2019 July 15
Anti-Corruption & News from Armenia - Jul/15/2019
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.
There is a new report against Serj Sargsyan's fugitive nephew Narek Sargsyan (Franklin Gonzalez), who is currently in Czech Republic waiting for extradition on other (kidnap and torture) charges. A former BHK MP is also named as an accomplice suspect.
The following report is by a witness who is the the stabbing victim's friend:
Alleged incident took place in 2012-Dec-23. Victim had a money issue with a classmate. Classmate contacted BHK MP for help. They all gathered in a private place to discuss. Serj's nephew Narek, his bodyguard, and the BHK MP were also present.
Argument ensued. Narek Sargsyan allegedly took out his gun and shot towards the victim, but missed. Then took out a knife and stabbed him in the chest. Sargsyan ordered his bodyguard to keep the victim in the room for 3 hours. Victim escaped on his way to washroom, and asked people outside to call for ambulance. Victim received medical care on the spot but didn't go to hospital in order to avoid giving a report to the police.
Victim says they came forward now because of the trust towards the law enforcement after the 2018 revolution.
Venice Commission paper. What is it?
Last month, European Council-linked Venice Commission, which is "specialized" in Constitutions, circulated an internal report regarding the Constitutional Court crisis in Armenia. The report was written based on the observations of several of Venice reporters. The document is still an internal draft.
Although Venice Commission has not made it official nor published it, today a former government ally obtained it through his sources, and published it on his website. He said "the document is unlikely to be changed later". The document says the reporters still monitor the situation in Armenia and may publish an official public opinion later if necessary.
Critics of the leaker say this isn't the official conclusion of the Venice Commission, but rather a report by its observers about the situation, and this is subject for change, yet the report is now being weaponized by the old regime to claim it's an official conclusion. https://hraparak.am/post/285248944
Short TLDR of the report
Venice reporters did what they're supposed to do - they cited the Armenian Constitution the way it is written. Report says "xyz should happen, because the Constitution says xyz should happen". In contrast, critics in Armenia are complaining that the Constitution was weaponized by HHK when it was being written, and the judge election process was a sham and went through violations of laws. This was not addressed by the report.
Long TLDR of the report
The Venice reporters noted that a peaceful and Constitutional revolution happened in 2018. However, people still view the courts as corrupt and as being close to the previous government. After the court released Kocharyan in May, Pashinyan criticized the courts and asked his supporters to close the court doors, and called for judicial reforms. Venice Commission acknowledged the mistrust towards the judiciary but insisted to make sure the judicial reforms are done Constitutionally.
Then Council of Europe sent people to Armenian to discuss judicial reforms. They spoke with the Armenian government and agreed that the initial type of "total vetting" that was planned wasn't useful in practice, so they agreed that the "vetting" will be in the form of disciplinary procedures in combination with strengthening of asset monitoring practices.
Reporters noted that the Constitutional Court judge Vahe Grigoryan questioned the legitimacy of 7 out of 9 court members who were elected under the old Constitution. Reporters disagree with Grigoryan and finds that the Constitution's Article 213 says the old members should "continue to serve". Report says it don't want Parliament to interfere and take away mandates from the court members.
(Judge Grigoryan did earlier acknowledge that Article 213 says members continue to serve, but he says they can't participate in judge meetings because they don't qualify as "full fledged" judges. He also questioned the legality of the appointment of at least one of the judges.)
QP MP says this document was available 20 days ago and was only now published on the Commission website for internal consumption. They discussed this issue in the Parliament and will soon release a statement to respond judge Vahe Grigoryan's concerns, who suggested multiple solutions to the problem. https://news.am/eng/news/524027.html
Justice Ministry responded to the "vetting" part of the report in order to clarify some terminology.
Venice reporters first presented the aforementioned document in June. After that, the Ministry continued to discuss the reforms with Venice and EU. They made plans to reform the property ownership declaration system, monitor income, conflicts of interests (things that most people interpreted as "vetting"). They also agreed that long-term reforms need to be made, and that the upcoming anti-corruption institute will play a role.
The Ministry complained that the unpublished report was shared with a supporter of the former regime, which allowed for one-sided interpretation by him, which caused misinformation among the public. The former official who published the document said Venice and government are against "comprehensive vetting". This caused some people to think there won't be judicial reforms in general.
The quote by the former official that caused the misunderstanding: "1) Եվրոպայից ժամանած պատվիրակության հետ քննարկումների արդյունքում ՀՀ իշխանություններն ընդունել են, որ գործող դատավորների համընդհանուր վեթինգը ո՛չ անհրաժեշտ է, ո՛չ էլ օգտակար"
1Q19 vs 1Q18 hospitals in Kotayk received 25% more payments from patients. 2Q19 vs 2Q18 the revenues went up by 54%.
Kotayk governor attributes the change to the fight against corruption (payments being written on the books and not stolen by admins).
Environmental activists learned that "someone" was going to visit Amulsar gold mining area on Saturday, and decided to close the road that leads to the mine. It turns out the investigators and specialists tasked with examining the miner Lydian activities, were the visitors. The visitors managed to enter, while the police detained several activists. The activists demanded for investigators to organize a meeting and hear their opinion.
The investigators are examining whether Lydian's mining activities are safe enough for nature, and whether former public officials committed a felony by hiding a negative environmental data.
Sevan resort operators briefly shut down a highway to protest what they referred to as an unnecessary fear caused by the Health Ministry regarding their recent announcement to avoid swimming in areas with high concentration of algae. Businesses say the announcement is harming tourism in their areas. Ministry later responded saying they only advised not to swim in two areas, due to high level of algae.
QP MP Sasun Mikaelyan, Sevan city mayor and Gegharquniq governor were at the scene, in support of the protesters.
The business owners led by the politicians decided to leave until Wednesday. They went to swim in Sevan to show it's not dangerous. https://youtu.be/jQtFkp6QTdA?t=11
QP MP Varazdat Karapetyan had a different explanation for their poor attendance numbers. He attributed it to the low-standard accommodations offered by the resort operators who failed to improve the conditions for decades. Sevan tourism has been declining for the past decade, said the MP. "High prices and subpar service is the reason."
He suggested some subsidized funding by government, hotel discount deals, new infrastructure, as a possible solution. He noted that last year the lake's health was in worse shape, and that this year its healing process is faster.
Zurich scientists predicted what the temperatures will be like in major cities in 2050. As you'd guess, it's expected to rise. Tropical cities will become very hot, while major European cities will get as hot as some African cities. London to be as hot as southern Europe. Yerevan to be as hot as Taskent is today, which is about 7c hotter in summer and 5c hotter in winter.
Scroll to "Figures". Top portion of the middle image in the scrolling carousel. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217592
World Bank says Armenia is on the 6th place in the amount of garbage generated per resident yer year.
Canada 36 tons, Bulgaria 27, USA 26, ... , Armenia 16, ...
Get your 🍿 ready.
Civil Aviation (CA) chief Tatevik Revazyan gave a press conference. LHK chief Edmon Marukyan earlier referred to her as "that pretty girl" during a speech critical of her "lack of work".
Today Revazyan fired back at Marukyan, saying that "classic MP" should have contacted CA for info before going live and making accusations. She said a public official doesn't necessarily have to be old, bold and overweight person (description of Marukyan). Says she didn't feel offended by "that pretty girl" remark - it made her chuckle.
Revazyan is diasporan who grew up in Denmark and worked in the aviation field before moving to Armenia.
Revazyan explained some of the work done by her and CA as a response to her critics. She said contrary to some popular beliefs, it isn't the agency's main task to lower ticket prices to encourage flights, although they do work to make that happen sometimes. The agency's main job is to make sure aviation meets international standards and safety.
CA spoke with various airline companies to encourage more flights through Armenia when Russia-Georgia flights were banned.
Revazyan said her negotiations led to Singaporean and Chinese aviation academies to give free education to Armenian pilots, which would otherwise be expensive for a country like Armenia. Says she convinced other international experts to help Armenia without spending large sums.
To encourage airlines to enter Armenian market, the operational costs need to be lowered. Air Tax on flight departures could be eliminated for those who offer new flight routes, suggested Revazyan.
European low-cost Ryanair, and WizzAir airlines, gave written agreements to enter the Armenian market in Summer 2020, if the aforementioned air tax is removed and Zvartnots gives them discount deals. The air tax can raise cheap Ryanair ticket cost by as much as 50%.
Revazyan says that until now, CA wasn't accustomed to work to improve small aviation. They have recently begun registering more smaller planes. They'll soon suggest the Parliament to amend a law to make it easier to register planes lighter than 450kg. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/166264
CA is currently negotiating with private companies to begin producing airplane parts in Armenia, as well as to repair airplanes. Thousands of jobs can be created if it happens, said Revazyan. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/981691.html
Manufacturing rose 8.2% in 1H19 vs 1H18.
Cigarette production up 10%. Textile up 50%. Clothing up 33%. Various plastic-chemical production industries up by 13-33%. Various Electronics production up 50-79%. Furniture production up 32%. Food and drink production up 7.5%.
The government will spend 42bln more for social welfare programs in 2020 (total 487bln). Part of it will go towards raising pensions by 10%. http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/270975
Yerevan municipality's new ActiveCitizen.am idea-sharing platform has 633 registered and verified Yerevan residents after 1 week of operations. They've submitted 26 projects for municipality to consider. This was mayor Marutyan's campaign promise. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/981700.html -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166310
Russian rapper Timati visited Yerevan to open his first "Black Burger" fast food location in Armenia. He gave a mini-concert then stole the title of the burger king from president Sarkissian https://youtu.be/oq1PnsjR2So?t=29
Human Rights Ombudsman has contacted his Russian colleague to discuss Khachaturyan Sisters case.
3 young Armenian sisters living in Russia slayed their father last year, after being routinely abused by him. Sisters are charged with murder. The father was later charged with sexual abuse and torture after the prosecutors found evidence. The public is divided whether the sisters should go to jail or not.
(Armenians: entertaining Russia since 1828)
All 5 members of the Armenian physics team have won bronze medals in Olympiad
Cops using a helicopter to catch bad drivers on Yerevan-Sevan տռաս: https://youtu.be/xd5iz4Zajp0?t=23
Azeri Foreign Ministry has summoned the Georgian ambassador to demand explanation about a Sunday border incident that took place near the Davit Gareja monastery. Azeris accuse several Georgians of crossing the border and clashing with Azeri border guards. Georgians accused Azeris of illegally removing a holy item from the monastery.
The Georgian monastery, somewhat of an equivalent of Armenia's Khor Virap, is located at the border and has long been claimed by both countries as their own.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/cdmqh5/anticorruption_news_from_armenia_jul152019/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|