2020 March 12

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Mar/12/2020 -- Daily News Summary -- Your COVID briefing minus fake news -- Tech sector expands -- Other major stories on Post-Revolution Changes, Anti-Corruption, Economy, Politics, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
by ar_david_hh

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.


Azerbaijan records 1st COVID death

A 69yo Azeri woman with underlying conditions succumbed to COVID complications.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1008362.html

coronavirus cases in Armenia / chronologically

The day began with 4 existing COVID cases in Armenia. 1 is receiving treatment for pneumonia, while the other 3 are just resting.

10 more people were quarantined in addition to the earlier 31.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182744

isolating COVID patients

57 people who had any kind of contact with yesterday's 3 COVID patients have been isolated just in case.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182774

COVID rumors

After yesterday's 3 COVID cases (which brought # to 4), a blogger circulated a rumor on Facebook claiming 3 additional people, who attended a wedding, fell sick and were diagnosed with COVID.

Healthcare Ministry denied that 3 additional people were diagnosed.

HayeliAM spread fake news about a child contracting COVID.

https://armeniasputnik.am/society/20200312/22359000/jimatsnum-koronavirusi-depq-chi-haytnabervel-naxararutyuny-haytararutyun-e-taratsel.html

https://www.7or.am/am/news/view/181758/

no flights for you

Armenia Airways will suspend most of its flights. 1500 tickets refunded.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182752

schools will work for now

Deputy PM Avinyan: so far we don't find a need to shut down schools. The existing COVID cases have been isolated incidents among people who were monitored from the beginning.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182749

COVID / those who enter Armenia

Anyone entering Armenia is identified by clinics and is being routinely remotely monitored for symptoms.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182746

Isolating COVID suspects/ Not easy to infect others in the initial stage

Healthcare Minister:

It's physically impossible and impractical to quarantine every single person who enters Armenia. Instead, we physically isolate a suspect's social circle in a confined area.

The idea is to identify a suspect, test for COVID, find social circles, cut the spread on time. This is as much as you can do. We did this last year when measles was brought to Armenia.

Any decision to shut down schools or rallies is decided based upon the threat level and law. We're still discussing it.

It isn't easy to spread COVID when you first get infected. In the first few days, you don't have enough virus in your body to release it in large quantities to infect others. It takes several days. The identify/isolate measures we have today is the only practical solution.

Suspects with symptoms should stay in a separate room at home and avoid contact with others.

AVOID CONTACT WITH INFECTED INDIVIDUALS.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182770

COVID / trips canceled

Various govt officials canceled their EU and US trips.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182818

visitors from Italy will be quarantined

A jet carrying Armenians will return from Italy in a few days. All passengers will be quarantined upon arrival.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1008347.html

2 new COVID diagnosis

2 more people with symptoms were diagnosed with COVID. They're doing fine, no fever.

They are among those who had contact with the person who visited from Italy. They are family members. They were isolated and monitored yesterday.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182834

schools and rallies suspended

Pashinyan canceled his vacation and will return to work tomorrow. He will suspend the YES referendum rallies.

The govt made a decision to suspend all schools.

PM reminded to keep the hygiene ethics, mind about others, and not worry too much.

https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/135234931242403/

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182835

www.civilnet.am/news/2020/03/12/Վարչապետն-ընդհատում-է-արձակուրդը-վաղը-կրթական-համակարգը-չի-աշխատի/378282

Central Bank to replace all cash bills / COVID

Central Bank plans to gradually collect the used Dram paper bills and replace them with new ones as a COVID precautionary measure. They urge you to use electronic transactions.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182800

Ejmiatsin residents about COVID

1 of the Italian visitor's family members who contracted COVID is from Ejmiatsin city. Random residents were asked if they worry about COVODI. "Meh, we wash hands, but we take it somewhat seriously," was the overall attitude.

https://youtu.be/l6OVlUCLbwc

ayy lmao

HWO: don't spread nonsense about magic pills curing coronavirus.

NO ONE:

SPANISH DOCTORS: eat garlic to kill Toyota CorolaWalrus 2019. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1008328.htmlo

ELON MUSK: check out my merch I got a Not A Flamethrower. https://www.boringcompany.com/not-a-flamethrower

Kocharyan's wife's charity

ArmTimes outlet received reports of an Org named "Goal It", run by Robert Kocharyan's wife Bella, reaching out to various NGOs as part of some program.

It appears to be a charity to help low-income people to find jobs. The outlet and a QP MP, however, are skeptical based on similar initiatives in the past. They believe it's a way to "expand Kocharyan's circle of political influence."


A conversation between a Journalist (disguised as an NGO interested with cooperation) and the Organization:

J: Hi, you contacted us [a lie meant to be a bait] from Bella's Org, right?

O: Yes. What's your NGO's name?

J: Women's Support Center [fake name].

O: Ah, yes, I think we sent you an email [Baity McBait lol]. How may I help?

J: We want to join.

O: Have a coordinator who can serve as the point of contact between us. We'll tell them where to redirect the applicants [people seeking job training]. Some famous people/companies have joined our initiative.

J: What is it about?

O: Your NGO picks disadvantaged low-income youth. We retrain them, teach job ethics, help them pick a profession. We contact various job seekers to schedule interviews. For example, they could apply at Aga Qanqanyan makeup studio, Pregomesh (Sirusho stuff?), various cooking agencies.

J: for free?

O: Yes. We help those who get rejected to make a CV. If they tell the future employer they had an internship at a [famous place], they'll get a job easily.

J: Is there anything political here?

O: No. This is pure charity. Bella Kocharyan herself will not give political speeches either. The applicants decide where they go and what to do.

J: How is this being financed?

O: The firms that hold internships and hire people are paying for this.

J: Is your Org new? Any website?

O: Brand new, no website yet.


End of Q&A. The outlet writes, "Sounds benign, but when you look deeper, questions arise. When was the last time Bella did such charity and why now? Any connection with pro-Kochryan protest rally recruitment?"

Q&A with a QP MP Gayane.

MP said:

First time I'm hearing of this. Last year Bella organized camps for youth. They traveled around Provinces, involved lots of youth. Recently HHK organized free English classes. Their LUYS foundation has activated again.

They are using the accumulated cash to "lure" youth to their field. I don't think the real motive is charity.

If they wanted to educate youth they wouldn't neglect the education system for years. Now they're using the stolen cash to do favors to low-income residents. It's a trap.

End of MP's opinion.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182738

felony case over $42mln "weapon waste"

Read yesterday's post to learn about Pashinyan's claim that "Serj has to answer for wasting $42mln" by purchasing old and "metal scrap" weapons that turned out to be "useless".

The Investigative Committee says there is a felony investigation over it but won't give details. A former official says that case was launched a while back, and isn't "Serj's fault".

Factor's sources say it's about a 2016-2017 radio equipment purchase from Russia.

https://factor.am/229283.html

parking in Yerevan center

Earlier Yerevan municipality shut down ~1/6th of the parking area in Republic Square. "When a tourist enters this tourist attraction area the first thing they do is see parked cars. This is wrong," said the city.

Tour-bus operators asked the city to allow them to park their buses to make it convenient for tourists. Today the city made an exception for them.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182830

Police investigating pro-Pashinyan activists after a confrontation with some mayor

Last week a girl ripped a YES referendum booklet in Metro and threw it at Pashinyan. The PM responded, "A free citizen of Armenia. This is a great achievement."

Later, a clip was uploaded allegedly showing the girl giving an interview to some "mayor". The mayor allegedly cursed Pashinyan a lot during the interview.

Some Pashinyan supporters decided to meet the mayor and demand an apology. Pashinyan condemned the confrontation and disavowed the "group who claimed to be his supporters".

Earlier he said that nasty language and anger should be answered with a "ballot" and not a confrontation. "Let them curse, who cares, ջհանդամը հայհոյեն."

The police are investigating the details of the confrontation.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182798

BHK MP wants to ban cursing on internet

BHK MP Gevorg "gay lover" Petrosyan has a new draft bill. If approved, it would require websites and Facebook Groups to remove bad language within 12 hours or face penalties.

The MP views cursing as a "defamation" and a "coordinated conspiracy to suppress the opposition".

The journalists in the room brought up problems with the bill. "We'll have time to discuss this in Parliament," said MP.

"Dear media, do you like when people, our mothers, and children, read cursing on your websites?" said the MP.

The MP then listened to opinions and concerns by journalists.

https://factor.am/229191.html

Pashinyan about anti-Pashinyan judge's verdict

Yesterday judge Azaryan, with a record of anti-Pashinyan rhetoric and pro-Kocharyan verdicts, released Kocharyan's media magnate friend Tavadyan from jail.

During a YES referendum rally Pashinyan said:

I get lots of letters from you. It's either about financial help or judicial complaints. The poverty part is understandable, it's our job and we're working on it with salary/healthcare increases, but we are all stressed over the untrustworthy judicial institute standing behind us.

Yesterday, the Appeals court released Rob's ally. The government got unfairly criticized for it "Were you blind? Why did you let a biased judge handle that trial?"

We want to have a judicial system that when a judge releases someone, people will think "OK if that's the verdict then there was evidence for that."

I'm not saying that the judge didn't have reasons to release Rob's friend. But the problem is, our first reaction is to assume there was collusion, because the judicial, starting from the Constitutional Court ending with the Lower court, was politicized.

We want courts to exit politics and go do their thing. If Hrayr Tovmasyan (CC chief judge) wants to do politics he should come here to Jermuk city (where PM gave the speech before COVID suspending) and preach his thing.

It's absurd that the judge is "Rob's ally, Nikol's ally, etc." We're going to fix this.

https://youtu.be/fk6uTxlHEsw

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182772

US State Gov's assessment

The State Gov has a long during-and-post-revolution assessment. It has records of human rights, politics, etc. Here are some of the first bits:

A prisoner was beaten in March-2018 and found hanged in June-2018. The family believes it was a murder to cover up penitentiary workers' crimes. A Major was charged but released by a judge who ruled he exceeded authority but didn't torture.

Speaks about 2018 unreported army death and Pashinyan's new transparency group to investigate deaths.

For the first time, the Defense Ministry designated the protection of soldiers’ human rights as an organizational priority.

A new hotline was launched to allow soldiers to call and make complaints.

Robik & Co were charged with March 1st 2008 events. EU noted that govt is taking steps to establish responsibility for 2008 events, and that they should do this carefully.

No reports of govt "making people disappear".

Some reports about cops abusing detainees. Torture laws were changed in 2015. Only 3 cops have been charged with torture since. Past cases aren't being properly discovered and punished. This problem was reduced after the Revolution. [Recently they busted a 2008 police torture and 2015 Electric Yerevan abuse.]

Various former police officials were charged with abuse of power.

Prisons are in poor shape. The govt took steps to combat corruption and reduce overcrowding. Still some issues.

Deputy chief of Armenian Eagles political party died from a heart attack after a 44-day hunger strike after court and prosecutors decided to deny bail.

Organized crime within prisons was rampant (as of 2018). The justice ministry says they're taking steps to compare it with a zero-tolerance policy. (criminal subculture and thieve on laws)

Govt passed a plan to revamp prisons.

No political prisoners in Armenia.


this was just the top 1% of the report...

https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/armenia/

Council of Europe about Armenia and ECHR

The Council of Europe held a session and recognized Armenia's prompt action to meet the European Court for Human Rights' rulings around Some Plaintiffs vs Armenia.

Council also appreciated the fact that the govt began installing cameras in police stations' interrogation rooms to reduce police abuse. "We urge the govt to quickly pass more bills to reduce human abuse."

https://news.am/arm/news/565563.html

mini-nursing homes with better conditions

The Labor Ministry plans to improve nursing care for the elderly and disabled.

Right now there are 5 govt-run 24/7 nursing homes in Armenia helping 1210 patients. Additional 5,800 patients are cared non-24/7 at home or elsewhere.

"Small House for Elderly" is a new pilot program. The patients will have more space and no more than 1 roommate instead of the current up-to-6.

Rooms with furniture, high-quality food chosen by the elderly themselves, medicine, garden, leisure room, expert care.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1008293.html

govt issues tax waivers to tech firms

2 firms were added to the free trade zone for 5 years and had their taxes waivered to do technology business.

Global Marketplace will invest $43.5mln, 150 new jobs, 180-240/k salary.

You-Robots to invest $2.4mln, 17 jobs, 821/k salary.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1008257.html

big high-tech growth / startups

High Tech Minister Arshakyan says they created an "Armenia Virtual Bridge" initiative to connect Armenia to world tech brain centers.

45 entrepreneurs and 15 startups will be sent to Silicone Valley for a month-long training. Space is rented in San Jose to organize business meetings and networking.

Diasporans are being involved.

This program will become an annual thing with a 1.3bln budget.

Armenian tech industry turnover +30% in 2019 vs 2018.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182757

Europe's most exciting authors

The Guardian outlet picked their best authors. Narina Abgaryan, the author of "Manyunya" book, was on the list for her poem "Three Apples Fell from the Sky".

"The book is about the remote Armenian mountain village of Maran, where the villagers pick mulberries and make baklava. An ancient telegraph wire and a perilous mountain path that even goats struggle to follow is their only connection to the outside world"

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/07/shock-of-new-novelists-stories-europe


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fhmxak/mar122020_daily_news_summary_your_covid_briefing/


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