2021 July 30

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Jul/30/2021: Universal Healthcare __ Azeri drone in shot __ European Parliament confronts Azerbaijan __ Yerevan-Tbilisi high-speed train talk __ Insult law amended, adds protected groups, "hayhoyanq" penalty __ Tuition subsidies __ Anti-corruption: blood center, ArmForest __ $45m heroin bust
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Friday recap in 3109 words.

in case you missed Thursday news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ou6729/news_recap_for_thursday_jul292021

Armenia downs the second Azeri surveillance drone in recent weeks

Defense Ministry: the air defense units prevented attempts by Azeri drones to intrude in Gegharkunik province around 11:00 pm. As of 7:00 am, the situation along the entire length of the border is stable and is under full control of the Armenian armed forces. //

The drone was an "Aerostar" model by Israeli Aeronautics Defence Systems. Some of the fragments fell 3.5km north of village Vanevan [see photos]. Vardenis mayor said he heard an explosion and saw a light in the air.

Around 11:20 am, Azeris violated the ceasefire near the Yeraskh (Nakhijevan) border. It lasted ten minutes.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059460.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059473.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059492.html https://factor.am/399444.html https://factor.am/399469.html https://factor.am/399825.html

using amateur drones to videotape border trenches/areas will require a permit

The Parliament approved the bill proposed by the National Security Services. It regulates the entry to a border zone, filming the borders and military objects.

The goal is to prevent the leaking of sensitive information about military structures. There will be a $200 fine for violation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059491.html

OSCE president Ann Linden expressed concerns about border escalation

... and called for the implementation of the Nov 9 statement.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059468.html

PACE Rapporteur on Armenia-Azerbaijan released a statement

Paul Gavan: the recent ceasefire violations took the lives of three Armenian and one Azeri soldiers. The occurrence of incidents has risen between May and July. This is deeply concerning. We spoke with both sides and learned that both want to avoid the worsening of the situation. So we hope they will refrain from actions that will lead to escalation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059494.html

Russia is also concerned about the border escalation

They will work towards finalizing the implementation of Nov 9 and Jan 11 statements.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059499.html

not just "both sides" anymore / European Parliament officials condemn Azerbaijan for border provocations, Aliyev's "Zangezur" trashtalk, and declare a need for Karabakh's status clarification

Head of the European Parliament Delegation for the South Caucasus Marina Kaljurand, joined by Rapporteur on Armenia and Azerbaijan, released a statement:

We deplore the death of three Armenian servicemen on 28 July in clashes with Azerbaijani forces at Armenia’s Gegharkunik province border after Armenian positions and several villages were reportedly fired at since early morning.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a series of incidents or provocations over the last months, including violations of the inter-state border that began with the incursion of Azerbaijani troops into Armenian territory on 12 May.

The recent exchange of fire at the Nakhchivan border, where another Armenian soldier died, was no less concerning. We call on both sides to strictly observe the ceasefire and refrain from any provocations. Any possible disagreements about the border must be addressed through negotiations in a border delimitation and demarcation process, not through the use of force.

All forces need to pull back to positions held before 12 May. It is of utmost importance that inflammatory rhetoric ceases immediately. In this context, we condemn in particular recent statements by Azerbaijani representatives regarding the so-called ‘West Zangezur’ and referring to the territory of the Republic of Armenia as Azerbaijani ‘ancestral land’.

Such statements are highly irresponsible and threaten to undermine regional security further. We recall the EU’s commitment to supporting confidence-building measures and the addressing of any issues at the negotiating table, including through the resumption of negotiations on a lasting settlement and the future status of Nagorno Karabakh.

https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1059508.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059508.html

border delimitation-demarcation will take a long time

... said the National Security Services deputy-chief Stepan Melkonyan today. Before delimitation even begins, they have to resolve numerous issues first, he said.

https://factor.am/399554.html

amended law will make "very bad insults" illegal and raise punishment if its against certain protected groups, after Constitutional Court urges Parliament to take action

Co-author QP Vladimir Vardanyan: Armenia's Constitution says human dignity is part of human rights. Armenia did the right thing earlier by de-criminalizing ordinary insult and defamation. We need to distinguish the difference between a simple insult and insulting a person's dignity in an extremely indecent way. The proposal is to amend the felony code. The punishment ranges from a penalty to arrest, depending on circumstances.

The goal of the law is not to punish but to prevent instances of serious violations of dignity that often lead to dangerous situations. Things have gotten worse with the emergence of remote communication tools (social media)...

The Constitutional Court also addressed this issue in one of their recent rulings, stating that the State must take action to combat "hayhoyanq" (swearing) from the public space...

This issue was raised by journalists. Part of the goal is to protect the journalists, too...

[There is already an Article 137 that prohibits physical threats and envisions penalty or jail time. The new law will add sub-Article 137.1]

Per Article 137.1, the insults could result in a $200-$1000 fine.

If the insult was done through the means of spreading material over communication channels [e.g. internet, or other public tools] and it was relating to the individual's public activities, it will be between $1000-$2000.

In extreme cases, only under the third section of the new Article, the person can be arrested if the law is violated repeatedly...

The protected groups are journalists, those engaged in public speaking activities, those performing public/official duties.

QP MP Baghdasaryan: can you define "insult"? Acharyan Dictionary says any false information can be considered an insult, while you brought gender/zex-oriented insults as examples.

Co-author: Acharyan Dictionary is not a legislative act. We must be guided by our legal acts, and by the legal decisions developed by the judiciary branch... This will not criminalize "insults" in general. Only the severe instances. //

MP Baghdasaryan: the existing law already criminalizes insults towards lawyers for doing their duties; you cannot call a lawyer a "liar" while they do their duties. Public officials do not have these protections. The new law also does not envision these protections for public officials. Don't you think it's also worth prohibiting similar insults towards Parliament MPs or Government members while they do their duties?

Co-author: First. When Armenia decriminalized insults years ago, some of the Articles were preserved regarding the protection of individuals doing certain duties [judges, HR Ombudsman, lawyers, etc.]. But let's make something clear. The new law is not about insults in general. Maybe you could interpret "liar" as an insult but it doesn't actually severely damage your dignity. The law is about hayhoyanq.

Second. If we add MPs to the list of protected groups, then why not also add taxi drivers, farmers, etc.? Everyone will be protected but the punishment is harsher for those in the specially protected groups.

Ex-BHK MP Sergey Bagratyan: this was a much-needed amendment. Social media is full of disgraceful content. We need to raise the penalty. We need to develop a certain culture in Armenia to eliminate hayhoyanq.

My colleague wonders why the protection doesn't apply to MPs. For example, in the United States, it is accepted that if you're a Congressman, you can become the subject of insults just as much as a subject of praise.

Ind. MP Sofia Hovsepyan: why doesn't the law prohibit "traitor", "idiotka", and similar insults?

Deputy Justice Minister: It would be bad precedence to blur the lines between criticism and hayhoyanq. The judicial system has already defined what hayhoyanq is.

I'm sure you have encountered - during your professional career - both criticism and hayhoyanq aimed at dignity. The text is written to clearly differentiate the two. This law is an "emergency" measure until we implement more permanent solutions such as better education and developing ethics. //

Parliament voted 72-0-0 to approve the amendment.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059496.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059527.html https://factor.am/399591.html https://youtu.be/zrqP_YToKT0 https://factor.am/399610.html https://youtu.be/JXiuNcSLC-U https://factor.am/399610.html https://youtu.be/Ak7LTtVyPvA https://factor.am/399618.html https://youtu.be/NsXDo4r88OI https://youtu.be/CE-kuB3yQq0 https://factor.am/399625.html https://youtu.be/QI4xVUGJSik

Tags: #InsultLaw #hayhoyanq

update: war participants and parents with >2 children will receive tuition subsidies

Parliament voted 73-0 to approve the government bill that was discussed yesterday. The law was already subsidizing education for other groups (low-income, border region, high grades, etc.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059530.html

universal healthcare from 2023 / government, employers, and workers to share the bill

As you may recall, in 2019-2020 the government began discussions to switch to universal healthcare (UHC). Discussions were held about the size of paycheck deductions and employer compensations to cover the costs.

Deputy Healthcare Minister Nanushyan: shortly before the pandemic, we began the discussions about implementing UHC. A package was drafted and circulated but the pandemic slowed the process. Lately, it activated again.

We recently made recalculations because there have since been changes in the cost of medical services and already-subsidized healthcare. The process is in its final stages. It will be presented for discussions between public/experts/government/international colleagues.

The workers will pay a fee from their paycheck to an insurance fund. Today, when they get sick, they often have to make huge expenses, and they may not be ready to pay the bill. The UHC will cover the costs, regardless of whether the person is currently employed or retired.

The size of paycheck deduction is still being debated. In the beginning, we said it would be 3-6%. We are recalculating that. The % might change depending on various factors. Within the past two years, the government began paying for certain medical services. On the other hand, there have been changes in the prices of medical services.

The size of paycheck deductions will also depend on the service package. We expect the UHC to be the best insurance in Armenia. There will be full services. Certain dentistry services, plastic surgeries, and "comfort" services [patient wants a separate room] are excluded from coverage; they must be done through voluntary insurance packages.

The size of the paycheck deduction will also depend on the number of services the UHC will provide.

Today, we have universal coverage for those under 18. Those between 18-63 are the ones who work and pay for it, yet they are the least likely to use medical services, while having a higher risk of getting sick. In particular, the elderly are in a high-risk group. Our goal is to medically ensure the person throughout their life.

There are people who sell their apartments to pay the medical bills. They accumulate debt. Others will not go to the doctor - they treat themselves at home. We want people to know that they've already paid for their healthcare so there is no barrier to seek help.

The state will continue to pay for the services that are currently subsidized. The more the state gets involved, the less the citizen will have to pay. We're currently discussing the employers' share in the payment.

Different countries have different approaches. In some places, the bill is fully paid by the employers while in others it's the worker, or they split. We believe the employer must play a role in preserving the worker's health. It's part of social responsibility.

We're currently discussing what to do when it comes to the unemployed. Will the workers pay for them, too? There will be more discussions about students, unemployed, self-employed. We will study the international experience.

Another thing we're currently discussing is whether to implement UHC immediately for the full population or to do it in stages. Experts have varying opinions.

In any case, people's financial burden is a lot higher today when they get sick than what they will pay through paycheck deductions under UHC. The burden won't be big. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059466.html

Tags: #UHC #UniversalHealthcare

anti-corruption: authorities uncover alleged medicine subsidy abuse in Yolyan Blood Center

Prosecutors said: the state subsidizes healthcare for some patients. The State Control Services audited the Yolyan center to see if the allocated subsidy funds were spent appropriately. The audits uncovered potential crimes.

The abuse is relating to hospital officials breaking the contracts signed between the state and the hospital. Some 45 patients did not receive their medication fully or at all, while the documents were forged.

The expenditure terms were violated during the 2018 transfer of several patients from one department to another. The services were not provided or were provided partially, while the state was charged in full.

In 2018, the medical center made unjustified and overly expensive antiretroviral immunoglobulin purchases from a private company. [lists other examples of alleged overbilling, in total ֏120 million]

A felony case is launched and is sent to the Investigative Committee. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059477.html

anti-corruption: ArmForest officials' generous "loophole" for the electric network

Prosecutors said: ArmForest (Հայանտառ) agency and the High Voltage Electric Network (ԲԷՑ) signed a servitude contract for 11-hectare forest lands in December 2019.

ԲԷՑ had to do some construction work for the power cables and transmission towers. As compensation for the damage caused by their activities to nearby forests, they had to draft a plan to plant new forests.

So ԲԷՑ drafted a plan to plant forests, however, the investigation revealed that the ArmForest officials signed the contract in a manner that did not require ԲԷՑ to plant these forests, so ԲԷՑ decided not to plant them.

ArmForest officials are facing felony charges or intentional or unintentional negligence. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059519.html

Appeals Court upholds the pre-trial arrest verdict for Serj's fugitive son-in-law Mikael Minasyan

Mishik is wanted by police over multiple felony cases. He was charged about a year ago.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059524.html

video: MPs going through metal detectors before entering the Parliament assembly room

It's part of new rules to boost security in the Parliament building. There will be more access restrictions and measures that are yet to be announced. "We have a bad record [October 27 terror attack in Parliament]. You've seen how [opposition activsts] organized mock execution performances outside the Parliament building recently," said QP MP Alen Simonyan.

https://factor.am/399669.html https://youtu.be/kKnRE9eiWY0

$45 million heroin trafficking busted / international sting operation involving U.S. DEA and Russian guards

This is presumably different from another recent $11 million heroin bust that involved a Turkish citizen moving narcotics to Armenia through Iran.

In this story, too, Turkish citizens decided to move a truckload of narcotics from Iran to the EU, through Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine. The Armenian IRS received a tip about the scheme.

IRS report says: we carried out a task unprecedented in the region: a controlled international supply. An agreement was reached with Ukraine and Georgia for 24-hour investigative measures.

Armenia's NSS, Russian border guards, and U.S. agents were involved. They monitored the truck during its entire journey in Armenia.

Armenian IRS had received a tip that a 20-ton truck carrying fire bricks was going to transport 368kg of heroin and would enter Armenian on July 4. The agents allowed the track to pass through Armenia, Georgia (Poti port), and finally Ukraine, where the two Turkish citizens were arrested by Kyiv police on July 22. A few days later, the third accomplice was arrested in Kyiv.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059483.html https://youtu.be/wYXuxjw7_9A?t=9

anti-human-trafficking campaign launches in Armenia

Labor/Social Ministry: today is the international anti-trafficking day. We hope Armenia will join it beginning today. We will launch an important public awareness campaign that will last until December 2. It's financed by the U.S. State Department.

The government has a 2020-2022 program to combat trafficking, which comprehensively lists interdepartmental responsibilities.

US State Department rep. in Armenia: we are pleased to note that Armenia has taken steps in this direction. This year's report provides more details. [Armenia scored a higher rating]. We have a good partner in Armenia to improve the fight; that's why we support the World Vision program in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059495.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059500.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059510.html

high-speed train between Armenia and Georgia?

Economy Minister Qerobyan visited Georgia to discuss various projects in travel, energy, and tourism. One of them is a high-speed train that would connect Yerevan-Tbilisi in only 2-3 hours.

They also discussed the wine and agriculture industry cooperation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059544.html

Gallup global emotions index 2021: the saddest and angries populations in the world

Angriest: Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon

Least angry: Finland, Iceland, Uruguay

Saddest: Iraq, Peru, Congo

Least sad: Taiwan, Kosovo, Japan

Most stressed: Peru, Lebanon, Ecuador, Turkey

Least stressed: Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Uzbek (what's up with that?)

Most worried: Peru, Brazil, Ecuador

Least worried: Taiwan, Mauritius, Kazakh

Most joyful: Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand

Least joyful: Lebanon, Turkey, Malta

Learned something new recently: Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand

Did not learn anything new recently: Lebanon, Turkey, Malta

Smiles a lot: Senegal, Paraguay, Sri Lanka

Doesn't smile a lot: Turkey, Bangladesh, Nepal, Lebanon

(No data unavailable for Armenia and Azerbaijan. Georgia is there.)

https://news.gallup.com/interactives/248240/global-emotions.aspx?elqTrackId=849ae72d20f647b087216db1d6c6c1f8&elq=f9e80f0eabe64f60a50b86d898ba3da2&elqaid=7027&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=

Russian lang.: Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin ridicules the Aliyev regime

... for siccing puppet media outlets on a young Russian blogger Sergey Vasiliev who recently visited Artsakh as a tourist with his Russian passport. State-allied media was upset that he did not ask for "permission".

Blogger Lapshin's commentary: https://youtu.be/_7w69aTfXIY

Sergey Vasiliev's video from Artsakh: https://youtu.be/nVMkVO7WLiI

Tokyo Olympics 2020

Tennis spoiler: Armenian-Russian tennis player Karen Khachanov has made it to the final after defeating the Spanish opponent. His final opponent will be Germany's Zverev, who defeated #1 rocket Djokovic.

Swimmer Arthur Barseghyan crossed the 50 meters in 23.14 seconds and was unable to pass the qualification round.

Who do we have left: three athletes (boxing and athletics) will compete for a medal soon, while eight others are yet to make a debut.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059480.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059502.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059503.html https://factor.am/399536.html

COVID stats

5900 tested. 264 infected. 199 healed. 4 deaths. 4437 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059475.html

Armenia saw the highest agriculture production growth in EAEU bloc

... in H1 2021. 6.4% in Armenia and 0.6% in the bloc.

Milk: +2.6% in Armenia, +0.9% in EAEU

Eggs: -8.3% in Armenia, -0.2% in EAEU

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059529.html

Armenia and Jordan are boosting mutual tourism and cultural exchange

Jordanian Tourism Association has signed a memorandum and sent an envoy to Armenia for discussions. Delegate Adel Amin noted that millions of Jordanians visit countries neighboring Armenia. While many of them prefer beaches, others are interested in culture, urban, and other types of tourism. The two agencies discussed tourism packages.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059514.html

top-10 bestseller documentary books in June

10) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance

5) Who moved my cheese?, by Dr. Spencer Johnson

4) Who will cry when you die?, by Robin Sharma

3) Կյանք և ազատություն, by Robert Kocharyan

2) The monk who sold his Ferrari, by Robin Sharma

1) Չխրատվող ժողովուրդը, by Garegin Nzhdeh. He talks about Armenians' character and historical mission.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059310.html

today in history

762: Baghdad is founded. Today, it is the third-largest Arab town with pop. 8.7m

1947: Arnold Schwarzenegger is born

1948: French actor Jean Reno is born

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059455.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/out72y/news_jul302021_universal_healthcare_azeri_drone/

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