2020 April 9

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Apr/9/2020 -- Daily News Summary -- Biological labs in Armenia & Russian media / Government aid / Artsakh election & George Soros / Arrest in-absentia for HHK MP / Botanical garden embezzled / Kocharyan sues Armenia / How does Armenia fare against world in COVID graph? / Mass tests incoming /
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.


Bio-labs / Armenian govt dismisses Russian outlet's fake news

PM office's fact-checker dismissed rumors circulated by Russian outlet "Moscovski Komsomolets". The outlet wrote that Armenia has US bio-labs where they probably test dangerous pathogens that the US doesn't want to test on US soil, and that an escape of such pathogens can harm Armenian public.

Armenian govt fact-checker responded:

Those labs belong to Armenia, not the US. They're part of the Armenian CDC. They're called Reference Laboratory Center. Other countries don't have an influence on its operations.

Labs don't have US soldiers or US lab experts. Only Armenians work there. This has been told many times before but some circles continue to spread the fake news.

The labs received aid from the Russian government, too (LMAO). EAEU sent 14 pieces of lab equipment as an aid to Armenia.

At the permission of PM Pashinyan, the Russian experts were allowed to enter the labs to familiarize themselves with the work.

End of fact checker's memo.

--

The biolab conspiracy theory is popular in Russia. The latest flareup of rumors began after Russia had a particularly nasty influenza season. Russian govt-run news agencies began pointing fingers at Ukrainian and Georgian biolabs (the countries have political issues with Russia). They then learned that Kazakhstan and Armenia also have those labs. Last year, Russia and Armenia agreed to let Russians enter and see inside the labs. An agreement was drafted to guarantee that the labs won't be used by a foreign military.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011665.html

Artsakh police's response to election observer

Earlier the election observer group "Informed Citizens" said they busted a fraud by police. The same citizen was registered in two locations, and when the observers asked the police to provide all the records to check for similar occurrences, the police said they didn't keep the papers, according to the observer group.

--

Today Artsakh police responded to Informed Citizens saying:

We investigated and it turns out 2 sisters, who are electoral office workers, participated in elections and voted in locations they were instructed to vote.

Due to a typo, sisters Anna and Ianna were entered in the database both as Ianna, which made it look as if the same person voted twice.

As for 3 citizens allegedly voting while being outside of Artsakh, the mentioned people were actually in Artsakh and voted in 3 different stations.

As for 1 other citizen voting outside of Artsakh, she is, in fact, living abroad, and her similarly last-named brother's voting data was accidentally written under her records, while the brother's records remained empty - a benign mistake.

As for not giving you the full voter records, there is no law that requires us to keep such records, and in some cases, it would be impossible.

End of AR police's response to election observer.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185211

election observer doesn't buy Artsakh police's explanation

Informed Citizens says they don't believe AR police's aforementioned explanation. Observer chief said:

The AR police are trying to coverup their crime. The additional voter lists by voting location (request by observers) are created by police, published by police, and sent to the chief of voting stations, in addition to main voting lists. The police didn't publish the additional voter lists. A felony violation.

Since these voter lists weren't made public, we can't tell how many similar double-votings were made.

The story about sisters voting in different stations is a lie. The data matched down to the birthdate. The typo explanation claimed by police is impossible due to the type of system that's being used.

There needs to be an investigation on what signature was used while handling passports.

End of observer's memo.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185232

Roboserj media dismisses election observers as George Soros puppets

Media outlet Hraparak believes election observers "Informed Citizen" and "Transparency International" are George Soros puppets who are biased and support candidate Masis Mayilyan, and that the aforementioned election fraud examples are a byproduct of bias, because the observers didn't like the voting outcome (in which Masis Mayilyan lost).

The outlet asked Artsakh's electoral committee chief to comment on it, but she refused to join the circlejerk.

https://news.am/arm/news/571394.html

Botanical garden's land abuse

Nature Ministry and SOC audited land lease contracts in Yerevan Botanical Garden. The report says:

Catherine Group and Levo Group leased lands in Botanical Garden and were supposed to create a mini-garden, but instead, they used it for commercial purposes to sell construction materials and vegetables. (դավայ, կողի խոտերը պռճկի 100 դրամով ծախի, գյամշ)

The lease they signed didn't have the legally required notarization.

Catherine Group paid 11mln less than legally required, and they built an illegal fence.

A felony case is launched. End of prosecutor report.

"Catherine Group" is presumably the company owned by former HHK official Mihran Poghosyan involved in the Panama Papers. He is currently being sheltered in Russia. Armenia has so far been unsuccessful at extraditing him. He is facing a host of unrelated charged.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185183

update: former HHK MP on the run / illegal enrichment

Earlier we learned that a former boxer and HHK MP Arthur Gevorgyan got busted hiding his property in the US. Hetq outlet said he didn't properly register them while being an MP in Armenia.

Prosecutors later found that the properties were a result of an alleged illegal enrichment, due to mismatch in declared wealth/income, and launched a felony case.

An arrest warrant in-absentia has been approved by the court

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185248

update: Serj's testimony

Former President Serzh Sargsyan was asked to appear at a committee and give details on his handling of April 2016 battles. numerous officials have been questioned so far to see if the system functioned properly during the battles.

Serjik agreed to testify under the condition of receiving an audio copy of the interview. The committee has agreed. He'll testify next week.

--

In other news, former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan reminded that he's still alive, by writing an article urging Roboserj and anti-Roboserj to calm down and to suspend hyperpartisan activities during the hardship. It received mixed reactions.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185208

Kocharyan is suing Armenia

Former president Robik Kocharyan is suing Armenia and its penitentiary system. He says he's old and can die if he contracts COVID while in jail. He wants to be released. He also contacted the Human Rights Ombudsman.

Prosecutors recently released 29 suspects who were facing milder charges than Kocharyan. It remains to be seen if they'll release Kocharyan.

--

An NGO audited and found that the penitentiary system is largely unfit to handle COVID (staff and medics didn't wear masks, gloves, etc. during an audit). Justice Ministry says they have dedicated separate cells for possible COVID suspects, and the staff is being monitored.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185218

https://factor.am/239093.html

https://factor.am/239084.html

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185255

IT'S GETTING BENT

921 confirmed infections. 8 deaths.

Healthcare Minister Torosyan says:

The cases are doubling every ~10 days instead of the previous 7. The slowdown has accelerated in the past 5 days, which is good news. We'll have 3600 infected by April 29th with these numbers.

The bad news is, this trend could change very quickly if we relax the lockdown.

GRAPH of where Armenian is vs other countries. Armenia's acceleration is getting close to Singapore: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185240

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185185

your loss is their gain

If you don't use the streets, dogs will.

Gyumri has seen an increase in homeless dogs roaming on the streets while humans are under lockdown. The dogs have a green tag on their ear, which means they've been sterilized.

The medical treatment means they can't have babies, and they're 40% less aggressive during the peak mating season.

PHOTOS: https://factor.am/239223.html

mass tests on all pneumonia patients and medics

Pashinyan said:

Beginning tomorrow, we'll gradually increase testings to 1000 people per day (3x more than now). Every pneumonia patient and doctor will be tested starting tomorrow, to have a more accurate picture. Soon, we'll have more healed patients and those who exit the quarantine.

(Armenia received 60,000 new COVID test kits yesterday.)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185188

2nd infection in Artsakh / also participated in elections

Artsakh's patient-zero visited Armenia, got infected, then returned to Artsakh and participated in elections. His village is on lockdown. His fiancé has just tested positive.

An unrelated Artsakh resident returned from a risky region of Armenia to Artsakh, and was told to self-isolate. He did. He later tested positive. He is from Moshatagh village and also participated in elections. Moshatagh village is also placed on lockdown.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185231

COVID & diasporans

The April 24]th Genocide memorial march in Los Angeles has been canceled because of COVID.

Georgia will transport 35 Armenian and 79 Georgian citizens out of the US, with the help of the US.

Armenia has financed for 70 Armenians to travel from Turkey to Armenia, through Georgia. They'll be placed under a 2-week quarantine upon arrival.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185181

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185227

http://arka.am/en/news/society/armenia_will_evacuate_its_citizens_from_turkey_across_georgia_/

farmers dodged a bullet

Meteorologists predicted sub-zero temps in some agricultural regions. The govt was concerned that it would cause massive damages.

Govt said: whew... we were stressed last night over possible frostbite. For the most part, it didn't happen. Data is being gathered from parts of Armavir where it did go below 0. Nonetheless, the worst scenario didn't happen.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185192

where is cognac going?

Cognac exports +37% in 2019 vs 2018.

89% went to Russia, 5% to Ukraine, 4% to Belarus.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011641.html

update on economic aid progress

The govt earlier passed 9 aid packages for businesses and residents affected by COVID. >10 billion has been paid so far.

Pashinyan said:

3.7bln distributed so far (updated to 10.7bln), less than 10% of aid. If your name isn't on the website that checks whether you qualify for aid, come back later, the website is being updated.

Banks gave 25bln worth loan vacation to 295,000 residents and businesses.

We're seeing some increase in bank deposits again. More people are converting Dollar to Dram, which means people trust our anti-crisis measures.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185189

COVID aid for preggos and kiddos

The 4th aid package was aimed towards pregnant women and families who have kids younger than 14yo.

The 6th aid was aimed at those who don't have kids but lost their job.

These packages go into effect tomorrow, at http://www.ssa.am

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185198

COVID aid package for business

The 1st aid package was for businesses that must be vetted by banks before being approved to take low-interest loans. 1.4bln has been approved so far.

2nd aid package was for farmers. 0% interest rate. Micro-loans. 1.1bln approved and 600mln already distributed.

3rd aid package was for small business. They don't have to go through a bank's vetting. As long as the small business's finances were in good standing in 2019, they will get a favorable loan.

Loan size = 10% of annual turnover, with 0% interest for 2 years. So far 280mln distributed.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185205

10th aid package passed / free cash to micro-business

Today the govt approved the 10th economic aid package to give one-time cash, equaling up to 2x the minimum wage, to micro-businesses.

IRS boss: we're first and foremost aiding those who properly filed their papers and printed sales receipts. It's an aid for microbusiness so those who earned >6mln over some period, won't qualify.

Pashinyan: those who didn't hide their sales from IRS will get more help. So you get nothing if you refused to print receipts, you lose, good day sir.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185194

https://youtu.be/ymPpIzaanhY

product prices

Economic Competition Committee:

Some products got more expensive in March, but they're getting cheaper again. 1-4% rise in recent months.

Sugar prices went from 330 to 250, in 2018 vs 2020.

Butter went from 4430 (in 2018) to 3730 (pre-COVID) to 3790 (now).

Fuel prices went from 450 (in 2018) to 310 regular (now).

https://factor.am/239040.html

EAEU tariff hike reversed / 3% cheaper imports

EAEU trade bloc rules had raised the tariffs on 600 products starting Jan-2020. Deputy PM Mher says that rule has been reversed, after months of negotiations, and some food and industrial products will get 3% cheaper.

Meat, butter, rice, oil, margarine, raw tobacco, fertilizer, pharma, precius stones, leather. 600 products.

EAEU states can import agricultural products from non-EAEU states, including rice, for 0% tariff.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185197

https://factor.am/239037.html

the govt will compensate contractors that were let down by a firm

Last year a felony-investigation kerfuffle ensued around North-South highway construction. Years-long presumed fraud was busted.

A Spanish construction firm went bankrupt and couldn't pay its Armenian subcontractors. Lots of sub-contractors went unpaid.

Today the govt dedicated 2bln to pay the Armenian subcontractors. "It should help the subcontractors to survive in these hard times and continue their work on North-South," said the govt.

https://factor.am/239048.html

500 kilometers

500km of roads will be repaired or built this year. An unprecedented number that will surpass the 2019 results. "Coronavirus won't stop the work," said Pashinyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1011655.html

update: drivers license gets harder to obtain

Earlier we learned that the govt is amending driver license system to increase the number of questions, add more behind-the-wheel tests.

Written exams will also be available in English, Russian, Farsi, Arabic. 20 questions vs 10. 30 minutes vs 15.

The test cars must have a video recorder to ensure transparency.

--

"AM" license will be required for moped drivers.

Motorbike licenses will require a driving test in an autodrome.

Personal car or commercial truck/bus licenses will require a driving test in both autodrome and city traffic.

Officials who administer the tests will undergo 4-day training every 2 years.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185234

history of Irevan

Would you like the detailed history of Erevan Khanate and its demographics?

www.civilnet.am/news/2020/04/09/Երևանի-նահանգ՝-Հայաստանի-հիմքը-գավառներ-բնակչություն-ազգային-կազմ/381339

long Armenian toasts

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is getting bored of lockdown. " Looking forward to a few much-too-long-Armenian-style toasts of brandy with close friends once we're all out of lockdown," said known alcoholic Ohanyan, who is famous only because he married Serena Williams.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-tMWTrluQH/


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fxznm3/apr92020_daily_news_summary_biological_labs_in/


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