Tuesday, January 10, 2017

RESEND: [Ovoot rail is feasible; NSC takes up pollution; more left UB than came; and Mongolia population is 3.1m]

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Tuesday, January 10, 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



Int'l Market

·         Aspire Mining receives favourable study results for railway

·         Prophecy Announces $150,000 Private Placement

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report, Jan 9: Top 20 +0.09%, ALL -0.14%, Turnover ₮17.4 Million Shares


·         MNT takes a rest

·         BoM issues ₮91.3 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -32.8% to ₮245.35 billion

·         Mongolia welcomes 2017 with a population of 3.1 million

·         Copper slips as dollar firms, fundamentals still solid

·         China coking coal rises again as investors bet on tight supplies

·         Australia sees iron ore price heading sharply lower

·         Gold rises as markets await Trump, but dollar limits gains

·         Oil down four percent on concerns over rising Iraqi exports, U.S. output

Politics & Legal

·         Defacto Review: 2017 Election, Tavan Tolgoi, Political Party Reform

·         Prosecutors to further investigate S.Zorig's case

·         Who will be the fifth President of Mongolia?

·         Original 1992 Constitution goes on display at National History Museum

·         IRI: Fighting Corruption in Mongolia


·         Park View Residences: High yielding residential investment

·         Defacto Interview: Georges Fischer, Consultant, International Trade Center

·         Defacto Interview: Romain Brillié, Country Representative, Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières


·         Ulaanbaatar officials say ₮11 billion will be spent on addressing air pollution

·         National Security Council to discuss UB pollution

·         Net migration to Ulaanbaatar was negative in 2016

·         Health Minister recommends restricting public events due to flu outbreak

·         Ulaanbaatar Mayor shares big plans for the capital

·         300 gather in UB to exchange books in first monthly event

·         City Administration to cooperate with Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions

·         Join our tree planting challenge and help reduce air pollution


·         UB Burns Supper 2017: Tickets on Sale

·         Road and Transport Minister meets Japanese ambassador

·         Belarusian machines, technologies for modernizing Mongolian economy

·         Monument of Mongolian war horses to be erected in Moscow

Culture & Society

·         'Camel Festival' takes place in Bayankhongor

·         11th Annual International Mongolian Studies Conference to be Held in DC

·         20th 'Foremost Calligraphers of Mongolia' contest concludes

·         History-based appliqué travels across Mongolia

Nature & Environment

·         Desperate exodus of the climate refugees

·         Environment Minister thanks Prague Zoo for Takhi preservation efforts

·         Population of reindeer increases in Khuvsgul

·         Poem of the week: Daughters of the Dust by Rhiannon Hooson


·         National champions crowned in free style wrestling

·         Seven Summiteer B.Gangaamaa: 2016 was a highly productive year

Art & Entertainment

·         "Good Father" movie to open in theaters next week

·         Actress B.Khulan elaborates on her latest films


·         Visit Khovsgol Lake to See Mongolia's One-Ship Navy




Int'l Market

AKM closed +10% on the announcement Monday to A$0.033

Aspire Mining receives favourable study results for railway

Aspire is the largest coal tenement holder in Mongolia's Northern provinces.

January 9 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM) has received the first stage feasibility study results for the Erdenet to Ovoot railway in Mongolia, which conclude the project to be financially feasible.

The capital cost to construct the railway is estimated at US$1.25 billion plus contingency for a 20 million tonnes per annum capacity single line.

Aspire owns the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and its development is dependent on the construction of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway.

Aspire's subsidiary Northern Railways now has the opportunity to continue its review of the study prior to commitment to the final stage feasibility study, which will take an estimated six months,

The study will be used by China Development Bank and other Chinese policy banks in assessing an investment in the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

Study details

The study commenced in September 2016 and provides an interim review of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway including sufficient design engineering to provide a +\- 10% capital estimate, a construction schedule, a bill of quantities and financial analysis including the capital and operating cost estimates.

The construction timeframe for the entire line is programmed out at 60 months from commencement to commissioning.

The financial model gives a before tax net present value of US$665 million and hence the project has been deemed financially feasible, necessary and it is recommended that it be implemented as soon as possible.


Aspire is the largest coal tenement holder in Mongolia's Northern provinces and is focused on identifying, exploring and developing quality coking coal assets.

Aspire is the 100% owner of the world class Ovoot Coking Coal Project, which is the second largest coking coal project by reserves in Mongolia.

The Ovoot project development is dependent on the construction of the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway which is being progressed by Aspire's subsidiary Northern Railways LLC.

Production from the Ovoot Project can coincide with the commissioning of the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.


The results from the first stage feasibility study are an important step in acceptance of the merits of the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

The study reduces the risk for investors to invest in the project now to fund the second and final stage of the feasibility study and other predevelopment works and permitting.

Importantly, it will also now enable China Development Bank and other Chinese policy banks to conduct commercial due diligence on investment for the construction contract. 

The study has shown the railway to be consistent with Mongolia's mineral resource development strategy to be supported by growth in rail infrastructure.

It will play a significant role in the promotion of regional and social development and is recommended to be implemented as soon as possible. 

Aspire has a 45% interest in the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project which has a 12.85 million tonne JORC resource.

Nuurstei is well placed to be an early user of the proposed Northern Railway Project which will service Aspire's Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

While tonnages at Nuurstei are modest, the project presents as a commercial scale pilot project for logistics and market development.

Shares in Aspire are up 350% over the past 12 months.

Link to article

Link to AKM release


Prospective Mongolian rail line proves feasibleMining Weekly, January 9

Erdenet to Ovoot Railway determined feasible World Coal, January 9

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Prophecy Announces $150,000 Private Placement

Vancouver, British Columbia (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY, OTCPK:PRPCF, Frankfurt:1P2N) announces that it is undertaking a non-brokered private placement (the "Placement") involving the issuance of up to 50,000 units (each a "Unit") at a price of $3.00 per Unit. Each Unit will consist of one Common share in the capital of the Company (a "Share") and one Share purchase warrant (a "Warrant"). Each Warrant entitles the holder to acquire an additional Share at a price of $4.00 per Share for a period of five years from the date of issuance. 

The Company expects the Placement to close on or before January 13, raising total cash proceeds of up to $150,000 to be used to develop Prophecy's mineral projects and for general working capital purposes. 

The Shares will be subject to a minimum hold period of four months plus one day from the date of issue. Finder's fees may be paid in cash, in certain instances in connection with the Placement. 

No insiders of the Company will be subscribing for any Units under the Placement. 

The Placement and payment of any finder's fees are subject to the approval of the TSX and other customary closing conditions.

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Jan 9: Top 20 +0.09%, ALL -0.14%, Turnover ₮17.4 Million Shares

January 9 (MSE) --

Link to report

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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: Monday, January 9 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,494 Sell ₮2,501), TDB (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,501), Golomt (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,500), XacBank (Buy ₮2,492 Sell ₮2,501), State Bank (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,501)

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

Link to rates

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BoM issues 91.3 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -32.8% to ₮245.35 billion

January 9 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 91.3 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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Mongolia welcomes 2017 with a population of 3.1 million

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) By January 1, the population of Mongolia was 3.123.936, reported General Authority of Intellectual Property and State Registration. The total population was 3.059,498 as of January 1, 2016 and 77.762 babies were born during the whole year of 2016 while 18.805 people died.

In addition to that, the number of people, who acquired or restored or re-registered in database was 7.759 persons and number of people who withdrew citizenship of Mongolia was 2.278.

"- We have fingerprint data of all 3.1 million citizens with information on age and gender. According to the database, gender ratio is 49.5:50.5. In other words, the number of men (1.547.286) men is less than the number of women (1.576.650)" said chairwomen of GAIPSR staff B.Badamtsetseg.

By the end of 2016, registered married couples were 17.118, while 4.159 couples registered divorced.

Link to article

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METALS-Copper slips as dollar firms, fundamentals still solid

* Copper inventories down 15 pct from Dec. high.

* Copper investors trim long positions - CFTC

* Indonesia minerals export ban regulation expected this week (Adds official prices)

LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Copper slipped on Monday as the dollar continued to strengthen in the wake of solid U.S. payroll figures but falling stocks and promising data from top consumer China stemmed losses.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange, was bid down 0.3 percent to $5,575 a tonne as the dollar rose 0.2 percent.

A U.S. non-farm payrolls report on Friday showed slower hiring in December but an increase in wages, supporting the case for more U.S. interest rate rises and putting pressure on commodities priced in dollars.

However, copper inventories fell on Monday, offering some support to the metal used in power and construction. Stocks fell to 294,900 tonnes, down 225 tonnes from the previous session and 14.6 percent lower from their December high.

ING's head of commodities strategy Hamza Khan said the strong fundamentals for copper could see prices rise slightly this week, although they would still be range-bound.

"The inventory levels have been falling pretty sharply over the last few sessions. We also saw more encouraging (economic) data from China last week," he said.

Last Thursday, copper prices hit their highest in more than two weeks at $5,698 a tonne.

Broker Jefferies lifted its copper price forecast for the end of 2017 by more than 15 percent to $2.75 per pound, from $2.38 per pound, as it now sees a supply deficit for this year due to less spending by miners.

Disruptions could come as soon as this week with a ban on ore exports from Indonesia set to come into effect, although miner Freeport is in talks with the government to continue exports as it constructs a new smelter.

Hedge funds and money managers reduced their net long positions in copper, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed.

China copper premiums have come under pressure after large inflows into warehouses as traders delivered metal to tidy books at year-end.

Elsewhere, zinc was bid 0.3 percent higher to $2,627 per tonne, after failing to trade in official rings. The metal used to galvanise steel jumped 60 percent in 2016 as supply dwindled.

Barclays said in a note it expects tightness in the zinc market to "remain supportive as concentrate shortages could lead to smelter outages outside China".

In other metals, aluminium was down 0.4 percent at $1,705.50 a tonne in official rings, not far off a two-month low hit last week.

Lead was bid up 1 percent at $2,055.50 per tonne, and nickel rose 0.4 percent to $10,245 a tonne while tin traded half a percent higher at $21,100.

Link to article

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UPDATE 1-China coking coal rises again as investors bet on tight supplies

* Steel margins hold firm despite rising raw materials prices -BarCap

* Market digesting raft of policy news on coal, steel cutbacks (Updating prices)

Jan 9 (Reuters) Chinese coking coal prices rose for a fourth straight session on Monday, notching up its best daily gain in a month, as investors bet on tighter supplies amid a crackdown on illegal mining by the world's top coal producer.

Recovering from a 2-1/2-month low hit last week, the most-active coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended the session up 3.7 percent at 1,199 yuan ($172.91) per tonne.

That's just under a short-term resistance level at its 14-day moving average. Prices settled at 1,179 yuan.

Prices are up 8 percent over the past four sessions after slipping to 1,106.5 yuan last week, weakest since Oct. 17.

The gains have come as the market digests a raft of policy announcements by the government aimed at closing inefficient, outdated coal mines and steel mills.

Shanxi province, the country's top coal producer, said it plans to cap output and consolidate the industry around big producers over the next four years in a bid to boost efficiency.

At the weekend, state media reported that the nation's biggest steelmaking province Hebei expects to slash 31.86 million tonnes of steel and ironmaking capacity in 2017.

Coke futures were also higher, closing up 4 percent at 1,589 yuan per tonne. They settled up 1.3 percent at 1,548 yuan.

While steelmaking raw material costs have been higher in the past few weeks, analysts believe steel mills have maintained their profit margins due to suspensions of operations as toxic smog blanketed the north of the country in recent weeks.

"This disruption to steel supply may be acting to boost margins for China's domestic steel producers," Barclays Capital said in a note, adding that margins have remained high at 69 percent.

The most-active rebar contract for May delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended the session up 3.6 percent at 3,048 yuan. It settled at 2,960 yuan.

Iron ore prices on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 4.5 percent to close at 571.5 yuan per tonne buoyed by robust demand from China, even as the Australian government warned of a steep decline in prices in 2017.

Prices settled at 550 yuan.

Confidence has recently been boosted by strong imports into China - December iron ore shipments from Australia's Port Hedland terminal hit a record 37.4 million tonnes in December.

Domestic stocks CUS-STKTOT-IORE dipped 0.4 percent to 108 million tonnes last week, although they are still at 2-1/1-year highs.

Link to article


Coking coal price retreat favours contract sellersAustralian Financial Review, January 9

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Australia sees iron ore price heading sharply lower

January 9 (Reuters) Australia has forecast a steep decline in the price of iron ore, its most valuable export commodity, calling an end to an unexpected rally fueled by strong demand from China.

The forecast average price in 2017 of around $52 a tonne - down from about $80 a tonne at present - comes as big miners are set to report bumper profits in coming months, while smaller rivals are still getting back on their feet.

"If the iron ore price starts to go down the high performance of last year won't be replicated this year," said Shaw & Partners mining analyst Peter O'Connor. "It could be a trainwreck for the smaller, marginal producers."

In a closely watched release, Australia's Department of Industry, Innovation and Science on Monday predicted iron ore to average just $51.60 a tonne this year, easing further to $46.70 in 2018.

The 2017 forecast was still up from its previous estimate of $44.10, reflecting last year's rally, and broadly in line with major banks on doubts that China's industrial growth will continue to support 1 billion tonnes of annual iron ore imports.

A Reuters poll in mid-December put the average price of iron ore at $54.70 per tonne in 2017, while Barclays expects prices to tumble as low as $50 a tonne by the third quarter of 2017.

Iron ore has already recoiled by 9 percent since mid-December after rising by 81 percent over 2016.

The Australian forecast put last year's price lift down to a temporary rise in Chinese steel output and run-ups caused by speculative commodities trading in China.

"The rally reflects a combination of fundamental drivers and speculative trading," the department said in its latest commodities outlook paper, "However, with the likely moderation of these factors over the outlook period, the iron ore price is still forecast to decline."

Nev Power, chief executive of Australia's third-biggest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group and a vocal critic of speculative iron ore trading, said the market was largely in supply and demand balance throughout 2016.

"It is very difficult to predict the iron ore price, however it has remained in a fairly consistent band of around $40-$60 for the past 18 months," Power told Reuters.

"We expect that to continue through 2017 and remain confident in both the short and long-term fundamentals of the Chinese market," he said.

Australia also lowered its forecast for exports of iron ore by 2 percent to 832.2 million tonnes in fiscal 2016-17 from 851 million previously, although this is still a 5.9 percent rise year-on-year. Australia is the world's top supplier of iron ore.

December iron ore shipments to China from Australia's Port Hedland terminal hit a record 37.4 million tonnes in December.

Analysts expect Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue, which together control 70 percent of world iron ore trade, to report sharply stronger profits next month after iron ore prices raced up 80 percent in 2016.

Smaller miners such as Atlas Iron are just now recovering after iron ore fell as low as $38 a tonne last year.

Link to article

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Gold rises as markets await Trump, but dollar limits gains

January 9 (Reuters) Gold firmed on Monday as uncertainty ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. President this month supported prices after the previous session's retreat, though an uptick in the dollar kept a lid on gains.

The metal, which posted its biggest weekly increase in two months last week, lost some ground on Friday after a U.S. payrolls report supported the view that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year, boosting the dollar.

However, it found good support around $1,170 an ounce, the 23.6 percent retracement of its November to December decline.

Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,178.50 an ounce at 1250 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery rose $5.10 to $1,178.50.

"Trump is speaking this week," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke. "On Wednesday he has a press conference, which will be very interesting given how gold has reacted since his election."

Gold slid more than 12 percent in the past quarter as Trump's election victory boosted expectations that his tax and spending policies would boost the dollar and inflation, prompting more U.S. rate increases.

"From our perspective, in terms of the overall economic backdrop, we see no reason to change our views," Menke said. "We are still bullish on the dollar, we still see more upside for bond yields, which of course translates into some headwinds for gold."

Hedge funds and money managers cut their bullish positions in COMEX gold contracts for the eighth straight week in the week to Jan. 3, taking their holdings to the smallest in 11 months, data showed on Friday.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

"The December FOMC minutes released on Wednesday emphasised that the Fed is also uncertain about the direction of fiscal policy after Trump's win," Capital Economics said in a note.

"We still expect the central bank to hike interest rates four times this year in response to some of Trump's more inflationary policies."

Strong outflows from gold-backed exchange-traded funds have lessened of late, while seasonal buying in the big Asian gold markets, where India is deep into wedding season and China is approaching the Lunar New Year, has been strong.

Silver was down 0.1 percent at $16.46 an ounce, while platinum rose 0.4 percent to $970.75.

Palladium was little changed at $756, having touched a five-week high at $768.10. It rallied more than 11 percent last week.

Link to article

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Oil down four percent on concerns over rising Iraqi exports, U.S. output

January 9 (Reuters) Oil prices tumbled by 4 percent on Monday on concern that record Iraqi crude exports and rising U.S. output would undermine OPEC's efforts to curb global oversupply.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 settled down $2.03 at $51.96 a barrel, while Brent futures LCOc1 settled down $2.16 at $54.94 a barrel.

In Iraq, OPEC's second-biggest producer, oil exports from the southern Basra ports reached a record high of 3.51 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, the oil ministry said.

OPEC members agreed in November on the first deal to cut oil output since 2008, limiting supplies to 32.5 million bpd starting Jan. 1 for six months.

Iraq's oil ministry underscored that the high levels from the south would not affect the country's decision to cut January production to comply with the OPEC agreement. But some remained concerned over the feasibility of the cuts, which would have to come from the north.

"We have compliance with the Gulf countries, but the rest of the slate is looking a bit shaky," said Robert Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA.

"With the big numbers coming out of the southern port of Basra for December ... it's implying that Iraq may be the first big crack in the wall of the OPEC agreement," he added.

Sources also told Reuters that Iraq's State Oil Marketing Company had given three buyers in Asia and Europe full supply allocations for February.

The lower optimism comes even though Russia, one of the world's largest crude producers, is apparently sticking with the agreement to cut. Russian energy market sources told Reuters the country's output had fallen by 100,000 bpd in the first week of the month.

Kuwait's oil minister added on Monday that an OPEC committee will meet in Vienna on Jan. 21-22 to monitor compliance and agree on a "final monitoring mechanism."

Last week, U.S. energy companies added oil rigs for a 10th week in a row, Baker Hughes data showed, with some analysts expecting the U.S. rig count will rise to 850-875 by the end of the year.

Dealers say that the recent uptick in U.S. shale hedging to protect future output for 2018 and beyond could put more pressure into the market. They add that high inventories nationwide are still a hurdle for the market.

"The price weakness ... calls attention to some bearish news that the market had been willing to ignore, such as the high level of (fourth quarter) supply still in transit to consumers and the uptrend in U.S. drilling rigs and actual oil production," said Tim Evans, energy futures specialist at Citigroup, said in a note.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Defacto Review, January 8

January 9 (Jargal Dambadarjaa) Reviewed topics:

1) Presidential Election 2017: From the people or an extended parliament?

2) J.Erdenebat: Tavan Tolgoi deal will be discusses in parliament.

3) Political parties reform – financing?

Link to video

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Prosecutors to further investigate S.Zorig's case

January 9 (UB Post) The General Prosecutor's Office announced on Wednesday that a working group was assigned to investigate whether the murder of 36-year-old hero of the democratic revolution and former Minister of Infrastructure S.Zorig was ordered and premeditated.

The murder of S.Zorig remained unsolved for 18 years, since October 1998, but the court convicted Ts.Amgalanbaatar, B.Sodnomdarjaa, and T.Chimgee to 25, 24 and 25 years in prison respectively for aggravated and premeditated murder to cover up another murder. The case was closed on December 27, 2016 after five days of trial.

On the following day, S.Zorig's sister and former Minister of Environment S.Oyun made a statement expressing her doubts about the court's decision.

"We, the victims, don't believe that the court decision was justified. A closed trial was held for the case because it was said that confidential state information were discussed," S.Oyun's statement read. "My lawyer represented me at the trial and explained my position under legal grounds. This trial hasn't ended the murder case of S.Zorig or revealed all of its employer, organizers and perpetrators."

On December 28, S.Oyun gave an interview to Eagle TV, and informed that she had issued a demand that the appeal court be held openly.

The General Prosecutors Office started an investigation to find out if there really was a mastermind behind the assassination as speculated by S.Oyun.

The working group consists of investigators from the General Intelligence Agency and General Police Department, and operates under the supervision of the Prosecutor's Office of Metropolitan. General Prosecutor M.Enkh-Amgalan ordered the working group to investigate the case thoroughly and finalize it promptly.

On the same day, another joint working group was formed with investigators from the Independent Agency Against Corruption, General Police Office, and Criminal Police Department to inspect a criminal case accusing managers and directors of the Development Bank of Mongolia and Ministry of Economic Development of misappropriating large sum of money and causing substantial losses to the nation, according to the General Prosecutors Office.

Link to article

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Who will be the fifth President of Mongolia?

January 9 (UB Post) Last year, the world watched as the most astounding presidential election in recent history unfolded in the USA.

Mongolia will choose its fifth president this year. The Presidential Election Law forbids media outlets from organizing polls in an election year.

This week, published a poll conducted from December 12 until 31 among Mongolia's top three political parties. In the poll, 12,418 people were asked: Who will you support in the presidential election?

The poll indicated that the top contenders from the Mongolian People's Party, which holds 65 out of 76 seats in Parliament, are Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold (2,430 votes) and Vice Speaker Ts.Nyamdorj (2,233 votes). The pair collected nearly 80 percent of all 5,951 votes cast within the party. Other notable runners from the Mongolian People's Party were decorated wrestler and legislator B.Bat-Erdene (379 votes), former Prime Minister S.Batbold (343 votes), and Member of Parliament N.Enkhbold (337 votes).

More people voted in the Democratic Party, with 6,142 votes cast in total. The top prospects of the Democratic Party were former prime ministers R.Amarjargal (2,922 votes) and N.Altankhuyag (2,104 votes). Other notable contenders were former Ulaanbaatar Mayor E.Bat-Uul (538 votes), Member of Parliament L.Bold (274 votes) and former Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg (222 votes).

The third party eligible to nominate a candidate for the Presidential Election 2017 is the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. 3,025 members of the party were asked: Who will you support in the presidential election? A resounding 71.6 percent, or 2,165 people, said they would support former President N.Enkhbayar. The eligibility of N.Enkhbayar in the upcoming presidential election is also a debated topic. N.Enkhbayar was not allowed to run in the parliamentary elections of 2016 as he was convicted for corruption in 2012. The former president was released through a presidential pardon in the same year.

From the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, 2012 presidential candidate N.Udval came in second with 450 votes.

The current law demands state office holders vying for the presidency to hand in their job before the election year, which means the Speaker and Vice Speaker cannot run for office under the current law.

Last week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure agreed to discuss amendments to the Presidential Election Law. During the meeting, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's legislator O.Baasankhuu said such an action goes against principle and is unconstitutional. He also demanded that opposition legislators be present during the discussion of the amendment.

Key Powers of the President of Mongolia

  • Nominate a candidate for the office of Prime Minister, who is then approved or rejected by Parliament.
  • Veto Parliament's legislation (which can be overridden with a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament)
  • Approve judicial appointments
  • Appoint the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Mongolia
  • Chair the National Security Council
  • Act as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
  • Nominate the Prosecutor General, the official in charge of implementing the laws, who is then approved or rejected by Parliament

Link to article

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Original 1992 Constitution goes on display at National History Museum

January 9 ( The Constitution of Mongolia is going on show at the State History Museum of Mongolia for a week. The country's supreme law was transferred from the President's office to the museum earlier today (9th of January).

The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Mongolian Democratic Constitution will be marked on 13th of January.  To mark the anniversary, several events are being organized. A photo exhibition and conference entitled the "State Great Khural of the People's Republic of Mongolia and Constitution" took place on 20th of December. Also, to mark the adoption of the Democratic Constitution, an annual national wrestling competition will be held on 13th of January 2017 in Ulaanbaatar.

Link to article

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IRI: Fighting Corruption in Mongolia

December 8 (IRI) One of the anti-corruption tools that IRI has pioneered the use of is the Vulnerabilities to Corruption Assessment (VCA). The VCA is a tool that helps governments find the potential risks of corruption.

IRI fights corruption from a democratic governance point of view in which citizens are more involved with their government and government is more responsible and accountable to their citizens. This improves the relationship between citizens and their elected officials which is the foundation of a working democracy.

Link to video

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Park View Residences: High yielding residential investment

High yielding residential investment, let to major international company in one of UB's most popular residential buildings.

Mongolian Properties is pleased to offer a prime investment in the Park View Residence, one of the most popular apartment buildings in Ulaanbaatar. Completed in 2007, and designed by international architects, it comprises of 31 apartments located in the city's Embassy District. Park View is a favored address for upper middle class Mongolians and expatriate professionals.

For more information about this unique opportunity or discuss alternative investments with Mongolian Properties please contact: 

Tsegy or Thea


• Asking Price: US$300,000

• US$24,000 annual rent

• 10% gross yield (excl. management fees & tax)

•  8% net yield (excl. management fees & tax)

• 7 year corporate lease to Rio Tinto

• Strong potential rental growth and capital appreciation

• Major international investment into the country's largest mining project, Oyu Tolgoi, approved

For more information about our property management services, watch our video

For more information about Mongolian Properties and who we are, watch our video

Link to email

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Defacto Interview: Georges Fischer, Consultant, International Trade Center

January 7 (Jargal Dambadarjaa) --

Link to interview

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Defacto Interview: Romain Brillié, Country Representative, Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières

December 25 (Jargal Dambadarjaa) --

Link to interview

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Ulaanbaatar officials say 11 billion will be spent on addressing air pollution

January 9 (UB Post) This year, Mongolia is estimated to spend more than 11 billion MNT on air pollution projects, with 600 million MNT dedicated to air pollution research.

Unuudur Newspaper reports that five billion MNT from the state budget, 3.15 million MNT from the Ulaanbaatar city budget, and 2.6 million USD (approximately 6.45 billion MNT) from the Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project will be spent on combatting air pollution in Mongolia.

Ulaanbaatar authorities say they are planning to spend 600 million MNT on studying the impact of air pollution on public health; one billion MNT will be spent on promoting the use of Monwatt LLC's Tulgat stoves; 400 million MNT will be spent on a project led by the Ulaanbaatar Environmental Department to build green facilities and support forestry management; and 1.15 billion MNT will be spent on the technological upgrade of a laboratory that analyzes air quality.

Reportedly, the Tulgat stove's electrical functions can be fully recharged within 10 hours and can provide heat for 24 hours.

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National Security Council to discuss UB pollution

January 9 ( The National Security Council of Mongolia is to hold an emergency meeting under the theme of 'fighting against environment and air pollution of Ulaanbaatar' on 10th of January. The council will discuss air and soil pollution in the Mongolian capital in a session behind closed doors.

In the last few years, smog and coal dust have increasingly blotted out the sky in Ulaanbaatar. This year has been particularly bad, as the man made pollution has combined with the coldest temperatures for a decade. The city's ubiquitous 'ger districts' and the exhaust fumes from the growing number of motor vehicles on city's roads are viewed as the chief culprits, as they also are in Beijing and New Delhi.

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Net migration to Ulaanbaatar was negative in 2016

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) General Authority of Intellectual Property and State Registration informed that internal migration of citizen's has not grown much compared to the last four years. Number of people who moved from countryside to the capital city was less than the number of people who moved to countryside from Ulaanbaatar.

Today, the authority made report on their works accomplished in 2016. The number of people who attains national passport, which enables to travel abroad has increased significantly.

"- 198 000 people obtained national passport and 100806 citizens made their passport extended in 2016. It means the number of national passport holders have increased compared to last years and the reason of the growth is related to tourism development. For example, visa free travel of Mongolian citizens to Russia influenced on it" said chairwoman of the Citizen's Registration Department of the Authority D.Enkhtsetseg.

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Health Minister recommends restricting public events due to flu outbreak

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) Due to outbreak of influenza, Health Minister A.Tsogtsetseg recommends Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold to take restriction measures including regulating day off of kindergarten, schools, colleges and universities and shortening working hours of public entertainment places or reducing mass gatherings to avoid crowded places.  

The Minister sent an official letter, in which she noted the current situation of the spread has reached the level that requires restrictions. Infection of influenza spread dramatically in the capital, occupying 13-17 per cent of ambulatories cares, 65 per cent of ambulance calls and the capacity of hospitals was overrun by 79.3 per cent. The World Health Organization recommends taking restriction measures, when the spread reaches to 15 per cent of ambulatory checkups. According to the Minister, the influenza epidemic is possibly to continue till February 20.

Seasonal influenza, infecting mainly children, has spread extensively in heavy air polluted Bayanzurkh, Songino-Khairkhan and Chinggeltei districts, and there are occasions of the infection augmentation to pneumonia.

A new faculty for children, with 50 beds is to be opened in Central Military Hospital and more 30 beds will be added to Children's faculty of the Second Central Hospital. In connection with it, Health Minister requested the Mayor to provide the faculties with two baby breathing apparatus and two breathing apparatus for children.

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Ulaanbaatar Mayor shares big plans for the capital

January 9 (UB Post) The following is an interview with Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold about a wide range of topics related to the capital city's development and future.

The scale of projects mayors and the prime minister carry out may be different, but their essential roles and responsibilities are the same. As the Mayor of the Capital, what do you consider as your first priority?

I have to be involved in everything that goes on in the city, but my highest priority is to change Ulaanbaatar's status. I consider the city legal reform to be more important than other matters. Various issues and problems are piled up, but they will not be resolved unless the government views the capital as a special zone. The capital and government must cooperate on finding solutions to these issues. Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia's economic locomotive and population center.

The Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Action Plan hopes to develop the capital into a tourism hotspot. Just as Paris has the Eiffel Tower and Moscow has the Red Square, what is Ulaanbaatar's signature? Do you hope to create a representative facility or place for the capital?

Within the first season of this year, we will cooperate with foreign consultants and local companies and produce Ulaanbaatar's brand in consistency with modern city standards. At the very least, we hope to find something that will help people pronounce and read Ulaanbaatar correctly, just like the I amsterdam sign. It doesn't contain political content at all.

From the statue of General D.Sukhbaatar, statue of Chinggis Khaan and Blue Sky Tower, I'm not sure which is Ulaanbaatar's symbolic structure. We need a tower where the whole city can be seen. Right now, we only have Zaisan Memorial. Ulaanbaatar isn't like other cities across the world with skyscrapers and glass buildings. I want something unique that portrays Mongolia's individualism to be the city's icon. This will not be established by the government but by the Mayor's Office and the private sector.

Besides building something new, the capital should make existing facilities stand out to develop tourism. Have you planned anything for museums?

Museums play an important role in promoting cities and cultures around the world. We have the Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce, which includes every large company in the capital. Members of the chamber initiated to work together to renovate the Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum and showcase amazing exhibits which we were unable to display in the past.

Soon, we will assign responsibilities and discuss what to build and how. Secondly, private collectors possess extremely valuable collections. Ulaanbaatar must have its own pavilion, which can be used to exhibit their collections.

Private collectors have sufficient number of valuables to launch exhibitions. If the private sector initiates something along this line, the capital is ready to cooperate and resolve land issues. It's important to centralize all museums in Ulaanbaatar and develop a very large shopping street and a complex along with a sufficient parking space.

Every development plan seems to inevitably bring forth financial problems. How does the capital raise funds? Is the city tax initiated by the previous government showing results?

I'm one of the advocates for city tax. The current city tax only has a good name. For a fact, it's good that something like this was initiated and launched. However, Parliament slightly changed the method the tax is to be collected before passing the bill. The implementation of this law is quite poor.

According to the City Tax Law, it was estimated that 10 billion MNT would be collected but only half of this amount was collected. I believe the revenue from tax collection will increase once businesses develop and the economic situation improves. A city is actually supposed to be financed through various taxes such as real estate, land and service taxes.

Your action plan states that Ulaanbaatar will release bonds to raise funds. Can you tell us about this?

Personally, I believe that Ulaanbaatar needs to become financially independent from the government. The capital needs to raise its own funds and financing, get loan from international financial organizations without government collateral, and resolve long-term investment. I proposed releasing a bond to the government, but unfortunately, it was rejected as the government feared additional bonds would heighten the debt ceiling when the nation is facing financial difficulties. I expect bond restrictions to be lifted by 2018 at the nearest.

Every year, more and more people are moving to Ulaanbaatar. Do you plan to set limits to this?

As the Mayor, I do want to limit the number of people moving to the city. At this rate, if we don't set a limit, problems related to the rights and interests of residents living in Ulaanbaatar will be raised. Though everyone has the right to move to the capital, both the people living in the city and those moving here are suffering due to overload.

The government needs to establish a system that encourages people to live in rural settlements and provinces. If people can't find jobs in the city, they can go to the countryside and run a farm, raise livestock and grow vegetables. The government could start a campaign which supports those willing to move outside of the city by covering moving costs and providing seeds or livestock. It's impossible to establish order in the capital without reducing the workload.

What measures is Ulaanbaatar taking to eliminate the difference between city center and ger areas?

I don't want Ulaanbaatar to be surrounded by ger districts and become a cluttered city. It must be a city developed equally in all areas. There are many social problems stopping us from doing this. We must reduce poverty and increase jobs. Within this scope, three projects are being carried out to not just decentralize Ulaanbaatar by establishing a new city center and planting nice flowers, but through city cultures and better infrastructure in suburban areas. Infrastructure networks are being installed in suburbs as well.

Can you talk about the satellite towns mentioned in your action plan?

Nalaikh, Baganuur, Bagakhangai, Zuun Mod, Emeelt, and Khushig Valley's Aero city are Ulaanbaatar's satellite towns. Ulaanbaatar needs to be decentralized to develop these towns. Ger districts were expanded under the guise of city development and a new residential area is being built.

All district mayors have now agreed to avoid further expanding ger districts. In the case that they have to expand ger districts, they must build infrastructure at a place relatively remote from the capital. District mayors believe that it's best to build new residential areas near suburbs.

[This] year, a red line will be marked so that electricity and water aren't supplied to families living within a certain boundary. There isn't any space for a new family to build a ger within the city anyway.

In your opinion, how effective were projects carried out by the previous governments? What were their pros and cons?

I commend them for boldly allocating funds to resolve infrastructure issues. However, they spent too much. They also enforced a land eviction schedule to settle issues related to ger areas. I'm thinking of continuing some of their projects after filling in the blanks and lacking areas.

Residents demand city authorities to find solutions for their everyday problems. Do you find this difficult sometimes?

Rather than initiating, discussing and developing large projects, I spend most of my time trying to settle daily problems. Helping to resolve everyday problems, removing snow from streets and roads, and increasing the number of beds at hospitals are the most important things to do for a mayor. Even so, I have to see the bigger picture and come up with plans for the development of the city.

However, I have to admit that I do feel depressed occasionally.

The first thing you did as soon as you took office was turning the car park at Sukhbaatar Square into an ice skating rink. What else do you want to do for the children and young people living in the capital? Can you also share some of your childhood memories?

When I was young, I used to skate practically every day in the winter. I used to grab my skates or sleigh and head to a mountain. The environment was so nice and healthy. We used to have warm winters with clear white snow. Now, the city is covered in smog during the winter. I want children to be able to have the same kind of memories of winter as me.

We plan to operate a cheap skating rink called Ulaanbaatar Resort besides the one at Sukhbaatar Square. We will try to ensure that it meets international standards next winter. More than 10 skating rinks will be established in Ulaanbaatar with assistance from districts and private companies.

There is a requirement to improve the environment so that children and young people can grow happily and healthily, and to establish resorts and recreation centers. New kindergartens and schools will be built at every khoroo so that schools can operate in two shifts instead of three. It's not right for a child to go to school at 5:00 p.m. and finish at 9:00 p.m.

What kind of a city do you want Mongolian children to grow up in?

I hope that laws and regulations are abided by not only in Ulaanbaatar but nationwide, and that residents are able to properly work and live without depending on the mayor or anyone else. I wish for Ulaanbaatar to become a free and liberal city where everyone can live happily, healthily and safely.

Everyone should strive to make Ulaanbaatar a better place to live in with the thought that their children and grandchildren will live here in the future.

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300 gather in UB to exchange books in first monthly event

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) "We've initiated the Book Exchange event in order to create opportunities for citizens to share their books through which they can make new friends and exchange their opinions and views on books. We are confident the event will expand in the months to come", said J.Damdintseren, Head of Department of Culture and Arts of the City Administration on January 7 as he opened the first Book Exchange Day of 2017 on Central Square.

Co-organized by the Department of Culture and Arts and Public Library of Ulaanbaatar, the event attracted about 300 readers made of children, young people, writers and elders.

Interestingly, history and literature books were mainly sought by the 300 participants, the youngest of whom was a 5-year-old who was looking for children's tale. The first book-exchangers of the day were presented with a coupon of free reader card by the Public Library of Ulaanbaatar.

According to the organizers, the Book Exchange day will be a monthly event, and readers and bibliophiles are invited to stop by the Central Square on the first Saturday of every month.

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City Administration to cooperate with Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) On January 6, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold and President of Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions Kh.Amgalanbaatar signed a memorandum on cooperation in strengthening the social partnership.

The document on the development of social partnership was adopted by the members of the Citizens' Representative Khural.

It regulates measures to strengthen the system of social partnership in Ulaanbaatar and economic relations concerning the employment and social welfare issues.

Over 60 percent of all enterprises formally registered in Mongolia conducting their activities in the city of Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar Mayor Batbold said "It is indispensable to improve the social and labor protection of those enterprises and reinforce their partnerships. The Ulaanbaatar City Administration and the President of Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions will work together on ensuring the implementation of the Labor law and promoting the law related to this issue to the public".

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Join our tree planting challenge and help reduce air pollution

January 9 ( Ger districts of the Ulaanbaatar city, where people live with no access to the central heating system and rely on coal-burning stoves to survive temperatures that fall below minus 35 degrees Celsius, is expanding day by day while resulting hazardous levels of air pollution. 

In other words, more than 200 thousand of chimneys in the city produce 80 percent of air pollution. 


The number of ger district households of Ulaanbaatar city have risen by 41 thousand in the last five years. 

Number of people migrating to the city from rural areas have risen continuously due to lack of workplaces and poor living conditions in the countryside. As of today, more than 19 thousand highly educated and unemployed exist in Bayan-Ulgii aimag, says the Governer of the Bayan-Ulgii aimag.

According to the study conducted in 2015, 58.1 percent of total households of the Ulaanbaatar city are residing in ger districts and remaining 41.9 percent reside in housings or apartments. 

"Migration causes air pollution. One third of the people living in the ger districts are migrants from rural areas", says Public health expert and Dr. Ch.Oyuntsetseg. 


The Government implemented improved stoves project and provided them to 170 thousand of ger district households. However, it worsened the situation. Currently, the country has no specific program to reduce air pollution except providing free nighttime electricity to ger district households at a loss.

What we can do to reduce the pollution? Let`s do everything depending on us. Let`s warm up the houses, use free nighttime electricity and plant trees in the spring. We at GoGo news agency call for citizens to build green facilities which is the most cost-effective action that can be implemented anywhere as well as can cover many people. 

For instance;

  • Elm absorbs 23 kg,
  • Bush absorbs 38 kg,
  • Aspen absorbs 34 kg,
  • Yellow acacia tree absorbs 0.2 kg of dust annually. 

Moreover, 1 square meter lawn evaporates 200 grams of water daily and moisturizes and purifies the air.  

According to the study, trees in 1 hectares of land purify 18 million cubic meters of air and absorb 30-35% of smoke. Woody plants reduce air pollution to 40 percent and absorb 26 percent of noise in the winter. If ger district households plant trees in their yard, it will be a substantial contribution in reducing air and soil pollution. 


Ulaanbaatar city is facing lack of green facility. The city is decorated with annual plants in the summer. Therefore, every citizen should participate actively in creating green facilities.

This year "Soyolj" gardening center will sell seedlings that has been grown since 2011. Seedlings of 15 species of trees and bushes will be sold for 2500 to 19,000 MNT. Elm, yellow acacia and poplar are grown faster in our country. Seedling price of those trees vary on the aging and costs about 2500 to 8000 MNT. 

"Tree is natural feature that requires passion and effort from people to grow. First of all, you need seedlings, shovels, cutlasses, fertilizer and 100 liters of water. The most significant factor for growing tree successfully is care. Ger district households need only 20,000 MNT, passion and effort to plant a tree in their yards", Head of Soyolj garden center D.Damba says. 

Tree planting helps to contribute valuable investment for the future. 

If you live in ger district and you have coal burning stove in your house, you should be responsible and plant a tree. Plant trees equal to the number of chimneys in your yard. Even if you live in housings or apartment, let`s plant trees together with your neighbors. 

GoGo news agency initiated tree planting challenge and calling for citizens of the Ulaanbaatar city. Further our agency will deliver series of publications regarding the challenge.

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UB Burns Supper 2017: Tickets on Sale


Since 2012 we have hosted an annual Burns Supper in Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar.  As well as celebrating the life of Robert Burns, Scotland's National Bard, we reflect on the growing ties between Scotland and Mongolia.  In past years we have seen performances from the band of the Mongolian Armed Forces, the Ulaanbaatar Scottish dance group and renowned Scottish bagpiper Alisdair McCallum.  The event is organised by the British Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Scotland.

The 6th Ulan Bator Burns Supper will take place on 28th January 2017 in the Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel, Ulaanbaatar.  First dram will be served at 7pm with formal proceedings beginning at 7.30pm.  We are delighted to reveal Lagavulin single malt will be served with dinner.

HE Catherine Arnold, Ambassador of the UK to Mongolia, delivering the traditional  'reply from the lassies' at our 2016 event.Tickets are strictly limited and available below.  All proceeds go to the running of the event.

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Road and Transport Minister meets Japanese ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) Minister of Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia Takaoka Masato last week.

Noting that the friendly relations between Mongolia and Japan are expanding in such areas as society, economy, infrastructure, culture and education, Mr. Ganbat expressed his satisfaction over the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the spheres of infrastructure, road and transportation.

Afterwards, he congratulated Mr Masato on his appointment to the post of Ambassador of Japan to Mongolia and exchanged views on the issues related to measures to implement in the road and transport sector and further cooperation.

Minister D.Ganbat introduced plans on making the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, which an ongoing successful project in the civil air industry cooperation between Mongolia and Japan, a regional competitive hub. 

He also noted that the commercial flight operations of the Chinggis Khaan International Airport will be transferred to the airport in the Khushig Valley and the measures to make the new airport economically effective will be taken. Then Mr. Ganbat requested from the Japanese side to give support to Mongolia on gaining a fifth freedom flight to Japan through the territory of China with a view to bring opportunities for Mongolia to participate in civil air markets of Japan and China.

In turn, Mr. Masato expressed his readiness to collaborate in road and transportation spheres. Minister Ganbat noted that the Japanese side can participate in or financing large-scale railway and auto road construction projects to be implemented in Mongolia.

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Belarusian machines, technologies for modernizing Mongolian economy

MINSK, 9 January (BelTA) – Belarus offers vehicles, machines and technologies to Mongolia for the sake of the ongoing modernization of various branches of the economy. These matters were discussed when Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Mongolia Stanislav Chepurnoi met with the director general of the National Development Agency of the Mongolian government, BelTA has learned.

According to the press service of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sides discussed ways of using Belarusian vehicles, machines, and technologies as part of the efforts to modernize various branches of the Mongolian economy.

The Ambassador also met with Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia, chairman of the Mongolian part of the Belarusian-Mongolian commission trade and economic cooperation Purev Sergelen. The sides discussed the advancement of cooperation in various spheres, exchange of visits at the top level and the high level, and the possibility of organizing the fourth session of the commission in Minsk in March 2017.

The Ambassador also met with Director of the Department of Europe of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mijiddorj Tsengeg. The sides discussed the wide spectrum of bilateral cooperation, including the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Belarusian-Mongolian diplomatic relations in 2017.

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Ambassador of Belarus S.Chepurnoy meets the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia – Belarus MFA, January 9

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Monument of Mongolian war horses to be erected in Moscow

January 9 (Mongolian Economy) Mongolians know very well about "Borisoglebskiy 11" Street right in the centre of Moscow, located near New Arbat Avenue. Borisoglebskiy 11 Street is the address of the Embassy of Mongolia in Moscow, and a bronze monument which depicts Mongolian horses pulling artillery will catch your eye when you enter the backyard of the embassy. The monument titled "On the Roads of War" was gifted by President Ts.Elbegdorj to the Russian Federation during his visit participating in the 70th anniversary of Victory Day.

The ceremony of the setting of the monument's foundation stone at Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow was one of the many events organised within the framework of the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Mongolia. Andrey Kulik, Director of the First Asian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia; Sergey Mirzoyan, Chief Moscow Inspector for State Protection of Items of Cultural Heritage; D.Davaasuren, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Mongolia; B.Delgermaa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Russia; and other officials and embassy staff participated in this ceremony held on November 3.

After the war themed Russian and Mongolian songs as well as the national anthems of the two countries echoed alternately over Poklonnaya Hill, officials of the two sides made congratulatory speeches. "On last year's Victory Day, the president of Mongolia presented this monument of Mongolian horses pulling artillery through rough roads against the whistling of bullets," stated Andrey Kulik, who also noted that expanding relations with Mongolia is one of the foreign policy priorities for Russia.

Reciprocating the praise, Mongolian Ambassador to Russia B.Delgermaa stated: "I would like to say that the people of Mongolia will forever remember the help of the Soviet people in protecting our country, territorial integrity and sovereignty, and honour the ultimate sacrifice made by the brave men and women at the Battles of the Khalkha River." She also expressed deep gratitude to the Commission for Monument Art of the Moscow City Duma, which made the decision to place the monument at Poklonnaya Hill (a location sacred to the military history of Russia) on October 12 of this year with the support of the Russian Government and the Moscow administration.

"On the Roads of War" – the symbol of the friendship of our two countries – will be placed at Victory Park, the most respected and prestigious part of Poklonnaya Hill, during next year's Victory Day as a reminder of the historical and loyal friendship between the two countries for generations to come.

We asked Andrey Kulik about his impression of the event after representatives of the two countries who attended the ceremony posed for a photo.

"The Russian people always remember and respect the historic tradition of our friendship strengthened through the Battles of the Khalkha River, the Manchuria hills and Lake Khasan," he said. "The assistance the Mongolian people sent during World War II in the form of food, strong horses, warm clothing and military equipment was invaluable. Mongolia and Russia celebrated together the 75th anniversary of the victory at the Khalkha River in 2014, and we celebrated the 70th anniversary of V-E Day last year. This year, we celebrate the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Leaving a legacy of the shared history our two nations for the next generation is our responsibility."

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Culture & Society

'Camel Festival' takes place in Bayankhongor

January 9 ( The fascinating 'Camel Festival' took place in the western Mongolian province of Bayankhongor on 6th-7th of January. Over 90 herders congregated with their camels from the Bayan-Undur, Shinejinst, Jinst Bayanlig soums  (districts) of the Bayankhongor and Govi-altai provinces. In all, more than 150 camels participated in the race.

A ten-year-old male camel belonging to herder Shoovoi from the Shinejinst soum (district) has been named 'Best camel' of the year. A total of 22 male camels took part in a competition in which they were rated on their appearance

The Mongolian camel population had been decreasing until 2000 but is now steadily growing.

Mongolians have been celebrating the "Thousand Camel Festival" over the last few years. The festival, held close to the town of Dalandzadgad, celebrates the Bactrian two-humped camel which has played an important role in the life of the Gobi nomads for centuries.

Over 1000 camels and their owners gathered at the festival. Highlights included a camel race and a camel polo match. Traditional Mongolian musicians and dancers also provided great performances at the festival.

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11th Annual International Mongolian Studies Conference to be Held in DC

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic establishment between Mongolia and USA, the 11th Annual International Mongolian Studies Conference will take place on January 27-28, at the Embassy of Mongolia to the USA and the Library of Congress of US.

The conference under the theme "Mongolia-US Relations; Past, Present and Future" will be hosted by the Mongolian Cultural Center and Embassy of Mongolia in Washington. Scholars and Mongolists from Mongolia, the US, Russia, China and Canada will attend to deliver speeches on issues of the US-Mongolia bilateral relations, history, language and literature of Mongolia and Mongolians in the USA.

Some of the speeches to be given at the event are '30 years of US-Mongolian relations-trends', 'The significance of Mongolia's third neighbor foreign policy', 'Contribution of Buddhist Monks for the Mongolia-US relations', 'Exploring the Significance of Values-based Leadership Development in Mongolian Higher Education', 'The First Draft of History has a Poor Memory: The Dilowa Khutughtu in American Journalism', 'Online News Consumption Habit in Mongolian American Community', 'Critical Discourse Analysis of Social Media Communication in Mongolian American Communities' and 'Category of 'Unpleasantness' in Mongolian Language.

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20th 'Foremost Calligraphers of Mongolia' contest concludes

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of annual 'Foremost Calligraphers of Mongolia' national contest in traditional Mongolian script which is organized by 'Khumuun Bichig' weekly newspaper of national news agency MONTSAME.

The 20th national contest attracted more than 700 contestants from 19 provinces and the capital city with the most works being sent from Bayankhongor, Arkhangai and Tuv provinces.

Among the contestants of all ages, the youngest were students of the 4th grade who studied the traditional script by themselves. Traditional Mongolian script is taught from the 6th grade in Mongolian secondary schools. The only international participant of this year's contest was Japanese citizen Shimamura Sho who took the 4th place in adult category last year.

An award ceremony was held today at Fine Arts Gallery where the best and foremost works were showcased, and J.Batsuuri, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports gave opening remarks.

"I am pleased to be part of today's celebration. Traditional Mongolian script is a valuable contribution by Mongolians to the world cultural repertory, and number of efforts and initiatives have been put forward in the last 20 years", he said.

In order to enforce the implementation of state policy to revive the official use of traditional Mongolian script, the President of Mongolia issued a decree in 2010 regarding certain measures which are being realized at present. "The Ministry will pay attention to synchronizing traditional Mongolian script with the latest technological development and creating a base for its online use", the Minister said.

With 'Gem International' LLC working as the main sponsor for the 7th year, the contest took place in 7 categories, and the 7th and the newest category in the contest 'The Best Calligrapher Class' collected more than 80 classes from around the country.

Following tradition, 4 winners of the category 'The 12th Grade Students' were awarded four-year scholarships in National University of Mongolia and State University of Education. The winners of 'The Best Calligraphy', 'Professional Teachers', 'The Best Calligrapher Class' and 'Creative Work' categories were awarded with certificates of overseas trip.

In addition to the main sponsor, individuals and organizations such as 'Sh.Luvsanvandan Fund', senior diplomats G.Luuzan, Ch.Namchin and actress R.Ankhnyam sponsored the competition. Moreover, another 20 participants were granted with a one-year free subscription to the 'Khumuun Bichig' newspaper.

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History-based appliqué travels across Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) A thread-knotting ceremony for an embroidery appliqué based on the Secret History of the Mongols will take place on January 9 in Dornod, informed the local authority.

The creation of the embroidery appliqué of the Secret History of the Mongols is an initiation of 'Craftsmen of Khan Khentii' LLC based in Khentii province. Depicting the life of Chinggis Khaan and the history and traditions of Mongolians in the 13th century with inclusion of the images of petroglyphs and deer stone, the embroidery appliqué project is filling 1.8 metres tall and 108 metres long felt.

The project initiators decided that the public should have an opportunity to knot a thread on the historic art piece, therefore the appliqué has been travelling around the country. So far, more than 3,800 citizens from 19 provinces have contributed to the making of the appliqué, and Dornod province becomes the 20th to host the thread-knotting ceremony.

Until now, 1 million 994 thousand metres of thread made of camel wool has been used on 100 metres long felt, and the project's completion is expected in February to furthermore inaugurate the rare art piece in April in the capital city.

The 'Craftsmen of Khan Khentii' LLC intends to register the embroidery appliqué in the Guinness Book, and have submitted the necessary file to the corresponding institution.

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Nature & Environment

Desperate exodus of the climate refugees

January 9 (The Guardian) In the last six years, some 140 million people have been forced to move because of climate-related disasters (Mongolian herders fly steppe blighted by climate extremes and social change, 5 January). Climate change is driving long-term environmental damage and sudden catastrophes, presenting a global long-term threat to human security. According to the UN, by mid-century, one in 30 people could be displaced, many as a result of climate change. Existing global inequalities are exacerbated by the injustice of climate change which severely affects the poorest and most vulnerable, those who have contributed least to the climate crisis. Although climate change and enforced migration are increasingly linked, those displaced have no legal standing under existing international refugee and asylum law.

Record-breaking increases in global temperature mask the unequal impact of planetary warming. Temperature increases in Mongolia have risen by more than double the global average over the past century. Elsewhere, in Somalia, Darfur, Syria and across sub-Saharan Africa, the chronic effects of drought, water scarcity and agricultural crises in rural areas no longer able to sustain their peoples have driven hundreds of thousands of migrants into cities and across borders. Safe haven is provided overwhelmingly by other poor countries, whilst richer countries respond by building walls and fences and a political debate that is toxic and often racist.

In response, our respective organisations, with wide support across civil society and trade unions, are organising Europe's first national conference on climate refugees in London on 11 February. Our conference will discuss the need for urgent international protection for climate refugees and migrants, and for far stronger public awareness and government leadership to tackle this fundamental issue.

Suzanne Jeffrey Chair, Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group 
Asad Rehman Senior campaigner, international climate, Friends of the Earth

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Environment Minister thanks Prague Zoo for Takhi preservation efforts

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) D.Oyunkhorol, Minister of Environment and Tourism received Ivana Grollova, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to Mongolia and Miroslav Bobek, Director of Prague Zoo.

Prague Zoo made a valuable contribution for the preservation of Przewalski's horse or takhi by carrying-out a number of successful projects to relocate the Takhi to Mongolia since 2010. In the past, a total of 23 Takhis has been relocated to Mongolia, 19 of which have been positioned at the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area and the Khomyn Tal or Khomyn Steppe of Zavkhan province with a funding of the Prague Zoo. Other investments of the Prague Zoo were made for ensuring favorable habitat land for Takhi, apart from a series of transportation of Takhi to Mongolia.

At the meeting, Director Miroslav Bobek vowed to provide financial and other types of assistances for relocating the Przewalski's horse to Mongolia. "The zoo is planning to bring more Takhis to Mongolia on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of re-introduction of Takhi in Mongolia which will be marked June 2017.

Wild horse or takhi has been relocated to Mongolia since 1992 and currently, the population of Takhi in the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area, Khustai National Park in Tuv province and Khomyn Tal in Zavkhan province has reached 500.

D.Oyunkhorol, Minister of Environment and Tourism thanked the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ulaanbaatar and the Prague Zoo for their invaluable contribution for the preservation of takhi, which had once become endangered in Mongolia. She also vowed to support the actions of the Embassy of Czech Republic in Ulaanbaatar and the Prague Zoo towards aimed at growing the Takhi population in Mongolia.

In addition, she informed about the works planned to do prior to the anniversary in the summer of 2017, such as an expansion of the B part of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area, one of its reintroduction sites in Mongolia. The Ministry of Environment is developing a national program "Takhi reintroduction and preservation" – legal document designed for Takhi protection and its population growth.

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Population of reindeer increases in Khuvsgul

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) The reindeer population in Khuvsgul province has been growing in recent years to reach 2040 reindeers showing an increase of 185 heads of reindeers or 9.9 percent compared to previous year, according to an annual livestock census made in the end of 2016.

The reindeer population, which was counted at over 2 thousand during the 1970s, declined to 926 at the end of 2007 facing threat of extinction. Thanks to central and municipal government measures and policies, the number of reindeers has now reached back to 2 thousand.

The decree of the President of Mongolia to give benefits to reindeer herders resulted in an improved livelihood and decline in sales of their reindeers. Also, a project to improve reindeer breed by bringing reindeers from neighboring countries is giving its benefits in Khuvsgul province.

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Poem of the week: Daughters of the Dust by Rhiannon Hooson

Moving beyond ordinary travel writing, this conjuring of the Mongolian steppe brings the reader a sharp sense of intimacy with what might seem very 'other'

by Carol Rumens

January 9 (The Guardian) Daughters of the Dust

There can be no mermaids of the steppe
though its bare hills roll and boom like the sea. Only
some strange creature, lithe in the gelid dust
and furred like a fox: silent, accusing in the eyes,
a deep wind parting fur down to bone coloured skin.
Horizons pile thin as paper one atop the next
and they spin their story into the pinched air: a woman,
and a wish, and a corsac fox. Nights

of the great white zud they might dance away the snow,
leaving paths of grass for the herd to eat, or else
rise like walls to blow across the landscape
stately and slow and sickening, only the chiming ice
singing their welcome with its spare high notes,
each like the prick of a needle. And in the city,
where the nights smell of sweet smoke and milk
and idling traffic, they go walking now:

silent over the glaze of blood frozen to the ground
around the wrestling palace. Silent in the alleys
where stray dogs sleep in the warmth from sewer grates.
Silent past the cafes where soldiers thaw their brows
over salt milk tea. Silent, until they are singing,
each alone in the dim reaches of the night,
each pale as an unlit candle, up through the gers
where the roads falter and the lights go out; up to the mountain
where the wind sings back; towering, and tidal, and old.

The sweep of the rhythm in Daughters of the Dust evokes the rolling Mongolian steppe that is its setting and, more broadly, suggests the movement of wind and weather, nomads and horses, and, perhaps, vaster trajectories of modern travel and migration. Rhiannon Hooson is a young Welsh poet whose imagination is sometimes engrossed by her native country, but is clearly not constrained by it. The Other City is her first full collection, although an earlier pamphlet included Daughters of the Dust: you can read a little more about its inception here.

Having dismissed the unlikely notion of Mongolian mermaids, the speaker sets out to find their geographically appropriate equivalent. The time-honoured fictional device (of starting a story with "not this, but possibly this") is the portal into myth and more – a sombre, intensely imagined celebration of a real place. Notice the music as you read – and how the erratic-seeming use of commas, some unexpectedly absent, others carefully present, denotes pace and pause.


It's not until the end of the first stanza that the speaker begins her conjury by setting out the three ingredients – "a woman, / and a wish, and a corsac fox". These are the elements that will "spin their story into the pinched air".

From a first reluctant materialisation, "silent, accusing in the eyes", springs a progeny of dusty sisters of the steppe. They are identified closely with the landscape, or at least belong to it with less ambiguity than the sad, hybrid mermaid belongs to the sea. Charm and seduction aren't their game. In the first stanza, they are almost grammatically entwined with the paper-thin horizons forming the subject of the sentence in line six. They dance, like wind-blown dust or blizzards. But they also rise in the form of perambulating "walls … / stately and slow and sickening".

Mirroring the first stanza, the second concludes with another magic threesome, a triad that this time evokes the city night, and a druggy "smell of sweet smoke and milk / and idling traffic". In a potent image signalling earlier, perhaps state-sanctioned, violence, the daughters glide "silent over the glaze of blood frozen to the ground / around the wrestling palace". The adverb silent occurs four times in this stanza, emphasising the tenacity and subtlety of the dérive. Although they're clearly at home in the less salubrious recesses of the city (Ulaanbaatar, I presume) the dust-daughters seem on the whole neutral, neither motheringly protective nor witchily malignant. They are the embodiment of any natural order, even urbanisation. It seems right, though, that at the end of the poem they should be subsumed by the wind; the latter being imagined, after all, as a kind of sea, "towering, and tidal, and old". So the daughters are both present and past: they are history itself. The final adjective finds their cosmic essence in its very sound.

Sensations of pure, painful cold are evoked in the descriptions of the high-pitched, needle-like singing, the image of the "deep wind parting fur down to bone coloured skin", and, by contrast, in the warm, relieving snapshots of the dogs basking by the sewer gratings and "the cafes where soldiers thaw their brows / over salt milk tea".

It would be interesting to compare Hooson's topographical approach with that of Auden's sestina, Paysage Moralisé. Auden's term originated in a sometimes-questioned art-historical classification and the designation seems over-narrow for his beautiful, ominous "moralised landscape". In the case of Hooson's, the connection is looser still. Daughters of the Dust utters no sermons. Yet it gently validates equality of cultural values. It's distinct from the average travel poem in not merely reflecting a different culture, however sensitively, but entering into its making. This is not appropriation but connection. Dips into phrasebook and guidebook are imaginatively earned, from the "corsac fox" and the "ger" (yurt) to the "zud" (severe, livestock-threatening winter weather) and the salty tea, for which I've found what I hope is an authentic recipe. Such words can seem like ideograms: they register as sharp new shapes or colour spots, but merge easily, on a second reading, into the poem's texture. The imaginative engagement they're part of forms the moral obverse of "othering" and divisive, east v west constructions. In narrative terms, the visitor not only receives but offers the host a share of the yarn, and the story becomes collaborative, as all real stories are.

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National champions crowned in free style wrestling

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) National championships 2017 for adult's free style wrestling took place on January 6-8 in Ulaanbaatar.  This event was composed of two competitions, the 39th Men's and 15th women's championships.

'Aldar' sports club wrestler B.Odonchimeg secured her 11th gold medal in women's 75 kg, winning the most number of gold medals in the national championships.

Wrestlers who claimed national champion for the first time included N.Lhamgarmaa, S.Batbold and O.Batzul.

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Seven Summiteer B.Gangaamaa: 2016 was a highly productive year

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) "2016 was a very productive and energetic year for me. I remember holding a press conference in last January following my conquering of Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak of South America. And within 2016, I have completed the Seven Summits", said State Honored Sportswoman, mountaineer Gangaamaa Badamgarav today during a press conference.

With her latest successful climb at Mount Vinson Massif, the highest peak of Antarctica, she became the first Mongolian woman to conquer the mountain and the first Mongolian Seven Summiteer.

The mountaineer conquered the highest mountain in Antarctica, the white continent, at 7:15 PM, December 25 in Chile time and 9:57 AM, December 26 in Ulaanbaatar time to become one of the 416 Seven Summiteers from around the world.

The Seven Summits are the highest peaks of the seven continents. If we look at the timeline of her previous climbs: In 2010, she made it to the crown of the Mount Elbrus (5642m) in Russia, the highest peak in Europe. 

In 2011, she conquered Mount Everest (8848m), the highest peak in Asia and the world on her second attempt to become the first Mongolian woman to step on the tremendous mountain.

In 2012, she successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m), the highest peak in Africa on her first attempt.

In 2015, she reached the peak of Mount Denali (6190m), the highest mountain in North America on her third attempt.

In January 13, 2016, she conquered Aconcagua (6962m), the highest peak in South America with her first attempt.  Although she pledged to ascend it via the hardest route, the Polish Glacier, she had to take a subsequent route because of harsh weather conditions.

In July, 2016, she did conquer Carstensz Pyramid (4884m), the highest peak of the Oceania. However, there are two versions of completing the Oceania Summit – Bass version which suggests to complete the Seven Summits with Mount Kosciusko, the highest peak of Australia and Messner version which suggests the Carstensz Pyramid, the highest island peak. Having conquered the both mountains, Gangaamaa became one of the 18 women from around the world who completed the Seven Summits with both versions as of August, 2016.

And in December, 2016, Gangaamaa set foot on Mount Vinson Massif (4892m), the highest peak of Antarctica. The Mount Vinson Massif was previously conquered only one mountaineer from Mongolia, Gankhuu Gendendaram.

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Art & Entertainment

"Good Father" movie to open in theaters next week

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) "A Good Father" movie produced by "Pro stars films" production will be premiered in theatres starting January 20. Dedicated to late taxi driver T.Davaasuren, who was known as a great father to the public, the film was initiated by D.Amarjargal and produced by S.Chuluuntogtokh, director of the "Pro stars films" and directed by S.Bujin, who also wrote the screenplay.

The main characters of the film are played by S.Battulga and Sh.Javkhlan, State Foremost Artists and the roles of Davaasuren's five children are depicted by D.Enkhjin, who is the real-life eldest daughter of Davaasuren and E.Murun, B.Khachiun, E.Indra and B.Ariun-Itgel.

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Actress B.Khulan elaborates on her latest films

January 9 (UB Post) Deeply moved by State Honored Actress I.Odonchimeg's hardworking attitude and her charisma, one of Mongolia's most sought-after artists, B.Khulan, followed her role model's footsteps and debuted as a theater actress immediately after graduating university in 2006. Now, she's challenging herself in the film industry after leaving the comedy company, X Tuts, one of the most successful Mongolian comedy groups.

At the age of 14, B.Khulan became Mongolia's top photo miss and started training as an actress from seventh grade. She's a diligent mother of three and her work and private life balance is impeccable. This year, she has been given roles in four films. The 33-year-old actress, who is extremely guarded with her private life, shares about herself and her career in the interview below.

2016 is coming to an end. How was this year for you?

It was a wonderful year. I was able to take part in four feature-length films this year, specifically "Turshiltiin Khosuud", "Urtuu", "Uvliin Tuuj", and "Uvliin Shuniin Zuud".

These four films don't overlap in genres. "Turshiltiin Khosuud" is a comedy while "Urtuu" is a romantic-adventure film. Your roles in all of them were very different from one another. Was it difficult to portray so many characters within a year?

It was hard to render and create each character. It also took some time. Right before starting the filming of "Urtuu" and "Turshiltiin Khos" films, I broke my leg. All four films were filmed during the winter.

"Uvliin Tuuj" was slightly more challenging than the others because its scenes were shot in the countryside. Practically every staff member had frost bites during the making of the film. My character was entirely different from my previous roles. I think it changed my image a bit. Right after we finished filming, I felt very satisfied.

 You played the role of a woman bent on revenge after being badly treated and wronged by others in "Uvliin Tuuj". Do you think you were able to fully express the depths of the character's nature and emotions? Was it difficult to act out the role of a mother who lost her child?

I'm sure that anyone would know that a mother who lost her child wouldn't be in the best condition. I turn into characters while imagining what the character would have done in a particular situation. Personally, I don't like to imagine such incidences occurring to me or my children. It leaves a scar on my heart.

When you're worried about something, do you seek professional or spiritual help? Is your family religious?

We have our spiritual readings done once a year. I don't constantly pray when things go wrong or doesn't work out – neither does my family.

You play a role who often get mistreated and get into accidents in the film. How does your family feel about this?

Whenever I'm offered a role in a film project, I look over the script with my mother and decide whether to accept it with her. I had to perform a scene where I am being murdered in "Minii Akh Ataman". My mother dislikes me taking on such roles. When we were reading the script, she was shocked at the murder scene and method. A knife was put on my back as if it had been stabbed and the makeup artist did an extreme makeover for me for the actual shooting of the scene. I asked my colleagues and staff members to take my photo and sent it to my mother. She scolded me a lot, telling me not to joke around like that. No matter if it's a film, I'm sure she didn't like seeing her daughter die in that manner.

Personally, I avoid lighting a candle in front of a photograph and getting into a coffin when filming. I'm not scared but it just doesn't feel right. Besides that, I don't have any complaints about getting shot, stabbed or getting beaten for a film project. In fact, it's quite amusing and interesting. I can learn new acting skills from it.

Are you a thrill seeker? Do you enjoy testing your luck and doing dangerous things?

Not much. I'm more of a mellow and gentle person.

Have you done any dangerous action scenes in a film project?

There are some things I want to do but I fear it might not suit me. Regrettably, I never got to do them because directors mostly gave me timid, modest and humble roles.

Is there a particular role you'd like to challenge yourself in?

I'd like to play a villain. You know those characters that look innocent but secretly stir gossip and instigate trouble. I want to try that kind of role, which requires a lot of facial expressions. That kind of role really brings out your acting skills.

What do you feel and think about during your film's premier?

I feel very strange. Rather than focusing on the film itself, I look out for any mistakes I made and worry how the viewers would react to it. I can barely sit in my chair because I feel so nervous and anxious. A few days ago, I sat next to State Honored Actor L.Chaminchuluun, G.Zolboot and State Honored Artist N.Gankhuyag at the premier of "Uvliin Tuuj". It felt like I was taking an exam in front of such amazing people.

While watching the film, L.Chaminchuluun occasionally glanced at me and then, nodded her head and in other times, she sat without any facial expressions. I couldn't tell whether she was pleased with the film or not. I was breaking out in cold sweat throughout the film.

I'm sure she spotted tons of mistakes and lacking areas in my acting, but after watching the film, she encouraged me saying that I was improving with every new film I play in. To be honest, I prefer getting criticized more than receiving compliments. There's a saying that open criticism is better than false compliment. Criticism is more beneficial to actors in my opinion.

Were you ever embarrassed to see yourself on screen?

Embarrassing is the wrong expression, but I do feel weird watching my films. My mother is very straightforward, especially when she sees my mistakes. She tells me in which parts my laugh wasn't natural and which parts my acting looked realistic.

By the way, why did you decide to leave X Tuts Production?

During my third year at university, I performed "Khoriotoi Jujig" play with my classmates. I joined X Tuts immediately after graduating. I worked there for over six years and learned how to work in a team and how an actress should behave.

My mentor N.Gankhuyag even told me to try auditioning at the State Academic Theater of Drama. But it wasn't the time so I decided to focus on films.

Do you miss the theater?

Yes, I do. Sometimes I want to do a nice play.

What was it like to become a solo artist after leaving X.Tuts? Were you lonely?

Yes, I felt very lonely. It felt like I had nothing to do, but got used to it shortly after. I get new friends and acquaintances whenever I join a film project. So I no longer feel lonely. I'm glad I chose to start my solo career.

Are you an outgoing person?

Yes, I'm pretty outgoing. I get along with whomever I meet. I have a wide social network, but I have only a few close friends. I try to be a loyal friend.

The media say all kinds of things about your private life. Have you been stressed about gossips and rumors?

I do get upset. It's very difficult to go around trying to correct rumors and give explanations to everything that is misrepresented. It's a complete waste of time though. I prefer just doing my job and going with the flow.

Wouldn't people think that the rumor is true if you stay quiet?

My close friends and family know me very well, so as long as they don't misunderstand, I don't care what other people think.

Acting requires one to lie and pretend. You probably study people's behavior and expression. Are you good at reading people's expressions and spotting lies?

I'm quite good at noticing when people are telling the truth and when they aren't. But I'll have to observe for a while – I can't read their mind or expression straightaway.

I like people who stay the way they are instead of pretending to be someone they aren't and exaggerating things.

Only a few days are left until the New Year's eve. Will you celebrate the New Year's with your children?

My daughter is nine-years-old and my son is four. They're get very excited and happy just by seeing a Christmas tree. I will spend the New Year's with my family and children – it's something that I put a lot of effort into.

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Visit Khovsgol Lake to See Mongolia's One-Ship Navy

In this week's Maphead, Ken Jennings explores how Mongolia's largest lake holds the country's tiny navy.

Mongolia's largest lake by volume is Khovsgol Lake, a crystal-clear freshwater lake the size of Rhode Island located just a few miles from the Russian border. It's popular with holidaymakers from both sides of the border, and increasingly with adventurers from overseas as well. But I'm not here to sell you on the region's unspoiled pine forests, horseback riding, wildflowers and reindeer. For me, Khovsgol Lake is all about one thing: the world's smallest navy.

Khovsgol Lake is as pristine as Lake Baikal.

Lake Khovsgol probably formed about the same time as its more glamorous sister lake, Baikal, two or three million years ago. This makes it one of the dozen or so oldest lakes on the planet, and the millennia have left it essentially untouched ecologically. It holds 70 percent of Mongolia's freshwater, and on a clear day visitors can see as far as 140 feet down to the lake bed.

Mongolia is a landlocked steppe the size of Western Europe.

Eight hundred years ago, the Mongols, led by Kubla Khan, had the world's largest navy. But in the 13th century they lost their ships to two giant typhoons when they tried to invade Japan. (The Japanese called these fortuitous storms "divine winds," or kamikaze, which is how that word entered their military lexicon.) And then they lost their seacoast altogether. Today, Mongolia is the largest landlocked nation in the world—apart from Kazakhstan, if you don't count the Caspian Sea. Mongolia's only international water border is three square miles of Uvs Lake that crosses into Russian territory, so they don't really need a navy anymore, right?

Khovsgol is home to what's left of Kubla Khan's fleet.

In fact, Mongolia does still have a navy: a single tugboat with a crew of seven that patrols Khovsgol Lake. Keep in mind that Khovsgol Lake is surrounded entirely by Mongolian territory—a lovely national park, in fact—and you'll understand that the gallant crew of the Sukhbaatar III doesn't see a lot of combat duty.

In the Mongolian navy, you can sail the zero seas.

According to All at Sea, a 2001 documentary about Mongolia's one-tugboat navy, budget cuts have essentially privatized the Sukhbaatar, which now has to spend its off-duty hours hauling freight and tourists around Khovsgol Lake. But maybe it's a good thing that the Mongolian navy won't be sailing into battle anytime soon. As of 2001, only one of the country's seven sailors knew how to swim. Explore the world's oddities every week with Ken Jennings, and check out his book Maphead for more geography trivia.

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