May 18-24. Launch of Reforms in the Judicial System of RA

On May 18, when the preventive measure of the RA second President Robert Kocharyan was substituted and he was released, protest actions took place in Yerevan. And on May 20, RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on citizens of various cities of Armenia to gather in front of court entrances making a barrier for court employees to enter. Later on the same day – in the afternoon, Pashinyan touched upon the necessity of reforms in the judicial-legal system which has not deserved confidence by people.

Later it was informed that the Judge Davit Grigoryan decided to suspend the proceedings of the criminal case  of Robert Kocharyan, Armen Gevorgyan, Seyran Ohanyan and Yuri Khachaturov and send it to the RA Constitutional Court.

As the action of blocking court entrances was not legitimate, five applications were sent to the Special Investigation Service (SIS), one out of which was sent by Head of the Staff of the Constitutional Court, the other – by Judge of the Administrative Court and the other three – by lawyers.

Supreme Judicial Council will have a new President

On the basis of judicial system reforms, announced at the beginning of of the week, President of the Supreme Judicial Court Gagik Harutyunyan resigned on May 24. He was on this post since last year. And before that he had been President of the Constitutional Court since 1996. After resignation of Harutyunyan, his brother Lieutenant General Arzuman Harutyunyan also resigned who was Deputy Director of National Security Service (NSS).

Top 1000 taxpayers of Armenia

On May 21 the State Revenue Committee (SRC) updated the list of top 1000 corporate taxpayers. In the first quarter of 2019, top 1000 taxpayers paid 221 bln drams, which is about 24% more when compared to the same period of the last year. In the first quarter of 2018, 1000 largest taxpayers paid 178.6 bln drams to the state budget.

The list is topped by “Gasprom Armenia” CJSC national natural gas distribution company, which paid about 14 bln drams in taxes. The second one is Grand Tobacco, with 13 bln drams. Third in the list is Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine CJSC, which paid about 7 bln AMD in taxes.

Drivers are on Strike in Vanadzor

On May 23, drivers of city and intercommunity public transport in Vanadzor were on strike demanding to lower the price of gas. According to drivers, there was a big difference in the amount they get after the price rise, which was not sufficient for serving the routes. The next day the meeting with the Governor of Lori Region and Mayor of Vanadzor did not satisfy the drivers. They decided to continue the strike.

The change in gas prices launched on May 1, when according to the Government gas started to be sold with kilograms instead of cubic meters. According to clarification of State Revenue Committee (SRC), one of the reasons why the gas price rose is that in case of selling it with cubic meters, gas filling stations might undercharge it, thus having extra income.

Government Session

According to the bill passed by the Government on May 23, salaries of military personnel will rise by an average of 10% irrespective of military degrees. At the same time, salaries of junior staff and those serving under special conditions will rise by 20%.

Taking into account of  2019 budget excess by 62 bln drams, the Government decided to allocate 7 bln drams to road construction costs.

The Government also approved the proposal to sign an agreement on Mutual Abolition of Visa Requirements for Persons Holding Regular Passports between the Governments of the Republic of Armenia and the People’s Republic of China on May 25. After signing, citizens of Armenia will be exempt of entry visa requirements up to 90 days in China and the opposite.

YSU Rector Resigns

Yerevan State University (YSU) Rector Aram Simonyan resigned on May 23. He has been on this post since 2006. Former rector in his speech particularly said that even if he did not resign himself, it would have been engineered through a violation of the law anyway. He considers the policy adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science unacceptable not only in the sphere of education and science, but especially towards the university. Simonyan, however, will continue his activity at YSU as director of the Institute for Armenian Studies.

Translated by Mary Grigoryan

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First Published: 26/05/2019