2021 March 22

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/22/2021: (1) Anti-corruption: origins of 214 properties being investigated, mining transparency (2) Parties split: reform before or after elections? (3) Internal Affairs Ministry (4) Books & arts (5) Nursing homes (6) Court verdicts (7) Foreign affairs (8) Himnadram (9) Fertility program (10)...
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Monday report in 3408 words. it begins: department for the confiscation of illegally-obtained property is investigating 214 entities

An anti-corruption bill aimed at public officials was approved recently to allow the authorities to require them to prove that they obtained a large property legally, or face a threat of confiscation. No felony case will be launched besides the confiscation unless it is proven that the property was stolen, however.

Justice Minister Badasyan: the law was approved in April of 2020. The agency began operating in September. Petitions were filed to investigate 430 properties that were already part of various felony trials. The preliminary investigation found enough grounds to investigate 214 of them. They are in process.

According to new rules, public officials must disclose certain expenditures. The Corruption Prevent Committee is authorized to request expenditure declarations from third parties, too.

Within 2 years of the official's departure from the position, if their wealth changes significantly, the CPC can demand details about incomes and properties.

The definition of a luxury property is reduced from ֏8m to ֏5m.

The list of officials required to disclose wealth has expanded. It'll include municipal secretaries and city council members of settlements with over 15k population. That means 9,000 public officials must disclose wealth instead of the previous 3,000.

https://youtu.be/riJHH00Z9X0 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046735.html

Anti-corruption stats in 2020

1,114 recorded corruption cases. 157 bribery. 160 embezzlement. 155 forgery. 389 abuse of power. 52 other types of abuse of power.

140 of the cases were reported by citizens through a web portal.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046740.html

Anti-corruption: mining ownership transparency law

... was approved last year to require miners to provide information about "real" ownership.

Justice Ministry: In order to reveal the real owners of metal mining companies, for the first time, a declaration of real owners was submitted by 34 companies.

(LHK earlier argued that the law doesn't go deep enough and allows owners with small shares to stay hidden, while the government argued that they used internationally accepted practices while creating the law.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046740.html

update: Internal Affairs Ministry to bring the police under civilian oversight

Justice Minister Badasyan: The police should be under civilian and parliamentary oversight. The Ministry will be the tool to achieve that.

The goal is to separate the civilian services provided by the police department. The Ministry will begin to handle passports, visas, migration issues, etc.

The bill is ready and will be discussed during a government session soon, and will be submitted to Parliament likely next week.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046743.html

COVID stats

3753 tested. 506 infected. 432 healed. 12 deaths. 11278 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046736.html

army is searching for two soldiers after a heavy blizzard (updated: found)

Two soldiers had to leave their positions to travel to a nearby position. The army was unable to communicate with them afterward, due to a heavy blizzard in the region. The army is searching for them.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046756.html

Their location is known. A team was sent to evacuate them.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209530

search operations

The search crews couldn't canvas the battlefields today because of poor weather. Meanwhile, the identification of bodies continues. 189 names were published today.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046766.html , https://factor.am/350603.html

Artsakh refugee families continue to return to their homes

Over 6,306 families remain in Armenia. 43 returned earlier this year, with another 100 applying recently.

The families are first given a tour of the housing units and if they like it, they are placed on the waiting list.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046782.html

NSS asks prominent LHK MP to appear at a station for questioning

LHK MP Gevorg Gorgisyan says the invitation is over the November 10th attack on the government buildings by the former regime activists.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046783.html

top-3 newly published books for this week

Armenian author: Երկեր, by Յարութ Կոստանդեան (about French-Armenian author's poems, letters, and thoughts)

Translated book: Սերը խոլերայի ժամանակ, by Գաբրիել Մարկես (a woman rejects the guy who loves her and marries a prominent doctor who fights cholera)

For children: Ինչու էր Բեթհովենը բարկանում... , by Սթիվեն Իսերլիս (the author revives six historic musicians and engages them in a conversation with the reader to raise interest towards classical music)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046722.html

Yerevan nursing homes are switching to new "small home model"

Yerevan's N1 nursing home staff and several residents complained about the Labor Ministry's decision to lay off their director, and the rumors that N1 nursing home will merge with Norq Marash nursing home.

The Ministry said the rumors about the merger are false. The director's term limit apparently had reached so new elections will be held. "The nursery has a temporary administrator until a competition is announced to elect the new director."

Labor and Social Affairs Ministry: we plan to introduce community-based services. That doesn't mean the two nursing homes will be merged or shut down. For the elderly who are waiting in a queue, we will implement the "small home model". //

What is the "small home model"? The government announced back in 2020 about a "pilot program to dedicate small apartments for the elderly so 2 people can live in the same room instead of currently up-to-6. The rooms will come with furniture, high-quality food chosen by the elderly, medicine, access to a garden, etc."

As of 2020, there were 5 government-run 24/7 nursing homes. As of today, the Ministry has purchased 3 buildings for the new "small home model". They are yet to undergo renovation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046761.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1008293.html , https://factor.am/350820.html

21 new preschools were launched last year for 462 students

... as part of an education investment program. 8 high schools are being renovated with laboratories for natural sciences.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046771.html

Garik & Sona have a new music clip: "Kaqavik" cover

https://youtu.be/GesDe58DVrc?t=10

artist Rafael Qotanjyan is back with his "Benefis" performance

... after a long break. The premier was on Sunday. His son Michael and grandchild Lika joined him on the stage for a surprise. "There are new songs and videos in the performance. The most important thing for us is to transfer positive charges to the audience."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046791.html

Armenian composer in Switzerland

Arthur Akshelyan, a composer and lecturer at Yerevan State Conservatory, took second place at the 3rd International Composing Competition held in Basel, Switzerland.

The composer's work "Three Plays for Orchestra" was performed by the Basel Symphony Orchestra.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046742.html

ECHR forces government to pay compensation to murder suspect over illegal detention

Someone was murdered in 2016. The court kept the suspect in jail since 2017. A human rights agency sided with the suspect, saying there is not enough evidence proving guilt. "The authorities kept him arrested despite him being cooperative, voluntarily appearing at a station, etc."

The Armenian court claimed there is enough suspicion to keep him locked up. The defense lawyers said the evidence allegedly showing his guilt wasn't even examined in court, and the defendant didn't have access to all the evidence.

Anyhow, the cause reached the Europen Court for Human Rights, which sided with the defendant and recently forced the Armenian government to pay a €2,300 fine.

https://factor.am/350666.html , http://archive.hcav.am/events/18-5-2017-07/ , https://hcav.am/khnadamiryan-22-03-2021/

court removes travel restriction on former HHK official over "good behavior"

Former Parliament president HHK Ara Babloyan was recently charged with falsifying documents in 2018 to make it appear as if HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan's appointment as a Constitutional Court judge was done lawfully, within the legal deadlines.

Prosecutors obtained an order prohibiting him from leaving the country before his trial.

However, he was allowed to briefly leave the country on 4 occasions. Since he voluntarily returned every time, today the court ruled that he isn't a flight risk and decided to remove the physical restrictions.

https://factor.am/350830.html

Armenian Foreign Ministry about Human Right Watch report

Earlier we learned about an HRW report regarding human rights violations by the Azeri regime.

MFA: The Human Rights Watch documented large-scale war crimes against Armenian prisoners of war. According to a report, violations of international humanitarian law and torture were carries out by Azerbaijan against prisoners of war.

The report states that many Armenian soldiers were last seen hostage in Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijan did not report on them. This testifies to the high probability of large-scale violent disappearances not only among servicemen but also among captured civilians. It has a systematic nature.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046741.html

Artsakh Foreign Ministry on the 101st anniversary of Shushi massacres

Artsakh foreign ministry: 101 years ago, on this day, the authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in cooperation with the Turkish regular army and numerous armed gangs, organized the massacre of the Armenian population of Shushi, almost completely destroying the historical capital of Artsakh.

The Shushi genocide was the first manifestation of the policy of aggression against Artsakh, by an artificially created state called "Azerbaijan". As a result of this heinous crime, thousands of Armenians were killed, tens of thousands were forced to flee the city, Armenian cultural heritage was destroyed, people's property was looted, and sanctuaries were desecrated.

[Talks about similar crimes in the 80s and 90s, which went unpunished by the world, which enabled the 2020 events. ]

The Armenians of Artsakh will never accept the loss of Shushi. Shushi was and will remain an integral part of Artsakh. Every effort will be made to de-occupy the occupied territories of Artsakh and restore historical justice.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046728.html

Turkish Lira plunges by 14%

... reaching 8.4L per $, within a day after Erdogan's decision to fire the Central Bank chief. This was the single biggest plunge in the past 3 years.

The bank chief was widely respected by international investors who were caught by surprise by his termination.

Erdogan's AKP party's former lawyer will become the new CB chief.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046739.html

Azeri propaganda posters are removed from London metro

Armenian embassy and local groups pressured the metro to remove Azeri posters that were featuring Armenian cultural sites as being Azeri.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046808.html

German MP accused of taking Azeri bribes dies during a flight

Ruling party MP Karin Strenz was traveling from Cuba to Germany when she collapsed. She was among the MPs who were raided by German police earlier this year over alleged money transfers from Azerbaijan.

https://factor.am/350696.html , https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/22/german-politician-karin-strenz-dies-collapsing-plane

Economy Ministry is developing tools to curb investment risks after the war

Deputy Minister: the investments declined in Armenia and Azerbaijan after the war. Problems will remain short and medium term, but the models indicate that we will overcome this and continue to grow in the long-term.

We are discussing the implementation of special tools to directly support investment programs, make infrastructure available for investors, help investors connect to the EAEU trade bloc through Armenia, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046750.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/209461

EU-Armenia hold discussions around the Comprehensive Cooperation terms

The EU-Armenia comprehensive cooperation agreement went into effect on March 1st. Today the government and a relevant committee held a routine meeting to discuss the cooperation progress in topics relating to transport, mining, nature, police reforms, etc.

https://factor.am/350867.html

Russia and UN launch a program to help small agricultural businesses

The program is called "My Village". It'll help the established or upcoming businesses in dozens of rural settlements by co-financing 70% of their expenditures (up to $20k), improving efficiency, implementing technologies.

It aims to create jobs for women and youth, reduce poverty, establish business networks, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046749.html

European Union launches two nature protection projects in Armenia:

Air pollution, degradation of forest resources, soil erosion, reckless use of water resources are among the main environmental challenges in Armenia.

The "Armenia Tree Project" consortium will contribute to the introduction of green urban planning and green energy solutions.

Within the next year, it'll plant 458,000 trees in dozens of settlements of Shirak, Lori, and Tavush provinces.

To encourage eco-friendly behavior, 7,000 schoolchildren in target communities will be trained and involved in environmental education, awareness campaigns, eco-clubs, and annual garbage collection initiatives.

Another large urban project will launch in Vanadzor and Gyumri, aimed at increasing adaptation to climate change. It'll help the municipalities to create a greener environment for their residents.

Within 3 years, they'll receive 10 modern and eco-friendly buses, 2 factories to convert recycled plastic into construction materials, 700 garbage bins for sorting recyclable waste, and info-centers.

The programs will also educate the public to change their behavior and promote recycling.

https://factor.am/350556.html

Neo is spotted again / private nature-protection model

The rare leopard named Neo was spotted again by nature cameras. It's in the same area where a female leopard Nova was spotted several months ago.

The area is called CWR and is the first privately-protected reserve in the Caucasus, operated by FPWC. The environmentalists praised the new "private" model of protection.

Video: https://youtu.be/-fjg3fnTmdQ

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046738.html

Ramkavar Azatakan Party condemns the attacks against All Armenia Fund, reveals details from Board meeting

Members of the former regime have made claims on numerous occasions, without evidence, that the government stole millions of dollars from the Himnadram.org. The authorities said the funds were/are being used for the dozens of social aid packages for Artsakh refugees and residents, including for housing, one-time payments, monthly payments, etc.

Ramkavar Party released a statement: keep the Fund away from political speculations. It has been serving the public for 29 years.

Our representative was present during a Board of Trustees meeting on March 15th. Premier Pashinyan provided a detailed and clear explanation of how the funds were spent. We are satisfied with the details.

The noise that creates mistrust towards the Fund is unacceptable. The donations are spent with the knowledge of the Board of Trustees, which is consisted of representatives from various institutes. Therefore, if there were any concerns over expenditure, it should have been addressed during a Board meeting instead of publicizing the process to create noise.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046800.html

Diaspora Committee chief Sinanyan: during the war we received aid and handled the customs paperwork. After the war, we asked for declaration papers from every recipient agency. Some of them, such as the Healthcare Ministry, gave a very detailed report. Some others did not provide as many details, leaving some questions unanswered, but it's likely a result of Armenia's weak logistics culture rather than corruption.

The same can be said about the All Armenia Fund. Some people ask why the funds are being transferred to the state budget. There is an audit and they'll receive the answers. In reality, all of this is connected to the war results. Had we won the war, 99% of these questions would not have been raised.

https://youtu.be/n38BEaNz6gY?t=242

education reforms: no grades for 1-5 graders

Education Ministry: students in the 1-5 grades won't receive digits as grades. The change will help preserve their interest in learning and discovering. The experience of various countries was examined.

Instead of grades, teachers will make a qualitative assessment so that the child can see and understand their mistake.

This is a very important change that will allow us to promote the logic that the assessment system is not a tool to punish the child, but a tool to promote learning. //

For more details about education reforms, read March 21st news. Soon I will post a comprehensive report about another upcoming major education reform bill, about universities and science academies.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046724.html

funding for the infertility program has tripled

Armenia's birth rate went from 2.88 to 1.6 since 1990. 15% of women and 10% of men report fertility issues. Those are very high numbers. Recently the government launched fertility programs to aid the demographic.

Healthcare Ministry: 62 babies were born as part of the program that helps infertile couples. This number is expected to grow because of women who are currently pregnant.

The process significantly slowed last year due to the pandemic. Only 49 artificial insemination procedures were done in all of 2020. This year there have already been 44 procedures.

The budget is ֏917m for this year, compared to last year's ֏300m.

The fertility program identifies and treats underlying causes of infertility, provides artificial insemination and artificial fertilization.

The program, launched in late-2019, was accepting limited groups of patients. The types of groups have since expanded. Today, it also includes soldiers, low-income individuals who qualify for family aid, disabled people, and residents of border regions. The latest addition were the family members of soldiers who died in the war; they are exempt from all restrictions.

There are 5 Fertility Centers where they can apply. The first Vitro fertilization procedure is free, with a 50% discount on the second attempt. The first 6 attempts of insemination are free.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046767.html

update: Artak Davtyan becomes the new CoGS

Pashinyan sent a decree to President Sarkissian to nominate Lt.Gen. Artak Davtyan as the new Chief of General Staff of Army after firing Onik Gasparyan. Resident Sarkissian refused to approve the new nominee, but he didn't challenge his appointment in the Constitutional Court, therefore Artak Davtyan automatically becomes the CoGS today, reminded Premier's office.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046723.html

Pashinyan meets the army leadership

The Premier presented the newly appointed CoGS Artak Davtyan to the army. "You all know that Mr. Davtyan left the post of CoGS [last year] for reasons unrelated to the service [he organized a wedding ceremony during COVID lockdown]. I must state that we have been in constant contact with Mr. Davtyan during this time and it was clear that we must use his potential for the benefit of our state."

Pashinyan spoke about Davtyan's role in organizing Syunik self-defense forces during the war, leading the military industry after being sacked as CoGS, etc.

Full: https://youtu.be/Tt70SEDd2oc , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046748.html

CoGS Artak Davtyan says "the army will preserve political neutrality"

The army will focus on defending the borders and will preserve political neutrality, said the new army leader. "The situation around the famous announcement [by ex-CoGS Onik] was resolved, and the existing disagreements were transferred to the legal field [Onik is suing to get his job back]."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046745.html

BHK will run for the elections alone

BHK MP Melkumyan said they don't plan to join others. They haven't selected the leadership yet.

https://factor.am/350847.html

political parties argue whether electoral code reforms should pass before the June 20 snap elections

Read March 19 report to learn about the proposed electoral reforms. It plans to make it easier for smaller parties to enter Parliament, and will repeal the controversial Rating system and replace it with Proportional. The government, opposition, and civil society groups have been working on it. All three Parliamentary parties earlier announced that they will participate in snap elections even if there is not enough time to approve these reforms. Parties are divided on whether to approve the reforms before or after the snap elections.

Reporter: When will Pashinyan resign?

Justice Minister Badasyan: 35-50 days bfore the June 20 deadline.e

Reporter trolls: is it possible he could resign on April 23rd? (that's the day when Serj resigned)

Justice Minister Badasyan: I don't know when exactly. QP party will be lead by Nikol Pashinyan on the ballot.

Reporter: should the electoral code be reformed before the elections?

Justice Minister Badasyan: if there is a consensus and the reforms take place, then I don't see why we can't hold the elections under new rules. The bill is already in Parliament and was sent to Venice Commission for advice. //

Opposition LHK leader Edmon Marukyan: we cannot change the election rules during the campaign season. If the ruling party approves the bill before the snap elections, they will throw away all the agreements we achieved. Nonetheless, LHK would participate in the elections, even under new rules. We suggesting amending certain parts of the bill and approve it after the elections.

Informed Citizens NGO: the reforms must be approved before the elections, otherwise, it'll be a catastrophic election. Some forces such as LHK, however, are against the reforms. LHK Marukyan said that even if their proposals are accepted, they will vote against the bill [if before elections]; it doesn't make sense.

Opposition party Citizen's Decision: the reforms must be approved before the elections. We will participate in upcoming elections even if it's done under current rules, however, for as long as there is democracy in Armenia.

Ruling QP MP Hamazasp: non-parliamentary parties should also be part of the dialogue because the reforms apply to them as well. As for Parliamentary opposition parties, they were in favor of these reforms back in 2018 so it doesn't make sense for them [LHK] to vote against the reforms now.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046746.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1046770.html , https://factor.am/350584.html , https://factor.am/350622.html , https://factor.am/350625.html , https://factor.am/350809.html , https://youtu.be/ndol14Oro3k?t=267

in case you missed Sunday news

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ma411m/mar212021_news_1_pashinyan_speech_negotiations/

end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

News archive: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/mawgsj/mar222021_1_anticorruption_origins_of_214/

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