2020 March 4

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Mar/4/2020 -- Today's news summarized. Stay informed about the ongoing Anti-Corruption, Economy, Major Changes, Politics, Constitutional Court Crisis, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
by ar_david_hh

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.

Parliament approved bills

Parliament voted 110-0-0 to pass a LHK bill that removes the requirement for pension recipients to physically appear to the bank, once a year, to receive a pension electronically. The bank will verify the recipient remotely. 4 out of 17 banks already have the system.


Army reservists are required to appear for training if summoned by the military. Parliament voted 114-0-0 to pass a Defense Ministry bill to increase financial punishment by 50% for missing the exercise summons.


Parliament approved a QP bill to amend the poverty aid law to help lift the poor families and reduce waste during aid distribution.


Parliament approved a bill about receiving help from CIS countries in the event of a radiation incident in Metsamor nuclear power plant.


They unanimously adopted the bill to share info with CIS countries to fight terrorism, physical attacks, and financing.


Parliament voted 112-0-0 to approve a govt bill to establish a new unified system to assess family social needs. The social aid services won't be "decentralized". Its various services (poverty assessment, medical assessment, etc.) will be monitored and run by the Labor Ministry. Poverty aid abuse will be cut.






Kocharyan's lion hunting

Kocharyan has a picture with a rifle and a dead lion near him.

Parliament was discussing the proposed asset forfeiture laws. A QP MP implied that Robik paid $1 million to have that fun. "You can find photos with multiple such exotic animals, with each costing $100,000 to hunt. It must have cost $1mln to kill those animals for a selfie," said the MP without naming names.



Georgia and Armenia could make travel easier

During Pashinyan's trip to Georgia, they signed an agreement to begin the discussions of possibly allowing each other's citizens to travel with basic ID cards.




coronavirus in Armenia

Update: Georgia recently banned the entry of Iranian cargo or drivers entering from Armenia, even if it was meant to be transported to Russia.

Armenian drivers claimed that since the new temporary Armenian rule requires Iranian drivers to hand over their cargo to Armenian drivers instead of Iranian drivers themselves traveling to Georgia, there is no risk for Georgians if Armenian drivers transport the Iranian cargo.

Today, the Georgian govt decided to lift the ban so Armenian drivers can transport Iranian goods through Georgia.

International airline companies decided to reduce the number of flights to decrease the spread of COVID. Civil Aviation advises Armenians to check their emails to see if they're affected. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182085

Pashinyan's bodyguard fell sick. COVID test came negative. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182128

Supermarkets began to sanitize shopping carts and other interaction hotspots 4 times a day. (feels like I'm playing Plague Inc.) https://armtimes.com/hy/article/182173


former mayor's charges dropped / Statute of limitations

Former Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharyan and his colleague were earlier charged with embezzling 3bln worth Hakhtanak Park green area, which wasn't even allowed to be privatized or exploited, and giving it to Robert Kocharyan-affiliated hotel in Mar-2008.

The investigators had to drop the charges because the statute of limitations has expired.

However, the investigators and prosecutors are working to recover the presumably stolen property.



Prosecutors ask Supreme to investigate trial delays

The General Prosecutor Arthur Davtyan has contacted the Supreme Court (not Constitutional Court) because some cases are being delayed for years.

A case was sent to court in May-2017, but one after another, 3 judges refused to hear the case because they were transferred to other departments. As a result, the case is still in the entry stage.

Another similar case is 2-year-old.

Sometimes the statute of limitations expires while the case is pending in court (WTF?). One such case happened in Feb-2017 when the judge delayed 18 of the 36 trials for "vacation or overload" reasons. This resulted in the felony suspect being released upon the expiration of the statute of limitations.

The General Prosecutor is asking Supremes to intervene. He also ordered subordinate prosecutors not to miss trials unless absolutely necessary.


Erebuni military airport's noise

Residents near Shengavit district are complaining about the fighter jet noise caused by the nearby Erebuni airport. "They fly right over our building at various times of the day," says a resident with a small child, "maybe they can move the base further away from Yerevan."

The flights don't happen every day, but frequently enough to bother residents.

The commander of the Russian aviation base Alexander Petrov admitted that they bother residents. "We fly every other day. We're noisy neighbors. We organized air shows for the nearby public and took other measures to warm our ties, and this resulted in significantly fewer complaints," said Petrov.

The jets aren't flying just for fun. They patrol Armenia's airs.

"The reason we have to fly over Davtashen is because of geolocation. On one side it's the border, on the other side Geghama mountains, another corner is Mt. Aragats, so we have to fly over a residential area," said Petrov.

Erebuni airport was built in 1933.

More details... https://hetq.am/hy/article/114002

corruption busts in army reach unprecedented levels

In 2019, the prosecutors examined as much $ damages done to the army through fraud, as in 2013-2018 combined, say prosecutors.

154 new felony corruption cases.

63 for abuse of power by higher-ups, 29 forgeries, 27 embezzlement, 11 bribery, etc..

102 officials charged.

Cases sent to court +50% YoY.

230 cases of other types of resource waste uncovered, +27% YoY.

70% more warnings that resulted in the voluntary return of stolen resources.

12bln in damages uncovered, up 6x YoYo, and bigger than 2013-2018 combined. 1.2bln recovered so far.


more cities to start neutering dogs

The stray dog population grew across Armenia in recent years. Yerevan began neutering them in 2019.

Byureghavan has contacted Kotayk governor's office for help to implement a similar process. The first group of dogs was neutered recently.


Yerevan's war on parking clutter in Center

Yerevan municipality recently decided to remove some of the parking spots in Republic Square, which is a major tourist attraction.

"The first thing you do while entering the square is seeing lots of parked cars. We changed this. The city is offering other parking areas for tour-bus drivers, some of whom came to complain about the parking ban today," said Mayor's spokesman Hakob Karapetyan.

Q: the bus drivers say you haven't offered them any alternatives.

A: not true, we have space in nearby Sakharov square.

Q: but it's too busy, they can't park.

A: lanes are being drawn and the parking area is being separated right now. They'll be able to park. They'll (tour agency buses) have their separate parking spot.


Freedom House assessment for Artsakh

"Freedom in the World 2020" report says the 2018 revolution and the new administration had a positive impact on making the Artsakh Republic freer. More competition, more active civil society. It's freer than Azerbaijan.

"The same cannot be said about gray zones occupied by Russia... Belarus, Russia, and Uzbekistan suppressed the opposition to win... Kazakh president handpicked a successor... Moldovan reforms have stalled... All of the positive changes in Eurasia are associated with the governments of Armenia and Ukraine."

Armenia is "Partly Free" as of 2019 report, with 2020 being prepared.



how much do YES/NO campaigns pay for TV ads?

Constitutional Court referendum will take place on April 5th. The YES and NO voting campaigns can purchase TV ads.

21TV: 6k/minute (less effective than shouting on the street)

5TV: 6.9k/minute (Robik srika)

Kentron: 24k/minute (Gago srika)

Yerkir Media: 25k/minute (ARF srika)

H1: 50k/minute (Nikol srika)

H2: 60k/minute (Robik srika)

ShantTV & ArmeniaTV: 100k/minute (someone's srika)


alleged referendum violations

One of the co-managers of the NO campaign is HHK Arsen Babayan (suspected of aiding HHK to hijack Constitutional Court in 2018). He shared a Facebook post from a woman claiming that she witnessed how Babayan's NO campaign members tried to bribe senior voters in one of Yerevan districts. Babayan himself shared the report so the police can investigate whether it's true. An investigation was launched. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1006502.html


The prosecutors examined 12 reports of rule violations. Several mild cases were found. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1007333.html


YES campaign manager Papikyan urged to report any violation by the YES campaign upon detection. He ruled out the possibility of illegally pressuring local officials to rally the YES vote.

Ironically, Papikyan was accused of violating propaganda rules by advocating for a YES vote outside of legally allowed boundaries. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1007332.html

criminal subculture bust

The thieve-in-law criminal subculture figure Oshakantsi Gevorik was detained as part of an open Investigative Committee case.

In case you enjoy arm twisting videos: https://youtu.be/eNVeBUP7DW0?t=11


Taxi drivers received tax exemption. Has the quality improved?

Not by much, according to a QP MP. Last year, the govt decided to remove a 12k fixed fee from individual taxi drivers, in part hoping that it would encourage better service and honesty. A QP MP says the drivers still rig the meters to overcharge travelers, but the complaints have somewhat decreased.


seniors to compete in checkers, backgammon, basketball

Elderly National Games is a competition organized by the Education Ministry. The 63+ seniors will compete in backgammon, checkers and win money or medals.

Each province, including Artsakh, can send 10 players - 5 men and 5 women. They'll compete in checkers, backgammon, basketball shots, and dart. Education Ministry will take care of transport, medical care, filming, equipment.

1st place AMD 95k, 2nd 85k, 3rd 70k.


UEFA Nations League

Northern Macedonia v Armenia Sep-5

Armenia v Estonia Sep-8

Armenia v Georgia Oct-8

Estonia v Armenia Oct-11

Georgia v Armenia Nov-13

Armenia v Northern Macedonia Nov-16


Why are Armenia's opponents weak this time? Because the new UEFA Nations League rules say that equally strong teams shall be placed within groups. Gonna get spicy really quick...

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1007212.html women's soccer team revived / 1st match

On Apr-19-2019 we learned that the Soccer Federation was in talks with the diasporans in USA and elsewhere to assemble a new female soccer national team.

It's done. The week-old team played their first friendly match against Lithuania and lost 0:1. The stadium was packed with a few dozen fans who came to witness the historical moment.

"We weren't expecting to play that good considering that we only trained together for a few days. This is our birthday," said a Soccer official Anna Tadevosyan.

The next match in on Mar-6 12 pm in Pyunik Stadium versus Lithuania again. (gotta try until you win, like the Brexit elections)


PICS: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182121

1st Snow Champions League competition in Armenia

1,000 audience went to Aparan to watch 8 teams from several countries compete in the region's first "dznamart" Champions League.



lake Sevan cleanup

Yesterday we learned that Nature Ministry began to remove submerged trees from Lake Sevan shores to reduce algae growth.

570mln is granted for this stage, with a petition for extra funding. 750 ha area to be cleaned by 2021. "The cleanup operations are at an unprecedented level."

40 tractors and tree carriers are being used. The cold weather helped to keep the equipment going smoothly (suck it up, global warming)

Drones and satellite images were used to identify the areas need for urgent treatment.

Ministry plans a 3.5-meter lake level rise by 2029. This would thicken the "cold layer" and improve water quality by keeping algae from spreading to the surface.


Nature Ministry held a meeting with Swedish and German delegations, Armenian water and nature organizations, to discuss the work around lake's healthification.

VIDEO: https://www.facebook.com/armgovernment/videos/639774296786441/



agreement to reduce breast cancer drug price / govt to subsidize

Healthcare Ministry signed an agreement with Swiss Roche pharma to reduce the price of breast cancer chemotherapy drug Trastuzumab Herceptin by 30%.

This is the 2nd price reduction in a year. In 2019 another agreement reduced it by 10%.

"This 40% reduction will allow the Healthcare Ministry to subsidize breast chemotherapy meds," said Minister Torosyan.

Thank you Roche, really cool!


20 more Azeri-Armenian refugees receive housing

Infrastructure Minister Suren Papikyan issued property certificates to 20 more Armenian families who flex Azerbaijan in 1990s during the massacres. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182120

building instead of buying?

The govt is discussing the idea of building apartment complexes for (e.g. Azeri-Armenian) refugee families instead of buying existing ones. "We would have to carefully choose where to build so we wouldn't harm the local real estate market, and not to build in regions where there is already widespread vacancies," said Pashinyan. No specific plans yet.


Artsakh revenues exceed expectations

2020 began with good news for Artsakh's revenue collectors. Tax collection exceeded expectations by 7.9%.

76% of all taxes were paid by large businesses.


product prices decline

There was an overall 0.2% deflation in Feb-2020 vs Feb-2019.

Food & soft drinks -4.1%

Tobacco & spirit +9.1%

Clothing +3.5%

Utilities +1.2%

Household appliances +0.1%

Healthcare +2.1%

Transport +2.1%

Education +3.7%

Restaurants & hotels +1.8%

Communications -0.1%

Culture and leisure +1.6%

Services +1.4%


IRS stats / jobs / taxes

A micro-business is the one that earns less than 24mln/year. Recently they became exempt from taxation.

32,000 micro-businesses registered as of 2020.

1,150 of them are placed on a watch list for possibly exceeding the AMD 24mln threshold while trying to cover it up.


As of Dec-2019, there were 629,000 (+7% YoY) taxable job positions in Armenia.

+88k taxable jobs since Apr-2018. The biggest growth came from small/medium trade, food services, food production, services.

482 million (+39%) sales receipts were printed with AMD 6.1 trillion (+14%) turnover.

+14% more raids against businesses not printing receipts.

+55% more raids to uncover unregistered workers.

+38% in taxes & fees that were under-paid by businesses and paid only after IRS recalculated it.


their families expanded

Meet Pashinyan's dogs. The one on right was donated by Georgian PM yesterday. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182147


Armenian soccerer Henrikh Mkhitaryan welcomed his first child Hamlet. The couple married exactly 9 months ago in June, which makes them good law abiding citizens.


Link to original report and comments: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fdjx26/mar42020_todays_news_summarized_stay_informed/

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2020 Daily Armenia Reports