Friday, January 6, 2017

[MNT sets more lows; IMF returns this month; Sat is a working day; China closes Dornod border; and parents to demonstrate again]

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Friday, January 6, 2017

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original




Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.06%, ALL -0.04%, Turnover ₮12.7 Million Shares


·         MNT renews historic lows vs USD, CNY, HKD

·         BoM sells US$44m at ₮2,497, CNY10m at ₮362.05

·         IMF 'rescue' team returning to Mongolia

·         DBM to receive ₮1 trillion injection

·         2017 Mongolia Economic and Political Outlook

Politics & Legal

·         This Saturday is a nationwide working day

·         260 laws and regulations to be amended in next four years

·         Public documents to be stored in digital archives

·         General plan on population distribution and settlement to be developed

·         Authorities of provinces and capital city gather for seminar

·         Driving while high may be punishable by 7-30 days of detainment

·         Allowing limited dual citizenship would be a smart choice


·         Prime Minister gives Exclusive brand products to newborn babies


·         Parents to demonstrate against air pollution again on Jan 28

·         Energy Regulatory Commission provides details on newly discounted electricity rates

·         No license plate limitation on Saturday, Jan 7


·         Beijing closes Mongolia's main oil export border with no explanation

·         Parliament Speaker receives new Japanese ambassador

·         Speaker of Mongolian Parliament to visit Japan

·         Foreign Minister receives new Ambassador of Japan

·         Defense Minister meets Cuban Ambassador

Health & Education

·         Boards of state-run universities renewed

·         28 Laurentian University students, professors to travel to Mongolia

Culture & Society

·         Nomads no more: why Mongolian herders are moving to the city

·         The Return of the Guardian Dogs of the Steppes

·         1900s Mongolia photographed by French researchers

Nature & Environment

·         Mongolia faces big chill as arctic winter worsens


·         Mongolian NOC Celebrates Athletic Achievements

·         Amateur chess players to compete for national title

·         United World Wrestling Names Mongolian Wrestler's Photo Best of 2016

·         D.Otgondalai, E.Sodnompiljee and B.Uugankhuu become State Honored Athletes

Art & Entertainment

·         Judge Deegii shares thoughts on 'Mongolia's Got Talent'

·         Khusugtun ethnic band to perform in Brazil

·         Mongolian and Russian Duo Winning Awards and Breaking Cultural Barriers

·         'The Eagle Huntress' is an uplifting tale for the new year

·         Artist Profiles: Altangerel Khishigtogtokh, Morin Khuur Player and Pianist


·         New UB International Airport expected to be operational in first quarter of 2017

·         Mongolia to establish Tourism Development Centre

·         Visa procedure to be simplified for group tourists




Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Jan 5: Top 20 -0.06%, ALL -0.04%, Turnover 12.7 Million Shares

January 5 (MSE) --

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Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, January 5 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,500), TDB (Buy ₮2,492 Sell ₮2,500), Golomt (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,500), XacBank (Buy ₮2,492 Sell ₮2,501), State Bank (Buy ₮2,490 Sell ₮2,500)

USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:

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BoM sells US$44m at 2,497, CNY10m at 362.05 with $60.4m, CNY108m bids, no swap offers received

January 5 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT 2,497.10 for USD 60.4 million and weighted average rate of MNT 359.34 for CNY 108.0 million respectively. The BoM accepted bid offers of USD 44.0 million with a single rate of MNT 2,497.00 and bid offers of CNY 10.0 million with a single rate of MNT 362.05.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM did not received any swap agreement offers.

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IMF 'rescue' team returning to Mongolia on January 20

January 5 ( The team of experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will return to Ulaanbaatar on 20th of January. During the visit, they will continue discussions with the Mongolian finance minister and other government officials. The IMF 'rescue' team first arrived in Mongolia in October; on this occasion, they will focus on the reform programme which is so urgently needed by the Mongolian economy.

Mongolia has been struggling to control its budget deficit, honour its international payments and curb the severe depreciation of its national currency, the Tugrik, following the global commodity price rout. Mongolia has requested a rescue loan from the IMF as it faces an escalating battle to plug the gap in its public finances. This year, the Mongolian budget deficit plummeted to 20 per cent of GDP and currently faces around $2bn in public and private debt in 2017. Analysts have suggested various ways of to reducing the budget deficit and the need to stop long-term lending.

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DBM to receive 1 trillion injection, transfer loans to government

January 5 (UB Post) On December 28, 2016, the Parliament and the Government approved a resolution to increase Development Bank of Mongolia's (DBM) capital by one trillion MNT (approximately 400 million USD) and to transfer loan portfolios that will be repaid from the State budget to the Ministry of Finance.

Since its inception, DBM has extended more than fifty percent of its loans to projects that have no revenue generating abilities. These projects include roads, bridges, and utilities, and their repayments were guaranteed by the State Budget.

Many criticized DBM's business model and past practices of financing a budget-related expenditure instead of focusing on large-scale development projects that actually produce revenue.

This resolution will allow DBM to grow as a classic development financial institution with strong financial foundation that focuses on commercially viable projects in energy, mining, transportation, and manufacturing sectors.


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2017 Mongolia Economic and Political Outlook

January 5 ( Everyone agrees that Mongolian economy will get worse in 2017. The country is now facing many challenges including soaring budget deficit and stopped foreign investment. However the situation can be changed, if authorities make the right decisions on following projects. 


Unofficial talks about opening local branches of foreign banks have spread since July, 2016 as new Government has begun to form. Sooner some MPs said that the Government should create a new legal environment for foreign banks allowing investment activities only. 

Cabinet discussed the issue on Dec 21st, 2016 and obliged Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance to develop a draft law on amendments to the Banking Law. 

Foreign bank branches in Mongolia are required only to grant loans, invest, make domestic and foreign payments, provide loan guarantees, sell and purchase bonds, while not being allowed to provide saving accounts. This will lower interest rate and create real competition in the banking sector. 


Gatsuurt gold deposit is one of the halted projects of the country. Gatsuurt deposit proven reserves are at 50 tons of gold and profitable effect reserves are calculated to be 25 tons, which fully complies to requirements for Strategic Deposit.

Mining license holder Centerra Gold LLC have got Gatsuurt Deposit Reserve Report approved in 2013 and Feasibility Study in 2014 by the Mineral Resources Council and the site is ready for the mining.

However previous Government has tried to start the mining operations of the deposit, but faced with civil protests as Gatsuurt deposit locates in Noyon Mountain that stores in itself the tombs of Mongol nobles and other cultural findings dating back to the Hun Empire period. While the graves and findings of ancient Huns are located just at 5.8 km South West of the exploration site.

Protesters took Centerra Gold LLC to the court and the Capital City Court made a decision on protester`s side.

Newly formed Government led by Prime Minister J.Erdenebat claimed to start Gatsuurt project, but the dates are still uncertain. Current authorities are implementing a "Gold" program in order to maintain foreign exchange reserves and started following policy to raise gold delivery. 


The New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, locates 52 km south from the city center, will be commissioned this year. In May 2008, a ¥49 billion (US$385 million) 40-year soft loan agreement at 0.2% interest was signed between the Government of Mongolia and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to build a new international airport. 

During the construction process, additional cost of ¥5.9 billion were required. The Government of Mongolia requested additional loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency.

33.5 km roads from Ulaanbaatar city to new airport has started to be constructed with Chinese soft loan, planning to finish within the second quarter of 2016. However the road project has been falling behind the schedule. 

The New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, a construction with the biggest foundation in Mongolia is designed with the capacity of up to 3 million passengers per year and have capacity to receive 1500 passengers per hour.  

The airport is able to launch 6 planes from its passenger boarding bridges and 13 planes from its field. 5 planes with up to 300 passengers are able to take off at once. 


The Development Bank of Mongolia faces a $580 million repayment on Mar, 2017. However, the country is not able to meet the debt obligation. The state-owned Development Bank of Mongolia, which finances social development and commercial projects, and grants subsidised mortgage credits, has raised a $580 million bond from Singapore Stock Exchange on Mar 4, 2012 with an annual 5.75 percent interest rate that is due in Mar 21, 2017. 

Government is seeking ways to delay the payment or more cost-effective and long-term loans. 

Although the country has started negotiations with Internationl Monetary Fund, projects and the amount of loan are still unclear.

$580 million bond financed Khutul cement plant, Amgalan power plant, Tavantolgoi-Gashuun Sukhait railway, Geology Central Laboratory, 33.4 km railway from Tumurtei deposit to Khandgai, extension of III and IV power stations, expansion of mining capacity of Baganuur coal deposit, development of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, apartments for 1152 households near Yarmag bridge, Sainshand industrial complex and projects for small and medium enterprises. 


Tavan Tolgoi, which contains 7.4 billion ton of coking and thermal coal deposits deal to be continued.

Mining and Heavy Industry Ministry officials received delegations from China Shenhua Energy Company Limited on Dec, 2016. During the meeting, China Shenhua proposed to commence Tavantolgoi`s power station, railway construction and mining projects at the same time. 

Previously, China Shenhua has expressed incentives to invest in Tavantolgoi coal deposit. The company has won the bid, announced by the previous government, establishing a consortium agreement jointly with the Energy Resource LLC and Japanese Sumitomo Corporation.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat obliged working group to move the project as soon as possible. However, consortium agreement, winner of the bid might have new competitor due to domestic entities having expressed interest in investing Tavan Tolgoi jointly. 

Government refers to the following conditions on Tavan Tolgoi deposit:

  • Mongolia will own 51% while China Shenhua will own 49% of a company to build a railway from Tavan Tolgoi mine site to Gashuunsukhait
  • Investment and cooperation agreement period shall be 22 years, consistent with the operating license period
  • The operations to be 51% owned by Mongolian company
  • Target market of the project shall be China and the third country 
  • Subcontractors shall be Mongolian entities and the contract term shall be not less than 5 years.


The Presidents of China, Russia and Mongolia have signed off on a Trilateral Program for the development of an Economic Corridor between the three countries. This program includes the establishment of a new Northern Rail Corridor connecting China with Russia through Mongolia. The Northern Rail Corridor is a continuous railway stretching from Tianjin Port on China's east coast through Beijing, Erlian, Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet to Ovoot, Arts Suuri to Kyzyl, connecting to the Trans Siberian Railway at Kuragino. 

Aspire Mining LTD developed the first stage of feasibility study of the project. Also, environmental study of the project has been completed. 

Northern Railways LLC, 90% owned by Aspire and 10% by the Noble Group will build a 547 kilometre section of the Northern Rail Corridor from Erdenet to Aspire' s Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

The establishment of this Northern Rail Corridor confirms that the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway has developed from being a rail connection to a large coking coal project, to now being part of an important new trade infrastructure route. It is also the Company's understanding that Aspire is the only listed public company with a significant interest in this new rail corridor.

The Ovoot project development is dependent on the construction of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway. Ovoot Coking Coal Project (Ovoot) is the second largest coking coal project by its reserves in Mongolia. 

The railway construction is planned to finish by 2019. 


The president is elected for a four-year term by the people, using the two-round system. 8th Presidential elections to be held in Mongolia in June 2017. 

As Presidential Election is to be organized this year, the bill on Presidential Elections was submitted just a few days ago. 

The previous parliament approved Law on Elections, which regulated all elections including Parliamentary, Presidential and Citizen's Representative Meetings of provinces, soums and districts. However General Elections Commission put a request to organize elections under separate independent laws, as it was difficult to organize the previous parliamentary elections, adhering one combined law.

The Commission proposed to follow main contents, criteria and regulations of the 2013 Presidential Election law and to change organizational matters. 

Currently, former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag announced to stand for presidential election and former MP R.Amarjargal is on the list from the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Mongolian People`s Party has not announced yet their presidential candidate.

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Politics & Legal

This Saturday is a nationwide working day

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) December 30 was included in New Year's holidays despite of being a working day in accordance with a Cabinet decision which also resolved to move the day to the first Saturday of 2017. Thus, Mongolia will observe a public working day on January 7.

December 29 was a national holiday for Mongolia as the nation celebrated the 105th historic anniversary of the declaration of National Independence. The day marks the declaration of Outer Mongolia's independence after over 200 years of Manchu rule, an outcome of the revolution of 1911.

On this day in 1911, the Eighth Jebtsundamba Khutugtu (Javzandamba Khutagt) was proclaimed as the Bogdo Khaan with the Government of Mongolia being established with five ministries. The National Independence Day has been celebrated on December 29 since 2008.

Considering the spread of influenza and influenza-like illnesses and weather conditions, the Cabinet decided to make December 30 a holiday as well. The movement of December 30 to January 7 won't result in alterations of wage and calculation of working days for public workers. 

It is reported that traffic restrictions based on vehicles's license plate number won't be effective this Saturday despite of the day being a working day.

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260 laws and regulations to be amended in next four years

January 5 (MONTSAME) Today, Plenary session of the parliament held the first discussion of a parliamentary resolution draft on "Approval of Guidelines to improve laws and regulations of Mongolia till 2020".  Prior to this, guidelines to improve laws and regulations were adopted four times.

"- During the development of the resolution draft, there were proposals to make amendments to 430 laws. We focused on not to amend many laws and left over 260 laws and regulations to be amended" explained Minister of Justice and Interior affairs S.Byambatsogt.

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Public documents to be stored in digital archives

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the Cabinet resolved to implement the 4th Phase of the National Program on Introduction of Information Technology to State Archives and Documentation for 2017-2020.

The contracted archival operators and archivists will be in charge of converting paper documents, motion pictures, photographs and audio documents into digital and creating digital archives.

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General plan on population distribution and settlement to be developed

January 5 (MONTSAME) On January 4, the Cabinet established a national committee in charge of organizing works to develop a "General plan on population distribution and settlement of Mongolia' and prepare for approval. The committee will be headed by the Prime Minister of Mongolia.

The development of the project will be funded with state budget and through the projects and programs to be implemented by foreign countries and international organizations.

Due to population growth, economic and social development and activation of industry, significant changes have occurred in population settlement and density, changing lifestyle of residents and leading to ecological deterioration. Therefore, it is needed to carry-out actions with a regard to proper human settlement that is compatible with the geographical situation and other relevant problems.

Within the framework of the project, a number of works are planned to be done, as follows;

- To study and analysis on the current situation of population settlement and identify the pros and cons;
- To define suitable areas and regions for human settlement in the countryside as well as define the location and role of cities and settlement areas to be newly established considering the social and economic development, livelihood profile of population, climate and weather conditions as well as natural resources;
- To plan measures in favor of the complex development of the main infrastructure fields, including road, transportation, communication and energy, in compliance with a policy on territorial organization;
- To perform a comprehensive evaluation on urbanization and define their development trends;
- To recognize issues related to tourism industry, natural protection, history and culture in accordance with the population distribution and urban development policy;
- To develop feasibility on the transition from one centered system to multi-centered and define the future perspective of development.

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Authorities of provinces and capital city gather for seminar

January 4 (MONTSAME) Today, Chairmen of Citizens representative meetings and Governors of provinces and the capital city gathered in Government House for two-day seminar. During the seminar, they will define means and methods to realize Government action plan and Basic guidelines on economic and social development in 2017 and exchange views on cooperation between the Cabinet members and authorities of provinces and the capital.

Chairman of Government Secretariat J.Munkhbat said "- The first whole year of Government's authority term has started. All ministers, chairmen of Citizens representative meetings and Governors of provinces and the capital city and Government agencies authorities and government employees must work effectively within the budget limit, avoiding from luxury uses and removing wasteful expenses". At the end of the seminar, a cooperation agreement will be established.

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Mogi: High, lol

Driving while high may be punishable by 7-30 days of detainment

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) The State Great Khural (Parliament) resolved today to run the first reading of the draft amendments to the Law on Traffic Safety. The amendments suggest determining the penalties for traffic offenders, driving under influence of alcohol and narcotics.

The new wording of the law was passed in July of 2015. Law's section 27.3 provides that the unlicensed drivers or traffic offenders, who handed in their driving licenses for previous offenses, will be inflicted cash fine of four times the value of minimum wage and 7-30 days in jail if the offenders drive under influence of alcohol and drugs.

According to this provision, penalties of cash fine and arrest are being duplicated for different offenses. Therefore, about 4,900 traffic offenders, who have partaken in the traffic while drunk, are not being punished.

If the parliament adopts the draft amendments, the "drunk drivers" will be imposed cash fine, whereas the offenders driving under influence of narcotic drugs will be sentenced to 7-30 days of arrest.

Ms. D.Sarangerel MP asked if the number of traffic accidents was lowered after the enforcement of the new traffic safety law in 2015. The Minister of Justice and Domestic Affairs, Mr. S.Byambatsogt informed that the number of traffic violations decreased from around 124 thousand per year by 24 percent in 2016.

Also, the rate of traffic injury has been lowered by 17 percent, traffic deaths – by 15 percent and "drinking and driving" offense by 25 percent. With the increase in the amount of cash fine, the annual sum of inflicted fine increased from MNT 14 billion to MNT 20 billion in 2016.

"Mongolia has insufficient source of drug detectors and specialists on narcotics. The use of drugs has been increasing in the recent years", G.Temuulen MP said and asked the Justice Minister to do a closed briefing on the use of narcotics and planned measures to be taken in frames of drug control to the parliament.

Minister S.Byambatsogt promised to brief the parliament on this issue and shared that the ministry and the law enforcement have been working to develop the draft national program on drug control, which will be discussed by a cabinet meeting in the near future or by parliament if deemed necessary.

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Allowing limited dual citizenship would be a smart choice

January 5 (UB Post) According to Section 4.1 of the Law on Citizenship, Mongolia forbids dual or multiple citizenship, but dual citizenship has been hotly debated in recent years.

The majority of Mongolians believe that dual and multiple citizenship are mostly applied in developed countries with large populations, and they think that small countries like Mongolia – with a population of only three million people – should not  allow multiple citizenship.

Most people who disagree with allowing dual citizenship are not well informed about international practices and the challenges facing Mongolian citizens living abroad. In fact, there have been some attempts to mislead people about dual citizenship, so this issue has received negative feedback from the public.

Some members of the public believe that Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil is looking to issue Mongolian citizenship to foreigners, but Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil has responded to these rumors.

He stated that the Government of Mongolia is studying the dual citizenship issue, and that Mongolian citizenship would only be issued to Mongolians living abroad and those born abroad, and that what the government is studying does not involve non-Mongolian foreigners.

Under the Law on Citizenship, if a Mongolian citizen holds foreign citizenship, he or she automatically loses his or her Mongolian citizenship.

Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil added that the state is looking into legal regulations concerning dual citizenship to deal with the challenges facing Mongolians who have lost their Mongolian citizenship. He gave the example of a child having a Mongolian father and mother and being born in the United States. The child will automatically become a U.S. citizen by being born on U.S. soil. In this way, a lot of Mongolians choose foreign citizenship because they are living abroad, and those people cannot become Mongolian citizens under current law.

The Director of the Consular Department of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  Ya.Ariunbold, pointed out that since 1998, over 4,800 children from Mongolian families were born abroad and 2,181 of them have faced challenges with the loss of their Mongolian citizenship.

Director Ya.Ariunbold highlighted that the children of people who have become foreign citizens, children adopted by foreigners, the children of foreigners born in Mongolia, and children who have a foreign father or mother living abroad are currently not eligible for Mongolian citizenship.

When he was asked if problems could arise from bad people taking  advantage of loopholes in a law allowing dual citizenship he said, "State authorities are in pursuit of ensuring adherence to the law by allowing Mongolian citizenship for individuals in the strictly limited areas I've mentioned."

Stories in the media suggesting that wealthy Mongolian people would take advantage of gaps in amendments to the Law on Citizenship have led to public opposition. Abuse of the law is a possible outcome, so monitoring by law enforcement and other state authorities is of significant importance.

People say that, in reality, there are a number of Mongolians who hold two passports, one from Mongolia and another from a country that allows dual citizenship.

How do they cheat the system?

They acquire a Mongolian passport from state authorities by saying that they will be a Mongolian citizen. After becoming a Mongolian citizen, they also apply for citizenship in the foreign country where they live.

Some people say that this occurs often, that many Mongolians have cheated the system by holding more than one passport, so approving amendments to the Law on Citizenship is of great importance to regulating this problem.

Some say that for a country with low economic capacity and a small population, such as Mongolia, allowing dual citizenship would be a threat to national security. On the other hand, others believe that resolving the dual citizenship challenge is important to addressing illegal actions.

Allowing dual citizenship for children who have a Mongolian father and mother is the best choice. Of course, studying international practices and challenges, and being making sure that amendments to the Law on Citizenship follow basic legal principles are very high priorities when discussing the dual citizenship issue.

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Prime Minister gives Exclusive brand products to newborn babies

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) On January 1, on the occasion of the New Year's holiday, Prime Minister of Mongolia J.Erdenebat personally gifted newborn clothing sets of Exclusive brand to 121 babies born during the moments into the New Year of 2017 across the country.

Those baby gift sets are Exclusive's latest product launched just recently and the New Year's babies are the first customers of the baby clothing line of the Exclusive.

From this year on, the Prime Minister will be rendering gifts to first-born babies of each year.

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Parents to demonstrate against air pollution again on Jan 28

January 5 ( Parents to redemonstrate against air pollution, demanding officials to take immediate and efficient actions and for the well-being of children. The second demonstration will hold on Jan 28th, 2017 (Saturday) at 12 pm at the Sukhbaatar square. 

On Dec 26th, 2016, Over 4000 Mongolian parents gathered at the Sukhbaatar Square to raise their voices against air pollution and collected more than 2700 applications. Irate parents submitted their applications to the Head of Application Standing Committee D.Sarangerel. 

They demanded the government to hold their next meeting in Bayankhoshuu, the most heavily polluted area in Ulaanbaatar, where levels of PM2.5 particulates ranging between 1000-2000 micrograms per cubic meter daily. 

Moreover, parents demanded the government to find a way to increase accessibility to hospitals within Jan 10th, report the budget expenditure on air pollution within Jan 15th and to reduce air pollution of the city by 80 percent by 2018.

However, the cabinet meeting have not held in Bayankhoshuu and many children, suffering from diseases caused by air pollution are still lying on hospital floor. Thus parents have decided to demonstrate again under the slogan "We are mad as hell".

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"Suffocating": Mongolian parents plan new air pollution, January 5

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Energy Regulatory Commission provides details on newly discounted electricity rates

January 4 (UB Post) The Cabinet recently made the decision to offer free nighttime electricity to ger district residents. The Head of Pricing at the Energy Regulatory Commission, B.Bolor-Erdene, provided Zuunii Medee with more details about the implementation of the decision.

The decision to offer free nighttime electricity to ger district residents was supposed to be implemented on January 1. Has the decision not yet been implemented?

The decision to offer free nighttime electricity was made on December 28. December 29 was a public holiday. Since the Cabinet addresses a wide variety of issues, the decree has not yet been finalized. However, ger district residents will be offered free nighttime electricity from January 1 to April 1.

Do households have to fulfill any requirements before being offered free nighttime electricity? For example, do they have to have a separate meter for day and nighttime electricity readings?

Around 90 percent of households in the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar have an electricity meter with a day and nighttime setting. The remaining 10 percent will be offered electricity meters at a discounted price.

Offering free nighttime electricity will increase the energy grid's workload. How will you manage this?

Taking into account the capabilities of the power supply network, the maximum energy allotment for households that use 220V will be 700 kilowatts per hour, and households that use 380V will have a maximum energy allotment of 1,500 kilowatts per hour.

How many households will be offered free nighttime electricity? How much money will they save?

A total of 146,000 households will be offered free electricity from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Current estimates show that these households will collectively save around 4.8 billion MNT. As electricty use increases in the future, we forecast that the economic benefits for these households will also increase.

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No license plate limitation on Saturday, Jan 7

January 5 ( This Saturday, Jan 7th is a normal working day nationwide and no license plate limitation will apply, reports Traffic Police Department. 

According to the Cabinet decision, working day of Dec 30th, 2016 transferred to this Saturday (Jan 7th, 2017) nationwide, letting the residents to have four days off during the New Year. 

The decision was made due to influenza outbreaks and severe weather condition.

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Beijing closes Mongolia's main oil export border with no explanation

January 5 ( China has closed the Bayankhoshuu border crossing, located in the Khalkh River Soum (district) of Dornod Province in the east of Mongolia. The crossing ceased to operate from 1st of January. 'Petro China Daqing Tamsag' LLC transports crude oil from the oil mines in the Dornod Province via the Bayankhoshuu border crossing to China where it is refined. This company runs the main oil extraction operations in Dornod.

The Bayankhoshuu border crossing was established in 2014 and operates on a seasonal basis. Officially it can operate throughout the year. Why Beijing has taken the decision to close this particular crossing has not been explained and is currently a subject of speculation.

Mongolia has 13 border crossings with China; seven of them operates regularly.

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Parliament Speaker receives new Japanese ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (Mongolia) On January 4, Parliament Speaker of Mongolia M.Enkhbold, received Masato Takaoka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia.

After congratulating Ambassador Masato Takaoka for his appointment as an Ambassador of Japan to Mongolia, Speaker Enkhbold said Japan is Mongolia's a close partner that always provides help to Mongolia and expressed his confidence that the strategic partnership between Mongolia and Japan will be intensified during the Ambassador, who has a great experience in foreign relations".

Then, he noted that Japanese assistance and loans have played an important role to the strengthening of democratic reforms and laying the foundation of the modern development. "In the scope of the Japan's Official Development Assistance, several major projects are being realized successfully, such as the construction of a new international airport in Tuv province, a new hospital at the National University of Medical Sciences and training of one thousand engineers. Furthermore, he highlighted that a number of development and humanitarian works have been done through the "Grass Root" program of Japan.

Speaker M.Enkhbold said that "Political trust has been enhanced as never been before and the frequency of reciprocal visits has been increased. For instance, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan visited to Mongolia last July to attend the ASEM Summit and the Prime Minister of Mongolia J.Erdenebat paid a visit to Japan recently.

In response, Masato Takaoka expressed his gratitude for the Mongolian Parliament Speaker for receiving him and pointed out that the he is grateful for the fact that he had a chance to present his diplomatic credentials to the President of Mongolia only a week after he arrived in Mongolia.

"When you were appointed a Prime Minister of Mongolia in 2006, you started your foreign visit with Japan. During that visit, the Prime Ministers of the two countries touched upon the issue of building the international airport in Tuv province. Now, the talk has already been brought into effect and the new international Ulaanbaatar Airport will be the sign of good relations between Mongolia and Japan".

The Japanese Ambassador requested from the Speaker to pay attention to the settlement of operational and management issue of the airport. He further underlined that Economic Partnership Agreement has been in effect since last June facilitating trade and bilateral investment between the two countries.

Afterwards, Speaker M.Enkhbold and Ambassador M.Takaoka discussed about the visit of Speaker M.Enkhbold to Japan in February within the framework of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Japan. Speaker M.Enkhbold said "Effectives of the visit is the most important issue of the visit, during which Mongolia is willing to finalize the next midterm program of the Mongolian Japanese strategic partnership.

The document will identify the bilateral cooperation tendency in the short run". He then requested from the Japanese Ambassador to ensuring the productiveness of the visit. At the end of the meeting, Speaker M.Enkhbold expressed his readiness to cooperate closely with the Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia.

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Speaker of Mongolian Parliament to visit Japan

January 5 ( M.Enkhbold, Speaker of Mongolian Parliament will conduct a working visit to Japan in February. During the visit, M.Enkhbold is to meet his counterpart to discuss the medium term actions of the Strategic Partnership Programme between Mongolia and Japan. Also, on the agenda is discussion about receiving USD 2 billion in financial aid from Japan in the event of the IMF bailout failing.

During December, the Speaker of Parliament visited Russia, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia to discuss investing in Mongolia.

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Parliament Speaker to visit Japan in FebruaryMontsame, January 5

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Foreign Minister receives new Ambassador of Japan

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) On January 4, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil, Foreign Minister received Masato Takaoka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia.

The Foreign Minister congratulated the Japanese Ambassador, who has presented his diplomatic credentials to the President of Mongolia recently, and wished him a success in his future endeavors in Mongolia. Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil also confirmed to cooperate with the Japanese Ambassador in every possible field with a view to intensify the strategic partnership relations between Mongolia and Japan.

He then mentioned that the close people-to-people ties and friendly relations between the two nations are the foundation of growing bilateral cooperation of Mongolia and Japan. Also, he underlined the importance of celebrating the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Japan and hosting a large number of arts and cultural events enriched with economic and investment contents.

In turn, Ambassador M.Takaoka expressed his gratitude for being appointed as an Ambassador to Mongolia and vowed to pay attention on stimulating the strategic partnership relations in the future.

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Defense Minister meets Cuban Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) On January 4, B.Bat-Erdene, Defense Minister of Mongolia received Raul Delgado Concepcion, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia.

At the meeting, Ambassador, Raul Delgado Concepcion said that he is happy to cooperate with Defense Minister B.Bat-Erdene, former well-known traditional wrestler. The Defense Minister informed that he has been working as a head of the Mongolian-Cuban Parliamentary Group since 2004 and said that the Parliamentary group has been contributing greatly to the development of bilateral ties of Mongolia and Cuba.  

At the invitation of the National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba, a delegation of the Mongolian Parliament headed by D.Lundeejantsan, then-Deputy Parliament Speaker paid a working visit in 2007 and delegates led by L.Enebish, former Parliament Speaker paid an official visit to the Cuba in 2001. These visits have been serving as a bridge to maintain friendly and close relations between the two countries.

Defense Minister B.Bat-Erdene thanked for the government of Cuba for granting scholarships to the Mongolian students for many years and medical students are still enjoying the benefits of this when studying in Cuba. He further underlined that the two countries have great potential to cooperate in defense and sports fields.  

In response, Cuban Ambassador Raul Delgado Concepcion said that the two countries have broad opportunities to collaborate in several areas for the future development of defense cooperation. He notes that it is possible to collaborate by exchanging medical specialists between the two countries of the Central Military Hospitals.

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Health & Education

Boards of state-run universities renewed

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ By an ordinance of the Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, Boards of state-owned universities have been reformed.

On January 2, the boards of National University of Mongolia (NUM) and Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) were renewed.

In particular, academician D.Regdel of Mongolian Academy of Sciences was appointed as a Chairman of the 15-member Board of the NUM whereas N.Begz, Advisor to the Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports was chosen to lead the MUST Board.

On the next day, January 3, the boards of Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, Mongolian State University of Agriculture, Mongolian State University of Culture and Arts and Mongolian State University of Education were reestablished.

Dr. T.Gan-Erdene of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences will lead the Board of the National University of Medical Sciences, and Dr. B.Avid of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences will head the Board of the State University of Agriculture.

Moreover, the Board of the State University of Culture and Arts will be directed by N.Bold, Head of Cultural Policy Department at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, and that of the State University of Education will be by M.Munkhbaatar, Head of Educational Policy Management Department at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports.

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28 Laurentian University students, professors to travel to Mongolia

LU delegation to bring supplies to help with tooth and eye care

January 5 (CBC News) A delegation from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont. is planning a trip to remote communities in Mongolia this year.

The group, consisting of 28 professors and students, is slated to offer humanitarian relief to nomadic communities who do not have access to government services in the country.

"So we're going to go in there and use some of our facilities and our students to help them with dental hygiene, teach them how to brush their teeth and set them up with maybe some glass and eye wear," said Jim Little, the co-lead of the project.

"Just help them out in that sort of capacity."

Little, who is with the outdoor leadership program at the university, said the group also plans to bring supplies to set up better water distribution for the area.

The group is still looking for donations to help pay for the trip to the far western region of Mongolia, near the borders of Russia, China and Kazakhstan, which is projected to be about $200,000.

Where they plan to go, Little said, the local residents live in extreme poverty, and are largely made up of nomadic heardsmen.

"Cinder block or mud-like houses, or canvas covered structures which they live in and they just don't have the services," he said.

Aside from the humanitarian efforts, Little said the group also plans to do some hiking in the mountains.

If the delegation can raise enough money, it plans to leave for Mongolia on May 20.

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Culture & Society

Nomads no more: why Mongolian herders are moving to the city

Climate change and the end of Soviet state support have forced 600,000 to migrate to the capital, leaving it struggling to cope

by Patrick Kingsley in Mongolia, with photographs and videos by David Levene

January 5 (The Guardian) n Altansukh Purev's yurt, the trappings of a herder's life lie in plain sight. In the corner are his saddle and bridle. By the door, he has left a milk pail. If you didn't know better, you might think his horses and cattle were still grazing outside on the remote plains of outer Mongolia.

But they aren't. Altansukh's milk pail stands empty. There is no horse for him to saddle. His cattle are dead. And this tent, which once stood in the countryside, is now on the fringes of the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, surrounded by pylons, rubble and the husks of old cars. Altansukh, his wife and their four children may live among rural paraphernalia, but following a disastrously cold winter a few years ago, they were forced to move to the city to survive.

"We lost all our animals," the 38-year-old says. "Thirty-nine out of 40 cows, almost 300 sheep. The cows wandered far away in the snow and never came back. And when we got up one morning, all the sheep had frozen to death. We had lost everything – so we decided to leave immediately for Ulaanbaatar."

Look down on Ulaanbaatar from the hills at its edge, and you will see a central hotchpotch of new skyscrapers and crumbling Soviet tower blocks surrounded by an unplanned periphery of white yurts, or, as they are known in Mongolia, gers. Thousands and thousands of gers.

These are the homes of around 600,000 former herders who – like Altansukh – have migrated to the Mongolian capital in the past three decades. The scale of the migration is extraordinary: around 20% of the country's people have moved to Ulaanbaatar, doubling the city's population and significantly increasing its physical footprint.

"I arrived in Mongolia in 1998, and at that time there were still some areas of Ulaanbaatar that were totally empty," says Mitsuaki Toyoda, the head of mission for Save the Children, which runs aid programmes in the city's deprived suburbs. "But over the years it has just expanded and expanded."

One partial explanation lies in the environment. Over the past 70 years, the average temperature in Mongolia has risen by 2.07 degrees, more than double the average global increase of 0.85 degrees over the past century. This has exacerbated a periodic weather phenomenon known in Mongolia as the dzud, which creates summers that are unusually dry, followed by spells during the winter that are unusually cold.

The dry summers make it harder to grow and harvest grass, while the harsher winters require an even bigger supply of fodder. When the cold hits, sheep and cattle have less fodder to feed on, causing widespread loss of life (for animals), and livelihood (for humans). Dzuds in 1999 and 2009 killed around 10 million and 8 million livestock respectively, and were followed by a spike in migration to Ulaanbaatar, government records show. 
Aid workers fear further mass-movement in the coming months and years: another dzud is thought to be underway this winter.
Herding is a way of life for over a third of Mongolians, and of symbolic importance to the whole country. Thanks in part to rural-to-urban migration, it is now under threat.

But whether this migration is directly linked to climate change is a subject of debate. As the world warms, world leaders must prepare for the likelihood of refugees fleeing the weather rather than war – but the situation in Mongolia is too complex to be considered a straightforward test case.

"Climate change is responsible for some portions of the loss [of livestock] – but not all of it," says Dr Batjargal Zamba, an adviser at Mongolia's environment ministry. "It's a combination of change to climate, and also a change to Mongolian economic activity and lifestyle."

How much is down to the former, and how much to the latter?

The beginnings of an answer can be found about 370 miles (600km) south-east of Ulaanbaatar, on the edge of the Gobi desert, outside the ger of Begzsuren Nyangaa.

Begzsuren is 68, and started herding in 1956. Unlike Altansukh, he is still at it. So are his nine children, who all live within riding distance of his ger. One of them has the largest herd in the region, with 3,800 livestock, and another was once named the country's herder of the year.

Staring from his tent, sipping tea boiled in milk, Begzsuren can see the effects of climate change in the valley outside. The land here has become much more obviously desert-like, he says. The grass grows shorter than it used to, and it is thinning out. There is also much less rain, and dried riverbeds can be found across the surrounding region.

"It's a totally different picture now," Begzsuren says. "When I was 17 or 18, we had a lot of rain, a lot of grass, and we could harvest the grass in the autumn. When I tell my children this, they don't believe me! They say: how could this land produce that?"

The autumnal rains have virtually disappeared, he sighs. "I really miss those autumn days. Now the climate has changed so much – you can say we only have two seasons now."

That's a problem for herders. With little grass, there is less fodder to feed the animals over the winter. So when the cold snaps come, the cattle are at much greater risk of death.

But here in the Mongolian steppe, a changing climate isn't the only challenge. Until the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolia was a communist country. Herding was tightly managed by central government. Livestock was owned by collectives, officials decided where you lived, and there were restrictions on the number of animals in each herd. Most importantly, officials kept a central supply of fodder that they gave to herders during the harsh winters – meaning that when the dzuds came, the worst could be averted.

"Because of the socialist system, everything was well organised," remembers Begzsuren. "Fodder was given to each family. There was a lot of winter preparation."

But that all changed in 1990, when communism ended, and the state was opened up to the market. Many herders welcomed this: they could now own as many animals as they liked, and live where they wanted. The number of livestock had remained steady under communism – fixed at around 20 million for roughly half a century. Now the headcount shot up – to over 33 million by 1999, and 70 million by this summer, according to government statistics.

But there were also downsides. State support vanished, leaving herders to deal with the dzuds on their own. As private traders, they also needed to move closer to markets in order to turn a profit. Coupled with a rise in the number of livestock, this meant that more animals were grazing on less land. The climate may be getting worse, but political and social change has made Mongolians less able to deal with it, and therefore more likely to migrate to Ulaanbaatar.

Just as importantly, they are now allowed to do so. Under communism, herders could move to find better grasslands, but they could not migrate to the city. After 1990, this restriction was lifted – allowing people to leave herding, whether or not they were affected by the worsening climate. And for some, the dzuds are not the only push factor. Many also head to the capital in search of better schooling for their children.

"We considered both," says Narmandakh Sainjargal, the wife of Altansukh and mother of their four children. "We lost all our animals, and a lot of other migrant families lost animals as well. But we also felt that it might be easier to find education in Ulaanbaatar."

The situation in Sukhbaatar, Begzsuren's home province, shows how migration can still be curbed when herders receive the kind of support that they lost back in the early 90s.

On the face of it, Sukhbaatar should be one of the main areas of origin for migrants arriving in Ulaanbaatar. A bumpy drive with the region's deputy governor shows how badly it has been affected by recent weather patterns.

"Look at all this," says Amarsanaa Byambadorj, squatting down in the desert. "It's July, the height of summer, so the grass should be at its greenest and longest. But instead it's very short, and it's almost yellow."

Nearby we find a sickening sight: a pile of dead livestock, rotting in the sun. More than a million animals died in last winter's dzud, and this area in south-east Mongolia was one of the worst affected. Around 10 of them lie here in the dirt.

There used to be many more, until Save the Children cleared them away during the spring. "In March, it was terrible," says Amarsanaa. "There were carcasses everywhere, and you could smell the stench."

More than 10% of the 400,000 livestock in the area were killed, he says, and some families lost all their herd. The deputy governor introduces Byambadorj Zayabaatar, a 30-year-old who lost all his 320 animals during a cold snap towards the end of the winter. "I could see the animals were so cold, so in the beginning I would bring them inside the ger," remembers Byambadorj. "But after a while there were too many, so I had to leave them outside. And they died before my eyes."

Yet very few people from this area have considered moving to Ulaanbaatar. That is partly because there is little history of rural-to-urban migration from this area – most migrants in Ulaanbaatar come from western Mongolia. But it's also because the government and various international agencies are increasingly stepping in to provide the outside help that had been lacking since the fall of communism.

Nearby we find a sickening sight: a pile of dead livestock, rotting in the sun. More than a million animals died in last winter's dzud, and this area in south-east Mongolia was one of the worst affected. Around 10 of them lie here in the dirt.

There used to be many more, until Save the Children cleared them away during the spring. "In March, it was terrible," says Amarsanaa. "There were carcasses everywhere, and you could smell the stench."

More than 10% of the 400,000 livestock in the area were killed, he says, and some families lost all their herd. The deputy governor introduces Byambadorj Zayabaatar, a 30-year-old who lost all his 320 animals during a cold snap towards the end of the winter. "I could see the animals were so cold, so in the beginning I would bring them inside the ger," remembers Byambadorj. "But after a while there were too many, so I had to leave them outside. And they died before my eyes."

Yet very few people from this area have considered moving to Ulaanbaatar. That is partly because there is little history of rural-to-urban migration from this area – most migrants in Ulaanbaatar come from western Mongolia. But it's also because the government and various international agencies are increasingly stepping in to provide the outside help that had been lacking since the fall of communism.

This winter, Mongolia's National Emergency Management Agency partnered with the UN development programme and NGOs such as Save the Children to provide fodder and other support to the worst affected areas.

Save the Children has been particularly active in Sukhbaatar. It paid for the worst-affected families to replace their dead livestock with animals from neighbouring herds that had largely survived the winter. The programme has been so successful that it has tempted the few families who had already left for the city to consider returning. "We have received many comments from herder families saying that if you continue to restock people's herds, we would like to come back," says Amarsanaa, the deputy governor.

Additionally, home-schooling programmes have been provided to herder families who live in remote areas, far from school, and who might otherwise consider migrating to Ulaanbaatar to further their children's education.

"This way, they can live their nomad life, and the kids can still live at home – without the family having to move anywhere," says Javzandulam Myagmarjav, a local librarian who will help run the project until funding runs out in 2017. "I'm quite sad it's ending," she says. "It helps herder families, and the long-term benefit will be that there is less migration to Ulaanbaatar."

Yet even if people stop coming to Ulaanbaatar, the scale of recent migration will still have changed the capital beyond comprehension, and left it with a myriad of unsolved social challenges. Roughly half the population are migrant families living in the tent districts on the edge of the city – unable to access many of its services.

In Altansukh's neighbourhood, there is no running water, mains electricity, sewage or central heating. And it's a similar situation in all the migrant districts. To keep warm during the winter, migrant families are therefore forced to burn whatever they can find – and the fumes make their neighbourhoods more polluted than Delhi.

The newcomers find the city disorienting, with the houses so close together, and society so focused on money. In the countryside, you can live off the meat and milk from your herd, and use their hides to build your home. But in the city, everything must be bought from other people.

"We always miss the countryside," sighs Altansukh's wife, Narmandakh Sainjargal. "As herders you don't spend any money. You have your animals and they give you everything you need. But in the city you have to pay every day for something – transport, books for school. It's very strange to be here. We have paid such a lot of money for this small piece of land, whereas in the countryside you don't have to pay anything, and you have all this space."

With their skills little suited to urban life, many struggle to find work, making the hidden costs of state education too much for some families. Those who can send their children to school find that the teachers have little time for them: classes are so overcrowded that sometimes teachers run three shifts a day.

"Some new schools have been built, " says Toyoda, head of mission for Save the Children, which has helped to fund their construction. "But it's not enough. Not much has changed since [the 1990s] in terms of the living conditions there. If you're from the countryside with just secondary education and no relevant work experience, then what proper job can you get? If you don't have a proper job then it's very difficult to get a bank loan. So you can't purchase an apartment. Our conclusion is that the first generation of migrants will live in the ger districts for the rest of their lives."

And back in Sukhbaatar, one of the country's oldest herders can't rule out more migrants joining them. "If nature keeps changing, if the climate keeps changing, we can't say it won't happen," says Begzsuren. "If natural disasters keep on happening, people won't have any choice but to move."

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The Return of the Guardian Dogs of the Steppes


January 5 (Roads & Kingdoms) The question seems pretty straightforward. "Could we film your dogs while they're guarding the sheep?"

But herder Nergui Batdelger looks hesitant. These are working dogs, she reminds us. Their first social interactions as puppies were with sheep. They've grown up alongside the herd, taking their meals in the field with the sheep, even sleeping alongside them at night. They see the herd as family, and their job is to keep them safe.

As we head across the field, I scan the herd for her two black dogs, half expecting a pair of jaws to clamp down around my neck before I even see them coming; the dog version of a velociraptor attack in Jurassic Park. When they do notice us, they come full tilt like the trained guardian dogs they are, but with far more bark than bite. Batdelger calls them off when they get too close, and after a few minutes, they accept that we're not there to attack the herd.

Then it's our turn to be tough. We've been told not to pet the dogs, even if they approach us. It's part of their training not to become too attached to humans. When their hackles settle and they do approach, however, it's hard to resist. These 100- to 120-pound dogs look like a cross between a Tibetan Mastiff, a Bernese Mountain dog, and a teddy bear. I immediately want to take one home.

These are Bankhars, a dog breed that co-evolved with nomadic peoples in Mongolia for generations, protecting livestock from predators in return for shelter and food from their human compatriots. During the 20th century, however, the Bankhar tradition eroded under Soviet occupation. Herding families were forced into cooperatives where fears the dogs would spread disease led to the release or extermination of many. Today, few "pure" Bankhar dogs remain in Mongolia.

Enter the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project (MBDP), a joint Mongolian-U.S. effort to breed and reintroduce Bankhar guardian dogs to nomadic families. The goal? To help keep the herding tradition alive across Mongolia and reduce human-wildlife conflict in the face of declining resources and land due to climate change. MBDP was founded in 2011 by American biologist Bruce Elfström after he learned from herders that Bankhar dogs had historically helped preserve predator-prey relationships in Mongolia.

After performing DNA analysis on dogs in various parts of the country, MBDP procured a small breeding group of Bankhars. The first Bankhar pups were born in January 2015 and placed with herding families across Mongolia later that year. Since Bankhar pups need two years of training before they can protect a herd alone, it's too soon to say whether the project has been a success. But the word is out, and the MBDP says they're getting more and more requests from herders for a pup of their own.

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1900s Mongolia photographed by French researchers

January 5 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar City Museum is hosting a photography exhibition throughout the month of January.  The photos on display were taken by Antoine Henry de Bouillane de Lacoste, a French researcher, during his travels in Mongolia from 1909 to 1912 to carry out geographic and ethnographic studies in the Altai Mountains.

His trips took him to the Uvs Lake Basin and Selenga River to focus on geographic studies, linguistics, and the religion (particularly shamanism), culture, traditions, and customs of Mongolians.

A number of his photographs capture nomadic ways, modes of living, and the faces of Mongolians in the 1900s, as well as Ulaanbaatar residents and city facilities.

A number of his photographs capture nomadic ways, modes of living, and the faces of Mongolians in the 1900s, as well as Ulaanbaatar residents and city facilities.

Ulaanbaatar City Museum researcher G.Ochbayar said, "The photos are rarely made available for Mongolians to see, and all of them give us the opportunity to take a historical look at life in Mongolia."

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Nature & Environment

Mongolia faces big chill as arctic winter worsens

January 5 (Caritas) This winter will likely see vast swathes of the Mongolian steppe hit by the extreme weather phenomenon known as a "dzud". Fears are growing of a devastating humanitarian crisis.

Temperatures have dropped to -50C and pasture is covered with 90 cm of snow. Some of the main roads have been closed due to the snowfall. The cold is likely to get worse say meteorologists.

"The most affected people are nomadic herders," said Caritas Mongolia's director Fr. Pierrot Kasemuana. "Some of them are caught in the hills and mountains. They could end up isolated and exposed to cold and starvation."

Help needed

The Mongolian government has requested international support. "The needs are urgent," said Fr. Kasemuana. Caritas Mongolia has sent 200 boxes of warm clothes to some of the most affected communities.

After previous dzuds, thousands of families lost all or most of their animals and herders have been deprived of their only source of income. Many were forced to move to slum areas on the outskirts of the capital Ulaanbaatar and other urban centres.

"Considering that more than one-third of Mongolian population depends entirely on pastoral farming for its livelihood, harsh dzuds can cause economic crises and food security issues the country," said Fr. Kasemuana.

Around a fifth of the population have moved to Ulaanbaatar, a doubling of the city's number of inhabitants. Large-scale migration to the cities exacerbates social problems such as unemployment, alcoholism and extreme poverty.

Temperatures on average in Mongolia have risen by 2.07 degrees over the last 70 year. This is more than double the global average. Warm weather in the summer has exacerbated the dzud.  Less fodder is grown for the livestock. In winter, livestock can't get to the grass buried under the snow or ice, so more fodder is needed.  There was a dzud last winter that killed more than 1 million animals.

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Mongolian NOC Celebrates Athletic Achievements

January 4 (Around the Rings) The Mongolian National Olympic Committee celebrated its 60th anniversary with their annual Burte Chono Gala and awards ceremony. 

During the ceremony athletes and others were rewarded for their achievements at the Rio Olympic Games and other games throughout last year.

The ceremony was led by Mongolian NOC President  Demchigjav Zagdsuren. Honorary IOC Member Shagdarjav Magvan, Sports Minister Jamiyansuren Batsuuri and other sports figures were also in attendance. 

The event was held in the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. 

Click here for photos of the Burte Chono Gala and awards

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Amateur chess players to compete for national title

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) Parliamentary Office and the Mongolian Chess Federation are cooperating to organize the finals of annual National Chess Championship of Unprofessional players at the State Palace on January 7-8.

It's a tradition to hold the championships under the auspices of the Speaker of Parliament in connection with the anniversary of the new Constitution which is marked on January 13.

Eligible to partake in the championships are those whose ratings by Mongolian Chess Federation haven't been above 2,000 for the last two years, who don't have a title in chess sport and aged above 18.

Held in every soum and district last November, the first round of the championships attracted more than 5 thousand unprofessional chess players. And the semi-finals were participated by 987 players on province and capital city level in early December, 2016.

For the final round, 90 finalists including 18 male and 9 female players from the capital city and the rest being selected representatives of all provinces have been qualified to enter. In addition, 30 chess players representing state and public organizations and Parliament will be joining them to compete for the national title.

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United World Wrestling Names Mongolian Wrestler's Photo Best of 2016

January 5 (UB Post) The United World Wrestling announced the Top Ten Wrestling Photos of 2016 on December 31, and Mongolian freestyle wrestler International Sports Master T.Tuvshintulga's photo was named the top photo of the year.

In the photo, T.Tuvshintulga is depicted throwing Bela Lomtadze of Georgia over his head during the third round of the World Freestyle Wrestling Cup 2016 in Los Angeles, the USA.

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D.Otgondalai, E.Sodnompiljee and B.Uugankhuu become State Honored Athletes

January 5 (UB Post) On December 28, on occasion of the 810th anniversary of the establishment of the Mongol Empire and 105th anniversary of the restoration of national freedom and independence, the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj and head of the President's Office Ts.Bayarsaikhan awarded state prizes, orders and medals to outstanding figures in education, culture, sports, science, environment, communication, health, industry, and legal sectors for their outstanding achievements and contribution to the development of the country.

Olympic bronze medalist boxer and member of Khilchin Sports Committee D.Otgondalai, Paralympic bronze medalist and powerlifter of Suld Sports Committee E.Sodnompiljee, and Paralympic bronze medalist judoka B.Uugankhuu were awarded the State Honored Athlete title.

Upon receiving the state honor, D.Otgondalai said, "I want to express my gratitude to everyone who kept supporting and encouraging me since I entered the boxing world. I am very thankful for being valued for my success in the Olympic ring and for being given the State Honored Athlete."

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Art & Entertainment

Judge Deegii shares thoughts on 'Mongolia's Got Talent'

January 5 (UB Post) In the following interview, "Mongolia's Got Talent" (MGT) judge and violinist Ch.Delgertsetseg delves into the recently concluded second season of MGT and her views on life and love.

 How was this year's MGT in your opinion?

Mongolia rarely broadcasts world-class shows. I'm proud Mongolia was able to do such a large TV show, adopted in 68 countries. It's more significant because Mongol TV was able to produce it professionally and according to standards. I'm an artist but I got to judge MGT – it was an honor and a huge responsibility.

I play the violin, which is one of the toughest musical instruments to play. I've been playing it for many years. I think my experience and knowledge as a violinist contributed considerably in judging the show and making decisions. Violinists are not well-known for expressing their inner feelings during a performance. Through MGT, I got the opportunity to express my inner feelings to my heart's desire. People judge based on their preferences and intuition. I got to figure myself out these last two years. I got to fully understand where I belong and what I should do to reach it while judging this show.

I don't like worrying too much. I wasn't concerned about anything in particular because I could rely on our capable and talented producer. I've never seen such a good producer before. He was able to skillfully manage everyone in the team, starting from state honored artists to a 16-year-old inexperienced newcomer. I'm very satisfied.

Although O.Enkh-Erdene became the second MGT winner, many viewers were dissatisfied with the result on social media, complaining that runner-up B.Shijirbat should have won instead. What's your opinion on this?

The last decision was handed over to the public and they made their choice. Judges also commented on the performances. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I heard that O.Enkh-Erdene got an offer to work with Sony Music Entertainment. If it's true, O.Enkh-Erdene found a huge opportunity as an artist and he will become the first Mongolian singer to work with Sony Music Entertainment. This company only seeks talent. Overall, I think MGT Season 2 was very successful. Before the show began, all the judges were told to not focus on judging alone and that we were a part of this big project. So instead of giving strict judgment, I expressed my momentary feelings.

 Which performance was most impressive to you?

It was Uugan-Erdene's dance performance. That has got to be real talent. She was able to move people's hearts without executing difficult moves like a ballerina. No matter when or who's watching, they will get absorbed by her performance. It isn't easy to move other people's hearts. She has pure talent because she was able to do it. She's really adorable and lovely.

 Many viewers like you for being yourself without managing your image while judging.  Young girls and women often pretend to be someone they're not to fit in. Can you give them advice so that they can stay true to themselves?

First of all, people need to gather a lot of attributes, including intellectual and aesthetic attributes, as well as experience. But we mustn't forget that everything has a limit. You shouldn't be focused too much or too little on one particular thing. After that, you'll have to find your real self and confidence.

I like to talk about my life in my twenties. Women should love hard and experience a devastating heartbreak before reaching 30. Sorry, but they should also have one or two fickle relationships. This isn't to make them understand the nature of people, but to help them learn more about themselves and find out what they like and dislike, what gives them pleasure, what makes them stronger, what motivates them, and what discourages them. Once you know these things, you can make the best decisions and choices for yourself. The most important and life-changing decision for women is choosing their husband. Everything they have done, seen and experienced is crucial for making this choice.

Girls nowadays are making decisions so quickly and easily. They think they know everything when in fact, they know only a tiny fraction of a huge thing. They tend to search for an easy way out too. All of this can lead them to a difficult situation. The most important thing to consider when making decisions or when in a sticky situation is your inner feelings. The thing is that no one can deceive or lie to themselves no matter what situation they might be in. If people are able to figure themselves out, they will figure out their way in the world.

How were you able to find your true self?

People who've figured out themselves become less emotional – they don't feel as much excitement, happiness or sadness as they used to. They learn to control their emotions because they know how they should act depending on the occasion and the other person. I don't get that upset when someone criticize or badmouth me and I don't get too pleased with myself when someone praises me. I know what kind of a person I am. I think this is what people mean by "finding your true self". It might sound selfish but my motto is: Do whatever I like and however I like. This is my way of being true to myself.

 Have you had any troubles or challenges on the journey to discovering yourself?

Of course. Many people ask me to talk about many experience, but I'm still young. There's a saying that enlightenment comes at 60 and you die at the age of 61.

 What did you think of people's reaction to your outfits?

Had I been wearing revealing and provocative clothes when developing a law, I would've deserved all their lash outs and criticisms. MGT is a world-class show and I'm an artist. People need to consider these things. I wasn't hurt or affected that much by their criticisms. To be honest, I wouldn't wear those clothes if I felt uncomfortable in them. I let my stylists take care of everything related to my appearance because I know that they will find me outfits that suit me best and make me look fabulous.

Moreover, MGT isn't my show. I accepted to work with MGT producers so I need to do to some things as requested. I respect the television crew, so what other people say about me isn't my first priority. There isn't a single man not attracted to beautiful women. I'm glad that male viewers were pleased with my appearance. In general, I believe that the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world is women's beauty.

Will there be MGT next year?

At the moment, the producers are not planning to organize MGT again.

 You said that you wanted to meet contestant Tsenguun, who pole danced, 10 years from now. Will you really meet him?

I like to stay positive. Considering Tsenguun's age and mine, I decided to take better care of myself from now on. Regardless of whether we'll meet or not, I want to stay glamorous.

What is love to you?

If love is sparked between two people, it will last forever. But if it wasn't there in the first place, then it's not going to work out between them. I don't believe that people fall in love with another after spending some time together. It's pointless to hope for someone, who doesn't love you, to fall for you eventually.

 Please describe your ideal woman?

I wouldn't say big, sparkling eyes and hot red lips make a woman ideal. An ideal woman is someone who will try to help others even if they don't have what it takes to help them. Their desire to help others is what makes them beautiful. This kind of person will always be surrounded by good things. I believe that everyone has a destiny and will live their life as planned for them by God.

Do you have plans to live abroad?

I'm most fortunate when I'm in Mongolia. Overseas, I'm just one out of hundreds of people. I want to stay in Mongolia during my career prime.

Can you share some of your future plans?

In any case, MGT has ended and my next projects are waiting. I recently opened Degi's Music School and announced the first local children's piano and violin competition called "Young Artist". The competition will take place at the end of this week. Many children have signed up already. I'd like to thank their parents for allowing them to sign up.

I will focus on social activities more than my own individual activities because I think it's important to raise public awareness about music and make people understand that professionals aren't the only ones who can do music or perform brilliantly.

In general, I have tons of dreams and ambitions. One of my dreams is to establish an academy where ballerinas practice on the first floor, children sing on the second floor, and musicians play various instruments on the top floor. I assume that Ulaanbaatar will have a metro station very soon. I'd like to build the academy next to a metro station so that children can get home safely at night. It would also be good to show passengers on the metro how much effort children are putting into reaching their dreams.

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Khusugtun ethnic band to perform in Brazil

January 5 ( Mongolian ethnic band 'Khusugtun', will begin its world tour with a performance in Brazil on 19th of January. The band shot to international fame after winning second place at Asia's Got Talent in 2015. The band surprised the judges and the audience by performing traditional Mongolian dual throat singing known as khuumii. They will play in Pakistan, Canada, USA and Japan.

Previously the 'Khusugtun' performed at the 'Mini Naadam' for the ASEM guests, gathered in Ulaanbaatar in July.

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"Khusugtun" band to perform in Brazil

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Mongolian and Russian Duo Winning Awards and Breaking Cultural Barriers

January 2 (Fusion) "It's my passion and it's a way that I can express myself."

This teen dancing duo is winning awards and breaking cultural barriers out on the floor:

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'The Eagle Huntress' is an uplifting tale for the new year

January 5 (Martlet) Culturally enriching, visually captivating, and chock-full of feel-good scenes, Otto Bell's first feature-length documentary The Eagle Huntress is the perfect film to kickstart the new year at UVic's Cinecenta.

For the average North American viewer, having no prior knowledge of anything remotely related to the nomadic tribes of Mongolia, let alone the traditions of eagle hunting, is to be expected when embarking on the whirlwind journey that is The Eagle Huntress. Thankfully, all is explained fairly quickly in the opening scenesboth by the visuals and by a clear-cut narration from Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Daisy Ridley, who is also the film's executive producer.

The documentary follows Aisolphan, an ambitious 13-year-old girl who longs to become the first female eagle hunter in her family, despite strong backlash from the community elders. Her family has seen much success with 12 generations of eagle hunters, but she is rejected for going against gender norms. While this sounds like a storyline we've all heard before (the age-old tale of women unable to do what men can do), this documentary invites us to appreciate more than just that.

We're immediately given a glimpse into Aisolphan's everyday life, from playing with her siblings to meals with family to the boarding school she attends five days a week. But perhaps more importantly, there's an emphasis on the vastness of her culture's mountainous land and the tents that they proudly call home. Aisolphan expresses her dreams of eagle hunting to her father, who is surprisingly supportive. They go to Aisolphan's grandfather for his blessing before she catches her first eaglet, an animal used to hunt foxes and other small animals to provide food and fur for seven years, until returned to the wild. Despite protests from elders of the community who claim that women couldn't possibly have the strength and physique to hunt, and should focus on marriage instead, Aisolphan and her father make the lengthy trip on horseback for the annual eagle hunting competition in Bayan-Ölgii, Mongolia. She is both the youngest contestant and first female in the competition's history.

Along with Bell, cinematographer Simon Niblett, who previously worked on a number of smaller scale productions, is responsible for the many gush-worthy shots that are arguably the highlight of this film. The clever use of drone cameras to provide a bird's-eye view pays homage to the heroine's avian companion, and invites us into this unfamiliar landscape. Another noteworthy sequence is where Aisolphan captures her eagle from its nest atop a massive, rocky cliff, with obvious switches to some home video footage. The shakiness of the camera adds to the tension of the hunt, alluding to the dangers of eagle hunting and the bravery required to partake in this tradition. This is contrasted with the more professional shots seen throughout, vibrant in colour and vast in scale, featuring an array of extreme long shots to depict the land. Just about every shot is captivating, and allows us to be as engaged in the journey as Aisolphan herself.

The film also does a phenomenal job in sharing the culture of the Mongolian nomadic tribes and their ideals of feminismor lack thereof. We see the simplicity of their daily lives, and the survival-oriented mentality that appears to be galaxies away from our own. Inside the tent, we see the entire family huddled around one community dish, their only form of technology a home radio circa the 1980s. We are also reminded that feminism and female empowerment do not equate to an absence of femininity, as the film features shots of Aisolphan painting her nails, carefully selecting her outfits, and talking with her group of female friends at school (who all think it is beyond cool that she wants to be the first eagle huntress).

Jeff Peters provides a basic but highly effective soundtrack that adds to both the warmth and the action in this film, and features a new original song by Australian pop artist Sia, fittingly titled "Angel by the Wings."

If you are looking for a plot-centric film, The Eagle Huntress may not be for you. Where it falls short is perhaps in its predictability and the rather stereotypical framing of protagonist and antagonist. However, if you enter the theatre ready to be presented with a documentary only, prepare to be enlightened by the overall beauty of the images and inspired by its creative depiction of female empowerment. What better way to start off 2017 than with a motivational film that encourages us to confront our own battles?

The Eagle Huntress screens at Cinecenta from January  5–8, with multiple showings per day. For more information visit

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Artist Profiles: Altangerel Khishigtogtokh, Morin Khuur Player and Pianist

January 5 (World Music Central) Altangerel Khishigtogtokh's artistic name is Altay. He is a young Mongolian musician who grew up in a musical family in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. A morin huur player and a pianist, Altangerel studied musical theory in Ulaanbaatar and when his college training was complete in the late 1990s, he moved to Moscow for advanced study of composition.

In Moscow, his instrumental skills became known to the Embassy of Mongolia in Russia, and he took part in many events organized by the Embassy in Russia, an also traveled to Finland to participate in a Mongolian exhibition there.

Altay is a member of Namgar


Hatar (Sketis Music, 2003)
Nomad (2008)

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New Ulaanbaatar International Airport expected to be operational in first quarter of 2017

January 4 (UB Post) The commission formed to oversee the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport being built in Sergelen soum, Tuv Province, met on December 29 to discuss when the new airport will be operational. The commission stated that they plan to have the new airport operational within the first quarter of 2017.

Construction of the new international airport in Khushigt Valley was first proposed by then Prime Minister M.Enkhbold in 2006, during a state visit to Japan. The proposal to fund the project with a discounted loan from Japan was first presented to the Japanese government on June 28, 2006. Then President N.Enkhbayar brought up the project during a state visit to Japan in 2007. The discounted loan was first discussed in May 2008 and was ratified by Parliament on May 29.

The Japanese government first issued a discounted loan of 28.80 billion JPY (approximately 300 million USD) for construction of the airport. Following an agreement between the two governments, the total amount of money invested was raised to 65.6 billion JPY.

The project is being overseen by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In a recent interview, Kimihiro Maeda, the official representative of the Japanese delegation leading construction of the airport, stated that they plan to hand over the airport to the Mongolian authorities on January 10.

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Mogi: don't we already a have a national tourism center?

Mongolia to establish Tourism Development Centre

January 5 ( The Mongolian Cabinet has approved a resolution to establish a Tourism Development Centre. This new organisation will be a state-owned enterprise. Tourism plays an important role in economic development, bringing foreign currency and helping increase exports of products such as cashmere and crafts. It is also important in supporting eco development in Mongolia and raising awareness of environmental issues.

Over 60 countries have national tourist organisations. Around the world in 2015, there were a total of 1.3 billion tourists; this is expected to grow to 1.8 billion in 2030. Tourism accounts for 10% of world gross output, 30% of trade and  5% of tax revenue as well as providing jobs to one in every 11 people.

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'Tourism Development Center' to be establishedMontsame, January 5

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Visa procedure to be simplified for group tourists

Ulaanbaatar, January 5 (MONTSAME) In order to increase tourist in-flow on the basis of intergovernmental and inter-ministerial memorandums and agreements, the Cabinet issued a resolution during its regular meeting on January 4 to simplify visa procedure for group's tourists travelling to Mongolia through tour operators.

Corresponding Ministers were assigned to monitor the implementation of the resolution and take measures to facilitate a 72-hour visa-free stay in Mongolia for transit tourists based on their next flight and visa obtained for the next country.

Furthermore, Minister of Road and Transportation Development was ordered to take certain measures directed at decreasing flight tariff between October and May for tourists arriving from destinations to which Mongolian national aviation company runs a direct flight.

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Mongolia to soften group visa, January 5

Mongolia to offer visa concession for group, January 5

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