2019 December 5
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Dec/5/2019 :: ARF party's internal turmoil _ Members pressured to join protests :: HHK's offshore firm _ Privatization embezzlement :: Suicidal Pashinyan :: Govt & Parliament :: Healthcare :: All-Armenia _ Pledged vs Donated :: Dilijan Mayor :: Yerevan :: other news...
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.
Spice of the Day Award goes to ARF whistle-blowers who are trying to save the party.
ARF party is consisted of various groups. There are also multiple youth "wings".
ARF's high ranking Admins held a meeting recently. Some rank-and-file members apparently weren't happy with the results and the direction the party took.
ARF's Nikol Aghbalyan youth wing (NAYW) members released a statement: (text in parenthesis are comments by me)
We want to present you the current situation in ARF. Sine we're not in the Parliament and have no power, we're opting to do this through this letter.
In October 31st the ARF Admins held a meeting which was attended by a former Admin Hrant Margaryan.
The discussion topic was to demand new elections in Armenia. Admins agreed with the idea.
During the meeting, comrade Hrant Margaryan spoke about political prisoners and Robert Kocharyan, and urged ARF to deal partisan blows to the ruling party, and not to be afraid of being arrested.
During this meeting, some party members were afraid of voicing their opinions because there is an atmosphere of fear within the party (fear towards ARF admins).
This fear is the reason why the meeting's results don't reflect rank-and-file members' true opinions.
We held meetings with NAYW members and they secretly admitted to being afraid of administration. We met secretly because when you raise an opinion against high ranking Admins, you get labeled and called names. This shows a deep issue with a democracy within the party.
During the Admin meeting, the NAYW (Nikol Aghbalyan youth wing) members expressed disagreements about the basis to demand new snap elections now. They informed the Admins that the party currently doesn't have enough popularity to make it into Parliament if there were elections.
Few days after the meeting with Admins, ARF's Youth Wing (another group) begun demanding Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan to resign, without any consultations with the NAYW. It's disrespectful that we learned about these protest from the internet.
ARF Admins then begun requiring us (NAYW) to join the protests. We refused because we disagree with the tactics, and we don't like that they ignored us during the decision-making process. These protests are the 1st stage of ARF Admin's plans to eventually require new snap elections, which we disagree with.
Our refusal to participate in the protest was labeled by ARF admin Ishkhan Saghatelyan as "deserting".
We met ARF Admins to express our opinion. We told them we disagree with the demand for Minister to resign, especially since ARF made no attempts to first negotiate with him or to present solutions (about proposed Education Reforms). During the meeting with ARF admins we found that some of them had personal opinions not in-line with the party's actions.
These meetings revealed that the education situation isn't the main purpose of the protests, but this whole thing is done by Hrant Margaryan - the unofficial ruler of ARF - in order for ARF to win political dividends.
ARF admins mislead the diasporan and local party members about the full details of the situation. They purposely hid our internal letter directed towards other members. This created a tension between some ARF members and our group.
We decided to hold surveys among the public about the topic. The results showed that the public is against ARF's actions. We notified ARF admins about this but they ignored, and they told us "you must do whatever we tell you".
ARF admins including Mikael Manukyan held meetings with us. They made threats and demanded us to join the protests. They made derogatory comments towards our NAYW members. They referred to us as Pashinyan's puppets, and accused us of being funded from abroad, and for being in secret contacts with some diasporan parts of ARF.
ARF Admins then suspended our NAYW wing without any basis. Our members were targeted and retaliated against.
A leadership was installed in offices by the Admins, who restricted our members' access to offices. Anyone with a dissenting opinion is essentially pushed out. Those NAYW members who weren't targeted, decided to voluntarily suspend themselves in solidarity.
This whole takeover was done so ARF admins could say "Nikol Aghbryan youth wing is joining the protests against Arayik Harutyunyan".
ARF admin's actions are harming the party's reputation on daily basis, and have pushed it to the brink of a collapse.
Having 6000 registered administrative members, ARF only managed to gather 50 of them by working very hard and forcing workers to work outside of work hours.
We agree that ARF should oppose the current government, but we disagree with ARF Admins' tactics. They're currently using the party to benefit "narrow circles" (referring to Serj and Kocharyan). This is explained by the fact that ARF's protests against the Minister were joined by the former government's allies.
ARF admins joined the "Vernatun" political club recently created by the former regime. This is another example of how ARF has allied itself to the former political corpses.
This will ruin ARF and hinder its ability to improve the ratings among public. Our group's suspension doesn't allow a constructive dialogue within the party .
End of message by the dissidents.
ARF responded saying the letter isn't their official statement. They claimed their online accounts were hacked. However, the letter was posted not from an unofficial account but from a new account, which makes the "hacked" claim irrelevant, even if true.
High ranking ARF Admins didn't comment it as of writing this post.
ARF's NAYW member Mihran Asatryan verified that the letter is real, and that the concerns written in the letter are also real. It was apparently meant for an internal consumption but someone leaked it. 70 NAYW members are behind this dissent, according to Asatryan.
Rob's outlet "Politik" published an article in which they claimed they have "sources" who told them that the person who wiretapped NSS and SIS last year were arrested, and that he is an ethnic Russian with a Russian citizenship.
Investigative Committee released an official statement denying the rumors. "No one was arrested, and no one is officially a suspect. We urge Politik not to spread misinformation", said the agency.
MFAs of AM and AZ met in Europe and discussed some routine ceasefire topics, journalist exchange. AM MFA said again that Artsakh should join these negotiations.
All-Armenia Fund's actual donations versus promised donations.
Promised - Donated (numbers in million dollars)
2008: 35 - 10.9
2009: 15.9 - 14
2010: 20.9 - 14.4
2011: 12.3 - 11.5
2012: 21.4 - 11.3
2013: 22.5 - 23.4
2014: 12.4 - 21.1
2015: 10.4 - 15.5
2016: 15.4 - 13.4
2017: 12.5 - 6.7
2018: 11.1 - 9.3
2019: 10.2 - x
Parliament created a committee that'll examine all donations to Yerevan city made since 2018. It'll be headed by LHK. Opposition wants to make sure Yerevan didn't take donations in exchange for giving the donors favors.
After donation details were published, Transparency International released a statement referring to the donations as a standard practice; they didn't find corruption.
Dilijan mayor has been charged with felony abuse of power and forgery which resulted 76mln in damages to the budget in 2005. Something about falsifying property prices, leasing it to a friend, not collecting fees.
Pashinyan's chief of staff Edward Aghajanyan: we plan to bust corruption dating back to 1991. The problem is the older you look, the harder it is to find documents. Some docs are archived. Even some relatively new docs are hard to find. We'll try our best.
Armenia has a significantly lower cancer rate than many EU and Asian countries, but it has one of the highest cancer moralities. Matter fact, it had the highest mortality according to a 2014 study.
Cremation or Burial
2 crematories will be opened in Armenia next year. Cemeteries are getting too big. Healthcare Ministry wants to encourage people to cremate.
Minster Torosyan: there were incidents when a rain swept human remains and disease out of a cemetery and moved it towards a nearby settlement. Cemeteries should not be located close to residential areas. Cremation will not only improve the sanitation, but it'll save lands. Cremation is not anti-Christian. Poland, the most Christian state in Europe, has a practice of cremation. Same in Russia and Ukraine.
Complaints were voiced about street food trucks essentially acting as illegal "budkas" parked in the same area of the street for lengthy periods. Instead of banning it, lawmakers decided to tax them.
Parliament approved a QP bill today to authorize Yerevan city to regulate when and where the "taco-trucks" can do their work.
They'll be prohibited in central squares, near cultural buildings, near state institutions. They'll pay $100/mo.
During a govt session Pashinyan joked about killing himself by jumping off a window. 🥤
"I've read some comments on the internet and by MPs that accuse us of helping the former regime by collecting abandoned car skeletons then giving it to metal melting firms associated with Serj's oligarchs. Are we supposed to ignore that these skeletons were laying around for decades, not doing any good to anyone, and harming the environment including visually?
You can lose your mind by reading these accusations. Sometimes you want to open a window and... I made a few attempts HAHAHA. Our security services purposely locked the windows so we can't open them. That's right, they want to install a safety net under windows now", joked Pashinyan.
Marina Khachatryan from the former Yerkir Tsirani party wants to collect money to send Pashinyan to a psychiatric evaluation.
"Junkies, alcoholics, or those without an education should not be allowed to serve in such positions. The Government and Parliament should be dismissed and new elections should be held", said Khachatryan.
Pashinyan to construction related officials:
I don't understand why doing contraction in Armenia means loitering the surrounding areas. Why don't you issue fines to construction firms doing it? There is a construction going on in the govt building; why do we have to walk through trash every day? Also, can't the construction firms, which earn millions, spare a little money to buy proper uniforms for their workers so they won't come to work in their old warned out home clothing? Can we (govt members) also wear unprofessional and come to work?
Govt issued 2.9bln to purchase 248 apartments for soldiers who have housing issues, are registered to receive free apartments, soldiers on pension, etc.
Govt issued 1.9bln subsidizes to provinces to help with 483 infrastructure and other projects
EAEU trade bloc tariffs start next month. Car imports tariff will rise. People begun to import as many cars for future re-sale business as possible before the new rules start.
114,000 cars have been imported, versus 60,000 in a similar period last year.
This has resulted in a spike in money outflow from Armenia.
Holland will open an embassy in Armenia in 2020.
Airport traffic in Armenia rose 11.4% so far this year, vs same period of last year. The number of flyers is about the same as Armenia's entire population.
Armenians don't know how to handle their dogs.
There are laws that require dog owners to use a short leash and to put a muzzle on the dog's mouth if it's known to be aggressive or if it walks on sidewalks. People mostly don't follow it.
A poodle owner was interviewed. She said she has no plans to close puppy's mouth in public. "My doggie is small and listens to me."
A bill is being discussed that would regulate animal related issues, and possibly fine the owner if rules are broken. It could also require dog owners, who have over 5 dogs and live in large apartment complex buildings, to get a permit for owning many dogs.
General Prosecutor has asked the Cassations Court to overthrow 2 more guilty verdicts made in 2008, against March 1st early-morning protesters who were accused and sentenced for illegal actions.
Similar u-turn cases have happened after the revolution. In some cases the court overthrew the prior verdicts and cleared the protesters of wrongdoing. In one case the European Court for Human Rights sided with a protester.
Police has busted former officials with using an offshore shell firm to embezzle a property after privatizing it.
In 2010 the officials organized the privatization of 'Radio' company in Gegharquniq. They falsified its worth to reduce the value. They then rigged an auction to sell it to an offshore firm called "EuroPressGroup" located in the British Virgin Islands.
As a result, 1.2bln damage was done.
3 years later the offshore firm sold the company to people associated with the former government's high ranking officials.
Yesterday Serj was charged with helping to steal 0.5bln through fuel subsidy embezzlement. The fuel company Flash, whose owner is friends with Serj, was part of the alleged scheme.
Investigators say they've also pressed charges against Flash's owner Barsegh Beglaryan.
(Beglaryan is a defendant as part of another lawsuit against him. He is accused of physically assaulting a person.)
Allegedly the former Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetyan, who serves during the period in question, blew the whistle in exchange for not serving a prison time. There are rumors that the former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan is also implicated in this story and played a crucial role.
You can spend your New Year's (3-star) vacation in Armenia for affordable prices.
Shirak province prices for 2 people for 3 days costs between $13 to $400. About similar prices elsewhere, except in Artsakh where the minimum is around $60 (for 3 days).
Gyumri city budget for 2020 is approved:
Iran spent $500k to renovate a 9th century Armenian church Saint Stepanos Maghardavanq. 3mln people visit the area annually.
Turkey summoned the Lithuanian ambassador after Lithuanian president said "Turkey is a NATO ally that carried out the genocide of Armenians. The US Congress has recently recognized [the genocide] as well. Can you imagine a situation when a NATO member state would not recognize the Holocaust"
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/e6o0gx/anticorruption_news_tldrs_dec52019_arf_partys/
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