2020 February 19
Feb/19/2020 -- Daily News summary from Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing Anti-Corruption Busts, Constitutional Court crisis, 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.
border ceasefire for searching operations
The OSCE negotiated a temporary ceasefire to ask the Armenian army to stand down and let the Azeri rescuers enter the buffer zone to search for a missing Azeri soldier. His body was found near the Azeri trenches.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180990 USA about Artsakh elections
US Congressmen will send their staff to monitor the March 31st elections in the Artsakh Republic. "It's important to show the whole world that democracy is established in Artsakh," announced Congressman Frank Pallone's office.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180919 update: Turkish businessman re-arrested
Yesterday the Turkish court acquitted a pro-Armenian businessman Kavala. He was arrested for 2 years over the 2013 protests. Shortly after being released, he was detained again. Now the regime seeks his arrest over the "2016 coup". Erdogan has been using the coup as a pretense to get rid of opponents.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51550121 NSS busted army draft bribery
NSS report says an army official and a doctor colluded to take a $10,000 bribe from a young man to give him a 3-year delay from joining the army.
The doctor was detained. The official was arrested. The bribe-giver and the official confessed. A felony case is launched.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180945 NSS busted MORE army draft bribery
NSS report says that in 2019, the chief of a military draft station colluded with a former colleague to take 6.5mln in bribes and help 4 recruits to avoid the draft by falsifying medical documents.
The two officials were arrested. The bribe-givers confessed. A felony case is launched.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180983 NSS busted a nature protection official
NSS report says an environmental inspector of a govt-funded institute took 3.3mln in bribes from a mining business to remove the legal barriers and help them get a license since Sep-2019.
The NSS caught and arrested both of them during the bribery transaction yesterday. A felony case is launched.
22 officials being investigated
22 officials working as the Health and Labor Inspection committee are under an investigation for allegedly misusing work vehicles, not inspecting things on time, ignoring food safety violations in food businesses, etc.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005483.html MP's son cleared
The Investigative Committee investigated the reasons why BHK MP Vardan Ghukasyan's son didn't go to the army, and concluded that no laws were broken. The case is closed.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/113499 Kocharyan's TV guy to remain jailed
Rob's TV magnate and the owner of 5th channel Tavadyan, who will have to spend another 2 months in jail after today's verdict, was earlier arrested for his alleged involvement in a group that went around and offered bribes to March 1st victims to have them drop their claims, as recorded on video (he wasn't in the video but he's charged with financing it).
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180976 criminal subculture fight
General Prosecutor, Justice Minister, heads of NSS and other agencies gathered to discuss the newly passes law that criminalizes the criminal subculture and gang recruitment.
The agencies will have dedicated prosecutors and investigators to handle these cases.
A decision was made to launch an information campaign for the public and to take steps to keep the youth away from falling under the influence of this subculture.
Law enforcement agents were urged to stay away from cooperating with gangs, otherwise, they'll be punished. (big if tru)
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180923 HHK's hijacking of the Constitutional Court
Deputy-speaker QP MP Alen Simonyan shared a Facebook post by the Constitutional Court's chief of staff, in which the judicial official calls the referendum fake and illegal. The MP criticized the official and said, "The court is so politicized it isn't even trying to hide it anymore."
Another MP criticized the chief of staff's prior record as a HHK member and that "he is still acting like one."
Two days ago CC's chief of staff was criticized for another politicized move. He provided some info to a Roboserj media outlet to help mislead the public into believing that QP-approved CC judge Vahe Grigoryan, a Hrayr Tovmasyan critic, was "having secret trips somewhere." This came after CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan himself was criticized by QP for having secret meetings abroad.
President Sarkissian met the Chinese ambassador Tian E. to discuss the coronavirus epidemic. The latter handed over a "thank you" note from Chinese president Xi for Armenia's support.
Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts held an event titled "Pray for Wuhan", attended by MFA Mnatsakanyan and the Chinese ambassador. The gallery gave the ambassador an art piece titled "PRAY".
The coronavirus has reached the Armenian borders. 2 Iranians died in a hospital in the city Qom, near capital Tehran.
The virus has claimed 2k lives and wounded 74k worldwide.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180992 livestock census in Gegharquniq
As of Jan-1-2020, there are 94.5k large cattle, down by 2k YoY.
Smaller cattle is 89.5k, slightly up.
Pregnancy-age cattle is 62.7k, up by 2k.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181007 mass pig deaths
165 pigs in multiple farms died in Aqori, Lori two weeks ago. Lab exam revealed anaerobe intestinal infection as the cause. It originated from contaminates pig food.
The Food Safety Committee isolated these farms and monitors them daily. The dead animals were quarantined and buried, and the areas were disinfected.
The Committee is looking for the origins of the infected pig food.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180930 agricultural issues / improper handling
The agricultural and plant industry declined by 4-8% in 2019.
The State Food Safety Committee says Armenian farmers don't know how to properly take care of land, crops, use pesticides, etc. The agricultural veterinary has a staffing shortage because schools aren't educating about the subject.
To address this lack of experts and knowledge, the Committee will hold regular conferences with international experts and involve the schools.
2019 vs 2018
Cognac production +41%, factory wine +32%, vodka & spirits +19%, beer +11%, whiskey -11%.
Meat production -3%, sausages -2%, ground meat +2.2x.
Milk processing +39%, cheese +6%, yogurt +29%, sour cream +34%, cottage cheese +24%, ice cream +9%, oils -31%, butter +1.7x.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/113498 Gifting books / Unexpected visits & revelations
Here is a book for you: https://www.gutenberg.org/
February 14th was the International Book Giving Day, while February 19th is the book giving day specifically in Armenia because it's legendary poet Hovhannes Tumanyan's 151th birthday.
33% of Armenians read books. 9% read one every day, per Bravis survey. Women are almost twice as likely to read, 42% vs 23% men.
The Education Ministry is donating 50,000 books to provincial and Yerevan schools.
Emergency Ministry will donate books to provincial kids on how to reduce emergency risks (always have someone hold the ladder, kids).
What do random citizens read? https://youtu.be/jPmTYhCVq6E?t=4
Pashinyan picked and entered random houses and distributed books as bribes. Vergush tati received 2 books so she can gift one to her friend (another ponzi scheme).
During the meeting, the PM and tati struck a conversation about money, and it turns out Vergush tati had assets in the now-defunct USSR bank, and since she's born before 1936, she qualifies under a new law to receive some financial compensation.
Full video of him surprising unsuspecting half-naked homeowners: https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/480986472595541/
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180985 Have you seen Pepo?
WHERE IS PEPO?
"Pepo" the movie was produced by Hamo Beknazaryan in 1935. The Armenian version was almost completely "lost". The original Russian copy is in Russia.
The National Cinema Center of Armenia plans to "fix" the Armenian segments they have and to digitize them.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005509.html Յարխուշտա celebrations
Pashinyan announced the creation of a new annual Yarkhushta Festival. This year it'll be on June 13th in Dashtadem, Aragatsotn Province.
Yarkhushta is a Western Armenian military folklore dance from Mush and Sasun regions. The men dance and give high-fives, hence the non-official name Zark Fest (festival of claps).
There will be a dance floor for the competition. Booths will be installed to present traditional Armenian arts. Tourism guides. Open-air museum. Mini-classes and Armenian dance history lessons. Areni Festival firm will handle the organization.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180959 stray doggies
Gyumri joins Yerevan and won't shoot the stray dogs anymore. The city and My Vet clinic are cooperating to shelter and sterilize dogs.
Vets say the job is hard because of little resources. They lack specialized vehicles and tools to catch doggies. "The dogs we catch are very kind, seldom aggressive, either scared of humans or open to touching."
Some residents bring their on backyard dogs to undergo the procedure to prevent birth, aggression, and disease.
LOTS OF PICS: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180960 IRS revenue rises
IRS collected 34% more taxes in Jan-2020 (162bln) vs Jan-2019 (121bln).
Businesses printed 35% more sales receipts. Trade turnover in Drams +23%.
IRS chief Ananyan attributes the rise to the public's receptiveness to Pashinyan's encouragements to print and demand sales receipts to be printed. "There will always be those who evade taxes. We'll catch them."
Q: some countries give financial rewards to customers who get receipts.
Ananyan: It's a bad idea to turn this into a profit-driven relationship between govt and citizen. Instead, we should use rhetoric to encourage/demand the formation of a culture in which the public values paying taxes.
IRS chief Ananyan added, "We receive 24,000 calls every month from citizens complaining about sales receipt violation by businesses." (SAY WHAT NOW?)
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180943 points-based traffic rules / license revocation stats
PM Pashinyan went LIVE and said:
We've always said the drivers shouldn't be treated as cash-cows. The old law would say "you can break as many laws as you want as long as you pay". Some penalties used to be 500,000 Drams.
With the introduction of the points system, the maximum fine is only 29,000 Drams.
So far 311 drivers have lost licenses under the new rules, but none of them lost is for crossing the 9-point threshold. They lost it for a (single) very serious violation.
180 got revoked for having 0.5mg blood alcohol. Do you know how much it is? If 2 people drink a 1 Liter vodka bottle.
77 got revoked and had felony cases launched against them. They drove with a suspended license or were drunk and without a license.
27 didn't have any license plates. You can guess why people don't attach any of the plates. (new law made this penalty harsher)
16 got revoked for two mild DUIs. The first mild DUI (small alcohol) gets you a point, but the second time it's a revocation.
6 lost for avoiding DUI tests. Immediate revocation.
3 lost for using illegal police sirens.
2 lost for running away from police.
No one has crossed the 9 points yet. There are concerns that drivers can make many little small violations and lose their licenses too easily.
In April, when we have more stats about points-based incidents, we'll analyze the rules again to see if it's fair to drivers. The process will be transparent.
As of February 18, 2020, vs last year period, traffic deaths declined by 2. The decline may appear small, but remember that 100,000s cars were imported since last year, and many of them were added to Armenian roads.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180942 105yo gets citizenship
I signed a very memorable document today, to issue citizenship to a 105-year-old Italian national Nurhan Bogosi Yusupovich. He was born in 1915 in Western Armenia and is currently here in Armenia, trying to get citizenship. Every Armenian around the world should have Armenian citizenship. Proud citizen of Armenia! (Nurhan applied for a passport on February 5th.)
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f6hbg0/feb192020_daily_news_summary_from_armenia_stay/
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