2020 May 4

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Monday News, May/4/2020 -- How UCOM got involved in money laundering story \\ Aid for businesses that hire during COVID \\ Voter lists inflated? \\ Defamation lawsuits \\ Economy & Unemployment \\ Mask and testkit production \\ "Repeated" infections \\ EU tariffs & Armenia \\ Road repairs \\ 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.


Major stories yesterday

Don't miss Sunday news about UCOM's shareholder, Armenian airline blacklist, Pashinyan vs HHK, and other events: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gd30zz/may32020_todays_news_stories_armenian_airlines/

update: UCOM shareholder on the run

Yesterday the court authorized the arrest of ex-IRS chief Gagik Khachatryan's son Gurgen, who is UCOM ISP's co-owner. He is charged with money laundering.

NSS says Gurgen Khachatryan learned about the arrest warrant and went on hiding.

--

Someone with the Facebook name "Arthur Alexanyan", named after the legendary wrestler, posted a comment on the fugitive's Facebook post, saying "don't give up Gurgen!". Several outlets erroneously reported that "the wrestling champion supports the fugitive". The real athlete denied writing that post.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187114

https://factor.am/246718.html

What does UCOM have to do with this?

NSS report talks about the alleged money laundering involving the Khachatryan family and UCOM:

Gagik Khachatryan (Daddy) was the chief of IRS and Finance Ministry. Gurgen Khachatryan (Son) took advantage and launched a business to sell products to the agencies led by Daddy. Daddy illegally colluded to help his Son to win contracts.

Daddy knew about the need to purchase new expensive equipment and made sure his agency signed 19 contracts with Son's business.

The stolen money was split between multiple individuals, and in the form of various contracts, was laundered into UCOM (owned by Son).

In another instance, the Son met BHK chief Dodi Gago's "Multi Group" company's director Arustamyan, and together laundered $22.4mln cash in exchange for IRS closing the eye on Dodi Gago's businesses.

The Son was charged with these two counts of money crimes and was raided a few days earlier.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/116718

Tags: #UCOM #UCOMlaundering #Khachatryan #GagikKhachatryan #GurgenKhachatryan

Serj's locked up nephew has...

...you guessed it: health problems! Narek Gonzalez Sargsyan was earlier extradited and slapped with weapons, explosives, and narcotics charges. His lawyer says Gonzalez is taking meds and needs medical help now.

https://factor.am/246563.html

Gegharquniq police chief is sacked...

... a few days after 500 people stormed a hospital in Gavar, Gegharquniq, and tried to kill 4 patients, mistakenly believing that the patients killed their relatives.

It isn't 100% unclear whether the sacking is related to the attack. The police commented: "staff changes happen all the time".

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187058

Bill to accelerate defamation lawsuits

BHK MP Gevorg Petrosyan:

People aren't filing defamation lawsuits after being called bad words, because they know it'll take years for the court to hear their case. It takes avg. 8 months to hear such a case in Lower Court. It'll take years if it's Appealed.

There needs to be a separate legal procedure. We have a bill to reduce the defamation trial to 6 months. The government has a "meh" attitude towards our bill, and that's concerning. The European Court and Armenia's Constitution say people have the right for a quick trial.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187068

https://factor.am/246475.html

Are voter lists inflated?

Parliament summoned the Central Electoral Committee chief.

QP MP: there are people on the voting list who aren't in Armenia. Some went abroad and died. We have no way to verify this.

Electoral chief: as of right now, the lists include Armenian citizens who are >18yo and have a residential registration in Armenia. When registrations change, the Electoral Committee must be informed so it can remove them from the list. If you don't want the "gone" citizens on the list, you should change the list-generation methodology.

QP MP: is it true that not all voting locations will have video Livestreams? [for upcoming Constitutional Court referendum]

Electoral chief: some rural villages have an internet problem so we will install cameras in only 1500 out of 2000 locations, but that will cover 93% of the voters. The camera installation is 80% complete.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187071

Armenia gets dragged in a global political fight over COVID

The U.S. says it has evidence that COVID escaped a lab from Wuhan. China earlier pointed finger at the U.S. military as its origins.

Russia, on the other hand, has long circulated unrelated conspiracy theories that the U.S. operates biolabs in Armenia which could be used for bio-weapons.

Now it appears China is mimicking the Russian biolab conspiracy theory, by saying "The U.S. created many biolabs in post-Soviet states which raised the ire of local population who demand its closure [do they?]. Hopefully, the U.S. will listen to them and address the concerns."

https://www.lragir.am/2020/05/04/543213/

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fxznm3/apr92020_daily_news_summary_biological_labs_in/?

Healthcare Minister criticizes conspiracy theories

The chief of ArMath engineering program Karen Vardanyan gave an interview during which he allegedly claimed that COVID is a "big bluff just to sell more vaccines".

Minister Torosyan: it's disappointing that an entire scientific field is led by a person with such anti-science views. I hope he never catches COVID because he has chronic illnesses. I urge my beloved media outlets to invite knowledgable experts about the COVID topic instead of helping to spread conspiracy theories.

https://factor.am/246597.html

COVID numbers / "Repeated" infections / What now?

24k tested, 2.5k infected, 1.4k active cases, 39 deaths.

Healthcare Minister Torosyan:

3 recovered patients were re-admitted to a hospital because we found traces of COVID in their respiratory system. They aren't actually sick again. Those are COVID particles that persisted in a throat and could infect others.

We could have 10k infections by June (recently the daily detections doubled after daily tests tripled). If people don't respect safety, we could have 500,000 infections and thousands of deaths. That is what WHO predicted for us initially, but we managed to avoid it by implementing restrictions.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187056

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187072

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187075

63,000 arrived during COVID period

63,000 Armenian citizens returned from abroad since March 1st, when the first COVID case was recorded.

23,000 arrived since the mid-March Emergency Declaration.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187087

Labor changes / Who is affected by COVID? / Unemployment

The International Labor Organization says 81% of the world's workforce is under restrictions. Finances of 3.3 billion are negatively affected.

The total working hours in Armenia will reduce 7%. Those working at leisure, hotel, food service, trade, real estate, will be hit the hardest. That's 209k (35%) workers in Armenia.

Post-COVID, it expects unemployment to rise from 17.7% to 19%. That translates to 40,000 newly unemployed.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187067

https://factor.am/246515.html

Europe's GSP trade rules will change / Armenian exports

EU reduces import tariffs from poor countries by adding them to GSP system. Armenia has been in GSP for a decade.

In 2018, Armenia was upgraded to "above average" country due to $4212 GDP-per-capita income. This prompted EU to schedule Armenia's removal from GSP by 2022.

Now there are talks about delaying it due to COVID. EU plans to review the whole system in 2023.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/280769/

COVID restrictions are officially relaxed / Safety guide published

The govt published a lengthy doc explaining how open-air cafes, factories, etc. can operate safely.

--

Food facilities cannot host parties with >5 patrons, must record patron's temperature at the entrance, cannot serve patrons with flu symptoms, tables must be 1.5m apart, must have a dishwasher, must check employees' temperature twice a day, must wear masks (dispose every 4 hours) and gloves, the employee cannot leave the facility during a break, disinfect the area before and after service, etc.

Video showing how cafes prepare to accept customers: https://youtu.be/32m2-q346lQ?t=518

https://www.gov.am/files/docs/4038.pdf

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187083

150,000 daily mask production...

... began in Tavush by "Tavush Textile". Soon it'll increase to 300k/day.

The factory has 700 workers. Only a small group work on the mask production because it's mostly automated. The factory will hire 300 more soon.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187053

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187076

Local test kit production

Earlier the govt gave $550k to Molecular Institute to purchase items necessary to produce 100,000 COVID test kits in Armenia. They're waiting for the necessary merch to arrive.

"We don't know the production cost per unit. We'll have up to 20 employees. There is a chance we might export some kits."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014166.html

what about testing now?

Armenia has 70,000 test kits right now, most of which are the 5-hour accurate tests. "We will buy 1-hour accurate tests from a U.S. firm," said Healthcare Minister.

The rapid tests are only used to do en-masse quick tests in buildings.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014194.html

a reward for companies that hire laid-off workers

Govt plans to pass a new COVID aid package for businesses that hire those who were laid off from another company due to COVID.

For 4 months, the govt will subsidize 60% of the newly hired worker's salary (maxed at minimum wage).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014223.html

update: burglary suspect arrested

Last month famous TV host Avet Barseghyan's father-in-law's house was burglarized. $110,000 worth of jewelry was stolen. The police have arrested a 32yo suspect.

https://shamshyan.com/hy/article/2020/05/04/1153943/

Dodi Gago's lioness gave birth...

...to 4 cubs in Gago's private zoo.

https://a1plus.am/hy/article/367146

6M earthquake on the border...

... between AZE and GEO. It was felt in ARM as 4.1M.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187048

Major road repairs resume in Armenia / 40-year streak broken

"First ever road repair in Berqaber, Tavush in 40 years. The residents have been waiting for 25 years," bragged Pashinyan after publishing a pic.

--

Rock explosion will be conducted near Qobayr-Alaverdi tomorrow to help widen the M-6 freeway. Several construction companies are tasked with building various parts of the road.

--

Soon, 20km road and 15km road barrier will be repaired/installed on Sevan-Shorzha-Vardenis highway. "It'll boost the economic activity in north-eastern parts of Lake Sevan. It includes the area between Lake Sevan and Artsakh."

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187055

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187065

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187092

push the red button...

... to cross the street. In 2019, Yerevan installed 5 push-to-walk buttons for pedestrians on dangerous intersections. In 2020/21 they plan 74 installations. Some are complete.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187079

7,000 on 7

Կողբ Foundation turns 7 this year. They're cooperating with the Nature Ministry to plant 7,000 trees and an irrigation system on a 3 hectare land in Koghb, Tavush.

They've inviting volunteers to participate this October. Maps will be distributed. You can pick your work area.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014192.html

SU-30

The newly purchased destroyer jets were flying over Yerevan to train for the upcoming WW2 victory events. The geographic location of Yerevan, the border with Turkey, and a nearby mountain, forces jets to fly close to the city's residential areas.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/100000768523525/videos/2975048795864042/

For Sale

Soccer player. Male. Age 31. Armenian national.

Arsenal has agreed to sell Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Roma for 10 million pounds. Heno has played 17 matches in A-Series and Europa League, scored 6 goals, made 4 goal-passes.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187064


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gdib5c/monday_news_may42020_how_ucom_got_involved_in/


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