2020 February 2
Feb/2/2020 :: Daily News Collection from Armenia :: Stay Informed About the Ongoing 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.
Constitutional Court crisis & PACE
PACE released a statement about the Constitutional Court crisis in Armenia:
urged govt and CC to de-escalate the concerning feud and not make statements that could be interpreted as pressure,
said courts already have low trust levels,
urged the balance of power to be upheld,
said the govt is acting legally,
the new law that gives early pensions to CC judges who want to quit early, is legal,
welcomed govt's steps to use Venice Commission's advice,
Armenia should continue the ongoing judicial/legal reforms,
"We will monitor that Govt continues to act [legally], even if the objective of [law allowing judges to quit early], to uphold the spirit of the constitutional amendments of 2015, seems valid."
Justice Minister Badasyan: I welcome PACE's report. What the report essentially said is that our ongoing efforts, to make sure today's CC reflects the standards envisioned by the 2015 Constitutional amendments, is valid. We'll continue to follow the law.
Some opposition figures pointed to the "concerning" portion to present the message as if it was sharply critical to the govt.
(Govt is complaining that HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan hijacked the Court for life through an illegally rushed appointment in 2018, days before the new Constitution would go into effect. While new judges/chiefs serve limited terms, Tovmasyan and others serve lifetime because they got appointed before the changes kicked in. This is against the spirit of the new Constitution which envisions stricter term limits, argues the govt, which then decided to let the judges voluntarily quit early and still get paid a pension.)
Justice Ministry's reforms
4 new things in Armenia.
1) Corruption Prevention Committee -- already formed, bipartisan board appointed by Parliamentary parties; checks officials' wealth and actions, etc.
2) Anti-Corruption Agency -- to be created, will replace SIS/NSS as the main anti-corruption fighter, should have maximally independent apolitical agents.
3) A new subdivision of General Prosecution -- monitors the anti-corruption agency's work to make sure they're following the law.
4) Anti-corruption court.
The Justice Ministry has submitted the creation of #2 for public discussion.
Earlier a soldier died in Artsakh from a non-combat wound to his chest. Suicide, or being driven to suicide, is suspected.
Defense Minister Tonoyan says 3 fellow soldiers were arrested as suspects, one of whom is the son of former oligarch HHK MP Arakel Movsisyan (Shmays).
"There was a dispute in the group. We still need to find out what happened. They aren't guilty or innocent yet", said the Minister.
Ministry released the suspects' names. They're facing up to 8 years in prison.
The funeral was today. The family initially closed a nearby road to protest but changed their mind after learning that 3 suspects were arrested. Fake news was circulated about the police allegedly arresting family members of the deceased.
Shmays responded: I think my son is innocent. There is an ongoing investigation. Condolences to the family.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179493 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179494 https://www.arlis.am/DocumentView.aspx?docid=69646 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179495 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179516 https://factor.am/218444.html
Healthcare Minister Torosyan: we got the reagent tests. We can check patients for the Chinese bololavirus in Armenia. No infections in Armenia as of right now. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179517
1st deputy PM Avinyan met the Chinese ambassador who said things will get better next week. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003376.html
The police arrested 4 men suspected of illegal fishing. Fish, electric boat motors, and a dinghy were found. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003360.html
Republican Birth Clinic director Razmik Abrahamyan is one of the suspects in the case of the abduction and trafficking of dozens of newborn babies between 2016-2018.
The Appeals Court upheld a lower court verdict and decided he doesn't need to be jailed pre-trial.
Ararat provincial police detained several members of the criminal subculture. Cars were searched. Fully automatic firearms, rifles, grenades, and knives were confiscated for forensics.
Armenian-Ukrainian Karen Chukhajyan won the WBA title after defeating the Russian opponent.
Artyom Dalakyan will fight on February 8th.
Grandmaster Karen Grigoryan won the Lisbon chess tournament held among 216 players from 33 countries. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003403.html
snow = food
Heavy snow across Armenia over the weekend. Some Gyumri flights were canceled. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179433
Rescuers rescued 100 cars suck in snow for 2.5 hours on Sotk-Qarvachar road at night. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179490
Pashinyan: the snow is good news for the agricultural season and the harvest. I'm optimistic about 2020 in general. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179438
Chief media guy: calm down naw. February will be hot. There will be occasional temperature drops and snowfalls. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179453
not just Yerevan
Gyumri has 14 new snow, vacuum, and multi-functional trucks. 50% govt subsidized. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003362.html
In what appears to be a routine thing now, investigators and the Property Price Assessment Agency worked together to bust a corruption by former officials. Report says:
In 2016 the Agency and a firm assessed 2 govt-owned properties to be worth 4.8mln/7.8mln. They were sold for only 3.6mln/5.6mln.
Recently the prices (as of 2016) were assessed and it turns out they were worth 10mln/18mln.
2 felony cases are launched.
First lady Anna Hakobyan celebrated her birthday. Smallest daughter Apri sang Happy Birthday in Armenian (Pashinyan as the cameraman as always): https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/637815313633251/ https://youtu.be/Zr9znCsDxHg
they addressed rumors
QP MP: the Schengen visa will continue to cost $35 for Armenian residents. (there were rumors of price hikes) https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179492
No bodies were found in Lake Sevan last week as speculated by some outlets. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003344.html
Food safety agency: Imported bananas are safe. Russia earlier found bugs in bananas imported from Ecuador, so we implemented tighter monitoring of our goods. These bugs are only harmful to plants. https://factor.am/218408.html
A young man was found and is facing charges for writing "I love Nane" on a 5th Century monastery wall.
Some Yerevan building roofs contain asbestos. The municipality is preparing a bill to fight against it. Construction workers are especially at risk when they cut the material and breathe the dust containing asbestos particles. It's carcinogenic.
Australia was first to ban it in 1967. It's still allowed in the US.
EAEU import tariffs
When Armenia joined the Russa-led EAEU economic bloc in 2015, it was supposed to abide by its import tariff rules. This meant >900 product prices would increase. At the time Armenia got a 5-year waiver which ended in 2020. This year the tariffs increased on the products.
Now the govt is negotiating another waiver with EAEU. Deputy PM Grigoryan says it could be for 1 year. "The tariffs haven't resulted in exessive price hike of essential goods."
sugar & butter prices down
Economic Competition Committee reviewed sugar and butter prices.
2017 sugar: avg ֏387
2018 sugar: avg ֏322
2019 sugar: avg ֏292
Right now you can buy sugar for only ֏209 in some places.
The largest player's (former oligarchs Lfik Samo) import share went from 67% to 49%. Armen-Hamik firm's share went from 15% to 30%.
In 2019, Armenia produced 60mln tons of sugar, while 47 firms imported 8mln tons.
Butter prices also went down, as did the market share of the largest player by dobule-digits.
2019 vs 2018 stats for butter...
Butter imports -9%. Butter production in Armenia +46%. Butter exports up 4x.
More importers, exporters, and local producers. Prices down by ~֏200
The Committee proposed law to require grocery stores to better inform the public about the differences between butter, spread, and margarine, so people won't buy stuff thinking it's butter.
I can't believe it's not butter.
draft dodgers paid cash
Up until 2020, there was a law that allowed 27-35yo army dodgers to pay ~$7,500 and have their felony cases terminated. The actual $ depended on how soon the dodger took action, how many seasonal draft calls he dodged.
2019: 955 applicants paid $4.8mln.
2016 & 2017: 625 applicants paid $1.6mln.
Looks like folks were in a rush last year.
give me your wallet
4.9 million transactions were made with foreign bank cards in 2019:
+48% vs 2018
+102% vs 2017
The stores, cafes, restaurants, etc. got 178bln cash:
+28% vs 2018
+44% vs 2017
Since the number of transactions rose faster than the $ spent, this could indicate significantly more smaller transactions that help the small/medium business.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/exxisc/feb22020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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