2019 December 20
Anti-Corruption & Daily News Summary from Armenia - Dec/20/2019 :: Get your daily briefing about politics, economy, law enforcement busts, and more...
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.
Yesterday 60 Armenian and Russian entertainment industry members signed a letter asking the court to allow Kocharyan released under bail, saying they know Rob and that he is a respected politician.
7 more people signed the letter today.
Yerevan municipality spokesman welcomed the fact that in today's Armenia the artists can oppose the govt yet still get paid by the govt to do shows for state-run media. "Let the Kocharyan supporters think about it for a moment. You wouldn't see this in 2004."
QP party leader Lilith Makunts was asked to comment:
I can understand that Armenian entertainers are using their legal right to send a petition to the court and exercise their speech, but I don't understand why some Russian figures are actively part of this (😙🍑).
There are fugitives hiding in Russia yet these Russian figures have been silent about it. The Armenian figures have also been silent about the national security matter in the past.
One artist says her name was added to the list without her permission.
Traditional music player Ashugh Voskehur says:
I was in transport when they called me. They said something about signing a memo. I said I'm not involved with politics. They said they'll send me a memo so I can read.
The next morning I read on the news that my name was added to the list. I had a hypertension attack. I asked them to remove my name from the list.
Kocharyan ally was caught yesterday with offering bribes and a "legal advice" to a March 1st victim to drop his claims that the former regime violated the victim's rights. It was filmed secretly by the victim in the suspect's own office.
ArmTimes took an interview from him to get his version of the story. He basically said:
I wasn't offering a bribe. I only help people. We are the future of Armenia. There will be a revolution because it can't continue like this. I came from Russia to help Kocharyan and to get rid of this illegal atmosphere. The president of Artsakh cannot be under arrest.
(he refused to mention his sponsors)
Kocharyan will spend the holidays in jail after the appeals court judge Lusine Abgaryan sided with lower court judge Anna Danibekyan's earlier verdict.
Ah shit, we were short 3 signatures.
A 3-4M earthquake hit Azerbaijan. It was felt in Artsakh capital Stepanakert.
After the February-March 2008 anti-Roboserj protests, the regime sentenced numerous opponents under various pretenses.
Recently the General Prosecutor has been sending some of these sentences to the Cassation Court with a hope to overturn the convictions because they believe the citizens' rights were violated and/or they were politically persecuted. Some of them had their rights returned by the European Court for Human Rights.
Today the Cassations Court overturned the 2008-2009 conviction verdict of Smbat Ayvazyan, who was an MP of anti-Kocharyan "Hanrapetutyun party" (led by Vazgen Sargsyan brother).
In 2008 Smbat Ayvazyan was accused of resisting the police and possessing a "smashing utility" (baton) and was sentenced to 2 years. He died in 2014.
The Cassations court has ended the criminal investigation against Sasna Tsrer chief Jirayr Sefilian and his fellow Gevorg Safaryan.
Sefilian was charged by the Serj administration with allegedly colluding with a group of people to organize an invasion of various buildings in 2016. He was in jail at the time when his Sasna Tsrer friends (whose trials are still ongoing) organized a hostage situation in a police station.
The Cassations Court found that Sefilian qualifies for the 2018 mass amnesty.
The law enforcement earlier raided the offices of HHK MP Nemets Rubo (Ruben Hayrapetyan). He was the Soccer Federation chief and allegedly used his position and businesses to embezzle funds.
Today the police arrested the director of his Zeytun Furniture Fabric, and another Soccer Federation employee, for allegedly colluding with Nemets.
Parliament was discussing education reforms. Civil society members suggested removing the requirement mandating teachers to have a pedagogical degree. The law was changed in the past which resulted in experienced teachers losing their jobs because they didn't have a relevant diploma. There are also complaints that the school curriculum is written in a language that is too complex even for adults.
NSS and Penitentiary admins busted 2 Penitentiary employees. They smuggled marijuana and pills for the inmates.
Some inmates have tried using pigeons and drones to smuggle contraband.
In one instance, drugs were hidden in գյումրվա քյալլա (cow head food popular in Gyumri city).
(Hint: they don't check your anal cavity.)
Armenian Penitentiary system can house 5300 inmates. There are currently 2200, out of whom 1000 are in prison and 1200 in jail.
The new chief was appointed this July. He says they began working on improving inmate conditions, fighting the criminal subculture, ending the bribery and extortion which allowed inmates to smuggle contraband freely. There used to be "rates" at which the guards would be bribed to do certain favors.
Earlier a bill was passed to reform traffic laws. Each driver will have 9 points. Each serious infraction will cost 0.5-4 points. Some will result in an instant suspension. Drivers can no longer get away forever by paying money. Their license will get suspended if they exhaust the 9 points in the year.
The law goes into effect in January for traffic cameras. The car owner will not receive a point if someone else was driving the car, the actual driver will.
The police patrols will manually catch and penalize points beginning September.
Co-author of the bill a QP MP says the reforms target the repeated offenders who currently don't care about paying the ticket because they are rich or never intended to pay the ticket. "This will suppress infractions."
The license is suspended for 6 months once the 9 points are exhausted. If within the next year the driver does it again, the suspension is 1 year.
If you got 3pts you can give a DMV exam and reduce it to 1pt.
If you hit 9pts and get suspended for 6 months, you can wait 3 months into your suspension period and give a DMV exam to have the other 3 months "pardoned".
If you use illegal sirens or police horns you will no longer pay a 100k penalty (wasn't effective). Your license will instead be suspended for 1 year (get rekt lol).
For covering part of the license plate the penalty is 20k and 1 point.
For fake or missing plates the license is suspended for 1 year.
Lending your plates to a friend will get you a 20k fine (down from 100k) plus 3 points.
Intersection rule violation is 2pts.
Zebra violation or stopping on zebra 1pt.
Illegal U-turn 2pts.
Driving the wrong way in a 1-way street 2pts.
Crossing a solid line to pass a car 2pts.
Driving on oncoming traffic lane 2pts.
Not stopping when told by the police results in an instant 6-12 month suspension.
Passing on a red light is 25k fine (up from 20k) and 2pts.
Driving 11-30kmh over speed limit 2pts.
Over 31-50kmh 3pts.
81kmh driver is suspended for 6 months and receives a certificate of a Neanderthal.
Not being sober gets 4pts and 25k (down from 100k). Repeated case results in a suspension.
0.5pt is given when the driver takes up 2 lanes simultaneously while stopped.
Times magazine wrote an article about Armenia, calling it the Caucasian Tiger due to the improving financial ratings and the economy.
The Azeri NSS arrested a high ranking ruling party member for registering non-existent employees and embezzling their salaries, as well as other fraud.
Is Ilham watching and learning, or is this a continuation of the cleanup to pave way for his wife's Pashayev clan? Time will tell.
Property prices in apartment complex buildings rose 14% YoY in Yerevan, and 5% in provinces.
Ararat governor plans to sue a media outlet for alleged defamation after rumors that he beat up his barber. There was a police investigation which denied the rumors.
Ararat has 58 ongoing subsidy programs to repair the infrastructure. Most of it will be done this year.
26% of the GDP comes from small and medium businesses. 70% of such businesses are in Yerevan. Many of them do trade.
Govt is working on improving their productivity in 2020-2024.
There has been a 1.3C temperature rise since 1960. Precipitation level decreased by 9%.
5 years ago 40C was rare in Yerevan. These days 40C lasts several days in a row.
Govt and Parliament approved a bill to subsidize utility fees for several dozen elders who live alone.
This intersection near Vazgen Sargsyan military university now has a speed hump on the zebra and push-button traffic light. "Expect more", said the Yerevan municipality:
Yerevan municipality's new Citizen Portal concluded its 2019 work.
8900 verified Yerevan citizens registered, 15600 projects "liked", 740 projects submitted, 204 projects accepted, 17 top-liked projects won the 500mln grant.
These are about various city improvement ideas such as parks, playgrounds, etc.
GALLUP International published its own survey results, a few weeks after IRI's findings. 1.5k participants.
72% of Armenians are satisfied with their lives.
83% approve Pashinyan.
83% approve President Sarkissian.
55% approve the govt as a whole (including ministries).
43% approve the Parliament as a whole.
26% approve the opposition.
Defense Minister got 4/5 starts, Education Minister 2.7 stars, Shirak and Gegharquniq governors 4 stars, Vayots Dzor Syunik and Lori governors 3.2 stars, Yerevan mayor 3.3 stars.
Unemployment is the top issue in the country right now, 34% said so. 33% said low wages and pensions, 7% said corruption. (people had the ability to choose multiple options)
What is Pashinyan's weakest point? The staff he hires 42%, the reforms are slow 28%, too nice to former regime members 27%.
86% approved Pashinyan's working style (which is higher than his approval rating wtf)
61% would vote QP party if the elections were held today. 14% for BHK. 4% for LHK.
The survey was taken between November 9 - December 1, during ARF's "mass protest" against the Education Minister.
Education Ministry's program of issuing free tickets to school kids has resulted in 161,000 of them (including 3.5k teachers) visiting museums.
Half of all school kids who visited museums in 2019 did so through this program.
All 1,300 Vanadzor municipality worker salaries will rise 20% in January, not just for those earning minimum wage. Minimum wage earners are 70% of the city's workforce.
For many, this will be the first raise in 10 years.
The money will come from the municipality and federal govt, 50/50.
This is the 2nd year the city finished the fiscal year without debt.
Historians and linguists have been working since 2017 to add newly discovered information into the Armenian history books. Recently they've been examining info from as early as 10th millennia BC. The books will cover events from prehistoric to modern times.
The book will be ready for schools next September.
The govt made a decision to make changes in 2020 to allow the general public to freely visit the Turkish-Armenia border area near Norashen (Kharkov) without permission from the army.
The area is separated from the ancient Armenian capital Ani by only river Akhuryan.
Norashen village has a population of ONE - Vahandukht grandma. Pashinyan sent her flowers and 500k money (is he bribing?). Tati got emotional and hoped the govt will "no longer steal and will instead build the country".
Vahandukht tati takes care of the tourists who visit (a lot this year) and the border guards who stay in the village. "Սաղ տեղերից էլ գուկան, Ամերիկայից, Ֆրանսիայից, շատ գուկան, եռուզեռ կա, բայց որ ճանապարհները սարքեն, լավ կանեն".
She is a beekeeper and a farmer. You are officially invited to Norashen to see the 1001 churches of Ani from up-close.
Gyumri is preparing for the new year.
Breaking: Prime Minister Pashinyan kidnaps his family with a state-purchased vehicle and flees towards the Georgian border to avoid the authorities
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/edfxxd/anticorruption_daily_news_summary_from_armenia/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|