2019 June 24

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Anti-Corruption & News - Jun/24/2019: Constitutional Court crisis; Protests; Different rules for judges; Can judges be trusted?..... Kocharyan vs Pashinyan lawsuit..... 2 mayors found guilty.... 1.6bln water irregularities.... Welfare system abuse.... Your kids are less dumber.... Yerevan... other
by ar_david_hh

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.


The Constitution Court debate continues...

A former judge and the head of the "Independent Judicial Organization" Pargev Ohanyan weighs-in with his interpretation on the recent hot topic of the Constitution Court "member" vs "judge" terminology. He says the old constitution gave a different status to "members" and "judges". Says the way the law was written suggests that the "members" aren't automatically converted as "judges".

Another argument by Ohanyan is that the new Constitution says there are 9 judges who are elected by the Parliament for a 12-year term, and cannot be re-elected. The elected judges then elect their chief judge for a term of 6 years.

Under the old Constitution, however, the there was no 12-year term limit. He says that converting members as judges doesn't make sense and is a discrimination towards the new judges, because the old members would continue to stay in the court forever thus going beyond the 12-year term, while the new judges would only serve 12 years. (In other words, Roboserj's judges get to serve for life)

He criticized those who wrote the Constitution for not doing a good job, and not being straightforward. Says there is a collision between law 166 and Law 213. Says the Parliament should make an amendment to the latter.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164531 --- Article 166 Point 5 https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-REF(2015)034-e

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Former Constitutional Court judge Valeri Poghosyan has a different opinion. He says the "members" are the same as "judges", and criticized the new judge Vahe Grigoryan's speech about there being only 2 judges and him being the chief.

Մինչեւ [new] Սահմանադրության ուժի մեջ մտնելը նշանակված ՍԴ անդամները 12 տարվա ժամկետը լրանալուց հետո շարունակում են պաշտոնավարել մինչեւ իրենց լիազորությունների՝ [old] Սահմանադրությամբ սահմանված ժամկետի ավարտը

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Note: Valiry Poghosyan is the former Constitutional Court judge who was mentioned by US embassy and the Wikileaks in the leaked diplomatic cables.

The leaked cables say that the judge contacted the US embassy in 2008 and asked for an advice to handle the situation after receiving threats from the Kocharyan cabinet. Judge was allegedly threatened that him and his brother would lose their jobs if he didn't comply.

The alleged pressure came from Kocharyan's chief aide Armen Gevorgyan (who is also charged in March 1st case) to vote in favor of confirming Serj's 2008 presidential election results, which were challenged by the opponent Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Judge Valeriy Poghosyan himself publicly denies having been pressured, but his brother testified otherwise.

According to the leak, at that time, another Constitutional Court judge Kim Balayan was also pressured/bribed by the Kocharyan regime to vote in favor of Serj's election. Judge Balayan's son Tigran Balayan received a high ranking job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The report also says that, had Kocharyan cabinet not threatened the court, the majority of the judges could vote to annual the 2008 presidential election results.

https://hraparak.am/post/1515663462 --- https://massispost.com/2011/09/wikileaks-kocharian-threatens-constitutional-court-members-to-not-invalidate-2008-presidential-elections/ --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tigran_Balayan

--- http://www.concourt.am/old/Members/kim-e.html --- http://www.parliament.am/deputies.php?sel=factions&GroupingID=23&lang=eng

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Former regime allies, headed by former police chief aide Narek Malyan and a former human rights ombudsman Ruben Mikaelyan, are outside of the Constitutional Court in support of the current Constitutional Court members. The group members criticized the "dirty unwashed" pro-reforms protesters who were to demand Court chief's resignation.

A pro-reform crowd also arrived and begun protesting against the court and the Roboserj group. They begun chanting "Kocharyan, the murderer". They sarcastically told Rob's activists that they came to the wrong gathering because they were paid to appear at a different place today.

"ՀՀԿ-ական նախկին պատգամավոր Հրայր Թովմասյանը, որը նոր Սահմանադրության, այսպես ասած, համահեղինակներից մեկն է, այնպիսի ձեւակերպումներ էր մտցրել Սահմանադրության տեքստում, որը նրան հնարավորություն կտար դառնալ ՍԴ ցմահ նախագահ"

(The current Constitution Court chief judge Hrayr Tovmasyan, a former HHK MP, and one of the masterminds of the new Constitution, wrote the Constitution in a way that would allow him to become the chief judge for a lifetime).

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164621 --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljp8_Za5h4Y

The police has prevented March 1st suspect and former Kocharyan chief of staff Armen Gevorgyan (accused of pressuring Constitutional Court judges in 2008) from leaving the country for a trip to Russia. Gevorgyan's lawyer says the court gave his client a proper permission to leave the country, calling the blocking illegal. The police said the document didn't explicitly mention he had the right to leave.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164482

The police will not press "threats of physical harm" charges against Roboserj activist Arthur Danielyan, one of the leaders of the "Adekvad" group that likes to roam around the city dressed in black. Earlier, he was briefly detained and questioned after writing: "Էս ամեն ինչի արդյունքում շուտով կարողա մի օր էլ մենք կոչ անենք, որ Նիկոլ Փաշինյանի գլուխը պետք ա քարով ցխեն"

https://hetq.am/hy/article/104961

Update: Kocharyan earlier sued Pashinyan for an alleged defamation. They dropped the lawsuit later. Then Pashinyan demanded Kocharyan to compensate 600k for his legal fees. In the end, the court decided to require Kocharyan to pay 200k to Pashinyan. Kocharyan's lawyer isn't happy and will challenge the verdict.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164631 --- https://news.am/arm/news/520251.html

Two judges involved with Kocharyan case have asked the police - and received - guarantees over their safety. One of the judges is the one who read Kocharyan's May 18th verdict, while the other one is the current judge who is still hearing the challenge case.

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2019/06/22/President-Kocharyan/2131347

Last year the now-former mayor of Artamet was charged with embezzling agricultural goods between 2013-2015. She accepted the guilt. The court initially sentenced her to over 5 years in prison, but she was eventually released because the 2018 mass amnesty applied to her.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/104937

The mayor of Nalbandytan, Armavir has been found guilty of abuse of power and embezzlement during 2015-2016. Grigor Nalbandyan, a mayor for 12 years, will pay a 0.5mln fine. He admitted the guilt.

In 2013 he was found guilty of financial crimes relating to unauthorized management of an improperly registered business.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/104990

The investigation of water management agencies/firms continues. Several of them were audited for their past work, and 1.6bln in improper spending was discovered.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164578

The Parliament has voted 91-0-5 in favor of a LHK-proposed bill to give municipality members more oversight on whom the mayors can appoint as heads of gov-linked agencies.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979524.html

Kids are getting less dumber but also less smarter. 🤔

This year's University math exam stats are in. Number of failed students (10%, down from 19%), as well as those with highest grades (30 people), has declined.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164600

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The total number of applicant students has significantly increased, says Yerevan State University. This year they saw a 25% rise compared to 2017, and 60% rise compared to 2018.

IT and legal fields were the top demands. Fewest applicants chose the nuclear physics field, to the point that the tuition-free slots haven't been filled yet.

Pedagogical University had a 25% rise in applicants, vs 2018.

Politechnik said their applications also rose. 60% chose IT related fields. Energy and machinery field interest also rose.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979568.html

Yerevan municipality has chosen 20 badly damaged elevators in residential buildings to replace them as part of the pilot program to eventually replace 3,500 units. An elevator company selection auction will take place soon. Elevators will have disability access..

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979607.html

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Yerevan municipality has removed 120 truckloads of years-old construction waste from Karmir Blur, the historical sight of Teishebani hill. It'll be used to temporarily cover parts of Nubarashen garbage field to prevent fires this summer.

8 hectares of Nubarashen garbage field will be cleaned and trees will be planted.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979597.html

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Yerevan mayor Hayko Marutyan says the UN is co-financing the installation of LED street lights in the city. Several districts will be entirely switched to the new technology this year, which provides 60% savings on the energy bill. The total money spent on electricity across the city is 1.4bln/year. You do the math.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164636

The Audit Chamber has compared various databases (taxes, border crossings, property sales, etc) and formed an approximate picture of the welfare system abuse.

Over 10,000 cases totaling 2.3bln in abuse of family aid program (no period mentioned). Records show that some people who are registered as low income, in reality aren't, and have businesses.

Hundreds of millions of suspected abuse in other programs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979587.html

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They also found that, for years, aviation training organizations were given hundreds of millions to operate airplanes and train pilots. They found that the money was wasted on renting equipment, while purchasing it would have been several times cheaper.

359 various spending problems were found. Some of it is sent to the prosecutors.

https://factor.am/162476.html

And of course it would be impossible for Parliament to live a day without a new drama. 🍿

This time LHK chief Edmon Marukyan is in hot waters for referring to Civil Aviation chief Tatevik Revazyan as "that pretty girl" during his rant in which he stressed urgency of using the Georgia-Russia aviation situation to develop the aviation in Gyumri. He criticized Revazyan in the speech.

QP MP urged Marukyan to behave like a "classic politician" and not like "rabiz". A female LHK MP said it was just a complement by their leader. QP speaker disagreed. Another QP said he'll refer to this LHK MP as a pretty girl from now on, if she thinks it's OK.

LHK urged QP to focus on the point that Marukyan was making regarding the aviation. QP responded saying there are more appropriate ways to make suggestions.

In the end, the only politicians who were left out of his shouting competition were Marukyan himself, and that pretty girl from the aviation department.

https://youtu.be/SbXSu1iOlW8 - - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dYw5rnZxdHA

- - https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164595 - - https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979560.html - - - https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164602

Russian airlines will stop passenger flights to Georgia as instructed by Russian president Vladimir Putin. Some of them complained about the loss of revenue. There are up to 28,000 Russian tourists in Georgia at the moment. 115,000 Russian tourists are expected to have their Georgia trips canceled, causing $48 million in losses to various airlines.

Russian gov warned that their citizens should leave Georgia until July 8th, otherwise they'll have to travel to a 3rd country before returning to Russia, due to the direct travel ban.

The "official" reason for the ban is the need for stricter safety, and Georgia's $793 million unpaid aviation debt, which Georgia stopped paying back after the Russo-Georgian war of 2008.

Georgian authorities released a statement saying the country is safe for tourists and all the tourist sights are open, but it's not recommended to join the (protester) crowds in the city center. They are willing to transfer tourists to and from Russia through Armenia, to bypass the direct travel ban by Russia. Several Armenian airline companies said they will increase the flights between Armenia and Georgia.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164511 -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164514 -- https://sputnik-georgia.ru/reviews/20190622/245675683/Skolko-turistov-iz-Rossii-otdykhaet-seychas-v-Gruzi.html -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164540 --- https://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/news/2019/06/22/804796-gruzii-bezopasnosti -- http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/270254/ - - https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164551 - - https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979577.html - - https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979543.html

No, the metro isn't about to burst through a 70 meters of ground and asphalt, and end up on the streets on Yerevan due to bad railways, says the metro administration, in response to Jamanak paper's piece in which the author wrote that the experts say it could happen due to the railways not being repaired since 2013. The metro administration says every night a crew goes through the rails and checks the track distance from one another to make sure they meet the standards.

https://news.am/arm/news/519870.html --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164513

President Sarkissian continued his meetings during the Paris aviation-defense-tech-show. He met the AirBus and Air Asian reps who agreed to visit Armenia and discuss a possible cooperation. Air Asia is Asia's largest provider of cheap solutions.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164539

While Sarkissian was away, NSS/HFF (Hay Football Federation) chef Arthur Vanetsyan was aiming to steal the title of the Burger King from him https://youtu.be/8EWzyulk-VA?t=761

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Vanetsyan said there will be a stricter limit on the number of foreign players the national league teams can hire. Often times the teams will flood the benches with foreigners hired temporarily just to win a competition, complained Vanetsyan.

For this year, at least 7 of the players must be Armenian. The requirement will get stricter gradually.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164584 - - https://youtu.be/wwgZVVuPfFs?t=93

Panarmenian Olympics will soon begin in Artsakh. Today they lit up the 3rd and final torch in Tigranocerta, Artsakh. The first two were lit in Mus, Western Armenia and Khor Virap, Eastern Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979565.html

2nd European Games competition has begun, this time in Belarus. 82KB sambist David Grigoryan won the silver.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979474.html

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52KG sambist Tigran Kirakosyan defeated the Azeri opponent and became the champion, bringing the first gold medal for Armenia in this competition.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164569

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74KG sambist Arsen Ghazaryan won bronze.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979502.html

92KG Wrestler Lyova Gevorgyan is the champion of European youth championship (not European Games).

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/164577

After 25 years of Islamist AKP party rule, opposition CHP won the Istanbul mayoral elections with a big 54% - 44% gap. This was the second vote. The first one was held few months ago but was invalidated after the AKP lost by a narrow margin of few thousand votes and refused to accept the defeat.

During these elections, the opposition was ahead by a far greater margins of over 700,000.

Some AKP members were afraid that the earlier refusal to accept defeat would backfire and they would lose by even a great margin. That turned out to be the case.

Opposition CHP won the 3 biggest cities, including the capital Ankara. Ethnic minority-friendly HDP party largely stayed out during the mayoral elections, and let their voters pick CHP instead of AKP.

AKP could still try to "steal" the election by suing the winner for an alleged defamation he made against president Erdogan. The winner denied insulting the president. Erdogan, few days ago, gave strong signals that a defamation lawsuit could happen. He did congratulate the winner, however.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-latest-turkeys-erdogan-votes-in-istanbul-mayoral-rerun/2019/06/23/5e629250-95a4-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html - - - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/world/europe/istanbul-mayor-election-erdogan.html


Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/c4v9ov/anticorruption_news_jun242019_constitutional/

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