Latest news in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, summary 30 October-3 November, 2023
Friday, November 3, Azerbaijan. The Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment at the U.S.'s lack of strong support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity compared to Armenia
● The State Security Service reported the detention of Madat Babayan in the Kelbajar district. He revealed the locations of mass graves related to the Khojaly tragedy. Read more here
● President Ilham Aliyev is attending the X Summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Kazakhstan.
● In response to U.S. Secretary of State Anton Blinken’s statement expressing strong support for Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry declared it unacceptable to address Azerbaijan with threats. They expressed regret that, despite being a mediator for decades, the United States had never firmly supported Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The ministry warned that unfriendly actions against Azerbaijan would receive a fitting response.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry confirmed that eight Azerbaijanis are on the list of foreigners permitted to leave the Gaza Strip.
● A civilian, Ali Agalarov, was injured by a mine explosion in the Terter region while searching for his animals near a pasture. His condition is assessed as moderate.
● Athletes from Azerbaijan and Turkey will not participate in the World Sambo Championship scheduled for November 10-12 in Yerevan.
● The Armenian artist was accused of appropriating Alekper Tagiyev’s song “Sənə qurban” and altering its lyrics, according to Azerbaijan’s Intellectual Property Agency. The song “Garun,” shared on YouTube, bears similarities to Tagiyev’s original musical work, “Sənə qurban,” written with lyrics by poet Mikail Mushfig and first performed by Zeinab Khanlarova in 1968.
Friday, November 3, Armenia. No major force buildup along Armenian-Azerbaijani border, reduced aggressive rhetoric: deputy speaker
● The national security service of Armenia thwarted a criminal group’s plot to attack and seize government buildings. The group, known as “Northern Listopad,” was found with firearms, ammunition, a flare launcher, and drones. They had plans to create Ukrainian and Moldovan Telegram channels to coordinate terrorist activities and had arranged for their families to relocate to Georgia. The group had detailed plans for attacks, retreats, and ambushes.
● There is no significant buildup of forces along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and there have been positive developments in reducing aggressive rhetoric, according to the deputy speaker of parliament.
● Russian prime minister Mishustin signed a decree to open a consulate general in Kapan, making it the second Russian consulate in Armenia, alongside the one in Gyumri.
● Co-rapporteurs from PACE will visit Armenia to monitor the situation, including meeting with refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh in Yeraskh.
● Armenia voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution, along with 186 other countries, calling for the lifting of the US embargo on Cuba. Ukraine abstained, while the United States and Israel voted against.
● Athletes from Azerbaijan and Turkey will not participate in the World Sambo Championship scheduled for November 10-12 in Yerevan.
● Armenia and Iran have agreed to resume joint monitoring of the border waters in the Araks River.
Friday, November 3, Georgia. The Patriarchate's press secretary has denied any discussions about the patriarch's resignation during the Synod
● A group of 50 opposition deputies jointly appealed to NATO and EU member states, expressing their concerns over the deployment of the Russian military fleet in Abkhazia. They emphasized the ongoing occupation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region and highlighted Russia’s attempts to integrate these occupied territories into the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
● The speaker of the next parliament will receive a 33% salary increase, amounting to 10,000 lari per month (approximately $3,700). Deputies will also see significant pay increases, with their monthly salaries rising to 8,250 lari, an increase of 3,626 lari compared to their current earnings.
● Deacon Andria Dzhagmaidze, the spokesperson for the Patriarchate, refuted the notion that the recent Holy Synod meeting delved into the sensitive matters that have been widely discussed in society. His comments likely alluded to the prevailing speculations regarding the imminent resignation of the patriarch and the potential amplification of authority for his successor. Dzhagmaidze clarified that the Synod primarily focused on contemporary ecclesiastical concerns and matters of the church’s ongoing agenda.
● Russian airline Red Wings is planning to introduce weekly flights from Samara to Tbilisi, in addition to its existing 23 weekly flights to Georgian airports in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. By December, the total number of weekly flights between Russia and Georgia is expected to reach up to 58.
● Mikheil Saakashvili claimed that the security service contacted him after he announced the presence of a Russian sabotage group in Georgia. In a Facebook post, Saakashvili stated that he “declined to cooperate with the Russian FSB branch.”
● The minister of justice confirmed the detention of three prisoners who had escaped from the Aversi clinic in the suburbs of Tbilisi.
● Firefighters successfully extinguished a forest fire in the Lugela valley of the Chkhorotsku municipality in Western Georgia within a few hours (at the photo)
● An altercation over a parking issue in Tbilisi’s central district, on Dolidze Street, escalated into a violent incident. An allegedly intoxicated neighbor stabbed a father and son, both of whom are currently hospitalized.
Thursday, November 2, Armenia.
● “Azerbaijan is using cyber weapons against Armenia,” media expert Samvel Martirosyan said at a press conference. The cyberattacks are carried out using the Israeli spy program Pegasus, he said.
● The EU mission in Armenia now has a head office. Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturian (pictured) attended its opening in Yeghegnadzor.
● The law on banning the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, if adopted in Ukraine, will violate the unity of the Orthodox Church and create undesirable sentiments among believers: Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II.
● A criminal case has been opened against former Armenian prime minister Hrant Bagratyan. He is accused of public calls for violence.
● The Ombudsman is concerned about the “frequent use of arrest as a preventive measure” in Armenia. Anahit Manasyan said her office is studying the problem and will do everything to protect the rights of citizens.
● Four Armenian grandmasters are in the top 100 of the world chess rating – FIDE.
● There will be fewer cars in Pashinyan’s apparatus. They will be reduced by almost half, leaving 40 service cars on the balance sheet, deputy chief of staff Armenak Khachatryan told parliament.
Thursday, November 2, Azerbaijan. Strange cattle deaths are observed in different districts of Azerbaijan
● German foreign minister Annalena Berbock will visit Azerbaijan on November 4. Her talks with her Azerbaijani counterpart Ceyhun Bayramov, as well as a meeting with representatives of civil society are scheduled in Baku. Berbock will arrive in the capital of Azerbaijan from Armenia.
● “The territory of Azerbaijan will be provided with fiber-optic Internet by 55% by the end of this year, and by the end of the next year it will be available throughout the country. Even the most remote settlements will be provided with internet speed of at least 30 Mbps,” Deputy Minister of Digital Development and Transport Samir Mammadov said.
● “Educational institutions in Khankendi will resume work as soon as possible,” said Azerbaijan’s minister of science and education Emin Amrullayev.
● Azerbaijan’s Central Bank has reduced the interest rate from 9 to 8.5%.
● Annual inflation is forecasted at 4.3% by the end of 2023, 5.3% in 2024 and 3.4% in 2025,” the Central Bank of Azerbaijan said.
● A mass cattle die-off due to unknown reasons is reported in some regions in Azerbaijan.
Thursday, 2 November, Georgia. The opposition seeks the parliament committee head's resignation for insulting female deputies.
● In Dmanisi, former mayor Giorgi Tatuashvili survived an attack, allegedly carried out by individuals close to the ruling party. He links the incident to his opposition involvement during the 2021 local elections.
● Parliament approved changes to the citizenship law, granting the right to Georgian citizenship for individuals residing in the country for five or more years, provided they meet other criteria.
● Parliament is embroiled in a scandal regarding the mistreatment of female MPs. The opposition demands the resignation of Irakli Beraia, the head of the defense and decurity committee, and MP Teona Akubardia intends to sue Berai for sexual insults.
📌 Georgia now has access to high-speed Internet via Starlink, though it comes at a higher cost than optical Internet. The necessary equipment for Starlink costs over $800, with a monthly fee of around 160 GEL. In contrast, optical Internet starts at 35 GEL per month.
📌 Prime minister Garibashvili disclosed in his annual declaration that his retired parents gifted him 180,000 lari ($70,000), with similar gifts in the previous two years.
📌 The minister of justice appealed to escaped Aversi clinic prisoners, urging them to surrender to law enforcement to potentially mitigate their charges.
📌 Badri Japaridze, a leader of the Lelo party, emphasized that even without EU candidate status this year, Georgia’s European aspirations remain, as the EU continues to stand with the Georgian people.
Photo: Dmanisi former mayor Giorgi Tatuashvili
Wednesday, 1 November, Georgia. Sexist insults directed by members of the ruling party towards opposition MPs
● The founder of the independent TV channel “Mtavari Arkhi,” Nika Gvaramia, has appealed to the president to pardon the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili.
● Responding to allegations from the opposition and independent media, deputy prime minister Levan Davitashvili clarified that his participation in the One Belt Forum in China, where he appeared alongside Putin, was a matter of diplomatic protocol and respect for China. He emphasized that no secret communication occurred during the event.
● Tomorrow, on November 2, the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church will convene. This meeting, initiated by Patriarch Ilia II, marks the second Synod gathering of the year, following the previous session on February 14. The specific agenda for the meeting remains undisclosed.
● Tbilisi’s mayor, Kakha Kaladze, publicly denounced the offensive language heard during a recent parliamentary session, urging civility in political discourse. Of particular concern were the sexist comments made by male MPs from the ruling party, targeting female opposition MPs. Ana Tsitlidze, a member of the United National Movement, was subjected to derogatory remarks, and Teona Akubardia was labeled a “liar with a long tongue.”
● Following the exchange in parliament, MP Teona Akubardia called for Irakli Beraya, who had insulted her, to step down from his position as the head of the defence and security committee. In response, Beraya issued an apology, acknowledging the emotional nature of his statement.
● Mamuka Mdinaradze, the chairman of the ruling party faction, expressed his concern about the violations of ethical standards that occurred during the parliamentary session.
● In Tbilisi’s central district of Vake, a cryptocurrency center was targeted in a robbery. According to reports from the Mtavari Arkhi TV channel, the perpetrators stole $800,000 during the incident. The ministry of internal affairs has yet to provide an official statement.
● Starting today and lasting until November 15, every citizen of Georgia is eligible to receive a free flu vaccination.
Photo by JAMnews/Maka Tsnobiladze: at the fair near the Dry Bridge in Tbilisi
Wednesday, 1 November, Azerbaijan. Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia in the oil and gas sector is on the rise
● Baku is preparing for Victory Day on November 8th, with posters displayed on the streets.
● Azerbaijani foreign minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with UAE president Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss cooperation, regional, and international matters.
● Discussions are ongoing about Russian oil and gas companies participating in new production projects in Azerbaijan, expanding Russian fuel sales in the country, and increasing the supply of Russian oil through the Tikhoretsk-Baku oil pipeline. Azerbaijani minister of economy Mikail Jabbarov and Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak met to address these topics.
● Deputy prime minister Shahin Mustafayev and first deputy chairman of the Russian government Andrei Belousov met in Moscow to discuss the development of the railway route as part of the international transport corridor “North-South.”
● The Russian ministry of defense announced the completion of personnel rotation for the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh, with military equipment sent to Russia for scheduled repairs.
● The president signed a decree to expand the territory of the free economic zone in Alyat (a suburb of Baku) by 24 hectares.
● The restriction on TikTok operations in Azerbaijan has been lifted. Read more here
● In Uganda, a water well was named after Azerbaijani MP Ganira Pashayeva by the Turkish NGO “Association of Friends of Africa.” (at the photo).
Wednesday, 1 November, Armenia. Delays in constructing the Iran-Armenia and Armenia-Georgia power lines incurred a €146 million cost for Yerevan.
● The minister of economy confirmed that there are no artificial barriers hindering the export of Armenian goods to Russia.
● A new metro station in Yerevan is set to begin construction in 2024, with $10 million allocated for the project, according to Armenia’s minister of finance.
● Yerevan hosted the inaugural Artsakh Career Expo, connecting displaced individuals from Nagorno-Karabakh with over 50 companies offering approximately 2,000 job opportunities across various sectors, from IT to pharmaceuticals.
● Delays in constructing the Iran-Armenia and Armenia-Georgia power lines incurred a €146 million cost for Yerevan. Violations related to substation repairs, payments, and material purchases were identified. Those responsible have reimbursed about $1.2 million to the state account and returned unused parts valued at around $226,000. The construction of the Iranian power line has faced multiple delays, while work on the Armenian-Georgian line has not yet commenced despite the project being seven years old.
● Snoop Dogg was paid $6 million for a canceled concert funded by the state budget’s cultural events program. The event was called off due to the military events in Karabakh on September 19.
● A group of individuals organized a protest against Halloween celebrations, demonstrating in the city center with signs and expressing their belief that the holiday is malevolent (at the photo).
Tuesday, 31 October, Armenia. Pashinyan: Three fundamental principles for peace have been agreed upon with Baku
● Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that three fundamental principles for peace and settlement have been agreed upon with Baku. These principles include:
- Mutual recognition of territorial integrity, with Armenia recognized at 29.8 square kilometers and Azerbaijan at 86.6 square kilometers, based on information from the 1977 Soviet encyclopedia.
- Delimitation based on the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration, emphasizing the importance of using maps from that period to reflect the historical reality.
- The opening of regional communications under the sovereignty and authority of the involved parties, with an emphasis on equality and reciprocity.
● “More than 200 people on the Armenian side lost their lives during the military events in Karabakh on September 19, including 9 civilians, including 3 children. Additionally, 14 individuals were subjected to torture, and over 300 people sustained injuries, with 231 being military personnel and 80 civilians. During the forced displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, 64 people died,” reported the press secretary of the Armenian foreign ministry. She did not specify the exact individuals who died during the transfer; it is presumed that the reference includes those who perished in an explosion at a fuel warehouse. Read more here
● According to MP Armen Khachatryan from the ruling party, the issue of enclaves was not discussed between Yerevan and Baku. He noted that Baku formally agreed to the three principles articulated by the prime minister, and Armenia seeks assurance that these are not mere words.
● In response to opposition claims about the security forces’ handling of rallies, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs defended the Armenian police, characterizing them as highly patient.
● Armenia’s Security Council Secretary, Armen Grigoryan, met with the head of the President of Ukraine’s office in Malta.
Tuesday, 31 October, Azerbaijan. Halo Trust base found in Hankendi with deliberately tainted equipment
● “Azerbaijan insists on signing a peace agreement with Armenia. Baku’s proposal remains in force,” stated deputy foreign minister Elnur Mammadov. “Armenia needs to take the next steps, as most of the peace agreement’s points have been agreed upon by the parties.” Read more here
● The Azerbaijani foreign ministry accused Yerevan of falsification and incompetence, deliberately misleading the international community in response to Armenia’s published “statistics of persons who suffered during the military actions in Karabakh on September 19-20.”
● Azerbaijan has allocated 3.825 billion manats ($2.25 billion) for the restoration of liberated territories in the next year.
● A new production enterprise in Jabrayil district has been launched. Located in Jojug Marjanli village, the factory, employing eight women, produces uniforms for health organizations.
● A base belonging to the Halo Trust, an international humanitarian organization involved in demining, was discovered in Khankendi. ANAMA (Azerbaijan Mine Action Agency) reported finding a large amount of demining equipment and detectors, which were intentionally rendered unusable.
● Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva confirmed that the detained former leaders of the unrecognized NKR are being held in conditions where their rights are protected. They have the opportunity to stay in touch with their families and are provided with a state interpreter.
● Currently, Azerbaijan has 106 people under coronavirus treatment, with three COVID-19-related deaths reported in the past week. Azerbaijan maintains the closure of its land borders, citing the pandemic as the reason.
● According to the authors of the Concept of Economic and Social Development for 2024-2027, the number of students in Azerbaijani universities will increase by 20,000 in the coming years. Azerbaijan currently has more than 205,000 students.
Tuesday, 31 October, Georgia. Оver the past 24 days, 15 thousand people have left Israel for Georgia, including 1,500 Georgian citizens
● “The president keeps providing us with one piece of evidence after another that she shouldn’t have been allowed to go on visits to Europe,” said Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream.
● In 2022, foreign direct investment in Georgia increased by 67.4% compared to the previous year, totaling $2,097.9 million. The largest investments came from the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, and the USA.
● The National Bank has labeled the joint statement of 53 non-governmental organizations, accusing the institution of deflecting responsibility from individuals subject to US sanctions with government assistance, as “absolutely groundless.” The National Bank stated that the accusation aims to discredit Georgia’s entire banking system. The scandal is related to US sanctions against former Georgian Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze, read more here
● Gogi Razmadze, the head of the regional department for human rights at the ministry of internal affairs, accused the ombudsman of halting the investigation into instances of his mistreatment during inspections by the ministry of internal affairs.
● “The Georgian government must decide whether it wants to leave Georgia under Russian domination or believes in the country’s European future,” said former American diplomat and Atlantic Council representative Daniel Fried.
● Georgian ambassador in Israel Lasha Zhvania stated that over the past 24 days, 15 thousand people have left Israel for Georgia, including 1,500 Georgian citizens. The embassy suspended consular services for three weeks but will return to normal operation starting November 1.
● “If we don’t change the government, we won’t be able to take advantage of the results of obtaining EU candidate status for a long time,” warned Salome Samadashvili, a member of the opposition party “Lelo.”
● The so-called “case of jackets” involving imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili has had its court hearing postponed to November 20. During the remote connection, Saakashvili spoke on political topics, which led to the judge’s interruption, citing that he was not invited to court as a political observer. Read more about the charges Saakashvili is in prison on here
Photo by JAMnews/Maka Tsnobiladze
Monday, 30 October, Azerbaijan. A military parade is scheduled to take place in Khankendi on November 8
● Azerbaijani media reports indicate that a military parade is scheduled to take place in Khankendi on November 8, the Day of Victory in the Second Karabakh war. President Ilham Aliyev is expected to host the parade, although this information has not been officially confirmed yet.
● An additional 20 families, totaling 70 people, among internally displaced persons have resettled in their hometown of Lachin for permanent residence. This brings the total number of residents who have returned to Lachin to 1,205. The process of families returning to Zangilan district is also ongoing, with another 25 families comprising 127 people moving to the smart village of Agaly. As a result, permanent residence has been provided for 175 families, totaling 871 people in the village.
● In Azerbaijan, nine individuals have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out assignments from Iran. The interior ministry has stated that these individuals were allegedly attempting to forcibly change the constitutional order and establish a state governed by Sharia law in the country.
Monday, 30 October, Armenia. The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention calls on the UN to dispatch a proper delegation to Karabakh
● Introduction of a new bill in parliament: Individuals aged 27 to 37 who have evaded military service can avoid criminal prosecution in Armenia by either serving in the army or making a financial contribution. The options include serving 12 months and paying $6,200, serving 6 months and paying $12.4 thousand, serving 1 month and paying $24.8 thousand, or paying $37.5 thousand in lieu of military service.
● Slovenia’s donation of €120k to Yerevan through the ICRC for assisting Karabakh refugees.
● A delegation from Armenia, led by defense minister Suren Papikyan, embarks on a working visit to China.
● The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention expresses disappointment with the outcome of the UN mission’s visit to Nagorno-Karabakh and calls on the UN to dispatch a proper delegation to the region.
● Armenia’s support for the UN General Assembly resolution calling for an “immediate, permanent, and sustained humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.” This resolution was drafted by a group of Arab countries with the backing of other nations, including Russia.
Monday, 30 October, Georgia. Putin and Georgian Deputy Prime Minister at the same banquet
● Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze called “ordinary nonsense” the report and photo of the online publication “Tabula” that Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy Levan Davitashvili attended a banquet-forum held in China with Vladimir Putin and listened to his speech. “This topic has been sucked out of the finger. Every reasonable person realizes that the Georgian delegation was invited like other delegations to this event” – Kaladze said.
● A man born in 1975, previously convicted, has been arrested on charges of human trafficking. Through psychological pressure and threats he forced his wife to collect alms in Batumi – reports the Interior Ministry.
● Ruling party MP Irakli Zarkva called the president’s decision to veto amendments to the law on assemblies and demonstrations “devoid of logic”. Read more here
● One of the leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream, Archil Talakvadze, promised to “take measures to overcome this presidential veto.” This law has been dubbed the “law on tents” in Georgia as it bans the installation of any structures during protests.
● Today the Georgian Parliament will hold hearings on regional security, and the head of the Intelligence Department Shalva Lomidze has been invited to make a report.
● Georgia abstained from voting at the UN General Assembly on a resolution calling for a sustainable humanitarian truce between Israel and Palestine. There were 120 votes in favor of the resolution, 14 against, including the U.S. and Israel. 45 countries abstained. Those who did not support the resolution and those who abstained see a problem in that the text does not mention Hamas, which is holding some 220 civilian hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
📷 Photo: Vladimir Putin and Levan Davitashvili at the same banquet
Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 23-27 October, 2023