Categories
Armenia Economy Society

The Cost of Corruption

Yerevan authorities have announced plans to replace 500 elevators in the upcoming year, having considered the incomes of the municipality and the savings from 2019 budget.

“The new elevators are adapted for use by people with eyesight, hearing and mobility problems,” speaker of Yerevan Mayor Hakob Karapetyan has said in a Facebook post.

According to earlier estimates by city authorities, there are 4666 elevators in use in Yerevan today. Most of those elevators have been in use for more than 30 years and are outright dangerous. There are at least half a dozen incidents in my memory, when they have fallen, causing death and injuring people.

The previous Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan, who served in this position since November 15, 2011 until being ousted, along with his Republican Party, by Nikol Pashinian’s revolution, would always say that the city has no financial means to replace the elevators. Meanwhile, Margaryan grew filthy rich in about 8 years of leading the city government.

So it turns out that having a proper mayor for only 1 year has been enough to replace more than 10% of Yerevan’s old elevators. That’s what I call the cost of corruption.

I also want to share a personal story, which illustrates my point extremely well. My family bought some land and a small house in a suburb of Yerevan in 2006. For several years we were using it mostly as a summer house and in 2013 I moved to live there permanently, because it was a nice little house and the air was fresh.

The house had a big problem, however… or the suburb had it, to be more exact — the 550 meters of dirt-road taking there, which was turning near impossible in rainy weather.

With our limited community resources we brought truckloads of gravel and sand and tried to put some order into the dirt-road, but that would soon turn to mud again. We also wrote dozens of letters to the city authorities and begged for help with the dirt road. The answer we always got was this — the city budget cannot afford to fix the road.

Following the change of city mayor last October, however, suddenly money appeared in the budget and this summer our dirt-road was turned into a perfectly paved road. So it was that simple… we didn’t need to suffer with the mud for so many years and people shouldn’t die or get themselves injured in old elevators… we just needed a proper mayor, who isn’t a crook and doesn’t steal from the people!

Categories
Armenia Diaspora Society

Lilly Sargsyan wins 'Miss Armenia 2017' beauty contest

After a 5-year break a beauty pageant was held again in Armenia. The title of “Miss Armenia 2017” was issued to Lilly Sargsyan. The 17-year-old will represent Armenia in the Miss World 2017 contest which will be held in China in November.

Categories
Armenia Politics Society

TV host Felix Khachatryan, banned from Public TV for years, returns

After former PM Hovik Abrahamian’s fall from power, TV host, rapper Felix Khachatrian is allowed to return to the Public TV of Armenia as the host of the new program “Formula of Love” («Սիրո բանաձև»).

Categories
Legal Society

Armenian Traffic Police have wearable cameras and they're not afraid to use them

Armenian Traffic Police have been required to wear special surveillance cameras since June 2016. The cameras were introduced as part of the Government’s anti-corruption efforts [More info about cameras in this video]. A controversial incident on September 4th, which has caused a bit of uproar around the Armenian segment of the internet, has raised many questions about these cameras.

Categories
Armenia Economy Society

69 Percent of Armenian Households Own a Computer. Study

Sixty-nine percent of Armenian households have a computer, and the same proportion have an internet connection, according to the new survey published by the National Statistics service.

Categories
Armenia Region Society

Armenians Have The Strongest Opinions on Moral Issues in Eastern Europe

I came across this interesting info-graphic by RFE/RL on social views and morality in the Eastern European countries. What I found most startling, however, was just how unanimous are the views in Armenia: 96% disapprove drug use and prostitution, 98% disapprove homosexuality, 79% disapprove premarital sex. This is perhaps the result of having such a homogeneous society, 98.1% of the population are ethnic Armenians according to the latest population census.
Understandably, this creates a situation, where dissent is not tolerated. I remember the struggles I had in the 90’s, when I had long hair and a beard in highly conservative Gyumri. Luckily, this has changed a great deal now and men having long hair and beards are not fawned upon so badly anymore. Still, this info-graphic is truly disturbing to me, because it reveals lack of diversity and tolerance in the society.

Infographic by RFE/RL

Categories
Armenia Politics Society

Armenia: Limited Justice for Police Violence

One-Sided Prosecutions Year After Attacks on Protesters, Journalists

(Yerevan) –  The Armenian government has failed to ensure full accountability for police violence against largely peaceful protesters and journalists a year ago, Human Rights Watch said today. At the same time the authorities have indicted at least 32 protesters, convicting 21 of them, with 11 sentenced to prison.

Categories
Armenia Education Society Sport

Armenia's Chess Grandmaster Density among World's Highest

Chess grandmasters by country per million people, 2016

Armenia has one of the world’s highest chess grandmaster density per million people according to this map posted on Reddit

Categories
Armenia Politics Society

Internet Freedom declines in Armenia

Freedom House published its “Freedom on the Net 2016” report on Monday. Armenia retained its position among the countries with free internet (the report covers June 2015 – May 2016), but its overall score declined by two points and the country came really close to the “partly free” category, which was mostly due to the police violence against journalists (including myself) during the #ElectricYerevan protests as well as the increased self-self-censorhip during the 4 day war with Azerbaijan in April 2016. 

Categories
Armenia Economy Environment Society

Coffee in Dilijan


Driving through Dilijan with a group of friends on Sunday we decided to stop for a cup of coffee at this amazing place called Caffeine Brew Lab, which turned out to have the best tasting coffee I’ve had for quite a while in Armenia.