2019 March 17
Anti-Corruption Mar/17/2019: Former deputy minister under an investigation --- Dilijan hotel resort update --- 3 more mayors facing felony charges --- SIS investigating March 1st leaks --- October 27, Rob, Vazgen, Litvinenko, and Karabakh --- more below...
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Update on the ~$30,000,000 hotel resort built by the former regime for the IRS before being given to a military college after a public backlash.
The resort costed $54 million to construct. On 2018, a criminal investigation was launched, which showed that $4.7mln (2.3bln) was embezzled through contract frauds. Several new construction agreements were signed after the construction of the resort was over, and the records show that these $4.7mln worth constructions were mysteriously completed within several days of signing, and the money was paid to the companies.
The new administration also believes the luxury nature of the resort isn't suited for a military academy, and most of it is gone unused. The military academy says they use the buildings to house medical departments, other units, and regularly accept international military colleges for joint "parties", and have asked the State Property Management not to transfer them elsewhere. The State Property Management doesn't seem to be convinced so far. 120mln/year is spent annually on cleaning and repairs alone.
The former deputy Minister of Sports and Youth is under a criminal investigation.
State Property Management agency has noticed irregularities in a property deal done on 2017. It involves a building being given to an organization "Yerevan State University graduates union" for only 3mln, while the market value was 499mln.
The contract signed by the ministry had other possibly illegal elements, such as not requiring the buyer to use the building with a specific purpose which the buyer said they would use it for. This could allow the buyers to take the building for pennies then resell if for a much higher price for profit in future.
The buyer wasn't required to provide a plan of investments at the time of the contract signing. The buyer orally promised to make 6bln in investments into the building. The buyer says the former government discussed it at the Justice Ministry level and found the transaction to be legal.
Investigators have seized the documents relating to the case and have launched an investigation.
3 նապ with 1 պատռոն
Three mayors in Armavir are facing felony charges for allegedly stealing dozens of millions by embezzling fertilizers and other agricultural products meant for villagers, as well as falsifying documents.
(How many cities and villages does Armenia have? Is anyone keeping a count?)
Special Investigations Service (SIS) has launched a criminal investigation (no particular suspect yet) after someone leaked Serj Sargsyan's and other's March 1st investigation interviews to the press. In the interview, Serj said he would have issued the order 0038 (involving military in politics) too, if he was the president at the time. The interview content was classified due to the ongoing investigation. The media organization which published the information says the law protects them, and SIS can only prosecute the leakers themselves.
BHK Zohrabyan is also proposing to allow only the military contractors and conscripts with at least 1 year military service to be allowed to guard the front lines. Naira Zohrabyan says the salaries for contractors should be raised, and she appears to support Pashinyan's idea to eliminate aid for people who use it to pay off big loans (possible fraud).
Nikol Pashinyan is high, and it is Tigran Avinyan to blame for it. He wrote a poem dedicated to his latest trip to Ranchpar village yesterday, where he met the villagers and discovered disturbing stories about how the mayor was allegedly abusing his powers.
Jeans pants made in Gyumri, Armenia by Zakarian Co. will soon compete against the Chinese and Turkish imports. The company has invited Italian experts, made $2mln in investments, plans to employ 100 workers and export 95% of the products to EU and Russia, after receiving 3-year tax waiver from the government as an incentive to invest.
Gyumri used to be a textile powerhouse for USSR. The company hopes to restore the status and has plans to produce other types of apparel in future.
Azeri citizen Elvin Arif Oglu Hibragimov crossed the border with Armenia at 1:30AM on Saturday. The Armenian soldiers, not knowing what his intentions were, warned him to stop then fired at his feet when he refused.
He is alive and being treated in an Armenian hospital. NSS will launch a criminal investigation for illegal border crossing.
Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in Turkey 12 years ago, for daring to speak about the Armenian Genocide.
The court sentenced the assassin and the organizer to 22 years and life. 10 others were detained as suspects, 11 others on the run, overall 85 suspects were being watched.
Two of the detained suspects were released by the court last week. This prompted the prosecutors to challenge it and send them back to jail, which the court has agreed to do.
The investigation of the case has been partially politicized and the Turkish authorities are using the opportunity to include Erdogan's critics among the list of suspects, as a convenient way to persecute them. One such example is Fatullah Gulen, a Turkish opposition figure in exile, who always gets the blame for everything that goes wrong in Turkey. He is listed as a suspect in Hrank Dink case.
Alpine skier Ashot Karapetyan has won silver in an international competition held in Turkey, falling short only 2.5s from the leader.
Vakhtang Harutyunyan won bronze in the European youth boxing championship.
Anush Grigoryan wins the European youth boxing championship. In another weight category, Ani Hovsepyan wins silver in the same championship.
1in.am (opposition LHK channel) interviews Vahan Sirkhanyan, Vazgen Sargsyan's right hand man and the former deputy Defense Minister. He talks about October 27th attack, Rob Kocharyan, Artsakh deal, Meghri deal, plundering. It's an interesting interview, but do remember that he can be biased. Everything written below is his opinion, except for ( ).
He is unhappy that Serj Sargsyan isn't arrested for March 1st events because he had his share in it. He finds it normal that Rob is in jail.
Q: Why isn't Serj in jail? Is there some kind of a deal between Nikol and Serj?
A: Doesn't know, but he trusts Nikol because the latter isn't corrupt and a plunderer. He remembers how Rob came to power and the plunder begun. Over 400 factories, which were preserved and operational, but not functioning at the time due to no investments, were scrapped and sold by Rob. They even sold the windows and the metal floors.
Armenia inherited a $800,000,000 dollar worth metals from USSR. All that was plundered by Rob and his team, says Shirkhanyan. He hopes for Nikol to get to the bottom of this too.
Q: Why is Russia anxious about the March 1st investigation?
A: He doesn't believe Putin and Rob are close friends. Rob is too selfish and not liked, says Shirkhanyan. Putin and Rob were just colleagues, and now Putin feels threatened when "one of theirs" is attacked, hence the political cuddle. He says Putin shouldn't ruin his own reputation by siding with a thief.
Q: There is an impression that leaders who came after Rob aren't accepted by Russia as warmly. Was Rob close with Russia because he gave away the country's infrastructure after the October 27, 1999 parliament shooting and his subsequent power grab?
A: People sometimes mistake the chain of events regarding October 27th. Armenia and Russia had completely different relations between 1990-2000. During Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Armenia wasn't treated as a vassal. Russia would closely listen to Armenia's opinions and complaints.
Oct27 attack took the control from Vazgen and gave it to Rob. The latter's approach to Russia was different. Both countries announced about "pragmatic relations", which converted the relations from an ideological one to more of a business style. Russia begun to demand some infrastructure in exchange for debt.
Russia then felt threatened to lose power over Armenia because of Armenian government's meetings with EU and USA, so they decided to strengthen the grip over Armenia. Rob and Serj gave/sold infrastructure to Russia as an "assurance" that both countries will remain close.
Q: After March 1st investigation is done, do you think Oct27 will be re-examined?
A: Shirkhanyan says the attack and subsequent events took Armenia back to 1913, the pre-industrialization times. 1913 is when Eastern Armenia constructed electric factories, Nairit chemical, thermo plants, etc.
Rob sold the cognac factory, among its raw materials worth $800,000,000, for only $27mln. Vazgen was categorically against it, but Rob did it anyway.
Oct27 case needs to be solved so we can find out who our real enemies were, who gave the orders.
Q: What do you think about theories backed by the former Russian FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko (poisoned by Russia) who suggested that Russian special services organized Oct27? There are also theories about Rob trying to give away Armenia's southern Meghri province to Azerbaijan.
A: "Before his murder, Vazgen went to USA and met Al Gore on 1999. He came back and told me that scumbag Rob agreed to give away Meghri. Al Gore was very happy that Karabakh conflict was going to be resolved. This meant Rob had internally discussed with his team that Meghri would be given for quite some time, while keeping it secret from Vazgen's side." (FYI: The Meghri givaway plan is known as Goble Plan, named after Paul Goble, a lobbyist for Azerbaijan).
Relations between Vazgen and Rob became fragile 2 months after Rob became the president. Vazgen quit the Defense Minister's position and chose a political career as a Prime Minister because he saw that the country was being ruined. He made a coalition with Karen Demirchyan. They both got on the way of Rob and Serj, and played as a counter-balance. The relations between the two sides hit the bottom on 1999, and it was obvious that beginning 2000 there would be no Rob in power because Vazgen had enough powers to force Rob leave, and Rob knew it, but the 1999 terrorist attack happened, which killed Vazgen and Demirchyan. Rob/Serj's problems were solved.
Also, while Vazgen was in USA, he was told by the Americans that Serj stole money from Armenia and opened bank accounts in USA, with millions of dollars in them. Vazgen was furious and launched investigations to find the real owners of certain properties in Armenia, to get the money back. As a result, Serj voluntarily came forward and said that he would invest $200,000,000 in the economy, but that never happened because the Oct27 attack happened and Roboserj got the power.
Q: What do you think about Roboserj circles pushing the theory that Pashinyan is here to give Artsakh away, and Rob is jailed so he can't prevent Pashinyan from doing it?
A: Nonsense. The real land givers are pointing fingers at those who aren't doing it. I was at first afraid to see what Pashinyan's stance would be, but his trip to Iran, and NSS chief Vanetsyan's comments in Artsakh ("we don't have an inch of land to give to Azerbaijan") gave me a reassurance. Even Rob and Serj haven't had such stance in the past 20 years.
Rob and Serj went as far as to ban Armenians from settling in some of the lands in Artsakh, so presumably they would be given to Azerbaijan later. People would go there to live, but they would be kicked out. The biggest settlements push in Artsakh took place earlier, during Levon Ter-Petrosyan. But now, Nikol's administration (NSS chief) is directly saying that we're going to build a new settlement in this buffer zone. (He is talking about the southern Fizuli region. Vanetsyan's comment really angered Aliyev).
Shirkhanyan says the union of officers that they are currently creating, has vowed to be the ones to move into the newly proposed settlement.
A small 3000 square feet area is left of once powerful wannabe state known as ISIS, which controlled vast amounts of lands in Syria and Iraq. A few dozen thousands civilians and militants are besieged from all sides in the eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq, and are told to surrender.
60,000 have surrendered in the past couple of months. US-backed militias have been constantly bombarding their last stronghold, with intermittent ceasefires to allow the civilians to escape. A full-front assault isn't being conducted due to the area being trapped with landmines. 400 ISIS militants were identified and handed over to the authorities this month.
An ISIS fighter is seen crying and regretting to have joined ISIS. Says his expectations were different. Instead, he received oppression and pain by the group.
Link to original report: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/b2c3e8/anticorruption_mar172019_former_deputy_minister/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|