2020 February 12
Feb/12/2020 -- Daily News Collection From Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing Constitutional Court crisis, Anti-Corruption Busts, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
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.
Parliament summoned the government for grilling.
Did you know there is a monopoly in the field of lab tests done for imported foods? STANDARD DIALOG company gets the overwhelming share of contracts to test imported foods. There is info that it's a result of corrupt "connections".
I promise that the "corrupt connection" will be punished if it's true. You should send your info to law enforcement. Yes, for years, there were complaints that this field was hijacked. We removed the competition barriers. Sometimes it takes time for competitors to emerge once the artificial barriers are gone. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180369
what did you mean earlier when you said that anyone who hinders (legally or illegally) the public's ability to exercise their voting rights will receive a counter-blow? Do you plan to torch the opposition members' cars?
No, but there used to be a time when some people would burn down cars and beat others in their front yards. Now it's different. The opposition should bring their arguments to the public before the referendum, and we should bring ours, but there needs to be a referendum (criticizing LHK's attempts to block the referendum). There has never been a similar situation with 5 opposition TV channels functioning during a referendum period, and with Armenian media being free and sharing the same 8th position with France. No one is closing the opposition's mouth. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180373
There are fears that a 2-month-long referendum will negatively affect the economy.
2019 shows that the economy does great when the public is confident about tomorrow. The referendum will increase confidence. It appears that many diasporans decided to fly to Armenia to vote (needs fact check). Essentially, we're establishing a new type of tourism: an election-tourism. Tickets are cheap now (low-cost airlines). Even those who don't have citizenship can come and witness it. The govt has programs far bigger than the cost of this referendum. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180377
why is there an "elite" military unit in the army where officials' kids attend (earlier a media outlet said some generals' and NSS officials' kids were there).
Defense Minister Tonoyan:
there is no elite unit dedicated to officials' sons. Any unit soldier who gets caught with a violation gets reprimanded. Crime suspects have been arrested. (The unit in question has 1000 soldiers, a couple of whom happened to be related to some officials, earlier said Tonoyan)
I've spoken about army deaths with Defense Minister and other officials. (4 soldiers died from an avalanche, a few suicides).
To reduce army bullying we need to change the street culture and review how kids treat one another in the backyard. I'm surprised that the criminal subculture values are being treated as traditional values by some MPs (referring to BHK). This is part of the problem.
We purchased laundry machines for frontline soldiers but some of them won't wash their underwear because it's against their values for their underwear to touch another man's underwear inside the washing machine. Do you see what I'm saying?
The Foreign Minister spent 11 hours in a meeting with Azeri colleagues. What were they discussing for so long?
The same things that were announced from this podium. Nothing new. If there is something new we won't hide it. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180391
Why are so many kids missing from school? There are calls to skip classes because of the flu.
Healthcare Minister Torosyan:
It's an ordinary flu season. H1N1 is one of many similar cases of flu, nothing scary. We inform the public about preventative steps. Unfortunately, some people exaggerate the scale and hinder children's ability to visit classes and get their education.
We're working with the Education Ministry to measure school attendance regularly to decide if it's necessary to shut down schools. Right now 5.8% are sick, with some isolated cases of some classrooms having a 70% sick rate. Many schools have guards who observe the kids enter the building, and if they show signs of sickness, they're sent back home. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180370
Could the Chinese coronavirus damage the Armenian economy?
Finance Minister Khachatryan:
Unlikely. The Chinese economy will grow at 4.5% instead of 6%. The only possible areas of impact on Armenia could be a reduction in copper trade and tourism, but we don't think our economy will be affected significantly under current conditions. Tourism from China is already too small. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180366
Pashinyan about government waste:
Why should some policemen's children go to a special hospital but teacher's children not? We're shutting down the Police Clinic that costs 800mln/yr. It doesn't even have the necessary equipment.
Only a tiny fraction of policemen are using this clinic. It's in Yerevan, but the policemen live across Armenia (out of reach). Most policemen get govt-subsidized healthcare in other places.
These types of clinics exist in other fields; they have too much administrative overhead and will be shut down.
MP: but that clinic served a role during the 2016 April battles.
Pashinyan: okay, but our system's problem is that the duties aren't properly defined. The police should not do healthcare. That's the job of the Healthcare system. The police also run a kindergarten with only a fraction of policemen's kids attending it. (Որ միլիցեքի ձեռը 3 հատ շարիկ տաս կարողա կրկես էլ բացեն? Swiss Army Cops.) https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180384
MP asks Avinyan:
A businessman decided to grow hemp with only 0.3% psychotropic content, which means it's not narcotic. He got permission from the govt. He hired police to guard the field. Spent $400,000 on it. Harvested it. Then the cops came and took it away. It's been months he's trying to reach you unsuccessfully. Now he's contacting me. What should I tell him?
1st deputy PM Avinyan:
Nobody got a permit from us (lmao). All hemp is illegal, and the $400k investment you mentioned is definitely exaggerated (how would you know?). We'll discuss allowing some types of hemp production with the Economy Minister (now we're getting there) and perhaps solve the investor's problem.
MP: then how did the guy import hemp seed and hire cops to guard it if it's illegal?
Avinyan: that cop doesn't work in the system anymore. As for the seed, I don't know if the seed import itself is illegal or not. Growing is illegal.
April 5th is the referendum day. People will decide whether 7 out of 9 Constitutional Court members should be fired.
Infrastructure Minister Papikyan, who was tasked with leading the upcoming YES campaign, is on a 2-day vacation.
Pashinyan spoke with OSCE to explain why the referendum is necessary.
LHK said they won't officially register (and get resources) to launch a NO campaign. BHK can't launch one either because they remained neutral during the referendum bill vote (they can still urge voters to vote YES/NO).
People can get together, form groups, and launch NO campaigns. Each voting station has to have several observers from each of YES and NO campaigns. The problem is with so many parties not willing/able to join NO, will the NO-squad have thousands of necessary observers? To solve this possible shortage, there are "extra people" assigned by local electoral committees. They could, however, sabotage the referendum by not appearing to polling stations on April 5th.
The YES team says they have more than enough registered people to send as representatives.
Constitutional reform taskforce
Besides the upcoming Constitution Court referendum, there are also plans for Constitutional reforms (voting system, etc.)
Pashinyan created a team task with it, consisted of the Justice Minister, Armenian representative in European Court for Human Rights, Human Rights Ombudsman, chief of Parliamentary Legal Committee, 1 MP from each of 3 parties, a judge from Supreme Court (not CC), 6 legal scholars, 2 NGOs.
Privet Rob (⏳ <-- OP's time is now ticking)
Kocharyan's bodyguards killed a man in 2001 for greeting Kocharyan with "Privet Rob" (hello Rob).
The incident happened in Paplavok restaurant's toilet and was witnesses by a British tourist Steven Newton. At the time, the regime's prosecutors ignored Newton's testimony that the death was not an accident of the victim falling and hitting his head. Rob's bodyguard got out on probation after receiving a mild sentence.
Recently, the prosecutors re-launched the investigation and invited Newton to describe the events. He did.
The re-trial case has reached the Appeals Court and will be heard in Feb-27. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180387
school admins busted
Prosecutors and Education Ministry cooperated to bust a 19mln embezzlement in Special School N16.
The former director is accused of falsifying employee records to drain salary funds, falsifying child food expenses, mismanaging a 350mln worth land. A felony case is launched. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180338
Pashinyan's tantrum leads to an embezzlement and abuse bust
SOC and Prosecutors busted (yet to be named) Yeghegnadzor municipality officials with embezzlement and mismanagement during construction contracts in 2016-2017.
The city signed contracts with firms to install lighting on the streets and to repair schools. The work wasn't done fully, yet the city officials certified it as complete, causing millions in damages.
In 2018-19 the city contracted road repair firms, which cut the corners on the quality, while the city officials let it pass, causing 41mln in damages and resulting in unusable roads that need to be done again.
A felony case is launched.
Yeghegnadzor is the city where Pashinyan recently visited, complained about poor road quality and lighting despite a recent subsidy, and asked the auditors to investigate. The mayor is BHK Davit Harutyunyan.
NSS has busted Labor Ministry officials with bribery. The report says:
The chief examiner of a medical committee colluded with his staff, and falsified citizens' medical conditions to make them qualify for govt aid, in exchange for a bribe.
4 officials were caught and arrested during a sting operation. They confessed. A felony case is launched.
HIV + infections = no love
Healthcare Ministry attached the HIV Center to the Norq Infections Center, as one unit.
Complaints were raised by the HIV Center's staff, who say that Norq hospital isn't managed properly and their problems will go unaddressed.
Ministry says the merger is necessary for patients' health because HIV patients' lives are especially threatened by tuberculosis and other infections, and the current HIV Center is too detached from the rest of the medical field, isn't 24/7, mainly provides emergency services.
After the merger, patients can get tested for HIV, receive treatment, receive infection-related care in the same place, with various doctors working as a team, per-international practice.
Human Rights Ombudsman visited penitentiary and found a case when an inmate, who attempted suicide, was placed in solitary confinement as a punishment.
HRO asked the inmate to be freed and sent a letter to Justice Minister with a proposal to amend the law to replace the punishment with medical/psychological treatment in suicide attempt cases. Currently, the inmates can be put in solitary after self-harm. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180339
Justice Ministry purchased newer metal and other prohibited item detectors for all penitentiary facilities. Items passed to inmates will be scanned faster and more thoroughly to block drugs and knives. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180351
free gas pipes & no electricity stealing
Public Services Regulatory Commission issued a 10mln penalty to the nuclear power plant operator, after finding that some nearby businesses went լևի and used the electricity without paying.
In another ruling, the Commission passed an ordinance requiring GazProm-Armenia to install gas pipes in residential areas free of charge if it's shorter than 5m.
EAEU tariffs & prices
Import tariffs for hundreds of products rose in Jan-1-2020 because of EAEU rules. How did this affect consumer prices?
"Not by much", said QP MP Tunyan, "0.2% overall rise. The food and alcohol prices dropped 1.8% YoY in January."
Southern regions of Goris and Sisian were engulfed in a blizzard. 22 cars had to be rescued out.
new TUMO center
Yerevan's new TUMO center is being designed by the famous Duch architect Winy Maas's MVRDV studio.
Yerevan mayor met Maas and TUMO chief to discuss the construction. The design will be ready in a few months. It's near Hrazdan gorge, next to where the new Metro station will be built.
Images of his other designs: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180409
Armenian PicsArt digital media app is the 2nd most downloaded app on Apple Store, surpassing YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. TikTok is #1.
130mln monthly active users. 1 billion pics processed.
60KG Wrestler Gevorg Gharibyan is the European Champion after defeating his Turkish colleague.
"Mer Bake" comedy sketch's actress Lala Mnatsakanyan produced a new movie "Lightweight Killer" in which someone shoots and kills an imaginary poor country's President. The audience is kept in suspense throughout the movie on who the real killer is, a la Hercule Poirot
She says the 2-20-2020 movie will be lit 💯 . "Things will develop very fast. My fear is that some in the audience might not be able to keep up."
charity fund donations
All-Armemeia charity fund, which builds infrastructure in Armenia and Artsakh, says the online donations are still coming after the 2019 push to involve as many small donors as possible (Pashinyan's pyramid scheme of each donor bringing 3 friends).
So far $11,156,000 was pledged. A significant part of it has been transferred already. (In previous years, few large donors would promise big sums but never donate, resulting in artificially inflated donation size that was presented to the public).
Donations rose $920k since December. 5,000 online donors who donated $560k/yr, some being recurrent as part of the CupOfCoffee initiative.
They are open for donations 24/7/365. https://www.himnadram.org/en
They produce cheese
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f2xjx8/feb122020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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