2019 October 31
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Oct/31/2019:: frmr Yerevan mayors & park :: More mayors busted :: Diaspora :: Samvel Babayan :: Education reforms - wages - satans, gays & art :: Road repair surges :: OTA TV airwaves :: Environment :: Soldier mothers :: ECHR vs Armenia - 2005 land takeaway ::
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.
Diaspora affairs chief Zareh Zinanyan:
We're working on Armenia-2050 vision. Our goal is to have a 5mln population.
For this to happen, after implementing some changes by 2023, we need to have dozens of thousands of diasporan immigrants back into Armenia.
We're working on having 10-20% of govt employees being from diaspora. If the govt could pay decent wages today, we can immediately bring many professionals who graduated from the world's best universities.
He defended the 1915 events, calling them "necessary relocations".
(1 meme = 1 papakh to keep the man's brain warm)
Armenia has ended its Frankophonie presidenship and transferred the mandate to Tunisia for the next year.
Armenian humanitarian group in Syria has de-mined 116,000 m2 land and provided medical services to 688 people.
6 stray dogs broke into Yerevan zoo and ate 3 kangaroos. The dogs are arrested and will be transferred to a detention center.
The male kangaroos were a gift from Moldova. They were supposed to be joined by female kangaroos from Holland soon.
The Yerevan municipality begun installing fences earlier this year.
Police has busted the former mayor of Vanadzor (1999-2016) and a military unit commander.
Mayor colluded with the commander to rig an auction that sold a wastewater cleaning station of the city. The 239mln worth product was sold for 63mln, causing a 176mln damage to state.
Mayor then gave the wastewater pipes to a company belonging to his brother, who was unable to show docs on how he obtained the pipes.
Since 2015 the mayor leased a 3900 m2 land to a company belonging to his family, for only 166k/mo.
The felony investigation continues.
Press 1 to see more mayors get busted.
Press 2 to see the number of mayors busted so far.
Press F to return to main menu.
The mayor of Ani and 2 other officials are facing felony corruption charges. The investigation begun earlier and it concluded that:
The mayor embezzled undisclosed large sums and forged docs. He registered a friend, who was working in a court, as an employee of municipality and deducted salary money from the budget. The aide and the friend are also facing felony charged. The three are told not to leave Armenia.
Police has busted a corruption by former Yerevan mayors and Cadastre land assessment office.
Between 2003-2004 mayor Robert Nazaryan (future HHK's public Services Regulatory Commission chief) followed by mayor HHK Yervand Zakharyan, made 3 illegal decisions to give luxury lands in Vahagn Davtyan park to several businesses.
Between 2013-2018, mayor HHK Taron Margaryan closed the eye on the illegal appropriation, and extended their lease.
In June-2018 the Cadastre committee employees illegally extended the work of illegal businesses.
In March-2018 the employees issued a fine to a similar illegal business in Arabkir park, but let them continue to do the business.
The businesses were paying as little as 160 ($0.34)-1,600 Drams ($2) per year per square meter.
Multiple felony are launched.
Karabakh war general and a politician Samvel Babayan wants to participate in the 2020 Artsakh presidential elections.
Because he spent most of his time in the past 10 years living outside of Artsakh (Russia, Armenia, etc), the Artsakh Constitution prohibits him from being president.
Babayan then collected enough signatures from residents to launch a hearing to amend the Constitution to let him run.
His allies within Artsakh Parliament today brought the amendment topic on the floor. The Parliament voted 4-24 against the changes.
Safety inspectors inspected several businesses in Armavir. Safety and fire code violations were found in numerous gas stations. They didn't have a permission to operate.
The Proshyan Wine Factory did not have a fire alarm and a sprinkle, among with other violations.
Businesses were given time to fix it.
Commission on Television and Radio chief:
We are discussing changes to how the airway frequency is distributed and provided to TV networks. We need to ease the restrictions to attract more investors and private networks.
The current law says two multiplex (radio bands for transmission) should exist in Armenia: for public and private networks.
Unfortunately the current law doesn't make it possible for the private sector to create that private multiplex. We need to ease the regulations, reduce administrative fees on private networks, reduce land coverage requirement, so more investors will come.
In Armenia it's impossible to have more than 2 such multiplexes, because large proportion of Armenian bands are busy because the military needs them. So we can only have 2 multiplex (1 for public and 1 for private).
The public multiplex will have state-regulated networks that have strict standards about programming quality, culture, education, religion, etc. that meet certain requirements.
The private multiplex will be there to make sure that those networks, that do not fit these requirements, can broadcast theirs stuff.
Currently, private TVs pay 72mln/year to broadcast to all Armenia, or 18/mln just in Yerevan. When a private sector enters and runs the second multiplex, these fees could decrease due to competition.
Quality standards requirements will be lower for TVs broadcasting though private multiplex. They can run their low-quality soap opera serials (wanna see a woman's nose being cut with scissors?). The public multiplex, on the other hand, will have stricter requirements, has to meet cultural demands, the news reports should be accurate and have their sources verified, etc.
The rumors that in 2020 the govt plans to take away 5TV (Roboserj) license away, are false.
End of statement.
The chief was then asked to comment on 5TV network's quality. He said it's a low quality network that spreads misinformation, but he will support their right to broadcast. 5TV journalist asked him for examples of misinformation. The chief said he'll give her a long list showing lack of basic ethical standards by the network. The chief is in favor of requiring public multiplex networks to have broadcasting standards.
From a January-2019 report:
It's been 3 years since the govt is trying to bring private players to create the private multiplex.
The free speech committee chief Ashot Melkikyan said that the former govt was purposely sabotaging these attempts, because it would open the field to independent players, thus ending their grip on the status-quo.
Georgia, for example, created 3 multiplexes while they were transitioning from analog to digital signal.
If you want to know why news.am is often called "Roboserj". They commented this story as the Pashinyan administration trying to prohibit opposition TVs from broadcasting in Armenia.
Earlier a pipe belonging to Zangezur copper factory burst, releasing toxins into the nearby river, turning it white.
A felony case has been launched for "improper handling of waste which caused harm to nature".
Former SOC chief Davit Sanasaryan was earlier involved in a car incident. He said a girl jumped from a curb and hit his car from a side. The mother said the car hit her. Sanasaryan said the mother tried to extort money from him.
Two felony investigations were launched. One is about Sanasaryan allegedly hitting the girl, the other one for the mother allegedly extorting him.
Parliamentary Human Rights committee held a session during which they invited parents of soldiers who died in the army in non-combat situations.
Some mothers have complained for years that their sons' deaths were covered up under the tag of "suicide", and that the investigators showed them a disrespectful treatment. One of these moms threw water on an investigator during today's meeting.
Mother: For 12 years the govt mistreated us. Today Serj is gone and they don't make us run around anymore, but some people form the old system are still here. For example, the head of the transparency committee that is supposed to investigate the deaths is also accused of cover-up.
Another mother: all the investigators from the former regime need to go, and the new govt should replace them with new investigators.
QP MP Alen Simonyan: those who covered up evidence will be removed. It's a matter of time. Each case will be investigated.
(Context: Pashinyan earlier created a committee consisted of NGOs, media and victim families to investigate non-combat deaths, and discrepancy between the evidence that existed and the evidence that was used to solve and close the cases in past. Parliament also begun launching hearings.)
Education Ministry will make reforms in the way NZP (military education) are taught in schools. Currently, only some private schools have the luxury to send kids to military barracks for hands-on training. The Ministry plans to expand it to all schools so kids will apply the theory in practice.
The plan is in the initial discussion stage.
Govt will issue more money to universities.
900 additional "free" students will receive a student pension. 1,500 additional students will qualify for a special loan program.
Education Ministry's budget will rise by 20.5bln in 2020. (Total 179.5bln)
In 2020 they'll rebuild or renovate 8 agricultural colleges, 4 museums, 22 provincial schools.
The govt approved the proposed changes to education and teacher salary laws.
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan:
The current law gives each school money based on the number of students. This was supposed to increase the competition among schools, but it is bad because it doesn't take into account that some schools are further away from others or could have disproportionally large nearby local population. Schools with fewer students often do not get enough funding.
The new law will have more granular approach and will also take into account the number of classes and teachers.
Teacher's minimum wage will become 108k (for 22 hours of work in 1 week). If we raise the salaries by 10% each year, in 4 years teachers will earn equal to Armenia's GDP Per Capita.
If a school has many students, teacher's minimum salary could reach 160k.
Pashinyan: that last part needs some thinking. It could encourage the high quality teachers to leave their areas and go to largest schools to earn more. This will be followed by more students going to these few schools with good teachers.
Minister: schools have a limit on how many students (and teachers?) they can accept. The electronic registration system helps to solve the under or over-loading issue. The new system will give more rural schools more money, which will help them obtain more high quality teachers.
Ministers: after the implementation of electronic school registration system this year, the number of overloaded schools is down 50%, and under-loaded down by 60%.
The govt approved the plan to move 130 children with various issues, who are currently residing in a care facility away from home, to be moved back with their families. The families will receive aid and training from the govt.
30% of these parents have enrolled into a plan to help find work.
Pashinyan complained that the aforementioned govt-run facilities were incapable of raising children properly. They had very low rate of university admission and financial status. Govt will prioritize reuniting kids with the family and helping the family financially and other means with the child care.
While speaking about the domestic abuse prevention topic, Pashinyan blasted the allies of the former regime, and event certain people within the current govt, for spreading "misinformation, backwardness and illiteracy". Says those who spread this illiteracy will be removed from the state apparatus one-by-one.
He also accused those, who are against the plans to make "necessary reforms" in nursing home system, of trying to block improvements. Say the elderly are currently kept in miserable conditions in nursing homes.
(Context: Govt earlier said they'll transfer day-to-day care duties in some nursing homes to some non-profit orgs, saying that it will increase the aid quality. Critics commented it as govt abandoning the elderly)
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan:
Art will be free from censorship in Armenia. It is a symbol of an independent state. We will no longer cancel concerts that are accused of being "satanic".
(Context: Polish "Vader" rock band's performance was cancelled in Tiknikayin theater after some people accused them of being satanic. Theater director said the theater received threats. "If it was up to me, I wouldn't cancel it, but I thought allowing it to proceed would harm the reputation of the theater".)
In another instance, the Ministry was criticized for giving 20mln to the creation of movie "Mel". The movie is dedicated to World/Europe/Armenia weightlifting champion Meline Daluzyan, who recently moved to Holland and changed her gender to male.
In the movie, Mel said that from the early years she dreamed about being a boy. Not everybody accepted her transition. Earlier this year, Mel thwarted an armed robbery in Amsterdam.
(tbh you could tell she had high testosterone by watching her lift those stones)
The govt plans to renovate, and subsidize local municipalities to renovate, about 700km roads in 2020. This year that number will be 500km.
The Ministry of Transport itself will finish the 2019 with about 354km roads. In the past 5 years combined that number was 723km.
One additional change is that beginning this year, the road quality standards are stricter and the construction companies are told to lay another layer if the qualify is unsatisfactory.
How much is spent, in billions?
2020: 124 (massive lad)
ECHR & Property
In 2000, to begin the construction of Northern Avenue pedestrian boulevard in Yerevan, Kocharyan govt made a decision to declare some lands in Yerevan as a necessary land for a public project, to have the nearby apartment owners relocate elsewhere (this part is legal). The owners were supposed to get a fair compensation to buy a similar apartments elsewhere (this is where they fked up).
Landlords were't given a fair compensation, however. Recently, some landlords came to Parliament and complained that the Roboserj regime, specifically under HHK Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasyan, violated their rights and even withheld some apartments that they were supposed to get for free.
The ECHR sided in favor of one such landlord. Armenia owes them 137mln. The landlord was given only 55mln in 2005.
The Spice of the Day Award
A thick smoke was coming from the Yerevan municipality building. No, we don't have a new Pope. Firefighters sent units to find out why. Turns out the cooks dropped a crapton of oil on a hot stove.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/dptt7p/anticorruption_news_summary_oct312019_frmr/
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