2019 November 25
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Nov/25/2019 :: Universal Healthcare :: HHK MPs & March 1st :: 11,000 skeletons :: Thieves :: Armenian journalists' impressions _ Azerbaijan visit :: Tourism _ Indians _ Chinese :: Sport :: 1943 :: Mayors down :: Elevators & Yerevan :: Bribery :: Nature :: Finances
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.
Are you having a great Monday so far?
Rafael Vahanyan is the World Senior Chess Championship winner. 👏
Gymanst Arthur Avetisyan finished 3rd in World Cup tournament.
Update: A 5-year old video was leaked by a policeman showing how a group of cops tortured a man to try to get a confession from him.
Chambarak police station chief Narek Simonyan has been suspended. Investigation continues to find the other participants.
In 2017, the human rights groups lobbied HHK to pass a domestic violence prevention bill. Not everyone was on-board. Under the pressure of self-proclaimed "traditionalists", the bill was modified to alter some terminology, which was criticized by human rights groups.
Nonetheless, its main objectives were preserved, and the bill was passed with the majority of HHK/ARF and the opposition Yelq (QP & LHK) voting in favor.
As of 2019, The bill is being discussed for possible modifications after critics complained about gays and same-sex partners possibly taking advantage of the bill.
Possibly related to the bill: Domestic violence has seen a decline in 2019 compared to 2018.
Overall known incidents went from 1928 to 1509.
Reports filed against an individual went from 1533 to 808.
Warnings to an individual went from 1066 to 618. (Warning is issued if abuse happens the first time)
Interventions went from 375 to 190.
Felony sexual assaults went from to 77 to 84.
The Armenian and Russian police arrested HHK MP Levon Sargsyan (aka Alraghatsi Lyovik) in Russia. Russian court approved a 40-day detention. He is facing a possible extradition.
A former March 1st investigator and current lawyer Seda Safaryan says the MP was questioned as part of the March 1st investigations earlier, and there is info to believe that he was one of the oligarchs who supplied uniforms/weapons/aid to the "secret" group that was gathered by Kocharyan regime to be used against the protesters.
Former investigator says:
The MP went in and out of govt building where the armed group was stationed multiple times that day. Next day (after the murders) the group gathered, placed the weapons on the table, and one of them said, "These weapons are of a historical significance. Take good care of them" (meaning get rid of them). We need to find out from the MP where these weapons are right now.
The former MP has not been charged in March 1st case. He is wanted for allegedly organizing an armed burglary and an attempted assassination of a former official.
Former HHK MP and prosecutor Gevorg Kostanyan, who was earlier mentioned by authorities as being the alleged March 1st handler who went around various law enforcement institutes to coordinate a cover-up of army involvement, is officially a suspect and will be charged. He is not in Armenia. He is told to return within 2 days.
Kostanyan plans to return soon.
The former regime is concerned about the state of poverty in Armenia.
Pandok restaurant employee, presumably a critic of the ruling QP party, decided to "leak" Parliament speaker QP MP Ararat Mirzoyan's bill, most likely with the purpose of defamation.
Roboserj outlets then begun accusing Mirzoyan of having a "luxury" life for spending 290k ($600) on the meal, reminding Mirzoyan that there are many poor people in Armenia.
Mirzoyan responded saying he covered his relatives' and friends' bills that day, after having khash dinner to celebrate his birthday. Says he has always had a good salary, even before becoming an MP. He accused Roboserj outlet "Antifake" reporters of misleading the readers and slander.
Pandok restaurant managers apologized for their employee's conduct, saying it's against their policy to publish client info.
Mushegh Saghatelyan was arrested after March 1, 2008 events and sentenced to 5 years for allegedly assaulting cops.
Sep-2018, the ECHR found that his rights were violated.
Dec-2018, the general prosecutor asked the Cassations Court to review the case. Cassations reviewed and sent the case back to lower court.
The lower court has just overturned the 2008 verdict, clearing him of wrongdoing.
On Saturday, someone shot 24 rounds on a house on Tigran Mets St. It turns out the house belongs to thieve-in-law (mafiossi) Potyo, who is the godson of former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan's chief bodyguard.
Potyo wasn't home at the time. The car with the bullet holes, and the house, are being investigated.
A while before this incident a shooting happened at a warehouse on Burnazyan St. Police is investigating.
It's unclear if these are linked.
Gohar Vardanyan has passed away at the age of 93. She was the intelligence agent who, among with few others, uncovered and prevented Hitler's Operation Long Jump to assassinate the US, Soviet, UK presidents during a Tehran meeting in 1943.
Her husband Gevorg Vardanyan was 19 years old at the time. He uncovered 400 Nazi agents.
A group of Armenian journalists visited Azerbaijan in November 17-21, while Azeris visited Armenia and Artsakh.
It was organized by OSCE and Armenia/Azeri MFAs. It's part of the initiative to establish a peaceful link between peoples.
The journalists were from Shant TV, Mediamax, Artsakh Public TV; TrendAZ, 1newsAZ, Vestnik Kovkaza.
Armenians visited Baku, Quba, Gandzak (Ganja).
Georgia was used as a transit country.
Armenian journalist Artyom Yerkanyan spoke about his experience:
The reception was good. We had a constructive dialogue.
Azeri authorities, with the OSCE as a middle man, worked with the Artsakh MFA to bring the Artsakh journalist to Azerbaijan, which is unprecedented because up until now Azeri side was very hostile to anyone claiming to be from an independent Artsakh. Even the Azeri public figures who used to be hostile towards Armenians, were very constructive during our dialogue.
During the trip, Azeris were emphasizing that ethnic minorities are being treated fairly in Azerbaijan (debatable). We saw a lot of things named after Heydar Aliyev.
We were happy that Azeris spent hundreds of millions of $ to build a wonderful mosque named after Heydar Aliyev instead of spending that money on Iskander missiles.
Some of these expensive buildings were prepared for out visit. People were sitting on front of PCs that weren't even turned on (noice!). Some luxury-looking buildings didn't have electricity or heating. We saw a lot of instances when money was spent just to show things off.
Azeris drive the same cars as Armenians do. Lots of old cars. Pensions are almost the same. We met Quba carpet factory workers, very good people, only earn $150/mo.
They showed us examples of things they consider as cultural genocide by Armenia, some damaged mosques etc. We found some errors regarding their location and helped them to fix it.
An Armenia church in Baku was converted into a library. The cross was removed. They allowed me to record (starts at 8:43). They displayed some Armenian books in the library-church.
Azeris truly believe the Armenian Diaspora is harming the peace process.
They were also aware of the Amulsar mining topic in Armenia, and developed the idea that if Amulsar is allowed to operate, Armenia will have an economic breakthrough and have a wider impact on politics. (Damn Lydian, how much did you pay Azeris for this best ad ever? lol)
Reception was at a high level. Aliyev's bodyguard service was present. At least 12 people at all times. More while walking in public.
OSCE has suggested such swaps in past, but only this Spring it begun being implemented. They suggested this to become a routine thing.
The process was initially kept secret at the request of Azeri government. The US representative from OSCE "leaked" the info by publishing the news later. (must be a former Trump administration employee)
My grandparent's brother was kidnapped by angered Azeri mobs during the 90s Baku Pogroms. I tried to find out if he has a grave in Azerbaijan. The Azeri side promised to help find out.
End of journalist's accounts.
The Azeri journalists visited various monasteries and factories in Shushi and Stepanakert.
Edgar Elbakyan is an Artakh journalist who also visited Azerbaijan. During his interview he said:
I wasn't concerned about safety because they promised good security. We went to Tbilisi, had a dinner with OSCE, signed papers, then flew to Azerbaijan. There were 4 of us. No stamps were placed in our passports.
We were greeted by a security team and guides. 5 cars in the fleet. 12 security at least. 24 security in public places.
Hotel staff didn't know we were Armenian. Azeris told us to hide it while in public. A shop employee looked mortified after finding out we were Armenian.
Armenian church in Baku was converted into a library. The employees who met us were Azeris who used to live in Armenia. They spoke Armenian. They showed us some propaganda images. That was the only place where things got a bit "confrontational". The rest was more constructive.
We met some chess players over a dinner. We didn't have much opportunity to speak with ordinary people. We had a busy schedule.
4 women protested outside of Azeri MFA to protest our visit. Someone burned the Armenian flag. All minor incidents. We didn't witness these events, only heard over the news.
Baku center was beautiful.
We took a trip to Ganja city and saw the poor side of the country as well.
End of journalist's accounts.
6k more Chinese tourists visited Armenia this year vs last. Numbers went from 8.5k to 14.5k. Soon the travel will become visa-free. It's expected to increase the inflow.
Govt-agency says someone spread fake news about 37,000 net positive immigration from India this year.
Stats show that 607 more Indians left than arrived. 28741 in, 29345 out.
Due to recent rule changes, Indian citizens can no longer get a visa automatically (without checks) at the border upon arrival. They need things like an e-Visa.
In general, govt believes an easy visa regime provides benefits much greater than the possible risks associated with it.
A felony case is launched against the mayor and the former mayor of Arevabyur for allegedly falsifying docs between 2011-2019 to embezzle state funds for family members.
The Polish kid won the Junior Eurovision 2019. Armenia placed 9th.
20 tall apartment complex buildings in Yerevan will receive new elevators as part of city's pilot program. They are in the process of being imported and installed.
Building residents, who agree to have the new elevators, must give an approval and pay some fee towards it, because elevators are a private property not under city's control.
The residents who agree to have new elevators will pay 30% more on monthly elevator service fees. For example, a tee goes from 1.6k to 2k AMD per month. Within 25 years the cost will be paid off. Each elevator costs at least 10mln. Installation of solar panels on roofs, and the new elevators being more electricity efficient, will reduce residents' costs.
Municipality says the new ones are comfy for disabled people. 70% of elevators in Yerevan are >40 years old. 3500 needs to be replaced.
NSS has busted a 2007-2009 corruption case involving high ranking officials.
A woman was kidnapped. The law enforcement officials took a bribe from the victim's father in order to find and arrest the perpetrator.
The suspect wasn't arrested. Officials only gave part of the bribe back to the victim.
Felony case is launched.
One of Pashinyan's major pet peeves are the abandoned vehicle skeletons that you can find scattered all over Armenia. He has long called for them to be removed because they make the area look like բոմժանոց։
11,000 abandoned cars have been collected in the past 2 months. They're headed to Charentsavan foundry to get melted. Sometimes the skelly owner shows up and objects to its removal. Experts advise the govt to charge a property tax for the abandoned scrap, with a hope to convince people to "let it go".
Nature Ministry has begun cleaning 98 hectares of Vardenis land near the lake Sevan. Trees, vegetation and roots are removed to prevent the lake from being "contaminated".
Nature Ministry says they'll plant 0.5mln trees by the end of this year, and 100mln trees by 2050.
Minister Eric Grigoryan: it's not easy to plant forests. You have to take care of the newly planted trees for 10 years before they become a forest. This year's 0.5mln will be a "training" for next year's 10mln, which will be a training for the 100mln by 2050. If you can dream it, you can do it. (bold statement)
Ijevanatun restaurant has the first and only electric car charging station in Tavush province.
It's part of an agreement between Ukraine-based business ecoCARS, Ukraine-based Armenian businesses, and Tavush governor to promote eco-friendly transport. It's suppose to be installed across Armenia.
Yerevan municipality says:
We need to change the mentality that the individual sitting behind a car wheel has a priority over a bus that transports dozens of people. Cars should yield.
Significant portion of winter incidents and jams happen because of summer tires. We're working with the public transport to make sure they switch on time.
Water trucks are converted into salt dispersing trucks.
62 dogs were sterilized last week.
We're preparing the city for holidays.
Armenian painter Harutyun Kalents is buying his "stolen" paintings from eBay.
A dispute happened between him and others. He lost access to his father Saro Kalents' paintings. They begun appearing on the internet for sale. The case is in court. The other party claims it's all legal.
Hetq outlet has a story about a small mountainous Jermuk Airaport which has been abandoned for decades. The map shows all the airports in Armenia.
Budget revenues grew 20% in 2019v2018 Jan-Oct period.
They grew 32% vs 2017.
Industrial goods prices grew 0.5%.
Consumer price index grew 1.6% YoY.
Wages grew 6.6%.
Fitch upgraded Armenia's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating from B+ to BB-.
The agency took into account the peaceful transition after 2018, the ongoing reforms and anti-corruption and anti-monopoly fight by PM Pashinyan.
"Armenia's composite World Bank governance indicator improved substantially in 2018 to a 46% ranking, from 42.2% in 2017."
Improvement in the 'Control of Corruption' (to 42.8% from 32.7%)
Inflation remained low.
CBA cut its refinancing rate by a cumulative 50bp in 2019 to 5.5%
Fitch has greater confidence in the government's commitment to reduce debt-to-GDP ratio, as reflected by the adoption of a rule in 2018 aimed at bringing debt below 50% by 2023.
The banking sector has cash but profitability is low and loan growth remains high, at 15.4% yoy at September-2019, boosted by mortgage loan and consumer lending. This partly reflected a decrease in the informal economy, higher household real income and increased risk appetite from banks given pressures on profitability. Asset quality is strong.
You can either go to Instagram to see food images, or you can click this link and see the good food that soldiers in 27 barracks eat. It's spreading to other locations.
Earlier we learned that the govt is planning to establish a Universal healthcare in Armenia. Certain new groups of people have already begun to receive a free healthcare.
Healthcare Ministry says that in average, they need 77k/year per citizen. A 6% healthcare tax is proposed.
The healthcare budget will come from this Healthcare Tax, as well as govt's other sources.
Beginning 2021, a 106bln would come from govt and 123bln from the Healthcare Tax.
This won't affect 41% of the workers. The other 59% will pay more in taxes, but at the same time the income tax will lower to a flat 20% soon, and combined with recent wage growth in Armenia, it will reduce the burden, says the Ministry.
If a business purchases healthcare packages worth 120k, they can deduct it from taxes.
Everybody will have the same health package regardless of income.
At that stage the Universal healthcare will include:
Outpatient hospital care, hospital room/medications/services, general practitioner, specialist exams including expensive lab work, pregnancy care and specialist monitoring , emergency care including helicopter rides, dental care, care for kids with mental issues, common drugs, immunization, preventative care, intestinal and infection problem care, tuberculosis, HIV care, neurological and mental care, hemodialysis, newborn emergency care and therapy, routine care for chronic issues that flare up, heart and endovascular surgeries, arrhythmia treatment, cancer surgery, cancer radiotherapy, chemotherapy, obstetrics and neonatal care, lots of kids and newborn surgeries.
People under 18 will get more care than adults, such as dental. Mostly the same.
The proposal is subject to change.
Today, 1 in 5 Armenians do not visit a doctor due to poverty.
9% of population's 25% of the debt is medical related. 6% of them go bankrupt.
Healthcare Minister Arsen Torosyan:
The cemeteries get bigger day by day. It's an issue in terms of sanitation, nearby residents' safety, land management, expenses for families.
In 2020 we'll finally have 2 modern cremation centers.
(Probably should not have made this announcement after promising healthcare.)
When you insert too many Armenians in the same airplane: https://www.facebook.com/Khash1ama/videos/2533342140086516/
Autumn Colors of Yerevan
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/e1n21k/anticorruption_news_tldrs_nov252019_universal/
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|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|