2020 May 28

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Anti-Corruption Daily

May/28/2020 News: (1) Armenia commemorates the independence struggle (2) COVID update; Raids, Restrictions, Conspiracy theories (3) High profile fight in Education Ministry (4) Mobile mammogram (5) Kocharyan's full verdict (6) Nemets Rubo in Russia (7) Property taxes (8) Meteorite light up the skies
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. Helpful overview of Armenia's media ownership and leanings.


the struggle for independence

It's a holiday in Armenia. The birthday of the First Republic. It became possible because in May 21-2019 of 1918 the Armenian forces pushed back the Turkish army that crossed Araks River.

A decisive victory in Sardarapat put an end to Turkish advancement towards Yerevan and further east. A new republic was born after 9 centuries of occupation. All of this was done by dudes on horses without WiFi and GPS.

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Little known fact: there were some Russian soldiers among the Armenian groups. After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the Russian army pulled out of Armenia, but a small number stayed. They later joined the Armenian defense forces.

Moses Silikyan's Yerevan Division was tasked with defending Yerevan. It had several groups, one of which was led by Russian Alexander Shneur, and was consisted of Armenians, Russians, and Cossacks.

Shneur later wrote a book about it.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188952

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016677.html

Full https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016709.html

http://docplayer.ru/56453779-Aleksandr-konstantinovich-shneur-voennyy-entomolog-i-gerpetolog.html

Sardarapt memorial

The leaders of Armenia, Artsakh, and the church paid tributes in the Sardarapat memorial. The public was banned due to COVID.

LHK Edmon complains that the govt banned opposition politicians from visiting Sardarapat. "They did it on April 24th and May 9th, too. Serj was allowed to visit as a former president, but party leaderships are banned," complained Edmon.

QP responded, "As in previous instances, Edmon didn't apply ahead of time to be allowed to visit the memorials. The visits must be done separately to avoid overcrowding."

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188957

https://factor.am/254219.html

Education Ministry officials point fingers / NSS involved

This is a developing story.

Education Ministry has a Higher Qualification Committee. Among other things, it audits dissertations by officials. You might remember that in 2018-2019 Armenia passed laws against plagiarism in universities. Judges and officials were caught with plagiarism. The committee busted Economics University's rector, who quit.

Recently the Committee chief Gogyan resigned, citing disagreements with Education Ministry's vision. He wanted more legal reforms to improve the anti-plagiarism fight.

Gogyan also believes that Economics University's new acting-rector also plagiarized her papers, but hasn't lost her job because deputy-Minister Tamrazyan is sponsoring her.

Gogyan met PM Pashinyan to discuss this. The NSS summoned deputy-Minister for questioning about the allegations against him.

The acting-rector denies being protected by deputy-Minister. "I was a university official before being promoted, and I kept my job because the students and professors support me. Despite some problems in my dissertation, the Committee found it to be great."

--

The news reached the Education Minister Arayik. "Either the deputy-Minister abused his powers and committed a crime by sponsoring her, or Gogyan is making defamatory accusations and possibly false reports of crime. One of them should be held accountable. Consider this as a plea for law enforcement to investigate."

Minister Arayik then asked the acting-rector to resign over the scandal around her name, and for the university to hold elections and pick a permanent rector. The acting-rector agreed to resign as soon as elections are held.

--

The Parliament got involved. They summoned Gogyan and deputy-Minister to explain the situation in a closed-door session.

Parliamentary committee: the meeting was constructive. Serious accusations were made... Gogyan's resignation hasn't been signed by Pashinyan yet.

https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30614569.html

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188462

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188516

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188684

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188694

https://youtu.be/TARPWpAlJYI

https://youtu.be/ytXRDqGs66g?t=276

https://youtu.be/HR5Twcllx6Q

COVID update

+442 infected. +32 healed. +15 deaths. 4772 active. 272 serious. 53 critical. 18 lung vent.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188961

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016699.html

Not all patients will be hospitalized

As announced earlier, the Healthcare Ministry published a guide on how to handle mild cases that don't require hospitalization. After a medical assessment, the infected patient can be sent home and remotely monitored twice a day.

The guide explains how to prevent household members from being infected, how to isolate, use the bathroom, etc.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188983

Qajaran crowd gets tickets

Earlier the police arrested kidnapping and torture suspects. The suspects claimed the police applied excessive force. The suspects' friends organized a protest.

20 protesters have been identified and penalized. It's unclear whether it's for violating COVID rules and not wearing masks.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188921

Attitude towards COVID summed up in one video

Dendropark queue: https://youtu.be/eQjNL10E9RE

kindergartens raided

55 kindergartens were audited. 14 had COVID safety violations. The staff didn't wear masks or gloves, no book to record temperature, etc.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188989

wear a mask

"Wear a mask to save a life," said Pashinyan on Facebook with a graph that shows if >80% population wears it, the infection rate will reach 0.

40-80% mask usage results in 1 infected person infecting 1 healthy person.

<20% usage means >2 healthy people infected.

&nbsp

Pashinyan: You should assume COVID is everywhere. Knock it off with conspiracy theories. The situation is serious. You don't have to buy a mask. Create at home but make sure you have multiple units to exchange and wash throughout the day. The mask should cover the nose, too.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188988

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188997

beware of conspiracy theories disguised as "fact collectors"

Activist-doctor Gevorg Grigoryan, who often hang out with HHK's conspiracy theorists, founded a website called medmedia.am and a group called "COVID-19 Armenia: Fact-finding team". The website spreads misinformation about COVID, downplaying its seriousness and vaccines.

MedMedia receives financial grants from U.S. taxpayers. Last year founder Grigoryan urged people not to take Gardasil vaccines against HVP, because "it causes infertility and cancer."

Despite the anti-vaxx efforts, the vaccination was a big success with 50,000 women and 10,000 teenage girls getting the anti-cervical-cancer vaccine (multiple times more vaccinations than in the past campaign).

A few weeks ago the website published a viral post titled "Armenia must reject any COVID19 vaccination campaign", which obviously mentioned our good friend Bill Gates, and referred to vaccines as "chemical weapons".

This website also spread the several-times-debunked conspiracy theory about people being offered cash to falsely claim their relatives died of COVID so they could get more money.

(There is a widespread conspiracy theory that COVID numbers are exaggerated so Pashinyan administration will get more money from W.H.O.)

Full report: https://fip.am/11631

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/28/us-funding-website-spreading-covid-19-disinformation

mobile mammogram...

...has arrived from Italy. It's a big semi-trailer equipped with a cancer detection lab.

The Healthcare Ministry has a new free program to travel across Armenia and check women, starting next month. The first stop is Lori.

https://m.facebook.com/ATorosyanOfficial/videos/705805850231242/

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188971

Robik's circus stunt backfires

Earlier the court decided to keep Kocharyan jailed. Today we learn the full verdict.

The court found that although EU courts urge elderly inmates to be released due to COVID fears, it's only an advisory and doesn't have to be done, especially since he's kept alone in his cell and there is no overcrowding.

--

The court ruled that Kocharyan can get his medical treatment in the prison hospital.

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The court ruled that if freed, Kocharyan can meddle with the legal process, because Kocharyan has powerful connections and is charged with a heavy crime. But that wasn't the biggest reason...

--

Kocharyan's lawyers have been playing circus and delaying the trial in any way possible, partly because of the hope that during this period the Constitutional Court will examine Kocharyan's case and strike down the law Kocharyan is charged with. (tomorrow ECHR will provide and advice to Constitutional Court)

As a result of these delays, no March 1st material evidence has been examined in-depth yet. The court found that since no evidence has been examined yet, it's impossible to tell whether it's safe to release Kocharyan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188982

Nemets Rubo's son turns himself in

ex HHK MP Ruben Hayrapetyan and his son were charged with kidnapping and torture of their company's director over a financial dispute.

The MP is hiding in Russia and refused to use a recent flight to return to Armenia. An arrest warrant in-absentia is issued.

His son turned himself in and signed a document promising not to leave Armenia. The court didn't find it necessary to arrest the son.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/189010

update: property taxes

Yesterday we learned that govt will proceed with raising property taxes. It's aimed towards luxury house owners who've been paying pennies for decades.

Under new rules, the tax will be calculated based on the property's market value, rather than the outdated cadastre (govt) database. Govt will update real estate pricing every 2 years to keep the prices fresh.

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Armenia's property-tax-to-GDP ratio is 0.2%, one of the lowest in Europe. Georgia 1.1%. Russia 1.2%.

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Progressive tax brackets will be created for apartments and single-home buildings.

֏10mln house would pay a 0.05% tax ($1/month)

֏100mln house would pay 1%.

--

Opposition LHK Tandilyan says 580,000 homeowners will begin to pay taxes. "This will cause social problems and add more beurocracy to the govt. The law won't differentiate between an expensive apartment in Yerevan Center and a big mansion elsewhere," complained Tandilyan.

Pashinyan defended the changes saying the luxury properties will be taxed higher while keeping the burden minimal for the common folk. "It was a mistake all along not to tax cheap apartments. There needs to be a culture of paying taxes, even if it's pennies for those with cheap houses."

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/05/28/Armenian-Government-Announces-Property-Tax-Hike-as-Economy-Sharply-Contracts/385903

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/281466/

a mysterious comet

A meteorite fell last night. Cameras captured the bright light. Some residents believed it fell near Hrazdan city.

Govt and Byurakan observatory say it didn't fall in Armenia.

Byurakan director: We couldn't find traces on the ground... Small asteroids aren't tracked in the air. Only the big dangerous ones are constantly monitored. The one that fell is a few CM in diameter. It's also possible it was a rocket or other malfunctioning equipment.

Defense Ministry said they haven't fired rockets.

It was later revealed that comet might have fallen in the Turkish territory. Turkish govt went to examine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbYiMZySk8k

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016705.html

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016727.html

Turkish videos: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/meteorite-fireball-lights-up-turkeys-sky-as-it-crashes-towards-earth-155133


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gsbhih/may282020_news_1_armenia_commemorates_the/


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