2019 July 26
Anti-Corruption & News - Jul/26/2019:: Illegal cafes near Opera; Criminal investigation :: Former officials invstg in forest cutting/planting case :: Ejmiatsin official invstg :: Marriages up :: State of journalism in Armenia; Fake News :: Istanbul Convention :: Army :: Neighborhood ::: Rubic's cube
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.
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Update: the 119 Armenian tourists stuck in Egypt yesterday due to a scammy Armenian tour agency will be (have been) flown back with a govt-paid plane today.
Update: Azerbaijan has found the fighter jet that crashed during exercises yesterday. It'll be lifted tomorrow. They have suspended all military flights.
Azerbaijan will remove the visa regime with Turkey and allow Turks to stay for 1 month. Turkey had lifted it in 2007.
In 2011, Iran removed visa for Azeris, but Azerbaijan didn't return the favor. Iran didn't like this. In 2012, Iran told Azerbaijan that if Azerbaijan removes visa for Turkey, then it has to do the same for Iran, otherwise Iran would not allow Azeris to travel freely to Nakhijevan through Iran.
Russia has lifted visa for Turkish politicians and their families. There used to be a wider visa-free regime but it was removed after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet in 2015.
Govt: as part of the new national security plan, all military outposts will have a flowing water by Oct-2020. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/167150
The Army is hiring construction workers, shooters, etc. The salary in Artsakh front-lines will be ~20% higher due to recent salary hike. The "new system" allows the contractors to spend every weekend at home. Up to 40yo qualify. The age limit was recently raised from 36.
Nature Ministry did more exams and decided more Sevan areas need to be cleared from submerged trees. 909ha has been prioritized and should be done by 2021. These are the most active areas that create organic growths.
Update: Prosecutors and investigators denied numerous media reports that Constitutional Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan is under an investigation for his past activities in Parliament.
President Sarkissian wants you to leave him out of the political discussions around the judicial system. He hopes to see reforms. https://factor.am/170408.html
The Justice Minister has asked Venice Committee (specialized in constitution and law) for an opinion regarding Istanbul Convention, which is about fighting abuse against women. Serj's government, among many European nations, signed it in early 2018. Pashinyan government is under a pressure to finalize it into law. Critics say one of the clauses of the Convention legally establishes a 3rd gender.
Bulgaria had earlier went through a similar process. Their Constitutional Court found the Convention to be valid.
Not everybody agrees that the language is problematic. "There is no word about transgender or gay marriages. It provides no such abilities."
The issue comes from the word "partner", which the critics in Armenia want to see defined more specifically to avoid loopholes.
Critics of the critics say "partner" is the more appropriate word because not all violence is between a husband and wife, and writing "spouse" would exclude boyfriend-girlfriend or spouse-lover abuse.
The church is against Convention because they say it allows anyone to choose their gender, and the paper will force the government to implement certain "educational changes" about this.
Update: when illegal loggers protested in Ijevan, Ministry of Infrastructure offered them legal jobs. 170 have applied with the Ministry portal. 138 were redirected to a job seeking service. 36 refused the job offers. 36 accepted the jobs. 89 are going through interviews.
First Lady Anna Hakobyan manages two charity foundations that are helping children with cancer and others with health issues. Today she called out Roboserj Irates media outlet for a "fake news ordered and paid by a son of the former corrupt regime's high ranking official." It spread rumors based on their "sources" saying that some businesses were forced to pay money to the foundation in order not to have "problems".
She said it was made aware that a large sum was paid to the outlet to write the article. Some businessmen came forward and said some outlets there blackmailing them with an extortion demand in exchange for not publishing made-up damaging stories, said Hakobyan.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/982978.html --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/167174 -- Relevant: Roboserj Zham https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166405 --- Roboserj Analitik http://yerkirmedia.am/emergency/analitik-am-dzerbakalutyun-tnoren/
The Free Speech Committee has a report on the general state of journalism in Armenia.
The number of lawsuits (56) involving media is 5x higher than in last year's 1H. 19 lawsuit were filed against media by ordinary citizens alleging defamation. 19 lawsuit by current or former politicians. 7 by businesses. 3 by NGOs. 2 by judges. 2 by lawyers. 2 were filed by media themselves to make some data public. 1 financial dispute.
Journalists complain about increased problems with obtaining official information from the government bodies, and a bad treatment by politicians while doing their work. Notable incident is Gagik Tsarukyan who insulted a journalist few weeks ago.
151 violations against reporter rights, and 2 physical assaults which is lower than before. 83 various forms of "pressure". 66 cases of hindering ability to receive or transmit info.
After the 2018 revolution, large shift in media ownership took place. TV networks were sold. This was done by the former government members, without the intervention of the new government, says the committee report.
This has made the media landscape more polarized, "us vs them". Because networks aren't always profitable, they often fall under an influence of those with cash and serve as a propaganda machine.
This has made it important to increase the media ownership and financial transparency. This requires transparency laws to be implemented by legislators. Free Speech committee has been working on one such bill and has sent it to the Parliament. It's being discussed with various journalist unions.
In June-2015 and July-2016, clashes happened between protesters and police. Over 40 journalists were hurt. In March-2019, investigative committee closed the 1st case saying the identities of those who assaulted journalist were unknown. Journalists filed a complaint with prosecutors, and the case was re-opened. The 2nd lawsuit to identify assaulted is still ongoing.
OSCE's secretary of free press affairs Harlem D. says the freedom of press has improved in Armenia after the revolution.
He visited Armenia before and after the events, and is "inspired by the progress". He wants to cooperate with the government to improve the press freedoms further, to reduce fake news and have high quality journalism, a more independent public broadcaster, etc.
He also spoke about suppression of media in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia.
Last year, Shirak State University rector was forced to resign amid lengthy protests and corruption outcry. A temporary rector was assigned. This new one is now facing abuse of power charges for allegedly assigning his work to be done by 2 professors so he could avoid going to work but still get paid.
Investigators have uncovered a 5.3mln embezzlement case by former Ejmiatsin municipality officials. A worker didn't go to work since 2011 but got paid up until June-2018 (interesting d8 m8). The immediate supervisor was earlier caught with numerous other embezzlement cases. The city's mayor was Manvel Tushonka Girgoryan's son, who is also facing charges.
General Prosecutor's office is working with Nature and other ministries to investigate illegal actions by various officials.
In Nov-2007, the government authorized 357 hectare forests to be cut so Teghut mine could operate. Nature and Agriculture Ministries were instructed to plant equal number of trees elsewhere to compensate for loss. These ministries were tasked with verifying the process of cutting and planting the new trees.
In 2012, Teghut mine and Hayantar gov-run nature organization signed a 431mln deal for Hayantar to plant and take care 315 hectare trees until 2015. The aforementioned Ministries were instructed to monitor this process.
In 2015, Hayantar administration signed off papers verifying they planted 132 hectare land in a particular area, for which they got paid 115mln by Teghut mine.
In Sep-2018 and 2019, audits revealed that this trees weren't taken care of as instructed by the agreement, and this resulted in trees going bad.
Former Nature and Agriculture ministry workers and Hayantar admins are now facing 3 felony charges.
A QP MP has called for an investigation regarding the €1.6 million property that was illegally taken away from a man during the Kocharyan administration. European Court for Human Rights yesterday confirmed the plaintiff's claims. It was noted that the judges who approved the takeover were corrupt.
The US-Armenian construction company manager had admitted in 2012 that bribes were paid to Yerevan municipality workers and the court, to approve the takeover.
Yerevan municipality and the Culture Ministry are cooperating with the prosecutors regarding the investigation of how some cafes were built illegally on the protected green zone next to the Opera building, years earlier. They were removed few months ago.
Prosecutors believe the public officials from Yerevan municipality, Culture Ministry and Cadasatre Committee were involved in the corruption between 2002-2018. The Investigative Committee will launch an investigation to gather more data.
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is working on a new "Social Emergency" system. They want to involve various charity organizations and volunteers to create a program that'll help low income people with mental health services, personal care, lawyer services, shelter, household items.
1Q19 vs 1Q18. There have been 5.6% more marriages. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/982913.html
A diasporan businessman's story https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/167190
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ci7okt/anticorruption_news_jul262019_illegal_cafes_near/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|