2019 December 2
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Dec/2/2019 :: Businessman vs Serj _ Factory embezzlement :: Police & other officials busted :: Solar & Diamond investments :: Trash trucks & The Curse of Chucky :: Thieves :: Parliament :: Female vaxx a big success :: Economy, food, wages :: Serj & Italian building
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.
A while ago a Communist politician from Russian Armavir city's municipality board vandalized the memorial of Armenian hero Garegin Nzdeh (who bought against Communists) located on an Armenian church property.
Church staff says they decided to temporarily move the memorial to a workshop for repairs. As a "Big F U"
note to the memorial's opponents, they placed the photo of Nzdeh on the currently-empty memorial area.
Meanwhile, the church is working on the legal aspect of the memorial because its permit had expired earlier. They sent a petition to the city parliament to renew the permit. The church argues no such license should be necessary to begin with, because it's on a private property.
The movie "The Irishman", written by Armenian Steven Zailian and produced by Martin Scorsese is the main Oscars contender.
A soldier was killed and another one wounded in Artsakh on December 2nd. The circumstances aren't clear yet. Felony murder and murder attempt case is launched.
It is also unclear whether this was a retaliation to a possible combat death Azerbaijan sustained few days earlier. At the time, the Azeri govt denied it was a combat death, but there were reports of it being combat related.
The day when that Azeri soldier died, an Armenian soldier was wounded.
In July 12th we learned that UAE solar energy firm Masdar was interested in opening a large solar farm in Armenia. The plans are moving forward with an agreement made over the weekend at the presence of president Sarkissian.
Over $300mln worth investments could be made to create 400MW farms eventually.
During the first phase, 200MW panels will be installed in the eastern region of Armenia. They'll have modern bipolar transistors and mirrors to capture and redirect some of the "lost" energy.
By 2025, third of Armenia's energy is expected to come from solar with the help of 1000MW farms.
Armenia's landscape and climate makes solar energy worthwhile. Per square-meter land, Armenia can produce 70% more energy than European lands.
Many of 200 rivers in Armenia can be used for floating solar farms.
At the moment, Armenia has 50MW solars, 250MW have received a license to be built, 700MW capacity is expected in the near future.
🚛 Սանիտեկի թուղթ ու գիրը 🚛
Yerevan municipality opposition earlier criticized the city for taking 3 garbage trucks as a gift from a company that is associated with the former HHK MP Lfik Samo.
They circulated a theory that it might have been done to allow Lfik to do some illegal projects in the city. Prosecutors launched an investigation to examine the allegations.
Mayor Marutyan responded to the claims, displaying documents, and dismissed "the misinformation circulated on the internet for several days".
Mayor repeated that Lfik Samo hismelf did not donate any trucks because the firm that donated the 3 vehicles was founded and run by other people, and that he, as a public official, didn't want to speculate whether the firm belonged to Lfik Samo. (The city voluntarily published the donor lists. The opposition earlier criticized him that he was pretending not to know that Lfik Samo is affiliated with the said business.)
Mayor said the city would be willing to accept gifts directly from Lfik Samo at any time if the latter wanted to donate personally.
Opposition criticized the mayor for not publishing the donor lists sooner.
Mayor explains the process: When someone wants to donate a garbage truck, they talk to the city about it first. Then a donation contract is signed. Then the vehicle is sent to be registered with DMV. Once these vehicles were registered as a city property, the city published the list of donors the following day.
Opposition Luys party claimed that Lfik Samo's "MEGA MALL" received a license recently because of donating these trucks.
Marutyan called this "fake news" and said the aforementioned license was issued last year on Sep/20/2018 when he wasn't a mayor and the topic of trucks hadn't reached the boiling point at the time. (for more back and forth arguments check out the links)
Opposition also speculated that a former HHK IRS chief Gagik Khachatryan (a suspect in an unrelated felony case) decided to give a gift, and received a license to build a 22-story building instead of a 12-story, on 5 Teryan Street.
Mayor Marutyan showed a document signed in 2017 by the former mayor Taron Margaryan, which shows that Khachatryan received a 22-story construction permit back in 2017.
Another speculation by Luys party is that a building in Davtashen was supposed to be 14-story, but the city upgraded it to 18-story after receiving gifts.
Mayor says the petition submitted by the firm had, from the beginning, requested a construction of several 18-story buildings as part of forming a new district. This firm later broke some rules and they were issued a fine. "They weren't treated better than others", added the mayor.
Mayor said that many firms, which made no donations, had also received similar licenses to build buildings. The city earlier said the rate of issuing construction permits rose significantly in recent times, despite fighting illegal construction.
The opposition accused the city of taking a donation and allowing someone to keep their illegal building.
Mayor Marutyan responded:
On 3 Ohanov Street someone had an unlicensed building, but because it is completely on their private land, they had the right to petition the city to consider legalizing it.
According to a law passed in 2006, the municipality has to either legalize it, or destroy it but only if the building has safety violations. The architecture department examined the building and found that the building was built with proper safety standards. The city had to/agreed to legalize it. "There are thousands of such buildings built illegally in the past", said the mayor in a popular Facebook video viewed 330k times.
Random Yerevantsis. What do they think about donations? Are they "worth" it even if some of them come from people with questionable past? Most of them saw no issues, and some of them were glad the trucks helped to clean up the trash.
This is not a scientific survey: https://youtu.be/aeyv1y98g_o?t=51
The police briefly detained Noragyughtsi Bogo, one of former regime's minor hustlers, under the suspicion of possessing illegal weapons. He was released later but the police found he didn't properly do the customs procedure after importing his "HOV 555" plated car. He was issued a fine.
Bogo was earlier caught appropriating part of a Yerevan car parking facility and running it as a "hotel". When the new director of the facility exposed it, the director's car was vandalized under suspicious conditions.
🌶 Spice of the day Award goes to BHK's straightest MP Gevorg Petrosyan. During an interview he said that criminal subculture mafioso "thieve-in-laws" are keeping Armenian traditional values, are respected, and that the real evil are the trannies. The MP is against crime as a whole and says this bill has legal terminology issues.
Context: QP has a bill that sentences thieve-in-laws because they get such a title only if they've committed crimes, or organized or currently participate in crime rings. BHK voted against the bill because it's "vague". At least one BHK MP voted against the bill out of respect to mafia. His friends allegedly threatened a QP MP to pressure her to drop the bill.
Parliament's legal affairs committee gave a negative opinion to the draft bill proposed by LHK that would allow "outsiders" to become chiefs of NSS and Police. LHK argues that high ranking officials in these institutes often aren't trustworthy and have a questionable past, and that a strictly vetted outsider should be able to serve as a chief.
Legal Committee see legal issues with some parts of the bill, as well as the issue of possibly harming "the internal spirit" of these institutes.
They want more discussions around this topic, and more "institutional reforms".
The bill can still be placed on the floor for a 2nd vote. It was placed into circulation earlier. Bills get discussed multiple times in the Parliament before they are finally passed or rejected.
SIS says they busted the admins of Vanadzor Penitentiary facility with demanding and taking $1500 bribe from an inmate in exchange for closing the eye on his illegal items in the cell, and for leaving the cell doors open.
Another official took bribes to smuggle illegal items for an inmate.
Felony cases are launched.
Police has busted one of their own, who took a bribe from a person to "make sure" he gets a driver's license. The felony case is sent to SIS for a further investigation.
NSS has busted the director of Arpi Lake Park. He is accused of taking bribes to allow illegal land exploitation for agricultural purposes.
Famous Lebanese-Armenian singer Garnik Sarkissian was arrested in Virginia, US for allegedly transporting cocaine from California, according to an Armenian magazine.
Yesterday his supporters edited his Wikipedia page with a message 'Free Karnig Sarkissian". The Wiki article doesn't mention cocaine charges, saying that he was arrested in California on marijuana charges. The Wiki information has not been verified.
Garnik has a "history" with the authorities due to his anti-Turkish militant past in US. He is famous among the ARF party circl.es who sing his popular patriotic songs during gatherings.
He is famous for performing the song "Akhpers u Yes", although the song itself was originally written by Ashot Begoyan in 1993 before a Karabakh battle.
Meanwhile, Pashinyan's pyramid scheme continues to recruit victims without the law enforcement looking into it.
Last week the PM urged popular Armenians around the world to donate $21/mo to All-Armenia charity fund, and to challenge the same to 3 of their friends.
Serj Tankian agreed, and challenged his friend Eric Israelyan, who accepted the challenge and, in turn, challenged singer Sher and the owner of Alex & Ani jewlery firm Carloine Rafaelyan.
"Average food prices in Armenia rose only 0.1% YoY, compared to a 6% worldwide increase. We all remember how food used to grow 2% worldwide but 5% in Armenia. It was a result of lack of economic competition.
Moreover, Armenia was the only country studied by the stats institute in which the overall product prices went down (by 2.1%) in Sep-2019 vs Dec-2018", bragged Pashinyan on Facebook over the weekend.
Education Ministry and govt decided to increase the financing of science field by 1.3bln as part of the upcoming education reforms.
This comes after a dialogue between govt officials and representative of scientific institutions who complained about the lack of funds and "new blood".
1st Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan said the extra funds will be aimed towards artificial intelligence, information science, biotechnology and robotics.
57 more robotics and engineering "Armath" labs opened in schools last week. Govt issued a 834mln fund in July to bring the total number to 600 by the end of 2019, but it looks like they're behind the schedule. By Dec-2020 it is expected that all schools in Armenia and Artsakh will have these labs.
Rarely is the question asked, is our children eating properly in schools? 2017 stats:
34% of schools had a buffet.
40% of Yerevan and 60% of provincial schools had a bad food handling procedures.
46% of kids washed their hands.
10% of kids used a wet tissue.
20% of buffets had no ruining water.
27% had water in still containers.
Not all schools provide hot meal. Vast majority have junk food and too many sweets.
Armenia went ahead of Azerbaijan by the average salaries, per CIS report.
The country is the 5th in CIS republics by the amount of average salary. It went up by $15 compared to 2Q2019.
Russia $705 (down $45).
Ukraine $435 (up $40)
ADL Diamond Arabic firm expressed interest in Armenia in 2017, begun large investments in Kotayk province in 2018, and today they opened a diamond cutting processing facility in Gyumri, in place of an old structure.
The firm will import raw diamonds to Armenia, process them, then export $100mln worth products annually.
Khachatur Sukiasyan (Grzo) is a former oligarch and a current businessman. He used to be a non-party MP in the Parliament. About a decade ago his relations with the Roboserj regime became sour due to his alliance with Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
During today's diamond factory opening, with which he was involved with, he told a few instances of how Serj's regime allegedly hindered foreign investments by requiring some of these Arab investors to give part of the business to the regime's people, in exchange for being allowed to operate in Armenia. (aka 50/50)
The Bjni factory was illegally taken away from me. There is a legal process to get it back. (HHK Ruben Hayrapetyan aka Nemets Rubo, the former soccer chief, "bought" the factory in 2009 through an "auction")
There was an electronics factory called Sirius in Abovyan. Serj's co-villager came and begun to dismantle it. I notified Serj that the guy was plundering the 100,000 m2 factory, and Serj replied "Bro, there is no such thing". Journalists can go and see how they stole marbles from the building exterior, scraped the metal roof to sell abroad, used a crane to pull the factory machinery out.
What is happening after the revolution is the complete opposite of past. We now believe the rule of law can prevail over street-level thuggery. I dare those guys to try something illegal today.
We shouldn't go Georgian president Sahakashvili's route either. 36,000 property ownership violations were made by him. We should only take the legal route.
I disagree with my colleague Gagik Tsarukyan that there are no good conditions for investments. I think he made an emotional statement when he said that.
As for Serj Sargsyan personally, he did some good things because we had a Constitution and the borders were protected, but he was a very bad leader. He did too many favors for his friends and family. I can't say I had good relations with Serj, because he stole a factory from me.
End of Sukiasyan's speech.
Sasna Tsrer party earlier sent a note to SIS urging them to investigate how Serj's son-in-law media magnate Mikael Minasyan allegedly purchased a luxury house for Serj under someone else's name in Italy.
SIS says they sent the case to IRS.
My Couch ResearchTM indicates that the building, with the address in the article, was a former Armenian monastery. Currently it is a hotel named "Major Aventinus".
Mikael Minasyan, Serj's son-in-law and the person who allegedly bought it for Serj, was an ambassador to Vatican.
Russian-Armenia boxer Edgar Ghukasyan is the WBA Asian South champion. After 10 rounds of fighting, he defeated Tanzania's Kulwa Bushiri.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back. Roma 3:1 Verona. Heno scored the last goal
Would you learn 7 languages if they paid you $200k/week? Heno did. He speaks Italian now.
Despite some anti-vaccination fears and campaigns against HPV vaccines, which are done for young women and girls to prevent sexual disease and cancer, the Health Ministry says the vaccination campaign was successful this year.
HPV vaccinations begun in 2017 and the target were 13 year old girls. Only 1500 of them had received the vaxx.
In 2019 the govt made reforms to boost participation. Women between 13-45 became the target group. It was done partly to involve the adults in the process and have them serve as a role model so others would be more courageous.
Beginning January-2019, about 50,000 women got vaxxed, from which 10,000 were around 13 years of age.
The Ministry is pleasantly surprised by the campaign's success, especially among the young girls, who were the original targets. No significant side effects were recorded, and "people saw it for themselves that the vaccinations weren't harmful", said a Ministry official.
Eventually, the target age will be brought back to the original 13yo group because the vaccine is often pointless in elder women.
The HPV vaccination rates are higher in provinces than in Yerevan. 😲
Forbes: 10 underrated destinations to visit in 2020. Yerevan on the list.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/e55s40/anticorruption_news_tldrs_dec22019_businessman_vs/
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