2020 June 18

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Jun/18/2020 News: (1) Big bills passed: public TV, elections, pensions, child trafficking (2) Court strikes down anti-corruption laws (3) Kocharyan's $4.1mln bail (4) Child care doubled (5) Serj, EPP & Nikol (6) COVID aid, microchip story, polls (7) Army audit (8) Sevan fishing (9) Fake news stories
by ar_david_hh


Constitutional Court deals a blow to anti-corruption efforts

Ex-officials have long plundered the country, and many times laundered the resources under their family members' names.

Pashinyan administration recently passed a bill to give law enforcement broader abilities to obtain the suspect's family's banking info, as part of a corruption investigation.

President Sarkissian sent the bill to Constitutional Court instead of immediately signing.

Today the Court ruled some of its parts "unconstitutional".

https://factor.am/261540.html

Kocharyan's bail approved

Yesterday Robik was convincing the court that he's not a danger, has health issues, received backing from ex-officials, so he should be released pre-trial. His children offered apartments as bail.

Today prosecutors and defendants presented more arguments.

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Judge Arsen Nikoghosyan refused to free Robik based on ex-officials' assurances. Prosecuting side argued that Robik purchased the ex-officials and controls them, so they can't provide a true guarantee he'll behave.

For example, "ex-PM Vazgen Manukyan had anti-Robik views until Robik's son paid them money to create the new Vernatun club."

--

The judge, however, agreed to release Robik on AMD 2bln bail. Prosecutors will appeal the verdict in Cassations court in 2 weeks.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190507 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190546 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190565 , https://factor.am/261311.html

March 1st victims sue Kocharyan's TV outlet

Robik's 5th Channel invited a guest who said a few nasty things about the families of March 1st victims, who're suing Robik for murder.

Nine victim families decided to sue the outlet and the guest for alleged defamation.

Note: You may remember how 5th Channel earlier created a one-sided documentary full of misinformation about March 1st murders. The outlet duped these families to give interviews, then edited their interviews to fit a narrative. This is a separate incident.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190467

Pension reform / From cash to digital

Parliament voted 86-16 to approve a govt bill to distribute pensions digitally instead of cash. Small settlements are exempt (for now) due to infrastructure problems.

Disabled and >75yo seniors are also exempt, they can get cash.

The rollout will begin gradually from Yerevan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190572 , https://factor.am/261587.html

Dodi Gago's arrest trial

The judge will decide whether Gagik Tsarukyan should be arrested pre-trial.

Gago's lawyer asked the trial to be heard at a different location because they don't trust the judges in that branch. The judge is deciding whether to recuse or not.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190569

Serj lobbies EPP chief to condemn Gago's charges

Context: EU's EPP and Armenia's HHK are brother parties, thanks to Serj's years-long lobbying. In 2018 EPP wished HHK success in elections.

Today Serj and others participated in EPP's teleconference and complained about Pashinyan administration. EPP chief Tusk then wrote a concerned™ tweet calling Gago's charges undemocratic and a pressure on the opposition.

Tusk also vowed to continue to help Armenia with the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement.

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QP MP Alen: EPP always defends its partner-parties, including Serj. Chief Tusk should refrain from meddling with Armenian affairs. There are other more suited people to defend Serj. Tusk views Armenia through the eyes of Serj.

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Pashinyan: for 30 years they urged us to fight corruption and election fraud, and now that we do, they call it a pressure? It's easy for former corruption officials to become "opposition" and hide behind the word.

https://factor.am/261205.html , https://factor.am/261400.html , http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/282150/

Electoral law reforms approved

Parliament voted 99-0 to approve a govt bill to establish proportional (համամասնական) electoral system in settlements with >4k population, and a majoritarian (մեծամասնական) system in <4k populations.

It also makes it easier for smaller parties to be represented. More details in May/26/2020 post.

https://factor.am/261594.html

COVID stats & hospital capacity

+665 infected. +7 deaths.

10728 active. 7560 healed. 309 deaths. 89992 tested.

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Healthcare Minister: it's hard to monitor backyards. It doesn't matter how many cops you send, we still rely on the public's consciousness... We have 143 patients who're being under-treated in ill-equipped clinics/home due to hospital overload. Thankfully none are critical... We expanded resuscitation rooms from 200 to 263 in the past 2 weeks, but it's filled quickly.

--

Pashinyan: there are still mass reports of not wearing masks. Does the govt really have to apply force for people to respect their own health?

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190500 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190494 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190505

Update: deceased woman's husband gives details about micro-chip conspiracy theory

Yesterday a hospital said a priest's woman died after refusing hospitalization, citing concerns that doctors will micro-chip her.

The woman's husband, priest Yeznik Galstyan, denies the micro-chip claims. However, his detailed story makes it clear this was a result of the microchipping conspiracy theory.

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He places the blame on the hospital, saying doctors gave them incomplete into about her double-pneumonia. He plans to sue.

The priest said: The clinic called back and told us she has pneumonia and she should come to the hospital. We [not knowing it was double pneumonia] asked the clinic to prescribe meds so she can stay home instead.

I told my wife that the doctor insists her to visit the hospital. She refused, saying "No, do you want to hand me over to them so they can kill me?". I called the hospital and told them my wife refuses hospitalization.

She believed those COVID test kits could have the virus inside them. Maybe doctors have special safe kits for themselves but give bad ones to patients. She heard thousands of stories like this.

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190541

1/3rd of Armenians fear COVID vaccine

Breavis poll: 36% I'll get vaccinated. 32% I won't get vaccinated

--

44% believe the vaccine will be ready this year. 16% 2021. 10% 2022. 9% never.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/282138/

what is women's secret?

Pashinyan: I wonder why there are more infected women. Possibly because most textile factory workers are women. Or due to closer ties among women in apartment complex buildings (արի կոֆե խմենք).

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190509

Masks, masks, masks / Street handouts

Official: Armenian masks cost AMD 100 and imported ones 150, in large pharmacies. Wholesale is reducing to AMD 60 soon, which means citizens will begin to pay AMD 70.

Healthcare Minister: anyone who can afford it should wear a professional 3-layer mask, and not a homemade cloth.

--

Pashinyan walked on the streets and handed out surgical masks to residents and thanked those who're wearing one.

He came across a volunteer who walks around and raises awareness; the man said backyards are the unruly places.

While walking away, he noticed a gazebo with grandpas rolling a dice. After a great effort, PM convinces one grandpa to wear a mask.

--

The Red Cross has 1,500 volunteers on the streets to raise awareness and give away masks.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190509 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190516 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190558

Serbia sends donations

A jet arrived with 10 lung ventilators, 600k masks, 25k goggles, 25k gowns.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190562

20th COVID aid package approved

It's about helping self-employed and contractors in types of businesses that were heavily hit by COVID (hotels, etc.).

Anyone who worked >1 days between March 1 to June 15 will qualify. It's estimated to pay AMD 2.5bln to 36k workers.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190518

over-the-air TV regulations / Armenian language / Russian TV

Govt has been working on major TV reforms. Requiring more programming in Armenian language, less gore, more balanced news coverage to allow both sides to tell their story, etc.

The bill is being discussed in Parliament. QP MP criticized an Armenian outlet for publishing a "treacherous" article titled "Parliament is discussing the law against Russian TV channels", calling for the outlet to remove the article "harmful to AM-RU" ties. Various journalists criticized his harsh commanding tone towards the outlet.

To learn why it's viewed by some as anti-Russian, read my Feb/24/2020 post.

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Another QP MP blasted fugitive Mikael Minasyan, saying his "Mishik TV satellite channel" is peddling the story to harm AM-RU ties.

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High Tech Minister: some circles try to politicize this bill, but we've already discussed this with Russian colleagues and they don't view it as a political thing.

The bill says for every foreign TV to be re-broadcasted OTA in Armenia, it needs to be part of an inter-governmental agreement. This will protect Armenia's interests. It'll also allow Armenian TV to be broadcasted in the other country.

--

Parliament approved the draft bill with 98-0 votes. LHK voted yes. The bill needs another vote to pass.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190515 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190525 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190572 , https://youtu.be/cC9wct7ZTp0 , https://factor.am/261403.html

Tags: #PublicTV #TVregulation

govt vs govt

Competition Committee penalized the Emergency Ministry for signing a monopolistic agreement with a single company to install fire alarms in 2012. The company is also penalized for abusing its market share to harm competition.

http://arka.am/en/news/business/armenia_s_anti_trust_body_penalizes_emergency_ministry_for_breach_of_law_/

Stealing a baby is a felony

Parliament voted 99-0 to approve a govt bill to make it a felony to force/coerce a parent to give away a child.

Punishable between 200k penalty to 4 years in prison.

The bill was drafted after NSS uncovered that years ago several child center workers trafficked newly-born children to overseas disguised as "adoption", after duping the parents to give away the children.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018955.html

new group to audit army deaths

In 2019 Pashinyan formed a group tasked with auditing army deaths. Some parents complained that it was led by an untrustworthy investigator.

Today the PM and parents of deceased soldiers met to form a new group. Parents appointed one of their lawyers as a member.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190542

Khosrov forest fire

This afternoon someone spotted smoke coming from Khosrov forest' Qyosos region. A helicopter and drone were dispatched to identify the area.

Junipers (գիհի) are on fire on a hard-to-reach part of hilly terrain.

65 firefighters were dispatched. It took 5 hours to isolate the fire. The rain made their job easier.

Helicopter video: https://youtu.be/m9DGiORx0z4

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190539 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190551 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190559 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190563

If you can't ban it, regulate it / Sevan fishing

Catching whitefish (sig) in Lake Sevan has been illegal since 2005. That didn't end poaching. Now the Nature Ministry wants to allow limited experimental fishing.

The net has to have wide holes to protect baby-fish, and must be placed away from the shores. It'll be banned again in October when the fish lay the egg.

Fishing boats will enter the lake from 17 regulated ports, during the daytime. Inspectors will record data about fishers and their loot.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190513

Air conditioning in prison

Justice Minister Badasyan: after years of waiting and many complaints by inmates and staff, Armavir prison will have an air conditioner. We'll use our savings.

There is a felony investigation to find out why AC wasn't installed in these hot facilities years ago, even though it was planned.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1018850.html

President Sarkissian

...has an article about him on Italian la Repubblica. It talks about how Sarkissian, a programmer during his early eary, was a key player for making the "Tetris" Wordtriss game happen.

It talks about his tech vision and post-COVID world.

https://www.repubblica.it/dossier/stazione-futuro-riccardo-luna/2020/06/16/news/dove_sono_finiti_gli_abbracci_che_non_ci_siamo_dati-259316837/?ref=search

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190519

Police investigation counters fugitive prince's diamond story

Serj's fugitive son-in-law Miguel Minasyan recently wrote a story claiming diamonds were imported from India, treated in Armenia then exported, but no taxes were paid. He alleged AMD 20bln turnover and coverup.

The authorities investigated the claim, found no evidence, and say the claims are unrealistic because it would take 1,400 secret workers, huge facility, and large quantities of electricity to pull it off.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/118476

Miguel Minasyan's kitchen story about car skeletons

You remember how Pashinyan vowed to clean up Armenia of the abandoned car skeletons in 2018. Things were amended to encourage it.

Serj's son-in-law Minasyan clung on that story, presented some "stolen documents", and claimed the Pashinyan family is secretly behind from that business.

FIP did extensive research and found his claims to be inaccurate.

https://fip.am/11920

"Кто и зачем запускает в Армении фейки о премьере Пашиняне"

German DW's Russian branch published an article about the fake news campaign against PM Pashinyan

RU: www.dw.com/ru/кто-и-зачем-запускает-в-армении-фейки-о-премьере-пашиняне/a-53839607

AM: https://factor.am/261424.html

child-care aid increased

Pashinyan: unemployed rural parents will begin to receive AMD 26k/mo per child. Employed rural parents will get 53k.

Unemployed city parents won't get monthly aid. Employed city parents will get 26k.

https://factor.am/261295.html

new ISP Team Telecom meets Ericsson

UCOM founder Yesayan's new ISP Team Telecom signed an agreement with Ericsson to supply telecom equipment such as LTE Advanced Pro, IoT, etc.

Team Telecom was founded weeks ago after its founder broke away from UCOM ISP.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190554


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/hbl66d/jun182020_news_1_big_bills_passed_public_tv/

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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