2021 April 6

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Apr/6/2021: (1) Kocharyan trial: court drops Article 300.1 charges. $4M bribery trial continues (2) Pash & Koch give interview (3) Russian weapons (4) Couple spied for Azerb. (5) Migration stats (6) PayPay when? (7) Bank database (8) Economy stats: salaries, jobs, growth, exports (9) Yerevan's trees
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Tuesday report in 2656 words.

March 1st: lower court executes Constitutional's order, drops charges

Kocharyan, Khachaturov, Ohanyan, and Gevorgyan are found not guilty of violating Article 300.1 because the Article itself was struck down by the Constitutional Court.

The prosecutors will wait for the full verdict text before responding. They want to know what the court's verdict on the prosecutors' opinion is, regarding sending a new appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Prosecutors have contacted the Constitutional Court to challenge the legal code that, according to them, does not allow prosecutors to properly change the charges, thus "allowing perpetrators to get away and resulting in no justice for victims."

Article 300.1 was introduced by the former regime as an amendment to an earlier law. It was criticized at the time as being a backdoor to allow Kocharyan and others "to get away with abuse of power in the future". Other critics argue that the Constitutional court, with majority HHK-appointees, made a political decision by striking down the law.

Context: Kocharyan decided to suppress protests in February-March of 2008 by bringing the military against civilian protesters. Prosecutors are arguing "he abused his powers to usurp power" by doing so.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048222.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048225.html

Kocharyan is still facing $3 million mining bribery charges

The trial will continue on April 13. He is accused of taking bribes from a mining businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan with the help of his aide Armen Gevorgyan. The businesswoman came forward after the revolution and spoke about paying bribes to be able to do certain things.

Kocharyan is accused of taking $3M in bribes to allow her to sell her mining company to a foreign-registered company. The middleman was allegedly Kocharyan's friend Samvel Mayrapetyan, a prominent media magnate who owns the H2 media outlet.

Kocharyan's aide Armen Gevorgyan is accused of receiving and laundering [another] $1M bribe from businesswoman Hambardzumyan with the help of media guy Mayrapetyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048234.html

Kocharyan's conversation with Putin

The two held a phone conversation last week but Putin's spokesman Peskov did not confirm whether they met physically during Kocharyan's recent trip to Russia. Kocharyan visited Russia earlier to take part in a board meeting of the Russian SISTEMA corporation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048197.html

Investigative Committee provides an update on the 2018 Vanetsyan-Khachatryan-Pashinyan wiretapping case:

The wiretapping and publishing investigation is still active; all three are declared as victims and were questioned.

As for the second audiotape featuring NSS Vanetsyan and SIS Khachatryan, the investigation over possible abuse of power was dropped on Feb/4/2020 due to a lack of felony.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048166.html

court rejects former deputy CoGS Tiran Khachatryan's petition to "suspend" his termination

Tiran Khachatryan and Onik Gasparyan are suing the Premier and President to have their jobs back in the army headquarters. The court earlier ruled to "temporarily suspend" Onik's termination.

Today, another court ruled not to suspend a similar termination for Onik's aide Tiran.

Both trials continue. These were about "emergency" measures.

https://factor.am/356279.html

Artsakh continues to purge corrupt municipality staff

If you don't know what happened, you get an F for not reading yesterday's news.

Today, Artsakh published more instances of public officials being busted with falsifying post-war aid recipient lists to include unqualified individuals. Arrests and charges were pressed against mayors and officials from Shushi, Togh, Tumi, Zokh, Arevshat, etc.

https://factor.am/356454.html interview to Russian RIA Novosti / Pashinyan about snap elections and Russia:

Strategic and allied relations between Armenia and Russia do not depend on the election results. The relations are quite rich and extensive. They are based on the historical closeness of our peoples.

The elections will be held in such a way that there will be no reason to dispute them. It will show who enjoys the trust of our citizens.

In 2018 we held the first elections since 1996 that were transparent and weren't challenged in the Constitutional Court.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048163.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048229.html

Pashinyan about purchasing Russian weapons and SU-30 jets:

We will finalize the purchase of new Su-30 jets per our bilateral contract documents. Armenian army needs modern and multi-functional fighter jets. Armenia will continue to extend and develop long-term military-technical cooperation with Russia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048178.html

Pashinyan about modernizing the army:

The army's replenishment with modern weapons is a priority. Large-scale reforms have already been launched, which are being implemented in close cooperation with Russian partners.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048210.html

Pashinyan about military loans:

Since Armenia and Russia have a direct military contract and Armenia is a member of the CSTO military bloc, Armenia is interested in supplies from Russia in order to have a modern army.

Arms and ammunition supplies to Armenia should be done the same way they are done for the Russian army. (probably refers to low pricing)

As for the possibility of taking a new loan, it will depend on the results of ongoing army reforms. The ongoing loan repayments will continue.

https://factor.am/356117.html

Pashinyan about Turkey:

Turkey must change its aggressive policy towards Armenia in order to establish lasting peace and economic ties in the region. The border was unilaterally closed by Turkey in 1993. Armenia has always been in favor of normalizing the relations with Turkey without preconditions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048164.html

Pashinyan about the confrontation with former CoGS Onik:

The situation is settled. The army, together with the government, will continue to take steps to strengthen the security of the country.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048216.html

Redditor translates Kocharyan's interview to Russian outlet

DALLAVID's post can be found here. (Note: not verified by me but it's public content)

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mla9qh/interview_with_the_former_president_of_armenia/

Kocharyan said in the interview that Turkey is a threat and that opening borders and developing business ties with Turkey could turn Armenia into Ajaria [think of it as a Turkish province], hence the closed borders.

Critics noted, however, that he supported the opening of the borders during his presidency. Wikileaks documents revealed that Kocharyan sent a letter to Turkey in 2005, urging Turkey to find ways to improve relations and to open the borders.

https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2021/04/06/Ռոբերտ-Քոչարյանի-իրարամերժ-հայտարարությունները/449431

migration stats

During the interview with Russian reporter Vladimir Posner, Kocharyan claimed to be the only leader under whose watch Armenia had a positive migration score, specifically during the last 3 years of his rule.

A fact-checker found the following about net migration stats under each leader's entire term:

Levon: -586,800

Kocharyan: -33,000

Serj: -372,600

Pashinyan: +37,900

https://fip.am/15091

Armenian MFA criticizes Azerbaijan over landmine accusations

Azerbaijan wants Armenia to share detailed information about landmines in areas occupied by Azerbaijan so they can enter safely. The context is discussions over the return of Armenian POWs.

Armenian MFA criticized Azerbaijan for introducing a new demand, "which wasn't on the table during the negotiations. Azerbaijani authorities grossly violate international humanitarian law by keeping hostage the POWs."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048226.html

NSS busts a couple who confess to selling military secrets to Azerbaijan for $1,500

NSS wrote: an Armenian citizen visited Turkey on numerous occasions and was recruited by the Azeri intel agencies. Upon returning to Armenia, he sent his personal phone number to an associate in Turkey, who then handed it over to Azeri agents.

During a phone conversation, he agreed to send classified information about Armenia's military equipment and troops, in exchange for money. He signed an electronic contract and chose a nickname.

He then gathered and sent the classified information for $1,500, either himself or with the help of his wife.

A felony case is launched against him and his wife. Both have confessed.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048144.html

Tags: #RealTraitor

centralized banking records for anti-money laundering & digital fiat / Where is PayPal?

The government drafted a bill to ask Central Bank to create a central register to keep tabs on banking account ownership "to meet the standards on combatting money laundering and terror financing."

Author: the register will also allow the creation of automated banking for citizens and a digital currency in the future.

This will make the anti-terror and anti-laundering fight more efficient because the authorities won't have to target multiple banks with all their individual accounts.

Sensitive information such as initial balance, transfers, and final balance will not be collected or stored. The existence of a person's account is what's collected.

The centralized registry is also an infrastructure that can serve as the basis for the future development of online payment platforms in Armenia and abroad. The world is headed in this direction. It will allow online payment platforms to function in Armenia.

Q: thousands of people are asking whether PayPal will enter the Armenian market.

Author: we hold routine talks with PayPal. There are two options to bring PayPal to Armenia.

First. The Armenian businesses can consolidate and give assurances to PayPal that they will guarantee market growth, aka a "business case", but we don't believe the Armenian market is big enough for this.

Second. The government can develop Armenia's electronic platforms and ID system on the national level in a way to reduce PayPal's compliance risks. We need unified rules on a national level instead of showing individual treatment, so PayPal can enter our market and grow alongside other businesses.

Small countries like ours face these issues. At the moment, we don't have an offer that would allow PayPal to come.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048158.html , https://youtu.be/UbprusYjRQs , https://factor.am/356095.html , https://youtu.be/7mOWFWh6GiU

Vazgen Manukyan camp launches the tour through provinces

Manukyan's demand remains the same: Pashinyan must resign, the opposition must become the government and rule for a year, then hold new elections. Manukyan does not support the upcoming snap elections.

He praised Russia, China, and Iran during the speech.

ARF said they haven't decided yet whether to form an alliance with Kocharyan.

It is still unclear which two political parties will be lead by Kocharyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048198.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048200.html

stats: Human Rights office petitions continue to increase

The number of reports being filed with the human rights office, police, anti-corruption agencies, etc. sharply increased after the 2018 revolution; experts believe it was due to an increased trust towards institutes. The petitions to HR Office continue to rise. They released the latest stats:

2015: 5.2k

2016: 5.1k

2017: 6.4k

2018: 10.7k

2019: 13.1k

2020: 14.8k

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048167.html

Yerevan's Surmalu mall caught on fire last night

A 911 call was made around 3:15 am last night. A mall was on fire. It was extinguished at 8:39 am. It burned down 20 booths. The Emergency Ministry is examining the CCTV and the scene.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048146.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048206.html , https://youtu.be/J4PDAFVI4SE?t=30

COVID stats

3470 tested. 760 infected. 712 healed. 13 deaths. 15713 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048147.html

bed shortage looming unless numbers drop

Healthcare Ministry says hospitals are overloaded and there will be emergency bed shortages unless numbers drop.

20 facilities were re-converted to treat COVID again. 2,500 beds are being used, out of the 3,000 capacity.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048089.html

dollar vs dram

$1 stood at ֏533 after Dollar's recent strengthening against all currencies, including the Dram. The Central Bank says the inflation is controllable.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048154.html

IMF predicts 1% economic growth this year, and 3.5% in 2022

http://arka.am/en/news/economy/international_monetary_fund_expects_armenia_s_economy_to_grow_by_1_in_2021_and_by_3_5_in_2022/

stats: Armenian exports to EAEU, USA, and China saw a growth

Despite the overall -5.5% in exports during January-February, the exports to several economic partners grew:

EAEU $102.1M (+2.5%)

Russia 98.1M (+2.2%)

China $54.6M (2.5x)

USA $15.3M (+34%)

Germany $11.6M (+11%)

Poland $2.1M (+46%)

Ukraine $2.1M (-45%)

Kazakhstan +60%

Kyrgyzistan 2.5x

Belarus -17%

by product category

Mineral products $129.7M (+11%)

Prepared food $74.7M (-14%)

Precious metals $47.4M (+25%)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048091.html

IRS stats: average salary and jobs in February

Avg. salary increased by ֏11,000, reaching ֏204,000 ($385).

The number of job positions decreased by 8,000. They were mostly in industries badly affected by COVID.

Analyzing the change in the 150K-200K salary bracket: some sub-150K earners saw a bump which placed them above 150K, while some others crossed the 200K mark.

IRS believes the change is due to their accurate stats gathering and the government's recent aid for workers and businesses. "Trade turnover stats suggest that the economy is clearly recovering."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048174.html

Lil' Nakhijevan

Artsakh president Arayik participated in a tree-planting ceremony in Nakhijevanik settlement, organized by a diasporan businessman-investor from Hadrut. "Returning Hadrut and other occupied regions and ensuring sustainable security of the homeland begins with the development of Artsakh. One of the important components is the reorganization of the economy," said Arayik.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048141.html

Kim Kardashyan is officially a billionaire

Her beauty brand has brought $100M a year since 2017.

https://www.tmz.com/2021/04/06/kim-kardashian-officially-billionaire-forbes/ stats: child adoption in Armenia

2019: 19 (8 by foreigners)

2020: 33 (2 by foreigners)

Last year, 31 were adopted by Armenians living in Armenia, 1 by a foreigner living in Armenia, 1 by a foreigner living abroad.

https://factor.am/356419.html

ozone layer

The UN and Nature Ministry launched an educational program to teach schoolchildren about the importance of the ozone layer and what causes harm to it. There will be online classes and propaganda videos.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210691

Armenian boxers win an international tournament in Ukraine

69kg Gugo defeated the Ukrainina athlete, while 75kg Arman defeated an Armenian athlete playing under the Ukrainian flag. Gold medals for both.

52kg Koryun won silver after withdrawing from the match over an injury. (F)

4 others won bronze medals.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210766

video: UFC spoiler alert

Former Greco-Roman Rio Olympics runner-up Mihran Harutyunyan played his 5th match in MMA. This one was against a Chechen athlete in Moscow.

Mihran won with a KO.

Watch: https://youtu.be/Uf2Wq5Z4dDo

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210763

unprecedented angioplasty surgery was done in Armenia

It's done to restore the blood flow. The 94yo patient was admitted with a STEMI heart attack. The doctors scanned him and decided to immediately conduct stenting of the left valve to save his life, despite his age being risky.

The unprecedented part is the patient's age. "There are very few such patients in the world." He is recovering now.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210760

tile road in Berd

Earlier we learned about a government subsidy program to help rural settlements use locally produced stones to build roads with tiles instead of asphalt.

Tavush's Berd is one such settlement. photo of an example road:

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210715

Charles Aznavour's statue will be erected in Varna, Bulgaria

The Aznavour Foundation and AGBU Varna have signed a memorandum for the construction of a memorial.

https://en.armradio.am/2021/04/06/monument-to-charles-aznavour-to-be-installed-in-varna/ , https://factor.am/356339.html

All Armenia Fund is building housing for 40 families in Gyumri

The two buildings are being constructed as part of Our Gyumri initiative to help survivors of the 1988 earthquake.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048196.html

Yerevan's Green Department: from 0 to 60 in 365

the origins

A year ago, Yerevan municipality founded the Landscaping and Environmental Protection agency (green department) to act as a centralized authority on planting trees, installing irrigation networks, recycling, removing illegal structures that intruded on green zones, etc.

new equipment

Mayor Marutyan visited to learn about the progress. "We needed to concentrate all the potential in one place and develop a policy for landscaping the city. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough equipment. The new department purchased large quantities of tech, which is being used today," said Marutyan.

They recently purchased dozens of forklifts, trucks, water vehicles, spraying devices, trash trucks, a total of 70 units. A new parking lot will be created soon so they won't have to park on city streets.

baby trees

The department has 25 hectares of areas with greenhouses and gardens but only 5 is being utilized today. This is where most of Yerevan's new trees and flowers are planted. They start as a baby and grow under special conditions before being replanted elsewhere in the city.

They started this local growing program from almost zero instead of purchasing already-grown trees from elsewhere. "We try to make sure most of them are evergreen and perennial."

30 employees work on 30 types of plants today, with some being in the Red Book. The department has so far grown 30K bushes, 100K flowers, 5K trees. "The goal is to make Yerevan 100% self-sufficient, and to eventually supply other regions of Armenia."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048190.html

today in history

1896: Greeks kickstart the first modern Olympics games

1909: American explorer Robert Peary reaches the North Pole

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1048121.html

end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

News archive: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mlk8uw/apr62021_1_kocharyan_trial_court_drops_article/

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