2021 February 3
- 1 Daily news wrap-up
- 2 Mediaport Telegram channel
- 3 bill could require owners of "unknown" outlets identified before being "linked" by mass media
- 4 Investigative Committee looking into death threats on Facebook
- 5 Parliament session: judicial reforms: more judges / social affairs & aid / opposition protests
- 6 update: Kocharyan's Moscow trip
- 7 empire to strike back? / former officials hold a meeting
- 8 trips and meetings
- 9 Foreign Minister about Armenian monuments in Turkey
- 10 search operations
- 11 South Australia recognizes the independence of the Republic of Artsakh
- 12 Sasna Tsrer trial: lawyer wants Pashinyan to appear in court
- 13 update: rural residents can receive medication faster via Post Office
- 14 government will subsidize grain production
- 15 COVID stats
- 16 flights to-from Russia
- 17 Armenia will also purchase Sputnik-V vaccine as part of global program
- 18 Areni - one of the most beautiful settlements aspires to become a serious tourist center
- 19 you only jogged 1km instead of the usual 5... why?
- 20 Hexact - Armenian tech firm
- 21 donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers
- 22 archive of older news
- 23 disclaimer
- 24 Support David's Daily Armenia News Summaries!
Daily news wrap-up
Feb/3/2021: (1) Mediaport Telegram channel: fabrications & rumors, activists behind it (2) Bill: identify "unknown" outlet owners before "linking" by mass media. Media financial transparency. (3) Parliament: judicial reform, protests, social aid (4) Robik (5) Artsakh recognized (6) Subsidies (7
Your 16-minute Wednesday report in 3984 words.
Mediaport Telegram channel
Reported by FIP, edited by me to add extra info: Mediaport Telegram channel was created just two days after the ending of the war and often spreads sensationalized and shocking information. It's heavily cited by some opposition outlets. The owners are unknown. We tried to find out who runs the channel.
It has a record of publishing info about events that were set to happen within a few hours (about officials submitting letters of resignation). That means they have some connection in the system. The outlet, however, mostly spreads fake news, out of context, manipulation, or gossip-level stuff.
November 11: the outlet claimed that all entrances to Yerevan were closed and that people were marching to Yerevan on foot. In reality, roadblocks were installed to check vehicles entering Yerevan to ensure they don't have weapons. The road wasn't "closed" and there was no "marching".
November 16: the outlet wrote that Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan decided not to return from his trip to Russia and had to hide in Moscow because the Armenian community in Moscow was after him for revenge. Meanwhile, Alen Simonyan had returned to Armenia several days before the publication, and as of writing it, he was presiding over a meeting between Pashinyan and MPs.
November 20: the outlet wrote that Artsakh church leader Pargev Srbazan had passed away. The churchman appeared in public days later. (the second coming of Pargev?)
December 24: the outlet claimed that Azeris entered Armenian village Vorotan in Syunik province and used equipment to take down a sign. In reality, the incident took place in a similarly named settlement in Artsakh's Qashatagh province, which went under Azeri control during the war. The original source mentioned that it was in Qashatagh, but Mediaport changed it to Syunik.
There were numerous other false reports during this period. For example, the report about Deputy PM Mher Grigoryan's resignation on December 12, the report about NSS searching churchman Zeynalyan's apartment after he refused to greet Pashinyan in a church.
January 17: outlet wrote that the Aliyev family transferred their Dubai mansion to Pashinyan's wife Anna Hakobyan. The "proof" was an image of a regular gas bill, unrelated to Hakobyan.
The outlet often circulates conspiracy theories, yellow press material, and gossip that is impossible to verify. For example, it claimed there was a sharp argument between MOD Davit Tonoyan and Artsakh Army chief Jalal Harutyunyan just before Jalal's wounding. (Context: there was a conspiracy theory that Jalal was targeted in an assassination attempt by an insider).
who is behind Mediaport?
The study of the channel and comparison with other sources gives serious grounds to believe that it has a direct connection with the extremist "VETO" movement, as well as its co-founder Narek Malyan, who is the former aide to Serj Sargsyan's police chief Vladimir Gasparyan (under felony investigation).
On December 10th, Mediaport published a report showing the detention of VETO Narek Malyan and HHK MP Arman Saghatelyan in Republic Square. Saghatelyan is the co-founder of Qaryak Media, which runs several well-known media outlets in Armenia. Mediaport shared a segment from the detention incident. Then, VETO's channel shared the full footage. From the video, it is visible that the Mediaport's footage was being filmed by another VETO member.
Another VETO member published a video and image showing the person who filmed the video that was shared by Mediaport. It confirmed the aforementioned. Mediaport published the video at 18:03 Dec-10, while VETO published it 8 hours later.
In another instance, Mediaport was actively covering the December 8th protest in front of the NSS building. Examination of another footage by VETO members reveals that yet another VETO member was filming Mediaport's footage.
On December 3rd, Mediaport mentioned a list called "Farkhoyan List". You may not know what it is unless you follow VETO's co-founder Narek Malyan or his friend HHK Deputy Justice Minister Ruben Melikyan. The former regime is creating a list of judges they believe are following Pashinyan's orders. VETO referred to it as "Farkhoyan's List" (named after a judge on the list). VETO's Narek Malyan began to mention the list more actively later. It was promptly shared by Mediaport.
The similarities don't end there. More recently, Mediaport has been parroting Malyan's talking points after the latter stopped posting them on Facebook (signed-in from the wrong account?).
The connection between Mediaport and VETO is established by other data. When the opposition 17 parties held a scattered protest across the city, Mediaport was filming specifically in areas where VETO's Narek Malyan was. A road-blocking event took place on November 20th. Malyan and others were detained. There were no media outlets to film on the scene - just Mediaport and VETO's reporters who covered the incident.
An event took place outside the home of MP Hamazasp on November 28th. No other media outlet was present; Mediaport and Malyan shared the same footage. It was uploaded on Mediaport at 18:26, and just 2 minutes later on Malyan's account. Sometimes the difference between shares on Mediaport and VETO is measured in seconds. (Narek Malyan is illuminati confirmed.)
Generally, VETO and Mediaport discuss the same topic on social media almost at the same time. While Malyan initially tried not to mention Mediaport, it eventually got a shout out from his main account, where he wrote, "The most operative and reliable information at the moment is on this telegram channel."
Mediaport's connection with other media outlets
The media outlets owned by "Qaryak Media", founded by HHK officials and allies, were quick to share info from this brand new "anonymous" Telegram outlet. ArmNews outlet cited it just 2 days after its creation. Tert.am, Aysor.am, Blognews.am and others followed suit.
ArmNews and Tert.am are owned by "Qaryak Media". The latter was founded in 2019 by four ex-HHK MPs: Arman Saghatelyan, Samvel Farmanyan (sister charged with university embezzlement), Karen Bekaryan, and Mihran Hakobyan. Before becoming part of Qayrak Media, the ArmNews and Tert.am were part of Serj's fugitive son-in-law Mikael Mishik Minasyan's "Panarmenian" media empire.
Qaryak Media co-founders have close ties to VETO's Narek Malyan and often visit protests together.
other media connections
Other sources that often cite Mediaport are misinformation-spreading outlets "Analitik" and "Antifake".
Analitik - run by a VETO member Ani Hovhannisyan, who was earlier found guilty of extorting money from a Parliament MP in exchange for not publishing defamatory material. She has close ties with fellow VETO member/founder Narek Malyan.
Antifake - run by "Civic Consciousness" NGO chief Narek Samsonyan, a close associate of Narek Malyan. Together, they hold routine protests in front of George Soros's office to make sure the rainbow does not turn your child into gay.
Tags: #ArmyOfFakes #Mediaport #VETO #FakeNews #SutNikol #NarekMalyan #ArmNews #QaryakMedia #Mishik #Panarmenian #ArmNews #Tert.am
6 MPs from the ruling QP party, 4 of whom are former journalists, drafted a bill to amend the law that regulates the "Mass Media". The co-author said, "it will help to distinguish honest journalists and media organizations from unknown sources that cannot be identified."
"There are organizations involved in journalism who are known to the public; they have editorial teams. Along come Telegram channels and Facebook pages that generate information without any kind of work, and appear in real media. The real outlets essentially advertise sources with unknown origins."
"This bill targets the 'unknown sources' whose owners are being kept secret. The mass media outlets won't be allowed to link to such unknown outlets. However, they won't be forbidden from reproducing the information of those sources."
(If I understood correctly, a regular media outlet can still circulate an unknown Telegram rumor but won't be able to link to such channels in order not to "advertise" or use them as a scapegoat, unless owners behind the channel are known.)
A journalist criticized the bill co-author, stating that it does not actually prohibit media outlets from spreading the fake news. The co-author responded, "It's hard to fight against fake news nowadays. But I think the main fight against fake news should be done by you, the media outlets, by not circulating them."
Head of Yerevan Media Club says if the circulated information is false and defamatory and is subject to punishment, it does not matter in what fashion the outlet shares the information; by linking to unknown or known. He opposes the bill.
Opposition LHK MP Ani Samsonyan supports the idea but sees a "political context" here because "the ruling party only cared about the issue after it affected them." She supports fighting against pro and anti-government misinformation channels, saying that similar unknown sources had been used against the opposition.
The Head of the Freedom of Expression Commission said although the bill has some positive aspects (they found instances of unknown sources being fake and intentional manipulations, and media outlets serving interests of their owners), "it's still too restrictive and needs to be removed from circulation."
The co-author reiterated that media outlets won't be prohibited from spreading rumors by using the "according to our anonymous sources" tactic. "Quite the contrary. When the outlet uses the term 'according to our sources', it becomes the conveyor and the entity responsible for spreading that information. The bill is only about instances when the information is linked to unknown/unregistered sources which are commonly used as a tool to escape responsibility."
"Let's say an anonymous Telegram channel circulates defamation. A media outlet takes and publishes it while referring to that channel. The victim files a defamation lawsuit against the media outlet. The media outlet claims they took the info from Telegram, 'go find out whose Telegram it is', but that's impossible because the Telegram sources are unknown. Defamation and insult are decriminalized in our country, you can not turn to law enforcement. You can turn to them only when there is a threat of violence."
"Although we consulted with relevant entities while drafting the bill, we are ready to discuss with media outlets and hear their concerns. We're ready to make amendments."
Another part of the proposed bill would require media outlets to make their finances transparent. Every year, they would be required to publish a financial declaration and reveal the sources of their revenues, and their top-5 largest ad partners.
(In order to pass, the proposed bill would need Parliamentary committee approval, govt approval, Parliamentary floor debate, a vote, a second vote. It hasn't passed through any right now.)
Tags: #MassMedia #MediaLaw #TelegramLaw #FakeNews
Investigative Committee looking into death threats on Facebook
An anti-Pashinyan Facebook activist called for the ARF party to assassinate the "traitor" Prime Minister, again. The investigators were asked to punish the incitement of violence. They are looking into it.
The former regime organized protests in front of the Parliament building, ahead of today's session. HHK's youth wing leader believes there are other important things to do today than to discuss the judicial reform. The protesters demand "traitor" PM Pashinyan's resignation. They shut down the nearby Baghramyan Ave before being told by police to move to sidewalks. 8 people were detained. The protesters decided to march to Republic Square.
judicial reforms: more judges to reduce waiting times
Justice Minister Badasyan presented the bill. It's about expanding the number of judges handling felony trials. They will be specialized in handling pre-trial cases. The Armenian court system has long been overloaded with each judge being assigned [too many] cases. 17 new judges will be hired.
LHK and BHK complained that the bill isn't urgent and shouldn't be discussed now, and that nowadays security related topics should be discussed. Minister responded saying they've been discussing the issue of judicial system overload in the past 1.5 years, and "after accusing the government of inaction, you're now against it?"
Opposition MP accused the government of trying to hire "favorable" judges. The Minister denied the claim and listed the steps that are taken before the judge can be hired: written exam, a monthlong examination of property declaration, ethics vetting (reformed), Corruption Prevention Committee opinion (new), psychological test, Supreme Court approves/rejects the candidate, undergoes training in Judicial Academy, gives an exam, gets a chance to become a judge.
Parliament voted 83-24 to approve the judicial reform. This was the second and final vote. The opposition voted against it.
Opposition BHK MP complained that they could be discussing issues relating to Syunik's border village Shurnukh instead of the aforementioned reforms. Ruling QP leader Makunts responded saying, "BHK has already discussed and voted in regards to Shurnukh borders." (she is referring to a 2010 bill approved by BHK/HHK that drew the Syunik borders and left part of Shurnukh village on the internationally-recognized Azeri side. The govt says it relies on that 2010 bill to clarify Syunik boundaries today.)*
Labor and Social Affairs Minister took to the floor and presented the programs the Armenian and Artsakh governments have so far implemented for Artsakh refugees. "Social problems were resolved. This is why after the war the population of Artsakh went from a few hundred to over 100,000 today. People are returning to their homes."
"Those who had permanent residency are already back. Another 5,000 who lost their homes due to occupation continue to live in Artsakh. Another 20,000 who lost homes due to occupation are currently in Armenia; none were left without temporary housing. Gas, electricity, connection (partially) have been restored in Artsakh. One of the telecom operators secured a connection without roaming."
"The government provided ֏15B in social aid to Artsakh residents. That's more than any monthly social service operating in Armenia."
"Additionally, we're working in Artsakh government to fully subsidize income taxes for 6 months. There is practically no income tax in Artsakh in 1H21. We have several other programs with the govt."
"Post-war, Artsakh's own revenues fell by ֏50B. It will be fully compensated by a financing package from the Republic of Armenia. Financial allocations were granted in order to allow Artsakh to pay pensions and public sector salaries. Armenia continues to be the guarantor of the social security of the Artsakh Republic."
Bentleys and flights
Another debate ensued between opposition BHK and ruling QP MPs. The former accused the latter of contributing to the emigration. The ruling MP cited numbers, saying "372,000 people fled Armenia while BHK was part of the government coalition. Meanwhile, 41,000 people returned since the 2018 revolution." BHK MP responded saying, at least they didn't lose a war. QP MP responded saying, "People who held power for 30 years are accusing us of not doing enough in 2 years. Yes, we didn't have time to convert certain people's Bentleys and mansions into drones. Don't worry, we will."
us vs them
LHK MP compared the work done by Azerbaijan in occupied territories (he cited a road in Talish and the plans to build an airport in Fizuli), and accused the Labor Ministry of lagging behind in projects and housing construction. Minister responded saying, "I'm disappointed with the comparison. Are you aware that Azerbaijan, to this date, has not been able to install an electric network and deliver electricity to Shushi? Soldiers and a few civilians are in sitting darkness. Meanwhile, we have Whetherted Artsakh's electric grid after the war; it was completely destroyed, ArtsakhEnergo was destroyed.
Up to 1,000 houses are being rebuilt in Artsakh as we speak, which will be given for permanent residency. In the second stage, we will rebuilt several apartment complexes."
The government prepared a bill to reduce the number of social aid officers the citizen has to visit to get something done. 4 services could operate under one "window" to cut beurocracy. Parliament voted 99-8 to approve it. This was the second and final vote. It will become law.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042256.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042221.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042223.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042230.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042232.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042236.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042245.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042246.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042292.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042295.html , https://factor.am/334746.html , https://factor.am/334754.html , https://factor.am/334754.html , https://factor.am/334758.html , https://factor.am/334770.html , https://factor.am/334912.html
Tags: #JudicialReforms #JudicialOverload
update: Kocharyan's Moscow trip
Read yesterday's news for context. The judge rejected the defense petition and won't recuse herself. Kocharyan was allowed to fly to Russia to participate in a board meeting held by the Russian company SISTEMA; he is on the board of directors. He made a similar trip 2 months ago.
empire to strike back? / former officials hold a meeting
The leaders of the former regime and their allies met to discuss plans. They agreed that Vazgen Manukyan will remain their candidate. The meeting was between Kocharyan, Serj, Tsarukyan, ARF Ishkhan, Vazgen Manukyan, and Vanetsyan.
Ind. MP Babajanyan: the person [Kocharyan], under whose leadership Armenia became a vassal [of Russia], thanks to your [current government] inactions is today able to declare war on Armenian citizens, the government, and threatens to participate in elections and "կրել" (slang word used by Kocharyan to describe victory). While Armenia was de-facto in war, that person moved the army from the front lines to Yerevan Center to murder protesters on March 1st, 2008. And you are still allowing him to talk about the army today. Under his watch we had the highest number of political murders and imprisonments; today he preaches about "democracy".
trips and meetings
Pashinyan met farmers and officials in Ararat province to discuss agricultural efforts, installation of efficient irrigation networks, farming subsidies, and ways to reduce the size of arable lands that are currently abandoned.
Nature Minister met an EU envoy to discuss global environmental issues, topics relating to water in Lake Sevan, water-efficient irrigation, etc. With the support of "Water Initiative +", the government is developing a basin management plan for Sevan, which aims to structure and improve water resources management in the long run.
Netherlands ambassador met Deputy PM Avinyan POWs, humanitarian issues, business investments, agriculture.
Foreign Minister about Armenian monuments in Turkey
The MFA condemned the routine practice of selling and "repurposing" Armenian churches and other monuments in Turkey, and statements that accompany them. One such incident happened a few weeks ago in Bursa, where a church building was put on sale for 6.3M Lira.
"Calls for cooperation in regional peace and stability by a state with such an attitude towards historical and cultural monuments can not be credible."
Search crews found one body in the southern Hadrut region. The operations are paused at the request of Azerbaijan, without an explanation.
South Australia recognizes the independence of the Republic of Artsakh
"South Australia became the second state in Australia to recognize the rights to self-determination of the Republic of Artsakh, condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey for their invasion of the country's indigenous Armenians in a motion passed with a vote in the House of Assembly."
Earlier, the Parliament of New South Wales had recognized the Artsakh Republic.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042220.html , www.1lurer.am/en/2021/02/03/South-Australia-recognises-the-Republic-Of-Artsakh-condemns-Azerbaijan-and-Turkey/406958
Sasna Tsrer trial: lawyer wants Pashinyan to appear in court
Nationalist anti-Serj group Sasna Tsrer organized a hostage takeover at a police station in Yerevan in 2016. Policemen were killed. Several Tsrer members have since been locked up. They are facing life sentences for murder.
Pashinyan, at the time an opposition figure, played the role of a "mediator" to de-escalate the situation. He was able to enter the facility and talk to the gunmen. Tsrer eventually surrendered.
Today, Tsrer lawyer asked the court to bring Pashinyan, "possibly as a defendant", over some statement that he made while outside the facility. (Relevant: the lawyer Zaruhi Postanjyan and her client Sasna Tsrer are heavily anti-Pashinyan politically.)
Prosecutor called it a diversion tactic by the defense and argued against it. "Pashinyan made a statement saying he wanted to know details about the murder incident. According to defense logic, anyone who wonders about the incident should be called to testify in court."
The court found the defense argument unreasonable and decided not to summon Pashinyan.
update: rural residents can receive medication faster via Post Office
Haypost has launched the program to deliver drugs over mail. "Even those who live in the furthest location will have access to all medication available in Yerevan."
Healthcare Ministry issued Haypost a pharmacy license. A pilot program was earlier conducted in 10 villages. Today, it's available in 757 postal offices.
This is a part of a wider push by the government to make Haypost a Swiss army knife to allow rural residents to handle government paperwork, financing, banking, and other activities. It was followed by the decision to suspend Haypost's privatization.
government will subsidize grain production
As mentioned earlier, most of Artsakh's grain production has stopped due to land losses. Artsakh used to supply grains to Armenia. The Armenian government drafted a plan to help farmers to boost the production in existing lands. Some 24K hectares will produce 30% more harvest.
1kg of seed will cost 50% less for ordinary farmers, and 70% less for those near borders. The project will cost ֏701M.
2580 tested. 190 infected. 358 healed. 7 deaths. 4855 active.
flights to-from Russia
The flights resumed with Russia. The first day was chaotic. Many people were upset because they couldn't fly. Due to demand and possibly other reasons, ticket prices were very high.
"More people arrived than left on the first day. Many Armenians who had earlier went to Russia for work were unable to return home for almost a year. When the routine flights are resumed, we think the arrivals will increase and they'll spend money here," said Pashinyan while meeting a shop owner in Ararat who said his trade turnover declined by 20%.
Russian govt said the routine flights will resume on February 15th. The move was made possible by a cooperation between AM-RU-EAEU governments to establish a COVID-checking mechanism before arrival.
Armenia will also purchase Sputnik-V vaccine as part of global program
Healthcare Ministry had earlier announced that they reached an agreement with a global COVAX FACILITY program to purchase the British AstraZeneca vaccine. Today the Minister Avanesyan met Russian ambassador Kopyrkin to discuss the topic. Armenia will use the same global program to purchase the Russian Sputnik spaceship to land on Mars before Elon Musk does (this is an Easter egg).
Areni - one of the most beautiful settlements aspires to become a serious tourist center
you only jogged 1km instead of the usual 5... why?
Maybe you were not in a "mood"? Is something bothering you? How about consulting a psychologist?
"Athletes preparing for the Olympics will receive psychological services," said Deputy Education/Sports Minister Karen Giloyan (yes, your favorite տելեվիզրի դզադզյան).
"We must restore our former traditions and have representatives in international organizations and federations. This representation will only have a positive impact on the performance of our athletes on international platforms, and on raising the prestige of our country. We will hold routine seminars."
Hexact - Armenian tech firm
"Meet Hexometer, your AI sidekick that works 24/7 to catch problems before they affect your business," reads the message on Hexometer.com, a tool created by Armenian developers to aid webmasters.
The firm was founded two years ago in the US and has 15,000 active users from 135 countries. The team plans to hire 10 experts this year.
donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers
www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)
www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)
www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)
archive of older news
All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" or "appear" guilty.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lby2ob/feb32021_1_mediaport_telegram_channel/
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