2020 April 10

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Apr/10/2020 -- Today's News & Anti-Corruption // Telecom operator merger // Several high profile corruption busts // Former NSS chief Vanetsyan makes alliance // a lot 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.


UCOM-Beeline telecom deal bolola / what's happening?

There are 3 cellphone operators in Armenia: Beeline (aka ArmenTel aka Veon), UCOM (earlier purchased Orange), and VivaCell.

UCOM wants to buy Beeline.

Beeline trademark is being used by Veon-Armenia, which is part of European Veon. In other words, UCOM wants to buy Veon's "subsidiary" Beeline.

Sidenote: One of UCOM's shareholders is former HHK IRS chief Gagik Khachatryan, who is going through various felony investigations.

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Cell phone market share:

VivaCell 58%, Beeline 25%, UCOM 17%.

--

Wireless internet market:

UCOM 32%, Beeline 30%, others 15%

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Cable internet market:

UCOM 62%. They also own 94% of the fixed cellphone network.

--

Beeline wants to be purchased by UCOM citing financial problems. However, in 2019 they paid 12.2bln in taxes, which is 3.2x higher than in previous years (magic wand?). However, "paying taxes doesn't show their financial state."

--

Dec-2019: UCOM asks the Utility regulator for permission to buy Beeline.

Jan-22, Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan: Hold up. We must avoid monopolies. The ISP market will be examined first. The 3rd operator must be present in the market. The Utility Regulator is legally required to discuss mergers with NSS (National Security Services). We have the tools to prevent monopolies.

Feb-11, Regulator said: mergers are common when new technologies like 5G emerge. Despite some media rumors, Beeline hasn't asked us to block a 4th operator from the Armenian market. In 2008, the govt decided that a country size of Armenia needs only 3 operators, and distributed the radio waves to 3, and passed some laws.

(That 4th operator is A-Telecom, owned by a Russian businessman. The owner says he wanted to enter the Armenian market but some rogue government workers allegedly purposely let him down to defend the status-quo 3 telecoms. He claims there is a felony case around those govt agents.)

Feb-11: the Economic Competition Committee holds talks with Utilities Regulator. IRS was contacted. International experience was discussed.

Feb-11: UCOM director says the public will benefit from the merger. "It'll improve our capabilities. The same equipment can be used on both networks. We won't have to move money out of Armenia to purchase equipment..... There are no new subscribers, we reached a population limit."

Feb-13: Economic Competition Committee says they're still investigating. "If we don't find issues, one scenario is to allow a merger but require certain conditions. Give us 2 months to investigate."

Apr-9: UCOM's administration, including co-founders Yesayan brothers, resign after disputes with UCOM shareholders. UCOM was essentially "hijacked" by former IRS chief oligarch Gagik Khachatryan and Russian-Armenian businessman Samvel Karapetyan, a long time ago.

Oligarch shareholders wanted Beeline's director to manage UCOM after the merger. They held talks in private, without informing the UCOM directors about it, which raised their ire and prompted their resignation.

Several UCOM department chiefs also resigned. 560 out of 1650 employees have resigned. The Beeline-UCOM merger didn't go through today (at least not for now).

Apr-10: The Economic Competition Committee says whatever is happening, is an internal problem between the companies. The regulators haven't decided to approve or deny a merger yet.

Apr-10: High Tech Ministry opposes the merger. (other agencies are still discussing)

--

Who are UCOM's shareholders?

HHK Gagik Khachatryan and his family own at least 48% of shares. A highly secretive offshore Virgin Islands firm owns 29%. Russian businessman Samvel Karapetyan owns 10.5%. Another HHK MP owns 6%. The co-founders (who quit) own 6% combined.

--

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/277192/

Veon https://hetq.am/hy/article/112350

https://hetq.am/hy/article/112403

https://factor.am/220700.html

https://factor.am/220711.html

https://a1plus.am/hy/article/359540

http://arka.am/en/news/technology/ucom_to_attract_financing_from_different_sources_to_acquire_rival_telecom_operator/

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004786.html

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180283

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180873

www.civilnet.am/news/2020/04/10/«Յուքոմի»-ողջ-տնօրինությունը-հրաժարական-է-տվել-հակասություններ-մեծամասնական-բաժնետերերի-հետ/381455

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185305

https://factor.am/239534.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011764.html

https://hetq.am/hy/article/115776

www.civilnet.am/news/2020/04/10/Գագիկ-Խաչատրյանի-ընտանիքի-բիզնեսները՝-կալանքի-տակ/381502

Tags: #UCOM #Beeline #ArmenianTelecom #JeffreyEpstein

major plot twist / movie drama intensifies / felony fraud

Remember the movie producer Hovhannes Galstyan who went on hunger strike in 2018 to get money from Culture Ministry to finish his movie "Tatikis Varsere" that he's bee producing since Noah's age? He's on the news again, but for a different reason.

Prosecutors say:

The former HHK Culture Minister Armen Amiryan stole 6.8mln funds from the producer, claiming it was needed to help fund Armenian movie delegations' trip to Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

A felony case is launched.

--

The allegedly defrauded producer Galstyan gave an interview and said:

I'm involved in the felony case as a victim. Minister asked for money as a pocket change for a trip to Cannes. I agreed to lend it, thinking he'd return. Since my movie "Tatikis Varser" wasn't being filmed yet, I thought he'd return the money before the production begins.

At first, the Minister asked for money from national Cinema director Gevorg Gevorgyan, but the latter refused and told Minister to contact me.

Because he hasn't returned it yet, I had to take 6.8mln worth of loans to produce the movie. Amiryan has to pay my loan.

I asked former PM Karen Karapetyan to intervene in 2018. He said he negotiated and my money would be returned within 2 months, but that didn't happen. There are witnesses. End of producer's speech.

--

ArmTimes also contacted the National Cinema director, who confirmed that the Minister initially tried to get the cash from him, but got rejected. The Cinema director gave Minister the list of well-funded producers. Minister then picked producer Galstyan and asked the 7mln from him.

Cinema director says Minister promised to give a movie-industry-position to producer Galstyan in exchange for the cash but changed his mind after receiving it. (LMAO this is getting really spicy now)

"I've been to Cannes Festival a lot and manged booths. No one would need 7mln cash as pocket change. When I refused him the cash, our relations got bad," said Cinema director.

--

The former Minister Amiryan responded and denied the allegations, saying: Today is Good Friday, yet they lie about me. No one ever gave me money. There shouldn't be an investigation based on rumors.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185289

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185301

former NSS chief Vanetsyan teams-up with HHK regime

Arsen Babayan worked in Parliament under Serj and allegedly helped to illegally hijack the Constitutional Court by forging documents in 2018 to help appoint HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan as Court judge. He is facing felony charges.

Today he and former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan joined their forces under Vanetsyan's new political initiative, at the invitation of Vanetsyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185309

a forged document sent to ECHR / March 1st

Prosecutors released a memo saying:

On Apr-2019, prosecutors finished the preliminary investigation of Kocharyan & Co-defendants' case, regarding their toppling of the Constitutional Order in 2008. The case was sent to court.

Later, on Sep-2019, prosecutors attached to it another case, regarding other officials committing forgery and coverup.

This forgery and coverup was committed by officials who knew about Kocharyan & Co's unconstitutional acts and tried to cover it up. They convinced high ranking police officials and others to purge evidence.

Kocharyan regime's ambassador to the European Court for Human Rights aided the regime by submitting forged documents to EHCR.

The suspects are:

former police chief Alik Sargsyan,

deputy police chief Sasha Afyan,

police felony division chief Hayk Miltonyan and his aide Hovhannes Tamamyan,

former chief prosecutor Gevorg Kostanyan,

former police forces chief Gegham Petorsyan.

--

To uncover these crimes, the prosecutors questioned> 250 people, 100 forensic examinations, 1000 pieces of equipment and ammo, 30 searches, 20 confiscations.

End of prosecutors' report.

https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2020/04/10/Մարտի-1-ի-գործով-կեղծ-փաստաթուղթ-է-ներկայացվել-ՄԻԵԴ/222672

prosecutors bust dasaran.am embezzlement

The prosecutor and SOC report says:

In 2017, the govt gave 180mln to an NGO to help with online education portal dasaran.am

Despite the NGO being able to handle specific tasks themselves, they paid part of the govt-money to a Company to do those tasks. An audit revealed that the Company didn't provide the services they were paid for.

The audit also revealed that the govt gave more than what the NGO needed to handle dasaran.am

138mln out of the 180mln grant was wasted.

A felony case is launched.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185291

no traffic lights for you / roundabout

Yerevan wants to experiment with something that's being done in some European countries. They want to turn off red lights on Arshakunyats-Nzdeh street (Hayreniq intersection).

The newly painted big roundabout will serve as the traffic regulator. All sides will have a blinking yellow light.

Some European countries did similar things successfully. Despite the large street looking more chaotic, it became safer and more efficient, partly because it raised the drivers' alertness. Time will tell how it'll work out in Armenia.

Opposition councilman thinks it'll make the already-dangerous intersection more dangerous. "They were supposed to build an estacade to control traffic, but made a roundabout instead."

Yerevan mayor saved the estacade money to spend it towards city's upcoming bus network.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185280

https://news.am/arm/news/571747.html

Detailed photo https://news.am/arm/news/571798.html

COVID has many hotspots / Sweden messed up?

Healthcare Minister said:

In the past, almost all new cases would come from the same circle, but now it's from many hotspots. The circles are out of control, but that doesn't mean our tactics will become pointless. We should continue to find and isolate circles for as long as possible.

Sweden made a mistake by choosing not to do anything by thinking everyone would go through it and develop immunity. They have 800 deaths in a 10mln population already. It's ~17 times higher per capita than our deaths. Strict lockdown is why we have fewer deaths.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185303

https://factor.am/239510.html

show must go on

Healthcare Minister will advise the govt to extend the lockdown.

"Some COVID facilities are in poor shape but the safety standards are being followed... Norq infections hospital was in terrible shape but we took it and repaired many rooms last year," said Minister Torosyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185317

is Armenia detecting most COVID infections?

Yes, according to Healthcare Minister, because "our 1% death rate indicates that we detect the overall infected cases for the most part."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185327

quarantined man attempts suicide thinking he's infected

An Armenian citizen returned from Russia to commemorate the anniversary of his wife's death, and was placed on a voluntary quarantine.

2 weeks later, while still under quarantine, he felt bad after developing a fever. Thinking it's COVID and his days are numbered, he decided to commit suicide by drinking a bottle of vinegar essence.

He was rushed to a hospital with internal burns and poisoning. The stomach was washed clean. He's doing alright.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185343

60,000 highly accurate test kits

Armenia received 60,000 COVID test kits from China on Wednesday.

They were purchased, not donated. They are the 5-hour-long accurate tests, not the 15-minute crap.

6 govt and 2 private clinics have the license to run these 5-hour-long accurate tests.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011780.html

Aznavour Foundation donates

Aznavour Foundation, run by Charles Aznavour's son Nikola, has joined the list of donors and will provide 2-months-worth supplies including 5,000 N95 masks, 1000 suits, 7000 liters of disinfectant.

Armenia Foundation, Philiposyan & Piloyan Foundation, Armen Grishkyan, and others also contributed.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011777.html

here is how NOT to get donations

Do not take hostage and demand donations. Not cool.

A mentally ill Armenian man from Russia took his sister and her children hostage and demanded $200,000,000 aid be sent to Armenia. He also wanted a military jet to fly away, and a phone call from Vladimir Putin.

No one was hurt except your brain cells. The man was arrested. Some believe he did it because of insomnia caused by meds he's been taking after a recent eye surgery.

https://news.am/arm/news/571681.html

$100,000,000 aid given

Govt's 10 aid packages have distributed $100mln in aid to businesses and citizens so far, says Pashinyan. 50% went to poor citizens.

https://news.am/arm/news/571705.html

special morgue for the dead

6500 tested. 937 infected (+16). 149 healed (+11). 8 critical. 40 serious. 11 deaths.

Armenia will build a separate autopsy/morgue facility for those who died from COVID. It's unsafe to do body exams in regular facilities. "We listened to international advice and passed laws to suspend autopsy until we have this special facility," said Healthcare Minister.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185330

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185327

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185276

https://factor.am/239531.html

IT'S NOT GOING AWAY, ALRIGHT?

Healthcare Minister says:

Deal with it. COVID is not going away any time soon. The old lifestyle won't return for 1-2 years. I saw more people on the streets today because of good weather. That's not good, stay home.

COVID might become less active during summer (as seen in hot African countries) because it's a respiratory thing, but it'll continue, and it'll pick up the pace again during Autumn.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185298

https://factor.am/239554.html

https://factor.am/239546.html

https://factor.am/239537.html

lab experts who detect COVID=

Healthcare Ministry will instruct lab workers to take longer breaks to reduce the possibility of error. "Lately they've been working 24 hours to do the tests... In most developed countries the accurate test results don't arrive for 2 days, while our doctors deliver it in 10-24 hours."

"6 people take part during a single test. A sample must be transported to a lab under special conditions. Someone handles electronic data input. The sample goes through 3-phase testing. It's needed to get accurate results.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185311

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185298

Getting closer to understanding COVID

Scientists found that COVID19 virus isn't as tough as other viruses like HIV. To evade the immune system, it hides its weapons under a layer of "sugar". It turns out this sugar layer isn't thicc. This will make it easier to create a vaccine.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8199729/Scientists-Covid-19-tricks-way-human-body.html

different countries have different mutations

There are 3 main types of this COVID19: A, B, and C. The West Coast USA and Australia have the original "A" version that came straight out of bats, while China and EU got swarmed by the mutated "B" version. COVID mutates to evade detection.

(Theory: New York got its COVID from Europe. That would mean they have type B, which is the mutated version. It mutates so it'll be tougher. This could possibly explain why New York is doing so badly compared to West Coast Washington and California, which were hit by the un-mutated "weaker" A version from China. Just speculation on my part. 🤔🤔🤔)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8204255/There-THREE-separate-types-coronavirus.html

prank calls

Pashinyan likes to call people and talk about COVID situation.

Some people began pulling off pranks using hidden numbers by using Pashinyan-soundboard to call random people and pretend they're Pashinyan.

A QP MP got salty and called the police.

https://factor.am/239485.html

poverty declined in 2019

2019 vs 2018: extreme poverty -52%, poverty -10%.

https://news.am/arm/news/571748.html

yesterday's news

In case you missed the major stories from yesterday

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fxznm3/apr92020_daily_news_summary_biological_labs_in/


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fyo53s/apr102020_todays_news_anticorruption_telecom/


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