2020 February 25
Feb/25/2020 --- Daily News & Anti-Corruption summary from Armenia --- Economy / Wages & Inflation / Tech & Manufacturing up / Judicial Reforms / Kocharyan & Serj's trial / High ranking bust / A school fight / Coronavirus / Aid for low-income families / Business survey / Gift for women / 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.
Kocharyan & Co trial
Kocharyan and his allies' trial resumed. The defendants asked for charges to be dropped, arguing that the president has immunity, and the existence of differences in 300 and 300.1 laws they're charged with. Prosecutors argued otherwise. The verdict is on March 3rd.
Serj Sargsyan, Flash Fuel owner, and 3 others had a court trial as part of the alleged 0.5bln fuel embezzlement case.
HHK members organized a protest outside of court. Former oligarch Derjavayi Arkad was among them. He denied media publications that he forces his business employees to join the protests. "Wherever I go they voluntarily come with me," said the former MP. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181422
Your favorite HHK MPs Shawarmazanov (long time no see), Armen Ashotyan, Galust Sahakyan, and others were present. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181395
Serj has arrived and used a megaphone to tell his allies to go home due to bad weather, thanking them for support. He expressed hope: "There are still judges for whom justice is above everything." https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181431
Serj entered the courtroom through the door meant for officials and judges. The lawyer explained that it's a common security practice during high-profile cases (true). https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181455
Serj's lawyer complained that there were no records describing Serj's positive personality or his military record, and asked the court for those docs to be attached to case.
Prosecutor said he only added the data that was relevant to the case, and that nothing prevents the defendant from adding Serj's bio to the case.
The judge noted that defendants should stand while speaking during Q&As. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181433
Serj's lawyer asked the prosecutor to recuse himself, claiming the prosecutor violated rules and isn't "free from influence". The prosecutor argued otherwise. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181435 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181446
Tomorrow the judge will announce whether the prosecutor stays or recuses. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181441
Former HHK MP Mihran Hakobyan believes that Pashinyan and his allies must be imprisoned in the future, once they are no longer in power, for dragging Serj Sargsyan through the fuel-theft trial.
- "Today they wrote their own sentence by creating this scene. They and their closed ones will all sit in jail," said the former MP.
https://news.am/arm/news/562282.html former IRS boss's cousin arrested again
Former IRS boss HHK Gagik Khachatryan and his cousin were charged with money and abuse crimes. The cousin was later released on 20mln bail. The prosecutors successfully appealed the bail verdict in the Appeals Court. He'll go to jail pre-trial.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181448 Judicial Reform discussion in Parliament
Parliament called Justice Minister and judges for grilling.
BHK MP: if the April 5th referendum results are challenged by a political party, the results will be sent to Constitutional Court for review. Isn't there a conflict of interest because 9 out of 7 CC judges will be reviewing something that intends to fire them?
Justice Minister: That's the law, there isn't much can be done here. https://youtu.be/qa6fZ-7Qa1I
Cassations Court president: our 230 judges are overloaded with 250,000 trials per year. We have a problem of doing a poor job at explaining the public on how hard our judges work... I don't mind if the age requirement for judges is lowered from 28 to 25. https://factor.am/224097.html
MP: how do you plan to reduce the overloading?
Cassations Court president: the upcoming Justice reforms envision several measures. In addition, we suggested the establishment of a written trial procedure which will accelerate trials by orders of magnitude. This is already being done in civil cases. https://youtu.be/n65B9wvSyo0?t=17
LHK MP: I'm against these reforms because it will create depended judges and not independent judges. Your legal regulations have grey areas that could allow you to apply the law selectively. https://factor.am/224188.html
QP MP: do new judges need to be required to speak 2 languages?
Cassations president: No, I disagree with that requirement. It could disqualify many candidates. Although the European Court for Human Rights publishes docs in English and French, we could have a committee inside the court that translates things in Armenian
QP MP: but there are cases when the judge must be able to understand the original text in a foreign language because sometimes translations don't reflect nuances. The reason the Justice Ministry wants to require 2 languages is because 1 is automatically assumed to be the Russian language, and the 2nd one could be English or French (ECHR's language). Alternatively, we could just specify that the judge has to speak English/French. https://factor.am/224107.html what are some of the Judicial reforms?
Several big reform bills are being discussed in Armenia these days: Education reform, Judicial reform, Law enforcement structural reform, financial system reform (bankruptcy laws, etc).
Justice Minister Badasyan says as part of the judicial reforms, they plan to revamp the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission. Besides having judges as members, it will have 2 legal scholars. This was recommended by the Venice Commission.
Another committee will assess the judges' performance. It'll have a panel of 5 members. 2 will be legal scholars, again. They'll examine a judge's behavior, speed of work, quality. If this committee finds a violation, they'll be able to contact the aforementioned Ethics committee to punish the judge.
The judicial candidate selection process will be revamped as well. Before the Supreme Court nominates a candidate for a judge, they'll ask the Corruption Prevention Committee (also new) for an opinion about the individual. The actual punishment system will also be revamped.
The minimum age requirement could be lowered from 28 to 25. "Older doesn't necessarily mean more qualified," said Minister.
It has been proposed to increase judge salaries to 1.5mln, or as much as 5mln.
Judicial nominees would need to undergo a psychological evaluation.
Police says: a high ranking official at the governor's office abused his powers to sign contracts with firms belonging to him (registered under family names) and paid compensation above the market value, between 2017-2018. In one instance in Malishka city, his firms took the money but didn't do the work, then forged documents to claim the job was done and received. A felony case is launched.
--- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181458 Գյուղացի Համբոյի տունը կռիվ էր ընկել
It's been a month since school N52 functioned properly. The teachers published a message:
A parent of a 5th grader made unfounded claims against a teacher and sent a complaint to Yerevan municipality, demanding the teacher's resignation. The parents contacted the police and asked the teacher to be removed. The other parent tried to slap the teacher in front of the school staff.
The child had earlier skipped too many classes and stayed in the same grade because of the parents' negligence. School staff tried everything to bring the child to school.
In Feb-24 the parent came with the child and wanted to sit in the class to observe. He insulted the teacher. The latter asked the parent to leave. The parent slapped the teacher. The kids panicked and got stressed.
The teacher has a 30-year experience. Her physical security is at risk now. We (teacher group) contacted the authorities but we aren't sure who will protect the teacher.
End of staff's message.
New details emerged.
The parent entered the class, cussed then slapped the teacher. Kids ran around. The parent's child went to the director's office to ask him to intervene. Meanwhile, the teacher's blood pressure rose and 911 was called.
How did it begin?
A few months ago the parent complained that the teacher hit the child, and asked the teacher to be fired. Police and Municipality were contacted. Nothing was done due to a lack of evidence.
Parent claims the teacher bit the child and told him not to talk about it. The teacher denies this.
The teacher believes this is revenge by the parent because the child missed 200 hours last semester and had to remain in the same class. 2 days later they received calls from the police and city. The parent refused to transfer the child to another class and insisted to fire the teacher.
The teacher contacted the police and Human Rights Ombudsman after the slap.
Director says after the incident, the parent took the child to another school but didn't properly file the legal paperwork. Shortly afterward they came back and asked the child to be re-admitted to school and participate in classes.
The child was again missing from the class today. A teacher said the father came and took the kid because "he sat on a nail and hurt himself."
As for the child, he said the teacher hit him with a ruler then put ice on his hand. The child, however, changed the story later and claimed it didn't happen. The father thinks the teacher pressured the child to keep quiet. The parents didn't find bruises on the hands, however.
Parents say the child misses classes because of poor health.
Yerevan's deputy-mayor visited the school and met the parties. "No teacher, working under these hard conditions, deserves to have a hand raised against her," said the official referring to the slap from the parent.
The police will examine whether the child was physically abused. An offer was made to transfer the child to another class.
"We'll tighter regulate the teacher-parent relations and make sure parents cannot go somewhere they aren't allowed to go. We'll do everything to protect the safety of teachers," said the deputy-mayor.
Update: Former SOC chief David Sanasaryan is going through an abuse of power trial. Besides that, recently a mother claimed Sanasaryan struck her child with a car. Sanasaryan claimed the child ran and hit the car from the side. He claimed he was blackmailed by the parent.
The blackmail investigation was earlier dropped. Recently the prosecutors cleared Sanasaryan and dropped the vehicle charges against him.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181483 Zoravar Andranik's Birthday (the meme guy)
Today is the 155th anniversary of the legendary Armenian commander General Zoravar Andranik Ozanyan.
If you've ever visited the r/arMEMEia sub, there is no chance you haven't seen a meme about the Armenian-Turkish battle of Arakelots Monastery, during which Anrdanik and his 21 buddies fought against a 6,000 Turkish army. That meme gets posted once a week. NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO POST IT AGAIN.
http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/General_Andranik ---- hy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Առաքելոցվանքի_կռիվ(1901) random army check
Defense Ministry conducted a random visit to one of the positions in the 5th Corps of the army, met the soldiers, checked their moral condition, checked the positions' defensive preparedness. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181470 the referendum preparations / logo chosen
QP held a gala-fundraiser event in Dvin restaurant to collect money for the ongoing YES campaign for the referendum.
"We'd rather cut our hands than falsify a ballot," said Pashinyan during the event.
QP then picked a winner for a contest to create a catchy logo for the YES campaign. Garun Agency won 3mln.
QP collected 205mln in donations.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181468 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181472 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181475 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181482 border with Iran / entry drops
The borders with Iran are partially closed. Cargo drivers can still come after extra checks. The inflow has significantly reduced. 45 truck drivers arrived as of 17:30. In the previous days, ~1000 people would arrive daily.
Iran's deputy-Healthcare Minister contracted the coronavirus. 95 cases in Iran. 15 deaths.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a goal and passed a goal-ball in yesterday's Roma vs Lecce. He has been declared as the best player of the match. Roma wants to keep him, but Arsenal is so far asking for too much $ to transfer him.
Italian soccer league will proceed without fans in the stadium because of the coronavirus outbreak. 280 people have been infected.
Armenian MFA advises caution before traveling to several parts of Italy.
More European countries announced their first infections today. The Schengen visa regime could be temporarily suspended.
Governor David: Only 88% of expected taxes were collected in 2018. We increased collection by 5-12% in 2019. This money allows us to do infrastructure projects. We went from the worst-performing to best performing at collection.
The variety of medical care provided in Aragatsotn clinics has been rising, allowing locals to get care locally instead of having to visit Yerevan.
6 new medical procedures in 2019, and 9 new expected in 2020. Several clinics were given modern equipment. Governor says the shadow economy is shrinking in clinics.
As part of a 500mln social project, last autumn the Labor Ministry examined 29,000 poor families, and gifted cattle to 1,000 of them to provide them with stable income.
Simultaneously, the families will not lose their poverty aid for 12 months even if their monthly income exceeds the poverty line. This is done to encourage stable work.
Labor Minister Batoyan: The program is working. The families took care of cattle which gave birth to 78 babies. We'll provide them education on how to better manage cattle. For too long, many families remained poor due to a lack of knowledge and support.
The social aid system itself will be revamped. The World Bank is helping Armenia to create a unified database of the work done by social agencies. Right now, Labor Ministry, Yerevan, and provincial social services work "independently", which creates redundancy. The unified system is meant to improve efficiency and reduce embezzlement.
Shirak province donated legally cut wood to 450 low-income families. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181478 Transparency Infernational / business
Transparency International and USAID published a survey:
79% of Armenian businessmen believe the economic competition in the market is high or very high.
59% view competition environment favorable in terms of economic activity.
66% said they face violations of economic competition (monopoly, etc.)
49% were able to protect their violated rights.
61% said that before the revolution the public procurement system was corrupt. 21% said these issues still exist.
http://arka.am/en/news/economy/about_80_of_business_people_in_armenia_assess_economic_competition_as_high_or_very_high/ Yerevan buys a gift for women
Sorry boiz, you won't be able to buy theater tickets for your ladies on March 8th. That is because the tickets are sold out in many theaters. That is because the Yerevan municipality purchased all 6,000 cultural performance tickets to give away to women.
If women are nice enough, they will invite you to accompany them. Each woman can invite one other person for free, says the city.
Moscow Cinema will also be free. Yerevan's visitors can also enter for free, as long as they get to snatch one of the tickets.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181326 ...don't expect to watch THIS performance
Vanadzor's "Precious Corpse" theatrical performance has been removed from the Feb-26 theater schedules after angry residents complained that it's against Christian values because the church priest's role is "bad". It's delayed indefinitely.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181347 Yerevan wants new street furniture
Benches, garbage bins, gazebos, etc. Yerevan wants to revamp them in several districts.
Shengavit will have 10 new gazebos, 150 benches, 53 sorted metal trash bins for recycling and garbage,
16th district will have a fountain in a park.
Arabkir will have new sidewalk curbstones.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/181353 Economy roars into 2020
GDP grew by 8.9% in Jan-2020 YoY.
Electricity production +18.7%
Foreign trade +8.2%
Industrial output +13.4%
Industrial product inflation +2.8%
Consumer inflation +0.2%
Monthly average nominal wages +5.9% (183k or $383)
I've said before that Armenia should be a high-tech industrial country focused on exports.
With processing manufacturing +12%, it became the biggest share of GDP structure with being 12.1% of it. This doesn't include mining.
Medium-level tech export +26.9%
High-level tech export +13.5%.
Tourism, which is considered as a form of export, is +14.7%.
Accommodation and food +27.2%.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f9h6ge/feb252020_daily_news_anticorruption_summary_from/
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|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|