2020 January 8
Jan/8/2020 :: Anti-Corruption & News Summary :: Stay informed about current events in Armenian Politics, Daily Life, Economy, Law Enforcement Busts, Major Developments, 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.
Sports news first
Henrikh "permanently injured" Mkhitaryan received a new injury during the match against Torino. He'll miss the game against Juventus.
Long-time Armenian soccer team goalie Roman Berezovsky, now "retired", will become the Pyunik FC coach.
maternity clinic in Maralik
A group of Maralik residents is protesting the closure of a local maternity (birthplace) clinic. The 12 employees lost their job beginning in 2020, after being notified last year. They shut down the Yerevan-Gyumri road.
"If you pay fewer bonuses to your Ministers, we'll have enough funding for the clinic", complained some employees.
Protesters blamed incorrect information passed by the clinic to the Healthcare Ministry, which resulted in incorrect calculations and a decision to shut down the clinic, according to protesters. They want the Healthcare Minister and Pashinyan to revert the decision.
Why was it shut down?
Govt made a decision in July 2018 to only fund maternity clinics with annual births of >150 in order to keep the system financially sustainable, and to reduce child deaths and complications, because the practice shows that in smaller clinics with fewer births, the staff loses experience, which results in health issues for the newborn. This was combined with the fact that Maralik lacked some maternity doctors.
Maralik had 105 births in 2019, significantly less than previously. Its maternity clinic does not have a child surgeon-gynecologist, emergency anesthesia administer, neonatologist.
Healthcare Ministry recommended calling 911 which will take the pregnant woman to the nearest certified facility. The practice is done in numerous other settlements.
For Maralik residents, it means they'll be taken to Artik settlement 5 miles away. This was already done by some pregnant women who voluntarily decided to visit nearby Artik or Gyumri out of safety precautions.
A group of Armenian servicemen have completed their peacekeeping task in Lebanon and have returned home.
It is unclear whether they smuggled some real lahmajo with them, not like the bootlegs you buy from corner budkas in Yerevan.
US, Iran, and Armenia
The US earlier killed a top Iranian general Soleimani, Iran's foreign policy "mastermind", who was accused of arming terrorism in the Middle East, attacks on US-allied nations' oil sector, and the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers.
Iran retaliated by firing 22 missiles on Iraqi military bases housing American troops. Iran claims these bases were used to launch the drone strike that killed Soleimani.
The Iranian missiles fell away from the American quarters (bases are quite large), causing "insignificant damage" to American side. At least 4 missiles failed, and 1 fell near an airport in Kurdistan capital Erbil.
Pentagon believes Iran intentionally avoided hitting Americans to avoid a further escalation. This speculation was bolstered by official Iran's message urging de-escalation after the strikes.
The US will respond with more economic sanctions against Iran, indicating that there won't be a further military escalation.
Iraq announced their soldiers were also unharmed.
Fake news was circulated in the initial hours, claiming dozens of deaths. Footage of missile fires from Ukrainian and Syrian wars was circulated claiming to be Iranian. Fake news was circulated claiming US Selective Service was drafting men. Several electronic scam campaigns were launched taking advantage of the situation.
One of the military bases targeted by Iran was in Kurdistan. Kurdish leaders urged both sides to de-escalate and not to hinder the work by US-led anti-ISIS coalition in the region.
PM Pashinyan urged the US and Iran to solve the problem through dialogue, saying Armenia will remain neutral in this conflict. Armenian MFA says the Armenia embassy in Baghdad is not affected.
In other news, a Ukrainian Boeing fell in Tehran, Iran after an engine failure. Hundreds have died. Armenia MFA says they have no record of Armenian casualties. The same jet flew between Yerevan-Kyiv the day before it crashed.
Update on Facebook news
A Kocharyan activist earlier wrote a fake Facebook article claiming Pashinyan congratulated Donald Trump with the killing of Iranian general Soleimani, and that Iran officially criticized Armenia and agreed to help Azerbaijan in the Karabakh war to restore its rule.
The article was picked up by Iran-based outlets. It resulted in anti-Armenian sentiments.
NSS arrested the fake Facebook user who is a man using the name Diana Harutyunyan (transgender Soros supporter maybe?). He is accused of acting maliciously. He is charged with:
Breaking Law 226.2.1 - incitement of ethnic hatred through the means of using mass communication tools. Punishable between 200k fine to 6yr prison.
And more interestingly, Breaking law 254.1 - illegal intrusion into a computer system or creating "hacking" tools. Punishable between 300k fine to 2yr prison.
No other details are known. The suspect earlier confessed to spreading the "satire" news out of hatred towards Pashinyan because of the arrest of Kocharyan. He apologized for his actions.
Kremilin's chief international propagandist and Russia Today TV president Margarita Simonyan "indirectly but directly" criticized the arrest of the Kocharyan activist, saying "I love these revolutions" (referring to the 2018 Revolution in Armenia).
As a side note, it is against Russian law to use a faul language against Vladimir Putin or the members of his regime. Several Russian citizens have been issued hefty fines for cussing grandpa Vlad.
Update on HHK's medals shenanigans
In June 2019, a Parliament whistleblower informed the authorities about HHK administration members' 2015-2017 scheme to embezzle funds during the purchase of hundreds of silver medals that the govt gives to various people to honor them. Cheaper medals were purchased, embezzling the remainder money. A felony case was launched.
Authorities charged 2 officials. A court granted permission to arrest them for 2 months. A court then agreed to free them under bail. Prosecutors are currently trying to appeal this decision in Cassations Court, to send them back to jail.
Authorities say evidence of other corruption incidents were uncovered during this investigation.
other courts & trials
Kocharyan earlier lost another bid to be freed on bail. He Appealed and lost again. He now takes the case to Cassations Court for a final verdict.
Kocharyan's media guy and 5TV owner Tavadyan was earlier arrested for allegedly being part of the scheme in which a Kocharyan supporter was seen on an undercover video offering bribe to a March 1st, 2008 victim to have the latter withdraw the claims of sustaining damage. The activist claimed they was going to be a revolution to overthrow Pashinyan, after which the victim would receive a good "position".
Tavadyan lawyers filed a petition to Prosecutors asking him to be freed. It was rejected.
New Year stuff
95 people got hurt from fireworks and firecrackers over the holiday celebrations.
94% male, 6% female (no trans, why Nikol 😔)
30% kids, 12% adolescents, 58% adults
78% had a hand injury, 19% on the head, 2% on foot, 1% went full retard Steve O and got shot in the ass.
A hospital employee says the incidents have reduced this year, perhaps because of widespread public announcements and discussions about its dangers, after a kid lost his fingers a few weeks ago.
Holiday hospitalizations with:
intestinal infections down 2x
acute respiratory infection down 3.6x
flu down 1.7x
alcohol poisoning up 1.2x
CO2 poisoning the same
Watch how bootleg Santas struggle to "infiltrate" St. Gregory Illuminator hospital to give gifts to patient (pun intended) kids.
A painter from Gyumri created Christmas-themed toys. I know some of you like arts...
Armavir city projected budget will be 1.2bln in 2020. It was 1bln in 2019.
Vayots Dzor's provincial budget revenue collection rose 7.6% YoY.
Vanadzor is going to have bicycle lanes in renovated parks, as part of the regional infrastructure development package. Tourism improvement steps will be taken in 2020.
Labor Ministry will hire people with the Sign Language knowledge to provide better assistance to those with hearing disabilities.
Construction work was done on a public square in 2003. Workers discovered an underground "old city" that was built in the 17th century. They then closed it with a concrete and asphalt.
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan says they're discussing with experts to possibly restore the old city soon. (Education Ministry now includes the Culture Ministry and Sports Ministry)
If approved, Republic Square could have a new tourist attraction at the expense of the free area.
Tax waiver for more diasporans
QP and govt are working on a tax reform bill to allow more diasporan Armenians, who want to move to Armenia, to pay 0% import taxes for importing personal items such as a car, furniture, electronics, clothing, etc.
If you're an Armenian citizen permanently living abroad, you must pay taxes on the border while moving to Armenia.
If you're NOT an Armenian citizen, and your name is not on a local residential registration list, and you haven't lived in Armenia for 5 years, you will get a tax waiver.
Regardless of whether you're an Armenian citizen, or whether your name is on a residential list or not, you will get a tax waiver if you resided effectively no more than half of the past 3 years in Armenia.
Co-author QP MP Sisak Gabrielyan says this border tax waiver is against the EAEU trade bloc rules, but they'll be (Armenian side) making amendments to make this possible.
This would help those of you who left Armenia and haven't renounced your citizenship or haven't contacted your local district agency to remove your name from a database which indicates you're a local resident.
Those of you who earlier applied for a tax waiver and got denied will be able to apply again to get approved.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/elzgsq/jan82020_anticorruption_news_summary_stay/
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