2019 July 9
Anti-Corruption & News from Armenia - Jul/9/2019: NSS busts IRS worker.... Court verdicts..... IRS stats; enforcement; money... Survey stats.... Sevan lake; Nature Protection..... Parliament.... Foreign affairs.... other stories inside
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.
NSS says they've arrested an IRS worker for bribery. High ranking official in Goris allegedly took construction stones as a bribe in order to ignore an info showing that the bribe-giver company avoided taxes and had unregistered workers. One other person is also facing charges.
Another Manvel Tushonka Grigoryan trial. This time the court denied his petition to allow him to travel abroad for medical care. Manvel is charged with theft, billions in tax evasion. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/981175.html
The court has allowed the now-former deputy Healthcare Minister to post a 15mln bail and be released from jail. The official was arrested earlier this year after NSS caught him with bribery. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/165839
The State Oversight Committee has found 3.6bln irregularities while investigating water usage unions in Armavir, Ejmiatsin, Artashat and Ararat. The alleged abuse ranges from improper use of state funds, to unregistered businesses that used water for fish production https://armenpress.am/arm/news/981157.html
Europe sent a delegation to discuss judicial and corruption reforms. During the meeting, Supreme Court Council chief said the court system is too burdened and it affects its quality. A better electronic info platform is needed. There is a need for a law to allow Council to discipline judges under wider range of circumstances. They spoke about implementing judicial vetting.
IRS continues the audits in Gagik Tsarukyan's Arinj Mall. The prosecutors earlier launched a felony investigation after finding tax avoidance isntances.
Serj-linked SPAYKA import-exporter is still being audited. Earlier, IRS caught them hiding dozens of billions in revenue to avoid taxes, on two occasions. The director is facing charges.
IRS chief says most unregistered workers are in small or medium businesses. Chief thinks the rate of new workers being unregistered has decreased.
IRS begun taking actions against tax-evading show business stars beginning this June. They sends them letters notifying about the past concerts, and whether IRS believes the taxes were underpaid from those events.
In 1H19, IRS collected 137bln more than in 1H18. That's a 25% growth. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165746
196.2 million sales receipts were printed in 1H19. That's 40% more than in 1H18.
Those sold products were worth 831bln, which is 21% more than in 1H18.
Armenia has so far paid 695mln to some of the 111 plaintiffs who sued the country in the European Court for Human Rights. (presumably all-time number)
The Investigative Committee has asked Amulsar audit company for more clarifications before it can make a verdict whether Lydian Armenia can mine the gold. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165762
QP MP Babken Tunyan asked the Nature Protection Minister if anyone "will be held responsible" if in the end it turns out the dangers to the surrounding nature, in regards to Lydian's operations, were over-blown, and asked him to explain why it is taking so long to finish the report.
Minister said the investigation isn't just about environmental impact but also involves an alleged criminal conduct investigation by Nature Protection workers who knew about some environmental risks but chose to hide it. Investigators are in a back and forth contact with the government.
The MP wants to know the environmental part of the story, because he wants to know whether stopping Lydian for the environmental risks was worth the lost economical benefits that the budget could have if the company's operations weren't halted.
Minister said the investigation will reveal the true picture. He brought an example that in past, environmental impact was seen as mild but it ended up causing big problems in Ararat plain when large quantities of fish was grown.
Lake Sevan is currently green due to algae growth caused by submerged trees near the shore, dirt, record-high temperatures etc. The full report was in a last week's post. Today we have some updates:
Nature Minister is answering questions by MPs.
Q: QP MP says the lake's level rise was artificially stopped since 2012 and the shores weren't properly cleaned despite the previous government dedicating funds. What's being done now, and will those responsible for cleanup neglect be held responsible?
A: Part of the reason why levels didn't rise is due to increased drainage for irrigation. Today the prosecutors are investigating 2.8bln worth cases in which water usage unions are suspected of drainage abuse. Another felony case is launched around the Arpa-Sevan water canal that delivers water to Sevan. Prosecutors are examining the ministry's recent survey findings of submerged trees near the shores. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165767
Minister said the problem could have been prevented if the levels weren't lowered too much. A 6-meter increase can help to create a healthy "cold" layer on the bottom which will kill the unwanted organic growth. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165764
Before the levels are increased, other trees near the shore must be removed to prevent the same problem from happening. However, some of these nearby trees help to prevent harmful materials from spilling into the lake, so more trees need to be planted slightly away from the lake as their substitute https://youtu.be/gSIvqYMhlmQ?t=83
Minister once again denied the rumors that several cows died after drinking Sevan water. Says the cows ate a poisonous alfalfa. Report says their bodies were later moved near the lake shore to make it appear they died from the water, so the farmer could get a compensation from the government. Level 1 crook. http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/270779
Few months ago, the government announced that they want to make it easier for media outlets to request and receive data, by removing fees they have to pay to pull the data. Last week the draft bill was published for discussions.
The problem now is to define "media outlet". Under current rules, government workers do most of the burden of researching whether the requester qualifies as a media outlet. The proposed changes could create rules under which the media outlets can submit their info and pre-qualify for free data requests. Media outlet could be defined an organization that has a registered address, owner, etc. Non-media outlets can also request data, but they still have to pay.
Parliament adopted a law to lower export fees and encourage scrape metal reuse by Armenian manufacturers. Full list of adopted laws inside... https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165778
BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan LOL-ed when he was asked whether he would apologize for the recent personal insults towards journalists (notably against Azatutyun reporter).
"Էս ի՞նչ հարց եք տալիս Ծառուկյանին", said Tsarukyan.
He accused the reporters of provoking him and being unprofessional.
Traffic accident stats. 1Q19 saw 2108 accidents with 152 deaths. 1Q18 had 1711 accidents with 139 deaths. In the past 4 years, 10737 accidents and 1234 deaths.
Police spokesman said the high numbers are due to lack of proper safety culture.
US-financed International Republican Institute conducted surveys. This isn't the Gallup International company which got the 2018 numbers right, and I don't have this IRI's accuracy track records in Armenia, so approach the data with caution.
Pashinyan's approval is at 72%. Disapproval at 24%. Same is true about his cabinet.
President Sarkissian approval 80%. Disapproval 13%.
The army approval 80%, disapproval15% .
Church's approval 71%, disapproval 23%.
Parliament approval 62% , disapproval 34%
Various Ministries and election commission have a >50% approval .
Regional authorities approval 43%, disapproval 48% .
Prosecutor approval 42%, disapproval 50% .
Court approval 36%, disapproval 57% .
59% think the government has been placing enough efforts to fight the corruption. 31% said not enough is being done. Women were significantly more likely to think enough is being done against corruption (63% vs 55% for men).
67% of those under 30 think anti-corruption fight is at a good level, 25% said it's not enough. The older the person, the less likely they are satisfied.
When asked about whom they would vote for if the elections happened right now:
15% I don't know or none,
4% LHK, (press doubt)
Sasna Tsrer 1%.
94% of Armenians are positive about the relations with France, 1% aren't.
92% of Armenians think relations with Georgia are good.
89% said the same for Iran and China. 88% about Russia.
82% about EU. 81% about USA. 77% about Ukraine.
97% said the relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan are bad.
78% think political relations with Russia are "important". 46% said that about France. 37% about Georgia.
62% think trade relations with Russia are important. 51% believe it's true about Georgia, 46% Iran, 20% EU.
85% think Azerbaijan is a "threat". 76% about Turkey.
77% view the membership in EAEU trade bloc as positive, which is only 1% down from last year.
76% view the upcoming EU-AM cooperation agreement as positive.
70% support a ban on public smoking. 26% are against the ban. Women are more likely to support the ban. Same picture about raising taxes on cigarettes. It turns out feminists were right about men being cancer /s.
35% of women think there should be more women in the government ranks. 32% said current numbers are enough. 19% said there should be fewer women. 13% didn't answer.
13% of men think there should be more women in the government ranks. 32% said current numbers are enough. 38% said there should be fewer women. 17% didn't answer.
The younger the person, the more likely they want to see more women in the government.
Overall, there are more people who said there should be fewer women in government.
Hraparak outlet published misleading data to show Pashinyan's and president Sarkissian's ratings as being significantly lower than what the research found. The report was re-printed by various other high profile media outlets, and the Azeri media. https://fip.am/7519
European Games (not to be confused with European Championship) are in trouble. The games first begun in 2015. Belarus was supposed to host but they refused, so it was held in Azerbaijan. In 2019, Netherlands was supposed to be the host but they had refused, so Belarus hosted it.
For 2023, Russia backed away from the bid and Poland was supposed to host, but they now reject it as well, claiming that their sports committee didn't consult with the government before accepting the offer. Poland says the games don't bring money and are a financial burden for the local economy.
French National Assembly has ratified the EU-AM comprehensive cooperation agreement. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/165826
Tikin Tsovik is growing strawberry chir for Britons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trvvlQ6kZNQ
Tourists.... Why? From where? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdlPjagx7b0
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/cb5wqy/anticorruption_news_from_armenia_jul92019_nss/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|