2018 December 26
Anti-Corruption Dec/26/2018: New railways charges // March 1st charges // Gegharquniq province official // Urban Development Committee staff // Emergency Ministry staff // Municipality secretary // Construction firm's illegal building // Azeri media outlet caught misleading // much more below...
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
2018 IN PICTURES
Earlier we learned about the second major criminal investigation around the South-Caucasus Railways (1st was dodging millions of $ in taxes; 2nd about not investing the required 194bln and subsequent cover-up by Transport Ministry staff), now there is the third criminal case.
The employees of the railways giant are accused of dismantling metal parts from the locomotive engines in two locations, with the intention of selling them for personal profit. Other employees were aware of the theft but failed to take action. The suspects have been charged with a crime.
The investigators are also examining the truthfulness of the 110bln investments that the company claims to have made.
The South-Caucasus Railways is a Russian company that won a 30-year lease to operate the railways in exchange for extensive investments. Pashinyan has earlier spoke about this with Putin, and the latter expressed the Russian side's willingness to cooperate with this case.
The former chief investigator of March 1st, who is charged with tampering of evidence to cover up the military's involvement, is facing new charges: Abuse of power with serious consequences, use of physical force or a weapon while abusing power. The prosecutor will ask the court for an arrest verdict.
Arrest warrant in-absentia is issued for the now-former chief of Vardenis social security department chief, also an official in Gegharquniq governor's office, for abusing his power between 2004-2017 to steal state funds.
Him and several others, including HayPost workers, committed ID theft of residents, registered them as aid recipients, then embezzled large sums.
Criminal charges are pressed against the chief and several members of Urban Development Committee of Kotayk Province for falsifications and abuse of power.
The chief is accused of falsifying documents about a construction project that he was overseeing. He then colluded with a local municipality employee in charge of municipality's construction monitoring, who also falsified documents claiming the construction was done and met the standards, before submitting it to the city administration. This led to the illegally or only partially constructed building to be registered in the Real Estate Cadastre database.
NSS discovers more corruption cases by local officials in regions.
Fire department employees of Ministry of Emergency, serving near the nuclear plant, have been charged with theft of fuel designated for emergency works.
Verishen municipality's secretary, who acted as a mayor temporarily, falsified documents and gave his own relative a piece of land for below-market value, without announcing an auction for it.
Criminal case is launched against the administration of Ani-97 construction company for ignoring the law, doing an illegal construction and causing 44.4mln damage to the state
This is an interesting interview by the former military chief prosecutor Gagik Jhangiryan. It's about October 27th terror attack, pre-attack situation, political assassinations of 90s, and March 1st. He explains why Kocharyan cannot have presidential immunity according to the Constitution.
He also says that years earlier, the officials (during Kocharyan administration) ordered him to be killed because he had a big mouth. The police came to his residence and set up a situation as if they, him and his brother, were threat to the police so they could kill him and his brother. The police opened fire and wounded his brother, says Jhangiryan. He was arrested for ripping a police officer's pants during the altercation. Jhangiryan says those days, the prosecutors would jail any opposition member for even the smallest things.
Nikol Pashinyan (journalist at the time) had earlier expressed similar concerns while he was a fugitive with an arrest warrant against him on 2009. He was afraid that the police would kill him in a similar fashion. He ended up voluntarily turning himself in while being recorded on camera. He was sentenced to several years in prison for "hooliganism and rioting".
(Disclaimer: Gagik Jhangiryan is a big Kocharyan critique, and former defense minister Vasgen Sargsyan's ally. The above was his version of the events.)
Yerevan municipality is raising administrative fees on large businesses with over 58mln revenue.
The fees are calculated based on the area of operation, whether the business is a food or casino/entertainment, do they operate after 12 AM or not, etc.
Fees will also go up for services such as piano, music and dance classes provided by city-run schools. The city will subsidy the increased cost so the parents will pay the old fees, while the institutions will receive the new and higher fees to be able to increase teacher salaries and provide more classes.
Large-scale non-residential garbage collection fees up 20% (AMD 3k).
Mayor Marukyan was facing criticism from opposition Luys party members for "not working fast enough" on the public transportation reform. (Marukyan earlier said realistically 2-4 years are needed for a complete rehaul including 900 new buses).
Marukyan said they have to wait for the British company tasked with assessing the situation to do their work coming February. They have to do it the second time because the first one (on 2017) was inaccurate. The company has agreed to re-assess the situation for free.
Verbal battles: Marukyan blasted Luys members, who run a committee tasked with negotiating with said British company, for earning their salaries but "providing insufficient and bad report on the subject, which is why his administration needs to do the assessment work all over again". Luys leader responds noting that Marukyan's criticism of salary is inappropriate.
Luys leader vs Marukyan. They are arguing about the 2-year time frame for transport reforms. Marukyan responds saying the 2 year is not a "delay" but the minimum time needed to finish the work. https://m.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=Kv_PEBh90cI
To read fully about what the British company was tasked to do on 2016, and what it is doing now, check out this article
Municipality has ordered the destruction of an unauthorized building on Sayat Nova 1/3. The owner had no permit, was fined 400k few months earlier, but continued to build the structure. He is given an opportunity to voluntarily disassemble the building before the city intervenes.
Government-run seismic research company is cooperating with Japanese "Challenge" organization to detect earthquakes through seismic waves and predict when the main shock is going to hit.
The company has provided 7 EQGuard detection units, which have been placed in Garni, Yerevan and other cities. The sensors can be attached to the main gas and electric grids, and disconnect the supplies to residential areas to prevent gas explosions and fires, in the event the sensors predict that a big shock could do damage to the delivery pipes. They are still being tested.
Hraparak paper confirms the story that we learned about earlier that Russia is pressuring Belarus for a greater institutional, monetary and civil integration.
Various leaders, including Pashinyan and Lukashenko, are set to negotiate gas prices at this time of the year. The objective is to lower the prices, or at least to keep them the same. Lukashenko-Putin meeting lasted 4 hours, and ended with Putin's refusal to lower the gas price for Belarus. Pashinyan will meet Putin on December 27th.
Russia's Vladimir Putin signs a decree to make permanent amendments to CSTO military alliance. He has accepted Pashinyan's suggestion to allow member country leaders act as representatives during CSTO meetings, besides the ordinary military delegation they send. (Pashinyan replaced the former CSTO chief Yuri Khachaturov during a previous meeting).
Another decree allows non-member countries act as partners to CSTO.
A small group of men and women (wearing luxury coats as noted by news) closed down two streets to protest the arrest of 2nd president Robert Kocharyan. The flash mob did not cause major disruptions.
European Best Destinations travel organization lists the world's most beautiful Christmas Trees. Yerevan took the 17th place.
Part of ARM-EU agreement is cooperation in tourism. The deal will increase the activities by low-cost air travel agencies and airline flights from EU to Armenia. Changes are expected on 2019.
2018 saw the lowest murder rate since 1990, says Pashinyan. He warns people not to opt for violence for economic, political, social or any other reason.
Yerevan housing prices have gone up 11% since 2017.
Soccer player Yura Movsesyan had 2018's fastest hat-trick. He scored 3 goals in under 6 minutes against Gibraltar
Museum-youth center is being built on a hill in Stepanakert, Artsakh Republic. It's at the latter stages of construction. It will house historical items and attract tourism.
Azeri Haqqin.az media outlet, closely tied to Ilham Aliyev's chief of staff Ramiz Mehdiev, published a misleading article read by Azeri citizens over 30,000 times, in which the author claims EU adopted a very important pro-Azerbaijan resolution about Artsakh.
The author, Tamila Alieva, claims the EU members voted 401-173 to state that Artsakh can only be part of Azerbaijan, in a big victory for glorious leader Ilham Aliyev.
FIP says the Haqqin journalist twisted the story, presented it only partially, and purposely did not provide the link for the viewers to the original source: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P8-TA-2018-0513&language=EN&ring=A8-2018-0392
The EU agreement's 19th clause talks about the EU's stance on Eastern Partnership countries (part of which are Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, etc). The 19th paragraph's main point is countering Russia's advancement in these countries' territories, and the member's territorial integrity. Haqqin points out that the part about territorial integrity, which by the way isn't new and has been in every single similar resolution, is a result of some kind of a diplomatic victory.
However, the article fails to mention that the same EU resolution also makes mention of 1975 Helsinki resolution, which recognizes people's right for self-determination (applies to Artsakh as well).
In addition, the 19th clause says member states' territorial integrity must be solved in accordance to the international law, in other words according to Helsinki 1975 resolution as well. Helsinki 1975, being an international law, has the higher authority in the resolution and is written in the preamble of the document.
The article also mislead about EU high ranking official Frederika Mogerini being behind this "pro-Azeri" breakthrough.
Intended narrative: Ilham Aliyev's great foreign policy resulted in EU's highest politicians intervening and passing a resolution that states Artsakh can only be part of Azerbaijan.
Reality: EU passes an annual report reminding that all conflicts must be resolved peacefully, based on people's right for self-determination and countries' territorial integrity.
Artsakh army border guards have observed how several Azeri soldiers in Bas-Qarvend area shouted at one another in their trenches, then gunshots were heard, followed by several soldiers carrying someone's body away. Artsakh army has warned the Azeri government not to try to blame this on Armenian soldiers, and to report the truth to the public.
Armenia opens the world's first ever Santa-producing factory. Nine Santas were created while filming this movie.
Link to original report: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/a9rxj1/anticorruption_dec262018_new_railways_charges/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|