2019 May 17
Anti-Corruption & News - May/17/2019: Yerevan official charged with 2017 election bribery... NSS busts the former university rector in 400mln case... mayor & school chief charged... TV boss charged with assault... 22.4bln busts in Q1... Media censorship 2008... Traffic laws... IRS revenues.... 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.
Police: A new election bribery case.
Yerevan police says the former leader, and the finance department chief of Nor Norq district, distributed 10k bribes and offered free healthcare to residents to get the leader's brother elected as a Parliament MP, in 2017. The Special Investigations Service is handling the case now. http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/161665 --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP5xhJkwwvw
(It appears that this is the same Nor Norq leader who was earlier charged with 4 counts of embezzlement of funds dedicated for festivities on April 25th.)
NSS has filed felony charges against the former rector of Armenian State University of Economics, for allegedly abusing his powers between 2011-2019 and wasting ~400mln in state funds. Not much details. (alright, keep your secrets then)
NSS helps the police to bust a corruption case involving the mayor of Geghanis. He is accused of illegally appropriating 0.8mln between 2015-2018, by claiming the money was dedicated for low income residents. (It ain't much, but it's dishonest work)
Shirak police investigation says the former director of winter sports school stole 16.9mln through corruption by hiring 7 non-existent workers between 2016-2018 then stealing their salaries.
Protester Vardges Gaspari was earlier assaulted by pro-Kocharyan crowd during the trials. He was questioned today, and given the status of a victim. The person charged with the assault is Armen Tavadyan, the owner of Roboserj media outlet 5th Channel. The police is seeking an arrest warrant against Tavadyan. He is charged with one count of hooliganism with the use of an object that was used as a weapon (presumably a water bottle, which caused Gaspari's eye for bruise).
General prosecutor's office presents numbers from the first 4 months of 2019
They've uncovered 22.4bln worth 295 corruption cases. 9bln was busted with the help of NSS, 1.7bln with the help of SIS, 11.6bln by Investigative Committee. So far 1.9bln has been recovered and 203mln assets are frozen.
IRS has 92 cases worth 16.2bln, out of which 2bln was recovered.
Serj's bodyguard Vachagan Ghazaryan was earlier charged with illegal enrichment and purposely hiding a financial report to hide his illegal enrichment. Ghazaryan repaid the stolen money and was released on 50ml bail, but he legally challenged the charges related to the financial document hiding. Today the court ruled in favor of him, saying that the high ranking official ethics committee should discard Vachagan's and his wife's financial reports.
Kocharyan lawyer earlier said that prosecutor's claim that 120mln in private money was distributed to soldiers, was false, because the data containing the money transactions was written on a type of paper belonging to Defense Ministry.
The prosecutor's office responded saying the fact that it was written on a paper commonly used by Defense Ministry, that doesn't mean the money was paid by the Defense Ministry legally and officially. Last year the Defense Ministry officially denied paying.
(Last year we learned that the March 1st investigators found evidence that Kocharyan's regime members secretly distributed money and uniforms to some people, including their bodyguards, to have them join the forces against the crowd.)
(One of Kocharyan's charges is that he allegedly toppled the Constitutional Order.)
During the trial, Kocharyan argued that by declaring a state of emergency for 20 days, the Constitutional rights weren't limited in Armenia as a whole, but were only limited in Yerevan where the main events took place.
Helsinki human rights group disagreed with this. They say the Constitutional rights were limited in Vanadzor when they tried to hold meetings after March 1st. The mayor refused to allow them to gather on 6 occasions, after consulting with NSS and police administration. When the petition to hold a meeting was rejected on March 4th, the official reason was directly tied to the events in Yerevan.
Kocharyan said that out of 32 TV networks only 9, and out of 39 papers only 15 were censored during the emergency. He also said the internet was not censored.
Several journalists disagreed with him. Aravot paper editor says any network that tried to present Levon's side of the argument was shut down by the NSS. Those who were allowed, were only broadcasting pro-government data. Aravot was shut down beginning March 1st.
Aravot's chief editor counter's Kocharyan's claim about internet being free. Says his ISP called and informed him on March 2nd that at the request of NSS, Aravot's website was to be blocked. Later that day, NSS came at the paper factory and told them to publish only information provided by the government.
YouTube, Azatutyun and 20 websites were blocked, says A1+, another network that suffered from March 1st.
Free Speech Defense Committee chief says the regional broadcast networks were also censored, and not just those in Yerevan.
General prosecutor's office isn't happy with Kocharyan's lawyers' ethics. They accused the lawyers of deceiving the public through out of context information to create emotions, and to place pressure on the court. (Kocharyan lawyers earlier accused prosecutors of not making some information available, prosecutors denied, saying all relevant data was available. There were other confrontations as well.)
Kocharyan lawyer found the trials to be overall fair. The only mayor problem they saw was that the judge allegedly gave the prosecutors one extra opportunity to speak. The lawyer says even if the overall speaking time is distributed equally, the number of times each side can speak had to be exactly the same.
The lawyer is satisfied with the trial process. He is confident that two Artsakh presidents' personal guarantees will have an impact on the verdict.
Representatives of major Russian news outlets met PM Pashinyan today. Asked various questions about the revolution, fight against corruption, etc.
Pashinyan was asked to comment on the fact that Artsakh president Bako Sahakyan went to Kocharyan trial and provided guarantees that Rob will behave properly if released. Pashinyan said he finds it morally normal (Bako and Rob are friends), but there are political and legal questions there, about a president of a country going to court in another country. Bako spoke with Pashinyan about going to court the day earlier.
Pashinyan is concerned that radical Islamic terror groups could take advantage of the instability, and settle in Azerbaijan, if Artsakh conflict gets worse. ISIS is looking for a new home after being defeated in Syria and iRack. Azerbaijan's geolocation is favorable for their movement between southern regions of Russia, Iran and Central Asia. He added that Russia has the ability to prevent the Artsakh war from getting worse, and has no doubt that they'll use it if needed.
Pashinyan wants to solve the gas price issue by 2020. Says it can be lowered, and EAEU trade bloc can be used to introduce consistency and improve the bloc's effectiveness.
Police department says there have been 6,000 casualties and 343 deaths from car accidents in 2018. So far in 2019 there have been 109 deaths (WTF?). The numbers are too high, says the police. The new point-based traffic violation system is meant to improve the safety. Instead of forcing some drivers to pay hefty fees, which many times they don't, their licenses will be suspended for repeated offenses. Driving with a suspended license will be a felony and not just a monetary penalty.
The change will cost the budget 2.7bln per yer (assuming the violators had intention to pay for their tickets?). Some tickets were reduced from 500k to 29k, which will be the highest ticket price you can find. The new system will be implemented 6 months after the Parliament approves it. The government already has.
4 points for DUI or 50km/h above the speed limit. Lesser offenses will cost 2pts, 1st. Illegal parking is 0.5pts. Monetary penalties besides the points. 9pts wasted = license is gone. New written and driving test is necessary to get it back.
2019Q1 revenue stats. The top 1000 taxpayers paid 16% more taxes, that's an additional 33.7bln. Overall tax revenues from all taxpayers rose by 33%, or 55.5bln. They exceeded their collection expectations by 4%.
Gazprom-Armenia was the largest payer, with 13.7bln. Grand Tobacco - 12.8bln, Hay Electric Grid - 4.4bln, International Masis Tobacco - 3.9bln, CPS Oil - 3.8bln. More inside.
Tavush governor expects 3,000 new non-agriculture jobs by the end of 2019. 20bln worth investments expected in 2019, another 60bln currently being discussed. They'll soon have the largest milk processing plant in the region, more tourism, and will triple the industrial capacity, said governor Chobanyan. A new ham processing factory will open next month.
President Sarkissian is in a business forum trip held in Kazakhstan. He met with Schnider Group rep who said they want to expand their business and tech work in Armenia. He then met Nokia rep who said they're interested in the tech development possibilities in Armenia. Sarkissian invited him to visit.
Turkish-Armenian journalist Sevan Nishanyan wrote a book that the Turkish authorities didn't like. He was then hit with an allegedly made up construction violation lawsuit, and sent to jail for 17 years. After 3.5 years he escaped to Armenia, then Greece. He just got an Armenian citizenship. He was recently married.
Armenians in Turkey: let's escape yo
Srbuk didn't make it
The British fans of Arsenal soccerer Henrikh Mkitaryan are preparing a plan to support the player. If he is unable to play in Baku due to security issues related to Azerbaijan-Armenia relations, the 6,000 Arsenal fans plan to bring masks with Miki's face and raise it at the 7th and 77th minutes. Number 7 is his shirt number. The match against Chelsea is on May 29th.
Update: The Times says Arsenal won't send Miki to Baku due to security issues and it possibly negatively affecting the rest of the team's performance.
Azerbaijan: despise me
Armenian sambo team has won 2 bronze medals, and one player is currently in finals, in the European championship held in Spain. Update: Tigran Kirakosyan won the gold medal in the finals.
FactorTV: Privet Rob
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/bpwexp/anticorruption_news_may172019_yerevan_official/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|