2020 April 13

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Apri/13/2020: News from Armenia // Utility bill subsidy // Government removes media gag // UCOM founder gives details // Tushonka's merch // $3,000,000 house // COVID tests increase, Stats, Curve // Emergency extended // Mobile tracking results // 13 days at 0.9 // Burglary // more stories...
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.


Tushonka's merch taken away / Canteen getting repatriated

General Manvel Grigoryan was arrested in 2018 after NSS raided his dacha and found stolen merch that was originally sent to the army during April 2016 battles. Cars, food, etc.

Manvel's lawyer says the court decided to transfer that merch to the "Yerkrapah" military veteran group that helps the army.

Lawyer complains that some of the taken items weren't officially listed as presumably stolen, so the court should not have taken those. He complains that Manvel's rights for self-defense are violated because the merch was supposed to be used as material evidence to prove Manvel's innocense, but now he can't do it anymore. (lol)

"The food they confiscated from his dacha was already expired anyway," said the lawyer.

--

The judge explained that the law allows the court to confiscate items, before the trial's end, if those items can be actively used (like military cars) or are perishable. "We were supposed to examine the items earlier but the trial kept getting delayed," said the judge.

And the reason why the trial keeps getting delayed is that Tushonka complains about his health.

--

One day after this story, Tushonka's lawyer released a statement saying he is in critical condition and needs to be moved to France ASAP.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185315

https://factor.am/240391.html

Update: $3,000,000 house / former police chief

In 2018 we learned that former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan (suspect in unrelated crimes) was involved in luxury house shenanigans. He obtained a $3mln house for $0.2mln through shady activities by using his family members.

The original owner took him to court and demanded $1.8mln. The court has just sided with the plaintiff. The court also transferred some responsibilities from the defendant's mother-in-law to the defendant, and made him responsible for payments.

He must pay another $40,000 in penalties to the state.

Original https://hetq.am/hy/article/92153

Update https://hetq.am/hy/article/115903

Civil Aviation

Nikol Pashinyan's former civil aviation adviser gave an interview:

EU is close to blacklisting Armenian Civil Aviation for their inability to ensure that Armenian airline companies follow safety standards...

The national carrier isn't an airline owned by govt. It's a private airline that does the majority of flights in the country. It's important...

Russia is violating international law by allowing Russian airlines to pay 3x less than Armenian airlines who fly to Russia.

Russia owns 70% of air traffic from Armenia. It's anti-competitive because Russian airlines take advantage of illegally low fees in Russia. Armenian companies are pushed out. We need US-style competition rules. As soon as I raised this issue in EAEU trade bloc, some people launched a black-PR against me.

(He seems to be against low-cost airlines that entered Armenia recently, and the removal of Air Tax for airlines who launch new routes, because EU can later legally challenge it.)

Full: https://youtu.be/_iGNmPhFeT8

updates to several stories

Several employees at Zvartnots airport air navigation department were earlier self-isolated and suspected with COVID. They just tested negative. The facility was disinfected and returned to work. https://hetq.am/hy/article/115889

--

The 10 million tree planting initiative has been delayed until 2021. The Nature Ministry and volunteers were supposed to plant it this Autumn. https://hetq.am/hy/article/115880

--

Earlier we learned that fish died en masse in a small Sevaberd reservoir. Nature Ministry took samples. It turns out, they died from lack of oxygen because since 2019 not much water accumulated there and the water froze, depriving creatures of oxygen. The water also contained above-normal chemical levels. https://hetq.am/hy/article/115879

import and export changes in EAEU

EAEU trade bloc will prohibit member-states from exporting essential food/items outside of EAEU until June 30.

Imports of essential items will become easier. Taxes removed for 3-6 months.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185417

COVID stats / Testings increase

7631 tested. 1039 infected (avg age 42). 14 deaths (avg age 76). 211 healed.

On Saturday, the Healthcare Ministry doubled the daily tests to 680. One more clinic in Vanadzor City received a license & equipment to test for COVID.

--

COVID infections double every 13 days, instead of the previous 7. A bend in the curve.

Armenia's healthcare system, at the moment, can handle 4,500 COVID patients simultaneously, assuming that 1,700 of them would require care in bed.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185365

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185392

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185406

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185425

https://factor.am/240337.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011991.html

Artsakh declares emergency

COVID was slow to reach Artsakh Republic. Last week the first few patients were confirmed. They participated in elections. Their villages are on lockdown. 5 people are infected.

On Saturday, president Bako declared a 1-month State of Emergency. Gatherings of >20 people are banned. The media is told not to spread unofficial COVID-related reports. The entry of non-Artsakh residents is banned, except for international diplomats. Movement within Artsakh is restricted.

Artsakh's Constitution says presidential elections cannot be canceled under Emergency. They'll be held on April 14th as planned.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185409

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185411

https://factor.am/240000.html

https://factor.am/239995.html

https://factor.am/239993.html

https://factor.am/239988.html

extending the Emergency Situation

Healthcare Ministry: we should extend the Emergency Situation in Armenia.

Pashinyan: We will, but some businesses will be allowed to operate. Agriculture, fishing, mining, electricity, gas, water delivery, insurances, open-air manufacturing, R&D, and few others will be allowed to function after receiving advice on how to do it safely.

Pashinyan: Public transport will be completely banned. We found it to be the riskiest. Taxies, special charter buses, and personal cars will be allowed.

Pashinyan: Upcoming Genocide memorial events and victory parade ceremonies won't be open to the public. If the public and employees don't follow social isolation steps, there will be another spike of COVID growth, unlike in recent days when it has been relatively calmer. Right now the situation has stabilized, but it hasn't improved.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185364

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185365

govt extends emergency / removes media gag

On Monday, the govt held a session and extended the Emergency Situation by another 30 days, until May 14th.

Justice Minister Badasyan: Clause 5.2 says if the condition that prompted the original Emergency Situation persists, the govt has the right to extend Emergency. The pandemic still exists, so we can extend it.

--

Justice Minister recommended officially suspending the clause that placed the gag on media that forced them not to report non-official COVID-related rumors. The govt removed the gag. "We'll remove the gag and monitor the media field to see if dangerous risks arise. We can re-apply it if necessary," said Pashinyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185437

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185466

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185482

https://factor.am/240375.html

https://factor.am/240372.html

celebrating the gag removal

150 million Armenians have died from COVID19 since April 1st, 1987. The virus was first discovered by British scientists in 1968 but they kept it secret to later use it to control the ever-increasing Armenian population of California.

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

Parliament discussed the Emergency Order.

Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan: It's important to extend Emergency. Stay home. Help fight COVID.

LHK chief Edmon Marukyan: Can you legally extend it?

Avinyan: Yes. The problem still exists, so we can extend Emergency. Otherwise, we would just declare a new Emergency tomorrow.

Parliament speaker to LHK rhetorically: would there be a difference to let the emergency expire, then wait 1 minute and declare a new emergency?

--

LHK proposed a bill to remove some of the Emergency Situation procedures and to allow buses and metro to operate. Parliament rejected it.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185437

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185466

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185482

https://factor.am/240375.html

https://factor.am/240372.html

more soldiers were infected / none in Artsakh frontlines

Earlier we learned that several non-frontline soldiers got COVID from one of their relatives. No additional soldiers were infected in that barrack. However, more soldiers were infected elsewhere.

6 soldiers have healed. Several are still receiving care, but the army won't publicize the exact number, "it's a very small number". No one has pneumonia. Their personal data is added to the ArmMed database stats.

US and Russian labs have been helping to screen soldiers for COVID.

The army draft will proceed as planned.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185464

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185470

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185472

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185477

https://factor.am/240275.html

https://factor.am/240269.html

Nakhijevan soldiers/students beaten for complaining about quarantine

Azeri media MeydanTV reports that Aliyev regime has been suppressing complaints by quarantined soldiers in Nakhijevan, requiring them to keep quiet about the conditions.

Soldiers complain about spending 2 weeks under quarantine in Nakhijevan, to be moved to Baku and be required to spend another 2 weeks there, because the quarantine in Nakhijevan "doesn't count". Their passports were taken away.

"They don't provide anything other than paracetamol. Anyone who complains is later found beaten. This is like Hitler's concentration camp," said a student from quarantine.

Azeri govt's official numbers state 1148 COVID cases across the country (minus the 20% I guess).

https://factor.am/240388.html

http://azeridaily.com/news/55300

recruiting more medics

The medical facilities that handle COVID patients are only handling COVID patients to not place healthy patients at risk.

Govt to Parliament: if COVID spreads, we'll need more clinics to join the fight. For this, we need to pass a law to authorize more medical facilities to undergo special training and get authorization to fight COVID, even if they don't have special infections departments right now.

BHK MP: details plz.

Govt: we retrain medics and sign a job contract.

LHK MP: aqchually, what will happen if the recruits make a medical error? They aren't officially licensed to be docs.

Govt: they're treated the same as infections doctors after training.

QP MP: are you doing this because you don't have medics now, or is this for the future?

Govt: we want to be prepared for the future.

IND MP: Some EU stats began recruiting doctors from post-USSR countries whose medical diplomas aren't recognized in the EU. Will this result in brain-drain for Armenia?

Govt: we haven't noticed such brain-drain. Our medics are united and help each other with COVID. They consult with diasporans to get their expertise.

The Parliament unanimously approved the govt's bill to create a reserve army.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185433

https://hetq.am/hy/article/115874

has the phone metadata monitoring yielded results?

3029 potential COVID carriers have been identified by the new electronic system. They weren't under self-quarantine at the time when the system picked them. They are told to self-isolate.

The new system was created by govt to identify COVID patient's social circles and isolate them, with the help of phone metadata. It raised privacy concerns. Govt says the data will be destroyed under opposition supervision after Emergency ends.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185454

who are risky groups? / human movement drops

Deputy PM Avinyan:

12% of Armenians, or 353k, are at greater risk due to age.

77k have Type 2 diabetes.

71k have heart problems.

145k have hypertension.

137k of Armenia's workforce is >60yo.

If we took no action, we would have 30,000 infected and hundreds of deaths by now. We saw a 40% drop in human activities during peak hours, under lockdown.

The infection rate has dropped from 1.3 to 0.9.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185454

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185458

COVID aid distributed

10 aid packages were approved by the govt. So far, 4,580 businesses and 11,500 families claimed 12bln Dram worth checks. A few hundred thousand are yet to claim it.

--

In a separate initiative, Yerevan municipality distributed 30kg boxes filled with food/hygiene to 2,000 lonely elderly residents so they won't have to leave their homes for 1 month.

"Thanks, kiddo. May you live long enough to match grandma," said one really old grandma after receiving the aid.

--

Some private charities will distribute aid to 12,000 poor residents.

https://youtu.be/GZQOl21Gor0

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185365

https://factor.am/239856.html

govt will subsidize utility bills

The govt approved the 11th aid package today. It'll provide a 50% subsidy for gas/electricity bill if the bill was less than $20/$10 (small consumers, mostly poor).

The money will be sent to utility companies and applied as a credit. If the user has a debt, it'll be used towards the debt. Those who already paid their bills will get a credit for next month.

--

Electricity aid will apply to 220,000 households (30% of subscribers), or 660,000 citizens. The gas aid will apply to 215k families (35% of subscribers).

Pashinyan: Why only 50% subsidy? Why not 100%?

Public Utility Commissioner: Armenians have a culture of paying for utilities promptly. We want to preserve the habit.

Citizens can use other aid packages in addition to this one.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185434

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185474

giving non-registered workers opportunity / gray economy

Deputy PM Avinyan:

Workers who weren't officially registered by dishonest employers to hide taxes, have been unable to receive unemployment aid.

We suggest the employers cooperate with their workers and give IRS the list of workers; come clean. We can't punish employers en masse. The workers will receive aid, while the govt will find a complex solution to the gray workforce later.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185456

10,000 want to return

The chief of Armenian Community in Russia says 10,000 Russian-Armenians want to return to Armenia but can't, due to COVID restrictions or financial hardship. "It wouldn't be this bad had people paid attention and left before things got worse."

https://news.am/arm/news/572256.html

Erdogan's imaginary aid to Armenia turns to kerfuffle

Last week the president of Turkey called the Armenian church in Turkey and thanked them and the Armenian community for organizing a fundraiser to help the COVID situation in Turkey.

Erdogan told the church that he made it easier for Armenian citizens to return from Turkey to Armenia. (The next day, a bus moved Armenians to George then Armenia, funded by Armenian govt.)

Erdogan also expressed willingness to help Armenia by providing medicine. (It's part of Erdogan's global push to frame Turkey as a major donor.)

--

The same day, Armenia purchased tons of COVID products (and got some free aid) from China. Some of the merch came in boxes labeled "May our friendship be higher than Mt. Ararat and longer than river Yangtze."

Turkey got mad at Ararat reference and asked China to comment on why a "Turkish mountain" was mentioned on the box. China said the original boxes didn't have that label and that the private firm that handled the cargo allegedly placed the label later.

--

Armenian Foreign Ministry appreciated the Turkish effort to make it easier to transport Armenian citizens out of Turkey. "The topic of receiving aid from Turkey is not on the Armenia-Turkey agenda. We don't comment on the 3rd party conversation between the Turkish president and the Armenian church in Turkey," said MFA.

https://www.1in.am/2732937.html

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

https://factor.am/240002.html

https://factor.am/238935.html

www.aa.com.tr/ru/коронавирус/в-кнр-разъяснили-анкаре-скандальный-текст-на-грузе-помощи-для-армении/1801465

UCOM employees ragequit

Last week we learned that UCOM telecom's HHK-linked big shareholders secretly negotiated to remove UCOM's directors, and replace him with Beeline telecom's director.

UCOM's director didn't like this and decided to quit. 833 executives and techies followed the suit (although they still work to keep services functional).

Now-former directors, who are also UCOM's co-founders, want to take the company back from HHK-linked shareholders by purchasing 94% of shares for 22bln. They promise to give 20% of it to rank-and-file employees. This offer was made a month ago.

--

Co-founder Hayk Yesayan tells the story:

My bro and I were teens in 1999 when we got into tech. We had a business that connected phone callers to foreign numbers. We were doing fine. Then we opened our internet café with the help of our parents. They put our house as collateral to get cash to open the business.

In 2005 we decided to deliver the internet to the general public and not just cafes. By 2007 we were working on the project named UCOM. In 2009 we upgraded the tech.

It's been a year since these management-shareholder issues begun. I couldn't convince shareholders on some things, so I resigned. Up until now, UCOM developed with our [co-founder brothers] vision.

Some of the disagreements with shareholders are about employee salaries. They've been trying to convince me to cut the salary budget by 15%. I refused to reduce salaries.

A month ago we offered the shareholders to sell their shares back to UCOM. They agreed, perhaps thinking we were bluffing and couldn't find enough cash to buy back. But once the finances were prepared, they changed their minds and didn't want to sell.

Then my bro and I thought maybe it's best that we sell our stocks, depart, and create something better, something ours. They made some strange offers, transactions, etc. We then realized we won't be selling our 6% stocks. We did not sell our stocks.

We made a counter-offer to buy other shareholders' shares for 22bln. It'll be paid by UCOM with the help of bank loans, and not us [brothers].

We want to buy 94% of shares with our 6% of shares. Once we have 100%, we want to distribute 20% to our workers for a cheap price, let's say 1 Dram per share, or 10,000x cheaper than market value.

Why 20%? Because we can't legally give >25%. The 5% is a buffer.

Our vision for the future is to continue to expand UCOM as a multi-service provider because the meaning of IT keeps expanding. We think our business strategy has been great for UCOM so far.

https://factor.am/239847.html

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185350

https://youtu.be/-6TxLegRyqA

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185488

Easter sermon

The Armenian Apostolic church held a sermon to celebrate the escape of Jesus Christ from this planet (right on time). Lots of smoke and people in funny dresses were present.

Full video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1698158946991601

is our children learning?

Are Armenians financially literate? A 2019 research says that 46.8% are. It's average. Only 2.3% improvement vs 2014.

"Attitude and behavior" improved more noticeably than the "knowledge and skills"

Most people have basic knowledge of microbusiness and finance. This improved by 6.9% (population) vs 2014.

Full https://hetq.am/hy/article/115829

showman's relative robbed

Famous showman Avet Barseghyan's father-in-law's Malatia house was burglarized. The thieves stole $110,000 worth jewelry and cash.

https://shamshyan.com/hy/article/2020/04/13/1152251/

military aviation makes history

For the first time in history, Armenian jets exceeded the supersonic speed barrier by using the newly purchased SU-30 jets.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/S2Y4JPc7KX0

winning chess under lockdown

chess.com organized a competition among 888 players. Armenia's Hayk Martirosyan became the champion with 8.5/9 pts. Zaven Andreasyan finished 3rd.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011926.html

Friday News

ICYM Friday stories: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fyo53s/apr102020_todays_news_anticorruption_telecom/ ?


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/g0q1q9/apri132020_news_from_armenia_utility_bill_subsidy/


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