2020 January 30
Jan/30/2020 :: 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.
Metro corruption bust
On December 13th we learned how SOC audited metro and found corruption.
Today the police released a new report of a 368mln corruption done by the former metro director:
In 2017 the (former) director signed a contract with a Russian firm to repair wagons. The firm did its job.
The firm's Armenian branch was managed by none other than the director's son. After the work was done, the two colluded to sign bogus contracts to do additional bogus work (in Armenia it's called fokus-bogus poof money gone). The fake 368mln work was done and signed and confirmed in Dec-2018.
In another instance, the director caused 93mln in damages while mishandling cleanup work.
Also, he rigged auctions so his friends could win 735mln worth other contracts.
4 days ago roboserj activist Narek Samsonyan wrote a Facebook post alleging corruption by some IRS agents. SIS launched an investigation and invited Samsonyan to give more info, but he refused.
Nonetheless, the SIS is treating the report seriously and launched a felony investigation.
(Simonyan was briefly arrested two days ago in an unrelated incident after being suspected of possessing illegal weapons.)
police accountability -- 5 years later
After the revolution, some NGOs and international institutes complained that the police weren't reformed enough and they were still shielding fellow cops who violated laws, for example, in the case of 2015 Electric Yerevan protests during which civilian-clothed cops applied disproportionate force against protesters.
The (former) deputy chief of 7th police unit Colonel Arman Avagyan has been charged as part of this case. He's told not to leave Armenia. He doesn't accept the charges.
The victim activist was called to a police station to testify. He said:
The incident happened after they've already dispersed the crowds. I was walking near Northern-Avenue and saw how civilian clothed men were dragging a woman by her hairs. I complained. They attacked and started to beat me. They illegally kept me in a police station for extended periods.
When the police recently called me about this case I was surprised. The police knew the details for 5 years but they hid it. I don't want him in prison. I want him to stay away from police or govt work. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/179207
The police confirmed that the Colonel is charged with abuse of power and physical assault with battery. If found guilty, he is facing anywhere between 300k fine, a 5-year ban on public office, 6 years in prison.
A felony case is sent to court.
Police chief Arman Sargsyan met an international expert and US's anti-narcotics fight representative to discuss police reforms. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003160.html
press freedom & democracy
The chief of OSCE's Democratic Institutions committee testified during the US Congressional Helsinki committee session:
Armenia achieved important democratic improvements in 2019. The (regional?) elections were democratic. We advise the govt to propose election-related legal reforms and judicial transparency reforms.
Congressman Joe Wilson: thanks for your monitoring work. Unfortunately in some countries, there is no political will to do this. Moreover, some OSCE countries are actively hindering fellow states' abilities to make such reforms.
PACE adopted the resolution to condemned the political prisoner situation in Azerbaijan. Voted 87-27-6. Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Russia voted against it.
Armenian and Azeri delegates "clashed". AZ complained about AM being given a microphone during the discussion saying it's none of AM's business, while AM complained about AZ's track record on human rights. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179322
Azeri lobbying in Germany
German Parliament has stripped an MP of immunity. She is suspected of financial crimes while taking bribes from Azerbaijan to lobby for them in PACE. A similar thing happened to another MP earlier. The two took >$4mln. Another suspect's name is kept secret for now. https://hetq.am/hy/article/112703
ECHR sides with Armenian civilian vs Azerbaijan
The European Court for Human Rights has ruled that Azerbaijan has violated Armenian prisoner Samvel Saribekyan's human rights.
Saribekyan was a shepherd who was captured at the border in Sep-2010 and tortured to make a false confession of him being a soldier. He was later killed in prison. His body wasn't returned for about a month. His family must receive $62,200 in compensation from AZ. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179265
UK about human rights
During a UN meeting, the UK praised Armenia's record of improving democracy, free elections, making the press freer, various law proposals (e.g., higher representation in Parliament) about gender equality. They made several suggestions for new laws and international cooperation. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179243
French President Emmanual Macaron participated in the French-Armenian business friendship meeting. He spoke about how it's been a year since April 24th is officially Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, about French-Armenian friendship, condemned Turkey's denialism.
Renowned Turkish historian Tanem Akcam participated.
Water reservoirs in Shirak province have less water than in previous years. To prepare for the spring agricultural season the governor's office assembled a team to discuss the reduction of waste, cleanup of water canals, and better water use management. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/179224
Garni city will have it's own fire and rescue unit that will patrol between Garni area and Khosrov forests. This will reduce the load on other units. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/179223
732 tickets were written for diplomatic cars in 2019. http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/277424/
138 drivers have lost their licenses so far this year. The suspension for DUI is for 1 year. Their breaths contained >0.5 microgram alcohol or 1g alcohol in 1L blood. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179275
47% of 11-15yo brush their teeth >1 per day.
50% of 17yo do.
Girls (52%) are more likely to brush them than the boys (32%) for most ages.
It's below the European average. It's gotten a bit worse since 2014.
Only 50% attended a dentist's office in the year when the survey was taken.
18% in provinces have never been to density.
governor to fine mayors
Lori governor's office will begin to issue 200k penalties to mayors for not collecting the trash in their settlements.
Earlier a group of tourists complained in New Year about popular hiking areas being filled with trash.
Governors' office says some mayors purposefully neglect their duties of collecting garbage collection fees from residents and present false stats.
Sometimes the garbage collecting agencies are owned by relatives of mayors, raising questions. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178537
Earlier the govt passed a bill to increase luxury property taxes in the future. To make it happen, they need to assess the up-to-date property values in Armenia. They complained that HHK purposely left the database outdated so their oligarchs would avoid paying high taxes on their mansions.
The first phase of the assessment is done. 1,279,000 properties were categorized.
treatment of mentally ill
The govt, Healthcare Ministry, and Human Rights Ombudsman were discussing legal reforms for people with mental problems who need restraining. The proposed law, for the first time, will regulate what/how/how long restraining tools should be used.
Labor Minister: the UN advises against isolating or keeping them in hospitals, but practically Armenia isn't ready to follow the advice yet.
Pashinyan's rhetorical question: so if a person commits a crime but cannot be sent to prison because he is insane, should we let him go? (yes, just like they let you go and you became a prime minister, probably wrote some outlet)
Healthcare Minister: forced treatment is necessary but is only for those who are deemed as a danger to the public.
Emergency Minister: we get calls about insane people bothering family members. They want them taken away. We need to involve the police in this process.
General Prosecutor: we had a few recent murders done by insane individuals after they were discharged from hospitals after they were deemed "healthier".
Human Rights Ombudsman: there are no EU states where the practice of forced hospitalization is abolished, but we need various tools to solve the issue. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179248
They ended up accepting the changes. The proposed amendment will better protect the mentally ill people, set strict time frames for medical examinations during court trials, oversight on how patients are treated by the staff, etc. (needs Parliament's approval) https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179315
Pashinyan created a committee tasked with blocking the Chinese bololavirus from spreading in Armenia. The virus has already infected 8.4k people worldwide. 1st deputy PM Avinyan will report to PM. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179286
Question: The common flu kills ~60,000 people in the US every year so why are we panicking over 160 deaths in China?
Answer: The common flu kills ~60k people annually because it infects ~30 million people annually. That means the death rate is only ~0.2%.
The Chinese flu kills ~2%. If the Chinese flu was as common as common flu, it would kill ~600k annually in the US (compare that to 60k).
Similar past viruses had a kill rate of 10%, which means we could potentially see 3 million deaths in the US if these viruses were as common as the common flu. Compare 3 million with 60k. These are approximate numbers meant to show the difference. (source: google, WHO)
A few months ago Serbia removed the visa requirement for Armenian visitors. Today Armenia returned the favor. Serbians can stay for 3 months. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179244
border trade rep
The govt appointed Aram Tananyan as Armenia's (first) representative in Upper Lars border checkpoint between Russia and Georgia. The trade hub often gives problems to Armenian truck drivers. The appointment seeks to resolve issues on the spot instead of making complicated "phone calls". https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003097.html
Kocharyan's media propagandist Armen Tavadyan (5th channel, several websites) was earlier arrested for allegedly being a member of a group (filmed on tape) that promised bribes to March 1st victims if they withdrew their reports.
He was also going through another trial about him throwing a bottle of water at anti-Kocharyan activist Vardges Gaspari, causing a black eye, in early-2019.
Today a trial happened regarding the bottle incident.
His supporters and opponents gathered outside of court. A clash happened between the victim Vardges Gaspari and Kocharyan supporters.
"Robik the scum, Robik the murderer," chanted Gaspari.
"Hero Kocharyan," chanted the supporters. Then they cursed at each other. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179263 https://www.facebook.com/armtimes/videos/3595304523842856/
The suspect's lawyer informed the judge that the prosecutor is his friend, but doesn't think it'll interfere with justice. The prosecutor confirmed his impartiality. Victim's (Gaspari) lawyer had no objections.
The trial was delayed because suspect Tavadyan cannot read or write in Armenian, so they have to wait until the docs are translated to Russian. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179283
30% salary raise
Prison industry workers will get a 30% raise.
Justice Minister Badasyan: currently there are 170 low-paying vacant and risky jobs with a 150k/mo salary. The warden receives only 400k/mo (plus 500k bonus) which opens avenues for corruption.
Pashinyan: the salaries need to be high especially if we expect them to fight against the criminal subculture.
Several Ministers then argued on who should pay for it.
British treated.com org has a list of healthiest capital cities in Europe. (sports, longevity, fruits/veggies prices, etc.)
Copenhagen 1, Yerevan 37, Tbilisi 41, Moscow 45 (second worst), Baku 46 (worst)
Pashinyan: the Central Bank purchased $20mln in foreign currencies. It's a great start for 2020. Duxov. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179256
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says:
The banks are properly monitored and the system is stable in Armenia. 2019 was one of the most successful years for our investments. We spent $120mln on 15 projects. $100mln is planned for 2020.
A guy robs a convenience store with a chain attached to his hand. Gets knocked out by shoppers.
AUDIO WARNING because the official police YouTube channel is run by bozos: https://youtu.be/PiN3N4H7-lM
IRS has a new logo that looks like a fidget spinner: https://factor.am/217863.html
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ewbpci/jan302020_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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