2019 December 25
Anti-Corruption & Daily News Summary from Armenia - Dec/25/2019 :: Stay informed about what's happening in Armenian Politics, Economy, Law Enforcement Busts, Major Developments, and 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.
You thought I wouldn't post news today because it's Christmas, didn't you... անհավատ։ SOME MAJOR NEWS TODAY, READ BELOW...
We have an Olympic champion!
Massive unit Simon Martirosyan lifted mad weights in Rio Olympics and finished 2nd.
It turns out the #1 guy from Uzbekistan had taken doping. Martirosyan has been upgraded as the champion.
Martiroyan: TBH I was expecting this. I'm happy about winning the gold. It would have been even better if it happened during the Rio games. This win will motivate me for the 2020 Olympics.
Nature Protection News
Earlier there was news about the Nature Ministry throttling dozens of underground wells to prevent freshwater from running in waste. Turns out it helped to save 100mln m3 freshwater in the Ararat Valley this year, says Nature Ministry.
Other savings came from making sure large water users weren't using above their legal allowance. Some of them were penalized.
The saved 100mln m3 is more than what Yerevan uses annually.
For comparison, govt drains up to 170mln from lake Sevan annually.
Nature Ministry says:
We're going to expand the area of Khosrov Forests nature reserve by 8000 ha. We examined and found that some surrounding areas are suited for wildlife and aren't currently used by agriculture.
In 2017 a massive fire broke out in Khosrov Forest destroying its 10%.
Nature Ministry says:
This year we toughened the laws punishing illegal logging.
Logging equipment sound detector devices were installed in forests. Forest fire detectors were also placed.
Forest protection salaries were increased. Summer-Winter uniform was distributed to increase workers' productivity.
We distributed 83,000 m3 wood from fallen trees to local residents free of charge. (reduces reliance on illegal logging)
Nature Ministry continues:
In 2019 for the first time ever the state budget dedicated a sum, equaling 425mln, to recover 150 ha forests.
611 Hayantar forestry workers saw a 20k salary raise. We bought night vision equipment and drones with cameras for aerial monitoring.
Nature Minister Eric Grigoryan says:
I'm not happy with Sevan National Park's work. More needs to be done to prevent illegal fishing. 10 park workers were recently charged with a felony.
I encourage consumers to boycott and not purchase spawning (preggo) fish.
Various law enforcement agencies will coordinate a campaign to reduce poaching.
(There is an existing law that limits fishing, but selling the fish is mostly legal because it's hard to prove it was caught illegally. Poachers can get away with the crime as long as they don't get caught while fishing.)
Nature Ministry says:
In 2019 we drained 56mln m3 less water than in 2018 from Lake Sevan. We're closely monitoring the entrance and exit of water.
The goal is to increase the water level while decreasing filth from flowing in.
From the Soviet times, the lake was abused. The govt would constantly reduce and increase the levels. It damaged the balance.
After these recovery changes, we need to wait 30 years for the lake to do its natural self-cleaning cycle. Don't expect a transparent lake in 1-2 years. German experts were involved in the examinations.
BHK News crew
Yesterday opposition BHK chief Dodi Gago's media outlet Kentron said they were "attacked by a group of 60 villagers" while visiting some village. The locals weren't too welcoming and confronted the outlet, pushing them and the cameras away.
A few residents were later called to a police station to testify.
Prosecutors have launched a felony case for "forcefully preventing a journalist from doing their work" punishable by 200k-400k.
Daily Bolola News
Joghovurd media outlet: Mayor Marutyan broke the law! GOT HIM, HUH! He didn't quit from a private firm before becoming the mayor. Hey Corruption Prevention Committee, could you please investigate?
Corruption Prevention Committee: Sure, we'll launch a case if you say so.
Mayor Marutyan: Stop spreading fake news. Here is the document proving that I quit 3 days before becoming a mayor. You could have gotten this doc from a publicly available database had you done your homework.
Meanwhile, Some random Roboserj outlets: Hey guys look, the mayor broke some laws!
Corruption Prevention Committee: Hey some random outlets, could you please not mislead the public? We never said the mayor broke the law. We launched a routine investigation because someone reported something.
Mayor Marutyan: Hey Corruption Prevention Committee, you too could have handled this fake news story better. When Joghovurd gave you the fake news, you should have done the preliminary investigation before launching a formal case. Had you done that, you would find this doc easily. Is it a coincidence that your chief was nominated by my archnemesis LHK party? Not saying it's a deliberate plot against me. Just saying... 🤔
Speaking of Fake News...
Parliament Speaker QP MP Ararat Mirzoyan is suing Roboserj media activist Narek Samsonyan for alleged defamation.
Earlier another Roboserj activist working at a restaurant leaked Mirzoyan's personal information to a Roboserj media outlets with the intention of defaming Mirzoyan by portraying him as out of touch and "too rich".
That day Mirzoyan paid his family's and friends' $600 restaurant bill after inviting the group to eat khash on his birthday. The restaurant admins apologized for employee's conduct.
After the incident, Narek Samsonyan accused Mirzoyan of using narcotics illegal in Armenia in addition to circulating the leaked info. Mirzoyan wants Samsonyan to either prove the claims or to apologize.
A few months ago 2 Kocharyan activists followed and harassed the judge who kept Kocharyan in jail. The activists were detained pre-trial.
Today the court approved the second activist to be freed pre-trial. The first one was freed a few weeks ago.
The court extended the arrest of former HHK MP and IRS boss Gagik Khachatryan. He was locked up on corruption charges in August.
October 27 terror attack
After the October 27, 1999 Parliament terror attack there was a court trial against the shooters.
Victims' families believed that the Kocharyan administration was covering up some information about the terrorists, about how they obtained weapons, who coached them to kill the country's top-2 most influential opposition politicians among others.
To address the suspicions, Kocharyan's prosecutors launched the second investigation to find out whether the terrorists were "sponsored" by a 3rd party.
That case was also closed 4 years later in 2004 after prosecutors said they didn't find anything.
On December 18, 2019, one of victim's widows, Anahit Bakhshyan, challenged this 2004 verdict and asked the prosecutors to re-open the second investigation.
The general prosecutor has satisfied the petition. The case will re-open.
Terrorist Nairi Hunanyan had at some point claimed that Kocharyan's chief of staff helped to coordinate his group, but his claim wasn't viewed as enough evidence.
National Security agents, whose boss was Serj Sargsyan at the time, knew that Hunanyan could commit terror because Hunanyan publicly threatened to do so. The security agents, however, failed to act on the threat. Critics claim Serj purposely closed the eye on the threat to let the terror happen, while others say some rank-and-file security agent screwed up by not taking the threat more seriously.
These incidents only strengthened Kocharyan critics' beliefs that the Kocharyan regime had something to do with the murder of Vazgen Sargsyan and Karen Demirchyan. The two had just formed a powerful alliance against Kocharyan before the murders.
🎡 Mayor Bust Time 🎡
Stepanavan mayor is busted with corruption embezzlement and abuse of power.
Stepanavan mayor was the president of the Stepanavan Charity Foundation. Between 2013-2019 a German Red Cross donated 200mln to the Foundation to help local families. The mayor stole 89mln of it.
He also rigged auctions to give lands to his son.
He then closed the eye on the fact that some high ranking official was illegally building a structure on his son's illegal land in 2015.
A felony case is launched. We're patiently waiting to learn who the "high ranking official" was.
SOC audited another municipality, this time Vayk.
80mln in improper use or waste was found to be done between 2016-2019
What's cooking in Yerevan?
Erebuni historical museum saw a 27% rise in revenues and 6,000 more attendees YoY. It has gone through some reforms lately. A new website will be ready next February.
Yerevan municipality revamped the commercial garbage collection fees for 2020.
Businesses continue to pay based on each m2 land they operate on. The new garbage fee will be a flat rate (~avg of current fees) as opposed to the previous progressive system.
Businesses will be able to pay for garbage and property taxes more easily through electronic terminals.
Mayor Marutyan earlier said the city will take a loan to buy and install almost 1000 buses and trolleys by 2022. That loan could be between $120-$250mln. They're negotiating with banks.
Bus purchasing auction will begin in February 2020. Expect the first batch of new buses to arrive in 2020.
Yerevan municipality approved new regulations for construction firms.
All construction firms, whether the job is finished or not, must keep the nearby sidewalks tidy.
The temporary sidewalks near construction zones must have disability ramps.
On-sight construction waste must be kept behind a non-transparent barrier so the pedestrians won't see it.
Yerevan residents will be able to visit city's website to receive info about construction permits in the city.
Armenia took a $300mln loan from Russia in 2015 to repair the Metsamor nuclear plant in the following years.
In 2019 the govt had to routinely shut down the NPP to do the repairs. Shutting down means less electricity, which means higher electricity prices for consumers.
There were concerns that the prices could go up for the consumers due to this shutdown, combined with the fact that Armenia has to start repaying the $300mln loan beginning 2020.
However, the fee won't rise in 2020. Govt will prevent the 2 Drams increase while still repaying the $21mln loan to Russia.
Water prices will also remain the same.
Govt convinced Veolia Water to reduce the water prices, but because the govt was subsidizing it for consumers, the consumer won't see a price reduction. Instead, the govt will pay less to Veolia.
Economy, GDP, Money
Govt collected 2.5bln by selling radio airwaves in 2019. Another 6.5bln to be paid later.
GDP grew 7.5% YoY for the January-November period.
Electricity production -3.4%
Consumer prices +1.5%
Pashinyan did not throw a hissy fit today. Instead, he bragged about November being the year's best performing month.
GDP grew by ⚠10.1%⚠
Exports grew by 25.7%
"I congratulate you all, be courageous", said PM.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/efphyg/anticorruption_daily_news_summary_from_armenia/
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