2019 July 17
Anti-Corruption & News - Jul/17/2019: Pashinyan on 2018 Constitutional Court machinations --- Judge's laptop confiscated --- Civil Aviation officials investigated in 0.5bln case --- Gago's Multi Group under investigation --- March 1st compensations --- Nuclear plant --- Tourism --- Sevan Lake update
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.
PM Pashinyan gave an interview to Azatutyun TV, during which he spoke about the Constitutional Court crisis. He said Vahe Grigoryan's letter shocked him, in which Grigoryan explained how the court was weaponized and politicized by HHK in 2018. Said the Constitutional Court has the lowest rating of trust, and has a record of validating every rigged election since 1996.
Pashinyan criticized HHK for the political maneuvers in 2018, which saw then Constitutional Court chief Gagik Harutyunyan resign just before the new Constitution's implementation, so HHK could appoint their party member Hrayr Tovmasyan. Due to the way they wrote the Constitution, the new law said the Court itself elects its chief, and not the Parliament. This allowed Hrayr Tovmasyan, who participated in new Constitution's writing, to be elected as the new chief due to the seat being vacant. Moreover, the new Constitution says new new judges only serve 12 years, while the old members serve lifetime. Pashinyan referred to this process as "trade" tactic by HHK.
The trade is as follows, says Pashinyan: Gagik Harutyunyan gives the Constitutional Court chief seat to Hrayr Tovmasyan, Hrayr Tovmasyan gives Serj a lifetime Prime Minister position, HHK gives Gagik Harutyunyan the Supreme Court Council chief position.
He accused Constitutional chief Hrayr Tovmasyan, Gagik Harutyunyan (recently resigned from Supreme Court Council chief position), Serj Sargsyan and HHK of appropriating the Constitutional Court, at least until 2035. "Today we have a 2019 Armenia and a 1995 Court", said Pashinyan.
Pashinyan is against the idea of Parliament or Government taking action to intervene. He said the current court system is incompatible with the new Armenia.
Pashinyan noted that the Venice Commission has only made one public statement about this topic, and it welcomed the "fruitful cooperation" with the government on judicial reforms.
The Special Investigations Service examined the office of judge Davit Grigoryan, the judge who set Kocharyan free in May, before the Appeals Court found it illegal and overturned it.
The judge is currently on vacation. He said he isn't the main target of the investigation. The SIS appears to contradict that claim. SIS said someone filed a report against Grigoryan. The report was filed before the judge was chosen by court system to hear the Kocharyan case in May.
The SIS had earlier informed the Supreme Court Council Judge board that they plan to search his office. One laptop was taken during the search.
Civil Aviation department earlier submitted documents to the prosecutors to examine financial irregularities regarding equipment rental/buyig. The investigation has revealed a 592mln purchase and contract abuse, done in 2013-2018. Aviation officials are involved as suspects in 2 felony cases.
1H19 vs 1H18 anti corruption in Syunik province.
83% more felony cases sent to court. 30% more officials convicted. 61% of all cases were filed after citizens came forward with corruption complaints.
State construction inspectors have asked the prosecutors to investigate BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan's Multi Group company and Abovyan city officials tasked with monitoring the construction.
There was a land swap in Abovyan a while ago. The company wanted a land from the city to build apartment complexes. In May of 2019, Abovyan mayor told the company to stop the operations on a particular area after it was found to legally belong to residents. Even after receiving the warning, the company kept building.
11 policemen were injured after they tried to open the Armenia-Georgia road which was shut down by a group of loggers who demanded the right to enter the nearby forest to collect illegally cut trees.
The group first gathered yesterday and demanded a permit for what the local officials referred to as illegal deforestation.
The day before that, Dilijan police stopped a car transporting several trees. The driver admitted to cutting the from the nearby forest.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166506 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166508 -- https://hetq.am/hy/article/105694 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166465 -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166433
The government held a session and discussed ways to reform the way they spend money on purchasing services and products through auctions. Details later... https://armtimes.com/hy/article/166470
Update: March 1st murder victim families will receive a 30mln ($63k) compensation. Those wounded to get 10mln in average.
The government will spend 105mln to create plans on how to improve parking, service quality, statistics gathering, and other things related to tourism in popular areas. They plan to build 10 roadside stations for tourists near POI.
Grains/wheat prices are expected to rise 10-20% this year due to shortage in Armenia and Russia. Fewer rains fell, and the ones that fell happened at a bad time that harmed the crops. A similar problem happened in Russia last winter. The bread prices are expected to go up.
Can't say the same about cherry. 1H19 exports have already surpassed the entire exports of 2018.
¹st deputy PM Tigran Avinyan said the government is negotiating with Russia and others to create a new nuclear plant to replace the aging Metsamor NPP.
Metsamor plant's first bloc was operated in 1976. Second in 1980. One bloc is currently operational. It was supposed to stop in 2016 but the renovation delayed it until 2021. Currently, the government is discussing new renovations to extend it until 2027.
Recently an electricity interruption happened in Armenia. NSS is still investigating.
Today, a UN expert in energy issues, and others, held a press conference about it. The expert said the event was not a "blackout" because the grid in Armenia was built in a way to avoid "blackouts" like the one seen in Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran in recent times.
A blackout is measured by the level of impact on the number of people and hours. Azerbaijan's 2018 blackout cased 300,000,000 people/hour damage, while the one in Armenia was less than 1,000,000 people/hour.
Infrastructure Ministry has a theory that it was caused by a malfunction in the automated system, and that a deliberate or accidental human factor did not play a role.
Ministry says the southern portion of North-South highway is at an active construction phase. Alongside, they're building a 400kV grid that connects to Iran. "Back and forth electric exchange capacity will triple."
When it's done, the northern part of the electric grid will be built to connect it to Georgia. North-South highway will be an electric hub between Georgia and Iran.
Gazprom-Armenia had a 9.3bln loss in 2017 and 14.9bln profit in 2018. Armenian Electric Grid had a 10.7bln profit in 2018. Spending optimizations are to "blame".
Parliament invited a committee tasked with Sevan Lake water quality exam and improvement. "There are big problems, lots of work needs to be done", said the committee spokesman.
Waste is being thrown into the lake by nearby businesses. Laundry chemicals (including phosphorus) and plastic in particular cause great harm.
When the trees were cut in past, the trunks (կոճղ) were not removed. They are now submerged and aid the greenification.
High temperatures cause high vaporization. Water disappears (poof). River water that flows into the lake has also decreased. This has resulted in water level remaining low for lengthy periods.
The committee worked with the government to experiment water cleanup mechanism in 10 areas. In all 10 cases, algae was not observed. The Nature Ministry has begun the process of obtaining a 100mln technology that cleans the water by using a special bacteria.
They advised the government to install cleaning facilities in 2 locations. Businesses on the lake shore can also install filtering stations to prevent harmful chemical spills. It'll only cost them 40k/month.
A garbage landfill near the lake is being discussed to be moved elsewhere.
Pashinyan agreed to discuss the building of 3-4 new water reservoirs within 2.5 years, that will pour clean water into Sevan and help keep the levels from lowering during the irrigation season.
Military says a "minor incident" happened at the border in Nakhijevan. Azeris fired a few shots towards Elpin village. A bullet hit a residential building's roof. Armenians suppressed the fire.
Russian FM Lavrov said the revolutions and subsequent events in Ukraine and Georgia were diffident from the one in Armenia. The former two went under the "western influence", while Armenia continues to be Russia's "key partner" in the region.
Driver's Friend civil organization, which helps drivers to challenge police citations, has announced that they'll stop helping drivers who were not using the seat-belt.
The organization thinks a social pressure is needed to do something about traffic deaths. They've observed that in serious accidents, the dead people are usually the ones who were thrown out of the windshield or got fatally injured due to not wearing a seat belt.
Remember that Dine Sky restaurant that hangs in the air? Read the Jun/19/2019 news for full details. It costs 23k per 1.5 hours. A video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hjZamkX1OU
Germany has passed a law that requires children to be vaccinated for measles before they're admitted to preschool and school. Existing un-vaccinated kids have until 2021 to get the vaccine. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/981959.html
UN says 1 in 10 world kids don't have measles and diphtheria vax. Half of all unvaxed kids live in 16 poor countries.
2018 was twice worse than 2017 in measles outbreak. Ukraine had the highest number of cases per capita.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ceii66/anticorruption_news_jul172019_pashinyan_on_2018/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|