2020 February 27
Feb/27/2020 -- Collection of news from Armenia / Stay informed about the ongoing Anti-Corruption / Economy / Major changes / Politics / Constitutional Court crisis / 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.
Privet Rob retrial
Context: In 2001, Kocharyan's bodyguards tortured and killed P. Poghosyan in Paplavok Restaurant for greeting Kocharyan with "Privet Rob". A witness was ignored and the crime was treated as a mild accident. The perp only went through 1-year probation. Recently the witness came forward again. The case was re-launched.
The court held a hearing on whether to re-open the case. Rob's bodyguard Aghamal Harutyunyan (defendant) was present. He introduced himself.
The judge noted that no one from the deceased victim's family was present as a legal representative in court. The prosecutor was present.
Prosecutor said new evidence and witness testimony has revealed materials that weren't taken into account during the original court trial, therefore a new trial is necessary.
The defendant asked the court to prohibit journalists and cameras from recording the trial, at least for now. The prosecutors didn't have a problem with being recorded. The judge decided to restrict all recordings except speech-to-text typewriting.
The defendant's lawyer asked the court to bring the coroner who examined the victim's body. The court decided that since the lawyer admitted to not being familiar with the case fully yet, the coroner's invitation won't happen for now.
The lawyer asked the court session to be delayed because he became the defendant's lawyer only today and hasn't had time to examine the case (wat?).
Judge: why tho? We sent the paperwork to the defendant in January.
Defendant: I didn't know how this process works and ended up delaying it.
Judge: Alright lawyer, how much time do you need to read the papers?
Lawyer: 15 days.
Judge: Prosecutor, you OK with it?
Judge: the session is delayed for a month until Mar-27.
Q&A with the deceased victim's nephew.
Q: Why aren't you a legal predecessor of the victim?
A: The court sent documents addressed to my father but we couldn't receive them. We'll petition the court to declare us as victim's legal representatives.
Q: Who else do you think is guilty?
A: I don't have their names, but 8 people participated. Multiple people beat him.
Q: What's Kocharyan role in this?
A: They wouldn't beat him without Kocharyan's order. The trial will decide whether they intended to kill or scare him.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181641 former SOC boss court trial
Context: Former SOC chief-auditor David Sanasaryan was earlier charged with colluding with 2 employees to help a medical form, affiliated with one of those employees, to win a medical contract. Sanasaryan says he was unaware of the conflict of interest and he only fought to end another firm's monopoly.
The trial continued today. The court is reviewing the evidence. They'll read relevant paperwork-evidence.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181602 LHK vs ANC lawsuit
The opposition LHK party (former QP ally) is using Levon Ter-Petrosyan's ANC party for alleged defamation after an ANC member went on live TV and accused LHK of being Serj's controversial son-in-law "oligarch Mikael Minasyan's project", among other criticism.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181515 state property embezzlement busted
Prosecutors cooperated with Yerevan municipality and said:
We examined govt-owned property sales records for 2017-2018 and found that in 2017, the property assessor deliberately used an outdated/reduced-value database to decide the value of two govt-owned properties that were subject for sale. As a result, in May-2018 those properties on Buzant St. were sold for much cheaper prices, causing financial damage to the state. A felony case is launched.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181617 military cooperation agreement
BROKE: Armenia & Georgia signed a 2020 military cooperation agreement and joint NATO exercise plans.
WOKE: Armenia and Georgia delayed the war between the two countries for another year.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181651 Parliament about the new traffic law / Stats
Context: govt reformed the traffic laws to reduce financial penalties and introduce a 9-point/year system. Each significant violation deducts points. The idea is to prevent the rich from getting away with unlimited violations, reduce the financial burden on poor, have a system that takes away licenses from repeated violators.
BHK MP: we implemented a points-based punishment system, but did we first create conditions for the driver to be able to drive without violating rules? There is no proper parking system in Yerevan; the drivers have no choice but to violate parking rules.
Human Rights Ombudsman: To this day, many drivers don't know which violations can deduct a point. There was supposed to be an information period before the system's implementation, but this was insufficient. The information period should be done before the implementation, not simultaneously.
Policeman: Injuries from traffic incidents are on the decline in Yerevan but rose in provinces. Versus the same period of 2019: Across Armenia, we have -3 deaths, +59 injuries. In Yerevan specifically deaths -2, injuries -68.
(Pashinyan earlier praised the new rules saying many drunk drivers and serious violators have lost their licenses already, and that the rules can be changed if problems are found.)
Policeman: in a few months, we'll train teachers who will provide classes in schools to teach children about road safety and traffic rules. https://factor.am/224866.html
MP: some people claim to sell points on the internet. They ask for money in exchange for taking the driver's blame on them. (it was earlier argued that this scheme would cause an insignificant problem due to the seller himself being limited to 9 points/year)
Policeman: France also had some problems with point-selling when they implemented the points-based system. We examined their experience and made relevant changes... The cameras can record the violator driver.
Policeman: the cameras can also record cigarette butts and trash being throw out of windows. In September, when the street patrol begins issuing points, they can find and deduct points from public transport drivers who smoke. (show this paragraph to atheists)
Policeman: 473 drivers lost their licenses in 2019 for having psychiatric and narcotics problems.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006577.html bololavirus armenicus bordericus
4 people, who were in close contact with the Georgian person who had coronavirus, are not infected. They'll be quarantined for 2 weeks. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181594
Iran's vice president caught the virus. A former Iranian ambassador to the Vatican has died. 245 cases so far. 26 deaths. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181691
Armenian embassies in Japan and Korea are urging Armenians to avoid the infected areas and to get in touch with the embassies due to a recent spike in the region. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181600
MFA urged against travel to Iran, China, Korea, Italy, Japan. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181632
Healthcare Minister: There were 2 fake news being circulated today. No one died from coronavirus in Armenia. There are no dozens of Coronavirus patients in Armenia. 95 tests came negative. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181671 soccer star visited Armenia for...
Legendary Italian soccer player Alessandro Del Pierro (Juventus guy) visited Armenia and uploaded a video "Good morning Yerevan".
It turns out he visited Armenia to get a Russian visa because he couldn't visit the Russian embassy in Italy because of coronavirus.
Maybe convince him to stay and become the new Armenian soccer coach?
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181643 gender-selection abortions / secret document
Pashinyan: I don't know what we should do, but something should be done about the high rates of girls being selected for abortion. Armenia has one of the worst stats in the world. There is a secret 2014 document about national security...
Defense Minister interrupts: it's secret.
Pashinyan: I know it's secret... That document talks about the importance of women's role and that the current situation is a danger to national security. When I spoke about this on Facebook earlier, people claimed it was made-up. Then an MP saw the document and believed it was real.
(it's basically about not enough women = not enough people being born)
Labor Minister: we worked with the UN to draft a plan to reduce selective abortions in Armenia. Soon, Healthcare and Labor Ministries will approve and present it.
Healthcare Minister: I agree. China, Azerbaijan, and Armenia are the top-3 selective aborters. This is also a cultural thing. We need to increase women's roles in society.
Pashinyan: that's why we talk about this so often, so the message will spread to the public.
medal for keeping borders safe
NSS gave a gift to a man from Bagaran for catching an illegal border crosser from Turkey. NSS urged the bordering residents to help keep the borders safe by reporting suspicious activities.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181680 Sumgait massacres
The Artsakh Republic Human Rights Ombudsman participated in a memorial ceremony in Askeran City dedicated to the 32nd anniversary of the Armenian massacres in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan SSR.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/113819 suing for fake news in Russia
Armenian Embassy in Russia has contacted the media censor RosCommNodzor and prosecutors to report "fake information intended to spread ethnic hatred". Several Russian media outlets published unfounded Azeri conspiracy theories claiming Armenians organized the Baku and Sumgayit massacres of Armenians.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181689 food safety inspection
"Norma" (Agroprod) dairy manufacturer earlier had its operations suspended by the Food Safety Committee for sanitary violations. They renovated the walls, floor, new equipment, and had their license restored.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181589 safety inspection agency
Yesterday the safety inspection agency found numerous violations in a textile firm belonging to former MP Lfik Samo, and in an oil firm and other firms belonging to others, and issued penalties. Q&A with the chief safety inspector:
Q: what did Lfik's firm violate?
A: fire safety protocols. The doors are opening towards the wrong side. No fire alarm.
Q: do you care about the owners while making the list of firms subject to an audit?
Q: did you inspect only those few firms?
A: we have a list created by perceived safety risk-based on prior checks.
Q: tell us about the penalties.
A: it's the maximum 50k plus a requirement to fix it until a deadline. If not fixed, there is a new penalty.
Q: the list of businesses you intended to audit was public. Why didn't they fix the problems before your arrival?
A: they don't care until they get penalized.
Q: is a 50k penalty sum enough to convince them?
A: they're required to fix the problem by law within a period. If not, the subsequent penalty is 150k, or a suspension of their license.
Q: what are the most common violations?
A: building fire safety rules about keeping distances between objects to prevent fire spread, blocked exit paths, no fire alarm or extinguishers. The culture needs to change. They need to understand this is about human life.
Q: is it easy to convince small businesses to follow safety rules? Do they complain about the costs associated with changes?
A: quite the opposite. The small ones are more eager to comply. They contact us for advice. Right now, construction of public objects needs our inspection and approval before being granted permission to operate.
Q: does the law need changes?
A: the penalty size needs to increase and our agency needs more legal rights. We're discussing it with Parliament.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181575 named and shamed the plagiarism
Yesterday we learned that QP party's new YES campaign logo was plagiarized by Garun Agency firm and submitted for a contest, and picked by QP as the winner. QP found the real designers.
Yerevan municipality spokesman Karapetyan wrote:
Here is the picture of the two guys who plagiarized it, in case you find yourself doing business with them in the future. This incident once again proves the importance of journalists with a good memory. The plagiarism of this 1991 caricature was detected by my good friend and reporter Arayik Margaryan.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181590 Garun Agency responds to plagiarism accusations
They said: being a marketing and design firm, we know the copyright laws, and we were aware of the existence of this YES logo. We were inspired by this 1991 logo. We changed the font (bollocks, Mr. Bilbo Beggins). Per Armenian law, we didn't violate copyright. Our logo will continue to be used by the YES campaign.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181595 the original designer's compensation
Records were found showing that the original 1991 YES logo designers earned ~50 Rubles ($85) for their work. They'll receive 3mln AMD from QP now.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006596.html they didn't retire early
Today was the last day. Constitutional Court judges did not use the opportunity, granted by a recent bill, to retire early and still receive a pension.
Next stop: April 5th referendum.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181656 electrocuted by a mic
BHK's Naira Zohrabyan got hit by a static charge from a microphone in Parliament. They blamed it on the MP who gave a speech earlier.
Yerevan transport & parks
The upcoming transportation system refresh in Yerevan will include the introduction of 110 new modern trolleys. The city expects to see tangible results later this year, while the full implementation of the new system will take a few years.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006563.html first skate park in Yerevan
Yerevan municipality plans to build the first modern skateboard park near the Lusavorich Church in 2020. It's a donation from a Ukrainian-Armenian businessman Vilen Shatvoyan.
There will be an amphitheater, a medical facility, a skateboard rental facility, nearby green areas.
"It's a place where the youth will spend time and play sport. This is just the beginning," said Mayor Marutyan.
VIDEO: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006626.html restrictions on chopped wood exports to protect nature
The govt approved a plan by Nature Ministry to put a 6-month (could become much longer) ban on the export of chopped wood, and certain wood products, to 3rd countries except EAEU. The idea is to discourage illegal logging.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181615 CPM 2020 – Collection Premiere
15 Armenian textile firms participated in a B2B expo held in Moscow. 1700 collections from 30 countries presented their work. 22,000 visitors are expected. AM ambassador visited the booths.
The 15 firms were sent there as part of an Economy Ministry project to help Armenian businesses find international buyers.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181647 tax waiver for firms
The govt gave a temporary tax break to SAHLEVS lighter manufacturer to invest 170mln and create 15 additional jobs with 150k salary.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181611 update: border tariff hike postponed with EAEU
In Dec-2019 Pashinyan met EAEU and negotiated to extend Serj's 5-year EAEU border import tariff hike by another year.
Cars will be exempt from the waiver, meaning car tariffs will go up.
647 items can be imported with lower tariffs before EAEU's more protectionist policies activate in 2021.
$30mln fewer tariffs will be collected on meat, butter, precious metals, stones, medication, etc. from imports from 3rd party non-EAEU countries.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181621 bureaucracy while returning
A diasporan earlier sent an open letter to Pashinyan complaining about various agencies not working properly and making things hard for diasporans. Pashinyan instructed several agencies to investigate.
Diaspora Affairs Commissioner Zareh said:
There are 2 problems here. One is about the law. I think it was purposely made complicated by the previous administration to leave room for corruption. The idea was to delay the citizenship application process for so long that they would prefer a bribe. Now it's somewhat better. The second issue is with people, including govt agency workers, mistreating new citizens. You know very well what I mean, you've lived here longer than I have.
My wife was also a victim of paperwork bureaucracy while applying for citizenship because her last name was changed in the past. She was dragged through multiple agencies while applying.
Q: Why haven't you solve this problem in the past 2 years?
A: We prioritized more urgent problems.
Hundreds of US-Armenians sold their homes in the US and want to return right now.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181426 Syrian-Armenian repatriates
205 Syrians received Armenian citizenship in 3Q2019. The Foreign Ministry earlier provided 12mln to subsidy their fees so the applicants wouldn't pay. This is because of a govt decision to aid those applicants who are located in dangerous geolocations so they can get a passport more easily.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181607 2019 economic changes / exports / investments
Pashinyan: 2019 was an important year for our work indication because it was the first full year after the revolution. We had the highest GDP growth at 7.6% since 2008. Highest in EAEU and EU.
Avinyan: also, for the first time, the processing industry surpassed the agriculture in GDP share.
Pashinyan: some big export gains. I spoke with fruit winemakers. There is a possibility of creating a global Armenian brand. Tourism +15%. Investments +28% at $2.1bln in Jan-Sep. Tax income grew 43.6% as promised before elections.
When we (IRS) refunded 43bln to taxpayer businesses, the businesses asked "where is the catch?". We hope they'll invest that refunded money back into the economy. We have historically the lowest recorded unemployment.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181614 Hollywood, California, Armenia
Armenian woman Amber Darbinyan is charged with assault for ramming her car into Mustang near Hollywood taco truck. Her car was blocked by the Mustang.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fai6q9/feb272020_collection_of_news_from_armenia_stay/
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