2020 August 2

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Daily news and anti-corruption report

Aug/2/2020 news: (1) post-Tavush. Azeri dissident. No communication. Serbian weapons. PACE vs Aliyev (2) Free cancer drugs (3) Employee rights (4) IRS's record-low debt (5) Now HHK "assaults" Constitutional Court (6) Poll: Would you leave Armenia? (7) Governor vs Mayor (8) COVID news (10) Roads++
by ar_david_hh


This is your weekend news wrap-up. Happy August!

Tavush Battles / How did it start and end?

Context: July 12.... July 13…. July 14.... July 15.... July 16…. July 17…. July 18…. July 19…. July 20…. July 21... July 22…. July 23…. July 24.... July 25... July 27... July 28... July 29... July 30... July 31...

Azeri dissident & Human Rights activist Arif Yunusov:

Serj and Aliyev had very bad relations. When Armenia had the 2018 revolution, everyone in Azerbaijan was excited and eagerly waiting for new developments.

Aliyev made border troops changes in Tavush, and a series of interesting meetings took place.

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But the excitement ended when Pashinyan visited Karabakh and said "Karabakh is Armenia. Period."

That statement was similar to Aliyev's statement about "We will take Irevan". Both leaders made those statements for their internal audience, but Armenians have to realize that Pashinyan's statement was just as negatively accepted. It blew up Azerbaijan.

After that, Aliyev's rhetoric got more militaristic. COVID somewhat paused him. I think this conflict will last a very long time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QjcpSP5MUU

About border clashes & communication channels

Aliyev's foreign adviser Hikmet Hajiyev says they don't have any military plans on the border with Armenia, and that Tavush battles should be viewed under the context of Karabakh conflict.

He also said a direct communication channel between Pashinyan and Aliyev doesn't exist, and if it did, it wouldn't be efficient, "because of constant staff changes in Armenia".

https://factor.am/273556.html

"You get a weapon, everybody gets a weapon"?

Serbian president criticized the [Azeri] media for not pointing out that Serbia has sold 10x as many weapons to Azerbaijan, after Azeri media complained about Serbian weapon sales to Armenia. "We had to save our military industry and jobs."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1023789.html

PACE condemns Aliyev regime for persecutions

PACE: We're concerned about the mass arrests of participants of Baku protests that took place after Tavush battles. We're getting reports about them being tortured to claim they were organizing a coup.

https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30761203.html

Suicide drone

High Tech Minister Arshakyan published what appears to be footage from a suicide drone Made in Armenia, showing a guided penetration. (Is this the "Hresh" drone?)

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1000659713722489

Artsakh war veterans get cars

Artsakh govt and Veterans' Union donated Niva vehicles to several war vets.

https://factor.am/273534.html

Recovering the buildings

Tavush's Aygepar was bombed by the Azeri army. Several buildings have already been renovated. While at it, they're renovating the roads that connect the villages.

https://factor.am/273524.html

New platform to improve workers' rights

The Healthcare Ministry and govt auditors are working with the UN to create a website that will accept anonymous employment complaints by workers. No name or IP address stored.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1023773.html

ex-IRS chief's lawsuit against journalists

Last year Hetq outlet wrote an anti-corruption piece about HHK's IRS chief Vardan Harutyunyan and others, and how they purchased tax machines for suspiciously high prices.

--

The ex-official sued the journalists for alleged defamation. The court partially sided with him.

The journalists appealed it in Appeal Court and won the case on July 31st. The entire case is throw away.

(That's the guy involved with infamous Norfolk Consulting that allegedly cooked books to under-value imported items to under-pay taxes.)

https://hetq.am/hy/article/120089 , https://b24.am/other/71336.html

Constitutional Court's HHK staff clashes with remaining judges

Context: CC's Chief of Staff is HHK Edgar Ghazaryan. He is the former governor of Vayots Dzor. He's a Pashinyan critic who recently called for people to boycott the Referendum that would fire the 3 "unconstitutional" CC judges. That referendum would be ultimately canceled due to COVID, followed by Parliament holding super-majority vote instead.

Ghazaryan also defended ex-CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan when the latter was facing criticism about his godson, who happens to be Kocharyan's lawyer, for making "secret trips" to CC building.

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Ghazaryan has decided to "punish" the remaining CC judges by not paying their salaries.

"Apparently if the terminated judges can't get a salary, then the acting judges shouldn't get one, either. The existing judges are waiting for the August 15th deadline to report it as an intentional crime", said the QP MP Garnik Atanesyan. He presents the story below:

--

By the end of each month, CC's Chief of Staff asks the Finance Ministry to transfer funds to pay employee wages.

For August, Ghazaryan excluded the 6 acting judges from that list. He wants CC acting chief Ashot Khachatryan to write a report which explicitly states which judges were terminated and which ones continue their duties.

The CC chief Ashot Khachatryan, in turn, refused to write the report, saying he isn't legally allowed to write such reports about individual members.

The CC chief told Ghazaryan that the recently passed law, which fired the 3 judges, should make it clear enough.

--

All that Ghazaryan needs to do is some technical paperwork that excludes the fired judges and pays everyone else. There is no precedence about Chief of Staff needing similar clarifications in the past.

"It's not hard to guess why Ghazaryan is acting in this fashion," concludes the QP MP.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194003 , https://www.24news.am/news/109069 , hhtps://www.panorama.am/am/news/2020/02/19/Էդգար-Ղազարյան/2241881 , https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30402008.html , https://factor.am/177270.html

Judges pick their nominee

The govt had already chosen their nominee for one of the three available Constitutional Court seats.

A union of judges gathered in Hamalir and chose judge Yervand Khundakyan as their nominee. He is the current chief of Cassations Court and has been in the system since 1993.

President Sarkissian will make the third and final selection soon.

The Parliament will Q&A the three nominees and hold a secret-ballot vote to approve/deny each.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194001

Robert Kocharyan and son having fun in Sevan

https://youtu.be/KJ948GLqrkk?t=3

Lori governor dumps a scrap metal in front of mayor's office

Lori governor Andrei isn't happy with Vanadzor mayor's work. He says the city keeps neglecting its duties, including the removal of illegal structures.

The governor's office decided to remove one such illegal budka. They dumped the skeleton in front of Vanadzor municipality building and asked them to "help us out by getting rid of the scrap".

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194007

COVID stats on Saturday / It's retreating

+1920 tested (166,701). +291 infected (8,307 active). +560 healed. +11 deaths.

Active cases are -25% since last month.

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Law enforcement continues monitoring public transport and tourism centers for overcrowding. Several hotels and businesses were shut down in tourism city Tsakhkadzor .

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194009 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194061 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194066 , http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/283601/

Emergency Taskforce makes amendments to COVID restrictions

Food facilities must disinfect the table at the presence of the new patron.

Every gym equipment must have an alcohol-based sanitizer nearby.

Pool chairs must be 1.5m apart.

Businesses must use >70% alcohol or chlorine disinfectant to clean the showers and locker rooms after each patron.

10am - 12pm is no longer reserved for senior shoppers.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194004 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194050

IRS refunds businesses / Record low debt

IRS tends to over-collect from businesses and excise/VAT taxes.

In 2018 they owed $569M. By August 2020 it was down to $144M, the lowest in several decades.

Out of that remaining $144M, only $14M is the over-collected funds from businesses, which is their main topic of complaints. The rest is about VAT and excise taxes.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/194020

Margara-Georgia bordering road...

...is being renovated as part of a $4.6M project, for the first time in 30 years. It's part of the M-3 highway.

Section of H-31 is being renovated after 20 years.

https://factor.am/273480.html

iGorts brain-inflow program

Earlier we learned that 100 high-skilled diasporan Armenians qualified for a project to visit Armenia and work at various govt branches.

Lebanese-Armenian Lara used to work at the UN, the EU, and served as an adviser to Lebanese Transport Minister. She wants to work and live in Armenia now.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=664293384165404

Poll: Would you permanently leave Armenia if you had a chance?

24% yes, 73% no. In 2017 it was 35% yes /63% no.

The % of those who would temporarily leave Armenia has also declined, reaching 52%.

https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2020/08/02/Հարցվածների-73-ը-Հայաստանից-հեռանալ-և-այլ-վայրում-մշտական-բնակություն-հաստատել-չի-ցանկանում/286397

Expensive breast cancer drug becomes free

The govt began subsidizing the trastuzumab (Herceptin) breast cancer drug for "Stage 1-3" patients with "Her" receptors. It's roughly 20% of breast cancer cases.

The treatment is once every 21 days and lasts for a year.

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2020/08/01/breast-cancer-Herceptin/2337867

Harry Potter is 40 years old

His birthday was on July 31st. No, not Daniel Radcliffe.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/details/283582/

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You've read ~1,371 words.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/i2lyqg/aug22020_news_1_posttavush_azeri_dissident_no/

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. Helpful overview of Armenia's media ownership and leanings.


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