2020 June 23

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Jun/23/2020 News: (1) Constitutional Court judges cling to power (2) Kocharyan & Tsarukyan (3) Universal income tax (4) Jobs are recovering (5) ... and so do COVID patients (6) Hospitals & Schools (7) Bro, it's an elementary thing (8) Herpes drug? (9) Azeris in Yerevan (10) Parks, Roads, & Startups.
by ar_david_hh


Constitutional Court judges won't leave voluntarily / Who's left in court? / Kocharyan trial

Yesterday the Parliament passed a bill to fire 3 CC judges who served longer than 12 years. That way, no judge will be above others because the judge's term limit is 12 years. The idea was supported by international institutes.

The bill was a compromise solution. The govt initially wanted to dismiss every judge appointed before the new Constitution's activation in early-2018. That would leave 1 HHK and 1 QP appointed judge.

Under yesterday's compromise bill, CC will have 5 HHK-era judges, and 4 QP-era judges nominated turn-by-turn by the Supreme Court, President, and Govt.

--

Today the fired judges made it clear they won't voluntarily leave the Court when the bill comes law.

Fired judge Alvina Gyulumyan: I'm sure the bill doesn't apply to me because I've been a judge since 2014. I'll take it to ECHR to challenge it if I'm fired. I think the other 2 judges won't be silent either.

Gyulumyan was appointed in 1996, then re-appointed in 2014. Yesterday's bill prohibits the same judge from serving twice and sets a 12-year limit. Gyulumyan argues the bill doesn't apply to her, and that her 1996 term "doesn't count".

Gyulumyan denied being former regime's tool, saying she has a record of being interdependent, and that the 10 protesters gathered outside of her office "aren't the public".

--

Fired judge Felix Tokhyan is in the same category as Gyulumyan. Appointed in 1997 then reappointed in 2005.

Tokhyan said: the rules were clear in 2005, we could serve until 70yo. The public approved the constitution in 2015. Ask Parliament why they want to change it now. They should have held a referendum despite COVID because there were still few infections in April.

Hungary went through this and the European court rules against the judges' firing.

I was always against the Parliamentary system when the Constitution was being amended. There are no mature established political parties.

--

HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan, whom the bill demotes from the CC president's position, referred to the bill as "an outcome of a shameful procedure by Parliament". He said the bill can be sent to CC so they can review it. (nice b8, m8)

He said he hasn't seen the bill in detail yet and will continue to attend to work as a president.

--

IND MP Babajanyan: CC president Hrayr Tovmasyan shouldn't be "ashamed" of the bill. He should feel regret for being unable to serve his masters anymore. He is presiding over the court that raped the elections for 20 years.

--

Kocharyan lawyer: this whole thing around CC is done to block the March 1st verdict around Law 300.1. They want to dismantle CC before the verdict. (3 guesses why)

--

March 1st victim's lawyer Egoyan: if 3 judges leave and the 4th judge recuses himself from Kocharyan case (due to his past anti-Kocharyan lawsuit), the court will be left with 5 judges. This will suspend the Kocharyan hearing in CC because the court needs at least 6 judges.

--

What do random people think? https://youtu.be/4P3ieqHXHZk

--

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190860

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190865

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190876

IND MP https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190890

Victims' lawyer https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190883

Gyulumyan https://youtu.be/foH6_Ewz_mY

Robik lawyer https://factor.am/262800.html

LHK could kill the bill

BHK is asking LHK to join and gather enough MP signatures to send the bill to CC so CC judges can cancel the bill that is meant to fire them.

LHK chief Edmon Marukyan says they're "discussing" it with BHK.

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2020/06/23/Edmon-Marukyan-constitutional-amendments/2315283

LHK isn't getting positive media coverage

Media Advocate organization says in the last 2 weeks, 34 Armenian media outlets published 13 negative and 253 neutral articles about LHK Edmon. (the period when LHK criticized govt over BHK Tsarukyan's charges)

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2020/06/23/Media-Advocate-Edmon-Marukyan/2315386

The history

… of Constitutional Court aiding former regimes with legitimizing fraudulent elections.

Video: https://factor.am/262960.html

NGOs urge govt to clean itself up from former regime remnants

Helsinki's Vanadzor office, Asparez Journalist Union, Soros' office published a message saying the govt is slow at cleaning up the Constitutional Court, dealing with the threat by the former regime which is consolidating, not firing current officials appointed by the former corrupt regime, not dealing with the corrupt system through broader judicial reforms.

"Instead, the govt opted for short-term solutions."

"As a result, former corrupt officials freely roam around and pretend they're opposition politicians who're being persecuted."

Full: https://factor.am/262695.html

Kocharyan trial delayed again

Kocharyan and Co-defendants' March 1st trial continues. The defense lawyer didn't show up, so the judge had to delay the trial for a week.

Prosecuting side asked the judge to sanction the defense for constantly delaying the trial and to allow the case to proceed so they can present facts.

Kocharyan lawyer blamed the delay on authorities for pressing 'ridiculously flawed charges'.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/19089

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190872

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190878

SIS to investigate bombshell allegation about Tsarukyan kidnapping 14 MPs

Last week a former BHK & IND MP Hmayak Harutyunyan gave an interview during which he claimed BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan, at the request of Serj Sargsyan, got rid of 14 unfavorable MPs, and that the MPs were held at Tsarukyan's facility and forced to sign notarized resignation papers under the threat of assassination.

SIS contacted Hmayak Harutyunyan for evidence. The latter says he has a lot more information than he presented during last week's interview. 🍿🍿🍿

https://factor.am/262796.html

Universal income tax

The govt wants everyone to file income taxes annually. They might pass a law soon.

It'll help identify high earners, bring into light currently-hidden revenues such as a landlord's income generated from a house lease, etc. Proponents say it'll allow to better identify who's rich and who's poor, to distribute social services more efficiently.

Ex-Finance Minister Aramyan also supports income taxes. He advocated for it in 2008. He warns that the public's lack of financial education should be taken into account. At the same time, the transition should happen, and it shouldn't be left up to the employer to declare the worker's taxes (which may not reflect the worker's entire income from elsewhere).

"Someone leases a land worth hundreds of thousands of $ but doesn't pay taxes from the income. That's not fair."

"Remittances can be excluded from taxation. And those who cheat by evading taxes under the guise of donations can be identified and punished."

The ex-official recommends a phased enrollment. "Start with the financially educated population."

--

Some economists believe now is not the right time for universal income taxation because of the post-COVID economic situation, and the population's lack of financial literacy.

Full: https://hetq.am/hy/article/118626

Tag: #IncomeTax #TaxReform

Forget about universal income tax...

"High earners" don't want to pay more taxes towards pension.

Beginning July 1st, those earning over AMD 500k will begin pay a AMD 52k tax due to a payment threshhold adjustment. They complained.

QP MPs agreed with their complaints that 500k earners are already taxed too hard and that other parts of the law discriminate against them. QP drafted a bill to cancel the tax hike but the discussions didn't go anywhere.

The govt is against stopping this particular tax hike, saying it's for a pension fund that will sooner or later "return" to them.

https://factor.am/262957.html

COVID stats

+1274 tested. +418 infected. +1013 healed. +21 deaths (9 of whom from other causes).

98117 tested. 10364 active. 10144 healed. 372 deaths (1 doctor).

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190851

BHK MP infected

BHK Enfiajyan caught COVID. He's feeling well.

BHK held a packed protest 9 days ago despite safety warnings. It's unclear yet whether the virus spread to participants.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190882

This hospital has zero infected doctors

Traumatology and Orthopedics Center converted as a COVID center 3 months ago. It's the only center where the staff never got infected.

All patients have COVID, most of them with pneumonia. Today they discharged the 1000th recovered patient.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190866

Unified school exams

… will be held in 1-3 weeks.

200 kids usually go to a special center to give school exams. This year it'll be capped at 60 people with protective gear a 2m distance.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190881

COVID vs Jobs / It's recovering

Pashinyan: In April we shut down parts of the economy and 71k jobs. In May, 50k jobs re-opened.

This is great news, we are recovering, but the process must continue. IRS data shows that trade is also recovering.

We must do everything possible to avoid another full lockdown. A lockdown could reduce the infections slightly but at the cost of collapsing the economy for decades.

Let's wear masks and wash our hands to avoid a lockdown.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190889

Campaign to distribute masks

Several Ministers joined the volunteers to travel around Yerevan and give away masks. They were being recorded by a camera crew.

When they approached to give a mask to a street performer, the latter got upset saying "bro you have to ask before filming. It's an elementary thing."

https://youtu.be/Q28B9hTRr0c?t=47

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190896

99-year-old veteran beats COVID

Mekhak Avetisyan beat his enemies in WW2, and now he beat the invisible enemy which caused a severe double-pneumonia.

"Don't remind me about the infection. Young doctors did a great job. Let Armenia prosper and become a medical tourism destination," said the veteran.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190884

Armenian scientists say they found a herpes drug

Cigaronne company scientists cooperated with Armenia's Institute of Molecular Biology to test a plant-based medicine against the HHV-1 herpes virus.

Lead Professor Zaven Karalyan says they achieved "unbelievable therapeutic and prophylactic results".

The "non-toxic" dose reportedly suppressed the virus for 1 day allowing the immune system to activate for 2 days. Interferon count increased.

Scientists believe the discovery will have a world-wide significance. They'll use the finding to investigate COVID-19.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190887

Another Azeri fake news campaign busted

Just as done several months ago, Azeri trolls/agents again uploaded another edited video in which they borrowed a real footage shot in Yerevan and attached a fake audio to claim Azeris were freely roaming in Yerevan and badmouthing the "incompetent Armenian security services".

The video was spread through WhatsApp.

https://youtu.be/II84WfMUZhE

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190852

Armenia gives 12.6bln loan

… to Artsakh. "Thanks. We'll use it to boost the economy and defeat COVID," said president Arayik Harutyunan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190841

Tuf bricks instead of asphalt?

Jrashen village has a renovated road built by large bricks (which look like tuf?). Pashinyan bragged that the materials were made in Jrashen for Jrashen.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190870

Nor Norq park is being Renovated

... says Yerevan municipality after uploading pics with umbrella art in the park.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190858

Yerevan will have cigarette butt bins

The municipality will soon receive 300 special butt-bins from USAID as a gift. They'll be installed in every district.

Residents joked that Americans want to "ruin our Armenian tradition of smoking and throwing the butt on the street."

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190877

This is Hunot Canyon

It's a natural-historical reserve in Artsakh and a tourist attraction center only 10km from capital Stepanakert.

Photos: https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/06/23/Արցախ․-Հունոտի-կիրճը․-ֆոտոշարք/388232

Armenian startup SuperAnnotate

..., specialized in AI, received $3mln in investment during the seed round.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/118614


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/hekem5/jun232020_news_1_constitutional_court_judges/

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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