2019 March 15
Anti-Corruption Mar/15/2019: Pashinyan begins the transitional justice reform plan --- Kocharyan and Girgoryan to remain detained --- Mayor suspected of embezzlement --- kidnapping charges --- director caught with fraud --- Russia & OSCE are OK if Artsakh returns to negotiating table --- more...
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
As part of the transitional justice system, PM Pashinyan has formed a committee, which includes the Central Bank, which will establish the asset forfeiture mechanisms. People suspected of large scale fraud will be required to prove they obtained their property or money legally, once the practice is implemented.
Former HHK Arpine Hovhanisyan says the Central Bank put a "ticking bomb" under Pashinyan with that move.
Arpine says the move is only done to show that Pashinyan is keeping his anti-corruption promises. "No legal mechanisms exist to do it".
Hovhanisyan fears, what if one day they begin to check the legality of the money you received from a relative working in Russia who was under an investigation for an unrelated crime?
She says the fact that the system needs such a structure shows that the prosecutors are incapable of proving the suspect is guilty, so they need to seize the assets first.
She's worried that Pashinyan might go after people instead of the money.
[She was HHK's Justice Minister, in case you forgot. Now you know why no serious anti-corruption fight was done.]
Central Bank responds to Arpine's ticking bomb claims. Says the Bank is an independent body, and as a former government official, she knows that.
The Bank urged Arpine to be professional and use her legal practice instead of appealing to emotions through clickbait headlines.
The UN has approved the serious crime suspect's asset forfeiture practice, which Armenia signed on 2007.
The EU has approved the same practice at the Warsaw Convention, and Armenia signed on 2008.
On 2015 and 2016, European Council urged Armenia to take steps to implement the practice.
On 2018, UN concluded that Armenia still doesn't have the system, and urged it to implement it.
On March 1, 2019, Pashinyan formed a committee to begin its implementation process. It will include changes to the law.
The court has extended Robert Kocharyan's detention by another 2 months, rejecting defense's bail offer. It found that Kocharyan could interfere with the legal process if let free, but the risks of him hiding are small.
The court has also extended Manvel Grigoryan's detention by 2 months.
Avshar, Ararat mayor is suspected of illegally appropriating (2002-2014) a state-owned school building by registering it as a city property, then selling it to his daughter, who then leased the building back to the city to earn cash.
3rd day of Cafe dismantling. There was no resistance today. Jazve Cafe owners urged people to end the street protest and take the battle to court. Municipality has praised the move.
A TV producer has criticized a public figure for saying the cafes were demolished without a prior negotiation or alternative location offers, with the purpose of harming workers [which isn't factually true, one lone cafe was offered a new location, and people were offered jobs besides being warned 3 month earlier].
The producer says that one of the owners of the illegally built cafes is the co-owner of Armenia TV, who fired him for supporting Nikol Pashinyan during the 2018 revolution, for his political beliefs, without a prior warning or contract negotiation. The producer finds the public figure's words about a negotiation "ironic".
The State Employment Agency says there are 24 known vacant positions in similar cafes that the Opera cafes staff could take. There are 1,500 cafes in Yerevan, and the actual vacant job number is bigger than 24 because the agency doesn't have a complete info on all empty spots.
The Cafe owners said 300 people lost their jobs. The number was heavily disputed, because the records showed only a few dozen registered employees existed, and the nature of the job didn't point to 300 people having worked there. It is unclear what the exact number is. Center district manager says the number is in dozens.
12 Cafe employees have already been hired by other cafes in Cascade.
Center district manager Victor Mnatsakanyan says they have begun negotiating with other similarly illegally located cafes to have them vacate certain areas, which they intruded on throughout a decade, by physically crossing the authorized boundaries.
One of the cafe owners says the 90k/month rent was for one specific area, but the others pay 2mln/month. She says she isn't denying that the previous authorities could have violated laws by giving them the lease to work on Green Zone, but she doesn't see anything illegal in their own work because they had the lease. She says the city didn't give them enough time to remove the $25,000 fountain, even though they were notified 3 months ago.
The cafe owners left a lot of metal constructions at the scene, which legally became city's property. A small tourist company in Artsakh has asked if they could have some materials to use it to improve their business. The city will most likely ship it to Artsakh. Some of the materials will be used in schools.
Parliament speaker Mirzoyan wants the authorities to find out why some cafés were paying pennies for a luxury location, and what the true number of workers are.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/156739 --- https://armtimes.com/hy/article/156745 --- https://armtimes.com/hy/article/156747 --- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/967653.html --- https://factor.am/132990.html --- https://factor.am/133081.html --- https://factor.am/132945.html
One protester is charged with assaulting a police officer during the cafe protests. The protester punched the officer in the face before receiving a similar response. Police chief Valeri Osipyan has fired a police officer who was seen punching a protester during the café removal incident. It's unclear if this is the same officer who was assaulted.
Prosecutors have pressed felony kidnapping charges against two members of Restart student activist group, after the incident which ended with Restart attempting to throw the former police chief's assistant into a garbage bin.
Prosecutors will press criminal charges against the director of a cultural center in Arabkir District. He is accused of taking bribes from a colleague to help him authorize a land deal in the district on Oct-2018. Upon taking the bribe, the director didn't help the colleague.
PM Pashinyan is seeking public's input on whether to end public aid to 11,000 people who are registered as low income and receive aid, while at the same time using the aid to pay off big loans worth a million. There have been complaints that some people take big loans, hide their income, receive aid, then use the aid to pay off the loans. The state spends 4.5bln each year on such aid recipients. For comparison, it takes 9bln to raise military salaries by 10%.
Yerevan municipality has begun catching, neutering and releasing the stray dogs. The process used to be done by a private company, before it was caught with embezzling state funds.
The city will temporarily use the zoo facility to do the medical procedures until the new facility is ready. Neutering (remove reproductive organs) and releasing is better than killing, not only from humane perspective, but also because the practice shows that when dogs go missing (killed), other dogs tend to get more aggressive and breed more, says municipality member. Neutering makes the dogs less aggressive and prevents breeding.
Dogs which have gone the procedure will have a little tag on their ear.
First lady Anna Hakobyan's My Step foundation will donate 194mln to a center that takes care of wounded soldiers. It'll cover 60% of the center's needs, and provide care to up to 1,300 people.
1150 participants: 60% of people get their news from the internet. 35% from TV. 4% from friends. 1% radio. 0.3% newspaper.
Age and education, but not the gender or location, is what plays a role in determining how people get news.
Among those who get it from the internet, social media had a 10% bigger share than dedicated news websites.
73% of online junkies get news from Facebook. 30% Instagram, 23% Odnoklasniki. 4% Twitter. (it isn't supposed to be 100% fyi)
85% of participants voted in the previous elections. They prefer face-to-face debates between politicians instead of interviews or rallies.
PM Pashinyan says the government won't tolerate illegal street trade that puts consumers at risk, even if it's presented as necessary to solve a social issue for the street traders. As part of the EU-Armenia deal, we should improve our country's overall standards and reject the dangerous practice of buying things like meat from sidewalks, said PM.
More loan subsidy aid for young families. The government will reduce the mortgage loan rate paid by families by 0.5% for each newborn child.
Mortgages to young families have increased by 2.5x (150%) consistently since 2019, compared to same period of 2018.
HONEYMOON IS OVER!
Azerbaijan has fired 9 mortars towards Artsakh frontlines, the first such incident since the 2018 revolution in Armenia. Armenian and Azeri leaders are preparing to meet soon, so it is expected for Azerbaijan to rise the tensions first.
Russian Foreign Ministry says that Russia and the other OSCE members support the idea of returning Artsakh to negotiating table, if Azerbaijan agrees to it.
Speigel news: A German MP from the ruling party has been given a 20k Euro penalty for receiving 30k Euro and other gifts on 2015 and illegally lobbying for the dictator of Azerbaijan. Council of Europe had earlier banned her from entry for the same offense.
After taking the gifts, the MP was the sole vote against the resolution condemning Ilham Aliyev's mistreatment of political prisoners.
The official reason for her acceptance of gifts was that the money was needed for her to travel and act as an election monitor in Azerbaijan. However, upon arrival, she never participated in such activities and instead met Aliyev.
Party's allies want the MP to resign and face a prosecution for violating laws.
Interview with Israeli (IS) political analyst Avigdor Eskin.
Armenia (AM) plans to open an embassy in IS pretty soon. Azerbaijan (AZ) still doesn't have one. IS could open an AM center in Jerusalem. Eskin says that despite what people may think, the political relations between AZ and IS, with the exception of some trade including arms, aren't close and AZ very often votes against IS during United Nations sessions.
Eskin: When USSR collapsed, AM was blockaded and was in need for a very close cooperation with Iran. At the time, AM didn't even attempt to establish close ties with IS. At the same time, IS established some trade ties with AZ. With Iran's diminishing influence, now AM can afford to get close to IS, especially in tech and education cooperation.
Q: Is the AZ-IS alliance a political-military one?
Eskin: The military cooperation between IS and AZ is nothing more than trade, which can be done between AM and IS too, if AM agrees. AZ tends to get closer to Arab world and Turkey in foreign policy, who are hostile to IS. Because IS and USA are allies, an AM and IS close relations can make AM and NATO close to one another, without angering RU, because IS and RU themselves have close relations.
Q: Could IS soon recognize the Armenian Genocide?
A: He doesn't think Knesset will recognize it through a parliament session. Knesset doesn't ask other Parliaments to recognize the Holocaust, and Knesset is less likely to hold a session to recognize other nations' tragedies. He doesn't believe such issues are meant to be discussed in Knesset (aka it's only for lawmaking in Israel). Eskin says it's best for AM to lobby on reparations for the victims, instead of lobbying other nations' Parliaments to reinstate the historic fact. He believes the recognition by IS lawmakers will be in the form of establishing some sort of a monument dedicated to Armenian Genocide remembrance.
Link to original report: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/b1jqkx/anticorruption_mar152019_pashinyan_begins_the/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|