2019 December 30
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Dec/30/2019 :: Stay informed about current events 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.
In Feb-2019 the NSS busted a corruption ring in which lands near Meghri city were appropriated by officials in 2014 prior to the lands becoming candidates for being part of the Meghri Free Trade Zone.
A local mayor helped people, connected with HHK officials, to embezzle the lands.
The court has just found the mayor guilty on all counts.
Earlier prosecutors pressed charged against HHK MP and Constitutional Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan for allegedly abusing his power to force subordinates to rent properties from him, and for embezzling properties, during his 2011-2014 years as a Justice Minister.
HHK argued that prosecutors can't charge Tovmasyan because he has judicial immunity.
Prosecutors argued that the new Constitution, that went into effect in 2018, allows Tovmasyan to be charged because the charges are about something he had allegedly done before even becoming a Court member.
Today the Constitutional Court released a statement. They did not argue that Tovmasyan cannot be charged, instead, they asked the authorities to follow the law and to make sure the charges don't harm the judge's reputation or hinder his ability to do his work.
The appeals court upheld the verdict to arrest the March 1st suspect HHK MP Gevorg Kostanyan pre-trial for 2 months. He is currently in Russia.
Kostanyan is charged in connection with 2008 events. He was mentioned as being the handler who allegedly went around various law enforcement agencies to coordinate a campaign to cover up various crimes.
Deputy Education Minister QP Gevorg Loretsyan was arrested earlier for allegedly taking a bribe. He will also remain in jail after losing the appeal.
NSS vs Official
NSS arrested the director of a govt-funded autopsy center for allegedly taking 2.1mln in bribes from the families of 60 deceased people in 2019. Such services supposed to be subsidized by govt.
NSS busts IRS agents
A businessman complained that 3 IRS agents found a few unlicensed employees in his business, and demanded a bribe in exchange for closing the eye on it.
They took 1.2mln plus 50k/mo for each of 4 unlicensed workers, in 2019.
Little did the crooks know that the next bribe transaction was being filmed by NSS.
A felony case is launched.
Former Parliament official busted
The former chief of Parliament's Staff Management Department has been charged with corruption. In Feb-2014 he allegedly made sure his friends at the medical department got some "deals".
A felony case is launched. He's told not to leave Armenia.
another mayor down
Aragatsavan mayor is charged with corruption for allegedly giving 13mln in aid to property owners with the purpose of then collecting it back as a property tax paid by them. This was done in 2018 so the mayor would boost his tax collection efficiency numbers.
A felony case is launched. He's told not to leave Armenia.
Prosecutors are examing to see if other settlements have done this.
army draft bust
Police have arrested a Nor Norq military draft agency official for demanding and taking a $1500 bribe in order to allow a man to receive a medical examination result showing he's unfit for service.
year-end fake news
Rob's 168am media outlet circulated rumors that the NSS allegedly conducted a secret public survey which revealed that Pashinyan only has a 19.5% favorable rating.
NSS's press team denied the report calling it false and added that it was 168 who conducted a survey and decided not to publish it because of how high the ratings were.
A tragic accident happened during a traffic stop. The driver was given a citation but he refused to accept after arguing with the cop. When he went back to his car, he felt unwell. His fellow passenger asked the cop to call 911.
The cop called 911, as recorded by his on-body camera and 911 system. The driver, unfortunately, passed away.
Someone on Facebook spread fake news about the cop allegedly refusing to call 911 because he thought to the driver was faking it.
Former HHK Justice Minister Arpine Hovhanissyan claims Venice Commission wrote some kind of a letter to Justice Ministry in response to Constitution Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan's charges.
The Ministry denied the rumor twice.
On Friday a viral video showed a man complaining about IRS customs agents allegedly beating him down at the northern entry point. He asked PM to intervene.
The next day he confessed to making up the story because he was upset about long queue lines.
This year the border checkpoints saw a massive increase in imports due to upcoming laws related to EAEU economic bloc.
This is how long the line is at another checkpoint:
A 2019 round-up of fake news by Hraparak, Joghovurd, Jamanak, Past, Zham, Analitik, Politik, TertAM, 5TV, Hayeli, and other outlets.
General Prosecutor Arthur Davtyan has been "reverting" some persecutions done against anti-Kocharyan protesters in 2008. Lately, he sent several conviction verdicts to Cassations Court, which overturned them. ECHR also had its share.
Today the Prosecutor sent a petition to Cassations to overturn 2 earlier convictions. In one case there was not enough evidence, while in the other there were conflicting testimonies by cops.
The decision to challenge is based on a precedent set by ECHR which earlier sided with protester Mushegh Saghatelyan against Armenia, as well as other ECHR verdicts.
- Pashinyan vs Roboserj
PM Pashinyan shared a 2008 video in which the police are preventing people (protesters) from walking on sidewalks.
"This is a 2008 footage. At the time I was on the run from the police. The authorities are obstructing a small gathering organized by (1st lady) Anna Hakobyan in support of political prisoners.
This is how they were obstructing people's rights for a free assembly. Anna organized this because very few had the courage to do so due to the state of emergency, murders, and imprisonments.
And the perpetrators are now moaning about them being persecuted. You should light a candle day and night for still being free, you seed stealing rats. (referring to Serj's charges for agricultural aid theft)"
Lori police detained and searched dozens of men allegedly belonging to criminal subcultures.
Govt earlier passed a law (vote 77-12) to introduce a "luxury tax" on a property by establishing a progressive property taxation system.
In 2020 the Cadastre Committee will re-assess property values across Armenia.
In 2021 there will be a unified database of properties and their value. There will be 20 property zones (up from 16) and 9 types of property taxes.
Pashinyan administration has long complained that HHK and its allied oligarchs have purposely kept the property tax system outdated so they could avoid taxes by keeping their properties' values low on official books.
"Politics is not your thing, dawg. You got to find something else, man. Have you tried singing?"- Randy, 2010.
BHK threw a party. It turns out controversial MP Gevorg Petrosyan was a mugham singer in his previous life. He was joined by Vardan Ghukasyan, and later by Naira Zohrabyan.
Petrosyan vocal 6/10, delivery 7/10.
Ghukasyan vocal 8/10, delivery 6/10.
Zohrabyan vocal 3/10, delivery 5/10.
Soldiers and QP MPs are partying.
Dance skills 5/10, delivery 6/10.
Tourism, Cargo, and Roads
Zvartnots airport traffic +11% YoY.
3mln people traveled this year. Today the airport gave food an drink as a gift to visitors to celebrate the symbolic digit.
Pashinyan: The Moscow-Yerevan route is one of the busiest in Moscow these days. Welcome to Armenia!
South-Caucasus Railways says:
Cargo transport rose 11% in 2019. Freight turnover +17%, export +25%, import +12%, internal cargo +7%, internal passenger flow +11%, international passenger flow +13%, wagon repairs +31%, locomotiv repairs +5%.
In 2020 they plan to improve safety and efficiency.
Pashinyan: when I visited Georgia in 2018, I was ashamed because Georgian drivers told me they don't take their tourists to Armenia because the bad roads damage their vehicles. I ordered the roads to be repaired upon arrival. Today I can say that Bagratashen-Yerevan road has never been in better condition. Special thanks to Infrastructure Ministers.
Army and Borders
In 2019 the Azeri army violated the ceasefire 9k times by firing 85k bullets and mines. This is the lowest number since 2010.
Soldiers getting food:
Russian reconnaissance units and 200 soldiers participated in a dummy enemy detection and neutralization in the southern mountains of Armenia. They used the expertise gained in Syria.
Armenian doctors in Syria treated 8500 patients this year.
Armenian sappers in Syria cleared 124,000 m2 area of mines.
In Armenia, they cleared mines in Davit Bek and Kornidzor settlements. 11,000 school kids were taught how to avoid landmines.
Some border village kids will be flown to Croatia to spend their summer vacation there and to learn about land mines.
Yerevan municipality installed 20 new elevators in apartment complexes this year. 100 to be done in 2020.
Photos of new elevators: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/177391
The United States has a New Year's message for Armenians:
2020 is almost here
800 kids from bordering villages, disabled kids, kids with cancer, were invited to Sundukyan theater by the City of Smile foundation.
350 went to the National Gallery.
50 soldiers and officers on pension will meet the New Year in brand new apartments they received in Martuni, Artsakh.
Pashinyan's little daughter Arpi really enjoyed this theater performance:
New Year in remote villages
Eliza and Lisa tati live in village Garnahovit where most men went to Russia for work. Women and children stayed and will meet the New Year.
Eliza is asking Lisa to tell a story about how they'd celebrate New Year in the old days, but the latter can't hear sh*t:
Alaverdi residents gave birth to 135 girls and 115 boys. Doctors say parents are less likely to be upset over having a girl these days. The number of abortions had sharply decreased. Mothers are also more likely to take maternity classes and take care of their health during pregnancy.
Some families are having 3rd and 4th kids. Total birth count YoY has remained about the same.
Most popular baby names: Davit and Anahit.
"let girls be born" campaign tries to convince parents not to get a legal or illegal abortion based on the baby's gender. Armenia loses 1,300 women annually due to selective abortions.
New Year survey
85% of Armenians plan to spend New Year's day at home, higher than in the past.
4% will go abroad (to Georgia, Egypt, Dubai). Higher than in the past.
4% will stay in Armenia but drive out of their city (to Tsakhkadzor, Jermuk).
<1% will be at a restaurant.
<1% will be at a friend's house.
51% said New Year's day is a "nice working day" for them. (cook, etc.)
15% said "it's a nice holiday" for them.
9% said it's a day of unnecessary expenditures.
7% said it's a day of a heavy financial burden.
8% said it's mandatory to spend and celebrate.
6% said it's boring.
50% said they purchase the products 10 days before New Year's Day.
35% purchase sometime in December.
8% said they don't buy things.
3% start purchases from November.
50% makes the purchases from a supermarket. (up)
20% from bazaars (down)
88% buy gifts for family.
51% for relatives
46% for friends
31% for colleagues
What gifts do you buy?
33% toys for kids
14% give cash
What do you want from Santa?
8% good health
More people want smartphones than before.
How much will you spend on a gift?
24% $6 - $13
22% $13 - $21
14% < $6
76% have an artificial Christmas tree
18% have a natural fir
6% don't have a tree
What will be on your table?
65% stolichni salad
57% pork leg
Your grandma approves this message.
Spice of the Day Award
Stepanakert's Florence Garden restaurant called 911 so they could invite the emergency crew members to congratulate their upcoming 2020 over a table.
A Christmas Tree made out of cars in Yerevan.
Garik & Sona have a new New Year's song. It ain't Jingle Bells replacement, but it's honest work. 🎄
2019 in photos
Happy New Year everybody! I'll see you in 2020! Hope you enjoyed this year's news coverage. Thanks for the support. ❤
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ehrb49/anticorruption_news_summary_dec302019_stay/
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