2020 February 3
Feb/3/2020 -- Daily News Collection From Armenia -- Stay Informed About the Ongoing 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.
Don't miss the important news from Sunday:
Justice Ministry reforms, PACE memo about Court crisis, HHK MP's son as a suspect, virus update, several trial updates, sports news, and more...
Venice Commission chief said he's concerned about the public feud between govt and Constitutional Court chief and that it shouldn't get out of control.
PACE made a similar statement yesterday, noting that the govt is acting legally and its vision to make the Constitutional Court in-line with the 2015 Constitution is "valid". See yesterday's post for details.
Healthcare Minister Torosyan about 2020 changes to healthcare and subsidizes:
We'll import 25 types of cancer drugs for kids, instead of 14. They'll get it for free.
Those under 18 can receive a specialized lab result in the hospital with the GP's referral.
1,000 Hepatitis C patients will get the newest types of meds subsidized by the govt.
Hospitals will have a new emergency division to treat outpatient services for free if deemed an emergency.
We launched the subsidized bone marrow dysplasia detection program for the newborn. 50 clinics have the equipment to detect it early on to prevent later complications.
A new colorectal cancer screening program began.
Latest-model MRT, CT, neuronavigation, and other tech were purchased for hospitals.
A mobile mammogram device will arrive next month. It'll travel around Armenia and help women detect breast cancer, free of charge.
10 ambulance vehicles purchased for Artsakh, and 620 first aid kits for villages.
Update: prosecutors are challenging a lower court verdict that allowed Kocharyan to obtain March 1st preliminary investigation materials. Kocharyan asked this Appeals Court judge to recuse himself.
He won't recuse himself.
Prosecutors began arguing why the Appeals judge should overturn the lower court verdict about releasing early investigation materials. Kocharyan lawyers provided counter-arguments.
officials & bribery
Last year the NSS said they busted the acting deputy Healthcare Minister Arsen Davtyan with corruption.
A trial happened today. The agents showed an undercover video (not released) showing how the official took out the marked dollar bills from his pocket after being confronted by agents. Caught red-handed. He claims innocence.
The person who gave him the alleged bribe is the chief gynecologist Razmik Abrahamyan.
The gynecologist happens to be the same guy who is a suspect as part of another criminal investigation regarding child trafficking that happened a few years ago. These are separate stories.
Gynecologist (bribe giver) also went to court today. He was confronted by the parents of the children. The parents kept following him around and asking "where is my child?"
The gynecologist is also facing felony charges as part of this bribery case, in addition to the child trafficking case.
Former HHK IRS chief Gagik Khachatryan has been in jail for 7 months awaiting his trial in a corruption case. His lawyers are arguing in court that he should be released for bad health. He has a spine implant and was earlier receiving treatment in Germany.
gun sales corruption
Last year we learned about a felony case involving the Russian ORSIS weapons manufacturer and an Armenian military official.
Today the SIS launched a new felony case against a high ranking military official for allegedly taking a bribe and hindering ORSIS's lawyer's work.
Russian RIA Novosti outlet writes that ORSIS gave a "gift" to the Armenian army but some official embezzled it.
There was also a report about amateur-quality weapons being falsified and passed as a professional, which could place Armenian soldiers' lives at risk if used at the border.
It's a complicated story and we might have to wait for more to understand what exactly happened.
Gyumri parks and BHK MP
TUMO tech center earlier contacted the prosecutors about a case involving them getting some construction permits in Gyumri parks.
Prosecutors decided to call the former mayor and current BHK MP Vardan Ghukasyan for questioning. He's suspected of illegal land and property deals in the park.
2 felony cases indicate evidence that could prove criminal activities by the MP. His family also happens to be a beneficiary of such land giveaway in the park. Some properties were given to oligarchs for low prices. The investigation continues.
Ghukasyan denied issuing illegal permits, said there is nothing wrong with his family doing business, said he isn't afraid of going to jail, said he'll eventually receive a medal for helping Gyumri city.
(Background: BHK MP Vardan Ghukasyan is the guy who recently fiercely opposed the QP law that fights the criminal subculture, referred to high ranking thieves as wise and respected people, and allegedly sent his friends to threaten the QP MP author of the bill by telling her "you have kids, why are you doing this". He has a controversial past.)
A Parliamentary committee gave a green light (not a law yet) to an IRS initiative to require NGOs to submit an annual activities report that would show their employee count and other info that would allow IRS to properly collect taxes. Publicly funded organizations already have such requirements.
When asked about possible repercussions against NGOs, the IRS said the bill can't target specific "undesirable" NGOs and the added transparency will make the NGOs more trustworthy in the public eye.
The NGOs will have to publish the total number of volunteers helping them, but not their private info.
hello sir, your Microsoft has virus
Kazakhstan was going to evacuate 83 citizens from Wuhan. Armenia and Belarus asked them to evacuate some of their citizens too.
One Armenia woman is in a remote hospital in Kazakhstan under a quarantine. She'll be kept there for 14 days to see if bololavirus symptoms surface before being sent to Armenia.
President Sarkissian sent condolences to China's Xi Jinping about the virus outbreak and deaths. 361 dead and 17,000 wounded.
Oil prices are keep getting lower. BRENT began 2020 with $68 and hit $55 today. The bololavirus in China has resulted in a sharp drop in oil demand in China. This is some proper bolola virus we have in our hands (no pun intended).
NSS busts police official
NSS busted a former high ranking police official with corruption. Report says:
The former head of Garni police department helped to cover up a bribery case involving his friends who extorted money from people who were trying to get a burial land in a cemetery.
In Feb-2019 the official took a bribe and instructed the investigator to close the eye on certain facts. The felony case was closed.
A felony case is launched against the 2 officials. 1 has confessed.
presumption of innocence
H1 public TV released a report about HHK MP and Constitutional Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan, citing info from SIS investigators.
TV Regulatory Committee responded by saying the network, which got its info from SIS, violated Tovmasyan's presumption of innocence, but because the law doesn't give the Committee enough powers, it can't do anything about it. "Such violations often happen by private TV outlets, but they usually don't become a subject of public discussion."
SIS responded to the accusation that they violated a presumption of innocence:
We are the body that gathers info about crimes and publishes it if it's backed by evidence. We have the right to release certain info to the public if necessary for transparency and public demand. This is not a violation of the presumption of innocence. The TV Committee exceeded its powers by making such accusations towards us.
SOC and police
SOC audited police departments, found item purchase contract violations for the upcoming 2020 contracts, helped the departments save about a billion Drams.
Firms belonging to former oligarch Lfik Samo and others (Alex Holding, SAS, Nor Zovk, etc.) could be penalized by the Economic Competition Committee for anti-competitive tactics in the sugar business if found guilty as part of a new investigation. (Lfik was earlier penalized for trademark violations.)
Read yesterday's post for more sugar and butter info. The prices went down significantly last year, while monopolies' market share reduced.
Yerevan municipality launched a contest to pick a sculptor to make a statue dedicated to March 1st murder victims. Nobody won the contest. Another one will be launched soon. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/179562
10 million trees
Nature Ministry gave more details about the ongoing plans to plant 10mln trees. Some baby trees will be purchased, others will be given for free. They'll arrive in containers and roots, ready for planting.
Belarus offered 10mln pine and 1mln birch trees. Kazakhstan offered others. Currently negotiating with Poland, and soon with Finland.
2,000 hectares of federal lands were examined and the areas of planting were chosen. Experts will decide which type of trees suit in those lands and climate.
Planting begins in Oct-10-2020. A public advisory program will launch to attract volunteers. They'll be taught about forests in general. A website will be ready soon.
Armenia has one of the worst pedestrian safety ratings in Europe.
In 2019 Yerevan municipality examined streets by pedestrian incident count and installed 7 push-button street lights, humps, etc. This year they'll install 37 more buttons.
In addition, they'll examine school and kindergarten areas and do more installs if necessary. Street mannequins will be installed on pedestrian crossings near schools, as seen in Europe. The dummy humans imitate a pedestrian which raises the drivers' alertness.
Singer Sirusho has a new song 'Yare Mardun Yara Kuta" (lyrics by Armenak Parsami Markosyan, aka Gusan Havasi)
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/eycl7u/feb32020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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