2020 April 3

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Apr/3/2020 -- Daily News Summary -- Stay up to date on Anti-Corruption, COVID, Economy, Politics, Daily Life, Post-Revolution Changes, and 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.


ICYM April 2nd post

In case you missed Thursday news. It was glitched and didn't go public for some time.

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ftscqd/apr22020_todays_news_wrapup_whats_happening_in/

more judges reprimanded

Yesterday we learned that the Justice Ministry asked the Supreme Court to discipline a judge (Vardan Grigoryan) who allowed a criminal subculture figure Hayko Astrakhanski to escape Armenia with an unwarranted medical leave petition.

The investigation was launched after ArmTimes interviewed the thieve's lawyer who said he doesn't know where his client is. The judge was issued a warning by Supremes.

Today the Supremes issued a warning to another judge (Naira Mkhitaryan) for an unrelated violation.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184703

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184704

Kocharyan doesn't want to return to jail / bad health

Robik Kocharyan has been receiving medical help at Erebuni hospital. He completed the care and returned to jail. His lawyers say COVID is spreading fast and the prison staff hasn't been properly tested yet, so it's dangerous to keep Robik in jail. "He needs constant medical care ATM."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184743

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2020/04/03/Robert-Kocharyan/2268053

it's not unprecedented

Prosecutors promised to review the jail term for 20 suspects due to COVID. Two of them have so far been released after promising not to leave Armenia.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184759

Serj Sargsyan: Artsakh lost <400 ha during April battles

Former President Serzh gave an interview about April 2016 battles, during which he said:

I went to the US and met Joe Biden as part of the nuclear safety convention. Shortly thereafter, Azeris attacked. If you remember, I was the one who brought up the "800-hectare loss" number while in an airplane.

In reality, the losses were smaller. Why did I give a bigger number? Some people were getting their news from Azeri websites at the time. Rumors began spreading that Azeris were close to Mataghis, that 5,000 hectares were invaded, that astronomical numbers were captured. Then the same people went there to measure lands and found that no more than 400 hectares were invaded by Azeris.

Unfortunately, some grant-receiving Armenian outlets chose to accuse my administration of defeat.

--

General Yuri Khahchaturov said:

Azeris managed to catch us by a surprise, and we lost initially, but what Azeris lost was far bigger. They were driving trucks full of dead bodies for 2 days straight in 3 regions, while we never hid our casualties.

They lost 3 commanders. That indicates that their whole groups were destroyed. Parts of their "elite" divisions were gone.

We won because they lost the objective. We defended Mataghis, Talish, Martakert, and Fizuli.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/279813/

https://news.am/arm/news/570269.html

gas price hike details

In 2019, Gazprom raised the border gas price from $150 to $165. Its subsidiary Gazprom-Armenia, however, kept the prices the same for Armenian consumers, by lowering its profit.

There are 5 consumer brackets who pay a different price: low-income residents, those who use a lot, those who use little, greenhouse businesses, etc.

The Utility Committee has 80 days to discuss Gazprom-Armenia's petition.

If approved, businesses and low-income individuals will pay ~35 Drams more per m3, while those who burn <600 m3/month will pay slightly less. Overall, Armenians will pay 11% more.

QP MP says:

Any hike must be justified. It'll raise prices for compressed natural gas stations and harm economic competition..... The Utility Committee isn't tasked with defending the poor. They examine whether a hike is justified. The Labor Ministry could help the poor with subsidies...... The government has asked Gazprom to lower the gas price at the border which would allow Gazprom-Armenia not to raise internal prices.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184604

COVID stats

3258 tested negative. 736 (+73) all-time infected. 43 (+10) healed. 7 (+1) deaths. All deceased patients had underlying chronic problems.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184706

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184711

By each province: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184715

brace for impact / various GPD predictions

Finance Minister says the COVID will not only harm the economy directly, but it'll also reduce remittances coming from Russia.

"We surveyed 1,200 businesses about and found that the losses are going to be significant."

The Central Bank revised its 5.3% GDP growth prediction to 0.7%, for 2020.

Asian Development Banks predicts a 2.2% growth in 2020, and 4.5% in 2021.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184737

https://factor.am/237295.html

Asian Bank's full assessment https://hetq.am/hy/article/115497

consumer product prices

Read yesterday's report on food price changes in Artsakh.

In Armenia, buckwheat and lentils doubled in price post-COVID. What about pre-COVID?

Product prices -0.1% in 1Q2020 vs 1Q2019.

Food and beverages -2.9%

Fruits +0.9% (Lemon +29%, apple +26%, grape +20%, orange +12%, pear +11%, mandarin +7%, Banana -18%)

Vegetables -6.6% (Cabbage -54%, onion -17%, potato -11%, mixed greens -11%, shrooms -9%, green onion -6%, pepper -3%, beets +29%, garlic +19%, eggplant +8%, cucumber +6%, carrot and tomatoes +0.5%)

Alcohol & tobacco +8%

Home appliance -0.3%

Clothing +2.7%

Leisure and culture -1.3%

Utilities +1.1%

Telecom -0.1%

Healthcare +2.1%

Restaurants & Hotels +1.4%

Transport +2.1%

Education services +3.7%

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184756

http://arka.am/en/news/business/armenian_minister_blames_food_price_hikes_on_two_factors_/

Begins: 4 aid packages for businesses

The 4 aid packages aimed at businesses are active.

1) Govt gives quick aid to COVID-impacted businesses. Because some of the aid is in the form of low-interest loans that must be repaid, the govt will allow the banks to vet businesses and aid the ones who're more likely to succeed and repay the loan.

"The govt shouldn't make financial decisions based on emotions. We dedicate X amount and ask the commercial banks to find recipients," said Pashinyan earlier.

2) Small businesses will get aid without the mediation of a commercial bank, as long as their 2019 credit rating is on good standing. 120 have already applied for aid.

3) Agricultural aid: 0% loans, 1st year's business expense compensation, etc.

4) Aid for businesses who didn't lay off workers or cut salaries at the time of hardship. Aid amount = 1 average salary per 5th worker.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184727

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011061.html

where u get that money from?

+46% in tax revenues for 1Q2020 vs 1Q2018

https://youtu.be/Z3dPNAFgOSE?t=18

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184730

Armenians stuck in Russia / нивираятни приклыцени армян

50 Armenians, who flew from across Russia to Moscow's Domodedovo airport to take a Moscow-Yerevan flight, are stuck because COVID got worse in Russia and its govt banned all international flights.

"They haven't refunded the tickets yet," complained some travelers.

Armenian MFA warned them not to use land transport either because the physical borders are also blocked.

Armenian ambassador sent most of them to a hotel. A local Armenian community gave them food.

Later that day, the Russian govt signed a one-time deal with an airline firm to fly the Armenians to Yerevan on April 6th. The visitors will be placed on a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184709

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184725

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184729

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184775

https://youtu.be/AFRUvgJT5Uc

https://factor.am/237576.html

Russians stuck in Armenia

Some Russian citizens (mostly ethnic Armenian but also Russians) got stuck in Yerevan airport while trying to fly to Russia. The flight was canceled due to Russia's international travel ban.

"This is the 3rd time we're buying a ticket that's being canceled. It's not subject for a refund," complained one Russian citizen.

"Why is the govt abandoning its citizens abroad?", complained a Russian man, "someone is defrauding us."

https://youtu.be/wyZFiGvTy_E

https://factor.am/237544.html

y u no stay safe, man?

Emergency coordinator Avinyan suspended the operations of several businesses for 6 hours for violating orders to take COVID safety measures. Employees didn't have masks, etc.

Hundreds of businesses have been repeatedly audited since the Emergency Order. 38 were temporarily suspended.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184758

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184761

export of masks & gear are banned

Emergency coordinator Avinyan issued an order to ban the export of masks, human blood, goggles, special gawns, sanitizers, and similar products.

Exceptions are made to allow some international trade routes to operate.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184784

what was done in the early stages?

The 1st COVID case was detected on March 1st. What was done before that?

Since January 24th: high alert on borders, 24,000 visitors filled out contact forms upon arrival, remotely monitored, those with symptoms were hospitalized.

February 24: Iranian border closed.

Since March 1st: 12,000 visitors from 42 countries are ordered to self-isolate upon arrival. Healthcare Ministry stayed in touch to check for symptoms. 1st COVID is detected.

April 1st: airport traffic reached 0. No Armenian citizens returning from abroad.

April 2nd: several cargo drivers tested positive.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184765

no confirmed COVID in Artsakh

Yesterday, several people who traveled from Armenia's risky regions o Artsakh, were isolated and tested. Their tests came negative. One person is still under isolation. Artsakh will soon hold the 2nd round of presidential elections.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184702

masks arrive from China

Back when Armenia wasn't hit with COVID, it sent masks to other countries who needed them urgently. Now Armenia needs masks. China has sent 10,000 masks to Gyumri.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184719

Parliament donates 500mln & some PCs

Parliament cut 500mln from its annual budget and will use it to fight COVID.

The savings came from the canceled trips, salary bonuses of 700 members, etc. Earlier the MPs donated their full salaries. A few rich ones donated extra resources.

The Parliament also donated 42 PCs to provincial kids so they can do remote education.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184755

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184781

World Bank aid for COVID / ventilator purchases

Recently the US/EU pledged $1.1mln/$51mln to help Armenia with COVID.

The govt has asked $3mln from the World Bank to buy medical equipment. $1.4mln of it will be spent on 50 lung ventilators.

World Bank will also review its existing programs in Armenia to further help with COVID. "Stay home and help fight the virus," advised World Bank to the Armenian population.

Globally, the World Bank will spend $14 billion in rapid aid to COVID-hit countries.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184716

ventilators being repaired

Earlier the Healthcare Minister said they're in process of purchasing and receiving hundreds of lung ventilators.

Meanwhile, the High Tech Ministry began collecting and repairing broken ventilators.

The PM, Defense & High Tech Ministers visited the "Engineering City" to watch the progress. "The engineers are doing a great job."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184738

Over 24,000 coronavirus research papers are now available in one place

The data set aims to accelerate scientific research that could fight the COVID-19

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615367/coronavirus-24000-research-papers-available-open-data/

it could spread through aerosol exhaling-inhaling

New research shows that COVID could spread not just by heavy droplets from cough, but also by a simple exhale/inhale. It is advised to wear a mask before entering a building (e.g. supermarket) where no wind could blow away the COVID hanging in the air.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/health/aerosol-coronavirus-spread-white-house-letter/index.html

Nature Ministry to make some data private

Recently the Nature Ministry lobbied to change the data disclosure laws to prevent disclosure of some nature-related data that it deems sensitive. A bill is drafted.

Various civil groups accused the Ministry of trying to "reduce transparency", which could "harm the nature protection group's work". Human Rights Ombudsman will send suggestions to Parliament to address some possible risks.

Nature Minister Eric explains: right now, any poacher can send us a petition to obtain sensitive time/location data of endangered species, and we must give it to them. If passed, the new bill will allow us not to share the data. The Parliament has to discuss it.

Q: Why haven't you discussed this with civil groups first?

A: the draft bill has been public since 2018. We held hearings. It was published online. In 2019 the groups again claimed about the process "being secret". Only one public organization submitted a suggestion.

Q: They say it violates the Aarhus international convention.

A: The convention allows Ministries to block info to protect nature. Armenian law requires us to protect endangered species.

Q: Can any official randomly decide to block any info?

A: A specific agency can block the releases of specific info to protect a particular animal. There are legal methods to challenge the Ministry's decision to block the info. Our ability to block info will become more necessary especially since we're currently improving the system of identifying and logging endangered species.

Various nature groups are worried that they might not be able to receive info they believe they need to do their thing. The bill will be discussed in Parliament. The groups plan to submit their opinion during the discussions.

https://factor.am/237343.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011142.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011125.html

https://hetq.am/hy/article/115516

driver license exams to get harder / 3 tests

Recently the govt decided to reform the procedure of issuing driver licenses, to reduce traffic deaths. Changes are drafted.

The total size of the questionnaire goes from 620 to 1200.

The exams will have 20 questions instead of 10.

18 correct answers needed instead of 9.

--

Hands-on driving will be split into 2 tests: driving in an autodrome and on the streets. 40 minutes in total. Training includes learning how to brake properly.

They want to end the "potentially corrupt" practice of allowing a second hands-on driving test immediately after the applicant fails the first one.

Hands-on tests will be recorded on video.

--

"It'll get harder to obtain a license, but the quality of drivers will go up. We have annual ~300 deaths on the roads."

These changes will also allow Armenian drivers to drive commercial vehicles abroad.

https://factor.am/237407.html

are you keeping up?

Kim Kardashian spoke about the drama that ensued before and during their 2019 trip to Armenia. The sisters had a long fight but eventually "decided to put the drama aside to have a really historic trip to Armenia."

Kourtney hated the constant attention and had jet lag, but they later felt better after chilling and dining with president Sarkissian. They got the kids baptized.

NOW YOU KNOW!

https://www.eonline.com/shows/kardashians/news/1136727/kourtney-kardashian-makes-a-big-decision-about-filming-after-her-fight-with-kim-on-kuwtk

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/184739


Link to original report and comments: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fufyqd/apr32020_daily_news_summary_stay_up_to_date_on/


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