2020 June 12

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Jun/12/2020 News: (1) North-South fraud. 29 charged (2) Azeri defector (3) ARM responds to EP (4) Shahumyan region (5) COVID & employment, tests, lung vents, beds, donations (6) Protesters arrested (7) Komitas performance (8) Emergency Order (9) Fake news (10) Remote work (11) Armenian bestsellers
by ar_david_hh


North-South highway / Chinese & Armenian companies busted

The big highway construction was unnecessarily delayed for years due to fraud. Twenty-nine people (4 ex-officials) are charged with defrauding the state with construction fraud.

One of the suspects is BHK chief Dodi Gago's right-hand man Arustamyan, who has so far "returned" 1bln.

--

The report says:

Chinese firm SinoHidro was paid to build a road near Gyumri. They sub-contracted STONES company, run by Dodi Gago's man Arustamyan.

Two companies colluded to forge documents to inflate the work done by them. STONES created 2 dummy companies, which were used to launder 2.7bln.

4 STONES and 3 SinoHidro employees are charged with a felony. (there are other episodes of corruption involving North-South highway)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190044

Demographic problem persists

Labor Minister Batoyan: last year there were 35,448 births vs 40,583 predicted. That's why we made reproductive healthcare reforms in 2019, reforms about housing for newlywed, financial aid, farmer aid, etc. To improve demographics we need to work on multiple areas.

https://factor.am/259047.html

Azeri defector crosses the border

26yo Elshan Rasul oglu Aliyev from Novosaratovka, Aze. has crossed the border in Gegharquniq. He was spotted by a local Armenian civilian guard.

The guard spoke Azeri because he used to live there. The two held a conversation. The unarmed and paper-less Azeri man was accompanied to a govt building.

His father is Azeri and mother Ukrainian. The mother left the family and the father had to take care of two brothers. He ended up in an orphanage.

Upon leaving, he became homeless and eventually became a shepherd in Getabek. Poverty made him leave Azerbaijan. He examined the map, stuffed a bag with personal items, left his animals, then crossed the border.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190092

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190095

3rd road to Artsakh

3 European Parliament rapporteurs earlier drafted a report condemning Armenia's plans to build the 3rd road to Artsakh, saying it's illegal and without Ilham Aliyev's permission.

Armenian delegation led by LHK Edmon, joined by Artsakh govt and European Dashnaks, sent a note of protest to the European Parliament for rapporteurs' "biased report", and asked various bodies to make sure the reports are balanced.

https://factor.am/259342.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018329.html

Artsakh condemns Azerbaijan's occupation of Shahumyan

28 years ago today, Artsakh's Shahumyan region was occupied by Azerbaijan after the ethnic cleansing of the local Armenian population.

Govt of Artsakh condemned the event and vowed to take steps to liberate Shahumyan and other occupied parts of Martakert and Martuni.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018319.html

COVID stats

+612 infected. +173 healed. +17 deaths.

9298 active. 5639 healed. 258 deaths. 525 serious or critical.

--

Healthcare Minister: Things will get worse in Autumn.

Pashinyan: we need an atmosphere where it'll be shameful not to follow safety rules.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190049

https://factor.am/259056.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018246.html

How much do test kits cost?

Minister: we pay China $30 per kit. If we do 1k test per day, that's $1mln per month. That's a lot. Test kits assembled in Armenia (soon) will significantly lower the cost.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/281951/

slim chance of survival

...if the patient is on lung vent. 90% death rate. 70% death in the Critical group.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/281947/

How many free beds?

Minister: we have 35 ICU and 306 regular beds. Even though we expand them, hospitals remain critically overloaded.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/281945/

Protests / 26 arrested for violating safety

HHK deputy Justice Minister Ruben Melikyan and 3 others were protesting in front of Parliament. They want the govt to remove the ban on mass gatherings for protests.

The police came, told them and the reporters to keep a distance, then arrested the protesters for violating safety rules.

Members from Kocharyan's Adekvad party, ex-NSS Vanetsyan's Hayreniq party, and others went to the police station to show support for the 4.

The police came, warned, then arrested 26 of them for also ignoring safety.

The originally arrested Melikyan was then released, after which he went to the police station to act as a lawyer for the 26 newly detained comrades.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190081

https://factor.am/259209.html

https://factor.am/259128.html

COVID donations

Serbia will send 486mln-worth medical products after discussions with President Sarkissian. 10 lung vents, 600k masks, 25k goggles, 25k suits.

Armenia-Artsakh Foundation sent 88mln worth items.

Armenian church's UK branch donated 2.4mln.

Another 2.4mln from Priest Zareh from Canada.

Kirk Kirkoryan's foundation 12.2mln.

Jinishyan foundation 1.5mln.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190057

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190098

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018318.html

COVID volunteers

France will send 10 doctors tomorrow. Lithuanian team will arrive next week. Russian 50 doctors will arrive and work for a few weeks.

WHO's EU branch might send Israeli and Polish doctors who travel around and help countries.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190059

Police brutality & Mass gatherings

LHK Edmon: remove the ban on mass gatherings for people who want to hold protests, if they wear masks and keep a distance.

QP Pashinyan: And if they don't follow safety? It's a matter of public safety.

--

LHK Edmon: instead of kindly explaining, often the police use illegal and humiliating force. Why not just give a 10k ticket and leave? Why twist arms and arrest?

QP Pashinyan: sometimes things escalate after the person is stopped for not wearing a mask. The police have the right to use legal force.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190084

The state of emergency

... is extended by a month.

Pashinyan: we'll end it when a vaccine is ready, or when daily infections significantly reduce.

Justice Ministry proposed limiting a debt-collector govt agency's powers so it won't confiscate cash that's meant for COVID treatment.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190052

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190074

COVID vs employment / Remote work

Earlier we learned some numbers about unemployment caused by COVID.

Breavis pollster did its own research about post-Emergency employment:

12% lost their jobs. It was 15% for private and 4% for public sectors. The Construction sector was hit the hardest with 25%.

27% went on a forced vacation. That's 50% in Construction and 38% in industry.

3.5% found a new job.

--

48% of Public sector worked remotely. 24% in Private sector. 47% in NGOs.

--

30% of those who worked remotely are <30yo. 28% <45. 21% <60. And 15% were >61.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018286.html

Fake watch story

1st lady Anna said: my friend took a cab today and the driver told her a strange story. Some lady took his cab recently. She was on the phone, claiming to be from PM's office and holding a conversation about a $35,000 watch that the office was allegedly purchasing for Nikol.

When she got off the cab, the driver decided to keep an eye on her and noticed that she immediately took another cab.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190064

Overseas mansions

Yesterday we learned how fugitive Minasyan's friend fabricated a story about Pashinyan owning a big house in Canada.

BHK MP Artyom Tsarukyan also accused govt members of money laundering and buying mansions in Armenia and abroad.

When SIS invited him to give details, it was revealed that the info originated from a very dark chamber commonly used by prisoners as a storage unit.

--

Pashinyan about Canadian villa: they spread the fake news to defame us because of ongoing felony cases against them. My only income since 2018 is the salary. The public should hang me in the public square if they catch me embezzle.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190076

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190094

Fake news about COVID

Pashinyan: we'll form a group to investigate the sources that spread COVID fake news. Is it foreign special forces? Internal groups with narrow interests? We'll find out.

(COVID fake news was initially banned but the govt lifted it citing freedom of speech.)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190077

mass testing

BHK MP: South Korea did mass testing in February. They stopped the pandemic. Shouldn't Armenia do mass tests?

Pashinyan: I agree, but mass [5-hour precise] testing raises problems with technical capabilities. We have the money but can't purchase certain technologies because of high international demand... We did 2300 tests yesterday. That's close to our labs' capacity.

You mentioned South Korea. They did 21k tests per 1mln population, while we did 25k.

--

Healthcare Minister about lab capacity: to buy a single PCR device from the international market, you have to pay now and wait in line for 6 months. Testing sticks are also hard to obtain. To do more than 2.3k/day tests we'd need more labs and experts, too.

UAE with 8mln population did 2mln tests because they could, while Sweden has 5k deaths with only 50k tests done so far (political choice).

https://factor.am/259238.html

https://youtu.be/Pu2_AOrySTI

Pashinyan turns into a broken radio

During a Parliamentary session, Pashinyan used his last 10 minutes to repeat the same message over and over again.

"Attention dear citizens. This is PM Pashinyan. There is a pandemic in Armenia. I urge everyone to wear a mask and remove only when eating food. The mask should cover your nose and mouth. Routinely wash your hands and don't touch your face. Keep 1.5m distance from others and don't socialize with non-family members without a mask. Dear citizens, wear a mask to save hundreds of lives. Replace it every 4 hours. You may use a homemade mask that should be disinfected at the end of each day. Thank you to those who've followed safety and will follow safety."

https://youtu.be/7Q9Pc_3kp90

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=682937288950605

Remote work culture

Pashinyan in Parliament: even before the pandemic, the third of Silicon Valley was working remotely. I see no barrier for us to reform the laws to encourage remote work in Armenia. Some jobs can be done remotely without a performance hit.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190067

Lebanese-Armenain journalist

... Nshan Ter-Harutyunyan is at the center of Turkish-Azeri media attacks after criticizing Turkey's negative role and denialist policies during his Al Jadid TV show.

Ultra-nationalist Turks in Lebanon didn't like this and organized a hate campaign against him.

Ethnic Armenian MP spoke with the Interior Minister and prosecutors.

IT'S REDDIT, BUT REAL LIFE.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190068

https://factor.am/259336.html

https://youtu.be/l_6upg7c27k?t=86

Encouraging work / Reducing aid abuse

A low-income person is given a certain number of Poverty Points depending on conditions. If they cross a certain point-barrier, they qualify for aid.

Last year the govt passed a bill to encourage work and discourage reliance on govt.

Beginning in Apr-2020, those who find work will still qualify for a 6-month aid. It's meant to encourage the unemployed to try without a fear.

At the same time, those who are offered a suitable job but refuse it twice, will have their Poverty Points deducted and could lose aid.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018233.html

This is Gugarats

Photos: https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/06/12/Գուգարաց՝-Տավուշի-և-Լոռվա-սարերում/387219

Bestselling books by Armenian writers

Earlier we learned what the most-read books were mong adults and children. What about books written by Armenians specifically, in May?

5) The Other Side of the Earth, by Nikol Pashinyan (bruuhh).

4) The Last Teacher, by Vardges Petrosyan.

3) Balzak: A Dog's Tale, by Levon Nes (Hovhannisyan).

2) The Liar, by Levon Nes.

1) Կախվածություն, by Syune Sevada.

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018181.html

In honor of legendary Komitas

Last year the Armenian embassy in Lithuania organized a concert in Riga's oldest Armenian church. A group of musicians with different background performed Komas's "Սուրբ Պատարագ" (Holy Liturgy).

The 80-minute performance was recorded. It's a "one of a kind" event.

Today the embassy and Delos music platform introduced the new Komitas CD, which will come with a mini-book about Komitas's life.

Not sponsored: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018245.html

Sample music: https://delosmusic.com/recording/komitas-divine-liturgy


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/h7qqz8/jun122020_news_1_northsouth_fraud_29_charged_2/

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. Helpful overview of Armenia's media ownership and leanings.


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