2021 May 4

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

May/4/2021: (1) Labor reform: min. wages, easier strikes, breastfeeding (2) Prison as last resort (3) What happened during 2015 negotiations? (4) 2016 war report (5) POWs repatriate (6) AZ's militants get life in prison (7) Grants for soldiers (8) Mayors busted (9) Central Bank (9) Waste management
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Tuesday report in 2792 words.

bill: benefits for working and breastfeeding mothers

Labor Ministry presented a draft bill about working mothers who have a child under the age of 1. Currently, they can ask employers to reduce hours from 8 to 6 hours a day. Under the proposed bill, the mother could receive those rights if the child is under the age of 1.5.

Mothers currently have the right to take 30-minute breaks every 3 hours to breastfeed. Often they complain that it's not enough to travel and return, and most workplaces do not have accommodations to keep babies nearby. The bill will allow the mother to combine those 30-minute breaks into one large 1.5-hour break to be able to travel.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051223.html

major reforms in labor law / different minimum wage based on industry / right to hold strike / taxes & salary / rights transparency

In case you missed the news about labor law reforms, read yesterday's news..

The bill will allow a worker to travel abroad for a 2-year-long retraining without losing their job.

https://factor.am/366491.html

The employer would be required to clearly state the beginning and end of the working day in the contract.

Currently, the law requires the employer to notify the worker ahead of time about the termination. The deadlines are defined in the law. The amendment would require the employer to inform the worker about such termination deadlines in the job contract itself because not everyone reads the law.

Currently, there is no clarification whether the presented salary contains taxes or not. Employers would be required to present the "dirty" amount that includes taxes. "Let's say the taxes reduce, but since the 'clean' salary was written in documents, the tax reduction doesn't help the worker."

Details: https://factor.am/366499.html

Workers would be allowed to hold strikes if 50% agree, instead of the current 70% requirement.

Under current rules, such strikes are allowed for the protection of working rights. After the amendment, they can also cite the protection of social and economic rights. "However, we encourage workers to respect the law because often the strikes they organize are illegal and they could be held responsible for damages through a court order."

There will be different minimum wages depending on industry instead of one universal federal minimum wage. The minimum wage would be set by a committee consisting of three bodies [govt and labor groups] after discussions.

https://factor.am/366515.html https://youtu.be/O1SsQGZtRZw

Tags: #LaborLaw #LaborReform

bill: use imprisonment only as last resort / size of fine to be based on income

The Government has a bill to encourage the use of less severe punishment to reduce imprisonment. The Parliament discussed it today.

Justice Ministry presented the bill saying it will allow the person to re-socialize. Electronic tools for remote monitoring could replace imprisonment in some instances, "the bill will make this monitoring process more efficient."

Additionally, if a person technically violated the felony code but it has a lesser severity to the point that no significant damage was done to the individual or state, then no felony charges will be pressed.

The military will have its own disciplinary battalion for low-ranking troublemakers.

The bill apparently sets a progressive bracket for monetary fines, based on the person's income.

More details later when it's submitted for a final vote.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051185.html

other upcoming bills

Parliament is also discussing the bill to issue amnesty on thousands of men who avoided army service. It needs to receive two positive votes to pass.

Another amendment would increase punishment (felony) for hindering journalists' work. They are replacing "and" with "or" in one of the articles to allow better enforcement of the law.

A bill to give 3 years to make a broad range of public buildings accessible to disabled people. Penalties start from ֏250k.

https://factor.am/366494.html https://factor.am/366627.html

interview: what changed in Karabakh negotiations process in 2015? / framework agreement fails / UN Security Council resolution & co-statements left on paper

Read Monday news for context about Pashinyan's speech..

Reporter: Serj Sargsyan claimed that he believed that if the Karabakh conflict negotiator [Armenian leaderhsip] changed, that would change the logic of the negotiations. Pashinyan responded saying the logic of negotiations did not change after the 2018 revolution, but rather back in 2015 [followed by escalation that lead to the 2016 war]. What is Pashinyan referring to? What exactly changed in 2015? Is he referring to Azerbaijan's refusal to discuss referendum and intermediary status for Artsakh?

Opposition figure Andreas Ghukasyan: Yes. But before Azerbaijan's refusal to negotiate over intermediary status for Karabakh, they were negotiating the Framework Agreement (շրջանակային համաձայնագիր, aka Framework). The idea was to use that Framework to sign a Comprehensive Agreement (Agreement) for peace.

In the Autumn of 2015, they finished discussing the documents. The idea was for Serj and Aliyev to sign the Framework then instruct their Foreign Ministers to prepare the comprehensive peace Agreement, based on that 17-point Framework.

Parliaments of AM and AZ would then ratify the new Agreement and Artsakh would also sign it. That would then serve as the basis for lasting peace.

Reporter: why didn't this come to fruition during the Serj administration?

Ghukasyan: Azerbaijan offered to skip the Framework altogether and to move towards implementing the final Agreement itself. To ensure this transition, the Minsk Co-chairs declared that in the event one side [Azerbaijan] rejects the Framework, both sides would need to adopt a Declaration and publicly state that the Madrid Principles will be respected.

Since 2015, they discussed the details of this Declaration. I've personally read the text because General Samvel Babayan, back in August 2020, announced that he has the text and he is inviting anyone who is interested to come and discuss it.

According to the document shared by Babayan [about each side making public Declaration], the resolution of the conflict would be based on 3 elements: (1) AM and AZ presidents make a joint declaration to express political will for a peaceful resolution, (2) a joint statement by Co-chairs, (3) and a legally binding UN Security Council resolution which would force both sides to follow the agreement.

[Fast forward 2016, a war happens. Fast forward 2018 shortly before the revolution, Serj announces that the negotiation process has stopped and things aren't looking good.]

Ghukasyan continues: When Pashinyan says the negotiation process was "bent" in 2015, he refers to the termination of negotiations over the Framework Agreement. We also need to know Pashinyan's role during post-2018 negotiations. We need transparency. The government's hands are not tied today so they have the right to publish all the classified negotiation documents. Let the public analyze for themselves.

Full interview: https://youtu.be/ahlCapyKQ_c

Tags: #Artsakh #negotiation #ArtsakhConflict #FrameworkAgreement

April 2016 war report will be discussed behind closed doors due to state secrets

Parliament voted 71-0-1 to discuss it behind closed doors.

After the revolution, opposition and government formed a commission which spent extensive efforts to prepare the report. They questioned 2016 war participants, including Serj, to learn details about the shortcomings that resulted in significant losses in the south and north.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051170.html

the world must recognize Artsakh Armenians' right to self-determination

... said Parliament President Mirzoyan during a Parliamentary session today while criticizing Azerbaijan for distorting the Shushi church under the pretense of renovations. "I believe that this barbarism, the mistreatment of POWs, the disgraceful park in Baku, are all proof that the safe existence of Artsakh Armenians within Azerbaijan is impossible. The world should recognize Artsakh Armenians right to self-determination."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051167.html

121 deputies of European Council demand Azerbaijan to free POWs

They contacted the president of the European Council Charles Michel and others. They mentioned that Armenia did its part by freeing the captives. Azerbaijan admits having 72 POWs but denied having the other 112 missing individuals. There are 61 people who are known to be under Azeri imprisonment but Azerbaijan refuses to acknowledge that; their fate is unknown.

Deputies: The European Union can no longer leave Armenia alone in this intolerable situation, we must act so that violence does not once again prevail over the law.

Artsakh MFA: we appreciate the letter about the Armenian POWs who are being illegally kept in Azerbaijan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051232.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051254.html

French ambassador Lacotte about Artsakh negotiations:

Macron and Putin held a phone convo and agreed to resume Minsk Group efforts. Concrete steps will be taken in the near future. During the call, Macron emphasized the need to see progress towards POW repatriation, humanitarian mission, and protection of cultural heritage.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051154.html

3 Armenian POWs were repatriated today

The media reported that chief peacekeeper Rustam Muradov flew to Baku to bring several POWs. The government did not confirm or deny.

The jet with 3 POWs later landed in Erebuni airport at night. One of them is a volunteer from Shirak province who was captured after the war.

Deputy PM Avinyan: As a result of the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, Azerbaijan has returned three Armenian POWs amid growing international pressure. We are full of hope that this process will have its logical continuation and end soon.

https://factor.am/366812.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051259.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212984

life imprisonment for two Syrian militants recruited by Azerbaijan and Turkey

You may remember Muhrrab Muhammad al Shkheri and Youssif Alabed al Haji. They were caught alive during the war. Their trial was held in Syunik court today. Both of them received life imprisonment.

Another 30 are wanted by authorities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051252.html

Aznavour Foundation helps former soldiers to launch businesses

The Foundation is working with Soldiers' House to provide €5,000 grants to recovering soldiers so they can receive education, business consulting, and start their businesses.

24yo Vahe fought in the 44-day war and lost a leg. He is learning 3D Max software. He used to work as a chef, restaurant manager, barman, and says he wants to open his own restaurant.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051192.html http://arka.am/en/news/business/wounded_armenian_soldiers_to_get_5_000_euro_grants_to_implement_business_projects/

Kocharyan's bribery trial delayed

Co-defendant Armen Gevorgyan complained about health and did not appear. Kocharyan learned about it and decided to skip the trial, too. The trial is delayed.

The two are accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from a mining businesswoman who came forward in 2018.

https://factor.am/366531.html https://factor.am/366554.html

anti-corruption: Mets Ayr mayor and his brother are charged

Investigative office said: the 2012-2017 mayor of Mets Ayr settlement, knowing that his brother's family was receiving low-income aid and that getting a job in the municipality would cause the aid to stop, the mayor decided to conspire with his subordinate to register the latter as the driver, while in reality, it was his brother who worked.

The mayor and his brother are charged with felonies for falsifying documents and embezzling ֏1.7m.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051183.html

anti-corruption: Ghazanchi ex-mayor charged with embezzlement

NSS report says: the mayor falsified documents in 2013-2016 to embezzle ֏3.7m in public property. He registered fake employees, conspired with an official to embezzle aid meant for low-income residents, gave his wife funds from the budget, stole the funds from the lease of public property, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051195.html

anti-corruption: Spitak municipality officials facing felony charges

Prosecutors said: the State Oversight Services audited Spitak's 2015-2020 finances. It was revealed that Spitak mayor legalized 80 illegally-built buildings as defined by the law, but failed to collect ֏18.8m in fines.

In 2015, the mayor claimed that 2 people participated in an auction to purchase public land, but in reality, only one participated. The mayor falsified documents.

Between 2015-2020, the city signed ֏92.3m in contracts with a company to clean streets and sidewalks. However, a large part of it overlapped with the cleaning done by another entity, resulting in ֏15.5m in damages to the state.

During the same period, the city gave funds to companies to fix lights and do other work. The city certified the work as complete, but the audit revealed that the work wasn't done.

The mayor and city officials are facing several felony counts.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051205.html

Cadastre Committee's secretary-general is under administrative investigation

... after Pashinyan asked to investigate him over alleged improper conduct. He is temporarily suspended. A group is formed to investigate.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051174.html https://iravunk.com/?p=202251&l=am

another deputy army chief is out

Pashinyan asked president Sarkissian to terminate the duties of deputy CoGS Karen Abrahamyan who was tasked with the Operative Department.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051224.html

Parliament MP apologizes after his car is parked on crosswalk

QP MP's driver received a ticket for parking on zebra. The MP apologized to pedestrians.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212909

police found the guy who torched Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Yerevan

The 61yo resident confessed.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051179.html

Central Bank says the economy is recovering faster than they predicted

One thing is clear to us that the economy is showing more positive development trends than the previous forecasts, said CB president Martin. Two months ago they downgraded the growth expectations from +2% to +1.4%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051217.html

Central Bank about the 12-month inflation:

We expect inflationary impacts on Armenia's economy from foreign and domestic forces, but the 12-month inflation, after short-term acceleration, will gradually decrease and stabilize around the target 4%.

The CB increased the refinancing rate by 0.5% to 6% after reporting a 1% inflation in March, versus the 0.5% that was during the same month of last year. The 12-month inflation is 5.8% (real 6.6%).

CB says Armenia's key economic partners are seeing economic activation due to COVID measures and vaccination. At the same time, the expectations of increased post-COVID consumption demand and series of other facts contribute to price increase in the raw material and food sector. This international development will have some inflationary impact on the Armenian economy.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051219.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051178.html Central Bank about Gagik Tsarukyan's proposal to forgive loans of 2 million people

Tsarukyan met voters in Gyumri recently and promised to forgive loans of 2 million people. CB chief was asked to comment. He opposes the idea: "It doesn't have an economic logic and it's unfair."

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212951

electronic transactions rose 37% last year

There were 2.5 million cards issued by banks, or +4.4%.

Market share of each card: VISA 42%, ArCa 30%, MasterCard 25%, HSBC 1%, American Expres <1%.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/130433

COVID stats

3343 tested. 399 infected. 635 healed. 16 deaths. 11106 active (down).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051172.html

public officials get vaccinated

Education Minister Dumanyan took a shot and called on to "refrain from prejudices, to consciously accept the necessity of vaccination."

Deputy PM Mher Grigoryan and Security Council chief Grigoryan took a Sputnik shot. Several other high-ranking officials received a vaccine.

Any Armenian or foreign citizen above the age of 18 can make an appointment at any clinic for a free shot.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051190.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051187.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051198.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212926 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212939

Armenia hopes to increase vaccination rate by installing public sites

US-Armenian surgeon and expert Shant Shrtumyan is cooperating with Healthcare Ministry to exchange vaccination experience. To increase the rates, they want to install vaccination sites in squares, malls, busy streets, etc.

Armenia lags behind with 4.5K vaccinations despite having dozens of thousands of shots. 7% of the world is vaccinated. Dr. Shrtumyan says the public awareness campaign of the recent day did, however, increase vaccination activity.

Benefits outweigh the risks by several hundreds of times, said the doctor.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051177.html

new electronic system provides precise information about tourism flow

Who, from where, for how long, gender and age group, first time or repeat visitor?

Charts, if you want detailed info about visits:

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051233.html

tourists are welcome in Artsakh

National liberation movement figure Dashnak Nikol Duman's House would like to see you.

https://youtu.be/bkRrGcNWUc4

https://www.civilnet.am/news/605296/արցախ․-նիկոլ-դումանի-տունը-սպասում-է-զբոսաշրջիկներին/

Russian low-coster Pobeda will increase flights to Armenia

They ran an ad to promote Lake Sevan, the world's longest ropeway, etc. There will be 4 weekly flights beginning summer, including Moscow-Gyumri, Sochi-Gyumri, Krasnodar-Gyumri, Minvodi-Gyumri.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3880962635321159

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051248.html

Yerevan will place the traffic lights above streets for better visibility

The change will affect several busy intersection.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/212987

solid waste management modeling software is developed for the first time

A software was developed as part of the program called "Mapping Municipal Solid Waste ASI029" by the Infrastructure Ministry, USAID, and partners.

You enter each settlement's characteristics and it tells you which waste management model is optimal. The routes, collection, storage, and other details are taken into account. The best bang for the buck.

Three settlements were chosen as an experiment with another 7 in line. Experts gathered details about them and analyzed the content of trash to create the best waste management, model.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051239.html

today in history

1715: the first umbrella is manufactured in Paris

1843: Mikael Aramyants is born. He was a prominent oil dealer and benefactor.

1921: Harry K. Daghlian Jr. is born. He worked on the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. He died at a young age from a lab incident after being exposed to radiation.

1932: Al Capone is sentenced for tax evasion

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Mikael_Aramyants http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Harry_K._Daghlian,_Jr. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051144.html

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/n4uwrh/may42021_1_labor_reform_min_wages_easier_strikes/

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