2019 December 26
Anti-Corruption & Daily News Summary from Armenia - Dec/26/2019 :: 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.
I hope you had a great Christmas! In case you missed yesterday's important news: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/efphyg/anticorruption_daily_news_summary_from_armenia/
Prosecutors reopened the October 27 terror attack investigation about terrorist Nairi Hunanyan possibly being coordinated by someone outside of the group, after complaints by the terror victim families.
The families claim they weren't properly briefed about the case, and why and how it was shut down in 2004. Their lawyer claims there are international laws that were violated by the Kocharyan administration.
NSS will investigate the re-opened case.
Opposition Now vs Opposition Then
Between 2012-2017 the Parliament passed 1422 laws out of which only 35 were presented by the opposition.
In 2019 alone 367 laws were passed with 30 from the opposition.
MPs have also become active. 1/3 of Healthcare related resolutions were proposed by MPs. 2/3 came from govt (Pashinyan administration).
Parliament saved 387mln in day-today expenses and returned to budget in 2019.
HHK & Property
Police uncovered a corruption scheme by the former Cadastre property assessment agency.
In January-2018 the agency falsified the true value of a police building in Yerevan, claiming it's worth 259mln.
In March-2018 the govt sold it to a private firm.
Only 2 days later the firm sold it for 539mln.
The chief of the agency was HHK MP Galust Sahakyan's son.
A felony case is launched.
HHK & More Property
SIS has more charges against the godson of HHK MP and Constitutional Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan.
Between 2011-2014 Norayr Panosyan was a high ranking Justice Ministry official when Hrayr Tovmasyan was the Justice Minister. Panosyan was overseeing notary services.
SIS says he forced notaries to make illegal decisions to embezzle some properties. More felony charges have been pressed. SIS is asking the court to arrest him.
Roboserj media outlet Haykakan Zham's reporter was caught with blackmailing a police officer in July, in exchange for not publishing "damaging information" about him.
The felony investigation is over. The case is sent to prosecutors so they can take it to court.
Serj's bro's house in LA
Serj Sargsyan's brother HHK MP Alexander Sargsyan, who is facing corruption charges, sold his Los Angeles mansion for $2mln after buying it fro $2.8mln, according to Hetq outlet.
2000m2 land and 500m2 living area. 5 bedrooms, 7 baths, 3 car garage, pool.
He bought it in Tarzana district in 2005 while he had an official income that wasn't enough to buy it. He didn't take a loan at first and decided to pay in full.
8 months later he took a few loans and after some issues, he began to repay it promptly. The large loans that he took were repaid shortly afterward.
Former police chief & a Mayor
NSS busted the former mayor of Masis, Ararat with corruption involving former police chief's family.
In 2007-2008 the mayor instructed municipality staff to illegally declare one of the municipal employees as low income to then give him a city-owned property with land.
They then gave this property to a former police chief's daughter.
A felony case is launched.
NSS busted officials at Gyumri municipality with illegally giving away city lands to certain people between 2006-2011. A felony case is launched.
Kocharyan's 5th Channel media mogul Armen Tavadyan has been arrested for 2 months pre-trial after court approval. He's charged with being part of the group that was trying to distribute bribes to March 1st victims in exchange for them withdrawing claims.
Famous Russian producer Stas Namin is "shocked" that his name was added to the list of 67 show-biz artists who earlier signed a letter asking the court to free Kocharyan.
"I never signed any docs."
Earlier another Armenian artist came forward saying she was duped and that she didn't sign the letter.
Roboserj Santas 🤣
Yerevan's deputy-mayor wants the city-approved and vetted Santas and Elves to follow the laws and not to conduct illegal business by charging parents fees for various քյանդրբազություն they do for kids on public squares. "They can take a tip but cannot charge fees otherwise they'll get arrested."
Foreign policy in 2019
Turkey is still stubborn and won't open borders, demands Karabakh concessions. Still denies genocide and wants "historian teams" to examine 1915.
Not many changes with Georgia.
Relations strengthened with Iran after a big February meeting. Electricity/gas exchange talks expand, free trade zone, possible Turkmen gas trade, EAEU trade, and tariff removal.
Azeri borders remained calmer which begun after the 2018 revolution. Steps were taken to exchange journalists. No change in political stance.
EU began helping with judicial and anti-corruption reforms, nature protection, transport. 15 EU states approved the EU-AM comprehensive cooperation agreement with 4 remaining (Greece, Austria, Spain, Portugal). Next year expect talks about relaxing the Visa regime.
US House and Senate recognized the Genocide. Ties were strengthened with the California government. Armenia still cooperates with Kansas National Guard.
Relations remained the same with Russia. The latter wanted physical access to US-funded bio labs in Armenia for security precautions. Russians continued to throw a hissy fit over Garegin Nzhdeh statue but at a lower level, despite Ilham Aliyev's (failed) attempt to get Kremlin involved.
Economic cooperation strengthened with China, Vietnam, and Singapore.
Govt official: EU is likely to provide a $167mln loan in 2020.
Do you lift bro?
Yesterday we learned that weightlifter Simon Martirosyan is the real Rio Olympic champion because the previous #1 guy had taken drugs.
Today the Georgian govt invited Martirosyan to Georgia to honor him and a Georgian weightlifter with some prize.
2019 was an unprecedented year with 118 medals being won in international weightlifting competitions.
A few days ago the police took the EPH University youth Committee chief to a police station in a rough manner so he'll give a witness testimony about a shooting that happened outside EPH. The man complained that the "raid" was unnecessary.
The police launched an internal investigation of its employees.
Pashinyan: a lot of times the police act unreasonably harsh. It's because hey may not know the laws and ethics properly. We won't escape the problem, we accept that issue and must work on it. I spoke about this incident with the police chief. The important thing is we don't condone this behavior.
Soldier's parents protest.
A soldier died from non-combat wounds on December 2nd, with another one being in a coma and being unable to tell what happened. (murder-suicide suspected)
Parents of the dead soldier were demanding answers outside of govt building. A confrontation happened with the police.
The Security committee chief Andranik K. has been briefing the parents about the ongoing investigation. "Someone apparently mislead the parents into believing that the second soldier came out of coma and gave us the details and that we're allegedly hiding it from them. So they came here to demand answers. We'll continue the investigation."
The parents met Pashinyan.
The army told the parents there is a video proving that their son committed suicide, but the parents won't believe them.
Dozens of non-combat deaths happen in the army annually. Mostly driving accidents, but some suicides and murders, too. Deaths are down 20% this year, 7% fewer hospitalizations.
Govt confirmed the plans to spend 289mln to install gas pipes in Meghri city's suburbs. 10,000 residents will have gas.
New Year's celebrations
Education Ministry and the govt spoke about New Year's celebrations, saying that from now on more resources will be spent on it to make it worthwhile to stay in Yerevan to meet the year, as opposed to going abroad. This year they spent 270mln.
20 theater performances for all ages will be added to the event list.
"I bought tickets for all my colleagues lol", said Education Minister Harutyunyan. "Well you're lucky we cut the number of Ministries", responded Pashinyan.
Nikol "the doctor" Pashinyan
The PM then put on his doctor gown and gave you food advice:
- Eating wrong is as bad as smoking. Sorry for intruding in your food affairs, but please don't force your guests to try the խոզի բուդ and everything there is on the table. Food consumption has limits. It's also unacceptable that women spent the whole day rolling tolma, which is then kept for too long thus recreating a risk of food poisoning. Don't prepare so much that it will last 2 weeks.
Immediately after PM's speech, the Union of Independent Grandmothers Local 531 organized a protest. Abovyan Ave was shut down with grannies throwing raw tolma meat at the building windows.
"The big government is now trying to take away our New Year traditions. I have 11 grandchildren. If Pashinyan knows better how much exactly I should cook, then perhaps he should come over and help me in the kitchen, at least by washing the dishes", never said one protester because the paragraph is fake news.
work & poverty aid
Beginning April 1st, 2020 the govt will change who qualifies for poverty and unemployment aid.
1) If the govt offers you to work at a place within your physical/mental abilities, and you refuse twice, you lose the monthly aid.
2) If you get a job, you'll continue to receive free aid for 6 months. (meant to encourage the "unsure")
3) If you took big loans and pay >100k/mo to pay your loans, the govt may not give you aid. (Meant to prevent system abuse by non-poor who hide the real income, get monthly aid, then use it to repay big loans)
4) The qualification criteria for new able-bodied recipients will get tougher. The emphasis will be on more vulnerable groups.
Artist Sos Janibekyan accepted the donation challenge from a QP MP and will donate $20/mo to the All-Armenia charity fund.
The second challenged person, artist Khoren Levonyan, also accepted it and made a challenge to 3 of his friends.
The practice took a widespread adoption after the Thanksgiving day telethon in which Pashinyan publicly challenged 3 popular Armenian diasporans to chip-in, and in-turn to challenge their friends to do the same.
Money is used to complete infrastructure and social projects in Armenia and Artsakh.
Yerevan's 2020 budget is approved. Revenues increase from 83bln to 107bln. Expenditures at 116bln.
January-November YoY change.
Fruit wine exports up 75%.
Wine export up 50%.
Cognac export up 27%.
(Pashinyan: Կարծում եմ, որ Հայաստանում նոր բրենդի, նոր խմիչքի ձեւավորման պրոցես է տեղի ունենում)
Overall exports up 9-10%.
GDP growth at 7.5% (predicted 7.3% by the end of December).
HHK IS BACK with a political song by MC Shawarma, OJ ճպլ Ashotyan and Galust Sahakyan's son, the only three HHK members who aren't in jail:
⚠ EXTREME CRINGE ALERT YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED ⚠
Christmas photos from Yerevan
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/eg0r90/anticorruption_daily_news_summary_from_armenia/
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