2019 November 4
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Nov/4/2019 :: Serj relatives & Panamaboy - 136mln pipeline theft :: ORSIS arms & equipment fraud :: Culture wars - Satan & Jesus :: US & EU :: Education reforms :: 7.3bln :: Emergency Min. :: PM vs HHK media - Fake News :: Yerevan transport & forests :: Army :: Stats
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.
US ambassador Lynn:
US foreign aid to Armenia rose 40% in 2019, and totaled $60mln. Money is used in anti-corruption, energy sector, education, English classes, human rights, transparency. We don't expect to end this help, especially since today democracy is stronger than ever in Armenia. $2bln given since 1992.
EU ambassador Wiktorini:
EU supports and is helping the ongoing judicial reforms in Armenia. EU has no comment about specific trials that are happening in courts.
Azerbaijan has invaded 200 hectares of Georgian land in the past few decades. It's near the Aze-Geo-Arm border. AZE and GEO also have an ongoing land conflict near a border monastery.
Spice of the Day Award goes to...
SATANISTS and TRADITIONALISTS clash in Yerevan subway. A group of women from CoCholab school were doing a weird "art" performance when a dissatisfied "traditionalist" man came and said it wasn't art and and it was anti-Armenian. He criticized the women for being brainwashed with western values and not having feminine values,, which is "having children as the top priority". The women laughed.
"These actions of yours are violating my taste of art", said the man who gave a strong impression of a քյառթ.
Another homophobic man begun assaulting and threatening the group, saying he'll "blow the satanists up with a grenade", before being tackled by cops. "Nothing was done about the fags in 1990s, which is why we're suffering now", said the man while being escorted to a police vehicle.
Later, a traditionalist activist group came a lit candles in the area to scare the demons away.
Turns out it wasn't really satanism. The women were reading Armenian writer Yeghishe Charents' poems, while delivering it in a weird abstract style (dressed in white and doing weird movements). They were one of the arts groups that received a 2.7mln grant from Education Ministry. (Ministry spends 903mln/year to help education and arts initiatives)
ARF party seized on the opportunity and demanded Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan to resign by Friday. ARF doesn't like the recent education reforms in Armenia, calling them anti-traditional and anti-Armenian.
Specifically, they don't like the fact that Ministry wants to reduce the load on students by making Armenian Language classes non-mandatory in Universities (Ministry says students learning it for 12 years is enough, and they should focus more on major)
They don't like that Ministry wants to merge History of Church with History of Armenia (ministry says it's more efficient that way, there are many complaints by students, it could be unconstitutional to force Yezidis pray in classes, also it's against economic cooperation plans with EU)
They don't like the fact that Ministry gave 20mln to make a documentary film about Armenian and world weightlifting champion Mel, because she later became transgender and is now living in Holland.
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan responded:
Let the artists themselves decide how the resources are spent. Right now it's only political parties (ARF) that are discussing the topic for earning political points, while using media outlets under their possession to increase the attacks. These political groups aren't familiar with the arts subject. They are degrading arts and taking it backwards. Artists themselves will shape the system. We'll hear artists' opinions.
Some artists supported the idea of free and un-censored art. Others were critical of it, calling it distasteful.
Education Minister Harutyunyan supports the recent transition to centralized exam system in which 9th grade students give the exams away from their regular schools, in a large facility.
He says it's better at preventing cheating (regular teachers aren't there to help), better at revealing students' true capabilities. "Let the student earn 8 points instead of 6. The parent will have a better understanding about their child's weak points", said Minister.
Minister speaking about various reforms: It's normal for some people to resist whenever a change is being made. After the changes are implemented, the opponents will see the end result and support the changes.
Education Minister Harutyunyan:
There is a draft bill to reform the science and university cooperation. The two should have closer ties. Scientific research should be "brought back to universities". The bill will "merge" Institutes of the National Academy of Sciences with universities.
Pashinyan about Church History, Armenian History, and Armenian Language subjects in schools and universities:
Armenian Church's history is Armenian history. The church studies were prohibited in schools for decades during USSR. It should be merged with Armenian History subject and be taught as one subject. It wouldn't make sense to have a separate history class for each aspect of life. Should we have a separate history subject for the 1st Armenian Republic?
Our educational system has to be competitive. None of the best universities around the world have the same priorities as ours. Why should an engineer studying in a university be required to take an Armenian Language class?
Every time someone does something out of standards, they are referred to as "satanists". Writer Yeghishe Charents has done some non-traditional things in his life (was he gay?). Should we stop loving Charents' literature because of it? They used to burn people in fire for saying the earth is round.
Armenia should be a country where people's right of thought is respected. People should not all think the same way.
End of Pashinyan's comments.
(When I was a kid, Armenian Church classes were the best because we had nothing to do and would screw around a lot. God bless the Jesus for giving us that opportunity.)
Former IRS chief and HHK Finance Minister Gagik Khachatryan was earlier arrested under the suspicion of embezzling state funds.
NSS says 7.3bln was been recovered so far.
From weekend: Yerevan zoo and city workers have caught more dogs roaming around the zoo. They're trying to find out if they are part of the gang of dogs who earlier infiltrated the zoo and killed 6 moulons and kangoroos.
One of the busted doggos looks VERY guilty...
BAD BOY? https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/173049 (innocent until proven guilty)
Minister of Emergency Felix Tsolakyan fired the chief of department that oversees wildfire control. Says he was lazy, and wasn't in country when necessary.
He called for SOC to come and audit the Ministry to find any possible instances of fraud and favorable treatment by officials towards relatives.
There were 3,000 more fires this year vs 2018. This year they got 260mln funds to buy new tools to get ready for 2020. 48 Japanese and Russian trucks will arrive soon. A new helicopter will be brought for fire extinguishing.
BHK boss Dodi Gagik Tsarukyan took his fellow BHK MP's gold license plates: 111 HH 11.
The law gives Parliament MPs a license plate range from 001 HH 11 to 200 HH 11. According to rules, the MPs are then selected automatically and issued plates from this range. Gago was supposed to have 089 HH 11, but the tripple-1 was too juicy to miss.
Here is your meme https://www.reddit.com/r/arMEMEia/comments/drczf9/111_hh_11/
Daily "Fake News" Report
Yerevan mayor Marutyan's spokesman criticized an unnamed media outlet for being "unprofessional", spreading rumors despite receiving an official denial.
Outlet called the spokesman and asked if it's true that the mayor plans to resign soon (often outlets try to create a negative atmosphere around Marutyan by spreading such rumors). The spokes said "No. Congrats. You receive and award for being the 10th journalist to call and ask that question." Upon ending the call, the spokesman opens the media outlets and sees that the outlet posted the rumor and a tiny denial note, after it was denied.
Pashinayan mocked former regime-allied media outlets for spreading rumors that he allegedly fired the Secret Service chief (chief bodyguard) Grigori Hayrapetov last month, because Hayrapetov was in an elevator with Pashinyan and Aliyev and might have overheard about how Pashinyan was secretly colluding with Aliyev to give parts osf Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
PM says it wouldn't even make sense for him to discuss such treacherous secrets at the presence of Hayrapetov, who had been friends with Kocharyan and Serj for 10 years, whom he only met few months prior to the event.
"Roboserj regime spends millions spreading these rumors, yet look at the quality of their propaganda", ridiculed PM.
(Context: after the revolution the former regime's outlets have spread similar rumors on multiple occasions, stoking divide between Artakh and Armenia.)
The govt of Armenia and Artsakh have the same ideas about Artsakh conflict's solution. We have no disagreements.
Currently, there are no acceptable proposals being discussed with Azerbaijan that we can show to Armenia public and say "what do you think about this?"
Roboserj circles are saying "Pashinyan is weakening the army". I'll be surprised if you can show me any 1.5-year time-frame during which the Armenia govt has done as much as we have for the army.
Armenia's defense budget rose 26% in 2019.
Additional 2.1bln spent on improving soldier's living conditions, installing running water systems. 1/3rd of front positions to have running fresh water by the end of 2019.
The number of military units that get their energy off-the-grid from solar panels, rose by 5%.
Up to 10% more weapons, including for attacks.
Improved front-line positions in 5 border areas.
10% more surveillance cameras monitoring the border and enemy.
114% budget increase for military industrial complex in 2020.
3bln additional aid to Artsakh so they can give officers apartments.
The soldier salary hikes and the the new food system helps with the morale, lets the soldier know that the govt cares about them.
They also say Pashinyan is weakening the military leadership. So what that some generals are going through felony trials? Didn't we agree that no one is above the law? I have appointed several military-men as generals recently, by the way.
The former regime's propaganda is a good opportunity for me to get on Facebook and talk to you every once in a while.
End of Pashinyan's report.
Pashinyan demonstrated the "presidential house". He just moved there to reside with the family.
He says Serj was planning to privatize it so HHK would give it to him, but the plan got ruined after the revolution when Pashinyan reversed the decision. (public officials can receive a house from the state, normally upon departure )
PM said the former regime is now salty about this. He denied the rumors that $2mln (953mln) was spent on renovating the building before their arrival, saying the total costs were >10x less than that, the furniture is a state-owned property that will be used by future PMs as well, the interior color was changed from brown to white.
Churchmen came to bless the building.
Many soldiers now receive higher quality food through private firms.
It costs 1000AMD per meal, or ~1150AMD if the food company renovated the facility at their expense.
Army spokesman denied other numbers that were being circulated.
Defense Ministry Tonoyan says the newly purchased Russian SU-30sm jets will arrive within 3 months.
40% of the soldiers already get the high quality food. In 2020 they plan to implement this program in front-line positions.
Update: Earlier we learned the Defense Ministry had a felony case involving an official, and a Russian arms dealer ORSIS. The company complained that the official hindered the firm's ability to deliver weapons to the Armenian army. Russian govt allegedly (According to Russian media sources) was unhappy about this and was planning to ask Armenian govt to escalate the investigation. (Read Aug/26/2019 and Sep/5/2019 news for details)
A new report says:
The firm attempted to deliver low quality hunting gear disguised as military gear.
The Dedal-T2.380 Hunter LRF night vision and heat detector cameras have a low 600 meter operational range instead of the required 1600 meters. Their use makes the soldier visible to the enemy, thus placing lives at risk.
The firm falsified some tags on the equipment to pass it off as a military certified gear, but they did a poor job at disguising the fraud.
Moreover, the firm tried to sell the 2.5mln worth gear for 3.1mln to the military.
ORSIS Arms is a subsidiary company and in Armenia it's registered under two Armenian military officers' names. The firm rep denied trying to sell hunting gear masked as military gear.
The ORSIS is part of Russian military tech firm PromTechnology. The parent firm is run and sponsored by Putin's friend Dmitry Ragozin family.
Human Rights Ombudsman: take a chill pill, ya'll. More of you have begun using social media, and every time I see a Facebook post, it evolves into a personal fight and insults. CALM DOWN!
NSS has busted a soccer match rigging and gambling fraud.
Masis club played against Torpedo in September. A high ranking official from Masis team management, and the club player, colluded to make sure their team loses the match, so their friends could place a bet on Torpedo and win.
NSS has a felony investigation and is looking for the suspects. They've also contacted UEFA and HFF.
Police says they busted officials at Water Committee and a private firm director for causing 136mln damage to state.
In 2012-2013, officials organized auction to sell 6km long pumping pipeline. They wrote inaccurate pipe details which reduced its value on paper. Pipes were sold to firms for cheaper value on paper. Felony case is launched.
It turns out one of the firms that appropriated the materials belonged to Serj's childhood friend Mikhail Harutyunyan, who is the uncle of Mihran Poghosyan. The latter is the guy currently sheltering in Russia awaiting an extradition for his role in Panama Paper scandals.
The other firm that appropriated the other part of the pipes is run by Serj's brother Alexander Sargsyan.
End of report.
PM office is working with Nature Ministry to bring back "Yerevan's lungs". In the 1990s, hills on Norq Marash and Sari Tagh districts had dense forests. They disappeared over time.
Govt will soon examine the cost of drip irrigation system.
This will be done as part of Pashinyan's goal to plant 10mln trees by 2050.
Thank you Mr. Beast. Very cool.
Every day, 40 trolleys transport 14,500 passengers in 5 routes in Yerevan. It's eco-friendly (fact). Last time the trolley park was refreshed in 2008.
The upcoming transport refresh will have 101 new trolleys in addition to 850 buses.
City uses GPS to monitor transport work to reduce delays.
Public utilities commission says the water price will remain the same for consumers in 2020, while at the same time the govt will stop subsidizing Veolia Water water company. Every year they recalculate water price, partially based on the amount that was consumed.
Consumers pay 180 but Veolia used to get 191.4 because govt subsidized 11.4. Now it'll cost 180 without subsidies.
(Last year govt decided to subsidize Veolia so they wouldn't raise prices for public in 2019.)
Sugar imports and sales monopoly stats:
In 2018 oligarch Lfik Samo had 67% of the sugar imports. In 2019 it reduced to 48%. His sugar sales market share went from 91% to 76%. The firm in second place has doubled its imports and sales volumes.
3Q19 vs 3Q18 property transactions up 18%.
Other cities 17%
Transaction share by region: Yerevan 35%, Kotayk 14%, Ararat 10%, etc.
1st snow in Armenia.
Armenian photo editing app PicsArt is the 15th most popular app in the number of downloads. It's in top-20 for the 3rd consecutive month.
European chess tournament: men 4th place, women 7th place.
Armen Melikyan wins gold in Greco-Roman wrestling U23 World Championship.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/drmkuq/anticorruption_news_summary_nov42019_serj/
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