2020 April 16

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Apr/16/2020 -- Today's News -- Stay up to date on Anti-Corruption, COVID, Economy, Politics, Daily Life, and more...
by ar_david_hh

Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams ֏ unless specified otherwise.


Serj testifies about April 1, 2016

A Parliamentary committee has questioned many officials to find out if April 2016 battles were handled properly by Serzh Sargsyan's administration and army chiefs.

Serj: I have nothing to hide. The army did a great job. One day Azerbaijan will attempt the same thing again, and it'll be impossible to avoid casualties again. I'll testify today to set the record correctly.

The Q&A lasted 5 hours.

Investigator: he answered all my questions.

Serj: I don't regret coming today. The Q&A went well and respectful. I'll give details soon.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185747 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185778 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185802 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185807 ,http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/280219/

army deaths stats

NGO Helsinki's Vanadzor branch compared 2019 vs 2020 deaths in army.

94% were non-combat. The number rose for Q1 (5 vs 1). [Update: this is the suicide number alone. Total deaths are higher.]

Cause of death: 31% suicide, 31% health problems, 25% accidental, 6% car accident, 6% combat.

Suicides/murders sharply declined on March, after the public began to widely discuss January-February deaths.

Ceasefire violations decreased by 585 incidents, with 8100 fewer shots. Not all ceasefire violation data is available because it's classified for some areas.

https://factor.am/241282.html

offshore embezzling & churchman / Rumors and Facts

Context here.

A businessman was defrauded of $12mln in 2010. In 2013 a churchman's relative was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years. In 2019, the court overturned the verdict and declared the relative innocent. Prosecutors are challenging that verdict.

While working on the case in 2019, prosecutors concluded that the churchman himself participated in the laundering. Churchman was charged on April 13th, according to the lawyer.

Various church officials criticized the charges, saying "New Armenia" promised by Pashinyan admin doesn't meet Christian values, and that churchman's presumption of innocence must be respected.

--

Theory: The charges were filed as a retaliation against the church because the church leader Garegin called for Kocharyan to be freed.

Fact-check: The charges were filed on April 13th, while Catholicos made the Kocharyan statement one day later on April 14th, making the theory chronologically impossible. Besides, the criminal case has been active since 2019. This didn't prevent the church from pushing the conspiracy theory that the felony case was retaliation against the church.

--

Theory: The charges were filed, then a day later Garegin made the Kocharyan remarks. That means it was a retaliation by Garegin against prosecutors.

Fact-check: Suggestions to free Kocharyan due to COVID have been voiced by many others long before this church incident. It's possible that Garegin simply joined the list in a "goodwill", and the charges against churchman coincided with Garegin's statement.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185784 , http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/280223/

Parliament approves anti-corruption asset forfeiture bill

Parliament voted 99-1-15 to approve govt's asset forfeiture bill. Details in yesterday's post.

QP and BHK voted yes. LHK abstained.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185742 , https://youtu.be/hZHyC3hcKnY

shareholder transparency bill

Parliament voted 80-17-17 to approve govt's draft bill to make shareholder information available to law enforcement.

LHK voted against, as always, citing concerns about privacy and possible harm to investors.

Bill needs another vote to pass.

https://factor.am/241323.html

Parliament will appoint new Central Bank chief / Q&A

QP party nominated Harvard/EPH graduate Martin Galstyan, who served in the Central bank (CB) board. MPs held a Q&A with him.

--

LHK MP: what do you think about the new law that weakens banking secrecy by allowing prosecutors to obtain a person's banking info? Wouldn't investors be wary of investing?

Martin: constantly presenting the law as "weakening of baking secrecy" does more damage to investments than the law itself (SHOTS FIRED). The process is regulated. Prosecutor asks the court for permission to check a person's banking info, and must prove that it's the last option to investigate the case.

--

QP MP: Some countries give CB more powers to protect consumers and grow the economy. Does Armenian CB need this?

Martin: current system to control prices and stability is good enough for that.

--

QP MP: what about short term loans with super-high interest rate?

Martin: it needs some regulation, but don't ban it completely because someone who borrows the cash actually knows they're getting a bad deal, but they need the cash anyway. They might be better off with getting 10,000 Drams right now and paying 2,000/mo interest later. If we take away that 10,000 from them, more dangerous unregulated alternatives will spawn. The best solution is to have an educated citizen who gets the loan knowing they can pay it back.

--

LHK MP: what do you think about crypto-currencies?

Martin: we're ready to use blockchain, but cryptocurrencies are too risky. Every Central Bank around the world is skeptical.

--

Martin: CB will remain free from govt influence to remain efficient. We won't become part of the Finance Ministry as you see in some countries.

--

Secret-ballot vote is tomorrow. BHK likes the candidate.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185750 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185763 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185771 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185789 , https://youtu.be/eEzrniRKml8

, https://factor.am/241360.html , https://factor.am/241369.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012405.html , https://news.am/arm/news/572942.html

Parliament approves ads on public TV

Govt wants ads (<5 minutes per hour) on public TV to generate $$$ for higher quality programming and less reliance on the taxpayer.

Critics say public TV could "steal" ads from (Robik's) private TV networks, and force some networks to close.

Public TV ads used to be allowed, but they were banned years ago. Now it's allowed again after unanimous 114-0 Parliament vote.

"Social advertising" will be free until 6 pm. No gambling or alcohol ads.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185742 , https://factor.am/241291.html

Glorious parents to receive cash

Parliament voted 115-2 to give 40,000/mo to parents who receive a Parental Glory Medal for being glorious parents. (The reward will allow excellent parents to become even better parents by purchasing Xbox Live season pass.)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185742

students will receive aid for longer

<23yo students who lost the family feeder currently qualify for aid. Under the amended law, the age limit is raised to 26 to allow aid for a longer period, because nowadays the school is 12 years instead of 10.

Parliament voted 116-0 to approve the QP amendment.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012366.html

Yerevan's sports/culture workers will receive health insurance

It applies to 2663 people working at 85 sports, music, art schools.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185740

COVID in Armenia

1159 infected (+48). 358 healed (+61). 18 deaths (+1).

1 in 16 tests came positive.

1,500 left quarantine so far. 300 people in quarantine had tested positive. "Identify and isolate is effective."

Only 50% of beds are in use. If businesses follow safety, we'll have it under control.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185745 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185754

how Norashen funeral incident spread COVID

Pashinyan said: COVID-suspect was told to isolate himself just in case. He was then rightfully allowed to visit a relative's funeral while being accompanied by police. He was told not to touch others during the funeral, but he didn't listen and decided to hug others.

2 days later he tested positive with COVID. Emergency Team isolated the entire Norashen settlement. People need to understand that safety steps are important.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185754

COVID in Artsakh

Besides several Artsakh settlements being isolated, 10 people are held in quarantine. 16 earlier tested negative.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185741

GRAMMER NAZIS

The National Language Committee chief recommends denying COVID aid to applicants if their application contains Armenian words with foreign alphabets. (he must be /r/Armenia mod)

"We saw a massive surge of such letters after COVID forced govt agencies to work online."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012447.html

MORE GRAMMOR NAZIS

Pashinyan to Minister: WTF is ՀԾՀ abbreviation?

Minister: It stands fo...

Pashinyan interrupts: what is that? People are keep asking me on Facebook and even I don't know what it is. They need that thing to apply for aid. Why can't you make lexicon more clear? Should 100,000 people call your department just to ask what ՀԾՀ is?

(extra neurotic today, virus has reached the brain)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185759 , https://youtu.be/UDBDseFue8A?t=7

13th aid package for poor

Govt approved a new aid package for 85,000 poor families. One-time aid = 50% of monthly poverty aid they receive. Most of the aid will be direct cash, while the rest will be applied as utility bill subsidy.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185752

8th aid package expands, includes transport drivers

Govt decided to expand the 8th aid package to include transport drivers who recently lost their jobs. Earlier the drivers complained that they were excluded due to getting paid by "non-standard checks".

Some preschool and sports workers will also qualify.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185768

Armenia will produce lung ventilators

300 firms applied to produce devices. 90mln govt grant will help the winners to start the work.

6 months for the first devices to appear. Each will cost 2x cheaper than current market prices. 50 units/mo production capacity.

"The world needs 800,000 devices. Armenia has always felt a shortage of lung ventilators, even before COVID."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185770

what to do on April 24th?

ARF won't organize the annual torchlight march in honor of Genocide victims. instead, they urge residents to put a candle near their windows in the evening.

DON'T BURN THE CURTAINS!

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012405.html


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/g2mpji/apr162020_todays_news_stay_up_to_date_on/


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