2019 February 15

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Anti-Corruption Feb/15/2019: gas scams -- investigations end -- mayors & directors down -- 45 more cars cut -- one database of all vacant job positions -- encouraging poor to work without fear of losing aid -- cleanup on isle padzemka -- parking lots -- revelations about hunger-strike producer case
by ar_david_hh

All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.

The Higher court has confirmed the Lower court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for former Nature Minister Aram Harutyunyan, a former HHK MP who is now on the run. He is accused of large scale bribery and laundering, which prompted an international cooperation to get his bank transactions.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/100923

The former mayor of Gil is facing felony corruption and abuse of power charges for stealing millions by falsifying employment data.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964488.html

The police has pressed charged against the former director of School N3 in Artik, for corruption and embezzlement of millions of drams.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964385.html

Car owners have long complained that different gas stations give different amounts of gas for the same money, with some discrepancies.

Pashinyan says this was a result of unethical station owners using different density/scale during the measurement. The government has proposed a change to measure the compressed natural gas in tons instead of cubic meter, and few other measurement changes to better standardize it and rule out deception.

Pashinyan says they are not raising gas taxes, as some have worried. If some gas stations raise the price tags, it will be because they have scammed the consumers by providing them less fuel for the same price in past. In other words, people will pay the same money for the same amount of gas, but now with more transparency.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964390.html

BHK proposed changes to the law to allow university students to pay the tuition on monthly basis. The government expressed support, and it will likely send it to Parliament for a vote.

BHK proposed changes to law to count each day of pre-trial detention as 1.5 days towards the sentencing time. The government has rejected it.

LHK has proposed to extend the law that allows 27 year old military drafters to pay a fine and return to Armenia. The government isn't against giving it another year, but will put it to public discussion and do more research on its efficiency first, said Pashinyan.

LHK also proposed to vote on amending the law to make the obstruction of lawyer's work (physical or defamation) with the intention of harming the impartial investigation, punishable by 1-3yr in prison. Currently it is punishable only by a fine. The government has urged to delay the proposal because the Justice Ministry had made a similar proposal earlier, and it's currently placed for a public discussion.

The proposal was first made after Manvel Grigoryan's lawyers were harassed, threatened and had their properties damaged by angry protesters. The proposal, still under public discussion, includes a clause that may limit freedom of speech by broadening the definition of defamation for lawyers. Ministry says they are still receiving a feedback around this clause.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964461.html ---- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964440.html ---- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964407.html

PM's office: There will be a salary rise in the government sector soon. (no details yet)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964459.html

The government has taken another 45 work cars away from IRS, as part of cost optimization plans.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/154749

PM's office will work on several projects soon. Some notable ones:

Create a universal database of all vacant jobs, positions, locations, salaries in the country to help people find jobs (two Ministries will be tasked with collecting the data).

Create workforce re-training centers that will operate based on job market demand. Aid educational institutions specialized in teaching business and financial skills. Review what exactly children learn during 45-minute school classes, and how that helps them in future.

Change the low income aid laws so that a low income citizen won't lose the aid after accepting a part-time seasonal job. Fight aid abuse by individuals who are registered as poor but pay >100k per month on various loans. Help to lower bank interest rates.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964387.html

The government has begun issuing additional education subsidies to April 2016 Artsakh battle participants. 50% off on Bachelor's and Masters Degree tuition. Another 20% off for good grades.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964400.html

......

New subsidies will also be provided to Bachelor's degree students who have two or more underage children.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964428.html

Mayor Marutyan has begun negotiating with underground passage property owners to clean up the piss and shit from գետնանցումներ․

The mayor says landlords have to comply a contract (not properly enforced in past) that requires them to keep the area clean and pleasant. The city will seize the land if the owners fail to comply. The mayor says the landlords have agreed to take action.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964447.html

.......

Mayor says they will involve private investors to build the new metro station near TUMO center. It'll cost at least 49bln to build, and may include a bridge.

....

City will begin to require new building/hotel construction companies to include an underground parking lot for the residents, in order to ease the nearby parking traffic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXzXjNPWSOQ

Next year, 450 micro-buses (half of all) will stop working in Yerevan because of reaching their 15-year expiration date. Municipality plans to find alternatives until the whole system is overhauled by 2022. Mayor Marutyan has recently added 70 brand new buses into circulation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964427.html

Mayor Marutyan says in the past few years, the number of cars (300k drive, out of 500k registered) that drive on Yerevan streets has surpassed the recommended limit by 3-4 times. The mayor recommends people to do their part and take a walk for short distances, while they find solutions.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964449.html

Parliament speaker Mirzoyan met with French colleague. The latter said the French Parliament will soon discuss the Armenia-EU comprehensive cooperation agreement, and that it's already on the agenda. They also discussed the possibility to easing visa regime between the two countries.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964469.html

Manvel Grigoryan's lawyer will no longer try to defend him against tushonka theft charges, but denies his guilt.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/154814

Investigators have concluded the preliminary investigation of Robert Kocharyan, aide Armen Grigoryan, former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, military commander Yuri Khachaturov.

The prosecutors will take them to court for the following:

Rob: accepting large bribes and toppling Constitutional order.

Ohanyan & Khachaturov: toppling Const. order.

Grigoryan: aiding toppling of Constitution, accepting bribes, laundering and illegal property embezzlement.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/154794

Ministry of Culture has released a statement about the "hunger-strike" movie producer who complained that the Ministry owed him funds for his movie.

The statement accuses the producer of manipulating the public and avoiding financial responsibility himself, for several years, while he let problems accumulate around the production of the movie.

The message says: The producer received 93mln between 2010-2014 from the government to produce another film. He wasted the money and only produced a 15 minute clip, but wasn't held accountable for wasting public resources.

On 2016, the producer asked for 23mln from the Armenian National Cinema Center and received it during the next 2 years. Despite that, the producer Hovhannes Galstyan sent another request for more funds for the same movie on 2018, and didn't notify the government that he had already received funds for the movie few years earlier.

Competition Commission ruled that there are no contracts that obligate the government to keep paying for the movie; the financial burden is on the producer. The government refused to pay more funds, citing the fact that the previous funds resulted in no movies being produced.

After this government refusal, the producer held a hunger strike. He stopped it when Minister Lilit Makunts held talks with him. The producer then publicly stated that the Ministry agreed to pay for the movie. The Ministry says the producer is misleading the public, because the only thing that was promised was to review the documents and discuss a possible funding if everything is legal (they did review documents and decided the producer acted deceptively and they won't fund it).

The Ministry has also found that the producer provided fake information in one of the documents, to make it appear as if the government agreed to pay 30% of a specific sum towards the movie production. The Ministry also says the producer is manipulating his international collages who invested in the movie.

The Ministry has sent the case to prosecutors, because it believes the old Ministry workers and the producer might have colluded in a criminal embezzlement scheme.

(The above statement was the Ministry's position. The producer earlier accused the Ministry of promising money then not delivering it.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964372.html

.................

The producer's allies complained about Lilit Makunts (now former Culture Minister, current My Step faction leader). One of them said that Makunts went to United States last year and allegedly told a meeting participant that the Ministry supports younger artists more because the "old ones are corrupt".

Makunts denies saying this, and has threatened to sue the man unless he issues a retraction and an apology.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/154750

Last year Pashinyan ordered 28 mines to be examined for environmental compliance.

Zangezur copper-molybdenum mine examination has been concluded. The ministry found violations and sent it to the company to have them fixed. The commission will examine another mine in Syunik now.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/154759

The government has allocated 928mln in aid to subsidy the gas, electricity, tax, and other costs for 16 bordering villages.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/100910

Iranian markets need lamb. Due to improper production and export mechanisms in Armenia, many Armenian businesses import sheep from other countries and export it to Iran.

Pashinyan administration is now trying to work with banks, loans and other mechanisms to allow the Armenian farmers to breed and export their own sheep at large quantities. Armenian farmers can produce 700,000 heads per year. With AMD 2,900 per KG, that's a lot of money.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964368.html

Azeri Turan news agency's chief journalist was in Armenia earlier. He thanked the Foreign Ministry for the accreditation and permission to cover the press events, and has shared some of his thoughts about how the revolution affected Armenians' mentality around the Artsakh issue.

His observations of Armenians' stance is:

1) Armenians don't trust Azerbaijan.

2) Azerbaijan should make the first step and prove it won't opt for war.

3) Armenia will not give any lands to Azerbaijan, and that Azerbaijan should negotiate any land issue with Artsakh.

4) Armenians aren't afraid of war, and Azerbaijan can't achieve their goal through a war.

Hajiyev has noted that Armenians have become less likely to compromise after the election of Nikol Pashinyan.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/265538/

FIP has an article where they allege that Russian RT news network and its director Margarita Simonyan spread false information about a summit held in Armenia last year, during which US-funded organization allegedly taught young people how to make revolutions in Russia and Belarus.

https://fip.am/5995

RT's video here: https://youtu.be/01kid4V9nUQ?t=104

International Press Institute: 95% of the media in Turkey is taking directions from the government.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/964499.html

Turkish government earlier found and returned the stolen tractor belonging to an Armenian border farmer. The farmer says $3,000 worth parts were stolen from the vehicle before being returned.

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/154760

goddddDAMIT are they going to rip Sis from Masis before returning it?

Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ar28at/anticorruption_feb152019_gas_scams_investigations/

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