2019 November 7
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Nov/7/2019 :: Rob & Jail -- iconic duo? :: Education reforms to proceed :: Soccer coach fiasco :: Blatnoy judge :: Dodi Gago :: Road safety :: Tax waivers :: Poverty programs :: Salary hikes :: Govt vs QP -- surveillance :: Postal delivery reform :: Borders
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.
The court has upheld its recent verdict and denied the petition to release Kocharyan from jail. Why did we witness a new trial so soon after the previous one?
Few weeks ago, while discussing something else, the Constitutional Court made a decision that bail money could be enough to prevent the freed suspect from interfering with an ongoing investigation (🤔). Kocharyan lawyers tried to argue that this new development affected their client. The court disagreed.
Professional protester Vardges Gaspari was obviously there. He laid on the floor with a poster "Robik the murderer". He was taken out after disrupting the court.
Yesterday HFF chief Arthur Vanetsyan appointed Abraham Khashmanyan as the new national soccer team coach.
The HFF executive committee, however, is the body that is supposed to do that, say the critics within HFF. Vanetsyan is accused of exceeding his authority.
Last year the HFF rules were changed, giving HFF chief (Vanetsyan) the right to appoint the coach, but those rules haven't been implemented yet. The HFF board plans to hold a meeting. They don't have plans to fire Vanetsyan, at least at the moment.
HFF chief Arthur Vanetsyan explained the situation.
This summer a HFF worker was supposed to finalize last year's changes to the law by adding them to a relevant government database, but he "forgot" to do it and hid that fact from everyone. He updated the changes in only recently. Under the new rules Vanetsyan has the right to appoint coaches.
When asked whether he thinks he is being targeted for political reasons, Vanetsyan denied, saying it's just common for anything revolving around his name to receive a widespread media coverage. Says he has good relations with HFF Board.
His other critics said that he was supposed to organize a meeting with the HFF Board before appointing a new coach, but he didn't. That Board meeting took place today and they approved the new coach.
We all wish the Armenian soccer team the best! (without Heno, because he's permanently injured)
Update: a judge in Kotayk was accused of threatening a 911 ambulance crew during a road rage, after he allegedly refused to yield the road.
Investigators say they've confirmed that the judge pointed the gun at the ambulance workers and threatened to kill them. A felony case is launched.
BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan:
There is nothing "revolutionary" in Pashinyan's proposed 2020 budget. I don't go to Parliament to criticize it for personal PR. I started from the bottom (referring to his wealth), I know everything, I know what's going to happen a year from now. When the economy was badly hit in 2009, I warned the govt to take steps to fix the problem (smart move!), and I turned out to be correct.
There was no revolution this year. I'll wait to see their 2020 programs and decide how to vote.
We need to lower taxes for businesses and change laws to encourage investments.
Some institutions don't work properly. A Middle Eastern company wants to create a business on my land. The govt agency didn't give a permission to convert land from agricultural to industrial status for a year, they delayed it. Pashinyan found out about the delay, got angry and called them, and they did everything in 1 hour. In another instance, Kuwaiti investor wants to build a hotel but the neighbor is suing him, the case is in courts. Every institute should work properly.
Then a journalist asked about his businesses and how he's both a businessman and an MP.
Gago: Listen lady, I'm not a businessman. What did you graduate, do you have an education? I'm not a businessman, I'm an "owner". You probably got your university diploma through connections. Half of the MPs today are just like you.
Reporter: which MPs?
Gago: the likes of you. Never done anything.
The exchange happened during the opening ceremony of Tsarukyan's new co-sponsored business Ceramisia, a ceramics factory with potentially up to 1000 jobs.
The other co-creator part is an Italian firm.
Italy's ambassador: the economic revolution in Armenia has influenced Italy as well. This is the 3rd Italian factory being opened in Armenia in the past week.
Italian Stoneware (co-creator) director: 1 year ago we wouldn't even think about doing business in Armenia. Tsarukyan and Pashinyan invited us to open one in Armenia.
Govt approved the plan to receive a $2.4mln grant money from EU to improve road safety on highways.
They'll examine high incident locations, educate drivers, review how roads are designed in Armenia to implement EU standards, improve 30 locations, aim to reduce deaths by 20%.
Agriculture export giant SPAYKA says Russian customs in Upper Lars is unfairly denying their access to Russia, against EAEU trade rules.
The latest problem is with a paperwork. The firm tried to export 21 tons of cheese and got stuck for 24 days. It went through a safety inspection. The inspection papers came back saying the cheese originated from "Armenia, Middle East, South-Eastern Europe". This is apparently a false geographic description. SPAYKA says the customs agents played dumb and didn't accept it as legitimate Armenian product. They also didn't share with them with the safety inspection results, according to SPAYKA. They asked for intervention.
Govt approved additional 401mln infrastructure package for provincial water system repairs.
Govt has rejected a QP bill which would give the police departments the right to conduct phone call surveillance of suspects.
Govt says NSS already does it, Justice Dept could do it in future, and that the bill would add unnecessary expenditures.
The co-sponsors of the bill were Pashinyan's cousin MP, and a former policeman MP.
(Pashinyan really has no traditional family values. At first he gets his nephew arrested, now this. Resign?)
The govt adopted some changes to international post office delivery system, giving Ministry of Infrastructure more weight.
The changes could significantly reduce transit fees. If a parcel is sent from abroad, the firm could be required to pay profit tax only for the work done in Armenia, thus eliminating the "abroad portion" of the tax.
IRS will go back and issue the delivery companies refunds for the work done since Jan-2018.
The govt approved the adoption of EU's Lanzarote Convention. It's about preventing child sexual exploitation. It was signed by 4 countries, including Armenia in 2010.
It'll now go through Constitutional Court and Parliament before becoming a law.
BHK will join the govt and work on a bill to require the penitentiary system to notify the victim before an inmate connected to their case is released from prison due to amnesty. Victims will also have more say during this process, if the bill is approved.
Pashinyan earlier launched a "war" on the thieve-in-law criminal subculture, saying that those who organize criminal circles or consider themselves as part of such circles, belong to prison.
The subculture comes from Soviet times and has been popular in Georgia, Armenia and CIS countries since the 90s.
The Human Rights Ombudsman is working with Parliament to make a draft bill. It'll be somewhat similar to American RICO Act.
Govt gave another tax break to ԷՅ ԸՆԴ ԷՄ ՌԵՅՐ. The mineral water bottling company will continue its 1.86bln investments with 23 new jobs.
ՆՈՐ ՓՐՈՋԵԿՏՍ furniture material firm received a tax waiver to create 30 jobs, 210k salary, 113mln investments, 2.4bln worth output.
Roboserj outlet 168 wrote about Yerevan mayor traveling to Georgia with an airplane, and spending too much on it.
Mayor's spokesman criticized the attempt to portray it as a luxury trip. Says it wouldn't make sense to go there with a car. They'd have to spend a lot on driver upkeep. They'd also lose time.
As for expenditures by the mayor, says spokesman, mayor Hayk Marutyan's 2 work cars have spent 3.5x less on fuel that the previous mayor HHK Taron Margaryan's 1 work car.
ARF party continued its march against Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan today, demanding his resignation. The protesters accused Minister of having anti-Armenian values, supporting gays, etc. They organized a sit-in on front of the Education Ministry. They do not want to hold talks with the Minister, only demanding his resignation.
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan:
I urge the diaspora Dashnaks to bring the Armenia ARF into senses. Their ill-mannered actions do not look good on one of our oldest political parties. For years, education field was under ARF control (referring to poor education).
When I go abroad and meet Dashnaks, it's a completely different picture. They are reasonable and constructive, which I do not see in Armenia. You'd think they ARF would take a lesson from the 2018 elections.
We accept criticism from those students (with Armenian language literature major) who aren't protesting the reforms with political motives. Some people have legitimate concerns. We are ready to invite them and hear them.
(Context: ARF used its media outlet Yerkir to escalate the attack on Minister on personal level, by accusing him of breaking teacher laws in EPH. Minister provided document showing he didn't break the law. This happened after ARF demanded him to resign for the ongoing reforms that will prevent the govt from requiring all Universities to have language/literature/history classes, leaving universities to decide if they want to require these subjects.)*
Education Minister Harutyunyan: they used to beat their chests and complain about not enough autonomy. Once we decided to give them the autonomy to decide (whether unis want to require these subjects), they started to demand more control by the government, "come and rule over me". We aren't removing these subjects from universities. We are removing the state-mandated requirement by letting unis decide what to do.
The Armenology faculties have been discussing whether to require these subjects for decades.
Opposition non-parliamentary party QO (Qaxaqacu vOroshum) leader:
I disagree with the narrative that the proposed reforms harm the Armenian Language. Reforms in Armenia are always too slow, should be done faster. The entire government is behind these changes. Either we should demand entire government's resignation, or accept the fact that these calls against Arayik harutyunyan are attempts by some parties to remain relevant. I think this will harm ARF's reputation.
There has been some interest about the Ministry's work in the past year. I made a quick tldr for you. It's pieces from my prior posts.
We're sending a clear message. The only way to defeat poverty is through having a job. We can provide aid to a person for 1 day or 10 years, but what's next? The first stage is education. Diploma is not necessarily an education. Those who drive luxury Brabus cars shouldn't receive financial aid. Social security fraud will receive the harshest pushback.
There are forces (ARF) who are continually stoking fear in public (referring to Armenian Language classes story) by taking advantage of some peoples' lack of understanding of certain changes. If they (ARF) think they can intimidate us, they are deeply mistaken. These forces have been rejected by the public.
Pashinyan took another swipe at the former govt, saying that they embezzled at least 4bln each year from social security funds, because in the latest fiscal year the govt did the same social programs while saving 4bln.
He criticized the critics for criticizing his decision to make reforms in the child and elderly care system (some kids reuniting with parents who will receive resources to take care of kids at home, some elderly care is done by charity firms picked by govt versus directly by govt). Says the former govt prioritized theft over providing quality care for people.
Govt will spend 1.9bln to help 300 orphans who graduate the orphanage to buy their own apartments. The program has existed since 2003, but it always had budget issues, provided fewer housing at worse conditions, says Labor Ministry. They plan to improve the quality and also provide psychological care to the graduates.
The graduates will also be added to the registry of people who are looking for a job, and will receive a priority. The goal is to make them independent.
Beginning January, Labor Ministry will give a 30% minimum salary raise to social services workers who take care of people with various mental disabilities
1,000 low-income Armenian citizens, who can't find a job, will receive support from the govt to breed cattle. The subsidy funds come from the money that was saved from other social projects.
RazmInfo reports that Azeri army has 1 death (Aslanov Babək Vəli oğlu), that is most likely a result of combat actions, near the border with Armenia's north-eastern Tavush region. Azeri media has not provided much info yet.
Bellingcat outlet earlier released photos and evidence showing that Azeris invaded 200 hectare of Georgian land in the past several decades.
The news rattled the Azeri media. Many of them attacked the outlet and the ethnic Armenian journalists who helped with writing the story. Georgian state has not responded yet. Georgia and Azerbaijan have several ongoing border disputes, the largest one being around David Garejia monastery.
CivilNet interviews one of the writers of the investigatory piece.
In Russian language https://youtu.be/qcEmdMKssnA
Yerevan will have a monument on Grigor Lusavorich street dedicated to March 1st 2008 victims.
"Thirteen Armenian wine companies are showcasing their produces at the China International Import Expo (CIIE)".
Total of 650,000 people have visited the Chinese expo.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/dt3wza/anticorruption_news_summary_nov72019_rob_jail/
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