2019 December 16
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Dec/16/2019 :: World Bank revises GDP growth _ Yerevan & forests, recycling, noise, dogs _ Oligarch Nemets Rubo _ Kocharyan & other trials _ HHK Minister's staff bust _ Sports victories _ Parliament _ Azeri map _ $25 WizzAir fights _ more
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.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a shot
against SPAL. It happened 4 minutes after he entered the pitch. Welcome back!
Update: Boxer Ani Hovsepyan defeated the Azeri opponent but lost to the Russian boxer, winning bronze in an international 69KG competition.
Arthur Khazaryan also won bronze.
U15 and U17 European weightlifting championship in Israel: Armenia wins 2 gold, 10 silver, and 3 bronze.
Armenia won bronze in the International Junior Science Olympiad.
My Step charity foundation is managed by 1st lady Anna Hakobyan and has been providing medical and educational aid to children and adults.
It has collected $5mln in the 1.5 years of its existence. $1.4mln was collected during the weekend gala-event. Hakobyan referred to the task as "very hard" and that "the only reason I'm still doing this is that because Pashinyan convinced me to."
She complained about some backward traditions in rural areas in which women don't do simple things such as going to the municipality building or parental meetings in schools because apparently that's a job for men and grandparents. She had to play nice while visiting a municipality building in one such village.
Azerbaijan is getting woke.
Globes depicting Artsakh and Nakhijevan as part of Armenia have begun circulating in Azeri schools. They are Made in China. Thank you Jhina. No tariff on these globes.
Spice of The Day Award
Police caught a man who broke 3 speed cameras using a ladder and a crowbar. He got caught on a camera.
Another day, another Kocharyan trial.
Last time, the prosecutors asked the judge to recuse himself. The judge agreed.
Today Kocharyan's lawyers asked the new judge to recuse herself. The defense claims the judge could be biased because she liked a Facebook post in which the Constitution Court judge Vahe Grigoryan congratulated the judge's brother with participating in a lawyer forum in the EU.
The defense also argues that the judge could be biased because her brother is not a fan of Kocharyan.
The judge asked whether the defense has any examples of her prior decisions being influenced by her brother's views. The defense argued there is no need to provide such examples.
Prosecutors and March 1st victim lawyers don't see a reason for the judge to recuse herself. They argued that the judge's brother only has work ties with Judge Vahe Grigoryan and that the two had visited the same legal conference in the past.
"The fact that judge's brother liked a Facebook post critical to Kocharyan doesn't mean the judge is biased", said the prosecutor.
The judge will make a decision in 2 days.
Speaking of Kocharyan, he is in a hospital again. A few months ago they found and surgically removed a benign tumor. He went back for more exams at the weekend and it appears he had another medical procedure. Kocharyan is keeping the details secret.
From March 22, 2019:
A former high ranking Education Ministry official, a chauffeur, and 3 educational organization chiefs are under a felony abuse of power and embezzlement investigation.
Today the investigators updated:
A.B. was the chauffeur and assistant to HHK MP and Education Minister Armen Ashotyan between 2009-2016. He is charged with multiple felony embezzlement counts.
Ashotyan's chief of staff is also charged with similar corruption.
The felony case is sent to court.
Over half of ARF's "Nikol Aghbalyan" youth sub-division members have quit the party in solidarity to the 4 members who were terminated by the party administrators for their refusal to participate in the protests against the Education Minister.
The dissidents complained that there was no basis for the resignation demands, the party didn't do enough to hold talks, and that comrade Hrant Margaryan was using the party for personal gains.
Parliament's Human Rights Protection Committee chief BHK Naira Zohrabyan formed a group, led by a QP MP, that is tasked with "developing means to examine and combat hate speech". It appears that there is a consensus among many parties.
Q: who should be protected from hate speech?
Zohrayan: anyone who needs protection.
The MP said that in 2017 someone sent funeral flowers to her apartment entrance with her name on it. "My mother got sick after seeing the funeral flowers". Zohrabyan says at the same time she doesn't want to harm "free speech".
The 11-member group will invite civil society organizations to discuss it for 6 months. They'll examine the EU's and European Court's experience. Several independent NGOs, as well as other opposition figures, have also expressed support for some limitations on free speech if it's "hate speech".
Some politicians, especially from the previous administration, have recently been complaining about receiving toxic comments on social media.
Former HHK MP oligarch Ruben Hayrapetyan (Nemets Rubo) had his buildings raided on Friday as part of an embezzlement investigation for his activities as the former president of the Soccer Federation.
Nemets Rubo later claimed:
My former friend Andranik K., currently a QP MP, used a mutual friend to inform me 10 days ago that I was going to be arrested at the request of Pashinyan. Andranik warned me so I could leave Armenia. The law enforcement is rushing my case because Soccer Federation elections are next week.
(Earlier Nemets quit the federation chief's position after complaints, so it's unclear what the upcoming elections have to do with this. The felony investigation against him begun before the recent Soccer Federation shakeup which prompted the new elections.)
Another article mentions that Nemets Rubo's trusted man (Tovmas Grigoryan) is participating in the upcoming Soccer elections as an underdog. Nemets has a theory that the raid against him was apparently a plot to weaken the candidate's chances.
The main favorite to win the Soccer elections, however, was and is Armen Melikbekyan, who served as the deputy chief during Arthur Vanetsyan's administration and was de-facto the leader.
QP MP Andranik. K replied to Nemets about the accusations:
Former friends cannot have mutual friends anymore. You chose your friends after March 1st, 2008 and decided to serve their interest since then. Now you're doing the same by spreading lies with the help of your friendly media outlets. Maybe because the law enforcement was too kind to you while raiding your house. You'll have your chance to tell us who that "mutual friend" of ours is during your court trial.
Context: after the revolution and a wave of criticism, the Soccer Federation chief Nemets Rubo resigned. He no longer had the govt behind him. It was believed that Nemets could do anything because Serj had his back. Now he is mad.
Manvel Tushonka Grigoryan's bail has been denied again. The court also denied the petition to replace the prosecutor.
This was Manvel's personal zoo at the time he was arrested last summer. https://youtu.be/BHtyyjPz8fM
The malnourished bears and the tiger were sent to the Yerevan zoo. Many of the more or less domestic animals remain under Manvel's family possession.
Interview with Manvel's zookeeper https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/176337
HayPost employee has been charged with felony embezzlement and forgery for allegedly forging the signature of a person to collect their pension while they were abroad. (Seniors collect pensions from the post office.)
A church in the middle of a backyard. DESIGN GORE ALERT DO NOT CLICK I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY I POSTED THIS:
President Sarkissian met Qatar Investment Authority ($335bln) firm and Qatari govt to discuss investments, reminding them that an Armenian embassy was recently opened there, Qatar removed visa for Armenians, and there are direct flights between the countries.
He then met Qatar Airways chief to discuss the possibility of increasing the number of flights, and to use Armenia as a transit country.
How is the Pashinyan IRS performing against the Pashinyan IRS so far?
Oct-Nov 2018: 232bln collected (14bln returned to taxpayer)
Oct-Nov 2019: 289bln (up 25%) (51bln returned to taxpayer)
Yerevan municipality approved a $1.7mln donation from a donor family to expand the Erebuni museum to a 3,000 m2 area. The museum will have modern AR/VR areas.
Yerevan municipality will have its own rules to prohibit businesses from disturbing the public peace with loud noises between 11 pm-7 am. Repeated offenders will face a 1mln fine.
Yerevan city's new stray dog neutering service has treated and tagged 2,700 dogs so far. That's about 70% of all stray dogs.
Earlier this year the city counted 4,000 stray dogs and said if nothing was done, the population would reach 10,000 in a few years.
The city then created its own department tasked with the issue, after a private company that was doing the job earlier was caught with embezzling state funds.
The city no longer kills every dog they catch.
Yerevan plans to restore large swaths of forests in areas that were cut in the 1990s. There used to be green hills that were called "The Lungs of Yerevan". City plans to expand greenification in general.
Today the municipality approved a plan to create a city-run agency to take on the job. The 12 districts will no longer separately handle green issues. It'll be unified under the agency's control, which will also handle irrigation issues.
The new agency will also handle some recycling tasks, including sorting out dangerous waste before it reaches a landfill.
"We won't make populist moves just to show we've done something. Some of these results won't be visible for 15-20 years", said mayor Hayk Marutyan. He urged diasporans to donate to the agency.
The agency will have a 3.4bln budget. The workers' salaries will be 2.5x higher than what someone with an equivalent job currently earns under a district's control.
Los Angeles municipality donated a small number of sequoia giganteum seeds (those big trees) as a gift.
Opposition Luys chief was against the decision to create the agency, calling it a move towards socialism: "The govt is bad at managing things. The city shouldn't assume all power and responsibility of this task."
Mayor responded: "European experience shows that the city does it better when it comes to garbage, transport, and forestry because officials are held accountable by the public."
Civil Aviation chief Revazyan earlier met Ryanair and WizzAir low-cost airline companies to negotiate their entry to the Armenian market. They wanted certain conditions such as an air tax waiver. The govt recently agreed.
RyanAir decided to launch ~$40 flights between AM-EU starting January.
Today the Hungarian WizzAir low-coster announced they'll also enter the Armenian market with as low as $25 one-way tickets. They'll use modern Airbus A320/321 jets.
Tickets will only be sold online, beginning April-2020. It appears they won't be sold as part of multi-stop flights, in other words, you can't buy one big package to fly from Los Angeles to Yerevan through WizzAir. (some people match up two flights' landing and departing times, and buy separately tho)
The base price is low but the passenger can buy service addons. Yerevan will be connected to Vienna and Vilnius, twice a week.
Pashinyan: expect more tourists in 2020.
Suit and tie people at World Bank revised Armenia's economic growth from 5.5% to 6.9%.
"The iOS 13 update broke my calculator this summer", explained World Bank president David Malpass during a Monday event that never happened.
The World Bank acknowledged that the GDP grew 7.9% in 3Q2019. The net export and capital formation contributed to high growth. Most of the growth came from trade and services.
The The PressF Award of the Day goes to the economist who earlier predicted a 3% GDP growth for 2019
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ebkzbo/anticorruption_news_tldrs_dec162019_world_bank/
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