2021 March 30

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/30/2021: (1) March 1st: judge delays Kocharyan trial; prosecutors' move (2) Who wrote infamous Article 300.1? Critics argued in 2009 that it was a backdoor to avoid accountability (3) Sarkissian's British citizenship (4) Programming classes (5) IDEX expo investigation (6) GMO ban (7) NSS vs Cops
by ar_david_hh


Your 10-minute Tuesday report in 2431 words.

March 1st trial resumes / prosecutors preparing a case

Context: The former administration wrote Article 300.1 about the usurpation of power and overthrowing the constitutional order. Years later, when Kocharyan was charged with breaking that law (using the army against civilians), it turned out the law was unconstitutional all along. This could allow Kocharyan to avoid the most serious charges. //

Kocharyan and co-defendants appeared in court today, hoping for the judge to drop the charges relating to Article 300.1. The last session was delayed because Kocharyan's lawyers stormed out of the court in protest after the judge decided to advance to the examination phase. Today, judge Anna Danibekyan has to assess the lawyers' conduct before moving forward.

A bolola ensued during the trial. While leaving the room, a father of a murdered man referred to Kocharyan as "Turk". The defense bench complained and asked the father to be sanctioned. The judge called for an order.

Kocharyan's son Sedrak Kocharyan's lawyer was also present. Sedrak presumably wants the judge to rule something over "personal property". The judge said Sedrak isn't part of this March 1st trial so his lawyer should leave the room for now and file a separate petition.

The chief prosecutor said the Constitutional Court verdict was announced just recently and they haven't had time to fully prepare a response to it, so they asked the court to postpone the trial.

The judge took a little break because one of the defense lawyers was missing. Then she decided to delay the trial to another date because the prosecutors left. The delay will be shorter than usual - only 3 days. It'll allow prosecutors to prepare the response, while allowing the defense lawyer to be present in Armenia before his foreign trip.

Kocharyan's lawyer became upset that the trial was being delayed. (lol?) "Are you delaying the trial instead of dropping the charges? You are close to committing a crime. Do you imagine being able to answer for your actions later?"

The next trial is on Friday.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047529.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047531.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047536.html , https://youtu.be/dNOcpKimiJM , https://youtu.be/XFgMikCdT4U , https://factor.am/353682.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210167

Who wrote Article 300.1? / Critics argued it was being changed to shield Kocharyan in the future

Article 300 was amended in 2009 to add the "300.1" part. The authors were HHK Davit Harutyunyan, ARF Armen Rustamyan, BHK Avetik Adonts, and OEK Artsruni Aghajanyan.

Parliament voted 98 yes (HHK, BHK, ARF, OEK) and 6 no (Heritage) to approve it.

With that change, the Article 300 about the "usurpation of power" was modified with 300.1 about "overthrowing the constitutional order".

As predicted by some, the change was done to reduce prison sentences for people sentenced after March 1st. There were two relevant PACE resolutions.

Some MPs complained at the time that the law was written in a way that wasn't clear. MP Zaruhi Postanjyan argued that the amended law couldn't be used to punish March 1st perpetrators and cannot be used retroactively.

Zaruhi Postanjyan in 2009: dear colleague, don't you think that after changing this law, if there is ever another felony case in which Kocharyan is the one being accused of forcefully holding the power, then the law won't apply to him? Why are you trying to shield these people?

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210152

Tags: #Article300.1

group of lawyers want president Sarkissian investigated over dual citizenship

President of Lawyer's Chamber Zohrabyan (recently joined Team Onik): I have received a letter signed by 53 lawyers who claim to have information about a felony. They want prosecutors to investigate the topic of President Armen Sarkissian's double-citizenship.

Lawyers claim that Sarkissian held British citizenship between 2003-2012. He was elected [by Serj] as president on Feb/3/2018 despite not meeting the requirement of being only an Armenian citizen for 6 years prior to holding the office. That 6-year deadline would have been March/1/2018.

In turn, the President's chief of staff referred to the documents he submitted to the Parliament before his election in 2018.

Police officials at the passport department announced that no information about Sarkissian being a dual citizen was present in the database as of March/2/2018.

The passport database includes information available at the state registry and the information submitted by the applicant [Sarkissian] himself. There are no other tools to check citizenship status.

[Possible context: the timing is interesting. Sarkissian was recently added to the list of traitors and accused of being too cozy with Pashinyan for not challenging Onik's firing and other laws.]

https://factor.am/353852.html

Tags: #ArmenTheTraitor #SarkissianCitizenship

President Sarkissian held several meetings

He met Jun Yamada, the departing Japanese ambassador to Armenia. "Thanks for your efforts towards developing AM-JP relations."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047532.html

He met Justice Minister Badasyan who presented the judicial reform bill recently approved by the parliament.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047547.html

He met several MPs not representing any political party. They discussed snap elections.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047562.html

provocative actions must be prevented

... said Artsakh MFA in response to two incidents in which Azeri soldiers threw rocks at Armenian vehicles in Artsakh. "The incidents show that either Azerbaijan is not in control of its soldiers located on the occupied territories, or this is an intentional policy to destabilize the region and the peacekeeping mission by Russian Federation.

It's important to note that these incidents were also a result of the presence of international terrorist groups supported by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Such incidents must be prevented decisively, while the organizers and participants must be punished accordingly."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047544.html

programming classes for war participants

To increase the competitiveness in the labor market and help with job orientation, there will be free programming classes for war participants. A memorandum for cooperation was signed between the Ministries of High-Tech and Labor.

At least 200 students will study for 3-6 months. They will receive a student pension and upon successful graduation, they will become interns in IT companies.

The High-Tech Minister reminded about their prediction that 20,000 high-tech jobs will open in the next 5 years.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047564.html

IDEX-2021 delivery investigation concludes

Context: Armenian weapon manufacturers presented their drones and other military tech during the Abu Dhabi expo. Many sellers couldn't show their items hands-on because the items did not arrive. Despite the logistics failure, the companies opted for virtual presentations and ended up signing some agreements.

High-Tech Ministry has finished the investigation:

The Ministry was tasked with aiding the companies to transport the items. The cost of transfer was paid by the companies. No taxpayer funds were spent.

The Ministry assigned workers to help the companies with transporting the items. They failed to perform their duties properly. The three workers have been reprimanded.

Despite the shortcoming, the investigators found that the Armenian booth was appealing. The Armenian manufacturers exchanged contacts with 150 prospective buyers, reached 50 preliminary agreements, and the Armenian booth was visited by high-ranking military officials from several states. //

https://factor.am/353915.html

Armenian students participate in robotics festival in Russia

Thousands of students from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia visited Voronezh for the RoboArt-2021 expo. The Armenian students won two gold and one silver medal.

https://factor.am/353798.html

Armenian judges visit Moscow to study arbitration institution

Parliament has a bill to reduce the load on judges by offloading some financial disputes to be handled by the arbitration system. The arbitration will be promoted with incentives.

Supreme Court crew flew to Moscow to study Russian arbitration and exchange practice.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047549.html

government to regulate GMO food

Scientists are still researching the consumption of foods with genetically modified organisms (GMO). It is banned in several countries. In Armenia, a law was passed a decade ago requiring food with >0.9% GMO content to be labeled as GMO.

The Economy Ministry has drafted a bill to further regulate the field and inform the consumers about GMO's possible effects on health.

I'm not sure if GMOs are currently banned, but the bill appears to ban the use of GMO by Armenian farmers while giving an exemption to scientific research:

ԳԼՈՒԽ 3. Հոդված 10.
Հայաստանի Հանրապետության գյուղատնտեսության բնագավառում արգելվում է գենետիկորեն ձևափոխված օրգանիզմների գործածությունը, մասնավորապես` գենետիկորեն ձևափոխված օրգանիզմներ պարունակող մշակաբույսերի մշակությունը, արտադրությունը և անասնապահության վարումը:

Full: https://www.e-draft.am/projects/1178/about

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047495.html

regulating hate speech on the internet

Parliamentary Human Rights Commission held a meeting presided by LHK Ani Samsonyan. The topic was the regulation of hate speech in the legal code. The panel included experts and NGOs.

As part of a UN program, the experts were tasked with examing hate speech on the internet. The experts suggested requiring telecom and social media outlets to amend their Terms of Service to discourage users from using hate speech. (good luck lol)

Other experts argued against demanding telecom operators' intervention because "they aren't responsible for the content, they are only responsible for providing an uninterrupted connection."

In the end, the experts agreed that it's best not to force operators to police the content but to have the operators add anti-hate speech clauses in the Terms of Service.

Several NGOs including Transparency International urged the Armenian ruling and opposition circles to reduce inflammatory rhetoric on the internet.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047550.html , https://factor.am/353912.html

online argument turns into murder

Two social media users argued on social media. The 17-year-old perp traveled from Yerevan to Gyumri and asked the victim to leave the home to have a chat before stabbing him.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210211

update: Tavush governor files lawsuit against Bagratyan over border rumor and traitor-talk

On March 7th, Vazgen Manukyan's ally Hrant Bagratyan [called several people a traitor ✔ and] claimed that Azeri soldiers were in Tavush's Azatamut village and were drawing new borders, and that the lands would be given to Azerbaijan. Tavush governor and several local residents denied the rumors.

The governor decided to sue Bagratyan, claiming a $4M agricultural investment project was suspended as a result of Bagratyan's claims, in which the plaintiff governor was accused of committing treason.

The governor demands an apology and a symbolic 1 Dram.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047548.html

Matenadaran denies rumors about Arabic manuscripts going missing and being sold

Matenadaran said: a Facebook user named Vardan Ghukasyan spread fake news on Saturday claiming that manuscripts with Arabic letters were taken from Matenadarn and sold. We urge him to retract the false claims.

Also, there were no incidents of collapsing roofs and no such repairs in 2018 and later. The manuscripts weren't removed in 2018. The archives are located in such a place that their removal wouldn't be necessary for construction work.

As a rule, the authentic manuscripts in Matenadaran have all their pages marked with a pencil. The images presented by the Facebook user do not contain such markings, indicating that whatever is presented is not from Matenadarn.

The inventory in Matenadaran's is routinely accounted with the last one being done in 2019. We haven't recorded missing items to this day; the manuscript archive has only expanded since its creation. //

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210189

consumer protection agency investigates egg producers ahead of Easter

The large companies will be investigated to see if they are fixing prices or abusing market share.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047570.html

Lars border checkpoint reopens thanks to slightly less terrible weather

Many snow. Very trucks. Much delay. Half of the trucks, including Armenian, were finally able to pass between the GEO-RUS border.

https://factor.am/353580.html

COVID stats

4658 tested. 750 infected. 509 healed. 21 deaths.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047517.html

hospitals running out of beds

149 patients were waiting for an available bed as of this morning. The Healthcare Ministry is expanding the capacity but they warn that infection count must drop to avoid shortage.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047514.html

COVID stats by gender

Men: 51% of infected, 59% of deaths

Women: 49% and 41%

https://factor.am/353790.html

women receive free mammography / program expands

Healthcare Ministry imported a trailer-truck equipped with breast cancer tech for women above the age of 50.

38 staff were retrained to provide the free services that are currently available in Syunik, Tavush, and Lori.

The images are instantly sent to Yerevan headquarters for possible sonography and biopsy if needed.

1500 tested in 3 months. 7% of them were invited for double-testing. 13 patients were diagnosed with cancer.

https://youtu.be/Zn_KMwuLxu8

Jerusalem Post: Biden recognizing Armenian Genocide is righting a historic wrong - opinion

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/biden-to-recognize-armenian-genocide-righting-a-historic-wrong-663538

VICE: How an Authoritarian Regime Infiltrated a Government in the Heart of Europe

About Aliyev regime's bribes for several European politicians.

https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/qjp74b/azerbaijan-lobbying-germany-angela-merkel-ilham-aliyev?__twitter_impression=true

Washington Post: With Armenian captives at issue, conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh continues to rankle - Opinion

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/29/with-armenian-captives-issue-conflict-over-nagorno-karabakh-continues-rankle

anti-corruption: NSS busts several police officials with extortion

NSS report says: the deputy chief of operations department in Sisian (Syunik) and several subordinates abused their power to defraud victim and embezzle properties.

Between December and March, the officials refused to accept and file reports by a resident whose cattle was stolen. Instead, the officials attempted to bypass the law to solve the dispute personally between two parties.

After helping the victim to recover his cattle, they forcefully took ֏3.5M worth property from him for the "services". They then stole ֏2.5M worth of CCTV equipment from him and demanded ֏700K in exchange for returning it.

The extortion transaction was carried out under the watch of NSS agents. The police officials were arrested.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047510.html

Academic City outside the Yerevan

As part of education reforms, Pashinyan announced on March 17th about an idea to move several universities outside of Yerevan to a new student town called Academic City. The reason is that "many of our universities have this problem that their physical environment does not meet the modern standards of higher education."

Education Minister Dumanyan: We are determined to implement this idea. The education system must have conditions appropriate to modern standards. There should be modern classrooms, dormitory, sports and food centers, library, leisure zone, etc.

This will be a difficult large-scale project so I can't give ETA. We need large investments.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047555.html

IRS is holding free classes for law-abiding businesses

Businesses and self-employed people who have certificates of good tax record are now able to participate in IRS's first free classes aimed at boosting their knowledge about VAT, tax code, etc.

The certification itself isn't new but the free classes were added recently as an incentive.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047543.html

Armenian wrestlers win gold, silver, bronze medals in Spain

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/210141

Yeralash

Yerelash is a popular Soviet-era Russian comedy sketch featuring students. Its founder Boris Grachevsky passed away in January. The co-funder Arkadi Grigoryan is now the general director.

https://factor.am/353895.html

today in history

1867: Russia sells Alaska to the United States for 122 Bitcoins. The art of the deal.

1981: USSR switches to Daylight Saving Time for the first time

1998: Roberk Kocharyan wins presidential elections

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1047493.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/mgp049/mar302021_1_march_1st_judge_delays_kocharyan/

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