2020 March 2

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Mar/2/2020 -- News collection from Armenia // Major busts today // Stay informed about the ongoing Anti-Corruption, Economy, Major Changes, Politics, Constitutional Court Crisis, 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.


SIS busted a scheme by NSS agent to set up Healthcare officials

Special Investigative Services (SIS) says they bused a National Security Services (NSS) official with abuse of power. Memo says:

The NSS official served as Healthcare Ministry's adviser between 2005-2018. He developed close ties with a certain hospital Director. The Director complained about his medical Colleague. The NSS official offered to help the Director to get rid of the Colleague.

On Feb-2019 the NSS official found out about Healthcare Ministry's plans to revamp the govt subsidy system, and learned that his buddy Director's hospital would be negatively affected.

The NSS official told the Director that to solve this problem, they should set up a bribery transaction between [the unwanted medical] Colleague and the deputy Healthcare Minister Arsen Davtyan.

If the transaction goes through and the two get busted and charged with a felony, the Director would be able to purchase the hospital shares belonging to Colleague, which would then be split between the Director and the NSS official.


Plan Executed

On Mar-18-2019, the Director called the Colleague to his office and offered him to give a bribe to deputy Minister Davtyan. Plot twist... the Colleague was made aware of the pending scheme ahead of time by SIS agents, and refused to participate. The Director and NSS officials are charged.

The NSS official is suspended. A felony case is launched. Clinic Director is told to stay in Armenia.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181932 SIS busts another NSS official with sabotaging QP Minister

A few weeks ago a media outlet published a report about Infrastructure Minister QP Papikyan's past prison record for a fight in a military unit. Minister called the rumors of him stabbing the victim as "fake news", and said it was an "ethnic fight he was dragged into, but no weapons were used by him".

Even though the story about him spending time in prison "wasn't a secret" and "people already knew it", he asked law enforcement to investigate how some of his unpublished personal data was leaked.


SIS says they caught and suspended a rogue NSS agent. Memo says:

On Jan-9-2020, a NSS agent asked a colleague to dig up Papikyan's personal records in the archive. The latter got the records from the police archive. The official is suspended. The investigation continues.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181937 SIS names former Defense Minister as a suspect

Earlier the authorities began investigating DzoraHEK hydro plant sales process involving billions of Drams. SIS report says:

In 2010, the Defense Ministry and govt broke the laws about property price assessment, and created a classified plan to sell a Defense Ministry-run hydro plant to a private firm for 3.6bln.

In Dec-2010, the Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan created a classified document to finalize the transfer. This improperly assessed property was worth 1.046bln more than what the private firm paid.

A felony case is launched. Seyran Ohanyan is told not to leave Armenia. Ohanyan denies wrongdoing.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181949

https://news.am/arm/news/563508.html Update: prosecutors charge Abovyan mayor with land abuse

The report says:

On Jul-2019 the Urban Development agency sent a report to police, detailing how a Firm was given a penalty but still allowed to continue their illegal construction in Abovyan (BHK chief Gago's stronghold city, with the mayor being BHK).

19 apartment complex buildings were built illegally on lands belonging to the city, with the mayor choosing inaction.

Mayor Vahagn Gevorgyan is charged with a felony punishable between 1mln fine, a possibility of being banned from public office, or 2 years in jail.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006994.html

https://www.arlis.am/DocumentView.aspx?docid=69646 NSS investigating Pashinyan supporter for online threats

NSS constantly monitors social media posts and has arrested an anti-Pashinyan user in the past for calling for violence (stabbing).

Robert Kocharyan's son Levon recently reported an anti-Kocharyan user for alleged threats and posting bloody imagery of Kocharyan and his allies.

The NSS is investigating the person behind "Kathy Jan" Facebook account. The user denies that his posts were threats and says he hasn't been contacted by NSS yet. He's accused of making calls to commit terror attacks.

NSS charged 3 people for making threats recently.

https://youtu.be/V56PvbivvEc?t=22

https://factor.am/225903.html corruption bust in Ayrum hospital

Prosecutors say the Healthcare Ministry instructed to audit the 2017-2019 medical records related to govt-subsidized care, which revealed that Ayrum medial officials forged docs to exaggerate the number of govt-subsidized visits so they could embezzle state funds. A felony case is launched.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181920 Coronavirus բոբո ձյա-ձյա

Here is an interactive world map showing where COVIC19 is, how many infections and deaths:

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6


"9 more tests came negative. None of the quarantined citizens in Golden Palace have shown symptoms... COVID19 should be taken seriously but it's a defeatable virus. There is no need for panic," said Pashinyan.

"The COVID patient's immune system was able to fight the virus and lower the fever. He's watching TV in a hospital right now," said PM.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181894 --- https://youtu.be/M6W_f4GJHFg


The govt decided to temporarily cancel the visa-free regime with Iran. It'll be enacted within 5 days. "We stand with Iranian people and govt in overcoming this difficult situation," said PM. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181895


Labor Ministry urged businesses to go easy on employees who call in sick for the next week, especially since school holidays were declared yesterday.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181905


The church doesn't plan to suspend its sermons yet. Education Ministry doesn't plan to restrict museum and theater attendance yet.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006885.html --- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006961.html


More masks are being imported, but they'll be more expensive because the global prices are up. Consumer Protection Agency examined 90 pharmacies and didn't find any price gouging.

The Agency says Armenia has enough flour and sugar reserves to be self-sufficient for a year, so there is no need to rush and buy basic products out of fear they'll disappear from shelves. "If the border with Iran closes for cargo importers too, we won't have a product deficit," said Agency chief.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181915 --- https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181917


Parliament will toughen the medical/temp checks for people entering the building. Alcohol wipes were distributed to all offices. Tables and doorknobs are being sanitized regularly.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181906 ---- https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181907


Hospitals will put restrictions on patient visits as a precautionary measure.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181926 HIV+Tuberculosis Center

On Feb-12 the Healthcare Ministry said they'll merge the HIV center with Norq infections clinic, which will allow better/faster care for STI patients who contract infections that can be deadly for them.

At the time, several HIV center workers complained, citing bad management practices by Norq clinic's administration. Recently, dozens of HIV Center workers quit as a protest.

Ministry says the HIV center doesn't provide continued care and patients have to travel to Norq center either way, and that this legal merger will make it more efficient.

"The HIV Center will function similarly, but with different management. The HIV center does not house patients for routine care, they are transferred to Norq hospital, and this change is a unification that is meant to improve efficiency."

HIV Center's now-former (recently quit) department head believes the merger is done to give away the Center's equipment to other clinics.

Ministry says the HIV Center has state of the art equipment that can be used on Hepatitis C patients (from Norq clinic) as well, and that right now it's collecting dust and isn't being used at its full capacity.


A Parliamentary committee held a meeting and invited HIV Center admins, HIV patients, and Healthcare Ministry to discuss the merger.

Chairman: why isn't the Healthcare Minister here?

Healthcare official: he's busy with the coronavirus thingie.

Chairman: but the first COVID case was recorded on March 1 st, while you told us he won't be here 2 days before that.

Healthcare official: the COVID taskforce has been operating before the first detection, we're all very busy these days.


One of the HIV patients wanted to know if the patients will be negatively impacted by the merger. Ministry said there won't be any negative change for patients (same equipment, same drugs, same building), and that the changes are administrative.

The HIV patient complained that they were kept in dark during the initial merger discussions. Ministry complained that HIV's administrators didn't want to discuss and made ultimatums instead. HIV clinic admins denied.

HIV Clinic admin: how much $ will be saved by merging the clinics?

Ministry official: no specific exam yet, but mergers do save funds. It's a known practice to merge these types of institutes to improve efficiency. International experts also agreed that there were supposed to be mergers in some health institutes before they were privatized, but these mergers weren't made on time. We're correcting it now.

The Parliamentary committee will send the gathered data to Govt for a final decision on whether to merge the clinics or not.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181919

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006927.html

https://youtu.be/4WxfZukvXYM

https://factor.am/225761.html Education Ministry to raise PhD student subsidies

Education Ministry and Finance Ministry dedicated funds to raise student pensions for PhD students.

Armenology: 65k vs 30k now

Natural Sciences: 60k vs 25k

Economics and Legal: 55k vs 20k

Other: 60k vs 25k

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181787 smartphones confiscated from police forces

For safety reasons, the Defense Ministry does not allow soldiers, and police forces who serve as soldiers, to use smartphones with cameras and internet. Recently, they confiscated 300 smartphones from police forces.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181896 egg prices down / new factory proposed

Update: recently we learned that egg prices went down sharply. It's good for consumers but bad for small sellers.

The Consumer Protection Agency found that the price drop was a result of overproduction, which was a result of fewer chicken dying from a disease, and the weather being nicer to them.

"If we find dumping schemes [to intentionally hurt competitorrs] by big players we'll punish them. We proposed creating an egg processing factory to handle the oversupply," said the Agency chief.

http://arka.am/en/news/business/armenia_may_build_egg_processing_plant/ prosecutors propose 14 legal reforms

Earlier we learned about a new massive police and justice reforms proposal, that would establish a reformed police force, academy, higher educated cops, etc.

Prosecutors have a separate proposal about 14 legal changes. 1 is already being discussed by Parliament. The proposal includes:


Introduction of the ability to investigate things remotely through a video stream in rare instances. Same about questioning specialists during court trials, and witnesses in the event they can't physically show up.


Tougher punishment for burglaries.


Tougher punishment for misusing cars that result in serious bodily injury or death (currently up to 5 years).


Broader ability to launch felony cases, including even if the victim doesn't want to press charges against someone who went to jail within the past 3 years. (Apparently, some people commit crimes repeatedly then convince victims not to press charges)


Give the defendants more legal rights by allowing them to appeal a court verdict that denied their petition to be released under the personal guarantee of others (e.g. Robik). The Govt, Parliament, and Constitutional Court have all agreed on this.


A better ability for prosecutors to secure multiple possible crime scenes if they suspect the same crime was carried out in multiple locations.


Better regulate forensic examinations... what, where, for how long, at what cost.


A mandatory disciplinary hearing against an Investigative Agency's agent if a high ranking prosecutor files a complaint.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181899

Tags: #JusticeReform #ProsecutorReform #ProsecutorsReform fewer trips for property management & registrations

The Cadastre property management committee launched a new website that allows citizens to submit paperwork and receive services related to a property design, registration, price assessment, without the need to physically visit Cadastre office.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181888 Nature Ministry and plastic collection

Nature Ministry met trash processing businesses to discuss the issue of single-use plastic. They discussed possible legal reforms to reduce waste.

Ministry wants a large plastic bottle reception system in Armenia that will collect various types of plastic and give away cash. They examined the Lithuanian experience and want to implement it in Armenia.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181913 Lake Sevan cleanup

Nature Ministry and Gegharquniq province began cleaning up lake Sevan's shores from submerged trees to reduce algae growth. 887 hectare to be cleaned until 2022. An 85ha area already cleaned.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006930.html gas network charity

GeoProMining miner is financing the installation of gas pipes and heating systems for >5 schools in several provinces. 3 schools already have it after spending 30 years with an archaic heating system. 110mln co-donated for the project.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181921 railway giant's investments

South-Caucasus Railways says they'll invest 4.4bln in 2020.

February stats:

Wages +24%

Work productivity +1%

Passengers +26.4%

Cargo +0.5%

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181931 Yerevan's new vacuum trucks and metal bins

Yerevan municipality's first vacuum trucks have arrived 🔔. They'll begin to clean the main avenues soon. "This batch is just the beginning, we'll have mo soon," said Mayor Marutyan, the first openly drag queen mayor in Armenia.

Yerevan's 1,000 new metal garbage bins have arrived. You can't burn those down. Sorry, haters 💅

VID: https://www.facebook.com/HaykMarutyanMayor/videos/485197805716610/

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181889

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181944 meetings with foreign officials

Justice Ministry met the Council of Europe Human Rights to discuss justice reforms. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181934


Justice Ministry met the Venice Commission and OSCE to discuss Constitutional amendments (not April 5th but wider changes). https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181939 referendum campaigners send voting monitors

April 5th referendum's YES and NO campaigns earlier launched their propaganda operations.

Electoral Committee says each voting station has 7 board representatives. YES and NO campaigns can appoint 2 each. Overall, each side can appoint 4016 representatives.

QP had no problem with finding that many volunteer representatives, but the NO-squad, led by former HHK deputy Justice Minister and others, had to ask opposition ARF, LHK, HHK and BHK to help fill the gap. They all agreed while BHK said they'd discuss it internally.

March 1st was the deadline for NO to find the needed representatives. NO fell short in only 2 out of 2008 voting stations. Both stations are in villages with a combined population of 345.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181897

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181925 European Armenian group about referendum

Assembly of Armenians of Europe urged the public to vote YES on the April referendum (to fire 7/9 Constitutional Court judges). Since Europe-based Armenians cannot vote, the group urged the govt to organize a mock election just to capture diasporans' participation.

https://news.am/arm/news/563464.html Mkhitaryan shines again

Heno the Roman legionnaire guy scored a goal and gave a goal-pass during Roma 4:3 Calgary

6 goals by Heno so far. 3rd consecutive match to make a pass that leads to a goal. 2nd consecutive match to score a goal. IS HE BACK?

VIDEOS: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/181936


Heno gave an interview to the Russian KraSava sports show, during which he said he received many threats from Azeri fans during the 2018-2019 league during which he skipped the final match against Chelsea in Baku.

https://youtu.be/YC8WBep59Pk?t=440

Sunday news

In case you missed yesterday's news stories:

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fc3kkw/mar12020_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fcjd19/mar22020_news_collection_from_armenia_major_busts/


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