2019 December 6
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Dec/6/2019 :: How Azeri state media appropriated Armenian music :: $50mln highway project embezzlement _ 18 officials :: Pashinyan _ Armenian budget & economy :: ARF dissent :: Beyond 2020 _ EAEU tariffs & taxes :: Sevan bill :: Mayor trolled :: +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.
HHK MP and former oligarch Alraghatsi Lyovik, who is wanted in connection with a burglary and assassination attempt, also possibly as a March 1st suspect, was earlier detained in Russia at the request of Armenian authorities.
He applied to receive a Russian citizenship.
He has been living in Russia since 2016. "Everything is done, he is just waiting for the passport", said the lawyer.
So far the prosecutors have felony cases against 18 officials, and 24bln in uncovered theft, while examining the 2009-2018 North-South highway project construction.
As a result of illegal actions by officials, the vitally important project was delayed for a decade.
Construction auctions were rigged to give the task to firms associated with auction organizers.
Officials didn't observe the construction process properly.
They wasted some money (at least $50mln) after borrowing $300mln from abroad and from state budget.
Money was wasted by knowingly dismantling good asphalt from Yerevan-Artashat section and replacing it with concrete. All while Armenia didn't have a production of cement suited for roads, and instead they used a cement meant for building construction (Dodi Gago intensifies).
Due to this mess, they had to spend more money to fix this cement that was later broken. The fix also wasn't done properly, while officials closed the eye on it.
18 officials are charged, 9 are arrested, 3 are out on bail, 6 are told not to leave Armenia.
Dodi Gago begun paying property taxes for his Olimpavan sports center, built in 2013, only after 2018. There are also a few million in unpaid fees including for garbage collection.
Earlier Kocharyan got denied a bail. The case is in Appeals Court.
The prosecutors asked judge Mkhitar Papoyan to recuse himself.
The reason is because this judge was mentioned as being one of the judges who allegedly "made sure" Kocharyan was freed earlier this year. Whoever made those allegations was then reported by the judge to law enforcement "for lying". Prosecutors think the judge is too involved with the story before this court hearing even begun, may have predisposed opinions.
March 1st victims joined the prosecutors and asked the judge to recuse himself.
The judge confirmed that he is friends with another "pro-Kocharyan" judge, but says he'll be impartial.
Kocharyan's lawyers asked the judge to stay.
Kocharyan: the authorities control the law enforcement. If they see a judge they don't like, they can write controversial things about the judge to involve the judge into legal scuffle to then claim the judge is impartial. I oppose the recusal.
Verdict is on December 9th.
Political analyst Ara Papyan is being sued by Kocharyan's son for an alleged defamation. According to Papyan, during the court trial, Sedrak Kocharyan asked the court to prohibit him from making Facebook posts about Kocharyans, because after such posts the public apparently launches a barrage of negative comments towards Kocharyans, which Kocharyan views as hate speech.
Papyan argued it isn't his business what other people write.
"They are trying to isolate this case from the public's eye. 5 media outlets managed by Kocharyan were coordinated to defend their position", said Papyan.
A group of ARF party members yesterday published a letter accusing party admins of being too cozy with the Roboserj regime, being authoritarian within the party, forcing young members to join protests against Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan, harming party reputation.
Today ARF terminated 3 young members behind the dissent. The members earlier gave a TV interview about the letter.
Dissident Vanik Chaloyan: "they didn't give an official reason for the expulsion. I think it was against party rules. We learned about being terminated from the internet. But we do understand why we were expelled. We love our party. We are loyal to party agenda. Some of our party friends plan to resign in solidarity to us but we're against it because their resignation won't help the party.
There over are 50 dissidents who are isolated right now. Total number of NAYW group of ARF is about 100. The letter published yesterday was written for internal consumption but someone set us up by leaking it."
More in the link...
IND MP Babajanyan about ARF: we all know how ARF boss Hrant Margaryan was transporting narcotics in 1990s with the help of David Shahnazaryan, who recently joined their circles. The party with a violent past now wants to deal "partisan blows" to the government. I urge Parliament and law enforcement to do something about this. ARF is using its diasporan resources to poison the republic.
ARF says the term "partisan blow" has been misinterpreted by some, "no plans to do violence".
"It was president Levon Ter-Petrosyan's prosecutor who decided not to charge Hrant Margaryan with narcotics trafficking", said an ARF member.
Interview with an ARF dissident who was expelled
HHK and Serj were accused of agreeing to give 7 Artsakh regions to Azerbaijan after removing Armenians from those regions, some of which were referred to Serj as "not our homeland", in exchange for peace and a "status" for the rest of Artsakh, around 2011. Serj spoke about the existence of these negotiations in a 2016 interview to a Russian journalist.
Today HHK defended Serj by saying he knew that Azerbaijan wasn't going to sign it either way, and that over the course of following years Serj was negotiating more favorable deals, which is de-facto the basis for the ongoing negotiations because even Pashinyan says "compromise is needed".
Flash fuel firm boss Barsegh beglaryan about him and Serj being charged with 0.5bln fuel fraud:
Serj was, is, and will be my friend. Serj Sargsyan isn't the type of person who can steal. He has always acted within the law. This is a small and ridiculous accusation against him.
Fuel prices are down 7.5% in December of 2019v2018.
Some of changes that will happen after 2020...
Income tax before 2020:
<$310/mo pay 23%,
$310 - $4200 pay 28%
$4200 pay 36%
Everybody pays 23%
Everybody pays 20%
20% before 2020, and 18% sometime after 2020.
EAEU changes (besides the cars which I've mentioned earlier):
Before: If you import items worth >$500 you pay 30% taxes.
After: If you import items worth >$200 you pay 15% taxes. Also, the $200 limit will be for each type of product you import, and not for the whole container.
Beginning 2020, some of the limitations on item imports for personal consumption will be removed.
IRS will revamp its system to better calculate the imported item's real value.
"Անին, հակառակ բոլոր ջանքերուն, տխուր է", said Turkish-Armenian MP Garo Paylan during a visit to city of Ani while complaining about the state borders being closed for 26 years.
Parliament approved the 2020 budget.
Voted 77-37-0. Opposition parties opposed.
Parliament passed a QP bill prohibiting the govt from draining more than 170mln m3 water from lake Sevan annually. Exception is if the govt declares drought.
Justice Ministry denied some media rumors alleging that the famous Italian soccer referee Pierluigi Collina illegally adopted an Armenian child, connected to the 2016 child trafficking case recently uncovered by NSS.
🌶 Spice of the Day Award 🌶
Yerevan municipality BHK councilman gave mayor Marutyan a tie as a gift. Marutyan wasn't wearing one. Earlier Marutyan complained that Dodi Gago's investor friends appeared at a business meeting with sneakers, jeans and t-shirts.
Mayor: do I see 2 ties in your possession?
Member: One is for you.
Mayor: what is this for?
Member: so you can wear a tie like everyone else.
Mayor: with your permission, I'll give it as a gift to the sheikhs (room laughs)
Member: you can't give a gift as a gift to someone else. It was an honest gift from me to you but you're starting this whole thing again.
Defense Ministry: Azerbaijan doesn't have a direct observation over Georgia-Armenia gas pipeline anymore after we improved the border positions in Tavush province. It used to be under their reach for 25 years. We always try to prevent Azerbaijan from building new positions.
Pashinyan during the 2020 budget discussions in Parliament:
Since May-2018 Armenia has purchased unprecedented amount of weapons for the given window. Some of it is secret. Defense budget rose 28%, or by 66bln. We'll continue this trend to restore the military balance in the region.
Economic growth in the first 9 months of 2019 has been 7.5%. This is the highest in EAEU. The haters were cheering when in June the growth was only 3.3% but they are silent now.
While the world has seen 6% consumer price increases, for Armenia it was only 0.1%.
Armenia's foreign reserves rose 19% ($386mln) since 2018.
Central Bank says unprecedented $521mln was converted into Armenian Dram this year. If this money was meant for keeping under a pillow, they wouldn't have been converted into Dram. It's in circulation.
Agriculture saw a small decline, true, but did you know that we shut down series of fraudulent activities? They (probably referring to under former administration and SPAYKA exporter) falsified grape collection levels, imported foreign cognac, then re-branded it as Armenian before exporting. They imported Turkish tomatoes and exported it to Russia labeled as Armenian. Not anymore. Our own products are doing better now.
Prepared agricultural product and vegetable product exports rose 15%. Cucumber exports rose 489%.
Compared to 2018, 353bln more state revenues were collected.
The foreign investments are up. The potential investor looks at things such as Fitch, Moody's, Eurobonds ratings to decide whether to invest, and these numbers have improved.
In 2019 Armenia (~$4446) surpassed Georgia (~$4346) with GDP per capita, and in 2020 we'll surpass Azerbaijan.
We increased funding to various arts and cultural institutes by 700mln. They are sufficiently funded. I'm very offended that oligarchs used to pay money to artists to sing during the opening ceremony of their kebab shops.
GDP graph https://armtimes.com/hy/article/175642
Music did what politicians couldn't do.
Armenian composer Ara Gevorgyan wrote the song "Artsakh" in 1996-1997
. This is the song that some people in Azerbaijan claimed to be written by an Azeri composer Fikret Amirov, and allegedly stolen by Ara Gevorgyan. In an interview, Gevorgyan presented evidence that it's his music and spoke about its history. I've added video time stamps in parentheses.
Gevorgyan explains (1:11) how he created the song, what various parts of it mean. Artsakh is attacked, Artsakh defends, Artsakh wins, 3 main segments.
In 1997 he submitted the song among his Ani Album to the US Library of Congress for it to be registered and archived. The Library examined it for 9 months to make sure it's his authentic music and not stolen, then officially registered it (2:37) in the archive in 1998.
In 2002 the song was used during the Salty Lake City Olympics by a Russian figure skater (3:02) and credited to him.
In 2006 a Georgian figure skater used the song (4:01) credited to him.
"I have no problem is people use my song, but I don't appreciate when people cut parts of it then claim it was written by others", said Gevorgyan, referring to attempts in Azerbaijan.
Some Azeris claimed it was written by Fikret Amirov in 1954. A video was uploaded to YouTube
which uses the the performance done in Armenia by Ara Gevorgyan and his music team, with the same modern musical instruments and the same setup. Basically a copy-paste.
The music was used in an Azeri documentary about city Baku and their army. When Baku hosted the European Olympics in 2015, they used the song (6:13) in the intro music presenting Azerbaijan to viewers. (and 8:15)
Some non-govt Azeri websites like Haqqin.az criticized the Azeri govt news networks for using the Armenian song of "Armenian separatists" (9:05). Later Haqqin outlet removed their article.
Azerbaijan held a humor show KVN which used the same recording Gevorgyan made in his studio with his group. (9:31)
Another Azeri demo piece displaying their carpets used the song (10:10)
During a movie dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Azerbaijan Republic they used the song (11:06)
A new Azeri TV channel named AZRU was opened in Russia and they used the music for their intro. (12:10)
Azeri ribbon gymnast Dinara Gimatova participated in a world cup in 2007 during which used the music but she properly credited it to Ara Gevorgyan and the record says "Artsakh". (13:19 the dance, at 14:13 the screenshot showing Azeri gymanst submitted the song credited to Gevorgyan)
"There was no synthesizer in 1954 when Fikretov allegedly wrote the music. You cannot show me a single instance of this music being played in Azerbaijan or elsewhere before 1997 when I wrote it", said Gevorgyan.
The full US Library of Congress document at 15:16.
Recently an Azeri school played the music during a September 1st school day opening ceremony (16:21). During that ceremony, one of the parents complained to the school director for using an Armenian song. The school director told the parent the music was written by Fikret Amirov. Journalists from oxu.az get involved during the incident. (17:22)
These journalists decided to investigate. They went to Fikret's house. Fikret's son Jamil Amirov, who is also a musician, told the journalists "I'm tired of talking about it already, how many times do I have to tell you, my father never wrote that music" (17:47)
Oxu journalists decided to further investigate to. They went to Baku state conservatory and meet the rector Siyavush Karimi. Siyavush says he had never seen that music as part of Fikret Amirov's music archive. (18:25)
Later, Fikret's son's friend Iskander Shekinsky told the media not to bother Fikret's son again about the music's origins, and that "the song is Armenian" (18:49)
During the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics a Russian gymnast uses the music and credits Gevorgyan. (19:51)
A PlayStation 3 console game purchased a license from Gevorgyan to play the music. Las Vegas Bellagio fountains, Dubai fountains, Moscow's "Evropa" fountains, Batumi's fountains have played the song. (20:44)
"I'm glad it's played around the world. I have no plans to sue anyone. I'm just upset that some Azeri news outlets credit Fikret for the song", said Gevorgyan.
He also registered the song with the US based ASCAP American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers. (21:44)
He hopes that one day Azeri public will recognize that it's his song. "I'll only be happy about it."
Analysis of what's happening in Azerbaijan. The purge of the Heydar Aliyev's clan, strengthening of 1st lady's Pashayev clan.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/e73ypl/anticorruption_news_tldrs_dec62019_how_azeri/
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