2019 August 20
Anti-Corruption & News - Aug/20/2019::: Amulsar mining -- Environmental activists vs PM's office -- Prosecutors involved ::: frmr Mayor, Food inspector, School director busted ::: Manvel to remain in jail ::: What have Education & Healthcare Ministries been up to? ::: Culture projects ::: more news
Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Welcome back to your one-stop place for daily drama and popcorn. For comprehensive Amulsar mining coverage, read yesterday's post.
An environmental group is urging Nature Ministry to conduct a new comprehensive examination of Amulsar. They believe ELARD examiner's findings show discrepancies with what Lydian presented earlier, so "a new examination is needed".
The government appointed environmental activist Arthur Grigoryan as the head of Environmental Inspection agency last year. This is approximately around the time when Amulsar debate begun.
He was fired in early 2019 for "unsatisfactory performance". Afterwards, he begun accusing the government of corruption, incompetence, and closing the eye on issues such as illegal fishing in Sevan and lack of work to improve the lake quality. That was later disputed when it became evident that the Nature Protection Ministry and prosecutors had been working to map out the Sevan issue, and had an ongoing investigation against illegal fishing, which ended with busts. (see older posts)
Today, Arthur Grigoryan accused 1st deputy PM Avinyan of purposely trying to get Amulsar mining up and running. He said Avinyan tried to use him as a tool to get the shut-down roads leading to Amulsar to be opened. He says the recent examination by ELARD is "fictional" and cannot be trusted. He is also skeptical that Armenia will pay $700 million in penalties if Amulsar isn't allowed to be operated.
Grigoryan and another environmentalist Hayk Martirosyan then accused the government of corruption. Because accusations of corruptions against state officials were made, the NSS and prosecutors launched an investigation and questioned the activists. The activists then backtracked and said they have no evidence of corruption, and that it was an opinion that there might be corrupt dealings around Amulsar. Hayk Martirosyan, who was the former chief nature Inspector before Grigoryan, portrayed the prosecutors' involvement as an attempt by Pashinyan to pressure him, even though they were the ones who announced knowledge of a crime, which initiated the investigation.
Avinyan responded to the accusations:
Says Arthur Grigoryan is trying to portray himself as an unbiased individual who fell victim of abuse by the PM's office, while in reality Grigoryan didn't display knowledge and abilities to be a chief Inspector. Grigoryan failed to be an impartial inspector, which is required for someone in his position, says Avinyan.
Lydian took Armenia to court because of "mistakes and persistence" by Grigoryan. That lawsuit is in the early stages, says Avinyan.
Avinyan explains "how Grigoryan's poor actions" led to a lawsuit:
In 2018, inspector Grigoryan, instead of focusing on big problems like water and Sevan, wrote in his findings that Amulsar cannot be operated because an Apollo butterfly and a type of a clove (mekhak) exist nearby. This report was used by Amulsar miner Lydian as an evidence to claim that the main concerns of harm to waters doesn't exist, and that the main problems are smaller in nature, and that Lydian had earlier identified and disclosed these butterfly/clove issues in their own examinations.
However, a further examination revealed that these butterflies don't live in those heights, and that whatever was discovered by Inspectors, was "traveler butterflies" that drifted away from home. As for the clover, there are 100 different types. Only 2 are endangered. The one found by Inspector Grigoryan wasn't endangered.
Avinyan addresses the accusations that PM office deliberately tried to shut down the inspection results: when these inspection results came in, it became evident that it's a dud and cannot withstand a possible lawsuit by Lydian. PM office suggested inspectors to drop the claims against Lydian. The inspectors refused to drop, and chose to continue. Lydian sent an administrative complaint to inspectors, which was denied by inspectors. Lydian then took the case to court.
Avinyan also denies accusations that he tried to use Grigoryan as a tool to convince environmentalists to open roads leading to Amulsar. Says if the government needed them to be open, they would ask the police to do it, and that Grigoryan has no authority to open streets.
Avinyan also criticized Grigoryan for "being sure" about what should happen to Amulsar well before the comprehensive examination was over.
As for lawsuit against Armenia, Avinyan essentially says it's easy for "experts" to claim there won't be one, while the government has to deal with risks and consequences.
Pashinyan responded to the public spat between Avinyan and environmental activists. He said Grigoryan was fired for "shameful incompetence", and Harutyunyan wasn't hired to begin with despite his pleas (Harutyunyan denies). Unfortunately, sometimes people prioritize their personal gain and feelings, said Pashinyan.
🍿 Amulsar drama continues, now with a brand new twist! 🍿
The police busted the former mayor of Gndevaz with giving his son a 10 hectare public land for only 0.5mln in 2014, to then sell it to Lydian miner at a much higher 147mln a year later. Mayor knew Lydian was looking for nearby land and decided to abuse his powers, says police.
70mln has been recovered. Mayor is told not to leave the country.
Update: yesterday the police was accused of using excessive force while moving environmental activists out of Baghramyan Street during their protests against Amulsar mining.
Today, the police denied the used of excessive force, saying the protesters defied instructions multiple times and "lawful use of force" was applied. An internal investigation was launched to evaluate employee conduct.
Manvel "Tushonka" Grigoryan will remain in jail. The court rejected the bail deal by defense. Grigoryan is accused of theft and tax evasion.
Former Syunik governor Surik "Liska" Khachatryan (accused of staging his assassination attempt to frame rivals) is in a coma after an open heart surgery in France, and is likely to die, says his friend and former MP Seyran Saroyan.
Police says that in 2017-2018, food safety inspectors caught 22 businesses with violations but took 2.2mln bribe to close the eye on it. Felony case is launched.
NSS busted Tsovak's school director with registering his son as a fake employee and embezzling 18.4mln since 2014. Another 180k was stolen from a different school. Felony cases are launched.
Update: Azerbaijan has found the body of a pilot who died in a MiG-29 fighter jet crash in July 24th. Yesterday they found the black box.
Pashinyan met the Education Minister Araik Harutyunyan.
Minister said only 38% of kids aged 3-6 have the ability to go to public kindergarten/preschool. http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/272207
They plan to open 18 kindergartens in provinces before this Sep 1st. 17 were opened last year. In 5 years, 70% of kids are expected to be able to go to public kindergarten.
Yerevan city has begun reviewing property contracts with private businesses in which kindergarten buildings were leased for other purposes. Minister says many such deals were made in past years. Minister says in some rural areas there aren't many kindergartens. It's necessary to convert half-empty school buildings into a hybrid education-culture hotspot.
By Jan-2020 schools will receive funding with a different criteria, straight from the federal government, and provincial governors will lose the ability to alter fees.
The number of classes will be taken into account while receiving funding, besides the number of students. This will financially help rural areas where fewer kids go to a particular school, but they still need the same number of classes/teachers to teach all the subjects. At least 30% of the schools will benefit. Some larger schools will see their finances reduced. A school receives 124k/year from govt for each recruited student. (it's an MLM scam yo)
The new system will allow rural teachers to be paid more. The minimum wage for teachers will be 108k. Teachers will get a 10% raise.
The proposal will need to be cleared by Ministries of Finances and Justice before it goes into effect.
Education Ministry (which is also Culture and Sports ministry) also wants to change the way culture institutes receive state funds. He wants to see more more or less "sustainable" projects that "bring long term value". Says the culture field's biggest problem today isn't the lack of funds, but the lack of ideas.
Pashinyan: many times the state will fund a theatrical performance but only 10 people will attend, even if the ticket cost is low. This raises the question of management quality or marketing.
Minister: the pilot program that gives each student a subsidized free ticket to visit museums/theaters, will continue. 1/3rd of students have used this opportunity so far. Transportation problems need to be solved to allow more people attend nearby cultural POI, because in provinces not every city has theaters or music halls. At the moment, museums/theaters operate at 40% attendance capacity in average.
There is a program called "Your Art in School". 50 artists of various professions are selected each year. They are each given 1mln each for a school year to travel across the country, meet school kids, explain arts, increase student interest towards arts. Minister says students have so far loved this project.
BREAKING: student backpacks will be 40% lighter this year because the books were split in two halves.
Health Minister Torosyan says the recent budget hike for Healthcare will add 15 more emergency crews in Yerevan, and 14 in provinces, where in some areas where were no emergency crews and response time was high.
Another goal is to tie local clinics to emergency care because many times a 911 call isn't an emergency, but rather something that can be easily done by a local clinic. They have been working to improve clinic by increasing salaries, purchasing devices for certain care to be done in clinics so fewer patients will be sent to hospital, etc. If clinics work good, patients with chronic problems won't end up in hospital. This is one way to measure clinic's efficiently. Clinic staff will receive bonuses if they help reduce hospitalizations.
Currently, when someone in province calls 911, they might be connected to an emergency station in Yerevan due to lack of standards in cell operator stations. This is bad because the Yerevan dispatcher has to tell the caller to hang up and dial another number. Ministry is working on a new universal system in which the 911 dispatcher for the whole country is in Yerevan. After receiving a call from Kapan city, the dispatcher tells Kapan emergency crews to send a vehicle. Some calls could be sent directly to emergency vehicles.
Pashinyan has stats about the recent salary hike for soldiers. It's between 7-18% in avg based on positions. 4 military units did not receive a hike due to geographic position, but a decision was made to include them. Their raise will be calculated as of June 1st. Details inside...
He then bragged about IRS collecting 64bln more taxes from top-1000 businesses in 1H19 vs 1H18. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/167557
A company that builds skyscrapers in Arab countries wants to build a 270 meter 71-story building in Yerevan. The municipality said they haven't received a petition yet. $250mln, 5 years.
Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise. Older posts can be found at: PART 1 ; PART 2 ; PART 3 , credits to Idontknowmuch.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ct4ft1/anticorruption_news_aug202019_amulsar_mining/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|