2020 March 20

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Mar/20/2020 -- Your Daily News Summarized -- Today's major stories on COVID, Anti-Corruption, Post-Revolution Armenia, 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.


felony case for covering up illegal buildings

Hetq outlet earlier published a report about people "leasing" lands in Lori province to build illegal properties.

The prosecutors say:

Between 2010-2018, Hayantar govt-run forest protection agents leased some forest lands to several people.

In 2019, while the police were investigating this, Hayantar told the police that the lease was paid on time, no problem, so no felony case was launched.

Prosecutors smelled something fishy and did an anti-corruption investigation. It turns out, although the fees were paid, the lessee didn't have the right to build permanent structures in 2013 and 2017.

Prosecutors believe Hayantar official purposely covered this up during the 2019 police investigation. A felony case is launched against the official.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183508

Russia will extradite HHK MP Lyovik

Context: Alraghatsi Loyik is a former HHK MP who is facing burglary and assassination attempt charges. He's also named as one of the oligarchs who provided aid to Kocharyan regime's "gangs" who were brought to Yerevan to attack March 1st protesters. Lyovik fled to Russia and was close to obtaining a Russian passport.

Today the Russian prosecutors agreed to extradite him.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183522

Prosecutor wants March 1st protester Gaspari's record cleared

In the early morning of March 1st, the Kocharyan regime illegally dispersed peaceful protesters near the Opera building. Several ECHR and Armenian Cassation Court rulings have since cleared protesters who were illegally arrested and sentenced under various pretenses.

This reversal happened because the post-revolution General Prosecutor undid his predecessor's decisions and took the cases back to courts to overturn them.

One such example, according to General Prosecutor Davtyan, is the famous anti-Kocharyan protester Vardges Gaspari (the guy who lays on the ground and shouts Robik Srika).

The Prosecutor's report says:

Gaspari was arrested on March 1st and charged with assaulting and threatening a policeman. He was sentenced to 1 year.

The trial was done with obvious violations of law. For example, the judge relied solely on a policeman's testimony and prohibited the defendant from providing counter-evidence.

Moreover, those who pressed charges against Gaspari simply copy-pasted generic legal jargon to describe his alleged crimes, instead of properly describing the events as they unfolded. No victim was properly identified on papers.

The European Court for Human Rights has set precedence with Mushegh Saghatelyan vs Armenia.

The General Prosecutor is challenging Gaspari's verdict in Cassations Court now.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/183567

felony case for 150mln "negligence" / Nature Ministry

Prosecutors say:

Several Level 1 Crooks decided to avoid paying licensing fees for exporting wild vegetation matatuk (dfq is that?).

In 2017 they forged docs with random people's signatures and submitted them to Nature Ministry. The latter failed to properly examine the case despite being warned about the possible fraud.

150mln damage to the state. A felony case is launched against Nature Ministry officials.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183552

director charged with embezzlement & extortion

The direct of govt-funded Maratuk cultural center in Yerevan is charged with forging employee records to steal 7.6mln since 2013, and extorting 3.6mln from employees under the threats of firing them.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/183555

USAID's de-mining efforts in Karabakh

In 2019 the US suspended its co-payment of the charity program that removes landmines in Artsakh Republic. Officials said "no one died since 2017", hence the program was a success and had to end.

They believe future money can be used on things that'll have "more impact", such as preparing Armenians and Azeris for peace, and promoting transparency and good governance in Armenia.

Armenian-American groups are still lobbying to restore the funding.

https://eurasianet.org/us-ends-funding-for-karabakh-demining

govt building burns / injuries

Last night a fire broke out on the 4th floor of one of govt building sections. 8 people were treated with minor inhalation injuries. Jeffrey Epstein's office burned down.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183505

136 COVID cases / 2 hotspots / watch out the trolls

There are 136 confirmed COVID cases out of which 112 are related to Ejmiatsin wedding and Yerevan factory super-spreaders. 1 healed. 0 deaths.

--

One Armenian traveler who recently went to Russia was diagnosed with COVID while in Russia. He was from the circle of a known Armenian COVID carrier.

--

Azeri trolls spread fake news about COVID by using Armenian Facebook accounts. Real owners later discovered they were hacked. The login IP led to Azerbaijan, says police. Change your Facebook password.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183506

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183530

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183544

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183547

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1009426.html

Govt requires private businesses to take several anti-COVID measures

The Emergency Command unit is requiring private companies to:

Keep employees 2 meters apart.

1 faucet per 10 employees. Hygiene products.

Employees who serve the public must wear masks.

Trash bins with a lid to safely dispense used masks.

Check every employee's temperature twice a day. 1st check is when the employee comes to work. Keep a temperature log.

Disinfect points of contact.

Use chlorine or 60-degree spirit for disinfection.

Provide lockers so employees can leave their home clothes out of the work area.

Pardon employee absence if they have respiratory symptoms. Do not allow them to come to work. Contact Healthcare Ministry is symptoms begin during work.

Identify all employees who had contact with a confirmed carrier.

Train your employees to follow hygiene norms. Distribute leaflets with info about the virus.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/183556

Emergency unit issues media gag clarification

The media isn't allowed to spread rumors or fake news specifically about COVID during the Emergency Situation, to prevent panic, a surge in purchases, fake cures, etc.

Several media organizations say the gag is ineffective at fighting misinformation and should the lifted. Earlier they complained about a lack of clarification.

Update: Today the Emergency unit issued a clarification on exceptions. Spreading rumors is allowed if it's originating from govt, officials, citing a response to them, foreign diplomats, international organizations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1009448.html

https://factor.am/232226.html

8003 emergency hotline

Healthcare Ministry set up the "8003" COVID hotline on March 3rd. They've received >14k calls. People mostly ask suggestions, info on foreign countries, travel, what to do if they have a fever.

Only those with symptoms are analyzed to decide if they need a COVID test.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/114766

donations intensifying

321mln has been donated to govt-owned charity account meant for combatting COVID.

An attachment to a hospital is currently being built to house more patients if necessary.

http://arka.am/en/news/society/some_321_million_651_000_donated_to_help_armenian_government_contain_the_spread_of_coronavirus/ Education Ministry will pay salaries

The Education Ministry will still pay the salaries of employees at culture-related institutes who're temporarily out of work due to COVID.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1009451.html Parliament's emergency session to discuss quarantine-violation punishment

The Parliament is currently discussing a Justice Ministry bill to punish those who defy quarantine orders under Emergency Situation and infect other people.

The punishment is between 300k fine to 5-year prison.

MPs are discussing clarifying terms, what's mass infection, what's criminal negligence, etc.. They also discussed the possibility of further clarifying which "rumors" should be gaged under Emergency Situation.

--

IND MP: we must pass this bill fully today so it'll be applied as deterrent on people who're currently under quarantine.

Chair: we can't rush a felony bill. The second and final vote will be on Monday.

LHK MP: nah, let's stay here and work overnight to pass it fully.

BHK MP: no, let's not rush.

QP MP: the law doesn't allow us to rush. Sessions must have a 3-hour delay.

Chair: we'll finish it on Monday.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/183590

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsHf9ijro0c

COVID timeline (being updated)

January 30: govt forms COVID Taskforce to monitor the spread of this new virus.

February 24: 0 infections. Govt shuts down the border with Iran. Iranian cargo drivers banned from traveling through Armenia.

February 29: Ejmiatsin super-spreader arrives from Italy. She's already infected but doesn't know yet. Later develops symptoms but hides it from govt. Attends a wedding.

March 1: 1 infection. He was among the Iranian-Armenian repatriates. The other 31 are quarantined in Golden Palace hotel.

March 2: 1 infection. schools close for 1 week.

March 10: still 1 infection. Italy declares full quarantine.

March 11: 4 infections. The 3 new cases came from Italy.

March 12: 6 infections. Ejmiatsin wedding super-spreader, who came 13 days ago, is finally detected. Schools shut down again.

March 13: 13 infections. Europe tightens border checks. WHO declares pandemic.

March 14: 20 infections. Armenia closes border with Georgia, too, after closing it with Iran 30 days ago. Govt-run theaters and leisure POIs close.

March 15: Ejmiatsin travel throttled. Drivers checked.

March 16: 52 infections. STATE OF EMERGENCY. More foreign travel restrictions. Auto-quarantines for some, isolation for others. Ban on mass gatherings. Medical facilities under govt-control.

March 16 evening: it is revealed that Ejmiatsin isn't the only person-to-person hotspot. Yerevan factory workers getting infected.

March 17: 78 infections. Govt reveals that they've been doing mass tests. Many cases detected "accidentally". 95% have no symptoms. 600 quarantined.

March 18: 110 infections. 1243 quarantined. Education Ministry works on remote classes. Bus drivers monitored against over-crowding. Quarantined people monitored by police.

March 19: 122 infections. Export of some medical products is banned. Remote Education classes begin. 3.5mln masks ordered. Techies helping to map COVID. Large donations arriving to help fight COVID.

March 20: 136 infections. Govt requires private firms to keep employees apart, provide hygiene products, check temps. Salaries paid to suspended culture-workers. Bill to punish quarantine violators. 150bln aid package in Drams

The govt will soon pass a $300 million bill to aid businesses. It'll be in Armenian Drams "to reduce currency risks".

"The full list of sources and donors are being clarified at the moment," said deputy PM Mher Grigoryan.

--

Central Bank gave a press conference:

Q: Is the govt borrowing the 150bln from Central Bank? Wouldn't that raise the rates and harm investments?

A: No, they aren't borrowing it from us. I believe it's from their last year's savings. They have reserves.

https://factor.am/232070.html

https://factor.am/232039.html

Central Bank says...

"Inflation will remain low in the following months..... It's been generally lown since 2015..... We examined recent world events.....The govt is taking proper steps to handle the pricing of essential products......

We reduced the refinancing rate by 0.25% while many regional countries either raised it or kept the same....... We want to make sure the small business is stable while govt handles COVID outcome......

We get complaints that some banks refused to extend loan deadlines despite the Emergency Situation order. After some work, the volume of complaints is subsiding. The waiver by banks is done on a case-by-case basis to reduce risks......

We have plenty of reserves to keep Dram currency stable. The 2014 was a harsher year for us and we managed to do it then......

Russian Ruble and Mexican Peso are quite unstable these days, also due to oil prices. Russian govt is taking steps to calm it, hard to predict what's next. Govt is analyzing its impact on the Armenian economy...."

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183524

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183527

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183531

https://factor.am/232033.html

Can he save the sinking Ruble?

Armenian-USSR swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan, who became a hero by sacrificing his health by saving passengers of a sinking bus (the dude who always makes it to /r/all) has been appointed as an adviser to the president of Russian Bashkiria Republic.

https://factor.am/232147.html

RU https://www.interfax.ru/russia/700128

more refugees get apartments

20 more refugees who fled Azerbaijan during the 90s have received free apartments. Some were homeless for 30 years.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1009428.html

several officials fired and disciplined over passport fiasco

Last month a Canadian diasporan Ghanaghulyan sent a letter to Pashinyan complaining about beurocracy and a rude 5-month-long runaround while getting an Armenian passport. Pashinyan instructed authorities to investigate.

Police chief ended up firing the head and deputy-head of Police's Passport Department. 2 other high ranking police officials received disciplinary action.

Justice Ministry is still investigating its part.

Govt drafted a bill to cut the passport process in half and reduce the need to visit multiple offices.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183511

fuel prices down

Breaking news, my dudes. Benzin is selling for 380 down from 400. Time to pollute the streets.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/183588

jojo caparros vanishes... is found in Spain, healthy and alive

WHERE IS JOJO?

The new Armenian national soccer coach Joaquin Caparros flew back to Spain. "I gotta work remotely because of COVID. Sports are secondary these days. Right now we all wear the same shirt and we're all part of the same team against one opponent," said the new Armenian coach.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183528

World Happiness index

UN has its own world happiness ranking. Armenia preserved its place.

Finland 1, Moldova 70, Russia 73, Paytakaran 89, Armenia 116, Georgia 117, Iran 118.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183536

SU-30CM jets already flying

Pashinyan uploaded a video of the newly purchased SU jets flying in Armenian air. A pair was maneuvering for a show.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/664941090921077/

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/183562

pachik song

Rock singer and entertainer Garik Papoyan wrote a song about Armenians being unable to kiss each other. "No kisses for neighborhood bros and girlfriends because a hungry dude in China decided to eat a brduj-sandwich with tofu and bat."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B967K59gcp6/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=embed_video_watch_again

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183535

Armenia photos

Photos of Armenia from 1880-1916: www.civilnet.am/news/2020/03/20/1878-1920-թթ․-Հայաստանը՝-լուսանկարներով/379248

Post-COVID photos: civilnet.am/news/2020/03/20/Երևանը՝-կորոնավիրուսի-օրերին-ֆոտոշարք/379259


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/flzsw0/mar202020_your_daily_news_summarized_todays_major/


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