2021 July 9

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Jul/9/2021: Constitutional Court on election results __ J&J + Novavax __ Syunik mayors accused of bribing to help Kocharyan __ Hayrikyan forgives failed assassin __ EU's €2.6 billion aid __ Firdusi district __ 0% loans for exports __ Drones will drop lifebuoys in Sevan __ Media freedom
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Friday recap in 2874 words.

Constitutional Court is discussing the validity of June 20 election results

Kocharyan, Serj, and their smaller allies are challenging the election results in the top Court.

The Court summoned Electoral Commission representatives to receive answers to questions. As a reminder, the Electoral Commission had earlier certified the results and said the observed violations did not influence the results. Election observers agreed.

The members of Ind. MP Babajanyan's party, staunch opponents of Kocharyan and Serj, gathered outside the Court building "in defense of democracy".

--

Kocharyan's lawyers had earlier asked the Court to recuse judge Vahe Grigoryan for his past connections with March 1st case (Kocharyan was a defendant in that trial). The Court, however, turned down the petition because only one of the fellow judges voted in favor of recusing the judge.

During today's hearing, a Kocharyan ally also asked the Court to discuss the same judge's recusal. Judge Hrayr Tovmasyan said "it's too late" to discuss the recusal, "it has to be done early in the process when the case first enters the Court".

Kocharyan's ally then argued that since the ruling QP party was allowed to participate in the trial, that essentially "resets" the process and allows the plaintiff to launch a new recusal process. QP argued against that claim.

More judges agreed that the recusal period is closed. Moreover, one of them argued that only fellow judges can initiate the process of recusal, and not one of the plaintiffs. Judge Arevik Petrosyan dissented and said a plaintiff could, in practice, initiate a recusal.

In the end, chief judge Dilanyan said the issue of recusal had already been discussed earlier, and that the verdict is in: no one will be recused.

Judge Shatiryan began reading the plaintiff's argument about why the election results should be invalidated. Kocharyan's main complaint was "abuse of administrative resources", "unfair competition during the campaign", soldiers' lists being "secret", etc.

Judge Shatiryan noted that not all of the provided information is an "evidence", and that the court cannot examine every single page due to the large volume. The Court or the plaintiff has to sort the paperwork based on priorities.

--

Judge Hrayr Tovmasyan wants to summon President Sarkissian to explain why he chose June 20 as the election date, because some of the plaintiffs claim that Sarkissian chose that specific date in a way to maximize Pashinyan's chances of victory.

Fellow judges Khundkaryan, Grigoryan, and Vagharshyan opposed inviting Sarkissian. Judge Tovmasyan insisted that the rules require Sarkissian to be invited. Judge Vagharshyan said they haven't even heard the plaintiff's argument for inviting Sarkissian, so they should not invite Sarkissian [at least not now].

QP also argued against Tovmasyan's argument to summon Sarkissian, saying the same can be done with anyone affiliated with the elections to learn whether they were "pressured" or not, and that the trial could last forever.

The trial continues. The verdict's deadline is July 17.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057789.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057791.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057804.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057810.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057816.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057831.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057848.html https://factor.am/391817.html https://youtu.be/cYj2ZMrXao0?t=67 https://factor.am/391992.html https://factor.am/391995.html

anti-corruption: mayor of Vorotan (Goris, Syunik) charged with bribing residents to vote for Kocharyan-ARF

Prosecutors say: we examined media reports from June 10 and found that a public official working at Goris municipality withdrew ֏6.1m from the municipal budget and gave it to 115 residents who were not low-income. A felony case was launched.

During the investigation, we learned that the mayor of Vorotan village (part of Goris), ahead of the June 20 elections, organized a meeting with residents, also attended by Goris mayor. Vorotan mayor urged the attendees to contact Goris mayor to receive aid, and that they would be "guaranteed" to receive it.

Goris mayor then approved the aid for 31 residents, the majority of whom happened to be Vorotan mayor's family members and friends. Vorotan mayor also informed residents that in the event of receiving the [guaranteed] aid, they would have to vote for Kocharyan-ARF's "Armenia Alliance". //

Vorotan mayor has been arrested. The police are also checking whether the weapons found in his house are legal. An image was shared showing multiple rocket launchers, grenades, and bulletproof vests. Vorotan mayor has a "military background".

This is the third case in recent days when a mayor is charged with using municipal resources to bribe voters under the pretense of "low-income aid".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057834.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057843.html https://factor.am/391981.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218195

Tags: #bribery #mayors #VoterBribe

update: Qajaran (Syunik) mayor is also charged with bribing voters

Yesterday we learned about raids conducted in the houses of Qajaran mayor Manvel Paramazyan and an administrator at the Zangezur copper factory.

One of the accusations is that the mayor bribed voters to help an opposition alliance. Prosecutors want his arrest.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218213

Meghri (Syunik) mayor has resigned to become an MP

Mkhitar Zakaryan has been a mayor for 5 years. He ran under the Kocharyan-ARF ballot.

Zakaryan is a controversial figure. Earlier this year, the IRS accused his family of operating border customs facility without the required x-ray devices. At the time, ruling party MPs criticized the former regime for granting the mayor unnecessary favorable conditions, calling it a favor "to their own".

Zakaryan was also one of the alleged organizers of the Syunik riots during which Pashinyan's vehicle convoy was attacked. He is facing felony charges.

Today he resigned so he can become an MP.

https://factor.am/392091.html https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mwe4mm/news_recap_apr222021_1_economy_recovering_jobs/

Pashinyan held a large meeting with the heads of non-parliamentary parties

It was attended by Samvel Babayan, Tigran Urikhanyan, and other leaders. Today's meeting is for creating rules on how they should meet in the future. The eventual goal is to make the smaller parties' voices heard.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057838.html

Paruyr Hayrikyan says he received a letter from the man who attempted to assassinate him

Anti-Soviet dictatorship activist Paruyr Hayrikyan was shot during the 2013 presidential elections. Vardan Sedrakyan, a fellow presidential candidate, was convicted for the act. A month ago the court granted Sedrakyan parole after the 14-year sentence that was read in 2013.

Paruyr Hayrikyan revealed that Sedrakyan sent him a confession and apology letter before being released. Hayrikyan presented the letter as proof that it was a real assassination attempt, in response to skeptics who believed it was "staged".

Hayrikyan forgave Sedrakyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057858.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057858.html https://hetq.am/en/article/131513 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-armenia-candidate/armenia-presidential-candidate-shot-election-in-doubt-idUSBRE90U1GJ20130131 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218199

assembly of Catholic clergy fails to elect a successor

The headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Church (Est. 1742) are located in Lebanon. The church leader had died on May 25, so the clergy recently gathered to elect a successor.

They failed to do so, for the first time in 280 years because "the rules are strict" and the winner had to receive 2/3rd of votes.

The Vatican intervened and scheduled the second clergy meeting. They will likely ease the rules to set 1/2 instead of 2/3 requirement.

https://www.aliqmedia.am/2021/07/08/20846/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Catholic_Church

Russian MFA about the AM-AZ border conflict:

Russia is ready to help AM and AZ to draw the borders. The conflict on the border is separate from the Karabakh issue. The border conflict is a result of a lack of legal formulation of their borders. The lack of mutual trust also aggravates the situation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057820.html

CSTO military bloc plans to establish an institute of partner states

Russian officials said Azerbaijan and Pakistan are interested in acting as partners. Armenia has a history of blocking Pakistan's status as an observer in 2016 and preventing Azerbaijan from participating in a CSTO session more recently in 2021.

In comparison, partner-states would be allowed to influence the development of collective decisions and hold consultative votes, without having the full power of a member-state.

Some media outlets in Azerbaijan are against closer ties with CSTO, saying the bloc has nothing to offer to Azerbaijan and they already have great relations with CSTO members Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057767.html https://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/294160/

Armenia and Russia will create a new economic cooperation plan

Economy Minister Qerobyan met Maxim Reshetnikov, Russia's Minister of Economic Development.

They agreed to launch a new project that will coordinate all joint investment programs. A working group is formed, represented by deputy Ministers.

They discussed the elimination of trade barriers and Russia's recent law that regulates the wine industry more strictly.

Qerobyan spoke about customs issues faced by small Russian businesses whenever they want to do trade with Armenia.

30% of Armenia's foreign trade is with Russia [needs fact-check]. The trade has doubled from $1.26b to $2.51b since 2015 when Armenia joined the EAEU trade bloc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057842.html

EU investment package can reach €2.6 billion / European Commissioner of EU Enlargement and Neighborhood visits Armenia

Pashinyan hosted the delegation lead by Olivér Várhelyi, and noted that both are interested in developing the ties. He noted that the "institute of elections" has been finally established in Armenia and that the EU played an important role in it.

Oliver said the EU wants to help Armenia with its economy and democracy. He spoke about the massive €1.6 billion aid package for Armenia, which could enlarge to €2.6 billion with the help of other investors. "We can make a big difference. These are powerful large-scale projects," said Oliver.

Pashinyan said that he views the €1.6 billion package not so much as an opportunity to attract large financial resources, but as an introduction of European values ​​in Armenia.

Deputy Premier Mher said that the EU has positively assessed Armenia's progress in making reforms, and that the best proof is the decision to give Armenia the largest aid in the Caucasus region.

Oliver noted that the current program is worth €2.3 billion for the entire region, but it can reach €17 billion with the involvement of other foreign partners.

EU wants to help Armenia with transportation routes, the economy in Syunik province, energy efficiency, digitization. "We have 4 years to achieve results," said Oliver.

EU will soon provide €10 million in aid to victims of the Karabakh conflict.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057814.html https://en.armradio.am/2021/07/09/eu-offers-large-investment-package-to-armenia-nikol-pashinyan-receives-commissioner-oliver-varhelyi/ https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057818.html https://factor.am/391973.html https://factor.am/391978.html

companies can take 0% loans to purchase and process agricultural goods for export

The government has allocated ֏3b to help companies purchase food for processing and exports. The budget expanded from last year's ֏1.8b. The list of qualified products has expanded to include containers used for canning and storing food.

Last year the exporters could only take these loans for purchasing grapes. "It lead to a 1.7x increase in grape exports. This year, too, we're observing a similar increase. We decided that all types of crops should qualify for the loan."

To qualify, the exporter company has to sign a purchase contract with a farmer and present it to a bank, which decides the loan size. The bank gives the cash directly to the farmer. Now that the farmer has the needed cash, they organize the agricultural work properly.

The government also subsidizes the loan insurance and gives other assurances to the bank, on behalf of the exporter.

Last year the volume of canned food exports rose 43%, with a 27% increase in turnover. Juice exports +36%. The first four months of 2021 saw a 52% increase.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057778.html

rescuers will use drones equipped with life vests and microphones in Lake Sevan

Public beaches officially open tomorrow. Three beaches are currently being prepared with appliances, playgrounds, changing rooms, and other accommodations. Sevan National Park director believes the number of Sevan tourists will be high this year.

Emergency Ministry said they will mark the lake's areas that are suited for swimming and boat use. This year, their rescuers will begin to use drones equipped with microphones.

The drones will scan several kilometers of the lake. They have the ability to carry a lifebuoy to a location of a drowning person.

As a reminder, don't swim while you're drunk. So far no one has drowned during this season. The rescuers saved a few.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057819.html

govt has increased the size of relocation compensation for Firdusi district residents

Residents in Yerevan's 33rd district (Firdusi) were told years ago to move out because the state has to use the land for other purposes. They were offered compensation. Some residents complained that the offered amount was too little.

The government decided to increase the m^2 compensation from $600-700 to $1700-$2000. Contracts will be signed with 50 families.

Deputy Premier Avinyan held a meeting with the working group today. He announced the completion of design work for 13 "lots"; all 13 went through an environmental assessment. One of them already has permission to begin construction.

Avinyan said the historical monuments will be preserved. Their backyards will be revamped by the construction firms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057845.html

Armenia is included in the group of countries with a partially viable/stable information system

American IREX agency has published the research by Vibrant Information Barometer. It's about the quality, spread, and consumption of information.

There are 4 categories: 1-10 points, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40. Armenia scored 23 (մասամբ կենսունակ / կայուն տեղեկատվական համակարգ). It's on par with Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Ukraine, Moldova, and Kosovo.

The experts found major issues with the transparency of media outlet ownership and the owners' influences on editorial decisions. They found no improvement in this area.

The experts found lots of fake news and hate speech in Armenian media.

By in large, the media freedoms did not suffer heavy blows last year, although the COVID and the war brought a challenge, said the experts.

Armenia's strongest side, with 28 points, was the spread of information [shout out to /r/Armenia readers and those who translate and share the daily news posts].

Armenia 23 points

Georgia 19

Russia, Belarus, Serbia 15

Azerbaijan 11

https://factor.am/391903.html

Armenian eyewear maker DANZ opens new booths

Their products are available in the U.S., Russia, Armenia, and online. They just launched a new booth in Moscow's Aviapark mall, the largest in Europe.

The Spring collection sold in record numbers. The youth have developed a habit of visiting eyewear shops in groups to try them on.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057821.html

bike thief gets caught two hours later while riding the bike

https://youtu.be/fAEakBApyPE

Gyumri has purchased 63 new micro-buses

They come with accommodations for the disabled.

https://factor.am/391952.html

more Gyumri families receive permanent housing after losing homes in 1988 quake

Terteryan family from Mayisyan (Gyumri outskirts) received the keys to their new home today, after living in "tnak" since 1993. Another three families will get the keys soon.

They are all part of the 27 local families who qualified for housing after the government decree on 7 May 2020.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057861.html

the new Police Patrol will wear "modern" body cameras

Q: what will happen to the body cameras purchased in the past?

Police official: we're examining their usefulness. They are old. The batteries and technical qualities are outdated. The good ones will be used.

Q: were they bad when they were purchased in 2016?

Police official: not by 2016 standards but the technology develops quickly nowadays. Things wear out over time. The same about the old police cars.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/218087

environmental activists celebrate a court victory in Amulsar gold mine case

In October 2018, several residents of Jermuk filed a lawsuit against the Nature Ministry to have them invalidate the results of an old environmental assessment approved in 2016.

The Lower court had ruled against the residents, but the Appeals court has just sided with the activists.

It is unclear whether this ruling means the case will be allowed to proceed, or the Ministry has been forced to revoke the old assessment.

https://factor.am/392092.html

Artsakh's Khramort school will be renovated

Dashnaks from the EU collected funds to renovate the school, which is in a settlement that recently welcomed IDPs from the Hadrut region.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057799.html

COVID stats

4046 tested. 140 infected. 109 healed. 4 deaths. 3000 active (up).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057790.html

Armenia will have the necessary infrastructure to safely store Pfizer and other vaccines that require cold temperatures

Minister: back in February we were offered 15,000 doses of Pfizer but our infrastructure could not store them safely, so we rejected it. We've been working on it since then.

We have agreements with donors to establish an ultra-cold refregiration chain across Armenia. This will be ready in the coming months.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057826.html

350,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson and Novavax will arrive in Autumn

The Ministry will purchase 50,000 Johnson and 300,000 Novavax from the American manufacturers this Autumn. They believe having multiple options can increase vaccination rates and satisfy those who are skeptical about the quality of existing vaccine options.

Armenia is considered a self-financing state in the COVAX global program, so these vaccines are not a donation, they are purchased. COVAX has not yet made Moderna available to Armenia.

When COVAX offers Pfizer to Armenia again, Armenia will be prepared to store the vaccines in the new refrigeration system.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057826.html https://youtu.be/a3dCI3lCPFA

Ministry has no plans to require vaccinations

The vaccination numbers are low but the rate is increasing, said Min.Health Avanesyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057837.html

40% of Armenia's medical workers have been vaccinated

https://factor.am/391870.html

Mapped: Global Happiness Levels in 2021

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-global-happiness-levels-in-2021/?utm_placement=newsletter

top-10 bestseller Armenian literature books in June

5) Կախվածություն, by Syune Sevada

4) Երկա՞ր, by Yer Kar

3) Գաղտնիքների տիրակալը, by Ashot Aghababyan (about a Soviet spy)

2) The other side of the earth, by Nikol Pashinyan (2008-2009)

1) Baku, by Vahan Totovents

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1057575.html

yesterday's news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ogge6q/news_jul82021_armenian_pow_claims_he_is_azeri_spy/?

Перевод на русский by Impossible-Ad-

https://www.reddit.com/r/ArmDailyReports_RUS_/comments/oguneo/новости_армении_за_8_июля_2021/

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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/oh3s8w/news_jul92021_constitutional_court_on_election/

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