2019 May 16
Anti-Corruption & News - May/16/2019: Final day of Kocharyan detention trial; arguments; Artsakh presidents petition.... ECHR vs Armenia.... College director charged... IRS employees and former PM.... China.... CSTO chief..... Government & jobs plan.... Minimum wage could increase.... more 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.
The former police chief Alik Sargsyan was also questioned in the March 1st investigation, as a witness. The prosecutors have evidence that in order to cover up the illegal activities conducted by the police around March 1st, four high ranking and several rank-and-file police officers allegedly purposely falsified data to cover up crimes.
Earlier we learned that the former investigators were accused of a similar cover up.
Rob Kocharyan trial enters its 4th day. His defense is trying to argue that he is not a threat if his detention is lifted, and that the state of emergency and the use of force was justified in 2008. Some notable pieces:
The defense argued that when Rob was briefly freed last year, he didn't escape, so the judge should not be worried about him escaping now.
The judge noted that the defense lawyer was repeating some of the already-raised arguments too many times. The lawyer responded saying "some people don't get it unless yo tell them 15 times". (probably not referring to the judge)
Rob said he saw a video showing how protesters (March 1st evening) threw grenades and shot towards the forces. The lawyer wanted to show the video to the judge but the latter said today's court hearing is about Rob's detention and the grenade story that happened after the crowd-forces confrontation, is out of topic. (As a reminder, Rob isn't charged with the murder of 10 people). He told the defense to hold on to it and publish it during future trials.
Rob said he saw a confession video of a man saying he wanted to enter the the public broadcast building and air pro-Levon material. Rob says the protection of the broadcast building is of a strategic importance. (this is part of justifying the use of force)
Two other presidents of Artsakh Republic appeared in court, posted a 0.5mln deposit each and guaranteed that Rob won't escape or meddle with the case if his detention is lifted. The judge read them the responsibilities and told them they can face felony charges if Rob were to break the promise.
during the trial, the General Prosecutor said Rob's regime spent 120mln of private funds to pay the soldiers that were brought to the scene on March 1st. A businessman and former MP Alraghatsi Lyovik is accused of providing uniforms to former regime's bodyguards who merged with the forces against the crowd.
A prosecutor argued against Rob's claim that Rob and his team activated the army to prevent it from joining politics. Prosecutor said that the army was brought to the streets to meddle with politics, which isn't the same as preventing it.
He said the authorities' actions agitated the peaceful March 1st early morning crowd when they were violently dispersed, and pushed that crowd to move to the area near the Yerevan municipality building, where the army (few hundred) was already placed beforehand, setting up a confrontation.
Prosecutor argued that there was a premeditation to use the illegal force against the crowd, because the decision to involve the forces was made on February 23rd, while the main protests, which Rob argues were violent and warranted the use of force, took place later on March 1st.
Prosecutor argued that Kocharyan's actions weren't to benefit the public, but to transition the power to Serj Sargsyan. Kocharyan argued against this, saying Serj was the president-elect and had a majority in Parliament so he wasn't just a friend whom he wanted to help.
The general prosecutor argued against Rob's earlier accusations that the prosecutors were holding information back. He said there are 80 volumes (books) worth accusations and materials. Only pieces deemed relevant to the case were presented.
Prosecutor says some soldiers were removed from protecting the borders and brought to suppress the political protests. The fact that they were initially trained to do this, shows that the purpose of activating the army wasn't to prevent them form being politicized, as Rob claims, but to be used against the protesters, believes the Prosecutor.
(Flashback: Citizens who witnessed March 1st talk about how the forces fired towards residents in their balconies to force them go inside, shattering windows. Then came the group in baklava who shot the protesters with live ammunition. Some remember seeing how army soldiers were brought. About how the authorities dumped needles in a building backyard to then frame the crowd as junkies to justify a force. Other testimonies inside https://youtu.be/-BldGbxofas
The hearings are over. The verdict is on May 18th.
The European Court of Human Rights made another verdict against Republic of Armenia. In 2001, the government made a decision to appropriate/purchase some private land for Northern avenue construction. The citizen's rights were violated during the monitory transactions.
Pashinyan administration will have to pay a 75mln compensation.
Vanadzor medical college director is charged with embezzlement of 11.9mln for allegedly registering family member and others as employees who didn't go to work but received salaries.
Hetq media investigation alleges that some IRS workers give former HHK Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan's sales machine servicing business(es) an unfair favorable treatment. IRS chief David Ananyan wants the full findings so they can do an investigation and punish if protocols are broken.
The investigation claims that Karapetyan-linked business has an office in an IRS building, and IRS workers direct the sales machine clients to use this business for servicing their devices. The IRS workers denied giving a favorable treatment.
Pashinyan met 3 business CEOs during the recent China trip. They agreed to import Armenian brandy, wine, agriculture products, create an elevator production factory. A batch of elevators will be imported from China soon, to test and see if they like it before starting the production.
Regarding the scuffle between Pashinyan and Belarus president Lukashenko for CSTO chairmanship.
Armenia earlier charged the CSTO Yuri Khachatuov chief in the March 1st case. He resigned from CSTO due to the scandal. Belarus wanted to take the chairmanship, but Pashinyan said Armenia will continue to preside for the remainder of the term, which ends by 2020. Today, the temporary CSTO chief said there will be no new election until 2020. There is a formal meeting tomorrow about this.
A government session took place.
It has initiated the formation of a new doctrine titled "Work, Armenia!". Its goal is to improve the competitiveness and human potential, help increase employment, institutional changes.
The government approved changes to the law to prevent farmers and their families from losing their low income social aid if they decide to do seasonal land work and earn extra cash. This will encourage work and discourage farmers from hiding their income, says Labor Ministry.
Two QP MPs have proposed a bill to raise the minimum wage to 65k. They say the current 55k is below the basic food basket requirements. 20% of workers are poor.
If approved, it'll cost 1.1bln to the state budget because the government has workers on minimum wage. But because the private sector will also raise salaries and pay more income taxes, that loss is expected to be fully compensated.
This increase will in turn raise the average wage too, put more cash in the hands of spenders, increase supply and demand, say MPs, who believe the proposal will help to move 30,000 additional jobs/salaries that are partially in the grey economy.
Shirak government worked with a company to create a website that allows unemployed teachers to register and be notified about available job openings. www.teacher.am
The government approved the plan that will reduce the fees for 26 types of traffic violations, some by as much as 50%.
In exchange, each driver will have 9 points per year that they can waste before having their license suspended. Those whose balance reaches 3 points will be allowed to give an exam to regain 2 additional points. Some violations cost multiple points.
License suspension will last 0.5 - 1 year depending on the severity and frequency. In some cases the driver's will lose it instantly.
There will be new types of police patrol fleets, equipped with remote license scanners, ID system that catches people who have a warrant for their arrest. The second link below contains whole bunch of other traffic/registration reforms in details.
They approved a proposal to prevent double taxation of property and income with Denmark residents and businesses.
The gov approved a tax waiver for a solar panel company to build the region's largest low-cost 55MW solar farm in Gegharquniq. 28bln investments to be made.
The government approved a tax waiver for a Ars-Fine company to invest 130mln on importing products that are used for clothing production. Number of workers to be increased to 17 with avg ~90k salary. Annual 230mln production.
Earlier the government decided to launch an online student registration for pre-schools and schools, to make the process easier, help parents understanding the available options, prevent directors from taking bribes during a face to face registration. The pre-school registration launched earlier, while the school system begun yesterday.
217,000 clicks were made simultaneously, which resulted in the server being crashed for a brief period of time. One parent registered his kid 124 times by clicking the unresponsive Register button numerous times. 80% of the kids have already enrolled in schools.
To discredit Pashinyan, several Roboserj media outlets earlier spread anonymous and unreliable information claiming PM Pashinyan's favorability ratings dropped in half.
"Past" paper cited their internal sources saying Pashinyan's rating is at 52% . Hraparak cited their anonymous sources saying it's at 51%, while HHK at 8%. Jamanak wrote that their sources in NSS, which apparently conducts public surveys, told them that his rating was at 34%.
Yesterday, more popular Gallup International agency published their survey results (which were accurate in 2018), showing Pashinyan's support at 84%, which is only 7-10% below the revolution days.
Other Roboserj accounts on social media misrepresented Gallup International's numbers. For example, 30% of people said they are hundred percent satisfied with Pashinyan's job, while additional 54% said they are mostly satisfied. The accounts presented Pashinyan's support as being 30%. One of the accounts used Facebook's sponsored ads to promote the misleading misinformation.
QP speaker Ararat Mirzoyan has proposed a bill that will take away few rights from the Prime Minister and give it to the Parliament and the government agencies. Opposition parties could also have the chance to have a delegation in some market oversight regulatory bodies.
President Sarkissian has signed into law the bill that reforms the Ministries. The government has 10 days to finalize the merger of Education, Culture and Sports Ministries. (there were other changes as well).
The United States will give Education Ministry 396mln to fix 5 education related buildings and provide education to kids with special needs.
Azerbaijan authorities have refused to grant visa to British-Armenian dual citizens fans of Arsenal, in some cases.
Arsenal sent a complaint to UEFA, saying it was a bad idea to hold the Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The team's fans have a problem with getting there due to the city having a problem with a limited transportation. Only 6k fans were given tickets, while the stadium can hold 60k.
The team wants UEFA to explain why Baku was chosen, and what the the selection requirements and criteria is.
Pashinyan was in China yesterday. In a ceremony dedicated to the end of the summit, the stadium blasted Kochari.
Srbuk's Eurovision semi-final performance. I can't watch it because it's not available in US.
Tourists singing the Yerevan anthem in Zvartnots airport https://youtu.be/hG8eKpNTfXE?t=20
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/bpivu0/anticorruption_news_may162019_final_day_of/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|