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Thursday, April 7, 2016
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MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.38%, ALL -0.18%, Turnover ₮35.2 Million
April 6 (MSE) --
Historic low ₮2,050.85/USD set March 28, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time
BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, April 6 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM issues ₮102 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding -9.4% to ₮374.3 billion
April 6 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 102 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
₮15 Billion 39-Week T-Bills Sold at 14.394% Discount with ₮22.5 Billion Bids
April 6 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 22.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.394%.
₮10 Billion 2-Year GoM Bond Auction Receives No Bids
April 6 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 2 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 10 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. The Government bond was not sold the due to absence of both competitive and noncompetitive bids.
Subsidized Mortgage Report: ₮44.4 Billion Issued at 5%, ₮106 Billion at 8%, ₮22.5 Billion Transferred to 5%
April 6 (Bank of Mongolia) As of April 5 banks received ₮211.5 billion (₮205.9 billion as of April 4) mortgage requests of 3,482 citizens (3,392 as of April 4), of which ₮44.4 billion (₮43.4 billion as of April 4) of 942 citizens (924 as of April 4) have been approved at 5%, ₮106 billion (₮104 billion as of April 4) of 1,630 citizens (1,603 as of April 1) at 8%.
Also, ₮22.5 billion mortgages (₮22.5 billion as of April 4) of 547 borrowers (547 as of April 4) who bought housing in Ulaanbaatar ger area redevelopment zones, satellite districts Baganuur, Bagankhangai, and Nalaikh, new capital housing zones, and 21 aimags have been transferred to 5%.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Mongolia PM holds talks with AIIB president in HK
Ulaanbaatar, April 6 (MONTSAME) While taking part in the 19th Annual Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong, the Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg Wednesday met Mr Jin Liqun, the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The Premier congratulated Jin Liqun on being appointed the AIIB president and underlined that Mongolia accepted a proposal from the AIIB on co-founding the bank.
"During the APEC High-Level Meeting in 2013, the President of China Xi Jinping put forward a proposal on co-founding the AIIB to Asian countries including Mongolia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 2015, Mongolian parliament ratified an agreement submitted by the government on becoming a co-founder of the AIIB," the Premier mentioned.
In accordance with a memorandum established during a trilateral meeting of the Presidents of Mongolia, China and Russia last year in Russian Ufa, the three countries intend to co-formulate a programme on creating an economic corridor, the Premier said, and pointed out Mongolia wants to collaborate with the AIIB in resolving a financial matter for infrastructure projects within the programme.
In response, Mr Jin Liqun expressed a willingness to implement first-turn projects in Mongolia, and said the AIIB will study formulated infrastructure projects. He said it is possible to tackle investment issues in near future for the biggest and significant for Mongolia's development projects.
Present at the meeting were Kh.Gantsogt, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance; D.Gankhuyag, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and other officials.
Guest Post: Envisioning the future of Mongolia by students in Canada
By Batdorj BULGAN
April 5 (Mongolia Focus) On Monday, March 28, 2016 in Vancouver, Canada: UBC Mongolian Students and Alumni Club organized "The Future of Mongolia through Our Eyes"[Ирээдүй бидний нүдээр] workshop among Mongolian students in Vancouver. At the beginning of the workshop, the UBC MSA club announced its launch of operation and presented their vision to unite the Mongolian students and alumni in Canada.
The introduction of the event was followed by a presentation by Mongolian professors from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. Dr. A. Enkhbat, Dr. D. Myagmarsuren and Dr. Ya. Tuguldur are here to learn and develop the mining curricula for non-miners in Mongolia through the IMAGinE project from CIRDI.
Following the presentations, the students identified "the Good and the Bad" of the current condition of Mongolia and developed 4 alternative scenarios envisioning the future. The students felt that "freedom" has been achieved and the country is blessed with rich natural resources. The under development of the country in the eyes of the students were seen as a vast opportunity to create, to innovate and to grow. On the other hand, the political instability, environmental pollution and deterioration of soft and hard infrastructures were sources of distress. Among all, the students were grieved by the lack of morality that has clouded the current society of Mongolia.
The education system, economic opportunities (domestic businesses) and public investments were identified as the driving factors for the future deprivation or development of Mongolia. The notions of media literacy, critical (rational) thinking, morality, education founded on custom and science, and participation of individuals were highlighted as root causes which could play significant roles in shaping the future; these were listed under "personal enlightenment" [хувь хүний төлөвшил]. Each scenario created was based in the year 2030 in Mongolia of which the condition of the country was based on economic opportunities/entrepreneurship and personal enlightenment. For the scenario development exercise the students chose the economic opportunities/entrepreneurship as the vertical axis and personal enlightenment as the horizontal axis.
The scenario exercise helped students connect and share their concerns in the context of Mongolia and their participation in the making of the future. The UBC MSA club reiterated their invitation to the students to collaborate and actively participate in upcoming events and activities.
Ms. Batdorj BULGAN, MASc Student, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, UBC and a researcher of the Integrated Management and Governance in Extractives (IMAGinE) Mongolia project.
Police warns of fake cops knocking on expats' doors
April 6 (news.mn) In recent months, unknown people have been visiting the homes of foreigners living in Mongolia, introducing themselves as police officers. During the visits, they have collected personal information and registration details, explaining that this is connected with some research being undertaken. In order to clarify this, we contacted the General Police Authority (GPA) which is responsible for coordinating all police activity in Mongolia. The GPA responded by saying: "an embassy has already informed us about this. According to the embassy, unknown people have been gathering personal information and conducting research at the homes of foreigners". It was stressed that the GPA "did not organize any official research from the foreigners, who are living in Mongolia".
MP Ganbaatar to lead coalition of 11 parties?
April 6 (news.mn) Recently, Member of Parliament S.Ganbaatar has resigned as Chairman of the National Labor Party (NLP). The reason why he stood down was to lead the new union of 11 political parties which has is being formed for the forthcoming general election. The coalition consists of the NLP, the United Tradition Party, the Green Party, the Republican Party and others. Mr Ganbaatar, who will stand for election, representing the Darkhan Uul constituency – and where, of late he has been spending a lot of time, is confident of victory.
So far, the name of the new union has not been announced.
Mogi: the double deel bill moved to plenary session from committee, meaning only few ministers will be allowed to be MPs
Parliament Session Agenda for Apr 6: Standing Committee Meetings
April 6 (gogo.mn) Standing Committee meeting is scheduled for today.
1. Justice standing committee meeting at 9am.
· 4th conclusion of Constitutional court
· Draft law on the criminal law procedure
· Law on criminal investigation and charge and affiliated other drafts
· Law enforcement and affiliated other drafts
· Revised citizenship law of Mongolia and affiliated other drafts
· Amendments to draft law on criminal
2. Environment, food and agriculture standing committee at 9am.
· Law on organic food
· Law on geodesy and cartography
· Draft resolution of State Great Khural on registering some areas in state protected area
3. State structure standing committee meeting at 2pm.
· Draft resolution of State Great Khural on declaration of parliament and the city council elections
· Draft resolution of State Great Khural on approval of budget for parliament and ciy council elections
· Revised state service law and amendments to draft law on state service
· Amendments to law on parliament
· Draft resolution of State Great Khural on approval of regulation to organize public hearing
· 2015 operation report of the Parliament
Government Palace hosts public discussion on decentralization policy
Ulaanbaatar, April 6 (MONTSAME) The State House Tuesday hosted a public discussion about a policy document on decentralization.
The discussion brought together officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, also heads and secretaries of the Citizens' Representative Khurals (council) of the capital city, of provinces and soums; governors, scholars and researchers from the Management Academy; and representatives of international organizations.
The policy on decentralization is a document that focuses on ways of boosting transparent and responsible governance for adequately and effectively delivering state services to people, by systemically realizing actions for the decentralization.
Currently, a "Support for decentralization policy" project is being implemented by the Cabinet Secretariat for Government under an agreement between the government and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In its frames, the government intends to work out a strategic document on implementing complex actions of administration and decentralization and formulating methods of re-arranging functions of the governmental and localities' administrative bodies in comply with Mongolian conditions.
7 bills initiated by President Elbegdorj on agenda at parliament
April 6 (gogo.mn, Source: president.mn) The Standing Committee on Security and Foreign policy of the State Great Khural (Parliament) promoted to discuss draft bills initiated by Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj during joint session of Parliament.
These draft bills are on:
1. National security
2. Mongolian defense
3. Armed force
4. Military service
5. Military serviceman law
6. State and office confidentiality
7. Information security
Out of these 7, draft bills on state and office confidentiality; information security discussions were held in closed session.
Former PM claims President Elbegdorj is the 'leader of conspiracy'
April 6 (UB Post) The former Prime Minister of Mongolia, N.Altankhuyag, made a statement on Tuesday regarding the current political situation and blamed President Ts.Elbegdorj for ruling the country under a conspiracy.
After the former PM made his public address, President Ts. Elbegdorj replied to N.Altankhuyag on Twitter, stating, "I have heard Altankhuyag's statement. No one should fear talking about me. This is the advantage of Mongolia. Let's work together for legal governance."
Below are excerpts from N.Altankhuyag's statement:
"Mongolians will make their choices for the parliamentary elections in just two months. The 2016 regular spring session started on Wednesday. Therefore, I had no choice but to warn the people of Mongolia during such an important period. You all have seen whether or not Mongolian authorities could provide sustainable political and state operations during the last spring and autumn parliamentary sessions, and whether Parliament is independent or not. Who is ruling the state of Mongolia anyways? I have made several offers to resolve the current problems regarding the country's national security and independence through closed meetings. However, I could not find success. Thus, I have been left with no choice but to state some of these issues publicly, which should have been brought into discussion during closed parliamentary sessions.
"The actions of these conspirators, who play with the innocent's destiny by organizing false convictions, have crossed the line. The conditions for potential conspiracies have already formed to perform organized, scripted political dramas and to form a falsely organized Parliament in the upcoming political elections.
"The current economic crisis is rooted in a crisis of justice. The crisis of justice has loomed over the Government of Mongolia. The plotting government has gained power behind the scenes, making the governance of Mongolia look weak and powerless. Greedy people, who have no love of country, are abusing their authority for their personal interests, quelling the desire of Mongolian citizens to live well in their homeland, even overthrowing the government and messing up governance. They are explicitly stealing money, businesses, and licenses by discouraging and threatening the wealth creators with jail and law. Even public servants who are working for the state are being falsely convicted, suffering from a loss of reputation and life.
"Authorities are libeling everything the Democratic Party (DP) created and executed, and are still intentionally tarnishing the DP by claiming that the DP is not carrying out governance properly and claiming that it does not do anything, dividing into factions within the party.
"The plotting government creates factions and uses legislative bodies for their dirty purposes, creating a tunnel with a few people in the legislative bodies. They are wiping out the ones they don't like, who it is impossible to convince to join their pledge, by convicting them under fictitious claims without using the scales of justice. They are holding back the decision making power of some authorities by making threats. These conspirators have gained authority with the potential to endanger the independence of Mongolia, and are behaving arbitrarily and making arbitrary decisions. This was proven when they took the government authority illegally by overthrowing the New Government of Changes through a conspiracy.
"These conspirators halted the construction projects which were underway in favor of the lives of Mongolians, made people who worked for the people of Mongolia convicts, threatened citizens with debt, created chaos, divided the nation, and deliberately created anarchy in all things. It is time to tell them to stop the overindulgence and stop the unashamed attempt to divide Mongolia into pieces to own it.
"Today, I am left with no choice but to announce the name of one individual who is organizing all these conspiracies. Even though everyone knows who it is, no one is brave enough to name that person. People are afraid to be dragged into the tunnel of unfairness and to be repressed. However, I have decided to announce the name of that person, for the sake of Mongolia's interests.
"That person is the President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj, the person who won an election by calling on the nation to be fair. I have no doubt that after my statement, Ts.Elbegdorj and his billionaire partners – who were born from the government – will perform a play, asking the nation for help to combat corruption and blame me for creating a barrier in his effort to combat corruption.
"My statement can cause harm to my life, to my family, and to the people close to me, but I have no fear. It is time to save the democracy. It is time for the nation to leave fear and discord behind. The time has come for the corrupt to stop telling the public lies, repressing people, and creating chaos.
"Mongolia has a great destiny. The people of Mongolia are far-sighted. Mongolia exists because of patriots who are willing to devote everything to their country. Mongolia will exist independently in the future. I am calling on my supporters, members of the DP and its followers, and the people of Mongolia to join the fight for justice."
Demonstrators demand resignation of Speaker of Parliament
April 6 (UB Post) Mongoloo Avarya (Let's Save Mongolia) Movement demonstrated outside the Parliament House on April 4. The movement said that they want answers to the demands they submitted to state administrators on March 30.
Over 100 young people with red flags and ribbons, accompanied by senior citizens, demonstrated under the motto "We're the ones who have to save Mongolia", and marched from the Victory Square to the Parliament House.
The movement demanded answers to three questions: "How much debt does each Mongolian citizen have?", "When will the public get out of poverty?", and "When will we live like people in our home country?"
Head of the Let's Save Mongolia Movement B.Gankhuyag said that they are demonstrating as they haven't received a response to their questions, and demanded the Speaker of the Parliament to resign for ethical reasons. The demonstrators also submitted three more questions: "How much debt have you plunged your future into?", "How many years does it take for wealthy Mongolia to come out of poverty?", and "When will the citizens of Mongolia live in ownership of their home country?"
The movement said they surveyed approximately 6,000 Mongolians, and 78.8 percent of them replied that they don't believe in Mongolia's future.
"We're in this condition where there's a need for the public to move. Just now, they were about to bury nuclear waste in our country. We have to fight," said one of the demonstrators.
Later that day, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Office Amarjargal spoke with the demonstrators.
"I received your demand. The document demands the Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold to be ethical, realize his responsibility, and resign. You will receive a reply to your demands on April 11."
Land of sun and wind: 7th Renewable Energy Forum opens in UB
April 6 (news.mn) Today, Parliamentary Speaker Z.Enkhbold participated in the opening of the 7th annual Renewable Energy Forum, which is organized by the Ministry of Energy and the Mongolian Wind Energy Association.
In his speech the Speaker said: "Mongolia has huge energy reserves. Experts have proven that Mongolia has the ability to develop alternative energy sources of up to 2.6 terawatts, using the energy of the sun, wind, water and geothermal heat. For example: in 2001, the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Mongolian experts jointly developed an Atlas of Mongolian Wind Reserves. This atlas confirms that 10% of Mongolian territory has fabulous wind reserve potential. By using these wind reserves, Mongolia could generate 2.5 million gigawatts of electricity. Regarding solar energy, Mongolia has the Gobi, where 270 days are sunny days with clear skies – just slightly less than the Sahara. Therefore, Mongolia has a big future with renewable energy.
Currently, renewable energy accounts for only 8% of total energy produced in Mongolia. Over the next 5 years, we are going to increase the production of renewable energy by implementing ten projects to the value of USD 1.5 billion in the solar and wind energy sectors".
The 7th Renewable Energy Forum is being attended by approximately, 300 representatives, including foreign and Mongolian energy experts and NGOs.
"Mongolia Mining 2016" opens today
April 6 (news.mn) Today, the international mining exhibition "Mongolia Mining 2016" opened. Approximately, 120 firms from 15 countries are participating in the event, which is being held at the "Buyant Ukhaa" Sports Palace.
"Mongolia Mining 2016", which will run until 8th April provides a platform for producers and supply companies, contractors, subcontractors and sector analysts to meet under one roof. During the exhibition, discussions will be hosted by the Ministry of Mining, the Natural Resource Authority, the Erdenet Copper Plant, Erdenes Mongol. Baganuur stock company, Shivee-Ovoo stock company, Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi companies. These discussions will include presentations on projects, information on procurement procedure and requirements.
During "Mongolia Mining 2016", detailed statistical data and information on non-ferrous mineral extraction as well as information on exploration and extraction rights will be provided. The supply companies and subcontracting companies will be gathered at one place. Foreign companies play a huge role in the Mongolian mining sector. This year, as usual, sector specific groups such as the Association of British Mining Engineering Companies (ABMEC) is again in Mongolia, which is combining "Mongolia Mining 2016" with visits to Shivee-Ovoo and Oyu Tolgoi.
Mongolia-Bulgaria intergovernmental commission meeting held in Sofia
Ulaanbaatar, April 6 (MONTSAME) Mongolia and Bulgaria held their intergovernmental commission meeting for trade, economy, science and technical cooperation on April 4-5 in Sofia.
During the meeting, co-chaired by R.Burmaa MP and Minister of Food and Agriculture, and by Daniela Vezieva, Bulgaria's Vice Minister of Economy, the sides discussed a present situation of the bilateral cooperation in the spheres, an implementation of works agreed by the previous meeting, a realization course of works concurred during a state visit of the Bulgarian President to Mongolia in last May, and ways of boosting bilateral relations and cooperation.
At the end of the meeting, a protocol of the 6th intergovernmental meeting was signed by the chairs of the meeting. They noted this meeting's fruitfulness in terms of forwarding the collaboration in trade, economy, agriculture, environment, construction, culture, education, sciences and technical spheres.
After this, a Mongolia-Bulgaria business forum was run with a participation of some 50 delegates from both sides.
President's Chief of Staff Meets UK Ambassador
Ulaanbaatar, April 6 (MONTSAME) Head of the Presidential Office P.Tsagaan Wednesday received Ms Catherine Arnold, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom to Mongolia.
The sides discussed parliamentary election that are expected this June in Mongolia, and exchanged views on forwarding the Mongolia-UK relations and on our investment environment.
The same day, Tsagaan head met a mountaineer B.Tseveendash IMS who intends to conquer Mount Everest for the third time. He granted the mountaineer the State flag and wished him success.
Mongolia at Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2016
Ulaanbaatar, April 6 (MONTSAME) A delegation led by N.Battsereg, the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, has taken part in the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2016, which ran April 3-5 in Bangkok of Thailand.
Worked as a deputy chair of the forum, Mr Battsereg attended a high-level debate themed "Regional priorities for ensuring implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", and presented ongoing policy and measures in Mongolia for realizing sustainable development goals.
Battsereg also met with Ms Shamshad Akhtar, the Executive Secretary of UNESCAP for Asia and the Pacific and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to share with him views on the Mongolia-UNESCAP cooperation.
President of the United Nations Environmental Assembly S.Oyun MP chaired a special meeting organized within the forum as well.
The first regional forum on sustainable development, following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September of 2015, aimed to shape the regional response to the 2030 Agenda. The forum engaged member States, UN institutions and other institutions, major groups and other stakeholders on regional priorities for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific, reflecting ESCAP's mandate for follow up and review.
Displaced Mongolian herders destined for a life of deprivation in urban slums
April 6 (IFRC) Thousands of Mongolian herder families are at risk of losing their livelihoods this winter due to a combination of summer drought and extreme winter conditions. More than 360,000 animals have already died in Mongolia this winter, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal to support the Mongolian Red Cross Society in providing assistance to those who have been worst hit.
Many impoverished herder families are being forced to migrate to urban slums. "Herding animals is the only way to make a living on the grassland," said 22-year-old Naranchimeg, who moved with her family from Hovd province to Ulaan Baatar in 2013. "We used to have 300 cattle and 100 sheep, but lost them during the dzud in 2010. We finally managed to move to the city, but we are still struggling to even feed ourselves," she said.
Mongolian slums are commonly known as ger districts after the tent-like traditional Mongolian herder dwellings that are still used by many of the inhabitants. Naranchimeg and her family live together in one little ger, which has been erected on a steep hillside with a view of the sprawling slums. Here there are no public services or infrastructure such as sewage systems or roads. Like thousands of other newly arrived herders, they frequently need to move their ger from place to place as they do not own a plot of land where they can settle permanently.
"I wish I could return to the grasslands in Hovd province, but we don't have the money to buy new livestock," she said. "Here in Ulaan Baatar it is almost impossible for us to get any proper jobs because we have no skills except for herding animals, and that will not help us." Most of the day she stays at home alone with her sister's little baby while other family members are out looking for work.
"There are days when we have nothing to eat, even two or three days. That makes me feel really desperate, and on such days I can only think about how to find work so I can buy some food," she said.
But is not only the extreme poverty in the city that makes her long for the idyllic traditional herder lifestyle. "I really loved being with the animals, milking the goats and the cows and having the endless grassland and blue sky around me," she said, "But really what I miss most of all is the clean air."
Winter temperatures in Ulaan Baatar are between -30°C and -40°C, and destitute slum dwellers are forced to burn anything from old tires to plastics to keep warm. Out of thousands of small chimneys rise pillars of dark, poisonous smoke which has become the source of many health problems.
Her neighbour, Mrs. Dolgor Bolormaa, also misses the clean air in the grasslands. The 43-year-old grandmother from Hintii province lives together with nine of her children and grandchildren. "We lost all of our animals in the dzud in 2001, and for a long time after that we lived in Bayanzurkh district centre in our province, hoping we would be able to start herding again," she explained. "But it was impossible, and finally in 2013 when we had enough money to transport our ger we moved to Ulaan Baatar."
In the beginning, the family survived on food sent by relatives in Hintii province, and despite the many years of poverty they have had to endure, Mrs Bolormaa considers herself among the lucky ones. "Now my son has a job, so there is at least someone in the family who has an income."
"Few herders have any occupational skills that they can use in an urban context, and many of them are doomed to a life of extreme deprivation in very unhealthy living conditions," said Davaajargal Baasansuren, Head of the Mongolian Red Cross Society Disaster Management Programme. In order to provide new livelihood opportunities for herders displaced by this year's dzud, the Red Cross will provide vocational training and small business grants to suitable beneficiaries as a follow-up to its emergency relief.
President Elbegdorj Receives International Red Cross President
April 6 (gogo.mn) April 5, Mongolian president Ts. Elbegdorj received Mr. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
President Ts. Elbegdorj noted the significant humanitarian aids done by the ICRC to help those suffering around the globe and also expressed his gratitute for sharing the sorrows of the people who witnessed armed conflicts and attacks.
Mr. Peter Maurer mentioned that the ICRC holds neutral status and seeks to help those people who suffered from armed conflicts, violence and other emergency state situations. He also said ICRC works to advertise humanitarian law and promote that these laws are adopted into the constitutional law of the country.
President Ts. Elbegdorj underlined Mongolia holds neutral status in Northeast Asia region and participates in peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, Afghanistan, helping the people of the countries. As a neutral status country, Mongolia has good relations with neighbouring states such as Russia, China, South Korea and North Korea and exchanges democracy experience with Myanmar.
The annual "In search of Khaan" international military exercise which takes place in Mongolia is one example that Mongolia supporting international humanitarian operations, laws and their implementation, he highlighted.
During the meeting president Ts. Elbegdorj underlined Mongolian Red Cross Society works closely with the ICRC.
FM meets ICRC president – Montsame, April 6
In Memory of Sumbe Tomorsukh
April 6 (Snow Leopard Trust) Our Mongolian colleague and friend Sumbe Tomorsukh would have celebrated his 28th birthday today. He was a talented researcher, and a passionate, dedicated advocate for the wildlife of his beloved Tost Mountains, in Mongolia's South Gobi province.
Sumbe was found dead in November 2015. An investigation into his death is ongoing, and his family and friends are still looking for answers as to what happened to him.
With his enthusiasm, Sumbe inspired everyone he met. He'll never be forgotten.
One of Sumbe's great passions was the conservation of snow leopards and their prey species in the Tost Mountains, of Gurvantes, South Gobi. This mountain range, which is the site of the Snow Leopard Trust's ongoing long-term snow leopard study, is home to a stable, breeding population of these endangered cats.
It is also covered in mining exploration licenses that give companies the right to probe for precious minerals and potentially excavate them, which would destroy large parts of this prime snow leopard habitat.
In 2010, after a successful campaign led by the local community and assisted by our Mongolia team, Tost received the status of a Local Protected Area. This meant that no new mining licenses could be issued, but existing licenses remained valid.
Now, two members of parliament have submitted a draft for legislation that would elevate Tost to a National Protected Area [link in Mongolian], and would secure it for the future. Sumbe would have been beyond excited about this.
We're hoping that the Mongolian parliament will pass this draft and make Tost a lasting monument to Sumbe's legacy.
Spiritual Center Aims To Revive Buddhism In Former Communist Mongolia
With a 177-foot tall statue of the Buddha of loving kindness at the heart of it all
April 6 (The Huffington Post) Since Mongolia's transition from communism to constitutional democracy in 1990, the East Asian country has worked to revive its centuries-old Buddhist tradition. Now, a major Buddhist site is in the works under the spiritual guidance of the Dalai Lama and organizers say it's bound to become a global hub for training and meditation.
The Grand Maitreya Project is being spearheaded by artists, developers, spiritual leaders and more in Mongolia and in the United States. The site will feature retreat and meditation facilities and Buddhist educational centers, with a 177-foot tall statue of Maitreya Bodhisattva, the Buddha of loving kindness, at the heart of it all.
"The intention is that the size and beauty of this statue will bring this symbol of love to the attention of many people around the world," Michael Fouts, executive director of the U.S. branch of the project, told The Huffington Post.
After decades of rule by an oppressive communist government, which destroyed hundreds of Buddhist monasteries, burned ancient texts and executed thousands of lamas, Mongolia transitioned to a constitutional government with a parliament and an elected president in 1990. With this change came the opportunity to revive the country's Buddhist community, to which end the Grand Maitreya Project aims to serve.
The project is currently under construction at a Buddhist holy site known as Heart Hill near the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Heart Hill is believed to be the place where a revered Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, or leader of Mongolian Buddhist, lived some 300 years ago, Fouts said.
"It is very special and auspicious for the Mongolian people to build symbols of love and Buddhist centers on this site, as well as to receive teachings here," Fouts said.
Other elements of the site draw from the country's Buddhist history, including the Maitreya Bodhisattva statue which was designed in the likeness of a 17th century statue sculpted by Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu and a famous Mongolian artist known as the "Michelangelo of Asia."
In addition to the Dalai Lama, spiritual leaders helping advise the project's directors include Khamba Lama, or senior lama, Gabju Demberelyn Choijamts, Tibetan Lama Jhado Rinpoche and American Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman, who serves as president of Tibet House in New York City.
"The whole concept is one we support — a free expression, forward- and outward-looking and hopeful for the future, of the Buddhist roots of Mongolian culture," said Thurman's son, Ganden, the executive director of Tibet House, in an email to HuffPost.
The site is projected to be completed by 2018, Fouts said, and will be open at no charge to the public. The statue site and educational facilities are intended to be home to a new holy place for the Dalai Lama, who has visited Mongolia on several occasions in recent years.
With centers representing different Buddhist lineages and spiritual traditions from around the world, Fouts said, the site will be "a unique place for all spiritual traditions to come together in peace."
The Eagle Huntress: New Generations of Eagle Huntresses in Kazakhstan and Mongolia – Part II
Nomad Women Have Hunted with Eagles since Antiquity
April 6 (Ancient Origins) The ancient practice of eagle hunting is carried on today by a few hundred nomadic Kazakhs in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Xinjiang (northwest China). The majority of Kazakh eagle hunters live in Mongolia, and keep in touch with Kazakhs in other countries.
The Life of an Eagle Hunter
Both Mongolia and the Kazakh community have a long history of women's equality in education, government, medicine, and other fields. Girls and boys start riding horses at age five and help with herds and putting up gers. Women can compete in horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Eagle hunting is traditionally passed down among male relatives, but there are no religious or cultural prohibitions against a girl becoming an eagle hunter (bürkitshi, berkutchi). Children commonly help to care for the eagles, go along on hunts, and attend eagle festivals. Anyone strong enough to carry an eagle can begin apprenticeship with one's own eagle. The traditional test of a bürkitshi is a successful hunting trip on horseback. Not everyone continues eagle hunting: military service, education, marriage, family, and employment can intervene.
The Eagle Huntress Princess Nirgidma
The turbulent history and isolation of Central Asia makes it difficult to trace eagle hunters in the modern era. A Mongol horsewoman-eagle huntress who became a celebrity in Europe in the 1920s was Princess Nirgidma (1907-1983). A highly educated member of the Torghut/Oirat/Kalmyk nomads who ranged from the Altai to the Tarim Basin, Nirgidma was photographed with her hunting eagle in 1932 in Urumqi (where the mummified eagle huntress now resides, see Part 1). "We Mongols are emancipated," Nirgidma declared in a National Geographic interview, "a good horse and a wide plain, that's our desire."
During the Soviet era, eagle hunting waned but began to reemerge in the late 20th century, with annual eagle contests, like the Sayat festival at Nura, Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan's Salburun festival began in 1997; Mongolia's festival began in Ulgii in 1999.
The Eagle Huntress Makpal Abdrazakova
In 2009, Reuters released a video of the young eagle huntress Makpal Abdrazakova competing in an eagle festival in Kazakhstan. In 2010, falconry historian Dennis Keen photographed Makpal with her eagle. By 2011, many photos, interviews, and videos in international media presented Makpal as the sole female bürkitshi in Kazakhstan. As a child she helped her father with his eagle and at 13 Makpal began training her own eagle Ak Zhelke ("White Neck"). Makpal says Kazakh elders (with one exception) gave their blessing because they "remembered that women used to hunt with horses, dogs, and eagles."
Makpal, now a lawyer, continues to win eagle contests and encourages other young women. By 2012, her father Murat Abdrazakov was training three new girls aged 8, 12, and 15 in Kazakhstan. That year, a young horsewoman with an eagle appeared at the festival in Ulgii, Mongolia; in 2013, a young eagle huntress attended the festival in Nura, Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, in 2009-2013, the eagle hunter Kukan taught a young American woman, Lauren McGough, to be a bürkitshi.
Aisholpan Carries on Family Legacy of Eagle Hunting
In 2013, Asher Svidensky photographed Kazakh bürkitshi in Mongolia and with the help of his guide "discovered" Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the 13-year-old daughter of an eagle hunter. Her older brother had joined the army and Aisholpan was helping to carry on the family legacy. Svidensky's photo essay of Aisholpan posing with her father's eagle went viral in 2014. Apparently unaware of Makpal and other girls learning skills, Svidensky cited extreme cold and difficult terrain as the reason eagle hunting was reserved for males, and portrayed Aisholpan as the only girl. But since antiquity, the challenging conditions on the steppes have meant that men and women engaged in strenuous riding and other activities together.
In early 2014, inspired by Svidensky's photos, film maker Otto Bell flew to Mongolia to secure the rights to Aisholpan's story, stating that he "felt a sense of responsibility to carefully bring her story to life through film." Svidensky and Bell returned later in 2014 to film Aisholpan capturing a fledgling eagle (Ak Kanat, "White Wings") and competing in the festival in Ulgii, where she won her first eagle hunting contest.
The Truth Behind The Eagle Huntress
Bell's breathtaking documentary "The Eagle Huntress" previewed at Sundance in January 2016 to international acclaim. In interviews, press releases, and publicity for the film--and despite Bell's knowledge in 2014 of Makpal Abdrazakova's prior eagle hunting--Aisholpan is presented as the only girl in history to become an eagle hunter, defying Kazakh elders' belief that women are "too fragile and weak." Bell characterizes Mongolia as backwards and claims that because the Kazakhs live in such isolation they "are ignorant about what women can do." Interviewed in Mongolia's leading newspaper in 2016, however, Aisholpan's mother Alma stated that there are no restrictions on girls deciding to be eagle hunters. This fact is confirmed by several well-known Kazakh eagle hunters such as Agii Makhsum in Mongolia, and by other female bürkitshi in Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Kazakh families are deeply committed to preserving their ancient legacy.
Aisholpan's younger sister intends to carry on the family's heritage when Aisholpan leaves for college. An extraordinary young woman, Aisholpan has become an empowering example for girls around the world. Her achievements are impressive. But they are made possible not only by her own grit and skill but by her nomadic culture, in which women can be men's equals and girls can train eagles.
Documentary photography and films are expected to be ethnographically sensitive and factual, so it is surprising that the creators of Aisholpan's story for Western audiences fail to acknowledge Makpal's eagle hunting prowess. They also misrepresent the historical independence of women in Kazkah and Mongolian culture. Strong women have always been part of the venerable Kazakh nomad heritage and girls were never forbidden to train eagles. Mongolia is far from backwards: women have voted and held office since 1924 in Mongolia, more than 80 percent of women have secondary education, and 70 percent of college students are women.
New Generations of Eagle Huntresses
In 2010, at age 5, Aisulu began helping her father Ardak train an eagle. Aisulu's parents approved her wish to be a burkitshi at age 11, noting that her grandfather would be very proud. At the 2014 Ulgii festival, while Bell filmed Aisholpan, yet another young eagle huntress in training captured attention: Amanbol, the 9-year-old daughter of the bürkitshi featured in the award-winning documentary "The Eagle Hunter's Son" (2009, dir. Renè Bo Hansen). The film starred her older brother Bazarbai when he was 12. After their father died, Bazarbai began teaching Amanbol to be an eagle huntress. As Belgian photographer Stefan Cruysberghs remarked, Amanbol and Bazarbai are "the new generation [who] will make sure these ancient traditions will be kept alive."
In 2015, Aisholpan and Amanbol attended the Ulgii festival, along with a third young girl bürkitshi apprentice. She is the daughter of Shohan, a prominent eagle hunter in Mongolia.
Strength and Openness of the Kazakh Community
Historian of Central Asian falconry Takuya Soma points out that falconry disappeared in other less open, sedentary societies. In contrast, Soma notes, eagle hunting persisted and has a future among Kazakhs because of their traditional belief that women can participate in the same activities as men. The "chief reason why eagle hunting is still practiced" is the "absence of strict social regulations to join." As Dennis Keen notes, "curious adults and children absorb eagle hunting not just from 'masters' but from from the culture at large." Soma, Keen, McGough, and the Kazkahs themselves affirm that anyone young or old, male or female, is free to find a teacher, "capture and own their eagle, and hunt without any restrictions." Rather than exclusive to "Kazakh masculinity," bürkitshi techniques are "shared with community members, elders, wives, and children," even non-Kazakhs. This "open knowledge and free participation," open to anyone strong, capable, and determined enough, continues Soma, "is a remarkable trait in pastoralist society," unlike the all-male elite hunting of sedentary cultures.
"Generally men used to participate in the festival" at Ulgii, remarks Mongolian photographer Batzaya Choijiljav, but "the younger generation" of eagle hunters includes girls, ensuring its future. The intrepid eagle huntresses Makpal, Aisholpan, Aisulu, Amanbol, and the new generation of eagle hunters' daughters are capturing world attention through photographs and film. The great excitement surrounding their extraordinary accomplishments is a powerful affirmation of the egalitarian values that were once taken for granted among the ancient steppe nomad cultures.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Deborah Armstrong, Bek/Back to Bek Travel, Ariunbold Dorjsembe, Meghan Fitz-James, Alan Gates, Dennis Keen, Byeibitgul Khamsen, Kent Madin, Lauren McGough, Agii Makhsum, and Dauit Daukysh Ryskhan.
Adrienne Mayor, Research Scholar in Classics and History of Science, Stanford University, is the author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World (2014), and The Poison King: Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy, nonfiction finalist for the 2009 National Book Award.
US returns looted Mongolian dinosaur fossils
April 6 (BB News) The US has returned a collection of dinosaur eggs and other fossils to Mongolia after finding they had been smuggled out of the country.
The collection includes the nearly complete skeletons of Bactrosaurus, a nest of Protoceratops eggs, and the very rare skull of an Alioramus, which was related to the T-Rex.
The skull was confiscated after it was shipped into the US with false papers.
The US has returned 23 dinosaur fossils to Mongolia in the last three years.
Other items returned in this shipment included a Psittcosaurus skull and a Protoceratops skeleton.
US customs officials said the rare Alioramus skull, believed to be around 70 million years old, was part of a shipment put on sale on eBay by a French dealer.
It was shipped into Newark, New Jersey in 2014 with papers claiming the items were replicas and from France.
But the fossils were later confirmed to be real and to have come from Mongolia.
In 2013 the US returned more than a dozen illegally smuggled dinosaur skeletons to Mongolia, including Tyrannosaurus bataars and Oviraptors.
Mongolia has some of the largest dinosaur fossil beds in the world.
U.S. returns dinosaur fossils to Mongolia (video) – FOX 5, April 6
Mongolia looks to send largest Olympic team ever to Rio 2016
April 6 (news.mn) Only, four months remain before the opening of the 31st Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Around the world, Olympic qualification competitions are underway in numerous sporting categories.
Currently, Mongolian athletes have qualified for 21 Olympic categories. The details are as follows: nine qualified in free wrestling (male-5, female-4), one in archery (1 male), and three in shooting (all women), four in the marathon (male-2; female-2) and four in boxing (all men).
In addition, one man and one woman will travel to Rio, in order to participate in the swimming category, bringing the total Mongolian contestants to 23.
It is anticipated that the full Mongolian judo squad is also likely to qualify. Furthermore, there are still possibilities for our athletes to qualify in free wrestling, boxing, weight lifting, archery, taekwondo and cycling.
It looks as if the Mongolia may have a large complement of athletes traveling to the 2016 Olympics – possibly up to 40 sportsmen and women. In previous Olympics, such as London-2012 and Beijing 2008, Mongolia was represented by 29 sportsmen.
On the catwalk: Mongolian beauties with top international models
April 6 (news.mn) The first fashion show of spring season "Missosology Mongolia" was held on 2nd April in the Soyombo Hall of Ulaanbaatar's "Tuushin Hotel".
In addition to the Mongolian models, some of whom have represented the country in international competitions, Miss Hungary and Miss Tonga also participated in "Missosology Mongolia". The beauty pageant and fashion show was organized by the "Miss Mongolia Consulting" NGO as part of the run-up to "Face of Beauty International-2016", which will be held in September in Ulaanbaatar.
On the catwalk were numerous top-models including Dalma Karman who is Miss Hungary, Tiara Winner of the "Face of Beauty International-2013" and New South Wales-based Diamond Langi, who was runner up of "Face of Beauty International-2015". The Mongolian models included: N.Anu, T.Battsetseg, A.Bayartsetseg, B.Badamtsetseg, B.Bilguunzaya, G.Bilguun, B.Gunzaya, Ts.Enkhjin, E.Altanzul, B.Nomin-Erdene and S.Pagmadulam. The models were promoting the creations by Mongolian luxury brands such as "Precious Fashion House", "O Couture" by designer D.Otgonjargal, the "Maral" bag and purse brand, "Gobi" Cashmere and Italian "Loriblu".
Diamond Langi's Facebook shows what a full schedule she has had in Mongolia, visiting Terelj and other landmarks, experiencing traditional nomadic life and, most importantly, dressing in a Mongolian deel.
UB participates for the first time at Moscow Int'l Travel & Tourism Exhibition
April 6 (gogo.mn) In scope of "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" program, UB city participated in 23rd Moscow International Travel & Tourism Exhibition (MITT) which was took place in Moscow during Mar 23-26.
City tourism department, MIAT JSC and New Juulchin group represented Mongolia at the MITT which gathered more than 2000 tourism companies from 85 countries.
Over 32,000 specialist visited the exhibition and 54% of which were tourism agency, 21% of which were tour operator, 9% of which were accommodation service providers and 8.4% of which were representatives from information technology and transportation companies.
During the exhibition, City tourism department promoted travel sights in UB city and around the city, MIAT JSC introduced international flight packages including Moscow-UB-Moscow while New juulchin group advertised cultural and tourism events to be held in scope of Friendly Ulaanbaatar program.
City tourism department reported that we have planned to participate in international tourism exhibitions which will be held in Germany, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan with the aim to promote international direct flights as well as to increase the number of tourists from neighbor countries.
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