Deputy chief of Armenia’s police Colonel Gevorg Mherian, 34 was shot dead just outside his apartment in Yerevan late on February 3. President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday strongly condemned Mheryan’s murder, hinting it may have had to do with his anti-corruption activities.
A generated photo of the suspect has been published by some Armenian newspapers yesterday. Armenian police confirmed that publicized picture is their probable suspect – constructed based on eyewitness accounts, although nobody has been arrested in connection with the killing yet.
Mheryan was heading the passport and visa departments of the police as well as the legal support department.
The passport and visa departments are notorious for their level of corruption and last year a range of high ranking officials from those departments were fired, apparently as a result of Mheryan’s activities.
Admittedly, this murder has caused quite a stirring, I have been getting emails and enquiries from Armenian friends living abroad, asking what’s the story. Well – if you’re asking my opinion – it looks more like vendetta or a trivial case, rather than a big case of corrupt criminals facing the good guys, but media have been paying a disproportionately large amount of attention to this case, perhaps because of lack of any other development in the country. I don’t know. RIP to Mheryan – that’s all I can say for now, hoping for more clarity in the near future.
In a lottery program that will be broadcast live on Public TV at 20:00 Prime Time today – Armenia is offering thousands of dollars in lottery prizes to consumers who take receipts for their purchases to try to tackle rampant tax evasion.
The initiative began on January 1, after authorities said the threat of prosecution had failed to encourage shopowners and market sellers to install cash registers and provide receipts.
Authorities estimate the grey economy accounts for 30-40 percent of economic activity in Armenia, a landlocked country of 3.2 million people, in transition since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Street sellers are everywhere and markets rarely have cash registers.
Under the new scheme, if customers buy from a trader with a cash register, they stand to win between 5,000 drams (11 pounds) and 500,000 drams. One lucky winner, if the eight-digit number on their receipt matches that drawn in the monthly lottery, will win 5 million drams ($16,000).
The monthly prize fund amounts to a maximum of $380,000. The government hopes the lottery will bring in an extra $17 million per year in tax receipts.
While the resistence is high among small traders and often even big shops and restaurants to install the cash machines and accurately supply receipts, it seems that housewives mostly enjoy the whole process of asking the receipts with the prospect of winning the big prize.
Pretty soon I’m sure, the lovely Armenian tradition to corrupt and spoil everything will surface, and we’ll find out, that the people involved in handing out lotteries have organized everything in a nice scheme to ensure money goes to their relatives, etc.
However, so far I quite like the idea and will definately tune in to Public TV at 8 this evening.