2019 November 11
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Nov/11/2019 :: More Education reforms -- border programs, travel subsidy :: Energy savings :: Salary up :: Yerevan City :: Mortgage :: Infrastructure projects in provinces -- budget up :: Embezzlement busts :: Foreign Relations -- Russia, Vatican, Syria :: Sports
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.
Grandmaster Levon Aronian is the winner of Rapid and Blitz Grand Tour held in Bucharest. He defeated Sergey Karyakin in the finale. He also won $31k.
Aram Grigoryan is the world sambo champion.
Turkish-backed militias SNA (or Turkish soldiers themselves) vandalized an Armenian church in Tel Abyad city, overturning pews and ripping religious posters.
Turkey accused Kurds of using the church as a shelter few weeks earlier, while the SNA urged the local Christians to return home and use the church for worshiping.
In another incident, pastor Hanna Ibrahim (Hovsep Petoyan) of Armenian church in Syrian Qamiscli city, and his father, were killed by ISIS terrorists during a road ambush.
On Sunday, Vatican sent its foreign relations chief Paul Richard Gallagher to Armenia. He participated in a liturgy held in Gyumri, brought greetings from Pope who once again thanked for the 2016 liturgy while visiting Armenia.
Gallagher went to Genocide Monument and Museum in Tsitsernakaberd.
Met the Armenian MFA Mnatsakanyan and Pashinyan, discussed politics and the protection of Christian minorities in the Middle East.
Led by Serj, HHK held a party meeting in Tsakhkadzor. The topic was "Populism & Traditional Policy-making: Challenges and Solutions".
They discussed several topics, including female participation, and analyzed the findings of some public surveys.
March 1st 2008 suspect military-man Yuri Khachaturov joined the fight against the Istanbul Convention (domestic abuse initiative). He referred to it as perversion, and being against Armenian traditional values.
Former Artsakh PM Arayik Harutyunyan is one of the leading candidates for the 2020 Artsakh Republic presidential elections.
During a press conference he said that those who question the current foreign policy of Armenian government and call it a conspiracy to sell lands to Azerbaijan, are the real conspirators themselves, and are misleading the public. "If you make such baseless accusations, you're only stoking divide within the public. It's treacherous. You're helping Azerbaijan by doing so", said the politician.
"Any concerns about the current government sabotaging the army disappears when you look at all the reforms that is being done in the army (soldier housing, financial increase to army, more weaponry, etc). Artsakh should return to the negotiating table."
Russian MFA Sergey Lavrov.
Some outlets in Armenia and Russia say that Russian govt is distrustful towards Pashinyan admin. Does Russia really have concerns?
Our relations where developing in 2018 during a time of serious internal changes in Armemeia. Pashinyan admin demonstrated a serious willingness to improve the ties. He met Putin 4 times this year.
Russia remains a big partner, 26% of trade, 45% of foreign investments, mutual projects, improvement in cultural and scientific exchange.
Obviously when you do a lot of things together, some disagreements may happen, which can be misinterpreted by the observers. The most important part is that there is a mutual willingness to solve such problems.
Armenian govt says they want to stay out of Russia-West geopolitical conflict.
Armenia has a balanced foreign relations approach. I'm satisfied with Armenia's participation in EAEU and other joint strategic projects.
Sergey Lavrov visited Armenia to participate in the opening of a memorial dedicated to WW2. He thanked Armenians for their participation in defeating fascism.
MFA Mnatsakanyan spoke about how is grandfather fought in the war.
The meeting will include the discussion of a transparency agreement to allow Russian observers to visit US-funded biological laboratories to verify they aren't creating bio-weapons. Russia is complaining that US isn't part of an anti bio-weapon agreement, they don't trust US labs.
(There is a popular conspiracy theory in Russia that US has allegedly weaponized bio-labs in countries neighboring to Russia. At some point they suspected Georgian bio-labs being behind the decline of crops and increase of flu in Russia.)
Artsakh Foreign Minister Masis Mailyan earlier visited Moscow and met some politicians.
Azeri MFA didn't like it, summoned a diplomat and issued a note of protest, made some demands.
Russian MFA responded saying they find Azeri accusations baseless and contrary to the spirit of Russian-Azeri relations.
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund chief Karen Asatryan:
37% of energy in Armenia is consumed by households. It's possible to reduce that share to 29% by 2036 by implementing energy saving reforms.
There is an ongoing UN-funded initiative to install thermal insulation on 290 residential apartment complexes to reduce energy waste (hotter in winter, colder in summer). We did a similar projected in 2012 on 180 govt buildings (schools, libraries, etc) and it resulted in 50% energy savings.
Energy consumption can be further reduced by 40%.
The new administration of govt-funded Teachers Union has audited the 2017-2018 expenditures and found embezzlement.
Police says the former officials stole 50mln by forging documents about fees collected from rental, work related expenditures, etc.
Felony case is launched.
Prosecutors had asked the court to jail the former Davtashen district manager Ruslan Baghdasaryan. He is accused of embezzling and causing 51mln damage to state between 2009-2018. The court declined the arrest and decided to release him pre-trial under 5mln bail.
The case begun in May/7/2019. Ruslan and his relative HHK MP Arthur Grigoryan were the former district managers. They are the relatives of BHK MP Tsaghik Rubo.
Pashinyan traveled around the country, visited sights where the govt subsidizes infrastructure upgrades.
He complained about a govt-subsidized road project being carried out too slowly in Yeghegnadzor
An "important road" in Goris, Syunik is being rebuilt after 30 years, with a new sidewalk. An adjacent area was cleared of random kiosk budkas and turned into an alley.
Goris is also building a new pedestrian boulevard, a place to see the Old Goris, a new school, a soccer pitch, a renovated kindergarten.
The financial burden is split between federal and local governments.
790mln worth subsidized programs are being done at the moment in Goris alone.
In 2018 that number was 450mln for the entire Syunik province, while this year its 3.7bln, said Goris mayor Arush Arushyan and governor Hunan Poghosyan.
Goris budget revenues:
2020: 300mln planned
Provincial cities saw a 2.5bln revenue rise in 2019.
Goris, with a population of 21k, is the second largest city in southern Syunik province.
ARF official Artsvik Minasyan joined the ARF student protesters who are still demanding Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan's resignation. Some students from departments majoring in language/history had earlier joined the initiative.
Pashinyan earlier said the decision to reform education was made by the entire government, including Pashinyan, who supports the education changes.
ARF Minasyan refrained from directly criticizing Pashinyan, saying that Pashinyan was "misinformed by others" and that this was a decision by the Education Ministry alone.
Context: Govt wants to allow the universities themselves to decide whether they want to require language/literature/history classes for all students, or only for those whose major is relevant to those subject. Armenian History & church will be merged into one subject in schools. ARF then organized protests, joined by ARF's student-wing organizations in Armenia and abroad.
A high-ranking member of EPH University's Student Council member joined the protesters, called the Armenian government "pro-LGBT" and "anti-traditionalist".
EPH University's Student Council chief agrees with the Ministry's idea to remove the state-mandated requirement to force universities to teach these classes to all. He supports more autonomy for universities.
He personally believes that the universities, after receiving the autonomy, should independently decide to implement some of these classes for 1 year to fill the void missed by 12-year schools.
EPH Student Council does not currently join the protesters and does not demand Minister's resignation. They will hold a meeting soon to hear the complaints.
Education Ministry plans to increase the financing of culture and arts in bordering regions to help kids learn Armenian traditional dances, knitting, music, etc. 117mln to be spent in 2020.
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan:
In 2020 we will increase the size of the budget dedicated for subsidizing teachers' and students' travel costs, by 3.5x.
276mln will be spent to help those teachers and students who have to travel >5km to get to school. All 10 provinces will be covered, instead of current 7.
Health Ministry will give a 10% salary raise to 950 emergency crew workers in 2020.
Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan:
Last week the Yerevan municipality removed 18 illegally built budka kiosks from the sidewalks.
A proposed bill will close a loophole that allows people to place their budkas on wheels and permanently park them near sidewalks and act as a taco truck-style business. It'll be tightly regulated, not outright banned.
City has begun a pilot program to sort out waste created by businesses to recycle some of it. Separate garbage trucks will be dispatched depending on the type of waste. Residential buildings will also have separate waste bins. (it's happening meme here)
Property tax deadline is set on December 1st. Landlords will receive an SMS reminder.
Some zebra crosswalks will be made safer. Traffic lights will be installed with a button for the pedestrian. 5 additional such installations this year, 36 installations next year.
City is working on a new year's celebration program that'll hopefully be good enough to convince people to stay in Yerevan instead of traveling abroad.
Yerevan budget will rise from 83bln to 107bln in 2020.
Pashinyan about housing:
YoY the number of families who took mortgage loans rose 23%. 7261 families got mortgage in September 2018vs2019. This is in addition to a mortgage program that gives housing to soldiers.
The loans for the program that helps the young families with housing rose 25%. The recipients of this program have an interest rate of <5% in Yerevan and <3% in provinces. (that's actually pretty good)
Most importantly, stats show that there has been a significant rise in people paying off their mortgage early. This means people work and pay back to rid of loan burden, instead of only borrowing.
End of Pashinyan post.
Gallup survey in 150 countries.
89% of Armenians say they feel safe at night. Same % as in Switzerland. Armenia is on 11th place in the world, similar to France, Ireland, Japan and Sweden. Armenia is ahead of US, Italy, Belgium.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/duya9x/anticorruption_news_summary_nov112019_more/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|