only 95 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, 
sharply down from over 2,000 cases a day routinely recorded in late October and 
early November.

“We must do everything to maintain these decreased numbers,” said Avanesian.

The minister again defended her government-backed decision to introduce on 
January 1 a mandatory health pass for entry to cultural and leisure sites. Only 
those people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent 
negative test will be allowed to visit bars, restaurants, concert halls and 
other public venues.



Armenia’s Ruling Party Suffers More Local Election Setbacks

        • Nane Sahakian
        • Karine Simonian

Armenia - Voters at a polling station in Masis, December 5, 2021


Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s party was defeated in Armenia’s third largest 
city of Vanadzor and several other major urban communities in local elections 
held on Sunday.

The Civil Contract party suffered similar setbacks in other parts of the country 
in October and November. It failed to install its members as mayors of the 
second largest city of Gyumri and the three main communities of southeastern 
Syunik province.

The latest polls were held in 36 other communities that were mostly enlarged by 
the Armenian authorities earlier this year. Voters there elected, on a 
party-list basis, new local councils empowered to choose community heads.

Citing preliminary vote results, Civil Contract claimed on Sunday night to have 
prevailed in 25 of those communities.

Opposition representatives disputed that claim on Monday. Some of them insisted 
that the ruling party won outright only in 15 municipalities, most of which 
comprise a city or town and multiple villages. They said that in all other 
communities Civil Contract fell short of a majority of seats in the local 
councils.

In what was arguably its biggest setback, Civil Contract won only 25 percent of 
the vote in Vanadzor, compared with about 39 percent polled by a local bloc led 
by Mamikon Aslanian, who served as the city’s mayor until October.


Armenia - Former Vanadzor Mayor Mamikon Aslanian at an election campaign meeting 
with voters in Vanadzor, November 23, 2021.

Aslanian was affiliated with the then President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican 
Party of Armenia (HHK) when the former Vanadzor council elected him mayor in 
2016. He sought reelection not as a candidate of the HHK but as the leader of 
the bloc bearing his name.

Aslanian needs to cut a power-sharing deal with other election contenders in 
order to again become mayor. He did not indicate as of Monday afternoon whether 
he will try to team up with Civil Contract or another party that finished third 
with 14.5 percent of the vote. The party is led by Arkadi Peleshian, his former 
deputy.

During the election campaign Aslanian and Civil Contract’s mayoral candidate, 
Aram Khachatrian, harshly criticized each other and ruled out the possibility of 
a post-election alliance. Khachatrian is also the governor of Armenia’s northern 
Lori province, of which Vanadzor is the administrative center.

Pashinian’s party was also defeated in Abovian, a city 15 kilometers north of 
Yerevan that has long been a political stronghold of Prosperous Armenia Party 
(BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian.

The BHK was led in the local mayoral race by Eduard Babayan, Tsarukian’s former 
chief bodyguard, and won more than 45 percent of the vote. An alliance with the 
opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which garnered 
over 5 percent, would be enough to make Babayan the new mayor of Abovian and 
nearby villages. Civil Contract got about 37 percent of the vote in the 
community.


Armenia - Businessman Gagik Tsarukian and his chief bodyguard Eduard Babayan (R) 
at an election campaign rally in Hrazdan, 11 April 2012.

Other municipalities won by opposition or nominally independent candidates 
included the capitals of Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor provinces as well as the 
towns of Masis and Aparan.

By contrast, Civil Contract scored victories in three other provincial capitals 
and other major such as Echmiadzin, Spitak and Jermuk.

Pashinian sought to put a brave face on his party’s electoral performance, 
saying that the latest elections were free and fair and that this is more 
important than their results. He also said that his administration’s top 
priorities are currently “connected with external challenges” facing Armenia.

“I know and understand the view that it would have been better for us to have 
rigged elections but a higher degree of [national] security,” the prime minister 
wrote on Facebook. “But I remain convinced that it is the long-running practice 
of vote rigging that eroded the system of state resilience formed in the 1990s 
and … led to security disasters.”

While there have been virtually no allegations of serious and systematic fraud 
in the latest polls, Armenian opposition forces have for weeks accused 
Pashinian’s political team of abusing its government levers and bullying 
challengers to try to gain control of more local governments. The authorities 
deny the accusations.

Critics have also noted the abundance of former political allies of Armenia’s 
previous leadership among Civil Contract’s election candidates. They defected 
from the former ruling HHK after Pashinian swept to power in 2018.

A Civil Contract spokesman dismissed late last week suggestions that the strong 
presence of such individuals on the party’s electoral slates is at odds with 
Pashinian’s extremely negative characterizations of the country’s former rulers.



Azeri FM Cancels Talks With Armenian Counterpart

        • Naira Nalbandian

Armenia -- Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan (left) of Armenia and Jeyhun 
Bayramov of Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov cancelled at the last minute a 
fresh meeting with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan which was due to be 
held late last week.

The two men had planned to meet in Stockholm on the sidelines of an annual 
meeting of foreign ministers of OSCE member states.

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Baku called off the meeting in 
response to an Armenian parliamentary delegation’s “illegal visit” to 
Nagorno-Karabakh. She denounced the trip as a “provocation.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry reported earlier on Saturday that Mirzoyan’s 
planned talks with Bayramov did not take place. But it gave no reasons for the 
cancellation.

The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group regretted 
the ministers’ failure to meet for the fourth time in less than three months. In 
a joint statement issued over the weekend, they expressed readiness to host such 
a meeting “as soon as circumstances allow.”

An Armenian political analyst, Beniamin Poghosian, linked the meeting’s 
cancellation to Baku’s and Yerevan’s failure to put the finishing touches on an 
agreement to establish cross-border transport connections during the latest 
round of Russian-mediated negotiations.

The leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan reported further progress towards 
opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to passenger and cargo traffic after 
holding talks in another Russian city, Sochi, on November 26. Russian President 
Vladimir Putin said a trilateral working group will announce in the coming days 
“decisions which we agreed today.” The group made no such announcements after 
meeting in Moscow last Wednesday.

In a separate development, Azerbaijan freed and repatriated on Saturday ten 
Armenian prisoners of war in return for receiving more information from Armenia 
about minefields around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The soldiers were captured during the November 16 fighting on the 
Armenian-Azerbaijani border which left at least 13 troops from the two sides 
dead.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2021 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 

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RFE/RL Armenian Report – 12/06/2021

                                        Monday, December 6, 2021


Armenia To Use First Domestically Produced COVID-19 Vaccine

        • Marine Khachatrian

Armenia - Health Minister Anahit Avanesian visits the Armenian company Liqvor 
producing Sputnik Light vaccine, Yerevan, December 6, 2021.


The Armenian government will soon buy the first batch of a domestically 
manufactured coronavirus vaccine and offer it to all over-18s as a booster jab, 
Health Minister Anahit Avanesian said on Monday.

An Armenian private company, Liqvor, began producing the Sputnik Light vaccine 
recently in line with a licensing agreement reached with its Russian developer.

“We are processing the substance supplied by the Russian side,” Liqvor’s chief 
executive, Sergei Matevosian, told journalists.

“The [production] volume is as follows: within three working days our company 
can meet Armenia’s one-year demand,” he said.

Avanesian announced the impending purchase of locally manufactured Sputnik Light 
vaccines after inspecting the company’s production facilities together with 
Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian.

“We will at first be carrying out that for booster shots,” Avanesian told a news 
conference held at Liqvor’s premises. She said they will be offered to 
individuals who received the second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.

Armenia’s policlinics and other vaccination centers are now mostly using 
vaccines developed and manufactured by the U.S. biotech company Moderna and the 
Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca.

The Armenian government is gearing up for revaccination against COVID-19 despite 
the country’s low vaccination rate.


Armenia - Vials of Sputnik Light vaccine manufactured by the Armenian company 
Liqvor, Yerevan, December 6, 2021.

According to the Ministry of Health, only about 517,000 people making up roughly 
one-fifth of its population have been fully vaccinated to date. About 320,000 
others have received one dose of a vaccine.

The immunization process has accelerated in recent weeks following the 
government’s decision to require virtually all workers to get inoculated or take 
coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense.

Officials and health experts say this is one of the reasons for a significant 
drop in coronavirus infections and deaths caused by them in Armenia.

The Ministry of Health registered only 95 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, 
sharply down from over 2,000 cases a day routinely recorded in late October and 
early November.

“We must do everything to maintain these decreased numbers,” said Avanesian.

The minister again defended her government-backed decision to introduce on 
January 1 a mandatory health pass for entry to cultural and leisure sites. Only 
those people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent 
negative test will be allowed to visit bars, restaurants, concert halls and 
other public venues.



Armenia’s Ruling Party Suffers More Local Election Setbacks

        • Nane Sahakian
        • Karine Simonian

Armenia - Voters at a polling station in Masis, December 5, 2021


Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s party was defeated in Armenia’s third largest 
city of Vanadzor and several other major urban communities in local elections 
held on Sunday.

The Civil Contract party suffered similar setbacks in other parts of the country 
in October and November. It failed to install its members as mayors of the 
second largest city of Gyumri and the three main communities of southeastern 
Syunik province.

The latest polls were held in 36 other communities that were mostly enlarged by 
the Armenian authorities earlier this year. Voters there elected, on a 
party-list basis, new local councils empowered to choose community heads.

Citing preliminary vote results, Civil Contract claimed on Sunday night to have 
prevailed in 25 of those communities.

Opposition representatives disputed that claim on Monday. Some of them insisted 
that the ruling party won outright only in 15 municipalities, most of which 
comprise a city or town and multiple villages. They said that in all other 
communities Civil Contract fell short of a majority of seats in the local 
councils.

In what was arguably its biggest setback, Civil Contract won only 25 percent of 
the vote in Vanadzor, compared with about 39 percent polled by a local bloc led 
by Mamikon Aslanian, who served as the city’s mayor until October.


Armenia - Former Vanadzor Mayor Mamikon Aslanian at an election campaign meeting 
with voters in Vanadzor, November 23, 2021.

Aslanian was affiliated with the then President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican 
Party of Armenia (HHK) when the former Vanadzor council elected him mayor in 
2016. He sought reelection not as a candidate of the HHK but as the leader of 
the bloc bearing his name.

Aslanian needs to cut a power-sharing deal with other election contenders in 
order to again become mayor. He did not indicate as of Monday afternoon whether 
he will try to team up with Civil Contract or another party that finished third 
with 14.5 percent of the vote. The party is led by Arkadi Peleshian, his former 
deputy.

During the election campaign Aslanian and Civil Contract’s mayoral candidate, 
Aram Khachatrian, harshly criticized each other and ruled out the possibility of 
a post-election alliance. Khachatrian is also the governor of Armenia’s northern 
Lori province, of which Vanadzor is the administrative center.

Pashinian’s party was also defeated in Abovian, a city 15 kilometers north of 
Yerevan that has long been a political stronghold of Prosperous Armenia Party 
(BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian.

The BHK was led in the local mayoral race by Eduard Babayan, Tsarukian’s former 
chief bodyguard, and won more than 45 percent of the vote. An alliance with the 
opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which garnered 
over 5 percent, would be enough to make Babayan the new mayor of Abovian and 
nearby villages. Civil Contract got about 37 percent of the vote in the 
community.


Armenia - Businessman Gagik Tsarukian and his chief bodyguard Eduard Babayan (R) 
at an election campaign rally in Hrazdan, 11 April 2012.

Other municipalities won by opposition or nominally independent candidates 
included the capitals of Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor provinces as well as the 
towns of Masis and Aparan.

By contrast, Civil Contract scored victories in three other provincial capitals 
and other major such as Echmiadzin, Spitak and Jermuk.

Pashinian sought to put a brave face on his party’s electoral performance, 
saying that the latest elections were free and fair and that this is more 
important than their results. He also said that his administration’s top 
priorities are currently “connected with external challenges” facing Armenia.

“I know and understand the view that it would have been better for us to have 
rigged elections but a higher degree of [national] security,” the prime minister 
wrote on Facebook. “But I remain convinced that it is the long-running practice 
of vote rigging that eroded the system of state resilience formed in the 1990s 
and … led to security disasters.”

While there have been virtually no allegations of serious and systematic fraud 
in the latest polls, Armenian opposition forces have for weeks accused 
Pashinian’s political team of abusing its government levers and bullying 
challengers to try to gain control of more local governments. The authorities 
deny the accusations.

Critics have also noted the abundance of former political allies of Armenia’s 
previous leadership among Civil Contract’s election candidates. They defected 
from the former ruling HHK after Pashinian swept to power in 2018.

A Civil Contract spokesman dismissed late last week suggestions that the strong 
presence of such individuals on the party’s electoral slates is at odds with 
Pashinian’s extremely negative characterizations of the country’s former rulers.



Azeri FM Cancels Talks With Armenian Counterpart

        • Naira Nalbandian

Armenia -- Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan (left) of Armenia and Jeyhun 
Bayramov of Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov cancelled at the last minute a 
fresh meeting with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan which was due to be 
held late last week.

The two men had planned to meet in Stockholm on the sidelines of an annual 
meeting of foreign ministers of OSCE member states.

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Baku called off the meeting in 
response to an Armenian parliamentary delegation’s “illegal visit” to 
Nagorno-Karabakh. She denounced the trip as a “provocation.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry reported earlier on Saturday that Mirzoyan’s 
planned talks with Bayramov did not take place. But it gave no reasons for the 
cancellation.

The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group regretted 
the ministers’ failure to meet for the fourth time in less than three months. In 
a joint statement issued over the weekend, they expressed readiness to host such 
a meeting “as soon as circumstances allow.”

An Armenian political analyst, Beniamin Poghosian, linked the meeting’s 
cancellation to Baku’s and Yerevan’s failure to put the finishing touches on an 
agreement to establish cross-border transport connections during the latest 
round of Russian-mediated negotiations.

The leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan reported further progress towards 
opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to passenger and cargo traffic after 
holding talks in another Russian city, Sochi, on November 26. Russian President 
Vladimir Putin said a trilateral working group will announce in the coming days 
“decisions which we agreed today.” The group made no such announcements after 
meeting in Moscow last Wednesday.

In a separate development, Azerbaijan freed and repatriated on Saturday ten 
Armenian prisoners of war in return for receiving more information from Armenia 
about minefields around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The soldiers were captured during the November 16 fighting on the 
Armenian-Azerbaijani border which left at least 13 troops from the two sides 
dead.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2021 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 

You may also like