2020 May 26

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Anti-Corruption Daily

May/26/2020 News: (1) Digital overtakes Cash (2) Free healthcare expands (3) Neighborhood news (4) Stats on business layoffs, cuts, turnover (5) Electoral system reforms in provinces (6) Govt raises an alarm, stricter rules (7) Yerevan lands; Worker drama (8) Artsakh govt (9) Armenian nature (10)...
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.


Digital card transactions outnumber cash transactions...

...for the first time, says the Union of Banks while citing Q1 data.

57% digital, 43% cash.

Digital: 10.4 million transactions, or +74%. The volume was 177bln or +53%.

Cash: 7.8 million transactions, or +2.4%. The volume was 415bln or +13%.

--

Banking system's total assets +1.8%, total capital +2.1%, total deposits -1.1% (or 39bln), people's deposits +0.6%.

This is largely pre-COVID.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188774

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188780

Russia pulls a department store discount prank on Georgia

1) Sell gas to Georgia for $185.

2) Raise the price to $215 for 2020.

3) Immediately provide a 15% discount and reduce it back to $185.

--

Georgia is importing 5% of its gas from Russia. The latest "discount" is a result of "global energy price decrease", says Russia.

Armenia has so far unsuccessfully tried to use the same argument to reduce the $165 price.

https://factor.am/253669.html

https://168.am/2020/05/26/1309156.html

ECHR rules in favor of Gurgen Margaryan family

Ax-murderer Ramil Safarov was freed and glorified by Ilham Aliyev for murdering Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan during a NATO training in Hungary.

Today ECHR ruled against Azerbaijan, saying it failed to explain why Safarov was released despite killing someone on ethnic grounds.

Azerbaijan must pay Margaryan's $18k legal fees. Margaryan's family didn't ask for cash for themselves.

https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22itemid%22:[%22001-202524%22]}

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188789

Azeri hackers...

... briefly defaced news.am and placed Azeri soldiers' photos on the homepage.

https://factor.am/253376.html

"Azerbaijan tramples human rights"

Article on The Washington Times about how Azeri govt wiped out Armenian heritage and caused hundreds of thousands to flee.

U.S. State Department recommends adding Azerbaijan to the list of countries that oppress religious minorities (includes non-Christians).

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/may/25/letters-editor-azerbaijan-tramples-human-rights/

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016437.html

COVID stats

+289 infected. +75 healed. +4 dead. The daily detection dropped because 960 tests were done vs 1300 the day before.

4052 active. 250 serious. 48 critical. 16 use a lung ventilator.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188764

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188768

be vigilant

Pashinyan: we're dealing with the 2nd wave. The situation is serious. We're talking about the lives of hundreds of thousands.

We have many safety rules, but the most important ones remain frequent hand washing and social distancing.

Masks are required. We will enforce; there will be raids in businesses. Drivers will be stopped and searched. Hundreds of transports have been penalized in 2 hours. Every Cascade restaurant was shut down temporarily for violations.

We can only defeat COVID with public discipline.

Avinyan: we will bring back lockdown if certain scenarios develop.

Minister Torosyan: don't fall for fake news about masks being ineffective and being required only for business purposes. Wear a mask, it directly reduces cases.

https://youtu.be/VKCCxQGbjAI

https://youtu.be/88qE29-k9EE

https://youtu.be/_5IKiE-zH-s

Here’s how COVID can spread in your office

Professor of Biology Erin Bromage uses graphs to explain how COVID has spread in various confirmed scenarios.

Healthcare Minister Torosyan cited the research to inform Armenian factory/office workers about the dangers, as they prepare to return to work.

--

For example, in one cubicle-style office building, one worker infected 43% of co-workers in the same section of the floor; that's 94 people. Even though these workers occasionally briefly met others from other floors, the COVID was largely isolated in their section, highlighting the importance of restricting social interactions and increasing distance.

Full: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/coronavirus-covid19-exposure-risk-catching-virus-germs

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188795

Mask requirements get stricter

It is required to wear masks in bus stops, transport, personal vehicles (if >1 person), sales areas, etc. Gloves are also required in some areas.

Pashinyan: Homemade mask > no mask.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188762

Big drama in Parliament / MPs get a warning over masks

QP Speaker Mirzoyan: the MPs will be required to wear masks during sessions. Violators will be warned, and repeated offenders suspended for 1-7 days.

BHK Naira: but we're preserving the social distance.

QP Mirzoyan: the microphones can infect you, plus sometimes we interact closely.

LHK Edmon: but it's inconvenient to speak to a microphone with a mask on. According to the Constitution, the Emergency Order doesn't apply to Parliament (simp logic). Otherwise we support masks in general.

QP: wear a mask, dude.

BHK MP: QP Mirzoyan wasn't wearing a mask while in Artsakh during the Artsakh elections celebration.

QP Mirzoyan: I made a mistake by not wearing one.

--

MPs went to find masks. BHK Petrosyan got a warning for still not wearing one.

LHK Edmon: I just told you Constitution exempts MPs, yet you still warned the BHK MP. You didn't suspend any MPs for 7 days over a fistfight, did you?

QP Rubinyan: while we have 400 daily infections, LHK Edmon is here fighting for people not to wear masks. He'll be forever remembered as that MP who opposed masks.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188766

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188769

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188771

https://factor.am/253232.html

Yerevan is rushing to sell more lands...

... before the prices plummet. Today city councilman asked mayor Marutyan to lower Ajapnyank district land sale price because "it could artificially raise land prices elsewhere."

The mayor responded saying they're concerned about a land price reduction from COVID, so "we're selling it at a high price as much as we can right now."

https://factor.am/253564.html

Yerevan's Green Department employees complain layoffs

Yerevan's Green Department's director was recently replaced.

A group of employees quit, citing "abuse of power" by the new director Ara Aghayan. They claim the director is doing unwarranted mass-layoffs and even "didn't spare a pregnant worker. He doesn't even greet us."

Luys councilwoman accused Mayor's wife as being the mastermind behind hiring the bad director.

Q: How many layoffs?

A: So far 3.

--

Mayor's spokesman responded: the law mandates a certain performance from employees. The rumors about a pregnant worker being fired/asked to resign is false. The workers have the right to challenge the decision in court.

--

Mayor Marutyan summoned the Green Department director to explain the situation.

Director said:

We have 760 workers. After my appointment, we recruited 120 and lost 18 workers.

Last month we had 50 newly hired workers in a trial period, out of whom 3 were let go for not meeting the demands. 2 other workers got upset that the 3 were terminated, and decided to stage a protest. There are no mass-layoffs. (kadrayin jard)

Rumors about firing a pregnant worker is false. She continues to work.

Another high profile worker was fired because he broke COVID rules, went to Monument Park, lit up a fire, and made BBQ on manghal, while blasting a loud rabiz music. The next day Monument Park had to extinguish a fire.

Opposition councilwoman: fine, but you could have warned him first instead of firing.

Mayor Marutyan: it seems like a serious violation with serious consequences.

https://factor.am/252765.html

https://factor.am/252842.html

https://factor.am/253552.html

https://factor.am/253552.html

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188816

COVID vs business

Union of Manufacturers and Businesses says:

17% of businesses saw a 90-100% sales reduction.

32% had a 50-80% reduction.

25% had 10-30% reduction

17% had 0% reduction.

--

37% said they can last forever under these conditions.

11% said 6 months.

11% said 4 months.

30% said 2 months.

11% said 1 month.

--

What expenditures will they cut to stay afloat?

15% said none

23% salaries

15% travel

8% consulting

8% utility costs

--

Will they do layoffs?

7% yes

31% maybe

62% no

--

Only 1.3% have switched to completely remote working.

https://news.am/arm/news/581068.html

Govt explains why post-COVID wages were up

Yesterday we learned that nominal monthly wages +9.8%, which made little sense considering the economy is down.

The govt stats agency says it's because 31,000 workers, mostly low-income, were temporarily laid off post-COVID, thus artificially raising the overall avg.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/117572

Bipartisan push to reform rural governance / Help for smaller parties

The govt, ruling QP, and opposition BHK/LHK created a bill to strengthen rural municipalities' legal rights.

Local city councils will have a Parliament-style structure.

The bill will establish a proportional (համամասնական) electoral system in settlements with >4k population, and a majoritarian (մեծամասնական) system in <4k populations.

Territorial Minister Papikyan brought examples of why this will make governance more stable and efficient, citing fewer gridlocks in which the mayor and council are from different parties, etc.

Parties can enter the council if they get >4% of votes instead of the current 6%. The biggest 3 parties will enter the council, even if they get <4%.

Parties that win >40% won't automatically get a "bonus".

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188797

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016452.html

https://factor.am/253325.html

Artsakh President creates new institutes

Artsakh will have its own SOC agency (State Oversight Committee, audits govt-funded orgs), and Territorial Administration Ministry.

Another Ministry's name was changed to reflect a new direction towards strengthening ties between the public, youth, and army.

Artsakh will have 13 Ministries and 8 other agencies. (list inside)

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188770

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188793

Artsakh president Harutyunyan appoints new govt members...

... one of whom is Samvel Babayan, who also ran for president and endorsed Arayik Harutyunyan's opponent. Now they're cool. Babayan, a war general, will lead the Security Council.

President Harutyunyan referred to his decision (to appoint Babayan) as an achievement towards unity in Artsakh, after opposition politician Khanumyan called Samvel Babayan a "political merchant".

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188786

strong winds...

swept across Armenia since last weekend. Gyumri was also hit hard. 100 buildings were damaged. Large trees were pulled out. Large chunks of roofs were scattered around.

In Hrazdan, a 200m2 roof was pulled away and thrown onto the Hrazdan-Yerevan road.

Gyumri pic: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188757

Hrazdan: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188760

More families will get free healthcare...

...after govt decided to include families with >28 poverty-points, instead of >30pts.

Soldiers' families will get a 100% subsidy for high-tech medical procedures, instead of 50%.

https://youtu.be/Ai91ICH_qQ8

New police force / Recruitment begins

Yesterday we were reminded about the upcoming big police reforms.

Today Justice Ministry announced the recruitment terms:

770 positions with a high >320k/mo salary, new duties, 5 months of training in a police academy during which they get paid 68k/mo.

The job starts on 2021Q1. Must be 18-35yo and healthy, secondary education required, served in the army (for men).

Physical, psychological, and intellectual exams will be conducted besides an interview. A tactical and shooting practice. Training by foreign agents who will visit for classes. Foreign language classes.

New uniforms, tools, cars.

etc. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1016431.html

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gqgfz5/may252020_news_1_qajaran_mayor_implicated_in/?

campaign to plant willow trees...

...in 6 provinces, has begun. This is part of the 15th COVID aid package to provide daily jobs to 1,000 villagers.

2 million trees will be planted near river basins to strengthen them. 1mln was planted earlier.

https://youtu.be/fIPr86NNVR4

https://factor.am/253297.html

Mayor's Gorge

There is a little known place called Mayor's Gorge near Stepanavan. It is yet to shine as a popular tourist destination. Featuring a mini-waterfall, there you'll find a cave submerged in nature, wall art, drinking water, and walking pathways.

This is where Stepan Shahumyan and his bolshevik buddies secretly gathered in 1899.

"We just need to advertise it more. It's close to Stepanavan's other POI and Dendropark," said Lori province's tourism coordinator.

Pics: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188784


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gr3hxb/may262020_news_1_digital_overtakes_cash_2_free/


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