2020 March 23
- 1 Anti-Corruption Daily
- 2 NSS busts IRS agents during bribery
- 3 prosecutors bust Ministry waste/embezzlement
- 4 police busted school director
- 5 Armenia restricts entry of more foreigners
- 6 social pressure mounts on those who refuse to stay home
- 7 special shopping hours for elderly / not all shops comply
- 8 Dodi Gago about COVID
- 9 Dodi Gago's employee says they're being cheated
- 10 Aurora donates 10 ICU ventilators
- 11 400 million
- 12 Your money put on good use
- 13 Chinese travel and aid
- 14 courts will hear civil cases online
- 15 the police aren't ducking around
- 16 This university will hold exams online
- 17 Artsakh elections are next week
- 18 fewer 911 calls vs Jan-Feb
- 19 concert held for quarantined people outside of facility
- 20 utility companies under COVID
- 21 COVID graph
- 22 home, tea, book
- 23 COVID timeline (updated)
- 24 Support David's Daily Armenia News Summaries!
Mar/23/2020 -- What's going on in Armenia? -- Today's major stories on COVID, Anti-Corruption, Post-Revolution Armenia, Economy, Politics, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
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.
NSS busts IRS agents during bribery
The report says:
The IRS chief instructed 2 agents to audit a Firm. The agents colluded with the Firm's director to cover up the Firm's violations in exchange for a $30,000 bribe.
4 people are arrested, including the 2 IRS agents. The Firm's director confessed. A felony case is launched.
prosecutors bust Ministry waste/embezzlement
The memo says:
The High Tech Minister sent audit docs to prosecutors, who began investigating a 40mln-worth PC and server purchasing contacts done in 2019 by Ministry officials.
Several contracts were signed to buy 100 PCs and 2 servers. The Ministry Official responsible for verifying the purchases gave a green light to seal the deal.
Later, it was discovered that the Ministry got cheap crap that didn't meet the agreement requirements.
A felony case is launched against the Ministry official who accepted and approved the crappy merch.
police busted school director
The police say Margara's school director registered his relatives as fake employees and embezzled 3.2mln in salaries since 2016.
Armenia restricts entry of more foreigners
The Emergency taskforce earlier put restrictions on entry from several countries. Today they banned the entry of citizens of the US, Australia, EU, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Canada, Korea, Japan, UK, Norway, Swiss, China, Russia, Georgia.
Gyumri military base's Russian soldiers and their families are excluded.
It's been advised to stay home in general, in addition to bans on large gatherings.
One doctor complaints that Yerevan streets are still full of people who act like nothing is happening.
"It's been 13 days since my crew and I have been isolated while treating COVID-suspects and patients. I haven't seen my family in weeks. Why don't YOU stay at home? If you don't stay home, then the doctors will stay home and you'll find yourself without a care in the future."
DID YOU HEAR WHAT THE DOCTOR SAID?
(There are still 194 confirmed cases. The testing lab temporarily suspended its operations for repairs, before resuming later that day. New results will come every 10 am.)
special shopping hours for elderly / not all shops comply
Yesterday the Emergency commander deputy PM Avinyan recommended grocery stores to dedicate 10am - 12pm for seniors-only so they won't have to socialize with others.
Some supermarkets don't have a problem with the advice. They serve seniors in separate areas.
The small stores, on the other hand, are afraid the customers will go to a competitor store. "I can't check everyone's passport," said one shopkeeper.
Nor Zovq supermarket had a guard who monitored the number of shoppers inside the building and allowed 1 shopper to enter for every 1 shopper who left.
Dodi Gago about COVID
"Had the govt listened to me, the economy wouldn't be hit hard. A few months ago I warned about COVID's economic consequences. I don't want to blame anyone now. We must do this together..... Look at Belarus, their factories and airports still work," said Gago.
When asked whether he'll pay the employees of his companies during COVID leave, he said, "Why should I pay them? The govt declared an Emergency so the govt has to pay the workers..... In America, they wanted a $1.3 trillion stimulus but Trump said he wants $2 trillion because it's bad. Let Pashiyan administration do something similar now."
The govt had earlier prepared an aid package for businesses and laid-off workers.
Dodi Gago's employee says they're being cheated
One of the employees of BHK Dodi Gago's PHARAOH Restaurant says the manager forced employees to sign a document to claim they voluntarily took a 1-month unpaid vacation that began at an earlier date. The alleged date is March 15th, the day before the Emergency Declaration.
"I let you know about this so you'll know what really happens beyond the TV screen," said the worker while most likely referring to Gago's media outlet Kentron praising him 24/7 for his charitable activities.
Aurora donates 10 ICU ventilators
The Aurora humanitarian organization (genocide and human rights related) will donate 10 lung ventilators to Armenia.
President Sarkissian spoke with them yesterday.
No COVID patient needs a ventilator in Armenia so far.
The Healthcare Ministry COVID donation account has so far received 400mln from 2200 donors. It'll be used on COVID medical supplies, quarantine operations, etc.
Your money put on good use
The All-Armenia charity organization has donated 28k masks, 21k thermometers, 6k suits, 500 goggles, etc. to the Healthcare Ministry to help fight COVID. The organization usually spends the money on infrastructure projects, but 2020 is a special year.
They plan to donate 6 lung ventilators and 20 air compressors.
Chinese travel and aid
The Foreign Minister held a conversation with the Chinese ambassador in Armenia over WeChat. They discussed extending the travel suppression between Armenia and China.
China will donate $110,000 worth lung ventilators and share COVID knowledge. They discussed the shipment of more hazmat suits and other protective gear.
courts will hear civil cases online
The Supreme Court sent cameras and projectors to every courthouse to let them hold their civil trials remotely because of COVID. The installation process is ongoing and trials will launch in a few days.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183747 Parliament passes bill to punish quarantine violators / Punishment to be reduced for media outlets
Today 117 Parliament MPs voted unanimously to pass the Justice Ministry bill that imposes harsh penalties for people who defy govt self-isolation orders during Emergency.
The law penalizes media outlets with 500k-1mln fine for not removing [in this case] a COVID related rumor within 24 hours after being asked to, during an Emergency Situation. The government, however, is currently looking into removing the gag altogether.
QP MP: we added an amendment to this bill to reduce the media penalty to as little as 100k. The gag law itself isn't new and has existed for decades.
Justice Minister: we're currently discussing the removal of the gag. Right now there is a warning then a penalty.
Opposition BHK and LHK supported the amendment to the media gag law. It will also apply to online blogs and social media (e.g. Facebook pages claiming without evidence that Tylenol cures COVID during a COVID emergency)
Citizens who defy the order to isolate themselves can face a 100k - 250k civil penalty.
Those who defy the order and infect others will face between 800k felony penalty and 5-year prison, depending on the severity of consequences.
The govt accepted suggestions made by opposition on Friday when the preliminary version of the bill was first approved.
the police aren't ducking around
The Emergency taskforce earlier suspended numerous types of non-essential businesses and required transport not to be overcrowded, etc.
The police said:
Since February 23rd, when the land travel was banned with Iran, we accompanied 459 Iranian cargo drivers to make sure they don't leave the car/route while transporting within Armenia.
We ensured the isolation of numerous COVID patients including the Italian businessmen at the Renco office in Yerevan.
We routinely reminded people to stay isolated. We detect 4 isolation violations daily.
We contacted 1351 businesses to make sure they don't hold events with >20 participants.
We contacted 370 non-essential businesses to shut them down.
22 media outlets or social media accounts were told to remove non-official COVID rumors. None were fined.
In the past few days, 73 transport drivers were warned for having more passengers than the available seats (against overcrowding).
Every morning our policemen get their temps checked. A few of them got tested negative. A few are currently isolated.
This university will hold exams online
Armenian-Russian University won't extend the semester. They shifted to online classes and will hold the state-wide exams online.
Artsakh elections are next week
Artsakh govt will proceed with the Presidential and Parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31st. There are 0 confirmed COVID cases in Artsakh.
Each voter will be given an unused pen. The staff will have protective gear and sanitizers.
Some experts believe it could result in COVID transmission, as it happened during Iranian elections.
fewer 911 calls vs Jan-Feb
Yerevan's 911 department has stats from all departments. On Jan-Feb they'd get 950 calls per day. In March it went down to 750.
"Fewer calls about breathing problems. Most calls are about cardiovascular problems, breathing, injuries.... Don't call 911 unless it's an emergency."
concert held for quarantined people outside of facility
71 Italian-Armenians arrived at Armenia a week ago and were placed on quarantine in a former hotel-resort in Dilijan (not Golden Palace).
Today a group of singers organized a concert for them outside of the hotel.
utility companies under COVID
The Electric Networks of Armenia will not cut the electricity of customers who fail to pay the February bill, "because of the current situation". The deadline is extended indefinitely "but you should pay your bill to avoid debt".
Veolia Water won't alter the payment system "because it's needed to sustain the operations and 3,000 salaries, our profit margins are already small. There could be case-by-case exceptions for customers in hardship."
Gazprom-Armenia won't change the current system.
Detected COVID cases by date.
To satisfy your acute urge to see how the coronawalrus gets defeated: https://youtu.be/br3Oy3TL8X0?t=33
3 more beauties
Capital Build company donated 3 vacuum trucks to Yerevan municipality. Now the city has 6 such trucks to sweep the streets.
home, tea, book
Hovhannes Tumanyan Museum launched an online challenge: share the lecture of your reading area and the book you read. "We want to know what our audience is reading."
The museum has several online initiatives that your family can enjoy while under lockdown.
COVID timeline (updated)
January 30: govt forms COVID Taskforce to monitor the spread of this new virus.
February 24: 0 infections. Govt shuts down the border with Iran. Iranian cargo drivers banned from traveling through Armenia.
February 29: Ejmiatsin super-spreader arrives from Italy. She's already infected but doesn't know yet. Later develops symptoms but hides it from govt. Attends a wedding.
March 1: 1 infection. He was among the Iranian-Armenian repatriates. The other 31 are quarantined in Golden Palace hotel.
March 2: 1 infection. schools close for 1 week.
March 10: still 1 infection. Italy declares full quarantine.
March 11: 4 infections. The 3 new cases came from Italy.
March 12: 6 infections. Ejmiatsin wedding super-spreader, who came 13 days ago, is finally detected. Schools shut down again.
March 13: 13 infections. Europe tightens border checks. WHO declares pandemic.
March 14: 20 infections. Armenia closes border with Georgia, too, after closing it with Iran 30 days ago. Govt-run theaters and leisure POIs close.
March 15: Ejmiatsin travel throttled. Drivers checked.
March 16: 52 infections. STATE OF EMERGENCY. More foreign travel restrictions. Auto-quarantines for some, isolation for others. Ban on mass gatherings. Medical facilities under govt-control.
March 16 evening: it is revealed that Ejmiatsin isn't the only person-to-person hotspot. Yerevan factory workers getting infected.
March 17: 78 infections. Govt reveals that they've been doing mass tests. Many cases detected "accidentally". 95% have no symptoms. 600 quarantined.
March 18: 110 infections. 1243 quarantined. Education Ministry works on remote classes. Bus drivers monitored against over-crowding. Quarantined people monitored by police.
March 19: 122 infections. Export of some medical products is banned. Remote Education classes begin. 3.5mln masks ordered. Techies helping to map COVID. Large donations arriving to help fight COVID.
March 20: 136 infections. Govt requires private firms to keep employees apart, provide hygiene products, check temps. Salaries paid to suspended culture-workers.
March 22: 194 infections. Some non-essential businesses suspended. Dedicated shopping hours for the elderly encouraged.
March 23: 194 infections. Citizens of dozen countries are banned from arriving. Parliament approves bill to punish quarantine violators. [UPDATED: late at night new numbers were released, indicated 235 infections (41 new cases)]
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fnq7hy/mar232020_whats_going_on_in_armenia_todays_major/
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