2019 April 12

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Anti-Corruption & Other news - Apr/12/2019: Kocharyan's immunity.....Who runs the gas station business in Armenia?... Mayor & school director charged.... Court vs Police.... Temporary tariffs to save cement producers - green light... Asylum seeking down 300%... Armenian Genocide news... more stories
by ar_david_hh

All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.


The court has rejected Robert Kocharyan defense team's petition to release him due to presidential immunity.

Another court had earlier ruled that he can't use the presidential immunity to stay out of pre-trial detention because he is charged with something that would disqualify him from immunity (if found guilty).

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158898

Ex-mayor of Karchevan is charged with felony abuse of power for falsifying multiple documents to illegally give 32 hectares of community-owned land to a company without an auction, say investigators. The lands will be returned.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/971150.html

The government had earlier approved a plan to reveal the true owners of mining companies hide behind proxy companies. The Parliamentary economic committee has also approved the proposal. The Parliament is yet to discuss the bill on the floor. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/971080.html

Last year, the environmentalists shut down the road and the entrance leading to Lydian mine. The police refused to take action. Lydian took the police to court.

The court has just instructed the police to remove the environmental activists from Lydian mine's territory. The police has 1 month to either comply, or challenge it in Appeals Court.

The environmental activists say the court did not, however, instruct the police to remove the protesters from the public road leading to Lydian mine, but only those who are on Lydian property. It appears they will contiuue to keep the road shut down.

Lydian is currently facing an environmental examination which will end this summer.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158934 ---- https://www.lragir.am/2019/04/12/434599/

The former director of Charentsavan School N3 is charged with embezzlement of 3mln by paying two people to work, one of whom was his daughter, who never actually went to work, between 2011-2015. In another instance he stole school property, say prosecutors. Two felony charges.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/971068.html

GazProm-Armenia, which is absorbing all the gas price hike at the border so the ordinary citizens won't pay more, could lay off as much as half of its workforce to compensate for the losses, says one of the employees who attended a corporate meeting. The company has confirmed that they are considering layoffs and optimizations, but didn't specify numbers. The employees plan to protest the layoffs.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158914

Gas station business in Armenia.

In 2018, 21 companies imported liquid natural gas in Armenia. 58% of all imports belonged to BHK leader Gagik Tsarukyan and Robert Kocharyan's son Sedrak. They co-own 50/50 the firm that imports the gas.

In 2017, the co-owned firm's share was even higher at 68%. In 2018 it paid 1bln taxes and was the 162nd largest taxpayer.

The law says that any company that owns more than 33% of a market is classified as having a "dominant position in the market".

As for the compressed natural gas business specifically in Yerevan, no single company is dominant. Largest one holds 16% of the market. Total of 180 players.

(The information is from the economic competition commission.)

As for gas station operators, those who operate 4 or more stations/networks and have a AMD 1.5bln annual business, are considered dominant. Tsarukyan/Kocharyan joint company operates 5 such networks. Tsarukyan by himself owns 7.

Last year, the IRS busted 8 stations with underpaying around 1bln in taxes. 1 of them possibly belongs to Tsarukyan.

Few weeks ago, Pashinyan got angry and warned unnamed "former oligarchs" for manipulating the public and the economy by sharply raising gas prices. The event was incorrectly blamed on the government's then non-existent bill that would make gas sales more transparent by requiring gas sales to be done by weight instead of density. The bill was passed later, after the price hikes. Gagik Tsarukyan responded to the gas price increase criticism by saying no one has or will deliberately raise prices. He supported the government's decision to sell gas by weight.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/102746

Pashinyan government had earlier announced that they support a temporary protectionist law to help save the Armenian cement businesses from going bankrupt due to inability to compete against Iranian cheap imports, by placing temporary tariffs on imported cement, to give Armenian companies time to invest in technologies that would make local cement production cheaper.

The Parliamentary economic committee was discussing this today. A QP member of the committee was against the tariff, saying that saving 400 (number disputed as 1,200) cement jobs isn't worth forcing construction companies to purchase cement at higher price, it'll slow down the construction.

A BHK member (whose leader Tsarukyan owns the largest cement factory and would benefits the most from tariffs) confronted the QP member saying they should save every job possible. He went as far as to suggest that there shouldn't be any cement imports, and Armenian companies should only compete against one another.

Another BHK member said Iranian companies are "dumping" large quantities of cement to push the competition out. Once it's done, they'll sharply raise the prices, warned the member. (who might have done this before... hmmm)

The QP Minister of Economic Development supported the temporary tariffs, calling 2017-2018 an abnormal year in cement world. Iranian currency devalued sharply last year, which resulted in Iranian cement to become very competitive. He disagrees that Iranians are dumping cement to purposely drive out competitors, says the rise in imports and lower price is most likely a result of legitimate business practices.

Minister says the proposed $45/tons tariff will place the local and imported cement at an equal playing field, so the goal isn't to completely remove Iranian cement from market. Transporting a ton from border to Yerevan costs $20. Cement is sold at $17 at the Iranian border.

Minister says in the next year or so, the Armenian cement companies are expected to naturally reduce their prices by $14 through technological improvements. By then, the government will reduce the import tariffs, too.

The Parliamentary economic committee ended up approving the temporary tariffs. It is not a law yet.

https://www.lragir.am/2019/04/12/434488/ ---- http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/267593 --- https://www.lragir.am/2019/04/12/434450/

HHK Shmays denies the media rumors that he went to United States for permanent residence but got his petition denied. Media wrote that the US embassy in Armenia gave him a 10-year visit permit, but upon arrival, it was rejected by the US authorities. Shmays says he just went there to celebrate the 50th anniversary for a week. Says he isn't the type of person who can leave his friends and the country.

https://factor.am/141230.html

NATO and the Defense Ministry are working on a new co-operation plan to add educational classes in the military to improve recruits' leadership and defense skills.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158943

1,500 Armenian and Russian troops are holding a training, involving heavy equipment. The objective is to analyze and act upon the situation as in unfolds because there is no pre-determined plan. Offense and defense strategies were used.

For the first time, they tested a radio-electronic weapon that "confuses" the enemy missiles. Only the Russian army has this weapon at the moment, said the Armenian representative.

https://youtu.be/jqFnLS21Zw0?t=25


https://www.lragir.am/2019/04/12/434584/

Crime rates were slightly down in Artsakh Republic on 2018 vs 2017. A whopping 98% of the cases where solved. There are no unsolved crimes on 2019 so far. 👏

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/971099.html

2019Q1 vs 2018Q1 saw a 51% rise in the number of people joining the police. The number of officers who were fired has decreased by up to 40%.

https://factor.am/141290.html

Artsakh government says the 1992 events in Maragha fit the definition of a genocide. The leader of the Azeri battalion, Gurtulush, was later given a medal for his "bravery".

The village was raided by Azeris on April 10, 1992. Dozens of defenseless civilians were killed and mutilated. After the Armenian troops liberated the area next day, a British Parliament MP visited the scene and described it as an ethnically motivated genocide.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/971054.html

The number of Armenians seeking asylum in Europe has plunged by 300% (605 ppl) on 2019Q1 vs 2018Q1; and down 400% compared to 2017.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158942

Weightlifter Lianna Gyurjyan won silver medal in European championship. Tatev Hakobyan won a mini-Bronze.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158937 ---- http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/158952

The regime in Turkey will take away 8 seats from pro-Kurdish-Armenian party HDP, even though they won the elections in those regions. The seats will be given to Erdogan's AKP party.

The reason behind the theft is the existence of a controversial law passed by the authorities on 2016 which stated that any public official who was fired for any reason since the 2016 state of the emergency would become ineligible to become MP. It is unclear why the seats have to be given to a completely different party which lost the area, instead of giving it to another member of the winning party.

http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/267589

The US plans to send a new ambassador to Turkey. During a Congressional hearing, the candidate was asked by Robert Menendez if he recognizes the 1915 events as a Genocide. The ambassador hinted that he does, but didn't use the word genocide because of no official recognition by the White House. Menendez wasn't happy with the verbal games, and reminded that even the 1915 American ambassador to Turkey essentially described it as a genocide (without using the actual term genocide because it wasn't invented yet).

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158901

Spanish city of Bugros becomes the 34th city in the country to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/158973

Armenian-Turkish MP Garo Paylan: The Armenian genocide should be discussed in Turkish Parliament. Armenians living in Anatolia have been waiting for justice for 104 years.

Another Armenian MP from the ruling AKP party, Margar Yesayan, didn't use the term genocide but used the term "deportations", while criticizing Italian assembly's recognition of the Armenian genocide.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/158936 ----- https://factor.am/141340.html

NEVER FORGET Genocide themed billboards have been installed in Massachusetts by a public organization. April 24th is arriving, folks.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/158978


Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/bci7ta/anticorruption_other_news_apr122019_kocharyans/

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