2019 March 28
Anti-Corruption Mar/28/2019: Former police chief & family assets frozen in a $3mln case.... Parliament roasts Pashinyan again..... Lydian Armenia mining situation..... Yerevan municipality staff charged with theft..... Factory raided for unpaid taxes.... Forest protection agent busted.... more
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
The Parliament is roasting Pashinyan and his government for the second day.
PM responded to opposition's criticism of humanitarian mission to Syria by saying this is Armenia repaying its "debt" to Syrian people who helped the survivors of Armenian genocide. Hundreds of Syrian lives were saved by the surgeons and sappers so far. One sapper received a wound and had his leg amputated.
LHK criticized Armenia's "failure in CSTO military bloc" (referring to the arrest of Armenian CSTO head by NSS and subsequent power vacuum). PM replied that the situation is the opposite, Armenia is more independent and raises its voice within the bloc more loudly, which is "more respectable". Pashinyan doesn't judge success by having an Armenian act as a bloc president for several more or less months.
QP MP raised a concern that many Armenian businesses and farmers could be driven out of business by Iranian imports, after Parliament ratified a bilateral trade agreement that sharply reduces tariffs on many product sales between Iran-Armenia.
Pashinyan responded saying this agreement opens a 80 million strong market for Armenian businesses, which is good for them and the country. "Every year we have excess 100,000 tons of potato. Armenian potato producer shouldn't worry about Iranian potato coming an invading Armenian market. Armenian potato producer should instead take advantage of the deal and export the excess to Iran to make money".
If the Armenian businesses do a good job, they will be able to compete against Iranian imports, which will still be taxed, but now at lower levels, added PM.
PM spoke about the lack of vendetta against the representatives of the foreign regime, who have long persecuted Pashinyan in past, who now work in foreign policy and represent Armenia abroad. He says these workers need to be judged by their performance and the system needs to avoid a "shock".
Nature Protection Minister said Lydian mining's environmental impact audit by a foreign company will be over by June.
Pashinyan says the government paid 146mln for this audit. If the audit shows big risks to Sevan and Jermuk's water resources, the whole Amulsar project will be shut down.
If the risks are small and manageable, we'll accept the findings and give it a permission, said PM. He blamed the delays on Lydian company itself, saying that last year he offered them to cooperate in the audit. Lydian refused, insisting that a prior environmental assessment showed no dangers. The Nature Ministry, however, showed no confidence in that environmental assessment, and the government decided to hire a foreign company to settle it "once and for all".
Pashinyan says the copper mine in Alaverdi could start working at some capacity again as soon as within 1.5 months. (It had issues with the a creditor bank and had to shut down last year.)
LHK asked why several Water Consumer Union members in provinces haven't been given salaries.
PM responded saying because they didn't do a good job. (The Art of The Deal 👏)
He said these Unions are formed by (large quantity) water consumers, from whom the Unions should collect the funds for water use, in order to get paid. If there are no funds for the salaries that means they didn't collect the funds from the water users. Pashinyan mentioned that SOC earlier busted 1bln in damages done to state by similar organizations, who purposely colluded with water consumers for years to hide the water usage to avoid payments.
PM criticized the management abilities in some regions in general, and said in many cases the government was willing to subsidy programs but decided not to, due to lack of trust in the local authorities' abilities.
The opposition criticized Pashinyan for all talk and no action, no tangible benefits to the population.
PM disagreed and listed several achievements that immediately impacted the lives.
10,000 doctors had a 40% salary rise. 206,000 workers save money every month through tax reductions. Reforms to soldier insurance funds (and increasing the group that it covers). 81,000 seniors had a pension rise. 130,000 people had a loaning profile amnesty so they can borrow again. Improved competition through elimination of monopoly, specifically in sugar business. 320km road repairs. An agreement with Veolia Water to keep the water prices low for the public. 131% increase in mortgage loans (after favorable conditions and % reduction). Various surgery subsidies. 200,000 citizens getting free healthcare. Elimination of the need for bribery to get things done. Soon, the rise of salaries for soldiers and teachers by 10%, and so on, read PM from his cheat-sheet.
4% interest rate (0% for bordering regions), 20% down payment, 8 year to pay off the loan: a new subsidy program for farmers who need access to equipment to create or develop their cattle, bee, agro and other businesses.
Former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan's and his family's houses, money, cars and other assets have been frozen. A criminal case is launched.
It was revealed earlier than Gasparyan obtained a $3mln mansion for only $200,000 thorough shady processes. The house was apparently registered under his mother-in-law. The initial house owner, from whom it was taken, later publicly demanded $1.8mln from the family, but was denied. The owner says he sold the house to the woman but didn't get paid fully.
The woman didn't make the necessary payments to the bank, which ended up selling the house through an auction to none other than Gasparyan's son.
Gasparyan's mansion is Sevan, the land in Jrvej, two cars and bank accounts are now frozen. His wife's two houses, two lands and accounts are also frozen.
The home owner is also suing Silva Hambardzumyan, who he claims was a middleman in the shady process. Silva Hambardzumyan may sound familiar to you by now. She is the businesswoman who allegedly paid millions of dollars of bribes to former HHK MP and Nature Protection Minister, who is now facing charges. She is also the person implicated in the bribery case involving Robert Kocharyan, his aide and possibly former Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan.
Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan has submitted a report to prosecutors showing that 2 municipality workers from Malatia district stole the funds they legally collected from 9 market merchants between 2016-2017. Criminal case is launched.
The police has raided the Armash flour factory and the parent company. They are accused of falsifying 2016-2018 employee salaries by declaring lower numbers with the intention of avoiding taxes.
The police has busted another forest protection agency employee for an alleged abuse of power between 2015-2019. He's accused of hiring non-existent employees then stealing 3.5mln in salaries.
The government has suspended the plans to tax soda drinks, for now. Deputy PM Avinyan says they need more discussions around this. Initially it was proposed to tax drinks that contain 5% or more sugar. Then they rewrote the plans to instead apply it to all carbonated soda drinks except for sparkly water. The idea was to combat health problems and diabetes.
Human Rights Ombudsman examined bathrooms in 201 schools and kindergartens, and found that almost all have major issues. Report was sent to the government.
Only 10 of them provided access to the disabled. Many didn't have separators or walls between toilets, 71% didn't have liquid soap, 93% didn't have hand dryers or paper towels, most of them had broken equipment or seats, 86% of schools and 56% of preschools didn't have hot water, 61% didn't have clean water fountains and kids drink directly from dirty bathroom sinks, 35% didn't have toilets for both genders on each floor, staff wasn't trained and didn't know about legal requirements.
MOODY's international rating system has improved the outlook for Armenian banking system, by moving it from "stable" to "positive". The decision is related to multiple factors, such as the projected 4.5% economic growth and stable exchange rates.
The share of problematic loans will be reduced from 8% to 6% by the end of 2020. Some risks remain associated with high percentage of transactions in dollars and a rapid expansion of small loans.
70% of money in banks belongs to its customers. 60% of it is in US Dollars, but it's share is declining.
It's also mentioned that the government's support for the banking system has contributed to the positive outlook.
The Defense Minister Tonoyan was in Kansas, US again, marking the 100 year cooperation between the state and Armenian armed forces in various projects. Kansas governor declared March 27th a Kansas-Armenia cooperation day.
The municipality has named one of the public squares in Northern Avenue a "Europe Square", in honor of the cooperation. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was present at the ceremony.
Another high ranking official's bike was stolen the say day as BHK MP's. The latter recovered the bike after the cops caught two kids from his apartment complex building.
Greco-Roman champion and coach Levon Julfalakyan says the reason Mihran Harutyunyan isn't in the team is because his lazy bum wants to train at his home gym. He demands all the team members to participate in all training courses.
Artsakh's former NSS chief has published a new footage from April-2016 battles. It shows the aftermath of Armenian troops liberating the positions they initially lost in Seylulan. Azeri army left 28 dead and 1 equipment in this area alone.
Daily Fake News Alert
Russian media outlets continue to spread misinformation about PM Nikol Pashinhyan and Robert Kocharyan, presenting Rob's arrest as against the law. This time it was the state-run Rossiya24 channel. A similar propaganda was earlier spread by REN-TV channel.
Roboserj media outlet 168 Jam published lies about the Pashinyan administration, mentioning factually inaccurate information while trying to present it as a corruption.
One of the lies was about the Yerevan Christmas tree (which saves 20mln/year for taxpayers) being purchased non-transparently through a corruption. The municipality disclosed the source of the money on the December 21st session.
The outlet says Pashinyan's administration never busted any "serious corruption case". The claim can be proven as false by reading the prior posts on this subreddit.
And of course there wouldn't be a misinformation campaign without presenting the transparent and legally distributed salary bonuses to thousands of municipality and governor office workers, as a corruption.
Roboserj outlet Jamanak spread anonymous rumors that NSS chief Vanetsyan was behind today's raids in a flour producing factory, which is suspected of hiding true salaries to avoid taxes. The paper wrote that Vanetsyan allegedly wanted 50/50 of the business. Vanetsyan has demanded the paper to retract and deny the "libelous lies", otherwise he will sue the outlet for defamation.
(The symbolic "50/50" practice was something that was done by the previous regime representatives in exchange for not taking away businesses from others. The former regime representatives have since attempted to attach the label on the new government.)
On 2017, eight Azeri soldiers were tortured and killed by their commanders. To justify the crimes, the perpetrators claimed the victims were Ermeni 🕵️ spies.
A court trial later exonerated many of the victims, but the murderers were only sentenced to 6 years in prison. Meanwhile, activists and critics who helped the families of the victims were sentenced to 8 years with bogus charges for voicing dissatisfaction against the regime, say Azeri opposition groups.
An Azeri soccer player (in Russia) has said he views Henrik Mkhitaryan as a role model and one day wants to play in Arsenal himself.
Southern Russia conflicts.
Several months ago, Chechen leader and Ingushetia's president made a non-transparent deal to transfer large parts of Ingush lands under Chechen control. The public found out, and ever since, there have been numerous protests against the land swap. Dozens of thousands have marched against the deal, and demanded Ingush president's resignation for "treason". The police dispersed the crowd during today's clashes.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/b6ny29/anticorruption_mar282019_former_police_chief/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|