2019 November 18
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Nov/18/2019 :: Deputy PM's aide Yeloyan _ Skyscraper _ Stadium :: HHK MP arrested _ Money laundering :: Nature Protection _ Lydian vs Ministry _ Bill to suspend new mining :: New Education Reforms :: Gyumri :: US about Armenia-Iran ties :: Stats :: 404 missing :: 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.
A month ago the Cadastre chief Sarhat Petrosyan quit the office due to internal "disagreements". He complained that some decisions in the property-field could be viewed as a "corruption", and accused certain officials of "tribalism".
After quitting, he gave more details. His problem is related to Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan's aide Avetik Yeloyan. The aide's family owns a large real estate business, which is part of a large property development initiative in Armenia. Petrosyan thinks there is a conflict of interest there.
The main issue appears to be with the fact that the aide has just moved to Armenia from US, yet he is already actively working to build the proposed tallest building in Armenia. Petrosyan urged the authorities to look into it to see if there is a conflict of interest, if he used his powers to promote the business. He also accused Deputy PM Avinyan of not being experienced in the property field enough.
Who is aide Avetike Yeloyan?
Yeloyan studied in US and Russia in early 2000s. He moved to Armenia briefly to work as an architect. He then left Armenia to live in US. After the 2018 revolution he decided to return to Armenia. In late-2018 Pashinyan appointed him as the chief of Urban Development office.
In 2019 he left the public office after PM Pashinyan "fired" him. A month later he was hired as a personal adviser/aide to Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan.
In August-2019, private firms "Laura Investments" and "Yeloyan Architects" announced about the plans to build a 71-story skyscraper in Yerevan. They plan to invest $250 million into the earthquake-proof 270 meters building. The project is done by the brother of Avetik Yeloyan, who is the one that manages the "Yeloyan Architects" firm.
"The design of the skyscraper begun in the Autumn of 2017. I personally am not involved in it, my brother runs the firm", said Avetik Yeloyan.
When Avetik Yeloyan was appointed as the Urban Development Chief in 2018, his brother's firm stopped the plans in Armenia in order to avoid a conflict of interest. (In 2019 Yeloyan left the office, which might have prompted the firm to resume its plans in Armenia.)
Since Yeloyan was no longer leading the public office at the time, it's unclear if his family's firm's work can be viewed as a "conflict of interest", say the experts.
QP MP Babken Tunyan: if there are concerns within the team, we should investigate it.
The police has conducted searches in the offices of Avetik Yeloyan's brother, Zareh Yeloyan, who runs the business.
Sarhat Petrosyan later responded saying that if it's true that the skyscraper works begun in 2017, before Yeloyan became an official, then there is no corruption issue there, and that he would apologize to Yeloyan. Petrosyan is still concerned about the overall influence by the aide because he is also thinking about building a new stadium near Yerevan.
Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan: I still don't see where the corruption and tribalism is in this story. Yeloyan plans to sue Sarhat Petrosyan (for an alleged defamation).
Former HHK MP Alik Petrosyan has been arrested by SIS, and sentenced to 2-month pre-trial detention by the court.
He is accused of money laundering in connection to the case involving former the HHK Nature minister Aram Harutyunyan.
Aram Harutyunyan is the guy who allegedly took millions of dollars in bribes (then laundered through Middle East) from businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan, in exchange for allowing her to do mining. He is hiding from the authorities.
Do you still use plastic bags for shopping? Nikol Pashinhyan would like to know your location until you start using reusable canvas bags.
"I will find you, and I will kill you", never said the Prime Minister on Sunday while shopping with his wife.
In summer, Amulsar miner Lydian asked the Nature Ministry for a permission to drain water from the nearby Darb river.
Ministry examined the river, extended the examination to do more exams, then concluded that the amount of water that Lydian is asking for cannot be drained.
Lydian then filed a petition to drain less water. That petition was also rejected.
Lydian wants to drain the water nonetheless. They claim the Ministry made some technical violations by responding late. Earlier they threatened to sue the Ministry.
They have just filed a lawsuit against the Nature Ministry to get a permission to drain the water.
Environmentalists earlier sued the Nature Ministry to require them to organize a new land assessment SHMAG in Amulsar. The court has just rejected the petition. It is not clear what the rejection reasons are.
3 QP MPs have proposed a bill to suspend the issuance of new mining licenses for 2 years, in order to give the govt time to reform the field by making certain legislative changes.
Two of the main reasons are that the process has holes that can allow dangerous mining projects to proceed without much examinations, and the process has holes that could allow govt agencies abuse their powers through bribery.
Here is a drone footage of Armenian roads and scenery.
It's a promo video from govt showing the newly repaired roads. They did 330KM so far this year. Another 70km by the end of this year. 2020 will see 500km roads, apparently more than what was done in the past few years combined.
Pashinyan traveled through Kotayk to see the construction of water system subsidized by the govt.
He threw a mini hissy-fit again, this time complaining about people wearing their old home clothes for construction.
Pashinyan: We need to get rid of that culture. We need to develop the culture of wearing work uniforms. It increases the respect towards the workers and the work field.
Few more kindergartens and schools were built. PM then bragged about the subsidized program. "They wonder when are people going to feel a difference in everyday life. The parent from Zoravan who used to take their kid to Eghvard to attend school, no longer needs to spend money and time on transportation 3 times a week. There is a new school in Zoravan. This is an example of a change. The key to having a good life in the 21st century is to have a good education", said the Prime Minister.
Update: Earlier Pashinyan prioritized the development of Gyumri, and said he wants to move some infrastructure there.
Today the new customs checkpoint for import/export vehicles will begin to operate in Gyumri. Some construction is still ongoing. The customs facility in a Yerevan suburb will continue to operate until the end of 2019.
There will be two such facilities for car import-exporters: in northern Gyumri and in southern Goris. Combined, they'll service 1000 cars per day. That number can reach to 1200/day in Gyumri alone, soon.
Because it's not economically viable to have hundreds of IRS (customs) workers to serve all importers at once, there are usually queue lines in the facilities. Some people begun waiting in line to then sell the spot to an actual car dealers, some of whom import hundreds of cars as a business.
Armenian soccer team is officially out of Euro 2020 after losing to Greece with 0:1. Armenia is 4th in the group.
Զաթո Finland secured its first ever trip to Euro tournament. They defeated Lichtenstein.
The soccer fan club Red Eagles (behind the recent drone incident with Artsakh flag) is demanding HFF executive board to step down. They say only one of its members is knowledgeable with soccer, while the rest of the board, including HFF boss and some Ministers, are from an unrelated background "which prevents them from understanding soccer in-depth".
Armenia Airways will launch direct flights between Yerevan and Anapa, Russia this December.
Apartment prices continue to rise in Yerevan and provinces. September 2018 vs September 2019 stats:
The most expensive was the Center District. It went from 552k/m2 to 622k/m2.
Nubarashen remains the cheapest. It went from 168k to 180k.
When the 2016 April battles begun, there were enough warning signs that should have given heads-up to the army commanders, say the critics, who accuse the 2016 administration of not having been prepared enough.
After the 2018 revolution the new administration launched an investigation to find out the details. They'e questioning high ranking officials and soldiers.
The investigation has to end this year, but will most likely be extended by another 6 months, until June-2020.
The examiners want to question a HHK official Gevorg Kostanyan but he isn't in Armenia. Kostanyan is the man mentioned by the March 1st investigators as being "the handler". He allegedly coordinated various institutes to cover up army's involvement during the March 1st, 2008 events.
Kostnyan left Armenia earlier. He promised to return in early-November, but it's already November 18th. The SIS also want to talk to him about the March 1st. The military commission wants to talk to him about the April battles preparations. (Kostanyan was a prosecutor)
Parliament will form a Corruption Prevention Committee. All political parties proposed their nominees for the board. Today the MPs questioned the candidates, asked about their business ties, who they are and what they plan to do.
Education Ministry has made reforms to how accommodations (dormitory?) subsidies are given to students who travel to Yerevan from provinces (or abroad) for their education. At the moment, only parent-less students get a free place to stay.
Under the new rules:
100% subsidy for disabled students.
50% subsidy for students who lost one parent, students who are low income, students who participated in the 2016 April battles.
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan met professors to debate the upcoming reforms. He complained that there is a fake news which accuses Ministry of removing Armenian Language/History from Universities, while in reality it's about giving universities the authority to decide for themselves.
He accused philology faculties, who are now protesting, of not engaging with the Ministry while they were drafting these changes. He said other faculties actively participated during the process. Harutyunyan said it's possible to solve the problem through a dialogue.
Minister complained that those who are protesting now, did nothing when the Armenian Language was being weakened at the expense of introduction of foreign language schools in 2010. "I personally graduated a Russian school and have seen these consequences", said the Minister. "The Armenian Language and History weren't required during the Artsakh war, yet we didn't have a shortage of patriotic people", said the Minister.
Professors asked Minister for a proof that Language/History classes are hindering the student's ability to focus on other subjects. Minister couldn't bring any statistical proof, but said the opposite cannot be proven with stats either. Other things were discussed.
The chairman of Armenian Language faculty of EPH University found the meeting productive. He said the Ministry is exaggerating the "quality problems" in universities to justify some of these changes. He welcomed the proposed reform to organize elections to appoint deans, instead of them being handpicked by rectors.
Other education reforms will include an introduction of new exams for teachers who apply to teach Math, History and Armenian Language in schools. It'll be coordinated by the Ministry. This will partially address the issue of students getting low quality education in schools.
In future, a school student could choose to spend more time on the future-major to put the emphasis on it, reduce the need to hire a private tutor, give several exams while in the school, then enter a university with those exam grades instead of giving a separate admission exam at a university. Ministry is open to suggestions.
The main reforms will go into effect in Sept-2022 if approved. Before that date, Ministry plans to improve education in schools (for example, making Armenian Language classes more effective to reduce reliance in universities).
Minister thinks some university professors are protesting because they are legitimately concerned about their job, and their lack of ability to convince their university bosses to make Language/History classes mandatory in their universities.
EPH professor https://youtu.be/GX1Rx5Q34D0?t=18
We need education reforms because the current system has big problems. It doesn't allow people and the country to develop. There will be decisive changes. Those (referring to ARF) who cling on people's feet to try to keep them in a swamp will not succeed. While Armenia stood in the same place, big educational changes happened in the world. We have to hear others' opinion about the reforms, we aren't saying we know everything about the subject.
Education reforms will include:
Integration of higher education and the scientific field, transition to a unified system of scientific title award, full implementation of 3-level higher education, replace the Առկա և հեռակա system with «լրիվ կամ մասնակի բեռնվածության system, improve foreign language classes, reform how students are admitted to universities, more independence to universities, changing how schools are funded, measures to attract younger scientists, etc.
Last year the govt announced an initiative to create a new worker database that will be used to vet high quality candidates. The database could be used for govt hiring and possibly for the private sector too.
So far 2,500 people sent in their resumes. 90 of them were chosen and added to the database. 3 have been hired by the govt. All 3 are aides to PM and deputy PM (LOL). 2 others were hired then fired (LOLOL).
President Sarkissian arrived in Qatar to participate in a meeting with khalif, PM and businesses. He was greeted by an army of stormtroopers at the airport.
Darth Vader walks at 0:31 https://youtu.be/UzfnxOLKxeo
US ambassador Lynn: guys, we don't mind if you develop legal business ties with Iran. We fully understand the importance of Iran-Armenia cooperation. We understand that it's needed due to the border blockade. We're only concerned about some Iranian govt-related stuff and terror groups.
A Turkish writer at Gazete Duvar wrote a Genocide-denial piece. He got fired by the chief editor, who apologized for the "denialist" article and for not screening the post before it went live.
Composer Robert Amirkhanyan celebrated his 80th birthday. Got a surprise visit by the Defense Minister David Tonoyan... then begun singing like a boss.
Yeraz im yerkir hayreni https://youtu.be/rtARe4trDF4?t=75
Japan has seen a sharp decline in cigarette sales last year. The reason is IQOS. It's a hybrid system between cigarette and an e-cigaratte. It heats up the tobacco to create aerosol, without burning the tobacco. It's supposed to be less harmful than a cigarette, according to tobacco firms. The claim is disputed by others.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/dy99l6/anticorruption_news_tldrs_nov182019_deputy_pms/
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