2020 June 24

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Jun/24/2020 News: (1) Constitutional Court crisis / President / Judge / LHK (2) Cancel culture hits Armenia (3) USA news (4) Criminal subculture (5) COVID news. Armenian kits. (6) Yerevan's taco trucks & parking (7) Remote education (8) Ice cream danger (9) NSS agents & mayors busted (10) More roads
by ar_david_hh


Context: Parliament passed a bill to fire 3 Constitutional Court (CC) judges for having served >12 years in court because they are "above others" who're required to serve less than 12 years.

Former CC judge Pargev Ohanyan weighs in:

I suggested amending the Constitution to require the existing judges to go through Parliamentary vetting, just like the new judges do, but the Parliament chose the "long" way.

Let there be 4 (or 5) Serj-era judges, that's not a tragedy. It'll ensure a diversity of opinions.

The 3 new judges can be appointed all on the same day very quickly (nominated by Supreme Court. president and PM).

Today the atmosphere is ideal for judges to be independent and not to obey the govt.

As for BHK trying to gather signatures to send the bill to CC for a review, they aren't allowed to do that because Law 169 clarifies when they can send bills. Even LHK can't help BHK with signatures.

Parliament has the right not to sent the bill to CC but this ability shouldn't be abused too often; it's understandable that we have a "special" situation today due to conflict of interest.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190922

LHK will sign a petition to send the bill to CC... with a catch

LHK believes the Parliament was supposed to send the bill to CC after its first passage because of some "questionable parts", and that the President should have the right to send the bill to CC, so CC judges can decide whether to fire themselves or not.

Govt said that's impossible due to conflict of interest.

--

LHK won't sign BHK's original petition to send the bill to CC, and instead, LHK will begin to gather signatures for its own initiative. If BHK joins, which is almost guaranteed to happen, together they could send the bill to CC.

However, LHK won't send the bill to CC until the latter finishes hearing Kocharyan's March 1st case. That means CC judges could be fired before they hear Kocharyan's case.

This raised the former regime's ire. Ex-NSS Vanetsyan and Serj's son-in-law Mikael Minasyan blasted LHK for "treason".

--

LHK Edmon: the govt is using artillery to fire at a small bird (CC chief Tovmasyan). It doesn't even achieve govt's initial goal of firing Tovmasyan. The bill will fire 2 judges but not Alvina Gyulumyan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190938

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190944

https://web.archive.org/save/https://news.am/arm/news/587410.html

Govt accuses judge Gyulumyan of hypocrisy / Says law applies to her

The recent bill to fire CC judges was written in a way that fires judges for having served >12 years combined, and not during a single-term limit, say lawmakers.

Judge Gyulumyan earlier claimed she was appointed in 2014 so she still has years left, and that her first term as CC judge doesn't count.

The govt says she's been serving for 13 years combined and needs to go.

--

Former CC employee accuses judge Gyulumyan of hypocrisy.

"Years ago when Gyulumyan left CC and later returned as a CC judge again, she argued that her first term was never legally interrupted and it should be viewed as continuous employment, so she could get a higher salary.

Today Gyulumyan claims her two terms are legally different terms, thus the served years cannot be added, thus she cannot be fired. She changed her own interpretation to fit her narrative."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190997

Tag: #CC #Gyulumyan

President Sarkissian signs the bill to fire judges 🍿

That was quick. Now the Parliament speaker Mirzoyan has to receive Sarkissian's signature and declare the bill as active law.

Sarkissian also signed several other bills about shareholder transparency etc.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190925

CC judges release a statement

CC president HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan organized a meeting. 7 "old school" judges expressed concern over the bill that fired 3 judges. They urged the govt to follow the Constitution.

The memo was not signed by QP-appointed judge Vahe and HHK-appointed Dilanyan (Dilanyan was appointed by HHK post-revolution and is largely viewed as independent)

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190981

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190978

Europe supports govt's reforms

European Council chief Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula sent a letter to Pashinyan:

We appreciate the Eastern Partnership cooperation. We support your fight for judicial reforms and stronger democracy.

To help you fight COVID and support the economy, the EU is giving Armenia $92mln.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190959

COVID stats

+2,283 tested (twice more than yesterday). +711 infected. +653 healed. +18 deaths.

100,400 tested. 10,404 active. 10,797 healed. 386 deaths.

--

Artsakh has a new COVID hotspot. 5 infected. Govt is identifying the circles. Currently 33 infected and 77 healed.

--

QP MPs Kristine Poghosyan and Yengibaryan tested positive. They're doing well.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190962

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190936

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190946

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1019491.html

COVID enforcement / Tickets / Yerevan drama

So far, police have issued 45k citations for breaking the Emergency Order.

--

MFA Mnatsakanyan joined other Ministers to distribute masks on the streets.

--

During the Yerevan council meeting, Mayor Marutyan shut down the opposition councilwoman's microphone for not wearing a mask. 🍿🍿🍿

Mayor: wear a mask.

Councilwoman: no, I can't speak while wearing one.

Mayor: You have to wear a mask while indoors. You're endangering us. Don't speak if you can't.

Councilwoman: JUST GIVE ME A TICKET BRO. TURN ON MY MICROPHONE NOW!

Mayor: BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU THE PUBLIC DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE DANGERS OF COVID!

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190966

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190985

https://youtu.be/tbbQzYhEzTQ?t=52

COVID donations

The Red Cross donated 57 beds and dozens of other items to Artsakh.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190933

more French doctors arrive to volunteer

This is the second group. It includes ethnic Armenians. Some of them visited Armenia for the first time, so they kneeled to touch the soil.

They went to St. Gregory Illuminator hospital.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190982

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190937

The shipyard is already producing ship

The Institute of Molecular Biology has finished the production and accreditation of first-ever Made in Armenia COVID test kits.

Healthcare Ministry has received the first batch.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190955

Remote education post-COVID

Education Minister Arayik: remote education secured a ~100% attendance among Masters degree students in many universities because the physical barrier is lifted.

We're looking into making remote education permanently available post-COVID.

Universities made big progress in the past few months. Human-to-human interaction is still necessary at some capacity. Each university will decide whether they will begin September 1st remotely or in-person.

https://factor.am/263192.html

What is wrong with ice cream in Armenia?

It can cause infertility and obesity due to high levels of trans fat, according to the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.

Yerevan residents eat 100g ice cream every day in Summer, which is a lot. About 17g/day if you include non-summer.

To cut costs, producers use an artificial cream replacement. It's hard to find natural սերուցքով պաղպաղակ.

The institute examined most brands. None had crossed the legal trans fat limit, but people eat trans from other sources too so it can add up.

Institute recommends laws to gradually reduce trans fats in food as it's done in EU and Canada.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190874

US-Armenian lobby could lose a powerful ally

Incumbent Eliot Engel (D-NY16) is losing his Congressional primary to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman (budded as the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed Bowman, while Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and even GOP donors backed Engel.

Engel is the chief of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was a major player in 2019 recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Engel is trailing behind 9,000 votes. Some 150,000 absentee ballots are still un-returned, and if they're mailed back by June 30th, Engel hopes he could still win the race.

ANCA gave Engel A+, while ArmenianWeekly openly endorsed his candidacy, urging Armenians around the Bronxville area to participate in the primaries.

(The above information is provided as news and is not an endorsement for a specific candidate.)

https://armenianweekly.com/2020/06/17/eliot-engel-the-right-man-for-the-job/

https://anca.org/congress/eliot-engel-465-116/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/23/us/elections/results-kentucky-new-york-virginia-primaries.html

Victory parade

75 Armenian soldiers, led by Defense Minister Tonoyan, participated in the WW2 victory parade in Moscow. Many ex-CCCP leaders skipped the parade due to COVID.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190940

Vstrechi Aper "became a dad" to avoid jail / Criminal subculture

Vstrechi Aper is a criminal subculture figure linked to the former regime. In Jun-2018 he was charged with a 2017 kidnapping incident.

Somehow he "escaped" before his arrest. Later, media outlets accused ex-NSS chief Vanetsyan of leaking info from NSS and warning Aper ahead of time so he could escape, because Vanetsyan and Aper were long time friends. Outlet accused Vanetsyan or using Aper's help to launch a media campaign against the Pashinyan family.

In Oct-2018 Aper was found and extradited to Armenia. However, the judge suspended his case because it was revealed that he had a 3yo child, so he qualified for the 2018 mass amnesty.

--

Now the investigators say Aper falsified documents to claim the child was his so he could avoid prison. Aper is facing a host of felony charges.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190943

Major bust / NSS official & City officials embezzled lands

The report says: the NSS agent and officials from Mkhchyan and Shahumyan settlements (Ararat Province) organized fake auctions to embezzle lands.

The NSS official is the chief of the Ararat division. To make sure his relative gets a land, he met Mkhchyan mayor and pressured him to give the land for a cheap price. The mayor did it with the help of the city council.

Same story in Shahumyan settlement. Millions in damages.

NSS officials also closed the eye on illegal water usage.

--

The two mayors are facing 1 felony count each. The NSS official is facing 3 counts.

Other city and NSS officials came forward and confessed their participation.

--

"No corruption will go unaddressed," wrote Pashinyan.

https://youtu.be/QBA_7zvyh6A

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190947

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190952

Twitter's Cancel Culture reaches Armenia

Armenian Backbone Branding, an international company that designs creative-looking packaging, had its award-winning design stripped of the award, after Twitter weebs accused the brand of racism for making a box that looks like an Asian man with a round hat usually worn by Asian rice pickers.

Get this: the box was designed specifically for a rice company.

The designers conducted a study and found that nobody outside of the U.S. Twitter-sphere found the caricature racist.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/details/282325/

State Department criticizes Azeri arm training

The U.S. State Department sent a report to Congress, in which it accuses Azerbaijan of holding 3 large military exercises without a proper notification as required by Venice Law.

Last year Armenia criticized Baku for the exercises.

https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30688023.html

Turkey will create a mini-Turkey within Turkey to deny the Armenian Genocide twice as hard

Erdogan created a new organization tasked with lobbying around the world against Genocide's recognition.

http://asbarez.com/194869/turkey-will-create-new-autonomous-body-to-deny-armenian-genocide/

Yerevan is regulating taco trucks

The city finalized the process of regulating where and when "taco trucks" can park. It becomes law in 2021.

Mobile traders will pay a fee, won't be allowed to park in central squares, near historical-cultural buildings or schools.

Violators will be towed away and pay a 30k penalty + 1k/day until they pick it up.

To avoid corruption and ensure competition between taco trucks, the city will use a public website to regulate who parks where.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190950

The streets could soon have 3 new signs

The police drafted a bill to introduce 3 new street signs to regulate where taco trucks and tourist buses can park.

To help tourists, the govt wants to reserve some parking areas around Yerevan center exclusively for tourists.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191011

Yerevan's new social aid institute

Today the city approved a bill to form a new agency tasked with providing aid to low-income residents, veterans and their families, and students.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191017

20km Vardenis road being repaired

Last time this Shorzha-Vardenis road was renovated in 1990s. In January the govt began the AMD 1.8bln revamp. It's part of an important highway that stretches around Lake Sevan. Another 15km was renovated last year.

Artsvanist is having its 3.3km main road renovated for the first time since the 1980s.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/190930


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/hf72l9/jun242020_news_1_constitutional_court_crisis/

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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