2020 March 31
- 1 Anti-Corruption Daily
- 2 Artsakh is holding elections / massive turnout
- 3 Aronyan's wife passed away
- 4 police accountability
- 5 COVID infections
- 6 Human Rights Ombudsman about phone call metadata collection / COVID
- 7 COVID phone metadata bill rejected / re-introduced
- 8 international experience with similar tracking
- 9 more travel and business restrictions
- 10 ventilators and 60,000 test kits / automation / chloroquine
- 11 isolation index / which cities follow lockdown?
- 12 empty streets of Yerevan
- 13 dear leader kills coronawalrus / total victory guaranteed
- 14 fuel prices down / negotiating gas price with Russia
- 15 Satanist chicks
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.
Artsakh is holding elections / massive turnout
Artsakh is holding the much anticipated but also criticized (for not being delayed) presidential and parliamentary elections. 104k people have the right to vote.
The field is diverse. 14 presidential candidates representing various groups and interests. Hundreds of MP candidates representing 10 parties and 2 alliances.
The turnout was 73% with 76k voters. The full results will be ready tomorrow.
Aronyan's wife passed away
Caoili was an Australian chess player and the chief editor of Yerevan's "Champord" magazine. Served as PM's adviser in 2017. She met Aronyan in 2006 and they married in 2017.
A man was stopped for drunk driving on March 27th. He resisted the police instructions and made death threats. The policemen applied force and took him to the police station.
The man contacted prosecutors and complained about being beaten by the police. The prosecutors sent the case to SIS to launch an investigation against the policemen.
As for the drunken man, he is facing a host of charges.
The number of COVID infections rose by 50, reaching 532.
The vast majority have no fever. 90 have pneumonia. 30 in serious. 3 deaths. 31 healed. 150 removed from the mandatory quarantine.
Three of the new infections were not under isolation at the time of detection. The govt has to find and isolate people who had contact with them.
Human Rights Ombudsman about phone call metadata collection / COVID
Context: Yesterday the Parliament passed a preliminary draft bill to allow the Justice Ministry to collect a COVID suspect's phone log and location data and use it to identify the suspect's circle of contacts, to better find and isolate risky circles.
The bill says it can only be done under Emergency Situations created by a pandemic, and the data cannot be used for other purposes.
Human Rights Office released a statement:
We understand and welcome the fact that modern problems require modern solutions, but govt must remember people's right to data privacy. The proposed draft bill to collect people's data to fight COVID will violate people's right to privacy. However, the European Convention allows such collection during emergency situations, as long as govt doesn't abuse the data, and the collection is temporary. The Justice Ministry must amend several parts of the draft bill to clarify the details and close loopholes.
COVID phone metadata bill rejected / re-introduced
Justice Minister Badasyan said:
There is a lot of misinformation around this bill. People began discussing things unrelated to this bill. Nothing new is being collected. The ISPs already collect this data. That data will be attached to pandemic infection data.
The bill is about life under pandemic-related Emergencies only, and not beyond that. The data is destroyed [within 1 month] after the emergency ends. The content of the communication isn't being wiretapped.
The bill didn't get enough votes to pass because the opposition voted against and the ruling party didn't have enough MPs present due to self-isolation. Independent MP Babajanyan voted in favor. The bill fell short 2 votes.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184416 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184434 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184469 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/184474 , https://youtu.be/T0OdZueNg5I
The bill was re-introduced and this time it passed the 1st vote. Another vote is needed. Most opposition MPs didn't show up for discussion and vote.
LHK MP: there is no guarantee this bill will save lives because having someone's phone log doesn't show us with whom they had physical contact with [are you sure about that?]. It's too late anyway. The virus is out of control. This bill is a surveillance tool disguised as a life-saver. It's a precedence to also collect all sorts of other data like Viber/WhatsApp.
QP MP: what precedence? The bill clearly says it's only active under Emergency Situation, and what type of communication it applies to. Do you think we also restricted people's right for physical movement just for fun?
QP MP to opposition: no need to exaggerate. The authorities already have the right and ability to wiretap residents, if they need to. They don't need this bill for that. Don't misrepresent this bill.
LHK MP: this bill has too many freedom restrictions and provides a small probability of successfully achieving the goal. It's useless. You didn't provide enough legal and technological justification that you can accurately pinpoint a COVID contact circle with this bill.
QP MP: a month ago South Korea was 2nd in COVID infections, with an acceleration. Today they managed to slow it significantly. WHO praises their experience. What they did in SK was even stricter than what our bill envisions. SK monitors live movement of COVID carriers via GPS, their Credit Card transactions, and they inform healthy residents via SMS about COVID's movement.
SK managed to do this quickly because in 2015 they had a MERS outbreak and they passed this bill. Citizens, at the time, were concerned about privacy, but they decided that it's a temporary price they want to pay in exchange for life and health. Our bill is not as harsh as theirs; it's needed to avoid deaths. Our opposition is manipulating the public at the wrong time.
QP MP: Facebook was full of 1984 citations since yesterday. We heard things we haven't heard before. Sure, limiting people's rights (in this case privacy) isn't easy. That's the point of Emergency Situation. I'm glad that our European colleagues agreed that these restrictions are acceptable. We must discuss overseeing the collected data and to make sure it's destroyed when the period ends.
QP MP: To address the concerns, I suggest making it mandatory to include opposition MPs to the committee overseeing the destruction of collected data, so they can be reassured. The process must be transparent. MPs who oppose the bill now are the people who would accuse the govt of inaction when people die.
QP MP: allow me to remind that phone call content isn't being monitored. This bill is active only during pandemic-related Emergencies, and not "regular" Emergencies.
Bill's author Justice Minister: the bill envisions the creation of a group that will monitor the destruction of the collected metadata....
Human Rights Ombudsman provided amendment suggestions. Under Emergency Situation law, these types of amendment discussions are done by the government who will address it....
Anyone who publishes the sensitive data or uses the data for other purposes will be charged with felony....
I thank the public for understanding and I apologize to them for these restrictions. It's only done to save lives.
The bill passed the first vote.
The bill was amended to clarify who and how will remove the collected data.
The bill was passed by the second vote. It'll become law.
international experience with similar tracking
South Korea did something similar. They published the COVID carrier's travel location so the public will know if they are at risk. Japan has something similar but they don't publish the whole data. Israel is another example.
more travel and business restrictions
Pashinyan extended the country-wide strict restrictions for another 10 days.
"The stats are alarming. I urge you to take COVID seriously but not to panic. These restrictions, including the phone metadata bill, are needed for the well being of the general public. We must try to reduce the infection spread so the healthcare system can keep up, so we won't have to keep patients outside of hospital buildings under the trees. These restrictions are unpleasant but they are needed," said Pashinyan.
"Without action, 89% of Armenians would get infected by April 20th. In Yerevan alone, we would have 8200 serious cases. This is why the restrictions are needed," said Emergency coordinator Avinyan.
Healthcare Minister Torosyan: with today's numbers, we'll have 1000 cases by April 7th and 2000 by April 14th. This is why we should all contribute to the reduction of spread. This will allow us to continue to treat patients at a hospital instead of sending them home as many countries do.
ventilators and 60,000 test kits / automation / chloroquine
Emergency coordinator Avinyan:
We did 400 accurate tests yesterday alone. Next week we'll send a jet to bring 60,000 test kits (insert Oprah meme saying you get a test, you get a test, everybody gets a test). We're also discussing with our scientists to produce test kits locally. Govt will help the local producers. We also want to import tools to automate the testing process. 100 lung ventilators will arrive soon.
Armenia also purchased small quantities of anti-malaria drug chloroquine which has the potential to fight COVID.
"Chloroquine is believed to slow down the synthesis of nucleic acids in cells and has a moderate immunosuppressive, specific and non-specific anti-inflammatory effect". (for all you doctors out there)
isolation index / which cities follow lockdown?
Yandex tech giant has an index showing the isolation level in each city. From the scale of 0-5, Yerevan is 3.3 (mostly isolated).
MAP is updated frequently and shows the time of the day: https://yandex.ru/web-maps/covid19/isolation?ll=36.141774%2C56.732529&z=5
empty streets of Yerevan
Hetq outlet has some Yerevan photos for you:
dear leader kills coronawalrus / total victory guaranteed
There is no, can not be, has never been coronavirus in Turkmenistan.
The govt of Turkmenistan prohibited the state media from using the word coronavirus, and told the Healthcare Ministry to remove the word from booklets.
fuel prices down / negotiating gas price with Russia
Armenian drivers found themselves paying ~70 Drams less for gasoline. Diesel down ~30 Drams.
In other news, the govt sent a letter to Russia and asked for the gas price at the border to be reduced due to a global price drop. "It'll also help Armenia better handle COVID's negative economic consequences." Armenia also wants to pay for gas in national currency.
Last year a group of women performed an abstract performance on Cascade involving rituals and Vahan Teryan poems. This angered the groups who support traditional values, who disrupted the performance and poured ink on the performers. "This is not how women should behave". One of the protesters was arrested while making death threats.
Here is a Chai-Khana documentary featuring the performers and the protesters.
Link to original report and comments: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fsjhqs/mar312020_daily_news_summary_artsakh_elections/
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