2020 February 10
Feb/10/2020 -- Daily News Collection From Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing Constitutional Court crisis, Anti-Corruption Busts, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, 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.
Don't miss Sunday's important news about the referendum
and 1999 terror attack investigation: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f1g6sx/feb92020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan spoke with Venice Commission chief Gianni Buquicchio about the upcoming Constitutional referendum about CC judges, and other reforms. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180154
The Alliance of Veterans (Ազատամարտիկների Դաշինքը) urges a YES vote on the referendum. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180196
The main troublemaker CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan gave an interview to Rob's 168am outlet about the crisis around CC, during which he said, "I won't retreat. I will fight until the end. No one can stop me." (Tovmasyan says the ongoing process is a political pressure against him.)
The referendum was approved by President Sarkissian, but it can be "recalled" and sent to CC for approval if 25% of Parliament MPs sign a letter. If it's sent to CC, it will essentially ask CC judges if they support firing themselves.
LHK wants to send it to CC, but they can't do it without the other opposition party BHK joining, because they don't have 25% of MP votes. BHK is waiting for Venice Commission's advice so they can decide whether to send it to CC or straight to a referendum. http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/277783/
Arman Babajanyan, the LHK MP who recently broke away from the party, urges voters to vote YES, saying it's about "building a better future and not just a way to get rid of the past."
The referendum needs 650k YES votes to pass. In 2018, Pashinyan's QP got 880k votes with a 1.26mln turnout.
Vanetsyan & Russia
Former NSS chief Vanetsyan, according to some media outlets, is getting financing from Russia-based businessmen to create a new opposition party.
Vanetsyan claims it's not to bring the old regime back, but rather to counter's Pashinyan's "populism and dangerous policies of dividing the nation."
"Russia is and will be Armenia's strategic ally. The Pashinyan administration has members who are anti-Russia, and populist Pashinyan himself has voiced his opposition to EAEU trade bloc in the past," said Vanetsyan during an interview to Russian Interfax outlet.
How is Parliament working?
Parliament MPs used to be notorious for their lack of willingness to drag their butts to work to participate in voting sessions. That largely changed after the revolution.
BHK's chief Dodi Gago is a good boy now. He isn't the #1 skipper anymore. The most skipper is now QP MP Arusyak (132 times), mostly for work visits.
It's all-around weird...
It turns out there is one BHK MP Karina Poghosyan who voted "yes" on more bills (189) than the ruling QP members themselves, while the most "no" votes (30) came from ruling QP Hayk Sargsyan.
The most speeches (79) were by BHK Mikael Melkumyan.
The opposition parties propose more bills and also get approved more often than before. 30% of bills came from MPs, 70% from govt.
Kocharyan supporters' trial
2 Kocharyan activists were earlier arrested for harassing a judge on the street for her verdict to keep Kocharyan in jail. They were later released pre-trial and asked not to leave Armenia.
Their trial happened today. The court invited the victim judge to appear for hearing but the latter rejected.
The suspects said they have small kids, take care of sick relatives, one of them has no felony record, etc. and asked for charges to be dropped.
Before the trial's continuation, the prosecutor argued that the activist with a prior felony record doesn't qualify to be freed and that the court earlier made a mistake by releasing him. The suspect's lawyers argued otherwise. The judge sided with the suspect saying he can be free pre-trial.
The trial will continue on March 26th with both suspects being free meanwhile.
police torture update
A 2007 video was earlier published showing how several cops tortured a man to get a confession. Several officials became suspects.
Chambarak police chief has been charged. In 2008 he worked at the Yerevan police station and is allegedly one of the abusers. His accomplice is also identified and charged. A felony case is launched.
The victim was a burglary suspect. The cops tortured him on 5 occasions in one day to get a confession.
Gegharquniq police arrested members of the criminal subculture in 5 cities. Their cars were searched. Weapons and drugs were found. Guns and grenades were voluntarily turned in.
NSS busted a cocaine smuggling
An Armenian man in Russia decided to smuggle cocaine inside a chainsaw. To do this he hired several people to enter the Armenian border. The NSS found out and traced them to their destination.
Urban Development chief busted; high ranking Investigator is a suspect
Last week the NSS busted the Urban Development chief Vahagn Vermishyan for bribery. He confessed.
He has been arrested after court approval.
The person who gave him the bribe is allegedly Jon Farkhoyan, the former chief of the Investigative Committee Yerevan branch. The latter is out on 5mln bail. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180121
police busted Vanadzor officials
Vanadzor police busted former city officials with corruption. They are accused of falsifying the 76mln-worth govt-owned building's value to sell it for only 7mln to the company who helped them to falsify the value. A felony case is launched regarding the Apr-10-2018 incident.
former officials continue to spread fake news about Indian migration
Former PM Hrant Bagratyan gave and interview to Roboserj 5th channel during which he mislead the viewers by claiming that the emigration situation is worse now and that most of the declared net positive gains in recent times were because of Indians.
FIP fact-checker disputes this claim with the stats. 446 more Indians left Armenia than arrived in 2019.
In another instance, the former official deliberately cited a smaller time-window during which there was more seasonal emigration, to claim the overall emigration has gotten worse.
a new highway bothering some residents
Yerevan has been building new roads to connect the city's north-west to south-west, since 2017. Some segments are being built now.
A group of residents in Malatia-Sebastia district protested against the construction of the nearby segment, saying it will take away the area where kids and elderly hang out, make it harder for residents to cross the freeway and drive into their backyards, increase the noise, and the new parallel wall will block the sun for residents living in lower levels of several buildings.
The construction crew went to remove several garages to pave the way for construction. "We don't care about the garages. We want a few more safer road crossing points, not just one that is currently proposed," said a resident.
Builders plan to plant a small park in parts of the area, but the residents don't trust that the promise will be kept.
Mayor's spokesman Hakob Karapetyan visited the scene to discuss. The official says in 2019 the chief architect Arthur Meschyan met the residents and agreed to modify the construction plans to add more road crossings, to lower the road, not to cut the nearby trees. These modifications raised the road price by $1mln. Some residents were satisfied with the changes but others weren't. "Garage owners were given 115% worth compensation so they can buy new garages."
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004319.html https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180128 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180136 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004270.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004372.html
Several marshutka transport route operators, working for the private Yerevan MUAT firm, protested claiming their profit margins took a hit with the increase in oil prices. They want the govt to give them a tax break or a gas subsidy to make their job more profitable.
The drivers also don't like the new traffic violation points-based penalty system because they're afraid to lose their licenses. "When you drive all day, of course, you're going to inevitably violate a rule or drive on multiple lanes simultaneously," said one driver. (isn't that the point to reduce such instances?)
Drivers get 0.5-1 pt for minor violations and 2-3 for major ones, if caught. 9 points = license suspension.
Yerevan authorities met the drivers to discuss the issues. The transport operations resumed.
car imports/exports bolola
Armenians were paying only 10% tax to import cars from 3rd countries, due to EAEU trade bloc tax-hike exemptions for Armenia, while Kazakh importers were paying 17%.
This has prompted many Kazakhs to buy used cars from Armenia. This is why Armenians import so many cars, so they can export.
Recently, Kazakh authorities decided to require their citizens, who drive Armenian cars, to "properly register" and pay Kazakh taxes. Kazakh consumers complained, so Kazakh govt delayed their internal taxation.
Armenia is negotiating with EAEU to improve this system.
health problems require healthy solutions
Yerevan's own and several private clinics implemented an electronic patient registration system. You can now create an account at armed.am, provide your info, then easily schedule a visit with less paperwork.
The preventative clinics are getting newer medical equipment. Yerevan doubled the equipment budget subsidy in 2019. The 2020 budget will be 3x2018. Around 325 pieces of equipment were distributed.
"This is the first batch of new types of equipment since 1984," said Clinic N1 agent.
cooperation with Jordan
Healthcare Minister Torosyan met colleagues from Jordan and spoke about medical tourism, Jordan's experience in the healthcare insurance industry, electronic solutions. Jordanians agreed to exchange practice soon. They discussed the Universal Healthcare in Armenia planned for 2022. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180167
At the invitation of President Sarkissian, the king of Jordan Abdullah visited Armenia for the first time. The royal family members were also present.
Armenian and Jordanian business forums, and various Ministries, signed a cooperation memorandum. Tourism, manufacturing, tech, medical field. etc.
Pashinyan administration is drafting a bill to give Environmental Inspectors wider legal powers to suspend more types of businesses accused of violating environmental rules.
"The draft bill also clarifies when the inspector can suspend businesses. This will reduce corruption risks," said the chief Inspector Vigen Avetisyan.
draft dodger proposal
LHK contacted PM Pashinyan and asked him to pardon >27-year-old 3600 draft dodger diasporans who can't return to Armenia and make families/work because the law allowing them to pay ~3.6mln to avoid jail expired recently.
elderly and disabled also get free tickets
Education Ministry earlier made museums and theaters free for students to increase the love towards arts and culture.
Today the Education Ministry and Labor Ministry approved the expansion of this program to include the elderly or disabled citizens, to improve their social lives.
The group can visit museums twice a month, or to theaters 3 times a year, for free.
Education Ministry is currently planning to pass laws to allow them to better monitor the kindergartens across Armenia, to let more smaller kids attend them, raise salaries, etc.
The Ministry plans to build 18 new preschools this year, similar to last year. 14 other preschools will be renovated. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004290.html
A 38-year-old woman gave birth to her 12th child in Yerevan. Natural birth. 6 boys, 6 girls. (7 is a lucky number tho)
Parliamentary "elections" happened in Azerbaijan amid widespread reports and recordings of voter fraud. 48% turnout.
The opposition says the real turnout was much lower, and some votes were added to the ruling party candidates.
The pro-Aliyev blogger, who earlier confronted Pashinyan in Milan, has lost the race to an "independent candidate" (back to shitposting I guess).
Ilham Aliyev won 72 seats, pro-Aliyev "independents" won 44, seven other parties (including opposition REAL) won 9 seats combined.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180160 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-10/azeri-snap-elections-condemned-by-monitors-for-vote-violations https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004316.html https://factor.am/220350.html https://www.lragir.am/2020/02/10/516470/
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f1wfsi/feb102020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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