2020 May 7

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Anti-Corruption Daily

May/7/2020 News: (1) New solar farm (2) Big preschool reforms (3) Free cash for doctors (4) ECHR vs Armenia (5) Saryan's painting found (6) U.S. Department about Artsakh (7) Infrastructure upgrades, new roads & facilities (8) Aid for tech industry (9) Faster court trials (10) 1988 quake survivors...
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.


Large solar farm construction

In 2019, Armenian-Cypriot brothers, inspired by New Armenia, met Diaspora Committee and decided to invest $9mln to build solar firm AREG ENERGIA.

The construction began on a 36ha land in Vayots Dzor. Due date 2H2021.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187381

ex-NSS Vanetsyan questioned in SIS

Serj's fugitive son-in-law Mikael Minasyan earlier claimed "Pashinyan's messenger" ex-NSS boss Vanetsyan tried to extort a business from him.

SIS launched an investigation. Vanetsyan went to SIS to answer some questions.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187390

Major kindergarten reforms:

0-2-year-old kids will be allowed to attend kindergartens.

Kids whose parents are disabled, soldiers, have many kids, will receive a priority during enrollment.

Nannies will need retraining besides a certification. They'll need an annual medical exam.

You'll need to give an exam and get approval to nominate yourself for a preschool director.

Preschool operations will require licensing by Ministry regardless of ownership type.

Better accommodations for disabled kids. The curriculum will change to include modern stuff. Provincial regions without preschools will get funding to find alternative solutions.

Parliament approved the Education Ministry bill.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187289

Tag: #EducationReform #Preschool

childrens reunite with parents

In 2019 the govt decided to close some childcare facilities and send the "abandoned" kids back to parents.

The parents are being given financial aid, utility subsidy, and parental training. Dozens have enrolled in training programs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014573.html

settlement mergers / political or economical?

Former govt launched a practice to merge small settlements. Some residents complained. Candidate Pashinyan promised to hear the complaint but didn't say he would end the practice of merging.

Infrastructure Minister Papikyan while answering LHK:

Enlarged settlements get the vast majority of infrastructure subsidies. Mergers allow them to better manage finances.

Some settlements, however, were merged for political reasons in the past. We could review their efficiency and make re-mergers based on economics instead of politics.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187324 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014525.html , https://youtu.be/5ws0zPfM3bc

Gyumri at the center of attention

"We consider the development of Gyumri as one of our top priorities," said Infrastructure Minister.

0.5bln to co-fund a park restoration. 2.5bln to build new Gyumri roads in 2020.

http://arka.am/en/news/society/armenia_s_government_pays_special_attention_to_development_of_gyumri_amd_2_5_billion_allocated_for_c/

ECHR rules against Armenia...

...in favor of a slain soldier's family. They'll get $26,000.

A soldier was murdered in 2001 in an officer's office. There was an alleged coverup in which a lower-ranking soldier was forced to accept the guilt, under the threats of having his family harmed.

ECHR found that witness testimonies and other evidence weren't properly handled by courts. Later, prosecutors couldn't find the weapon of murder.

ECHR ruled that the trials were "botched".

https://factor.am/247854.html

River Debet overflowed...

...and destroyed a chunk from the Vanadzor-Bagratashen highway.

PICs: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187389

Missing Martiros Saryan painting found

A felony case was launched in 2019 after paintings belonging to legendary Martiros Saryan and Hovhannes Zardaryan (worth 121mln) went missing. Investigators found them in some storage.

Bravo 👏. It took a year to find the keys to պադվալ․

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187393

LHK leader Marukyan and Pashinyan chatted over a coffee

Marukyan said: My questions about Artsakh negotiations were addressed. I no longer have concerns. (i.e., Lavrov lied about phased Artsakh resolution, to probably use it as a threat?)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014570.html , https://youtu.be/GBKDuaHDukg

U.S. State Department responds to Lavrov's comments & Armenian reforms

Assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent about Lavrov's claim that a phased resolution is being discussed:

I won't comment that statement specifically, but Lavrov has a record of making unhelpful statements about other conflicts. The U.S. views Helsinki act as the basis for Artsakh resolution.

He commented about post-2018 Armenia:

I think Armenians can be proud of their effort to achieve reforms. Pashinyan took power 2 years ago, and what we see today, is a real progress towards systemic reforms. The U.S. will help Armenia.

He commented on the judicial reforms:

I think Armenians want changes that are more radical than average. We proposed consulting Venice Commission, while Pashinyan proposed a referendum.

https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30599117.html

Yeghvard Mayor and official are charged...

...with forging docs and embezzling 59mln worth important land near a highway, in 2015.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187397

Levon Aronyan is on fire

3 consecutive wins, after losing and playing draw initially. He plays for Team EU in the Nations Cup.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187400

doctors get cash / free university / free tablets / HALO Trust

Vardanyan Bros will give 1,000 doctors 200,000 Drams each. Earlier they donated 100mln to govt.

Armenian-Russian University will allocate 10 tuition-free spots for doctors' children.

Aragatsotn govt gave 270 tablets to low-income kids so they can take remote classes.

The HALO Trust doesn't just clear landmines. They began helping rural Artsakh villages with basic supplies and protective gear.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187323 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187355 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187408 , http://asbarez.com/194039/halo-trust-mobilizes-to-counter-covid-19-in-artakh-2/

911 workers and COVID / Fewer calls

911 director said: 12 ambulance workers are infected. Some elder workers rightfully refused to handle COVID cases; they weren't fired. Most workers got 70-95k salary bonuses.

911 calls are way down lately. From 900/day in February to 600/day now. No such trend in the past 3 years.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187380 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187387 , https://factor.am/247790.html

Tech industry during COVID / New aid

54% of tech firms face financial problems. 45% had layoffs. 74% plan to improve their products to adapt post-COVID market.

75% of Armenian tech firms rely on foreign customers. 8% of them said COVID had a positive impact, 38% no impact, 58% negative.

--

Govt approved the 17th aid package. High tech firms, with a good 2019 credit record, can get 10mln grants, which will be approved by an independent board consisted of tech industry experts and others.

Up to 30mln grant for experienced firms that agree to create new products, or to those with angel investors,

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187337

https://youtu.be/BdN_kAqYnTQ

update: the QP MP isn't sick

Yesterday she had a fever after socializing with an infected Parliament staff. She tested negative. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187330

bill to accelerate court hearings for sick inmates / Courts and Prosecutors to hurry up

Justice Minister Badasyan:

We propose a bill that will give prosecutors 1 day to discuss a petition by a very sick inmate, then 1 day for the court to hold a session.

There are no inmates with COVID, despite some correctional officers contracting it. Families aren't allowed to send food for safety reasons.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187335

https://factor.am/247656.html

not just soldiers

All penitentiary inmates will receive new high-quality food by summer. So far 9/12 facilities are enrolled. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014549.html

Q: there are rumors that...

...[former officials] are selling illegally obtained property. Wouldn't that make it harder to recover the stolen?

Minister Badasyan: it's great that they're selling. It'll give us more material evidence on paper. However, honest buyers will probably avoid buying such property, knowing the risks.

https://factor.am/247652.html

Boosting govt efficiency / Anti-Corruption results

Justice Minister about 2019 & 2020:

Soon we'll boost efficiency by consolidating local administrative services, passport and visa services into one building, and cadastre, national archive, social services and Legal Services into another building.

The new anti-corruption website received 220 anonymous corruption reports. Armenia improved 28 positions in the corruption perception index. It's at an unprecedented level.

In 2019 we asked the Supreme Court to punish 11 judges, up from only 1 in 2018.

We created a law to improve bankruptcy laws and boost investments, as requested by businesses.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187353 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014532.html

new weightlifting center / major renovations

Govt approved 734mln to fix a bunch of Education Ministry buildings. They'll build a new weightlifting center in Armavir to solve the regional deficiency, requested by Olympic champion Simon Martirosyan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187334 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187342

departing Nature Minister about 2018-2020 changes

Eric Grigoryan about accomplishments:

Mapped every building that was built illegally too close to Lake Sevan, so they can be removed.

First-ever inventory of lease contracts in Sevan Park, which resulted in many revocations and 100 lawsuits.

First-ever auction to launch a project to clean 10 rivers that pour into Sevan.

$5mln grant from EU to recultivate lands near Sevan and built a waste cleaner on rivers.

First-ever use of high tech to map Sevan shores to identify dangerous submerged trees. 140ha already cleared to reduce algae.

First-ever examination of forest density in Sevan Park. Some areas were too dense.

First-ever comprehensive fishing regulation in Sevan. 17 locations picked for authorized fishing during daytime.

First-ever program to help save կողակ fish.

etc. He lists 106 nature protection steps, in case you're interested...

https://hetq.am/hy/article/116833

Tag: #NatureProtection

major plot twist in the shepherd story attacked by a big cat

Recently a Yenokavan man claimed he was attacked by a leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana) while herding his animals. No one believed him, because leopards haven't lived there for 50 years. Some experts, however, believed the man, saying the leopard might have "escaped" its natural habitat in the search for food.

Traces of paws, believed to belong to the cat, were sent to Germany. The results came in: a lynx.

Nonetheless, WWF animal protection group set up wildlife cameras to investigate. Today it captured a leopard. Was the man attacked by a leopard, after all? Does Carole Baskin have the missing camera footage from Epstein cell?

These leopards are in Red Book because of widespread hunting since 1970s. There are believed to be only 10 left in Armenia.

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f8wysv/feb242020_daily_news_anticorruption_summary_from/

https://youtu.be/7xbd2wE4nqU

More homeless survivors of 1988 earthquake to get housing

The government is required to provide housing to some of the 1988 earthquake survivors.

2018: 460mln to house 44 families

2019: 560mln to house 61

2020: 4.29bln to house 460

Today the govt approved the remainder of that 4.29bln aid. Some families will get vouchers to buy apartments, while others will wait for govt to build housing.

This will take care of every family who is legally entitled to receive housing help. "Obviously, there are families who don't fall under this category. We could find another solution for them later," said deputy PM Avinyan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187343

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014563.html


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gfcsz3/may72020_news_1_new_solar_farm_2_big_preschool/


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