2020 March 3

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Mar/3/2020 -- Today's news summarized. 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 2 NSS agents yesterday / NSS chief in Parliament

Yesterday we learned that SIS busted 2 NSS agents with various schemes to sabotage QP officials. The Parliament called NSS chief to testify. Some bits:

Q: Pashinyan recently said there were traitors in NSS who hindered the ability to fight corruption. What are you doing about this?

A: It's ongoing. We'll clean our ranks from traitors. We'll give details once available.

Q: I heard you're digitizing NSS archives. Can you guarantee no docs will go missing?

A: digitization has been happening for a few years. No problem with docs.

Q: if Armenia exchanges secret data with a CIS country, can that country transfer the secret data to another CIS country such as Azerbaijan?

A: not without our legal permission.

Pashinyan later said: if Jesus couldn't clean his ranks from traitors, it's naive to think I'd be able to do so.




NSS busted former official / Offshore laundering / Hydro plant

NSS report said:

Gagik Khachatryan (himself a suspect in another case) was the former IRS chief and later became the Finance Minister. He had an aide who served between 2009-2016. This Aide abused his powers to do favors for Khachatryan.

The govt earlier confiscated a Hydroaparat hydro firm for not making mandatory 80bln investments.

The Aide colluded with colleagues to help his boss, the IRS chief Khachatryan, to embezzle Hydroaparat, and to avoid making 2.7bln mandatory investments in the future.

The IRS boss's family used an offshore firm to take over the Hydroaparat.

In another instance, the Aide helped his boss's offshore firm by making favorable rulings to help them get some money back.


Kocharyan's media friend missing after being allowed to leave Armenia

Kocharyan has many "media guys" who purchased and operate various TV and news websites. Samvel Mayrapetyan is one of them. He also owns the Toyota dealership and lots of land.

Mayrapetyan was earlier charged in the massive bribery case involving a miner businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan who testified about transferring bribes to Kocharyan through his aides.

Mayrapetyan was recently allowed to travel abroad for medical help. Now he's gone missing, while people who swore to secure his return in court, are unable to keep their promise of returning him.

People who bailed him out were neuro-doctor Dr. Ruben Fanarjyan (paid 15mln) and catholicos Garegin B's press secretary priest Vahram Melikyan. SIS has confiscated 30mln from the latter two for being unable to bring back the suspect.

Mayrapetyan is charged with aiding a $7mln bribery. He left fled Armenia in Jan-2019.


Kocharyan & Co trial resumes

Kocharyan's lawyer asked judge Anna Danibekyan to recuse herself citing an earlier speech by the Supreme Court president during which he said: "the govt would love if all judges were like Anna Danibekyan and Armen Danielyan [another judge]". The lawyer argues the Supreme Court judge's words mean this judge is biased.

Another one of Kocharyan's lawyers asked judge Danibekyan to recuse herself because he, the lawyer, is also the lawyer for the two Kocharyan activists who earlier harassed this judge for her earlier verdict to keep Kocharyan in jail.

1) Harass a judge, 2) represent the harassers, 3) ask the judge to recuse herself as part of another case, 4) PROFIT!

The prosecutor provided counter-arguments. He accused the lawyer of twisting Supreme Court chief's words. "In reality, the opposite was said by him. If you read the context and the question he was asked, he actually referred to judge Danibekyan as an independent judge," said the prosecutor.

He also argued against the second recusal petition, adding "The defense failed to answer the question on what these defendants have to do with the defendants of another trial presided by the same judge. According to the defense's logic, any unwanted judge can be artificially taken out of a case by dragging the judge into another case."

March 1st victim layer Safaryan joined the prosecutor and argued against recusal, saying this is deja vu and Rob's lawyers have already asked her to recuse herself twice in the past.

The judge left until Mar-6 to make a verdict whether she'll recuse herself.







Cadastre' property fraud busted

Prosecutors say:

We recently audited docs sent by Cadastre property agency and found violations in 2016.

Cadastre officials, without signing an agreement, asked a Firm to assess a property value located on Moldovakan St.

The Firm deliberately gave a price 3x lower the real value. The Cadastre sold the property to someone for a cheap price, causing damage to the state. A felony case is launched.


mayor busted with corruption

The police say that in 2013, the mayor of Shorja signed an illegal construction contract with a company created and managed by him, and forged docs to exaggerate the work done by his firm. A felony case is launched.


coronavirus in Armenia

Armenia helped dozens of Iranian-Armenians return to Armenia last week. They were quarantined. 1 of them tested positive.

"8 more COVID tests came negative. The only patient is doing great now, no fever, the quarantined folks at Golden Palace hotel are also doing good," said PM today.


A decision was made to keep the border with Iran closed for another 2 weeks, until Mar-24.

"The ongoing warm weather is beneficial to reduce the spread of COVID. Remember to wash your hands and keep hygiene," said Healthcare Minister Torosyan.


Under new temporary rules, when cargo arrives from Iran, the driver has to return to Iran after handing over the cargo to an Armenian driver. Armenian drivers then drive the cargo elsewhere, including to Russia.

To go to Russia they have to travel through Georgia. Georgian govt, as a precautionary measure, is delaying the movement. Armenian drivers complain that the cargo is stuck at the border. They want the Georgian rules to be relaxed because Iranian drivers no longer deliver the load themselves, so there is less risk of coronavirus.


Minister Torosyan met the Iranian ambassador. The latter shared their experience with detecting and containing COVID.

2336 Iranian citizens and 23 MPs have contracted the virus.



Sav Group activists distributed free masks to 2,000 random residents for free "in exchange for a smile".


150,000,000 people have been killed from coronawalrus in Armenia since Monday. Another 390 billion are currently hospitalized in a critical condition. Armenia is quickly running out of vital supplies of Thoughts and Prayers.

Dodi Gago weighs-in

Gago: the govt is handling COVID situation very poorly. They should have acted a month ago. There are no masks and medication today. (Note: Healthcare Ministry stored 170k masks for medical professionals weeks ago, while more masks are harder to get due to hike in global demand.)

"The Iranian-Armenians should have been tested immediately instead of being allowed to go home first... Govt is keeping them in Tsakhkadzor. The city is hurting a lot these days from people canceling hotel bookings out of fear," said Gago.

Q: the PM says those rumors are vastly exaggerated.

Gago: he isn't lying, but I can give you a car so you can drive there and check for yourself. (classic Gago)

When asked whether he should wear a mask too, he said, "I don't need a safety mask. Coronavirus doesn't infect kind people."


world reacts to Armenia using a 5-star hotel for quarantine

Russian, Turkish and other outlets wrote about how the Armenian residents were taken to a 5-star hotel to be kept in quarantine.

Russian media: while residents in dozens of countries commit violence against quarantined people (shots fired at Ukraine), Armenia quarantined 32 residents in a 5-star hotel 50km from the capital, 2100k above the sea level, with Olympic-level pool and playhouse.

The Turkish media showed how medics in hazmat suits delivered food for people in the hotel. (see yesterday post for video)


Pashinyan flees to Georgia

Pashinyan got on an airplane and fled to Georgia to avoid the coronavirus pandemic at home, before learning that Georgia has 3x as many infections, say anonymous sources familiar with the inner workings of the Pashinyan administration. Fake news.

The PM in on a working trip to Georgia. He met PM Georgi Gakharia (hugged him despite COVID warnings), met President Zurabishvili and shook her hand for a minute (despite COVID warnings).

He then met the local Armenian community and businessmen.

Pashinyan: Sorry for not being able to visit Javakhk region this time. Someone gave me a dog last time. We named it Lil' Bear (arjuk). He's the ruler of Kond district, managing govt properties in Kond.

Georgian PM gave Pashinyan a new dog during the trip. It's a Caucasian Shepherd. "This is our 5th dog," said Pashinyan.

Pashinyan: what's his name?

Gakharia: the dog has a passport name but you can name it whatever you like.

Pashinyan: it's interesting to know the birth name.

Gakharia after checking: it's Bonbor.

Pashinyan: cool, we'll name it Bonbor then.

Video of Bonbor doggo: https://youtu.be/NCHquMnO-A0





stray dog population in Armenia / migration / food / attacks

Between 2016-2019, biting incidents involving stray dogs increased +63% in Yerevan.

In 2018, prosecutors uncovered embezzlement involving a firm that was hired to catch and kill dogs.

In 2019 Yerevan ended the practice of killing the dogs, not only from a humane perspective, but also citing research by dog experts showing when a group of dogs abruptly disappears, the other dogs become more aggressive and breed more, which makes the situation worse.

In 2019, Yerevan created a state-funded Agency tasked with catching, neutering, and releasing dogs. 3,000 have been treated and released so far. Another 3,000 female dogs are on the waiting list. A new facility and resources will be available soon for the newly formed Agency to act faster.

Experts say this approach will be effective in the long run. Agency expects that within 5-6 years, the streets will be almost free from dogs.

"Pro Paws" charity chief:

Before we can start seeing positive results, we should amend laws and establish a culture of responsible dog ownership.

City dog Agency chief:

We catch and release them in the same area. If not, they always travel to the same area if it's within a 10km radius (RADAR-EQUIPPED DOGGOS DEPLOY TO ARMY NOW!). The only time we don't return them to the same area is if it was near schools or hospitals.

Killing is only done after an expert opinion.

Recently the dog population increased in Yerevan because some dogs migrated from provinces to Yerevan in Winter because of favorable weather in Yerevan. Finding food was also easier in the city.

Higher numbers and available food created more fights between the dogs. It also increased incidents of dogs biting humans, although sometimes the human provokes the dog.

The garbage sitting outside of bins attracts the dogs. Keeping things tidy in your neighborhood can greatly reduce the stray dog population.

The neutered and released dogs have a green tag on their ears. (authentic doggos)

Video: https://a1plus.am/hy/article/361139

wash your hands, folks

50% reduction in the spread of disease if you wash your hands thoroughly for 15 seconds.

Here is a guide on how to wash your hands, because you're currently doing it wrong.


pics of MPs doing random stuff during Parliament sessions

Googling "how many coronavirus cases so far"

Shopping for cognac on a phone hidden under a book.

Chatting on the phone while covering the phone with the hand.

Browsing random stuff.


NSS busted a migrant smuggling ring

Report says:

A group of people from Yerevan and Aragatsotn colluded between 2018-2020 to help 20 Armenians illegally travel abroad for ~$3,800 a pop.

Fake documents, marriage certificates, bank docs, etc. were used to obtain an EU Schengen visa.

One organizer was arrested during a transaction. He confessed. The accomplices fled Armenia. A felony case is launched.



big jump in illegal logging prosecutions

Lori Province released its 2019 vs 2018 stats about nature protection and illegal logging busts:

Felony cases +49%

Cases that reached the court +280%

People prosecuted in courts +300%

Illegal loggers found guilty up 4x

Monetary damages found: +12%

Monetary damages recovered up 2x

In 2019 the prosecutors tweaked the way they operated. They began to view the local forest protection agents as possible accomplices. Several guards were caught this way.


Mood's in Armenia

Economy Ministry met the reps from Mood's to discuss improving Armenia's competitiveness, investments, technology, export models, Mood's expertise in helping small/medium businesses.


Parliament discussing to allow citizens to import some drugs

Earlier we learned from QP MP that they want to allow people to import limited quantities of non-psychic drugs through a post office shipment. The Parliament discussed it today.

Healthcare Ministry:

The researcher firm patents their new meds for 15 years. The Armenian govt or companies don't have the right to produce those drugs. Only 15 years later a generic one can be produced.

During these 15 years, if the original patent holder doesn't want to officially export the drugs to Armenia, then Armenian consumers are left without a choice.

For this, we want to allow citizens to import not-too-powerful drugs legally. A prescription will still be needed to import a prescription drug.

We also want to exempt meds from tax.


another military unit joins the food fest

High-quality food has reached another unit. PICS:


Ohan Dutyan's wife wants citizenship

Legendary conductor maestro Ohan Duryan's wife, singer Alice Duryan, has contacted the PM and asked for citizenship so she can participate in the April 5th referendum.

She wrote: Since 1991, Ohan and I resided in Armenia, helped it in any way possible. Unfortunately, Ohan didn't live to see the toppling of the Regime of Thugs and celebrate the victory. Today, the power belongs to people. Well done, Nikol and our beloved nation! I ask for PM to grant me citizenship for my 30 years of being a resident, so I can participate and says YES to the victory and forever close the blood and theft page.

Can the PM grant passport to anyone? "Yes," says the passport agency chief, "the PM and President have the unique ability to give passports to people within 5 days of signing an order."



mobile mammography vehicle

Update: Healthcare Ministry says the trailer equipped with mammograph will arrive in 15 days. It'll travel around provinces and screen for breast cancer for free among women aged 50-69.


aid for Iraqi Yezidi community

Last year the govt decided to provide aid to Yezidi refugees in Iraq. The project was created by Armenian-Yezidi MP Rustan Bakoyan who visited Iraq to learn about the 2014 Yezidi genocide.

A 3yo Yezidi girl was sent to Armenia to receive free heart surgery. She was discharged today; will stay in a nearby hotel for a few weeks with the help of donors.

MP Bakoyan says this aid will become a routine thing and doctors will be sent to Iraq. "Surgery is much cheaper in Armenia than in Europe."



Education Inspectors to audit Armenian/Math/Info quality

Govt's Education Inspection Agency will send reps to 14 schools to attend ordinary classes and gather info about tests and exam results, then discuss it with school directors to improve the quality of classes.

Agency's representatives will be ordinary teachers with long experience. They will be hired and retrained before being "deployed" to the 14 schools. A similar program existed years ago, but "in 2019 we changed the way it works and its main purpose."

"The goal isn't to catch other teachers making mistakes, but to find where the weaknesses are to improve quality," says Agency.

This is being done because Armenian Language and some classes have long been viewed as ineffective and students showed poor results.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fd0xxe/mar32020_todays_news_summarized_stay_informed/

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2020 Daily Armenia Reports